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Kristin Scott Thomas,
In Brooklyn Bridge Park, eleven year old Zachary Cowan strikes his eleven year old classmate Ethan Longstreet across the face with a stick after an argument. Among the more serious of Ethan's injuries is a permanently missing tooth and the possibility of a second tooth also being lost. Their respective parents learn of the altercation through Ethan's parents questioning him about his injuries. The Longstreet parents invite the Cowan parents to their Brooklyn apartment to deal with the incident in a civilized manner. They are: Penelope Longstreet, whose idea it was to invite the Cowans, she whose priorities in life include human rights and justice; Michael Longstreet, who tries to be as accommodating as possible to retain civility in any situation; Nancy Cowan, a nervous and emotionally stressed woman; and Alan Cowan, who is married more to his work as evidenced by the attachment he has to his cell phone and taking work calls at the most inopportune times. Although the meeting starts ... Written by
I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Roman Polanski films. Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist are all patiently biding their time in my Netflix queue waiting on me to get around to them and watch them for the first time. The Polanski films I have seen had the potential to be great, but kind of let everything they had going for it slip through the cracks as the film went on. I remember being fascinated by The Ninth Gate, but was extremely disappointed once the ending rolled around. There was also quite a bit of praise being thrown around for The Ghost Writer last year and it just didn't affect me the way any of that praise did for other critics. So while Carnage has gotten many accolades as one of the funniest movies of last year, I took it with a grain of salt. People seem to generally love Polanski and that's fine. His films are genuinely a pleasure to look at as the cinematography is always fantastic, but it certainly seems as though he may not be as great as everyone makes him out to be.
Carnage is basically a 74-minute discussion between two couples whose eleven and twelve year old sons got into a fight. Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet's (John C. Reilly) son Ethan was struck in the face with a stick by Zachary, the son of Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz). The parents get together to try and find a way for Zachary and Ethan to talk things out, but everything eventually falls apart and the two couples are eventually at each other's throats.
This was not the hilarious movie it was made out to be. While the other people in the theater seemed to be howling at everything on screen, it mostly just felt slightly snicker worthy at times. John C. Reilly is pretty funny. His views, the things that come out of his mouth, his character, and his performance are probably the closest thing to hilarious Carnage has to offer. "Is cobbler cake or pie?", the flush mechanisms conversation, "You certainly perked up after...", the hamster story, the doodle nickname being ridiculous, and "YOU'RE BLOWING THIS OUT OF PROPORTION!" are all mostly entertaining thanks to John C. Reilly's over the top performance. Michael Longstreet is probably the closest you'll come to relating to one of the on-screen characters, as well. The film is mostly a competition between four egomaniacal individuals competing for the spotlight though. Christoph Waltz's "god of carnage" speech is pretty amazing as is the "disfigured his schoolmate" conversation, but you want to slap the hell out of Alan Cowan the minute you realize he cherishes his phone more than anything else in the world. Kate Winslet is mostly nauseous and drunk the entire film and you probably won't walk away from this without thinking of Jodie Foster's bulbous, veiny, pulsating neck. Seriously, that thing will probably haunt your dreams the night after seeing this.
Carnage is very short. It feels like it ends as soon as it begins. It's like Cloverfield length. It also has one of the worst endings ever. How many films can you name that stop with a phone call? Nothing is resolved. Everything just stops. Despite a wonderful cast and a few chuckle worthy moments, Carnage mostly falls flat. It comes off as more of a contest between two married couples that become more interested in pointing out the flaws of their marriage rather than the task at hand. Maybe it's because I work in retail and I witness these kinds of conversations on a daily basis, but it just wasn't very entertaining at all. Carnage stumbles on the thin line between being extremely annoying and being mildly amusing.
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