|Index||5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are so many films that come out during the year, and generally,
they're all decent enough to sit through. Watching Jake Squared might
honestly give you the biggest WTF moment of your life because I'm
convinced that even the director couldn't figure out what kind of movie
he was trying to make. There are unfortunately not enough words in the
English dictionary to describe how awful this film truly is.
Jake Klein (Elias Koteas) is making a movie. He hires Mike Vogel to play him, then decides to throw a party that includes hot tubs and stereotypical ditzy girls in bikinis just because he can. Why is Jake making this movie? Well, your guess is as good as mine because it's never made clear why Jake is really doing anything. The movie begins to get confusing about a few minutes in when several Jakes, not Mike Vogel's portrayal of him, come crashing into his party and disrupting every aspect of his life and movie.
There's Jake at 17 (Kevin Railsback), Jake at 30, and Jake at 40, and of course the present Jake at 50. If this isn't confusing enough (and director Howard Goldberg should really rethink the title), all this is happening in real time. No, it's not a hallucination, a dream, or any kind of mental disease. It seems all these different versions of Jake have come to crash the party to ultimately give him love advice on which girl he should have chosen and possibly bring him happiness.
Nothing in the last sentence doesn't happen until the last ten minutes of the film and we spend so little time with his exes (Jane Seymour and Susan Traylor) and current possible love interests (Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Jason Leigh) that the whole story seems contrived, uninspiring, self-indulgent, boring, confusing, and every other horrifying adjective you can think of to fill in the blank.
So disturbingly awful is this film, that Virginia Madsen, after about ten to fifteen or so minutes into the film, has to explain everything that happens in the beginning. At that point, we don't know who she is, how she fits into the story, or anything about her. But the fact that the movie literally stops to give us a recap of what came before is truly astonishing, proves that this film is awfully confusing, and discredits and insults itself all in one scene.
Also, instead of an actually well-written script, Goldberg relies heavily on quotes from different people that get tossed around by the characters in conversation. This lazy writing technique replaces actual dialogue and character interaction, which is pretty much nonexistent to begin with. Everything is a jumbled mess, like the movie is stuck in a maze and keeps getting lost along the way to the end. It tangles itself up so much in the beginning that it becomes incoherent, random stacked on top of random.
Jake Squared is one of those films you will be glad you never watched. It's a sham and awful filmmaking at its best. The movie goes from bad to worse the longer it goes on and completely wastes some of its cast, while others are terrible in their roles. It's a headache-inducing nuisance that will leave a bad taste in your mouth. The characters and their terrible conversations, or lack thereof, are contrived and Goldberg doesn't really bother to make sense of any of it. One of the worst films of the year.
On the surface 50-year old Jake Klein seems to have it all. He has
loving children, a beautiful house, complete with a pool that sparkles
in thesunlight, as if filled with San Pellegrino, a classic Porsche and
a late-model Volvo. He has made films but to finance his lifestyle, he
has put his creative ambitions on hold and sells real estate.
However, Jake, played brilliantly by Elias Koteas, possesses and increasingly expresses in full, his interior but soon frequently exterior bouts with his existential joys and pain.
The root of the dilemma is Jake's inability, since he was a young man, to sustain a romantic relationship. (He is divorced and slipping in and out of a long-distance relationship with Sheryl (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who lives with her child in "cold" Chicago, as opposed Jake's perpetually sunny Los Angeles.
At the beginning Jake, speaking to the audience, tells his story against the backdrop of a party at his house. The actor cast to play Young Jake (an excellent Mike Vogel) brings a fine insouciance, to the point of indifference, to the role.
Jake's confusion and consternationapproaching a nervous breakdowngrows, and, the film's plot, set in motion, becomes quite a lot of fun. Suddenly, surprisingly, more Jakes appear in the movie, on the set, and into Jake's "real" life.
Goldberg and Koteas, work wonders with this conceitJakesat 30, 40,and 50. In less skillful hands, and with a less gifted actor, this would not works at all, but here it works beautifully, and when it works especially well, it is a delight.
We follow the "real" Jake's" struggle to come to terms with himself, and the women in his life. This begins with our introduction to the 17-year-old Jake (Kevin Railsback), who refers to himself as Damien. Railsback nicely captures the vanity and naivety possessed by teenage Jake, as does his first love Joanne (Liana Liberato), who will morph into an especially graceful Jane Seymour.
Visited by the ghosts of bedrooms past, Jake has ample opportunity to express his desire for that one true, lasting love. This admission is represented both comically and dramatically, but is best captured by Jake's best friend, a remarkable sweet and accessible Beth (Virginia Madsen).
To look deeper in the cause of his "inability" to love for any time, Jake looks back to his parents, who also visit him. He sees their 55-year marriage as an ideal, so one does not have to be a Freudian to suspect that his metaphor for authentic love, longevity, may not be a perfect guide to life. That said, the appearance of his father and grandfather are a particular treat, as old Jewish men intruding on their child's/grandchild's life. Their visits are among the most entertaining and revealing in the movie.
Jake's mother is kindness personified, so one has to look past the surface to see what role, she played informing Jake's ambivalence not only about commitment, but also about the nature of love. Is love liberation of the soul or its confinement? Is the beast enjoyed best in a cage, or chased into the unknown?
In the end, a kind of détente is reached between the different Jakes and Jake himself. The sun shines both literally and metaphorically. No, there is no sudden realization, no fixing on the right love, no deus ex machinathat, if possible, will come in the sequel.
For now, the love that preserves Jake is self love, not damaging as narcissism, but not liberating as Conrad observed, "Into the destructive element immerse." One suspects Jake is determined to pursue his ideal, and, whether or not he succeeds, is anyone's guess.
Two final notes: The first, Gia Mantegna is superb as Jake's precocious but not jaded daughter. She steals every scene she's in. And, finally worth noting is the music by Daniel Adam Day, which is light and pleasant and works as an adhesive that keeps the Goldberg's tone and manner intact throughout. The choice of Mr. Day was one of Goldberg's many inspired decisions.
I recommend unreservedly this film for men of all agesbachelors, Lotharios, fathers and sonsas well as women trying to understand difficult men, but especially for couples who every so often catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror, and note something less than perfect. Or those who look too closely at a photograph to find some mote or imperfection.
I was invited by a friend to a private screening in Los Angeles. I have
never wrote a review before but felt compelled to write about this
The main character Jake was humorous yet intense and internal in his musings of himself and his desire ( maybe ) his pursuit ( possibly ) his angst, ( for sure ) Desire for love.
Jake, looked through all of his selves, at the one thing he feels was lacking ( true Love ) caught up in the lifestyle of easy pleasure, he vacillates between commitment to himself and his ways, and commitment to what he believes he is supposed to feel.
The back and forth between the characters ( of himself ) left me dizzy with thoughts of fights I've had with myself over which way to go with love interests.
The supporting cast. Virginia Madsen, Leigh and the completely sexy Jane Seymour were out of this world awesome.
I say to see it 5 times, as I believe that each time you see it, you will see a different film, based on your daily point of view.
in short, three words ex cel lent!!!
I've never written a review for a movie before though I have worked in
the movie business for a long time! I saw this movie at the Downtown
Film Festival Los Angeles.
Here's what I think:
You will be given countless opportunities to see movies about perfect people (portraying underdogs) saving a town/country/world/universe BUT very few chances to see a movie that teaches you something interesting and new about the human condition. This movie succeeds in illuminating the human condition, especially aging men looking for love. I have had daydreams similar to several scenes in this movie, but could not articulate them like Howard Goldberg does. The movie is very "meta"; it's self-reflexive and self-deprecating. Elias Koteas plays four different ages of himself and they talk to each other (along with other actors playing his character). Some of his acting and Goldberg's writing reminded me of conversations I've had with myself, and at other times it reminded me of things I've talked to my father about. To me there are very few movies that really discuss what it's like to be a man. Not a macho man, or a sex crazed man, but just a man, warts and all. This movie really shows it, the loneliness, the need for love, the second guessing, and a lot more. It still funny, and wonderfully acted, and stressful. I never knew what was coming, because of its originality.
I don't want to give away too much, just go see it.
I can't tell you enough how much you and your film inspired me to
challenge the audience and really give them something to think about.
Jake Squared is still resonating with me today just making me think
about my life and where I was 10 years ago, where I am now, and where I
will be 10 years from now in all aspects of my life. It was incredibly
well acted from everybody involved as well as beautiful to look at.
Please go and see this and unlink most films out nowadays, bring your brain. It is well worth the exercise in existential thought.
One of my favorite films I have seen all year that leaves me waiting to see it again and again just so I can really grasp every aspect that this film offers.
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