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Give Michelle Williams credit for doing the best she could with an
impossible assignment: being Marilyn Monroe. Nobody can be Marilyn
Monroe. There was only one. But of all the performers who have taken on
the challenge of being Marilyn over the years Williams probably
succeeds best of all. She captures the vivacity that made Marilyn the
world's greatest star. And she captures the vulnerability which
ultimately made Marilyn such a tragic figure. Maybe the physical
resemblance isn't quite right, watching this movie you never really
believe you're looking at Marilyn Monroe. But there is so much about
Marilyn that Williams gets right. The mannerisms, the voice, the
sweetness. There's both childlike innocence and very adult demons
swirling around inside Marilyn Monroe and Williams does ever so well in
presenting this complete, complex package.
This movie unfolds during a very specific, very brief period of time in Marilyn Monroe's life. She's in England filming The Prince and the Showgirl. She is at the height of her fame, the biggest movie star on the planet. But she is a very troubled woman. Her marriage to Arthur Miller is strained. Her confidence in her acting abilities is at its lowest ebb. Her behavior is erratic at best, catastrophic at worst and this is making The Prince and the Showgirl a very troubled production. Her director, and co-star, Laurence Olivier is at his wit's end. He doesn't know how to handle Marilyn. The more pressure he puts on her the worse things get. She's crumbling. But she finds at least momentary salvation in a rather unlikely place, striking up a relationship with young Colin Clark. He's just a lowly production assistant but for whatever reason Marilyn trusts him. She needs to get away from the pressure of being Marilyn Monroe and being with Colin enables her to do that. Colin is enchanted with Marilyn. Well, who wouldn't be? But he is also protective of her. He takes care of her at a time when so many others would not.
Total nobody takes care of the world's biggest star. It's a nice little story and it makes for a nice little movie. My Week with Marilyn is not a truly great movie. But it is entertaining, compelling, at times heartwarming and at times heartbreaking. The story is very simple but rather unique and it provides a nice look behind the scenes. It allows us to see not just the great star and sex symbol the world adored but to catch a glimpse of the real Marilyn Monroe. Of course the real Marilyn was very troubled and this movie certainly does not hide that, it's an honest telling of her tale. Williams does a great job with the starring role. She makes you love Marilyn, just as the world did. And she makes you desperately want to protect her as Colin Clark did. Eddie Redmayne, playing Colin, matches Williams stride for stride, they work very well together. Kenneth Branagh does very well in portraying Olivier, a man whose frustrations with Marilyn often boil over but who deep down appreciates how magical she truly is. The aging Olivier sees the way Marilyn lights up the screen, sees how he himself seems to shrink in her presence. Whatever "it" is Marilyn has it, Olivier sees that he does not. A painful realization and Branagh captures the hurt wonderfully. Whatever the frustrations she caused behind the scenes Olivier saw, everyone saw, that on film Marilyn Monroe was something truly special. There are many movie stars, there are few icons. Marilyn Monroe was the most iconic of all and this film is a worthy homage both to the icon she was and to the woman she longed to be.
Insomnia is probably the least of Christopher Nolan's films. That's not
all that surprising when you consider it's not an original Nolan work
but a remake of an earlier Norwegian film. What also should not be
surprising is that even a lesser Christopher Nolan film is still a
really good film. The guy doesn't make bad movies. Insomnia may lack
the uniqueness of his original works. But this movie still has a
compelling story to tell. And Nolan is more than up to the challenge of
delivering that story in a fashion which is both entertaining and
The story centers around Los Angeles police detective Will Dormer who along with his partner has traveled to a small Alaskan town to assist with a murder investigation. Dormer is a notably famous cop, a hero, but left behind in Los Angeles is an internal affairs investigation which threatens to undo his life's work. As he lands in Alaska this weighs heavily on his mind. And things are about to get a whole lot worse. In the course of hunting down the Alaskan killer Dormer makes a huge, catastrophic mistake. If discovered this error really will bring Dormer's life crashing down. Crucially none of the Alaskan police he works with know what he has done. Unfortunately for Dormer one person does know: the killer. And now the killer sees himself as Dormer's partner. They're going to help one another get away with their respective misdeeds. Wracked by guilt, in a terrible moral quandary, what will Dormer do? He really is in a terrible state, made much worse by the fact he can't sleep at all. What's really keeping him awake? Is it the perpetual Alaskan sunlight? Or is it his own guilty conscience?
The role of Dormer is pretty much perfect for Al Pacino who brings both a sense of authority and a great weariness to the role. Dormer, successful though he may be, is really being beaten down by life and up in Alaska things are only getting worse. The guy is crumbling and Pacino captures that very well. The other key performance comes from Robin Williams who shows up halfway through the film inhabiting a character who is quite unlike anything you'd expect from this particular actor. The film provides a chance for Williams to show off some serious acting chops and he delivers. Pacino and Williams play off one another brilliantly, the tension between their two characters is palpable and it drives the film forward. Hilary Swank has an important role as well, playing a young Alaskan police officer who idolizes Dormer but who does a little digging and realizes there may be some very bad things the famous detective has hidden away. To what lengths will Dormer go to protect those dangerous secrets? That is the crux of this film's plot. It's not your typical good guy/bad guy story. The lines between good and bad are not just blurred, they're completely wiped away. It's a smart story which really grabs you. And the film is photographed beautifully. The light might be forever shining but there is true darkness lurking here. Story, performances, photography...everything comes together very well. Even in a film which is not nearly his best effort Christopher Nolan produces something quite excellent.
Alicia Campbell is a good girl. Coming from a poor family this sweet,
hard-working girl is focused on her education, determined to make
something of her life. Hadley Ashton is a bad girl. Coming from a rich
family this cold, bitchy girl doesn't want to work, she expects to have
life handed to her on a silver platter. The two girls attend one of
those colleges where the college runs the town. The college president
makes this perfectly clear when the acting sheriff turns up on campus
to investigate how sweet little Alicia ended up comatose in a hospital
bed, fighting for her life. The president makes it very clear that he
expects there to be no actual investigating done in this investigation.
But Sheriff Artie Bonner keeps digging.
The movie unfolds largely in flashbacks as we see the oh-so-innocent Alicia lose her innocence which leads to her potentially losing her life. She and Hadley are paired up on a school project. Alicia is a social nobody, Hadley is one of the campus queens. Hadley and her rich, snotty friends take Alicia under their wing. Alicia starts to change. Not so innocent after all perhaps. Drugs and sex, and more drugs and more sex and what exactly has Alicia gotten herself into? Eventually she overdoses on cocaine. Accident? Hadley and her friends would like you to believe that. The college president would definitely like you to believe that. The sheriff does not believe that.
The movie sets Hadley and her two main cohorts, Sidney and Julianne, up as potential suspects, giving them each motivations for perhaps wanting to be rid of Alicia. Some other fringe characters get involved too but the focus is clearly on this gang of three. Truth be told this is not a particularly mysterious mystery. Those watching will probably put all the pieces of the puzzle together long before the sheriff does. The hint of obviousness drains away some of the drama but that doesn't necessarily make New Best Friend a bad movie. It's far from the greatest thing you'll ever see but it's reasonably compelling. Trashy but entertainingly so. Mia Kirshner turns in a very good performance in playing Alicia. The character evolves, not necessarily for the best, and Kirshner nails the transformation. You believe her as the sweet, innocent girl we first meet. And you believe her as the girl who ultimately proves to be something else entirely. The rest of the cast is not quite up to Kirshner's standard. Meredith Monroe is a little flat in playing ice queen Hadley, neither Dominique Swain nor Rachel True are particularly memorable in playing our other two would-be murderesses. And playing the sheriff Taye Diggs just appears to be going through the motions. A flawed movie to be sure but there are enough good things here, Kirshner most notably, to make it a decent viewing experience. Not a movie you'd regret missing if you didn't see it. But not a movie you'd regret seeing if you did.
Chicago defense attorney Martin Vail likes one thing more than winning:
attention. This is a man who desperately wants to be in the spotlight.
How does a defense attorney become and remain famous? By defending the
most high-profile clients. And in Chicago right now there is no more
high-profile client than young Aaron Stampler. Stuttering country
bumpkin Aaron is an altar boy charged with the brutal murder of an
archbishop. Found as he was with the archbishop's blood all over him
there doesn't seem to be much doubt about Aaron's guilt. But Martin
Vail doesn't care whether his new client is actually innocent or not.
It's Martin's job to get Aaron off on any legal technicality he can.
And then he can sit back and bask in the bright lights of fame. If he
can get the Butcher Boy of St. Mike's off it will be Martin's crowning
achievement. But a funny thing happens. As Martin talks to Aaron, as he
investigates the case, he comes to believe Aaron actually is innocent.
This leads Martin, and us in the audience, down some interesting paths.
Twists and turns ahead.
Richard Gere does very well with the role of Martin Vail but there is no doubt that it is the performance of Edward Norton, playing Aaron, which really elevates the film. Norton is spectacular in a very difficult, very complicated role. Norton makes Aaron so endearing you can't possibly believe this guy hacked an archbishop to bits. He's so sweet, how could he kill anybody? The stutter doesn't hurt either, making him ever so more sympathetic. He looks innocent, he sounds innocent. Norton makes you believe, all evidence to the contrary, that Aaron really could be innocent. And that is so important in making the film work. You have to believe that Martin Vail, against all his better judgment, would actually believe this kid, actually start to care about this kid. Norton makes you believe. It was a star-making performance and rightly so. Norton is excellent from the start but as the story unfolds, taking some surprising turns, the true brilliance of his performance becomes more and more clear. Really breathtaking stuff.
Gere and Norton are the stars but there are some key supporting roles as well, all performed admirably. Most notable is Laura Linney playing Janet Venable, the prosecuting attorney in Aaron's case. Janet just so happens to be a former lover of Martin's. What a tangled web we weave. There are moments where the film becomes a little melodramatic, some of the courtroom histrionics are a bit much. But it's a smart, layered story. What seemed so simple, Butcher Boy slays bishop, becomes so much more complex. There's a lot going on here. Where does the truth lie? For once in his life Martin Vail actually is interested in uncovering that truth. When we first meet him Martin is so self-assured, so confident, so unflappable. What, if anything, could rattle this man? That is one of many questions Primal Fear raises. Ultimately the film answers its biggest questions in rather thrilling fashion. It is a film with a smart story which is laid out so well. And that story is performed brilliantly by an outstanding cast. Primal Fear has great drama and tension, so many more thrills than your typical courtroom saga. It is a film which sucks you in right from the start and never lets you go. Hard to ask for much more than that.
When first we meet novelist Richard Harland it's immediately clear
something quite terrible has befallen him. He has the look of a broken
man. We're told he just got out of jail after serving two years. From
there the film unfolds in one big flashback. What went wrong in this
man's life? Unsurprisingly it involves a woman. We see how Richard met
the beautiful Ellen Berent. And then we see the catastrophic effect
Ellen had on poor Richard's life. How did this handsome, successful
author end up in prison? And is it possible going to prison was
actually the least of Richard's troubles? What starts out as a happy
romance leads to almost incomprehensible tragedy. Ellen Berent turns
out to be the most fatal of femme fatales.
Leave Her to Heaven is an odd movie in some ways. It's a film noir which unfolds not in black-and-white but in dazzling Technicolor, not in dark city streets but in the great outdoors. The settings may be bright and beautiful but the story certainly is not. This is noir at its darkest. Initially Ellen seems charming. She's clearly smart, stunningly beautiful. It's easy to see how she could draw Richard in. But her possessiveness and insane jealousy drive her mad. She wants Richard all to herself, much as she once wanted her father all to herself. Yes, this is a girl with serious daddy issues. Her anxieties and obsessions ultimately manifest themselves in the cruelest of ways. It's an interesting story but a thoroughly depressing one.
Gene Tierney comes across somewhat cold in playing Ellen but that fits, the character is a frosty ice queen. More troubling is the performance of Cornel Wilde whose portrayal of Richard suffers from a severe personality deficit. There's very little life to him, no spark at all. In moments where Richard should be overcome with grief or rage we get very little out of Wilde. On the other end of the spectrum we get entirely too much emotion out of Vincent Price. He plays aspiring district attorney Russell Quinton, who is Ellen's fiancée when Richard first meets her. Ellen immediately dumps Russell and proposes marriage to Richard whom she barely knows. You'd think this would raise some red flags for Richard but no. Of course Russell is quite displeased by this turn of events. He'll have his opportunity for revenge later. Since we know from the beginning Richard is going to jail it's not giving much of anything away to say there's a big courtroom scene late on in the film. And this scene, thanks largely to Price, drives the movie completely off the rails. Price's over-the-top histrionics are laughable. Truly terrible acting making for absolutely excruciating viewing. It's a big letdown at the end of a film which all in all is a bit disappointing. The story is at times quite plodding. Ellen, the key character, is completely detestable. Wilde disappoints and Price threatens to sink the whole production by himself. Tierney is solid if somewhat distant. Probably the best performance in the film actually comes from Jeanne Crain playing Ellen's adoptive sister Ruth. But Crain has a mere supporting role, it's really up to Tierney and Wilde to carry the film. Tierney may have been up to it but Wilde gives her so little help. As a film noir Leave Her to Heaven stands out much more for its uniqueness than its actual quality.
It's another Christopher Guest mockumentary and with a cast full of
certified comic geniuses it's hard to see how Guest could go wrong.
Look at who Guest has at his disposal: Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara,
Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Fred Willard. Is that enough? No? OK,
let's toss in Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch and Ed Begley, Jr. And of
course there's also Guest himself as a key part of the ensemble. These
are hilariously funny people. Which makes the fact that this is not a
hilariously funny movie a little puzzling. Best in Show is funny but
not outrageously so. A funny idea, certainly a funny cast, but not a
consistently funny movie. There are a few really funny moments. But the
movie ends up producing more wry smiles than big laughs. It leaves you
The movie takes place in the rather bizarre dog show world. We focus on five dogs, and their inevitably strange owners, as they make the trek to and ultimately compete in the big dog show in Philadelphia. There's a guy who literally has two left feet and whose wife apparently has slept with every man on the planet. There's a campy gay couple and a neurotic yuppie couple. A trophy wife, married to an oblivious elderly man, and her lesbian dog handler. And an aspiring ventriloquist. All in all a weird bunch. At times perhaps a little too weird for the movie's good. A lot of strange things happen to these strange people. Some of these things are funny but there are a bunch of gags and jokes which fall flat. The movie perks up a bit when we finally get to the dog show itself. That is thanks largely to the presence of Willard who plays perhaps the world's worst television color commentator. He's clearly the funniest thing this movie has going for it. All the other performers do reasonably well but there are times where things just seem a bit off. Maybe the story doesn't quite work, maybe the characters aren't really developed properly. With all these great comic stars you expect hilarity and you don't really get that. The stars do the best they can with the material but you feel that the material let them down a bit. They all have their moments. Posey in particular does really well. And even in a film chock-full of performers with such notable reputations there's room for some lesser-known actors, such as Michael Hitchcock and John Michael Higgins, to turn in good work as well. There's just the sense that director Guest didn't quite pull it all together. This is a movie with such a great cast. That cast could have been put to a little bit better use. Best in Show had such great promise. But just as only one dog can win the trophy not every film is destined for greatness. This film falls a little bit short.
Femme Fatale is a movie which takes its time in really getting going
but in the end it's worth the wait. It seemingly starts out as a
straightforward heist movie. Rebecca Romijn plays Laure, who's part of
a team of thieves who mean to steal a diamond-encrusted bra. They're
going to take it right off the model who's wearing it at the Cannes
Film Festival. Laure takes the model into the restroom where seduction
is on the menu along with theft. But just when Laure and the model, now
relieved of her diamonds, are really getting into one another things go
awry. Laure disappears with the diamonds. Her partners in crime are not
well pleased. Will Laure get away with it? Well, luckily for her a
series of events too fortunate to really be believed allows her to get
out of France. Less luckily events seven years later conspire to bring
Laure back to Paris. Her old partners anxiously await her return.
Laure's in trouble and she knows it. Extricating herself from this mess
will require an elaborate plan. And a patsy. Enter unwitting
photographer Nicolas who finds himself caught up in something beyond
his imagination. And something quite dangerous.
The opening heist sequence, while very well done, does go on perhaps a little longer than needed. And then the movie has to get Laure out of France and back again. All in all it takes quite a while for the movie to actually set itself up, to get to the real story. It's a complicated, at times convoluted, thriller. The movie is certainly intriguing enough to hold your interest but it does move rather slowly. But writer/director Brian De Palma manages to pay it off in the end. The movie's final twists and turns make the whole thing worthwhile. Everything comes together in quite smart fashion. Yes the movie got bogged down at times along the way but when you see the whole story you appreciate how well De Palma put the pieces of his puzzle together. The performances aren't great. Romijn is certainly not the most talented actress around. But she definitely looks the part of the sexy femme fatale. And her somewhat stiff acting actually kind of fits the role of the ice queen Laure. Antonio Banderas meanwhile seems somewhat bored with the role of Nicolas, he doesn't bring much energy to the proceedings. But he does make Nicolas sympathetic enough that you feel for the guy as Laure toys with him. And toy with him she does in so many ways. Laure is a woman not to be trifled with. Her story is compelling. The way De Palma presents that story borders on genius. Femme Fatale is a movie which keeps you guessing and which ultimately rewards you for sticking with it through its more mundane moments. Not an ordinary heist movie or a run-of-the-mill thriller. This is a movie with smarts, one which packs a surprising punch.
Trading Places may well be one of the most overrated comedy films of
all time. The film is really not the least bit funny. Not being funny
would be enough to sink the film. But, populated as it is with totally
detestable characters, Trading Places manages to be thoroughly
unpleasant as well as desperately unfunny. Really the only person who
comes away from this film with any credit at all is Jamie Lee Curtis
who plays that classic movie cliché, the hooker with a heart of gold.
Curtis's character, Ophelia, manages to have some charm to her and even
a little bit of wit in what is otherwise a monumentally witless
production. You don't get any laughs in this film but you do get casual
and overt racism, characters in blackface and entirely uncomfortable
scenes involving an amorous gorilla. And the one character you're meant
to sympathize with is a pretentious, arrogant snot who is not the least
bit sympathetic at all. This movie is a total misfire.
The story involves a pair of miserable old jerks, the Duke brothers, who like to play God in their spare time. For their own amusement these racist lowlifes decide to conduct a little social experiment. They arrange for their brokerage's managing director, Louis, to swap lives with street hustler Billy Ray. They frame Louis for some piddling little crime and strip him of everything. He loses his job, his home, his car, his money, his fiancée and his butler. He's penniless, out on the street. Poor guy, right? But Louis is such an unlikeable chap you don't even feel bad for the guy. Meanwhile Billy Ray gets the life Louis had...job, home, car, butler, the whole shebang. Well not the whole shebang, he doesn't get the fiancée because we can't have a black man involved with the precious white woman. No, the Dukes would certainly not allow that. Anyhow, Billy Ray takes to his new life rather well. Louis gets some help from the aforementioned hooker. It all leads up to...a bewildering frozen orange juice transaction? Thrilling stuff, right? There really is very little to recommend this film. The story is boring, the jokes fall flat, important characters are repulsive. The overly long film just goes on and on with nothing funny or interesting happening. There are more offensive moments than funny ones in this film. The film's final act is absolutely excruciating, by that point you want to cover your eyes. Curtis does a good job with her part and Eddie Murphy injects a little life as Billy Ray. But Dan Aykroyd is an unfunny disaster playing Louis. And while Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche are notably fine actors the roles of the Dukes do the performers no favors. The Dukes are such scum that it's impossible to appreciate anything the actors playing them do. It's pretty much impossible to appreciate anything regarding this film. It's a film which has somehow achieved a sterling reputation but which in truth is a massive disappointment.
Christian and Satine fall in love and what a great love story it could
be. Except this love, as the film tells us right at the very beginning,
is doomed. So there could be a touch of melancholy to this whole film.
But director Baz Luhrmann blows you away with the sights, the sounds,
the frantic energy of the Moulin Rouge. How can you be feeling glum
when you're having so much fun? This film draws you in and never lets
you go. Yes, the singing and dancing are quite good fun. But there is
that captivating love story too. We know there will be no happily ever
afters. But we love Christian and Satine just as they love one another.
You can't help but be charmed by this couple. And while giving you such
a lovely couple to root for the film also gives you a dastardly villain
to root against. The Duke, rich and powerful, wants Satine. But her
heart belongs to Christian. The Duke does not like this. Not one little
bit. Complications ensue.
Initially Satine's heart does not belong to anyone. She does not feel she is free to love anyone. She's the star attraction at the famed Paris cabaret Moulin Rouge. She's a singer, a dancer...and a courtesan, which is a fancy word for prostitute. When the owner of the Moulin Rouge, Harold Zidler, needs someone to finance the club's new show Satine knows what she must do. She will make the Duke believe she loves him so he will finance the show. And this arrangement is not without benefit to Satine, this new show will perhaps give her a chance to be a real actress. But there's a little mix-up. She comes to believe that Christian, a penniless writer, is actually the Duke. By the time she realizes her mistake Christian is already totally smitten with her. And then the real Duke shows up and things could get really messy. But a song and dance number saves the day. In this movie, when in doubt, a song and dance number is always the answer.
So the Duke ends up agreeing to pay for the show, which Christian will be writing. Of course Christian is much more interested in Satine than he is in the show. Eventually, through song of course, he will win her heart. Then it's a matter of keeping their love hidden away from the oblivious Duke. Satine starts spending all her time with Christian. For the good of the show you see. A girl's gotta rehearse, right? Wink, wink. This makes for a rather unhappy Duke and a very nervous Zidler who needs to keep the man with the money on board. Meanwhile, lurking in the background there is that knowledge that there will be no happy ending. The whole film is in essence told in flashback, Christian in 1900 telling us of the events which happened a year earlier. The Christian of 1900 is a completely heartbroken man, the movie tells us how he got to such a state. What had become of his beloved Satine?
Right from the start director Luhrmann lets us know this film is going to be a little bit different. The film's events may unfold in 1899 but the songs Luhrmann uses are not of that period, it's a contemporary soundtrack. When Christian breaks out into some Sound of Music you think that's interesting. When you then hear a little Smells Like Teen Spirit it becomes clear that absolutely anything goes in this film. And all these songs which would seem to be so out of place work so perfectly. Some, such as Satine's renditions of Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend and Material Girl, are so fitting they may as well have been written for this film. Other songs are a bit more of a stretch but Luhrmann makes it all work. And as much as Luhrmann it is the cast who make it work, most notably Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman playing Christian and Satine. Their acting is wonderful and their singing is strong and convincing. And needless to say they look the part as well. McGregor has an air of innocence and immense likability. And it is certainly easy to buy into the breathtaking Kidman as the woman who makes Paris's collective heart race. Jim Broadbent is also notably excellent as Zidler and he gets the film's funniest musical number as well.
This is a film with constant energy to it, full of life. It's a bit of a sensory overload. The costumes and color make for a visual feast. The songs are performed wonderfully, the dances are beautifully choreographed. The movie hardly ever stops to take a breath, it's constant motion. There are some moments where you wonder if the tone is quite right. The aforementioned Broadbent number is indeed funny but coming as the film takes a darker turn it seems a touch out of place. And then there are moments where maybe it gets a little too dark, where the Duke goes off the deep end and becomes too evil to take seriously. Yes, he needed to be the bad guy but not that bad. But these are small quibbles. All in all the film is a lot of fun. The story is engaging, the performances are terrific and the music kicks things up to a whole other level. You have your touching love songs and you have your wild, loud dance explosions. Every song, every snippet, serves a purpose. The film is somewhat over the top but gleefully so. It makes for great entertainment. Very fitting that the title of the show Christian is writing is Spectacular Spectacular. Moulin Rouge! is spectacular indeed.
High school is a weird time in a person's life. And it's about to get a
whole lot weirder for Olive Penderghast. Olive is a nice, if rather
anonymous, girl. She's not popular. She's not unpopular. She's just
there, pretty much invisible. Then, in the interest of shutting up her
somewhat annoying best friend, Olive makes up a story about having lost
her virginity to some college guy. Unfortunately this phony confession
is overheard by Marianne, leader of the pack among the school's group
of young religious zealots. Marianne spreads the word all over the
school. Olive isn't anonymous anymore. Everybody all of a sudden is
very interested in her. She uses her newfound notoriety to help out her
gay friend Brandon, pretending to sleep with him so he will be accepted
by his peers. This works for Brandon, but not so much for Olive,
furthering her reputation as a dirty slut. At this point Olive decides
to go all-in, fully embracing her new image as the school's resident
tramp. And this makes for a pretty fun movie.
Easy A is an homage to all those teen comedies of the 1980s we know so well. This movie may not be quite as good as those other movies it pays tribute to. But it's certainly good enough to provide some solid entertainment. The best thing this movie has going for it is Emma Stone who is absolutely fabulous in the role of Olive. Olive is a smart, charming, witty, endearing girl and Stone brings all of that out wonderfully. It's a star-making performance. The movie doesn't have very many huge laughs but it has its amusing comic moments and Stone nails each and every one of those moments. What the movie may lack in big laughs it makes up for with smarts. It's a very well thought-out movie, scripted with a structure that really works in delivering the story in the best possible way. It's a very simple story but the way it is laid out makes it work well. And while Stone is clearly the star, and weighted with carrying the film on her shoulders, the supporting cast adds a great deal to the proceedings as well. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci are terrific in playing Olive's exceedingly quirky parents. Thomas Haden Church plays one of Olive's teachers in a way that makes it very easy to see why he is Olive's favorite. And all of the younger performers fall comfortably into their roles as well with Amanda Bynes making a particularly good impression in the important role of God-loving Marianne, a great antagonist for Olive.
This movie takes Olive on quite a strange trip. Once she starts down the path of fake whoring there's the sense she may not quite understand what she's getting herself into. Things could get rather messy. But you always believe she'll be resourceful enough to extricate herself from whatever messes she may create. And you'll definitely be rooting for her to do so. Olive is a character who is very easy to love, full credit to Stone for making that so. Olive's smart and very charming. And so is the movie. Yes, it could stand to be a touch funnier. But there are enough laughs here to satisfy. Easy A definitely makes the grade.
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