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The Informant! (2009)
Informant: Off-Beat Take on a True Crime Story
I don't like to read advance reviews any more than to get the gist of the movie, so I thought the comedic take on this crime story was a nice change of pace. Enough, already, with the holier-than-thou full-blown Gothic orchestral drama: this film's soundtrack reminded me of the generic music they used on "public service films" TV stations used to show at 5:30a.m., you know, stuff like "Your Dairy and You" or "Adventures in Crosswalk Safety." Or maybe it was just elevator music. Casting Joel McHale and Scott Bakula as the two FBI agents helped convey the notion that we shouldn't take this movie too heavily: McHale because he's done so much funny stuff that was intentionally funny, and Bakula because he's done so much stuff that was unintentionally funny. A perfect balance. Melanie Lynskey as the crook's wife was interesting: couldn't figure out if she was so blindingly trusting of her husband, or so stupid not to figure out what he was up to all those years. Just be glad he was only bilking people out of millions, not cheating on you, is that it, sweetie? OKFine. This is the kind of film Peter Sellers would have flourished in, and Matt Damon is a commendable choice to carry on that tradition: bring out the humor in the character by playing it straight. The Dick Smothers cameo was the icing on the cake.
All About Steve (2009)
Great satire of TV News
I went in to the theater for the eye candy (Sandra Bullock), and came out laughing at the great job of parody they did on my former area of employment (TV News). And they do a nice revision of the main plot of "The Big Carnival" by Kirk Douglas - not a comedy - about an unscrupulous journalist (is there any other kind...) who tries to milk every drop from a man-trapped-in-cave story to jump-start his career. Sandra does a fine job of portraying her character realistically, as much realism as you can expect in a comedy/satire. This is what they used to call "screwball comedies" back in the black-and-white film era, except that the male actor always had talent. I haven't seen any evidence yet that Bradley Cooper gets work for any reason except being cute; no problem, talent will not be required from him for another ten to fifteen years. Thomas Hayden Church, as usual, nails the self-absorbed pompous airhead character they always have him play. That's OK, if you're good at only one thing and can make a career of it, at least he's a step ahead of Bradley. My main disappointment was that the apple-head sculpture website they mention for one character doesn't exist. You type in the domain name, and it takes you to the movie website. I wanted apple-heads, doggonnit! Oh, and they didn't put Katie Mixon to nearly enough use, what a waste of......TALENT! This one is a keeper on my Sandra Bullock DVD shelf.