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A Chef's Life (2013)
Weird hybrid of reality TV and a cooking show
The "2" is for the food and cooking, which often look delicious. But this show is so obviously faked, I am amazed people fall for this. Do they believe the couples on "Bachelor/Bachelorette" are genuinely dating and "in love"?
There is no real restaurant "Chef and The Farmer". It's a set for a TV reality show. Simple common sense tell you that no such upscale eatery could survive in a dreary, remote small rural village that is 90 minutes (each way) from the nearest (modest-sized) metropolitan area. You'd be lucky to have 5 customers most nights. It would be impossible to survive. No -- this was an admittedly clever idea for a reality show, and the "customers" are clearly fake, or showing up to get on TV. It was "pre-sold" as a concept for PBS (in SC) and then went national.
Vivian Howard is an attractive, 30-something lady, though her demeanor is often crabby. Of course, from other fake, scripted "reality shows" like American Pickers and Pawn Stars, we know this too is a "shtick". Her husband is rarely seen. They seem to argue a lot. I hope their marriage is better than it looks here. Both of them claim to have "worked in New York City" but if you do the math...they only spent a couple of years there out of college.
By age 26, Vivian was back home in rural North Carolina (a place she says upfront she hated and wanted to GET AWAY FROM)....hmm, why would anyone do that? NYC is the gourmet restaurant capital of THE WORLD. I could see going to a slightly smaller market, but a village in NC? where no customers exist?
BTW: I have talked to actual residents of this part of NC, and they have told me "Kinston is a poor, black-majority village, and no way any of the locals could possibly be eating at an upscale, fancy restaurant". Watch the show, folks. You can count the black people on one hand and have fingers left over. No black customers and no black STAFF. How can you live and work and have a business in a 90% black area, with no black people? Hmmm.
Howard's parents own a large farm, and are immensely rich. Check out the "man cabin" (or whatever they call it) -- it's not a shack. It's nicer than most people's homes! and HUGE! so these very rich people got their daughter to come back to NC, by first offering to support her, and her deadbeat husband (perhaps when she got preggers?) and THEN by offering to pay for her to have a "fake restaurant" and then they (or her husband) marketed the heck out of filming the "fake tribulations" for PBS....and the restaurant burned down.
No inkling as to how you'd survive that, or how someone who works 24/7 can be raising twins....or what kind of income you could possibly generate from a super-fancy restaurant in BUM you-know-what Egypt. (Of course, I know once it got on famous on TV, that did generate some business plus profits from books, PBS revenues, etc.. I mean INITIALLY.)
Every crisis and situation is fake and manufactured for TV cameras. I pity their kids. I pity the husband and the marriage. I'll be really happy when reality TV dies a much deserved death.
The Meddler (2015)
Hip deep in stereotypes
It's depressing to see a fine actress and lovely lady like Susan Sarandon reduced to doing this kind of comic shtick. There isn't much here you couldn't find in a 1950s TV sitcom about an "interfering mother" -- about the only surprise is that the character of Marnie Minervini is not Jewish, but Italian. (Speaking of that: would an Italian mother be bringing over BAGELS? not biscotti or cannoli? Really?)
The stereotype of the bossy smother-mother -- well-intentioned, but SO overbearing -- is a very, very old trope and yet the director here, Lorene Scafaria, seems to think she's struck comedic gold. A bonus feature on the DVD is an interview with Scafaria and her own real life mother, on whom the film characters are based...and it comes across as creepy & troubling, not cute. About the only thing original is that the "smother-mother" here, Marnie, is a baby boomer and not a member of the Greatest Generation...if you fall into that demographic, it is a bit jarring to realize you are now among the OLDSTERS being mocked, and not the "young hip generation" anymore.
But the problem with THAT, is when an overbearing mother of that former era was caricatured (unfairly I think), we KNEW someone of that age was a lifetime homemaker & mother, with no real education or career outside of that. So when their kids were grown and their spouse passed away, they had literally NOTHING else in their lives. That is very hard to accept when it comes to a boomer mom, who almost certainly had a career, went to college, etc. If we take Rose Bryne (age 38) and Susan Sarandon (who looks amazing at 70) literally...she did not have her daughter until she was 32.
Yet there is no sense whatsoever that Marnie has ever had a profession or career, even part-time...that she had any life beyond marriage & kids...that she has same-age friends (and not just her daughter's friends)...or a life in Manhattan that she has left behind...or that she has always hovered over Lori (Bryne) who at least in her late 30s, for Lori's entire life.
That's because Marnie is reduced to a stereotype; a meddling, clinging old crone with no life of her own. If Scarfaria thinks this about her own mother (besides mining her for lame jokes), it is pretty darn sad.
Of course the vehicle that finally gives Marnie "a new life" and gets her claws out of Lori (a little) has to be....a new romance, supplied by J.K. Simmons (who's as charming as always). Indeed, nice single men in their 70s are clamoring for gorgeous Marnie here, which frankly is not something I've seen much for women I know over 60. And in LOS ANGELES! In other words: it is apparently not possible for a woman to heal from widowhood or loneliness or clinginess...unless she finds a new lover/husband.
The other kinda distasteful element of the film is that Scarfaria (either reflecting real life OR a kind of cultural elitism) has made Marnie staggeringly wealthy. Of course, some people ARE really wealthy, but THAT also means the story is far less universal. Most older widows struggle financially -- your Social Security check is cut by a third when your spouse dies -- but not Marnie! SHE has apparently inherited MILLIONS from her husband, about which she acts as if he were a great-uncle who left her an unexpected inheritance. (Wasn't their wealth, their mutual assets, HALF HERS all this time? why was she SURPRISED to get it?)
Out of a combination of guilt, wealth, control, naivete, and self-destructiveness, Marnie seems driven to spend her millions inappropriately -- buying expensive Apple electronics for people she barely knows, and throwing a very costly, large wedding for two ALREADY MARRIED lesbian friends of her daughter ....a couple whom she has just met! -- at first offering them $13,000 as tax-free gift....but then, paying entirely for a wedding which is clearly more than 2-3 times that much, being a catered affair on a rented YACHT and including a very costly designer dress for the bride!
Though the whole concept is tedious, I think that last part lost the whole believability aspect for me. Even sitcoms have to be grounded in something relatable. If my mother spent a sizable chunk of her assets (and my future inheritance!) on a stranger's gay wedding (and not MY OWN wedding!)...I'd be properly concerned she was mentally ill or even showing signs of impending dementia. That isn't cute. It's troubling. It is troubling if the lesbian couple accepts this much money from a wealthy stranger, even as a gift. NOBODY here is behaving like anything resembling a real, normal human being in 2015.
Not funny. Sad.
Dreary adaptation of classic Heinlein story...
I give this a 3 out of 10 almost solely for the wonderful performance of Australian actress Sarah Snook as the protagonist. She can't save this mess -- nobody could -- but this is a career-making performance and she gives the film an emotional depth and resonance that otherwise it would utterly lack. I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future!
So OK: lot of folks here do not recognize this as an adaptation of a very old Robert A. Heinlein short story from 1958. Legend says he wrote it in one day. Heinlein is one of the classic masters of Sci Fi, author of "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Starship Troopers" among many others.
Actually, since they gave it the name "Predestination" (?) and not the original story title of "All You Zombies", it took me a good 45 minutes to figure this out. I hadn't read that story in years. It's very short -- a few pages -- and unlike the film which is very dark and dour, the STORY is humorous and breezy. It is clearly done as a lark, a kind of meta-joke. At the time Heinlein wrote it, for one thing, people knew virtually nothing about DNA. Also Christine Jorgenson was in the news, making people aware for the first time of transsexuals and sex reassignment surgery -- very shocking in that era.
On top of that...Heinlein wrote this around the time of the old humor song "I'm My Own Grandpa" (sung briefly in the film). Twirl all that around in a blender, and you get "All You Zombies". Also add some serious lack of knowledge about genetics, DNA, inter-sex and hermaphrodism. But again, it was a HUMOR story....meant entirely to be a brain twister. If you put yourself in a 1950s frame of mind, and not a 21st century frame of mind, you can see the humor. Heinlein wanted to come up with a story about someone who changed genders from female to male, AND had a baby. He wondered if you could do that, could you -- theoretically, with time travel (!) -- be your own parents?
Well, aside from the lack of time travel....this is stupid. You can't change genders that easily. A woman (even a hermaphrodite appearing as a woman) would not suddenly lose her womanhood because she had a difficult delivery, even if she had a total hysterectomy. (Do women TODAY who have hysterectomies become surgical males???) Even in the 1950s, it was hardly the norm to do forced surgery without consent, on an otherwise sane ADULT. (Here, Heinlein may have read about a few rare cases back then, where a MALE child had a traumatic accident to his penis, and so surgeons - with consent of the parents -- tried to turn such a victim into a female. These attempts utterly failed, BTW.)
On top of that...Heinlein knew astonishingly little about genetics. A child of two twin siblings (say, fraternal twins) would likely have horrible birth defects, from multiple copies of genes. It would be a perfectly terrible idea, not some brilliant way to create a "time travel agent".
Mostly though, it is a short breezy story full of bad sexist jokes (the worst is that the heroine wants to go into space, and so joins an organization of female prostitutes who service astronauts (!!!) called W.H.O.R.E.S. Yes, Heinlein was really THAT sexist and misogynistic (but then, it WAS the 50s).
Spinning this out into a full length film and making it glum & serious just ruins whatever charm the original short story had. I think it could have been a terrific episode of the original Twilight Zone, had they been able back then to deal with issues about gender, sexual identity and unwed motherhood. But at this length, and with this overly solemn attitude, it feels too much like it was plucked from sci fi historical obscurity SOLELY because it is about "gender identity" and transsexual surgery. As such, they can't participate in Heinlein's JOKE over this, but have to be politically correct. It sinks this slight story like a massive two-ton boulder strapped to a piece of tissue paper.
Among the epic failures....Ethan Hawke is badly miscast, since he looks NOTHING like Sarah Snook, and unless sex reassignment surgery makes you TALLER and muscular, no excuse about a "face transplant" will explain the differences. In male makeup, Snook looks a bit like a younger Mickey Rourke, and I can only imagine how good he would have been in this (25 years ago, before he ruined his face boxing). Surely they could have found someone who was slightly built, and had more of a resemblance to the actress though.
Unfortunately this reveals the problem in translating this to the screen: in a STORY, we see the characters only in our imagination. In a FILM, if you see right off that the time travel agent and Snook look nearly identical, you would be in on the twist right away (yes, even with a "face transplant").
In any event, the whole thing doesn't work at all, and is doomed by its 1950s ideas about sex reassignment surgery and even gender identity. No surprise this went direct to video.
Watch it only to see Sarah Snook; she is worth sitting through the lameness. I predict she will be a major actress in short time.
The Longest Week (2014)
Boring, facile rip-off of Woody Allen...
And Whit Stillman. And Wes Anderson. No question here who first time director Peter Glanz looks up to and idolizes! He has even copied the whole idea of setting a film in the 60s....but I assume (from the "making of" featurette on the DVD) that he is far, far too young to have even been a small child in the 60s. This isn't nostalgia or history...it is just homage to directors who are 30 years older than himself.
If you are going to go to the expense and trouble of setting a film in a specific historical setting, you'd think you would have a POINT to it...it has some link to history of that era....or it references something in your personal life, or that of a relative. Or it's based on a novel or incident from the past. Otherwise, it feels pointless. The director clearly has no real feeling or nostalgia for the past, except for "mod fashions of the 60s". Or maybe it has something to do with the success of "Mad Men", which has done more to make the 60s have a comeback than anything else I know.
But "Mad Men" is making a point about how the history of the 60s, is the underpinnings of so many things we think and do today...part of our evolution as a culture. "The Longest Week" has no point. It is utterly trivial.
The story is about a useless trust fund brat (Jason Bateman) who is 40ish and suddenly his absent parents cut him off (for no real reason). He has to crash with his best friend, a successful pop artist (Billy Crudup). He meets a beautiful model (Olivia Wilde, a little long in the tooth for a fashion model of the era -- Twiggy was SIXTEEN) and they have a week-long affair while he is displaced from his lavish lifestyle in his parent's luxe hotel suite.
That's IT. He "suffers" (stealing money from his friends) for ONE WEEK. This week is so transformative, he grows up (sort of).
I don't know a thing about the director, but it made me wonder if he was this same sort of trust fund brat. In the post 2008 economic climate, it is REALLY hard to work up sympathy for some billionaire's spoiled man-child.
No surprise this film was shelved for over 2 years before going direct to video, based I am sure solely on the star names. In that time, bit part player Jenny Slate (she plays a blind date of the hero) rose to prominence in the (much better) indie film "Obvious Child"; as a result, she is given TOP BILLING. But she only has a couple of brief scenes.
I enjoy 60s nostalgia as much as anyone (I was actually around then!) but this feels as fake and sterile as a display in department store window.
It did occur to me watching this...it is clearly set in about 1966 (from the clothes model Beatrice wears). If Conrad Valmont (Bateman) is 40....today, in 2016, he would be...90. That shook me up a bit. It's worth thinking about. Clearly it never crossed the director's mind (i.e., what happened through the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, to these vapid characters).
(I would have been interested to see the original B&W short that the director showed at Sundance. Too bad, it is not included on the DVD extras and I can't even find a link to it on Vimeo or anywhere on IMDb.)
The X Files (1993)
Reboot of the famous 90s series
I was a big fan of X-files back in 1993; in fact, I was taping every episode on my VCR because I was sure it would be canceled before the first season finished, and back in those days, there was no guarantee it would end up on VHS tape (let alone DVDs). Yes, children, there was a time when a short-lived series without a big fan base simply disappeared into the ether! And I loved it, and wanted to preserve it.
Silly me! it went on to become a mega-hit and one of those defining series that (like Star Trek or CSI) has become part of our culture and even our language.
The show was always uneven -- a superb episode would be followed by one that was silly or illogical. They would set up character parameters, then violate them. The show would veer from a kind of serious, breathless "alien invasion" theme -- to one about people with tails, or deformed hillbilly mutants. (Some of those episodes are quite funny, but seem to be another show entirely.)
A move in Season 5 to LA from Vancouver ruined the gloomy Pacific NW mood of the show in my opinion. It became more and more uneven in quality and illogical in theme (though I kept watching) until the original actors quit, and were replaced (Robert Patrick, Annabelle Gish). After that, really, it was not the same show AT ALL. A case of "false advertising". It was so profitable, that the producers (and Chris Carter) simply could not let it (and the $$$) go. A couple of lame theatrical movies followed, never able to remotely capture the magic of the early years of the show.
So -- now, 23 (!!!) years after the premiere, they have rebooted the franchise....keenly aware that fans really only loved the early years of the show. So they copied everything, even the titles down the last molecule. For me, it's very nostalgic. I half expect to find Bill Clinton is still President! LOL! Only....only....well, it's not 1993 and a lot of water has gone under that bridge.
For starters, David Duchovney (Fox Mulder) and Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) are just....old. (Hey, I am too! I was a young whipper-snapper of 37 when this was first on! But folks, I am not seen in closeups on HDTV.) And frankly, they look tired and worn out. I don't blame them for aging. I blame them, Chris Carter, the writers & producers for not accepting that people age and change, and failing to show the characters as having moved on in some way. You can't just put your same outfit on, go back to the same office with the same poster and pretend it's 1993 and nobody will notice your wrinkles and crow's feet.
Somehow, Duchovny manages to now look OLDER than AD Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) -- how'd that happen? In '93, Duchovny was 33 and somehow looked 25. His behavior and his crazy beliefs seemed absolutely believable in a young, brash guy a few years out of college or the FBI Academy. Today, Duchovny looks every year of his 55; tired and without energy.
And Gillian Andersen? honey, you need to stay out of the sun or use more sunscreen. And what's with her hair? I think somewhere here it says it is a wig, because she didn't want to dye her blonde hair red again for the part....well, it looks strange. Greasy, flat. She had such gorgeous hair back in the 90s....she was an archetypal redhead, with peaches & cream skin. I guess that type does not age well. She's only about 47, but looks 55. (Frankly, this shook me up.)
On the other hand: the 3 new episodes (2016) of "season 10" -- as if the years 2002-2016 are brushed off, as irrelevant? hello? -- have been all quite good. Vintage X-files, as if the bad years (roughly 1998-2002) of the show, where it clearly jumped the shark (or had different lead actors) never happened! If you can overlook the aging stars... then the writing and special effects have been excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed each show, despite the pangs I felt every time I looked at them and realized 23 years have gone by (and that the world itself is a very different place today).
I suspect this will work nicely for a short 6 episode run....but I hope nobody gets the idea of bringing the show back on regular series basis. I don't think it could work long-term. It reminds me, in a way, of those Star Trek movies, where the original cast got older and heavier and sadder looking with each outing, until you sincerely wished they would check into some 25th century Assisted Living home. Sometimes TV series are best left in the era in which they were created; a kind of time capsule.
Was there a real reason to reboot X-Files (besides the obvious: money and the fact that nobody involved ever had this kind of mega-success again)? The creative process means we have to move on and invent NEW things, with each generation....not endlessly recycle and reboot the old.
In short: bittersweet....and yeah, I'll watch all six new episodes. After that, please: R.I.P., X- files. Let the 90s be in the past, and move on.
Green Card (1990)
7 Stars....for the Apartment
I saw this in the theatre in 1990, and a few times on TV, but last night I caught it again on late night TV for the first time in years. 25 years, but I had the same reaction to it, LOL.
This is a perfectly terrible, unfunny movie with a script that would be lame on a 30 minute sitcom. It was made solely as a vehicle to introduce Gerard Depardieu to American audiences, and as such was a failure. It also showcased the lovely Andy McDowell, but rather unfairly -- she's either pregnant or post-pregnant here, and although radiantly beautiful, she is hulking around in huge, baggy jumpers and tops. Considering Depardieu is a heavy set man, the combination isn't romantic at all. It's like a "before" ad for Weight Watchers.
I'm not saying a comedy about two heavy set people can't be done -- of course, it could be and delightful, with lots of avenues for humor. But that's not how this framed AT ALL. Their weights are not alluded to, except briefly when George (Depardieu) wrongly guesses Brontë's weight as 140 lbs (she says "125 lbs"...well, maybe when not preggers).
I think this pretty much restricted the script to "no nude scenes".
And oy, the plot: unrealistic and leaden. Not only does immigration law in the US work NOTHING like this (is it possible the all-Aussie crew had no idea?), we are talking about a pretty serious crime. It's not "cute" to defraud the INS. George has no reason to do all this. He could have applied for a work visa, and waited it out. Also, come on -- he's what? 45 or older? What has he been doing all this time? Frankly, though the script was apparently WRITTEN for him, Depardieu is entirely WRONG for it -- and unfunny -- every scene is just painful. George needs to be an eager YOUNG guy, maybe 25 or 30 with some real goal -- something he would NEED to be in America to accomplish.
OK, so why 7 stars? Honestly, I remember this movie well for one reason -- it is shot in the loveliest, most charming apartment I have ever seen. It is truly the apartment of my dreams. I've never forgotten it, and 25 years after, I could have described it down to the last detail. I suspect it is only a movie set, but OMG, what a set. (The building itself is real.) Never mind it would have cost a fortune, even in 1989, and never mind it is probably a CO OP (meaning you buy in, and not rent it, and we are talking MILLIONS of dollars). I don't care. It's a dream and a wonderful one -- oh that greenhouse...the koi pond...the fountain.
This was the beginning of the shabby chic style, and it was never showcased better than here. Kudos to the set designer. I want to live here. I just don't want to live with fat annoying George, or dull matronly Brontë.
Consider watching this with the sound turned off.
Yume to kyôki no ôkoku (2013)
Yes, it IS surprisingly downbeat
I was majorly disappointed in this documentary about legendary animator Hiyao Miyazaki and his famous Studio Ghibli (that produced such iconic animated films as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke to name a few.
First let me say that I near-worship Miyazaki. When I first found his work in the mid-90s, I had a fantasy of flying to Japan, prostrating myself at the front door of Studio Ghibli and begging for a job as the lowest underling -- sweeping floors, making tea -- just to be near the artists & their work. OK, a silly mid-life fantasy. But still. I adored them, and I still consider Miyazaki the most pre-eminent animator of the last 35 years, and Studio Ghibli makes Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks look a bit lame (his hand drawn animation blasts their computer graphics into space dust).
But this documentary is the epitome of bad documentaries. It's fragmented. It's boring. If you have not seen most of films, it won't even make sense. They give no framework for understanding WHO he is or why he is important (or why his presumed retirement is an irreplaceable loss for the world of animation). A good documentary could be on rice farmers in the Sub-Sahara, and be seen by someone who has never heard of them, and actually make you understand and appreciate the subject. This documentary does the OPPOSITE -- it took someone and something I absolutely adore and revere, and made them more boring than math homework.
For starters, the film is in Japanese, and they thought so little of it as to not dub any of it. It's grueling to watch. (There is more footage of the studio's adorable snub-tailed cat than Miyazaki!) The subtitles are so poorly done, you often cannot read them against the backdrops. This is inexcusable. It would have taken very little effort to have the narration dubbed into English.
About all I got out of this (besides meeting their cat!) was that the studio itself is interesting - - a light filled and charmingly modest space. We also see what I THINK was Miyazaki's home (they do not make it clear) and again, it's a large and homey space, but nothing fancy. I imagine if one toured the home of John Lassiter or Brad Bird or any Disney exec, you'd see something on an entirely different scale of bling. You get to see nature surrounding Studio Ghibli and the rooftop garden, which is a glimpse into the natural beauty often reflected in the films. That much is nice. But there isn't too much of it.
Most of the film is the rather dark and depressing personality of MIyazaki. Good thing I never became his gofer/tea girl, because I thought he would be a warm, grandfatherly person full of light and imagination. Ummm....not. He's an "end of the world" type, and strikes me as depressed. His colleagues and co-workers come off as non-entities (though I am sure they do important work). I was surprised not to see evidence of his family (besides the son, Goro, whom Miyazaki makes painfully clear is not talented enough to take over the studio). Supposedly Miyazaki based the characters of May, Seitsuke, Kiki and San on his granddaughters. They must be young adults by now. It would have been nice to have seen them or at least some photos of his family. (If he is married, they do not mention his wife.)
I have probably seen films like Totoro and Kiki 10-12 times each, if not more and remain fascinated with all Miyazaki's work. I like some better than others, but all of them form a rich cultural treasure chest. THIS documentary -- I fell asleep somewhere around the last third. FELL ASLEEP. It is unbelievably dull. How you can make such a fascinating person dull is beyond me.
The Homesman (2014)
Sorry I bothered to watch this
(Some plot spoilers below, be warned!)
I have to rate this one star, because I felt totally exploited having sat through this. It presents itself (falsely) as the story of a charming, tough and pragmatic woman (a spinster, in that era) who has her own farm and is very independent and competent. She volunteers to take 3 insane women back from the Nebraska wilderness to "civilization" in Iowa, and along the way, picks up a drifter who is about to be hung. She saves him, and after a variety of typical "journey through the old west stuff" (Indians, rustlers, etc.), she abruptly kills herself. He tries to abandon the crazy women, but then has a change of heart and delivers them to Iowa.
Hilary Swank is very fine in her role as Mary Bee Cuddy, but god what a waste of her talent. She is presented as a strong character, and then kills herself because she is rejected (for the 2nd time in the film) by a man she throws herself at (the drifter, played gruffly by Tommy Lee Jones). This is incongruous and inconsistent with everything we've been shown up to this point. It would have made more sense if aliens had landed in a space ship.
There is no way a tough pioneer woman like Mary Bee would have killed herself over a romantic rejection. It makes no sense. It is also beyond ridiculous that anyone would consider her "ugly" back then -- check out some photographs from the 1850s. The most gorgeous celebrities of the day were not what we modern folks would have considered "hot" -- no makeup, greasy hair, etc. Mary Bee would have been a STONE FOX in 1850. Even if she'd been crippled, lame, pockmarked and blind in one eye -- her money and land would have attracted SOMEONE. There was a shortage of women in the Old West. This is a FACT. Men could not be choosy the way they are today, in a large modern city.
On the other hand, Tommy Lee Jones is a grizzled man in his late 60s. He really was repulsed by the attention from a 31 year old woman? even if she was fat and covered in pimples, he would have probably been so grateful to have sex, he would have fallen on his knees in gratitude.
There is something mentally wrong not with the 3 insane ladies here (whose back stories are very choppy and vague -- and it is not plausible that 3 of 6 women in the same town would have the same mental breakdown at the same time), but with the AUTHOR and SCREENWRITER for putting this hateful rubbish on the screen. It has to be the most anti-feminist, female-hating movie I have seen in my life, positing that a woman who is "plain" (which Swank very obviously is NOT, making it idiotic) has to kill herself, because not having sex or failing to marry is such an absolute disaster. Never mind the many thousands of spinsters of this era (some of them very famous: Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, among others). It was not all that uncommon to remain single in the 19th century (for men or women).
Also it cannot be that surprising that Mary Bee couldn't find a husband in a tiny prairie settlement with approximately 10 people in the entire TOWN (6 of won are other women, 3 of which are insane). Didn't any of the husbands of the insane women want a new wife? a mother for their children? Yeesh.
Near the end, as if to rub it in, 70 year old Tommy Lee Jones proposes to a comely 16 year old waitress (Hailie Seinfeld, utterly wasted) as if to prove that "men only want extremely young hotties...see?"
If this was not a DVD borrowed from the library, I'd burn it. Avoid at all costs.
Wretchedly unfunny "comedy"
I thought "Identity Thief" was a pretty bad movie, that exploited poor Melissa McCarthy for her size. But the actress and her husband actually wrote and produced "Tammy", so I am forced to conclude this not "fatty bashing" but that she actually seeks out these roles -- or I should say "THIS ROLE", because its beginning to seem they are all alike. She keeps playing the SAME repulsive character, who is verbally foul mouthed and stupid. (Her weight is really the least of it, though exploited for "humor" as she continually gets hurt, hit, trampled, etc.)
Sadly, there is material here that could have been genuine and humorous -- something about our declining economy, where a middle-aged woman might be stuck working at a lousy fast food restaurant for $7.25 an hour. Alas, this source was not even considered. Like so many movies emanating from the high & mighty in Hollyweird, tucked away in their mansions & gated BelAir communities, "Tammy" simply sneers down from on high, at the "awful low-life rednecks"....as if they were a species apart (you know, from us tasteful people who are slim and never make mistakes).
The story is reed thin -- Tammy is a pathetic loud-mouthed violent loser, who in one day is fired from her lousy fast food job AND comes home to find her husband cheating on her. She leaves on a road trip -- but because she has barely $60 to her name and no car, she has to take along her alcoholic grandmother. They go from place to place, having adventures or incidents that do not contribute to the story line or even make sense....for starters, it took me until nearly the end of the film to realize this is supposed to take place in Louisville, Kentucky. Tammy and Grandma are headed to Niagara Falls, but someone end up in the Mark Twain National Forest -- in Missouri. Look at a map, you'll see how absurd this is.
The biggest flaw in the film is that Melissa McCarthy is a woman in her mid-40s, and looks it. Nothing wrong with that. But the character of Tammy appears to be not a middle aged loser, but an affectless young woman, maybe 23. She has no backstory, no children, no explanation for how she ended up working fast food in her 40s. I can only imagine how good someone like Rebel Wilson might have been with this role! McCarthy has badly miscast HERSELF. For proof of this, she has also cast Susan Sarandon (age 67) as her GRANDMA, and Alison Janney (age 54) as her MOM. This is only possible if each woman gave birth at 12. If Tammy is really 43 as McCarthy is, then Sarandon is exactly right to be her MOM. Why add another character? Janney does exactly nothing here, and has about 4 lines of dialog. Is it vanity or what to pretend McCarthy is in her 20s?
Susan Sarandon, god knows, is a wonderful actress, and totally game -- she really tries here to play out of type, in baggy clothing and prosthetic swollen feet -- but it's hopeless. She is a slim vibrant lady in her 60s, who looks about 52. In fact, she looks miles better than McCarthy, who is made up to look just wretched. (It is apparently not enough for Tammy to be fat -- she is also slovenly, with unwashed stringy hair and wearing the same hideous outfit throughout.) You do wonder how two slim women like Sarandon and Janney raised a morbidly obese daughter.
As slovenly as she is, Tammy apparently OWNS her own home -- which is a charming Craftsman style, furnished like it was featured in House Beautiful. Huh, how does such a total slob (whose car is disgusting and falling apart) manage such a gorgeous house? How does she afford it on a fast food salary? Why does she walk away from a home she OWNS, taking only a bag of clothes and never expresses the slightest concern for her furniture or possessions?
Although nearly every plot point is grating and humorless, the low point is when the two women go to a bar, and immediately hook up with a father and son combo -- thankless roles for Gary Cole and Mark Duplass (hope they were paid a lot, cuz otherwise I don't get it). Cole, who appears to be about 55 is immediately drawn to grandmotherly Sarandon, with her orthopedic shoes and swollen ankles (despite many hot women in the bar) and in minutes, they are having sex in her car. On the other hand, Tammy is pursing the son, in the most aggressive and repulsive way possible (she is shown hitting shamelessly on every man there, oblivious to their disgust at her appearance and apparently thinking herself a "hottie") -- he initially shows repulsion at her -- but the script has him suddenly having a change of heart and falling in love with Tammy, for no believable reason -- she's a self-destructive moron, lives 2 states away from him, is hideously unattractive -- but he's not only abruptly smitten (after being repulsed!), but bails Grandma out of jail to the tune of $1600. Yeah, right.
Almost as bad is a finale set at a giant lesbian Fourth of July party. Not only desperately unfunny, but a tragic waste of the very fine actresses Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh. How bad is it in Hollyweird these days, that actresses of their caliber have to play "second fiddle" to an untalented and unfunny and painfully unattractive figure like "Tammy"? There is some story there, probably way funnier and more poignant than this one.
Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Very poorly constructed, cheaply-made documentary
Having read about this case, and also having seen the pseudo-documentary "Catfish", I was drawn to view this film. It is a documentary; the OTHER 2012 film also called "Tallhotblond" is a fictional treatment of the story directed by Courtney Cox. I have not seen that, but I can't imagine it could possibly be done more poorly than this.
The worst part? It is "narrated" by an actor pretending to be the victim, which of course means fictionalized invented dialog that never happened. OK in a fiction treatment, NOT OK in a serious documentary. The death of this innocent young man is an appalling tragedy, but putting words in his mouth is just lame. The SECOND worst part is how much of the content is interviews with a psychologist who had NO (zero!) involvement with the case, never met any of the participants or interviewed them, and is simply pontificating in a moral/emotional way he is not entitled to about the case. You might as well have spent time interviewing my Aunt Tilly.
A lot of time is given to the murderer -- "marinesniper" was his internet name -- who is self-serving and making excuses and blaming others for the fact that he MURDERED an innocent man that he incorrectly believed was a love rival for an internet flirtation with a woman he idiotically thought was really a "tall hot blond" and only 18. Of course, she was no such thing. He'd never even met her in person.
The whole film basically is a blame fest on the lady (Mary), a 46 year old, lonely housewife in a failing marriage, who disguised herself as her attractive young daughter Jessie while online. This is treated as if she herself were a criminal for indulging in what I am sure seemed like harmless, pretend flirting.
Not one person (the shooter, the victim's family, the pontificating psychologist, the woman's ex-husband) seem to have considered that a homely, lonely middle-aged woman could have probably never gotten flirtatious attention and attracted sexual desire WITHOUT some kind of false internet persona. BTW, this is the exact situation of the film "Catfish" (though nobody was murdered or harmed in anyway in that story) -- some young men were FOOLED by a middle-aged, plain-looking lady who was enjoying some sexy internet flirting. That woman was ALSO using the persona of her teenage daughter (but with photographs of a total stranger she found online).
What this really tells us is NOT about the horrors of the internet -- where what you think are friends are phonies -- but shows us just how miserable life can be if you are an older woman, perhaps not physically attractive or overweight. You have no options for romance in real life, and to get flirtations or romance even on the internet, you must lie. Had Mary Sheiler tried to attract "marinesniper" (a lonely guy her own age!), he would not have spent 2 minutes willing to talk to her, because she was not "tall, nor blond, nor hot" enough to spike his interest.
Are homely, plain or overweight women in mid-life condemned therefore to sterile lives of total loneliness and rejection? That seems to be the conclusion of this documentary, which has the nerve to blame Mary (who never faced any charges whatsoever) for the murder of young Brian! and let the real murderer off the hook. On what planet does a jilted lover (no matter how deluded about his "loved one") get the right to MURDER anyone he sees as a rival? Surprisingly, this was DIRECTED by a woman (Barbara Shroeder). I wonder how old she was when she made this film, because she is utterly lacking in sympathy for this woman -- who lost her marriage, her husband and her relationship to her own daughter because of her deceptive flirtations online (most of which did not lead to any murder or mayhem). Her judgment was awful, her use of her daughter's photos pretty sleazy -- but she is a sad and lonely case. Not a killer! BTW: I can't think of a cheaper shot than to use so many photos of Ms. Sheiler, with the intent of letting viewers know "she's a real DOG, isn't she? nobody any man would ever desire".
On top of this, the film is painfully slow and relies on showing typed instant messages rather than any action or investigation. Worst example of misogynist reportage I have seen in a very long time. Avoid.