As he eases into adulthood at the age of forty, Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman), the over-educated, under-employed heir to the Valmont Hotel fortune, is cut off from his allowance following his parents abrupt divorce and tossed out into the unforgiving streets of the Upper West Side. Luckily, he is taken in by his old friend Dylan (Billy Crudup), and returns the favor by immediately falling for Dylan's girlfriend Beatrice (Olivia Wilde). As Conrad attempts to woo Beatrice while keeping both their relationship and his bank balance secret, Dylan tries to set him up with Jocelyn (Jenny Slate). Ever committed to the charade that he eventually finds difficult to maintain, Conrad quickly realizes his charm can only extend so far into debt. Now deep into an extensional reflection, will it take losing everything to make Conrad realize what he can truly become?Written by
When Conrad presses the recording button on his tape deck and speaks in the microphone, the tape is not rolling. The needles for the volume level don't move either. See more »
I, I think that there's something wrong with me. For some reason, I find that the girls that I like as human beings I'm not sexually attracted to, and the ones that I am sexually attracted to I don't particularly like as human beings. And on the rare occasion when one falls in both categories, they usually have a boyfriend or a husband - and Lord knows I've got enough of that bad karma to last me a lifetime.
Barry the Therapist:
These are classic Freudian symptoms, Conrad. Haven't you ever read about ...
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What a strangely almost good movie. It has lots of compelling elements, including Jason Bateman as the nice guy leading man (though here he plays a spoiled rich boy). It's a complex enough story, and a love story, and it's set in lovely Brooklyn (an almost Manhattan). It should work. And second leading man Billy Crudup is terrific—better than Bateman.
So enjoy it for what it is? Sure. But it will kludge along at times, and will get a bit obvious at other times. The women (girlfriends, mainly) are weakly cast (or weakly directed), which doesn't help. But mostly it's a matter of originality—which is missing.
In fact, the whole thing is alike a Woody Allen mashup wannabe. The voice-over will make you think too much of "Vicky Christina Barcelona" and some of the photography of "Manhattan" but in color. (They even cast Allen regular Tony Roberts in a role as, yes, a shrink.) But mostly it's "Annie Hall" redux. In fact, it's almost a remake—girl meets unlikely boy, they have a romance, it goes south, and then boy re-evaluates (with direct stealing of ideas like having the plot reappear as a play, or in this case as a novel). And even if you don't like "Annie Hall" (which I do), you have to admit it came first, and is wonderfully original.
To add insult to injury, the whole set design and shooting style is straight out of Wed Anderson, though toned down to the point of being dull. (Anderson is never dull, at least visually.)
So what is left? Lots of little moments—quaint remarks (skipping over the brazenly sexist stuff that is meant to be funny and is mostly embarrassing, like the soccer practice) and a generally nice flow of events. It's easy to watch even if you aren't enthralled.
Director and writer Peter Glanz is fairly new to the scene, and this movie is a seven day expansion of an earlier indie success, "A Relationship in Four Days." No wonder this one feels about three days too long. See it? Maybe, if you already know you like the cast or the genre. Or maybe just give the Allen films a second try. Worlds apart.
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