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Is it still a roller-coaster ride if it's downhill only?
Whatever this film intended to be, it missed its mark regally. If the first 20 Minutes held an unsure promise of a light romantic comedy, then the remaining one hundred tedious ones not only dash this hope, but insist on introducing, then butchering, other genres, from "road movie" to "small-town idyll" to "self-discovery trip".
Although Drew, played by Mr Orlando Bloom, manages to portray a more or less sympathetic if innocuously lightweight character, and Ms Dunst, as Claire, probably couldn't help coming across as sweet to save her life, describing the rest of the cast as one-dimensional would be giving credit where none is due. Ms Sarandon, as Drew's father's distraught widow Hollie, shows not a hint of the talent we have seen from her so often, not that story or dialogue give her much of an opportunity of doing so, and the inhabitants of Elizabethtown attempt the portrayal of a combination of lovable stereotypes and dysfunctional small-town caricatures without ever managing to convey even the canned emotions associated with these clichés.
Beyond that, what remains is an exhausting feeling of relief glimpsing the final credits. After two hours of a downhill ride in which every scene seems the low point of the film, only to be outdone by the next one, it is reminiscent of the five stages of grief without the opportunity to bargain. If the first half of the movie splashes along, alternating between an over-the-phone love story, fittingly lacking intelligent dialogue, a flaky widow somewhere between denial and atonement, and the burial of a man whom we have never met nor care about by a group of people we haven't met and do not care about either, not to mention the side-story of the marriage of a couple who we, yes one might have guessed, didn't care about in the first place.
Had this been all, then this film could well queue up with so many other below-average romantic comedies destined for afternoon showing on local weekend television or to gather digital dust in some discount pay-per-view collection, but regrettably the coasting downhill ride is about to pick up pace.
The film's initial climax, for lack of a more apposite word, begins with a memorial service attended by all the culprits. A series of uninspired eulogies lead up to Hollie's speech before the assembled Elizabethtowners which invariably prompts vicarious embarrassment, similar to the impulse one gets of turning down the sound when some reality show nitwit intentionally, or worse unintentionally, makes a fool of himself. But a Susan Sarandon, recounting stories of erections, followed by singing and tap-dancing her way through the remainder of the eulogy is not the grand finale, but only a further low point with worse to come. This vaudevillian fiasco, followed by a would-be rock band composed of assorted relatives, culminates in a giant papier-mâché dove setting fire to the ball room and sending all guests scurrying for the exits; Deus ex machina meets Carrie. The final ten or so minutes of a denouement turned road trip is spent on Drew's paper chase across the mid-west which manages to pack all the shallowest clichés of an Americana apology into a condensed Smörgåsbord appealing only to the most undiscerning viewer.
On the bright side, there is one thing the viewer may cling to: after 123 minutes it is over.
Morning Glory (2010)
Add water, stir, wait 3 minutes ...
Take a young, attractive, highly motivated would be television executive lacking any experience, add a fledging, soon to be cancelled television morning show and the following off-the-shelf characters: (1) an aging, grumpy investigative reporter past his prime, (2) a grumpy, aging talk show host equally past her prime and (3) a grumpy if not aging managing executive who, for unexplained reasons, hires our young, attractive, highly motivated but inexperienced lead as executive producer. Further add a few odd-ball straight-men for comic relief and a couple of reasonably good lines, "a couple" meaning "two", and presto: a further petri dish film is born.
Given an eminently foreseeable story-line and one-dimensional characters, Ms McAdams, Mr Ford and Ms Keaton do a reasonable job attempting to breath some life into this film but even defibrillators have a maximum setting and for good reason; there is a point where honest attempts at resuscitation turn into superfluous and cruel mutilations of a corpse.
Larry Crowne (2011)
"Cute" is the word, ... at best
Mid-aged, low-level white-collar worker is fired for lacking a junior college degree while a disenchanted college prof. is caught up in a tedious job and an even more tedious marriage. As expected, after assorted misadventures, they find common ground.
The description "cute" is central to many of the other reviews of this film. That pretty much sums it up. Hanks and Roberts presumably couldn't do worse than "cute" if their lives depended on it. A foreseeable script with canned dialogue make for light, very light, entertainment, ideal for a late, late TV viewing when other channels are showing reruns of some Dwayne Johnson action flick, interrupted by thigh-master infomercials.
It's always nice to see both Pam Greer and George Takei in any kind of film (please translate "nice" as "cute"), but semi-cameos do not make up for anything at all.