Pickings are slim for grown-up movies and that's what this is. So bought my ticket and was not disappointed. It's a movie for grown-ups, sharp and funny. The thing is, there's barely a whisper of romance or spark of chemistry in the whole set-up. Much focus is on women's bodies, their breasts, their pelvic muscles, their kegel exercises. This kind of frankness is extended to the marital experience of the shared bathroom, frustration of shared chores, mom's post-pregnancy body and baby poo. Funny? Actually, yes. Light or romantic, not for a moment.
The story didn't head in the direction I expected, given the title. It's not a sly comedy or satire of parenthood or how the experience changes a person or a couple. It's more like a story of Friends with Benefits. But the cast is great and it's not formulaic. On the whole, worthwhile. A number of scenes are quite good.
I like Rachel McAdams and the whole cast, in fact. It's *almost* worth seeing as a study of how a movie can go wrong despite great on screen talent. I've seen 30 minute sitcoms more satisfying than this empty effort which has all the components of a film except an actual story. Maybe it was the result of 3-5 screenplays?
There's little to hang onto here. It's like the movie makers teased viewers and promised a real story and then just went ahead with the pieces and comic bits instead. I did appreciate the subject matter, however, which spotlights inane entertainment vs. television news. So bravo for this.
What's funny is that the audience was laughing when news team began pandering with nonsense. That felt weird. Also there's a romance which gets about 8 min. of total screen time though its supposed to be important. That the actors McAdams & Patrick Wilson had zero chemistry didn't help. But my main complaint is that the movie never settled into or on anything. It jumped around and landed on fluffy bits or scenes of the lead running on NYC streets reminiscent of Mary Tyler Moore. You're about as into the story as possible watching the previews.
As for laughs, all goods ones are in the previews. So save time!
Plenty of elements came together and worked well. Still my overall impression was that something at the center went missing.
First, deprived of Bella's inner dialogue and her lightness & humor, the first half of the movie felt tentative. We sense what's going on with Bella but as viewers we are on the outside. We need direction. What drives the book is Bella's quirky humor and her ever escalating fixation with Edward. According to the story on the second day of school she is stricken with disappointment; Edward is absent. Even to her this is mysterious. With little encouragement from Edward, Bella becomes enthralled - nay, devoted to being by his side. Obsession culminates with her risky venture into the isolated meadow, alone with a superhuman killer. In the film this story arc is abbreviated and oddly spliced-up. The story feels a little thin. (Plus the voice of Edward, as played by Robert Pattinson, was a little startling, and not in a good way, and took some getting used to).
Secondly, the movie introduces a catalog of elements and characters from the book plus some added violence but less romance. (Same thing happened with the adaptation of Brokeback Mountain a far, far superior story and film, I know.) The primary story, the intense, scintillating and overwhelming perhaps fatal attraction of the two leads, is diluted. The movie is less sensual than the book. Wasn't there time for any over-the-top, big screen caliber romance? Instead some favorite scenes and dialogue went missing. ("You're intoxicated by my very presence") The overall effect is an enjoyable glimpse of many supporting story elements and an odd romance that feels too underdeveloped to be the force driving all the action. I suspect the scriptwriter tried a little too hard to dial down the passion appropriately for her intended adolescent audience. Where's the fun in that? Plus it made for an uneven movie.
Mysteriously, all the talent at work on this film couldn't dispel a TV movie-of-the-week sensibility. This distracted me for the first half of the movie. Why did the story come across so small? Maybe the movie didn't know what kind of tone it wanted to take. Lots of possibilities were on option in this chock-full story.
For the rest, I enjoyed myself. Plenty of talent in evidence. The actors did remarkably well. The tension, humor and yes, the tenderness of some of their scenes made for quality low-key stuff. I loved the setting, the adolescent angst, the actor who plays Charlie, the few extreme close-ups, the dream (or were they?) sequences. The parts just didn't quite add-up to a satisfying adaptation or night out at the movies. I can attest the movie improves upon second viewing :)
I expected little after the lukewarm critical response. The film is not a scathing satire of right-wing hypocrisy. But it is inspired. And rare for this genre, balanced. It's target is voter complacency and the winning-is-everything bloodsport of the presidential race. Believe it or not the film makes a good case for voting as a moral choice, a choice we should take seriously. Not the stuff of Hollywood hilarity for sure. Yet it is well-acted, charming and original. Hard to guess where the story is going. Great laughs are better for being unexpected.
Liberal-leaning viewers and critics may have been disappointed based on a trailer showing Dennis Hopper as a rapid pro-life candidate. The story here is about voters. And how far our major political parties are willing to go to court the swing vote. The genius of this film is that it takes targeted campaigning to its logical conclusion. This is the stuff professional persuaders are more and more paid to do.
Not perfectly executed, but an inspired premise with better than expected follow-though. A treat. So glad I went.
P.S. full disclosure, I am a very liberal Democrat.
I like both actors. Sandra Bullock was radiant in this film. Keanu Reeves was affable and charming. But the courtship slipped subtley past me. For a love story it's too abstract. One scene I can recall does hint at the pair getting better acquainted. But romance is fleeting here and the tone rather serious. I realize there are all kinds love stories and enjoy films about many, many of them -slow films, films dense with dialogue, and unrequited love, love between a ghost and a person, but this one didn't quite reach me. The story is about about people who repress feelings rather than express them. I wish the film had expressed more. However, will make a good video rental someday. For a night out though, The Breakup is superior.