Tag Archive | 4.5

87- Cyrus [4.5]

John, a middle-aged lonely divorced guy who, as the film opens, gets dragged to a party by his remarried ex-wife– who remains his best friend. After a few clumsy, drunken passes at a variety of women, John encounters Molly, an attractive single-mom who finds John’s social awkwardness appealing. They hit it off, and quickly begin a tender new relationship.

John C. Reilly is great at jumping back and forth between drama and comedy choices, and even playing somewhere between the two genres. That’s the kind of role he has as John in Cyrus, and yet, the performance didn’t work me. If anything, the standout for me in the film was Jonah Hill in the titular role. Though he falls into typical Jonah Hill mode later in Cyrus (albeit in a more subtle fashion. The writing required it somewhat anyway), the young actor plays an emotional damaged, if not manipulative character very well.

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85- Bellflower [4.5]

Follows two friends as they venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. Literally all their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang “Mother Medusa”.

Bellflower may be one of the first times in which I started off loathing a movie in the first act, then became heavily engrossed in the second, only to throw my hands up in frustration for the third. Director/writer/actor Evan Glodell and his crew are a talented bunch, but Bellflower is all over the place.

Thematically, the fractured narrative works, but the “gotcha” sequence towards the end is downright annoying. I’ll leave it at that as I shy away from big spoilers in my brief reviews, but if you end up loving Bellflower, email me and I can go into depth with what I found problematic.

As a final note: this question doesn’t need to be addressed in the vast majority of movies, but what the heck do any of these people do for a living? I would’ve been satisfied with someone at least mentioning going to work. Considering what occurs throughout Bellflower, I don’t believe the question to be a matter of semantics.

66- Bridesmaids [4.5]

Annie’s life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian’s maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she’ll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you’ll go for someone you love.

I guess I’m really in the minority on Bridesmaids. Running about twenty minutes too long, lacking storyline coherency and believable characters are just some of the many issues this film suffers. The male characters are so vastly underdeveloped that Bridesmaids falls into the lump of gender-specific comedies that write the opposite sex as simpletons with no depth. Chris O’Dowd’s lead turn as a cop is not only one of the more uncharismatic performances I’ve seen in a while, but his character is written increasingly unrealistic and makes nonsensical choices all the way up to the easily telegraphed ending.

And that is perhaps my biggest problem with Bridesmaids— the film squanders so many talents. Director Kevin Feig of Freaks and Geeks fame gets a decent enough performance from Kristen Wiig, and yet she still goes into her SNL-esque character moments. Ellie Kemper is either typecast as the mousy, socially inept girl, or lacks range to do anything substantial with her roles. Maya Rudolph plays it pretty well in a largely straight role, but is one of the many characters who has to clumsily deliver awkward exposition.

The best thing to come from Bridesmaids doesn’t actually take place in the film– it’s the financial success of the movie that will lead to more R-rated female comedies, a sub-genre that’s practically nonexistent. Hopefully next time around they do more with a talented cast.

44- Limitless [4.5]

An aspiring author Eddie Morra is suffering from chronic writer’s block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets as long as he keeps taking the untested drug.

Narration is somewhat looked down upon in screenwriting. Like most forms of writing, the rule of “show, don’t tell” is fairly important in a screenplay. The narration in Limitless is one of the bigger abusers of the device I’ve seen, as no insight whatsoever is given from it. Furthermore, just because a film has a sci-fi bend doesn’t mean the audience needs their hand held throughout the runtime, especially when the material is as straightforward as it is here.

With the exception of one scene in which he elevates the material, Robert de Niro mostly sleepwalks through Limitless. Though the premise is intriguing, you’d likely have a longer discussion on Bradley Cooper’s wig from the first act than the content of the film.