Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE GUILT TRIP (2012)
Seth Rogen as a salesman making a cross-country trip with his mother, Barbra Streisand. They advertised this like it was a relentlessly wacky comedy, but it's actually pretty gentle, and plays the mother-son dynamic for more sweetness than laughs. I liked parts of it, but I didn't buy that Seth Rogen was so bad at selling his cleaning product that he never thought to actually demonstrate the goddamn thing to store reps. Barbra's good, because she's Barbra. It never really picks up steam, but like I said, it has sweet moments. **1/2

DON JON (2013)
As a director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a nice sense of style, and as a writer, he's got a great grasp of character. It's an interesting character study of a porn addict who falls in love for the first time (with Scarlett Johansson, sexier than I've ever seen her, and I'm saying this about Scarlett freaking Johansson... what is it about the trashy accent that does it for me?). It's not a really deep movie, but it's not a shallow one, either. And it's surprisingly sex-positive, given the premise; Jon's addiction to porn never makes him pitiable, and the movie never treats him like he's sick in some way. Sort of a "modern condition" movie that never sells out its character to make some kind of obvious point as though it's revalatory. It impressed me. ***1/2

PEEPLES (2013)
Predictable but cute comedy with Craig Robinson as a man in love who follows the woman he intends to propose to (Kerry Washington) and crashes her family's vacation, hoping to impress her judgmental, hardass father (David Alan Grier). I like all three of the leads here, and the likable cast keeps it breezy. It's nothing you haven't seen in a dozen other comedies recently, but the chemistry of the cast makes it a pleasant time-waster. ***

STUCK IN LOVE (2012)
It's a likable enough movie at its core, but it's so predictable and played out. Greg Kinnear is a writer, pining for his ex-wife (Jennifer Connelly) to the point of stalking her. Their daughter (Lily Collins) is also a writer, about to publish her first novel, who is desperately opposed to being in a relationship--which means, of course, that she finds herself in one, redefining her as a person. Their son (Nat Wolff), also a writer, is painfully in love with a troubled girl in her class, so of course he gets to be with her and tries to "save" her from her drug and alcohol problems. It's like What White People Dream Being a Writer Is: The Movie. And like I said, it's sometimes likable, it's just that the whole thing comes out of a kit, doesn't earn any of its big moments, and ends on the most false, wish-fulfilling note imaginable. The actors are all pretty good, which helps, but they can't quite sell it. I find Kinnear easy to like. I've never seen Lily Collins in anything before, but she's pretty good. I've seen Nat Wolff in two movies now and liked him; I'd love to see him get something substantive or at least really funny. Kristen Bell stole the movie for me with just three scenes, because of course she did, because I'm me and she's her and she's magic. **1/2

2 comments:

Reader Wil said...

You must be an expert in the field of glamour and glitter!
Do you only see American movies ? I am too lazy to go to Rotterdam to the cinema. I prefer to see movies at home, where I can have a nice cuppa and stop the movie whenever I want.
Thanks for your visit to my possums!

SamuraiFrog said...

I prefer to see movies at home, too. I just don't like the hassle of being around the crowds; if I go to the cinema it's usually on a Monday afternoon when there are fewer people. I like movies from all countries; in fact, movies with subtitles have helped me improve some of my concentration issues. Thanks for visiting!