Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It’s not TV. It’s H…come to think of it; I don’t know WHAT it is…

Well, the free HBO/Cinemax weekend has come and gone and I can count on one hand the number of movies that I can honestly say was worth the time and effort. To Sunday’s list, I would add The Devil Wears Prada (2006), a smart, bitchy comedy set in the world of fashion that stars Anne Hathaway as an aspiring journalist who secures a one-of-a-kind job opportunity as second assistant to Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep), the autocratic doyenne of a fashion magazine (dubbed Runway). I’ve yet to be impressed by Hathaway (with the exception of Get Smart [2008]—in which I thought she was miscast—she seems to play the same character in everything she’s in) but Streep makes the most of her meaty part (I love how her character rarely raises her voice above a dull roar) and one of my favorite character actors, Stanley Tucci, is top-notch in his role as one of the magazine’s flunkies as well. If there’s a teensy flaw in Prada, it’s that the ending is a bit unsatisfying; the plot of the film features Hathaway’s Andy Sachs slowly selling her soul as she becomes more and more successful at her job—I would have liked to have seen a small bit of retribution happen to her at the close, but everything works out hunky-dunky. (Stupid happy endings…)

Knocked Up (2007), a comedy with a plot situation similar to Waitress (2007), sort of represents to me what I dislike about movie comedies today. It’s not that it’s devoid of laughs (some of the one-liners are first-rate, particularly the one from Paul Rudd who, after being scolded by his wife [Leslie Mann] for allowing the kids to get hyper, cracks: “I knew I shouldnt’ve given them all that meth”), it’s just that most the situations in the film really aren’t all that funny and could have easily been excised (particularly since the film itself is a little over two hours long—and it doesn’t need to be).

Here’s the story in a nutshell: pot-smoking slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen—who’s kind of a larger and cruder Albert Brooks) has a one-night stand with TV reporter Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), which results in Alison’s pregnancy eight weeks later. She’s decided on keeping the baby; he decides to become a more responsible individual in order to win her over—but to be honest, I never thought their characters clicked at anytime during the movie and I can’t help but think that writer-director Judd Apatow was trying to manipulate me into being on their side…which I refused to do (Rogen’s a loser, and Heigl’s character is a bit immature). Apatow, with the success of The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), has sort of become Hollywood’s flavor of the month. (I fell asleep watching Virgin, so my opinion probably counts for bupkiss.)

As an example of a gag that’s in the movie but could just as easily been removed in the editing room, Rogen and Rudd (he’s Heigl’s brother) decide to have a “guys’ night out” in Vegas and they stop by Rogen’s so he can get his gear. Rogen learns that his roommates have all contracted conjunctivitis (pink eye), which resulted from one of his roomies farting on someone’s pillow, etc, etc, etc. Another roomie happens by whose eyes are really red—but he explains he doesn’t have pink eye…he’s just really baked. Now—the described situation isn’t really all that hilarious (unless you’re a sucker for scatological humor) and it doesn’t advance the plot any—so why bother including it in the film? (Save it for the director’s cut!)

I made a valiant try at watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) but this one moves at such a glacial pace that I was fast asleep within the first hour (I’ve seen the 1939 film with Tyrone Power, so I think I know how it turns out). The 2007 James is one of those revisionist western homages undertaken by Hollywood from time to time; one of those movies where everybody talksslowanddeliberate…in order to make the dialogue sound more profound. So with that said and done, I hope to make my way back to Classic Film Land tomorrow with a pair of Walt Disney classics recently sent to me by my good chum and fellow blogger Thad Komorowski.

1 comment:

Craig Zablo said...

What! I missed a free week? Say it ain't so!