Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2007 Films in Review (part 2 of 5)

Part 1 (w/ intro) here.
NOTE: Spoilers Abound

Gone Baby Gone
Ben Affleck’s directorial debut got a lot of quality reviews and it’s certainly a good film. Amy Ryan’s performance as, um, Bostonian white trash was justifiably lauded, and Casey Affleck does a fine job as the protagonist. Unfortunately, the movie has a few pretty severe flaws which prevent it from reaching the next level. The biggest of these being that they actually film and show us something that never took place. The second biggest of course is the convoluted plot featuring some very suspect choices by some of the characters. But the tension is powerful in certain scenes, and Affleck shows that he does have some potential when it comes to helming movies. It’s certainly no modern classic, but one people may want to watch, particularly if they put together sequels based on the Casey Affleck character, which sounds likely.

Michael Clayton
In what is ostensibly a suspense movie, they removed all the suspense. Why didn’t they pick a character to focus on and just tell their story? We know more than each of the characters do every step of the way. We even know what's going to happen to Clayton's car because they show us in the first scene for no apparent reason. The acting was solid and the potential was there to be a very good film, but by taking the easy way out, they missed all the big payoffs. A deleted scene on the DVD showed a totally different side of Clayton's character. Eliminating some of the fat (his son, his brother, his bar, etc) and including that one scene would have done wonders. Oscar nominations and wins tend to legitimize movies, but this movie will be one of those where people wonder why it was so lauded considering those flaws.

Many people have complained about the precociousness of Ellen Page’s character saying, “16 year olds don’t talk like that.” However, I had no problem with that. In fact, I found few problems with the film. There were some major verisimilitude issues – most egregiously Michael Cera’s performance on the track team. First of all, a kid with babyfat can’t break the school record in the 800. It’s just not possible. Secondly, when you are done with an 800, you can barely stand, let alone take a jog to the maternity ward. But those are minor points. So why didn’t this get a higher OWR rating? It was cutesy and just funny enough, but for me, there was some depth missing here. In the future, this will be a forgotten film. A superb performance from Page as well as JK Simmons and Allison Janney as her parents are worthwhile to say the least. But in the end, it’s Ghost World without the Buscemi character. His character just so happened to be the one that pushed that story forward. Maybe he should have played the adoptive father.

The kid stole the show. What would have been labeled a lukewarm Apatow/Rogen output was elevated by the performance of newcomer Christopher Mintze-Plasse as McLovin. He’s a wholly original character and will long be revered by somewhat insecure teenagers who are just waiting to find their inner McLovin. Will this be an all-time classic, ala Animal House or Frerris Bueller's Day Off? Probably not, but as long as Mintze-Plasse doesn't continue to play the same role over and over again in other movies, it has an anchor and a one-word catchphrase that should live on.

Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the review! I'm sending MC back to Blockbuster. good riddance you silly movie!


Scene-Stealers said...

I didn't think Hill/Crea were lukewarm at all, but here's an Apatow/Rogen movie that is: I just saw the lame "Drillbit Taylor," which is PG-13 "Superbad" with 3 younger copies of the same guys with no comic timing and a phoned-in performance from Owen Wilson. Stay away.

Reed said...

Yes, lukewarm is probably not the right word. The scene where Cera sings The Guess Who in that bedroom is riotous. I guess I meant that the story has less to it than 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up do. The humor is definitely there.

Thanks for the Drillbit warning. Duly noted.