Saturday, March 5, 2011

fighting and settling

The Adjustment Bureau [***], The Green Hornet and Take Me Home Tonight [**1/2]

Since the world probably would have exploded had Ben Affleck and Matt Damon released competing films on the same day audiences had to wait six months to see the Matt Damon starrer The Adjustment Bureau and, to be honest, had it come to pass it would have been a pretty depressing double header. Not because both films share an optimistic and downbeat quality, but because Affleck's film is on a whole different plateau of goodness while Damon's primary goal (for me, at least) is to wash the taste of Green Zone out of the collective American mouth. I will say that both Damon and Affleck have stellar chemistry with their leading ladies, but Affleck could have brought the heat with anyone (luckily it was the lovely Rebecca Hall) while Damon's not inconsiderable conviction is entirely dependent on how radiant Emily Blunt is. I'm not saying another actress couldn't have done this part, but I'm saying I don't want to imagine it. Blunt is the ray of sunshine that Damon spies when he surfaces for air against the dim tide of the fate controlling Adjustment Bureau.

On a slightly less enthusiastic note, but an enthusiastic one just the same, I found Michael Gondry's take on The Green Hornet to be a surprisingly fun film. It occasionally strains under the obviousness of shots that seemed tailored to the wholly unnecessary 3-D, but having seen it in two glorious dimensions I'm lucky to have had the experience in "presentable vision."

The movie strikes me in just the right way early on with a pretty amusing James Franco cameo where he latches on to the insecurities of a crime boss and trashes his legacy before being put out to pasture. But Franco and Waltz do it so gamely, with much relish that it is hard not to welcome the movie with open arms from that point on. Jay Chou, who was not welcome news to me following a Stephen Chow departure before the project even lifted off, manages to acquit himself nicely as an ass kicker. Having only been previously exposed to him in The Treasure Hunter and ever-so-briefly in the excellent True Legend, I wasn't convinced he was the right replacement ass kicker for the job, but he does fine and I appreciated the near instant chemistry he had with Rogen. I also appreciated a great brawl between friends that destroys everything in the room a la Commando and Rogen and Franco's own Pineapple Express.

The action also surprises with a certain level of clarity, destructiveness and a well executed boxing the heroes in for certain doom moment.

The vulgar 80s set introspective life after college romp makes a return with Take Me Home Tonight, a film that lacks the heart of Adventureland and the confidence wrecking comedy that can be wrought on characters by family members that She's Out of My League brought to the table, but it has drugs and boobs and a fat guy. These elements don't always converge to make an ideal comedy, but I always admire films that deal with issues of aimlessness because I can very much relate to the pussy in flux aspect of the protagonist. I can't say that I get triumph in one hundred minutes, but I take comfort in the message: love thyself, take a risk, etc.

I find it even more refreshing when a movie is honest enough to tell me that if I went for the things I wanted years ago I would not have gotten them, but maybe now I might get some of them. It's not exactly saying that it's never too late to chase after your dreams, but if you get loaded enough on drugs or booze or life experience you might just grow the stones to get some version of the life you wanted.

No comments: