|KEX'S AMAZING WORLD|
|Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken|
Last Week: X-Men:
I have a confession to make. After I sat through this movie, I spent several minutes in the men's room, then proceeded to return to the concessions. There I purchased another round of popcorn and a softdrink, and non-chalantly returned to the auditorium and watched the movie again. Understand that I didn't do it because of an unusual enjoyment of the film, or some nouveau masochistic bent. It was a matter of preserving my sanity really: I just had to confirm to myself that I really heard some of the lame-ass dialog that erupted from the characters' mouths.
This movie self destructed in so many ways that attempting to recount them would turn this review into a list rather than a critique, so I'll merely cover some of the highlights. I knew we were in trouble in the first scene of the film. We are introduced by way of a flashback to a WWII Nazi concentration camp. Look folks, I'm as sympathetic to the horrible sufferings of the inmates in the Nazi camps as the next guy, but enough is enough. The list of established directors that haven't done something with the holocaust now wouldn't fill a single, double-spaced page. If I go to a movie austensibly about comic book superheros, I just don't need to be smacked over the head with the holocaust again: And the plot device was entirely unnecessary.
The second major spoiling point of this film was the basic antagonistic conflict: A supervillan named Magneto is threatening to turn the entire population of New York City into mutants. I'm guessing that 99% of the gentle readers are going to react to this development pretty much the same way I did: You are going to ask, "What the hell difference would that make?" Considering the aggregate population of New York City, its awfully difficult to figure out just how that could fail to end up being an improvement.
Third, the movie was exceptionally dull for a superhero action film. There was not a single intellectually gratifying plot twist in the entire 2 hours. Indeed, the only half-assed effort at a plot twist came when the movie revealed, about 20 minutes too late, that Magneto was trying to kidnap Rogue rather than Wolverine. Sorry, but we figured that one out. Apparently Magneto intended to transfer his mutant powers to Rogue, sacrificing her to supply energy to his machine. Perhaps this analysis is way too cerebral for a film that is derived from comic books, but I figured that an evil super genious who had the resources to construct a device capable of transforming ordinary humans into mutants could probably slap together a reliable generator and cough up for an adequate supply of C Cell Energizers.
Finally, the dramatic payoff just fell way flat. We are treated to one of the lamest death battles in cinematic history as Wolverine and Sabretooth gash it out atop the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, the battle goes on endlessly with neither of the participants absorbing sufficient punishment to make the scene remotely interesting. About half way through the battle, I reminded myself that Professor X had been in a coma for about 20 minutes, and I began to have a real fear that the producers were finally going to toss us a curve by having him awaken and take over Sabretooth's brain long enough to aid the good guys in their quest to save Rogue. Kex is no fan of movie violence, but after enduring 2 hours of this comic book claptrap, I promised myself that I would organize the audience and lead them on a march to the manager's office to get everyone's money back if Sabretooth didn't end up getting hucked off the statue. Fortunately, it didn't come to that.
There are so many characters in this movie, its almost impossible to learn who everyone is, so here is a quick Kex Guide to X-Men:
Wolverine: (Hugh Jackman) If you fall asleep during a few key moments in the film, you may end up guessing that Woverine's mutant power is to annoy the hell out of everyone by making smart ass remarks. Actually, he has regenerative powers and a skeleton of indestructible steel from some kind of covert experimentation he can't remember. I'm guessing Mulder and Scully will look into his past in the next movie. Wolverine was supposed to look animal-like, but to me he resembled Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon. I kept expecting him to sing I Talk to the Trees.
Professor X: (Patrick Stewart) X man leader, a powerful psychic with the power to make ordinary humans pity Stewart as we watch him piss away his career.
Rogue: (Anna Paquin) Her mutant power is to suck the life force out of anyone she comes in contact with. I'm guessing she learned that when she made the hopelessly boring film The Piano a few years ago, which damned near sucked the life out of me.
Cyclops: (James Marsden) He has some sort of high power optic blast, which made me wish he had been sitting next to me while watching the film.
Storm: (Halle Berry) Storm can control weather forces, and I'm betting they keep her locked up somewhere very tight around PMS time.
Magneto: (Ian McKellen) Leader of the bad guys, who can control metal and cause the movie to collapse into a marathon of ennui with his lack of sinister flair.
Sabretooth: (Tyler Mane) Believe it or not, I never figured out what his mutant power was until the credits rolled. Then I figured it out: He has the power to remotely give Vince McMahon an orgasm just thinking about getting him in the ring opposite Rock.
Mystique: (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) She is a shape shifter, leading us to wonder why anyone who can change form to anything or anyone they wish would be carrying the mail for Magneto.
Toad: (Ray Park) A guy who would probably be exceptionally popular with women. See the movie to find out.
There is a hard and fast rule at K.A.W regarding comic book style movies: If I have to sit through it, there better be one of those ladies with watermelon sized breasts, and she better get naked. Otherwise there will be hell to pay....well, you've guessed. But I can close this review on a positive note...it was nice, this week, to see a movie that was only bad. At least offensive didn't make the list of horrors.
Last Week: John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars:
I am getting back to the roots of the movie reviews. In the coming weeks, you will see the content of this page returning more to what it was like during the first year, rather than the second. To wit, this is what you will note:
** More first run, generally first week releases. In general, there will be fewer video and classic reviews, although those will occassionally be sprinkled in, more often than not as bonuses. A little over a year ago, I received a sponsorship offer for this page that actually would have paid for an independent domain name and the costs of operation. I turned it down because one of the catches was that I would have to select the weekly review to be done from among a list they provided. In short, I would have more or less lost editorial control.
Then, a short time later, I got involved in a relationship which more or less compromised my editorial control anyway, as someone else had, lets say, signficant input into the weekly movie selection. That situation has ended, and neither corporate sponsors who don't want me bagging movies they are invested in, nor pretty young females will ever again dictate what we chose to put on the firing line here. Once again, Kex is calling the shots.
** You will also see reviews of future Pokemon sequels on this page about the same day you see Satan ice skating on his home rink. That is not to say that children's film's won't get their attention here. We did that in the first year of the page's life, and we will do it more in the future. Its just that there will be no more time wasted on that annoying little hair-ball Pika Chu or his wedgie addled trainer. I still kinda like Brock, but not enough to chance seeing another film on the possibility he will be in it.
** Since I'm calling the shots again, crap like Save The Last Dance will get reviewed here about the same day what remains of my sanity completely drains away. I would ask one of my faithful readers to journey to my location and end my life with speed and mercy the day I chose willingly to review another movie like that. Or feed me to the elephants. Damn, I don't care, just don't let it happen again.
(Obvious joke time--admit it, you guys missed this kind of stuff) Dang, I think that George and Betty Cube must have really hated that newborn infant of theirs a couple of decades ago when they named him "Ice." Yeah, I know, but putting rap stars in major roles in movies, particularly throw-away summer action movies seems to be the big trend in Hollyweird these days. I can only think of two reasons why they want to do it. One, they figure it will appeal to the 15-30 demographic that movies are made for. And or second, somebody just wants to make the forceful point that most rappers suck at two art forms. Ice Cube stars in John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars which I suffered through this week. This had to be the longest 90 minute movie I've ever endured.
The premise of the story is that human terraformation of Mars has awakened a long dormant life form that previously lived on Mars. The lifeform is in the guise of a gas cloud, which seperates and takes over the bodies of human hosts. The infected humans subsequently begin piercing and cutting themselves, and making themselves up to resemble Marilyn Manson and his band. (!?...I think we are onto something.) They then proceed to wipe out uninfected humans in order to rid Mars of humankind.
It seems that the lifeform in question is rather pissed off about the human invasion of the planet. Its hard to blame them, given the way Mars has been depicted in sci fi over the years, particularly the last couple. They might have also caught a few Kevin Smith films drifting out through the ether, and been even more riled in their call to arms.
Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) is a Martian police officer who goes to a mining outpost to transport a prisoner, "Desolation" Williams (George and Betty Cube's bouncing baby boy) to the main settlement to stand trial. But the outpost has been infected with the Martian lifeform, and Melanie and her compatriots must join forces with Williams and his cohorts to survive.
The film is a lame mixture of sci-fi, old west shoot up and heavy metal music. The action scenes are more annoying than exciting, and the film lacks substance. The acting is poor, the special effects are unremarkable, and the makeup of the infected humans mostly silly. Rather than keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, most of the handful of people I saw it with settled back for a good nap. Hollywood has done so much to make Mars seem a boring place over the last few years that the NASA budget may suffer enormously.
Worse still, it appears that Century has raised concession prices again recently. (You guys thought I was going to take it easy on you from now on, or what?) I don't care what the rules are, I'm going to continue sneaking my own snacks in...$4.50 for a medium popcorn? Screw that. I'd have to take that sponsorship to endure that on a weekly basis. Cut the prices, or I bring my own.
So we conclude yet again that any movie with the director's name in the title is going to suck. And I'm still trying to get over the movie experience of Jay and Silent Bob, although there is that dim hope that next summer may bring Jay and Silent Bob Go To Prison And Get Fragged Senseless.
Last Week: The Road To Perdition:
AN OPEN LETTER TO DIRECTOR SAM MENDES:
How are you? I am fine....Okay, let's cut the crap. Sam old buddy, pull up a chair and lets talk. You see, we really have some important matters to discuss here.
The last movie you directed was American Beauty which inspite of the fact that the Academy voters awarded it their highest honor, it was quite frankly a piece of crap for a lot of reasons. Principle among them was the rather simple fact that somewhere along the line, in film school or wherever it was that you learned your craft, someone forgot to explain some rather important concepts to you.
The concepts in question here are SUSPENSE and DRAMATIC BUILDUP, and how the two work in concert. You see, to tell an effective story, you generally want to start at "Point A" and work your way to "Point B" in some effective and interesting fashion.
The single biggest problem with American Beauty was that you effectively gave away to the audience in the first 10 seconds of the film the precise location of "Point B," then somehow we were supposed to remain interested when you returned us immediately to "Point A" and took us down the road to the place we already knew we were going.
You pulled exactly the same gaff in this movie. Look Sam, if you are going to tell us exactly what happens in the movie in the first 10 seconds, you just can't expect us to stay on-the-edge-of-our-seats rivoted for 2 hours while you take us on the guided tour. Most of us have already quit giving a crap.
Allow me to pay you one compliment, however. At least you have graduated from making films openly promoting sexual molestation of children. Now you present us with a nice father and son bonding picture. Dear old dad and his son travel the highways of Illinois, drawing closer, robbing banks and killing people. Yup, that is a wholesome story.
Thanks loads Sam. Next time we need you to tell us a story, we'll call you, okay?
Your old pal Kex
Okay, now that we have dispensed with clueing in Sam Mendes on how to make a movie, I can explain this dismal tour a little to the rest of my audience. Tom Hanks plays Mike Sullivan, a loving father and husband who works hard at taking care of his family, mostly by killing people. Yes folks, one of these things is not like the others.
If I may make a quick sidenote here, and I'm going to get into trouble for mentioning this (like THAT has ever stopped me) but maybe Tom Hanks needs to take a look in the mirror. I got the feeling watching this picture that he probably drove from Hollywood to filming location in Illinois, and followed the special 7 state AAA Krispy Kreme Donut tour.
Hanks is employed by mafia boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) and his rather evil son Conner Rooney (Daniel Craig). During the course of an unintentional hit, Sullivan's son (Tyler Hoaklin) secretly tags along and witnesses his dad committing murder. Conner wants Sullivan and his son killed, and murders his wife and younger son. Thus Mike and his remaining son must flee to survive.
I'm not sure what the point of this whole mess was, except maybe that you shouldn't trust your employer, especially if you are a hit man. Wow, there is a timely message for America, especially those who were formerly employed by Enron, World Com or a few others that have recently fallen on hard times.
I've been amused lately by our President's rage over these corporate escapades. After all, this IS the same guy who, in 1988, as CEO of a company, sold off a smaller company they held a majority interest in to a third company, also owned primarily by the Bush family, and reported the sale as income to the first company. The Securities and Exchange Commission was not amused, and forced Bush's company to restate their profit statement, but not before George W. profited to the tune of $848,000 from the sale of artificially inflated value stock.
The S.E.C. accused George W. of criminal activity, but no charges were ever filed. It helps a lot when dear old dad is President of the U.S. This all occured a few years after brother Neil ripped off half of the little old ladies in Colorado after Silverado Savings collapsed, although he profited handsomely. The tax payers and customers of Silverado did not.
The question I have here is where are all those statesman like Republicans in Congress who squandered a few hundred million of our tax dollars back in the 90's looking into the Clinton's bad land deal, and never found one iota of evidence of wrong doing? Why aren't they launching a similar investigation here, when allegations of criminal activity have ALREADY been leveled by no less than the S.E.C.?
Its not a hard question. These are the same Republicans who bitched and whined for 8 years about the need for ethics and morality in the White House. Then in 2000, they had the gall to stand in front of you, and I and all of America and proudly say, "Look America, here is our man, George W. Bush. The word we are looking for here is *H*Y*P*O*C*R*I*S*Y.
Last Week: Seabisquit:
Let's start with the bad news, just to get it out of the way. America is stone cold hard up for heros these days. Somebody finally had to resurrect the long worm-stripped corpse of a racehorse that has been dead for about 5 decades just to sate our ravaged appetites. Its a pretty pathetic state of affairs, if you consider the matter deeply.
Its not that Hollywood hasn't taken their shot this summer. But for the most part, they just don't get it. As usual. We've had those creepy, rain coat clad ruffians from The Matrix. I haven't seen the second part, and I have no intention of doing so. The first movie was an overrated piece of crap in my estimation, and I can't for the life of me figure out why so many people got so worked up over it.
Then there was that mild-mannered guy who turns into an overbloated green mass of muscle and destruction when he gets pissed off. Not exactly something you want to cuddle up to in bed at night. Besides, the little guy couldn't even morph into a REAL mass of muscle and violence, like Bill Bixby used to. No, he had to be computer animated these days. And Lou Feregno is STILL looking for work.
Its no wonder that America is looking so desperately for a hero to love. Its current cinematic icons are acting a lot like the band of greedy, lying thugs who are running the government. On the other hand, at least the guys in the movies fight their own battles. Maybe I should have said cowardly, greedy, lying thugs. What it all boils down to is, now we are idolizing long forgotten race horses.
But I have some good news, and spectacularly good news it is. It has been quite awhile since a summer movie emerged as a serious contender for Oscar gold. But here in 2003, the race is already on; and Seabisquit is clearly in the lead by 10 lengths. Its going to take a pretty strong closer to outrun this thoroughbred to the finishline next March.
Toby McQuire stars as Red, a down and out jockey who gets beat up a lot in barn boxing matches on the side. By a few strokes of good fortune, he is hired on to mount anotherwise unpromising colt recently purchased by an automobile tycoon.
Not only is this McQuire's best performance since Pleasantville, its his finest ever. The very best thing about this film is that it was set in the 30's, so there wasn't even a remote possibility that he would hack out an "I'm Thpiderman." at any point. I was greatful. Although somewhere in there, there might have been an "I should be riding Theebithkit!" I don't really remember, but I think it was somewhere near the end.
Jeff Bridges is the auto tycoon turned horse enthusiast who becomes Seabisquit's owner. He has had his own trials with the death of his son and a divorce, which was pretty stigmatic back in the 30's. Just when it seems fate has set him adrift, his life is turned around by the purchase of a spirited horse, and an unlikely band of characters.
Chris Collins also turns in an outstanding performance as Seabisquit's trainer. He is an anachronistic horse handler from the old west, lost in the fenced in confines that was becoming America in the 30's. He discovers and trains the misfit colt Seabisquit, and makes him the most famous race horse in America.
Its a true story that happened once upon a time in America. It was another time when people needed heros, and they found in in an unlikely, undersized, overspirited horse. The spirit of Seabisquit has returned to inspire us again, this time on the silver screen. Yet once again, just when we need it most. And the wild spirited horse just might gallop all the way to Oscar gold next spring.
Previously: The Village:
You have to give M. Night Shyamalan credit for a couple of things. First of all, it takes some true and real genious, or at least effort to start with a cast that includes Hollywood giants like William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Adrain Brody and Joaquin Phoenix and make a movie that sucks this completely. Not just any director out there could pull something like that off. Its a little like putting Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Willy Mays, all at their prime in your batting order and not hitting any home runs all season.
I'd kind of like to see the contract that Phoenix signed to appear in this movie though. I can imagine the excitment his agent projected when he called Joaquin about appearing in this film. I think the conversation must have gone something like this:
Bone-headed Agent: Joaquin BABY! I have a great deal for you! A starring role in another Shymalan thriller! Only this time, you have the top billing! Starring Role! Your name on top of the marquis!
Phoenix: Oh yeah? What does it pay?
Bone-headed Agent: Joaquiey BABY! That is the best part! You get paid a thousand bucks a word in the lead role!
Phoenix: GREAT! I'll sign!
Too bad for Joaquin that his paycheck for the movie came to $3000 bucks with a ten dollar bonus for grunting once or twice. I guess Shyamalan probably figured, with some justification, that Phoenix's strongest contribution to this film might come from playing eye candy. Not that there was much of any opportunity for anyone to contribute positively to this disaster.
Shyamalan's second major accomplishment in this film was to make the most tedious, and uneventful horror flick in cinematic history. Like most Shyamalan movies, he tries his best to come up with some stunning ending, but as usual, it couldn't have been any more obvious what was really going on if he had hired a couple of guys with bullhorns to stand outside the theater and announce the denoument.
Once you realize what is actually going on in this movie, which anyone with an IQ above George Bush level, or almost everyone in the country will do in the first 15 minutes, the rest of The Village becomes the one of the most protracted marathons in tedium ever put on celluloid.
Still, it would generally seem that with a cast like the aforementioned group, you could have at least a little fun watching a video of them cleaning out someone's garage. Come to think of it, that video might have been a whole lot more fun. Maybe Phoenix would have had more lines.
This is a film about a small community in the middle of the woods, which is apparently surrounded by some sort of dangerous creatures that keep everyone within its confines. The residents of the village have worked out some kind of truce with the creatures that keeps them away, so long as the villagers don't venture into their woods.
Naturally, a couple of the young men want to do just that. One is a mentally deficient young man who basically makes a nuisance to himself to everyone else in the village. He is played by Brody, who might just have to give that Oscar back. He doesn't get a whole hell of a lot of lines in this movie either.
The other is Phoenix, who is fearless and quiet, but not too bright himself. But all of the young women in the village are crazy about him. I think its mostly because this place makes Mayberry look like a bachelorette's paradise.
Tempting as it might be, considering how truly awful this film is, I'm not going to give away much of the plot. It just wouldn't be fair, or necessary, because I think this film is going to end up tanking pretty badly without a whole lot of help from me.
Suffice it to say that The Village did give me an idea. Sort of a reverse spin on the plot of this movie. Suppose you had a group of people who were generally kind of a national embarrassment in a confined area, and you wanted to contain them. You theoretically could infest them with sufficient fear and superstition to keep them contained in their little nest. It all sounds to me like a pretty good solution to what the nation has come to refer to as "The Nebraska Problem."
Last Week: Valiant:
If this movie were a dessert, it would be pure vanilla ice cream without the toppings. Perhaps it would be pure vanilla ice cream without the ice cream; maybe even without the vanilla. Its almost like someone at Disney set out to make the least offensive animated film of all time. And while they were at it, they decided to make it as humorless as possible too.
Effectively, this is the story of how a small band of misfit pigeons win World War II. But this movie is so sanitized that the average 4 year-old, completely ignornant of world history, could sit through this entire film without ever finding out exactly who it was the good guy British pigeons were battling.
About the only conclusion they would be able to draw was that WWII was a battle between the British, who employed pigeons to help them carry messages, and a group of falcons with mysterious accents that are not recognizable as belonging to any beings on planet earth. Maybe the war was a battle with alien invaders, sort of like that movie we saw earlier this summer.
You have to figure that a movie where the major protagonists are pigeons, mice and seagulls is in pretty serious trouble out of the gates. Old people with nothing left to do in their lives feed pigeons in the park. The rest of us just try to avoid stepping on them when we are trying to get somewhere downtown; or not. Mice aren't beloved by the vast majority of the population, and people toss Alka Seltzer to seagulls.
I'm guessing that the average person on the streets probably likes falcons better than they like pigeons, so its a bit difficult to follow the rooting interest in this film. It doesn't help all that much that the pigeon characters, as presented, aren't all that likeable anyway.
The main character is Valiant, an undersized pigeon who dreams of being a war hero. Naturally everyone else thinks he's crazy for maintaining such a lofty dream, considering that he is a pint sized runt. Gee, I wonder if he is going to end up proving everyone wrong and end up being a hero?
His various sidekicks in the film include another pigeon who is a two bit street hustler, and a pair of brothers with a fondness for fighting each other. That is about the extent of the character development too. Naturally, we don't expect all that much character insight in an animated Disney film, but the indifference we feel for these characters and ultimate success in their cause could rival a town council election in Sun City.
For the last few years, a lot of animated films have been adding edgy humor in hopes of attracting adult audiences, and figuring that most of it will fly over the heads of the children in the audience anyway. This film didn't really attempt humor aimed at anyone. Devoid of all but one or two chuckles, one might easily imagine that a well crafted documentary on The History Channel might have told a simiar story in a more entertaining fashion.
Naturally, the lack of suspense in this film dooms it more thoroughly than any of its other inadequacies. We figure out pretty early on that the runty little pigeon is going to tranform himself into a hero, and we knew going in who was going to win WWII. With those challenges, the writers needed to give us villans worthy of our contempt and a formidable nature to leave us wondering if the heros really could succeed.
They gave us neither. The antagonist falcons might as well have been named Larry, Curly and Moe. The animation was reasonably good, but not sufficient to carry the movie. The only positive thing that can be said here is that it was contained within the standard 90 minutes, so our suffering was not protracted.
Better animated films have been released this year, and a lot better ones will follow. Valiant has nothing new or special to offer, so this one can be reasonably ignored.
Last Week: Open Season:
Just how bad have things become in the world of animated movies? Let's put it this way: The only thing I can think of that distinguishes this movie from any of a dozen others I have seen in the past couple of years is a deer taking a crap. Did anyone need to see that?
My review is a little late this week, not because I didn't get around to see the movie Friday night. No, I just haven't been able to think of a lot of things to say about it. Seriously. After you mention the deer crapping scene, and the bear not crapping scene, it's a little difficult to really think of anything original to say about this movie.
Maybe a new rule of HOllywood is being established; abundance breeds mediocrity. A new animated film is being released at least once a month these days, and it's not like a lot of time is being spent on scripts. The attitude seems to be, get it out there, get it out fast and appeal as much as possible to the lowest possible common denominator.
Bad film? No. But it isn't particularly original, some of the backgrounds were pretty sub-standard by comparison to a lot of other animated features I've seen recently. Worse still, for the second straight week, I've had to deal with Ashton Kutcher.
One can almost ask, which is the more unlikely Kutcher role? Annoying deer, or Coast Guard hero. Well, no contest there...I'm going with annoying deer. Last week, I had to sit through a movie where I was asked to believe that either Kutcher or Kevin Costner could be a member of the Coast Guard elite. Yeah, right. And some flaming moron could get elected President. Um....okay.
So, we have this big grizzly bear named Boog, who has been more or less domesticated by a forest ranger. She uses him in stage shows presumably to awe the tourists with the wonders of nature. Sure, it worked for Siegfried and Roy too. Boog performs, watches Wheel of Fortune and sleeps with a Teddy Bear.
Maybe there is a message here that inviting a grizzly bear into your home as a pet is a good idea. I dunno. The last film I saw about a guy who tried to get overly friendly with grizzly bears ended with him as the main course. I'd recommend a dog or cat instead.
After meeting a free-spirited deer named Eliot, Boog gets in trouble, and his owner has to release him into the woods a few days before hunting season. The rest of the film deals with Boog's efforts to get back home, and the animals banding together to defeat the hunters.
Now, its probably a uniquely American viewpoint that a few animals armed with pinecones and skunk scent could actually defeat hunters armed with high powered rifles and loads of ammunition. I guess we have seen so many of those "underdog overcomes all" sports flicks that we have convinced ourselves its really possible. Ok, it happens sometimes. But more often than not, the underdog gets his butt kicked in.
We saw this film in IMAX 3-D, and the suspicion here is that it was a whole lot more impressive than it would have been on the standard screen. I can't imagine it being much less memorable. As standard fare goes these days, this isn't the biggest waste of time or money out there. Afterall, the competition includes titles like Jackass 2 and Employee of the Month (aka- Walmart, The Motion Picture.) But when the best thing you can say about a movie is that its probably better than competition like that, we have descended pretty far into the pit.
Let's ignore the fact that George Clooney has evidently come down with a bad case of Kevin Costneritis. That is a disease that causes aging, but still attractive male actors to selectively take on roles which should be awarded to actors ten years their junior. There are still enough annoying points to this movie to cause severe aggravation, and the most annoying thing is that it's actually hard to put your finger on the specifics.
I suppose we could start with the fact that is was painfully evident that Clooney didn't have the first clue as to what type of film he wanted to make here; period piece? screwball comedy? romantic comedy? sports underdog yarn? In short, this film attempts to be all of the above at one point or another, appropriates all of their cliches, spins nothing original, and ends up as a failure in every genre and in its own right. The best thing you can say is that it isn't terrible. The worst you can say is that it never achieves anything of note.
Circumstances advancing important plotpoints just materialize without explanation. Key characters suddenly appear out of thin air just in time to rescue a plot that is hurling at break-neck speed towards a dead end. The two main characters pound each other senseless for what is implied to be a significant period of time, and both emerge without so much as a bruise. I guess George Clooney figured that his female audience didn't want to see him or his supporting stud, John Krasinski, get marked up.
Worse still, Renee Zellweger portrays a Chicago newspaper reporter and empowered woman, but her character is ultimately relegated to one apex of a love triangle in which the other two points are one man uncomfortably older, and one uncomfortably younger. In the end. the character she portrays, who is initially the most interesting in the film, turns out to be the shallowest.
Professional football is, without argument, the most popular spectator sport in the U.S. today. How it developed from its early roots as a minor diversion around the Great Lakes states early in the 20th century is an interesting story that would probably make a pretty good movie. Unfortunately, George Clooney opted not to tell it.
Rather, he opts to set a couple of different stories, one about the struggles of an early professional team, and one about a college football star/ fake war hero turning pro and the result is a mess of a movie. Into this mix we toss the kind of icky love triangle previously mentioned, and the whole thing collapses under both its weight and the uncertainties of what Clooney and company wanted, and where they wanted to end up.
"Dodge" Connelly (Clooney) is the captain of a roaring 20's professional team called the Duluth Bulldogs. It should be noted here that Duluth really did have a professional team back in those days, but they were nicknamed the Eskimoes, not the Bulldogs...but that is picking nit. All around them their competitors are folding due to lack of finances, and the Bulldogs are also facing extinction as well when their sponsor cuts them off.
But Connelly schemes to legitimize professional football and save his team by signing a college football star and war hero, Carter Rutherford (Krasinski). Meanwhile, a Chicago newspaper has learned that Rutherford's war hero status is a sham, and they send reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) on a mission to expose him.
When Duluth signs Rutherford, their financial problems immediately disolve. That was a bit mysterious, since the lack of spectator interest in the team prior appeared to rank right up their with watching professional lawn mowing events. We didn't have much reason to believe that the signing of one player would make that much difference, nor would it have saved the other teams that were evidently in similar straights. Yet somehow, Rutherford's joining the Bulldogs saved the entire league.
Lexie is out to get her story, but has second thoughts when Rutherford confesses the truth to her. She has developed feelings for Rutherford, and his story isn't quite as fraudulent as she might have hoped. Further, she is also getting stuck on Dodge, leading to an unlikely love triangle, and severe plot complications.
Everything ends up getting resolved with a series of half-assed and implausible events, with an incredibly dull football game finale tossed in at the end. Leatherheads begins with a lot of promise, but never gets into the endzone. In fact, the whole thing is more of a three downs and a punt. Somewhere in all of this, there really was a good idea for a movie, unfortunately, they ended trying to make several others, and none of them worked.
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