Rom-com fails in bid for glory
Published 16/01/2011 | 05:00
BECKY (Rachel McAdams) is a super-perky workaholic TV producer whose endless enthusiasm and boundless energy do not always translate into ratings joy in the difficult breakfast TV market. She dedicates the same boundless super-perkiness to finding a new job when she is fired, and to this new role when she finds it. Jeff Goldblum is her sardonic boss -- why play against type? -- who despairs of anyone being able to fix an essentially bad show.
Naturally, Becky is undaunted. Even when the talent she has to deal with proves to be the persistently catty Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) and a foot fetishist. The fetishist, she fires, inducting, much against his will but firmly within the terms of his contract, serious newsman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford). The two anchors hate each other, their egos clashing daily, with Pomeroy staunchly refusing to do anything fluffy. Or even to say "fluffy".
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses) and directed by Robert Michell (Notting Hill, Changing Lanes and Venus) Morning Glory should be better. The opening third contains some sharp, funny dialogue but it loses direction -- ending up very uneven, at times the strands don't even feel like the same film. The romantic sub-plot feels like it's there because you have to have sub-plot and Patrick Wilson is underwhelming.
Inevitable comparisons with Network or Broadcast News do it no favours, the characters are one-dimensional and it descends into awful schmaltz in parts. McAdams makes the best of an odd role, Keaton is having fun and looks wonderful, Ford doesn't have much of a clue. Even so, it could be an enjoyable rainy night out if you're looking for something nice and simple.
0pens on Friday
HILARY Swank, Juliette Lewis and Minnie Driver are three women with something to prove. There was a time when each actress was associated with award nominations, credibility and box-office magnetism, but things have changed. Lewis and Driver both turned to musical projects after showing much promise in their time as leading ladies, while Swank has yet to return to the critical heights of Boys Don't Cry or Million Dollar Baby.
Conviction is an unsuitable opportunity for the three to turn up and show their wares. Its true-life saga of a woman studying and battling for 18 years to overturn her brother's wrongful murder conviction is a sturdy and workmanlike affair, but it never catches fire despite a few scenes where you feel it could. Director Tony Goldwyn's (Dexter, Grey's Anatomy) first foray into the feature-length world resembles a straight-to-TV drama that prefers to sermonise on an injustice in the system rather than entertaining.
Swank is fine as determined Massachusetts supermom Betty Anne Waters, but besides turning on the waterworks now and again, there is little to warrant a third Oscar. Driver never breaks a sweat as her unlikely sidekick Abra Rice, her character relegated to the role of a prop.
Sam Rockwell completes the all-star cast as Swank's lippy ruffian brother, and along with Lewis, is one of the few strengths of Conviction. As Kenneth Waters (who died in an accident six months after being cleared of the murder of a young woman), Rockwell proves yet again to be a reliable casting choice. Lewis, meanwhile does "white trash" with aplomb, her slurred drawl and demented twinkle in the eye adding a hint of acidity.
It's Kind of a Funny Story
SET in a psychiatric ward, and revolving around a collection of suicidal characters, writer/ director duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's comedy drama can be accurately interpreted as an attempt to echo Samuel Beckett's declaration from Endgame that "nothing is funnier than unhappiness".
Based on Ned Vizzini's well- received novel of the same name, the movie centres on Craig (Keir Gilchrist), a privileged but angsty New York teen whose life has taken a turn for the psychologically volatile. Unrequited love, exam pressure etc have left him suicidal and liable to "stress vomit" at the most inopportune moments. He pitches up at the local psychiatric hospital where he eventually convinces the authorities to admit him. Big mistake.
The only place available is in the adult ward, where hospital protocol insists on a five- day minimum stay. Cue a scenario that sees Craig getting up close and personal with a phlegmatic Egyptian, an acid-tab addled Hasidic Jew and Bob, a big-brother buddy type played by The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis. Not that his committal doesn't have an upside. Some of the fringe benefits of his short stay include the discovery that he's both a gifted artist and potential rock god.
Galifianakis builds on the big impression he made in the likes of Due Date, while Emma Roberts' turn as Craig's love interest marks her out as one to watch. These commendable performances and the heart-warming vibe, however, never quite manage to transcend the limitations imposed by the filmmaker's misfiring attempts to attach a sunny-side up disposition to their depiction of human psychosis. It's Kind of a Funny Story is, well... kind of funny. But it's also kind of flawed.
The Green Hornet 3-D
HAVING changed directors and scriptwriters like Spinal Tap went through drummers, The Green Hornet is a case of good things coming to those who wait. Since the early Nineties, the idea has been bandied about and negotiated upon, with names such as Kevin Smith, George Clooney and Nicolas Cage all signing up at various stages, only to flee the project.
French director Michel Gondry was initially also on board but abandoned the stillborn ship only to return last year once Columbia Pictures had taken charge. The result is a cheeky and chucklesome superhero-buddy film that breezily reconfigures the original Thirties radio drama and vintage comic franchise.
A co-writer on the screenplay with regular collaborator Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan stars as Britt Reid, an arch messer and son of a leading newspaper editor (Tom Wilkinson). When dad dies unexpectedly, Britt forms a bond with employee Kato (Jay Chou) who is annoyingly good at everything, including making high-tech weapons and butt-kicking. The two decide to form a crime-fighting duo to take down the LA underworld, run by Christoph Waltz, here doing a more insecure version of his devilishly camp Landa role in Inglourious Basterds. The Green Hornet may not have the box-office clout of a Spider-Man or Batman, but as superhero adaptations go it is admirably different. Rogan's heroic goofing ensures that much of this is enjoyed with a silly smile on the face. Yet you never feel as if Gondry is desecrating the comic book tomb.
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