We rarely see anything in the theater anymore, so I am just catching up on last year’s movies. Recently, I have watched This is 40 and Les Miserables, and that is what I am going to remember when I start to feel huffy that I only get to see new releases in theaters when there are Marvel comics characters involved. Iron Man has never let me down. Judd Apatow? Hulk needs to smash.
I watched This is 40 and found myself actually squinting at the screen in consternation. Who were these horrible people? Horrible, useless, vapid, whiny, irresponsible, awful people. You’ve got Pete and Debbie, a couple who are turning 40 years old, their kids, Sadie and Iris (13 and 8ish), and their assorted family and friends.
Pete owns a failing record label. It is failing because he only wants to sign musicians he likes, and he appears to have terrible taste in music. We find out that Pete has missed a mortgage payment and rental on his office. He paid $30k for a neon sign to hang inside his office, though, and he appears to be paying for his father’s living expenses? Oh, and he is hiding all of this from his wife, who he appears to hate.
Debbie owns a retail store incongruently staffed by Charlyne Yi and Megan Fox. If you are going to hire one of those women to represent your brand, you are not going to hire the other, lest you cause great brand confusion. She is utterly useless. She thinks one of her staff has stolen $12k from her but does absolutely nothing about it, other than to take one of them out for dinner to discuss it. She seems to hate her husband and her children.
If Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann had any chemistry, (or if Leslie Mann could act) it might work, but this was just bad. You can pretty much see every moment when Action was called, and Cut brought blessed relief–especially, and most strangely, in the scenes between Mann and her real life daughter, Maude Apatow.
Those children in the movie? Is that what other people’s kids are really like? If so, how did they make it out of childhood? Actually, it was the terrible teenager who made me really hate the parents.
To sum up, this movie is a masturbatory exercise in middle-aged ennui. Two bored, pretty, white people, who can’t manage their money, who refuse to take responsibility for themselves, and who are leaving their children to be raised by Apple, have problems because neither one of them can act like an adult for longer than 10 seconds in a row. I hated them, and kept hoping worse things would happen to them. That’s not how a movie is supposed to make you feel.
No stars out of 5–there was nothing redeeming about this movie. Not even the costuming. John Lithgow was redeeming, but he was wonderful and Lithgowian, and did not belong in the movie, so I don’t give any points for him.
I had higher hopes for Les Miserables. It’s been a long time since I read the Victor Hugo novel, and I’ve only seen the play in bits and pieces, so I was excited. Maybe if I’d seen it before Oscar season, it would have played better to me, but by the time I sat down to it the other night, all I could see was Anne Hathaway’s acceptance speeches.
If you aren’t familiar with the plot, the movie opens on Wolverine, who is serving out the end of a prison term for having stolen “a mouthful of bread.” General Maximus Decimus Meridius is his jailer, who reminds him he got 5 years for stealing the bread, and 15 for running from jail. But, he hands Wolverine his walking papers and they sing to each other the equivalent of, “I’ll be watching you.”
Wolverine has to choose between good and bad, he chooses good and goes on to become mayor of a slumtown. Princess Mia Thermopolis works at one of his factories, where she has nicer hair and teeth than anyone else because she pays attention to her hygeine. She is also hiding a baby back home, and for some reason this pisses off the other factory women who insist she be fired. Since she’s refused to put out to the factory foreman, he fires her. Wolverine is too busy hiding from Maximus to save her.
Princess Mia sells off all her worldly possessions, including her hair and teeth, before finally selling her vagine. Blah blah singing about dreams and tigers–
Do any of you have trouble getting into a show if it is overly dramatic? I mean, there is drama, and there is wank. Les Mis, the movie, is wank. Maybe it’s because of the extreme closeups, and because you can see the actors working so hard to emote, whereas in a stage production you are taking in the whole of the actor and the actor’s surroundings? I don’t know. But rather than being impressed and touched by the strings of saliva in Hathaway’s maw, I was just a little bored.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel for Fantine. I felt for all the prostitutes in the scene–I feel for the other prostitutes more. Maybe that’s it? Why Fantine? Surely she wasn’t the only girl out there who was working it because the rent was due. But she was the only one out there weeping over how much her life sucked. And since she pretty much sings about what a party girl she was before becoming Teen Mom, I’m not sure where my sympathy is supposed to lie? Maybe if she’d been nicer to her coworkers, she wouldn’t have ended up in such a mess? Maybe if she’d just embraced the role, she could have released her own sex tape and gotten a reality show?
Anyway… Wolverine adopts Karen Smith from her caretakers, Borat and Mrs. Lovett, and tries to make a new life for them where Maximus can’t find them. Karen’s weather-telling tatas fall in love with a cute spare who sings like Kermit the Frog, who is loved unrequitedly by an actual Broadway performer with amazing pipes.
Then it’s all confusing with singing and pining, and fighting, and who cares because Fantine was actually the best part of the show. And, Anne Hathaway did an incredible job, and deserved her Oscar.
3.5 out of 5 stars. I gave it an extra half star because I enjoyed how uncomfortable Russell Crowe looked the whole time.
Bonus mini-review: Silver Linings Playbook. What was that? That was it? That won Oscars? Dang. 2 out of 5 stars.