February 24, 2013

2013 Oscar predictions

A few years ago, I was invited to my very first Oscar party. It involved food and drinks, of course, but this was a serious Oscar party. There were official ballots and prizes for the winners. I want everyone reading this to know I absolutely cleaned up. I won the top prize by correctly predicting even the most random categories like "Best Sound Mixing" and other categories no one but the people nominated and their mothers care about. The next year... I wasn't invited back. I choose to believe they stopped holding the party.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I need to share my Oscar predictions somewhere, even if there is no sweet $25 Best Buy gift card waiting for me at the end of all this. And if you've been following the blog for the past month or so, you'll know I've been frantically watching as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible for the big day. This might wind up being a mistake, like how people who actually follow college basketball never win their work March Madness pools.

I'm only discussing the major categories + animated movies, since that's all I care about. I'm also boycotting the Best Director category because frankly, it's stupid to nominate nine movies for Best Picture and only five for Best Director.

If you missed any of these reviews, be sure to check them out before watching the Oscars because you don't want to watch the show without knowing my every thought on them! =)

Best Picture - predicted winner: Argo
  • Amour: This nomination came out of nowhere, considering it's in a foreign language and didn't receive much attention before this. That being said, Hollywood loves to feel smug about acknowledging "deep" movies and I think that's the case here.
  • ArgoRegardless of how you feel about this movie, it's going to win Best Picture. It won at the Golden Globes, it won at the Screen Actor's Guild. I liked it immensely, but I also thought it was a thin year for Best Picture nominations.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: It was sweet of the Academy to include this in its Best Picture noms, but everyone knows it won't win. It's just padding to the list.
  • Django Unchained: Didn't see this - I can't sit through Tarantino movies. Why must they all be so bloody?
  • Les Miserables: It's a popular choice because of the number of Hollywood stars in it, but musicals almost never win the big prize.
  • Life of Pi: Totally underrated, in my opinion. Yes, it's a bit showy with the use of color, but in my opinion, it beats all the grim, dark movies it's up against.
  • Lincoln: Yawn. Great acting doesn't necessarily make a great movie.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: I mocked this when it came out, but it seems I may have been wrong. It's hard to ignore all the hype surrounding this one.
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Way too controversial. Even if it were the best movie of the year (which it wasn't), it can't win because the government wouldn't allow it. Just kidding.
Best Actor - predicted winner: Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook: It's weird to think that the a**hole boyfriend from Wedding Crashers is now an Oscar nominee, but I suppose weirder things have happened (say, nominating Ted for an Oscar).
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln: I am not saying he doesn't deserve it, but I will say that Hollywood practically faints every time he puts out a new movie. I can't imagine the Academy letting anyone else take that statue home.
  • Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables: Try again later, Hugh. It's Daniel Day-Lewis' year.
  • Joaquin Phoenix, The Master: I regret not having seen this, since it's been recommended to me by several people, but I will say I am confident Joaquin Phoenix is awesome in it. I've liked him ever since I saw To Die For as a kid (which was totally not age appropriate, by the way).
  • Denzel Washington, Flight: Just read my review and you'll know my feelings about Denzel's performance. And this movie in general.
Best Actress - predicted winner: Jessica Chastin
  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty: I figure Jessica will win because the majority of hype for this category has been about her performance, which was impressive, but not the best, in my opinion. Alas, until the Academy calls me up to vote, my opinion doesn't count.
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook: She used to be on The Bill Engvall Show! I think Jennifer owes her agent a big fat bonus for the work he's done for her since then - Bill Engvall to the Oscars?!? Twice?!?
  • Emmanuelle Riva, Amour: If the world were fair, this nice old lady would win. I don't know her, but she adequately convinced me she was an old, dying woman who had suffered multiple, debilitating strokes.
  • Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild: She was great, especially considering her age. But I just don't think the Academy is going to give it to her. Hollywood seems to be a "wait until we decide you've earned it, then we'll award you for a movie in which you only do a so-so job because we realize you should have gotten it earlier for a better movie" kind of place.
  • Naomi Watts, The Impossible: Uh...I've got nothing on this, except to say that Naomi Watts is the kind of actress I forget exists. I can never name any movies of hers off the top of my head and sometimes even forget what she looks like. Not the stuff of someone whose name will be forever memorialized in Oscar winning history.
Best Supporting Actor - predicted winner: Christoph Waltz
  • Alan Arkin, Argo: Uh, no, sorry. I have no idea why Alan is nominated, other than the fact that he's 100 and maybe the Academy wants to honor him one last time before he dies or something. There's nothing wrong with his performance, but he certainly doesn't make the movie.
  • Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook: He was good, but Oscar good? I mean, when you think about the fact that his other Oscar wins were Raging Bull and The Godfather, can this really compare?
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master: I can't say anything intelligent on this performance, as I haven't yet seen the movie. I also never saw Capote, so the only performances I have to reference for Philip are the sleazy guy in When a Man Loves a Woman, Lester Bangs in Almost Famous, and a sketchy priest in Doubt. I'm not feeling it for him here.
  • Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln: I just keep coming back to the toupee. I can't, in good conscience, pick someone to win who had such horrible hair in a movie. Maybe it's not scientific or professional, but with so little to choose from in this pool, I've got to eliminate candidates somehow.
  • Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained: I went with a wild-card guess on this one, because I have no idea who will win. Frankly, I wouldn't give it to any of the people I actually watched, so I picked the least likely person. Besides, he has a fun accent.
Best Supporting Actress - predicted winner: Anne Hathaway
  • Amy Adams, The Master: I'm happy to see this perky little redhead make it in Hollywood, considering her less than desirable start in movies like Cruel Intentions 2
  • Sally Field, Lincoln: It's not that Sally Field didn't do a good job in the movie, but I have a hard time believing there weren't actresses more deserving of this nomination. 
  • Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables: Anne should have already written her acceptance speech.
  • Helen Hunt, The Sessions: Would it have been so difficult for the Academy to nominate 10 movies for Best Picture instead of 9 to include this one? It was certainly better than half the movies actually nominated. At least they acknowledged it with Helen Hunt's nomination, which is totally deserved.
  • Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook: uh... I've got nothing, other than to say she's not going to win.
Best Animated Feature Film - predicted winner: Wreck-It Ralph
  • Brave: It's weird to have two Disney movies competing head-to-head here, but based on what I saw in Brave, I'm going to pick the one I didn't see.
  • Frankenweenie: Would this have been nominated if it hadn't been a Tim Burton creation?
  • ParaNorman: From the creators of Coraline. That was enough to convince me I didn't want to watch this.
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits: I think the Academy was just scraping up enough movies to fill the category.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Though this was one of the movies I didn't see, I'm picking it to win because it seemed to garner the least negative reviews. Plus, it's Disney and I'm pretty sure Disney always wins this category.
And there you have it. If I'm wrong about any and/or all of these, well, who cares? Most people only tune in to see the outfits anyway.

*Feel free to search the archives for all the Oscar nominated movies I reviewed, including (sadly) Ted, Anna Karenina, Mirror Mirror and more!

February 23, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Quvenzhané Wallis

Let's start with something that can universally agreed upon: Quvenzhané Wallis, aka Hushpuppy, is a ridiculously cute child. I almost want to give her the Oscar for Best Actress just for being so cute. For one thing, her hair is amazing. I think she could give Merida a run for her money. But beyond being cute in her untamed 'fro, she completely makes the movie. Of course, she's the main character, but in movies that hinge upon a child's acting, the results can be hit or miss. For every Drew Barrymore or Dakota Fanning, there's a kid like the "human head weighs eight pounds" kid from Jerry Maguire. What makes Naysie (Wallis' nickname) successful is that she is so believable as a strong and impertinent child, which might seem easy to play since most kids are both of these things, but if it were easy to portray a normal human being, I wouldn't have to cringe every time Blake Griffin made a commercial.

As for the rest of the movie... well, it's depressing. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be inspirational or something, showing the strength and courage of a six year-old girl, but I found myself more shocked and horrified at the state in which she and her community live. This certainly isn't the first movie to show people living in a sort of back country/bayou setting, but somehow the intimacy in which the audience is drawn into their lives makes you feel all the worse that people actually live like this.

That being said, I didn't find the movie particularly entertaining. Much like Amour, it was affecting in its message, but the story used to convey that message was difficult to sit through. This felt much more like a documentary with random diversions into metaphors involving extinct creatures (of which I wasn't a fan, by the way). The whole sub-plot about the melting ice caps almost felt like the writers were trying to make the script more complicated than it needed to be, to make it feel more like a "movie."

Final word: I'd rather have seen National Geographic tackle this topic than Hollywood.

February 22, 2013

Flight (2012)

Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Tamara Tunie

I often find myself watching movies starring actors I don't like. When you dislike as many people as I do, I suppose it's inevitable. But I don't often see movies in which I don't like the main character. Sure, everyone has their flaws and movies try hard to make complex characters that you can understand and sympathize with. But in this case, it didn't work.

The movie centers around a very simple premise - Denzel is an alcoholic who manages to save the plane during a crash, despite being drunk. An investigation into the crash is launched, and the audience gets to watch Denzel play an angry, unlikable man for the next two hours, whom we are supposed to feel sorry for and/or hope he doesn't get caught for flying a bunch of people in the air while completed loaded. 

I didn't find the story compelling at all and here's why - it's completely predictable. The entire story hinges on what's going to happen to Denzel's character in all of this, so once you've figured it out, it's just having to sit there and wait for the inevitable to happen. And I don't find his character all that complex. Yes, he's got an addiction problem, but he's also just kind of a dick. If you want to watch someone play a crazy alcoholic that you can both love and hate at the same time, do yourself a favor and go rent When a Man Loves a Woman

Denzel seems to play the same type of character over and over again - a guy who's morally compromised, but puts on a proud front that others admire him for. Don't believe me? Training Day. American Gangster. Safe House. Can I stop now? He already [inexplicably] won the Oscar for Best Actor for Training Day - do we really need to reward him for playing this part once again?

Final word: Lame.

February 21, 2013

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven

I am determined to watch as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible before the big day. That explains why I watched this. It doesn't, however, explain why this movie was nominated in the first place. It was done by the same people who created Wallace and Gromit, the funky looking British claymation guy with his dog. Perhaps that set me up for disappointment - I love Wallace and Gromit. I did not love this movie.

It's not terrible, of course. Animated movies for kids rarely are. But the plot is predictable, the jokes are thin, and frankly, it's sometimes hard to understand the words through the fast talking English accents (sorry Hugh, but not every actor was meant to voice an animated character). And it has all the classic trappings of a kid's movie - bright colors, crazy-looking characters, an underdog you root for, some animals, and of course, some kind of moral lesson at the end (damn you, Aesop, for starting that trend). So who knows, maybe I expected a higher sum considering its parts.

The positive? Well, it was better than Frankenweenie. And the monkey is pretty funny.

Final word: The best part of the movie was reading the names of the characters during the closing credits.

February 20, 2013

Amour (2012)

old French people

My favorite type of a movie is one that is utterly depressing. I love a good tragedy and generally, the more it can make me cry, the more I like it. So when I heard this movie is a suck-the-life-out-of-you downer about old people dying, I eagerly packed some tissues, bought a ticket, and settled in for what I thought would be a satisfying afternoon cry-fest. But I was wrong.

The movie is depressing all right, but not in a pleasant way. I actually read a review that described it as "not enjoyable and only sporadically entertaining." I couldn't have stated it better myself. The movie is not enjoyable. It's horribly boring at a lot of points, as you are basically just watching two old people live, then die. If you had grandparents who died a slow, painful death, and you camped out in their house 24/7 without doing anything to help, it would feel a lot like watching this movie. For the first 30 minutes, I could hear the rumbling from the theater next door, showing Argo and felt pangs of jealousy that they were being treated to a movie full of action and an entertaining plot. I had to dip into a stash of fruit roll-ups in my bag just to stay awake.

But as the movie went on, I became more invested in these old people. I started contemplating my own mortality and imagining what-if scenarios of my life to reflect their current state. But even the imaginary thought of living/dying in the manner this old woman in the movie does was too uncomfortable to think about for more than a few minutes. The entire movie felt like a slow motion Sports Center clip of someone shattering their ankle or falling on their neck or something - it's horrific, but you can't turn away. And after you've seen it, you wish you hadn't. But you still watch the multiple replays from every angle, cringing every time.

Oh, and the old lady deserves the Oscar. Hands down.

Final word: Every couple should be forced to watch this before getting married, sort of like how hospitals make you watch a horrific birthing video before having a baby.

February 19, 2013

Skyfall (2012)

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

The hype for Skyfall was off the charts. I remember hearing one critic call it "the best Bond movie in 20 years," which might actually mean something if there were any Bond movies created in the last 20 years that weren't the Pierce Brosnan ones (sorry, Pierce). And after Quantum of Solace, well... I was skeptical at best. Even tapping Adele to sing the theme song wasn't enough to convince me of its quality (and these days, pretty much anything Adele touches turns to gold).

BUT, it was good. I haven't seen every single Bond movie, but this was certainly better than any Bond movie in recent memory. But again, after Quantum of Solace, pretty much anything they slapped together would seem like a masterpiece.

For one thing, it was nice not to see a mopey, sappy Bond again. Although I enjoyed Casino Royale, the whole Bond-in-love angle just doesn't jibe with the typical projection of him as a smooth-talking ladies man. And then he didn't even sleep with a single woman in the entirety of Quantum of Solace? WTF? If I were Daniel Craig, I would have complained.

There aren't a lot of specific plot points in Skyfall I can isolate to explain why it's a good movie - it's an action movie, after all. I can say that my favorite aspect of the movie is that it acknowledged the fact that Bond is old. Daniel Craig looks pretty haggard throughout the film and instead of pretending he is eternally youthful (after all, he's been killing people since 1962), I'm glad it managed to integrate his escalating age into the plot without stooping to a bunch of over-the-hill jokes. It's those kinds of subtleties that make it a higher quality movie. Well that, and people have the proper accents.

Despite all the good points in the movie, I still have a couple of lingering questions:
  • Why does Judi Dench always seem to play such stern characters? Maybe it's the accent, but she always seems like such a disapproving grandmother. 
  • Was it really necessary to make Javier Bardem wear that hair? Did they think just because he got an Oscar while wearing a Dorothy Hamill haircut in No Country for Old Men that this horrible blond 'do would somehow be good luck? It looks like they took styling inspiration from the German chick in Die Hard With a Vengeance
  • How much was Albert Finney paid to appear for five minutes of this movie? Why was he in it at all? Couldn't they have pulled a random old man off the street for this role?
I will say, the writers did an excellent job of setting the franchise up for its next phase. Sometimes movie franchises tend to drag because of the inevitability of certain plot points, knowing more movies are to come (see: Spiderman 2), but Skyfall is surprisingly innovative on this front and keeps you just uncertain enough about the ending to make it interesting.

Final word: Bond is back.

*note: I have been reminded by reader +JDGObviously that Bond did, in fact, sleep with Miss Strawberry Fields in the first five seconds of Quantum of Solace. My apologies for forgetting this lynchpin of the plot.

February 15, 2013

Brave (2012)

Emma Thompson, Scottish people

I could write an entire ode to Merida's hair alone. It's incredible. It's vibrant, it's full, and it almost makes me want to be a redhead (almost). In terms of straight animation, Disney/Pixar really outdid themselves on the creation of this hair. When compared to say, Pocahontas' hair (which can even sing with all the colors of the wind!), it's amazing to see how far technology has advanced. I mean, you can see individual strands blow in the wind!

There are two reasons I can't help talking about the hair:
1. It's so distractingly awesome throughout the movie you can't help but constantly think about it
2. There's not much else to talk about

The movie is okay. I am such a huge Disney fanatic that I go into every animated movie they make assuming I'll love it. Of course, this sometimes backfires (ahem, Chicken Little). The problem is, even if I enjoy them, they aren't all instant classics. This is no Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid. Of course, Disney will make little Merida dolls and other merchandise, and possibly include her into their Princess collection to add some quasi-diversity (I mean, she's still white - she just has a different color of hair), but I just can't see her reaching the popularity of a Cinderella or Belle.

The accents are also fun because well, Scottish people sound funny. The only reason I made it through my managerial accounting class in college was because my professor was from Scotland and I stayed awake just to hear her pronounce the word "accounting." (Hey, at 9 am, take whatever entertainment you can get.) I don't mean "funny" in a rude way, but in a way that makes me feel like those Wisconsin girls in Love Actually when they keep making the [ugly] British dude pronounce stuff and then giggle like it's cute. 

Final word: Think Brother Bear, but substitute Native American brothers with a Scottish mother and daughter.

February 11, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Jessica Chastain and a bunch of other vaguely familiar looking people like this guy

I dreaded watching this movie. With all the controversy surrounding the "enhanced interrogation techniques" scenes, I thought it would be too dark and difficult to watch. It turns out, I lack empathy. 

Back in college, I took a class that was billed as "creative writing." The only thing 'creative' about it was its description - the professor was an avid member of Amnesty International and I spent four months reading stories of child soldiers being trained to kill, female genitalia mutilation, and all other sorts of horrors. Being a normal human being, it was difficult for me to read without cringing and feeling horrified. But eventually, it became a little like, 'Oh, a little boy got his hand cut off because he didn't mine enough diamonds? Sad. Next story.'

I felt similarly watching this movie. For one thing, we all know what happened! Maybe not every single detail, but all the news time devoted to exposing the inner workings of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay had already prepped me for what was shown in the movie. It was almost disturbing how I was able to snack on cookies while watching a man get waterboarded. So all the hype over the intense interrogation scenes fell a bit flat for me. But like I said, I apparently lack empathy.

Beyond the interrogation scenes, the movie reads like the average military/spy/political movie. Yes, it's based on actual events, which helps bolster its appeal, but that doesn't necessarily make it a Best Picture contender in my book. 

So what about all the buzz surrounding Jessica Chastain's performance? It's deserved. At first, I wasn't so sure. She was good, but was I really wowed? But as I thought more about it, I realized what she does in this movie is so understated, it's easy to overlook. It's much easier to command attention for a performance in which an actor uses and accent or portrays someone with a disability or something, but to play an ordinary person without overdoing it? It's impressive, really. Just ask Sarah Jessica Parker, who can't help but over-emote in every situation she plays.

Final word: "Interesting" should not be confused with "entertaining." 

February 7, 2013

Life of Pi (2012)

Um...this guy from Slumdog Millionaire, a bunch of other Indian actors I''ve never seen before, and Gérard Depardieu for about ninety seconds

No, I didn't read the book. Now that that's out of the way...

I didn't want to see this movie. I don't know why, it just didn't look like something I'd be interested in. A boy on a spiritual journey... blah, blah, blah. But I take my Oscar movie scouting very seriously, so I saw it anyway. And I am so glad I did.

I liked the movie. A lot. For one thing, it's visually stunning. Slate wrote a snarky comment about it, saying it looked like it was "projected onto a solid cube of clear jell-o." While not conceding that I agree with the comment, I'm not sure why it's necessarily a bad thing. Are the graphics over-the-top and the colors so saturated it almost seems cartoon-ish at times? Yes. But I think Ang Lee did it on purpose. If he didn't, then he accidentally had a stroke of genius. The entire movie is an allegory!! It's fantasy! Why not make that story as over-the-top as possible? I mean, honestly, 95% of the movie contains a tiger - how realistic do you expect that to look?

Speaking of tigers...I am probably biased toward the movie just for the tiger alone. Tigers are my favorite animal in the whole word (and yes, I realize that makes me sound like I am a twelve years old). Seriously, though, I donate to the Panthera organization for the preservation of large cats. Tigers don't get as much love in the movies as they should, since audiences seem to get all wowed over lion's manes and Mufasa really sealed the dominance in popularity of the lion over the tiger in Hollywood (he even has his own Urban Dictionary page!). All the tiger has gotten is The Jungle Book and Aladdin. And Raja can't even talk! But that aside, this movie may bring people over to the tiger side. Sure, the majority of the tiger shots were special effects, but most of it looked real enough and frankly, it was cool anyway. It's not like the movie makers were trying to pretend the whole thing wasn't CGI.

But special effects alone do not make a movie. (I know a lot of people were fooled by watching Avatar.) The plot does center around religion and finding God and all that, but can be easily overlooked if you so choose. It sort of like The Matrix - the plot theme is obviously there at the center, but manages to not ruin the movie (Keanu does that one on his own). Obviously if you're a big spiritual person (and you loved The Alchemist), feel free to take it all in. All I'm saying is that non-God lovers can enjoy this movie as well without feeling like they're sitting through a church sermon.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of the movie comes down to your level of buy-in. If you can't get on board (pun intended) with the concept of a boy in a life raft with a tiger, surrounded by a set designed with colors not found in nature, then you will roll your eyes through this whole movie. But then you will also have missed the entire point of the movie and be a complete buzzkill because you can't understand how a fantasy movie works, so...

Final word: A bit like a Bollywood version of Castaway without singing and a whole religious/spiritual angle added.

February 4, 2013

The Paperboy (2012)

Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Zac Efron, (& inexplicably) Macy Gray

I don't know why people hate on Matthew McConaughey. I mean, sure, the whole I-don't-wear-deodorant-thing is gross and he can never seem to shake that hint of used-car-salesman twang to his accent. But that being said, he's just so damn convincing in the roles he chooses. Sleazy guy who's too old to be hanging out with high schoolers? Check. Slacker dude who still lives at home? Check. Male stripper? Check

You might think, then, that it's a leap for him to play a character with a little more substance, like a lawyer or a journalist. It's not. Both those roles have something in common with the roles listed above--they take someone who's just a bit smarmy to pull it off convincingly. So in this movie, he plays a journalist. But one who's just a touch shady. (And sweaty. I mean honestly, I know the movie is trying to portray this hot, muggy summer of 1969, but seeing the sweat pour down every actor's forehead only reminded me of how much Matthew McConaughey must have smelled on set without the use of deodorant.)

I will give credit to John Cusack, who managed to be so convincing as a creepy, dirty, white-trash swamp dweller that it managed to keep me focused during an otherwise choppy plot. The story jumps around, weaving together several themes that don't necessarily go together, but wanting to know what really happened with Cusack's character makes you sit through some of the more bizarre diversions. It also makes me wonder why he didn't get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor (considering Nicole Kidman did). Not to knock on Nicole, who really trashed herself up for this movie. For someone normally so reserved and pristine (helped along by a few dozen doses of Botox), it was refreshing to see her in a new way. And well, to see her at all--where has she been hiding?

And then... we come to Zac Efron. Sigh. There are plusses and minuses on this one. Plus side: he's in just underwear for damn near half the movie. Minus side: they have him in tighty-whities. I know, I know, the movie is set in 1969 and guys didn't wear boxer-briefs back then, but honestly, why spoil the view with bright white briefs? No one (except David Beckham) looks sexy in white briefs. Oh, and his Southern accent needs work. Big shock. It's not his fault though, really. Thrown into a movie with someone who naturally has the accent (McConaughey), an Academy Award-winning actress (Kidman), and the super-awesome John Cusack, poor Zac was destined to be the weak link. Maybe he should take that whole big-fish-in-a-small-pond thing to heart.

**If you notice that I've managed to avoid talking about the movie itself for four paragraphs, it's because I strangely have a lack of opinion on this movie. It was interesting enough to watch, but I can't think of anyone I would recommend it to. It had good acting, but not the most fantastic plot. The whole thing was just weird.

Final word: Yet another art house-type movie that grossed practically no money but got critical acclaim. 

Added note: I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention that this movie helped earn Matthew McConaughey Actor of the Year from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association. Ahhh... it really doesn't get any better than that.

February 1, 2013

The Lucky One (2012)

Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner

O.M.G. I thought this was just a regular, run-of-the-mill Nicholas Sparks movie - lame, but tolerable and impossible to stop watching. There was the cheesy story line, the just-attractive-enough cast, and a sleepy town setting. (Seriously, has Nicholas Sparks ever been to a city?) There was even the requisite love scenes that involved super close-ups of people groping bare backs and caressing each others faces.

Where the movie started to fail was expecting me to believe Zac Efron as a hardened Marine veteran. Don't get me wrong, he's certainly attractive enough to star in film like this. I've previously mentioned that I went to see Charlie St. Cloud for the sole fact that he starred in it. In the theater. By myself. So me, more than anyone, is rooting for him to make it big and start landing real lead roles. But this movie is not helping his case.

For one thing, he has a weird sort of accent that comes and goes. His character is from Colorado, so I'm not really sure why he would have an accent in the first place. He also does this stiff walk with his arms away from his body like guys with too much muscle mass walk. Except he doesn't have too much muscle mass, so he just looks like a bad walker (similar to bad runners, except this is more embarrassing because honestly, who can't walk?). He's just... awkward... but not in a way that's constructive to the plot.

As a secondary (and by no means equal) annoyance, Taylor Schilling's character always has her bangs in her face. I know it seems ridiculous to even point out, but I felt like she was a white Aaliyah, trying to hide a lazy eye or something! I also couldn't decide whether it was a good or bad thing that her acting was no better than Zac's. On the one hand, neither of them were able to upstage each other; on the other, there was no refuge from the Lifetime-movie quality of acting.

So back to the fact that for the first nine-tenths of the movie, it was a typical Nicholas Sparks movie. I was ready to chalk it up to another Dear John experience and then... the last fifteen minutes happened. There's really no way to talk about it in any detail without "ruining" the movie (which is ironic, really, since the movie is terrible to begin with), so I'll just say that the ending plot decisions were... unfortunate. (Feel free to substitute that final word with any of the following: horrifying, baffling, ridiculous, idiotic, beyond stupid.)

Final word: I hate myself for having watched this.