42 posts categorized "Romantic Comedy"

January 30, 2020

MARRIAGE STORY — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

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ColeSmithey.comI regret every second I spent watching Noah Baumbach’s latest attempt at being Woody Allen. I should know better by now than to think Noah Baumbach will ever create a film that isn’t tiresome at best.

The only thing worse than suffering through a real divorce is watching “Marriage Story.” This movie might portray itself as a romantic comedy, but there isn’t a single laugh to be had.

If you take it as a romantic drama, you’ll also be disappointed by virtue of the insufferable couple on display.

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Adam Driver’s status as Hollywood’s current it-boy, loses more than a little credibility in a movie more appropriately entitled Divorce Story. Driver plays Baumbach’s alter ego Charlie, a Manhattan off-off Broadway director of avant-garde plays in a theatrical milieu that never existed in New York City. Ding. Baumbach’s ridiculous vision of theater people is pejorative at best. Bedwetters get more love.

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Husband Charlie good, wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) bad. During their separation mediation Nicole refuses to read from her list of things she appreciates about Charlie, while he is only too willing to heap praise on his soon-to-be-ex. Nicole storms out of the session so that the therapist and Charlie can, “suck each other’s dicks.” Classy. You wonder why Johansson would sign on for such a thankless role as that of Nicole.

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Oh, but for their poor entitled young son Henry (Azhy Robertson). What is to become of the child of frivolous artsy New York parents. Baumbach goes full Woody Allen when he grinds the story into an East Coast vs. West Coast legal tirade about blood-sucking attorneys who milk as much money as possible from the train wreck opportunity before them. Message, Californians are phony, New Yorkers are authentic. Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda elevate the movie as the film’s vulture lawyer characters, but to no satisfying design.

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The subtext, that Noah Baumbach is a thoughtful auteur whose divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2010 was all her fault, is a tedious bit of dental floss that breaks in this film’s first 10 minutes. If watching people say stuff they will regret for the rest of their lives as they ugly-cry, you might get a kick later on in the movie.

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Slack editing delivers us to Adam Driver singing a Broadway-styled melancholy ballad for his New York theatre pals in a cozy restaurant that doesn’t exist anywhere in Manhattan. Oh what inspired feeling, oh what cheesy heart-on-sleeve emotion. Baumbach could have at least cut the movie after the song, and spared his audience 13 minutes of post-divorce child wrangling but that wouldn’t have giving him the opportunity to twist the knife a little more in Scarlett Johansson’s character. Jennifer Jason Leigh will never watch this movie, and neither should she.

Rated R. 137 mins. 

Zero Stars

Cozy Cole

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September 17, 2016

BRIDGET JONES'S BABY

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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ColeSmithey.comYou know you’re in trouble when momentary flashbacks from previous films in a franchise make you wish you were watching one of them instead of the dreary cinematic rendering before your eyes.

It’s debatable which one’s holding up better — Colin Firth or his nine-years junior co-star Renee Zellweger, but watching Patrick Dempsey break character as a passive-aggressive third wheel is enough to turn your stomach. If you didn’t figure it out; Bridget won’t know which one is the dad until the baby is born and a DNA test can be done. Oh the problems of the upper class.

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Bridget is none too saddened by the recent death of her former boytoy Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), whose plane “went down in the bush.” She might be lonely, but Bridget’s female co-workers are busy with gangbangs and threesomes at handy dandy London sex clubs. Never mind, this movie doesn’t dare go there. Committee screenwriters Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson would rather take their target audience of white-ladies-who-lunch on a foray into an imaginary music festival land of weekend glamping in yurts. Naturally, Bridget wears an all white outfit with six-inch spike heels. If you are male, and have made it this far in this review, you’re work here is done.

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If, on the other hand you are a non-white female you will have your work cut out for you to not run for the restroom to vomit at the disgusting patronizing yet condescending tack this film takes in making romance seem like a dump you take after being constipated for five days.

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Director Sharon Maguire (helmer on the franchise debut “Bridget Jones’s Diary”) — at least they got the punctuation right — spares no excuse to crank up the most obvious and outdated musical cues in the history of modern-day Hollywood. Sitting on the couch alone: cue “All By Myself.” Having a pity party for one: play “Jump Around.” What would a party scene be without “Gangnam Style”? And the musical atrocities go on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Don’t believe me? Well, there’s “Fuck You” (by Lily Allen) during a fit of pique. And what cheesy rom-com would be complete without “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” paired with “Up Where We Belong.” Talk about on-the-nose telegraphing, it’s like a nervous tic.

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And, why a baby? With a movie as stillborn as this one, there’s no point in trying to pretend humor. There is not one joke, pratfall, or line of dialogue that will induce even a brief smile. If you’re 60, white, and female, you’ll chuckle for no good reason, but you already do that anyway. I’m sure the screenwriters laughed plenty at their own not-funny jokes. For the rest of us, there is no boredom less compelling than sitting through this irredeemable piece of cinematic trash.

Rated R. 122 mins.

1 Star

 

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

 

March 31, 2015

WHILE WE'RE YOUNG

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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While We're YoungOvernight, Noah Baumbach has digressed from making sophisticated [uncharacteristic of the genre] mumblecore movies (see “Greenberg” and “Frances Ha”) to creating a gimmicky mid-life crisis comedy that pits Gen Xers against cunning mid-20s hipsters.

Baumbach’s slippery slide toward entropy coincides with an up-tic in the annoyingness factor of Ben Stiller, an actor better suited to quirky supporting parts than leading-man roles. His principal performance in “Greenberg” was an exception because Stiller’s emotionally stunted character there was nothing if not eccentric. After watching “While We’re Young” you may never want to see another Ben Stiller movie again. I certainly don’t.ColeSmithey.com

“While We’re Young” gets off to a bad start in its pairing of Stiller playing opposite the always-on-point Naomi Watts as a late-40s husband-and-wife duo with marital troubles. Talk about an utter lack of screen-chemistry, oil and water would go together better.

Driver-Stiller

Naturally, the couple lives in Brooklyn, the belly of the beast for irritating hipster culture in America. Josh Srebnick (Stiller) is a frustrated filmmaker who busies himself teaching film studies at a university to stay properly distracted from completing a documentary he’s been working on for over a decade. His marriage is in a rut because Josh never gets around to taking a (much discussed but never acted-upon) vacation with his wife Cornelia (Watts). The couple’s best friends (played by Maria Dizzia and Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz) have recently had a baby, an event that has turned them into predictably insufferable bores obsessed with getting everyone they know to breed. If you sense that you’re in a pale Woody Allen-knock-off; you are.

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Enter upstart hipster “documentarian” Jamie (Adam Driver) into Josh’s filmmaking class. Jamie ingratiates himself into Josh’s good graces with compliments regarding a little-seen short film (“Power Elite”) that Josh made during his youth. Josh’s rudderless girlfriend Darby (Amanda Seyfried) prides herself on attending hip-hop dance classes and making ice cream. Hipsters for sure.

While-were-youngBoth couples have things the other wants. Jamie wants to steal Josh’s professional identity, and jump in the sack with Cornelia whose father (Charles Grodin) happens to be a celebrated documentarian able to give him a hand up in the biz. Josh fancies playing big shot around his new apprentice, and stealing some of Jamie’s youthful energy to finally complete his film project. Cornelia gets in on the act, hanging out with Darby as her new best friend. Swinging might be in the offing.

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It’s obvious that Noah Baumbach is attempting to pattern his New York-centric career on that of Woody Allen. Examples of stunt casting, similar to Allen’s modus operandi, run through this movie to less than stellar effect. If pairing Watts with Stiller weren’t clunky enough, Baumbach’s doubling down of a Jewish guy with a blonde partner (Jaime and Darby) reflects the director’s private relationship with Greta Gerwig.

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Everything about the movie feels stunted. The jokes are half-hearted and the plot never arrives. “While We’re Young” is a movie that recedes while you’re watching it. The most satisfying thing about the picture is Adam Driver’s smarmy portrayal of a remorseless opportunist out to take every shortcut available to put himself on top in a society made up of other, less ambitious, phonies.

Rated R. 97 mins.

2 Stars

Cozy Cole

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