Runtime 94 minutes
Not for children
Warning! This is a movie for nobody. It is violent, profane and without any redeeming social interest. I liked Woody Harrelson when he appeared on Cheers. But nobody could make this movie entertaining.
Based on a “graphic novel,” (which is another name for what were “comic books” when I was growing up), and directed by Craig Johnson, it is worse and more boring than it would be for an adult to read a comic book today. What’s really unfortunate is that it’s got a good cast, including Cheryl Hines who played Larry David’s wife in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, who many will recognize from the hit TV series 24.
Alas, their efforts are wasted in what is an absurd story of seriously sociopathic people, Norman (Harrelson) and his former wife, Pippi (Laura Dern) from whom he has been divorced for 17 years. She enters his life and reveals he has a daughter, Claire (Isabella Amara), he never knew about.
Just about everyone in the film is mentally unstable, except for Pippi’s sister, Polly (Hines). She’s normal and gets brutally beaten by Pippi for her efforts.
There is nobody likeable in this film (except Polly, but she has a very small role).
Norman is basically imbecilic with no people talent whatsoever. It’s never explained how he makes a living or survives. He’s just a character around which Johnson and writer Daniel Cloves have built an uninvolving story about unlikeable characters and absurdly contrived events.
As far as I can see there is no reason to go to see this, just as there was no reason to make it or release it. I would love to have heard how they pitched this to people who had to put up the money to make it.
In theaters: Beauty and the Beast:
A terrific entertainment combining live action with animation; the outstanding production numbers and orchestration make up for mediocre melody. Romantic enough, I thought Dan Stevens had a lot more sex appeal as the Beast (achieved through performance and facial capture technology, not makeup) than as the Prince. Visual and special effects are award quality.
Kong: Skull Island:
Well directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (only his second film), the special effects, production design, and cinematography alone are worth the price of admission, buttressed by the symphonic score that greatly enhances the action. And they should be since the estimated cost of production is around $185 million. Final kudos should go to the editor. I’m constantly carping about films needing good editing. This one got it, thanks to Richard Pearson.
The Last Word:
Shirley MacLaine plays an octogenarian who knows who she is and is unapologetic. She does not suffer fools gladly, especially her estranged daughter, and walks all over everyone without a smidgen of concern for their feelings. She is accompanied on this journey by Amanda Seyfried and AnnJewel Lee Dixon, who plays a streetwise, foul-mouthed young girl. Both give good performances but MacLaine stands out. While similar in concept to last year’s The Meddler, in which Susan Sarandon was enormously annoying without a single redeeming feature, in this one MacLaine eventually wins the viewer over with a much, much better written, better directed and better acted movie.
There are some good performances, by Anna Kendrick and her erstwhile boyfriend, Teddy (Wyatt Russell, who actually gives the best performance in the movie) and the others who occupy Table 19 at a wedding. They all give good performances, given what they are required to say and do by the script that is little short of silly. The situations are too preposterous and trite to be involving. This good cast deserved better material.