Sunday, January 22, 2012

Double Feature - Morning Glory (2010) and Letters to Juliet (2010)

PG-13, 1 hr. 42 min.  Directed By:  Roger Michell.  Release Date:  Nov 10, 2010.  DVD Release Date:  Mar 8, 2011.

I don’t remember when, but at some point in the last few years, I sat down and watched Post Grad.  I had some empathy.  I was going through my MBA, faced deplorable job prospects, and was pretty much freaking out.  When I put this on my DVD queue, I had hoped for something similar to happen, because Morning Glory and I had a ton of things in common.  I lost my job, had to move in with my parents, and if Rachel MacAdams had spent three years looking for that new job, had to cannibalize every cent she had in savings, and had to watch her father die slowly over the course of a year, her life might have sucked almost as much as mine did until September 2011.

It should have been no-brainer magic.  I should have racked up TONS of empathy points, and well, there was nothing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still have all kinds of naughty thoughts about Rachel MacAdams.  I thought she had an energy and an approachability that will take her far in Hollywood.  Like always, I liked her.  Way too much.  It makes me overly forgiving of when she makes crap like this.  

There are other folks in the cast that I thought were great.  Well, there was one such person, and that was Diane Keaton.  She was pretty awesome, and she made me laugh on more than one occasion.  While I’m not up on my Diane Keaton, I realized that this was a run of the mill performance from her.  She’s a bit like pizza:  even when she’s mediocre, she’s still pretty good.  When balanced off a pretty terrible performance from Harrison Ford, she works really well and makes him look a whole lot better.

The story is simple and fairly mindless, and filled with a timeliness that might not withstand the test of time.  In ten years, when the economy doesn’t suck as bad as it does these days, and given the fickle nature of the average American’s attention span, Morning Glory might not quite have the punch it did when it was released in theaters.  This isn’t terrible.  I expected it to be a romantic comedy, because well, it was Rachel MacAdams and I don’t think she’s done something that wasn’t a romantic comedy since Red Eye.  It was like that little thriller broke her somehow. 

PG, 1 hr. 45 min.  Directed By: Gary Winick. Release Date:  May 14, 2010.  DVD Release Date: Sep 14, 2010. 

Somone.  Shoot.  Me.  PLEASE.  As if my mind wasn't already warped because of the time I spent exposed to Morning Glory, I foolishly chose to use this as a follow up.  These movies have way too much in common:  they both star an actress that has some moderate chops who is forever stuck in the same lame part.  They're both about a woman struggling to make it in her professional and personal lives, and both movies certainly did not aim themselves at me.   I had hoped that the presence of Vanessa Redgrave and Gael Garcia Bernal would elevate this from another cheesy rendition of Dear John.

Sadly, I was wrong.  While Ms. Redgrave did act circles around Amanda Seyfried, it wasn't nearly enough to make me not see the ending coming about two miles away.  Seyfried was comely, which seems to be her true sole talent:  I have yet to see her in a movie where I don't find her completely endearing, even when the movie sucks out loud.  Letters to Juliet is yet another in a long line of those movies, and I'm beginning to think that I might as well just give up on Ms. Seyfried.

I know that the modern romance film uses a formula that was set in motion in the 30s by It Happened One Night, which happens to be one of the few romantic movies that I don't like, because the story that unfolds there falls reasonably close to reality.  You can see it happening to someone, even if it never happened to you.  That's kind of important.  I have a hard time believing that this mopey chick just happens to find this letter hidden in a wall, and then happens to be in touch with the people who write those letters and happens, blah blah blah.  There's too much coincidence, and not enough reality linking the events that send Sophie, Claire, and... well, I've already forgotten the guy's name, on this wild goose chase through Italy for a man that Claire had a summer fling with 50 years before.  Then, everything falls into place perfectly, blah blah blah.  There's too much left to chance and there's too much left for the audience to just swallow.

Redgrave was charming, and this was one of her rare roles where I wished she was my grandmother or something.  She was... perfect, but still, this won't go down on the call sheets as her best performance.  The rest of the cast was unoffensive.  If you like your movies dull and a bit witless, and don't want anything like a surprise, this is probably going to be your poison.