Monday, April 30, 2012

In My Sleep (2008)

PG-13, 1 hr. 45 min.  Directed By:  Allen Wolf.  Release Date:  Apr 30, 2010.  DVD Release Date:  Oct 1, 2010.

If I’d seen the Flixster page for this movie, I totally would have skipped it.  I haven’t seen approval ratings THAT low since the last time I turned on CNN and they were discussing the latest Gallup polls about President Obama’s performance.  But, it was late and I was flipping through the new stuff on Netflix.  It didn’t look terrible, although admittedly, I wasn’t looking at reviews there, either.

My base impressions of this movie were few: (1) the lead spends way too much time clad only in skimpy boxer briefs or speedos for me not to wonder about the writer/director’s personal life. (2)  In My Sleep was clearly inspired, in very vague terms, by the classic suspense movies of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  (3)  The movie takes WAY TOO LONG to get started.  If I’d had anything, and I mean even like laundry kind of anything, better to do, I would have turned it off.  (4)  Once the damned movie got started it wasn’t terrible, but it has a few faults.

If you read me regularly, you know that I’m in a war against “actors” who spend the majority of their on screen time in a state of undress (cough cough Channing Tatum cough).  Phillip Winchester, the lead in this movie, has most of the same problems:  pretty, but clearly struggling to maintain even this uncomplicated role, he’ll probably continue to haunt movies until his looks or muscle tone fades.  To make matters worse, the casting director saddlebagged the poor boy with Lacey Chabert, whose career clearly peaked at the age of 8, back when she was in Party of Five.  Her voice seriously makes me want to punch kittens, and she talks too much in this movie for me to ignore that.

The story has too much set up built in to it.  Before the action gets going there’s approximately an hour of this guy running around with his bits showing, for reasons that are less clear than why Tom Cruise is always running in his movies.   A lot of things happen early on that are important by the end, but at the time, they seem like the random terrible things that might happen to a guy who spends too much time involved in playing the field. 

But, it’s clear that Allen Wolfe is someone who has paid some attention to what suspense is supposed to be, although after reading the professional critics blast the writer/director for comparing his own “director’s statement” to Hitchcock, I understand the blasting he received.  Hubris is a wicked bitch.  He uses Hitchcock’s tools, but he focused on the later movies, where Hitchcock’s work gets a bit ham-fisted because of the rise of the slasher movie.  Where he should have been taking notes during movies like The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, and The Lady Vanishes, he was writing fiendishly during Psycho

Other than his director’s statement needing a bit more revision before it was brought to public attention, I think this was an okay movie.  Take my advice and skim through the first thirty minutes.  You won’t miss much, especially since, even upon a review of the early scenes of the movie to determine if the Scooby Doo-esque reveal could be possible, I couldn't figure out how the story could have been explained by the actions witnessed.