Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Spoiler alert-o-meter: Beware, all ye who enter.
Vince Vaughn’s acting style channels the easy smarm of mid-career Burt Reynolds, the edgy goofiness of Johnny Knoxville, and a medicine show barker. And occasionally pushing through are the facial expressions and double-takes of John Belushi. Vaughn has fashioned a leading-man career from a certain patter originated in Swingers and honed to effectiveness in Old School and Wedding Crashers. Vaughn incorporates this signature stream-of-consciousness into most of his movies. He usually plays alpha males who don’t know when to shut up, when to back down, and when they’ve crossed the line from ambition to folly. He is best taken in smaller doses.
The Dilemma, Vaughn’s quick-talk algorithm is used for evil. The movie is a humorless, cringe-inducing, toneless, shape shifting mess. And it’s Vaughn’s movie all the way. He’s in almost every shot. There is only one scene not shown from his perspective. This close first person narrative is a necessity of the story which finds two couples who, due to various motives, are hiding secrets from each other. It’s sit-com material writ large and overblown.
Winona Ryder (playing Nick’s wife, Geneva) and Jennifer Connelly (playing Ronny’s girlfriend, Beth) signed on for what are essentially female sidekick characters. The answer is that as the movie goes along it gets more serious. (Or less funny—hard to tell since there wasn’t a laugh track and the ten viewers in the audience weren’t doing much laughing.) Director Ron Howard cast dramatic actors in the supporting roles to give the movie’s dramatic shifts some gravitas. A smart move, as more comedic actresses either wouldn’t have been able to handle the various tones, or the audience wouldn’t have bought comediennes going serious.
Channing Tatum, Zip is a drug ingesting, gun toting goof (it’s a thankless part, which Tatum brings some gusto to). Ronny fights Zip, ruining the guy’s apartment. And it turns ugly as Ron Howard lets Vaughn slip into some deep end of anger and compulsion.
Ronny goes from bothersome nudge to psychotic freak, fashioning an aerosol can as a blowtorch to use as a weapon. It’s not one bit funny. And it’s not supposed to be. If anything, it’s a reminder that Vince Vaughn can still act and should try dramatic roles again. But why shunt the story down this dark, dead-end?
Skip The Dilemma.
Theater location: Lowell Showcase, Sunday, January 16th, 3:15 matinee. Price $8.25. Viewed solo. Snacks--mixed nuts, Large Diet Pepsi.
African Cat. A nature flick from Disney. Like March of the Penguins, but with lions and tigers.
The Eagle. I forget what all the hubbub was about, so I'll quote IMDB: "In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavors to honor his father's memory by finding his lost legion's golden emblem." Like you do. With Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell.
Paul. A couple of UFO-obsessed Brits (Nick Frost, Simon Pegg) tour America hoping to learn more about Area 51, Roswell, etc., when they stumble upon a real alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). It's live action, and the alien looks like an extra from Close Encounters. Could be cute.
Take Me Home Tonight. Topher Grace (where ya been, buddy?) can't quite make it into the current decade, and stops at 1988 for some youthful shenanigans. He's trying to impress the girl of his dreams, and that's apparently tough to do when you still only work at Suncoast Video. So he lies. Hilarity (as it always does when you lie) ensues.
Your Highness. "When Prince Fabious's bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her... accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous." Natalie Portman plays straight lady to a goofy James Franco and Danny McBride.