Movie Review: It’s Complicated (2009)

February 24, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

It’s Complicated is actually relatively simple: a woman, her ex-husband, and the new guy in her life.

It’s directed by Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and What Women Want), so you have a fair idea of what to expect (don’t worry, I almost vomited too).  Mature, romantic, lightly comedic and more seriously dramatic than it should be.  Ultimately, a decent film but not a great one.

What makes It’s Complicated better than I expected is the excellent cast.  People are going to have their opinions on Meryl Streep, but I think the woman is capable of anything.  Seriously, she could probably play Neo better than Keanu in The Matrix, or the Wolf better than Jason Bateman in Teen Wolf Too.  She’s that good, and her performance as Jane is no exception.

Interestingly, Jane is also a fantastic cook.  Streep already played Julia Child in Julie & Julia, and now she gives us more food porn to make us hungry in It’s Complicated.  Not that I am complaining.  The delightful food is definitely more enticing than the old people sex that we have to put up with.  Though to Meyer’s (and Streep’s) credit, that aspect of the film was nowhere near as bad as I imagined it would be.

Alec Baldwin is also terrific as the ex-husband.  He surprised me, actually, because although Jake should be a hated character, Baldwin’s charm manages to make him endearing.  The best actor of the Baldwin brothers, for sure.

Steve Martin, on the other hand, looked…weird.  Is he getting botox injections or plugs or both?  I wouldn’t let someone that looks like that (with a creepy smile to boot) near my kids (in the event that I ever have any).  But apart from that, he was great.  A subtle, controlled performance as Adam, the other guy.

It was also good to see Hunter Parrish (Silas from Weeds) in there, even though he played the pansy son who didn’t really do anything.  Oh, and John Krasinski (from the American version of The Office) as Harley, the future son-in-law, provided the best laughs.

Speaking of laughs, there weren’t that many.  That’s my main gripe with It’s Complicated.  There were plenty of amusing lines, but few were laugh-out-loud funny.  In addition, most of the best jokes were already spoiled by the advertisements which I accidentally came across (at a time I didn’t think I’d end up seeing the film).  Don’t you hate it when that happens?

When all said and done, It’s Complicated was kind of enjoyable.  Interesting premise, amusing, and both lighthearted and serious, but nothing special.  I can see young people struggling with this one given how “adult” it is, but the oldies should love it.

3 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Blind Side (2009)

February 24, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

I can’t believe I am saying this, but I loved The Blind Side.

When I first laid eyes on the poster with a blonde Sandra Bullock and a big, black American footballer, I groaned.  With a name like The Blind Side and a poster like that, I expected a sappy, saccharine melodrama in the vein of Pay It Forward and Stepmom.

I was wrong.

The Blind Side is a film about compassion, prejudice, family, chance, and the virtues of hard work.  It tells the inspirational true story of Michael Oher, an underprivileged (albeit talented) African-American youth, and his relationship with Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy white woman from the other side of town.  As per usual, I won’t say much more than that.  If you don’t know who Michael Oher is, great.  Don’t look him up before seeing the movie.

Two things really surprised me about The Blind Side.

First, it is so much better than it should have been.  The Blind Side is truly a terrific film.  One that pulls at the heart strings without trying to tear them down.  It may have been a little sappy and a little melodramatic at times, but for the most part, director and screenwriter John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Alamo) manages to keep the film from tipping over the edge.  There are numerous moments that will warm your heart, but very few that will make you cringe in discomfort.

Second, Sandra Bullock is good.  There, I said it.  Sandra Bullock is good in The Blind Side.  I may have ranted about her Oscar nomination but I now think she is deserving.  Bullock’s really not that much better than she was in her other movies, but when you stick an average actress in a great film and the perfect role, anything is possible.  While I don’t think Bullock deserves to win (though I think she probably will), I admit I was wrong to compare her to Matthew McConaughey.  That was low, even for me.

There’s not too much to complain about The Blind Side.  The length (128 minutes) is fine, the pacing is good, and the sporadic humour is lighthearted and in the right spirit.  The only thing is that it’s a little too neat and tidy.  There are some very ugly issues underlying the film, but it never felt like they were properly confronted.  Too sanitised, perhaps, and consequently missing that raw emotional power.

It would have been easy to dismiss The Blind Side as a “white people are so wonderful” movie, except that it is a true story.  Romanticised, perhaps, but a true story nonetheless.  That’s what makes it remarkable.  Every time you think things are too good to be true, you just have to remind yourself that it (or something like it) actually happened.

Movies based on inspirational true stories aren’t supposed to actually leave you feeling inspired, but somehow, The Blind Side does.

4.5 stars out of 5!