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In-Flight Entertainment January 15, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Up and Away.
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Under the rubric of “there and back again”, these are the movies I caught on the different flights I was on (that I hadn’t seen in theaters):

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. I knew coming into this one what to expect, and it did not disappoint (and yes, that’s a backhanded compliment). Where mindless comedies are concerned it is terribly predictable but not all too bad, seeing as it takes a dig at the entire NASCAR phenomenon and the perceived hillbilly crowds that surround it, something long begging for satire. I find however, that the gags by way of the faux television commercials throughout the movie and especially as the credits roll are a whole lot funnier than the movie itself. On the whole, I’m glad I passed on this one in theaters.

Invincible. The Disney film starring Mark Whalberg about an unlikely rookie who makes it to the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster. The film attempts to do for football what The Rookie (the Dennis Quaid movie) did for baseball. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and the film comes out fairly decent but none too remarkable. Certainly, Rudy pulled it off much better, although the circumstances surrounding Invincible – the economic downward spiral facing 1970s (?) Philadelphia and the aspirations that the city’s residents project onto their football team – are quite different and do give the film its own powerful emotional hook. If there’s anything really to complain about it’s probably Greg Kinnear, who despite his talents comes across as miscast in the role of the Eagles’ coach.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Surprisingly, a quite enjoyable romp. The first thing to appreciate about this movie is that the premise, setup and execution of the story – Luke Wilson’s character breaking up with his girlfriend, who happens to be a superhero – actually make a reasonable amount of sense, which is rare for a comedy. Second, and this might seem trivial, the soundtrack is not just well chosen but very expertly incorporated into the movie. I remember deciding to pass on this film when it was out in theaters for no other reason than it seemed ridiculous. I truly regret ever having thought that.

Little Miss Sunshine. Certainly a most unusual film. In many respects it reminded me of Sideways, another movie with an excellent cast, largely well-written dialogue, and a story that doesn’t really seem to go anywhere yet manages to keeps one’s attention (ostensibly just to find out where things are headed). Here, however, the story surrounds a disfunctional family that goes on a road trip in order to get the younger daughter to a beauty pageant she has always dreamed of competing in. Typically, along the way they get to resolve some of their issues and come to a better understanding of each other (sort of). The film largely meanders along and tends to be interesting, but in my opinion the twist at the end, while initially humorous, also ruined the movie. I know that the film has achieved critical acclaim, but I fail to grasp the underlying point, even if the ride is meant to be more important than the destination. At the very least, I was pleased to see that Greg Kinnear was not miscast in this film.

The Departed. Well worth the buzz that surrounded it. Martin Scorsese makes good use of his stellar cast in this gem of a movie about the Irish mafia. A-list headliners Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Leonardo di Caprio (who made a believer out of me after watching his performance) play their parts to perfection. With the exception of the affected New England accents that sometimes comes across as forced and inconsistent (but what do I know, right?), this gritty and intense film never lets up from start to finish. I now wonder how the Asian film on which it is based, Infernal Affairs, compares.

The Guardian. A straightforward, predictable, but completely satisfying film. I think it’s about time that an interesting movie were made about the US Coast Guard and its training program for rescue divers. At the very least, this film demonstrates that Kevin Costner is capable of starring in a film that involves lots of water and isn’t at all terrible. Fancy that.

The Black Dahlia. Something tells me I should have liked this film, but instead it was quite disappointing. I think Brian de Palma has to accept most of the responsibility for this: the story itself was very poorly put together, and de Palma’s style just made it that much less palatable even if he tried to get the noir-ish mid-1940s feel right. Further, Josh Hartnett’s voice-over narration, a critical component to the film, was even worse than his acting, which by comparison had some promise. Also, in what universe do Mia Kirshner and Hilary Swank look even remotely alike? Anyway, I presume that the book was more interesting than the film, though now that I’ve seen this I have no desire to even see whether this is in fact the case.

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Comments»

1. reyl - January 20, 2007

INFERNAL AFFAIRS was better in the storytelling but THE DEPARTED wasn’t so bad mainly because of the acting.

2. Random Travel Notes 4 « BRAIN DRAIN - November 10, 2007

[…] thereof). Naturally, I saw the prospect of a cross country flight as a golden opportunity to add yet another entry to ongoing In-Flight Entertainment missives. I knew, however, that I’d probably […]


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