Screened Out: The Script Isn’t The Hero

By : Stephen Miller
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SOTheLoneRanger

THE POSTER SHOULD PROBABLY SAY-in all caps-“Prepare to have your every expectation met,” and then follow it by four or six exclamation points, maybe. This is exactly what you’d get when Disney and the Pirates of the Caribbean crew team up to bring you The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Silver, and the like.

Hammer is a district attorney left for dead out in the Wild, Wild West after a terrible injustice is meted upon his family. This Lone Ranger is brought back to life with the help of the supremely weird Tonto (Depp-he’s brilliant but also quite a bit stereotypically insulting to the entire Native American population). The Lone Ranger and Tonto team up to hunt down an evil desperado (super-creepy Fitchner) and find out his nefarious plan, which has to do with silver mining, the railroad, and Comanche land.

I’m really not spoiling anything. If you didn’t know what to expect, the myriad trailers we’ve seen over the last six months would’ve told you.

It’s funny and action-packed in that shticky, shallow, loud and stupid way we’ve come to expect from Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski. It also tries for moments of seriousness: a flimsy apology to Native Americans, a sly comment on rash capitalism. There are also a couple scenes of uncomfortable violence. Altogether, this makes for some moments of uneven tone and a few gaps in the plot.

But again, did you expect anything else?

SOTheHeat

AUDIENCES OFTEN FORGIVE A MOVIE IF THERE ARE TWO OR THREE GOOD BELLY LAUGHS WITHIN TWO HOURS. We shouldn’t. The Heat is hackneyed, half-written, depending too much on actor improv to add the missing humor.

Bullock is an uptight FBI agent with lousy interpersonal skills. McCarthy is a bad-girl Boston cop, known for her unorthodox, unprofessional approach to investigation. This odd couple-which of course we’ve seen a billion times before-have to team up together and learn to appreciate each other to bring down an evil Boston drug czar.

If you can’t guess the plot twists in this film, then you’ve never seen a cop buddy flick. You may have never seen a film. Some tiny credit might be given for casting two women. Too bad the film isn’t insightful or clever, or it’d actually be worth it.

So, the heavy lifting is left to Bullock and McCarthy and their skills at making something out of nothing. Their jokes land about one out of every three times. Whole sections literally flop. I can’t even describe how bad the two cliché dance sequences are, but trust me, the audience was silent. Of course, we should expect all the plot holes and stupid anachronisms with such underdeveloped crud.

I’d give this one and a half stars-if I gave half stars. I’m rounding up because I did laugh a couple times. Bullock and McCarthy are funny actors; they’re just not writers. And they shouldn’t have to be.

SOStuckInLove

THIS ROMANCE HAS ELEMENTS THAT ARE EASY TO EITHER LOVE OR HATE. The actors do phenomenal work individually, and they gel even better together. The film itself is quirky and cute, and things rectify themselves in ways that are both satisfying and a little unbelievable.

Kinnear is the father in a family of writers (and one artist) going through a prolonged crisis. He and painter wife Connelly divorced two years ago, because she found another man. Kinnear has been unable to move on, to even begin writing again. Their young novelist kids (Collins and Wolff) are in different stages of forgiveness toward Mommy, and everyone also tries to help Dad move on from the pain. In between, Collins and Wolff have their own struggles with romance.

It’s nice to see relationships from the three perspectives, but their journeys don’t always add up to plausible, cumulative ends.

The night of the screening, audience got the treat of asking first-time writer/director Josh Boone questions. Something in Boone’s answers might point to what’s not sticking. He said, “Writing sucks. You’re just trying to get out the door and start shooting your movie.” He also admitted that some of these scenes were culled from small notes written years before. So, the movie feels choppy and a little sloppy, shooting for the easy conclusion instead of the good one.

There are still some wonderful heartfelt moments, but the overall project is missing some glue.

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