Booksmart, Wilde & Out

I was intrigued the first time I saw Olivia Wilde in the Tron follow-up.  Now she’s directing movies, and recently stated the following in a New York Times interview:

“It is remarkable that I am 35 years old and this is the first job I’ve ever had that wasn’t entirely dependent on and connected to my looks,” she said. “It grosses me out to acknowledge it, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it.”

All well and good, but I’m not sure puking on a classmate and having condom water balloon fights are a way to elevate yourself, especially when your story is about two geeky kids trying to get to the cool kids’ big backyard bash.  You’re not exactly opening the originality box.  And that is the entire story.  So we’re left with a character-driven story — with characters that are compelling, to a point, but hardly riveting.  They’re just not that interesting.

Booksmart has been referred to as a female Superbad.  Not even close.  Superbad was a truly great, authentically touching, and very funny teen comedy — one of the best of all time.  Olivia Wilde should never be thought of in the same light as Judd Apatow.  So I’m sorry you so tragically had to rely on your looks all this time.

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It may sound like I have some animosity toward Booksmart.  I do not.  I concede that I was entertained and reasonably engaged with these characters.  But calling it a Masterpiece, or even the equations to Superbad just discredit you as a critic.  6/10

Comparison Notes: Crazy Rich Asians, Blockers, Sixteen Candles, Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, Superbad, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Happy Death Day, The Sure Thing, Ghost World, and most other high school-based movies, with the exception of Risky Business.  There are no comparison notes between Booksmart and Risky Business.  None.

PS May is not summer.  By the 4th of July, it’ll be tough finding this picture in theaters.

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Film Brief: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is like a James Bond movie, except the ornate sets aren’t machine-gunned up and blown to smithereens.  It’s also effervescent, a visual treat, and a completely trite re-hash story.

But indefatigable bubbly charm goes a long way.  Another bonus is that this is — or was a couple weeks back when I saw it — the film of the moment, a zeitgeist event picture and therefore borderline must-see.  All of which compensates for it not being particularly funny or dramatic.  It’s rather French Vanilla, yet somehow all works.  7/10

Comparison Notes: The Great Gatsby, Arthur (Dudley Moore & Liza Minnelli), Ever After, Wedding Crashers

Dinner and a Game Night at the movies

Lets play a game, of sorts.  A guessing game.  Why does Mark have a blog?  Roger Ebert.com, in no way speaking as Roger Ebert would have, and, further, very much sallying his name, is generally in agreement with the Rotten Tomatoes consensus:

…a raucously funny film that has a knack for going right up to the edge of nastiness.

WRONG!  I was actually enjoying Game Night, if mildly, until the latter third or so when it bounced between implausibility and trite stupidity.  Lesser critics describe it as edgy; they haven’t any idea what true edginess is.

So what started off nicely in thumbs-up territory devolved into yet another silly pseudo-crime action flick with overly contrived “plot twists” and inane action sequences involving, for instance, airplanes that never get off the ground when attempting takeoff.  The best part of the film by far: Jesse Plemons (Fargo season 2)  If there is any reason to see Game Night, it is the hilariously creepy Jesse Plemons.  5/10

Comparison Notes: Recommended: Due Date, Neighbors; no opinion: Date Night

Film Brief: Lost in Paris

Lost in Paris: a bit as if Wes Anderson made a Charlie Chaplin movie.  Delightful, charming, and fun, but never enough to thoroughly sink your teeth into.  Of note: the French title is Paris pieds nus, which translates most directly as “Paris, feet naked,” or “Barefoot in Paris”.  I think a more appropriate title than the one the marketers ended up pandering with.  7/10