VOD Log: We’re the Millers

The terrific TBS promo for We’re the Millers had a lot to do with my desire to see the film.  This promo does not exist anywhere on the internet, that I can find, other than the fragment pasted below — and that’s a shame.  TBS should be proud of its promos.  I do have a small problem with it — there is no girl playing a saxophone on the beach in the movie.  There’s not even a beach.  The musical backdrop, indeed, has no relation to the film at all — which technically amounts to perjury.  However, I certainly can’t ding a movie based on a television network’s independent ad campaign for it.

We’re the Millers falls in the sub-50% zone on Rotten Tomatoes.  One critic wrote that “The filmmakers lack the courage of their convictions.”  Maybe so — but I know that going in.  Put another way, I judge a movie on what it is, not on what it isn’t.  I’m not expecting high art or tense edginess.  I’m expecting Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in a fairly mindless comedy.

And it works on that level.  There’s something likable about these characters, and this story — raunchy and banal as it often is.  It comes nowhere close to comparable films Vacation or Due Date, but for what it is, it succeeds — barely.  6/10

Availability: iTunes


The Life of a scary space octopus

FRAUDULENT TRAILERS ANNOY the heck out of me.  And it’s very clear what I mean by a fraudulent trailer: one that includes content which is completely devoid the film.  That was one of the problems with the insipid Silver Linings Playbook.  In the Life trailer, audio of JFK’s speech about the USA’s moonshot is featured prominently, as if to give a greater context to the film.  Why then the speech, and its full implications, go AWOL come movie-time can be explained by only one reason: incompetence.

And so what you’re left with is a scary space octopus version of Alien.  Like Alien, the nascent forms of the alien life-form are quite intriguing.  Unlike Alien, that’s the best Life gets.  Life quickly devolves into a very second-rate monster-chase film.

I did like the sequel-ready ending of Life, but overall there’s too much mindlessness.  Having to introduce a new tag “trailer perjury” doesn’t help.  5/10

Comparison Notes (all recommended): The Ruins, Alien, Moon, Passengers, The Mist, Splice

my take on Silver Linings Playbook

Through about the first half of Silver Linings Playbook (now in theaters), I was mildly entertained and content with the growing expectation of good things unfolding as the movie progressed.  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are players in a story with a depth somewhere between Three’s Company and a typical Frasier episode, spread out to a full 2 hours.  Likable characters and a certain marginal cinematic quality elevate it a little over a television sitcom, but barely.  I am not phrasing that correctly.  There are some very good sitcoms out there that might take offense.

I just confirmed on IMDb that the catchy and popular song used to promote this movie, “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, is never used in the movie.  These guys should be sued for perjury as far as I’m concerned.  That really steams me.  I’ve never heard of a movie being so heavily promoted with a piece of music that has zero connection to said movie.

Now, the talk of Oscar acting nominations is surprising.  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence do, I think, what the short-sighted filmmakers ask of them, but that equates to nothing at all exceptional.  Even Robert DeNiro is boring and wasted in the cardboard cut-out role he’s given; his spin in Meet the Fockers is high art compared to this.

The more I’ve thought about this movie, the more I dislike it.  Contrived, artificial, one-dimensional characters and story contribute nothing of lasting value.  Silver Linings Playbook is utterly forgettable, mildly entertaining pabulum, as lame as its lame title.  Give it a year, nobody will remember this movie.  Honestly, it could not even deliver a single “wow” scene that people can talk about.  The good news?  It’s not the worst of the year.  3/10.