Saturday, April 19, 2014


It was a challenging week, so I spent a few nights with my favorite form of escape, Hollywood formula movies with enough of an original twist to keep me watching.
I may have seen THE MAJESTIC when it first came out but have absolutely no memory of it (which happens since the brain op, now over four years ago) (and it came out in 2001 when I was diagnosed and operated on for cancer—which is thankfully all gone—and of course 9/11 occurred that year, so probably wasn't seeing many movies).

Jim Carrey can be aggravating to watch sometimes with that radiant but twisted phony smile he perfected that I never found appealing or humorous. And that happens a few times in this flick. But the rest of the time he's pretty good in a movie set in the early 1950s during the McCarthy Witch Hunt, that the movie skewers in an obvious and heavy-handed way but nonetheless is satisfying in the ways Hollywood formula movies can be, thus the formula.

It's basically a boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-gets-girl formula, with the cliched small-town purity and innocence and goodwill of the Andy Hardy movies. But it works, because there are enough original filigrees on the formula to keep you, or at least me, interested. And there's nothing like an old fashioned Hollywood ending to leave you satisfied when all you want is to escape the too often lack of Hollywood endings in everyday life.

THE INTERNSHIP came out last year and obviously didn't make much of an impact. But the aging comic pairing of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson led to at least three scenes that had me laughing out loud hardily, as they used to say. It's the fish-out-of-water formula, only with the contemporary twist of two technically pretty lame old guys deciding to change their lives and start new by applying for internships at Google.

As is usual for the fish-out-of-water formula, it's also the-underdog-triumphs formula, only this time the underdogs aren't up against the star jocks or the corporate baddies or city hall etc. but instead computer geeks, who they have to do better than to win a competition among nerdy brainiacs that includes technical skills, entrepreneurial skills and salesmanship.

There's a minor love story, but it's incidental to watching the old guys get dissed for being so out of it until the old guys use their life experience to inspire the young geeks to try doing things in ways they never thought of or had the courage to. Like I said, formula. But the characters are mostly fun to watch, especially Vaughn and Wilson, especially since they're beginning to look a little the worse for wear and it fits the plot.

OBLIVION is another movie that came out last year and had no impact I can remember noticing. This one a relatively original variation on the boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-gets-girl formula, but in a sci fi setting that has some plot twists that make it pretty trippy. Enough to keep me watching. Despite star Tom Cruise seeming miscast to me. At times he seemed like his old action hero self, but at other times he just seemed like an aging boy out of place in the wrong movie.

But the rest of the cast was terrific, and Olga Kurylenko made it worth watching for me, for exactly that: watching, let alone Morgan Freeman's and Melissa Leo's usual, totally committed—and in this flick more-or-less cameo—performances.

As always with films like this there were plot points that could have been cleared up a lot more easily than the story-line demanded. But fewer than in truly "bad" movies. These three films weren't bad, just minor. But even a minor distraction can mean a lot if you feel the need to be distracted. So thanks to all of them for helping me escape for a few hours this week.


AlamedaTom said...

Saw The Majestic shortly after it was released. I liked it quite a bit and I remember wondering at the time why it got more negative reviews than it deserved.

Saw Oblivion recently on Blu-Ray and liked it more than I expected. The plot was pleasurably twisted and the special effects were first-rate. I agree with your assessment of casting and thw performances.

Haven't seen the Internship, but based on your review I'm going to give it a watch.

~ Willy

Lally said...

Yeah Willy, THE MAJESTIC was a pleasant surprise...and since you have a better take on the whole computer culture I'd be interested to see what you think of THE INTERNSHIP, realizing going in that it's meant to be fluff, but fun fluff...