Sunday, May 4, 2014


So I caught these two movies the other night when I needed a little light diversion and as flawed as they were, it worked. Mostly because they satisfied the conventions of their genres—romantic comedy and action—and had cast members that were fun to watch.

Watching Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington work out on screen was like catching a great jazz guitarist and a great rock guitarist jam competitively. Washington is at his best as the louche seen-it-all veteran of violence and deceit, who still gets deceived, while Wahlberg is an unstoppable force of energy and relentless riffing on his prowess who also gets tricked into leaving home without it.

The plot points are mostly ridiculous, and outdo each other in implausibility, or barely plausible, but...despite way to big a demand on suspension of disbelief (would you believe Marky Mark gets to rev the engine, very loudly, of his muscle car as he pulls up to the curb in an upper-middle-class suburb and from across the street simply stare from that sore-thumb car in this neighborhood as a well guarded and cautious drug lord steps out on his porch in plain sight to hand a brief case full of money to an underling!? and then Whalberg slowly drives off, loudly revving his engine again!) from start to finish, it's still just exhilarating watching Wahlberg make Washington work to keep up.

Let alone watching Bill Paxton rip it as a heartless nasty, even if Edward James Olmos plays the drug lord as though he knows how bad the script is, and Paula Patton seems capable of only one expression no matter the situation her character finds herself in, and the always wonderful to watch Fred Ward is underused. Because between Wahlberg, Washington, Paxton and the always fun-to-hate James Marsden, again, it was worth the ride.

The stars of WE'RE THE MILLERS aren't quite as much fun to watch as Wahlberg and Washington, but Jennifer Aniston is almost always good at rom-coms (even if it's pretty impossible for me to buy her as a down-on-her-luck stripper) and Jason Sudekis does a pretty good job of playing a seemingly soulless pot dealer who gets caught in a squeeze between two much bigger drug dealers.

It seems like more than a coincidence that both these movies are driven by marijuana dealing plots. But that's the only thing they have in common. WE'RE THE MILLERS has more women. 2GUNS is a buddy action movie so there's only one main female, the Paula Patton character. MILLERS has Aniston and the very good Emma Roberts with sometimes very funny Kathryn Hahn almost as prominent.

The jokes aren't bad at times and the acting is credible and sometimes fun. But the conceit of four disparate characters coming together to create the illusion of family is actually appealing, enough to get me to see the film through and mostly enjoy it and feel satisfied at the end. Light entertainment lightly played and pulled off. There's a place for that, for which I'm usually grateful.

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