Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not a Good Weekend At the Movies

88 Minutes

I'll see pretty much anything with Al Pacino in it, but Jon Avnet's "88 Minutes" is a poor excuse for a mystery/thriller. Not only does it feel 15 years too late with its numerous red herrings and straight to video performances from a cast that, itself, feels fifteen years too old (such as William Forsythe, Leelee Sobieski, Deborah Kara Unger, Amy Brenneman and Alicia Witt), but Pacino himself looks like he's sleepwalking through the whole thing. Whether this is due to Avnet's flat direction or a screenplay that was severely aged due to it's shelf life, "88 Minutes" is lurid to the extreme- and I mean that not in a good way. By the time the finale rolls around and we're (thankfully) revealed the culprit behind Pacino's 88 minute madness, I couldn't care less. A high rise building with construction being done on that floor, the killer holding hostages (1 victim held by a weird pulley system dangling over the edge), and Pacino looking around the area for clues while he tosses his gun to the side- how early 90's (or hell even late 80's Schwarzenegger) does that sound? Preposterous, boring and very bad.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

While certain moments of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" are insanely funny (Paul Rudd- "when life gives you lemons, you say fuck it and bail"), it doesn't sustain its full length premise quite as well as previous Apatow produced efforts. And whether that's due to Jason Segel's lack of leading man charisma or not, but "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is certainly the weakest of the films to come from the Apatow team pipeline. For the first time, the supporting cameos are becoming tiresome- none more so than Jonah Hill's turn as a star-crazed waiter at the resort- and some of the adult humor feels strained. But, while it fails on certain levels, the central relationship that blooms between Segel and actress Mila Kunis is heartfelt and believable... not only because they seem natural together but Kunis simply radiates every time she's on screen. I think part of the joy in previous ensemble comedies from this team of writers, actors and directors (assembled back in their "Freaks and Geeks" TV days) is the improvised feel of their work. You get some of that here, such as a scene involving both couples as they have dinner together which lapses into some terrifically funny banter degrading star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) and her choice of movie roles. Many other ideas miss the mark. One nauseating aside involves another couple at the resort as they struggle through the christening of the marriage, so to speak. It felt pointless and placed for shock value only. "Knocked Up" and "The 40 Year Old Virgin" earned their shock value. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" does not.


Chris Allen Gaubatz said...

Way to take one for the team and see, "88 Minutes"! On "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", I got a more positive experience out of that viewing than you did. It didn't have the side-splitting laughs that "Knocked-up", and "40 Year..." had, but I thought it was pretty consistent throughout. It delivered a lot of smiles and chuckles (giggles from the ladies), but not a lot of left hand to the mouth, right hand pointing at the screen, "oh damn, ooooohhhhh" moments. dude here.

Joseph B. said...

Yep, most of the ohh damn moments came from Paul Rudd. "You sound like your from London...."