THE FILM YAP » film yap http://www.thefilmyap.com We Never Shut Up About Movies Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:40:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Jesse Hutch, “Joy Ride 3″ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/06/18/jesse-hutch-interview/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/06/18/jesse-hutch-interview/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=45715 Continue reading ]]> Jesse Hutch image within post

Jesse Hutch is a veteran of the industry whose 13-year career spans film and TV, everything from “Dark Angel” (his first gig) to “The Butterfly Effect” to “Joy Ride 3,” now available on DVD, iTunes and HD. The day after Father’s Day, the affable and introspective actor and I chatted  him from home in Canada, me from a friend’s daughter’s princess-themed bedroom in the Chicago suburbs  while he played with his three children, ages 3 years, 19 months and 7 weeks. (At one point, he interrupted himself to say “Sorry. I’m ‘flying’ a toddler over my head.”)

You’ve been acting since 2001. How has your style changed since then?

Wow. You get right to the hard-hitting questions, don’t you?

Yup.

I think when it comes to acting, I feel like the largest aspect of acting is yourself, about your insecurities, strengths, weaknesses and character. I’ve come to learn that you gotta deal with yourself in order to properly deal with that emotion and try to apply that emotion to someone else’s writing. I can get in my own way, if that makes sense. I was raised in the old-school mentality that men don’t cry, that strength means not allowing emotions to show on the outside. I think for me along the way, getting married and having children, [I've found that] it’s rubbish to say that real men to don’t cry. If something happened to your wife and she left the earth in the blink of an eye, you’re not gonna cry ’cause you’re too much of a man? I think that’s ridiculous. I’ve had to deal with myself a lot more. I’ve had to examine myself, and ask, “What about other people?” I think being married and having kids has allowed me to think outside of myself. People say actors are crybabies and we are very emotional, but we have to turn off emotions with the words “Action” and “Cut.” It’s one of the aspects of acting that I really enjoy. I have to be that character ’cause it’s not me, but I affect it.

Tell me about “Joy Ride 3.”

My role is the lead role of Jordan Wells. Jordan has his own company and does a lot of rally racing. He has a team built up of friends and girlfriends. I really like the character. I was attracted to the role simply because I liked that he was a leader, but he wasn’t flawless. He is wrong sometimes. There are moments he’s able to admit it, if not straight up with his words, you can see it in his actions and in his expressions. I also enjoyed the fact that he was the lead, not gonna lie. The movie has already been released on iTunes and HD, DVD comes out June 17. The DVD will have some behind-the-scenes and extras, which I enjoy and haven’t been able to see yet.

I liked that he’s a work in progress. He does care about his friends, and as the story progresses, he starts to kind of fall apart but still keep it together. He becomes stronger – he’s forced to become stronger – and in that journey he almost goes slightly crazy – not like, “Oh my goodness, this guy needs to be put in a loony bin,” but I’d call it righteous anger. It gets serious pretty quick. We’re talking life-threatening, people are missing, people are dying. In a short amount of time I was trying to bring Jordan to life and show that he cares for these people, so the viewers will care about them.

According to IMDb, you perform a lot of your own stunts. Can you talk more about that? What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever had to do?

As far as stunts go, the majority of it is I’ve gotten to do a lot of fight scenes. I enjoy a good stunt a lot. I have friends who are in the stunt world. Back when I was single, I used to be roommates with a stunt coordinator. I’ve always appreciated that aspect of filmmaking, and I want to get in there and try to make the shot better when I can, but I appreciate the stunt folk. You have to keep a level head. Most stunt people don’t enjoy working with actors, because our focus is on character and emotion and the next thing you know, emotion can take over, and they’re not making contact with the stunt people and punches are thrown and people get hurt. I like to try to bring the stunt to life. In “Joy Ride,” I was able to do a fight scene with Rusty Nail, [played by] Ken Kerzinger, who’s been in the stunt industry for years. It was a 10-year anniversary for us, because we worked on “Freddy vs. Jason” together, back in the day – I was the guy who was snapped in half. I’ve had a plethora of death in my career. That being said, I’ve enjoyed that my character makes it to the end of ["Joy Ride 3"].

Who’s your dream costar, and why?

Right off the top of my head, I’d enjoy working with Tom Cruise. I enjoy that he does a lot of his stunts, and he’s very committed. The majority of his films are awesome, and he gets to do a lot of action. Hugh Jackman comes across as a class act and a gentleman, but he’s really focused and plays a lot of roles, from action to comedy to drama. Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favorite actors. Mark Wahlberg would be awesome. You just get the feeling he’s a lot of fun. I’d like to have a career that isn’t just one track. I want to be all over the place, be that guy who can be in a dramedy and a straight-up comedy and action. “Joy Ride” was great because my name comes up first in the credits, and it’s like the first time you see your name on the chair [on set]. Not everybody sees that, but you know it’s there. I hope to be an actor that can bring stories to life and affect people.

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A Million Ways to Die in the West http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/05/30/a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-west/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/05/30/a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-west/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 09:55:31 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=45400 Continue reading ]]> AMWTD - inside

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” has its fair share of laughs, but overall, it’s a fairly disappointing sophomore effort by writer/director Seth MacFarlane.

I went into “A Million Ways” with high expectations after I was blown away by MacFarlane’s 2012 live-action directorial debut, “Ted.” This movie review won’t be a comparison of the two films; however, going into a movie ready to erupt with laughter (like I did during “Ted”) and only winding up chuckling sporadically is an “epic fail” in my book.

MacFarlane stars as a sheepherder who is cognizant that life in the late 1800s sucks; half-a-million of the jokes stem from the fact that MacFarlane’s character is stuck in a time period where disease, famine and “a million other things” can eventually kill you. The gags would have been able to hold my attention if the script had been better-written, but the movie is unevenly paced for its nearly two-hour run time.

MacFarlane has a penchant for one-liners and scatological humor, which works fine in “Family Guy” and had me laughing out loud during “Ted,” However, it seems a little bit forced during this movie. Perhaps if MacFarlane had gotten someone else to play the leading role, he could have spent more time in the director’s chair and strung together a better movie.

MacFarlane gets strong performances from his supporting cast, including Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman and the scene-stealing Neil Patrick Harris. Rated R for its vulgarity, “A Million Ways” falls short of a comedic gem by several hundred thousand.

2.5 Yaps

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The Grand Budapest Hotel http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/03/19/the-grand-budapest-hotel/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/03/19/the-grand-budapest-hotel/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 13:05:27 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=44215 Continue reading ]]> Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF File

Wes Anderson’s films have the feel of a retro storybook with their symmetrical composition, timeless narrative structure and the most complex and detailed simplicity. No actor can get away without delivering at least one bit of dialogue while staring straight ahead, and each character functions in a sort of existential Disneyland. In Anderson’s last film, “Moonrise Kingdom,” I found all of the above to be quite literally the cure for my insomnia. In “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Anderson has found a pitch-perfect mix of dark comedy and a quiet sense of optimism.

This time around, there aren’t really any precocious moppets with dry delivery and misplaced gloom. Instead, Anderson finds a likable protagonist in Zero (Tony Revolori, in an impressive film debut), an earnest lobby boy eager to make good in an elegant hotel that appears to thrive despite the war-torn atmosphere. (Note that the word “Nazi” is never mentioned.) Zero finds a champion in his employer, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), a mustachioed charmer who’s at once completely open and charismatically enigmatic. The ever-suave Gustave’s predilection for much older women soon lands him in deep trouble, and Zero finds himself pulled along for the journey. The results involve an erotic painting, bloody train rides, pink cake boxes and Jeff Goldblum.

In “Budapest,” Anderson’s unique aesthetic, the effects of which have ranged from charming (“Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums”) to unwatchable (“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”) finds a happy home in obscure, graying Eastern Europe. As sweetly compatible as Zero and his young lover, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), Anderson and the landscape are an excellent blend of decaying and decadent. The setting and the darkness it lends itself to keep the film from falling into the cloying trap of “Moonrise Kingdom,” but incorporates humor much more effectively than “The Life Aquatic.”

Anderson’s usual suspects all make appearances: Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and the like all pop up in various cameos. Edward Norton is back as a bumbling soldier, and Jude Law a surprisingly subdued writer and hotel guest. Harvey Keitel and Willem Defoe have small but memorable turns as a gruff prisoner and a near-mute hit man, and of course Goldblum mumbles and fumbles as only Goldblum can. But it’s Fiennes who elevates “Budapest” from good to great. His Gustave is unpredictable and over-the-top, articulate and witty in one breath, cursing a blue streak the next. He’s a “character” in every sense of the word, yet remains grounded in this bizarre reality.

During a Q&A following the screening I attended, Anderson revealed that “Budapest” was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, who, as a child, escaped the horrors of World War I only to commit suicide with his wife in 1942. This may explain why the film has such a haunted beauty, a weight despite the usual Anderson tropes that keeps it from descending into overly cute. Whatever you’re doing, Anderson, it’s working. Keep it up.

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Romeo and Juliet http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/10/11/romeo-and-juliet/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/10/11/romeo-and-juliet/#comments Fri, 11 Oct 2013 13:06:39 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=42129 Continue reading ]]> Romeo-and-Juliet-within-post

Julian Fellowes and Carlo Carlei: a plague on both your houses.

Sir Julian, you are an excellent writer, director and creator of the much-loved television series “Downton Abbey.” However, you are not the Bard. You are not even close. With that in mind, it’s completely presumptuous of you to pen this “Romeo and Juliet” with a hybrid of Shakespeare’s words and your own. Were you trying to make this ancient tale more relatable to today’s youth?

Consider the Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann film versions that preceded yours, both of which used the original text to tremendous effect. Shakespeare’s language doesn’t need to be dumbed down. Yes, it carries much symbolism and hidden meaning, but spoken out loud by skilled actors (though that’s another issue here), it’s a living, breathing entity that illustrates every essential thought, emotion and plot point all by itself. Plus, by interjecting your own verse, you are messing up the meter. Your screenplay sounds like “Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits” mixed with the first draft of a “Game of Thrones” episode. It’s wrong on levels I cannot even articulate other than the word “yuck.”

Mr. Carlei, so unbearably clueless is your interpretation that I wonder if you have even read the original play. Yes, it is pretty to watch — the towering architecture, the sparkling jewels, the rich colors and fabrics — but aesthetics only go so far to compensate for the slowest-paced “Romeo and Juliet” I’ve ever witnessed.

Not to mention the utter lack of passion, a quality that makes this story a classic. Christian Cooke’s Mercutio, normally such a dynamic and fascinating character, is practically a non-entity. Benvolio is not only bland but played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who looks about 12 years old compared to Douglas Booth’s Romeo. I never thought the controlling blowhard Lord Capulet could be so milquetoast until I watched Damian Lewis play him.

All of these whitewashed renditions, however, pale in comparison to the two lead characters and their utter lack of chemistry. Though Hailee Steinfeld tries her best as Juliet, her delivery is all wrong and worst of all, the pair’s kisses look forced and uncomfortable. Mr. Carlei, it’s difficult for the audience to invest in literature’s most tragic love story when the couple can’t convince us that they are, in fact, in love.

Before either of you attempt Shakespeare again (and believe me, I’m not encouraging it), please consider the following: It’s better not to use the original language at all than mix it with your own. Just because something looks good doesn’t give it dramatic weight. And please, please don’t cast “Gossip Girl’s” Ed Westwick in a bad wig. Otherwise, I might be forced to cast another plague.

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Don Jon http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/09/26/don-jon/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/09/26/don-jon/#comments Thu, 26 Sep 2013 13:15:57 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=41934 Continue reading ]]> Don Jon within post

Some child stars learn to overindulge. Joseph Gordon-Levitt learned to work the system. He put in his time as a kid (“Angels in the Outfield”, “A River Runs Through It”) and acted in a wide variety of films as a young adult, from mainstream cheesy (“Halloween H20″) to teen rom-com (“10 Things I Hate About You”) to low-budget cult (the brilliant “Brick”).

Then “(500) Days of Summer” happened, and Gordon-Levitt wasn’t so free anymore. He was a “type”. He’d never get cast in certain roles again, so he took his career into his own hands. “Don Jon”, Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, which he also wrote and stars in, is an ambitious opportunity that doesn’t always work. At the same time, you have to admire his initiative and effort and hope he gets it right the next time.

Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a good-natured New Jersey guy who lives for the gym, Sunday Mass, dinner with his family (headed by Tony Danza) and nights in the club where he also bartends. He can, and does, take a different girl home every night, but doesn’t find nearly as much fulfillment in sex as he does in online porn. When Jon meets good girl Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), he considers settling down for the first time, but can he kick his dirty habit?

“Don Jon”‘s plot is pretty standard — bad boy tries to make good — and at first, Gordon-Levitt’s gruff-voiced Jon looks and sounds almost cartoonish. The film lags considerably toward the last third of its 90-minute running time. In fact, it may have worked better as a short.

However, Gordon-Levitt’s savvy and humor shines through in some unexpected moments. Watch for a fun cameo from a couple of his high-profile pals. A subplot involving Jon’s night-school classmate (Julianne Moore) leads to genuine empathy, and Jon’s sullen, mostly nonverbal sister (Brie Larson) is a funny addition. This is perhaps the most emotion I’ve ever seen Johansson show, and Gordon-Levitt thoroughly embraces Jon, in all his stubborn, tough-guy glory.

“Don Jon” will never be a classic, but it’s a worthy rental. It’s not the most brilliant directorial debut out there, but it shows potential. Gordon-Levitt should get another chance to helm a movie and who knows, next time he could be great.

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Short Term 12 http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/09/12/short-term-12-2/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/09/12/short-term-12-2/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=41639 Continue reading ]]> Short Term 12 image within post

“You’re here to provide a safe environment.” This early line in Destin Cretton’s “Short Term 12″ is an instruction from Grace (Brie Larson), manager of a foster care facility for troubled youth, to a naive new employee. It’s also a spectacular setup to a beautiful, subtle film that explores the true meanings of safety and home.

Grace appears to be in her late twenties, with a world-weary demeanor she’s come by honestly. She has an easy romantic relationship with her coworker, the jovial and supportive Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) and finds both frustration and comfort in her job, providing tough love to kids and teens discarded by their own families. But when both work and home life are threatened, Grace must finally confront the demons of her past.

Writer-director Cretton infuses “Short Term 12″ with a quiet authenticity. The naturalistic dialogue eschews cliches (don’t call youth “underprivileged” to their faces, please), opting instead for true conversation that often appears improvised. It’s the opposite of “mumblecore”: these characters have a purpose, and an important one. They’re making little money (Grace and Mason’s apartment is exactly what they’d be able to afford) and giving their entire beings to a largely thankless job, in hopes that someone, anyone will benefit. There are no guarantees in foster care, and plenty of roadblocks: soulful longtime resident Marcus (Keith Stanfield) is a week away from aging out of the home, and sullen Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) comes from a relatively privileged background, but refuses to talk about the reasons behind her self-destructive behavior.

“Short Term 12″‘s ultimate strength is its cast. Both Stanfield and Dever deliver thoughtful performances as complex teens struggling to find security in music and art. Gallagher Jr.’s scruffy, open Mason is all love, equal parts patient and frustrated with Grace’s guarded nature. But more than anything, the film is a showcase for Larson. She never showboats or overacts – her sad eyes speak volumes. Thanks to Cretton’s strong script and direction and Larson’s low-key interpretation, Grace is a real person: firm and kind in her professional life, a rock for unmoored children, but repressed to the point of barely concealed rage and sorrow.

The film isn’t always easy to watch, appropriately reflecting the hardscrabble backgrounds of nearly all its characters. Cretton doesn’t shy away from the grim realities of abuse directed at others and oneself. And that’s where “Short Term 12″ sets itself apart from its sappier counterparts. Not everyone can find home, but there is solace in giving and getting help.

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You’re Next http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/08/22/youre-next/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/08/22/youre-next/#comments Thu, 22 Aug 2013 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=41337 Continue reading ]]> You're Next image within post

Ingredients for a solid B-horror movie: stupidly attractive cast that is either remarkably self-aware or flat-out clueless. Copious blood and gore. Maximum silliness, minimum attempts at real wit. With so much violence yet so little watchability, “You’re Next” is 1 for 3.

The premise has potential: A wealthy yet somewhat dysfunctional family reunites at its opulent country home, with significant others in tow, for an anniversary celebration weekend that goes horribly wrong when men in animal masks show up with literal axes to grind. Once in a while, a funny one-liner will pop up in the midst of increasing carnage (for example, when Nicholas Tucci’s character explains why no one’s cell phone is working — thanks to an illegal device called a jammer — his father yells, “you’re such a lowlife!”). More often than not, any attempts at humor (genuine or ironic) or horror are lost to yet another mutilated body or dialogue that’s supposed to be darkly funny but is instead just plain tasteless. (You’ll know when the latter happens.) Also, can filmmakers please stop juxtaposing a boppy pop song with a bloodbath?

The actors in “You’re Next” are neither self-aware nor visibly clueless. It’s hard to tell what’s going through their heads as they stumble through awkward wording with stiff faces. I’d call the acting “community-theater bad”, but that’s an insult to community theater. Only Sharni Vinson, as a houseguest with a surprising ability to defend herself and others, can even be called halfway decent.

The main issue with “You’re Next” is its aspiration to be another “Cabin in the Woods” or “Cabin Fever.” (“Mansion in the Woods”? “Mansion Fever”?) What these two movies had was sharp dialogue and playful weirdness. In contrast, “You’re Next” has utter unremarkability. To call this “schlock” would be remarkably kind. In fact, “You’re Next” aspires to schlock level. Schlock is fun. “You’re Next” is just plain terrible.

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Any Day Now http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/04/23/any-day-now/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/04/23/any-day-now/#comments Tue, 23 Apr 2013 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=38962 Continue reading ]]> Any Day Now within post

“Any Day Now” was clearly a labor of love. Though the budget is low, there’s considerable star power: Alan Cumming has a leading role, and several well-known character actors cameo. Also, Rufus Wainwright contributed an original song. Big-ish names aside, “Any Day Now” mostly works, edging toward subtle and away from straight-up manipulative, with a heartbreaking story that speaks for itself.

The opening shot of young Marco (Isaac Leyva) slowly navigating abandoned streets while clutching a blonde-haired doll is enough to inspire a lump in the throat and provides an interesting contrast to the opening scene, in which drag queen Rudy (Cumming) meets divorced lawyer Paul (Garret Dillahunt) at a gay club. Two days later, a family is formed when Rudy seeks temporary custody of Marco from the teenager’s jailed junkie mother and Paul offers them a place to stay. Marco has many challenges, including severe mental handicaps made worse by neglect, but thrives under the couple’s care until a series of events outs Paul at work and puts Rudy’s custody in jeopardy.

Besides the custody issue, “Any Day Now” also focuses on Rudy and Paul’s relationship. It begins on a sordid note (a sexual act in the club parking lot) and moves with the speed of light while deepening into love. However, for an entire year, Paul refers to Rudy in public as his cousin.

Dillahunt and Cumming create believable chemistry, and the couple’s many conflicts are realistically handled without getting overdramatic or maudlin. Leyva gives Marco a sweet, subtle presence, and director Travis Fine doesn’t exploit the handicapped character. In one of the film’s most heartrending moments, Marco looks around his new room and becomes overwhelmed with emotion. “I’m just excited,” he mutters as Rudy puts his arm around the teenager and quietly replies, “It’s good to be excited.”

Fine’s melancholy piano score edges toward the manipulative a couple of times, but that’s really “Any Day Now’s” most overblown aspect. Even the courtroom scenes are small and sparse, sans yelling reporters or bombastic words. Cumming’s gorgeous voice and charismatic stage presence is put to good use, both in the drag club scenes and later when Rudy scores a singing gig. His cover of Bob Dylan and The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” (from which the film gets its title) is simple and haunting.

Anyone who’s had any contact with the United States child welfare system will attest to its problems. “Any Day Now” takes place almost four decades ago but feels very timely in a contemporary society where the child’s welfare is often not prioritized and the LGBT community is still oppressed. This story is a sad one but hopefully, not too far down the road, we all shall be released.

Special features include a making-of featurette and Isaac Leyva’s audition.

Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps

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Ginger & Rosa http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/04/05/ginger-rosa/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/04/05/ginger-rosa/#comments Fri, 05 Apr 2013 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=38764 Continue reading ]]> Ginger and Rosa within post

I wanted to love “Ginger & Rosa”, I really didIt has everything I like: British accents, long hair, Christina Hendricks, a serious female-driven story. And yet, the first hour of this 80-minute snore was so dull I had to prop myself up to keep from snoring. For a drama set during the Cuban Missile Crisis – which many feared meant nuclear holocaust – the stakes were remarkably low.

Elle Fanning displays dyed red hair and a mostly competent British accent as Ginger, the daughter of a former war protester (Alessandro Nivola) and the wannabe painter (Hendricks) he knocked up when she was a teenager. Ginger’s devoted to her best friend Rosa (newcomer Alice Englert). As the threat of bombs draws closer, Ginger yearns for activism and Rosa yearns for…Ginger’s newly-separated father.

What bothered me most is that Ginger’s dad is having sex with an underage girl and doesn’t appear to be that discreet about it. Of course, age of consent laws then were not what they are now, and naturally Ginger would be too much in shock to tell anyone, but up until the screechy climax (during the film’s last 28 minutes, when it suddenly becomes interesting), no one really seems to care. In fact, I wondered if I was supposed to accept it, which made me even more uncomfortable.

Don’t be swayed by the title: the film is from Ginger’s perspective, as Rosa comes in and out of her life. The film’s core relationships are Ginger and her parents, particularly her mother. Hendricks’ Natalie is almost a better choice for the film’s focal point: she wanted to pursue art until life got in the way, and now (like most mothers) isn’t sure how to reach out to her child without dreaded nagging. Her expressive face and thoughtful delivery add a richness to the mostly bland script.

Nivola is appropriately creepy, and Oliver Platt and Annette Bening have some nice moments as Ginger’s gay godfather and activist modern. Fanning’s face is lovely for close-ups, and she’s a believable adolescent: alternating between moody passion and shrugging apathy. But not much is done with her budding sense of right and wrong, and any real sense of fear or danger is brushed aside in favor of yet another long reaction shot or stilted line. Perhaps “Ginger & Rosa” would have worked better as a young adult novel, with beautiful prose to fill in the copious cracks.

 

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Starbuck http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/03/29/starbuck/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/03/29/starbuck/#comments Fri, 29 Mar 2013 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=38718 Continue reading ]]> "Starbuck" Starbuck within postramel Film

Originally released in 2011, Ken Scott’s Canadian comedy Starbuck already has a complete American remake. The Delivery Man will be released later this year. It’s also directed by Scott, and stars Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders and Chris Pratt. A stateside revamp almost seems redundant however, as Starbuck is already very American – the only difference is, the actors speak French instead of English.

Let’s run down the U.S. comedy cliches. Fortysomething loser (Patrick Huard) with big debts, bad judgment and a newly pregnant girlfriend (Julie LeBreton)? Check. Squabbling family who co-run a business and play on the same soccer team? Check. Bumbling overweight friend (Antoine Bertrand) overrun by a passel of offspring? Check. (Apparently Pratt gained 60 pounds for the role. Was that really necessary?) Plot straight out of Apatow-land: in this case, abovementioned loser finds out that he’s fathered over 500 children, 142 of whom are suing the sperm bank in the hopes of releasing his identity (donor name: Starbuck), then learns a little something about himself in the end? Check, check and double check. Don’t forget the sexist, homophobic and fat jokes!

Despite its many, many cliches, Starbuck has its share of enjoyable moments. Huard is the perfect embodiment of a middle-aged manchild, from his slovenly beard growth to his half-formed but still snappy quips. Rather than a shrill harpy, LeBreton’s long suffering mother-to-be is quite sweet while still standing her ground. And several scenes in which David decides to be the “guardian angel” for his biological children – among them a recovering addict, a disabled shut-in and a bitter Goth – provide smiles without cloying.

Still, Starbuck is far from perfect, thanks in large part to semi truck-size plot holes. David’s sidekick and eventual attorney has four young children, but their mother is never seen or even mentioned. The subplot, in which David is stalked by water-loving goons so he will pay off an ill-advised loan, is meant to raise the stakes (if he wins the countersuit, he’ll make a lot of money) but is brought forth and then abandoned whenever convenient. Ditto at least one supporting character. And without disclosing spoilers, I was shocked that David got away with so much by the end. He’s lovable and charming, but not that lovable and charming.

I wonder what, if any, changes director Scott made from Starbuck to The Delivery Man (the latter is a play on David’s gig for the family business and his donor past). I’m sure Vaughn will do his trademark fast-talking, Pratt will channel the adorable stupidity of his Parks and Recreation character (now with more girth!) and Smulders will alternate between bemused and bewitched with her soon-to-be babydaddy. I don’t know if I’ll be curious enough to actually see the remake, though. Once was more than enough.

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