The one and only reason I saw this movie was because Kevin Kline was in it, which the ads and reviews never mention so it’s a good thing I record Ebert & Roeper every week. I have remained steadfastly dedicated to KK since A Fish Called Wanda. We don’t see near enough of him anymore.
Thankfully, this film had a lot more going for it than just KK. It’s a lot smarter than I thought it would be. If you don’t know the gimmick already, a soon-to-be-divorced dad tells his young daughter the story of how he met her mom, but includes the story of two other former girlfriends leaving it all a big mystery until the end. The thing the movie does right is make all three women smart, interesting and beautiful. Any one could be a winner, which helps sustain the interest. Isla Fisher is especially compelling and wonderful. She might be the second coming of Judy Holliday. I’m sort of in love with her. Rachel Weisz and Elizabeth Banks are great too. This guy (Ryan Reynolds) is entirely too lucky having all three of them loving him, and for like 7 years. I wish.
Another nice trick is having this story mirror the Clinton presidency. Reynolds’ character is a small fish politico from Wisconsin who moves to New York with aspirations of speechwriting for Clinton, while blazing his own political aspirations. So, as he’s employed by the Clinton machine, you see how Clinton's actions and behavior affected the lives of his staffers. Interesting idea. It’s also nice to see Derek Luke as a coworker. I like him a lot and didn’t know he was even in it.
The end, after the big reveal, tries to pack in a few more storylines and situations than is necessary. Also, try not to think about the fact that he’s telling his daughter stories that involve sex with these women, drinking, etc. Still, as far as RomCom’s go, this is one of the better ones for sure.
Sidenote: The film has a great soundtrack, all 90s alternative. The best part was hearing "In Spite of Me" by Morphine at one point. That's my #6 all-time favorite song and I'd never heard it in a movie before, or anywhere, for that matter.
The Love Guru
Another confession: I’m often WAY more intrigued to see a movie (hear a band, read a book, etc) when it gets bad reviews. Something being good seems so ordinary. If something is bad enough for people to complain vehemently, I want to know why.
So, I went in expecting a downright embarrassment for Mike Myers. He’s been away for almost 5 years and a stench seemed to precede this film by months. Well, it isn’t embarrassing, it just isn’t funny. Not enough anyway. It’s directed like one of the Austin Powers movies with about 5 jokes a minute flying at you. The ratio of success is like 8:1, not good. Plus, the story is lame and doesn’t make any sense. A love guru is hired to repair a hockey player’s relationship with his wife so they can win the Stanley Cup? That’s just dumb.
Here’s my theory on Myers. The guy is, apparently, a notorious prick. Demanding, mean, tragically insecure, etc. His abilities on SNL garnered him some well-deserved respect and the Austin movies gave him validation and power. But, with the horrible Cat In The Hat, his last film other than doing the voice for the Shrek movies, it killed all his confidence and momentum. In his own head, that is. So, he went into major writer’s block. He also got divorced, and forged a friendship, so he says, with Deepak Chopra. Obviously, signs of a man coming apart and looking for answers. And, his dad died in ’91 and, allegedly, he’s never gotten over it. So, to get back on the horse, he brushes off an idea he had shortly after his dad’s death (since nothing new is coming to him) and runs with that. The film is bombing and, mark my words, we won’t see him again for a while.
I think there’s still a place for Myer’s brand of comedy. In fact, he’s great some of the time. But, these days, the trends have passed him by and I’m not sure he has the strength to try again for a while.
Incidentally, I’ve seen him on about 4 media stops promoting the film and he’s told the same story each time. The film is about him dealing with his dad, he considers the audience his boss (this is always said in a very humble, respectful tone that you know he’s practiced in the mirror), Deepak’s his friend, friends of his would call when they were down to hear him do his Guru voice, etc. This movie might be his Oprah's Couch. The moment the masses figured out something wasn't quite right with a star they had liked.
You Don't Mess With The Zohan
Snuck into this right after Guru and thought it was de ja vu. Again, former SNL funnyman doing a weird Indian-like voice and basing an entire film on a premise that just isn’t funny.
I’m fine with Adam Sandler. His movies are just dumb comfort food. The problem here is that Israeli/Palastinian conflicts aren’t humorous. Sure, the movie is about him being a trained killer, but really wanting to go to America to be a hairdresser, and those scenes are pretty good. But, in reality, most of the movie is about the conflicts and that won’t do. In fact, I had a hard time understanding what a lot of the actors were saying, their accents were so thick, Sandler especially.
The vibe of the film is nowhere near as doomed as Guru. You don’t get the feeling anyone’s career hangs in the balance. But, it isn’t much better. Guru may have an 8:1 miss/hit ratio, but you’re more likely to laugh out loud in that film. It fails miserably, but the bulls-eye is higher. Zohan, you may smile for longer stretches, but probably won’t laugh out loud very often. At least the Guru crowd seemed to be more into their film than the Zohan one was.
However, as is often the case with movies like these, they get better and funnier on repeat viewings. Can’t say I’ll give them that second chance, but I may stay on them when channel surfing one day.
Speaking of soundtracks, this is the second of the three movies to feature "Connected" By Stereo MCs. DefMay being the other. A sign of some good taste.