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Endless Love Review


Bad

This remake strips away everything that made the 1981 Brooke Shields romance so scandalous. Re-designed for 12-year-old girls, this version of Scott Spencer's novel plays like a dreamy Nicholas Sparks-style fantasy. There's no sense of urgency or danger, and not a single whiff of actual love, despite a lot of heaving sighs and longing glances. Everything on-screen feels like a predictable cliche yearning to pull our heartstrings, but these tricks only work on young teens who haven't seen many movies.

The story centres on good-guy David (Pettyfer), raised by his working-class single dad (Patrick). At his high school graduation, David finally gets up the nerve to talk to the class wallflower, beautiful rich girl Jade (Wilde), who is still grieving over the death of her big brother. There's a spark between them, but Jade's harsh dad (Greenwood) dismisses David as unworthy, then sets out to crush their blossoming romance. Jade's mother (Richardson) and brother (Wakefield) are more supportive, but Dad is so determined to get David out of Jade's life that he inadvertently pushes them even closer together. Surely a happy ending is out of the question.

Only of course it isn't, because we can see that this film doesn't have the nerve to get very dark. Filmmaker Feste only toys around with the nasty side of the story. She can't even let Greenwood play a properly conflicted man; he's essentially bipolar, veering wildly from understanding to maniacal in his reaction to the relentlessly lovely David. Pettyfer's one-note performance merely reminds us of Channing Tatum, but at least he registers on-screen, unlike the vaguely beautiful Wilde. The only performers allowed any complexity are Richardson and Patrick.

Continue reading: Endless Love Review

Identity Thief Review


OK

There's real potential in this premise for a ripping screwball comedy anchored by two likeable actors, but the filmmakers simply don't trust the material, stirring in constant elements of action mayhem that don't work at all. Pointless car chases, over-violent fight scenes, murderous henchmen, a ruthless bounty hunter and even a full-on heist: all of these things feel like irrelevant distractions for a movie that's essentially just a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with an identity-theft twist.

Bateman plays the androgynously named Sandy Patterson, a Denver accountant struggling to make ends meet when he's offered a great new job with a colleague (Cho) that will better help him support his pregnant wife (Peet) and their two precocious daughters. Then suddenly everything is jeopardised when someone steals his identity and, for some inexplicable reason, he has to go to Florida and bring the culprit back to Denver himself. The con artist turns out to be Diana (McCarthy), who's a lot feistier than Sandy expects. And as they begin the long road trip to Colorado, he discovers that she's also being chased by two mob goons (Harris and Rodriguez) and a bounty hunter (Patrick).

Plenty of films manage to mix violence and comedy effectively, but director Gordon and writer Mazin seem to flail at every turn, wildly veering from corny sentimentality to ugly brutality, punctuated by humour that only occasionally makes us laugh. And at nearly two hours, the film feels far too long even though the pace is frenetic. The various set pieces simply don't fit in with the basic premise, leaving the plot in tatters. All of these nasty villains chasing Diana are utterly meaningless, and many of the action sequences feel both inexplicable and implausible.

Continue reading: Identity Thief Review

Garden State Review


Excellent
Even before he finds out his mother has died, Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) is depressed -- that much we can tell. His medicine cabinet is stocked with seemingly infinite amounts of antidepressants, which seem to mute his depression without addressing it. Although we are told he is an actor who has just finished a high-profile TV part (playing, as several characters recognize, "the retarded quarterback"), it's hard to picture him coming alive in his work; he barely says a word.

Garden State, an auspicious writing and directing debut from Braff (of TV's charming Scrubs), is about Largeman's return to his New Jersey hometown, and like Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, it's more about mood and moments than telling a single story (and like that film, it's about an actor feeling numb to the "real" world). Indeed, the plot feels very much out of short fiction -- and, we can't help but notice, possible autobiography; Braff is a young actor from Jersey, too.

Continue reading: Garden State Review

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Pamela Abdy Movies

Endless Love Movie Review

Endless Love Movie Review

This remake strips away everything that made the 1981 Brooke Shields romance so scandalous. Re-designed...

Identity Thief Movie Review

Identity Thief Movie Review

There's real potential in this premise for a ripping screwball comedy anchored by two likeable...

Garden State Movie Review

Garden State Movie Review

Even before he finds out his mother has died, Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) is depressed...

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