Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
In “Unforgettable” one family blows apart, while another comes together. And that’s when the trouble starts. The advertising tagline says it all, “When Love Ends, Madness Begins!”
Originally meant to star Kate Hudson and Kerry Washington as spurned ex wife and new bride respectively of David (Geoff Stults), they dropped out to be replaced by Katherine Heigl and Rosario Dawson.
In the 1980s style psycho-romance drama sees the two actresses face off.
Tessa (Heigl) is the ex, and mother of Lily (Isabella Kai Rice). She’s an obsessive perfectionist, a Mommie Dearest who uses Lily as a pawn as she tries to win David back. To pass the time when she isn’t plotting against Julia, she watches her wedding videos with tears in her eyes.
Julia (Dawson) is David’s new girlfriend. A transplant from New York, she moves to California to be with him, leaving behind a troubled past that includes an abusive boyfriend (Simon Kassianides).
David, the centre of attention is a bland former New York City Merrill Lynch hot shot who uprooted to California to take over the family brewery. He is as oblivious as he is handsome.
When Tessa discovers Julia and David are to be married a switch goes off in her head and she steps into “Fatal Attraction” territory. First she hacks into Julia’s phone, does some mild identity theft and by the time we see POV shots of her prowling around David and Julia’s love pad the conspiracy to break the happy couple up has been put into place.
It’s a cheap shot but it has to be said, “Unforgettable” is unforgivable. What could’ve been a down and dirty exploitation b-movie is undone by characters straight out of Central Casting. Not only are they stereotypes—David is the good guy who says things like, “Nothing matters but you and I,” while the bad guy is simply a snarling animal—but they are mind-numbing stereotypes. We’ve seen them all before and better. None have any shading. Tessa, Julia and David exist strictly to move the story along, not to be real people. Only the cop character (Robert Wisdom) stands out, and that’s only because he may possibly be the dumbest policeman in cinematic history.
Then there is the limp-as-a-cooked-noodle plot. Can this rightly be called a thriller when every twist and turn is telegraphed and amplified by a script devoid of mystery or secrets? I don’t think so. For example, [MILD SPOILER ALERT] as one of the characters is about to take a bonk on the head ask yourself, “Does he not see the heavy iron fireplace poker in her hand?” You knew it was going to happen, people you tell about the movie, but who haven’t even seen it, could tell it was going to happen but it is just one example of many of the death defying suspension of disbelief the filmmakers expect from the audience.
“Unforgettable” is a revenge movie that feels like the ultimate revenge is on the audience.
Career gearshifts are tough. For every McConaissance there is a Gerard Butler or Katherine Heigl who can’t seem to make the change from rom coms to more serous roles.
For a while it looked like Jennifer Aniston was stuck in the same rut. Forgettable movies like “Love Happens” and “The Bounty Hunter” seemed to pigeonhole her as an American Sweetheart type in a movie market filled to bursting with dramatic darlings.
Lately though she’s been doing some career busting, appearing in raunchy comedies like “Horrible Bosses” and “We Are the Millers” and now “Cake,” a low budget drama about putting the broken pieces of a shattered life back together that should put Rachel on the shelf forever in favor of the more daring work she used to do in movies like “The Good Girl” and “Friends with Money.”
She plays Claire, a churlish woman suffering with chronic pain brought on by a car accident that crushed her leg and took the life of her son. The near death experience blew apart her marriage to Jason (Chris Messina), leaving her alone with her tough-but-tender housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barazza) and the members of her support group. When Nina (Anna Kendrick), a member of the group, commits suicide Claire becomes obsessed with Nina’s life and death. Her search for answers leads her to Nina’s husband’s (Sam Worthington) door and to a new way at looking at life.
“Cake” has many nicely played dramatic scenes. Putting Aniston’s crusty Claire next to Barazza’s warmhearted Silvana is inspired. Their scenes are by far and away the best things in the movie. When they aren’t sparking off one another the movie loses much of its sizzle.
Not that Worthington fails, he doesn’t, but as part of the Nina/Claire-redemption story arc he’s the engine that drives the most predictable and least interesting part of the story.
Aniston, however, is terrific. The pain that wracks her body and tortures her psyche is evident in every movement, in every word that tumbles from her lips. That doesn’t mean she can’t still deliver a funny line. Ten seasons of sit com work honed that skill to a fine edge so when she asks if Nina’s husband where he got the granite for her gravestone because, “I’m thinking of putting a kitchen rail in my backyard,” it’s prickly but hilarious.
“Cake” is a great showcase for the new, dramatic Aniston but it isn’t a great film. In it’s final moments the movie grasps for a feel good ending which is just slightly out of reach.
“The Nut Job” is chock full of the standard animated fare. There’s cute furry animals, a not-so-scary-villain, some slapstick and messages for kids about sharing and teamwork.
Unfortunately there’s also a noisy, nutty story that left me feeling like an assaulted peanut.
Think that was a bad peanut pun? Wait till you see this movie. Or not.
“The Nut Job” begins on a downer note. The animals of Liberty Park don’t have enough food for the winter and the selfish actions of Surly Squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) has pretty much guaranteed they’ll starve once the weather turns cold.
Raccoon (Liam Neeson), the park patriarch banishes Surly but soon the mischievous rodent involves the park’s citizens—wannabe hero Greyson (Brendan Fraser) and sexy squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl)—in a dangerous scheme that will either save them or kill them—robbing a nut store owned by some Damon Runyonesque mobsters.
“The Nut Job” is an original story that feels Frankensteined together from other, better kid’s movies. Echoes of “Ice Age” style slapstick and “Ratatouille” situations and even “Animal Farm” ethos reverberate throughout. I’ll give the filmmakers credit for adding in the gangster twist and some jazzy music but it’s the characters themselves that really disappoint.
To give you an idea of the amount of thought put into the characters, let’s start with their names. Neeson’s raccoon character is inventively named Raccoon, the rat sidekick is Buddy (Robert Tinkler) and the surly squirrel is, of course, called Surly.
Different names wouldn’t have made this a better movie, but the literal names display a lack of inventiveness that permeates the entire film. The animation is fine, but the rest—the story, the voice work, the action—feels as uninspired as peanut butter without jam.
There is very little joy, almond or otherwise, in “The Nut Job.”
“Life As We Know It” has one of the most standard romantic comedy set-ups folded into a movie with a decidedly non-rom-com premise. Take the usual couple who can’t stand one another and mix with a story involving death and childrearing and you have a dram com—a dramatic comedy—and a pretty good one at that. Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel play Holly and Eric, the mismatched couple, two people set up on a disastrous blind date by their best friends—he has a motorcycle, she drives a Smart car, which is rom com shorthand for incompatible—who, after their friends are killed in a car accident, find they are the godparents to the surviving baby. They decide to make a go of it, playing mommy and daddy to little Sophie despite their obvious differences.
“Life As We Know It” takes a couple of risks. It allows us to get to like the child’s parents before killing them off and isn’t afraid to have long stretches of laugh free scenes. In fact, that’s the movie’s strength. The moments of real emotion, such as when Holly and Eric go back to their friend’s house for the first time after the accident, are well played and effective, it’s only when the movie slips into the “please don‘t say anything, just listen” stage that it becomes as traditional and predictable as any other Katherine Heigl movie. Luckily there are more real moments than not, some genuinely funny lines—at a diaper change Josh says, “It’s like “Slumdog Millionaire” in there”—and surprisingly effective performances from two lead actors better known for their looks than their acting abilities. “Life As We Know It” isn’t a classic by any stretch, but it is a lot better than the trailer would suggest.
“One for the Money,” the first adaptation of a book in author Janet Evanovich’s popular Stephanie Plum series, wants desperately to be as slick an entertainment as “Get Shorty” but ends up a little lower on the scale, closer to “Jersey Shore.”
Set in Trenton, New Jersey, the story begins when Plum (Katherine Heigl, who also produces) confesses to her family that she lost her job… six months ago. With her car in the repo shop, her rent due and fridge empty, she blackmails her cousin into giving her a job as a skip tracer, a.k.a. bounty hunter. Her first gig is to bring in a former flame named Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara), which lends a double meaning to the cop slang she uses when she talks about “nailing” him. The job becomes much more complicated as she gets pulled into a much larger criminal conspiracy.
Amazon.com describes the fictional Plum of the books as smart, honest and funny, three things her cinematic counterpart is most definitely not.
Heigl plays the character as a romantic comedy reject with a gun with all the nuance that implies. What should have been a plum role for her (pun intended) falls flat. Tough one second, vulnerable the next, she’s all over the place, and as a result never finds anything interesting to say about Plum.
It doesn’t help that she is surrounded by cardboard-thin characters, each one quirkier than the last. How about a grandmother (Debbie Reynolds) who has a one liner for every occasion, or a hooker (Sherri Shepherd) with an attitude and an appetite?
There is room for colorful characters in a movie like this, just not so many of them. “Get Shorty” worked because it had one flamboyant character at its center, not one (or more) in every scene.
It might be tolerable if any of them had interesting dialogue, but when Morelli spouts lines like, “We are ancient history… like the pyramids, baby,” and Plum solemnly declares in her fluctuating Jersey accent, “Now it’s personal,” it only reinforces the idea that not a lot of effort went into this sloppy movie.
That, and obvious gaffes like the fastest sunset in history—it’s daylight one second, darkness the next!—and a character who frees himself after being handcuffed to a railing, without pulling a Houdini on the handcuffs themselves! That’s a magic trick David Copperfield would like.
Worse, “One for the Money” doesn’t respect its audience. Though the story is by-the-book, Plum constantly interrupts the flow with exposition and voice overs that explain the extremely obvious. Well-crafted crime thrillers are like puzzles hat offer the audience to do some of the detective work.
Former “Grey’s Anatomy” director Julie Anne Robinson chooses not to allow that audience that pleasure, instead she spoils the fun by providing blow-by-blow commentary from Plum.
“One for the Money” cold have been the beginning of a fun franchise for Stephanie Plum fans, but is, in its place, a ninety-minute exercise in how not to adapt a book to the big screen.