REVIEW: Hope Springs

14 01 2013

Hope SpringsBe careful, for “Hope Springs” is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

David Frankel’s comedy disguises itself as a comedy in the vein of “It’s Complicated” where Meryl Streep has issues with her sex life.  But it’s anything but that.  Laughs are sparse, unless you find uncomfortable erotic fantasies being spouted by Tommy Lee Jones to be uproarious.

Instead, “Hope Springs” plays like “Blue Valentine” with an AARP card.  We see Streep and Jones’ married couple, but there’s no love or passion anymore.  Sure, they are held together by their children, their house, and 31 years of commitment.  But they don’t touch each other, kiss each other, or even sleep in the same bed anymore.

I suppose it’s effective as a drama, largely because the dynamic is devastating and depressing between the couple in question.  Channeling some of his Oscar-nominated performance as Thaddeus Stevens in “Lincoln,” Tommy Lee Jones constantly bullies his wife into submission and silence.  And when that wife is America’s sweetheart Meryl Streep, it just makes you angry.

When they go to couples therapy with an eerily stoic Steve Carell as their shrink, it’s hard to believe that this marriage can be fixed in anything less than a Hollywood movie.  And things get better, but I was hardly convinced or left smiling.  Between “Hope Springs” and “Amour,” 2012 has been a year where the movies have frightened me about where love and marriage eventually end up.  C2stars





Random Factoid #378

10 08 2010

Have you seen the trailer for “The Switch?”  Looks kind of ehh, right?  Typical late summer fare that will have to pass for entertainment (at least for those of us not fortunate enough to have an independent theater).  Just so we are all on the same page for the rest of the post, I’ll embed the trailer below.

The poster to the left doesn’t really make you want to see it much either.  The gasp on Jennifer Aniston’s face and the pretentious-looking sniffle that Jason Bateman is doing sure doesn’t tell you much about the movie.  But look closer…

Did you notice the pedigree of the movie?  It’s from the people who brought us “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”  Does that add to your anticipation at all?  It shouldn’t, given the murky relationship between “The Switch” and the two Best Picture nominees.  I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the reference given that Jason Bateman was in “Juno,” but The Los Angeles Times did some investigating:

The studio’s marketing wizards are plugging “The Switch” as being the movie “From the people who brought you ‘Juno’ and ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’ ” But who are these “people”? The film’s directors, Josh Gordon and Will Speck, had nothing to do with either of those films. Nor did the film’s screenwriter, Allan Loeb. The film’s producers, Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, were producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” but had no involvement at all with “Juno.”

It turns out that those “people” are the people at Mandate Pictures, the production company that was involved with both “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” as well as such films as “Whip It,” “Drag Me to Hell” and the “Harold and Kumar” series. I’m sure all the folks at Mandate are really nice people, but it feels like a big stretch to use such a tenuous connection to lure us into the theater to see a film whose writers and filmmakers had nothing to do with “Juno” or “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Do you feel cheated at all?  If you were really going to spend $10 to see this movie because you could mention it in the same sentence with “Little Miss Sunshine,” you ought to up your cinema smarts.  I don’t ever use poster connections to tell me what movies to see, largely because I will have figured out what movies my favorite filmmakers have chosen to involve themselves in.  I especially could care less for romantic comedies and mindless action movies, both of which are genres whose success is driven mainly be stars, not directors.  Sorry, David Frankel, I saw “Marley & Me” because I love dogs and Owen Wilson, NOT because you directed “The Devil Wears Prada.”  Meryl Streep is the reason that movie is good.

Fun little closing note: there is one movie that could have used “from the man who brought you ‘Little Miss Sunshine'” on its poster.  That movie?  “Toy Story 3.”  Clearly it didn’t need to tout that name to make any money.