REVIEW: In A World

23 08 2013

In a world where the movies began to buckle under the weight of copious cliches, one movie dared to be different.  It was not a romantic comedy yet still had romance.  It was not a drama but managed to tackle serious issues convincingly.

While I might have made Lake Bell’s “In a World” sound like some kind of panacea, it’s really just a nice, simple movie that does a lot of things very right.  As a feature debut for Bell (who I only knew from her supporting turns in “It’s Complicated” and “No Strings Attached“), the film is certainly promising for many great things to come.  She makes no major missteps in her finely-tuned comedy, but it is rather safe and risk-free.

Bell also wrote the film’s script, which contains a smart and well-observed feminist critique.  In a summer where “The Heat” was the only major studio release with a female protagonist, “In a World” opens up a fascinating dialogue about sexism and male hegemony in the art of voice-overs.  While much of the film is industry-specific, Bell gives us plenty of food for thought about women in any workplace.  She even manages the current impasse for many women between symbolic affirmative action and equal judgment with finesse.

Read the rest of this entry »





REVIEW: Wanderlust

29 02 2012

I think it’s crucial to apply a comparative approach to evaluating the merits of “Wanderlust.”  When you look at it in relation to “Role Models” and “Wet Hot American Summer,” director David Wain’s first two comedies, it’s a disappointment that settles for cliches and stereotypes rather than the unique brand of humor on display in his prior work.  But of course, compared to other mainstream comedies of the moment, its mild satisfactions are amplified probably more than they should.

Marveling at cult-like communes is nothing new, and the colorful cast of nudists, stoners, and washed-up hippies certainly play into just about every single one of our preconceived notions.  It’s amusing enough to watch their antics play out in front of two newly unemployed Manhattan refugees played by the ever hilarious Paul Rudd and the ever gorgeous Jennifer Aniston.  Both are a little creeped out at first, but she eventually warms up to the idea of living in a subculture of open doors and open marriages.

There are a few good laughs here and there, but the majority of the time, I just sat there wondering when it would reach “Role Models” heights.  Thankfully it does at one point due to Paul Rudd, who honestly might get my vote for the funniest person working in comedy at the moment.  His dry, caustic, and biting sarcasm hits home every time even when he’s not trying to be funny (and if someone made a movie of my life, I would want him to play me).  Rudd gets one scene, improvised I assume, where he gets to totally let loose with wild accents and wordplay trying to pump himself up for a sexual encounter that absolutely brings down the house.  I was easily laughing for a solid two minutes afterwards, totally missing the next scene.  And really, as long as I get one of those for my money, I go home happy no matter how derivative or childish the rest of the movie might have been.  B-