REVIEW: The Lincoln Lawyer

28 08 2013

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for a legal thriller.  Though I don’t watch any of the “Law and Order” series, I’m pretty much game to get involved in any movie that takes place in America’s criminal justice system.  “The Lincoln Lawyer” is not a particularly notable entry into the genre, but it’s compelling and entertaining enough to make for a good watch.

Matthew McConaughey stars as the titular litigator Mickey Haller, a slightly crooked lawyer in the mold of George Clooney’s character in “Michael Clayton.”  He’s caught in entangling web of alliances and often finds himself in tough positions as a result.  His bind in “The Lincoln Lawyer” results after taking on a spoiled brat of a client, Ryan Phillipe’s Louis Roulet.  He’s been accused of beating a prostitute and ropes Haller into a devious master plan that will keep him out of jail.  Unwilling to be made a pawn in anyone’s game, Haller and his investigator Frank Levin (William H. Macy), start pulling their own strings.

The story, taken from the novel by Michael Connelly, is engaging and engrossing, just as any good page-turner feels as you grip it.  But as is often the case with such airport magazine stand mass-market paperback books, “The Lincoln Lawyer” keeps the events rolling by sacrificing character development.  While McConaughey’s performance (one of the earliest in his much-heralded comeback) is decent enough to propel the movie, it could have gone from merely good to GREAT by adding a few more layers of complexity to Haller.  But all in all, “The Lincoln Lawyer” is fitting for what it is: a breezy legal drama.  B2halfstars

REVIEW: MacGruber

2 12 2010

There’s a great scene in “MacGruber” where Kristen Wiig really finds her comedic element.  Forced to masquerade as the titular tacky, mulleted ’80s mock-action hero, she futzes around awkwardly in a coffee shop and tries to explain to the cashier what’s going on.  It’s reminiscent of some of her golden work on “Saturday Night Live,” where she can turn just about any character into a hilarious one.

But alas, that is one scene, and this one moment of laughter is nowhere near enough to redeem the other 90 minutes of “MacGruber” that are void of it.  Honestly, whoever let this movie pass needs to be locked in a room with a bomb and left to defuse it with nothing.  These sketches have been trite filler for “SNL” for three years, and the only laughs they garner are uneasy ones.  Not to mention it’s a movie centered around Will Forte, who is often so pathetic that it becomes painful to watch.

Throwing Ryan Phillipe into the mix to give the movie’s acting corps some legitimacy outside of 30 Rock just makes things worse.  Trying to take the movie seriously, Reese Witherspoon’s frosty-curled ex-husband just looks like a buffoon.  It’s not difficult to understand that there’s nothing serious about this movie; “MacGruber” is a ridiculous, farcical send-up of the ridiculous 1980s action movies.  There’s no shame in presenting a movie in this style – provided that the satire is done well.  In this case, it feels like the movie was written on the back of cue cards for yet another uninspired “What’s Up With That?” sketch.

There are movies that beg you not to be taken seriously, and then there are those that beg you not to take the craft of cinema seriously.  “MacGruber” is the latter of the two, trying to fly on the flimsy premise that a sketch that can barely sustain two minutes on TV could make an entertaining movie that’s 45 times bigger.  Perhaps Lorne Michaels will come up with a more clever way to make money off this movie in the future: take “MacGruber” off the case and slap on the title “The Worst of Will Forte.”  D