REVIEW: The Tourist

20 12 2010

There could be worse things to watch for an hour and 45 minutes than a cinematic worshipping and idolization of the physique of Angelina Jolie.  As if “Salt” wasn’t enough for 2010, Sony takes her out of action figure mode and gives us “The Tourist,” a whole movie of Jolie in red carpet mode.  She elegantly struts across the scene in beautiful gown after dazzling dress, all accentuating her best features: her eyes, her lips, and her figure.  If you aren’t floored by her beauty by the end of the movie, go get your eyes checked.

But as your mom taught you in middle school, looks aren’t all that matter; you have to have a good personality to be truly attractive.  Inspect anything other than Jolie in “The Tourist” and you will find one snooze of a movie.  Half-heartedly a romantic comedy and half-heartedly an action thriller, it fails to satisfy as anything more than eye candy.

As the lover of con man Alexander Pearce, Elise (Jolie) finds herself tracked heavily by the police and the mob.  He tells her to find a man of similar build to him and masquerade around Venice as if he were the elusive Pearce.  On a train, she nabs Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp), a math teacher at a Wisconsin community college headed to Italy on vacation.  She entices him by a tease act and then manages to rope him into following her around by money and luxury.

From there, it’s a game of mismatched expectations as she sees him as expendable while he thinks she is romantically interested in him.  In his mind, the movie is a classic romance in Italy, and he proceeds as such.  Yet in her mind, it’s like a James Bond movie where he’s a pawn.  The two visions clumsily intermingle, resulting in one very uncomfortable blend to digest.  Jolie and Depp have zero chemistry, and even though it’s not necessarily required for the movie, neither have any sort of a game face for it.  The action sequences are slow and boring, failing to breath any sort of life into “The Tourist” which flails for its duration in desperate need of a respirator.

Director/writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck strangely follows up the sublime German thriller “The Lives of Others” with this confused, uninteresting popcorn flick.  Even with a few fairly predictable plot twists to keep us mildly engaged, nothing can save this awkwardly comedic and dully action-packed movie from being one of the least exciting movies to grace the silver screen this year.  Sure, thanks to Angelina Jolie, it’s easy to watch.  But as a movie, it’s hard to bear.  C

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What To Look Forward To in … December 2010

15 11 2010

Hard to believe we are rapidly approaching the last month of 2010!  Enjoy the movies now, because soon Hollywood will be offering us its scraps.  We have an interesting December slate peppered with Oscar contenders and blockbusters, so it makes for an interesting mix.  Let’s get started at our look!

December 3

I’ve already seen “Black Swan” (mwahaha), and you need to see it.  Not for the faint at heart, I must warn.

FINALLY opening after being shuffled from preview post to preview post is “I Love You Phillip Morris,” the racy comedy starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as lovers.  It’s changed release dates so many times, in fact, that I’m not going to write anything about it just in case I jinx it.  Also opening is “The Warrior’s Way,” which looks to potentially play “Norbit” for Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar chances.  And “All Good Things” looks like a jumbled mess that might be worth checking out on video if for no other reason than to see Kristen Wiig’s first major dramatic turn.  If you really need a Christmas movie, check out no-name distributor Freestyle’s release of “The Nutcracker” in 3D with Dakota Fanning’s sister and Nathan Lane!

Also in limited release is a documentary on Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated former Prime Minister of Pakistan, called “Bhutto.”  I think she would be a fascinating subject, and I sure hope it comes to Houston.

December 10

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” looks to undo the disastrous effects of Disneyfication on C.S. Lewis’ classic series.  After “Prince Caspian,” the series needs a strong recovery.  Here’s to hoping the venture with Fox can do it.

As for “The Tourist,” I like anything with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.  This could be a totally formulaic thriller, but it’s Christmas and I have time to see whatever.

For all those interested in having Julia Taymor’s bad trips mess with their mind, “The Tempest” opens in limited release this Friday.  The weekend also brings us “The Company Men” with Ben Affleck, which tackles the issue of unemployment in America.  Unfortunately, the zeitgeist movie market has pretty much been cornered with “The Social Network,” so it’s going to take a backseat.  “Hemingway’s Garden of Eden” also heads your way in limited release, yet even with the big name expatriate author out in front, this still doesn’t excite me in the slightest.

Oh, and opening limited this weekend and wide December 17 is a little movie called “The Fighter.”  It just stars a few no-names like Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.  It’s kind of got some minor buzz, so it could be worth checking out.  (Note the sarcasm.)

December 17

How Do You Know” is my top mainstream pick for December.  The combination of the light dramedy of James L. Brooks with stars like Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson is just endlessly appealing to me.

I feel like the jury is still out on what will become of “Tron: Legacy.”  It’s sure going to be a visual effects phenomenon worth my IMAX money, but is it going to be any good?  Quality doesn’t seem to shine through the numerous trailers.  Maybe it’s some ’80s child thing I don’t get.

I’ve also seen “Rabbit Hole,” and it is more than worth your time and money in the busy Oscar bait season.  Nicole Kidman is astounding.  Also in the indie spectrum, Kevin Spacey stars in the late George Hickenlooper’s “Casino Jack,” a story of big influence on Capitol Hill.  Expect the two-time Oscar winner to hit out of the park as usual.

In case your family was looking to fill the void that “Alvin and the Chipmunks” left in the holiday season, Warner Bros. has quite a treat in store for you with “Yogi Bear!”

December 22

As for big name, sure-fire Oscar bait, it doesn’t get much better than the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit.”  It’s the perfect holiday movie that is totally not for the holiday season.

For more shoddy kids’ entertainment, you could also check out “Gulliver’s Travels” if you think that a non-animated Jack Black still has the capability to be funny.  I don’t think he does, to be honest.  As for “Little Fockers,” I don’t want to ruin whatever jokes the movie has up its sleeve by watching the trailer.  Who knows, there could be few to be had.

In limited release, moody hipster Sofia Coppola has a new movie, “Somewhere,” to totally disrupt the mood of your holiday season.  There’s also Gwenyth Paltrow in “Crazy Heart” — I mean, “Country Strong.”  More on that when it opens wide in January.

I’ve been hearing good things all year about “The Illusionist,” an animated movie about a magician, NOT the Edward Norton starrer from 2006.  It obviously won’t be making Houston in 2010, but I hope I get to catch it some time before it hits Netflix.

December 29/31

The year closes with three awards-type movies: the depressing “Biutiful,” the Mike Leigh unfunny comedy “Another Year,” and the intense NC-17 “Blue Valentine.”  I’ll see all three, but the only one I’ll be rushing the box office for is the latter, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

So, what are YOU looking forward to in December?  I’m tightening up the poll this month to save some space by eliminating some of the less popular titles that never get votes.