Friday, 8 December 2017

Mini Retro Review: Phat Girlz (2006) #badmovies

Phat Girlz
Romantic Comedy

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, yet Phat Girlz seeks to decry this notion. The 'B' word is mentioned several times and is not an affectionate term as Mo'Nique's character claims in the movie, Mo'Nique's character, a plus-sized fashion designer named Jazmin refers to other women as skinny b*****s. According to website Plugged In, there are over 100 uses of the B-word, H** & motherf***er in total. This comedy is not feel-good, it is mean-spirited & crude and it felt like random cheap shots aimed at skinny women and making them the target of ridicule. As well as Mo'Nique, Eric Roberts aka Julia Roberts's older brother is in this one, who is no stranger to straight- to- DVD, Z-grade movies. & Phat Girlz is another one of those movies, with its cheap, home video, DV look. The 'you so fat/ugly mamma' skit is sort of amusing, but also cringing at the same time. Phat Girlz is a so-called female empowerment type of comedy that doesn't practice what it preaches: it preaches about loving yourself, no matter what your size & has a few important things to say, yet it has scenes of Jazmin mouthing off and dissing women who aren't big or obese. Also, it has its double standards with men: six packs, huge biceps & physically toned yes, but looking like a nerd with glasses, being short and fat, this film doesn't give two hoots about them. Which is not good, at all. This film wants to have its cake and eat it. & it's mostly unfunny & snarky. 

Is It Worth Watching?

If you can put up with fat-shaming slurs, slurs aimed towards slim and skinny people, then by means go ahead. Otherwise, steer clear.


Retro Review: The Polar Express (2004)

The Polar Express
Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, Eddie Deezen, Michael Jeter
Genre: 3D Computer-Animated Christmas Musical Fantasy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $300 million

Plot: A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure, he learns about friendship, bravery and the spirit of Christmas

'This Journey Just Came To A Crashing Halt' 

An animated CGI film that attempts to evoke the spirit of Christmas, besides the visuals, The Polar Express is based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg & penned by Robert Zemeckis, who is best known for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the Back To the Future trilogy of movies, and yet which has relatively little else to show for it, and with that, it is far from being lauded as a Christmas classic for generations to come. It tries to be a Holiday version of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and yet it comes off as being dull and offers very little that is good. 

A young boy has serious reservations about the existence of Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, as he awaits for him, a magical train appears outside his house & the conductor takes him on a journey, in the hope of making the boy believe and that Santa is the real thing. 

The computer effects are a mixture of great to freakish in parts. The pseudo-realistic looking adult models look off, in a way, but the children's faces look plastic-y when they ought to be more polished. & the musical numbers range from just about bearable to cringing. But with animated movies, it doesn't matter how flashy or impressive looking the visuals are, the story has to grab your attention and the characters need to resonate and are entertaining. Yet The Polar Express doesn't have that and there were times where I drifted off and not paid any attention because the story got duller and became dreary. As the film went on, the more it made less sense to me and it appears as if Robert Zemeckis never made any attempts in making it clear, whatsoever. It is with that that I became bored and felt even more disinterested and that I didn't care what was happening and what the characters were saying. As a result, as much as I tried to get into it, it was difficult for me to fully enjoy this movie. 

This film is plagued with issues, notwithstanding the other characters such as the homeless guy and the conductor: The Polar Express doesn't touch upon their existence, why they exist and in what ways do they actually have an impact on the story. 

The Polar Express lacks soul and it feels disjointed, with a narrative that is just isn't very engrossing and inviting to the audience. As much as many have pointed out how the visuals don't look all that appealing, they were the least of my concerns. I was more interested in how the story would fare, and yet sadly with this film, it is not very well done and plus, it dragged on so much. It was beyond dull. One of the elves sounded as if he was on helium and he sounded a tad like Joe Pesci. The nerd with the glasses was just annoying, with his annoying voice. Tom Hanks voices multiple characters, although they all sound the same as each other and that Zemeckis could have and should have cast more actors or even other voice actors to lend their vocal talents. 

This is a film where it looks extravagant, over-the-top and relies on CGI effects to prop up the movie, yet everything else with regards to characterisation, narrative, motivations of the characters and the core theme of this movie, whatever that is, is completely and sorely lacking. & not made abundantly clear. 

When the film ended, I ended up scratching my head. The Polar Express attempts to pose some, and some questions - yet never truly provides those answers. 

Final Verdict:

It gains half a mark for the visuals, but otherwise, The Polar Express is a movie that should have been so much better. Zemeckis should have made more of an effort to make it more engrossing. The film has heart in some places, but sadly the story never made the desired impact on me, nor did it make me feel a thing for The Polar Express

It's a great pity. I mean, I kind of understand what Zemeckis and co were trying to aim for here. But the execution just wasn't thoroughly as enticing and it left me in a state of disappointment. 

I tried to like it, I really did, but the film just didn't go far enough or try hard enough.

The Polar Express was ripe for being a truly excellent Christmas movie, especially an amazing animated Christmas film. But with regards to the story, the warmth it tried to evoke and the Christmas spirit it embraced yet wanted to evoke, it all fell short. 

And as a Robert Zemeckis offering, compared to his other efforts, this is just not up there with his absolute best. 


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Retro Review: Double Team (1997)

Double Team
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, Mickey Rourke, Paul Freeman, Natacha Lindinger
Genre: Action 
U.S Box Office Gross: over $11.4 million

Plot: An international spy teams up with an arms dealer to escape from a penal colony & rescue his family from a terrorist

'Action Euro-Trash & Hong Kong 90's Oddity That Feels Meh'

Jean-Claude Van Damme had always wanted to make and star in a martial arts action movie made and produced in Hong Kong and whilst he tried to replicate that with Double Team, after the tremendous Hard Target, it still feels as a run-of-the-mill and routine Van Damme effort.

Jack Quinn (Van Damme) is a French agent who quit the hectic life to settle down with his wife, who is now pregnant with their first child. Yet not long after, Jack is thrown back into the deep-end when terrorist Stavros (Mickey Rourke) has been found and needs to be brought down. With the help of the charismatic arms dealer, Yaz (Dennis Rodman), they set out to capture him. Only to later discover his wife & child have been kidnapped. 

This film is.... mindless, nonsensical and silly. It's a strange concoction of a spy-like, espionage film with action, but it feels very incoherent. 

With fight choreography from Sammo Hung and directed by Tsui Hark, who played the main baddie in 1985's Yes Madam! starring Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock, Double Team is a movie that could have been so easily made in Hong Kong with either Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Donnie Yen in the lead role. It is made with its very foreign Cinematic style and tone in mind. Its feel and production values are definitely akin to a '90s Hong Kong action movie & less so as an American movie, although it is also a B-movie all the way through.  

American audiences also turned their noses up on this mid-90s actioner, with arguably the biggest turnoff surprise of then- NBA Chicago Bulls basketball player, Dennis Rodman and all of his 6ft plus frame of him making his feature film debut as Jean-Claude Van Damme's partner-in-crime. Unlike John Woo's Hard Target, which went all out in the action ranks and with the story and plot not lagging in places, sadly with Double Team, I just never could resonate with it as much as I did towards the 1993 Woo epic. Plus, the action here is not as grand and entertaining. The fight scenes are the typical standard in every bargain bin Van Damme movie, but Sammo Hung just wasn't able to elevate it any further as he should have done. 

Double Team is also one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's last major cinematic offerings, right before his movies went down the straight- to- DVD route, and a film that whilst it is considered as the movie that derailed and signalled the end of Van Damme's movie career, I found this one a tad more enjoyable than Knock-Off, which also starred comedic actor, Rob Schiender. & that isn't really saying that much. 

There are some lull moments with Van Damme's onscreen wife and when the film forgets about her, whereas some viewers may be taken aback by this, I just found all of her scenes forgettable and she didn't have an effect on me. it is also silly in places, what with Van Damme kicking a tiger being one of them, so much so you have suspend your disbelief and take in everything that comes. Sort of. Dennis Rodman's flamboyant character is as colourful and wacky as I'd come to imagine him to be, ever since I saw him on the front cover with his green hair, massive tattoos & body piercings who also has a horde of firearms and weapons stored in his lair. Rodman's performance was so-so actually. His delivery of his lines was all right but it wasn't anywhere as great, & is a tad wooden like Van Damme's and his fighting abilities are rather decent. Fans and viewers of Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark will be bemused to see Paul Freeman here as the leader of the colony, though I guess he must have needed a paycheque. & Mickey Rourke didn't do anything here that wowed me. The characters as a whole are all stocky, one-dimensional with hardly any range, whatsoever & for some wham, bam, thank you Van Damme moments, the film is not appealing and nor that amazing. 

Double Team is an above mediocre, glorified action caper of a film and I can't help but think that Hark went down the gimmicky route and as much as Double Team comes across as a gimmicky action movie with Rodman in the supporting role, it does have a couple of watchable moments. It is a film that barely makes any sense and is illogical in many ways.  

As a buddy cop action movie, however, this one doesn't quite work well enough, Van Damme and Rodman just don't look convincing as a pairing and the ending isn't that great and yet I also expected Van Damme and Rodman to give Rourke a proper beat down and he dies, but alas, that doesn't happen. I was disappointed, although how underwhelming it was and with that being the icing on the cake, it all summed up how I felt let down by Double Team

And the added Coca-Cola product placements and basketball lingo are a bit too much to ask for & reeks of unnecessary. 

As I watched this, it wasn't all that of a surprise to see how and why Double Team didn't rake in millions at the box office; that and as a Jean-Claude action film, it underwhelms in the action stakes, both quality and quantity-wise. It clearly shows. Although there were plans for a sequel to Double Team, those hopes were put to rest and shelved, due to how poorly it did financially and how it wasn't so well received. 

Final Verdict:

Incomprehensively speaking, Double Team is all over the place and barely makes much sense. Action-wise, it disappointed me and it felt so meh, so throwaway and typical, it wasn't that big of a deal. 

Double Team? More like Double Down, just like the KFC food item. 


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Retro Review: Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Tim Curry, Brenda Fricker, Catherine O' Hara
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $359 million 

Plot: One year after Kevin was left home alone & had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, & the same criminals are not far behind

'A Cash-Grab Sequel That Is Not So Much 'Lost', But Virtually The Same Movie As The Last'

12-year-old Kevin McCallister is less cute and endearing, but he seems to be a tad more aware of his surroundings and the people he surrounds himself with and still, he takes on the bad guys, outsmarts them and wins. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York turns out to be a follow-up made by people, who should have known better and should have made more of an effort, instead of being just a predictable and overly formulaic sequel. Which this offering is.

Released two years after the massive success of 1990's Home Alone and with more hype and commercial tie-ins and a bigger budget than ever before, the one thing Home Alone 2 lacks is charm, and charm aplenty. For the second time in 2 years, Kevin's parents lose their younger son, whilst on holiday. Now as this is a fictional comedy, this is not that big of a deal, but of course, in real-life, this would alert social services/child protection services and the parents would be questioned, and possibly arrested and charged with neglect. Who forgets their child, 2 years in a row? 

Most of the magic and essence of the prequel is all but lost and the execution is too identical and lacklustre that it doesn't really attempt to make strides in making it more entertaining, never mind watchable. The other flaw with this movie is when it touches on the emotional arc and with the characters, it's like nothing has changed and they have learnt absolutely nothing from the first movie and it is all back to square one again. 

But for some of the scenes where Kevin converses with the bird woman and hotel staff, there is very little else in this film that truly makes it worthwhile. Watching this movie, all I could think of is how this is virtually the same as the last Home Alone movie and that it is a clone and a lazy rehash effort on the part of Chris Columbus and John Hughes, although luckily and thankfully for Columbus he went one better with Mrs Doubtfire, one year after this movie & but for some issues, the Robin Williams comedy was and is far better than Home Alone 2. The late Hughes, on the other hand, went downhill, ever since this movie and with this effort, not only does he play things far too safe, the whole thing feels lethargic.

The tropes of the first movie are rehashed: using a voice recorder to fool the adults, watching TV and recording the voices to fool the adults, Kevin annoying and peeing off his parents and in them getting annoyed with him, Kevin losing his family & doing things by himself, the weirdo stranger who turns out to be a good guy and helps Kevin out in defeating the wet bandits. The wet bandits being even dumber and more accident-prone. This set-up is incredibly long and overdrawn and the repetition and overreliance of recycling the same gags, emotional beats means it gets old, quickly. & when it gets old as it does, the chase becomes much less fun, as it is. The slapstick humour didn't work for me, as it was either too similar to the first movie or it just wasn't original and funny enough. 

Rather than be unique and go to lengths to make it invigorating and fresh, Home Alone 2 makes the mistake of just relying on what worked from the first film and to regurgitate & elaborate on those ideas. But still, that is just not enough. It certainly wasn't enough for me; I wanted more, I expected more but I also expected a lot of different things, ideas that haven't been and weren't explored in the prequel. Yet the writer, John Hughes and Columbus dropped the ball. 

So in Home Alone 2, Kevin gets lost and finds himself in familiar territory, loses his family, the wet bandits are out of jail. And yet, instead of defending his home from burglars, Kevin sets traps as and often as he likes, with little concern or regard towards their welfare and goes out to hurt those who he fears. Culkin reprised his famous role, and yet, unfortunately, Chris Columbus and the writers approached the Kevin McCalister character with barely any new & fresh ideas. It's as if they didn't care enough to make a difference to that character, one bit. 

The first Home Alone was a huge hit and many of those ideas worked because they weren't attempted before; that and the heartwarming & poignant moments felt genuine and less artificial and forced. Home Alone 2 feels uninspired, makes little to no effort in carving out a truly worthwhile sequel that not only lives up to the original but is different in many respects, and instead, is harboured with a formula that is tediously repetitive. 

Even with the sight of watching Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern getting injured and hurt by the booby traps being a tad amusing, that, for me, isn't enough to salvage what is, in fact, a clone of the first Home Alone movie that is too much alike and far less, if not so much less enjoyable and entertaining.

Final Verdict:

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is like a burger you see in adverts for McDonald's, KFC, Burger King: it looks the same, it looks appetising & yet when you dive right into it, it isn't all that great, to be honest. It just doesn't offer much that is different that makes it great and worthwhile.

Redundant, derivative & relies too much on rehashing and relying on previous ideas of Home Alone, Home Alone 2, in more ways than one, has outstayed its welcome & mainly exists as a cash-grab and thus, in doing so, it is far less enjoyable.


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Retro Review: Elf (2003)

Cast: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zoey Deschanel, Mary Steenbergen, Bob Newhart
Genre: Christmas Fantasy Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $220 million

Plot: After inadvertently wrecking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S in search of his true identity

'Express Your Elf'

A Christmas comedy steeped in tradition but also given the Will Ferrell treatment through his brand of comedy and humour, Elf sees the former Saturday Night Live comic unleash his child-like side as man-child Buddy seeks out what is his true worth as an elf.

Elf is more of a comedy about Christmas and less so a Christmas comedy and it's still an enjoyable romp.

Years before he established himself in the Daddy's Home movies, Ferrell starred in this festive comedy directed by actor Jon Favreau, who also gave us Iron Man & Chef. Raised as an elf, Buddy Hobbs was once a baby who found himself in Santa's toy sack and inadvertently into the North Pole. He grew up into a not so bright elf, but when he discovers he is human and not an elf, he goes in search for his biological father named Walter Hobbs, in the hopes of reconnecting with him. Walter, on the other hand, thinks Buddy is a bit of a nutter and thus, he is dismissed by pretty much everyone he meets. But Buddy is not going to give up in winning over Walter, Walter's son and wooing a love interest: a fellow store worker played by Blonde-haired Zooey Deschanel. 

Elf is a cartoon-like caper fish out of water tale come to life, which is also mixed in with animated stop-motion sequences that look terrific and the sight of Ferrell parading himself in yellow tights and Green elf suit & his cheerful demeanour as Buddy, is bemusing. 

& yet Elf is not quite the laugh fest I've come to expect and it doesn't topple Jingle All The Way, as far as festive comedy movies go as the comedy just wasn't always there & for me it doesn't feel as fun as that Arnold Schwarzenneger flick and the third and final act does make the film lose some steam, but it does have an endearing Holiday charm and spirit that illicit Christmas time that is very innocent and clean. The maple syrup with spaghetti thing was just too weird for my tastes though.

In the hands of any other director but Jon Favreau and star Will Ferrell, Elf would have been a complete bomb and it just wouldn't be anywhere as watchable. The film borrows a few ideas from other Christmassy movies, but the end product is more endearing, which is no bad thing and is less comedic. I will say that it has its heart in places, and the comedy was okay in places but it was inconsistent, whilst the story needed to be stronger and more convincing. 

Final Verdict

I am a tad disappointed that it wasn't as entertaining as I'd wanted and expected, given how well it did at the box office initially, but nonetheless, when it comes to capturing the festive spirit and feeling more Christmassy, Elf succeeds in that respect. 

As a comedy, it needed to have been better and yet it is mildly amusing, but the rest of the film ranged from okay to good with the schmaltz levels kept to a low. 

You really need to be able to tolerate Will Ferrell to dig this one, although he also deserved a slightly more meaningful and funnier script to go along with his performance & the heartwarming feel it evokes.

Elf is nice, endearing with clean humour that encapsulates what Christmas is about, but it is Will Ferrell who makes it worth seeing and as it is the ideal setup for his schtick. Elf is one of those movies that kind of sits there, but also it's not crap or bad. 

Still, given that Christmas movies have gotten lamer and worse since the early 2000s, but for 1 or 2 exceptions, Elf is still my favourite festive film of the 21st Century by a long distance. 


Monday, 4 December 2017

Retro Review: Single Santa Seeks Mrs Claus (2004) #crappychristmasmovies

Single Santa Seeks Mrs Claus
Romantic Comedy

Bland and boring Hallmark channel film and a fairly routine one that one would have seen many times over, especially on Channel 5 in the UK. Thomas Calabro who played the cop/stripper in Ladykillers is in this one playing the love rival and romantic false lead to Steve Guttenberg's Nicholas, who is the son of Santa Claus who is about to take over his father's throne but there's one catch. Basically, single Santa's son seeks Mrs Claus woman by Christmas Eve. Cue lots of corny acting, a terrible script and the laughs seem contrived. Leads Police Academy's Steve Guttenberg and Crystal Bernard share barely any genuine chemistry as a couple. 

Is it worth watching?

Too hokey, story is not very believable or entertaining enough and the love theme is not very believable.  


Retro Review: Bonneville (2006)

Cast: Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Joan Allen, Christine Baranski
Genre: Comedy Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $1,253 million 

Plot: Three women take a road trip to Santa Barbara in order to deliver the ashes of one of their dead husbands to his resentful daughter 

'Road Trip Movie With A Difference, & A Gem As Well'

A lesser-known independent flick which received a limited release in the U.S, Bonneville works because of the main leads, who bring much-needed charm and is a cross between Thelma & Louise and Steel Magnolias. Three mature women, one a widower, miss their plane trip to go on a road trip and head out to scatter their late husband's ashes. Along the way, they meet a different set of characters, laugh, bond and find contentment. 

Arvilla, played by Jessica Lange just lost her husband of 20 years and she has promised to scatter his ashes all around the places that they have visited. 

My favourite scenes were the ones with Arvilla and a young hitchhiker named Bo, it was like a mother and son type moment that they had and they were really touching, in particular, the scene when the women say farewell to him. 

There is a kids movie titled Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt, Shannon Doherty which has a similar premise to this movie, only it is not as enjoyable. The Mormon theme in this movie isn't and wasn't that much of an issue to me and the religious tone wasn't as preachy as I'd come to anticipate.

Some people will say this is a film that will not interest those under 45, but for some of the overly preachy scenes, I actually enjoyed this one a good deal. The performances were well done, especially Jessica Lange, who I paid much attention to and of whom I watched this movie for than for any other actress. It was nice to see her in a role such as this. Although Kathy Bates and Joan Allen were good as well and the actor, Victor Rasuk who played Bo was really good as well. 

In all, this was a nice and pleasant surprise and yet also, it's a shame it went unnoticed back in 2006 when it was released because it deserves a watch for anyone interested in lighter, feel-good dramas. 

Final Verdict:

A rather solid blend of light comedy with drama and a sentimental value attached to it, obviously it is not going to blow people's minds (it didn't for me) and it is cliched, but the story is brought to life by the performances of Kathy Bates, Joan Allen and Jessica Lange, who hold this film together. Even though it did not find much success in theaters/cinemas due to the mormon-ism theme & older cast members, Bonneville has its charms and some really nice and touching scenes. 

This was a really pleasant watch and is one of the gems of the 2000s.  


Friday, 1 December 2017

Retro Review: Working Girl (1988)

Working Girl
Cast: Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack
Genre: Romantic Comedy - Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $100 million

Plot: When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it by pretending she has her boss's job

'Rom-Com Spin-Off Akin Nine-To-Five, Only Less Fun, Is Dated & Unremarkable'

A film which undeservedly received six Academy Award nominations, Mike Newell's Working Girl is far from Oscar material, as nothing about it speaks of compelling or unique and as a take on the romantic comedy, it just doesn't stack up.

Working Girl chronicles the uphill struggles of secretary Tess McGill in a predominately male-dominated working world. Whilst her boss, Katherine is away on holiday, Tess takes advantage of her boss's skiing accident with Katherine bedridden in the hospital and in her place, she gets to call the shots, unknownst to Katherine. Including stealing her main squeeze, Jack.

Aside from being a boring drudge of a film, the film feels incredibly dated and doesn't feel modern enough and Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford are a total mismatch as a couple. Sigourney Weaver's performance, however, is the most impressive out of the main three as she plays Griffith's Tess's nemesis. Her talents especially could be put to better use, and yet she is saddled with a banal script. 

I don't mean to be blunt but if the lead was played by another actress but for Melanie Griffith, they might have brought more to the movie than her and instilled more confidence. 

Uninspired, lacklustre and overhyped to the max, Working Girl can't decide out of the two whether it wants to be a rom-com or a feminist take of the working world, but either way, even by trying either of them out, which it does, Working Girl still fails and falls flat on its face. Also penned by the writer of such movies as Maid in Manhattan, Junior & Meet Joe Black, those movies weren't so well-received either. Although I kind of enjoyed Junior

The reality is Melanie Griffith's character would have moved on and taken up a position elsewhere, instead of standing back and be taken for the fool that she is. 

Dated and unremarkable, sorry, but I didn't buy into it and its success. 


Final Verdict:

Like Steven Soderbergh and Peter Weir, Mike Leigh is yet another in the line of directors, whose direction never overwhelmed me, and thus he takes the one-dimensional approach and makes his films come across as boring. Not even Harrison Ford's turn could rescue Working Girl from being mundane and if it hadn't been for Sigourney Weaver, this film would be even more unmemorable. 

It didn't deserve all those Oscar nominations and together with the lack of chemistry and affection shown between Ford and Griffith makes this one of the least romantic rom-coms, ever.


Retro Review: The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show
Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris
Genre: Satirical Sci-fi
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $264 million

Plot: An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show

'Despite Carrey's Showing, This Film Was More Like A No-Show'

A so-called film labelled as a satirical sci-fi, it is neither satirical or sci-fi-ish enough, despite Jim Carrey's impressive showing, The Truman Show doesn't have enough, nor provide enough depth or many watchable scenes in this somewhat ugly view of voyeurism, nor balk in the harsh realities of reality TV, due to the banal and lacklustre direction by Peter Weir. 

Truman Burbank finds himself the unwanted star and centre of attention for millions of viewers around the world of a show titled ''The Truman Show'' that airs 24 Hrs a day and broadcasting his every move, capturing every word he speaks, without his acknowledgement.
Robin Williams was originally considered for the role of Truman Burbank, yet director Peter Weir went with Jim Carrey after Weir saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and was left impressed by his improvisational comedy skills. Which is strange considering that Carrey rarely or be it doesn't show glimpses of those skills as his character, Truman, throughout this movie. 

I don't mind Jim Carrey doing serious and dramatic roles, the more the merrier I'd say, but the script for this movie didn't really enable him to stretch his talents. He was solid and effective and he tries his hardest to restrain and tone down his comedic side, but due to the nature of the script, he never gave that astounding performance I'd come to expect. Not only is it based on the 1960s and the setting is the 1960s, it has a '60s feel to it. The problem of this movie lies with the director, Peter Weir; as much as he has directed a couple of critically well-received movies, to me, I find his direction, in general, to be tame and pedestrian. He just was not ideal for this project. Dead Poets Society was only made good due to Robin Williams's performance, who elevated it further, and by taking him away, that movie would be bland as watching paint dry. & here, that same sentiment can be felt with The Truman Show & Jim Carrey. 

Add to that the lack of any genuine light-hearted and humourous scenes, hardly any emotion and a story that wasn't very engrossing, and what you have is a film that truly underwhelms in every major aspect, but for some of the impressive visual effects and 1 or 2 performances. Laura Linney is a huge miscast, I just can't see her pull off the happy- looking fake person routine naturally, whilst Ed Harris fared better here than in Stepmom, which came out in the same year as this film. & even if it had Robin in place of Jim, I still cannot really see The Truman Show be any more entertaining and watchable. Well, not under Peter Weir.

The film didn't spark my interest until the 27 min and I just wasn't able to grasp the story and under a much more capable director than Peter Weir, this would be far more entertaining and insightful as a film. A premise with promising potential as the one in this movie shouldn't be this lethargic and as boring as it is, and yet sadly it is, because of Weir. He's like the duller version of Steven Soderbergh, and I'm not a fan of his work, but for Erin Brockovich. 

The Truman Show is not terrible and it's not that a lot of what happens doesn't make sense - it's just a frustrating, yet mostly ordinary experience and watching it today I could see how I never latched onto this movie back in 1998, despite all of its plaudits. 

The film bored me until the 55th minute and despite its profoundly overwhelming and popular showing, again it is yet another one of those movies whereby watching it I couldn't understand why it was lauded. For a film that is supposed to dig deep into and explore the concept of reality TV, it ends up saying frankly very little about it. 

Final Verdict:

When Jim Carrey accepted the award for Best Comic Performance of the year for Liar Liar during the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, he thanked his fans by saying ''they have always supported my comedies, but they don't know how to take me in drama''. He showed in Doing Time on Maple Drive, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Man on The Moon how effective he can be as a dramatic actor, but serious roles have been very few and sadly, he just never had more of those bigger and better drama and non-comedic movies that he deserved. 

Those looking for a meatier and edgier movie ought to look elsewhere, and though The Truman Show isn't it and that it could have done with more meatier and edgier moments, it's fair for me to say, it just never blew me away as much as I'd hoped it would do. 

Under Peter Weir's vision, this is a case of all talk, and rarely any substance. 


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