Thursday, June 26, 2008

What not to watch

With three children in our household, my wife and I have little time to enjoy watching a movie together. Somehow, amid the chaos of temper tantrums, bottle feedings, and diaper changes, we actually sat down and watched TWO movies over the weekend, one on DVD and the other on pay-per-view.

After viewing both, I was left wondering what exactly, I felt I was missing.

The first film we watched was "National Treasure 2," which I thought would be fun for us to see since my wife doesn't like action or horror movies, and this was pretty clean fun the first go-around in the franchise.

Let's just say she didn't thank me for renting it. Nicolas Cage, who I've loved in past films, looks gaunt and tired these days, and his conspicuous lack of sideburns and strange hair color are distracting. Not distracting enough, however, to deter us from the fact that the entire film was hokey, predictable, and unsatisfying. Jon Voight walks through his role, as he does in so many roles these days, and the remainder of the supporing cast were stereotypes in a film filled with hackneyed movie cliches such as:

- A character gets millions of dollars, invests it poorly, and then has trouble with the IRS.
- The husband and wife are having problems but, after living through an adrenaline filled adventure, get back together.
- The sidekick who never seems to get enough credit finally receives his due when a tip from his book helps to propel the plot forward.
- The main character does something outrageous (like kidnap the President) and gets away with it scot-free.
- A character must go to his ex-wife because she's "the only one who can help him" after being estranged from her for 30 years. Their bickering is then supposed to be great movie fun!

The cliches went on and on and on like this and it felt like a film that was written by a couple of film students by using a dozen other popular films as templates. It's too bad, too, because the first "National Treasure" was hokey but in a fun and interesting way. Unless you're bored and there's nothing else on the hotel pay-per-view, skip this one.

That same fateful weekend, we watched "Fools Gold" on pay-per-view. My wife enjoys a good romantic comedy, and she enjoyed that other fine piece of cinematic art that Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson made - "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days."

Well, as I said, she enjoys a "good" romantic comedy, and neither of us cared for whatever this was supposed to be. Think of "Romancing the Stone" meets "Into the Blue" meets...hell, meets "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days."

But the only thing it shared with the great Kathleen Turner/Michael Douglas film mentioned above was the fact that there was a male and a female lead who end up in bed together. Other than that, it fell FAR short. It was so close in fact, actually to 2005's "Into the Blue" that it could almost have been the same script with a little light comedy added. Unfortunatley it was even worse than that horrible Jessica Alba film.

The only reasons I could see for these two to even make this movie was an attempt to capture the magic of their previous film together, and also the film's tropical setting where McConaughey could spend most of his screen time with his shirt off (which he LOVES to do in this one, folks.) You can also tell he REALLY enjoys the constant dialogue eschewed about his sexual abilities. This was truly a vanity piece for Mathhew to indulge himself in, and oh yeah, I'm sure the paycheck didn't hurt either of the main stars, either.

One other thing bothered me, and that was the presence of the great Donald Sutherland. Not to take anything away from him, because I think he's great, but he was completely wasted in this one. I think he was bored, too, because he chose to do the entire film with a British accent. Maybe he was able to immerse himself into the film by creating such a layered character that he could forget what a ludicrous plot and horrible execution of it he was involved with.

Again, please skip this one unless you're stuck on an airplane and its the only thing showing. If you must watch it, at least you'll get to see Kate Hudson in a bikini for part of the picture, and of course a mostly shirtless Matthew McConaughey, if that's the sort of thing you're into.

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