|Film Brats - Reviews|
The trailers really made this one look like it’d be good. It looked quirky and fun with interesting characters. Plus, it was from the Coen brothers, who seemed to be getting back to their old selves and making incredibly good, modern classics. Well, the trailer worked and got me into the theater, but it failed to accurately represent what I was going to be watching. The movie was quirky and did have semi-interesting characters (and it was from the Coen brothers – writers/directors/producers Joel and Ethan), but fun doesn’t quite happen.
The quirkiness of the film comes from the characters rather than the rather basic robbery storyline. In fact, virtually the whole thing is predictable, which makes any caper film tough to pull off and usually boring. Only the characters could keep this thing afloat. We have the oddball professor who uses as many big words as he possibly can. He’s charming, yet creepy (especially with that hyperventilating laugh). We have Ms. Munson, the sweet old black, church-going widow who donates money to the severely right-wing Bob Jones University and looks to her dead husband’s portrait for guidance. We have the explosives expert who works in movies and TV and also happens to have explosive bowels. Other than that, the remaining people are ultra-stereotypical people that verge on insulting to their respective groups: The gangbangin’ black youth, the dumber than a post football player and the no-mercy, Asian former war general.
The writing isn’t very sharp and the weak dialogue moves slowly. In general, it’s not paced very well, because the audience rightly assumes what’s going to happen. Might as well show it sooner and move on to the next “surprise.” Most of the jokes fall flat on their faces. The tension isn’t tangible, even though we are shown over and over it does exist. There’s really just nothing let to stand on. And cutting to reaction shots of the painting of the husband was just plain awful.
The only decent thing was the acting by the three interesting characters. Tom Hanks as Professor Dorr plays it perfectly and provides the best chance of hooking any potentially interested audience member. Irma P. Hall as Munson actually adds depth to a potentially one-dimensional character and brings the warmth and the every-grandma feel to the screen. J.K. Simmons uses a gravel voice and deadpan style with an undertone of emotions that come out in body language rather than in vocal qualities. His catch phrase “Easiest thing in the world” would quickly become tiresome were it not for Simmons’ delivery. This guy is quickly becoming one of my favorite character actors.
Maybe next time the Coen brothers will create another masterpiece. We all know they are fully capable of it. They’ve raised the bar pretty high for themselves and way undershot it with this movie. Maybe the 1955 original would be better. At least expectations wouldn’t be as high. Either way, skip this one.
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