Author: Matt Cebreros
Why is this a triple feature review? Well, there are two reasons. Firstly, I saw all three of them at the theater back-to-back-to-back. The second reason? I’m lazy and I don’t want to write stand-alone pieces for all of them. So, enjoy these condensed mini-reviews of two fantastic films, and one steaming pile of disappointment.
Life of Pi
This movie is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’m hours removed from it, yet it’s been in my mind this entire time. Ang Lee has crafted a true marvel of a movie. Visually, it’s absolutely dazzling. The incorporation of 3D is the best I’ve seen yet. It feels seamless and organic, with very little of that obtrusive factor that hinders so many 3D experiences. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I just sat in my seat with my mouth agape, in complete awe of the absolute beauty on the screen. From the stunning CGI rendered animals to the brilliant vastness of the ocean, every image on the screen is captivating. Even the opening credit sequence is amazing. If there is one word to describe Life of Pi, it would have to be “magical.”
But above the spectacle of the image, what really struck me was the emotional resonance of the story. I’m not a spiritual person (far from it), but for those two hours I was a believer in the healing and redemptive powers of faith. Pi’s journey tested his devotion to his Gods, but more importantly it tested the strength of my tear ducts (which are not very strong, FYI). I had full-on tears streaming down my face at least four times. The movie reaches above and beyond any one religion, creating a universal tale of body and soul, science and faith, man and beast. This is maybe the most bold and poignant blockbuster ever created. I would be selling Life of Pi short by calling it a great movie, because it’s so much more than just a movie. It’s a moving, transcendent life experience that must be seen to be believed.
Silver Linings Playbook
This David O. Russell guy is the real deal. The best part about the movie is Jennifer Lawrence’s glistening boobs and tight bu…er, I mean, the cast! Silver Linings Playbook earned nominations in all four acting categories at the upcoming Academy Awards. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. It’s saying a lot when a movie can make me like Bradley Cooper. The always amazing JenLaw is at her very best here (she has my vote for Best Actress), showing us she has impeccable comedic timing to go with her acting. Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver (in her second Oscar-nominated performance) are ridiculously good as the O.C.D. Eagles fan and the cheery peacemaker, respectively. This is without a doubt the overall best cast of 2012 (yes, better than Lincoln).
The film is working within the highly predictable and cloying romantic comedy genre, but Russell constantly keeps things fresh and in defiance of rom-com tropes. We’re given the time to watch these characters develop and fall in love with them, and that’s something that most movies fail to achieve. Rather than one person changing who they are to accommodate the love of someone else, Silver Linings Playbook encourages that maybe, you just need to find someone to share in your madness with and love unequivocally. It’s hilarious, touching, and features some of the best acting of the year. Everyone should be able to find a silver lining in this one.
This is 40
I consider myself a huge Judd Apatow fanboy. When I found out his next movie was going to be a loose sequel to Knocked Up, I was ecstatic. After the good but not great Funny People, I hoped that this would be a return to form. Boy, was I wrong. This is Apatow at his least funny and his most self-indulgent. Essentially, the entire movie consists of nothing but mean conversation between two bitter, immature and irresponsible parents, who Apatow tries to parade around as the archetypal married couple. Attempts at blunt honesty fall flat, and come across as just plain rude. When the laughs do come, they hit hard, but they’re so far and few between. The movie is at its funniest and most relatable when Pete and Debbie are kind to one another, but those sweet moments are buried beneath so much resentment and nastiness that they get lost in the shuffle.
With each film, Apatow weaves in more and more drama, and they have become progressively less enjoyable. The only thing that saves this movie from utter failure is the strong supporting cast. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow as the polar opposite fathers of Pete and Debbie are great, despite being written as shitty people. Jason Segel delivers as always, but Melissa McCarthy steals the show despite having a very small part. The biggest laughs come from her scenes, and her improv outtakes tacked onto the credits made me laugh harder than anything that actually made the final cut. In the end, is it worth a watch? If you’re not already a fan of Apatow’s brand of comedy, then no. But for those who are, there’s enough redeeming qualities and scenes to warrant your attention.