Sunday, August 08, 2004

MOVIES: Jack's Never Coming Back

Over the years, I have assembled a list of actors and actresses who's mere presence means I can watch the movie they are in, or that I can't. For example, I watch everything Sandra Bullock is in and enjoy most. Even the duds are usually so-so at worst. Adam Sandler is a guy who (Wedding Singer aside) is usually a GIGANTIC SIGN that any movie he's in is unwatchable.

Prior to the last month, I placed Jack Nicholson in the former category. But now, I wonder. In a spate of used DVD buying excess last month, I purchased three Nicholson titles. About Schmidt, Something's Gotta Give and Anger Management. Yes, I'm aware that the last title has the dreaded Adam Sandler. But hey, it has Nicholson and Marisa Tomei. But enough of that, until later.

I watched About Schmidt first. I 'thought' it was the Sandler title and kept waiting for the bumbling pipsqueek to show up. Despite quite good reviews for Nicholson, I found the movie depressing and was glad when it was over. I kept thinking as the first hour passed and no Sandler was there, that he might have actually livened up the movie. For the folks who thrilled to Nicholson's performance in this piece ... LIGHTEN UP! Who needs to leave the theatre depressed? A swift kick in the backside to the critics who sold me on getting this movie.

The critics were back at it for Something's Gotta Give, a grown-up romance. It pokes fun at the bizarre notion that men of Jack's age (mid 60's) always have a twenty-something on their arm, rather than giving into the obvious intellectual charms of somebody closer to their own age. In this case, Nicholson plays a not-too-obnoxious lecher who 'meets cute' with Diane Keaton while currently squiring her daughter (Amanda Peet in yet ANOTHER fully-clothed role. What has this world come to?!?). Nature actually follows its expected course and there's a happily ever after moment despite a heart attack or two later.

What's wrong with the movie? Keaton's been a pet hate of mine since Annie Hall days. There was a missed date with a hot cheerleader that night (and not too surpringly, no followup) and I ABSOLUTELY HATED Annie Hall on its own merits. Switch Keaton for a sexy Frances McDormand, who plays her sister in this movie, and I could warm up considerably. But who believes Keanu Reeves as the doctor leg of the triangle? Reeves, who hails from just up the road from where I sit typing this, is a good guy. But his blank-faced demeanour requires the right role ... say a witless slacker or a perpetually confused SF movie construct. A doctor smitten by a woman twice his age? Too much of a stretch.

Jack's just okay in this movie. He still plays too self-involved to really catch a bright lady like Keaton is supposed to be playing. But the flaws in this movie really kill the victory age and treachery should have over youth and inexperience. Thumbs down.

Which brings me to Anger Management. This is the movie that got me out of bed and working this weekend, ending a week-long involvement in bemoaning my plight. This movie is SOOOOOOOO bad, that rather than continue viewing past the first half-hour, I had to do ANYTHING other than watching this train wreck. I actually worked, getting in a solid day and a half of programming, just to wipe the memory of that awful half-hour of video from my eyes.

Adam Sandler has drawn Jack Nicholson to the dark side. I can no longer trust Jack to provide intelligent entertainment. Now, you've been warned.

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