Sunday, February 7, 2010

Movie Roundup: (3) Away We Go & (4) Push

Movie #3: Away We Go (2009---on DVD)

Directed by Sam Mendes and scripted by Dave Eggers, the indie road comedy Away We Go boasts an impressive enough pedigree, but one that doesn't quite realize its full potential. The story is simple enough---a young 30-something couple, played with realistic chemistry by The Office's John Krasinsky and Saturday Night Live's Maya Rudolph---set off on a trip to locate the home in which they will raise their forthcoming child. Like any road comedy, they come across a variety of kooky characters that create equally kooky situations. While these encounters do have their funny moments, by and large the supporting cast is way, WAY over the top. This isn't a problem if you're making a movie like Road Trip, but it is a problem if you're making a movie which also wants to be taken seriously...which Away We Go most definitely does. While I love actresses Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Catherine O'Hara, their scenery-eating performances just don't mesh with the sweet, understated (by comparison) comedic interactions of our two leads. The movie works best when they encounter more realistic characters to help reflect their own anxieties and insecurities---such as Rudolph's character's sister, and their old college friends who now live in Canada and raise a family of adopted children. For all of the jokes and bits that don't work in Away We Go, however, there are plenty that do. Krasinsky has an affable, deft comedic touch, and Rudolph is a true revelation here. Away We Go is not all that it could have been, but it's enough to recommend.

Rating: 7/10

Movie #4: Push (2009---on DVD)

Filmed entirely in Hong Kong, a location that lends itself to some truly beautiful cinematography here, Push begins strongly enough on the basis of its interesting premise, but the early momentum rapidly dissipates with the introduction of a weak love story, and with a narrative that's never really explained to satisfaction. The world of Push is populated by a variety of characters with various paranormal talents. There are Pushers---who can push thoughts on to other people; there are Sniffers---who can track people's scents from halfway across the globe; there are Watchers---who can foresee the future; there are Movers---who can, yes, move stuff with their mind...and a variety of other character-types that succeed in creating a fertile backdrop for what could have been a solid action movie. While some scenes do evoke a thrill, most are flat or downright silly. One battle has a clever premise in which two Movers square off in a restaurant. Using their minds, they both levitate pistols as they seek out and try to shoot each other. It's a cool idea, but seeing handguns float in the air reminded me of the special effects in Memoirs of an Invisible Man. It's hard not to laugh. The acting in Push isn't bad---Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning have solid rapport---but they're not given much to work with. Push isn't quite as bad as some critics made it out to be, but it definitely fails to deliver on its immense potential.

Rating: 5/10


Blogger JMW said...

Hey, where is you?

February 22, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

I is suffering from PJFS...Post Jamaica Fatigue Syndrome. And breaking hearts. I should be back in the swing of things with a post tonight---thought it will likely be of dubious quality.

February 22, 2010 at 1:38 PM  

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