Sunday, August 7, 2011

"31 Movies, 31 Days": #4 The Adjustment Bureau

Movie: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Budget: $50 million

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Format: Blu-Ray DVD

The preview for The Adjustment Bureau did little to entice me when it first debuted, and positive reviews also failed to pique my interest. Quite frankly, it looked like a sappy romance about fated love, one jazzed up by a bunch of men in hats chasing Matt Damon around and saying his love was forbidden. In other words, it looked like a chick flick disguised as sci-fi. This pre-judgment proved to be, in fact, true. What I failed to account for, however, likely because of deep denial, is that I really enjoy a good chick flick...and this is, most definitely, a good chick flick.

Filmed entirely on location in New York City, half the fun of the movie is recognizing the many, many places they shot. From the New Leaf Cafe up near the Cloisters, to MoMA, to Yankee Stadium, to the Hell's Kitchen dive bar Rudy's, this film has more site-specific locations than I've ever seen in a movie. One clever gimmick which takes advantage of these many locations is the use of special doors which, when opened, transport the door-opener to an entirely different part of the city...sort of like the MTA on steroids.

For a movie like this to succeed, there has to be genuine chemistry between its romantic leads...and Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have it in spades. I'm not a "love at first sight" kind of guy, but the scene in which our two leads meet is witty, engaging and bubbling over with romantic tension. From that point on we very much care what happens to our would-be lovers, something which makes the obstacles they soon face all the more compelling. Damon is sensational as a young politician, and Blunt is believable as a free-spirited modern dancer who acts as somewhat of a muse for Damon's ambitions. Blunt, who had no dance experience prior to winning the role, does all her own dancing and does it very, very well.

From a sci-fi perspective, The Adjustment Bureau, based (yet again) on a story by Philip K. Dick, is somewhat meh. I believe in the separation of church and state, but I also believe in the separation of church and science...fiction. There is a religious and spiritual angle to the movie which I will not fully explain here, but suffice it to say that it's very, very silly. The mechanics of what the Adjustment Bureau team members do is very interesting, but the reasons behind them? Oy. It's best not to dwell on the overarching idea behind the movie and instead focus on the romance and the action...both of which are fun. John Slattery, looking and sounding a lot like Roger Sterling from Mad Men, and the always imposing Terrance Stamp, chew the scenery in their supporting roles.

Briskly paced and featuring great performances, The Adjustment Bureau is a romantic sci-fi film worth checking out.

Kraig's Rating: 7/10

Movie #1: Skyline
Movie #2: Killers
Movie #3: The Iron Giant


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