Terminator Genisys – Film Review

Term poster

After a six year absence, the Terminator is back, and even though this may be the fifth in the series – many are referring to the new film as Terminator 5Terminator Genisys ignores numbers 3 and 4 and picks up after 2.  And if that brief description of numbers and where you’re supposed to be in the overall game plan of Terminator storytelling are already somewhat confusing, wait until you see the film.

Terminator Genisys is acting as a retcon film.  I had to look it up.  Retcon is short for Retroactive Continuity, which means this: Things you’ve already seen and facts you already know are now changed in order for writers – in this case, movie makers – to revise history in order to continue a series in a way that would not have been possible had the story continued on its original course.  In other words, go back and change a few things and you can potentially keep the franchise alive for more to come.  They did it with the reboot of Star Trek and now they’ve done it with The Terminator. 

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The year is 2029 and the human resistance, lead by John Connor (this time played by Jason Clarke) is about to lead the final offensive on the killer Skynet robots.  Narrative concern raises its confused head early when Connor is told that Skynet will be attacking on two fronts; one in the past, one in the future.  Wait a minute.  What was that again?

Just at the moment when the resistance is about to destroy Skynet’s time machine – thereby stopping any of those past and future shenanigans and keeping everything in the present – a T-800 robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to kill waitress Sarah Connor (this time played by England’s Emilia Clarke, better known as the heart eating Dragon Lady with blonde hair in HBO’s Game of Thrones) in order to stop her ever giving birth to Skynet’s most important enemy.  That part should sound familiar.

The film recreates moments seen before, like a nude and younger looking Arnold turning up in Los Angeles and immediately picking a fight with three 80’s punk rockers.  Then fellow resistance fighter, Kyle Reese (this time played by Australian Jai Courtney replacing Michael Biehn) is sent back by John Connor in order to protect waitress Sarah.

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So far, so familiar.  In fact, the film, this time under director Alan Taylor’s guidance, does an amusing job of revisiting key scenes acted out in Terminators 1 & 2, but here with different players.  It’s like viewing life through the prism of a dreamlike parallel universe; characters are familiar but the faces are different.  Then it all goes haywire.

Time jumps around from 2029, to 1984, then to 2017, and before you know it, time travel is turned on its head, events that should have happened are now altered, and Arnold’s original T-800 is suddenly described as a relic from a deleted time line.  Things you thought you knew have now never happened and a whole new world of confusing time lines has opened up.  Ironically, when the computerized Skynet is presented in human form, it’s played by BBC TV’s most famous of time travelers, Dr. Who’s Matt Smith, but that doesn’t help you understand any of the time traveling loop holes any better.

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Frankly, it’s a mess.  Remember how the second Back To The Future movie seemed a little too busy and confusing with all of its time traveling jumps and how it practically buried the series?  Terminator Genisys does the same thing, only it’s messier.  As J.K. Simmons as Detective O’Brien states to fellow police officers, “I know that what’s going on might be really, really complicated.”  No kidding.

The action is what you would expect; loud, in-you-face, ludicrously over-the-top, and extremely well done, with the exception of the helicopter chase between buildings that looked more like a clip from a video game.  The opening where the destructive Judgment Day occurs is briefly reminiscent of 1996’s Independence Day as downtown skyscrapers and monuments explode into fragments followed by mushrooming clouds of all encompassing fire.  The chase on the Golden Gate Bridge involving a school bus with Sarah at the wheel while another terminator rips the vehicle apart is undeniably spectacular, plus every one of Arnold’s bone crushing fights are lengthy and well choreographed, but considering most of these battles are fought by robots who slam each other in ways that may be painful to watch but have little to no effect on the robots, any tension or a real feeling of thrills and spills are gone; you know that whatever they do to each other, they’ll just reassemble, stand up and do it again –they’re like cartoon characters; they jump back into action no matter what.

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As a fan of the first two Terminators – if the film gets anything right, ignoring parts 3 and 4 is the movie’s best idea – you go in with the hope of being excited, surprised and dazzled in the way the original excited, surprised and dazzled.  You want it to be good.  But no.  Re-launching the franchise by altering past history in order to open up endless possibilities for a planned trilogy feels stale and a shameless way of keeping future box-office tallies ticking over.

Younger movie-goers who never saw parts 1 and 2 on a big screen may be bowled over by sheer volume and the non-stop action of part 5 in lieu of a good story, especially when projected on an IMAX screen with the gimmick of 3D, but older viewers hoping to recreate Terminator thrills of the past and less interested in giant screen, theme-park ride presentations may be disappointed.  The action is certainly there, but from explosion to explosion, fight after fight and one spectacular, over-the-top set piece after another, all occurring while characters shout gobbledygook about deleted time lines and other things we’ll never understand, it’s all too much and doesn’t know when to say when.  The film can be as loud, as busy and as violent as it likes but when based on such a convoluted forum as it is here, nothing excites.  Like many summer blockbusters that try to outdo each other with deathly stunts and a never-ending series of things blowing up, it all becomes nothing more than simply noisy stuff happening yet again.  What can you say about a new film where the most interesting scenes are those that recreate moments seen before?

MPAA Rating:  PG-13     Length:  126 Minutes    Overall Rating:  4 (out of 10)

 

 

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Magic Mike XXL – Film Review

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Magic Mike XXL is probably the movie that its target audience always thought the 2012 original was going to be.  The original Magic Mike was all about wanting the nightclub scenes and the male stripping.  And as far as those moments went, they turned out to be great; no complaints there.  It was all that other stuff that fans weren’t so happy about; all of that self-reflection and those character conflicts that spoiled things, particularly the drama and the drugs.

Who cared about wanting to get loans from a bank or Mike’s dream of opening a custom furniture business, or the whole deal revolving around a package of ecstasy that everyone could tell was going to ruin lives when all you really wanted was to watch Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey get their kits off at regular intervals?

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The sequel is different.  It’s not simply a different movie, it’s a different kind of movie. Whereas the first film explored the serious nature of a young man entering the world of male stripping, its temptations and the often negative results – it was, after all, a Steven Soderbergh film – Magic Mike XXL is designed for fun with its emphasis on humor, camaraderie and a lot of dry humping disguised as dance moves. There’s very little drama, virtually no real character conflict to speak of, and – get ready to scream and throw those dollar bills at the stage – plenty of stripping.  Here’s what happens.

First, there’s no more Alex Pettyfer, he’s gone, and so is Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas, though his character is mentioned in passing.  As a result, things have fallen apart for the Kings of Tampa.  Determined to end it all with a bang, so to speak, the remaining beefcake members take to the road for one last hurrah.  In fact, Magic Mike XXL is really a road movie.  Jumping on a van driven by comedian Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias, Mike (Channing Tatum) and the remaining muscle-packed guys leave Miami for Myrtle Beach in the Carolinas.  The 2015 July 4th Stripper Convention is just days away and the Kings intend to be there.

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The bulk of the film is taken up with the adventures on the east coast and the southern flavored women they meet along the way, though they’re not really adventures, they’re more like minor incidents that amount to nothing at all; time-killers with no real conclusions or lessons learned that fill in the blanks until the guys finally reach the beach and perform the stripper act to end all male stripper acts.  They’re going for the big finish, and yes, it’s quite an act – the girls-night-out gang will not be disappointed – though considering the Kings threw all of this together at the last minute, you can’t help wondering exactly where and when while on the road did they choreograph and actually rehearse all of this?

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There are two things you need to know, and one outweighs the other; 1) this is really a bad movie, and 2) its audience really won’t care.   Plus, a close examination or a film critique is not required.  Unless you’re a movie buff with an interest in seeing what director Gregory Jacobs has done with Soderbergh’s characters, most men won’t be going, there’s nothing here for them.  And if all you’re interested in is a night out with the girls to enjoy the big screen equivalent of an evening with Chippendales, then you’re not even reading this review.   But if you are, here’s my advice.  Ladies.  Take a few dollar bills.  During that final ten minutes, the temptation to want to throw them at the screen as Channing Tatum gives Amber Heard the lap dance of her life may prove too much.  Get ready to salivate.

MPAA Rating:  R      Length:  115 Minutes     Overall Rating: 4 (out of 10)

Posted in Film

Ted 2 – Film Review

Ted Poster

At the end of 2013’s Ted, Bostonian pothead and all-round, okay kinda guy, John (Mark Wahlberg) married his girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis) while his walking, talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced incredibly well by writer/director Seth McFarlane) and Ted’s unlikely though gorgeous trailer-park girlfriend, Tami-Lyn (Jessica Barth) looked on.  It’s two years later, and in the sequel Ted 2 things have changed.  John and Lori divorced six months earlier and Ted and Tami-Lyn are now at the altar.  “I’m going fifty shades of bear on you,” declares Ted following the service.

Like its original, this 2015 foul-mouthed, pot-smoking sequel bounces wildly from joke to joke, hitting some, missing more.  When the setup fails and the joke bombs, which they often do, then it fails miserably.  But when it hits the target, crude or otherwise, which it occasionally does, then Ted 2 delivers big laughs.  Its inconsistencies are frustrating to say the least, but when it’s funny, it’s really laugh-out-loud funny.

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With John living a sad-sack life as a bachelor with only his files of porn on his laptop to keep him warm, Ted and his bride are also having a tough time.  There’s not enough money in the account to pay for Tami-Lyn’s discount shopping sprees, and the two argue, and argue.  With a marriage between babe and bear almost on the rocks, Ted hits on the perfect marriage-saving idea: why don’t they have a baby?

Because of Ted’s obvious lack of an appendage issue, artificial insemination is the way to go, so steps are taken to find the right donor.  After a funny incident with footballer Tom Brady involving an attempt to secure some unsolicited sperm while he’s asleep – “You’re not a cheater,” Ted tells Brady as he throws them out of his house, “Your balls are perfect” – Ted and Tami-Lyn are forced to look at adoption.  But there’s an issue.  In the eyes of the law, Ted is not a person, he’s property, and the state won’t allow an adoption of a human child by a teddy bear.  “I don’t understand,” Ted exclaims as he takes another hit of late night weed, “We’d make great parents.”

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But that’s only the beginning of Ted’s problems.  After the adoption attempt, now that the law is aware of Ted’s existence, the state not only strips the bear of his ability to adopt, it also removes his credit cards, his bank account, gets him fired from his supermarket check-out job, and annuls the marriage.  Ted is stripped of everything.  He’s simply property.  “It’s what this country does,” Ted angrily complains.  “It puts people into different groups and makes them watch Tyler Perry.”  Not only that, but creepy bad guy from the first film, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) is still pursuing Ted and intends to take him apart to find out what makes him work.

Like most sequels, Ted 2 suffers from a lack of freshness.  Famous screenwriter William Goldman once called sequels Whore Movies.  That might seem blunt, but the point is important.  The original was developed through creativity; the sequel, that’s for the money.  Ted’s creativity scored high in the original; the sequel, way less so.  That’s not to say that making a box-office profit was never the intention of the original; of course it was, that’s what the biz in showbiz is all about.  But it was based on a new, creative idea that worked, a gamble that paid off.  With the sequel, the idea is already established, the risk factor of not knowing whether an audience would even buy an adult talking teddy is gone, so the writers had to come up with more of the same involving characters already known.  Forget all that stuff about there’s still more story to tell.  It’s a sequel riding on the success of the first.  That’s all.

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Having said that, the idea of a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear somehow never grows old.  The bear remains truly funny, and MacFarlane’s voicing and punchy delivery is outstanding, even when it’s the center of an outrageously idiotic plot as it is here.  What’s truly amazing is the chemistry between a special effect and Mark Wahlberg; it’s really there, and both the bickering and the playful camaraderie between the bear and his buddy are for real.  You know that the talking teddy is CGI but there’s never a moment when you don’t fully embrace the fantasy without question, and when you think about, sequel or not, that’s a remarkable cinematic achievement.

MacFarlane’s uneven rhythm of hits and misses, setups that fail and zingers that fly is reminiscent of the same pacing used in his Family Guy TV series.  The trip to the sperm donor bank resulting with shelves of bottled samples spilling over Wahlberg will have you squirming, the CNN, FOX Cable News and SNL sendups are satirically accurate, the joke about Sam L. Jackson playing every black character in every movie ever made is all the funnier when Morgan Freeman as a civil rights lawyer turns up, and the constant negative references to the level of education taught at Arizona State University is a hoot.  “You went to Arizona State?” asks Ted of his new and unsuccessful lawyer, Amanda Seyfried.  “No wonder we lost the case.”

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Particularly good are the spectacular opening credits illustrating MacFarlane’s obvious love of Hollywood musicals; Ted is joined by a cast of about a hundred tap dancers in top hat and tails on a giant wedding cake in a nod to the black and white MGM musicals of Busby Berkeley, but being shot widescreen and in color it comes by way of Ken Russell’s The Boyfriend.  Knowing MacFarlane’s eagerness to include at least one song and dance number in his films – here we have two musical sequences; Amanda Seyfried’s acoustic ballad Mean Ol’ Moon sung around a marijuana field campfire is as pleasant as the scene is funny – you can’t help wondering if he might eventually do what the South Park guys did, turn his attention to a musical.  We already know he can sing.

Sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, often times mean and always crude, Ted 2 isn’t half as much fun as the first, but there’s no denying the comical allure of the bear.  Even in a film as low-brow from the get go as this, Ted is Seth MacFarlane’s best big screen creation and the bear itself is consistently funny, but for crying out loud, don’t do what several audience members did at the screening and take the kids to this hard core, R rated comedy just because it stars a cute looking, talking teddy bear.  Trying to explain to younger members why Ted was sucking on an erect penis shaped bong and enjoying it will make for one tough conversation in the car driving home.

MPAA Rating:  R     Length:  115 Minutes    Overall Rating:  6 (out of 10)

Posted in Film

Max – Film Review

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Ask any parent; nothing’s worse than a moody teenager.  Try having a reasonable conversation with one.  It’s like pounding a mallet against a wall of unbreakable glass; no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you pound, you get nowhere.  In the end you pound you own head trying to work out what has befuddled parents for generations – how do you get through?   In the new PG family adventure Max it takes a military dog.

Max is a Belgian Shepherd, or Malinois.  Like many of its breed, the Belgian Shepherd is used extensively by the police, the U.S. Secret Service and the military for its ability to detect odors – narcotics, explosives – and for the tracking of humans.  They’re the breed that guards the White House.  Max is a Marine.

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Since a pup, Max has trained with U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell).  The bond between handler and dog is unique.  They’re practically inseparable.  Max will do whatever Kyle orders, such is the total level of trust.  While in Afghanistan, Max’s job, under Kyle’s direction, is of paramount importance.  He goes ahead of the platoon and makes sure the coast is clear.  He can also sniff out a hidden cache of ammunition, which is exactly what he does.

But during one certain exercise, something goes wrong.  A surprise enemy attack results with Kyle’s death, and it traumatizes Max.  Plus, there’s something else.  It’s difficult to tell exactly what happened at the moment Kyle fell but circumstances definitely look murky, and it puts another marine, Tyler (Luke Kleintank) under a cloud of suspicion.  Writer/director Boaz Yakin does a fine job of staging the events in a way that creates mystery.  We can see that something happened to cause Kyle’s death, and it had something to do with Tyler, but we’re not quite sure what.

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Max returns to the U.S. but continues to grieve for his handler.  He can’t function.  He responds to no one.  It’s only when Kyle’s family visits the dog in captivity that Max’s temperament suddenly changes.  Instinctively, he knows that moody teenager Justin (Josh Wiggins) is Kyle’s brother and he responds accordingly.

From the there, Max takes off on the old fashioned, family adventure you went in expecting.  Max and Justin bond, Justin’s moody shell is eventually broken, and the dog is fully embraced by the family.  But before all of that happens there’s the case of older brother Kyle’s death and the cloudy circumstances of exactly what happened over in Afghanistan.  Plus, when Kyle’s marine buddy, Tyler, returns to the U.S. and visits the family to pay his respects, why is Max growling and showing his teeth?

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There’s no way Max can fail.  With its early scenes of military life in Afghanistan, then its stateside teenage adventure, complete with youngsters on bikes in peril, the mystery of Kyle’s death and a nail-biting climax of bravery, sacrifice and a dog who will do anything to protect Kyle’s younger brother, Max is like a Disney family adventure but with an extra hard edge.  It may have the conventions of family adventures we’ve seen before – the stern dad (Thomas Haden Church) who doesn’t always understand, the sympathetic mom (Lauren Graham) who tries to understand, the moody teenager with the short fuse who understands nothing but will learn, and an adventurous climax where you’re not quite sure if the dog was hurt or not – but it doesn’t matter; it all works.  Plus, the dog is great.

It’s no secret that an actor’s performance can rise or fall depending on how the film is cut and put together.  Bill Pankow’s editing and Boaz Yakin’s direction are certainly major factors – Max is arguably one of the best dog/adventure movies made – but Max himself appears extraordinarily well trained.  From the beginning you’re on the dog’s side.  The moment when Max can’t be stopped from running to his handler’s coffin at the church service is a heartbreaker, and when mom observes the arrival of the police to collect Max, she interrupts a father/son confrontation and states, “Guys, they’re going to kill Max,” the audience at the preview screening audibly gasped.

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Plus, there’s something else to consider and this has everything to do with relatable characters, effective story-telling, a rhythm that includes both highs and lows, and efficient movie-making.  There are no special effects to speak of, no fantasy super heroes that fly, no buildings exploding, and even better, thankfully no 3D, yet the final fifteen minutes of Max, even without all those big screen ‘wow’ factors, still has you biting your nails.  Max the dog may be an earthbound superhero but for the family audience, Max the movie delivers. Semper Fidelis indeed.

 MPAA Rating:  PG     Length:  111 Minutes    Overall Rating:  8 (out of 10)

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Manglehorn – Film Review

Mangle poster

I’ve got real pain in my heart,” narrates aging and lonely locksmith A.J. Manglehorn (Al Pacino).  He’s writing a letter, one of the many hundreds of letters he’s written over the years, to a woman called Clara.  “You could have stopped evil dead in its tracks,” he continues.  He then signs, seals and delivers the letter only to have it stamped Return to Sender a few days later along with all the others.  Clara is the one who got away, the one that Manglehorn has never forgotten.  It’s been twenty years and he won’t stop writing to her.

It’s fair to say that director David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn is an odd film, as odd as the title character.  Here’s a man who generally keeps to himself.  He still works.  He runs his own, small business in a small town in Texas, and, with the exception of his customers or the friendly bank teller (Holly Hunter) who shines that little bit more when he visits the bank, he keeps to himself.

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He’s the guy that the neighborhood kids might mistake for being the grumpy ol’ man; the curmudgeon who stands framed at the window holding a cat, forever looking out.  But he’s not, not really.  He’s simply sad.  He’s sad for the choices he’s made, the mistakes that followed, and more than anything, he’s pained because of the absent Clara, plus he’s crushed every time a letter he’s written is returned.  At one point you see him sniff the envelope of a returned letter in the hope that maybe Clara actually touched the paper before sending it back, unopened, and left a faint scent.

Most of his conversations are with his beloved cat.  When he arrives home each day he talks extensively to his pet.  It’s like a running commentary on everything he’s doing.  He was married once, though he admits he never really loved her.  He even has a son and a granddaughter.  His son is a fast-talking, hot-shot business guy called Jacob (Chris Messina) who trades commodities with giants.  Manglehorn describes him as a “shark.”  “It’s never easy with you,” Jacob tells his dad when the elderly man turns up for an uninvited visit to his son’s office.  They don’t get along.

Besides his cat, the one person who genuinely seems to enjoy talking to the locksmith is Dawn (Hunter) the perpetually upbeat bank teller.  She has great affection for the old man and at one point even goes on a date with him.  “I love taking baths and watching the water come out of the faucet,” she eagerly confides over the dinner table, then adds, “Let’s take a bath together.”

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But it’s that memory of Clara and the regrets of a relationship that might have been but never was that gets in the way of any real happiness for Manglehorn.  He just won’t let go.

Manglehorn has the strangest, off beat rhythm to its telling.  We catch glimpses of his life and occasionally we see some of those odd, practically surreal occurrences that surround him, yet nothing has a real connect, either to him or the story.   While walking home, Mangelhorn passes a multiple car pileup, the crushed and twisted metal of the vehicles covered in what might at first glance look like blood but is revealed to be crushed watermelons.  The scene is shot in slow motion as if Manglehorn is walking through his own dream.  Then there’s the scene in the bank where a customer enters and breaks into an unaccompanied, heartfelt love song for no apparent reason, only to be accompanied by a bank employee turning the moment into an impromptu and very well sung duet.  “Not bad,” says an approving Manglehorn to Dawn the teller once the singing stops.  But, like that crash of the cars, what it has to do with anything is difficult to say, and the film is giving no clues.

The best scenes are those moments between Pacino and Hunter, particularly at the dinner date where Hunter’s character mistakes Manglehorn’s interest in her as something more than friendly.  He’s there because it’s pleasant to talk to her, plus it’s good company.  She’s there because she thinks it might be the beginning of something special.  But when the conversation turns to Clara, the one that got away, the friendly teller is crushed.

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The oddest scenes, besides those two surreal moments, are the exchanges between a one time drug addict now small time massage parlor entrepreneur with a motormouth called Gary (film director Harmony Korine) who in his youth was coached by Manglehorn in the little leagues.  But Gary has no real connect with anything else that’s happening in the film or in Manglehorn’s life.  Ultimately, the character simply annoys.

Perhaps the oddest thing of all is the casting of Pacino himself.  Playing against type, every move he makes, every action he takes is quiet, slow and deliberate.  Had an unknown or lesser known actor played the central character there would be little to no interest in the film at all.  Pacino makes Manglehorn interesting only by default.  Without him there’s nothing.

Ultimately, Pacino may make the sad sack likeable but in the end, like those closing moments involving Manglehorn mistakenly locking himself out of his van, a nearby mime artist and an invisible key, the oddly whimsical film is more puzzling than cute.

MPAA Rating:  PG-13       Length:  97 Minutes   Overall Rating:  4 (out of 10)

 

Posted in Film

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Film Review

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Depending on your character type, you know you’re going to cry; the clue is in the cute, rhyming title, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  And even though the lead character tells us more than once in a voice-over narration, “She doesn’t die.  She gets better.  Promise,” it’s going to happen.  Of course it’s going to happen.  You know that going in.

Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) is now a senior at a Pittsburgh high school.  He’s the kind of guy that just wants to get through those years and come out the other end in one piece.  He wants to be invisible.  He’d rather float through, unseen, uninvolved, and survive.  When it comes to being with others, he’s always ill at ease.

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Greg’s only school friend is long-time, childhood buddy, Earl (Ronald Cyler ll) with whom he shares an interest in classic movies.  Together they make short films; parodies based on original, well known titles.  Among their private collection is My Dinner with Andre the Giant, Death in Tennis, Senior Citizen Kane and Eyes Wide Butt.  They even get to use Nilson’s Everybody’s Talkin’ in their parody, 2:48pm Cowboy.  It gets them through the day.

Then Greg’s mother (Connie Britton) tells her son that a girl Greg kind of knows in passing at school, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), has leukemia.  She insists Greg play his part and visit her.  “Just give Rachel a call,” mom pleads.  So he does, reluctantly.  He even goes to her house to visit, though he remains annoyingly aloof, particularly when Rachel believes he’s there out of pity.  “I’m not here because I pity you,” he insists.  “I’m here because my mom made me.”  And from there an unlikely friendship develops, involving Earl, those short films, the trials and tribulations of getting through that final year of high school in one piece before college, and a girl who’s dying.

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Based on a debut novel by Jesse Andrews who also wrote the screenplay, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is told with the same entertaining though unlikely whimsy as the title might suggest.  Narrated throughout by Greg, the film is told not in chapters but in parts, thus the moment Greg enters high school, the titles The Part Where I Began Senior High appear.  Other titles include The Part Where I Meet the Dying Girl, and eventually, The Part After All the Other Parts.  There are even subheadings such as Day 1 of a Doomed Friendship.

Besides cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung’s continually inventive use of the widescreen, a nice touch is the film’s honesty.  Even though many will be moved, it doesn’t indulge in self-pity – the wise-acre humor of oddball students and eccentric adults takes care of that – and its conclusion feels real.  Greg and Rachel would never have bonded as they do under regular high school circumstances but cancer-themed conditions dictate otherwise.   When Greg later discovers certain carvings within the pages of Rachel’s hardback books in her bedroom reflecting stages of their brief but important times together, the normally invisible Greg finally gets to see just how important he really was to her.

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Those who enjoyed Andrews’ novel should be happy.  There are differences – Greg’s short that he makes for Rachel is never shown to the entire school during assembly – but the bulk of the story is there, and so is the dry, sardonic humor.  High schoolers talk in that snarky, well-observed, educated manner that occurs only in films; they’re all seventeen going on thirty-five. It’s as though author Jesse Andrews had revisited high school and written dialog from the perspective of an adult.  He’s mixed The Fault in Our Stars and peppered it with Juno.  You’ll either embrace it whole heartedly or give a wave of dismissal.

MPAA Rating:  PG-13   Length:  104 Minutes   overall Rating:  7 (out of 10)

 

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