Levitt Rates RomComs 2- The Second Batch.

Okay, maybe its your 23rd time watching Darcy kiss Bridget Jones in the snow or your 38th time witnessing a pink shirted, Mr. Thacker admit he’d been a “daft prick” in front of a roomful of paparazzi…and your desperately searching for more.

A year ago, I wrote my first article on reviewing the best/worst rom-coms. * Levitt Reviews Rom Coms .Well, I’ve decided its high time to compile another, second batch of films to get your Rom Com juices flowing once again.  Its a mixed bag.  Some bad some excruciating.  But, if your attention spans permit, I  promise a few laughs along the way and a hey, maybe if you hang in there, you might find that your true love for this article was there all along 🙂

Forgetting Sarah marshall. (B-)

island.jpg

This movie should have been called, forgetting Jason Segel because, with his pathetic sad sack personna , Segel proves easily the least interesting character in the whole movie and perhaps the most boringly morose character ever committed to film.  Glumly drifting from scene to scene, he says his lines with lazy half-smirk, like the dosage for his anti-depressive meds was always just a little off.  Compared to him, Kristen Bell, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill seem to bounce of the screen and turn in their most winning performances to date. In fact Segel was so charisma-less, that,throughout the film, I actually found myself admiring and rooting for the hedonistic foil, Russel Brand  (Aldous Snow), to run off and live happily with both Sarah Marshall (kristen Bell) and Mika Kunis. The other major problem I had with the film was, Why all the frontal nudity? In Segel’s self written script, he  he kept opting to show his penis in scenes where his character felt particularly vulnerable.  I don’t know if  Segel ‘s nudity was some form of self-flagellation to punish himself for some past sin or maybe he wanted to show how he could truly sacrifice and get truly “naked” for his craft. Perhaps,  all things considered, maybe he just wanted to immortalize his manhood for film posterity. In any event, I wished dude had the sense to censor himself and had kindly put his gun back in it’s holster.

P.S.  one Muppet-like musicalized version of Dracula is one too many for me!

You’ve Got Mail.(C) or you’ve got 2/12 hours to kill.

hankso

You’ve Got mail hearkens back to a simpler time when owning a book store actually meant you had a chance to turn a profit. In the films Tom Hanks portrays a kind of driven, “ruthless” book store executive. How are book store executives ruthless?  Kind of like saying he was a Tough-as- Nails Disney Store Greeter.

This film annoyed me right out of the gate because I came into the thing knowing that if you’ve got Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in a film together, we know their getting together.  So, we have to just hang out for about two hours and watch Hanks and Ryan pretend they don’t get along only for a mere thirty seconds or so of kissy-face at the end.

You’ve Got Mail also contains Tom Hanks’ most pansy performance to date.  In scene after scene, Meg Ryan’s character unloads some lame-ass put down like calling Hanks a “Suit” or accuse him of being profit driven (really, someone in business profit-driven, the shame!) Hanks meekly responds to Ryan; slinking away hurt and licking his wounds like some sensitive six year old (MWAAAH, you said mean things to me!!!).   By the end of the film, I’m confident that most women in the audience were silently hoping that Hanks would just man up and grow a pair.

P.S: Please Note: chatting online back and forth online is not  cinematically compelling.  If Hanks and Ryan decide to do a film where their just texting each other or swapping emojis, definitely count me out

Shallow Hal (C)- Hands Off The Girl In The Fat-Suit. She’s mine!

slurp

How Did they pitch this one to producers?  How About Jack Black as a romantic lead?  Sure he’s physically un-appealing but, get this, he’s also shallow!  Ladies You’re gonna love him!

This film’s premise is beyond loopy.  Tim Robbins motivational speaking skills gives a shallow lug, Hal, High Powered beer goggles to the 100th power.  Hal is put under the spell of thinking women with inner beauty have outer beauty too.  Apparently, women who are both beautiful on the inside and out just don’t exist in this one dimensional rom-com world.

Finally, by the end of the film,  Hal’s  girlfriend Rosemary (formerly a svelte Gwynneth Paltrow is revealed as really a bloated paltrow in a fat suit). Hal claims that he finds the new Rosemary “beautiful” but unlike Rosemary -when offered any type of food- I just find this concept too difficult to swallow. Simply stated, one’s vision of beauty cannot do a complete 180 degree turnin a matter of moments.

The Holiday

holliday

(Ditch The House Swap guys, you’re better off with a stay-cation)

Jack Black once again rears his ugly head as a Romantic Lead. Let the swooning commence!. Couple 1 (perps)  Kate Winslett and Jack Black.  I never thought I’d be writing the same actors names in the same line much less describing them in a love affair.   The odds of these two being paired up on a dating website much less finding love together must be astronomical .  If Kate Winslett ever had the misfortune to meet Jack black socially, she would probably resort to alerting security and having him bodily removed.  If Jack Black ran into Kate Winslett, her  unnasailable class would probably inspire him to quickly down a hard drink and retreat quickly into the bathroom.  Compared to Jack Black, Kate Winslett and Eli Wallach share considerably  more chemistry onscreen.  Age difference and age-related memory loss aside, I think the odds were more in favor of this generation-challenged duo ending up in bed together than seeing Winslett and black swap tongues.

Couple 2 (perps): Jude law and Cameron Diaz, though not as hideously inappropriate a couple as Winslett-Black, also seem to be working too hard against their public personas (Jude Law as flagrant, nanny abusing man-hoar) and Cameron Diaz ( one of the highest paid celebs in the world) that, although both might take a tumble together if drunk enough, I found it hard to buy into the long term constancy of their love.

P.S. With the possibility of loss of security, theft, even threat of bed bugs  you would think their would be a stronger vetting process for two women looking to swap houses in different continents. Despite the exotic locales or ritzy accommodations, I don’t think one email or phone call would be reassuring enough to me to change hemispheres.

*Quick Bursts-  

Avoid: Bridget Jones Sequels- Frankly, I’d rather see a “Titpervert” Prequel!

Avoid any rom coms starring any actress whose first name starts with Z .  Zosia Mamet (The Boy Downstairs-boring and awful) and Zoe Kazan (“Why If”-What if you did virtually anything else than watch this) . Please Note: I haven’t seen The Big Sick Yet (in case its good)

The Proposal and Definitely Maybe.  Ryan Reynolds is equally bland in both.  I liked definitely Maybe better because of Isla Fishers winning performance.

Her- Man falls in love with his device. Hey,  Join the club!!! A Self indulgent Joaquin Phoenix and an audio-only Scarlett Johanssen.  Just the gift nobody wanted.

Advertisements

Kill The Casting Agent! Levitt Explores Why T.V. Shows Fail

 

tv

The recent axing of several new TV Shows recently has inspired me to try to make sense of the carnage. clearly many shows are obiviously shelved due to poor time slots, inane premises, or just good old fashioned bad writing. However, more often than not, I feel that bad casting is at the core of viewers deciding to switch channels.

Alex Inc-  Braff In Charge????

ZACH BRAFF

Ordinarily popular Zach Braff should should never ettempt to play anyone who is in charge of anything. On screen, the last thing the congenial Braff  exudes is a sense of decisiveness or authority.  In any conceivable workplace,  it seems un-imaginable to picture Braff managing anything more nuanced or pliable than a sock display.  Furthermore, with his feather-weight, nebbishy personality,  it was ridiculous that he would be cast as the boss of noted tough-guy actor, Michael Imperioli, (previously “Nicholas” from the Sopranos) . To most half-awake viewers, Braff and and Imperioli thrown together in an office can only have one conceivable final outcome… after a few tense seconds, Braff finding himself on the receiving-end of a violent pistol whipping.

Just Say “No” To Imaginary Cast Members:

imaginary

Clearly TV Viewers don’t cotton to invisible characters that only the lead can see.  With the cancellation of a whopping four shows with imaginary characters this season: “Kevin probably saves saves the world” ,”Imaginary Mary” with Jenna Elfman,  and Jane Lynch’s “Angel From Hell”.  These characters often prove obnoxiously devilish, cutesy or overly sanctimonious, in the final analysis, there must be some logical reason nobody else can see them. “too annoying for this world” gets my vote.To me, the appeal of imaginary friends, peaked with “Harvey The Rabbit”

9JKL-I Think I got your Role By Mistake

jkl

The casting agent for the show 9JKL should be sued. On its face, the decision to cast Mark Feuerstein and Dave Walton as brothers makes no sense.  Carlton is a foot taller than Feuerstein and other than being Caucasian, both men share little of the same physical features .In addition, the decision to cast irresponsible/smarmy looking actor, Dave Walton, as a married doctor and boy-scout appearing, Mark Feuerstein, as divorced actor seems insane.  Obviously, the actors two should have swapped roles because they seem ideally suited to each other’s parts.  Perhaps the cast list had mixed up their roles or a stage hand hand given them the wrong sides and they just stayed with it. Whatever the reasons,  I have not seen such a head-scratching casting decision since  Henry Winkler “The Fonz” was hired as the spokesman for “OneReverse” a reverse mortgage company.

“Kevin Can Wait”- Take My Wife…Please.. or “Quietly Kill, Then Replace”

splitscreen

Erinn Hayes,  who was cast as the wife on “Kevin Can Wait” didn’t work.  She wasn’t horrible but Hayes’ regular, classy laid-back style couldn’t keep pace with Kevin James’  frequently physical, larger-than-life zany comic energy. So, In a quick Knee-jerk response, the show  quickly decided to end her character’s arc by killing her off. The death was accomplished with all the swiftness and discretion of a mob hit. Nobody saw it coming and the cast barely spoke about it. Quickly, the show teamed Kevin James with his partner from “King Of Queens”,  Leah Remini and  rekindle the old “familiarity breeds contempt” relationship they shared as husband and wife . Now, though, they were just co-workers.  The same contemptuous bickering that is so relatable in an average marriage just doesn’t wash in the workplace.  That’s why companies force you to go through harassment prevention training and take a test!

Please Report to Tim Meadows’ Office

meadows

*Sometimes casting choices out of left field just work . During his SNL heydey, I would never have suspected that Tim Meadows had any kind of a knack for playing school principals.  But every time he appears as a principal in “, “The Goldbergs” “Teachers” etc. amazingly he shines. Some actors , it seems, are destined to play important roles (King Lear or Winston Churchill), Tim Meadows was born to make teenagers tuck in their pants and spit out their gum.

Levitt’s Review Of “I’m Dying Up Here” (A-) (Showtime, Sunday, 10-11 PM E.)

dying

When I began watching Showtimes, “I’m dying Up Here” I thought the tone of a show about comedians too despairing and similar  to the Tom Hanks/Sally Field film, “Punchline”. In Punchline, the impulse to do stand-up seemed more like a curse than a freedom.  The comedians were sufferers; unable to lead a normal life because they were addicted to the rush of performing. Too many times in these kinds of true-to life shows about comedians are depicted  comedians as only “on” when hit the stage and then, post-performance; collapsing in some sort of destructive/drunken cocoon in the corner.

The success of “I’m Dying Up Here”, though is that it successfully shows the comedians have three dimensional lives on and offstage. When not performing, There are numerous exchanges where each comic is just standing around shooting the shit and being normal knuckle-heads.  Other shows about comics also fall lazily into familiar templates; comedian as detached funny commentator (Gaffigan) or being a bottom-rung comedic pee-on (“Crashing”).  “Dying”, instead, presents a solid close-knit band of “working” comedians.  There are no break-out performers (save for the occasional visiting celeb or A-Lister).  By in large, each comedian is a-work-in-progress, honing their craft, and- aside from the inevitable jealousies- generally supportive of each-others success.

The show is full of talented real-life comedians and actors.  A stand out in the cast for me is the club owner, Goldie Herschlag  (Melissa Leo) who resists the greedy/grumbly stereotype and, though thick-skinned maintains a good. mature working relationship with her comics and a sporting interest in their careers. As the series progresses, it will be good to see more of her personal life take center stage…she might even get the itch to pick up the mic.

goldie

I also like the fire-cracker energy of Adam Proteau ( R.J. Cyler)  He is not as guarded as his contemporaries and has more raw vital presence on the stage and is interesting to watch and set him apart from the other comics.rj

 

Finally, Cassie Feder (Ari Graynor) shines as the show’s only female comedian.  The show’s writers do not make her cast as a typical salty/sassy Joan Rivers or Bette Midler over-sexed clone.  In fact, she disdains stock material in favor of a richer, more personal and confessional brand of humor that should yield rich dividends later on.

carlene.jpg

So far, in my review of “Dying”, I haven’t mentioned that the show is set in the 70s and that is, in large part, because I really don’t find the time frame to be that relevant to the show’s atmosphere.  The show is cast in the 70s because that’s when stand-up was king.  If people wanted to see comedy, they had to leave their homes to see the likes of Pryor or Carlin since there was no cable/internet outlets.  I think a strength of the show is that it doesn’t beat you over the head with 70s references or slang that takes you of the action. The 70’s setting is just atmosphere, man!

One of the show’s few negatives for me is the heavy-handed backstories.  The writers of “Dying” can’t seem to resist the temptation to make each comic the product of a bad home life.  Every comedian’s dad apparently drank too much and beat them up. Yipes, I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the audience at Caroline’s on Father’s Day ! Thankfully, though, the back-stories take a back-seat to the rich and realistic stand-up and the tight-knit relationships of the comedians.

Now that I’ve given this show a pretty great review, I thought I would temper my analysis with a little reality.

Although the writing and acting are first-rate, Here is why I feel the show might get cancelled.

cancelled

 

 

Nobody On “Dying” is a Zombie, vampire, or otherwise living-challenged Individual

By comedian standards these guys are relatively normal earth-bound dudes.  nobody is drug-addicted (at least not violently so, sticking up a 7/11 at 2 in the morning to get enough money for “blow”).

The Lead actress is not a sex-pot-  Though attractive and talented, the lead actress is more interested in her career, than trying out out experimental, cinematically pleasing sex positions.

Nobody gets wacked every week–  Shows like Sopranos, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire tended to like to sacrifice a different character every week to keep everyone interested and guessing.  Stand-up comedy,  although competitive,  is not exactly a blood sport.

Nobody is mentioning Trump or politics- Trump and political commentary are hogging the airwaves this summer with all the Russian/collusion shenanigans.  To me, my interest in Russia really peaked with Rocky 4.  But, This show with its occasional references to news or pop culture, (Billie Jean King V Bobby Riggs anyone?) seems miles away from being topical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Levitt Reviews Masters Of Sex-Season Finale (spoilers)

masters

Masters Of Sex did tick-up in quality slightly this year from the Dan Logan-Centric previous season but unfortunately the year also doubled-down on soapy intrigue and melodramatic shenanigans.  The season finale had a rushed-up feel.  Subtlety gave way to easy closures and bizarrely unexpected detours.

Libby Masters JD-

libby

 When did Libby’s deep love of the law begin,  two episodes ago?. Libby was formerly the queen of domestic complacency; spending the past 3 seasons doing absolutely  nothing except smoking, and inwardly brooding about her condition.  This season, the staid former housewife however, suddenly decided to head on down to Woodstock and… eschewing the counter culture phrase, “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, instead decided to…become a lawyer. If you troubled to ask,  I’m sure people’s first impulse after dazedly emerging from the mushroom /mud infused grounds of Woodstock was probably not to decide to buckle down to 3 years of intense study and preparation for the Bar Exam.  Talk about your bad trip!

Johnny Masters- from neglected child to teenage martyr

johnny

In this hyper-melodramatic finale, Johnny Masters (estranged son of Bill) overhears his parents bickering and -apparently because he has an extremely low tolerance for parental discord- completely freaks; jumping into his dad’s Jaguar and driving off in some wacky vehicular tantrum.  I’m not sure why Master’s son (absent all season) was suddenly called in for this melodrama.  Maybe due to some child labor laws in AFTRA, kids must appear in at least one episode per season to be granted health coverage. Johnny’s sole scene depicted him overhearing that his mom (kids in tow) would move halfway across the country to attend law school. Its hard to believe that Johnny’s character, so long estranged and even insulted by his father, would get so worked up about the fight that Johnny would both freak and -in some bizarre  magnanimous impulse-volunteer to live with his dad to ease his fatherly loneliness.  Luckily, the still “paternally ambivalent” Bill Masters quickly put the kibosh to any “The Courtship Of Eddies Father” scenario by announcing that despite Johnny’s kind offer,  Dad would now be keeping house with former mistress, fellow sexpert, Virginia Johnson.  Music to any estranged kids ears!

Dr Nancy-  Going Off “Half cocked”

nancy

After a whole season of sniping at Virginia and de-masculating husband Art, what was Dr Nancy’s exit strategy this season?  Just steal Master’s and Johnson’s Clients, move to another city and set up shop using their approaches? Great plan!  Good luck getting a good job recommendation/employer referral after that one! .   This year, Dr Nancy and Art already won my  award for least fun, open-marriage swingers ever. Nancy was cold blooded, stone-faced, and ambitious and Art was  devoted, ethical, and soul searching. Instead,  Masters could have tapped into the more casual, promiscuous vibe of this era and even added some “far outs” or “groovys” to add some tacky flavor and more of a smarmy groove.  Unfortunately, the show apparently wanted to end the season by making Dr Nancy, Betty Gilpin, the single least likable woman on cable; aborting her husband’s baby without his knowledge/consent and stealing her bosses clients. On the plus side though, she did like her some “open marriage sex”.

Masters And Johnson- How About A Wedding Quickie?

wedding

What do you get for the couple whose relationship was sizzling, bubbling, percolating for 4 seasons (spanning 10+ years)?   a quickie marriage in the clerk’s office of City Hall and presided over by a grumbly functionary. Yeah, that hit the spot!  Seems satisfying.  I guess the writers wanted to avoid any  needless romantic proclamations by Masters or any earnest love-filled vows by Virginia to keep female fans of the show happy. No, we don’t want that! Look, They got hitched.  Isn’t that enough?  The show didn’t even go to the trouble of throwing up any last minute roadblocks.  No last minute Dan Logan or “Dotie” objections to clog up the works and kill any remote dramatic tension. No last minute Barton Scully indignant meltdowns at the courthouse (always good for a laugh)  Bill was late to the ceremony. that’s it.  It would probably be a more dramatic payoff if Masters suddenly realized he forgotten his beloved bow tie.

Betty- What, Did Her Invite To the Finale/Wedding Get Lost In The Mail?

betty

Killing her lesbian lover in childbirth, losing custody of her new baby to her lover’s hateful, intolerant parents…They did everything to Betty this season but chuck her head-first down a flight of stairs.  What happened here? who’d she piss off?  Did she accidentally  drop a #2 in the Toilet of Lizzy Caplan’s private dressing room?   The show didn’t even have the courtesy to invite her to the courthouse nuptials of Masters and Johnson.  Screw Scully or Guy, Betty deserved to be there.

Levitt Rates “The Duff” (B- On A Teen-Comedy Scale)

duff

On the surface, the plot of The Duff, follows in a long tradition of Boiler-Plate Teen comedies .  The recipe is: Take a misfit protagonist, a stuck up homecoming queen, the school jock, and sprinkle in some John Hughes teen angst  and stir.

The plot off “The Duff” is the most highly derivative teen comedy I have ever seen and, since most of these films borrow from each-other, that’s saying alot.  Here are some of the more copy-cat plot points:

The central character of the film is a social mis-fit who is just one make-over away from being attractive (in every teen flick): check

The embarrassing viral video (see “American pie”)

The pretty but dim friends (any teen comedy) check

The climactic prom scene where the jock must make a decision to choose love over social convention. (She’s All That)  Check

The cool girl’s come uppance (every teen comedy)

The central story of the film involves Bianca’s realization that she is the Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) for her friend group to whom people approach who are more interested in her prettier friends. Once she realizes this less-than-profound fact, she is able to take a stronger ownership of her invisible social status:to act/dress different, confront her peers, ie get out of her comfort zone and take more risks. She quickly buddies up with jock, “Wesley Rush” who, in exchange for help with his science Class, agrees to help tutor her to confront her Duff Status and navigate through the tough social waters of high-school life ( you know,in between push-ups/making out with the homecoming queen).

Ulitmately, What makes these geek to chic teen comedies work is largely the likability/relatability of the central character. That’s where this film, for me, breaks above the average pack of this genre.  The writers make The Duff, aka Bianca Piper (played appealingly by  by Mae Whitman) a fully three dimensional character. Not too Goody-Goody, not too much of an angry outsider. She just seems real.  She’s casual and self-deprecating but also sharply critical of the people around her. Physically, Mae Whitman she reminds me as sort of a cross between Amanda Bynes and janeane Garofalo ( although with less real-life baggage than Bynes and less sardonic than Garofolo).  The writers also smatter-in plenty of witty social media references and pop culture references to keep things moving and entertaining.

But of course, “The Duff” is the most likable character in the film  The writers hardly give the other characters a fighting chance. The other actors are mostly  stock figures: pretty girls who take turns either preening or mercilessly bashing their underclassman.  The only other character who has a more singular personality is the 2nd lead of the film, The Jock/heartthrob “Wesley Rush”.  I like how the writers named a football character “Wesley Rush”. Get it? I guess the name “Scott Scrimmage” was too on the nose. The writers make him a decent guy but with raunchy streak that gives his character more depth/reality than your basic jock/good samaritan type which is pretty common in these types of films.  Less successful, though, is the odd addition of  actress  Allison Janey to play The Duff’s mother Its questionable why they cast Janney as mother since she towers above Mae and physically they barely seem part of the same species much less family members.  The film largely sidelines the talented Janney relegating her to just a sounding board for Bianca’s problems .

The film is obvious in its treatment of social groups. These types films never met a cliche’d teen niche they didn’t like/exploit.  From the original template of The Breakfast Club: you have your Jocks, criminals, nerds, wierdos etc.  Anyone who has experiences high school, knows that social groups that not very sharply delineated.  Its not like jocks or nerds telegraph their status that obviously:  “Look, I’m a jock and I can’t be seen talking to you.  Read the contract!”.  Social groups are, more often than that more varied;  weird melting pots of people who could probably and do hang equally with many different social groups.

The ending morality of the film, everybody is somebody’s duff.  We’re all nerds, blah blah is straight out of every other teen movie from John Hughes On. Not that earth-shattering.  But its still nice to see difference being embraced after the slew of body shaming/ cyber bullying that happens so frequently online and through social media these days.  Its also nice, if cliched, to see the heroine of the film achieve love and self-acceptance.  So, despite its extremely copy-cat, by the numbers plot-line and cardboard supporting characters, I liked the lead actors and some of the sharp/witty dialogue enough to give this film a B- (On a highly more generous Teen-Comedy Scale)

 

 

 

Levitt Reviews Trainwreck (C+)

trainwreck

(*Premiering This Month on HBO)

To most, Amy Schumer doesn’t fit as the lead to a romantic comedy. Her salty/guarded stand-up stage persona reads more like a caustic best friend than a doting girlfriend. But the film, “Trainwreck” does a good job softening Amy Shumer’s more acerbic insulting edges though still keeping her character fundamentally dysfunctional.

I think its safe to assume Bill Hader is no one’s conception of a romantic leading man. He’s known for playing characters on SNL with a wacky and slightly menacing quality. It took a good 45 + minutes into Trainwreck for me to finally accept him as your basic boring romantic man. I would never sit Hader and Schumer at the same table at a wedding much less match them up romantically. Frankly it looks like Schumer could easily bench press Hader and that, if lifted in the air, its likely Hader’s gangly body would snap like a twig. So, it did take a lot for me to disregard their asymetrical relationship to imagine them in a romantic scenario. Also, in theory Schumer’s character should have disdained the square sports doctor as Hader’s character should have steered clear of the Slutty Schumer.  The film, I think wisely recognizes the couple’s unlikely romance and purposely sets them up in an “opposites attract” kind of context. Furthermore, the real twist of this film also is that Shumer is set up as more the man in the relationship: she’s Commitment-phobic, promiscuous, and a partier. whereas Hader is more stable, square, and romantic. Its this rom-com twist, I feel, that lies at the film’s center and the choice whether or not you buy into it as a viewer is is at the core of whether or not you like Trainwreck.

pillow

 

The scenes between Shumer and Hader’s character are enjoyable.  They move from the writer/subject idea of the early scenes (She’s writing an article about hader’s as a sports doctor to the stars) to their dating phase. Many such films, when casting two comedians as the leads, would fall into the trap of having long scenes of the two doing comedic riffs that don’t add anything to the relationship and just look a lot like what they are:  two comedians trying to “outfunny the other” (random scenes in Knocked Up or “She’s Out Of My League” come to mind). Although, there are a few short exceptions, most of the dialogue in Trainwreck, though, furthers the relationship and supports the couple’s unlikely yet growing intimacy. Schumer’s initial reluctance to form a permanent bond with Hader gives way to a true fondness and respect. At times, though, I found Hader’s character, in many ways, a bit too perfect (he even likes to spoon!). Hader’s eager willingness to gloss over Schumer’s reckless past also seems a bit too pat.  When confronted with Schumer’s past, Hader doesn’t even seem even slightly skeeved or wary. His one imperfection as a character(if you can really call it that) is that he likes one of Billy Joel’s lesser hits, “Uptown Girl”.  Oh the shame!!!.

The flaws in the film’s narrative are not extremely detrimental to the whole experience because mostly come from the unrealistic, cartoon-like supporting characters.  Because this was Schumer’s first foray into film/rom-com, I think  it was her fundamental insecurity (or producers) that tempted them to cast her fellow comedian friends and sports figures in  cameos/supporting roles.  For instance,  Vanessa Bayer plays Schumer’s nervous/innapropriate co-worker.One scene has Vanessa Bayer’s character interrupting Schumer’s eulogy of her father to reveal that Bayer had once dated a black man. Additionally, Hader’s best friend, ridiculously portrayed by The Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James makes no sense in the context of the film or in general. The unlikely bond of Hader and Lebron James is made worse by Lebron’s over-protective, mother-hen vibe and his constant cautioning to Schumer not to hurt his friend is ludicrous and largely unfunny.

lebron

Other unfunny and buffoonish supporting characters include an intern who, although only 16 years old,  amzingly already boasts  a whole varied sexual repertoire and even a “safeword”. His preposterous drunken scene with Schumer toward the end of the film is one that I think should have been tossed.

In addition to the silly supporting characters, the  pattern of the relationship is a little cookie cutter. From the ailing father character (the mortality rate for dads in romcoms must be pretty high) to the The obvious scenes where Schumer doesn’t get along with Hader’s friends at a party and goes out of her way to be controversial.  For instance, feeling bored, Schumer suddenly tells a group of Hader’s assembled guests about the time that an errant condom that got stuck in her cervix during sex.  Only in film comedy would someone’s natural response to a boring party would be to blurt out their most embarassing sexual experience they ever had.  For must of us, living through it the first time would be plenty!

condom.jpg

The more ridiculous elements aside, ultimately I think Schumer does a fairly good job acquitting herself as a formidable film presence. Throughout Trainwreck  She is able to play the lighter moments, the more moving moments with equal ease. The one slight imperfection in her acting was that she struggled a bit to have her face to light up and convey true love for Bill Hader. But, I’m not sure if you can really fault her too much for that. Much more established actresses than Schumer would probably confess that the difficulty level of acting like your in love with Bill Hader was pretty damn high!

bill

 

Actors Who Can’t Do Accents

Some Film Actors like Meryl Streep are adept at playing characters with a whole range of different accents and regional dialects. However, some film actors who should be best kept nameless  but who I will now mercilessly name are best kept to their “mother tongues” because when they try to venture into changing the natural rhythms and cadences of their voices, the results are often quite painful to the human ear.

Park The Cah in Haavad Yaaad

hanks

Having gone to school in Boston, I know that the regional accents are often subtle. I can therefore categorically say that not everyone speaks like John F. Kennedy after a visit to the dentist.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Tom Hans or Rob Morrow ever got my memo.

Sure  Charles Van Doren famously lied about getting the answers on 21 in the film Quiz Show, but I believe the more grievous crime was Rob Morrow’s ridiculously thick “bahstonian” accent in Quiz Show. Its lucky he was a lawyer and not a dialect coach. His clients would sue.

Tom Hanks is a respected actor known for versatility in comedy and drama.  Yet accents are not his strong suit.  Even Forrest Gump where he must put on a southern accent is cartoon-ish and only aided somewhat by the reality that Gump was mentally challenged so therefore  spoke in a halting and overly deliberate way.  But, Hanks bizarrely bad boston accent in “Catch Me If You Can” cannot be attributable to any inferior intellect.  In this instance, Hanks character was in complete control of all his faculties…except for speech.

2 thick accents don’t mix

crowe

Russel Crowe is known for his intensity and dissolving into the characters he plays.  unfortunately his australian accent doesn’t always make the seamless transition.  In A Beautiful Mind or Cinderella Man  his accents it still sounds like a mix of australian/new york or australian/southern.  A mumble-mouthed jumble… a verbal concoction that savages two dialects in the process.  Maybe the more merciful way to go was to dub Crowe’s audio using another actor.

Keanu-Bad

keanu

In the history of bad accents, Keanu Reeves should be given the gold trophy.  In the film Dracula, his accent is so bad you wish that a vampire would put an early end to his life. In the film, “Devil’s Advocate”, Keanu voices a southern accent so fowl, him and his law clients deserved death by lethal injection.  In fact, in most films Keanu seems even barely able to speak his native language, English, with any degree of fluency or meaning . When he is called on to speak, Reeves talking pattern is as awkward as any space alien or a 6 year old reading a Dick and Jane Book for the first time.

Holly Hunter- The accent from nowhere

holly

Holly Hunter has an eccentric sounding southern accent which she cannot shake and even sounds out of place in films in which her characters are supposed to have southern roots. Simply put,  her voice doesn’t exactly match her face.  When watching any of her films, you might always find yourself asking,  Why does this character have this weird southern accent?    So film-makers almost have to concoct a colorful backstory to explain why Holly Hunter has an eccentric southern drawl…ie her character often summered in a farm in rural Arkansas. fittingly, she Hunter was honored for an Oscar for  her work in the Piano, in a role in which she did not speak out loud.

Speak Russian?  Nyet!

malkovich

I think its safe to generalize and say that most actors cannot do a convincing Russian Accent. Inevitably, they all sound like some variation of “Boris” from the old Bullwinkle Cartoon . For instance  John Malkovich’s ridiculously over-the-top accent in “Rounders”. If he tried that voice in real life, He’d be laughed out of any self-respecting Russian Bathhouse or denied service in any restaurant in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn which served pirogis. Thankfully, in the film “Inside John Malkovich” the actor was not called upon to to illicit any  particular foreign accent. The last thing you’d want to be is trapped in his subconscious or the scene with the multiple malkovich’s all speaking in bad Russian continuously. Nyet, Definitely Nyet!