24 June 2008
I'd heard a lot about this movie's ups and downs on its way to release -- that the studio refused to show it to critics, that scenes were recut and re-edited, the Wachowskis were brought in to shoot some scenes. In my head, it was a MST3k-moment waiting to happen. It actually wasn't that bad. And any time I can say that about a movie starring Nicole Kidman, you best take my word for it.
Nicole was her usual sticky self. The woman is perfect for a movie like this -- my favourite part of the trailer is when someone tells Nicole to "try not to show emotion". She doesn't have to try very hard, you know? She is such a cold actress. I don't relate to her at all. I just think she's a woman who reads lines. She did that here, so it was hard to really get behind her character's fear. I also find myself wondering, whenever I watch her, just what her co-stars think of her weird lips and face.
I also thought the movie missed a bet by taking the famous Body Snatchers pods out. Why would they do that? Did they fear making a horror movie? Is this supposed to be a comment on drones in society? Well, the pods are important in this story. It's like remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street and giving Freddy a gun instead. Or something like that. They changed the pod-thing to a face-barfing thing, and it gave the film an unintentional slapstick quality.
To its credit, I was interested until the end (though I hated the ambiguous final scene). I thought it looked great. I found it chock-full of atmosphere. But, thinking about it, it's a movie that wants to be full of political allegory, but it doesn't hold up. Should we look at the zombifying of human as a good thing so we don't fight and go to war? Meh. Characters just talked about this, while war images played on TV. Boring. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't anywhere near as smart as it needed to be.
It was exactly as we'd expected (and hoped) -- cute. Overly cute. Too cute for words. But it wasn't the great meditation on age and romance as perhaps Amy Heckerling was going for. And it tripped over itself many times towards the end when our lead old girl couldn't decide whether or not to trust her younger and always trustworthy new man.
So, Paul Rudd is still the funniest cool actor around, and pairing him with shameless and funny Michelle Pfeiffer was a stroke of genius. It was also necessary to get a woman for this movie in her 40s who looks surgery-free. It's hard to do that, lately, with actresses in their 30s. So, the casting was great.
The story was funny, and I really liked all the stuff with Michelle and her budding-teen daughter who's about to give up the Barbies just as mom decides she wants to go back to them. The sitcom-writer stuff made for some funny in-joking, and it was great to see Rudd and Dash together again 15-odd years after Clueless.
So, yeah, a great popcorn movie. I do think Amy Heckerling should have nixed the Mother Nature aspect of the piece, given Michelle's character a best friend and just been done with it. The age-thing was too heavy-handed here. It could have been just a sweet love story. Instead, it felt like Heckerling was forcing this notion of fit-and-40 down our throats. But we're not at this sort of movie for the subtext -- we're here to see classy, gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer jumping on the bed and getting silly-string in her mouth.