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Mar 17, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Penelope; Chaos Theory

A couple of capsulized reviews to get me caught up...


Penelope is the Tim Burton movie that he never made. Not only is the plot vintage Burton (cursed family gives birth to girl with the snout and ears of a pig), but it co-stars Beetlejuice vet Catherine O'Hara and Sleepy Hollow vet Christina Ricci (rounding out the cast are James McAvoy, Richard Grant, Peter Dinklage, and a bit-parted Reese Witherspoon).

Despite the do-gooder fairy tale moralizing (love yourself and others for who they are, kids), the film has its charms and laughs, and McAvoy and Ricci even show some solid chemistry together. The sets, costuming and art direction are vibrant and eye-catching, from Penelope's out-there wardrobe to the imagined metropolis they live in, a mashup of New York, old London and an amusement park. Making my day even more was another solid role for Dinklage, who has established himself as a great character actor, and a hip soundtrack, featuring a tune from one of my favorite bands (DeVotchka, who you'll recognize if you've seen Little Miss Sunshine), and a closing track from Sigur Rós, an Icelandic band that also makes hypnotically beautiful music.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"

Chaos Theory
Can someone please find Emily Mortimer a starring role? The cross-gender appealing 36-year old British actress has found a steady stream of co-starring work in the past few years, in everything from Paris, Je t'aime to Match Point to Lars and the Real Girl, but I haven't seen her in a lead role yet (though she may have some smaller productions across the pond that I'm missing out on).

Here, she's ably handling the wife role, to Ryan Reynolds, dipping into the romantic comedy well once again, just weeks after the similarly constructed Definitely, Maybe was released. My feeling walking out of the theater was that this was very similar to The Bank Job. No, I'm not crazy; I'm referring to the quality - both are totally adequate, mildly entertaining movies that you're bound to forget within weeks of seeing. Reynolds continues to show that his range goes beyond what his looks might try to box him into, here playing a husband and father, ranging in age from about 25 to 40 (he's 32).

What's lacking here is any semblance of interesting direction. The story isn't one that we haven't heard before (anal-retentive begins to lose it, goes through nervous breakdown of sorts), but it has enough twists and turns to keep you entertained. It's just so lazily put together, with folksy, guitar-strapped whiny boys wincing their tunes when its time to feel sad and classic rock staples playing when it's time to show the characters' freedom. In other words, all the songs you hear are exactly what you might expect to hear given the situation, and the songs telegraph the moods of the characters for the audience.

Rounding out the small cast is Scrubs alum Sarah Chalke, using her considerable assets to play a minx attempting to lure Reynolds' high-strung husband into some naughty behavior, and Stuart Townsend, failing at procuring a passable American accent, as the immature best friend/free spirit struggling to become a responsible human being.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

3 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Penelope; Chaos Theory"

shea said...

Glad to see you liked this one.I wanted to see this but just never found the time. I was a little sad when pulling it off my theater marquee now to be burried within my massive netflix queue.

Mrs. Thuro said...

I like Devotchka too. I walked down the aisle to the instrumental version of "How It Ends" ("The Winner Is" theme form LMS soundtrack).

Fletch said...

@ Shea - I'm not sure which movie you're talking about...

@ Mrs. Thuro - cool, and glad to know of another Devotchka fan. New album comes out Tuesday...I might've included them in our wedding, but I hadn't heard of them 4 years ago...