Alice in Movieland

{January 29, 2010}   Hope Springs (2003)

When British artist Colin Ware (Colin Firth) receives an invitation to the wedding of his fiancée and another man, he flies to the most hopeful sounding place he can find: Hope, Vermont. He arrives, nearly immobilized by emotional distress, and his motel manager (Mary Steenburgen) calls her friend Mandy (Heather Graham) who’s a therapist at the local nursing home to come talk to him. She’s young and attractive, but things quickly become ridiculous with her glugging down an entire bottle of liquor on their first outing and then stripping down and jumping around his motel room because being naked makes her happy (couldn’t be due to the fact that she’s drunk). Colin is thus instantly attracted to her (well, she *is* naked), but the movie then tries to make us believe that their attraction builds slowly as they continue to see each other around town. Who wrote this script?? Anyway, they’re supposed to be in a believable relationship, happy and falling in love, when Colin’s ex-fiancée Vera (Minnie Driver) shows up claiming that the invitation was just a gag to get his attention because she felt they were drifting apart (hello, heartless psycho). Colin tells her to leave, but in a most annoyingly stubborn fashion she continues to hang around to attempt to get him to take her back. She slyly tricks Mandy, who responds something like a melodramatic teenager and tells Colin they’re through. Pepper in a bit more unbelievability and plotting which I suppose was intended to be intriguingly suspenseful and the movie ends up falling far short of its goal of being a witty and charming romantic comedy.

I’m sure the actors did the best they could with what they had, but it comes off as ridiculous and I blame very bad writing. By far, not my favorite Mary Steenburgen piece (though, to her credit, she does do ditzy almost too well – very scary) and I prefer Firth in roles a little more… I’m not even sure what. Random: Oliver Platt plays the major.


{January 11, 2010}   Nobel Son (2007)

So, for a completely different side of Alan Rickman… Not that you *wanted* to imagine the total opposite of Colonel Brandon, but I found it.

Short story: The best parts, and even they’re a stretch, were mashed together into a mildly entertaining preview, which I will not show you because it would be wrong to lure anyone into watching this movie.

Is my watch broken? Shouldn't this movie be over by now??

Long story: Rickman plays Dr. Eli Michaelson, professor of Chemistry, arrogant genius, rude chauvinist, perverted prick. I think that covers all the bases. First time we see him, he’s shagging a student. Moments later, we find that his monstrous ego *can* get worse as it swells to gargantuan proportions when he learns that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize. Enter: Hideous Jerk. So he, his wife Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), and son Barkley are all to fly out to receive the award and all the fancy perks and parties that go with it, but when it’s time to leave for the airport, Barkley’s nowhere to be found. Patient man that he is, Eli refuses to wait for him and they leave without him. When they get the call that he’s been kidnapped, Eli assumes it’s his son’s idea of a prank and hangs up on the kidnapper. It takes getting a severed thumb in the mail to catch his attention. However, when Sarah delivers the $2,000,000 ransom from the Nobel prize money, we find Barkley in league with his kidnapper, who incidentally claims to be his half-brother Thaddeus. Things get complicated (as though they weren’t already) when, instead of never seeing each other again after the con, Thaddeus rents the apartment over the Michaelsons’ garage and endears himself to Eli as the-son-who-would-follow-in-his-footsteps that Barkley never was. At this point, however, my brain was aching with boredom, so when the plot further raveled, my eyes continued watching but all I remember seeing is “Are we there yet??????” This movie’s only saving graces are Rickman’s voice and the pleasure of seeing Bill Pullman and Danny DeVito in supporting roles. (Eliza Dushku has a notable part as a fairly obvious mental case.) Other than that, I want to gauge my eyes out in an attempt to reclaim those 102 minutes of my life and hope that the 2 and a half minutes that you’ve wasted reading this review give you just enough of a hint that you steer clear. Save yourself. Do NOT watch this movie.

Just to demonstrate I’m not alone: Nobel Son (2008)Nobel Son Review, and Nobel Son Movie Review. I’ll not shame Wiki and IMDb by linking them.

et cetera