the proposal.jpg

In which I hurl a series of ad hominem attacks at Sandra Bullock, and attempt halfheartedly to describe the sack of baby vomit that is her new feature film, The Proposal:

  1. Sandra Bullock has a face that looks like a muppet’s, if only muppet faces were made of leather. This face acts as the first point of removal, keeping the audience at a distance in Bullock’s ridiculously formulaic new romantic comedy, The Proposal.
  2. Sandra Bullock has undergone so much bad plastic surgery that, in her later years, it will virtually be assured that she will play Joan Rivers in a schlocky Oxygen channel biopic. In Bullock’s new feature film, The Proposal, it is completely unbelievable that male lead Ryan Reynolds would ever have any sexual desire toward her. When he refers to Bullock as “beautiful,” it is the film’s single comedic moment.
  3. Sandra Bullock, in previous projects, has been out-acted by such cinematic titans as Keanu Reeves, Sylvester Stallone, and Dennis Miller; the public is immune to her professional failures because of the hypnotic effect of her muppet face. In Bullock’s new feature film, The Proposal, she is far outshined by Betty White, who is far past the point of not giving half a fuck about whatever movie role she happens to get.
  4. Sandra Bullock is a total bitch to work with. In Bullock’s latest cinematic toss-off, The Proposal, the best actor they could get to play Bullock’s father-in-law to be was Craig T. Nelson, who has clearly gone crazy, and needs any work he can get. (See this video.)
  5. Sandra Bullock is a bestiality fetishist. In Bullock’s new feature film, The Proposal, she has intercourse with various Alaskan wildlife species, including a harrowing scene in which she fucks an elk.

Ok, so I made one of those up, but it may not be the one you think. (Unless you’re a member of Sandra Bullock’s legal team, in which case I retract each of the above statements, agree that The Proposal was the finest movie of the year, and direct each of my five readers to go see it post haste, and at my own expense.)

Film: The Proposal
Director: Anne Fletcher
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Oscar Nunez

Viewing situation: Weekday matinee, moderate crowd; digital projection
My grade (out of 10): 1
Rotten Tomatoes average: 46%

Next up: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (part of a Theater Hopping Double Feature ©!)

Summer Movie Suicide Mission ’09: Seeing them all, all summer long. Follow Summer Movie Suicide Mission on Twitter: @SMSM09. Check out the full list to date here.

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wolverine

Wolverine’s problems start (but don’t end) with its cast. There’s, of course, 2009 Oscar host and amateur pants pisser Hugh Jackman, who provides a merely serviceable lead while fighting through his boredom with a character who he’s played three times prior. Then there’s Liev Schreiber, whose acting has two speeds: I’ll call them “intense” and “superintense.” The intense Schreiber broods his way through a film, but hides a sly sense of humor that can make a character’s more sinister motives forgivable, even endearing. The superintense Schreiber, the one that shows up as Wolverine’s half brother Victor, latches on exclusively to the violent tendencies of the character, removing all subtleties and rendering it a one-dimensional villain, the kind that you know is pure evil, you know will fail, but who has no resonance, no emotional peg. As Victor (Sabretooth for all you comic book fans), Schreiber is the closest character to Jackman’s Wolverine, the one who should be the film’s villain and its soul, but in the finished product feels like little more than a plot device.

It almost doesn’t even bear noting that the terrible miscasting of Ryan Reynolds, and the casting of will.i.am as any character in any movie ever, were huge missteps.

Putting aside the acting issues, Wolverine might well have really died on the page. While I can’t speak to any faithfulness to the original comic books, an origin story like this one is difficult to tackle for the screen, and, since comic mythologies are so detailed and often contradictory, any screen adaptation is almost necessarily convoluted. This is true to some extent even in the greatest origin stories, like Batman Begins or Spider-Man. For any audience that isn’t already intimately familiar with the character from other media, you almost have to expect that you’re missing something, and just catch the details that you can. Writers David Benioff and Skip Woods (who together must only have combined for about 2 ½ semesters in screenplay college) are insensitive to the demands of the genre, and take the laziest way out, relying on hackneyed dialogue and exposition that was alternately clumsy and nonexistent.

While the script may have been a dud, director Gavin Hood (A Reasonable Man, Rendition) didn’t do a whole lot to breathe any life into it. Watching Wolverine, I was amazed at how little $150 million will get you these days. It’s no surprise that, when the finished version of the film leaked out online, 20th Century Fox, in an effort to curb illegal downloading, insisted the special effects in the leaked version were incomplete. It seems, though, that Hood and the studio never went to the trouble to complete them, even in the theatrical cut. Hood now finds himself helming one of the lousiest summer “tentpole” films in recent memory, though despite his incompetence (undercooked effects, unnecessary closeups, failing to reel in Schreiber’s performance, the two dozen or so shots of characters peering off into the distance, deeply considering things; I could go on), he appears to have a hit on his hands. As of this writing, two days after the film’s release, the estimated weekend take is an almost preposterous $87 million, this considering the fact that a completed cut of the movie was available for free weeks before its release. Also, the reviews have been terrible. Also, so is the movie.

I’m beginning to be less and less surprised every time I see a lousy and unnecessary action sequel have wild box office success. But in the case of Wolverine, I’m still a little shocked. Not that I didn’t expect the film to make money, I just didn’t expect it to pack theaters on a weekday afternoon. Undeservedly, it’s Wolverine’s summer until somebody beats him. So who wants to be Weapon XI?

Film: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Director: Gavin Hood
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins, will.i.am, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds

Viewing situation: Opening day matinee, near full house; digital projection
My grade (out of 10): 2
Rotten Tomatoes average: 37%

Next up: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Summer Movie Suicide Mission ’09: Seeing them all, all summer long. Follow Summer Movie Suicide Mission on Twitter: @SMSM09.