The Majestic directed by Frank Darabont, written by Michael Sloane, produced by Darabont, with Jim Carrey, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau and David Ogden Stiers. 150 minutes. A Darkwoods Production. A Warner Brothers release. Opens Friday (December 21). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 77. Rating: Nfrank darabont (the shaw-shank Redemption, The Green Mile) wishes he were Frank Capra. Listen up, Mr. Darabont: There can only be one Capra, so just let it go. Please, let it go.The Majestic stars Jim Carrey as jaded 50s Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton, who's blacklisted by the government. He's depressed, so he gets drunk, crashes his car and wakes up with amnesia in an idyllic northern California town. There, he's mistaken for Luke Trimbell, the supposedly dead second world war hero and son of the local movie theatre owner (Martin Landau).
Of course Luke's childhood sweetheart (Laurie Holden) just happens to return home, and the pair hook up while Peter/Luke decides to reopen the movie theatre because, golly gee, the town sure could use a bit of fun.
Darabont dishes out sentimentality like a short-order cook in a slop house. There are speeches about the transforming power of "the pictures," and about convictions, courage (the blacklist was mean and nasty) and what it means to be an American.
Carrey, a talented dramatic actor, is reduced to grinning like a fool and looking grateful and wonder-stuck. It's a part Jimmy Stewart would have played 60 years ago, but the difference is that while Carrey only hints at his darker thoughts, Stewart regularly delved into real despair.
It's A Wonderful Life works because we're watching a man hit bottom, and even during that film's light-hearted moments we're achingly aware that Stewart is playing a man who feels he's unfulfilled and a failure.
What Darabont should realize is that in many ways Capra was a visionary, a filmmaker ahead of his time, especially when it came to sexual politics. That's why so many of his films stand up so well. By indulging in nostalgia and trying to remake those movies today, Darabont is degrading Capra as well as himself. IRLife of RyanKate & Leopold directed by James Mangold, written by Mangold and Steven Rogers, produced by Cathy Konrad, with Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber and Breckin Meyer. 110 minutes. An Alliance Atlantis release. Opens Tuesday (December 25). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 77. Rating: N
kate & leopold makes my blood boil. Meg Ryan plays a hard-edged marketing executive in her 40s who falls in love with a 19th-century aristocrat (Hugh Jackman) simply because he treats her with a modicum of courtesy. She melts into a puddle when he speaks in grammatically correct sentences, stands up when she leaves the table, makes her toast in the morning and gives good hugs. I love romantic comedies, but only if they don't make women out to be completely desperate. At the heart of every romantic comedy lies a woman and man who've given up on love. The trick is to get them back into the mating fray without making them sacrifice their identities.
In Kate & Leopold, Ryan doesn't put up much of a fight -- she settles faster than Anna Nicole Smith in a nursing home. Where's the charm in that? It's all too easy and predictable.
And what is this movie telling us? That there are absolutely no men in the space-time continuum who can satisfy smart single women in their 40s? Talk about depressing.
I'm a huge fan of the very dishy Hugh Jackman. Even with the subpar writing here, Jackman shines, and you can understand why Ryan would want to make a movie opposite him. Her most famous leading men have been the sweet but less than seismically sexy Tom Hanks (twice) and Billy Crystal -- domestic wines to Jackman's imported champagne.
JOE SOMEBODY directed by John Pasquin, written by John Scott Shepherd, produced by Arnold Kopelson, Anne Kopelson and Brian Reilly, with Tim Allen, Julie Bowen, Hayden Panettiere, Jim Belushi and Kelly Lynch. 85 minutes. A 20th Century Fox release. Opens Friday (December 21). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 77. Rating: NNdirector john pasquin has a short filmography -- three films, to be exact, all of them starring Tim Allen and none of them called Toy Story. In Joe Somebody, Allen plays a corporate drone. He makes in-house videos for things like Bring Your Daughter To Work Day, has been dumped by his wife (Kelly Lynch) and passed over for promotion when, one awful day, he's beaten up in the parking lot by Patrick Warburton.After much soul-searching and a visit from the corporate "wellness co-ordinator" (Julie Bowen), he decides to seek redemption by challenging the bully to a rematch.
Suddenly he's a hero, gets a promotion, gets to hang out with the corporate in-crowd and starts taking martial arts lessons from a washed-up B-movie actor. Jim Belushi's slobbish indifference as a guy reduced to teaching a clientele that consists of "guys who got their asses kicked" is the funniest thing in the picture.
Joe Somebody feels like something made for television: there are lots of bright, shiny colours, a complex set of issues reduced to a simple resolution, and a feel-good father-daughter relationship.
The cast is filled with television actors, including Bowen from Ed and Gregg Germann playing the exact same character he's spent an eternity playing on Ally McBeal. While this movie is inoffensive and watchable, it's hard to justify spending full price for something that will provide the same enjoyment as a rental six months from now.
Let's see -- The Lord Of The Rings is playing, there's that terrific new Altman picture, Gosford Park, and there's a Tim Allen movie that isn't Toy Story. Which would you rather see?