Tag Archives: romantic comedy

Movie Review: The One I Love

by Dan Fields

Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss discover a new side of their marriage in The One I Love
© 2014 RADiUS-TWC

Remember That Weekend When…?

From director Charlie McDowell and producers the Duplass Brothers comes The One I Love, a curious tale about being with the one you love and loving the one you’re with which could send Stephen Stills to the madhouse. It is no good to summarize the film in the ordinary detail, since most of the plot hangs on an early twist. Sophie (Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men, Top Of The Lake) and Mark Duplass (The League, Safety Not Guaranteed) are a married couple in therapy for a marital strain that threatens to drive them apart. They are beset by romantic memories of their early time together, but cannot rekindle the old flame they once had. Their therapist (Ted Danson) rents them a secluded house for a weekend of privacy and quality time.

Both Sophie and Ethan apply themselves gamely to getting along and having some fun, but each begins to notice curious inconsistencies that point in mysterious directions. Their quest to uncover the truth becomes an exercise in mutual trust and devotion that promises to unite or split them for good.

At face value, this is a novel and entertaining drama about love and romance. Further down, are clever metaphors for the joys and pitfalls of any adult relationship. We always want to be our best selves around the people we love, but we have little control over when our better or worse qualities display themselves. Spontaneity accounts for such a large part of attraction that we may find it impossible to synthesize or recapture a bygone feeling, strong as it was when we first felt it.

The One I Love is a fable which presents the difficulties of enduring love, without necessarily suggesting how or even whether they can be fixed. This is a good-looking movie, with greed wooded exteriors and warm tones all throughout the quaint getaway home. Even so, the camera often sits in small spaces with limited perspective, sometimes giving a feeling of intimacy, sometimes of confinement. The score is nicely placed to help keep the story at the right pitch – serious themes, but with a light tone to avoid dragging. With almost all the screen time share between them, Moss and Duplass put in commendable work. Having to play nuanced, multidimensional characters in a most unusual way, they still have the natural chemistry of characters who have known and loved each other for years. It is not a dynamic or forceful film, but the depth and intelligence of the script, in the hands of capable performers, make The One I Love well worth your attention.

Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

by Dan Fields
First published February 15, 2013 by the California Literary Review

My Supernatural Sweet Sixteen

The advertising campaign for Beautiful Creatures was abysmal. The film’s producers and their editors made it look like a secondhand bid for the dollars of weepy tweens still grieving for the end of Breaking Dawn. This is not meant to pillory the Twilight franchise, but to say that this movie looked like something thrown together in haste, which fans of that departed series might like, but which had zero chance of attracting the rest of the viewing public.

Skeptics, be comforted! Remember those enticing teasers for the inept gun drama Killing Them Softly? Fortunately, the principle of false advertising can run both ways. The big secret is that Beautiful Creatures is no melodramatic suicide pact slouching in the shadow of Twilight. It is more akin to HBO’s madcap ghoul opera True Blood, in a version scaled back so that a family could enjoy it together. Scripted and paced with impressive skill and thoughtfulness, this movie manages to be witty, racy, and thoroughly weird without getting crass. Innuendo is such a wonderful spice in the hands of capable writers and actors. Adapted and directed by Richard LaGravenese (P.S., I Love You) from a successful young adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this movie has “sleeper” written all over it. Continue reading

Movie Review: New Year’s Eve

by Dan Fields
First published December 10, 2011 by the California Literary Review

Rain Down, Mayan Apocalypse!

It is safe to predict that any further attempts by director Garry Marshall to cobble a legitimate genre out of celeb-stuffed holiday-themed rom-coms will probably face a cold audience. New Year’s Eve, is a very tired run up the same hill as its modestly successful ancestor, Valentine’s Day, and manages to recapture exactly none of that film’s charm or appeal. People well outside the Valentine’s Day target audience can still see what works about that movie. It was no gem, but it balanced earnest romantic comedy with a gentle spoofiness that we could all roll our eyes at and say, “Aww…” Irrepressibly cute is one way to describe it, and most people can get on board with that now and again.

New Year’s Eve chooses to fatten us, like doomed holiday geese, on bland sentimentality rather than sweet delicious comedy. It is not satisfying in the least, but you sure get your fill quickly. The allure of celebrating New Year’s Eve at Times Square or Radio City Music Hall is clear, but here, in place of an actual dramatic problem, it has been over-romanticized to life and death importance in the lives of these characters. Continue reading

Movie Review: Bad Teacher

by Dan Fields
First published June 25, 2011 by the California Literary Review

Warm and Fuzzy is for Losers

Director Jake Kasdan, most recently known by many for directing Orange County and Walk Hard, had made us yet another comedy we can enjoy for the summer before tucking it away into the corners of fond but vague memory. Bad Teacher is not destined to be remembered, but packs more punch than some are already saying. Its chief problem is that owing to foul language, heavy sexual themes, brief drug use, and a couple of breasts it must necessarily carry an R rating. However, the script shows surprising restraint in most areas, and as such can barely be called a raunchy comedy. Believe it or not, it probably would have been funnier had some of the characters been far nastier.
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Movie Review: Bridesmaids

by Dan Fields
First published May 14, 2011 by the California Literary Review

It’s Open Season on Wedding Season

The advertising campaign for Bridesmaids seems to have the sole aim of selling it as The Hangover for girls. One might expect a feature length Las Vegas bachelorette party fiasco. Bear in mind that only about twenty percent of the takes in the trailer actually made it into the film. In addition, the promotional poster is neato but totally misleading. It suggests a group of bad-attitude misfits (“bridesmaids for life”) whose antics ruin a classy wedding. In actual fact, Bridesmaids is none of these.
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Movie Review: How Do You Know

by Dan Fields
First published December 18, 2010 by the California Literary Review

A Spell or Two Short of Enchanting

In lesser hands, How Do You Know could have been a thoroughly ordinary serving of what passes in this day and age for “romantic comedy.” Fortunately, the man at the helm is perhaps the only living person capable of making the genre palatable – delightful, in fact – to more than a tiny cross-section of moviegoers. James L. Brooks, executive producer of The Simpsons and director of such acclaimed films as Terms Of Endearment, Broadcast News, and As Good As It Gets, offers yet another pleasant surprise with this witty and mature new comedy.

Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is a pro softball player facing the fact that, while still young and beautiful, she is passing her athletic prime and needs to find a new path. George (Paul Rudd) is a very nice business executive who finds himself taking the fall for a mysterious criminal indiscretion within his company. On arguably the worst day of their respective lives, they find themselves on a blind date together. Already, the conventional path to romance seems out of the question. Nonetheless, they make a substantial impression on one another, though neither understands it fully until later.
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