I’m almost happy this movie didn’t get more advertisement than it did, because the advertising it did have made it seem like a big comedy, the next Superbad. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the 80s, and James (Jesse Eisenberg) just graduated college with a literature degree and plans to go to
Like I said at the start, this movie is much more a drama than a comedy. Sure it has some comedic moments (usually in the form of Matt Bush, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig), but the majority of the movie is about how freakin’ miserable everybody is. But unlike movies like Knocked Up, where I thought it got too serious, the drama in this movie didn’t bring it down any, for me. It stayed at a healthy level of both drama and comedy—it wasn’t too serious to make the comedy seem random, and it wasn’t too funny to make the drama seem like too much of a downer.
My only issue with the story was that it did focus a lot on the crappy lives of these characters, but outside maybe Em and James (and more specifically Em), it didn’t go into a whole lot of depth about it. It was as if the entire cast of characters was trying to be fully developed, but fell just short. However, there’s only so much you can do in the time frame of the movie. But I don’t think adding scenes would have worked either, because then it might have come off as repetitive. That’s why I don’t think it was a huge issue, and why I think just hinting at a lot of it instead of blatantly coming out with it worked much better. And by the end of the movie, I honestly didn’t care about it anymore, anyway.
As far as acting went, everybody was brilliant, for the most part. I think maybe the role was written for Michael Cera, because Jesse Eisenberg channeled him quite often. However, I don’t think Cera could have pulled off some of the scenes the way Jesse did, particularly at the end. And Kristen Stewart? She’s completely redeemed herself from Twilight (not that she was particularly terrible there, but just for being associated with it in general). She was great in this, showing all necessary emotions. And she was incredibly sexy, to boot. I also want to see more of Matt Bush and Martin Starr in the future. I’ve seen Martin Starr in tiny roles in the past, but the guy deserves better. And the only thing I’ve ever seen Matt Bush in are the rollover minute commercials, where I think he’s hilarious, too. It was also interesting to see Ryan Reynolds in this type of role. It’s not his usual quipster, sarcastic, funny man. It’s a more serious and subdued role, though he was great in it.
I think what I liked most about the movie was that, although I don’t remember too much about the 80s (I was born in 86, so I was still rather young at the time), I could still associate myself with a lot of the happenings. James reminded me a lot of, well, me… except without the pot… or the parties and drinking… or the select group of women wanting to be with him. But like James, I’m a college grad with an English/Lit degree, who wants to travel the world, and is quite awkward when it comes to the opposite sex (at least in matters of dating). Though I was right there with Joel, too, at times. And other things, too. Anyway, the point is, I was able to identify with the movie and the characters quite a bit.
I’ve seen very few good movies in theater so far this year (that were actually movies for this year, not last year’s just taking their time), but I’d wager that this is one of the first “great” movies of the year so far. Depending on the rest of the year, I might end up putting this on my Top 10. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I think that made it better.
So to end this review, I want to share two anecdotes about the man sitting next to me during the movie. First, I knew I was in for a rough time when the very first trailer starts, and it’s for the upcoming Spanish film Sin Nombre. The man proceeds to say, once the trailer is over (and keep in mind, this is a foreign movie with a completely Spanish title), “Looks like it might be pretty good… except it looks like it might have a lot of subtitles.” I knew that if I ever got closer to slapping a stranger for idiot statements, it would be too soon. So the movie’s not very far in, and it shows them driving up onto their driveway or whatever, and the guy points out the car and goes “A Panzer? You don’t see those everyday.” That’s because the movie takes place in the freakin’ 80s, you Dumbass. Anyway, the point is… well, there isn’t a point. I had a stupid guy sitting next to me. And he talked (and breathed) quite loudly. But the movie was brilliant, and that’s all that matters.
Royale With Cheese