Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Cake (2014)


It’s an easy joke, but no seriously, real cake would have been better.

After an automotive accident, Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) is suffering from all sorts of pain – chronic, emotional, physical, and most of all, personal. But to help her get by, Claire continuously pops pills and drinks cocktails, even though she’s also going to physical therapy and group-meetings to help her with any sort of problems she might be having. However, it seems that the only problem Claire even seems to be bothered with is that she doesn’t understand why everybody is so concerned with a former-member of the group sessions (Anna Kendrick)’s suicide; she’s too mean and nasty for anybody to understand, so of course, they kick her out and hope that she eventually starts to sing a different tune. That sort of happens for Claire, however, maybe not the way some would have wanted it to happen. For instance, she starts an actual, budding relationship with he nanny (Adrianna Barraza), if only as a way to coax her into buying more illegal drugs across the border. And then, if that wasn’t bad enough, she even starts to visit the deceased girl’s widower (Sam Worthington), in what seems to be more than just a normal chit-chat, and something more serious and possibly sexual.

Literally his only scene.

Literally his only scene.

Right off the bat, I feel like it is worth noting that yes, Jennifer Aniston gives a performance unlike any others we seen from her, ever. She’s nasty, foul, cursing, doing drugs, having anal sex, and, what every person has been calling an act of “absolute bravery”, is make-up free. To say that we’ve never seen Aniston like this before, is obvious, because while she’s definitely done movies that have challenged her a bit as an actress and haven’t been the typical, mainstream rom-coms that have plagued her career for as long as the pilot of Friends was aired. But, to say that this is a great performance, isn’t quite right. In fact, not at all.

Though I would definitely like to give Aniston some credit for trying something new in her rather predictable career, she doesn’t seem to have quite the chops as a dramatic-actress that would make a character as vile as her, seem any bit of sympathetic or compelling. Mostly, Aniston spends the whole movie just making miserable, life-is-meaningless wisecracks to all those around her, but rather than seeming like a funny gal, who could actually have something more interesting and hurtful to all of the pain she’s causing to those around her, there’s just nothing. This is maybe more of a criticism of the actual writing for Aniston’s character, but had she’d been a better, more-talented actress, I feel as though she would have been able to somehow pull this kind of character off. She would have still been an annoying, unlikable witch, but there would have at least been more to her act than just, “Oh, she’s mad about life”.

So no, J-Aniston did not deserve an Academy Award nomination for her work here. So nice job, Academy.

For once.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can finally get to the rest of the movie. But honestly, there’s not much to talk about, because it’s pretty terrible. It’s obvious that this movie was made as a possible Lifetime movie-of-the-week that may, or may not have some sort of crossover-appeal, but because so many big stars got involved with it, it all of a sudden shot-up to being the hot ticket come awards season. That it isn’t exactly that, is the least of its problems.

Where the problems with this movie lies is that it has hardly anything interesting to say about depression at all. This may be because the character we’re forced to stick with is so unbearably arrogant, but it may also be because the movie is so stale, it makes you wonder who was trying behind the cameras. Director Daniel Barnz seems like he wants to make some sort of powerful message about how suicide is just a sign that we do have something to live for in life, and that’s precisely it, life itself. However, that’s just all me grasping at straws. What the film seems more interested in developing is how many times and different ways Aniston can groan, moan, or tell somebody to piss-off.

And I know that I continue to wrap-around back to her, but honestly, she is the main problem of this movie. Maybe less so of Aniston’s performance, and more of just the fact that this character isn’t at all worth spending our desired time and/or money on; she’s another one of those rich, stuck-up, self-entitled women who feel as though life is misery and the only way to get by it, is to just let yourself feel like shit, day in and day out. That may be a philosophy that works for some, and if that’s the case, then good for them. I hope that they live lovely, valuable lives. However, I do not want to see someone spend nearly two-hours acting like this. Not only does it become tiresome, but it makes me want to tune away from the movie even more, continue to check my watch, and hope that I can get out soon enough to maybe get home and go on a jog, or something.

So yeah, I guess the movie did its job in that it made me appreciate life in all of its possible glory. However, probably not at all in the way it had originally imagined.

Oh, how I remember the last time I used my friend to get across the border legally. Oh wait! I've never done that because I'm actually a nice human being!

Oh, how I remember the last time I used my friend to get across the border legally. Oh wait! I’ve never done that because I’m actually a nice human being!

But I promise I’ll stop crapping on Aniston’s parade, because there’s actually a lot more people in this cast worthy of talking about. Problem is, they aren’t given anything worthy of their talents, nor to even discuss further than a, “Hey, look! It’s that person, from that thing!”. Like, for instance, we have Sam Worthington, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch, Anna Kendrick, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy all here, in what seem to be extended cameos that barely go anywhere to drive the point of this movie home, or to even make their presences known as to why we like seeing their familiar-faces in the first place. Which is a shame, too, because the movie’s been advertising the whole ensemble quite effectively, but it seems like none of them were ever around to film a majority of the movie, so instead, Barnz opted to just have them film for a couple of days and leave it at that. It’s not a problem because there’s a dire need of wanting to see more of them (although, that is definitely a feeling), but more of one because their characters’ inclusions only make the structure a bit more flustered and messy.

The only one who gets more attention than the rest, and deservedly so, is Adrianna Barraza as Claire’s caretaker/nanny, who is constantly being taken advantage of for her car, her money, and her nationality, while Claire just soaks it all in and barely even gives her a simple “thank you”. Already it’s easy to feel for this character that Barraza is playing, but there’s a certain sweetness to her performance that made me wonder why the movie wasn’t about her, and Claire wasn’t just a self-agonizing side-character that we saw Barraza’s character have to constantly put up with and try to hold back from murdering in cold blood. Because clearly there’s a few scenes here that seem to be hinting of more explanation of her character and the way she gets about in her poverty-stricken life, but it never materializes to much. It’s simply Claire’s story and guess what?

We don’t care.

Consensus: Truth be told, Jennifer Aniston is trying quite hard to be taken seriously in Cake, but it never delivers because the character she’s playing, as well as the movie itself, is just a thin as the kind of pieces of actual cake you get at a cheap wedding.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!!

Don't strain yourself, Jen. There's always Horrible Bosses 20.

Don’t strain yourself, Jen. There’s always Horrible Bosses 20.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Advertisements

16 responses to “Cake (2014)

  1. Tom January 24, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Ah, damn man that’s a pity. Was looking forward to a different side of Aniston but man if the movie around an unlikable central character, is in itself not likable I’m not sure if it’s worth the time. It is only a 90 min flick though so I guess my question is, how much does it drag by?

  2. Keith January 24, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Cake…I crack up just saying it.

  3. Cirque Du Cinema January 24, 2015 at 11:44 am

    ‘but no seriously, real cake would have been better.’ – best review I’ve read today.

  4. billwhite1951 January 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    agreed. it is a one note performance, and the movie sucks.

  5. Brittani January 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Oh fuck, I’m going to see this on Monday. lol

  6. stephen1001 January 24, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    It’s funny how there’s often a critical bias regarding ‘re-invention’ performances, I’ve seen that in the 1001 book a lot. If someone completely changed their career direction with an album (regardless of its quality), chances are it made the cut!

  7. J. January 24, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    It’s been mentioned already, but your opening line is excellent. Reckon I’ll stay clear of this one …

  8. Java Girl January 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Cake please….the real kind por favor. Great post, I never had any desire to see this anyways.

  9. Norbert Haupt January 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks. Now I don’t have to go.

  10. rachelhelenag January 24, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Possibly the first time I have disagreed entirely with you! ‘Cake’ is certainly not a film for everyone, but I found it to be a really interesting exploration of how grief manifests itself: not just in the primary subject (Aniston), but in second and third degree grievers. Aniston’s performance was solid, and really complimented by Adrianna Barraza and Felicity Huffman. I found Aniston to be measured and mature. I would recommend, but I can see how some may not enjoy it

  11. Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) January 24, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    thanks for saving me the trip – I had been curious about this one but it sounds pretty bad. great review!

  12. seankcureton January 24, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Have you ever thought about taking your content to YouTube, Dan? Your voice and tone is perfect for video reviews, conversational, informal, and brimming with an innate charisma that would translate well to the audio-visual medium.

  13. Lauren January 26, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    That’s too bad you didn’t like it, I haven’t seen it yet but I was excited at the thought of Jennifer Aniston doing something serious.

  14. Jordan Richardson January 30, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I’m curious about this one, too. In fact, I think it’s next on my list. Curious to see how things shape up.

    Nice review, man.

  15. lsbushey January 31, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree with your review. An aimless movie that points the spotlight on Aniston while she plays an impossible character to like or sympathize with. Glad I’m not alone in my thinking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: