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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Michael Genadry

Being Flynn (2012)

Happy that my dad has a roof over his head and isn’t a complete dick.

Aspiring writer Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) begins working at a homeless shelter and develops a drug problem he struggles to control. His father, Jonathan (Robert De Niro), is a con man who was never there for him as a child and still considers himself to be one of the greatest, living writers of all-time, despite never being published. Jonathan actually stumbles upon Nick one day at the homeless shelter and is need of a place to stay. But, as predicted, Jonathan finds problems with just about everything around him.

The problem with Being Flynn, right away, is that its whole idea of a joke is to have its character, Jonathan Flynn, narrate some of the movie and talk like he’s the greatest novelist of all-time and is a walking genius, even though nobody knows it. Problem is, he doesn’t know it. That idea of a joke can be a little humorous at times (because let’s face it, who doesn’t love to crack a couple of chuckles at older, Alzheimer-bound men), but it gets annoying and repetitive, as if the movie didn’t realize the butt of its own end joke was meant for the character, and not for the freakin’ movie itself.

But this turns out to be the whole movie. Just one long joke that nobody ever seems to get the hang of telling better.

Shirt by any chance? No? Nope, that's okay. Whatever suits you best.

Shirt by any chance? No? Nope, that’s okay. Whatever suits you best.

And this is a shame because the material for Being Flynn seems as if it has more to it than just being “a joke”. But what ultimately happens is that it just lingers and gives this Jonathan character another reason to yell, scream, and scam his way some more into people’s lives. I never, not for once, felt any ounce of sympathy for these characters and even when it seemed like they were going through problems as people of society, and of people going through age, I still never bought them.

There were some elements I did buy, like the fact that Nick does go down a bit of a rocky road with drugs and needs to change his life around to be a better person. But that’s about it. Other than all of Nick’s problems that could have pretty much been centered-down to, “Yeah, my dad left me when I was a baby, my mom raised me, slept with a bunch of dudes, and killed herself”, Jonathan’s problems seem to be a bit more scary in the way that the guy is homeless, the guy is out in the cold, and the guy is a bit of an over-zealous dick. That fear of him dying never hit me hard enough, just because he’s a, well, a dick.

As plain and simple as that.

I think I’ve exhausted everything there is to say about the character of Jonathan Flynn, but honestly, it deserves to be said because there’s not much more to this movie than him. Which is annoying because Paul Weitz can’t help but be utterly pleased to have him being a miserable and unlikable hack that doesn’t do anything else in his life other than bullshit his way past things with that signature De Niro smile, chuckle, and charm. And heck, thanks to De Niro, it almost works!

And De Niro is fine here, but he’s saddled with a character who is just too unpleasant to give a hoot about. That’s why it was nice to see Dano at least try with the likes of Nick, another unlikable and whiny character. Dano is known for his “big” performances, but here, he dials things down for us so that we get to see Nick as more of a sad, self-destructive human being, rather than somebody who is cool because he lives life like its constant party. In a way, he’s sort of a tool, but the movie never fully digs deep into that aspect of his character; it’s just left up to Dano to pick up the pieces and work from there.

She's like a dude, but she's not. So rad, man.

Short hair, don’t care.

This is a shame, too, because Dano and De Niro, together, playing a son-father duo, seems like it would be ripe with all sorts of powerful and raw emotion. And though Dano may have been more than happy to share the screen with De Niro, Weitz’s direction and script gets in the way too much. Somebody has to learn something, somebody has to grow up, and somebody has to bond. If it’s these two, then so be it.

This is all to say that, even though they’re both solid actresses in their own rights, Julianne Moore and Olivia Thirlby aren’t used as much as they could have been to help even this movie and its melodramatic self out. Moore is mostly designated to flashback scenes, whereas Thirlby’s character has to do a little bit of heavy-lifting, both literally and figuratively, as Nick’s gal-pal. But still, her character is then soon treated as being a female love-interest for Nick to hook up with, screw around on, break up with, try to get back together with, and eventually, have all of his dreams come true because he’s, well, “a better person now than he was before”.

Bunch of BS if I ever heard it!

Consensus: Though it has a solid cast and, on occasion, director, Being Flynn falls apart because it’s not only a bit too melodramatic for its own good, but conventional, self-serving, and too smart for its own good.

3 / 10

Staring at your child in admiration: such a mother's thing to do.

Staring at your child in admiration – whatta mother!

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

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Admission (2013)

Aren’t the people who work in admissions heartless, soulless creatures? Or at least the ones who denied me?

Tina Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions officer who is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Paul Rudd). Portia also finds out that she may have a son that she doesn’t remember all too fondly for reasons unknown.

Anybody who has ever attended college or is planning to do so in the next year, probably already knows how grueling the admissions process is. You get your application, you say everything beautiful and amazing you have ever done with your life or the world, hand it in, and just hope and pray to the lord above that they decide to make you that one in a millionth person to get in. However, as most of us know, it isn’t that easy and usually, we get denied. So, who do we blame? Ourselves? Pshh! Nah! We blame those spineless, horrible people that work in the office, where they either deny you, approve you, or put you on the waiting list.

So, therefore, to know that these are the people that the rest of your days depend on, is one thing, but to dedicate a whole entire movie to those people, especially one that loves her job so much, just seems downright idiotic? Why the hell would we want to watch someone who denies and judges kids for a living as to whether or not they saved the world with their limited resources, for over 2 hours? Well, with Tina Fey playing that person, then I guess you could count me in as one of those people.

She can't help but just fall for the Rudd charm.

She can’t help but just fall for the Rudd charm.

The movie starts out, not quite like I was expecting it to. See, I knew there was going to be comedy, I knew there was going to be romance, and I knew there was going to be dramatic, mommy-issues, just judging by the trailer alone, but the beginning really started things off on the right foot. It was fun, quick, and actually hilarious in the way that it makes fun of most kids that apply to schools like Princeton, or anywhere for that matter, and how they are solely judged right from the start, without ever getting a chance to plea their case. They make fun of this harsh reality by showing how shallow the people who work in admissions can be, but then again, not all of them are bad. Some are just more heartless than the others. You’ll find that anywhere you go, in any work place, really.

But aside from that fact, this movie really had me going from the beginning just because it seemed to take pride and joy in it’s premise, and milking it for all of what it was worth. The idea of having this admissions lady, that’s all stuck-up and a tad prudish, find her ways through the world by a bunch of farm boys and possible-son, doesn’t seem like a case for a comedic-classic. But this flick continues to make you laugh by just never stopping and always seeming natural. Nothing seems like they’re trying too hard here and I think that’s all thanks to the cast and crew that director Paul Weitz was able to assemble here.

Tina Fey, god bless her, is the real powerhouse of this whole movie that keeps it going on and on and on, until it can spin no mo. Fey, as we all know, can be and is, very hilarious in this movie because she plays it cool, calm, and sweet, but always stays true to herself in the way that we can tell that this Portia lady is a nice one, who just has the dilemma of being an admission-worker, that may also have a son. A lot of the scenes where it could have easily been written off as “goofy”, “stupid”, or “dumb”, Fey rises above the material and makes it worth your hard-earned doll hairs, if you decide to check this out in theaters when it comes by.

But what really surprised me about Fey the most here is how she was able to be funny and charming, but also very realistic in the way she handled herself through most of the dramatic scenes, which, for the most part, were the core scenes in making this movie work it’s magic and charm. Thankfully, with Fey on-board, the magic sizzles. There’s a couple of key scenes by the end where we really feel something for Fey, her character, and all that she’s been through, and to watch all of that culminate in a scene where she has to speak-out for her supposed-son during the admissions process, really touched me and almost had me feel like any mom would do the same. Fey really strikes a chord with this character, makes us feel for her, but also let us see who she really is and all that she feels. Thanks to Fey, this movie works way beyond then I expected it to, and that’s because the gal has a natural charm that cannot be denied whether she’s being goofy, laughing, sexy, or just downright serious. Either which way, she’s great at what she does and was a real pleasure to watch on-screen.

He's just a normal dude that likes the simple and easy tasks in life, like chopping wood with an ax. What a dream-boat.

He’s just a normal dude that likes the simple and easy tasks in life, like chopping wood with an ax. What a dream-boat.

Even though his role isn’t as dramatically-rich as Fey’s, Paul Rudd still gets to show us all what he’s got as the simple, everyday man John Pressman. Rudd has that wit and charm that’s easy to make anybody smile and chuckle at, but there’s also more to this character than we see coming. He has a bit of a problem just staying in one area for his whole life and instead, can’t really make up his mind as to where he wants to go in life, or how. That would be fine and all if he was a 21 year old, recent-graduate of college, but the dude’s over 40, has a kid, has a job, has a house, and has a responsibility. This guy definitely should be taking it easy and realizing where his priorities really stand. Rudd’s great in this role, even if when he does go up-against Fey, she’s the one who really steals the show.

There’s a whole bunch of others in this cast that are great like Fey’s DIY-mom, played by the always hilarious Lily Tomlin, John’s adopted Ugandan son Nelson, played by Travaris Spears, and even the return of Wallace Shawn to the big-screen, as Portia’s boss at Princeton. Everybody in this heavily-stacked cast are great and do everything in their will-power to make these characters work, but by the end, something with this movie starts to change, with the tone, the direction, and the characters, and all of a sudden, everybody is revealing crap about themselves and having dilemmas that feel unnecessary  Not to say that none of these characters are interesting or anything, but they all seem to have a problem in life, and talk about it at the most random situations possible. I get that there’s stuff that needs to get laid-out on the table for all to see, but it begins to happen to almost every character here, and really bothered me seeing as that the movie could have just stuck it straight with Fey and Rudd, and been done. But they bit off a bit more than they could chew, and it’s noticeable.

Consensus: You may be surprised, but Admission is a very surprising piece of entertainment that had me laughing, had me happy, had me smiling, had me fall in love with Tina Fey all over again, but also, had me a tad sad by the end, where I actually fell into tune with these characters, their problems, and how they get by in life. Was not expecting this one bit.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Inconceivable!"

“Inconceivable!”