I saw a couple movies this week, that I otherwise wouldn't have written anything about. They were, like, noticeably unremarkable. The movies I saw were, in order: Pitch Perfect (which is not mediocre -- I watched it for the half-dozenth time, because it's amazing), The Wolverine (mediocre movie #1) and Burt Wonderstone (mediocre movie #2).
I literally said, on the way out, to express my estimation of the movie's quality: "It wasn't so bad that I'd blog about it." The plot made sense, mostly. Spoilers follow. The motivation for Logan's relationship with the girl whose name I forget was vague at best, and the lizard woman was ill-explained. Maybe that was fodder for another movie.
That was the big thing about this one: it wasn't a smart movie. But it seemed, once they got the plot outline worked out, they hired a bunch of really clever writers to put it together. People who weren't used to writing dumb action movies. The major plot developments were beautifully foreshadowed, and all the pieces were there, just softly enough to make for extremely elegant reveals. It's just, the reveals were "The metal octupus thing is ON HIS HEART!" or "The crazy old dude isn't dead at all, he's living in a giant metal samurai!"
It seemed like everyone involved in this movie really wanted it to work. But sometimes trying really, really hard just isn't good enough.
I came into this movie with incredibly low expectations. Like, "Do we have to?" Level of expectations. I tend to hate high-concept comedies.
So I was pleasantly surprised that, for an over-the-top comedy, Burt Wonderstone was pretty understated. All the stuff that happened was, actually, kind of plausible. And the bones of the movie -- a falling out between two lifelong friends whose careers are inexorably tied together -- work pretty well for its concept.
Spoilers follow. And I think I would have really loved this movie, if there just weren't so many things to hate. I get Jim Carey's character, but like half of his jokes weren't jokes, they were just saying offensive things.
And did Steve Carell really need to have sex with Olivia Wilde? I was so pissed that they weren't just friends. There was no romantic chemistry between their characters, it was just a strained friendship, but since he's a man and she's a woman, if they reconcile they have to fuck, right? Screw friendship being the major theme of the movie. It's in the script, so they have to do it.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Steves Bucemi and Carell had actually learned sleight-of-hand to make this movie. They both seem like they're that dedicated to the quality of their work. Jim Carey, too -- I'm sure he didn't actually cut and burn himself, but he brought a full measure of commitment to this role, and I admire him for that.
If only the movie hadn't kinda sucked.
Movies like these two remind me that when people sign up to do a movie, they're stuck with it. They have to stick it through, or ruin their career behaving unprofessionally. And, it proves, truly professional artists do stick it through, and do the best they can, and continue to take pride in their work, even if the work is destined to be not very good. It doesn't make the movies a great deal of fun to watch, but it does make them a lot of fun to think about, now that I've sat down to actually do the thinking, and it seems to make a good way to work out for which film industry professionals I should have a lot of respect.