By G. Michael Dobbs
I was able to catch two new films in theaters while on vacation and both were enjoyable. I beat the odds!
This is one of those comedies that half-hour or so in, you know pretty much exactly what’s going to happen. It’s also one of those comedies that you don’t care that there are few surprises as you’re enjoying the performances of the experienced cast.
It is also, unfortunately, one of those movies that has been publicized by commercial and trailers that show way, way too many of the gags than they should – a failing of movie promotion today.
Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play four best friends since their Brooklyn childhood, who are now all hovering around 70 or so. They love each other still, although there is some bad blood between the characters played by Douglas (Billy) and DeNiro (Paddy.)
Billy is getting married to his 32 year-old girlfriend and an impromptu bachelor’s party is arranged in Las Vegas. Paddy is a grieving widower who hasn’t left his apartment in New Jersey in two years. Freeman’s Archie is a retired vet plagued by health problems and living with his son. Kevin Kline, as Sam, has a happy marriage but has lost much of his zest for life while living in a Florida retirement community.
When the four are re-united there is a blow-up between Paddy and Billy – the “serious” dramatic weight of the film – that is matched with Sam’s efforts to use the hall pass his wife gave him to find a one-night stand.
To say that realism is part of his film would be a big broad lie. This is a geezer romp that may appeal to younger audiences who have no idea what life as a 70- year-old is like and to older audiences who would like their Las Vegas vacations to be like this one.
In either case, this film is a lightweight, fast-moving comedy with some good lines. Any film that has a decent role for Mary Steenburgen is OK in my book.
By the way, the acting ensemble in real life ranges in age from 66 to 76, with Kline and Freeman as the youngest and oldest, respectively.
At least the trailers and commercial for “Gravity” tell you enough about the film to whet your interest, but no more. That is admirable because this film is tremendous and to tell too much would be a sin.
During the first 10-minutes or so, I was trying to figure out how writer and director Alfonso Cuarón made this film look so seamless. Then I gave up and just enjoyed it.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play astronauts who have traveled to Hubble Telescope to make a repair. During the spacewalk, debris from an exploded Russian satellite comes tearing through their work area causing major damage to the space shuttle and flinging the two of them into space.
I will stop right here.
What happens during the remainder of the film is a phenomenal tense and realistic depiction of survival in space. It’s simply amazing.
This has got “Best Picture” written all over it and Bullock deserves acting awards for what she does in the movie. She proves once gain that she is a fine actress as well as a movie star.
I saw this film flat – it’s also in 3-D – and I don’t think it loses a thing without the 3-D gimmick. The story and the performances drive this movie.
Don’t wait until this comes to the Red Box. See it now!