PG, 3.5 stars
A period piece starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy
Spacek. Right there, you know you've got a good movie. Plot? Aw, just make up
something and let the actors do what they do. Get Low is an appealing low-key mix of comedy, drama and
whimsy. The premise is inspired by something that really happened. The part the
writers made up to add extra drama is not presented terribly well, resulting in
a third act that left me mourning the unexplored possibilities more than the
plight of the main character. Still, I got to watch Robert Duvall, Bill Murray,
Sissy Spacek and a wonderful ensemble cast in action.
Get Low is an actors'
movie and it satisfies on that level. It could have been more, but it isn't.
I'm not sure whether the vague sense of disappointment I'm feeling as I write
this is because the story failed or because it succeeded. Here's what I mean.
The set-up for the film is that a hermit pays a pair of small-town morticians
to give him a funeral while he's still alive. The plan turns into a circus, but
not as big a one as you might expect. Seems the hermit has an agenda beyond
just grabbing attention.
Until just a few minutes ago, I thought that vague sense of
disappointment was because the actual funeral is far less wild than the set-up
makes you think it will be. The event happens, awkwardly and predictably, then
it's over and the assembled crowd stands around for a bit, then leaves, like
what generally happens at a real event instead of a written one. I'm wondering,
now, whether the vague sense of disappointment is not with the script, but
rather an empathic reaction to the hermit's situation. Such a tremendous
build-up for the poor soul, all leading to an anticlimax. That happens a lot. A
person broods over something traumatic for great periods of time, then finally
deals with the problem head-on — and the resolution turns out to be less
substantial than expected. There's a catharsis, certainly, but is that enough?
Oh my, I've wandered into the land of melancholy. Most
likely, I shouldn't assess a movie while actually writing the review. Had I
mulled it over first, then composed my thoughts, and then ... but I didn't and
there you go. So I guess maybe the story worked better than I first thought.
The best laid plans of mice and hermits and all that, you know.
While Get Low
certainly has a melancholy feel, it's not as depressing as I'm making it sound.
There's plenty of satisfying moments and lots of funny ones. Bill Murray is
wonderful as the funeral director who's shifty, but only as much as he needs to
be. Lucas Black costars as his assistant, the most upbeat of the major
characters. He's easy to relate to and very likable. Robert Duvall is the
hermit, of course, and he finds a way to keep this guy from blending in with
the other grizzled coots he's played. What a pleasure to watch him work. Sissy
Spacek deftly plays an individual who has big history with the hermit, with
Gerald McRaney and Bill Cobb adding strong support as well-intentioned
preachers. Kudos to Scott Cooper as well for being so credible as a local
I went into Get Low
with unrealistically high expectations. After reading this essay, you surely
won't have that problem. Hopefully, you'll be able to better appreciate this
slight, but quite agreeable character piece more easily on first viewing.
Incidentally, the remarkable Mr. Murray makes a two-word statement early in the
film that is one of the funniest I've heard in a very long time. I won't tell
you what the words are (you'll know when you hear them), but I can tell you
this: If I ever put together another rock band, that's what I'm naming the
Curtis Hansen's cool crime thriller, starring Russell Crowe,
Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey, gets a screening as part of the IMA Summer Nights
series. What better way to watch Kim Basinger's Oscar-winning performance than
outside, behind the museum, with your lawn chair and picnic? See:
Broad comedy about a young man living in the projects who
has to survive a three-day weekend after his opportunistic neighbors find out
he's holding a winning lottery ticket worth $350 million. Starring Bow Wow,
Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Loretta Devine and Ice Cube. 99 minutes.
Nanny McPhee Returns
Emma Thompson returns for the sequel to the hit British
family film about a magical nanny. This time Nanny McPhee and a group of kids
are evacuated from the city to a farm during wartime. 105 minutes.
Gore in 3D! It better be really good 3D or there's gonna be
trouble! Elizabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Adam Scott and Ving Rhames star in
the story of a band of strangers that must band together to keep from becoming
fish food for prehistoric razor-toothed man-eating piranha. 89 minutes.
Romantic comedy. An unmarried 40-year-old woman (Jennifer
Aniston) turns to a turkey baster in order to become pregnant. Seven years
later, she reunites with her best friend, who has been keeping a secret: he
replaced her preferred sperm sample with his own. Also starring Jason Bateman,
Juliette Wilson, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum. 100 minutes.
Spoof of vampire movies from the people who brought the
world Epic Movie, Disaster Movie and Meet
the Spartans. 80 minutes.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
3.5 stars (PG-13)
Zippy comedy/adventure brimming over with comic book/video
game flourishes and pop culture references. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun
of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), based on the
graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley. There's a plot, but it doesn't matter, as
the production is about posturing, not story. I found the first part of the
film intriguing but annoying. The smug tone, the stylistic doodling, the
in-your-face presentation of the characters, and Michael Cera doing his beta
male thang yet again. But as the movie progressed and I adjusted to its rhythm,
most of the annoyance faded and by the final third, I had a pretty good time.
With Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brei
Larson, Alison Pill, Audrey Plaza, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman. 112