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dir Vicky Jenson
scr Kelly Fremo
prd Jeffrey Clifford, Joe Medjuck, Ivan Reitman
with Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, JK Simmons, Bobby Coleman, Catherine Reitman, Kirk Fox, Fred Armisen, Craig Robinson
release US 21.Aug.09, UK 1.Jan.10
09/US Fox 1h28
Cold feet: Bledel and Gilford
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A corny script and lifeless direction undermine what could have been a potentially enjoyable coming-of-age film about a young woman who thinks she has her life sorted out. Despite the talented cast, the film can only barely generate a smile.
Ryden (Bledel) is a high-achieving university graduate who has mapped her life out down to the smallest detail. Stunned when her perfect job in publishing fails to materialise, she moves home in shame. Her goofy dad (Keaton), perky mum (Lynch), sassy granny (Burnett) and strange little brother (Coleman) but actually drive her nuts. But it's her best friend Adam (Gilford) who causes the most angst; he's in love with her, but she just wants to be friends. Meanwhile, she has a lusty moment with a sexy neighbour (Santoro), and Important Life Lessons ensue.
Bledel is charming enough at the centre to keep us watching; she's able to take the thinly written Ryden and turn her into a character who is sparky and engaging, even though the script continually puts her into ludicrously cliched situations. Her chemistry with both Gilford and Santoro is believable and interesting, even if the filmmakers dodge any truly funny or edgy complications. And the strong supporting cast of veterans manage to generate a few spicy moments here and there, even though all are badly underused.
With her live-action feature debut, director Jenson (Shrek) plays it by the book, never quite catching any of the comical potential, but it's the awful script that really undermines the film. Scenes are packed with stilted dialog, strained slapstick and some seriously lame plot twists. Some of these come out of left field (a climactic box car derby?) while others are so trite that they make us wince (Ryden's career trajectory). Not to mention the ghastly swell of sentimentality at the end.
Fans of undemanding cinema will probably enjoy this, mainly because there's nothing new or challenging at all. But this is a seriously missed opportunity to take a look at a key transitional time of life in a way that's funny and telling. And after all of the unfunny wackiness, it's impossible for us to buy the predictable, contrived emotional conclusion.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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