Archive for the ‘Owen Wilson’ Category

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In 2013, two dude-bro brothers named Mike and Dave posted an ad on Craigslist looking for dates to accompany them to a wedding. You likely heard the story, as the stunt quickly gained the viral ubiquity of our fleeting national attention.

And like clockwork, here we are three years later with an irreverent comedy based on Mike and Dave’s antics (an eventuality overtly prophesied in the Craiglist post in question). As the down-to-business title suggests, this is a movie about Mike and Dave, played by Zac Efron and Adam Devine, who need wedding dates, which they find in Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza through the miracle of the internet and daytime talk show television.

Both men are well-intentioned and affable manboys whose life-of-the-party aspirations are inevitably undone by flying too close to the sun. This premise is introduced in probably the only coherent and comedically consistent vignette of the film, as Mike and Dave’s family visits with a slide-show montage of their past destruction and a mandate to arrive to their sister’s upcoming nuptials with plus-ones in tow as a protective measure against their accidentally destructive nature.

There are a few more laughs to be had, but not many. The movie plays as if SNL devoted an entire episode to a single sketch: it’s largely improvised and occasionally funny, but most of the jokes fail to land and everything would be better with a few more celebrity cameos. To their credit, Efron, Devine, Kendrick and Plaza are committed to their bits, working overtime to squeeze a few more drops of comedy blood out of the stone that is the film’s outline of a script. But their performances are also grating, particularly Plaza, who is forced to relinquish her otherwise capable comedy timing in favor of a barely two-dimensional caricature of a “bad” girl playing nice.

At every turn “Mike and Dave” seems desperate to position itself as a spiritual extension of Wedding Crashers, going so far as to name-drop the earlier film in a particularly on-the-nose scene. But while leads Efron and Devine exhibit some of that Wilson/Vaughan chemistry, the surrounding film is severely lacking in the showmanship and ingenuity of better comedies.

It’s a failed attempt that barely entertains for its shorter-than-it-feels running time.

Grade: C+

*Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opens nationwide on Friday, July 8.

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I’m no expert on Woody Allen films so I can not say, as other critics have, that Midnight in Paris is a “return to form” for the eclectic and acclaimed director. Based on the films that I have seen, however, I can’t say MIP is the best but it is the most entertaining.

MIP finds Owen Wilson as the Allen’s stereotypical surrogate on a vacation in Gay Parì with his Fiance Ines (Rachel McAdams, as beautiful as ever) and her parents. The film opens with him lamenting his decision years ago to pursue a sell-out career making popcorn entertainment in Hollywood rather than follow his dream of living in Paris to write novels. He is a man who idealizes old-fashioned-ness, wanting to go on midnight strolls through the city and talking about how beautiful Paris must be in the rain.

Recently, he has decided to take another stab at a novel, working on a piece about a man (a surrogate for him who — again — is a surrogate for Woody Allen, how’s that for meta?) who works in a nostalgia shop. Owen’s character is that man, not selling nostalgia but wishing he could live in nostalgia, specifically the Fitzgerald age of 1920’s Paris.

He gets his wish. After becoming bored with Inez’s pedantic friends (comfortably played by Michael Sheen) he wonders of by himself and after entering an old fashioned automobile finds himself in the 1920’s, sharing drinks with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway. They skirt around town, colliding with no small number of famous minds and artists, including Pablo Picasso and his girlfriend Adrianna (Marion Cotillard of Inception, as beautiful as ever).

The film is charming. Allen doesn’t waste any time with having his character grapple with the impossibility of his situation, rather he dives right in, enjoying old-Paris nightclubs and parties and engaging in debate on art, poetry and love with the masters themselves (a particularly enjoyable chat about Rhinoceri occurs with Salvador Dali). The central theme of the film is about appreciating the present instead of wistfully longing for an intangible past and Allen embraces it bluntly, having his characters discuss the very subject for which his film is a metaphor.

MIP is a mainstream person’s art film. It doesn’t wallow in the slime of the human condition, it doesn’t dwell on sadness and overcoming personal demons. Instead Allen invites the viewer along on a stroll through the streets and eras of Paris through the perspective of Wilson’s character and the result is a surprisingly heartwarming piece of summer cinema. A-

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