Mike Kueber's Blog

May 25, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies #116 – Reign Over Me, American Hustle, She’s Out of My League, and August: Osage County

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 12:55 pm

Reign Over Me (2007) is a drama that depicts a NCY dentist (Adam Sandler) who is afflicted with PTSD after his wife and kids were killed on one of the 9/11 planes.  Financial settlements have enabled him to avoid becoming a street person, but he has become almost nonfunctional despite efforts by friends and family.  Then he encounters an ex-college roommate (Don Cheadle) who is willing to interject Sandler’s distressing situation into Cheadle’s almost idyllic life.  Both guys are worth rooting for.  The Rotten Tomato critics give it 64%, and the audience is much more favorable at 82%.  I’ll split the baby and give it three stars because there is no gripping romance for either guy.

American Hustle (2013) is a comedy-drama involving an elaborate con (based on true-story Abscam), reminiscent of The Sting.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams are no Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but they are enjoyable, as is FBI agent Brad Cooper, who has forcibly enlisted Bale and Adams to snare bigger game.  In the end, you have a hard time deciding which of the terribly flawed Bale or Cooper you want to see walk away with the girl (Adams).  The other girl is Jennifer Lawrence and you don’t wish that ditz on anyone.  The movie was critically acclaimed, with a 93% score from the Rotten Tomato critics, but only 75% from the audience.  It received 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and all four acting slots, but no wins.  I thought the characters were interesting and nuanced, especially Jeremy Renner, as a corrupt politician who actually was, deep-down, a public servant.  I give the movie three and a half stars out of four.

A friend at yoga practice referred me to the romantic comedy She’s Out of My League (2010) after I mentioned to her a couple of movies that I’d seen recently in which gorgeous women fall for plain guys – Notting Hill and There’s Something About Mary.  Well, my movies included beauty & the beast storylines, but her movie actually examined the concept, with dialogue suggesting that one person could not expect to be with another person who was more than two points higher of the dating scale of ten – e.g., a five could go out with a seven, but not an eight.  This rule was called the Tao of Love.  Jay Baruchel stars as a charming, albeit five-rated, TSA agent, while Alice Eve is a warm, personable, hard-ten event planner.  T.J. Miller is hilarious as a Steve Stifler-like sidekick to Baruchel and Krysten Ritter is biting as Eve’s wingperson.  The Rotten Tomato critics are mixed at 58% and the audience mostly agrees at 57%.  Like Notting Hill and There’s Something About Mary, She’s Out of My League causes a romantic like me to feel, at least for two hours, that a five can end up with a ten, so I give the movie three stars out of four.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Lovely & Amazing, and said the following – “Lovely & Amazing (2001) is a comedy-drama about a neurotic, insecure woman and her three daughters.”  This week, I saw August: Osage County (2013), another movie about a crazy mother of three daughters who seem destined to carry on the family tradition.  Although August wasn’t as critically acclaimed as Lovely & Amazing, its star-studded ensemble cast is truly amazing, led by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both of whom received Oscar nominations.  The Rotten Tomato critics liked it only at 64%, and the audience was barely better at 68%, and the Wikipedia review is laced with terms such as dystopian, dysfunctional family, and black comedy-drama.  But I enjoyed it and its entire ensemble immensely, especially Roberts and Chris Cooper.  Coincidentally, the ensemble include Margo Martindale, who played Buffalo Heiffer in Lonesome Dove 25 years ago, the same TV miniseries that was a springboard to Chris Cooper’s career.  I give the movie three and a half stars out of four.


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