Netflix Review Roundup

Thoughts on a few recent rentals:
“How Do You Know.” I was sort of excited about this one, since director James L. Brooks is capable of great stuff (namely, “Broadcast News”) and I saw it being filmed in Philadelphia over the course of several months last year. But my goodness, it was a disaster.
The movie is about nothing in particular, its characters are all thin and uninteresting, the writing and dialogue are atrocious, falling into all of Brooks’ worst tendencies and none of his best, and the performances are nothing much either. Paul Rudd plays his character as a whining, simpering jackass, Jack Nicholson gives a career-worst turn, and the blinding revelation between them is obvious in the movie’s first scene.
Also, the film is set in D.C., even though with the exception of one street corner in Adams Morgan every single outdoor establishing shot is recognizably in Philadelphia. I’m also wondering how the movie could have possibly cost $120 million- that’s the price of a large-market baseball team, not a romantic comedy with no special effects. Ugh.
“Cyrus.” The Hollywood debut of Mumblecore directors Jay and Mark Duplass- also known as Pete from “The League” and his brother- is much better than any film that comes from that awful genre. Good performances by John C. Reilly as a nervous suitor and Marisa Tomei as his girlfriend with a very attached adult son (Jonah Hill.) It’s as creepy as it sounds, but this comedy/drama must’ve left most of the comedy on the cutting room floor.
“Fair Game”– If you can get past Sean Penn, once again, ranting like an idiot about he’s right and everyone else is wrong, it’s a pretty decent thriller and accurate (as far as I can gather) story of Plamegate. It’s also refreshing to see a thriller in which the villains, rather than thinly disguised versions of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, actually ARE Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

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