New to DVD This Week
“Unknown,” stars everybody’s favorite “hang-dog” tough guy, Liam Neeson. The film is contrived, silly and completely improbable…but I liked it. Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, who has just arrived in Berlin to attend an important conference. Soon after, his taxi crashes into the water and, four days later, Harris emerges from a coma. He finds that his identity has been usurped. Another man, claiming to be Harris, has taken his place at the conference, not to mention his hotel room, and even Harris’ own wife claims not to know who he is. If you think about the screenplay of “Unknown” for five minutes, you will see it has more holes than the proverbial slice of Swiss cheese. I am willing to allow that this was part of the fun. What worked for me is that “Unknown” seemed to revel in its improbabilities so thoroughly I could not help but enjoy it, despite knowing better.
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
Why? Because. These two words sum up what is wrong with the premise of “The Adjustment Bureau,” starring Matt Damon. Simply put, there is no compelling motivation driving the story. The titular bureau, you see, are these men in overcoats and hats who control our destinies. According to the Adjustment Bureau we do not have free will, only the illusion of free will. When Damon’s character falls for a very attractive up and coming dancer, played by Emily Blunt, this, for some unexplained reason, violates the bureau’s plan, and they want to keep the two of them apart. So then the burning dramatic question (yawn) is will love conquer all? It’s a big budget Hollywood movie with a star, so you can just take it from there. It is too bad that the Adjustment Bureau could not have altered the fate of its own script.
If you have seen the trailer for the comedy “Cedar Rapids” then you do not have to see the movie. I knew exactly what was going to happen, with one exception, from having seen the film’s trailer. The main character, Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), is a naïve, repressed Wisconsin insurance agent who has to represent his insurance company at a convention in the big time: Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Yes, Tim is out of his league, but it’s a reasonable bet that by film’s end he will learn to loosen up, and grow, with the help of various eccentric characters he meets along the way. If you have seen actor John C. Reilly play one of his loud, raucous, wacky characters (“Cyrus,” “Taladega Nights,” “Walk Hard”), then you can also live a good and full life without seeing “Cedar Rapids.” Reilly is not the main character, but rather a nutty side character. In real world terms, Reilly represents the indie film cliché of the higher profile actor who has decided to be in a low budget indie because he most likely found the script just too endearing to pass up. God only knows why.