|If you knew the things he's going to do to prove his love|
to you, Heather....ewwwwwww....
1) You know what's worse than a second-rate romantic comedy? A second-rate art house romantic comedy. For you see, a romantic comedy just has two people acting extreme and irrational because they're in love. An art house romantic comedy has two people acting extreme and irrational because they're in love, and there's something far, far more meaningful and spiritual that the woman needs to get on with her life.
2) I've made reference in the past to finding Heather Graham kinda insane-looking, especially around the eyes. And that look does work on some level for her here, as a small portion of the film has her, well, going insane. But the best little moments in the film are the ones where she seems to allow herself a little leeway in this rigidly structured film, like when she turns a rather dour group of partiers into dancing just by force of will.
Plus, she looks amazingly hot in red leather pants. Just saying is all.
3) What's really funny is how there's little chemistry between Graham and her husband, played by Luke Wilson--and even less chemistry between Graham and the Designated New Beau, the paper mache' artist played by Goran Visnjic...but the chemistry between Casey Affleck, playing her brother, and Patricia Velasquez, playing the gal who will become his girlfriend, is through the roof. I kept wanting the film to stop following Graham's Jolene and start following them, because their storyline seemed like it was going to be much, much more fun.
4) And speaking of Affleck--there's this strange quality with him that seems to make him empathetic with pretty damn near anyone on screen, and you believe he's invested in his character, Jay, one hundred percent...save for that weird-ass moment where it's implied he has incestuous feelings for Jolene. It's brief, but it hangs there for a long time, like a fart in church.
|You can end this movie right now, Heather...Please!|
For The Love Of God!
5) You know, I understand that in these films there has to be a Designated New Beau so our Heroine Trapped In A Poisonous Relationship has a guy she can walk off into the sunset with...but Goran Visnjic's Neil is so sleazy, from his admission that married women turn him on to the weird sex show he puts on for Jolene with a mannequin, that the idea of him being the Positive Choice is...ick. Just...ick.
6) Wow...So you once played a caricature Mexican trucker who tries to kill Luke Wilson in a bathrub, Mark Ruffalo? My sympathies.
7) This is one of these movies where Jolene would get exactly what she wanted at the point where Wilson's Carl is berating her for sucking away all his luck if she just revealed that it was her speaking up on his behalf to his boss (played exceptionally by a favorite character actor of mine, Dylan Baker) that made his fortunes change in El Paso. But if she did that, the film would be over at roughly the fifty-minute mark.
|Boy, do I pray she's crying on the inside...|
8) I think I would like Art Alexakis' brief turn as a junkie car thief if a) I didn't know that in real life he turns into a whining lil' bitch that keeps trying to trumpet his band's importance in the world of grunge, or b) I didn't know exactly when he was going to show up to return Jolene's money and reveal that her kindness did lead to his being sober.
9) As much as I hate the presence of the Wise Old Magic Man in these art house romantic comedies (which usually involve a trip to someplace urban audiences would look upon as 'exotic' and a spiritual journey led by a magical figure indicative of that exotic location's indigent people), I'll admit it--I enjoyed Alfonso Arau's turn as Grampy. He also has a great, easy chemistry with Graham, and makes me wonder if the film would have worked if it eschewed the romantic angle and focused on her studying under him to become some sort of shaman. The strange magic realist grace notes (i.e. a trouble doll of Carl Jolene fashions is thrown from a moving cop car, and the next time we see Carl, his leg is broken) only emphasizes that this should have been the way the film should've gone.
10) Boy, that final seven minutes, with it's 'Looks, I's Empowered' montage followed by the half-baked resolution of Carl and Jolene's story (including Graham doing exactly what she said wouldn't work to Wilson at one point because it's a cheap 'woohoo' punch the air moment) is painful to watch.
Overall...God help me, but Heather Graham--Heather Graham!--is better than this. So is pretty much everyone involved with this film.
Except for Art Alexakis. Him, he deserves being trapped in this cookie cutter romantic comedy hiding behind its indie 'depth' in an attempt to fool us into thinking its more meaningful.