Capsule reviews

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The Tourist (2010)

I finally got around to seeing The Tourist recently. I scoffed at the concept early on, but decided it looked like it could be entertaining, and that I liked Angelina Jolie and Paul Bettany enough to give it a try. Let me tell you: that was a mistake. This movie is astonishingly dull. Despite boasting a good cast and having a somewhat promising premise, there’s just nothing going on here. Johnny Depp stars as Frank, a milquetoast math teacher, dragged by international woman of mystery Elise (Jolie) into a world of intrigue. Bettany and Timothy Dalton are British agents seeking to bring down Elise and her elusive lover, whom they believe to be Frank. You’d expect a comedy of errors, some great action sequences, and an explosive ending, possibly with a twist of some kind. Instead you get Depp mumbling, Jolie struggling with an accent that has somehow deteriorated since Tomb Raider, and Bettany and Dalton looking appropriately embarrassed to be involved in the whole thing. There are very few laughs, and only a few, weak action sequences. Ok, ok, so there is a twist; by the time you reach it, though, you’ll find you never really cared. I’m really not sure the last time I’ve been so very bored by a movie. I really do think it had promise, but The Tourist somehow falls flat.

Despicable Me (2010)

Initially, I had very little interest in Despicable Me. Animated features aren’t really my bag, and neither is Steve Carell. However, word of mouth was really great, so it got an add to the Netflix queue. In contrast to The Tourist, this addition was not a mistake. Carell stars as Gru, an “aging” villain who is determined to bring off one last heist that will assure his place in history. When he adopts three adorable orphans, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, as part of a plan to steal a shrink ray from a rival villain, Vector (voiced by Jason Segel), he finds his priorities altered. This movie is laugh-out-loud funny. It does a great job of balancing simple humor with more sophisticated jokes for the parents, and doesn’t overdo its ultimately warm and fuzzy message. While it may suffer from comparisons to The Incredibles (Syndrome is a much better villain than Vector, for one thing), it is different enough to stand strong on its own. Naturally, we can expect a sequel sometime this year, so if you haven’t seen the original, I’d suggest doing that. Whether or not I will tune in for more of Gru, the girls, and their little yellow minions (alternately hilarious and annoying) remains to be seen, but that has more to do with my dislike of sequels than my enjoyment with this first installment.

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4 responses to “Capsule reviews

  1. Astonishingly dull is right Sam, I saw The Tourist on the big screen solely for Dalton and Sewell (criminally wasted here), and I thought Depp looked funny in the trailer, but oh my!! Can’t believe this is from the same director who got rave reviews for The Lives of Others. Jolie was just so smug, it’s as if she were on a modelling shoot the entire time. There’s even a scene zooming on her butt! One good thing about this (besides Dalton + Sewell) is the gorgeous Venice scenery.

  2. animated features are not your bag? you most not have any wee folk around 😉

    Despicable Me was a great watch. Yellow Minions remind me of actual children “alternately hilarious and annoying”

    • We have a two year old, so she’s not watching a whole lot of television/movies yet. 🙂 I’m sure I’ll get my fill in another couple of years.

      Excellent point re: corollaries between minions and children. Hmmm.

  3. I agree that Despicable Me is the better of the two films. I didn’t hate The Tourist as much as some others, though, even if I did see the twist coming a mile away.

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