Who's In It: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Johnny Whitworth, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel
The Basics: Eddie Morra (Cooper) starts out the film in need of a stylist and a life coach. He's an aimless writer with terrible hair and a messy apartment, so it's no wonder his girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) leaves him. Then his ex-wife's brother Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) offers him a high-end secret drug called NZT that is said to unlock the full potential of his brain. He takes it, and suddenly all kinds of smart people things become accessible to him, like the stock market, foreign languages, and a good haircut. But altering your consciousness with drugs is a slippery slope, as anyone from a '60s folk band will tell you, so things quickly spin out of his control. Or do they?
What's The Deal: This movie, directed by The Illusionist's Neil Burger, is a fun, stylistic flick that seems like something Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle would do if he wanted to make a D.A.R.E. commercial. With super-charged color correction that makes everyone's blue eyes sear into your soul and brain-bending effects, this film had me totally engaged the entire time. Even the pill is sexy, people. It's not just some bland, oblong, so 2009 pill that we're talking about. It looks like a tiny speck of hardened angel spit, destined to improve your life. This film probably had a message but just made me want to do copious amounts of this drug. Everything was so beautiful and shiny when he was on it, and so painful when he wasn't.
Gimme Some Morra: This phrase from the film is completely appropriate. Not only is Bradley Cooper skillfully shifting between slick smarty and wastrel, but he's faced with old school De Niro. This isn't the Fockers-y, stereotypical mafioso De Niro that we've gotten used to these days. He is a no-nonsense toughie, and volleys back and forth with Cooper so much it made me feel like I was watching the Williams sisters in a tennis match, minus the weird homemade skirts. I also think that the buzz is probably true--Cooper is leaving behind his typecasting as a romantic comedy second-tier character. I base this assumption on the fact that his character licks blood off the floor. Nuff said.
Don't Look Too Closely: There are some major plot holes in this movie. I have not read The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn that the film is based on, but I assume it covers some of these points better. Among the questionable (and SPOILER-Y) parts: If Morra is so smart and rich, why doesn't he have the blackmailing thug killed? How can he not identify who is taking NZT? Does the drug make him completely lack suspicion of all the mental midgets around him?
The Lesson: Wait, I think I might get it. I think the novelist and filmmakers are trying to tell us that ignorance is not bliss and we should all stay in school. If "in school" means "high on pills." Oh wait, that's what I originally thought it meant. Can someone pass me some NZT? Or bleed on the floor?