Dave's Rating:

3.5

How to Lose a Bad Rep in 2 Hours

Who's In It: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Bob Gunton, Frances Fisher, Bryan Cranston, Trace Adkins

The Basics: Matthew McConaughy is an ambulance-chasing lawyer, the kind who's down with bikers who've got his back and druggie hookers who treat him like a confidante and who is happily addicted to his own sense of street cool. When a smug, entitled, too-rich, real estate creep (Phillippe, whose face was genetically created to play roles like this) is accused or rape, you know he's guilty even as he asserts his innocence. Unfortunately, his chosen legal counsel has just stepped into something deep and dirty and--just go with it--too much for him to handle. Until he handles it like the smartypants he is.

What's The Deal: Because this is based on one of those dime-a-dozen, get-it-at-the-airport-right-before-your-flight, legal thriller paperbacks, it's both weirdly breezy and full of rape, serious and silly, convoluted and packed with puzzle piece details, yet not surprising at all. In other words, it's simultaneously empty, magnetically watchable and popcorn-enjoyable. It pretends to be a real-life story about a super-lawyer who somehow manages to conduct his business out of the backseat of a boxy, vintage Lincoln (the awesomest and least necessary movie prop of 2011 to date) and you pretend that all of this is plausible and not directed with all the artistry of a Showtime original film. It's a deal you make with the movie, one you'll wind up winning as long as you're willing not to be get too investigative or picky yourself.

Time To Eat My Words: If most film critics were honest, they'd tell you their private list of actors who simply rub them the wrong way, the ones who inspire sometimes rational, sometimes irrational, dislike, whose performances feel fake and inauthentic to the point of maddening distraction. Matthew McConaughy is one of those guys for me. After turning in the coolest-of-cool comic performances in Dazed and Confused, he set about erasing his goodwill in movie after movie, especially all those awful rom-coms and brutally bad stuff like Sahara and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Just knowing he's going to star in a film usually makes me feel like I'm drowning in margarine and imitation cheese. But in this movie he turned down the "JK Livin'" persona, the one that feels like someone you can't stand constantly calling you his "bro," and he focused on the mystery/thriller at hand. It feels like the best work he's done in years and if there's a sequel I won't mind one bit. Now if he'd please cancel whatever upcoming Kate Hudson project he's probably got in the works and we'll be square.

Speaking Of Bikers And Druggie Hookers: Their fan cults will be happy to know that country star Trace Adkins pops up as the Hell's Angel-like leader of the pack and L Word mack-daddy Katherine Moennig arrives (her salon-complicated "Shane" hair somehow still intact even while serving time) in a pivotal small role.

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Comments (11)

Jono - 3-18-2011 3:43 AM
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He was actually really good in Tropic Thunder, I thought.

ManOnTheStreet - 3-18-2011 3:12 PM
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Ugh! Don't even get me started about SAHARA. Pure sh*t from start to finish. About 3/4 through the movie I decided everybody involved in it should be ashamed of themselves. It cemented a long-lasting dislike for Matthew McConaughy that I have to this day. You say he aquits himself in LINCOlN LAWYER? Whatever. He still owes us all 2 hours for SAHARA.

Al Taylor - 3-19-2011 12:16 PM
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Actually the author of the novel this is based on, Michael Connelly consistently writes the best crime thriller fiction on the market. His work is far from vacuous. McConaughey was the wrong lead for this film as it makes me want to avoid it. Dave's "eat my words..." comment has changed my mind. I will see the flick.

knightsbud - 3-20-2011 9:47 PM
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You never cease to amaze me mr white. Once again, you openly said because you don't like an actor, that that made a less than average movie. What kind of movie reviewer is that? Seems you should review the plot, ALL the cast, and oversall story before you shoot down anything, but then again, that does not seem to be your constant style. Instead, you give great reviews to under done movies, so again. Thanks for nothing mr white. PS...it was a great movie!!

marty - 3-21-2011 3:13 PM
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pretty sure his point about McConaughey was that he was really good in it/people taking things to seriously etc.

jv - 3-22-2011 8:41 AM
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Exactly. People sometimes tend to take things too seriously. The problem with that is, as a critic, you aren't being objective and therefore shouldn't be one, if you take things seriously on a selective basis. Either you go into every movie with an open mind and decide afterwards whether or not you were entertained, or pick the whole thing apart everytime. Stick with one way or the other, and you'll be a more credible reviewer. It's confusing if you do both, especially when I decide to go to a movie when it has bad reviews from you.

jay - 3-22-2011 8:48 AM
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Is it me or its rare for a movie to get 3 1/2 stars. there's a lot of movies that i like and they give a really bad review about it.

Gman - 3-23-2011 10:10 AM
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Right on Al. Connelly is at the top of the Crime/Thriller genre. But in fairness to Dave "Lincoln Lawyer" was not up to par compared to his earlier works. At least Sahara had Steve Zahn in it. Dude rocks Bro. "Surfer Dude" made my all time worst list. "Check it out Bro you can see my nipples in every scene" After the hack job Eastwood did with Connelly's "Blood Work" (did he have to change who the killer was?) I have low expectations. In a perfect world we could have John Huston directing Bogie and Bacall in a Harry Bosch thriller. Instead we get "Surfer Dude" playing Bosch's brother. Okay Dave, as usual if you say go I go. Oh, and you were right as always about Rango. I was diggin it but my daughter was too young and we had to split. Ma

Anonymous - 3-26-2011 4:02 PM
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Good review, and good movie. However, you couldn't be more wrong about the source material. Michael Connelly is the former crime beat writer for the L.A. Times, and his books are both incredibly written and incredibly entertaining. Authors like Connelly are not a dime a dozen.

marty - 3-26-2011 5:17 PM
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I think you misinterpreted what I said about people taking things to seriously, what I meant was that people commenting on one person's opinion are taking things far too seriously. Anyways, McConaughey has starred in nothing but trash since Dazed and Confused. He should probably just work with Linklater constantly since he seems to be the only one who knows how to use him...

Vince M - 3-28-2011 5:18 PM
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Not only does Connelly write the entertaining, if light, Mick Haller books, he has a string of excellent Harry Bosch novels to his credit, the last of which pairs him with Haller. I'm still trying to decide who should play Harry. I guess it will depend at what point in his life he is protrayed.

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