Dave's Rating:


The sucky one.

A good movie reveals new pleasures with each viewing. Everytime I see Vertigo, something new hits me in the face. I even had to have several edge-of-the-frame sight gags in the recent comedy surprise 21 Jump Street pointed out to me after the fact by a sharper-eyed friend. The movie was too busy being funny for me to catch everything.

But when the film is bad you have a lot of free energy to let your eyes and thoughts wander. In the case of this Nicholas Sparks rerun, a dopey thing hacked together from what seems to be an IKEA rom-dram kit, you look at the furniture and the beautiful rambling old houses. You wonder how an un-self-conscious guy like Zac Efron's ex-Marine can have such a fussed-over haircut. You admire the vintage Ford pickups and GTOs everybody drives around. You notice how every scene is beautifully, magically sun-dappled and you wonder how long it took them to shoot it if they only ever worked while that sun was rising or setting. You think about Blythe Danner and wonder why she's never been nominated for an Academy Award, not even for The Great Santini. You inspect the outer edges of the frame for strange mistakes, things you wouldn't normally notice. In this movie it's the dish-washing.

I'm not kidding.

There are more than a couple moments in which characters hand wash dishes. And every single time they do it, the dish winds up in the rack covered in soapy suds. Movie sets regularly employ choreographers to teach characters how to slow dance or dialect coaches to try to bang an American accent into Sam Worthington's skull. You'd think that by now somebody would have learned how to make a living as an on-set instructor whose job involves showing movie stars how to perform everyday domestic tasks without appearing like the pampered babies they are.

Okay, back to the film that was so lifeless and useless it forced me to develop an opinion about dish-washing actors. It's about a Marine (Efron) who returns home in search of the identity of the woman (Taylor Schilling) in a picture he retrieved from a fallen soldier. When he finds her he can't bring himself to tell her why he found her. Why? Who knows, the movie isn't trying to tell you. Ever. And then they fall in love. And then her ex-husband makes trouble. And then (and then and then and then) tragedy and lovemaking in the shower and cute kid and wise grandma and dark stormy night and a climax that involves... hmmmm... do I spoil it? It's kind of hilarious, really. No, I'll let you watch it on cable some day so you can laugh at it all by yourself. But you at least can guess the obligatory happy, post-climax ending, the one where they drift down the sun-soaked river on the boat he fixes. He's great at starting her disused engines. Just don't let him near the dirty dishes.


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