Thursday, November 08, 2012
Really? What movie are they watching?
I saw FLIGHT at a DGA screening. The theater was packed because director Robert Zemeckis was supposed to be there for a Q & A after (he cancelled). This crowd was hardly enthusiastic after it was over. There was some polite applause and then everyone ran for their cars.
I know the film has received some good reviews, but I have to tell you – I hated it. And as I walked through the lobby en route to the parking garage I asked other people. They didn’t care for it either.
It’s described as an “action-packed mystery thriller.” Huh??? Is there a second movie named FLIGHT that just came out because the one I saw was none of those things. The one I saw was THE EMPEROR'S NEW LIFE VEST.
Here’s the movie (no SPOILER ALERT if you saw the trailer or read any review) – and understand I love Denzel Washington – a rollicking first half hour (although it's utterly absurd that a plane would go up in that weather) as Denzel lands the damaged aircraft. Then five minutes of fun as John Goodman arrives on the scene. After that is two hours of the most boring, clichéd alcoholism story in film history. Not a single scene you haven’t seen already in five other lead-wrestles-with-alcoholism movies. I’m not diminishing the problem or saying we shouldn’t have empathy for those afflicted with this addiction, but Jesus – tell us something we don’t know. Instead...
He tells people he doesn’t have a problem.
He insists he can quit whenever he wants.
He goes into a store and buys out the liquor department (Nic Cage scene in LEAVING LAS VEGAS but without the shopping cart).
He tries to quit but can’t.
He goes to AA but leaves.
He passes out on the floor.
His girlfriend leaves him.
His best friend runs out of patience.
His kid loses respect for him.
He has booze hidden everywhere.
Sound familiar? Sound overly familiar?
FLIGHT was really LOST meets LOST WEEKEND. Plane crash and then the great Billy Wilder movie starring Ray Milland. After the plane lands there’s no action whatsoever. And there never was a mystery. For those who say they could watch Denzel Washington just read the phonebook for two hours – this movie is your test.
He himself is fine. He always is. He’s an amazing actor and pulls the scenes off fine. And maybe if we hadn’t seem the identical scenes in DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, LEAVING LAS VEGAS, UNDER THE VOLCANO, FACTOTUM, THE VERDICT, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, BARFLY, THE UPSIDE OF ANGER, LOST WEEKEND, BAD SANTA, and the TV movie THE MORNING AFTER with Dick Van Dyke, which was the best of all of them – they’d resonate more. (Plus, I know I’m leaving out probably eight Lifetime movies and RIO BRAVO with Dean Martin deserves honorable mention.)
If it weren’t Denzel Washington playing this role I probably would have walked out long before last call. And my perseverance was not rewarded by the ending, a climax more suited for the Hallmark Channel.
Like I said, the movie did great business the first weekend. And Paramount thinks this is a big Oscar contender. And for all I know, all of you just adored the picture. But I was completely under whelmed. Robert Zemeckis is a great director. BACK TO THE FUTURE alone puts him in the hall of fame. He couldn’t see that this movie was dragging and going nowhere?
Or I’m just completely out of step. That is always possible. Remember, I’m the one guy on the planet who doesn’t like “Hey Jude.”
I’ll be interested to see how it fares at the boxoffice week two. It’ll be up against stiff competition -- SKYFALL (which might have been a better title for FLIGHT) and we’ll see how good the word-of-mouth is. I’m also curious to hear your reaction. Is it really good? Oscar worthy even?
Of course, it might only be fitting that in a year when Seth MacFarlane hosts the Academy Awards that FLIGHT wins as Best Picture.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM