Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Adjustment Bureau, A Review

Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is an ooooooold movie and nobody bothered to go see it in the theaters so why review it now, get over it and move on. Ooooo, look! Prometheus!

Fine. Yes. So it's a year old and I saw it on HBO. Too bad--I'm posting about it!

The story. Matt Damon plays a young rising political star, who meets Emily Blunt and immediately recognizes her as The One. She may feel the same way. But! There are Men in Hats, lead by the dapper John Slattery/Roger Sterling who are some kind of bureaucratic heavenly host, who have to keep steering humankind back onto track. Turns out that if Matt and Emily stay together, the Plan will be thwarted and. . .what, exactly? Who knows, but kind of bad, apparently. (We get hints--when the Adjusters stepped back, the world got the Dark Ages. So they intervened, gave humanity the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, spent 400 years teaching us how to grow properly. They stepped back and we invented WWI, the Great Depression, the Holocaust and the Cuban Missile Crisis. They forgot to mention the mullet and Nickleback.) The Men in Hats won't let it happen.

There are also carrots to go with that stick--if he gives her up, Matt Damon will eventually be president, and Emily Blunt will be the leading choreographer of the age. If he doesn't give her up, Matt will destroy his own dreams and hers as well. So he tries giving her up, but it political success isn't fulfilling enough. But she's getting married! Matt Damon has to enlist his own personal Man in Hat to help him evade all the other Men in Hats. Can he get to her in time?

But of course. True Love Always Conquers All in Hollywood Movies.

Love Emily Blunt. Too bad she's more an accessory than a full human being, a kind of manic pixie dream girl who at least gets some token dreams of her own. However, she is of interest to the Men in Hats only in so far as she either helps or hinders Matt Damon from becoming President. She inspires him to go off message in a concession speech early in the movie which allows him to continue to be a viable candidate four years later. But then the Men in Hats see that she will make him happy and he won't have that drive to fill his empty center caused by the deaths of all his immediate family--so they have to keep them apart.

Bechdel test? I don't see it passing--even when she's performing with her experimental dance troupe, Emily Blunt is the only female. There may be a technical pass, as she's heading into her wedding at the courthouse, she turns to her maid of honor and excuses herself to go to the bathroom. Hey--at least it's not about a man!

Matt Damon--still youthful looking, but not the most charismatic I've seen him.

John Slattery--dapperly ominous. Not something you see from a lot of villains generally. He's got a lovely weariness to him, but I don't really buy him as a bureaucrat.

Terence Stamp as the District Manager of the Men in Hats. (Yes, I made up that title. He's higher up in the hierarchy, but not by much.) Is he the go-to when you can't get Malcolm MacDowell? Are they Two Stars, One Slot? Discuss

Final summation? Acting is fine, writing is not up to par. The "ordinary reality" doesn't ring quite true, so the fact that there's surreal disruption isn't as jarring as it should be--it all feels slightly off. The concept that angels have to constantly intercede with humanity to keep God's plan on track is so high concept, but fails to really conform to mainstream theology about the nature of humanity, the nature of God, and the limits of free will. So the theology is off, the "reality" is off, the idea is a hoot but the last 15 minutes feels like the "race for your love" cliche.

B-, but Emily Blunt gets an A.

No comments: