2017.03.10 // Filed under: Screen
So James Mangold finally got to make his R-rated Wolverine. And? Strip away the air of ‘serious film’-ness surrounding this super-anti-hero flick and it’s a fairly ordinary road movie, gussied up by a gritty pomo western style, relatively extreme violence, and uncharacteristic potty-mouth dialogue. All very cute, like when Jackman says ‘fuck off’ in that Avengers cameo. Fanboys can shove it.
Out of its context as a Marvel movie, it’s nothing special, even compared to its Japan-set predecessor (still an underrated film, despite its own issues). And when one considers that the plot mangles the Old Man Logan storyline (gutting the pivotal redemptive theme by shifting the blame from Logan to Xavier) while lifting wholesale from a Jubilee arc that erases her from the picture entirely (almost: putting pink-rimmed shades on the little mute girl sidekick adds insult to injury)? That only sours my opinion further.
Blunt in its symbolism it may be, but this adaptation of Dave Eggers’ novel about an American businessman out of his depth in Saudi Arabia is nevertheless a charming watch, blessedly low in the more obvious political overtones as it remembers it’s a story about people. Marks off for the casting, though: it’s one thing having an English woman of Bengali extraction pass for an Arab, but a white American in brownface?
It only gets better with age.
A poor relation to Christopher Guest’s earlier mockumentary triumphs. The constant use of shot-reverse-shot dispels any notions we’re in fly-on-the-wall vérité territory. But that’s the least of its troubles, when the film generally half-arses it, playing the surface of its premise for laughs without really plumbing its depths for humour. And even playing it safe, the jokes rarely hit the mark. At times it’s like watching a stand-up you’ve seen before and you know is funny die horribly on stage. It’s not all bad, mind you: Christopher Moynihan gives it socks as a performer genuinely dedicated to his craft, and Chris O’Dowd brings superb comic timing to the table. But it’s mostly bad.