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Letterboxd Reviews

So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Movie Review - In a World...

In a World... (2013)
Starring Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Ken Marino, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Alexandra Holden, and Nick Offerman
Directed by Lake Bell

Written, directed, and starring Lake Bell, In a World... (which will be ellipsis-free from here on out in this review) is a charming debut for the first-time writer and lenser.  Bell is thirty-one year-old Carol who, at the film's start, is still living with her father trying to make a career out of being a dialect coach for famous actors.  Her father Sam (Fred Melamed) is a famous voice-over artist who is well-known throughout the biz as being the second-most-respected talker behind the world-famous Don LaFontaine (a real-life voiceover artist who died within the past several years).  Sam is a likely successor to LaFontaine's crown, but he recognizes that his time in the business is nearing its end so he's been acting as a mentor to the up-and-coming Gustav (Ken Marino) who is quickly becoming a star in the voice-over world.  What Sam can't seem to fathom is that Carol wants to follow her father's footsteps in a business that doesn't look kindly on females.  When a movie studio decides that it wants to create an epic trailer that harkens back to and honors Mr. LaFontaine who made the words "In a World" so infamous in the realm of movie trailers, Carol, Sam, and Gustav all find themselves duking it out to claim this coveted prize.

While Lake Bell certainly crafted a film about a topic I'm not sure we've ever before seen grace the silver screen, In a World is, admittedly, quite typical in its stories and characters.  While Bell doesn't reinvent the wheel when it comes to a comedy, what she is able to do extremely well is create characters and dialog that seem believable and relatable.  Sometimes these low budget comedies are filled with people who either (a) wouldn't exist in the real world with their weirdly verbose vocabularies, or (b) you find it a chore to hang out with for ninety minutes.  In In a World, all of Bell's characters seem based in reality -- granted, it's a reality we may not be entirely familiar with given that I've never met nor likely will ever meet a voice-over artist, but it's still a world that I could easily find myself easing into.  There's something charming about the notion that these characters seem so down-to-earth.

Certainly, Bell's cast helps aid this easy-going atmosphere that she created for the film.  In addition to the aforementioned Fred Melamed and Ken Marino (who both are quite funny here), there's a nice repartee created by Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins (the latter of the recently cancelled Trophy Wife which was the most underrated show of the 2013-14 tv seaston) as Carol's brother-in-law and sister.  Their relationship anchors a good portion of the plot which, in retrospect, does take a little too much of the focus off of Carol, but still doesn't prove overly detrimental to the overall tone of the flick.

I know that In a World isn't a perfect film and as I reflect back on it, I realize that its script could've used a little more refining.  However, for a first go at writing a feature-length film, I think Lake Bell shows a huge amount of promise.  Not only does she excel at creating a believable environment in both her writing and her directing, but she's utterly charming to watch onscreen.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review - Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, and Rene Russo
Directed by Alan Taylor

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but 2011's Thor is my favorite Marvel comics movie (not including some X-Men co-productions...for some reason I don't think of them [or Spider-Man] when I think of "Marvel" movies).  There was something about the fun that director Kenneth Branagh brought to the flick that made the sheer ridiculousness of the title character and his hammer wielding an enjoyable summer romp.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Thor: The Dark World which feels like a heavy burden to sit through lacking any modicum of the fun and excitement that was found in its predecessor.  Quite frankly, this one is probably the worst film to come out of the Marvel/Disney pipeline in part because of an awful screenplay and direction that can't really compare to Mr. Branagh's in the first Thor. 

What the sequel really boils down to is this:  Two species in space -- one of which is Thor's people and one of which is someone else -- fought with each other a long time ago.  Thor's people won and buried this other people's energy source (or something) deep in the earth.  Thanks to wormholes (which played a prominent role in The Avengers) this energy source has been found by Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) who has been sitting around in London depressed since Thor (Chris Hemsworth) left her at the end of the last film.  This magical energy source somehow gets transferred into Jane which causes the bad guys to chase after Jane only to have Thor help her.

It's all so ridiculous...even more ridiculous than a guy from space coming down to Earth and fighting people with a magic hammer.  Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman look bored out of their mind in this with Portman in particular a blank slate whenever she appears onscreen (and, unfortunately, she's onscreen a lot in this one).  Tom Hiddleston injects a little bit of pizzazz into the mix, but even his Loki isn't able to overcome the inanity of the plot.

The one advantage the Thor flicks have going for them is that they do seem to understand just how silly their plots truly are.  There are jabs here and there about how ridiculous the goings-on are and I do appreciate that.  However, Thor: The Dark World is such a huge step down from the original that I don't think I'll be looking forward to the next one at all.

The RyMickey Rating:  D

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Movie Review - The Past

The Past (Le passé) (2013)
Starring Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, and Jeanne Jestin
Directed by Asghar Farhadi

I was a huge fan of director-screenwriter Asghar Farhadi's last film A Separation (seriously, if you haven't seen it, don't let the subtitles frighten you), so I was very much looking forward to delving into The Past when I heard it was being released last year.  Veering away from the Middle East (although maintaining characters who reside from there), The Past takes place in France as Marie (Bérénice Bejo) is reuniting with her estranged husband Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) to finalize a divorce after having been separated for several years.  Their relationship is perfectly civil with the duo realizing they simply weren't meant for each other, however, Marie's children (from a previous marriage) fawn over Ahmad much more than they care for Marie's new boyfriend Samir (Tahar Rahim).  Samir comes with a bit of baggage as well in the form of a young son who struggles to accept Marie as a new guardian.  The rest of the plot stems from the fact that Marie wants a divorce because she wants to marry Samir -- and none of the children involved love this notion.  Secrets then are gradually revealed, but, much like A Separation, it's best if you come to the film as unencumbered as possible in order to get the full impact of Farhadi's emotional plot.

Granted, there are times when The Past feels soap operatic (much more so than A Separation), however, the film works for the most part thanks to a strong performance from Ali Mossafa who anchors the flick in reality amidst the chaos that is going on all around him.  Bérénice Bejo (you know her from The Artist) won Best Actress at Cannes last year for this performance, but I can't necessarily agree with that win simply because her character feels a bit too shrill and overly emotional.  I found Marie to be the least "believable" character of anyone in the film and that's not really the fault of Bejo, but moreso lies in the way Farhadi wrote the character.

The film meanders a bit, but really does have a rather interesting final act in which pieces of this simplistic, though highly emotional, family puzzle come together.  I'd have rated this even higher if the film's final scene was a little more clear to me.  It's tough to discuss without spoiling things, but I'll try and be as vague as possible.  The film's final scene packs an emotional wallop as it is, but it ended rather open-ended.  So, wanting to see what the blogosphere thought of the ending, I went online and discovered that I had totally missed a very key element in the final scene.  This element is so nondescript that it's completely obvious why I missed it, but considering that it plays such an important role in the meaning of the ending, I can't help but think Farhadi could've made it a smidge more obvious.  Perhaps it's having to read the English subtitles that made me miss it, but regardless, this important element is incredibly easy to glance over.  The ending still "works" and is still powerful even without this pivotal piece of information, however, it's even more powerful (and gut-wrenching) having the knowledge of what Farhadi really wanted us to see.

The Past is a decent flick -- one that is worth watching if foreign dramas appeal to you -- and it certainly increased my appreciation for director-writer Asghar Farhadi.  However, I'd recommend the director's A Separation before this in a heartbeat.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Movie Review - You're Next

You're Next (2013)
Starring Sharni Wilson, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran, and Barbara Crampton
Directed by Adam Wingard

There's nothing innately wrong with You're Next, a home invasion horror film in which three men in animal masks attack the WASPy inhabitants of a secluded house who have reunited for a family reunion.  However, despite its aspects of dark humor (which provided not nearly as many laughs as I had expected based off what I had heard), Adam Wingard's film doesn't really bring much new to the table.  The acting's decent, the kills are okay, and the direction is perfectly adequate.  But based off the fact that this horror film was "buzzed" about on the horror aficionado circuit, I felt a tiny bit blasé after watching it.

Admittedly, there's not really much else to write here about the low budget slasher.  Don't get me wrong...if this type of movie appeals to you, you could do much worse.  Don't expect a reinvention of the wheel, however.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Movie Review - About Time

About Time (2013)
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, and Margot Robbie
Directed by Richard Curtis

For some reason, I thought Richard Curtis was a much more prolific director than he actually is.  The helmer (and screenwriter) of one of the best romantic comedies of all time -- Love Actually -- has actually only gone behind the camera one other time since that 2003 flick with the disappointing ensemble comedy Pirate Radio.  Needless to say, I found myself a bit excited when I discovered he had a new film on the horizon, but About Time came and left the theaters very quickly in November and, admittedly, its trailers featuring a time-jumping main character left me a little perplexed (and, based off the poor grosses, left other moviegoers befuddled as well).

I'm quite happy to say, though, that About Time is a charming piece, lovingly crafted with humor and heart, and features some very nice performances from its cast.  While the film does definitely place an emphasis on time travel, the premise is actually easy to understand.  When we first meet the twenty-one year-old Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), he has had a disastrous evening at a New Years' Eve party at his parents' home in rural England.  While at the party, Tim's father (Bill Nighy) takes him aside and tells him that the men in their family have an unique ability to travel in time to places and times they have been before (hence, no jumping ahead).  The whole process takes some getting used to for Tim, but he eventually grows to utilize it to his advantage in order to achieve success in all aspects of his life including the romance department, particularly when he meets the American Mary (Rachel McAdams).  The two click fairly instantly and their romance blossoms.

Rather surprisingly, the film doesn't throw tons of obstacles in Mary and Tim's way, nor does it really prolong their courtship.  Instead, we look at their loving relationship and how Tim's time travel helps certain aspects of their life.  However, as Tim soon realizes, not every time traveling moment works to his advantage and just because he changes his actions in a "reboot" doesn't mean others around him will react to situations any differently.

The film succeeds on charm and humor and most of that stems from Domhnall Gleeson whom I vaguely remember from the Harry Potter films, but not much else despite being in several flicks over the past few years.  He's charismatic, quite adept at balancing the comedic and dramatic aspects of the plot, and completely sold me on the fact that his character would be a guy someone like Rachel McAdams would fall for.  McAdams' character is admittedly somewhat left on the back burner and, despite this being a film about their romance, About Time ends up focusing moreso on the relationship between fathers and sons -- a rather odd concept in a romantic comedy, but one that (perhaps because I'm a guy) I found refreshing and rather touching.   Bill Nighy is funny as always, but he's a bit more subdued here than in Love Actually or Pirate Radio and it's a nice change of pace.

I've been sitting on this review for awhile because About Time is one of those films that I really liked, but couldn't quite spit out why I liked it so much.  This review didn't really do it justice, but I strongly recommend this one.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Movie Review - Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and Justin Timberlake
Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

My movie-going relationship with Joel and Ethan Coen is an interesting one.  I recognize their importance in the cinematic landscape and that they've crafted some real winners -- A Serious Man, The Hudsucker Proxy -- and also some disappointing flicks that I probably overrated simply because of the supposed pedigree carried by the duo --  O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Barton Fink.  Inside Llewyn Davis unfortunately falls into the latter category as it follows a brief period of time in the life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a folk singer living in New York City in the early 1960s as he struggles to get a record contract after his former duet partner committed suicide a few years prior.

I'm sure there's something "deep" that I'm missing, but I couldn't help but be bored while watching this.  Oscar Isaac gives a nice performance as the title character, but I never found the script allowed me to really connect with his struggles for some reason.  It's not that he was an unlikable guy or that his plight is unrelatable, but perhaps his lack of enthusiasm towards anything made his status as a lead character particularly humdrum.  Somewhat surprisingly, secondary characters like John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake aren't really allowed to step up and inject a bit of life and humor into the mix either, so the whole thing plays rather one-note stuck between this not-too-dark yet not-too-funny middle ground that never takes off.

The film looks nice and, as I mentioned, the acting is good, but nothing about this film excited me or motivated me to say anything really positive in my review, which in and of itself seems like a fairly damning statement.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Movie Review - How I Live Now

How I Live Now (2013)
Starring Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland, and Harley Bird
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

I'm fairly convinced that Saoirse Ronan is one of the most overrated actresses working today.  To me, every role I've seen her in over the past decade has been that of a mopey, angry teenager and How I Live Now is no exception.  It's not that she's particularly bad at playing bitter, but the failure to stretch herself at such a young age (or the failure for casting directors to give her a chance outside of this small box they've placed her in) is a little disconcerting.

In How I Live Now, Ronan is Daisy, an American who moves to England for the summer to live with her aunt and three cousins Eddie, Isaac, and Piper (George MacKay, Tom Holland, and Harley Bird).  Set in the near future, World War III ends up rearing its ugly head in the form of a nuclear attack on London and Daisy and her cousins are forced to fend for themselves as the unnamed enemy begins to traverse across England.  As they struggle to survive, Daisy falls for Eddie and their relationship ends up warming her chilly demeanor.

How I Live Now is a bit weird in that it plays like a young adult romance, but carries the heft of WWIII along with it.  Perhaps similarities to something like The Hunger Games would be apropos, but Kevin Macdonald's film is a bit darker in tone (and that's perhaps saying something seeing as how The Hunger Games isn't exactly light-hearted).  The aspects of the film relating to WWIII actually work okay, but the romance between Daisy and Eddie just fails on every level.  For starters, I'm not quite sure what Eddie sees in Daisy seeing as how she's so stubborn and obnoxious upon her arrival.  Secondly, the whole "cousins in love" thing just provided an uncomfortableness that I could never shake.  Thirdly, the film didn't need this aspect to succeed.  The prospect of WWIII is pretty overwhelming as it is and the film could've taken an intimate look at four kids attempting to survive without forcing in a romantic plotline in order to drive it along.

Seeing as how the film was based on a novel, I guess that left the screenwriters very little choice but to include the romance, but I just didn't get it from a storytelling perspective.  Ultimately, the love story is the film's downfall, taking perhaps an interesting premise and making it seem as if it belonged on ABC Family or the CW.

The RyMickey Rating:  D+

Monday, May 05, 2014

Movie Review - Diana

Diana (2013)
Starring Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
***This film is streaming on Netflix***

Everyone in America (and presumably around the world) is well aware of Princess Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed, heir to the billionaire owner of Harrod's department store in London.  It was during this relationship when Diana's untimely death occurred in a car accident in Paris.  While Oliver Hirschbiegel's film is bookended with Diana's time with Fayed, the movie focuses on a relationship that is seemingly unknown to many Americans -- Diana's years-long coupling with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.  According to the film, Khan was the love of Diana's life and it was partly thanks to the media and tabloid frenzy surrounding Diana that this relationship was called off in the first place.

Hirschbiegel's film is admittedly a soap opera with nearly two-thirds of its runtime devoted to Diana (played by Naomi Watts) acting like a schoolgirl who has fallen for her first crush.  Still, despite the pettiness of the plot, there's part of me that enjoyed the fact that the film went in this direction.  Diana was quite possibly the most famous figure in the world and the movie tries to give us a more intimate portrait of a woman who was simply a woman and not some figure placed on a pedestal.  While the flick could've certainly used a little more focus and some significant trimmings, I didn't dislike it nearly as much as the critics who seemed to take great glory in trouncing this upon its release.

Granted, I don't know a whole lot about Diana, her mannerisms, or her way of talking, but I think Watts does an admirable job bringing the Princess to life and trying to humanize her a bit more than the tabloid culture allowed.  It's not Watts' fault that the film paints Diana in a lovelorn and lovesick light, but Watts certainly succeeds at giving us glimpses of the Princess as a woman who recognizes the power her status carries while also longing for some moments of normalcy.  It's her relationship with Hasnat Khan (Lost's Naveen Andrews) that centers her, allowing her to feel "normal" thanks to the fact that Khan doesn't treat her as royalty -- a characteristic which Diana finds utterly attractive.

I'm sure there is a better film to be made about Princess Diana, but Diana isn't a bad starting point for a cinematic look at the Princess that England swooned over in the 1980s and 90s.  Diana is a figure that is so highly regarded that no one will ever be pleased with her portrayal on the silver screen should anyone dare to make another film about her.  However, this rather intimate look at a very specific time in her life is acceptable enough.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

Sunday, May 04, 2014

REP 2013-14 Season Round-Up

Overall, the University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players had a really solid season in 2013-14 -- a definite uptick from last year's slightly disappointing run.  All five of the shows had their merits and while I didn't love them all, I didn't dislike any of them either.  Oddly enough, the season sort of had an upward trajectory with The Mousetrap, Faust, and Wit ending things on increasingly more enjoyable notes.  Once again, undoubtedly, the REP excelled at all the technical aspects of their productions -- I seriously could've nominated every single play in the Scenic Design category with each having their merits for a win -- and the performers all raised the bar this season as well.

I hope as the announcement for next season comes out, we continue to get the nice mix of more modern the classic plays for the troupe to explore...and I'd love to have a season like the days of yore where more than five plays grace their stage, but I think that's just wishful thinking of a bygone era.

Total Number of Nominations
(# of nominations includes Honorable Mentions)
(Click on titles for links to original review)

Faust -- 5
Wit -- 4

Best Costume Design
Photo by Paul Cerro
Winner -- Matthew LeFebvre - The Night of the Iguana
Honorable Mentions -- Santi Migneco - The Servant of Two Masters; Andrea Barrier - Faust

Best Scenic Design
Photo by Paul Cerro
Winner -- Joseph B. Tilford - The Night of the Iguana
Honorable Mention -- C. David Russell - The Mousetrap

Best Performances
9. Michael Gotch - Wit
8. Mic Matarrese - Faust
7. Elizabeth Heflin - The Mousetrap
6. Mic Matarrese - The Night of the Iguana
5. Lee Ernst - The Servant of Two Masters
4. Erin Partin (guest artist) - The Servant of Two Masters
3. Kathleen Pirkl-Tague - The Mousetrap
2. Sara J. Griffin (guest artist) - Faust
1. Kathleen Pirkl-Tague - Wit

Best Overall Body of Work
Winner -- Kathleen Pirkl-Tague
Photo by the REP
Kathleen Pirkl-Tague has always been my favorite REP cast member for her ability to so effortlessly shift from comedic to dramatic roles, but this year was really her year to shine.  Her role in Wit is one of the best performances I've seen on stage -- not just at the REP, but ever.  Couple that with a humorous turn as a curmudgeonly older lady in The Mousetrap and even a very tiny, though very funny, role as a nasty German in The Night of the Iguana and you've got a well-rounded set of characters this year that she tackled.  Her role in Wit, however, secured her this spot.

Best Direction
Winner -- Heinz-Uwe Haus - Faust
Honorable Mention -- Sanford Robbins - Wit
Photo by the REP
Sanford Robbins effortlessly crafted Wit to flow through its various fourth-wall breaking, flashbacks, and scene changes without missing a beat (along with directing the performance of the season), but Heinz-Uwe Haus created a stunning visual tableau in Faust that I can't deny his placement as the top director of the season.  His rather ingenious ideas elevated this age-old story into something modern-day audiences could really sink their teeth into without feeling as if they were watching something written centuries ago.

Best Overall Production
Winner -- Wit
Honorable Mention -- Faust
Photo by the REP
I've already praised Wit in my review and there isn't much more to say except that I think it's one of the best productions the REP has ever brought to the stage.  A fantastic performance from Kathleen Pirkl-Tague, a modern play that humanizes both a difficult character and a difficult subject, and perfectly suited design elements all meld together to create something that is emotionally involving.  I can't recommend this one highly enough.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Movie Review - 21 and Over

21 and Over (2013)
Starring Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon, and Sarah Wright 
Directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Everyone knows that old philosophical question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?"  Well, what about the philosophical question, "If you make a comedy and no one laughs, is it really then a comedy?"  Despite some very strong efforts from its three leads -- The Spectacular Now's Miles Teller, Pitch Perfect's Skylar Astin, and Justin Chon -- co-directors and co-screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have somehow managed to craft a flick that languishes in its attempts to try and be as absurd as possible, but never creates a hint of humor from its absurdity.

In fact, the only time I found myself laughing in 21 & Over was in the moments that led up to the wild night of insanity as high school buddies Miller (Teller) and Casey (Astin) stage a surprise reunion on Jeff Chang's (Chon) college campus to celebrate his 21st birthday in bar-hopping style.  Jeff Chang has a med school interview in the morning, but agrees to go out for one drink.  Well, one drink leads to a few more and pretty soon Jeff Chang is completely and utterly wasted.  Unfortunately for Miller (the crazy one) and Casey (the centered soon-to-be businessman), they have no idea where Jeff Chang actually lives, so they spend the night wandering around Jeff Chang's college campus trying to find someone who knows where Jeff Chang resides.  [Note:  Is the repetition of the name "Jeff Chang" funny to you?  It's a running joke in the movie that's supposed to make you laugh so I figured I'd try it here.  Yeah...doesn't really work, does it?]  As they explore the wild nightlife, things get a little out of control and take a turn for the worse in that Hangover-esque style.

The Hangover comparison is quite apt as the helmers of this flick also penned that horribly overrated late aughts comedy.  The only real difference between the two is shifting the focus from Las Vegas to a college campus, but beyond that you're really in for the same exact storyline unfolding in front of you.  Ultimately, it's a shame that Jon Lucas and Scott Moore couldn't have crafted something funnier for the film's three stars -- all of whom are incredibly engaging and entertaining to watch, attempting to do all that they can to make the lackluster script shine a little brighter.  Unfortunately, they're unable to succeed.

The RyMickey Rating:  D

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Movie Review - Arthur Newman

Arthur Newman (2013)
Starring Colin Firth, Emily Blunt, Sterling Beauman, and Anne Heche 
Directed by Dante Ariola
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

I don't know if I have a false recollection of the trailer for Arthur Newman or if this is one of those films where the marketing people attempted to try and trick everyone into seeing it, but I thought this flick was supposed to be a comedy.  Needless to say, it wasn't.  Even though I wasn't prepared for the film's more dramatic tone, I'd like to think that were a movie good enough, I'd be able to look past the false advertising and see a silver lining amidst the lies.  This one isn't good enough for that to happen.

Colin Firth is Wallace Avery, a middle aged guy who hates his job at FedEx, doesn't really care much for his girlfriend (Anne Heche), and has become so estranged from his teenage son (Sterling Beauman) that his offspring runs away from him whenever he tries to visit.  With nothing to lose, Wallace decides to end his life.  Well, he decides to end Wallace's life by purchasing a new identity and starting fresh.  After offing his old self by drowning in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, Wallace transforms into Arthur Newman -- an amateur golfer who did some time playing on the Asian golf circuit.  With this new identity, he hopes to start anew and find more reason to relish life in general.

On his first night as "Arthur Newman," Arthur meets Micheala (Emily Blunt) -- a bit of a loony who was nearly arrested for stealing some guy's car.  Mike (as she likes to be called) is not only a loony, but also a bit of a crook who manages to find an ID card with Arthur's old name on it.  She kinda sorta blackmails him into allowing her to tag along on his cross-country trip and, of course, the two inevitably fall for one another as their journey progresses.

The problem with Arthur Newman is that the film doesn't quite know what it wants to be.  The film does begin with comedic undertones, but it abandons them after about twenty minutes and ends up becoming something much darker than its musical score, dialog, and general aesthetic make it appear to be.  This dichotomy causes the film to never really gel and it forces its two leads to never really grasp their characters' motivations.  It certainly doesn't help matters that the romantic relationship that transpires between Arthur and Mike as they become a very low grade (and non-violent) Bonnie and Clyde-ish type couple never once felt believable as played by Firth and Blunt -- two actors whom I typically always like, but appear very out-of-place and emotionally awkward here.

The RyMickey Rating:  D