8:00 PM, 23rd October, 2004
In the ordinary course of things, a remake of a classic movie would be something I'd avoid. This would apply particularly so if the original starred Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers... but this remake (of the 1955 film of the same name) is the latest from the Coen brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?), so not only will I be seeing it, I'll be expecting good things from it. (The future tense, by the way, is because this film isn't scheduled to open in Australia until the 19th of August, long after this booklet was printed).
For those that aren't familiar with the original, the premise is a comedy in which a gang of criminals posing as musicians rent a house from an innocent old lady. When they attempt to kill the landlady, it isn't as easy as they expected. The Coens have moved the setting from London to the American South; the 'job' is the robbery of a riverboat casino. Tom Hanks (somewhat underrated as a comedic actor) has been enlisted to play Professor G.H. Dorr, the perfectly mannered leader of the gang.
10:04 PM, 23rd October, 2004
After his wife (Lopez) dies in childbirth, Ollie Trinke (Affleck) falls apart - losing his high profile job as a Manhattan publicist in spectacular fashion. Seven years later, with a simpler life in the New Jersey Public Works department, he's raising his daughter, Gertie (Racquel Castro) with the help of his father (George Carlin). When video-store clerk Maya (Tyler) enters his life, things get a little more complicated...
If there's an obvious Kevin Smith film to compare this to, it's Chasing Amy, the previous most Affleck-heavy, Jay-and-Silent-Bob-light film (this one doesn't have any Jay or Silent Bob at all, unless you count the production-company logo). Like Chasing Amy, it's big on the emotions of the situation, and eases off on the dick-and-fart jokes (although inevitably, there's still a fair chunk of them). Smith manages to pull off some good performances from actors we normally wouldn't expect them from - in particular, there's a real chemistry between Affleck and Tyler that was noticeably absent from Armageddon.
If you want any more convincing that this isn't a soppy sell-out from Smith, the website "Christian Spotlight on Movies" ranks this as Very Offensive. And if that isn't a recommendation, I don't know what is.