Archive for the ‘Movie Reviews’ Category

Pixels review

August 7, 2015

My obsessive animosity toward Adam Sandler’s movies all started when I was a child. Day after day at as a student at Bishop’s Peak Elementary School, I would listen to my classmates repeating out-of-context quotes like “t-t-t-today, junior” and laughing at the Hebrew words used and Jewish celebrities mentioned in Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song,” despite myself being the only Jewish person they knew. As I grew older, I learned that while some of Sandler’s films such as Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer are quite funny and that he has astonished with some of his dramatic roles such as those in Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, the vast majority of Sandler’s output are undisputed bombs. The man has talent, he just is too lazy and overpaid to use it more than once a decade anymore. The Onion’s A.V. Club has an recurring theory that Happy Madison films are nothing more than paid vacations for Sandler and his friends and family. If this is true, Pixels is a paid vacation to Washington, D.C., London, and meaningless nostalgia for the early 1980s.
Pixels is apparently set in an alternate universe where Obama lost the 2012 Presidential election to Will Cooper (Kevin James), an illiterate goofball and childhood friend of Sam Brenner (Sandler), a former Pac-Man prodigy who now works as a software installer. Brenner shares a series of awkward love-hate moments with a recently divorced client named Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), before discovering that she is a Lieutenant Colonel and, along with President Cooper, planning to attack alien life forms which have transformed into the designs of 1980s arcade games. The problem is, neither Van Patten nor Cooper have any video game knowledge, which is where Brenner’s once obsolete gaming skills come in.
Pixels’ cast is rounded out by stereotypical conspiracy theorist Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) as well as Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage), Brenner’s former gaming rival whose mannerisms are styled after the antagonist of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a superior arcade gaming film in every regard. While children of the 1980s may enjoy cameo appearances by Max Headroom and a Smurf, even casual gamers may grimace at the lack of care and thought taken in replicating the designs of the games themselves; Donkey Kong and Mario/Jumpman both appear as villains while Q-Bert is inexplicably an obnoxious comic relief character in the ranks of Jar Jar Binks and Scrappy-Doo. Female characters besides Lt. Col. Van Patten are limited to a sexualized Xena-esque warrior (Ashley Benson) and cameos by Serena Williams and Martha Stewart who Lamonsoff and Plant disturbingly “win” in two of the film’s many cases of misogyny. Pixels shrugs off the reality that female gamers exist while reveling in its superficial and pathetic middle-aged male nerd-dom. With few laughs or clever ideas, Pixels joins the Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon films as one of the most pointless video gaming movies of all time. It’s like a broken arcade game that eats your quarter and your time.

Ted 2 review

July 28, 2015

After last being seen attracting the attention of the Anti-Defamation League at the 2013 Oscars, Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed, bong-hitting teddy bear is back and blander than ever. When his failed plans to adopt a child result in government scrutiny, Ted is stripped of his rights as a person and is recognized only as property, making void his marriage to “Boston trash” Tami-Lynn McCafferty (Jessica Barth). Ted sets off to secure his equal rights with help from his newly divorced “thunder buddy” Johnny Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and novice defense attorney Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), the latter of whom serves as a lackluster replacement for Mila Kunis’ character from the first film. Meanwhile, disgruntled Hasbro janitor Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) schemes to capture and mutilate Ted in hopes of duplicating his sentient nature for mass consumption in a subplot that ultimately goes nowhere. While the main premise and one heartfelt if trite courtroom scene from Morgan Freeman may attempt to convince audiences that Ted 2 embraces the idea of equal rights, the film is typically filled with MacFarlane’s swill of so-called “hipster racism” including a middle-aged black woman’s ¬repeated use of the oxymoronic phrase “white n*gg*rs” as well as tired jabs at the disabled and other minority groups. Add in dozens of forgettable pop culture references to Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Rocky, Mr. T, and Superman, unfunny cameos by Jay Leno and Liam Neeson, several obnoxious running gags that become staler with every recurrence, gay jokes, dick jokes, shit jokes, and weed jokes, and you have one of the laziest and most insipid comedies of 2015. As another MacFarlane vehicle, Family Guy’s Brian Griffin once said, “swing and a miss.”

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water review

February 26, 2015

Explaining the widespread appeal of the long-running animated Nickelodeon children’s series Spongebob Squarepants to those who take displeasure in its self-proclaimed “nautical nonsense” is one of the most difficult tasks a person can embark on.

It is a challenge that brings to mind the sentiments of Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia, who claimed that everyone either loved or hated his equally trippy and folksy musical concoctions with no in-betweens. Therefore, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, the series’ second feature length incarnation, will convert no skeptics to embrace the sponge.

Yet for those who enjoy the quirky cartoon and 2004’s confusingly, similarly titled The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, this film will not disappoint. Though the departure of showrunner and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg resulted in years of mediocre episodes, Hillenburg has returned, and Sponge Out of Water is up to the standards of the show’s 
golden age.

Like many episodes of the show, Sponge Out of Water sees the optimistic and spontaneous SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) saving the reputation of fast food establishment the Krusty Krab from the conniving and inconsistently miniscule rival business proprietor Sheldon Plankton (“Mr.” Doug Lawrence), who persistently plots to obtain the coveted Krabby Patty secret formula in a hapless way not unlike Wile E. Coyote.  Unfortunately, for both of them, a much more competent third party in the form of the outrageous live-action pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) steals the formula instead, causing the fast food-addicted citizens of the underwater town of Bikini Bottom to destroy their civilization and enter an anarchic post-apocalyptic lifestyle. With even his dim-witted best friend Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) betraying him in a gluttonous rage, SpongeBob teams up with his former foe Plankton in a quest for the lost formula.

This loose and unusual plot allows for a plethora of styles of animation, including a hallucinogenic series of time travel sequences and ultimately a mixture of CGI and live action in which SpongeBob and friends step onto a beach and interact with human beings, which the naïve sponge mistakes for “land porpoises.” Add in a handful of pleasantly forced references to early episodes and a superhero showdown complete with Patrick’s superpower being the ability to conjure ice cream cones, and you have one of the most entertaining, if inessential, children’s films of the year.

Dumb and Dumber To review

November 20, 2014

The Farrelly brothers’ darling dimwitted duo of Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are back, and this time the laughs are few and far behind.
When Lloyd, who has spent the past 20 years faking catatonia in a Rhode Island psychiatric institution, is approached by Harry about his own pressing medical concerns—a desperate need for a kidney transplant—Lloyd declines in typical inconsiderate carelessness for the only human being on Earth who even gives him the time of day, so the numbskulls set off to find Harry’s old flame, the intrepidly named Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), whom they believe to be the mother of Harry’s long-lost daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin), who rivals Lloyd and Harry in her idiocy.
However, in ways which succeed at nothing but mild nostalgia of the first film, the shabby plot soon convolutes into a combination of insipid bathroom humor and both uninspired and ultimately irrelevant villainous threats from bumbling antagonists Adele Pinchlow (Laurie Holden) and Travis Lippencott (Rob Riggle), who plot to put the nitwit pair out of their misery.
Even devotees of the first Dumb and Dumber will likely shake their heads in shame at this shoddy excuse for a sequel, as it easily fails to live up to both its predecessor and subsequent Farrelly brothers efforts such as There’s Something About Mary and Kingpin (the poor man’s Big Lebowski).
While the first film at least featured amusing throwaway dialogue like “the Monkees, they were a major influence on the Beatles” as well as memorably asinine soundtrack material including Green Jelly’s piss-take on “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” the Butthole Surfers’ reverb-heavy caricature of Donovan’s drippy hippie anthem “The Hurdy Gurdy Man,” the sub-Primus bass funk of the Lupins’ “Take,” and even an unexpected appearance by Nick Cave’s sinister epic “Red Right Hand,” audiophiles and audiophobes alike will find little to appreciate here except a brief reprise of Apache Indian’s reggae goof “Boom Shak-A-Lak,” the unofficial theme song of the first film.
Indeed, every flashback to the 1994 film becomes progressively staler, from a tired reference to the infamous “most annoying sound in the world” to a post-credits cameo by retired hockey player Cam Neely as the trashy trucker Sea Bass. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A Million Ways to Die in the West review

June 9, 2014

When Seth MacFarlane began collaborating with Neil deGrasse Tyson for his reboot of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, critics and fans alike were flabbergasted that MacFarlane could so comfortably transition from the lowbrow antics of Family Guy and Ted to becoming a titan of the mind.  Similarly, his sophomore live-action feature-length effort, the western spoof A Million Ways to Die in the West, is hardly sophomoric, gradually revealing itself to be the closest thing to Blazing Saddles that Generation Y could hope to claim. True, MacFarlane’s penchant for toilet humor can cause one to forget how groundbreaking Mel Brooks’ campfire scene was in 1974, and his Native Americans speak in name-droppings of celebrities and MacFarlane collaborators like Mila Kunis instead of Yiddish slurs, but the unapologetic and uproarious black comedy of A Million Ways to Die in the West causes it to easily live up to—and exceed—its title.

A Million Ways is set in a quaint Arizona town too sleepy to acknowledge that its close-knit population is quickly dying off from everything from incompetent doctors to faulty outhouses, a reality that lowly sheepherder Albert (MacFarlane) is all too eager to point out. Unfortunately for him, Albert possesses few other skills with his inability to organize his sheep or fire a gun respectively, keeping him from moving out of his parents’ house and causing him to lose his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) to mustachioed dueler Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), the town’s only resident with a dollar to his name. In order to outfight Foy, Albert seeks the assistance of breathtaking town newcomer and gunslinging prodigy Anna (Charlize Theron), whose shooting prowess is only eclipsed by a troubling fact she neglects to inform Albert—that she is married to the deadliest outlaw in the West, Clinch Leatherfoot (Liam Neeson). Rounding out the film’s ensemble cast are Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi as a hypocritically evangelical Christian prostitute and her cuckolded missionary boyfriend.

While MacFarlane’s trademark “cutaway gags” are noticeably absent in lieu of a cohesive plot, A Million Ways features a plethora of pop cultural references, including cameos by Christopher Lloyd and Jamie Foxx reprising a pair of their best-loved roles (hint: they aren’t Uncle Fester and Ray Charles), and moviegoers with a keen ear will pick up on the soundtrack’s teasing of the themes to not only Blazing Saddles but Back to the Future as well.

A Million Ways could have done without a few of its gags, including ex-lax and Alice B. Toklas cookie bits that have been done to death (no pun intended) and an insufferable 10 seconds of Gilbert Gottfried impersonating Abraham Lincoln, but overall its imperfections are few and far between. Its irreverent and sometimes morbid humor may not win over everyone, but like it or not, it’s further proof that Seth MacFarlane’s media empire is here to stay, and I for one welcome this comedic overlord.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman review

March 14, 2014

Fifth time’s the charm, I suppose. After four critically and commercially failed adaptations of the animated properties of Jay Ward, Saturday morning cartoonist extraordinaire, from the 1992 Showtime exclusive Boris and Natasha to 2000’s CGI disaster The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dreamworks has finally done Ward justice with a hilarious and heartfelt joyride through the lives of brilliant (and not at all humble) time-traveling mutt Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell in a droll transatlantic accent one hair sans fleas from Kelsey Grammar) and his dorky but dutiful adopted human son Sherman (Max Charles).

This time around, the duo is joined by newcomer Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter), a spunky 7-year-old blonde who undergoes a transformation from a stereotypical spoiled girl to a fellow WABAC machine passenger, though her primary role as Sherman’s love interest unfortunately keeps her independence in check. A supporting cast—comprised of Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton (Puddy from Seinfeld), and even Mel Brooks, whose cameo in a subtle nod to History of the World Pt. I.—gives the film potential, which it follows through with an uproarious (and maybe a tad too sophisticated for younger members of its target audience) script loaded with historical in-jokes, slapstick, puns, and wit, the likes of which haven’t been seen in mainstream children’s animation since Steven Spielberg’s Animaniacs went off the air in 1998.

Though this may seem like manna from Hollywood for moviegoers disgruntled with the recent intellectual decline of family cinema, discretion and humorous evaluation are both advised for pure historical and mythological sticklers since Sherman and Peabody’s space-time continuum is one where George Washington (Animaniacs’ Jess Harnell) cut down no cherry trees but Marie Antoinette (Laurie Fraser) said “let them eat cake;” the machismo-fueled Agamemnon’s (Warburton) army during the Trojan War includes the likes of Odysseus (Tom McCrath), Achilles, and Oedipus alongside Menelaus and Ajax (Al Rodrigo); and Leonardo da Vinci (Stanley Tucci) employs the help of a dog and his boy to win the smile of his irritable girlfriend Mona Lisa (Childrens Hospital’s Lake Bell).

But what’s truly impressive about Mr. Peabody and Sherman is the thoughtful handling of its somewhat unusual dramatic themes. It was a wise decision for director Rob Minkoff to tweak the relationship between the characters from Jay Ward’s original vision of canine master and human pet to the more humane one of father and son. Though Sherman may still address his adoptive father as “Mr. Peabody” instead of “Dad,” they share an emotional bond that’s threatened on multiple occasions throughout the film by remorseless and rotund Child Services director Mrs. Grunion (Allison Janney), who believes a dog to be an unfit guardian for a 7-year-old schoolboy, regardless of intelligence, and is willing to separate the duo at any given moment in time. Grunion may be a bit too derivative of the equally detestable bureaucrat Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter, but that only makes viewers’ sympathies with Peabody and Sherman stronger.

But alas, Peabody is not quite perfection. In an era in which every major animated feature and Walking With Dinosaurs has been rendered in CGI, many prize-worthy scripts have been weighed down by three-dimensional clunkiness. Over the course of 19 years, Pixar has time and time again succeeded in conveying realism, but Dreamworks in particular has been known to stroll in and out of the uncanny valley from time to time with even its best-loved franchise Shrek little more than a pop-up cartoon. Though it pains me to pick on the poor little guy, Sherman is that valley. In the original shorts, he was a series of lines that could be sketched in a mere minute, but here his exaggeratedly eager grins and other facial features overpower the viewer while making him look more chipmunk than human; it is only due to his stoic lack of expression that Peabody is more tolerable. Yet both of them are not at all well-designed for action sequences, with their oversized heads acting as baggage during the slightest movement. Jay Ward’s animation style was so simplistic it made Hanna-Barbera look high-tech, with critics likening it to an illustrated radio series due to its reliance on witty dialogue and characterization over state-of-the-art imagery. Though it is more difficult to overlook an overdeveloped animated universe than an underdeveloped one, I will only subtract $2 from Peabody for its flawed CGI. If you can only see one animated movie this year, see The LEGO Movie. But if you have room for one more, give Peabody a shot as well.

Walking With Dinosaurs review

January 14, 2014

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Walking With Dinosaurs may have been based on the 1999 BBC documentary series of the same title, but otherwise the two Mesozoic media have little in common. The miniseries succeeded at exploring an era ending 65 million years ago as realistically as the Discovery Channel explores the lives of existing species; the film is so insultingly oversimplified towards what it believes would entertain its target audience that each and every time the scientific name of a dinosaur appears onscreen, one is shocked that they didn’t substitute “longneck” or “sharptooth” for “Apatosaurus” or “Tyrannosaurus.” Released only four years as Toy Story and the same year as Toy Story 2, the miniseries ambitiously utilized the novelty of CGI to heighten the believability; the film only utilizes (rather unimpressive) CGI because, in a time when even Disney has shut down their traditional animation department after the failure of their last animated feature The Princess in the Frog, CGI is simply “what kids’ movies are doing these days.”

As Pixar animator Brad Bird stated, “If you talk down to a kid or aim specifically at a kid, most kids aren’t [going to] like it…because most kids can feel when you are being patronizing.” Unfortunately, Walking With Dinosaurs employs nearly every cliché of mediocre children’s programming, never missing an opportunity for scatological humor to “enhance” its ridiculously formulaic and shabby plot. And what a plot! In the tradition of such apparent children’s animated classics as Osmosis Jones, Dinosaurs begins in the live action world of the present day with a young boy named Ricky (Charlie Rowe) whose parents are forcing him to attend an archaelogical dig with them. A spoiled brat, Ricky complains that he doesn’t “want to dig up dead things.” Then a Spanish-accented bird named Alex (voiced by John Leguizamo) tells the boy that his ancestors (at least the BBC assumed that kids know birds evolved from dinosaurs, right?) were more interesting than he thinks, finding it necessary to add that Ricky’s own Australopithecine ancestors were “pretty ugly!” In a hasty matter of seconds, Alex transforms from a parrot into an Archaeopteryx while turning Ricky into a dinosaur and transports the two of them into the dinosaur kingdom.

In all honesty, the three story arcs which follow the world’s worst exposition might actually not be so unspeakably abysmal had they been void of dialogue. Though the film’s distributor BBC Earth American believes American children would only enjoy dinosaurs if they were constantly saying things like “This [dinosaur] is huge, which means I should probably steer clear of its butt” and “You kicked his butt all the way to the Stone Age,” most parents would disapprove of such rude language, only further alienating the target audience in the film’s expectations. I have seen my fair share of children’s dinosaur films, from The Land Before Time and every sequel up to the point where even the filmmakers, clearly a far cry from Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Don Bluth, lost count of their hour-long direct-to-video creations, to the grammatically incorrect cult classic We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story (Barney is a dinosaur in name only, or DINO, and therefore exempt), and none of them are as degrading to the human mind, regardless of the age, as Walking With Dinosaurs.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty review

January 4, 2014

One of Roger Ebert’s most respected philosophies as a film critic was judging each film by its own merits. In some cases, this proved especially difficult, and if Ebert were alive today, he might well agree that Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is such a case. Adapted from James Thurber’s groundbreaking 1939 short story of the same name, which was previously made into a 1947 Danny Kaye feature, Mitty ultimately succeeds in little more than breaking away entirely from its source material. Indeed, the film is so creatively unfocused and indecisive (as one might expect from a picture billed as a “fantasy-adventure comedy-drama”) that utilizing Thurber may very well have redeemed Stiller’s film.

It is somewhat shocking to realize that the days when Ben Stiller was an inescapable name in comedies are nearly a decade behind us, with his recent vehicles few, far between, and overall mediocre at best (see Greenberg or Little Fockers … wait a minute, don’t). Mitty is similarly no return to form, with Stiller playing the titular role in a fatigued, expressionless manner unfit for a character that undergoes such fantastic adventures through both daydreams and reality. In addition to the character’s trademark “zoning out,” Mitty is barely a functioning human, rarely speaking comprehensively, entering a near-catatonic state in the middle of a crowded street, and ignoring every little word uttered at him in what is either a misinterpretation of the concept of Walter Mitty or a cruelly exaggerated mockery of those with attention deficit disorder.

Even more jarring is the lack of development regarding the supporting cast (i.e. everyone but Stiller). Originally, Mitty was plagued with a domineering wife and his melodramatic, sometimes fatal fantasies were escape mechanisms. Perhaps because the idea of a henpecked husband as a lead character could be viewed as non-PC today, Stiller’s loopiness can be more easily interpreted as boredom with his personal alienation and lack of experience. His acquaintances consist of a doting but senile widowed mother (Shirley MacLaine), a sister (Kathryn Hawn) who does little more here than portray Rizzo in an off-Broadway and off-screen production of Grease, and his colleagues at Life magazine, managed by the arrogant Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), whose goals as a detestable antagonist fall short; his frustrations with the incompetence of Mitty, whom he naturally dismisses as a spacey “Major Tom” in tribute to David Bowie, are nearly sympathetic and more believable than the fact that such a prestigious magazine would hire someone as unprofessional as Mitty in the first place. The two largest vacancies in Mitty’s life—his lack of a father figure and significant other—form the apex of his pathetic life. The premature death of Mitty’s father led him to seek refuge in, of all places, the symbolically titled Papa John’s pizzeria (Stiller’s conjuring of Freud could use some work). Similarly, his infatuation with fellow Life employee Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig) is disturbingly obsessive. Like a thirty-something Little Red Haired Girl, she barely knows he exists, and his (and the audience’s) knowledge of her is limited to the few facts she shares to the world on her eHarmony account. Is she aloof or a so-called “manic pixie dream girl” waiting to happen? Don’t expect to find an answer here.

During one of his countless daydreams, Mitty envisions himself as suffering from “Benjamin Button’s disease” and Wiig’s character taking care of him during his winter years as an wrinkled infant who acts like a ventriloquist’s dummy. Though the inane humor of this moment made me cringe, Stiller could have also benefitted from adapting Thurber’s story in a similar fashion to how F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was put on screen: Expanding its scope instead of digressing abruptly. Halfway through the film, Stiller almost entirely abandons Mitty’s fantasies, placing him on a real-world trek through multiple countries including Greenland (essentially depicted as Solvang with ice), Iceland (Solvang without ice), and the Himalayas, all while dodging a shark attack and an airport arrest reminiscent of his “bomb” incident from Meet the Parents. While this is intended to make Mitty’s once mundane life even more eventful than his overactive imagination, it is almost less engaging than Mitty’s most mundane fantasy (making a snide remark at his boss’ beard in an elevator)—a shaggy dog story that left this viewer sighing in disappointment, much like Mitty himself each time he flew back from his personal Mars to find himself living in a world every bit as empty as it was when he left it.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation review

December 6, 2013

Despite the triumphant return of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo (the same cannot be said for either of their children), I have often observed that fans of the first two National Lampoon’s Vacation films do not necessarily enjoy Christmas Vacation (and vice versa), apparently due to the fact that it is a Vacation film in name only. With Lindsey Buckingham’s insufferable earworm “Holiday Road” finally replaced by Mavis Staples’ more pleasant theme song “Christmas Vacation” and nary a mile traveled by the Griswold family, this film might as well be titled National Lampoon’s Christmas.

Indeed, as Christmas comedies go, Christmas Vacation is a superb alternative to It’s a Wonderful Life, with a surprising amount of heart crammed between the obligatory scatological gags. Even the Griswolds’ crude but well-meaning “cousin-in-law” Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid), who unexpectedly arrives with a decidedly different clan of yokels in his run-down trailer to once again upstage Clark Griswold (Chase) for the holidays, receives a somewhat kinder treatment from the writers than he did in the first film, though uptight yuppie neighbors Margo (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Todd Chester (Nicholas Guest) do not fare as nicely (as is 1980s custom).

With constant chuckles and the occasional belly laugh derived from Clark’s bumbling and futile attempts to provide a perfect Christmas experience for his far-from-perfect immediate and extended families, Christmas Vacation is alternately a solid swan song to the golden age of the franchise whose humor in two decades plummeted from the likes of Harvard to Yale by the Jail (reparations to “Cougars & Mustangs” forthcoming); a worthy inclusion to the Fremont Rewind series; and a Jelly of the Month Club even the most disgruntled worker would instantly join (if you don’t understand that reference, that’s only another reason to see it).

Enough Said review

October 13, 2013

I was unsure what to expect of Enough Said before viewing it. Though billed as a romantic comedy, its advertising, plot, and the recent death of James Gandolfini made it nearly impossible to comprehend what would be so comedic about it. Thankfully, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ sarcastic charisma and amusingly awkward yet heartfelt interactions with Gandolfini were enough to withstand its genre.

Louis-Dreyfus plays Eva, a divorced masseuse who is as unappreciated by her clientele as she is by her teenage daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), who is moving to New York for college to escape her mother. While reluctantly attending a party with her friend Sarah (Toni Collette), who works as a therapist and appropriately serves as Eva’s voice of reason, Eva meets and quickly falls in love with another divorcee, Albert (Gandolfini), whose kindness and brutal frankness overshadow all of his flaws and quirks that Gandolfini often hilariously demonstrates, such as his difficulty at whispering, which causes trouble for the couple in a movie theater.

Coincidentally, the same party provides Eva with her other desire, an appreciative client in the form of Marianne (Catherine Keener), whose talent for poetry is one of her pleasant qualities. Unfortunately, Marianne proves to be insatiably nitpicky, with a tendency to criticize her ex-husband constantly, becoming increasingly irritable as the two women bond and form a solid friendship. Despite the twist’s predictability, it is not until halfway through the film that Eva realizes that her boyfriend is Marianne’s ex-husband, and that his mostly harmless quirks are what ended her marriage. As a result, Eva grows much more critical of Albert herself, drawing negative attention to even his most trivial eccentricities (i.e. separating onions from guacamole). In her most mean-spirited moment, she even jokes that Albert should receive a book of nutrition facts (particularly calories) for his birthday, a scene that Gandolfini’s fatal heart attack makes all the more shocking. The chemistry between Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini’s characters is genuine despite their lack of social grace, making for an emotional and believable romantic comedy.

However, one of the major flaws of Enough Said is its apparent inability to handle its many subplots in a cohesive manner. Throughout the film, Eva causes additional problems for herself, almost all of which are unresolved or distract attention from the main storyline. For example, Eva’s daughter’s best friend Chloe becomes alarmingly clingy, constantly seeking romantic advice from Eva and refusing to leave the house. This results in not only Eva’s daughter accusing her mother of favoring her friend, but also Eva’s friend’s mother accusing her of trying to steal her daughter. The only purpose of these tiresomely complicated and yet trivial subplots seems to be to cement Louis-Dreyfus’ character as a female Larry David who becomes entangled in more awkward social situations than even George Costanza in a typical Seinfeld episode. If this is the case, director/writer Nicole Holofcener should have taken the time to watch Louis-Dreyfus’ breakthrough series (or better yet Curb Your Enthusiasm) and realize that such subplots are much more rewarding when creatively combined in a twist ending than abandoned altogether.