A Movie-Hopping Failure starring One for the Money and They Grey
Like Timmy’s experience with Contraband, mine was similar with One for the Money. I was so excited after seeing the trailer, I invited friends to go see an afternoon matinee. It was a failure. I really want to dig into One for the Money but there’s not much to say. It is not only not good, it is clear from the start director Julie Anne Anderson cannot make it happen on any level. In short, we left. When we were seated in the adjacent theater, my friend said, “That may have been the flattest movie I’ve ever seen.”
A month and a half ago, I realized my Xmas spirit was lacking as usual. So I took out Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich from the library. A book on tape, ready by Lorelei King. It was an Xmas story and it introduced me to all the characters of the world of Stephanie Plum, who is the narrator and protagonist of many Evanovich novels. Lorelei King, the reader of the book, was completely over the top and hilarious. She did a much better job with Evanovich’s style and zany characters than the millions of dollars and hundreds of people who were involved in the feature film. Heigl, by the way, was one of the executive producers of One for the Money.
And one other thing about the movie: the voiceover. The only explanation I can come up with is they were trying to be so faithful to Evanovich the screenwriters wrote in all the non-dialogue parts from the book as voiceover for Heigl. But it’s a movie. We don’t need to hear visual descriptions. It is no longer necessary for the author to help us visualize the scene. Apparently when I left to get more popcorn, Stephanie Plum told the audience more than once that an onscreen car was yellow.
Before we move on to The Grey, let’s talk about previews, because I feel like a fool for getting so excited about movies that are obviously going to be bad. Who are these genius editors? They construct preview after preview that are almost always better than their longer counterparts. Why aren’t they editing features? Or directing them? Or starring in them? Can they function – and function is a giant understatement – only in the two and a half minute trailer medium? Because so many movies – One for the Money and Contraband most definitely included – are worse than their previews. In both aforementioned titles, the one liners land better, the sexual tension exists, and the movie stars’ smiles and mannerisms are magic – except that only exists in the preview, not in the actual movie. But what am I going to rely on if not the previews? Movie reviews? No. That was a joke.
So The Grey. Let’s see. Well first of all, it seemed like a masterpiece after thirty minutes of One for the Money. But anything would have.
In essence, The Grey is a poor interpretation of Predator, men in the wilderness, dying off one at a time because a beast is after them. In the case of The Grey, it’s wolves instead of a Rastafarian alien. The Grey has back story, like Liam Neeson thinking about his wife and writing emotional letters, instead of Predator’s ingenious 1st act drama. In The Grey, by the time the shit hits the fan, we don’t know or care about any of the characters.
The movie also needs a woman’s touch. There’s so much “dude pain,” a friend said; he left in the middle and walked across the street and ate Chinese food for an hour. The womanless aspect of the movie is epitomized when one of the characters wants to say a few words in honor of the dead that died in the plane crash; he says something like, “A lot of good men died here.” But there was a stewardess on the plane. We saw her right before she dies. This is not a movie about women. It is a dude movie about dudes fighting off wolves. Sometimes characters say, “Let’s not talk about wolves.” That is completely ridiculous. Also it is totally weak that the wolves are computer generated.
The Grey is stretched like a motherfucker. The filmmakers tried to cut it like it’s a masterpiece, which it is blatantly not. When it was finally over, I saw that it was based on a short story by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers entitled, “Ghost Walker.” That made a lot more sense. Movies like this – based on short stories, like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – tend to stretch. Which brings up the idea of the forty-five minute film. Great idea. Mr. 3000, the Bernie Mac baseball comedy, would have been damn good if it was forty-five minutes long. Even Where The Wild Things Are might have been good. Maybe. To give you an idea, the getting-to-know-you scene in The Grey comes an hour in. One character – the underused Dermot Mulroney – talks about his daughter. They laugh, they get misty. Liam tells a story about his father. But it’s too late. Too late to start caring about these dudes. Grey shouldn’t be a forty-five minute movie. It should be a twelve minute movie. Just take the first twelve then lop it off: Liam Nieson shooting a wolf, writing a letter to his babe wife from the past and crying softly, going to a bar where there is an elaborate fight going down that he doesn’t notice, and sticking the barrel of his rifle in his mouth, almost pulling the trigger only to be interrupted by the sound of a howling wolf. Could have done well at a film festival. Starring Liam Neeson, directed by his nephew. No. The movie is instead one hundred and seventeen minutes long. It’s the kind of story that could go on and on: dudes trudging through the snow, fending off wolves. The only way I could gauge how long it was going to be until the movie would end is by how many dudes had died and how many more still had to die until it was just Liam and the wolves. See? It’s Predator all over again.