Feb 2008 04

John August has created an interesting and experimental film that works on a number of levels but doesn’t quite gel into something really wonderful.
Ryan Reynolds stars in three chapters that are all connected, how they are connected is revealed over the course of the film. Melissa McCarthy is also interwoven with Reynolds characters along with Hope Davis who also appears in all three chapters. All three of the major actors in the film play about an equal part in each subsequent chapter with each taking on a clearly different type of character from one to the next. Though their characters are different, their agendas remain the same, and you slowly begin to see something coming together as you watch.
Chapter One is probably my favorite of the three and deals with Reynolds’ character Gary, a TV star put on house arrest and the relationships he forms with his neighbor and PR rep that moves in with him. Davis plays the neighbor with McCarthy playing the PR rep. Things start off fun and playful but agenda’s and mystery arise by the end with a conclusion that will hook you into finding out what the hell is going on.
Chapter Two is shot like a reality TV show following Reynolds as Gavin, a writer/director of a pilot trying to get made with David playing the Executive in charge of production and McCarthy as the star. The drama that unfolds is an accurate representation of the TV pilot process, but was already satire better in The TV Set this year, and only adds to the overall story very minimally even though it is probably the longest segment; at least it felt that way.
Chapter Three is about as good as the first one and follows Reynolds as Gabriel, an accomplished video game designer, who encounters Davis as he tries to find help to jump his car while his wife, McCarthy, and daughter wait behind. The movie makes sense of everything that has been going on but get a bit hammy at the end as well.
Shot for a fairly low budget the movie looks surprisingly good, so Kudos to August for that. His script is also pretty funny at times and Reynolds carries the film well. McCarthy is good throughout but I fear she has been type cast already in her current gig on Samantha Who? Hope Davis does a great job as well playing the most diverse roles of all and she excels on screen as usual. The movie was barely released but will maybe find an audience on home video, and will most likely find a cult following due to its high concept premise. I can see some comparisons to Donnie Darko down the line as well, but this doesn’t touch the ambiguity or depth of that film.
A solid effort that is worth watching for Reynolds and the interesting story, the movie works well for two thirds of its length, but the bloat in the middle hurts it in the long run. The movie aims high and might think it’s bigger than it really is, but if you go in expecting a bit of good thinking and nothing awe inspiring then you should find some enjoyment in the film.


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