Robert's Picks: Disappointing Films
Only Human (Seres Queridos). Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri. Spain, 2004. This film wanted desperately to be funny, and it was not. Much of it was filmed like farce, but the director made the mistake of filming farce at a glacial pace rather than a rapid-fire pace. Farce’s success is dependent upon timing, and the timing is related to speed of delivery. Things move fast—not slow, and one joke or comic bit follows the next in rapid succession. Here’s the set-up: Leni, a successful Barcelona Jew, takes her boyfriend Rafi home to see her family. The family has strict Orthodox Jewish roots, but not all members of the family are equally Orthodox. And the big problem anyway is that Rafi is Palestinian! Now the family members need to be funny for this to work; but they were merely quirky and off-balance. There are plot twists, to be sure, as required in farce, but even when the action moves away from the family apartment to a hospital—in order to resolve the questions raised about the father, the narrative grinds rather than glides and the film continued to be a bundle of comedy never fully realized.
The Saint of 9/11. Dir. Glenn Holsten. This documentary, about the fire department chaplain Mychal Judge, who died in one of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, was a well-intentioned homily on the life of a good man. But I think it was more suitable material for a 55-minute documentary, or even a 28-minute documentary, rather than a feature-length documentary (90 minutes). Too many interviews, too many gushing comments about this man’s goodness, too much going over the same ground. It was more eulogy than documentary. I was moved by the chaplain’s character, but this treatment of his life was far from compelling.
Talledega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby. Dir. Adam McKay. This film failed because it never rose higher than the level of Saturday Night Live sketch material. Even worse, some of the sketches never seemed to end (the dinner scene, for example). Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are much better actors for the material they were given in this film. (If Ferrell was a contributor to the screen play, he should think again and his writing skills.) There were a few funny bits—especially the scene where Ricky thinks he is paralyzed and decides to prove it to his friends. Maybe the cougar—but not really. And then there was the whole business with the effeminate French race car driver and the anti-French jokes went on and on and bored me. As I scan over my notes for the film, I can’t find many gems here. And poor Molly Shannon—stuck playing a lush. That was sad The comic timing misfired repeatedly in this film, and as I watched it I longed for a better film like Elf.