Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Aniston’

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston

“MOTHER’S DAY”  My rating: C- 

118 minutes  | MPAA rating: PG-13

Like its predecessors — “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve” and the inexplicably adored  “Love Actually”  — “Mother’s Day” is low-risk, high-profit drek.

From a film producer’s point of view it’s a no brainer.  Take a half dozen interlacing plots on a central theme, populate them with big names (none of whom have to work too hard, since each is on screen for only a few minutes), pave the way with lightweight comedy and wrap it all up with a saccharine coda.

Jason Sudiekis

Jason Sudeikis

Plus, it’s a lazy moviegoer’s dream come true. There’s no commitment required because the enterprise is pure dramatic shorthand. No character or narrative arc is sustained  long enough to be anything more than a blip, and the film delivers a sentimental rush without the viewer having to invest anything.

In other words, emotional porn.

The latest from director Garry Marshall and his team of writers (Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker) follows a group of Atlanta residents as they look forward to — what else? — Mother’s Day.

Divorcee Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is all abother because her ex (Timothy Olyphant) has wed a trophy gal half his age…and now this new stepmom is a favorite of Sandy’s two young boys.

Sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) live next door to each other and are happily estranged from their domineering and hopelessly prejudiced mother. Jesse has married an East Indian M.D. (Asaif Mandvi), while Gabi is in a same-sex relationship.

Wouldn’t you know it?  Their covers are blown when unsuspecting Mom (the great Margo Martindale) and Dad (Robert Pine) come swooping down in their RV to share Mother’s Day with the girls. (more…)

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cake_trailer2_mi_16x9_992“CAKE” My rating: B- 

102 minutes | MPAA rating: R

I can usually handle a pain-filled story if there’s a touch of transcendence in there somewhere.

In the case of “Cake,” a glum yarn about a woman enduring excruciating physical and mental pain, that transcendence is provided by Jennifer Aniston in the sort of soul-ripping performance we’ve never see from her.

Claire Bennett is middle aged but moves like an old lady. The scars on her face suggest she’s been through a lot, and as the movie progresses we’ll discover that not all her maladies are physical.

You get the feeling that she’s always had a dark, sardonic streak and that whatever has happened to her has kicked this into overdrive. Early in this film from director Daniel Barnz, Claire rips up other members of her support group for for their simpering responses to the suicide of one of their members.

The woman in question, Claire notes, took a header off a freeway overpass, landed in the bed of a truck and was not discovered until said vehicle had returned to its home base in Mexico, making things even more complicated for her survivors. She made her escape, sure, but at what cost to those she left behind? Way to go.

Her caustic attitude extends to just about everyone in her life, not that there are that many of them.  She’s mean to her physical therapist (Mamie Gummer) and support group facilitator (Felicity Huffman).  She’s brusque with her ex-husband (Chris Messina) and especially with her soulful housekeeper (Adriana Barraza), the sort of person who is almost too forgiving of the faults of others.

Patrick Tobin’s screenplay lacks a strong narrative. Mostly it provides vignettes of Claire’s troubled life as he (rather parsimoniously) deals out the facts about how she came to this sad state.

The crisis here comes when Claire is visited by the ghost of her suicidal friend (Anna Kendrick) and decides to pay a visit to the woman’s husband (Sam Worthington) and child. Maybe she’ll be able to make some sense of her life. Their lives.

I’m guessing we’re to view the ghost as metaphorical rather than literal.  In either case, it’s a rather creaky device.

But at rock bottom this is a case of an actress outshining her material. “Cake” may feel a bit too carefully assembled for credibility, but Aniston’s furious, desperate performance rings true. | Robert W. Butler

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Rudd * Aniston * Theroux“WANDERLUST” My rating: C+ (Opening wide on February 24)

98 minutes | MPAA rating: R 

Ever since his genius comic riffing in “I Love You, Man,” KC native Paul Rudd has been Hollywood’s go-to guy for off-the-cuff hilarity.

He’s at it again in “Wanderlust,” a dork-among-the-hippies comedy, and he’s the reason to check it out.

Rudd plays George, who with his wife Linda (Jennifer Aniston) is trying to make ends meet in the tough world of Manhattan. As the film begins they are completing the purchase of a condo – actually a closet-sized studio – and dreaming of life as property owners.

But George loses his job and Linda’s plan to sell her documentary film (about penguins with testicular cancer) to HBO collapses. Soon they’re on the road to Atlanta to crash with George’s boorish brother, a porta-potty king.

Looking for a bed and breakfast, they stumble into Elysium, a old-style commune in the Georgia woods that’s absolutely overflowing with pot-puffing, Frisbee-tossing, granola-munching, downward-dogging, instrument-strumming, walk-around-stark-naked bunch of latter-day hippies.


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