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November 12, 2007

Lions For Lambs: The Best Gonzo Comedy Since Happy Gilmore

...at least I think that's what J-Pod is saying in this review.

Sounds pretty fucking funny, man. Who knew Redford was such a gifted natural comedian?

Another good one from The Onion's AV club:

Director-producer-star Robert Redford continues his slow descent into irrelevance with Lions For Lambs, a hopelessly stilted political drama that plays like U.S. News & World Report: The Movie. Redford's latest middlebrow muddle is so hopelessly talky, mannered, stagy, overwritten, and didactic that it's hard to believe Aaron Sorkin isn't somehow involved.

And another:

We're a few scant minutes into Lions for Lambs and already it's offered up more inanity than any politically "serious" movie should ever contemplate.

It is, of course, only just getting started. The interview itself, between Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) and TV reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) isn't really an interview at all, but rather a debate between the former's pious warmongering and the latter's jaded skepticism. The problem is that the arguments made by both sides are consistently idiotic. Given that the target audience of the film is educated Americans, anyone likely to see it is also likely to see through it. I don't believe I was the only one in the theater to shudder slightly when Irving tells Roth that he can talk to her until eleven o'clock and she replies enthusiastically "The whole hour?" (Don't worry: In reality, the Irving-Roth jawfest takes up a mere thirty minutes or so of screen time.)

The senator tells Roth that the U.S. government, which he seems somehow to be running, is responding to an incursion of Sunni militants from Iraq into Afghanistan via Iran (and no, the film doesn't explain why militants leaving Iraq is a bad thing) by putting a number of small combat units into Afghanistan to root them out. Irving's case for the new mission consists mostly of stereotypical pro-war blather about "getting it right" and "fighting to win." What's odd is that Roth's anti-war case, which the film is intended to promote, is even less persuasive, consisting of simple-minded sloganeering-"So, it's basically kill people to help people"-and a point-scoring obsession with recounting past mistakes: "Why did it take us three years to armor up our Humvees?" "Didn't we also arm Saddam in the 1980s?" "It really reminds me of Abrams in '68."

As a break from the astonishing cinematic inertia of Cruise and Streep yakking, Lions for Lambs intercuts their debate with ... another scene of people arguing back and forth across a desk.

I got all three from Ross Douthat, but you can check his post to read even the amateur leftist Webzine Slate's hyperliberal nitwit reviewer Dana Stevens bashing the movie.


The film's running time is eighty-eight minutes. I note this for two reasons: Whenever a film is godawful the first thing the producers demand is "cut it down, cut it down, cut it to ribbons." They do this for two reasons:

1, they could get lucky and wind up with a not-bad short movie which doesn't test the audience's patience because it's cut so leanly and hits its big moments so quickly and ends before it really has time to piss you off;

and 2, because when you have a dog on your hands, you want a really fucking short movie so you can cram in as many showings per night and at least make some money before word gets out and theaters begin refusing to show it at all.

The other reason I mention it is because Woody Allen somewhat-famously pronounced that the exact perfect length for a comedy was exactly 88 minutes.

Scott In OC Adds:

There's actually something more significant to note about this particular running time. To deliver a film for sale domestically (and maybe foreign too?), the minimum length is 87 minutes. This is written into any standard contract. So basically they cut Lions/Lambs into the just barely legal category. The producers couldn't chop any more out if they wanted to. And I'd bet dollars to donuts they probably did...

Hah.

Let me say I doubted Scott at first. Because I'd seen the godawful remake of Walking Tall, which was the shortest film I'd ever seen in my life. The credits were very long, but I figured the actual running length was around 75 minutes, which is barely longer than a one-hour tv show.

I guess those credits were longer than I realized. Because according to IMDB, the official running length of that piece of crap was... 87 minutes.

The weird stuff you guys know.

Maybe that was actually the secret gag to Woody Allen's joke-- that he was saying 88 minutes was the perfect length just because it was one minute longer than the minimum length he was legally obligated to deliver.


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posted by Ace at 11:38 PM

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