After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin has been enjoying success on both the big and small screen for decades, but his career high clearly came last year with The Social Network. Sorkin, thanks to A Few Good Men, The American President and Charlie Wilson’s War, had already been a household name for movie geeks, but the explosion of “that Facebook movie” made him into a household name for non-geeks alike.
But before Sorkin was making appearances on 30 Rock and Oprah, even before he made The West Wing, he was busy fine toning his walk-and-talk writing on Sports Night, one of the best TV series you’ve probably never seen completely. That’s okay, though, because now the complete show, which only lasted two seasons, is now available for streaming on Netflix. If you were at all impressed by Sorkin’s knack for rapid fire dialogue in The Social Network, this is a must watch series.
Who Made It: Aaron Sorkin, obviously. This was his first TV show and his first produced script since The American President. The show originally aired on ABC between 1998 and 2000, and enjoyed a brief life on late night cable syndication in the early ‘00s (which was actually when I first started watching it).
Who’s In It: Sports Night boasts one of the most cohesive ensemble comedy casts since Cheers, filled with the likes of Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), Josh Charles (Dead Poets Society), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Joshua Malina (The West Wing), Sabrina Lloyd (Sliders), Robert Guillaume (the excellent voice actor), Teri Polo (Meet the Parents), William H. Macy (Fargo) and a whole lot more.
What’s It About: Sports Night is a walk-and-talk comedy (with dashes of drama) about the behind-the-scenes antics of the fictitious sports commentary show, Sports Night. Basically, it’s about the cast and crew of a wannabe ESPN show, their lives, their relationships, and their love of sports.
Why You Should Watch It: The best, must succinct endorsement of Sports Night I can give is that I unabashedly love the show and yet I watch zero sports and never turn on ESPN. Sorkin’s writing is just so damned sharp, his wit so exacting and his knack for making hurts swell with feel good endings, that no love of sports is required to enjoy it. If you like people, flaws and all; if you appreciate good writing, this is a show for you, plain and simple.
The cast is so extraordinary, their interplay so organic that it blows my mind that they haven’t all become A-listers in the TV world. Peter Krause has of course enjoyed plenty of praise and steady work, having followed SN with Six Feet Under and Parenthood, and Felicity Huffman has been earning her fair share of ratings as a part of Desperate Housewives, but the rest of the cast have pretty much all resigned to jumping from mid-level TV show to TV show. And to think that asshats like Charlie Sheen enjoyed nearly $2 million per episode for crap like Two and a Half Men. It hurts my brain just thinking about it.
The first few episodes of the show are crippled by a network-mandated laugh track, but aside from that goof, Sports Night is the rare kind of TV show that brings its A game every episode without fail. There are no ups and downs, no silly plot threads that are drawn out too long. Everything in it just... works. It just works. Granted, with only two seasons to live, Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes sports show didn’t live long enough to be brought down by its own formula, but that just makes it all the more precious. Had I been a fan of the show when it aired, I probably would have been pissed about its cancellation, but as it stands right now, two seasons is the perfect length.
Those two seasons were solid enough to provide me with countless scripted conversations and exchanges that I think about often, be they thoughts on the legalization of marijuana, working in the porn industry, having a stroke, or just watching the human spirit push itself to new highs in sports. Sports Night is the kind of perfectly balanced, warming and familiar show I put on for comfort food. Hopefully it’ll be the same for you.