WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Claire is an attractive CIA operative and Ray is an M16 agent who simultaneously leave their Governmental spy activities in the dust to try and profit from a battle between two rival multi-national corporations both trying to launch a new product that will transform the world and make billions. Their goal is to secure the top-secret formula and get a patent before they are outsmarted. While their respective egomaniacal CEOs engage in an unending battle of wills and one-upmanship Claire and Ray start out conning and playing one another in a clever game of industrial espionage that is even more complicated due to their own long-term romantic relationship.
WHO’S IN IT?
Reuniting Closer co-stars Julia Roberts (as Claire) and Clive Owen (as Ray) turns out to be an inspired idea. They turn out to be the perfect pair oozing movie-star charm and electricity in this elaborate con-game that might have been the kind of thing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant might have made in the '60s (in fact they did in Charade). Roberts with that infamous hairstyle back the way we like it and Owen looking great in sunglasses prove they have what it takes to navigate us through this ultra-complex plot in which no one is sure who they can trust at any given moment. They play it all in high style and the wit just flows as the story skirts back and forth during the period of five years. The supporting cast is well-chosen with juicy roles for Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti (out of their John Adams duds) as the two CEOs going for each other’s throats. Giamatti who sometimes has a tendency to overdo it is especially slimy here and great fun to watch.
Big-star studio movies today rarely take risks and often talk down to the audience but in Duplicity writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has crafted a complicated con-comedy that requires complete attention at all times just to keep up with the dense plot’s twists and turns. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a New York Times crossword puzzle and Gilroy and his top-drawer production team deliver a glossy beautiful-looking film that’s easy on the eyes hitting locations from Dubai to Rome to New York City.
Like any good puzzle it sometimes can be frustrating putting it all together and Gilroy’s habit of taking us back in time and then inching forward gets a little confusing even with the on-screen chyron pointing out where we are at any given moment. Stick with it though and you will be well-rewarded.
A scene near the end where the formula must be found scanned and faxed in a matter of minutes is sweat-inducing edge-of-your-seat moviemaking and it provides the ultimate opportunity for Roberts and Owen to take the “con” to the next level. Another where Roberts uses a thong to try and trick Owen into admitting an affair he never had is also priceless and gets right to the heart of the game-playing.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
Never. Stock up during the coming attractions. If you miss a moment of this entertaining romp you might never figure it all out.
Umm hard to pin this one down. While not dealing with a) water b) teenagers or c) being hungry this bizarre and raunchy cinematic experience has something to do with the mysterious origins of Aqua Teen Hunger Force members: Meatwad (literally a meatball) Frylock (a floating box of French fries with a diabolical face) and Master Shake (a horny milk shake). When an immortal piece of exercise equipment threatens the balance of galactic peace these three become unlikely heroes teaming up with the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past and the Plutonians to strive for ultimate control of the sinister deadly device. There’s also the fat slob New Jersey neighbor Carl who tries unsuccessfully to keep the Aqua Teens away from his house and his pool; the mad scientist Dr. Weird and his lab assistant Steve; and two villainous pairs of dastardly villains--Ignignokt and Err of the dreaded Mooninite Army. Seriously we aren’t making any of this up. Produced by Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis ATHF is based on their successful Adult Swim series in which they also provide the vocals: Willis voices Carl Meatwad and Ignignokt while Maiellaro takes on Err Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past. There’s also Dana Snyder as Master Shake Carey Means as Frylock and Andy Merrill and Mike Schatz as The Plutonians. Apparently most of the dialogue is improvised. Ah to be a fly on the wall in THAT recording studio. You can just imagine those guys sitting around with fast food and candy wrappers everywhere and an old Galaga video game in the corner coming up with the most off-the-wall stuff they can think of. Of course some of it may only be funny to them but it’s their ballgame. They can do what they want. Maiellaro and Willis who also worked on Cartoon Network’s hilariously subversive Space Ghost: Coast to Coast are some sincerely messed-up dudes. The first ATHF episode “Baffler Meal” (a parody of McDonald’s Happy Meal) appeared on the Space Ghost show and featured a prototypical version of ATHF that resembled the future characters but differed in appearance personality and voice. It sort of grew exponentially since then and now the show is going into its fifth season. In ATHF Colon Movie Film for Theaters the vulgar humor is certainly South Park-inspired and the animation at best rudimentary. The best are Ignignokt and Err who look like old arcade video-game characters. As they threaten the world with impending destruction they shoot their ray guns which move at the speed of a snail: beep [pause] beep [pause] beep [pause]...and so it goes. Little hysterical touches like that pop up all over the place. The overall movie however will probably only speak to those twisted minds out there who watch the show snagging a few new converts (myself included) along the way. Maybe that’ll be enough.