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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Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
We're starting a new feature to help you figure out that age-old question: What's on TV tonight? We've got a few suggestions and a little context so all you have to do when you get home is kick back and enjoy the show.
Thursday, Nov. 10
Parks and Recreation
8:30 p.m. on NBC
The tension continues this week on Parks as Leslie is forced to work in close proximity to Ben when they build a Model U.N. We also find Chris making Jerry even more uncomfortable than we thought possible after that Halloween party display and Tom helps Ron find his replacement. This is going to be good.
9:00 p.m. on ABC
"Dark is The Night"
The stakes are getting higher on everyone's favorite doctor show. Meredith and Derek receive some news about the baby they're trying to adopt just before she and Alex are called on to treat an infant at a neighboring hospital and end up in a life-threating situation of their own. The promos show Cristina in tears, which doesn't bode well since Meredith is her "person." It should be a dramatic, juicy episode.
10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on FX
The little show that could comes on after the madcap FX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and this week, it gets a little boost from Ray Liotta and an extra helping in the form of a second brand new episode. We'll see Jenny ruin Ruxin's relationship with his boss, Mr. Hudabega (Liotta), Taco will finally try to do something with his jingle-writing ability and we'll learn about a concept known as "breast favoritism." This double dose of the fantasty football sitcom should be well worth the attention.
8:00 p.m. on NBC
"Studies in Modern Movement"
Annie moves in with Troy and Abed and Jeff has to go to the mall with Dean Pelton.
The X Factor Eliminations
8:00 p.m. on Fox
One of the 11 finalists goes home; Jessie J performs.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
10:00 p.m. on FX
"The Gang Gets Trapped"
Our gang breaks into someone's house only to find that the victims are home. They're trapped in the house, Charlie and Mac are in the surveillance van, giggles ensue.
S2:E12 We've come to expect a lot from Community, so it's not going to get a gold star every week. This is one of those weeks. This week's episode was solid (and to be honest I can't think of a time when an episode of Community wasn't), but my favorite aspect wasn't the plot or even the one-liners, which are always on-point, it's the element of incredible attention to detail. So many other sitcoms put in pieces here and there to add color or to get a quick laugh, but they rarely come back to those details and use them for plot or extended gags that arch over many episodes. When you watch Community, pay attention, because those little jokes at the end of a tag could come back as something important later. This episode is one of those cases.
"Pierce, if someone had sex with Chang and gets to not remember it, it's a gift from God." -Troy
Remember back in October, when Greendale went all flesh-eating zombie thanks to some top-secret government grade mystery meat? Remember how Shirley and Chang totally did it, but then everyone lost their memories? Remember the tag that episode? This episode takes that little vignette of Troy getting a voicemail from Chang about his Halloween tryst, and it was funny that time, but now it's the premise for an entire episode. That happened months ago. See what I mean about those details? None of them are useless.
The secret incident comes up when guest star Malcolm-Jamal Warner stops by as Shirley's ex. Her surprise pregnancy (which also came up months ago in the bottle episode thanks to Abed's creepy menstruation chart) is the reason for the reunion, but the voicemail on Troy's phone throws a wrench in the whole system. It could be a Chang baby. While this whole thing was a little soap opera-esque for me, it did afford an occasion for Jeff and Andre (Warner) to have a conversation about his Cosby sweater - "My dad gave it to me" - because if you have Theo Huxtable on your show, you can't ignore the Cosby element. Well done.
Of course once Pierce shatters Shirley's world (in all fairness, he totally warned her that he would) with the news about Chang, Andre decides to stay with Shirley and we enjoy one of those sweet Community moments. I'm all for sincerity when necessary, but I'm not going to lie - when Pierce ruined all the sweetness with his creepy yawn and grab on Britta, I was a little relieved that the sentimental part was over.
"Why are you using your 'I love butterflies' voice?" -Troy
Annie's got a new man, and they found a finger in a ditch. How romantical. That's another thing I love about this show; Annie's complete lack of connection to reality. They play up her young, innocent ignorance to hilarious levels, allowing her to go all googly-eyed over trudging through crap with Rich the 30-something year old banana doctor (also from the Halloween episode and the pottery episode last year).
The whole episode sets everything up like Jeff is jealous of Annie's new crush, leading him to try anything to keep Annie from inducting Rich into the study group. But in true Community fashion, it's not that simple. Time and again we see that jealousy flash across Jeff's face and those fans hoping for a romantic resolution felt their hearts flutter at the idea of Jeff and Annie's reunion. (Hey ladies, you know Jeff's like 30-something too, right?) Right up until the point Jeff reaches what should be Annie's apartment after running through the rain upon hearing the Rich turned her down, it seems that this episode is following the expected romantic arc, but when Jeff stands drenched in the apartment doorway something is amiss. Remember the first episode of the season, when we see Annie's room and there are piles of trash bags lying outside of her barred windows? Remember Troy's 21st birthday episode, when they drop her off in a bad neighborhood at her rundown apartment? Those details weren't arbitrary. When Jeff stands in a hallway with fancy sconces on the wall and a delightful shade of yellow paint everywhere, we know he didn't go running for love. He went running to learn the ways of the Jedi master of being perfect, "Doctor-do-no-wrong" Rich.
This plot also allowed for a double encounter in the men's room - another detail which though seemingly silly, occurred with purpose. I loved that when Britta barges in and talks to Jeff, his exit is immediately followed by her flashing one of the Greendale nerds for concert tickets. This is partly because this episode doesn't have enough "buzzkill" Britta and because it makes me happy when everything in an episode has a reason.
"Guilty as Chang'd." -Chang
When this whole gag started up during the cold open, I actually rolled my eyes. I was just about fed up with the former Spanish teacher, but somehow as it continued, I found myself chang'ing words in real life. Damn you, Ken Jeong. Of course the reason for all this is a twist I'm on board with: Chang finally joining the study group. We know this can't last, but it's nice to shake things up a bit.
Also of note, Jeff's lawyering is back in play. His little "with Chang what you see is what you get" speech was entertaining, but made hilarious with the help of Chang's emphatic interjections like the above quote. The dude's complete lack of self-awareness and pension for ridicule is almost admirable.
"Who is this kettle corn-popping phantom?" -Jeff
Okay, that quote isn't from the tag, but the tag was about kettle corn so let it go. Troy and Abed in The Morning is back and this means I will be singing that little jingle until next Thursday night. I just hope that Rich isn't going to become an incredibly permanent fixture on the show. The dynamic between he and Jeff worked on Halloween and it works here, but he's going to reach intolerable levels of obnoxiousness really soon even if he does make the best kettle corn ever.