Monday, April 11, 2005

"Sahara," "Fever Pitch": Some Thoughts

From the there-are-worse-ways-to-spend-some-bucks-at-the-movies department:

Sahara is a big, dumb, improbable, kid-friendly adventure yarn. And much like last summer's big, dumb, improbable, kid-friendly adventure yarn, National Treasure, it is decent popcorn entertainment, provided you're willing to temporarily put aside all ability to reason, ponder and use opposable thumbs.

In this adaptation of a Clive Cussler novel starring his hero Dirk Pitt, director Breck Eisner (son of Disney's Michael Eisner -- ahhh, the joys of being the child of a movie mogul) does little more than string together a bunch of preposterous chases, close calls and explosions. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, this sort of stuff would be labeled derring-do. Maybe it still is. Eisner's direction is hackneyed, and the editing is far too jumbled to really follow much of the action, but the goofiness of it all is, grudgingly, pretty damn fun.

Sahara's biggest drawback, aside from it being utterly ridiculous (and since that's part of the good time, who can really call that a drawback?) is a cast in desperate need of a collective bitch slap.

The inexplicably famous Matthew McConaughey, who stars as our hero, looks and acts as if he'd be more comfortable spring breaking it at Padre Island than racing through desert sands. As the beautiful and brainy love interest, Penelope Cruz offers line readings slightly more proficiently than that of a trained seal.

And as the trusty sidekick, Steve Zahn plays Steve Zahn, which is to say he is engaging enough in that smartassed sidekick sort of way, until you realize about two-thirds of the way through that the filmmakers have no intention of killing this guy off.


Equally pleasant (and frothy) is Fever Pitch. At first blush, a romantic comedy might seem a bit of a stretch for Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the brothers who whipped up hair gel in There's Something About Mary and bull-milking in Kingpin, but even their grossest gross-out comedies have been romances at heart.

Fever Pitch purports to be a love triangle between a workaholic businesswoman (Drew Barrymore, cute and sunny as ever), a fanatical Boston Red Sox fan (Jimmy Fallon) and the Bosox during its magical 2004 season. But the movie is more inclusive than a mere valentine to baseball. Loosely based on the Nick Hornby novel, Fever Pitch essentially has fun with examining the art of compromise in relationships. Oh, it maintains a light touch, all right, but nevertheless it does touch upon real issues dealing with self-identity and juggling passions ... and all that other crap.

And so Fever Pitch, for all its endearing silliness about Red Sox Nation, reveals sincerity and even a bit of wisdom (this from the pair who made Dumb and Dumber). But the movie does commit one glaring error (surely you didn't think I'd get through this without at least one baseball analogy). Jimmy Fallon is milquetoast. He doesn't embarrass himself, but the guy has no real presence.

I never thought I'd say this, but where's Adam Sandler when you need him?


At 1:59 PM, Blogger Quack Corleone said...

National Treasure was my mortal enemy for a few weeks last year, so I don't think I'll put any money in the Eisner family fund by seeing Sahara, but Fever Pitch looks like an enjoyable piece. Would my complete lack of knowledge about baseball make it significantly less enjoyable?

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous eulalie said...

Adam Sandler is no Pat Sajak.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Truer words were never spoken. Word, Eulalie.

At 5:55 PM, Anonymous eulalie said...

I have no idea what word, eulalie means but don't worry about it.

Also, I watched The Daily Kos thing last night with Brian Lamb and he suggested that if we're with Blogger
we should get new templates and then
explained about templates but I've got to say that some of these Blogger templates have made me happier than I've been in some time. So, I'm just saying that I hope you don't rush off and do that.

Thanks very much for your help in this matter.

At 11:48 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Hey Quack - Don't let your lack of knowledge about baseball deter you from the movie. It helps to know baseball, particularly the legend of the Red Sox, but it's no prerequisite. Although it's impossible to do, it would also be good to forget everything you know about the Farrellys, since this is not much in the vein of their previous movies.


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