Tuesday, January 08, 2008

From Cynicism, Hope

What is described is appalling. How it is described is divine. An oasis of a review.

... The adolescents in the movie speak through so many layers of sardonic detachment that it is impossible to like them or care what decisions they end up making. Even this oldest of teen crisis gags is shrugged off with zero emotional depth, as if everything in their lives is just one big postmodern spoof that they need only respond to with the appropriate ironic youth jargon. Their sole motivation in life is to produce flippant commentary about it. It is difficult to conceive of a more profound emotional disassociation.

In one of the movie's few unintentional ironies, it is the neurotic yuppie couple who are the most human and consequently the most sympathetic characters in the story. Jennifer Garner, in a surprising performance, is painfully anxious about her prospective adoptive motherhood, having been burned once before by another presumably less formulaically jaded teen mother. Jason Bateman's comic timing is on display, as highlighted by the movie's trailer, but also of note is his understated portrayal of a failed husband.

But the movie's good points end there. It is all resolved in a tidy, feel-good ending that manages two saccharine lies where it could have got by with only one. It is moreso an affront in that it pretends to offer some serious or credible perspective on its subject matter, where it really has only glib patter and counter-patter, like a long cocktail party conversation as imagined by a narcissist with himself.
You find yourself in the awkward position of almost being glad that the movie was so bad that it should have inspired such outstanding critique.

Hat tip to Kevin Grace for sending me the link.