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Mini-Reviews: Argo and Here Comes The Boom

Argo:

Argo, Ben Affleck’s third and best directorial effort is a thoroughly engrossing thriller, a smart R-rated throwback to a bygone era. No rapid-fire editing, no shootouts, no gratuitous violence; instead, Affleck relies on well-developed characters, lethal doses of humor, and a slow burn leading to a nail-bitingly tense final act. It seems on the surface deceptively simple (people are trapped in a dangerous place, Affleck’s character must get them out), but if making thrillers this good was so simple, we’d have a film of this caliber in the genre every year. Every production element is top-drawer, from the location to the sound to the costumes/makeup– of particular note is the editing, among the best in its field in the last several years. The performances are unsurprisingly strong as well: John Goodman and Alan Arkin are (always) great as comedic relief, while Bryan Cranston, Scoot McNairy, and Clea Duvall put in strong dramatic turns. The real star, however, is Affleck: he makes for a Redfordesque straight man, underplaying every scene beautifully, letting the camerawork, production design, and script star in every frame. It’s great filmmaking: again, deceptively simple.

Here Comes The Boom:

Kevin James gets unfairly maligned in the critical community– while Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Zookeeper aren’t exactly Chekhov, they’re much better than the Adam Sandler fare they’re compared to. James’ films don’t mock their characters, tend to be far less crude, and put emphasis on the warmth that James conveys so well in his face. In his newest outing, Here Comes The Boom, that aforementioned warmth seems to be the main focus, not getting laughs. James plays a jaded public high school teacher who finds himself inspired by the music teacher, played by Henry Winkler, who really cares for his students. When Winkler’s job is on the chopping block, James submits himself to abuse in the MMA ring in order to raise the money to save the music program. The film is sloppily made: many scenes seem pointless or injected in awkwardly, while others run on far too long. However, director Frank Coraci is smart enough to lean on James and Winkler to provide plenty of heart– this is Winkler’s best film performance since his younger days– and a suitably soaring score by Rupert Gregson-Williams to milk any warm-blooded filmgoer’s tear ducts. It’s not terribly funny, and its plot isn’t particularly original, but it’s perfectly pleasant and diverting. No need to fight it.

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~ by russellhainline on October 13, 2012.

85 Responses to “Mini-Reviews: Argo and Here Comes The Boom”

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