In honor of the recent critically acclaimed release of Angelina Jolie’s Salt, this week’s Saturday night screening was devoted to affectionately remembering that period of time in Jolie’s career in which she was just like any other working actress in Hollywood—trying climb her way to the elite A-list through the use of her voluptuous lips, penetrating green eyes, perfect body, credibility as the daughter of Jon Voight…and oh yeah, some kind of “acting” ability, or whatever. Oh wait, this movie was made after her Oscar-winning performance in Girl Interrupted, and after her famous leading-lady debut to all the devoted PC gamers as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. So…yeah, there’s not really any reason for her to have made this movie—or for this movie to have been made at all.
When I think about reasons why this movie sucked, the first thing that pops into my head actually has to do with something that should be one of the least noticeable and subtle things in any kind of film production: wardrobe and costumes. Even though Angelina Jolie’s character, Lanie, is supposed to be playing the uptight and prissy local news reporter, did they really have to make her look like a “Gone Prositutin’” Barbie? I especially enjoyed the fuchsia silk suit they put her in for about thirty seconds in the film in order to draw some kind of lackadaisical connection between her and Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (which, in a flashback, they show her longingly watching as a poor, ignored middle-class child who wears glasses—ewww glasses!!). The styling choices in this movie made absolutely no sense and were so bad that they distracted me from attempting to care even a little about the characters or anything else having to do with the plot. I’m amazed that they somehow managed to make an actress as stunningly beautiful as Angelina Jolie practically unbearable to look at for an entire film. I just have to mention in passing how hideously ill-fitting Stockard Channing’s purple, shoulder-pad infested suit of death looked in the one of two scenes she had in the movie. I kept expecting the McDonald’s character “Grimace” to run up and ask for his costume back.
I would say that the acting in this movie is terrible, but I don’t want anyone to think that writing and dialogue in this screenplay was anything close to actable or believable. Trying to establish Lanie as an abused child when really, nothing that awful happened to her is insulting to writers who actually have to think up believable instances of childhood trauma in order to get the audience to sympathize with a character. We’re really supposed to genuinely feel sorry for a platinum blonde wearing glasses who once had a boy ignore her in high school and is in the outs with her sister because they’ve always been competitive with one another? I don’t think so. But the worst part about the screenplay for this movie is that I can actually picture the group of writers in a brainstorming room for the film, trying to figure out what piecemeal scene should come next. In one such scenario, I can envision one of them reaching for a breath mint, and suddenly, inspiration striking as he/she says to the other writers with legitimate enthusiasm, “Yeah! She’s just like an Altoid! Yeaaahhhh!” And so, another incredibly pathetic metaphor somehow makes it into the final cut of the film. WOW.
Time for a feminist tangent! If you want to spend 103 minutes of your life watching some absolutely shameless exploitation of women, this is the film for you! With scenes ranging from Angelina Jolie’s gently jiggling breasts in a skin-tight tank top as she works out in the gym to Stockard Channing’s teary admission of regret for having chosen a high-paying, top notch journalism career over a man, there are a plethora of demoralizing examples to choose from! While most chick-flicks are degrading to women on some level or another, I can manage to overlook minor injustices if the film manages to give me that warm, “aww, love conquers all!” feeling. However, I just don’t care about anyone in this movie. At all. Subsequently, I can’t be made to care about whether Ed Burns and Jolie get together or not, especially when the film spends such an enormous amount of time breaking down and making pathetic little weaklings out what should be its strongest female characters.
Oh yeah, there’s also a “main plot” (or whatever) about Tony Shalhoub’s bum-prophet character telling Jolie’s character that she’s going to die in a week. But there are so many things to distract you from what should be the predominant storyline of the film that you forget about things that should be important for the plot, such as SHE HAS A WEEK TO LIVE. I didn’t think the movie would have the guts to actually kill her in the end (spoiler alert!), and surprise! it didn’t. The “a part of me did die that day,” ending is such an infuriating cop-out, and makes me wonder why they even had the whole death sentence plot at all since they clearly wanted to focus on the tiresome flirty banter between the lead characters.
I also enjoy it when films take place in major cities, but have about two on-location scenes. It just seems like if they spent the time, money and effort infiltrating an existing local news station (KOMO) in Seattle, they could’ve filmed outside of the real “Giggles” comedy club, or looked up a real street intersection instead of just pulling the nonexistent “Sanders” out of their patooties. It’s called Google.com, people.
I have to confess…as the credits started rolling at the end of the film, I kept trying to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, and it’s certainly true that there are much, much worse films out there. Having written this review, however, I find that its shortcomings are something of a slippery slope. That is, once you start thinking about one seemingly minor thing that you hated in the film, it leads to another, and another, and another, until you’re so far away from that original “oh, it wasn’t that bad” state of mind that there’s no looking back. There’s no denying it, this is a terrible film.