Movie Reviews: Second Edition

by Cecily Knobler

THE BIG SHORT

(Directed by Adam McKay, Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt)

Movie review

The Big Short

Truly, if you’d told me that the director of Step Brothers and Anchorman (the latter being one of my favorite comedies of all time) could helm an intelligent dramady about the 2007 financial crisis that drove the world into panic and poverty, I’d never have believed you. But take it from me, it’s true. The Big Short, based on the book by Michael Lewis, takes you through a step-by-step breakdown of how the housing bubble bursting created a domino effect across the world. There are so many complicated layers to this happening, your head might start spinning. But just when you think you can’t wrap your brain around the content, McKay uses a comedic device that’s so unique and entertaining, you get drawn back in. And I haven’t even gotten to the cast: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Brad Pitt all play real-life characters so convincingly, you can hardly recognize them. But what’s most interesting is the line between “good guy” and “bad guy” is so thin, you might not even know who is which, even after it’s over. This movie is funny and informative and heartbreaking. A-

JOY

(Directed by David O. Russell, Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro)

Joy

Joy

This review might be a bit confusing. I had the highest hopes for this slightly biographical film about rags-to-riches QVC sensation Joy Mangano. Director David O. Russell (who has brought us the brilliant Silver Linings Playbook, the hilarious Flirting with Disaster and the entertaining The Fighter) is usually pretty fail-safe when it comes to creating hilarious family-centric comedies. But something was missing here. For one, 20-something Jennifer Lawrence is far too young to be playing a woman in her 30s/40s who’s a bit rough around the edges. There was no attempt by the makeup department to make her look older. Her New York accent was terrible. And buying her as a hard-on-her-luck-but-full-of-fight Italian woman was a real stretch. De Niro was off his game, too and the writing, overall, was full of expositional dialogue like (and I’m paraphrasing,) “Hey, how long have I been your ex-husband?”

But here’s where the confusing part comes in. I actually recommend this film because the subject on whom it was based is so positive and inspiring, I think it’s worth seeing. The idea that someone really can pull themselves up from their bootstraps and turn a literal rag (in this case the Miracle Mop) into riches is something worth seeing. And even though J-Law was miscast, her beauty and likability go a long way. There was a great movie somewhere in here that didn’t get realized, but it’s still not the worst way to spend two hours. B – –

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