July 17, 2009, - 2:53 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
My weekend movie reviews: the strange but interesting arthouse thriller beats the much-hyped big box office release for kids, this time.
* “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince“: Just one word for this–boooooooooring. A giant two-and-a-half-hour YAAAWN. This movie went on and on and on and on and on.
It was beautifully shot, had cool sets and special effects, but the story was lackluster and not even resolved. In fact, if you want to see the conclusion to the story, you have to wait until next year for the sequel.
I struggled to stay awake during this far too long flick that had everything in it but the kitchen sink. And actually, I think the sink was thrown in, too. I know the movie is aimed at kids and other Harry Potter fans, but did I really need to see endless scenes of kids with crushes making out or talking about making out or immaturely fighting about who is “snogging” who? Juvenile even for kids. And dumb. The much-maligned 1950s called and they want Harry Potter to stop making them look bad.
Not sure I can really describe the “plot” since there really isn’t one and what there is is kind of confusing and not exciting. Harry Potter is summoned back to the academy by Dumbledore, who asks him to befriend a certain professor to find out info on the evil Valdemort, who was once his student there. Harry and his friends fight over each other in the romance department. Meanwhile an evil student and professor (played by the anti-Israel Alan Rickman) are secretly plotting. Who cares? I sure didn’t. Yes, it was about good versus evil, but never have I seen that portrayed in such a dull way.
Nothing offensive or objectionable in this movie. It was just a bore and a waste of time. It completely lacked the charm, excitement, wonder, and suspense of the last Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix,” which I liked (read my review).
Fine for your kids, but bring a book or something to do while you wait for credits to finally roll on this endless cinema.
* “The Merry Gentleman“: This offbeat, arthouse thriller was directed by Michael Keaton, who also stars as a hitman. One winter night a Chicago secretary with a Scottish accent sees a man on the edge of a building. She thinks he’s about to commit suicide. But, in reality, he’s a hitman who has just assassinated someone in her building from the building across the way. Two cops are on the case, and while one is trying to date the woman, she’s already started dating the man she doesn’t know is the hitman and the one she saw atop the building.
This movie was interesting and different and, while it was slow at times, it was entertaining and suspenseful. I enjoyed it.
But there was a mistake in the movie that distracted me. It was a tiny, little, trifling detail that most wouldn’t notice and which had nothing to do with the plot. But it was glaring to me. Several scenes into the movie, we start seeing one of the cops wearing a yarmulke, a thick yarmulke made of velvet or leather, the kind you generally see on Orthodox Jews. Later, we see the two cops–the one is still wearing his yarmulke–at a burger joint. The restaurant sign says it also serves milkshakes, a sign the place isn’t kosher because Orthodox Jews keep kosher and don’t consume dairy and meat/poultry together. The guy with the yarmulke is just drinking a milkshake. But then, he orders a hot dog and cheese fries. It just didn’t jibe and distracted me during the movie. A guy wearing a yarmulke on the job isn’t going to be eating this stuff. Someone writing a script didn’t do their homework.
Another thing I found weird is how all the guys in the movie are trying to pick up the woman (Kelly McDaniel) who saw the man on the rooftop. They all keep commenting on how cute she is and how sexy her accent is. But she isn’t cute, and her accent becomes extremely annoying. Maybe that’s part of the kitsch of the movie. I suspect it is.
Still, I liked the movie anyway. And it’s enjoyable and worth seeing.