February 1, 2014, - 7:50 pm

Weekend Box Office: Labor Day, That Awkward Moment

By Debbie Schlussel

My apologies for yet another week in which my movie reviews were not posted before the Jewish Sabbath, but I will try to make that a rare occurrence in the future. Yet another week in which you didn’t miss much in new movies at the theater:

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* “Labor Day“: I had mixed feelings on this movie. On the one hand, it’s an extremely bearable chick flick because it has a lot of suspense and kitschy 1980s throwback elements to it. On the other hand, the fast romance isn’t all that believable. But overall, I liked it far better than most movie critics. It wasn’t slow and boring, and instead was an edge of your seat thing from the beginning. But I could have done without the scene of a young teen boy having sexual fantasies as he listens to the noises of his mother having sex with the escaped prisoner in the next room. Um, was this really necessary? No.

The story: a grown man (Tobey Maguire) narrates the story of what happen to him (when he was a 13-year-old boy) and his divorced mother on Labor Day Weekend and the following days in the late ’80s in a small New Hampshire town. The boy (Gattlin Griffith) and his mother (Kate Winslet) are in a local store when they are accosted by a man (Josh Brolin) who threatens them into giving him a ride to their home. They soon learn that he is an escaped murder convict, and police and the media are on the lookout for him.






Now for the part that isn’t quite believable. The escaped prisoner, “Frank,” is a fabulous cook and pastry chef. In a very weird (at least for me) scene, he makes a peach pie with the mother and her son in what is meant to be a very sexual scene, in which all three of their hands are mixing the peaches with sugar and so on. It’s an obvious rip-off of the pottery-making scene with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in “Ghost.” And it’s weird because the son is participating in it also. Ick.

Also, the fugitive prisoner suddenly is not only the house gourmet chef, but he fixes everything that needs repair around the house and suddenly assumes the father role as the young boy is coming of age. (The boy’s father left the mother after she repeatedly miscarried and became inconsolably glum after that. The father had an affair with his secretary and left Winslet for the secretary. Yup, another movie in which the father is a schmuck. Thanks, Hollywood for being consistently anti-male.) Soon, Winslet has fallen in love with “Frank” and pulls out of her melancholy, teaching him the rumba and so on. All of this happens in the matter of a few days and strains credulity.

Also, the escaped con isn’t your typical convicted murderer. We learn in repeated, very distracting flashbacks interspersed throughout the movie that there were extenuating circumstances regarding the death to which he was connected.

Like I said, I didn’t hate this movie and enjoyed it better than most other critics. And that’s because, throughout the movie, there are close calls with neighbors and police who almost discover the convict. It create a good deal of suspense and draws the movie beyond chick-flickism to the thriller realm. For those who grew up in the late ’90s and early 2000s, you will also recognize James Van Der Beek (who is very pro-Israel, BTW) in a cameo role as a cop.

Not all that bad for a January movie. And, because there are so many scenes featuring food, don’t go to see this on an empty stomach.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “That Awkward Moment“: I’m not in the demographic at which this movie is aimed. But it is a vulgar, stupid attempt at the bromance genre. And all of the guys in this movie couldn’t be more wussified. If the “alpha male” character played by Zac Efron cried or had his eyes tear up one more time, he would have surrendered his man card forever, and maybe he did. Plus, the female lead (the unfortunately-named Imogen Gay Poots) in the movie has such a big nose that it’s very distracting. And the filmmakers show us a side profile of it so many times, I thought they needed a “this scene sponsored by Dr. Roth’s Rhinoplasty Hut” disclaimer.

The movie has some funny lines, but mostly it’s just silly and gross. Guys who take Viagra before sex have to maneuver themselves with butts perpendicular to the toilet bowl–um, too much information (and too many visuals). A running joke about a Black guy who rubbed spray tan lotion all over his penis, and now it’s orange–again, TMI. TMI! One of the men dressing in a stupid costume with a prosthetic penis after he visits a sex toy shop. Yet again, Too. Much. Info. A scene in which a guy doesn’t attend the funeral of the father of the woman he loves–because he doesn’t want her to think he’s serious about her–is just cruel. Who would want to end up with that jerk? But she does.

The story centers around three college friends who are now 20- or 30-somethings (but act like oversexed, extremely immature teens) and working in “the real world” of New York City (yet have fabulous apartments that only multi-millionaires have in Manhattan. One of them, Michael B. Jordan, is a married doctor, who catches his lawyer wife cheating on him. The other, the always annoying Miles Teller, is a wisecracking guy who uses his female friend to help him pick up other women at the bar. They are led by Efron, who, with Teller, designs book covers at a publishing house.

One night Efron meets a blonde woman whom he suspects is a prostitute. He soon learns that she is an author. He likes her a lot but wants only to keep her on his “roster” of casual sex partners. And he makes a pact with his two other friends that they will remain “single” and not fall in love or into a relationship with any women. All three of them, however, are breaking the pact. They discover it, and then they all live happily ever after. The end.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the title, “That Awkward Moment,” refers to that moment after one of these slutty males has had sex with one of these slutty women, and she asks, “Sooo . . . .” As in, where is this going? Isn’t that the question to ask before, rather than after? Not in today’s Kardashianized nation. Yay, let’s hear it for the hook-up culture! So great for America.

Like I said, this movie is more than kinda pointless. I wouldn’t waste ten bucks and 1.5 hours on this And there’s a reason the Hollywood studios put this smack dab in the January/February graveyard for schlocky movies.

TWO MARXES
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Watch the trailer . . .

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6 Responses

Anti-male and pro-felon. It looks like this movie seeks to show us how nice accused felons are. After all, felons are one of the main constituencies of the Democratic Party. We want them to vote (and being felons, can they be counted on to vote only once?), so they can help elect a Democrat. I’m sure we will see more pro-felon propaganda before the 2016 election.

Little Al on February 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Could you elaborate on your theory about Hollywood releasing bad movies at a bad time?

Sammy Finkelman on February 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Got to say, I know a guy who was in prison for murder and he is the handiest guy you’d ever want to meet. Pretty good cook, too.

I am still boycotting Hollywood, and will not see a film in a movie theater. Let all of the anti-American, anti-Israelis/anti-Semites go and pay their 10 bucks.

Jonathan E. Grant on February 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

Can’t say either of these really appeals.
As usual Hollywood is making an advertisement for situations that would probably be seedy, grim and depressing in real life.

Frankz on February 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I did see “Labor Day” last night. Based on a novel by Joyce Maynard, it featured superb lead performances by Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. It was better than the typical “chick flick.”

Primetime on February 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm

So let me get this straight. Somebody named Gay Poots stars in something called That Awkward Moment? Sounds like a George Takei joke.

Sean M on February 4, 2014 at 8:15 am

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