March 18, 2011, - 5:03 pm

Wknd Box Office: Limitless, Lincoln Lawyer, Paul

By Debbie Schlussel

Incredibly, there are two GREAT new movies at the theater, this weekend:

*  “Limitless“:  This is a great movie.  I enjoyed every single second of it (except the ending, which had some giant gaping holes in it).  I’m normally not a fan of Bradley Cooper, but his acting was perfect in this interesting flick.  This is bloody and violent and not for kids, despite the PG-13 rating.  But it’s a fun, escapist film for adults.  And a good moral message about how there is no “perfect drug,” even if that message gets kinda muddled at the end.

As you probably know, humans use only a limited portion of the brain.  Who wouldn’t want to take a pill that allows you to use all areas of your brain, become more efficient, and get things done?  That’s what Cooper’s character does.  A down and out writer, he’s a loser who isn’t making it in life, and is resigned to likely failure.  But then he runs into his ex-brother-in-law, a drug dealer, who gives him a pill that utilizes all areas of the brain.  Suddenly, he’s staying up all night cleaning up his apartment, quickly writing the brilliant novel he dreamed of, and effortlessly putting together formulas that help him win in the stock market.  It’s kind of like friends I’ve had who take Adderall, the ADD drug.  At first, they are very efficient and hyper-focused.

Cooper’s life is going swimmingly, and he soon finds himself joining forces with a corporate titan, a billionaire played by Robert De Niro (who proudly attended the UN showing of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel movie, “Miral,” this week).  But, then, there are more than a few serious obstacles in the form of people and symptoms that come his way. Saying anything else about the plot will spoil the movie.

This is not just a great thriller.  It’s also great science fiction.  I’m told that the book on which it is based, Alan Glynn’s The Dark Fields, has a darker ending, which I’d have preferred. Still, I recommend it highly. Movies like this are the reason people leave their stress-filled lives to enjoy a night out at the movies.


Watch the trailer . . .

*  “The Lincoln Lawyer“: As a practicing attorney who does some criminal defense work, I always look to see if legal thrillers pass the smell test. Do they pull things that a real lawyer never would or could do? Does stuff happen in court that’s just not credible when juxtaposed with real life? This one not only passes that smell test, but it’s a fun thriller, starring a terrific actor, Matthew McConaughey (even if he’s nutty in real life). It’s bloody and violent and not for kids (thus, the R rating). But it’s a good adult night out at the movies.

No, this has nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln or Lincoln, Nebraska. McConaughey is a sleazy criminal defense attorney who conducts his law practice out of the back seat of a chauffeur-driven early 1980s model Lincoln Continental Town Car (my late father drove the same car–nice ride!). He works with the help of an investigator, played by William H. Macy. Meanwhile, McConaughey’s ex-wife, Marisa Tomei, is a prosecutor who works for the District Attorney. The stuff McConaughey pulls I’ve seen too many lawyers pull. It’s all believable. He’s all about the Benjamins, like far too many lawyers.

McConaughey is hired by Ryan Phillippe, the son of a rich Beverly Hills real estate investor, who is charged with attempted murder of a prostitute he met at a bar. But, as with all legal thrillers, things are not as they seem. And McConaughey finds that his current client’s case is inextricably tied into a past client’s legal entanglement.

The tempo in this movie is great, and while it has a great deal of action, it also shows some of the real predicaments in which defense lawyers often find themselves. It’s clever and well done, even though we’ve seen similar plot lines before in previous legal thrillers.


Watch the trailer

Paul“:  What could have been a great movie and started out with such hilarity and promise, turned into a non-stop blatant attack on religious Christians, gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, and middle Americans with main street values.  Oh, and it’s chock full of four-letter words, which dominate the lines.

Two British comic book geeks, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (the anti-Christian bigots who wrote this script), are in the U.S. for Comic-Con (the comic book/sci-fi convention) and then drive cross-country to see their favorite UFO/alien/sci-fi spots, such as Area 51.  The opening scene at Comic-Con is hilarious.  But it’s all downhill from there.  Along the way, they meet typically violent, backward, homophobic gun owners (is there any other kind of gun owner in Hollywood?) and backward cops who “stupidly” question why British cops don’t have guns (yeah, that’s “real stupid” . . . if you’re a liberal).

Soon, they encounter an animated extraterrestrial alien, “Paul,” voiced by Seth Rogen (which should be enough to scare you away), who has escaped from U.S. government custody after a long imprisonment.  He is being chased by a government agent (Jason Bateman) and his boss (Susan “Sigourney” Weaver).  Pegg and Frost help hid Paul in their RV and take him on some unspecified mission to a destination the identity of which they do not know.  At one stop early on in the movie, they spend the night at a trailer park run by a “nutty” fundamentalist Christian father and daughter with the last name of Buggs.  Pegg, Frost, and Paul entice the daughter (Kristen Wiig) to give up her “backward” Christian ways and Bible in favor of swearing like a sailor and speaking graphically ad nauseam about having sex.

Do you really care what happens next?  I didn’t.  It’s basically a “Let’s Make Fun of Christians and Gun-Owners” flick.  They would never make a movie like this with Islam and Muslims mocked the way Christians and Christianity are in this piece of crap. It’s yet another reminder why Republicans winning the House doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if conservatives flail in the culture wars. “Bitter gun and Bible clingers” don’t have even a foot in Hollywood’s door.


Watch the trailer . . .

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25 Responses

I hope the movie version of “The Lincoln Lawyer” is better than the book. The book isn’t bad but I’m not “tearing through it” with the gusto I have had with other legal thrillers. I’m about 1/2 through and still waiting for it to pick up the pace.

Janne on March 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I am looking forward to seeing The Lincoln Lawyer

Brian Cuban on March 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Debbie, Miral ain’t a movie worth seeing.

It just sickening a Jewish producer made this pan-Islamist piece of dreck.

Daniel Greenfield took him to the woodshed this week.

Happy Purim!

NormanF on March 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Excellent observation about “Paul.” Hollywood is overwhelmingly liberal and propaganda movies like this shows off Hollywood’s worldview. They’re also box office bombs.

No one to go to a movie that attacks America and mainstream American values. Americans go to the movies to escape controversy not to find more of it.

This is a not formula for making money but Hollywood is obtuse enough to try to force its message on Americans even when they are uninterested in hearing it.

NormanF on March 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Unfortunately for us, today’s Hollywood moguls have for years been pandering to what has been referred to as the “foreign market,” where most of the money comes from – and thus they couldn’t care less whether Americans are turned off by the obvious anti-Americanism and trampling of basic American values (not to mention the promotion of degeneracy and so on). This is why such horse manure as “Redacted,” “Syriana,” “In the Valley of Elah,” etc., keep getting made while films that are pro-American and promote an uplifting message can’t even get past first base.

    ConcernedPatriot on March 19, 2011 at 4:57 am

    I’m glad Debbie enjoyed “Limitless” and “The Lincoln Lawyer”; I saw “Limitless” over the weekend and found it thought-provoking and thrilling, too. The camera work was sensational. At the same time, readers shouldn’t use her opinions as a litmus test. Go see a film because you want to, not because someone else says so.

    As regards Paul, “mocking” religious pieties, Christian or otherwise, is an all-American tradition, from Mark Twain onward. I see nothing wrong with taking a jab or two at Christian extremism, whether or not it slams Islamic extremism (i.e., all of Islam).

    There is no “liberal agenda” in Hollywood. There is, however, a filmmaking agenda. Message to Norman: See the movie first before denouncing the motive allegedly behind it.

    Seek on March 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      “I see nothing wrong with taking a jab or two at Christian extremism…” I find it quite disturbing when people use this term to describe Christians. In terms of Muslims, the term ‘Muslim Extremist’ is used to describe a terrorist who kills people in the name of their religion, but a ‘Christian Extremist’ is someone who loves the Lord and reads the Bible. Why are so many people so ignorant in using the same term for both? And as far as ‘no Hollywood agenda’…are you kidding me?! There are more libs (filmmakers & actors/actresses) pushing their lib ways/lib causes every hour of every day! Wow, can’t even believe you said that!

      AirForceGeo on March 23, 2011 at 11:05 am

I am disappointed. I really liked “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” and expected “Paul” to be a fun movie like those. I am saddened to hear that they chose to abuse our hospitality and mock a large percentage of the American people while visiting here. Every review I’ve seen says that Christianity really takes it on the chin, but this is the first review I’ve read that says they also mock gun owners. I am so used to seeing middle Americans portrayed as quirky stereotypes, I would be surprised if they were not shown that way. I don’t believe I will even rent this one.

DavidJ on March 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Limitless sounds good. Sounds like a short story I read called “Flowers for Algernon”. It made a young kid think about it for years after.

samurai on March 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I noticed that Vanessa Redgrave was among the cast for Miral.

cirrus1701 on March 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Yup. Which pretty much says all. Oh and the director Julian Schnabel is very much a Jewish anti-Semite.

    NormanF on March 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I disagree with your take on the movie “paul”. Every single character was over the top in their depiction, not just the gun owners and the christians. It would have been awkward if they were not.

It’s two british guys driving around rural western America! Remember chevy chases first ‘Vacation” movie? All the characters were extreme in their way in that movie also.

Its true that the movie could have been much better and did not really need the foul language, but in the end I found it more entertaining than another retred movie about a lawyer (John Grisham novel anyone?).

How could you not like all the references to all the old and over-the-top alien movies (ET, Close Encounters, Cocoon etc) Dont get me wrong, it’s a Reagan in a half at the best, but I still found it (as a guy and scfi junky) to be entertaining.

You were right on about Battlefield LA. You ever notice how the aliens stay away from the South? Thats because we all shoot back down here!

Keep up th reviews!

Brad on March 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm

There is one name that should automatically raise the “bad movie” flag and thus not worth seeing: Seth Rogen. ‘Nuff sed!

Pats on March 18, 2011 at 7:37 pm

“At first, they are very efficient and hyper-focused.” At first? What begins to happen afterwards? I don’t know much about that drug.

Gav on March 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    They do fine—if they have ADHD and IF they don’t have a history of stimulant abuse. (Patients lie, and lie, and lie.)

    Occam's Tool on March 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Wow, 2 movies getting 3+ Reagans? Can’t wait to see them!

Infidel Pride on March 19, 2011 at 3:05 am

I was hoping your review of Lincoln Laywer was favorable. Looking forward to seeing it.

Daphne on March 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

early 1980s model Lincoln Continental Town Car (my late father drove the same car–nice ride!).

I have news for you, that 2011 Lincoln Town Car in show rooms right now selling for $50K is based on that same chassis. Its a great ride, my first car was progenitor of this model a 1978 Ford Granada. Excellent handling through Washington States’ Deception Pass enroute to Vancouver, Canada for fun and froliking.

Anthony on March 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

Your review of “Limitless” is, as usual, right on. My wife and I just finished watching it and the operative phrase is “a fun, escapist film for adults.”

I didn’t walk away, however, feeling privy to “a great moral message.” It was a bit of a shaggy dog story with a few, hefty holes in the plot to overlook.

S: You’re right. I should have said “good” moral message, not great, so I’ve changed that. But I did note the moral message–there is no perfect panacea to life’s problems & don’t do drugs–did get “kinda muddled” with the ending. And I definitely pointed out that there were some big holes in the plot. DS

Sherman on March 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I went to see Lincoln Lawyer Friday night…I loved it. I had read the book twice…movie is better than the book!

Great seeing the characters from the book on the big screen!
Movie keeps you on the edge of your seat and demands your attention, all of it!

Matthew was superb, excellent cast. Trace Adkins I am a huge fan played a leader of a biker gang! He nailed the role!
Very sexy in the movie!

Go see the movie you will love it!

Debbi Merritt on March 20, 2011 at 12:16 am

“Paul” opened way down in 5th place, with just over $13 million. Bombs away. I find it strange that British comedians and other actors are obsessed with hating Christians (and Jews, of course), even as the homeland is devoured by Muslims intent on turning the 10,000 year old country into dar al-Islam? Are they blind, stupid, what?

adam on March 20, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Great reviews, Debbie! As usual, I agreed with almost everything you wrote.

For example, like you, I had an aversion to the film Paul for its undisguised ridicule of religion, the Bible, “stupid Americans,” and guns. On the other hand, pot smoking, extreme foul language and casual sex are elevated and paraded before us as supposedly indicating more enlightened values. The alien Paul is the spitting image of Bill Maher–ignorant in his condescension. This movie is not the goofy comedy it was advertised to be in the trailers; it’s a coarse, smugly complacent attack of “stupid” conservatism. F-.

Like you, I loved Limitless. This is third in a trilogy of films about what it might be like to suddenly become “scary smart” (the other two are Charlie and Phenomenon). As I watched, I continually worried that the plot would suddenly become a tiresome morality play and Cooper would learn that only by subsidizing green projects (as in Wall Street 2 from last year), could he be truly blessed and redeemed. But, no, a liberal agenda isn’t pushed, and really the values of the film are the values of a free Western culture where those who have smarts and guts are the ones who create wealth for the rest of us and are therefore rewarded. There was an implied anti-drug message (anti-coke in particular) through most of the film which was undercut at the very end, I agree. (Strangely, though, I liked the ending anyway)

And, like you, I also generally enjoyed Lincoln Lawyer. It definitely had lots of street-smarts and intelligence, and I thought it was a welcome change for McConaughey who for a while did so many films where he played a bare-chested boy-toy in mindless chick flicks that Gutfeld had a long-running parody on his show Red Eye mocking his persona. Despite the film’s attractions, though, the film was definitely liberal, restating the platitude that sleazy defense lawyers play an important role in our society because they protect the possibly innocent. True, yes, but…Then there’s that nasty villain Ryan Phillippe, shown as especially sinister because he insists on calling gays “faggots.” (There’s also an unlikabe detective in the film suspicious and critical of gays.) And there’s a mood in the film of casual tolerance for bribery, broken rules and laws, and compromised ethics (which I saw also in Paul where the alien applauds a child for pilfering a comic as if he were a rebel hero). Perhaps Connolly who wrote the original novel is a cut above Grisham, Patterson and Ellroy, but I’m still waiting for a legal fiction writer who doesn’t look down on prosecutors and cops as if they were infected by plague.

Burke on March 21, 2011 at 12:47 am

As a Christian, the “Paul” movie doesn’t surprise me. We’re used to it and not surprised. Thanks, Debbie, for the heads up. Yes, we believe differently, but this goes to show we can respect each other. And, of course I’m a great admirer of you.

Hey! I have an 80’s Lincoln Town Car!!! It’s an ’88 model. My Dad had this thing of always wanting to own one. Later, they needed money and I bought it from him for a knock around car. It still works. Everyone thinks it guzzles gas but it’s really not that bad. I love driving it back and forth to work as it saves wear and tear on my BabeMobile.

Jeff_W on March 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

The more I think about it, the more liberal Lincoln Lawyer seems to me to be. I still give the film props for it’s glossy veneer, fine use of character actors, and general street-smart intelligence, but I can’t say at this point I like the message. This analysis includes spoilers.

There’s a key scene in Lincoln Lawyer, a confrontation between McConaughey and the unlikable police detective. This detective is key to the story’s message. We know the detective is bad because he’s down on gays, just like slimeball Phillippe is down on gays, calling them “faggots.” Gays are good in this story. William H Macy plays a good gay, for example; he’s the lovable sidekick investigator who does all the field work in the story and is viciously killed by Beverly Hills-bred Phillippe.

Anyway, the homophobic detective I referred to dislikes McConaughey intensely, almost in a creepy way. The reason is that McConaughey has earlier plea-bargained Michael Pena into only “life imprisonment” instead of the death penalty. This would normally seem like a harsh penalty, but not to the sinister homophobic detective who mean-spiritedly insists on death. As it turns out, Pena is innocent after all–surprised?– so if he’d had the death penalty, an innocent man would have been executed. Anyway, in the confrontation, the detective bitterly scolds McConaughey, but McConaughey has a wittily righteous comeback: he knows that the police have at other times planted evidence in order to get convictions. So the police turn out to be more corrupt than this apparently sleazy lawyer after all! (surprised?)

This all sets up and affirms the worldview of liberals. From their perspective, the police are evil and corrupt because they plant evidence. Liberals may cut corners because they’re not bound by the straitjacket of traditional honor or societal rules, but if they could save just one man from unjust execution….well, wouldn’t that be something!

McConaughey cuts ethical corners like crazy, and isn’t it just so charming of him? He cheats his clients by lying to them continually about expenses, bribes bailiffs with packages of hundreds, tricks his ex-wife into revealing confidential info, uses a phony cameraman to extract higher “expenses” from his clients, defends motorcycle gangs who he knows deal dangerous drugs and then later uses them for his own style of rough justice.

Liberals don’t like rules. They don’t like ethics. They “improvise” constantly in a way that, to them, seems charming and street-smart savvy. They may create havoc in their wake while they destroy the system for everyone else, but all of that is unimportant as they see it because they may just possibly save one innocent man from dying. Meanwhile, law and order advocates are corrupt anyway in their view, so anything they tell you about how “wrong it is to cheat and lie” is hypocrisy anyway. That’s the message of the movie.

There are many problems with this worldview, but my own chief criticism is this: balance. For every hundred Hollywood stories we have on screen written by Grisham, Connelly, Patterson and Ellroy, we get one weak, half-baked one affirming the traditional values of rules and consequences. As a result of all this Grisham-Connelly-style “mothering” of criminals (and terrorists), and the utter lack of films sympathetically presenting a belief in any system of actions-have-consequences, our culture lurches towards dissolution. Yes, we may save an innocent man along the way, but thousands or tens of thousands of innocent, ordinary people will pay a price with their lives and property in payment. Liberals don’t get that because they don’t see the big picture and don’t count systemic losses as anything much important.

Burke on March 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Awright Debbie, Some movies I know I will enjoy. Sensibilities aligned here

jake49 on March 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

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