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Monday, August 10, 2009

Chaos Theory - A Review




I suffer from the problematic predicament of writing a review for a movie I saw three days ago. Hopefully no brain cells crucial to the memory of this film have died in the interim. Though given that memories are strongest when attached to strong emotional reactions to things my feelings regarding this little piece of cinema are somewhat absent...

This was not a film that came out in mainstream cinemas in New Zealand, and by mainstream I do mean the ones that I happen to work at. I've seen it sitting on the new release stand at my local DVD store for several months now and have wanted to get it out soley because it has Ryan Reynolds on the front cover, looking bewildered. No I'm not a man with a secret girl on the inside harboring an abominable crush on the Reynolds Burger but I do think the guy is seriously funny and after gorging on the Two Guys and a Girl sitcom, watching one episode after the other in a home made marathon of welcome convivialness, who could blame me?

That's most likely why I was vexed by disillusionment after forcing myself to stay awake throughout this film that promised laughs but delivered melodrama disguised as humour.

Reynolds plays Frank Allan, a bloke obsessed with ordering his life by making lists. Everyday his life is meticulously planned out by lists he sets to cue cards, time taken seriously into account. He appears to have a good marriage with a particularly strong bond with his 7 year old daughter, except his wife is a bit more loose and carefree with her time management and you can sense the strain this difference places on the couple. So on the morning of his lecture in New York (?) on, you guessed it, time management, she sets the clock back ten minutes in an attempt to give him more time, only the silly thing is she was meant to set it forward and the whole thing backfires, causing him to miss the fairy and therefore show late to his time managing seminar where a fan, the girl who plays Elliot in Scrubs, tries to seduce him by getting him drunk and tricking him into letting her into his hotel room. But don't worry it doesn't get too seedy. Staunchly faithful to his wife he refuses to go to cheatsville and flees the scene in good Josepherian fashion... but as he evacuates the hotel the evil temptress is left behind to answer the phone when his wife rings. Things go from bad to badder while his flight home throws him in the way of another frenzied vehicle driven by a lady suffering from extreme Labour. He rushes her to the hospital and ends up filling out the strangers hospital forms using his own address...

Gimmicky isn't it?

So now he has an angry wife who not only thinks he's been having extra marital sensations, but when the hospital calls his home after the patient goes missing and reveals he was an accomplice to bringing a baby into the world, she takes her husband for a bigamist!

Everything before this sentence hints at a recipe brewed for something similar to a Something About Mary style treat but alas it curdles into an orange juice mixed with milk concoction. Frank (why are so many characters called Frank anyway?) goes to the Doctor to prove the impossibility of his paternity to this random baby only to uncover he had two "X" chromosomes. In my naivety and hope for a laugh I thought this was the part in the film where he would discover he was in fact a Miss but double alas, it meant only that not only was he not the babies father but he was completely sterile, thus rendering undeniable doubt on his relationship to the girl he has called his daughter for the past 7 years.

This once ordered, meticulous and concise man sinks into a whirl pool that takes the rest of the movie down the drain as he embraces chaos rather than harmony. His lists become "options" shuffled about and randomly selected as he tries to cope with the shattered illusion of his life and hypocritical wife.

This should have been funny. But it wasn't. The scene where he goes to a second time management lecture and tells his audience to embrace whim while he chugs on a cigarette should have been funny, but it wasn't. the bit where he pulls a card out at random at a hockey game which sees him streaking across the ice should have been funny, but it wasn't.

It got a tad sad really.

The moral of the story was satisfying though. The story embraced the truth that Love is not a feeling, it is essentially an act of the will, which Frank demonstrates through loving his daughter no matter whose she turned out to be. And that sat well with me... its just a shame the rest of the flick slid off my lap. At least I had some knitting to do at the time!

In the unlikely event that you caught the old John Cleese film "Clockwise" you will notice that the first half of Chaos Theory seems to resemble its nose and ears, but the rest of the face is unrecognisable. Clockwise was a better movie, why? Because it WAS funny.

For those with sensitive ears there is a bit of swearing throughout the film and a couple of sex related scenes that hint more than they show... so I grant this film a 2 out of 10 for the simple fact that that is $7 of DVD hireage I will never see again.

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