New films reviewed by Roz Laws and Graham Young.
Everybody's Fine * * * *
Cert 12A, mins
Robert De Niro was awarded his only best actor Oscar almost 30 years ago – for Raging Bull.
So it’s kind of sad that he’s been working on a sequel-to-the-sequel to Meet the Parents for release this coming Christmas.
But you’d need a heart of stone not to warm to him again in this heartfelt family drama, about a widower trying to reconnect with four grown-up children living in different parts of the US.
Now retired and in failing health after a lifetime stunted by factory work, Frank Goode’s kids have grown away from him.
As with so many families, when his wife was alive they’d tell mum all of their news and generally leave Frank out of the picture.
Keen to visit them all one by one, there’s artist David (Austin Lysy) in New York, conductor Robert (Sam Rockwell) in Denver, advertising daughter Amy (Kate Beckinsale) in Chicago and dancer Rosie (Drew Barrymore) in Vegas.
Will they surprise Frank with their career and family achievements – or disappoint him with their failings?
Adapted from the 1990 film Stanno Tutti Bene by the revered Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore, the fact that Everybody’s Fine flopped on release in the US last December should not lead to the assumption that this is a bad film.
Far from it. Bristol-born director Kirk Jones (Waking Ned) is at the helm, so the moments of comedy – and the childhood flashbacks – are beautifully crafted.
With 66-year-old De Niro giving one of his most subtle performances for years, anyone who has lost their father will find the star growing closer in paternal influence throughout. Tissues may be required.
Extraordinary Measures * *
Cert PG, 106 mins
While De Niro was winning the critical vote at the height of his career, Harrison Ford was becoming the world’s biggest box office star.
But this is only Ford’s eighth release this century – less than half of the work done by Capt Bob – and, on this form, he won’t be doing many more movie this decade either.
As researcher Dr Robert Stonehill, he reluctantly agrees to help businessman John and wife Aileen Crowley (Brendan Fraser/Keri Russell) who have two children with a rare genetic disorder.
Based on a true story, Extraordinary Measures is so well intentioned no parent could possibly hate it.
Rarely, though, has 106 minutes in the company of such big stars felt so long.
Leap Year * * *
Cert PG, 100 mins
Birmingham University graduate Matthew Goode would no doubt prefer us to judge his role in the acclaimed drama A Single Man – in which he plays Bafta-winning Colin Firth’s lover – rather than this lightweight romcom.
But at least he is the leading man and survives all the way to the end credits.
His leading lady is Amy Adams as uptight career girl Anna Brady. Having dated cardiologist Jeremy (Adam Scott) for four years, she gets excited when he is spotted coming out of a jewellers.
Expecting him to propose, she is devastated when he gives her earrings, then flies off to a conference in Dublin. On a whim, she decides to follow him so she can propose on February 29.
A storm means she has to land in Wales instead so, in an unlikely move, she hires a boat to take her to Ireland and somehow ends up in Dingle.
It’s here she meets handsome pub landlord and taxi driver Declan, who offers to take her to Dublin. What should be a relatively short journey is beset by problems as, predictably, they start off by calling each other ‘eejit’ and ‘jackass’ but grow closer along the way.
The geography and timescale are all over the place. As a city girl with highly unsuitable footwear and Louis Vuitton luggage, Anna can’t cope in rural Ireland, so you can imagine all the ‘fish out of water’ clichés.
It’s incredibly twee and cheesy, but somehow the charm of Goode and Adams, plus the gorgeous scenery, makes it bearable. Leap Year is not brilliant but it’s watchable enough.
MicMacs * * * *
Cert 12A, 104 mins
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is the quirky genius who brought us such delights as Amelie and A Very Long Engagement.
Sadly his latest project doesn’t include radiant Audrey Tautou, but it’s still highly entertaining.
Our hero is Bazil (Dany Boon), who gets shot in the head by accident.
Finding himself jobless and homeless, he is taken in by a group of misfits including a contortionist.
He becomes obsessed with getting his revenge on two arms manufacturers, one of whom made the bullet which nearly killed him and one who made the land mine which blew his father up in the Sahara.
His new friends help him as he carries out his daring plan, a kind of Hustle with Gallic flair.
Packed with great little touches and surreal flights of fancy, this is witty, wonderfully inventive as well as a visual joy.