George Clooney, Vanity Fair and GQ Magazine's Man of the Millennium, is turning 50. And while his 2011 has probably not been as good as his 2005, it was WAY better than his 2009... I'm guessing. But really, what better way to celebrate than to get a heads up on Jack Nicholson and basically remake About Schmidt in Hawaii? Of course, this is not the Hawaii we catch picturesque glimpses of in, say, Forgetting Sarah Marshall or any other number of movies. We get backstory, and nothing less than the backstory of the first Hawaiian royalty that White Man came into contact with, in the Biblical sense. The descendants of this first get together 150 years later have fallen on clearly less regal times, but there's still one big parcel of virtually untouched land to squabble over. Meanwhile, Clooney's wife lies in a coma in virtually the second scene of the movie. As with About Schmidt, we find out that the wife was a bit of a bad girl, but even more so here. As with Fracture, the wife in a coma is the lit fuse of this dynamite stick that will burn for the length of the entire movie. Will the mourning process go smoothly? Or will there be bumps in the road along the way?
Clooney does what he can here. This isn't as emotionally involved as Solaris, after all. The narration is kinda similar to Up in the Air in a way: terse bits of wisdom parceled out Mamet style, but without all the swears... maybe about half the swears. I know Shailene Woodley came highly praised by the critics, but I dunno... maybe I wasn't in the right mood, but she didn't totally blow me away. This isn't exactly a debut for her anyway, judging from her rather lengthy IMDb résumé. The younger daughter Amara Miller was a sweetie pie, however. Look for her in the next Adam Sandler pic as the scene-stealing daughter/granddaughter. As with Sideways, director Payne gets a nod for screenwriting. As for one of his co-writers holding his Oscar like an erect penis after winning, well... still better than Roger Avary's acceptance speech in 1994, right? I'm sure he's going to have a long fruitful career.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan