A high school senior wars with her mother in the year before graduation.
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf
Review by Jon Kissel
Greta Gerwig, queen of indie cinema, has been in a dozen films about tentative young women trying to figure out the next steps of their lives. The best of these, like Frances Ha and 20th Century Women, balance a light tone with serious introspection, while the worst, like Greenberg and Lola Versus, devalue Gerwig’s character as either a prop or a caricature. Having taken part in so many versions of that particular archetype, Gerwig is uniquely suited to turn back the clock to 2003 and make her own film about the kind of person some of her characters might’ve been in their teenage years. By also turning the protagonist into a rough approximation of herself, Gerwig can also construct a deeply specific coming-of-age story with an anti-indie sensibility. For all the focus on the titular Lady Bird in Gerwig’s immaculate directorial debut, she’s only one grounded and affecting character in a film packed with them. No props or caricatures here, just love for everyone that graces the screen and a film that is impossible to not fall for.
Of all the sequels in all the world, it’s only a scarce few that top their respective originals. Even the best sequels, like Godfather Part II and The Empire Strikes Back, have plenty of honest detractors who prefer what came before. There’s always that feeling of discovery that is associated with a franchise’s first entry, as well as the dangling suspicion that the sequel is more of a commercial enterprise than a creative one, especially in recent cinematic history when a list of any given year’s top grossing films is dominated by remakes and next chapters in ongoing stories. Paddington 2 avoids that stink by replicating the warmth and charm of the original and incorporating indelible new characters. It also has the gift of timeliness, a pitch for friendliness and good faith towards one’s neighbors when the world seems to be taking the opposite stance. Paul King’s film qualifies as one of 2018’s biggest surprises, a joy delivery system that takes what works from the original Paddington and crushes it into a diamond of irresistible delight.
We’ve been down this road before. I don’t get Adam Sandler as a writer or an actor. Uncut Gems is less than a year old, and here’s Hubie Halloween, another Netflix, Steven Brill-directed predictable pile of warmed-over trash featuring Sandler and his buddies with varying prosthetics or accents. They didn’t even get to go a fancy locale this time. The guy is putting his finger in my face and saying, “You know movies, that thing you love that’s starving for production budgets and is probably a dying art form? I can get 8-figure salaries for a movie that has nothing at stake artistically or economically, and the bloopers over the end credits won’t even be funny.” It’s the complete lack of effort that gets me first and foremost, but it’s not like Hubie Halloween doesn’t have other sources of irritation.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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