Here are two more mediocre movies I’ve received in a crazy burst from the library. For the record, I did not expect either of them to be as mediocre as they were, but I’m reminded again that I should carefully vet the things I give my time to.
The Fighter is the one with Mark Wahlberg as the guy from Lowell MA whose older brother is a former boxer and his trainer. Melissa Leo plays his mother who is also his agent. There’s an embarrassing family (complete with an entourage of ugly stepsisters), a lithe lovely bartender girlfriend, and underdog tale, and will he/won’t he leave his family behind. I felt throughout that I’d seen this film before, and I have. It’s like Invincible (Mark Wahlberg as working class underdog sports guy with pretty bartender girlfriend, here played by Elizabeth Banks) with a smidge of Micky Rourke’s The Wrestler thrown in, as well as some of Ben Affleck’s The Town and Good Will Hunting about leaving behind the folks in working class Mass. who’ll drag you down. Not a whole lot happens over its almost two hours. Do you think Mark Wahlberg’s character wins in the end? Does he reconcile with his brother? The performances by Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are strong, but can’t carry this by-the-numbers sports movie and its telegraphed ending. Police officer and sometime trainer Mickey O’Keefe is played by himself. Loved him in the film.
I wanted to rent Fair Game because I read decent reviews of it and it’s directed by Doug Liman, whose Bourne Idenitity I liked a lot. Moreover, the Plame/Wilson scandal was something that I totally missed after I had my son Drake in 2003 and then lingering health problems through that winter. I probably eschewed the news because I was feeling down and overwhelmed already, but it was an embarrassing hole in my current event knowledge that I wanted to address. And probably, this movie was not the way to do it. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are good, but not great, in the lead roles. Plot points feel like a checklist: here’s the scene we learn Wilson shoots his mouth off; here’s the scene where her loyalties are tested. The movie didn’t surprise me, or even interest me overmuch. Hints about Plame’s complexity were just that, and would have done well to be developed rather than showing a pretty blond actress running around the screen mostly looking pretty and worried.