Friends/foes, parents/parties, studying/sneaking out, crushes/crushing embarrassment–it’s all part of the crimson-faced chaos of puberty, and it’s captured perfectly here (see the exaggerated emotion close-ups) within a refreshing cultural context and time period. Lots of cute and hilarious bits to go with the huge dramatic sweeps (red moons and rituals and multiple existential planes), weighty themes of identity and family heritage, and even a stunning gazing-out-the-car-window sigh of a scene.
Not all if its details or smaller moments land (the humour is mediocre, the bunny-love sub-plot pointless, and the lyrics occasionally awkward), but in its broad strokes it’s quite beautiful: the (terrestrial) cultural landscape is refreshing and elsewhere, Fei Fei’s emotional journey through grief is wonderfully captured in the colourful mixture of mysticism and metaphor on the moon (love that the question of its scientific “reality” goes unaddressed; “I like the mommy explanation best” too).
Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle. (IMDb)
The constant wine talk, hazy California landscapes, smooth montages, and always-lingering chill jazz soundtrack certainly help, but ultimately it’s the subtle comedy and natural drama of the script that makes this film go down so easy and leave you wanting more by the end. Given the strength of the interplay between Miles and Jack it would have been nice to see more growth out of the latter (his breakdown in the hotel rang a little hollow) but Miles’ ending left a great taste in the mouth.
After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother. (IMDb)
McCarthy is the only highlight here; her trademark blend of self-deprecating slapstick and decidedly “unfeminine” and unaware mannerisms produces lots of laughs throughout. Elsewhere, Sarandon is awfully awkward and forms a terribly miscast three generations of women with Janney and McCarthy. The rest of the oddly stacked cast flounders amidst the film’s weak attempt at being a romantic dramedy, with its contrived storylines and insubstantial characters. Some good comedy here but not much else.