Archives for posts with tag: richard e grant

MV5BNjM1M2Y3NWUtOWM1MS00YjUzLThiNmEtNjdiMTZmMzg3NTY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_An ancestral curse gives Penelope (Christina Ricci) a pig face, and she therefore struggles to find love. Especially because, by the terms of the curse, it is assumed (particularly by her mother, played by the inimitable Catherine O’Hara) that she must marry a rich man. So she needs someone from old money, still rich, who doesn’t mind the pig face. Tricky.

People are bigger assholes than you’d expect, though. The deformity is pretty mild (especially on Christina Ricci, where it’s a bit…on the nose*), and she comes with a lot of money. You’d figure someone would be happy to cope, even if Penelope weren’t fairly interesting and nice, which, of course, she is. Also Richard E. Grant is her dad, which is a 10/10, dad-wise. But Edward Vanderman (Simon Woods) is cartoonishly appalled by her face, and he runs off to a reporter (Peter Dinklage) who’s been trying to get a glimpse of Penelope for years.  The usual shenanigans lead to a mistaken identity gambit in which Edward and the reporter hire Max (James McAvoy) to pretend to court Penelope.

It’s cute. It’s not careful, or especially clever, or particularly original, but it’s cute.

Stray observations:

  • Nigel Havers is in this movie.
  • Reese Witherspoon is also there, to teach Penelope a little sass.
  • Ostensibly, Penelope takes place in the States. But it is very obviously filmed in England, and nearly everyone in it is British.

Director: Mark Palansky
Rating: PG or so
Length: 104 minutes
Score: 3/5

* I am so, so sorry.

This is a family movie, and is therefore sort of terrible. I guess? We seem to cut “family” movies a lot of slack because ostensibly they are made for children, and children lack critical reasoning skills. This is the standard explanation, but I submit that the real lack of critical reasoning skills betrayed by this movie is evenly divided between the studio and the lead actors. I have no idea why either Ioan Gruffudd or Toni Collette agreed to be in this, and I know Mr. Gruffudd makes a lot of terrible movies, but Ms. Collette is definitely a real actress who can turn rôles down. Also Richard E. Grant! What the hell!

Apparently, this was originally called Foster, which is more mysterious but also less cloyingly terrible, so I wish they had stuck with that. Alec (Mr. Gruffudd) and Zooey (Ms. Collette) Morrison are married, work in absurdly cutesy jobs (Alec owns a toy factory and Zooey has a book shop), have a beautiful house somewhere in Britain where it’s always sunny, but are not happy. This is because their son died in an accident some years back, and they have not managed to have another child.

That is an unbelievably sad thing to happen to someone, but this movie addresses it in a way that will make children go “huh?” and adults puke. When the Morrisons consider fostering a child, one arrives on their doorstep: a preternaturally calm and well-informed being called Eli (Maurice Cole), who wears a suit and a fedora and prefers CNN to cartoons. He teaches them many lessons about…something, bails out Alec’s failing toy manufacturer with a laughably awful suggestion, gets Alec and Zooey to reconnect at LegoLand, befriends Richard E. Grant the homeless man, and then disappears without a trace, leaving Zooey being sick on Christmas morning. Show me a child that can grasp what’s happening, or care. Once you have any capacity for comprehending what the stakes are, the facile, saccharine response is almost insulting. Is it religious? It has some stabs at it, but never commits.

“Embarrassing” is the first adjective that comes to mind.

Stray observations:

  •  Why is Richard E. Grant here? Why is he homeless? Why does he believe in fairies?
  • Seriously, where do these people live? And how do they afford that beautiful house near those beautiful gardens?
  • The child is adorable on his own merits, but his world-wise schtick gets old quickly.

Director: Jonathan Newman, who also directed The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, and I think I just figured some things out
Rating: PG
Length: 90 minutes
Score: 2/5

Wow, this movie. It is bad and it does not make sense. Because it was so stupid and so carelessly made that I did not learn the characters’ names, I will not use them. It grieves me to bring the names of proper actors into this mess, but I assume they’ve all gotten over it by now.

Pete Postlethwaite and Greta Scacchi live in the country in England in the 17th century. They have a troubled daughter who is obsessed with Andrew Marvell. She’s supposed to be sexually repressed and too artistic for her surroundings but she is in fact alarmingly insane. Into this mix come Ewan McGregor, who is a Dutch garden designer, and Richard E. Grant, who is running some kind of long con. Also the daughter has weird sex dreams about one of the peasant reapers. And some kind of unexplained foreign accent.

This is probably one of those movies where nothing is explained because subtlety is so artistic. At least, that will be the justification for how it is utter nonsensical bilge. Ewan McGregor romps through brambles tearing off his clothes–why? Greta Scacchi is vaguely trampy but not really–why? Pete Postlethwaite is completely brainless–why? Richard E. Grant is overtly Mephistophelean but nobody notices–why? And then there’s a storm, which is deeply, deeply ridiculous.

That’s it. Don’t ever watch this. It is garbage.

Stray notes:

  • We are supposed to feel bad for the daughter because of her frankly mediaeval treatment at the hands of a pietistic quack. And, to be fair, what passed for medicine in the 1600s was terrible, especially when dealing with mental issues. But–she is not just a misunderstood aesthete. She is crazy. It is not cute or sexy.
  • Ewan McGregor wears a terrible wig, and then he takes it off and wears what I desperately hope is another terrible wig, because the 90s were a time when we put truly awful things on Ewan McGregor’s head.
  • Yes, this movie is an object lesson in the perils of Amazon Prime instant streaming.

Director: Philippe Rousselot
Rating: R
Length: 104 min.
Score: 1/5.