Starring: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Y’know… I learned some things this week.
I learned that this is the time of year to spend with good friends because, dammit, we just don’t do it as much as we should (your 7am task force meeting with the CEO be damned. Um… hope that went well, dude).
I learned that sometimes you’ve got to make the time for yourself. Leave the kids with the sitter, order up some albacore and crispy onion, share a few dozen glasses of Christmas cheer with your aforementioned chums, and temporarily break away from the breakneck speed and harsh realities of the real world. Who cares that there’s a mountain of unwrapped presents back at a messy house and the family arrives in less than 48 hours?
But more than anything, I learned not to let your friends pick the movie.
The horror… the horror
The Tourist desperately wants to be something of a modern-day Hitchcock movie. There are the plot twists and turns (including its most absurd, which was so hit-you-over-the-head obvious right from the start you wonder who the movie’s creators thought they were fooling), exotic locations (in this case, Venice), a seemingly strong director (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who made the excellent German film, “The Lives of Others”), and A-list actors (with Depp in place of Cary Grant and Joile as Grace Kelly).
It just happens to fall a wee bit short.
The Tourist is not just bad – it’s inexplicably bad. In fact, if it weren’t for the now-showing-in-Hell-for-all-eternity “Just Wright,” this would’ve headlined my Worst Movies of 2010 List (full list here).
Psst… act! Act!
First, let me address the DF (Depp Factor), because I know there’s plenty of you out there who are thinking I could care less if the movie is all that good – I just want to see that hunka hunka burnin’ love, Johnny Depp.
Not this time.
Ladies hoping to melt under the charms of Officer Tom Hanson or fearing they’ll be singed by the industrial-sized sparks spewing off the screen during his love scenes with Jolie are in for grave disappointment. Depp’s attempt to pass his character, Frank Tupelo, off as such a hum-drum everyman works brilliantly – that is, he’s painfully boring. Admittedly, it’s surprising to see as magnetic an actor as Depp go so vanilla here. I rank this just above his pedophiliac turn as Willy Wonka as his worst performance ever.
Also, as for any men dragged to this snoozefest by their wives expecting to drool over Joile for two hours, forget it. Mrs. Pitt plays the seductive, mysterious woman thing so over the top, it’s cartoonish. Every walk down the street has an exaggerated ass wiggle and a wry smile that would make Jessica Rabbit seem real by comparison. Throw in her Madonna-esque English accent, and you almost can’t stand to watch her when she’s on the screen.
I’d tell you what it was about, but I feel asleep…
The Tourist opens on the mysterious Elise (Joile), who is being tailed by Scotland Yard*. Elise is connected to international uber-thief Alexander Pearce, who is wanted for stealing billions of dollars (but really, he’s just wanted for owing back taxes).
*[Scotland Yard is so absolutely inept in their handling of the case, I half-expected them to break into a dance and sing “A Policeman’s Lot is Not a Happy One,” but that might actually have been entertaining.]
The unseen Pearce instructs Jolie to find a man whom Scotland Yard will think is him (since apparently, he’s just had a Nicolas Cage-like facial transplant and no one knows what he looks like now) to throw them off course. Enter Depp’s unwitting Frank. They travel to Venice where the mistaken identities and “wrong place at the wrong time” hijinks ensue – including the mobster who Pearce ripped off (played by Steven Berkoff, aka Victor Maitland from Beverly Hills Cop). It’s like a bad episode of Three’s Company.
[Oh, and interesting that Scotland Yard has no desire whatsoever to arrest the mobster and his minions and only focuses on their rogue banker. But I digress.]
I mentioned von Donnersmarck earlier. Given the fact that “The Lives of Others” was such an intimate, tense movie, it’s beyond disappointing that he churns out such a blasé piece of crap.
Here’s to good friends… tonight is kinda special
So, to the friends good enough to provide such excellent company this past week: no matter how bad the film, you made it all worthwhile with your boisterous laughter, rollicking stories, and unending joie de vivre. Much appreciated.
But next time, please – for the love of all creatures big and small – let me pick the movie.
The highlight of The Tourist was when I had to go to the bathroom and “Bloodsport” was playing on the TV above the bar in the lobby. That say enough for you?
No, no… a thousand times no. Mike’s verdict: F
But don’t just take my word for it
The average Metacritic score was 37 out of 100 (“Generally unfavorable reviews”).
[Rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.]