Starring: Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsh, Rob Morrow, Paul Dano,
Joel Gretsch, and Jesse Eisenberg
Directed by: Michael Hoffman
am still in a friggin' sugar coma. I can't help it - I need salt!
And loads of it. I stopped in at a fast food eatatorium on the
way home and drank from their saltshaker innocently resting on
the table. Why? Because this movie was 100% pure double-dose sugar
sweet. From the very first frame we are spoon feed mucky sugar
and syrup like dialog; and dear god that can get old fast.
too because the cast is bubbling with some of our greatest young
talents; Emile Hirsh, Jesse Eisenberg
and wonderful Paul Dano. But even they couldn't
pull the script out of the metaphorical first frost maple syrup
their little thespian legs were firmly stuck in. As if the blatant
emotional orchestrating script were not enough fluff-n-nutter
we had to endure a repetitive soundtrack that haphazardly tried
to keep us in line with were the cast was heading; next stop angered
youth, or the dramatic (and expected) turn-around scene. Somebody
give us credit for thought process - please.
meet Mr. Hundert (Kevin Kline) as he is invited by a successful
student of yesteryear to take part in a lunch in his honor. The
student now a man, Sedgwick Bell (Joel Gretsch) was once a thorn
in Mr. Hundert's side- causing mayhem and pranking the faculty
at the swanky boys' school he attended. We all flash back to the
year of Sedgwick the boy
extraordinaire Mr. Hundert is happily forming minds at a private
school for the upper crust St Benedict's. His life is solitary
- accept for some retarded attempt at a romantic subplot with
a married teacher (the music helped confirm this). They seem mutually
smitten at least - it's off his established hoity toity moral
character though and unnecessary for any rhyme or reason.
faux paus aside we go on. His new class is filled with eager young
minds. Good kids who will later become the leaders, pillars and
swindlers of our great land and most of them themselves children
of leaders, pillars, and swindlers.
one such pillar/ swindler's son, Sedgwick Bell (Emile Hirsch).
Sed's the son of a senator and he's the poor little rich kid that
gets ignored. The age old pressure pot of youth when the parent(s)
expect junior to be the best at everything. Naturally Sedgwick's
reaction is the also generic and forms itself as the rebel without
a cause scenario. Sedgwick's a troublemaker and immediately disrupts
Mr. Hundret's class. Snore.
Hundert feels if Sed is given a powerful hand of guidance into
the ways of moral and principles he'll turn around and mature
into a fine man. So, Mr. Hundret "assists" the young
leader to discover himself testing his own moral and principle
system. Uh-oh what's this? Mr. Hundert realizes young brat-boy
has really learned nothing but better manipulation methods? He
is slapped in the face with - real life.
now all these years later (the film brings us back to the present)
it seems Mr. Sedgwick bell has grown up and wishes to thank Mr.
Hundert for putting up with his antics and deceits. I said it
please! Without even giving "spoilers" I think you all
see where we are going. There's no surprises or revelations -
except for Mr. Hundert who's living a Walter Mitty life anyway.
Not that there's anything wrong with that but we go to
films to be entertained
. this was so transparent it was
mentally draining. What's the fun in that?
Kevin Kline's a great actor. He's pretty sweet on the retina too.
But he wasn't to blame for this fiasco. My mother always says,
"If you have nothing nice to say, blame the director."
I do. Michael Hoffman allowed his characters to show Quintillian
reactions and morbidly puppeted pantomime expressions. Shame on
involved is wasted. There's no surprises. The tension is non-existent.
The outcome telegraphed. Even the few times we hoped the film
would veer off out of head-on plot land we were sadly brought
right back on the path frequented. None of the actors were allowed
to spread their wings. This is just frosting and the inside is
all air. See it if you really need to see something sappy. But
if you're looking for something to sink your celluloid teeth into
go see another film altogether.
recommendation: Fluff-n-nutter, taffy and maple syrup over