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Movie Review: Two Nights at the Movies

This weekend Qualler and I saw TWO, count 'em, TWO movies currently in theaters: Midnight in Paris and One Day. One was fantastic, one was m'eh. Guess which is which!

Just kidding. I'll tell you. Midnight in Paris, the latest Woody Allen flick that Qualler and I have been talking about seeing forever, was pretty fantastic. One Day went from boring to adequate to way too sad. I don't want to spoil too much about the former, because I think everyone should go see it. I have no problem at all spoiling the later because I don't think you should waste your money.

Midnight in Paris
This exceeded all my expectations, so much so that I would be willing to see it again (hear that, Chris?). The message of the movie is extremely simple, but I don't think that took away from it at all. In fact, I liked it. And message or no message, it was funny. I actually laughed out loud a lot, and I can't remember his last release that made me do that (maaaaybe Vicky Christina Barcelona, but this one definitely packed more laughs per minute). I'm a Woody Allen fan, so I go into each of his movies wanting to like them. However, I often haven't liked his newer films, so I'm extra happy when one delivers.

I think one thing that made this film work was Owen Wilson cast as the "Woody Allen" character. I'm glad that Woody has stopped casting himself as the romantic lead, but too often the lead ends up acting in such a way that it ends up coming across as a bad Woody Allen impression. There were a few mimic-y moments for Owen Wilson, but over all I think he managed to retain his own unique charm and comedic style while still filling the roll of quirky, neurotic, overly romantic male lead who is mismatched with a cold bitch who doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor (sound familiar?). And despite how I just described that cliche set up, it really did work, and both Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson made the roles funny and fresh.

The entire film is shot in Paris (duh) and if there's one thing Woody Allen really does well, it's capture a city. And Paris just happens to be one of my favorite cities. The establishing shots last awhile, but I didn't mind, because I really think he's good at just showing us scenes of a city set to awesome music and it doesn't feel trite, even though it probably should. The premise of this movie (this MIGHT be a spoiler, but it doesn't really ruin the film, and it's something I knew going in to see it) is that Owen Wilson's character (Gil) is a writer who idealizes Paris in the 1920s, and he somehow is magically transported to that time period every night at Midnight. He meets the Fitzgeralds, Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso...the list goes on. If you need just one reason to see this movie, it would be for Woody Allen's portrayal of Hemmingway. I laughed so hard I almost cried. I won't give away any more, but I really thought that this movie managed to be funny, kind of sweet, and not too hokey, and the cast was pretty phenomenal.

One Day
One of our own already reviewed the book that this film was based on. I have not read the book, but after reading OHD's review, I think I feel about the same about this film as she felt about the book. It wasn't good, but you sort of forget that as you're watching it (except for the beginning, which is almost painfully boring).

Anne Hathaway was decent in her role, but I was immediately frustrated when the start of the movie tried to establish her as an unattractive geek by giving her glasses and a bad haircut. I liked that the first time when it was called The Princess Diaries. Nice try, though. She's still Anne Hathaway. The movie was faithful to the book according to OHD's review in that Dexter was basically a total dick to Emma throughout their friendship until he suddenly decides he wants to be with her, at which point she almost immediately dumps her boyfriend. There didn't seem to be any moment when Dexter's character would change, grow up, or for some reason begin to treat Emma well, and yet...he does? They get married and everything's totally fine. I kept waiting for it to fall apart, for him to be a dick again, and yet...nothing. But like OHD said, it was hard to feel happy for them, because it was hard to trust that happiness. It seemed to come out of nowhere. And then the big twist (and I too will refrain from spoiling it) but lemme tell you it's EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION CITY UP IN HERE!

So, despite not really feeling for the characters, I was a wreck at the end. And it did not feel good.

I will go ahead and not recommend One Day, though Qualler and I agreed that it wasn't terrible until you really reflected on it, and if you need to pass an afternoon and need a movie that probably won't offend whomever you're with...I guess go for it.

One part of this movie that kind of made me chuckle: Emma dates a terrible comedian and his character is pretty funny, particularly when he describes his terrible comedy ideas. Also, the soundtrack wasn't terrible, as it sort of took you through 20 years of the lives of these two characters. Think Forrest Gump but way less self important.

P.S. I have to add that both movie posters are somewhat misleading. Owen Wilson's character never meets Van Gogh, and One Day is not really romantic.

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