Monday, November 16, 2009

At The Movies With WWW: 2012

Directed by Roland Emmerich
Starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover, Tom McCarthy, Woody Harrelson
**** Four stars out of five

Autumn is the time in the movie calendar for thoughtful, serious fare. The bang and clatter of the summer thrill rides has abated, and the cavalcade of holiday family films has yet to hit stride. It's a blessed if short window for quieter, more introspective films that demand more of the moviegoer. Roland Emmerich's 2012 is a fine example.

As the film begins, we meet Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a failed novelist who drives a limo for a Russian gangster. We soon learn that Jackson is divorced from his wife (Amanda Peet) and has lost custody of his two children. He is the classic example of a man who is more dedicated to his ambition than to those he loves. To make matters worse, he has sold only 500 copies of the novel he sacrificed his family for. Jackson's wife has remarried to Gordon, a successful plastic surgeon (Tom McCarthy) whom his children love.

The story of 2012 is built around a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. Jackson takes his children away for the weekend to try to rebuild their tattered relationship. It is revealed just how large a task this will be in the heartbreaking moment when his young son texts Gordon that "camping sucks". Jackson starts to gain insight into winning back his children from a wizened old hippie (Woody Harrelson) who lives at Yellowstone. In order not to spoil the film, I'll just say that Harrelson provides some sage advice that proves invaluable to the family.

An interesting subplot involves government geologist Adrian Helmsley (Ejiofor), who has discovered an implausible (but ultimately true) new theory. He is fighting for the approval of his superiors in much the same way Jackson is fighting for the love of his children. Emmerich brilliantly brings these two men together in a chance encounter where Adrian discloses that he is a fan of Jackson's ill-fated novel. Clearly the struggle for acceptance is universal, and Adrian's appreciation for Jackson's novel demonstrates that we can all achieve it.

2012 is a wonderful film that will surely spark thoughtful discussion about how we can overcome obstacles by leaning on those around us, strangers and friends alike. One exits the theater reassured that even when things appear bleak, it's not the end of the world.

Tech credits are solid all around.

9 metawords:

red said...

I'm pretty sure you were in the wrong theater.

red said...

P.S. This is, like, the third movie John C and Amanda Peet have been in together. They're totally doing it.

Anonymous said...

Your sarcasm is in fine form in this quite stupendous review. :)

I heard there might be the occasional special effect in the movie, is it true? I mean just a couple, I do realize it is plot and character driven.

BeckEye said...

The sarcasm is a bit too thick. People are going to think you actually liked it.

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

I'm boycotting all John Cusack movies that don't feature him holding a boom box above his head.

No Jeremy Piven sidekick in this one, eh? Pity.

Soda and Candy said...

*dips finger in 2012 movie recipe*

"Hmmm... needs more chipmunk."

; )

180|360 said...

You sure do have a way with WORDS.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Hmmm...*pondering*...divorced his wife AND lost his two kids?

How much did he make on the novel?

words...words...words... said...

Red: You think everyone is doing it. George Clooney and Brad Pitt are in lots of movies together, are they doing it too?

I may just have caused my entire female readership to spontaneously combust.

Veggie: I think I detected a few effects, but they did a good job making sure it didn't overwhelm the story.

Beck: I actually did like it, for what it was. It's critic-proof.

Steamy: Sorry, all Piven-free movies get an extra star automatically.

S&C: We both know that no movie needs that!

180/360: I see what you did there!

mjenks: Ah, a lightbulb moment! Unfortunately he made about ten bucks. Still, depending on how happy your home is, that could be a major win.