Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Perfect Getaway

Writing a review for a film like The Perfect Getaway is never easy.  On one hand, the movie is complete crap.  I mean, let’s be honest, there isn’t a shred of genuine, cinematic fulfillment in the entire movie.  The plot is recycled and boring.  The acting is over the top and forced.  The effects are lame, the setting is overused and on and on.  In short, it’s pure escapist “entertainment”.  Now, on the other hand, the fun of The Perfect Getaway is that it knows it’s pure escapist “entertainment”.  Its director, David Twohy, knows its plot is tired, and that the acting isn’t all that great.  The filmmakers aren’t trying to win Oscars, their just trying to have fun.

Compare that mentality to the thought process behind producing a Transformers sequel.  Michael Bay, the director of those robot-laden films, honestly thinks that his movies are genius.  He thinks the actors could win Academy Awards.  It is this pretentiousness that bleeds into Bay’s films.  But something that is clearly missing from Twohy’s.

I’m getting off topic, but I believe it is a point that needs to be mentioned, at least if you’re going to see this film.  If you walk into The Perfect Getaway expecting greatness, then you’ll leave bummed, but if you walk in with the sole intention of escaping, then you’ll be just grand.

A recently married couple (Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich) honeymooning in Hawaii find themselves in uncertain danger when they decide to go for a rugged, three-day hike.  They run into another couple (Timothy Olyphant, Kiele Sanchez), he an ex-Army Ranger badass, she a loopy Southern gal.  The two couples make the best of their adventure, knowing all well that another couple was recently murdered on a neighboring Hawaiian island.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already seen too much.  And while most of you will guess what’s coming pretty early on, you’ll probably still find a way to enjoy yourself. 

I got a kick out of Zahn, who is starting to grow as an actor, ditching his loud-mouth, man-child characters.  He’s managed to transform his fabulous comedic timing into subtle intensity (for more on this see Zahn in the Oscar-worthy Rescue Dawn).  But the real star here is Olyphant.  Always a pleasure to watch, Olyphant is brilliant at mixing menace with charm (see Go, The Girl Next Door, Live Free or Die Hard, and Deadwood).  So it comes as no surprise that he is easily the best part about The Perfect Getaway.  Few actors could convince you of the bullshit that Olyphant’s character lived through.

I’ll recommend this film, but with reservations.  The serious, indie lover in me says “stay away”, but the take-whatever-comes-as-it-is cinephile in me says “roll with it”.  The Perfect Getaway ain't perfect, but it's decent enough if you’re looking to get… away.  B-

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