August: Osage County: How the hell do you describe this? Um....we get to watch an incredibly dysfunctional group of Oklahoma intellectuals become even more dysfunctional at the hands of their mother. And it is ridiculous. By the way there are few spoilers in this review, but I can't get around them in what is a character piece. They are very minor set-up spoilers, not major plot-points spoilers. Please keep this in mind.
What the hell did I just watch? Ok....um....so! Here's where this movie works: it stars about every important actor of the last 10+ years. Julia Roberts. Abigail Breslin. Chris Cooper. Julianne Nicholson. Sam Shepard. Margo Martindale. Ewan McGregor. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. (Ah! Can't believe he's in this!) And leading them all, one of the all-time great actresses, Meryl Streep. See I made that last longer than it needed to why? Because the good things about this movie basically end there. The main problem is that everyone except like two of the people in this movie are wildly unbelievable characters. What does this mean? What's supposed to be a character study of this family is not a character study AT ALL. It's just a sequence of events that are ridiculous and unbelievable. Let's start with Meryl Streep. I should preface what I'm about to say with acknowledging that the person I'm talking about is widely considered the single greatest living actress, so take it with a grain of salt. But she did NOT deserve a best actress nomination for her character here over Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks. But she got it because of her name. Sure, it's a damn good performance, but it's also rather overacted. She went way too far with her character's temper tantrums and overreactions to meaningless things, and as a result created an incredibly unbelievable and absurd character that should have been thrown in an insane asylum years before, not at the head of this whole bloody family! This is not one of her better performances. Which isn't saying much given how great we all know she is, but still, if Tom Hanks can't get a nod for Captain Phillips, Streep does not deserve a nod for this.
Sorry....that kinda turned into a rant on the Oscars for a few sentences. Anyway let's continue with the review yes? More bad things. Like I said everyone is unbelievable except Chris Cooper and maybe....um....Ewan McGregor? Mostly just Cooper. Well and Same Shepard but you don't see much of him. Various characters do inexplicable things to each other with very little rhyme or reason to their actions. I love me some Benedict Cumberbatch, and he is great in this, (at one point he sings in his southern American accent, which is not an easy thing to do, and he nails it) but his back story with Julianne Nicholson is just....well, stupid! A group of intellectuals, and we have incest going on. Like, really? Are you serious? That's just a small SMALL example of some of the absurd set-up of this movie. Why am I saying this? Because this makes this movie a character piece where you DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CHARACTERS. I see a small problem there.
Ok so I need to talk about positives right? Ok.....um....Found one! Julia Roberts. Her character is still unbelievable, but she puts in a phenomenal performance doing it. She does this by primarily maintaining subtlety when she acts like her mother, Streep. She goes well outside her comfort zone by portraying a very despicable character with very few redeeming qualities. Typically she plays charming and sexy characters but not here. Not here at all. And this might be why she wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I say it's between her and Lupita Nyong'o from 12 Years a Slave. We'll see. So there's a positive! I guess I should say that despite the absurdity of the movie, I wasn't necessarily bored at any point. For one it was awesome to see Streep and Roberts in the same camera shot. And the dinner scene was phenomenal when the whole family is in the same room together. That was the best scene of the movie, even though what ultimately happens in it is....you guessed it! Ridiculous. But I was surprised I had as much fun as I did. Despite the fact that this is not even remotely what the movie was going for. It's a very serious movie but because it is so ridiculous it turns into a freaking comedy. I was laughing pretty hard when Roberts is trying to get Streep to eat her lunch by saying things like, "Eat the fucking fish, bitch!" See what I mean? You're never going to say that to your mother! Just too ridiculous. And when the big twist comes in the movie, I was just like.....nope. I didn't care. It was so incredibly unbelievable!
Final thing: this is based off of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play. I have never seen the play, but I'm guessing the movie took quite a few liberties with it's premise. For one, it's a 3 hour play squashed into 121 minutes. Still too long, by the way, but honestly I do not see what the hype is about this play. Sorry. I'll keep an open mind by assuming they cut out important details for the movie, but if the movie here is very similar to that of the play, I don't know where the hype for it is coming from. This is not a good movie guys.
You know what? I take back that last statement. It is just below average. Just slightly. The acting is good, and I was never bored, however I liked it for the wrong reasons. I liked it because it was stupid funny, not because of the character study. That's the problem. Since the movie failed on its entire premise, I can't give it that high a score.
The Critique: An absurd and ridiculous set of characters played by A-list actors. A very mixed bag.
The Recommendation: Man, who do I recommend this to? If you like Julia Roberts, or just a conglomerate of great actors on a screen in front of you, go see it. Oh! IF YOU LIVE IN OKLAHOMA, GO SEE IT! Ya! Cause it's relevant to you because Osage County is IN OKLAHOMA. WHOA! Imagine a look of complete shock on my face as I say that. Ok I'm having way too much fun with this I'm gonna stop now. In short, your time is better spent elsewhere.
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average
Still well acted, and fun. Even though it wasn't trying to be fun. If I were to rate it on it actually trying to achieve its purpose, I would give it something like a 2.
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