47 Meters Down (***) Almost didn’t make it

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47 Meters Down – 2017

Director Johannes Roberts
Screenplay by Roberts and Ernest Riara
Starring  Claire Holt, Mandy Moore, Chris J. Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago A. Segura, Matthew Modine

47 Meters Down is not a great movie. It’s really not all that good of a movie. What keeps it from being a bad film, however is a good script.

Two sisters Lisa and Kate (Moore and Holt) are in Mexico for a trip. Kate is there because she wants her sister to experience a little of the life that she lives most of the time. Lisa, just broken up from a long relationship, wants to prove to her boyfriend, or maybe just herself, that she is not a stick in the mud.

After sending a text to her ex and getting a dismissive response, she decides to take her sister’s invitation to go out all night with a couple of guys for some PG fun. If you take the hint, you know exactly the type of film to expect.

The guys talk the girls into taking a less than legal diving trip watching the sharks from the safe confines of a cage. They ask the guys if chumming for the sharks is illegal. The guys tell them they can’t just call the sharks in. Nervous laughter follows.

Anyone who’s seen the commercial knows what the next 40 minutes should be like. The camera angles are not all that great, excepting one or two scenes (one above) The sound of the divers, improved by the masks they wear, only clarifies the panicked dialogue. So frequent is the screaming and heavy breathing, it’s amazing the air oxygen tanks last so long.

I do like Mandy Moore the person. I am glad she found success with This is Us. That this film made 10 times its meager budget is an indication that they found her audience as much as anything. She’s good enough to get the point across. None of the  rest of the cast stands out. Even Modine seems to be in Samuel L. Jackson mode.  The mode that takes a movie based on the type of vacation spots nearby.

One can go down the list of clichés, counting them all the way to the surface and back onto the boat. If you stop counting there, you will be missing out. The best parts of the film don’t happen until the first ending. What happens following almost salvages the rest.

Almost.

(*** out of *****)

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Love, Wedding, Marriage: I squished my fish…

Love, Wedding, Marriage – 2011

Directed by Dermot Mulroney
Starring Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz, Jane Seymour, James Brolin, Christopher Lloyd,  Michael Weston, Jessica Szohr
Written by  Anouska Chydzik, Caprice Crane

I would like to say James Brolin is an idiot.  It’s really not too much of a stretch to say the guy who said “Happy 9/11” in a seemingly sober stupor on a radio show is missing a little bit in the common sense department.  Of course, he was smart enough to fool Barbara Streisand into marrying him, and has been living off of her ever since.  Lord knows if he was paid based on his acting talents, he’d be a poor man, indeed.  Here, for some reason, he is given a lot of lead rope (for a supporting role) by first time director Mulroney, and he nearly decapitates the movie.  A little dramatic, I know, but until you’ve seen him Karaoke, you’ve not known fear, desperation, anxiety and pain.  His version of acting seems to be going from drunkenly happy, to happy sober, to perplexed, to happy again.  Truly, when he says “I squished my fish…,” I hear it on many levels.

In Love, Wedding, Marriage, as protagonist Ava’s (Moore) father Bradley, Brolin is given considerable support in the dismantling of what could have been a decent movie.  Seymour, playing Betty, the mother, has lost most of her charisma after such a long career of Lifetime movies.  They have thrust themselves into the lives of Ava and her new husband, Charlie (Lutz), a mere 6 weeks after their marriage.

Ava is a marriage counselor, and supposedly dedicated to her craft, until she finds that her parents are opting for a divorce.  The reason is infidelity that occurred right around the conception of her younger sister Shelby (Szhor).  They hint very strongly that there is something more, this something being another sibling, conceived, you guessed it, around the same time as Shelby.  From here to there, we get to see Ava mess up her marriage in an attempt to jump start her parents’ marriage.  The things she tries should keep her from working as a psychologist again, but who’s counting, right?

Moore, for her part, has never been worse.  We rented this movie based on her ability to make bad material watchable (Because I Said So) and good material great (A Walk To Remember), and great material classic (Tangled).  Her delivery is somewhat disconnected from the reality of the situation, and who can blame her when her parents are acting like a couple of bad sitcom characters?  There seems to be a connection with Shelby, but only in the barest sense.  She and her husband, Charlie, seem to be on separate planets.  And those planents not Venus or Mars.

Lutz seems like a nice guy, but he can’t act.  At least not here.  His buddy, Weston (Gerber), is about the only well played character in the film.  His marriage to a Polish woman seems more rooted than anything else in this film, and they married after one date.

The premise is not horrible, and in the right hands, it could have been an excellent meditation on the role of trust in marriage.  Instead of taking any real stands, or going staying on the creative path they start with Lloyd’s unconventional therapeutic approach, they head right into physical comedy and sitcom white lies.  Lloyd is dropped for a series of other underdeveloped ideas until everything is crammed into a forced happy ending.

Which brings me back to Brolin.  He acts like he lives, seemingly, without a clue.  He’s like the cat that caught the canary while stuck in its cage.  He’s eating well for now, but unless he can get his corpulent acting ass out of that tiny entrance, he’s going to be stuck in there since, say, 1990.

(* out of *****)