Tag Archives: Adam Brody

Promising Young Woman

Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was once a promising young woman, a fact her parents take the opportunity to remind her of every morning at breakfast. Now 30, friendless, living at home despite heavy parental hinting that it may be time to move one, an unambitious med school dropout turned barista, Cassie’s parents (Jennifer Coolidge, Clancy Brown) aren’t sure what it will take to jumpstart her life. To most it would seem that Cassie’s life derailed when her best friend Nina took her own life, but to Cassie, her life has simply taken a different direction. Her life now revolves more or less around avenging Nina’s death.

Nina was also a promising young woman, also a student in medical school when one night she was gang raped. She was a party, too drunk to defend herself, but ostensibly among friends and fellow students, many of whom either participated or stood around watching while it happened. While so-called friends gossiped behind her back, the school administration merely swept it under the same rug where they keep all the other similar complaints, and the court case stalled when the defense turned the table on the victim. Unable to deal with the aftermath, Nina died by suicide. But Cassie, filled with anger and outrage, is not content to let justice remain unserved. She’s become a vigilante of sorts, going out at night, posing as a woman who’s had too much to drink, and if you’re a woman yourself, you’ll be unsurprised by just how many men take the bait. She looks like easy prey, at least until they get her home and try to have sex with a woman they believe is too intoxicated to properly fight them off (despite her clear and repeated NO), then suddenly she snaps to alertness and serves them a warning they won’t soon forget. This is the double life that Cassie’s been living unbeknownst to others – unbeknownst even to new boyfriend Ryan (Bo Burnham), an old classmate and the first man she’s actually trusted since what happened to Nina.

Promising Young Woman is a dark comedy, in fact, a Vantablack comedy, if you’ll permit me trotting out a subcategory I invented of the Ryan Reynolds dark comedy, The Voices. Longtime readers with impressive memories (read: no one, even I had to look it up) may remember that Vantablack is a colour that is blacker than black, absorbing all but 0.035% of light; a black so black our human minds can’t actually perceive it. I would like to unroll this categorization once again, because compared to Promising Young Woman, everything else is pink.

Emerald Fennell, first time director (and also this movie’s writer), has done the improbable and completely made this genre her bitch. It is uniquely difficult to master the tone of such a film, mixing a very heavy topic with moments of genuine laughter and charm. This is truly one of the most provocative, unexpected, daring movies of this year or last. It must be seen.

Carey Mulligan is absolutely breathtaking. Cassie has half a dozen secret lives going at once yet Mulligan not only keeps them straight, she makes them easily identifiable to us, hiding stories and motivations behind her eyes, astonishing us with a raw and layered performance. Bo Burnham has a tall order playing the Last Good Man, bolstering a stellar ensemble. Clearly Fennell impressed half of Hollywood with her audacious script; Alfred Molina, Adam Brody, Alison Brie, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Max Greenfield, and Chris Lowell fill small but impactful roles, many of them names on Cassie’s shit list.

Regret, retribution, guilt, forgiveness, culpability, corruption, consequences. No one’s life is going to be the same. No one’s getting left off the hook. Cassie’s been living off righteous rage for far too long, and if she can’t have justice, she will have closure, by any means necessary.

Ready Or Not

Alex and Grace are getting married! Well, Alex (Mark O’Brien) and Grace (Samara Weaving) think it’s exclamation point worthy anyway. Well, Grace does. Well, Alex and Grace are getting married. How’s that? They’re happy, they’re in love. Grace has been alone so much of her life, she’s ultra excited to be getting a family, even if Alex’s family is quite intimidating. They’re wealthy, they’re snooty, and they’re not all approving. Alex isn’t exactly approving of them either, and he’s mostly stayed away. He would have been happier to stay away, and remain unmarried, but Grace insisted, and he complied. So now they’re at the family estate, being treated to a beautiful wedding, even if most of the relatives glower at Grace like she’s a gold digging bitch. Which she isn’t, just for the record, but it isn’t exactly unprecedented. Alex’s brother Daniel (Adam Brody) is married to a woman who quite openly married for money. Alex’s father Tony (Henry Czerny) is visibly disapproving of Grace, but aunt Helene (now played by Nicky Guadagni) even more so. Only Alex’s mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) is at all welcoming, reminding her that only Alex’s opinion matters.

Later that night, Grace and Alex have retired for the evening and are about to do that things couples tend to do on their wedding night but are interrupted by Helene, who reminds Alex that as per tradition with every new addition to the Le Domas family, Grace has to join the family for a game at midnight. The whole family gathers around a table while Tony explains that this tradition was started by his great grandfather Victor, who made a deal with a mysterious benefactor who granted Victor and his future generations their wealth, and in exchange left a special box, their price to pay. The family passes Grace the box to draw a card from it, a game that they must play. She draws hide and seek.

To win, Grace must stay hidden until dawn. In fact, to survive, she must stay hidden until dawn, though she doesn’t know this yet. As she goes to hide, the family arms themselves with guns, ax and crossbow. The Le Domases believe they need to hunt Grace and kill her before dawn, or else they themselves will die. Alex finally confesses the truth, admitting he didn’t tell her about this because he feared that she would leave him, but he promises to find a way to get her out safely. Alex shouldn’t make promises he can’t keep. And he probably shouldn’t keep secrets that involve murder.

Anyway, the movie is a straight-up game of hide and seek where the consequences are deadly. It’s gripping and terrifying, and reminded me of childhood games played in the woods, after dark, where the consequences were not murdery whatsoever, but sure felt like it as I hid, heart pounding, fearing that I’d be discovered, and fearing that I wouldn’t.

Samara Weaving is a delight to watch, from beautiful bride to deeply enraged, she goes from one extreme to the other over the course of a single night, and does it convincingly and with gleeful abandon. I struggle with scary movies as you may know, but found this one to be good fun. It’s macabre, and darkly funny. Not many directors manage this careful balance in tone but Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett don’t just get away with it, they revel in it, and it works. We were late to the party, had heard plenty of good things, but were still surprised by how fun it was to watch, how entertaining, and what a subversive little twist on the genre it offered. If you haven’t seen it yet yourself, you might think about correcting that.

The Kid Detective

He’s no relation to the Holmes clan, but when he was 13, Abe Applebaum solved the case of the missing fundraiser money. He was such a good little sleuth the townspeople celebrated his successes and rewarded him with his own office. He was the toast of the town, beloved by all, his parents impressed by his initiative, the newspaper chronicling his triumphs, but then he got a case he couldn’t solve. A young girl named Grace went missing and Abe couldn’t find her.

It was an unfair burden to put on a 13 year old kid. The townspeople never said as much, not directly, but young Abe knew what they expected, and he felt the weight of their disappointment when he wasn’t able to crack the only case that really mattered.

Now Abe (Adam Brody) is in his 30s, still working out of the same office the town bequeathed him as a kid detective. He’s occasionally contracted to find missing cats or track down secret admirers, but there isn’t much money in it, and his parents are both embarrassed for him and tired of supporting him. He drinks to numb the self-pity but the hangovers leave him even more despondent. At least until a wildly optimistic high school student hires him to find out who brutally murdered her boyfriend.

I had very few expectations for this film so colour me surprised when I actually quite liked it (what IS the colour of surprise?). It was genuinely funny, it poked fun at the genre and at itself, it felt fresh and unexpected. Brody was well-cast and entirely believable as a man-boy who hasn’t left behind his childhood obsessions. The film struggles tonally, swinging between banter-y, smart-alecky comedy and the sobering facts of an actual murder investigation, which Abe is very much unqualified to conduct. But this guy’s had a cloud hanging over him for the past 20 years and if there’s a chance at a silver lining, he’s going whip out the old deerstalker and oversized magnifying glass and work this case like his life depends on it. And maybe it does.


CHIPS is an exercise in tempered expectations. One title card should be all the tempering you need: ‘written and directed by Dax Shepard.’ Dax Shepard isn’t exactly a visionary film maker. At best, he’s taking home a Participation ribbon from the He’s Trying His Best Awards. But why would you expect more from a guy who got his start on the prank show Punk’d? His whole career has been one big blinking caution sign: Hey guys, PLEASE don’t take me seriously, because I sure as hell don’t.

That said, CHIPS wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting – but then again, maybe that’s because I was expecting hot, runny garbage and what I got was a neat and tidy compost bin. You may hope for “HAHAHAHAHA!”, but count yourself lucky to get a few “hehs”.

Chips-The-Movie-15I am much, MUCH too young (and beautiful, but that’s besides the point) to have grown up watching CHIPS so the movie didn’t do a damn thing to disillusion my childhood or anything near as serious. It’s a dumb movie written by a guy with a pretty juvenile sense of humour. What you see is what you get.

Shepard plays Jon Baker, a slob, a deadbeat, and a broken shell of an ex-motor cross rider, and he’s also the lowest-scoring guy to ever be pity-hired by California Highway Patrol. Baker’s about to be partnered with his polar opposite, the suave, well-groomed, cocky undercover agent Ponch (Michael Pena) who’s investigating the CHP for crooked cops. Somehow they have to overcome the deficiencies of their partnership (and the script) to take down some very bad dudes.

The movie has its moments: good moments, and hella-bad moments. I did enjoy seeing paparazzi get plowed, Adam Brody get shot multiple times, and Vincent D’Onofrio be described as a man who “never sent a mother’s day card” and maybe also “eats koala bears.”

There’s no mistaking this for a good movie but if you’re in the right kind of mood (read: loosey-goosey), it just might do. And the fact that the cast is rounded out by tonnes of people who have either worked with Shepard or his lovely wife Kristen Bell before to me speaks volumes: he must be a good dude with the comedy stylings of a brazen 12 year old at his first sleepover. Friends in the cast include Ryan Hansen (from Veronica Mars), Josh Duhamel (When In Rome), Maya Rudolph (Idiocracy), Jessica McNamee (Sirens), and Mae Whitman and Rosa Salazar, both from Parenthood. I’m not saying it makes for a good movie, because it doesn’t. But it must mean something, right? In this case, it means a 100-minute celebration of the brainless low-brow.