Some will berate me for paying to see a film having in one of the two principal roles, Kevin Hart - he of recent standing down as Oscars ceremony host due to coming to light of homophobic tweets of (not so distant) past. Well, I've seen it now and I can't exactly unsee it - though perhaps wishing it were possible.
A further controversy, but attached to this film itself, is the casting of the able-bodied Bryan Cranston as a paraplegic, able only to move his head.
Based on a true story (how many films aren't?) it's the story of widowed Philadelphia billionaire (Cranston) in his severely dependent physical condition (brought about by paragliding accident) looking for a carer who's to be on demand at all times. Supervising the appointment out of a large number of applicants is Nicole Kidman, when in barges Hart, out from prison on parole, all mouth and bluster, not especially looking for this particular job for which he's eminently unqualified and inexperienced, but anything to help him re-connect with his former partner and their now teenage son. He pushes into the room where interviews are taking place and Cranston takes two seconds to decide that he's the one he wants despite the vigorous objections of Kidman. It's one of those 'chalk and cheese' relationships, only this time instead of the two squabbling from the off as per the template of such films, only to have them develop true affection for one another, this time the Cranston figure is immediately star-struck and amused and entertained by the other's gaucheness and clowning around, while Hart takes time to come round to valuing their friendship, which we all knew was going to happen anyway. The latter's especially squeamish about the intimate level of care required, especially the changing of catheter. Not very imaginative.
I only wonder at the otherwise justifiably morose Cranston's extraordinary level of tolerance for Hart's ludicrous capers, always smiling benignly and allowing him a leeway of independence, not to say remuneration, which beggars belief.
Cranson is sophisticated with a profound love of opera - all the handful of excerpts we hear would be very high on a 'greatest operatic hits' chart, not a single one being even slightly unfamiliar. Needless to say, Hart's taste is completely down-to-earth, he worshipping the Great Aretha above all (and why not?) - but, would you believe it, it's not very long before he himself acquires a love of opera!
There's an absurdly theatrical scene when the two of them are having a row and Hart offers to break valuable ornaments etc on behalf of Cranston to help the latter get his anger out. Dear me!
Kidman's role is quite a substantial one, appearing in more than a few scenes, and for me she was, as so often, the film's saving grace.
At over two hours, the film is far too bloated to be the successful comedy it purports to be. If it hadn't been based on true (to what degree?) I would have believed very little of it.
Director Neil Burger ('Divergent', 'Limitless') must have had great fun making this, and that is probably at the root of why I didn't care for it, finding it sentimental and manipulative. But some who are able to suspend their critical faculties better than I can may well enjoy going along with it for the ride. Pity that I couldn't............4.
(IMDb.................6.3 / Rott. Tomes...............5.2 )
2 hours ago