REVIEW: The Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer
Directed by: Brad Furman
Written by: John Romano (screenplay), Michael Connelly (book)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, and William H. Macy

Matthew McConaughey is one of the most knocked around actors working in the modern Hollywood studio system.  He’s so derided by critics that people forget that he can actually act.  So here he is in The Lincoln Lawyer, putting on a shirt and a serious face and earning back some street cred.

Directed by Brad Furman with a keen sense of what thrills and what doesn’t, The Lincoln Lawyer is a court procedural that stresses politics outside the courtroom as much as in them.  It’s a movie with a story to tell (one originated by Michael Connelly), one that isn’t watered down to the basics or drowned out by explosions.

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REVIEW: MacGruber

MacGruber
Directed by: Jorma Taccone
Written by: Will Forte and John Solomon
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer

It’s important to know the context a movie was made in before you begin examining it.  Some films are made to provoke thought, others to send a message.  There are many (many!) movies made today, though, that were made purely as an entertainment and nothing else.  When you look at MacGruber that way (and only that way), it’s decent.

The star of this show is not it’s director, in fact quite the opposite.  This 90 minute feature based on a recurring 90 second sketch on Saturday Night Live is all about the script and the actors.  In fact, director Jorma Taccone over compensates immensely with what should have been a cut-and-dry directing job.  This movie is supposed to be a send-up of all things bad in 80’s action movies, and he’s given it a visual style that unintentionally mocks itself at times.  A movie such as this needs a director who can back off and let his actors fly with a script, not use artsy lighting techniques that destroy the mood.

That complaint aside, the ensemble cast is by far the highlight of this film.  I was skeptical of Will Forte’s ability to hold the screen for longer than the length of the original sketch, but he does a decent job.  There are times when you will be sitting there going “Should I laugh?” and others where you won’t be able to stop doing so.  It’s a roller coaster with a few jerks, but a welcome break from the latest Will Ferrell disaster.

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