Movie Reviews: The Favourite and Vice

I hate the overly negative reviews I sometimes see on Rotten Tomatoes, in which the writer is only looking for an excuse to regale us with clever puns at the expense of the film. So it is with trepidation that I approach The Favourite, a movie which I wanted to enjoy and so thoroughly disliked. Perhaps my movie-going friend best summed it up as we left the theater: “I don’t mind if a film isn’t particularly entertaining, if it’s provocative. This film was neither.”

Can I say anything positive about it? The closest I can get is this: it’s a very well-acted, very bad movie. There. The problem with that is, you may decide to see it anyway to prove me wrong. (It can’t be that bad, can it? After all, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a whopping 94%. Olivia Colman just won the Golden Globe for her portrayal of Queen Anne. Cook must have been in a bad mood.) Oh, well.

The movie can be summed up in one sentence: two rivalrous women seek to gain the attention (and power) of the Queen of England by enticing her with flattery and sexual favors. There’s barely a nod to character development or plot. Although there is a chuckle or two along the way, it’s mostly grim going as these three unlikable women strategize against each other for two hours. Keep in mind, these are three consummate actresses at the top of their game, (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz), but this movie squanders their talents. And then the movie just stops–it doesn’t really end, the credits just start to roll. It was actually startling.

So see it if you must, but you have been warned. The money you pay for the ticket might better be put toward the co-pay of your next dental visit.

Now Vice is another thing altogether. It only got 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I thought it was a far better movie. Done by Adam McKay, the same writer and director who did The Big Short, it is a scathing satire on the rise and fall of Bush’s Vice President, Dick Cheney. While it may not be quite so funny as its predecessor, there are still many chuckles to be had, not only at the expense of Cheney, but also at the expense of George W. and Donald Rumsfeld, brilliantly played by Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell, respectively. Of course, the transformation undergone by Christian Bale to play the part is nothing short of extraordinary. Between his gaining 40 lbs. and the work of stellar makeup artists, it’s quite uncanny. But beware: if you are at all of the conservative or Republican persuasion, you may be very offended by this politically incorrect, savage film.

For me, three scenes alone made it worth the price of admission: the restaurant sequence as the waiter reads from the menu, the bedroom scene when Cheney and his wife (played by Amy Adams) lapse into Shakespearean dialogue, and the roll of the credits. I’ll say no more so as not to spoil it.

I’ve overheard some liberal friends say, only half-facetiously, that they yearn for the simpler days of the Bush Presidency. This movie is the antidote to that sentiment.

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