by Tony Johnson
at 03:07 PM | Permalink
No Escape is fine, I guess. It’s surprisingly
better than I would have suspected, but I’m not recommending it. The action is
tense but the story is flat. Its story is wildly boring and its perspective is probably
xenophobic. Giving the filmmaking Dowdle brothers the benefit of the doubt as
far as the xenophobic possibilities go, there’s still something wrong with this
Star actor Owen
Wilson isn’t the problem. Neither is star actress Lake Bell. Neither is star
support Pierce Brosnan. Neither is the directing team of Drew and John Erick
Dowdle. What’s wrong with No Escape
is the uninspired writing team of
Drew and John Erick Dowdle.
for the 40-something brothers out of St. Paul, Minn., their combined efforts behind
the keyboard are far more tragic than the events we witness on camera. The
filmmaking duo brings us Wilson as Jack Dwyer, a newly transferred employee of
a large corporation. The international company has something to do with the
water supply in an unnamed, apparently irrelevant Asian nation. And guess what?
The native inhabitants of whatever country Jack is in don’t like the fact that
a big, bad business is taking their water because things have apparently gotten
worse since Americans began controlling the supply.The well-armed revolt puts the Dwyer family in an unexpected scenario. The
locals are violently rebellious, and they want American blood. Despite the
film’s title, Jack and his wife Annie (Lake Bell) do everything in their power
to bring themselves and their children to escape from the lethally unfortunate
situation they have found themselves in.
of escape takes us from the inside of a hotel building to the top of a hotel
building to the top of another building and down and through the unnamed city
to the U.S. Embassy and to the Vietnam border. Along the way, British
Intelligence Agent Hammond (Brosnan) assists the Dwyers. Hammond alludes to the
fact that Western military intelligence operations are responsible for the mess
in whatever country the Dwyers are escaping from. He helps the Dwyers and puts
his life on the line out of some sense of guilt. It all adds up to a script
that feels like its main mission is to apologize for its lack of any sort of
brains and then shove us into a somewhat suspenseful moment.
cameras do the trick. Whether I like it or not, I found myself occasionally
impressed with the stylistic delivery with which the Dowdle brothers prop up
their mundane screenplay. It is a directorial display that gives heavy hints to
their roots in horror films, from the pacing to the music to the title screen.
The dialogue is mostly fluff, but the suspense is mostly well executed and even
somewhat gripping. But it didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable with myself
every time I caught myself enjoying a near-death experience of one of our
on-screen protagonists. Just like the script seems to apologize for its
non-story, I felt like I had to apologize to my brain for having some sort of
fun watching it play out.
No Escape seems to be entirely the Dowdle
Brothers’ creation, and with the paltry substance that they provide themselves
to work with, they manage to satisfy us in some very basic ways. We don’t know
if any of the Dwyers will make it or not until the very end. We don’t feel as
though any of them are safe throughout, but we are also unsure of why we would
really care if a main character were to bite the bullet. Of course, some level
of tragedy is implied when we watch a anyone get shot or beat to death, but
building up a struggling family with a weak script to serve as their
infrastructure doesn’t do the Dowdles any favors.
count in No Escape is probably the
most impressive thing about the movie. It echoes part of the appeal and much of
the nonsensical aspects of 2008’s Taken.
But instead of a man’s daughter being taken by foreign assailants, No Escape paints us a picture of a man
who obliviously marches his family right into Hell’s gates, which are seemingly
always located overseas. The fact that Jack’s ineptness in planning so sharply
contrasts his ability to think on the fly in emergency scenarios is troubling.
There’s no way someone — particularly someone so bright as the inventor Jack
Dwyer — would relocate their family via global megacorporation job placement
without looking into the company’s social standing in the impoverished,
politically unstable region it inhabits. Right?
have here is not so much a disaster movie as it is a disastrous movie. No Escape is a fitting title for this
predictably unexceptional, relatively low-budget Weinstein Company flick. Owen
Wilson seems to have no escape from bad movies, despite his obvious talent
exhibited in films like Bottle Rocket
and Midnight In Paris. Lake Bell
seems to have no escape from taking bland roles as “the-wife-of-so-and-so,”
despite her directorial and creative talents. The Dowdle Brothers’ directorial
talents galore have no escape from the toxic script that they penned
themselves. And we the audience had no escape from No Escape. In the end, whether the Dwyers survive or not, everyone leaves
the theater a loser.
by Jac Kern
at 11:30 AM | Permalink
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
Nick Offerman and Megan
Mullally were in town this weekend for a performance on their Summer of 69: No
Apostrophe tour. You may know them as Ron Swanson and Tammy Two from Parks and Recreation, and Megan will be
forever immortalized as Karen from Will
& Grace, and the two are actually married in real life. The show could
best be described as part-comedy, part musical sextacular.
The two went back and forth
between talking about how they each lost their virginity, how they met and when
they got married and singing raunchy songs about stuff like 69ing and
gang-banging Jesus. Nick played guitar and Megan played ukulele.
They also got the audience
involved. A couple came onstage for a Newlyweds
Game-style bit that was predictable but funny. After Nick and Megan shared
a longtime argument with the crowd and we picked sides (Megan won!), she
decided it was time to see what else was out there and picked a single guy from
the audience to go on a date with her onstage. I have no idea who this dude was
— Was he planted there? A rising local comic? Just a random guy with impeccable
comedic timing? — but he was probably the most hilarious guest to be brought on
stage in all of standup comedy. He played along with Megan’s advances and threw
shade at Nick (sadly providing music on their date). He may have gone solo to
the show but there is no doubt in my mind he found a ladyfriend that night.
All in all, it was a
gut-busting, nasty but also super sweet 90-minute show. THEY’RE SO IN LOVE! Of
note: Nick looked just as expected, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, but
he was sans mustache (just some overall stubble) and had a cool, new undercut
hairstyle going on (that one that every dude has now); I don’t know how I expected Megan to be dressed but I was surprised
to see her in JNCO-style wide leg jeans and a casual T-shirt (reason No. 564
why she’s my hero); they ended the performance with a dance number to Carly
Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,” which ended with Nick apparently hurting
himself, as evidenced by a facial expression of pain followed by limping
offstage. Hope you’re OK, Nick!Check out our interview with Nick Offerman here.
Ever notice the way Owen
Wilson says, “Wo-oow” in movies? Here are all of those times.
A new American Idol was crowned last night and I don’t care who the winner
was (it’s this guy) because it’s not Jess Lamb. But it is worth noting that
next season of Idol — its 16th — will
be the last. I wish it was because everyone realized that televised music
competitions are complete bullshit (case in point: JESS LAMB), but it’s
probably just because everyone likes The
Also in the cancellation
club: The Mindy Project, which is a
goddamn crime. Mindy Kaling is a goddess and the show was really hitting a
great stride (despite Adam Pally leaving — love that guy) and the last season
ended with Mindy (the character) very pregnant and baby daddy Danny traveling
to India to meet her parents. Thankfully, there’s chatter about the show moving
Other shows hat bit the bust this year include Backstrom, CSI (after 15
years!), The Following, Marry Me, Mulaney, Revenge, Selfie and Weird Loners.
Feminist icon Supreme Court
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting a biopic and Natalie Portman will star
as a young Notorious RBG.
Miley Cyrus’ brother Trace
(known best for dating Disney person Brenda Song
and being in Metro Station, the band responsible for this song
that played on repeat in every Journeys across America in 2008) was supposedly denied
entrance to an area bar over the weekend. Trace posted a video on Instagram claiming Brothers Bar &
Grill at Newport on the Levee — in his home
state — would not let him in due to his excessive tattoos. I don’t know
what’s more hilariously pathetic: people complaining about businesses on social
media; a celeb sibling partying in freaking Newport; said person being denied
access to a bar in Newport; the fact that Brothers has any sort of limits on
the types of people that can enter; or the last sentence of this story.
Third entry in the comedy series is a rote, unfunny exercise
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Rather than devoting time to tracking what could have been the comic evolution of the relationship between male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his former CIA agent father-in-law Frank (Robert De Niro), director Paul Weitz seemingly ended up dangling money before his performers to get them to react on cue in this rote, terribly unfunny exercise. Grade: D-.
Live-action comic-strip adaptation falls flat
0 Comments · Monday, June 7, 2010
The family-friendly comic-strip canine gets his own live-action romp, and with Owen Wilson providing the voice Marmaduke seeks to bite off a bit of hipster credibility. But neither he nor the movie have absolutely any bark or bite to hold our attention. Grade: D.
Ben Stiller sequel is a losing battle
0 Comments · Friday, June 5, 2009
I never saw the first 'Night at the Museum,' but there are times when you just know everything you need to know about a movie from a trailer, especially those aimed at the broadest audience possible. And this latest installment looks just as silly, mainly because I've come to realize that I just don't have a thing for Ben Stiller's brand of humor. Grade D.