If you’ve ever brought together two good friends from different spheres of your life together, only to be stunned at how bored and tedious things got when you all hung out, you know what it’s like to watch a Clint Eastwood-Matt Damon pairing.
It’s exacerbated by how much you like both parties on their own, and how hard you try to convince yourself something lively will come out of the pairing. You try to start a conversation.
You: “So, uh, Matt, you know Clint likes the Red Sox, too.”
Clint: “No I don’t.”
You: “Oh, well, Clint, Matt starred in a Western just like you used to!”
Matt: “Yeah, I did All the Pretty Horses, but that was a flop and I don’t really like to talk about it.”
You: “Riiight. Who’s up for some Parcheesi?”
After suffering through the solidly made but slumber-inducing Vindictus and Hereafter, it’s clear that the duo go together like peanut butter and jellyfish. While it may well be that the writing on both projects is at fault for the lack of any spark, it’s time to cut our losses and stage an intervention to break this pair up before they start gaining more bizarrely undeserved Oscar success and thinking they’re some sort of Scorsese/DiCaprio unit.
To get a feel for the movie, imagine Crash meets Meet Joe Black with an extra dose of unwatchable. The movie spins three equally uninteresting tales about death, alternating from one to the other before eventually smushing together all three in a forced finale that doesn’t so much tie up loose ends as it does fray them with a blowtorch.
Story one stars Cecile De France as a French newswoman who nearly dies when the tidal waves The Day After Tomorrow barges in on her vacation. Story two features Damon as an all-grown-up Haley Joel Osment whose psychic medium abilities prevent him from having sex with Bryce Dallas Howard. And then there’s a tale of a sullen British boy who struggles through foster care after the untimely departure of his twin brother.
Damon’s story is the closest to amusement the movie comes, if only due to his character’s omnipresent confused scowl and obsession with Charles Dickens. The man is so into C. Dick that he falls to sleep to his audio books. What I don’t get is why he needs those audio books, since he obviously has the power to speak to Dickens and have him personally read his beddy-bye stories.
There is symbolic poignance to those scenes, though. They serve as psychic symbolism for this movie’s eventual fate, as a DVD that doubles as a sleep aid.
Starring Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jay Mohr. Written by Peter Morgan. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Rated PG-13. 110 minutes.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, is available on Amazon.