Is it just me or does this not look like the most schlocky, paint-by-numbers, quarterlife-crisis-vogue sappy schlockfest? Crowe has helped make some seriously defining movies: Say Anything, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jerry Maguire. Is this his taking it easy on himself? Here’s this movie’s recipe:
For a base take one PLOT ABOUT A RICH PROFESSIONAL GUY WHO’S NOT HAPPY .
C'mon Cameron, isn’t that incestuous? You defined that movie standard when you did “Jerry Maguire.” Tired of doing new and different things?
As a transitional device add one cup of DEATH / ILLNESS OF A FREE SPIRIT PARENT.
Wow, if this one gets any more formulaic it’ll be included in high school chemistry books. Lord knows people can’t decide to evolve for other reasons: watching the news, see a good ad in the back of “The Village Voice”, decide they should really stop eating ho-hos and go to the gym. No, surely in life the only thing that can motivate people to make significant changes is the infirmities of their parents.
For color you might throw in a dash of PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH ARE INHERENTLY “QUIRKY” AND INTERESTING.
Look, just because people are in the South doesn’t mean they are quirky or interesting - come to think of it - can Kirsten Dunst pull off quirky and interesting? Teaching Orlando’s uptight guy to say Louisville as LouVuhl is so saaaawww chah-min! Lawsy me - if' this plot duh-vayce res-pee don’t cook us up some faayyyhhn movie a watchin I'mma gonna have to make a big'ol batch of grits and meatloaf wherewith to chumfuht mahsayulf.
Add two cups of “Garden State”
Because the angsty 20-somethings of the 00s are concerned with “authenticity” and “self-awareness”. “Garden State” managed to say thins without being cloying or condescending. It also did it in a way where it didn’t broadcast that it thought it was full of genius for realizing this.
Add one cup “Garden State” envy
The kind of good movie Cameron Crowe used to make.
Cook in Hollywood and season to blandness.
Seriously, Cameron Crowe wrote some of the finest screenplays and the most engaging movies that touched the lives of many viewers. It feels like he phoned this one in.