Another Friday away from the office and in the cineplex where I belong. I’m bringing a little contrast to the table this week. I saw two movies that I am certain were never meant to be even put on the same DVD shelf, much less watched back to back. I’m talking about Because I Said So and Smokin’ Aces.
Because I Said So is exactly the type of movie you think it is. It has “chick flick” written all over it, and does nothing to step outside that genre. I’ve gone on the record before as not minding romantic comedies, which many people categorize as chick flicks. I disagree. Romantic comedies at their best are clever and insightful, and can charm either gender since we can both relate to the story. A chick flick is different. It focuses on melodrama and mother-daughter relationships, and someone always cries. Chick flicks put up an aura of weepy emotion that drive anyone with a Y-chromosome as far from the theatre as their feet will take them. But I am a trooper, and I owe it to you the thronging legion of Semantic Drift fans to give my take on all kinds of films. Because I Said So is about mother daughter relationships. Enough said. That pretty much covers the plot. The mother and daughters are all played by watchable actresses, with most of the story following Mandy Moore and Diane Keaton as the mom. The film casts Lauren Graham as another daughter but she is criminally under-utilized, and the those expecting some of the witty snark of early Gilmore Girls will be sorely disappointed. The women fight. They cry. They make up. They bond. Repeat. It’s not horrible, and it has a tighter narrative arc than Catch and Release, but it won’t appeal to any red blooded heterosexual man who isn’t dragged to the theatre by his girlfriend. THERE IS AN INTERIOR DECORATING MONTAGE! Also, if the editors has removed the footage of the actresses rooting around in their oh so comically disorganized purses the movie would have been roughly a half hour shorter.
Smokin’ Aces on the other hand, had nary a heartfelt emotional scene in sight. In fact, unless “shot by a .5o cal sniper rifle” counts as an emotion you might wonder whether this movie has any at all. It’s pretty, and some of the action scenes are well-executed in their intensity but the story isn’t quite compelling enough to tie everything together. Jeremy Piven, that Magnificent Bastard Ari from Entourage plays a Vegas stage magician with mob ties who is about to turn to the FBI. The mob hires a colorful and motley crew of assassins to silence him. Van Wilder and Ray Liotta are FBI agents assigned to protect him. Throw in a few bail-bondsmen, some ridiculous plot twists, and a hyper-active young kid whos pre-pubescent boner bulges beneath his karate outfit as he practices with his nunchuks, and there you have Smokin’ Aces. Several critics have compared this movie to Pulp Fiction, but I don’t really see the similarities. aside from the violence and the fact that it is a crime movie. Smokin’ Aces is not as good as Pulp Fiction, but I don’t think its trying to be. It would have been better, if I may Monday Morning Quarterback for a moment, to see more infighting among the various forces that come down on the hotel penthouse that house Ari McGuffin. I would have liked to watch the assassins trying to outmaneuver each other and the FBI, but that never really happens. The movie climaxes with a pretty cool firefight, but then limps along to a less-than-satisfying conclusion.
After watching these two movies back to back, I was filled with an inexplicable urge to rearrange my couches and then dive behind them while shooting two silenced pistols. I guess that’s what I get.