Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Year of Getting to Know Us

2008 Sundance Film Festival
★ ★

What a disappointment. The Sundance catalog called The Year of Getting to Know Us a dark comedy. If that’s what writer/director Patrick Sisam was after, he missed the mark badly. This is a drama, and not a very good one at that, with a few random snatches of humor. The casting left me scratching my head. Jimmy Fallon is a very funny guy but was floundering in this more serious role. Sharon Stone was also miscast, and unfortunately, didn’t even look that great in her red wig. And Tom Arnold … well, he’s never been very good.

Christopher Rocket (Fallon) is a writer in New York, about to say good-bye to his live-in girlfriend Anne (Lucy Liu), who is taking a three-year assignment in Europe. Chris isn’t close to his parents and Anne hasn’t met them, and for good reason, we find out, when Chris’ dad (Arnold) has a stroke and Jimmy returns home. Turns out his parents are quite eccentric, and that Chris has never come to terms with the emptiness of his childhood, and particularly the lack of love from his father. Fortunately, his dad is now in a coma, meaning Chris can finally have a meaningful conversation with him.

The Year of Getting to Know Us is slow, boring and dumb. It’s a movie in search of a fresh idea, but instead must be satisfied with simply a few weird characters. I couldn’t identify with anyone in the movie, and couldn’t have cared less about their fates. And the only character arc, in Chris, could be drawn with a very small protractor.

Sundance Moment
Jimmy Fallon was hilarious in the Q&A. Some admiring woman asked if, given that he was in Utah, would he consider a polygamous relationship. “I could go Mormon,” he replied. He also told a funny story about how pleased his mother was to be portrayed by Sharon Stone. I think everyone in the audience would have preferred 90 minutes of Fallon’s improv to watching the movie. In contrast, Tom Arnold was painfully boorish. I assume he was drunk, because he continually embarrassed the cast by hogging the microphone with inane comments for long periods, even when the questions weren’t directed at him.

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