|"The Break-Up" Is Hard to View: Also, "The Living Sea"|
|Movies - Reviews|
|Written by Mike Schulz|
|Tuesday, 06 June 2006 23:39|
There are a whole bunch of different movies circulating within the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston comedy The Break-Up, and every single one of them is more enjoyable than the one they're stuck in. Director Peyton Reed's film concerns the battle of wills that commences once Vaughn's Gary and Aniston's Brooke decide to split, but here are five of The Break-Up's subplots that, I'm guessing, would have made for far more entertaining feature-length viewing
Had The Break-Up veered off on to any of these tangents, with their inspired supporting turns, the results would almost certainly have been more enjoyable - more unexpected, more human - than the tired spectacle we have now. (And I didn't even mention the contributions of Joey Lauren Adams, her salty squeak of a voice enlivening the role of Brooke's best pal, or Jason Bateman, lending his Arrested Development-honed dryness to the role of the leads' realtor.) But no. They're mere fringe moments, and the film's meat, as it were, is devoted to the achingly formulaic, deathly dull sight of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston bickering over who gets possession of their condo, and who doesn't appreciate whom more. Audiences will be forgiven for wishing they were at one of those imaginary movies instead.
THE LIVING SEA
The latest presentation at the Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre is the aqua-doc The Living Sea, which takes us on a tour of the world's oceans both above and below sea level. We follow a Coast Guard rescue team as it practices its life-saving techniques, join a deep-sea research crew as it probes the oceanic depths, and ride along with surfers as they hang 10 (or whatever it is surfers do), and all the while Meryl Streep narrates in soothing tones - her mellifluous voice itself suggesting a relaxing bath with the water at just the right temperature - while low-key Sting music plays on the soundtrack. Many of the underwater sequences, with their extraordinary colors, play like live-action scenes from the first reel of Finding Nemo, and the film, occasionally vibrant, is never less than beautifully shot. It's a perfectly pleasant entertainment. It's also, even at only 50 minutes, more than a bit boring.
Part of the disappointment lies in the timing of the film's Putnam release; recent IMAX excursions such as Bugs!, The Human Body, and Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon were much livelier entertainments, peppered with refreshingly ironic humor and visuals, and the overly earnest The Living Sea - first released theatrically way back in 1995 - feels like old news, the VH1 to the other films' MTV. (In the press packets handed out at The Living Sea's sneak preview, Streep's biography referred to her forthcoming role opposite Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County.)
But the bigger problem is that while our eyes are being engaged in the film, our brains aren't. Personally, I find 50 minutes the perfect length for an IMAX entertainment - that screen is so overwhelming that it's best appreciated in limited doses - but it doesn't allow enough time for us to really learn from any of The Living Sea's numerous educational detours. We surf, we look at whales, we soak in the pretty images, and we go home. The IMAX format has provided plenty of cinematic wonders over the years, and it's always a kick visiting the area's biggest screen. I just think it can be put to better use than serving as the area's biggest fish tank.
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