Reel Reviews: Good passengers, bad boyfriends
This week, Mr. Taylor saw Passengers, a sci-fi/romance/mystery starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as Aurora and Jim.
These two star-crossed lovers may never have met if it wasn’t for a malfunction aboard the spaceship that carries them and more than 5,000 other hibernating passengers.
With no one else on board awake and 90 years until they reach their destination, Jim and Aurora have plenty of time to figure what happened and what to do about it.
Mr. Howe was lucky enough to see a romantic comedy, Why Him?
When Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) takes her parents to meet her boyfriend, Laird (James Franco), things get a little heated.
We say, “Passengers is interesting, not too silly fun, and Why Him? is silly fun, but not too interesting.”
TAYLOR: It’s a fresh year and though we would be normally talking about Oscar-worthy films in January, we are instead reviewing the Christmas leftovers.
Fortunately for myself, Passengers is an entertaining and fun fantasy. It’s not without its faults. For instance, I would find it much more believable if Pratt’s character Jim had been left alone much longer before “going crazy.” (He doesn’t actually go crazy, I just can’t tell you what he does without spoiling it.)
I also think the film could have gone in many different, perhaps better directions in its conclusion. However, this ending might be the most romantic.
HOWE: I surprised myself that I enjoyed Why Him?
The trailer in itself is the full story, so should you waste the money on it? I would say yes. There were some genuine laughs coming from my direction and that’s why I was surprised.
I liked a Franco movie and in realizing that I must hang my head in shame. It had everything a rom-com would want: laughs, love, tiny amounts of swearing (mostly from Franco) and, of course, arguments.
TAYLOR: The effects in Passengers are top-notch, which is important as the entire film takes place on a giant spaceship zipping through space. The acting is excellent from all (yes, you will see more people awake), especially the cyborg bartender Arthur played by Michael Sheen.
Don’t expect action, there are no laser blasters here, just two humans trying to work out their problems. Some are caused by technology, some by themselves.
Compromise, understanding and sacrifice will lead to forgiveness, the best outcome available with the IT department out of range.
HOWE: I think the reason that Why Him? works is down to not being your regular rom-com, where it’s all fluffy and nice: at the three-quarter stage, the couple split and in the last 30 seconds, they realize they should be together.
Why Him? is nothing like that typical formula. This has more of an edgy feel to it, maybe that’s down to great story writing, or editing, or a mixture of everything.
— Taylor gives Passengers 3.5 birds out of 5.
— Howe gives Why Him? 3.5 toos out of 5.
Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon.