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"A Beautiful Mind"

Directed by Ron Howard.
Written by Akiva Goldsmith.
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, and Ed Harris.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  12/29/01


I was doing a bio search on Ron Howard just a minute ago, because I wanted to see just when he earned his first screen credit.  It really is amazing, that this guy was Opie and all...but, more impressively, Ron Howard has been in show business, REALLY been in show business, for almost 50 years.  FIFTY YEARS!!  So, you would think by now, he is starting to get it. 

And, with impressive turns either commercially or critically in the last five years, including “Ransom” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, plus being a generally nice guy from all accounts that I have read, it makes sense that everyone wants to work with him.  So, when I read last year that Crowe had committed to a project that had him playing a schizo mathematician, I thought, “Yeah, that is gonna suck.”  I was still in “Gladiator” mode then, of course, and I was hoping that Crowe would now begin a career that involved large adventure epics.  Instead, he showed why he may be the most versatile actor in film. 

And, that is what really hits you as you watch “A Beautiful Mind”...this guy Crowe is one bad mother... 


I'm talkin' bout Crowe!  Talk about a potpourri--he plays a brute but lovable cop in “LA Confidential”, then he plays an overweight whistleblower in “The Insider”, then he plays action hero in “Gladiator”, then he goes to MATHEMATICIAN in this film?  What will he do next??  Only six years ago, he was in the awful “Virtuosity”...but, even I have to say, he was damn good in that film despite the fact that the story sucked.  But, this guy is on top of the game right now.  Besides probably just Denzel, no one else can span the spectrum of roles like Crowe is right now.  He can play action, adventure, romance, drama...and, he actually does pretty well at the comedic moments in “A Beautiful Mind”, too. 

But, enough about kissing his his film any good?  I'll put it this way:  near the end of this film, based on the life of some crazy, schizophrenic delusional named John Nash, Jr., I think every single person in the theater except for me was crying.  Look, if you don't care about what you are watching, or are not caught up in the emotion of the characters being presented to you, you don't cry.  I can't think of any bad film where I was near tears by the end of it.  But, “A Beautiful Mind” almost had me, were it not for the fact that this stupid woman behind me kept rummaging through a plastic bag she had brought in with her looking for more napkins or Kleenex. 

This is a great movie.  I really didn't think I would get caught up in a story that is one-third romance, one-third drama and one-third comedy...about a math student.  But, I did.  And, it helps that the key support roles in this film are money in the bank.  Paul Bettany, the hilarious Chaucer from this year's earlier surprise “A Knight's Tale”, is great once again as Nash's college roommate Charles, and Ed Harris is his usual reliable self as a government agent that wants to use Nash to help the country's greater good.  But, the standout here has got to be Jennifer Connelly, who has gone from small-timer (the forgettable “The Rocketeer”) to dead and forgotten to two great performances, here and in “Requiem for a Dream.”  And, if it wasn't obvious before, the girl is hot and makes the Crowe/Connelly pairing one of the most watchable in recent memory. 

And, despite its almost 150-minute running time, it flies by as Howard guides us through Nash's career at Princeton to his work with the government to his diagnosis of schizophrenia to his 1994 Nobel Prize.  Crowe's performance is amazing and the film, like so many others released here in December, will likely be among the lucky winners come next March.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.) 

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09