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"The Lookout"

Directed by Scott Frank.
Written by Scott Frank.
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Isla Fisher and Matthew Goode.

Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  4/8/07


I was actually a bit surprised by the time I left my screening of "The Lookout" yesterday morning--I was a bit underwhelmed by a film that I thought would have a bit more edge to it, one that was getting some pub prior to release for being a noirish thriller with great characters.  Instead, "The Lookout" is something that will fly under the radar, and deservedly so, from what I found yesterday.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, so brilliant in last year's "Brick", plays Chris Pratt, a 22-year-old kid who suffered a serious car accident injury when he wrecked his convertible on prom night four years prior to the start of the film's main action.  The injury has left him with almost zero short-term memory abilities, so he has to write everything down in a little notepad he carries with him; because of this, he is only capable of light manual labor tasks, so he works as a janitor at a small bank near Kansas City, MO at night.  His roommate--a blind guy named Lewis (Jeff Daniels) who works as a CSR for 1-800-FLOWERS and is a bit of a dreamer.  One night after working at the bank, Chris runs into a guy who he used to go to high school with, Gary (Matthew Goode, from "Match Point"), and, by golly, Gary is looking to rob a bank with a team of some shady fact, they want to rob the exact same bank where Chris works.  Having trouble with the ladies, Gary even hooks Chris up with what can only be called a piece of ass (in the form of Isla Fisher, from "Wedding Crashers") to help coerce Chris into serving as the lookout for the robber team on the night of the big score.

Gordon-Levitt is strong once again in his work here, but his character as written just doesn't have as much to do for, oh, half the film.  Once we get his character nuances down, we're hoping they'll be advanced in a way that is worth following; instead, we get more and more of the same bits, from his routine of getting donuts from a deputy (Sergio Di Zio) every night and chitchatting about nothing, to forgetting his car keys, not once, but I think four times over the course of the movie; having to remind himself to wake up, shower, eat breakfast, etc.; it's a test of patience in watching "The Lookout", and surprisingly, I had the patience, but only for something that was interesting, and after fifteen minutes, you know you are not going to get it from the lead character.

And, from there, nothing is really worth remembering.  Chris's relationship with his family is dull and predictable; Daniels does his best to be interesting but off the page, his dialogue is nothing to write home about; the sets and visuals need to be bland and they are, but as such, they almost help to drag you into the misery of the experience; the team of "bad guys" led by Goode's Gary is so non-descript that two of the three other guys on this team didn't even have much to say (one of them, a guy named Bone, had no lines at all!); Fisher's character is dumb as a rock but this is not played to good effect.

What does this leave you with?  The eventual robbing of the bank, and while this sequence is sorta tense, it ends the way I thought it would, only to give us a chance to watch Chris perform a bit of derring-do to save the life of a friend.  Writer/director Scott Frank then leaves nothing to suspense with his very-end sequence by literally scripting out for us what is going to happen, right down to the last gunshot.  Blah!

"The Lookout" was a disappointment for me, but I still love that Gordon-Hewitt guy!

Rating:  Rental


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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