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"Margot at the Wedding"

Directed by Noah Baumbach.
Written by Noah Baumbach.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Zane Pais, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jack Black.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  11/25/07


Noah Baumbach made a really funny movie called "The Squid and the Whale" a couple of years ago; it was so funny that his script was nominated for an Oscar.  That said, it would be an understatement to acknowledge that, after working with Wes Anderson on "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", Baumbach is a talent on the rise...and, with his new film "Margot at the Wedding", I am sad to report that this promise may be overstated, because I thought it was absolutely fucking atrocious.

Nicole Kidman stars at Margot, a dysfunctional celebrity writer from Manhattan who brings her son Claude (Zane Pais) to visit Margot's sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is getting married to a deadbeat artist/writer named Malcolm (Jack Black).  I will admit, this premise has promise, except that to tell you more would ruin the movie for you because everything else that happens is so weird, so empty, and--even I can't understand this--so poorly lit that a few people got up and left the theater during my showing...and, this was during a 90-minute film.

I could tell that many of the film's lines were meant to be funny, but I was shocked to see how unfunny so much of the film was; the Margot character seems to be meant to be ridiculous and illogical, but this is never completely explained and it makes you wonder why anyone would want to keep this woman around; even Black can only make a couple of these scenes funny; the editing of "Margot at the Wedding"--much like Baumbach's last film--is so random that scenes end where there is clearly room for more explanation, or laughs, or occasionally good drama; Pais just isn't as good as Jesse Eisenberg was as the older son in "The Squid and the Whale", and Pais hurts this new movie in the long run; I can't say this often, but John Turturro--the man who gave us Jesus Quintana from "The Big Lebowski", amongst a hundred other memorable roles--is wasted in his few precious moments of screen time; the list goes on and on.

But, what surprised me the most wasn't how bad the film was, although that was shocking; it was that I was staring intently at the screen the whole time just hoping that this horseshit would get better, and it never did.  And then, it's over.  I am excited to go online now to read positive reviews of this movie, to see how real movie critics could possibly justify any of this as even remotely decent.  Damn, this shit was bad.

Rating:  Hard Vice


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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