Teen film fans have come to expect things to be more intense than in sci-fi adventure THE GIVER (12: Entertainment In Video).
Derived from a 20-year-old teen bestseller, it’s certainly not the most original movie they’ll ever see.
It’s set in a boringly familiar dystopian future, where sameness is celebrated, emotions have been erased and a leaching-out of all colour has left – both literally and figuratively – a black-and-white world.
But rebel librarian Jeff Bridges (aka The Giver), the sole repository of mankind’s feelings and frailties, is determined to put the ‘real’ back into real life.
And so, too, after some persuasion, is his teen protégé Brenton Thwaites. But Chief Elder and arch stick-in-the-mud Meryl Streep is having none of it, and conflict ensues.
Cutting between monochrome and colour according to whose world view we’re privy to, The Giver has its moments, but generally fails to convince the viewer of the credibility of the world it inhabits. In fact, at times, it’s plain nonsensical.
Bridges and Streep are OK, but Thwaites is a bland lead and embroiled in an undercooked love affair that won’t cut much mustard with the audience it’s aimed at.
> The sequel THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (12: Sony) feels like a waste of time.
It sees the original cast reunite in Las Vegas for a wedding. Both bachelor and bachelorette parties begin in style, but mishaps and relationship problems soon threaten to derail the nuptials.
Mixing comedy ideas that have either run their course or didn’t work in the first place, the film settles for simply bringing the actors back together, ignoring the need for purpose. What transpires is a series of loose subplots scattered over the course of one night, with Kevin Hart doing a lot of shouting.
Ironically, it’s the comedian’s overbearing energy that keeps the film going, his rapid-fire jokes occasionally hitting the mark. The rest of the cast are likeable enough, and they gamely stretch their one-dimensional characters to the limit, but it’s ultimately a redundant exercise.
> A stand-up comic brooding over a bad break-up has a drunken one-night stand and gets pregnant in OBVIOUS CHILD (15: Koch Media).
The film takes its name from the Paul Simon song and Jenny Slate plays the ethical-bookstore employee and amateur comedienne whose extraordinary run of bad luck sees her dumped and ousted from her job in quick succession.
She decides to have an abortion, but as she develops a relationship with the father of the baby, the fearless honesty she deploys on stage fails her, and she struggles to tell him the truth.
Writer/director Gillian Robespierre handles the weighty issues deftly, managing to be breezy and hilarious without sacrificing intelligence or empathy.
Romantic comedy clichés are avoided so that the largely bungled romance with Jake Lacy plays second fiddle to a robust, heartening friendship with Gaby Hoffmann, while the sharp script strikes an entertaining balance between candid confession and toilet humour.
How wonderful that a movie that is so unapologetically frank should simultaneously feel so warm and delightful.