Made in Amer­ica

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILMREVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

PEO­PLE LIKE US ★ Di­rected by Alex Kurtz­man. Star­ring Chris Pine, El­iz­a­beth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Jon Favreau, Michelle Pfeif­fer 12A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 114 min THERE IS A par­tic­u­lar type of bad movie that could only be made in Amer­ica. Film-mak­ers in that coun­try have a greater be­lief in the pos­si­bil­ity of change than is usual in other parts of the globe. Are you a self­ish fat­head? Never mind. Think good thoughts and, by next week, you will be a kindly ge­nius.

This deeply an­noy­ing film, whose most re­mark­able achieve­ment is that it came into be­ing with­out the as­sis­tance of Ni­cholas Sparks, wal­lows in cre­ative rein­ven­tion. Chris Pine plays a heart­less busi­ness­men whose wretched­ness, as in all such Amer­i­can films, is rooted in poor ex­pe­ri­ences from his early life.

When his boozy, phi­lan­der­ing dad dies, Chris tries to avoid go­ing to the funeral, but even­tu­ally re­lents and is forced to ex­change un­pleas­ant gri­maces with flinty mum Michelle Pfeif­fer.

The old man’s lawyer re­veals dad’s ec­cen­tric fi­nal re­quest: the son is to take a large sum of cash to a sin­gle mom else­where in LA. It tran­spires that the woman (El­iz­a­beth Banks) is Chris’s half-sis­ter. Can you see this com­ing? Yes, in­deed. Chris fails to spill the beans and an odd re­la­tion­ship de­vel­ops.

The un­for­tu­nate au­di­ence is then left in plot limbo for two hours while we wait for Pine to tell Banks the aw­ful truth. It’s pos­si­ble, of course, that she will then re­turn to booze and he will re­turn to be­ing a pro­fes­sional bas­tard. Af­ter all, that’s what would hap­pen if the film had been made in Aus­tria.

Don’t count on it. The hazy light bounces hope­fully off the palm trees. The poster looks like the cover of a self-help book. Ms Pfeif­fer tears up in ex­pec­ta­tion of pos­i­tive epiphany.

It’s enough to make the av­er­age Euro­pean cynic vomit.

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