Saturday, December 17, 2011

Living Well Through Living Out Loud

The Good: Actors and acting, Strong characters
The Bad: Weak plot
The Basics: An easy recommendation for women looking for a film to bond together during. There's a lot for thinking men as well. A must for Ally McBeal fans.

What happens if you took two great actors (Danny DeVito and Holly Hunter) and one of today's better newcomers (Queen Latifah) and put them in a weakly scripted character driven film? You'd have Living Out Loud which was met with generally high critical acclaim, but failed to produce at the box-office mostly because word of mouth on the film was less supportive.

Living Out Loud is uniquely narrated, much in the way Ally McBeal was originally, with thoughts being presented immediately in such a way that it is difficult for the viewer to tell that they are not real. Some of these are done with humor and pulled off effectively. It may take a second viewing for the casual watcher to pull the real out of the unreal.

So, we're left with a film filled with excellent characters doing . . . well, not much. Danny DeVito portrays Pat Francato, a lonely man whose family life is turmoil, Holly Hunter's character, Judy Moore, is getting over being left by a man and Queen Latifah plays . . . here's a surprise, a nightclub singer, named Liz Bailey. Latifah does a good job and one of the funniest scenes is easily the fictional meeting between Liz and shy Judy.

While Pat interacts honestly with Judy, it becomes clear that she's the exception in his life. Pat's brother, Phil, appears for a few scenes where he alludes to past failures. But Pat has real tragedy; his daughter Liz is not well. His earthy empathetic condition roots the film as he plays elevator operator to the out of touch Judy. Pat - via DeVito, gives the audience some grounding.

The movie is good in that it teams the mousy Hunter up with the more substantial Latifah and mixes in DeVvito in a pretty lonely experience. This is not a film to see when you're depressed. Why? While the characters overcome - generally - the depths they sink to en route are not much fun. In fact, some of the best moments - on a human level - are as DeVito's character is being berated for his ideas by his brother.

More substantial than your average "chick flick," this film has greater endurance and depth than your average women's empowerment film, too. And I'm someone who despises the whole group dance scene thing, I find the scene wherein Judy and Liz go to a club to dance surprisingly relevant.

At the very least, it's well acted and interesting! At its best moments, it says something wonderful about the way people think when they are burdened with emotions.

For other strongly romantic movies, be sure to check out my reviews of:
One Day
Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love
Friends With Benefits


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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