Friday Movie Blog: Colin Farrell Goes Fishing

Ondine astonishes, and MacGruber takes a nosedive (too bad)

iTunes, Netflix by mail, Netflix online, Netflix on Wii, TLA store. I use each of these on a regular basis to maintain my movie-renting fix. Obviously, each has special place in my heart (I love you Netflix on the Wii). Yet one system stands alone. One system makes my heart beat a little faster: Comcast On-Demand. With partnerships with several independent film studios, Comcast is able to offer movies released the same day as theaters. Unless you live in L.A. or New York, that usually translates into being able to watch the movie before it even opens in your area. So sitting in my frat-boy-like reclining couch, with some Lazaro’s pizza in hand, I sat down to watch Ondine (PG-13).

Ondine tells the fairy-tale story of Syracuse (Colin Farrell), a fisherman, who one day catches a beautiful, young woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his nets. Syracuse and his daughter Annie (played by the mature-for-her-age newcomer Alison Barry) begin to wonder if this woman—who calls herself Ondine—is more than what she seems. If you’ve seen director Neil Jordan’s previous work (Breakfast on Pluto, The Butcher Boy) you should be familiar with his storytelling approach. His work focuses on moments of striking visuals and tremendous acting. Each scene feels like he’s lingering in the moment, rather than rushing to the next plot point. Until the last minutes, where the movie takes a sharp, shocking turn, this dreamlike film might be a bit too soporific for some.

And as visuals go, this movie is unbelievably beautiful. Each perfectly shot green, everlastingly overcast visage is the perfect echo of the characters’ pathos. With playful perspective and unusual cinematography, the land and sea become equally mystical … making you believe in magic.

It is wonderful to see Colin Farrell in another “acting” role. He has a handsome, dark, and mature presence that is somehow imbued with lightness. Nowhere is this more obvious than in scenes with his daughter. His fear for his daughter’s health belies his strong exterior. The moments he sits next to her during her daily dialysis are particularly touching and realistic. Let’s hope that Farrell sees his strength in indy films (like this one and In Bruges) and leaves the big budgets (S.W.A.T. and Phone Booth) behind.

Syracuse frequently asks his daughter “Anything strange and wonderful?” If you can appreciate the beauty of the setting and the acting, and it isn’t 10 p.m., you might find something strange and wonderful in Ondine. (In theaters.)

My Grade: B+


MacGruber (R) is going to be remembered as being one of the biggest box office disappointments in recent memory. Despite only taking $10M to make, as of June 8th, it has only made $8.5M. It also has the distinction of having the third greatest percent reduction in theater numbers within one week: 2,546 (week 2) down to 177 (week 3). That’s 93.7%—only Gigli and From Justin to Kelly beat that.

Being fully aware of the press’s vitriolic hostility toward this movie, I am going to be brave and announce that I liked it. Seriously.

The movie is based on an interstitial SNL comedy sketch where the faux-MacGyver (Will Forte) blows up everyone … every time. The movie, like the sketch, is funny, raunchy, and above all, stupid. Really, really stupid. And that’s the point. In Lisa Schwarzbaum’s recent review in Entertainment Weekly, she states that MacGruber is “…a naughty throwaway…of talented performers doing and saying dumb, crude stuff in pursuit of an elusive laugh.” (And yet, these were the very reasons she liked Hot Tub Time Machine). Again, isn’t that the point?

The movie is by no means brilliant, or has any lasting effect. But for 90 minutes, I enjoyed this one-man Tropic Thunder and I certainly laughed at the always-hilarious Kristen Wiig.

So perhaps its success will not be based on box office receipts. Perhaps it will not increase the likelihood of another SNL sketch movie in the near future. But, somehow, I feel this movie may go on to become a cult-flick … leading to many, many years of DVD/iTunes sales. And sales of celery stalks. (In theaters.)

My Grade: B-