Gone: Here’s a measure of Amanda Seyfried’s star power: she can still star in a thriller that gets a wide theatrical release (albeit unscreened for critics). Not such guarantee for the likes of Nicole Kidman, Nicolas Cage, Hilary Swank, or Halle Berry.
Even better, Seyfried’s deep conviction that a serial killer who menaced her in the past has come back for her sister, in the face of widespread assumption that she’s crazy and there was no serial killer, recalls Bunny Lake Is Missing, which is somehow not a Criterion Collection movie but totally should be. Gone is the latest 2012 thriller to be directed by a migrating filmmaker in his English-language debut, in this case Brazilian Heitor Dhalia (other selected credits: Adrift and Drained; I am not making this up and now I’m wondering if Gone completes a trilogy). I can’t decide which I’m more apt to do: see a movie just because it has Amanda Seyfried in it, or see a movie just because it has, well, read on.
Wanderlust: Proposal, briefly floated last year in this space (and probably other years in other spaces): At the moment, Paul Rudd is our greatest comic leading man. He’s not as flat-out hilarious as the best Will Ferrell, but for pure grounded likability, comic chops, and surprising range, it’s hard to beat Rudd. Consider his characters following a few post-Clueless years in the wilderness: expertly played jackasses in Wet Hot American Summer, Anchorman, and 40-Year-Old Virgin that all manage to be different in tone; a wry married dude in Knocked Up; charming, earnest, light-slapstick leading-man riffs in auteurist semi-messes I Could Never Be Your Woman and How Do You Know (seriously, How Do You Know is good stuff; if nothing else, it is a bravura film-length essay on Rudd’s nimble charm); stoner flakiness in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and stoner optimism in Our Idiot Brother; caustic sarcasm in Role Models; and beautifully rendered dorkiness in I Love You, Man.
He’s acted alongside the full-blown buffoonery of Ferrell and the regular-guy slobbiness of Seth Rogen, yet the Rudd male, in addition to being trickier to pin down, has a sweetness and vulnerability that nonetheless feels surprisingly adult (even more surprising: Rudd is well into his forties, and has managed to play some of these parts a solid five or ten years later than some of his peers). All of this, for me, makes Wanderlust, a reteaming of Rudd with his Role Models/Wet Hot buddies, a must-see even though it co-stars Jennifer Aniston. In the trailer, I totally buy Rudd as an uptight city-dweller who needs to unwind, even though that doesn’t exactly describe any of the parts I just listed above (actually, if he manages a slow conversion from jerk to hippie, the role might encompass as many as six or seven past Rudd parts and become a Paul Rudd ur-text, required for any future classes I teach on Paul Rudd, which will, admittedly, probably just me talking about what a dude-crush I have on him outside of the Learning Annex).
Also, IMDB just reminded me that Rudd played Nick Carraway in a TV-movie version of The Great Gatsby. I’m sure it can’t be any good, but obviously I need to go find it now. [Oh the Mira Sorvino one! I dunno, Rudd so basically decent that Nick might be a stretch for him, albeit a potentially interesting one. -Ed.]
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds: One of these days, I will see a Tyler Perry movie. You know, just as soon as someone actually screens one for the press and invites me. Or, alternately, until one still doesn’t screen but co-stars Amanda Seyfried.
Act of Valor: My wife and I saw the trailer for this and she wanted to know how exactly this was a proper movie and not a Fathom Event. My feeling is, if you’re going to make a movie starring real Navy SEALs as more-or-less themselves, probably it’s best if you have Steven Soderbergh do it, and not a couple of stunt men slash coordinators.