Tag Archives: Cobie Smulders

Time to Stop Reaching

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

by Hope Madden

Who is Jack Reacher?

“The guy you didn’t count on.”

Or, the guy spewing some tired, tired lines.

Four years ago Tom Cruise pissed off Lee Child fans when he put on the rumpled jeans and tee of the 6’5” drifter with mad military skills. In the serviceable thriller Jack Reacher, Cruise’s character puzzled through a homicide set up with the help of an inappropriately dressed defense lawyer.

Nowadays, though, maybe Jack is subconsciously looking to settle down. He meanders back to DC to talk with the Major who is now in command of his old post – the overtly fierce Samantha Turner (Cobie Smulders). Sparks?

Well, there might have been except Major Turner’s been incarcerated, there’s a highly trained sociopath with an alpha complex and a fancy pair of leather gloves, and an at-risk teen is in need of guidance.

The action’s far less interestingly choreographed, the humor is nonexistent, the villain is far blander (it was Werner Herzog last go-round, for lord’s sake!).

With the right combination of vulnerability, brattiness and savvy, Danika Yarosh provides the rare bright spot as the wayward teen. Smulder’s indignant badass is all but intolerable. Meanwhile, Cruise seems paralyzed as he tries to relay confused and conflicted paternal tendencies.

Edward Zwick’s stale direction isn’t helping. The closest thing to panache comes by way of the now de rigueur chase across urban rooftops. Yawn.

Still, Zwick’s greater crime may be the screenplay he co-wrote with Richard Wenk and Marshall Herskovitz, adapted from the Child novel. There is a difference between streamlining text and discarding character development, plot movement and sense. You spend 30% of the film thinking, “Well, that was certainly convenient.”

Incompetent plotting, weak catch phrases and a shocking lack of chemistry among any and all actors will keep a project from succeeding. Hopefully everyone involved – including the audience – can leave the film and never go back.


Love at the Stairmaster


by George Wolf

You get the feeling filmmaker Andrew Bujalski might have had a few sessions with a personal trainer, or maybe spent some time with a Crossfit WOD when inspiration hit for Results.

Who are these people, and why are they so eager to convince you they can change your life? What about them? How’d they get so perfect?

They’re not, of course, and Bujalski utilizes some charmingly offbeat characters and dark humor to remind us there’s more to being fit than just buns of steel.

Trevor (Guy Pearce) and Kat (Cobie Smulders) are trainers at an Austin, Texas gym, and have no troubles in the physique department. In fact, their hot bodies get together every now and then, but neither of them can pin down quite where the relationship stands.

Enter Danny (Kevin Corrigan), a mysterious, disheveled shlub who wanders into the gym one day and decides he needs to get in shape. Danny is recently divorced, and even more recently very rich, which leads him to offer people $200 to do random things, like set up his TV or bring him over a cat.

Danny wants private sessions at his home gym, and after a few with Kat, wouldn’t mind more than just a business relationship. That doesn’t sit well with Trevor, and elicits some surprising reactions that tangle them all in quite an unusual triangle.

Sure, a romantic comedy about people searching for something real is old hat, but writer/director Bujalski (Computer Chess) gives us interesting characters in unique situations to breathe some fun new life into the genre.

Bujalksi may be moving to more mainstream projects, but he’s not dumbing anything down. The humor still bites, and his eye for observational detail remains keen. He crafts subtle parallels between the quests for love and fitness, and draws fine performances from his cast to make them stick.

Pearce is customarily solid, it’s nice to see Corrigan getting bigger parts, and both Giovanni Ribisi and Anthony Michael Hall chip in memorable cameos, but Smulders makes the biggest impression here. In giving Kat some unexpected depth, Smulders shows she’s ready to move beyond sitcoms and superhero support with a breakout performance.

Playful, smart, and unhurried, Results is among the most charming adult fare this summer.






Because “Insemination Man” Was Just Tacky…


by George Wolf


Delivery Man wants very badly to be that magical “feel good movie of the year.”

I’d like to play right field for the Cleveland Indians.

Both have an equal chance of happening.

Delivery Man is director/co-writer Ken Scott‘s near shot-for-shot remake of his 2011 French Canadian release Starbuck, and it casts Vince Vaughn as David, a NYC slacker who learns that, in about nine months, his 534th child will be born.

Seems that years ago, David earned quite a bit of money doing quite a bit of manual labor at a sperm bank. Through some unethical misappropriation of bank “funds,” he is the biological father of 533 people, many of whom have banded together for a lawsuit in hopes of overturning confidentiality agreements and learning their father’s identity.

At the same time, David’s long-suffering girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) announces she’s pregnant, and so it’s time for an absurdly manipulative lesson on the importance of family. Check that, the importance of fathers, as the mothers of all these sperm bank kids are barely an afterthought.

The funny thing is, it’s not even funny, as the film focuses instead on exploiting your soft spot for family bonds during the Holiday season.  David gets a file with bios of many of his kids, so he begins acting as a “guardian angel,” dropping by incognito to instantly solve a young women’s drug habit or to be the caring soul a severely disabled boy has always needed. If there is a heartstring available, Delivery Man tries to pull it.

Vaughn’s usual crutches aren’t the problem. For the first time in a long time, he doesn’t just do the Vince Vaughn schtick, and appears interested in actual acting.

Trouble is, there’s nothing of substance for Vaughn, or us, to cling to. The film never seems more than a weak collection of sitcom moments, rendering Delivery Man little more than an empty carton of schmaltz.