Not a "review of a shitty movie," although that is also undoubtedly the case. Manohla Dargis trashes the movie, sure, but spends about 1/2 the review acting as though this movie were a waste of talent.
Mainly it's a lackadaisical mess, though one graced with welcome talent, including Paul Giamatti and Miranda Richardson. (Here's hoping these indie stalwarts pocketed decent studio checks for keeping their gifts in idle.)Let's look at the facts here. Paul Giamatti has been in the following movies:
- Shoot 'em Up (an action film bomb with Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci)
- The Nannie Diaries
- Lady in the Water (the most recent M. Night Shyamalan film, starring in which puts Mr. Giamatti in a class with Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson)
- The Ant Bully (a computer-animation bomb that made back less than half its $50 million budget)
- Cinderella Man (a film so uninteresting to the public that the studio offered to PAY audiences their money back if they were dissatisfied)
- Big Momma's House
- Saving Private Ryan
- My Best Friend's Wedding
- Planet of the Apes (remake)
- Donnie Brasco (a great film, but released in a February and so denied any Oscar glory)
- Duets (a Gwenyth Paltrow vehicle with Huey Lewis)
Rather than saying, "I'm so surprised that this independent film stalwart, this rock of taste and integrity, Paul Giamatti, has sunk to starring in Fred Clause" (Dargis, paraphrased), what any reasonable person should say is, "I'm surprised this annoying character actor, having signed on to whatever project came his way for his entire career up to the present, an undiscriminating hack, should have happened to make two well-respected (but uninteresting, pretentious) independent films at some point in the early 2000s."
Thus, the most insulting part is *not* buying into the hype of Oscar-Winner Paul Giamatti, but:
- believing there is anything noble about making garbage like Sideways or Storytelling
- hoping that Paul Giamatti "pocketed [a] decent studio check" for his work here. THAT'S ALL HE DOES. He pockets decent studio checks like it was going out of style. The man was in the Frankie Muniz vehicle Big Fat Liar, for fuck's sake!