Movie Reviews: Sherlock Holmes and Barefoot in the Park

Two very different movies up for review today, and I honestly was crazy about either of them. First, the one most of you probably know and many of you have likely seen: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I saw and really enjoyed the first one of these. I found the fresh take on Holmes to be fun (though nowhere nearly as good as the current BBC production of modern-day Holmes). So I had high hopes for this movie.

Hopes were not met.

It was still fun. Downey, Jr. keeps the character . . . sporadic. There are funny parts, and parts that are certainly unexpected now and then, but as far as the main plot goes, the only way it kept it unpredictable was by withholding information. When a key part of the climax rests on obscure information that we never had a clue existed . . . that’s a bad thing. (And it makes me think that somewhere on a cutting room floor, there’s a three hour version of this movie that might make more sense. But I really don’t think this movie warrants three hours, which then makes me think that somebody should have revised the plot a fair bit before pressing the “Go” button on this one.)

I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I also really didn’t appreciate the fact that they dispatched a certain character without so much as a “How do you do?” Of course, we see no body, so my bets are on the fact that the character could return for a sequel, but still . . . it was quite a blow of disrespect. Better to leave the character out entirely.

The last critique I’ll give it is that somehow, by having a protagonist who’s always one step ahead of the bad guys, and a villain who’s always one step ahead of the good guys, you end up with a plot that’s pretty much like the old hand game–the one where you put your right hand on top of the other person’s hand, they top it with their other hand, you top it with your left hand, they top by slipping out their first hand, and you do the same with your right hand–on and on and on. Is Sherlock losing, or letting Moriarty think he’s winning? And vice versa, ad infinitum. It didn’t have the feel of cat and mouse so much as cat and cat, and not in a good way. Characters need flaws and limitations, and neither of these guys really had them in any meaningful way. Two and a half stars, but diverting at least.

Barefoot in the Park . . . I had high hopes for again. I’d heard of the movie. Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, based on a Neil Simon play. Should be great, right? But it was a movie that really failed to come together for me. It’s about a newlywed couple who are just beginning to learn how to really live with each other. Fonda is an absolute spaz. Does every little thing that comes into her head. Redford is a stuffy young lawyer. And you really wonder what in the world these two people saw in each other to begin with. I think that’s where the movie starts to come unglued for me. We’re told by other characters how in love Fonda and Redford are, but I don’t really see anything there to make me believe it. They lust after each other, sure. That makes sense. But more than that? You got me.

And Fonda is so much of a spaz. Her character drove me crazy the entire movie. She overreacts to everything, doesn’t think at all of consequences, and is pretty much focused on herself the whole time. Yes, she gives lip service to wanting to make her husband happy, but she takes no real note of him or what he wants. Redford . . . looks like he has no clue how he got saddled with this woman, and I’m inclined to agree.

The plot is rambly, the music failed to impress me–and yet there are pieces of the movie that work extremely well. There’s a run-on gag about how high up their apartment is that I really enjoyed. There are some lines that are just flat out great. But they’re too few and far between, and it all fails to come together in the end. Two stars.

1 Comment

  • By Aj Bender, August 31, 2012 @ 4:59 am

    I heard from a lot of people, mainly my mother-in-law, that this movie was just as good as the first one. I’m behind the times as I just saw the first one not even two weeks ago. I know, that’s pretty crazy but I don’t go to movie theaters much because it’s gotten too expensive. I did like he first one a lot and I just added A Game of Shadows to my queue at Blockbuster @ Home. It lets me choose from thousands of movies and TV shows that then get sent by mail. When I’m done I just send them back and the next ones on the list make their way to me. A Dish co-worker suggested I try the service because I was having some issues finding the not so popular movies. I’ve since discovered that it’s a good source for old and new films. I figured that the second installment to Sherlock Holmes would be great because it brings Professor Moriarty into the picture. I really hope that the movie is decent enough for me to watch all the way through.

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