Review: Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day tells the story of a woman who falls madly in love with an escaped prison convict over the course of a Labor Day weekend. At first glance, a movie stacked sky high with ridiculous platitudes and even a ridiculous premise to match. However, Labor Day tends to have a little more to say than early footage would suggest. This film could easily be written off for the general schlock of grocery store romance novels, but in the end it rises above.

Opening in 1987 we meet Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). The two live a rather sheltered lifestyle. We are to assume that Adele is an emotional wreck from her divorce from Henry’s father (Clarke Gregg). She is a mess and refuses to leave the house more than once a month. Henry narrates this entire story and develops a close and helpful relationship with his mother. Never being able to fulfill the lost that she suffered, Henry also feels levels of inadequacy.

When Adele and Henry go to a local department store to pick up their monthly supplies is when things get interesting. During their shopping, Henry walks off to look at the comics (just an excuse to look at the sexy ladies on the magazine covers). He encounters Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin). Frank makes it very clear that he needs their help, and let’s Adele know she has little choice in the matter. He is of course the escaped convict on the run from the local police. He makes Adele and Henry take him back to their place so he can rest from his injuries and decide his next move.

At this point in the movie you get the feeling that this is nothing but a series of stockholm syndrome moments brought on by Frank’s ability to fix the car, work on the broken stairs, and of course make a peach pie from scratch. Teaching both Adele and Henry these skills makes Frank seem like a standup guy, which he is. Throughout the movie we get flashes of how Frank became a prisoner and you as the audience are left to decide whether or not it was deserved. As Frank continues to cook and clean for Adele and Henry we go further down the rabbit’s hole to meet the world’s greatest guy! I have to be honest, I thought this was incredibly contrived and basic. Exactly what I was shown in the trailer and none of this was a surprise; good or bad.

What brought the movie from a mediocre viewing to something of real meaning was what happens next. The reveal (and for the sake of not ruining the movie I won't say what happens) of why Adele is really so torn down as a person is fantastically handled. Showing the full range of emotions surrounding the events are genuine and gripping. These moments elevated the movie above the nonsensical level of a story with a shirtless Fabio character on the cover. Kate Winslet delivers a great performance even with the limited material she is given. Brolin also makes a valiant effort. His brooding Frank Chambers was fairly one dimensional, but Brolin made it work. Gattlin Griffith does a wonderful job as well with what he has. The main hinderous to the movie is its thin character development. Had the three main characters been flushed out more this could have carried the movie a tad further. While not a full experience, Labor Day gives us hope that not all films in January are complete garbage.

[easyreview title= "Review of Labor Day" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.5" overall= false]

Review: Men in Black III

In Men in Black III we have the return of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K. If you have seen either of the other two films from the MIB franchise, you are well aware that J and K work for a top-secret organization established to monitor and police alien activity on Earth. The concept was derived from the Malibu Comics book of the same name which was bought out by Marvel.

The plot is based on time travel or in this case time jumping. Agent J (Will Smith) has to travel back in time to stop a world changing event from occurring. This world changing event is the death of agent K. Using quantum theory as a way to address time in general, the movie banks on the butterfly effect. The smallest event can change the course of history. This is of course the watered down version, but it makes its somewhat clunky point.

The villain in this film is played by Jermaine Clement. In this film he plays the part of Boris the Animal. Move over Macho Man Randy Savage, there is a new Slim Jim man in town! Boris is part of an alien race known as the Boglodites. Boglodites are an aggressive and brutal alien race known for devouring worlds...think Klingons meet Galactus. Boris has been imprisoned on a lunar prison built specifically for him. This is where the story begins.

Emma Thompson replaces Rip Torn in this film as "O" the head of the MIB. However, Josh Brolin makes this film. His portrayal of a young Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is impeccable. He plays K with a little softer edge. This is because Brolin's K has not yet faced some of the hardships of Jones' K. You learn a lot about the MIB universe in this film, even if some of it is pretty predictable from the first scene. You also get some insight into the relationship between J and K that you have not had before.

All in all, the box office numbers of this film will suffer and not because it is that bad of a movie. The stigma of the stinker that was MIB II still hangs in the air. Would I recommend going to the theater to see this film? I will put it this way, if you can disregard that the second film ever existed and you are a fan of the first film...go see it. It makes a decent sequel to the first film. If you are not a huge fan of the first film, wait for Redbox or Netflix streaming.

[easyreview title= "Review of Men in Black III" cat1title="Matthew's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]