By Joan Ellis
“Enough Said” is a love story laced with gentle humor.
It might well have been ordinary in other hands, but James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus make it sing. Gandolfini, in his final performance, is so quietly expressive he becomes the focus of the film. This big bear of a man can convey hurt or sadness with the slightest shift of an eyebrow, and when his face shows new delight in his unexpected good luck, we want to hug him ourselves.
Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is about to lose her daughter to college, a particular dilemma for this divorced mom facing the empty nest. At a party where she feels supremely uncomfortable, she meets Albert (Gandolfini), a divorced dad whose daughter is also leaving home. Although she continues firing awkward comments into the conversation, Eva begins to feel comfortable with Albert.
By day a masseuse, Eva becomes friends with new client Marianne (Catherine Keener), a poet and survivor of a difficult divorce of her own who spends her table time complaining about her ex-husband. There’s relevance there, and Eva and Albert will grapple with the life questions that writer/director Nicole Holofeener scatters on their path. Look for a few sub-plots, mild complications, and lots of tender charm.
“Bad Grandpa” asks us to remember the time when boys we knew in fourth grade started making jokes about body parts and functions.
Most boys pass quickly and mercifully through this passage to slightly more sophisticated humor but, alas, some never make the leap. Such a one is actor Johnny Knoxville who, wrapped in unwarranted self-confidence, believes his pedestrian mindset has the makings of a full-length feature film.
Before I tell you why I think he’s wrong about that, let me say that his movie has taken in $60 million at the box office – and still counting – since it opened.
The makeup artists have turned Johnny Knoxville from his 40-something self into an 86-year-old grump. This foul-minded man is about to undertake a road trip to deliver his young grandson to the boy’s drunken, drug-addicted father in North Carolina.
Irving (Knoxville) spins a running commentary of stupid jokes, allusions and chatter designed to shock the innocent bystanders they run into in nightclubs, bordellos and other places equally inappropriate for Billy (Jackson Nicoll), the grandson.
If you are of a certain age, you will remember Alan Funt turning his “Candid Camera” on unsuspecting citizens on early television. That’s what Johnny Knoxville does here, but it’s out of sync with the culture we live in now. Nothing he does can keep this awful movie from falling flat. I did laugh once – out loud actually and quite inexplicably – in the very beginning when Irving got a body part caught in a vending machine.
If your own humor is that juvenile, by all means go to “Bad Grandpa” and add a few more dollars to their take. If not, be assured this is a road trip to unendurable boredom.
Rated PG-13 and R
Joan Ellis’ address on the Internet, which contains her review library, is JoanEllis.com.
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