Mark Webber, Zooey Deschanel, Harry Dean Stanton, Bill Paxton, Patrick Fugit
Jason: My dad used to tell me that the people I meet will never care more about who I am than they will about what I look like. And because I look the way I do…people may never care about me at all.
Jason (Webber) lives in a small, football-crazy, town. His family is poor, his father has just committed suicide, and paying the bills is basically impossible. He also suffers from an immune system disorder that causes all his hair to fall out. Despite all that, he’s a generally humble, nice guy, and Frances (Deschanel) takes a liking to him when they meet. Of course, she’s got some issues of her own.
Here’s the pattern of the mood of this movie: depressing, depressing, dark, sad, depressing, depressing, everything’s actually great!
That pattern didn’t work too well for me. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t feel like a tacked on ending, only there to assuage the worries of some important people that didn’t want to green light such a depressing movie.
The tone problems aside, it just wasn’t a very compelling movie. Zooey is playing a slight twist on her usual character. She’s the beautiful girl who comes along, instantly falls for the quiet, troubled protagonist, and leads him on various little adventures that show him a better side to life. I say it’s a twist on the usual character because this girl has some pretty serious secrets she’s hiding. Their relationship was probably the best plot line in the movie, but that’s only because everything else was even less interesting.
Maybe it was just the boring lead performance by Webber that did it in. I’m not sure. I kept thinking that Patrick Fugit, who has a smaller part, would have been better in the lead. He’s a more interesting actor, in my opinion.
The movie’s point, in the end, is to notice the little moments in life that make it worth living. A smile here, a beautiful sight there…but to only dwell on depressing moments for the first hour and a half, then remind us of the happy stuff for the final minute, just doesn’t work. I think dwelling on the good moments in between the bad would have made for a more enjoyable movie, and it would have gotten the point across even better. As is, it just felt phony and insincere. Then again, phoniness is sort of a theme in the movie…
Apparently a pretty girl singing a pretty song can instantly put a stop to an elderly person’s dementia-related outbursts.
10 – 3.5 for being way too depressing and then trying to spring happy on us at the end – 1.4 for a dull lead performance = 5.1