Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Putting a feather in my reviewer's cap: The Lookout

I rented The Lookout recently because it has Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it (sigh), was supposed to be good, and I thought my "I only like actually good movies" roommate Ka$h would want to watch it with me. I ended up watching it on my own last night, but I was totally not disappointed. The movie started out sad but slowly turned tense. You know if you're watching a movie alone and at some point find yourself yelling aloud to the screen: "No, no, no, no, no, no!" or "Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it!" it's gotta be good. Or at least engaging. The movie starts out showing (not telling!) us how Gordon-Levitt's character--Chris, a hotshot high school hockey player--got into a horrible car accident on prom night (he was driving) that killed two friends, took his girlfriend's leg, and left him with a serious head injury. Four years later, Chris is living with an awesome (and sweet) blind man named Lewis, who is played by the always-lovable Jeff Daniels, whom I have had great affection for ever since the eighth grade when we were forced to watch Gettsyburg in which he plays the walrus-mustached Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Anyway, the beginning of the movie does a great job of showing us what it might be like to live with a head injury. Chris has serious short-term memory problems, he sometimes has trouble censoring himself, he gets angry and frustrated easily--especially when he remembers what a charmed life he used to lead before the accident. He spends his evenings working as a janitor at a rural bank, where he has to write down all of his tasks for the day or he'll forget to do them. He becomes easy prey for sexy conman Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode), who gets a hot chick to sleep with him and pretends to be his friend. But what Gary and his sketchy pals want is for him to be their inside man when they rob the bank Chris works at. Chris is pretty easily convinced to help them, but on the night of the robbery, he tries to back out. BAD IDEA. Super-scary-silent Bone has got a shotgun and Chris is going to be their lookout and help them with this robbery, dammit. The movie does a great job of building up to this point. It seems obvious that Gary is a sleaze, and there's something weird going on with the girl (who has no real defining characteristics to talk about, she's just hot and played by Isla Fisher), Chris' rich family is shitty and unsupportive, and Gary does a great job of manipulating his guilt and frustration with his mantra "Whoever has the money has the power." Chris writes this down in his little reminder notebook. Now I will list some other good things: 1. Joseph Gordon Levitt = adorable and awesome. He does "desperate" really well, but not over the top. 2. I liked how Chris' tricky memory worked both for and against him. With the note-writing (to himself), the final long action-y sequence reminded me a bit of watching Memento. 3. Jeff Daniels in sunglasses, telling it like it is, swearing up a storm, and having a pretty good beard earns this movie, like, 45 extra points. 4. Despite the fact that you knew that they'd never pull off the bank heist and Chris was surely screwed by becoming involved, the plot never gave itself up. There were still even surprises to keep the suspense going until the end. 5. SPOILER ALERT: Chris and Lewis open up a sandwich shop called "Lew's Your Lunch." It amused me.

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