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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

March 23, 2010

5/10 Cheeky Spaniards

Eh, Woody’s been better. I miss Match Point.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is about two best friends – one’s single and adventurous, the other’s engaged and traditional, you know the drill – who ship off to Barcelona for the Summer to sightsee and quickly find themselves being wooed by a Spanish painter who’s got more game than he knows what to do with and an ex-wife who’s off the freakin’ wall. So Vicky Cristina start hanging out more and more with this smooth mother effer, they find themselves discovering feelings and emotions they never knew were there, and then his ex-wife comes back into the picture and things get turned up to 11.

So, this here is the latest ditty by Woody Allen and say what you will about his jones for the occasional stepdaughter, when it comes to movies, the guy is no joke. It actually wasn’t until five seconds ago when I checked out his IMDB profile that I realized he’s been putting a movie out every. single. year. since ’82, sometimes even two a year and with the exception of a couple hiccups here and there in the ’70s where he made one every other year, that’s been Woody’s m.o. for since he started over four decades ago.

Like I said, no joke.

Now, it’d be one thing if all those movies sucked, but such is not the case with Woody. He’s managed to raise the bar pretty high for himself over the years, which has kinda become  a double-edged sword in its own little way, but every once in a while he’ll come around and wow me with something totally different and totally awesome (again, Match Point) that renews my faith in the guy.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those instances.

The first warning sign in VCB was the surprising presence of one my biggest complaints about movies in general – the omniscient narrator. Not to reignite the flames of a losing battle I already started in my Little Children review, but in the interest of keeping it brief and not getting reamed by dear, dear readers, the omniscient narrator here is still redundant, still annoying and isn’t any better than every O.N. before it. Didn’t notice it as much towards the end, but nonetheless, my good buddy Fred and I were rolling our eyes like gangbusters.

The other big problem with this movie is that it’s just boring as sin. I didn’t feel like it had anything new to say, the main characters aren’t interesting enough for me to really care about them and it takes way too long for the ex-wife to show up. Granted, things do pick up quite a bit once this happens, but I still never felt invested in this movie, more like I was just passing through, ogling at the pretty architecture.

Then again, this movie does have two big things going for it:

1. The acting’s good. Naturally, Javier Bardem is the man and I’ll admit that he’s one good lookin’ fella without that mop top going on, and Penelope Cruz continues to impress as one of the best actresses out there. Still think Viola Davis deserved the Oscar that year for Doubt, but either way, good stuff from Penelope. Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall are also fine as Cristina and Vicky, but they kinda get overshadowed.

And, 2. It’s a beautiful love letter to Barcelona. Man, talk about a gorgeous city, only been there once before myself and if you’ve never been, this movie will make you want to. Ugh, I need a vacation.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona‘s not bad, it’s not good, it’s just there like a pretty postcard on a fridge. One of those movies that makes an hour feel like two and even though it provides glimpses into something promising and gets pretty steamy while doing it, it’s ultimately predictable and I can’t say I was bummed to see the end credits roll around. 

Well, it’s a new year, Woody. Maybe next time.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 1:22 am

    If the narrator had only done his beginning and end snipets, I would have been fine. But here I will side with you over the narrator issue – it didn’t work for me.

    Woody nailed the narrator with using Larry David’s character in “Whatever Works” – but I’m such a huge fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that I would be in stitches listening to him read every word of the health care legislation.

  2. March 23, 2010 4:48 am

    Solid review bro! I thought this film was good, but still didn’t rate it that high because as you’ve pointed out it’s just plain ol’ boring for huge chunks. I wasn’t convinced about the narrator but it is Classic Allen. I guess this works as a chick flick, not much else.

    I know it kinda bombed but definitely give “Whatever Works” a chance. Woody Allen and Larry David doing their Jewish Thang. If you like ’em both, it’s worth the rental. Definitely my favourite Jew-based film of the past few years! 😛

    • March 23, 2010 4:38 pm

      Yeah, I just noticed that’s on Netflix streaming, been meaning to check it out. Curb is freakin’ hilarious so it’s already got that going for it.

  3. Branden permalink
    March 23, 2010 2:53 pm

    Here a moment that I do agree with your disdain for the narrator. I thought the narration was unnecessary in this movie. Allen didn’t let the scenes breathe.

    I enjoyed the film more than you, but I thought that Cruz and Bardem’s characters are Latin stereotypes.

    I echo your sentiment about Viola Davis should have won the Oscar instead of Cruz.

    • March 23, 2010 4:39 pm

      “Didn’t let the scenes breathe.” I dig that, well put.

      • Branden permalink
        March 24, 2010 2:03 pm

        Thanks, Aiden.

  4. March 23, 2010 3:16 pm

    You aren’t alone with that idea my man, I miss Match Point as well.

  5. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    March 23, 2010 4:57 pm

    Can’t argue with you about Viola Davis, dude. She OWNED that Oscar. Denied!

    Still, Penelope Cruz in her native language is, well, kinda the shit. American directors don’t know what to do with her, really, but the Woodman comes as close as any Yank will get. He lets her loose, and that’s what works best for her.

    • March 24, 2010 2:11 pm

      I think I may be the only person in the world who thinks Amy Adams deserved to win for “Doubt” …

  6. March 23, 2010 5:57 pm

    The Jude Law parody of this on SNL sums up my feelings of why I didn’t want to watch.

  7. Darren permalink
    March 25, 2010 9:26 am

    I actually kinda enjoyed it. It isn’t earth-shattering or as incredible as some have said, but it was a nice quiet movie. Certainly not a Woody Allen classic, but the man’s done so much worse. And you’re right about it pimping Barcelona. I kinda want to go now.

  8. March 27, 2010 3:02 pm

    I really have to disagree with you on this one. I absolutely love Vicky Christina Barcelona. I think it was intriguing as hell. Penelope was a fireball in the film, and Woody Allen was at the top of his game with incredible talent for making these fascinating characters who crave things they can’t seem to satisfy.

    Or maybe it’s just because after watching it, I wanted to do nothing more than to paint and go sip wine in Barcelona.

    • March 27, 2010 3:27 pm

      Agree with you on that last statement and on Penelope. Can’t say I was all that crazy about the rest of it.

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