Knight at the Movies Archives
Mixed Bag: A warm, fuzzy romantic drama, the unintentional camp flick of the year, a dead on arrival strident rom com
When faced with the task of reviewing three new films, none particularly memorable, the phrase “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”
finally came to mind. Adam, a relationship drama opening this Friday is the first, Orphan, a horror film already in theatres is easily
the second while the Katherine Heigl-Gerard Butler romantic comedy The Ugly Truth, also in theatres, is the third and certainly lives up
to its namesake.
Adam, the best of the lot, is the tender story of two lonely souls roaming the stone jungle of Manhattan in search of fulfillment who
by chance have the good luck to find each other. The likeable Hugh Dancy, who played the heartthrob in Confessions of a Shopaholic
and the troubled gay blueblood in the overlooked Evening, plays the title role. Adam is an amateur astronomer who works for a toy
company at a job secured for him by his recently deceased father. He is afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome, the disorder that causes
its sufferers to have difficulty understanding social interaction and he only has one friend, a social worker Harlan (the always
welcome, expert character actor Frankie Faison).
Adam describes his affliction to his new neighbor Beth (Rose Byrne) with whom he is smitten as “mind blindness.” Beth is on the
rebound and in the process of writing a children’s book and though wary, she and Adam slowly begin dating as Harlan acts as
cheerleader on the sidelines. A series of awkward yet charming scenes track the course of the relationship which reaches an
emotional turning point when Beth attempts to incorporate friends and family into the mix. Beth’s father (Peter Gallagher), after
meeting Adam is dead set against the match though her mother (Amy Irving) is more cautious.
Dancy and Byrne (who battles wits with Glenn Close in the legal TV series “Damages”) give emotionally involving performances in the
film which was written and directed by Max Mayer and Asperger’s syndrome is certainly an interesting character trait to hang a
romantic dramedy on. But there’s really nothing extraordinary to praise about this affecting but not particularly memorable little
movie other than to point out that audiences hungering for cinematic fare outside the usual summer popcorn blockbusters will find
much to like in it.
And Adam, with its small intentions, is certainly preferable to the dispiriting Katherine Heigl-Gerard Butler battles of the sexes rom-
com The Ugly Truth which is filled with one strident, by the numbers scene after another. This lackluster, stereotypical movie
attempts to update its shopworn formula with a stream of four letter words and sexually crude phrases in Judd Apatow fashion but
ends up turning off everyone in the process. Most of the “comedy” hinges on the leading lady, a morning news show producer
played by Heigl without a shred of complexity, involved in an increasingly unfunny series of sexually tinged misunderstandings that
culminate in her having an uncontrollable orgasm while wearing a pair of vibrating panties during a restaurant sequence. The scene,
surely added to the script to call to mind the infamous Meg Ryan-Billy Crystal “I’ll have what she’s having” moment in When Harry Met
Sally, instead has the unintended effect of pointing out that, unlike Ryan and Crystal, there is not a hint of chemistry between Heigl
and co-star Butler, or anything else remotely entertaining about this bland exercise in romantic cheese. When Heigl (who Executive
Produced the movie) queries to her beefy intended Butler at one point, “You’re in love with me why?” and he responds, “Beats the
shit out of me” I felt that he was actually answering my question, “Why did you make this movie?”
Now to the bad which in some ways is the most entertaining of the bunch – though not, I’m sure, for reasons producers of the movie
anticipated. That’s because Orphan, the latest entry in the killer kid genre, is the unintentional camp film of the year. By the time
the little bad seed Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) with her hair ribbons, velvet choker and perfect manners is done wreaking havoc on
CCH Pounder as a kindly nun and Esther’s adopted family which includes Peter Sarsgaard as daddy and Vera Farmiga as mommy (in
her second bad seed movie after the equally camp Joshua) you will have laughed so long and so hard with unintended pleasure you
may feel as if you’d been wearing a pair of those vibrating panties.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly:
Adam-The Ugly Truth-Orphan
7-29-09 Windy City Times KATM Column
By Richard Knight, Jr.
CHECK OUT OTHER KATM FILM REVIEWS IN THE ARCHIVES