All the good things about this movie are in the trailer. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know what I mean.
From that trailer, I gathered this movie would be a typical Brothers Coen film—a dark comedy, with a little social commentary, maybe an obnoxiously-contrived sub-plot. This movie had all that…but not in the loveable fashion that the Coen Brothers are so famous for.Take O, Brother, Where Art Thou? or The Big Lebowski—two classic Coen movies that anyone could tell you are ripe with social satire and are memorable for several reasons. I haven’t seen last year’s Hail, Caesar!, but, oh, do I want to… It’s a caricature of old Hollywood that seems right up this filmie’s alley.
This movie, though, didn’t know what it wanted to be. I liked the whole 1950s aesthetic (which the filmmakers absolutely nailed, both in tone and spot-on look), but that’s about as far as my admiration for this movie goes. The cast—Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, even Oscar Isaac—were all bland. Performances seemed phoned-in and cheesy—although, again, not in the charming Coen way. My favorite part was Uncle Mitch (Gary Basaraba; The Accountant, Fried Green Tomatoes), as his was the most human character—one whom actually cared for little Nicky (Noah Jupe; The Night Manager, Wonder)—with a heartfelt, yet selfishly-underdeveloped arc.
This is a straight-forward story, however basic and uninspired. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a mob thriller, a social satire, or a period piece. I would’ve been happy with the latter or the first thing, by itself. The Coens’ style is…unique. Lebowski is all over the place, but it’s that disjointedness that makes it a classic; this just seemed like a trip of the worst kind. I could see three or four different movies being developed out of this one. I can see where it would appeal to non-mainstream audiences, but I can see even the senior Tuesday crowd complaining about this one. I am.
As I said earlier, you’ve seen this movie if you’ve seen the trailer. All the best parts of the movie are in the trailer, which—looking back—feels like false advertising. The trailer frames this movie as if it’s going to be a return to the Coens’ roots, to what they became household names for. Such is not the case.
Overall, it’s a let-down. Save your money, folks…
With a sub-par cast of two-dimensional, cookie-cutter characters, a story that’s all over the place, trying to be something it’s not (or too much of what it is), and a misleading marketing campaign and intro, I’ll end up—in the words of a favorite YouTube critic of mine—forgetting Suburbicon in T-minus one day.
At least the film didn’t drag—movie was over in no time.
Final ‘Risk Assessment: **/***
Next review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017; Nov. 10th)