I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, “Silver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper reunite for “Serena.” My review right now.
Fresh off the triumph of “Silver Linings Playbook,” Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence filmed “Serena” in 2012. It languished in limbo for more than a year and a half, and was made available on Video on Demand before this weekend’s theatrical release. In other words, a lot of people realized they had an epic clunker on their hands.
After a string of fine performances, Cooper is utterly unbelievable as George, a ruthless, Depression-era timber baron who has little regard for his men, is cooking the books and won’t stop short of murder if it means saving his business.
His new bride Serena, on the other hand, is clearly bonkers. Ah, but poor, clueless George thinks she’s a “real pistol,” so she becomes his wife and his business partner.
Meanwhile, a local brute named Galloway (Rhys Ifans) credits Serena with saving his life after his hand is chopped off. Now he’s beholden to her. He’ll do anything for Serena. Even …MURDER.
Cooper never once conveys a man of his era. He looks like he just stepped off a GQ photo shoot. Lawrence, obviously a talented actress, is monumentally bad here. There’s no nuance to her performance as Serena, no gradual descent for the character.
Another fine actor, Toby Jones, is comically miscast as the local sheriff. Jones was great as Truman Capote. Playing a North Carolina lawman in rough-and-tumble times, he doesn’t look like he could solve a crossword puzzle or have the strength to detain a kid for skipping school.
This is “Cold Mountain” meets “Heaven’s Gate.” A monumental disaster. I give “Serena” a D-.
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Academy Award winner Al Pacino and Academy Award nominee Annette Bening star in “Danny Collins.” My review…right now!
The great Al Pacino isn’t the first actor I’d think of to play an aging pop star who still fills mid-sized arenas some 40 years after he last charted a hit single. Yet Al Pacino sells the heck out of his performance as Danny Collins. He’s a Neil Diamond-esque icon with a signature hit called “Hey Baby Doll.”
Once upon a time, Danny was a singer-songwriter with great promise. But he sold out, stopped writing his own music and churned out dozens of sugary pop hits. Now he’s filthy rich, globally famous, adored by one and all—and miserable.
Christopher Plummer is Danny’s manager and best friend, who finds a letter John Lennon wrote to Danny some 40 years ago—a letter Danny never knew about it until now.
It’s a game-changer. Danny cuts short his tour, leaves his cheating girlfriend and bids Los Angeles goodbye for the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in New Jersey.
Pacino, who has been famous for about as long as the character he’s been playing has been famous, is perfect in the many scenes in which valets and hotel clerks and customers in the bar realize he’s Danny Collins. He delights in delighting them, turning on the charm in the blink of an eye.
Annette Bening provides screwball romantic comedy relief as Mary Sinclair, the manager of the hotel.
Bobby Canavale is excellent as Danny’s 40-year-old son Tom, the product of a one-night stand in the 1970s. They’ve never met until now. Jennifer Garner sparkles as Tom’s pregnant wife, who nudges the bitter Tom into at least talking with Danny.
Danny stumbles and screws up along the way, but even the darkest moments in “Danny Collins” are predictable speed bumps. Just like “Sweet Baby Doll,” this is supposed to be a feel-good number, and as such it works just fine. I give it a B.
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