Starring: Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Eddie Redmayne, and Forest Whitaker
Directed by Timothy Linh Bui
Uh...I...I...yeah...I do not really know how to describe this movie and the extent of what is wrong with it. I mean, I can but I do not want to spend a lot of time doing it. But I will give it a shot...
There are two essential problems that this film has. The big one is that it is very blotted: it tries to stuff too much into its 1 hour and 48 minute time frame (which feels a lot longer) and it does not really make sense. It starts off showing the audience all of the different characters and the problems they face. If you have seen movies like this before, you would naturally expect all of them to intervene into one another’s lives at the end. However, this does not really happen; instead, it evolves into two, almost completely different story-lines, one featuring Ray Liotta, Jessica Biel, and Eddie Redmayne (with cameos by Kris Kristofferson and Patrick Swayze) and the other one featuring Forest Whitaker (with small roles played by Lisa Kudrow and a random transvestite prostitute). The only time when any sort of intermingling takes place between these groups is when Whitaker and Redmayne briefly meet in a mortuary (woo hoo, happy places!), in a part that could easily have been left on the cutting room floor. Writer/director Timothy Linh Bui should have decided to use one story-line and stuck with it.
The other problem with this movie is its moral. It is supposedly about how miracles can happen even in the darkest of times. It tries to reinforce that message by setting the plot during the Christmas season (though this is about as much of a Christmas movie as "Die Hard") That is all well and good, except there are no miracles that actually occur; some good things happen and some bad things happen, but it would be a stretch to call any of them miraculous. The only exception is when...it starts snowing in Los Angles on Christmas morning...Really? That is the big miracle? That is something you see on a holiday special for a TV series, not for...whatever this movie is trying to be. Does this have anything to do with the plot you ask? I will give you a hint: no.
The only thing that saves this movie from being a complete disaster is that the characters and the acting are fairly decent...well, sort of. I liked Redmayne's character for always trying to do the right thing even if it hurts him in the long run. Kudrow's character was also nice enough. Whitaker's character is a little difficult to sympathize with because how he became so miserable. He lost his wife on their wedding day by filming her in the car WHILE HE IS DRIVING; I am not saying that is not tragic, but in a film like this you kind of want your protagonist to be a little smarter than that. He also tries to pass on his problems to other people by asking them to kill him so he does not go to hell for committing suicide; this guy need to...let’s just say grow up a bit. I think the only reason why he comes off as well as he does is because Whitaker himself, which shows once again how great of an actor he is. I did not like Biel's character that much either; the audience is supposed to have empathy with her, but she has so many issues that she comes across as being too pathetic to have people root for her. The worst character was Swayze's; he is too over-the-top and outlandish as opposed to the people around him, who are relatively low key. It is almost like he is from a different movie and he sticks out like a sore thumb every time he shows up on screen. Swayze was not the best actor in the world, but he brought a sense of charm to (most of) the roles he played, and I feel kind of bad that, in one of the last films he made before he died, his abilities were wasted on this unnecessary bit part in a film that is itself a waste of time.
Well, that pretty much sums it up. A weird, useless movie with a nonexistent theme. I do not recommend it and...yeah, that is it, I just do not recommend it.