September 25, 2005

Jodie's Plan -- To Bring It!

Cinecultist is still in Seattle, drinking lots of coffee and pondering why "rockabilly" is still a viable fashion option for those in the Northwest but in our absence we bring you the following guest review. We sent our friend Lisa to an advance screening of Jodie Foster's new action-thriller Flightplan last Wednesday and following is her dispatch from the trenches of poor screenwriting and crazy-town, Mommy-ified Jodie.

When the CC offered me free tickets to Jodie Foster’s new flick, Flightplan, I was all over it like a monkey on a banana-flavored burrito. Never mind that I hate tense, psychologically scary movies. Never mind that after I saw Signs I made my friend check my car for aliens, or that after I saw Seven I made another friend check my apartment for Kevin Spacey. “Bring on the free Foster,” I told CC. And she brung it.

But after I saw Flightplan, I didn’t need to have a friend check for anything, and this weirdly disappointed me. I went to the movie expecting to have the bejeebers scared out of me, and yet I left the theater with all my bejeebers securely in place.

Flightplan starts out on a promising note. We see Jodie’s character, an American engineer, sitting in a German subway station looking quite forlorn. And as the trains whoosh by with surprising intensity, you feel you’re in for a good film – if the subway cars can be this disturbing, you think to yourself, wait ’till we get the airplane. That’ll be slammin’.

It isn’t.

Jodie boards the ridiculously enormous airplane – which she helped design – with her daughter, who looks like an eerie robot clone version of that girl from One Fine Day. Jodie already knows she’s not in for a good flight, since she and her daughter are flying to America with the body of her recently-dead husband in a casket below deck, and that’s some heavy stuff. Even a jovial Peter Sarsgaard sitting just a few rows back can’t cheer her up. So she falls asleep. But when she wakes up . . .

Her daughter is missing! And no one can find her! Or her belongings! Or her boarding pass! And actually, wait a second, there’s no record of her ever being on the plane! And, hold up now, the morgue says she’s dead!!!!!!!

This is when Jodie launches into her patented Panic Room butt-kicking Mom routine. It doesn’t matter if the world thinks she’s crazy, dammit, she’s going to find her freakin’ kid. And when the crew tries to call off the search, Jodie goes berserk – turning off the lights, making the oxygen masks come down, even turning off the No Smoking signs. No, I made that last part up. But there are some tense airplane moments.

Unfortunately, this is where the movie starts to take a downward turn. The whole dilemma behind the daughter’s existence and Jodie’s sanity is intriguing, but it can’t support the whole movie. Soon enough the film launches into action-flick mode, and the cheesy dialogue about vaporizing nine-year-olds isn’t far behind. And when that starts happening, nothing can save the flick – not even Jodie Foster’s butt-kicking, or Peter Sarsgaard’s droopy eyelids, or the head stewardess’s Nova Scotia-sized lips. Because not only does the movie get cheesy, it stops making any sort of sense. You know you’re in trouble when after the film, everyone around you is still trying to figure things out. “Now, why did he . . . ?” they’re asking each other on the escalator. “And wouldn’t it have been easier to just . . . ?” All my roommate and I had to say to each other was “Huh?” It’s not that the movie was terrible, but for something that started out with such a fun premise, it definitely disappointed.

Maybe when I got home, I should have had her check under my bed for sucky screenwriters. Now that’s scary.

Posted by karen at September 25, 2005 8:04 PM