Movie Reviews: Total Recall, Celeste and Jesse Forever

The Total Recall remake, plus an Unromantic break-up movie

Total Recall - Review: 1 out of 4

Somewhere Paul Verhoeven must be looking over his American
filmography and wondering where the hell he went wrong.

The filmmaker is seeing “Total Recall” re-done this year, “Robocop” next year, “Starship Troopers” is reportedly coming soon, but oddly the one that could actually stand a better try (Showgirls) is gonna stay shelved. I wish the others would just follow suit.

If it’s one thing that director Len Wiseman’s  “Total Recall” proves, it’s that the only thing worse than a reboot, is a remake. 

The first problem is you’re taking a film that was classic Arnold Schwarzenegger and turning it into something for Colin Farrell. He plays Doug Quaid, a dissatisfied blue collar guy who steps into a place called “Rekall” to create some fake memories only to rediscover some real ones. Doug was once a secret agent named Hauser, only now implanted with fake memories to keep him out of the way by a man named Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston).

There are no trips to Mars in this version of the movie. Instead we find out that most of the planet has been made uninhabitable and that there is a war going on between Cohaagen’s empire and a rebel group led by Mathias (Bill Nighy). Hauser of course fits into all this somehow and aiding him in his journey to figure it all out is Melina (Jessica Biel), while his (former) fake wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) is in hot pursuit. 

Other than eliminating the trip to mars, this is basically a watered-down regurgitation of the 1990’s film.

Sure the effects look newer but it all wants to be taken so seriously with its ugly/dreary looking future (and occasionally that bright and shiny tech toy) that the cheesy humor of the original is eliminated. As are all the questions that surround Doug’s fantasy/reality.

The action is all generic chases and bullets, PG-13 style and mostly there to be fast and loud but missing the boat on actually thrilling. 

Farrell has been given the worst assignment here to  try to live up to Schwarzenegger, and it just ain’t happening. Arnold was a bonafide action hero with a great sense of humor and he could win you over with just a smile. Farrell’s portrayal is just blandly “confused” and not the least bit entertaining. Beckinsale fairs a little better playing over the top viciousness but she really can’t top Sharon
Stone in the sexy and lethal department. And Jessica Biel is again just left
with a forgettable role.  

“Total Recall” is just a flat and unoriginal excuse for a film, much less a remake of a film that many people consider to be top-notch sci-fi. I’m sure Paul is angry, and I would assume he’s not gonna be the only one.

Celeste and Jesse Forever - Review: 1.5 out of 4

Rashida Jones has been funny in the past on shows like “The Office” and currently on “Parks and Recreation”. I had to keep telling myself that during her first starring role (that she also c-wrote with Will McCormack) in “Celeste and Jesse Forever”, a movie like “(500) Days of Summer,” just not good.

She plays Celeste to Andy Sandberg’s Jesse, a young couple that got married young but have now separated and are headed for divorce. Celeste works at a very successful marketing firm while Jesse is an artist who otherwise spends most of his time being a slacker surfer, hence why she wants to the divorce. Only the two are still very close, which is bothersome to both of their married friends (Ari Graynor, Eric Christian Olsen), and Jesse is still holding out hope that only intensifies when the various drunken fling is prone to occur.

We get no background on this couple. If the only problem with the relationship is Jesse’s lack of job, then why can’t he just find something that uses his artistic talents? Did these two try counseling beforehand? And in a silly plot turn, why would Jesse just suddenly impregnate a new girlfriend when he seems to prefer a lackadaisical life? For two people supposedly playing smart 30-somethings, they seem like idiots.

Things that Jones seems to think are adorable (Celeste and Jesse take part in a long running gag about jerking off small objects that look like small penises) really come off as obnoxious and pathetic. Not to mention lame gags like getting stuck in a trashcan and the cornerstone of any desperate comedy, the goofy drunk scene. For a romantic comedy claiming to be so observant of a break-up, the jokes are witless and the comedy just inanely stupid.

And “Celeste and Jesse Forever” basically feels like its goes on…forever with a circular plot that has them either staying together, going, remaining the same and on and on that goes. In the end we learn the usual lessons of any romantic comedy (the woman stops being such a ball-breaker, the guy not so lazy) but the two dull, unfunny characters make that less of a promising journey than necessarily hoped. And I doubt many people who work at a marketing firm sit around and make snarky comments about how there’s no intelligence in pop music.

Like the rest of this movie, it’s a really unfunny take on something that’s pretty hollow.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brett Martin August 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM
For a good Total Recall review, check out this Patch link http://tucker.patch.com/articles/total-recall-is-a-total-remake-b26b7fab#video-10906126
William Demarest August 04, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Brett ... thanks for sharing that link. It funny, I never thought of Total Recall as a movie that we be a candidate for a re-make.


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