Published on: September 26, 2014
I guess it was a week for vague disappointments….
Lee Child is out with his newest Jack Reacher novel, "Personal," and while it shows every bit of the skill and driving storytelling that we've come to expect from him, I would only rate this as a B+ effort.
I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it was because I could see some of the twist and turns coming from a mile away, which makes me think that maybe it was even more formulaic than usual.
"Personal" has Reacher tracked down by the US government after a sniper has taken a shot at the president of France; it seems likely that the shooter was someone that Reacher put in prison years ago, and the powers-that-be think that Reacher is just the guy to track him down again. The story takes him from Arkansas to Paris and London, and is filled with the kind of observational tidbits from all those places that make you believe that Child has done his research.
To be clear, it was a fun and entertaining read, and one of those books I hated to put down because each chapter makes you want to read the next one. (Hard to imagine higher praise than that.) But I walked away wanting more, hoping that Child is going to break some new ground with his enduringly popular protagonist. Maybe next time.This Is Where I Leave You
is the new black comedy from director Shawn Levy, based on a Jonathan Tropper novel with which I am unfamiliar. And it has an amazing cast - Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Connie Britton, and Timothy Olyphant.
The problem is that with that kind of cast, the movie should have been way, way better. Not that the cast doesn't do fine work - they're pretty much all excellent, with Bateman, Fey, Britton, Fonda and Olyphant especially doing some subtle, touching acting. But the script is so over the top that it subverts the actors time and again, instead of working with them and allowing their stories to breathe.
The story is a simple one. A man dies, and his grown children come home for the funeral and, as per his request, sit shiva for one week … which puts them all in the same house with their mom for the first time in decades. They all have their disappointments and have made their compromises, and the movie is designed to throw them all in an emotional blender and see what emerges. But instead of the result being tasty, somehow the flavors don't all work together, and I walked away from This Is Where I Leave You
rather disappointed. I don;t want to give away the plot points, but the best I can suggest is that if you want to see it, you wait for this this one to be available for home viewing.
That's it for this week.
Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.