Friday, March 18, 2011

Adjusted for Boredom

The Adjustment Bureau (2010)

Philip K. Dick gets his umpteenth novel/short story adapted to the big screen, this time with extremely limp results.

Matt Damon plays a state representative running for US Senator. He's young, full of ideas and *gasp* folks are saying he has a shot at the presidency. But his career - nay, his whole life - will be derailed if he stays with the beautiful dancer he meets in the unlikeliest of places. As that dancer is played by the luminous Emily Blunt, you can see why a man would want her in his life.

However there are some shadowy figures, who dress like H&R Block agents from the early 1960s, who want to throw a monkey wrench into Damon's plans. Who are these suits and what is their deal? Well, actually we find out about them 20 minutes into the movie, which is a huge misstep on the filmmakers parts. Dick's stories are famous for their paranoia, and what better way to show that paranoia than have a political candidate constantly followed by mysterious men in black (and various shades of grey) who only he can see and who can literally disappear when they step through a doorway just a few paces ahead of you.

The Adjustment Bureau drops the paranoia altogether and merely gives Damon a problem to solve. It was pointed out to me that this story would have been better served if done in a light comedy style, a la Men in Black, and I have to agree. The early scenes with Damon and Blunt are played like a romantic comedy (and they work fine that way), so veering into MIB territory would not have been such a hard thing. Played totally straight though, the story falls apart - this might have made for a decent Twilight Zone episode - but after the explanation of who/what the Adjustment Bureau is, we're left with a big shrug.

This movie should have been adjusted off our big screens and simply never made.