So is Tyler Perry the best thing about the new “Gone Girl” movie or was I just high?
Allow me to start by admitting that I’ve rarely gone out of my way to watch movies while stoned. I know, it’s practically a breach of Stoner Code. But it’s true.
Sometimes it works out sans planning, and allow me to be the first to say that the second “Anchorman” is much more tolerable if you’re 10-milligrams giggly on a bite of chocolate. But for whatever reason marijuana and movies rarely intersect in my world.
And while I didn’t plan on seeing “Gone Girl” on opening night via the lens of a light buzz, that’s what happened. After getting home from work on Thursday, I nabbed a couple infused gummies before leaving for a Light Rail ride south. I felt a little loose as my fiancee and I had dinner with her family, catching up on her brother-in-law’s recent trip to Ireland, and that’s as high as I got — pensive, full of questions, giggly — although of course it lasted for three or four hours, because edibles do that.
So when we met my brother and his lady at the Continental at 9:30 for one of the first “Gone Girl” screenings in Colorado, we excitedly discussed our hopes for the film in hushed tones as infotainment advertisements played on the big screen. Of the three of us who had read the book, we had very high expectations. Not only was it based on a tremendously fun and dark book but it was also directed by one of our favorites (David Fincher) with a solid cast (Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck).
But as Denver Post film critic Lisa Kennedy said in her 2.5-star review, the film has some very real issues: “‘Gone Girl’ is well made. To a point. The final third becomes mildly absurd. By that time, we were hooked if annoyed. On its way to its twisted conclusion, ‘Gone Girl’ forgoes many of the finer tussles set up by the novel. The book maneuvers marital contempt but also the emotional wreckage of economic booms and busts.”
And it’s true, the film struggles. Affleck doesn’t give a terribly compelling turn. The pacing is wildly off, especially in every scene between Affleck and Pike. And perhaps author Gillian Flynn shouldn’t have adapted her own book for the screen. Not only does her dialogue border on the overly familiar, but she also tries to stuff too much into the film’s 145 minutes.
And this film hardly deserves 145 minutes.
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But then there’s Perry. Even though “Gone Girl” pretty much sucks as a movie, Perry is so natural and funny in his small role as sleazy lawyer Tanner Bolt. Perry didn’t just win me over as I watched “Gone Girl.” His charisma towered over his co-stars’ on-screen personas, and he can now consider me a full-on believer in his talents.
Perry’s pacing was more natural than almost anything Affleck does in the film. And Perry makes us laugh when we need to laugh, think when we need to think; Part of that is a virtue of the script and original source material, but if Flynn had only given some of that understanding compassion to some of her other characters’ voices, “Gone Girl” would have been easier to get into.
Yes, I was surprised. And most people did a double-take when they saw that Fincher had cast Perry in the high-profile movie, and rightfully so. Perry is best known for his signature films and TV shows, mostly African American comedies that bear Perry’s name in the proper title. While some in the entertainment industry have criticized Perry’s work, others, including Oprah Winfrey, have lauded his influence and partnered with him.
So was Perry a natural choice to play Bolt? Hell no. And he pretty much said that to GQ earlier this week: “I got a phone call from (Fincher) saying, ‘You know, I got this role, and I think you’d be great for it.’ The first thing I said back to him was: ‘Are you sure?'”
When GQ asked Perry how his directorial style compared to Fincher’s, Perry answered: “Are you kidding me? David Fincher is a film director. Okay? I’m just a storyteller who picked up the camera and said, ‘Point it in that direction.'”
The headline of the GQ article, as it turns out: “Watch Tyler Perry (!) Steal a Movie Without a Fat Suit.”
So I’m not alone.
But imagine me walking out of the theater last night, well before I’d read the GQ article or heard any praise about Perry’s terrific performance in the film, asking my friends: “So was Tyler Perry the best part of that movie — or am I still a little high?”
They were all sober, as was I (mostly), and they assured me that Perry’s performance was truly stellar, a surprise gift in a film we wanted to love but didn’t.