Meet Joe Black

Year: 1998
Directed By: Martin Brest
Written By: Eight different people are credited with writing, which makes sense given the movie makes so little.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let me start this review by being brutally honest.  We didn’t finish this one; in fact we barely made it half way through before deciding we couldn’t take another minute of it.  I’m going to blame Maverick. We gave that film the full viewing and felt our time was completely wasted so when this one started wearing thin we threw in the towel early.  It’s an interesting story that offers plenty to think about and appreciate but I don’t think it transitioned into a good film.  This film is UNBEARABLY long, and on top of that the portrayals are all wrong.  Brad Pitt portrays Death like a child in the world for the first time, Anthony Hopkins is just going through the motions, and I thought the best performance came from Jeffrey Tambor, doing his best Dr. Phil impression.

There are things I like about Brad Pitt’s performance in this movie but too much I don’t like.  I am a fan of Pitt but in this movie he looks too boyish and ridiculously good looking.  What? Death couldn’t pick a more realistically looking person with 7 billion people to choose from? Did he really need chiseled features and highlights in his hair?  Good thing he didn’t pick the cab driver that hit Brad Pitt in the beginning.  Hopkins cohorts would have been perplexed in completely different ways and Death probably wouldn’t have been able to bang the daughter.  Now, about Pitt’s portrayal, this in truth is probably how the character was written.  Why is he so childish? I get the peanut butter thing but beyond that I am scratching my head.  Wouldn’t Death, who has been walking the Earth since the beginning of time, be more familiar with the nuances of the people he takes on a daily basis? It’s implied that Death knows all dialects easily but he doesn’t know any of the little things about everyday life?  We found it all too ridiculous to dedicate any more of our weekend night to.

Anthony Hopkins is terrific in everything; the man just beams power and dignity even when he isn’t doing anything exceptional.  Maybe that’s part of having been knighted I don’t know.  In this movie I really feel like he is just going through the motions and cashing an easy paycheck.  He plays a man who knows his time is up and he is struggling with that realization quietly with little dialogue.  So much of what I saw from him was simply that look of being lost on his face. However, the man did a damn good job with it despite whether it called for heavy acting or not.  Back in the 90’s Anthony Hopkins could easily hold our attention for lengthy films and we would have watched more if it was there.  Times have changed, and looking at this film now the power of Hopkins wasn’t enough to keep me interested for an outrageous running time of two hours and fifty eight minutes.

I am a huge fan of Jeffrey Tambor, specifically because he is awesome in everything.  He can play the serious part and then turn around and be the funniest person on screen in his next part.  Tambor will never be the leading man, but as a supporting actor you can’t do any better no matter what the role calls for.  In this film, I literally had to look him up to make sure it was him playing the part and not Phil McGraw. Look at this side by side and tell me if I am wrong:

meet-joe-black-280.jpg        

In fact, looking at it myself now….can you even tell me which is which? Where these guys separated at birth or was the button to make this human design punched twice by accident in the whole larger scheme of creation? (I know that last analogy is a little odd, excuse me I’ve been reading Brave New World). Despite the obvious lookalike problem I have still loved Tambor in everything, and he is just as good in this film as he is in all the others.  I think he brings a great personality to an otherwise dull film and if I remember correctly his character is rewarded in the end as the heir to the empire.

I don’t see the need to discuss this film any further as we can’t honestly review having not finished it.  If you have your own thoughts about this film and I have horribly offended you then by all means leave a comment and make your case for it.  If I gave up too soon and made a horrible mistake I would be the first to admit it.  It would only take the easiest of suggestions from someone with the opposite opinion but absent that there is no way I’m giving this film another hour and a half of my time.  Having said all that I can’t recommend it to you, but I would really appreciate the thoughts of anyone who wants to speak up for the movie.

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