Though Mr. Cranky is like a guinea pig, put on this Earth to test out visual poison, I'm not sure how much more I can take. When I stagger, cross-eyed, out of a movie like "Wicker Park," I worry that I'll one day hit the limit for toxic mental input and my burned, blackened brain will slither out of my head like one of those diseased lungs in the anti-smoking ads.
"Wicker Park" is a remake of the 1996 French film "L'Appartement," but the American version makes about as much sense as Freedom Fries. The protagonist, Matt (Josh Hartnett), quickly reveals himself to be a colossal idiot: He has a great job, an adoring fiancŽ, and is poised to fly to China to win the big account, but based on a fleeting glimpse of someone who may or may not be his ex-girlfriend Lisa (Diane Kruger), he skips his flight to adulthood and instead spends the week wandering around Chicago in a panting adolescent haze, chasing his ex's shadow.
In the process, you'll witness more stunning, improbable coincidences than in the War on Terror the month before the election. I mean, real jaw-droppers. Despite the fact that Chicago is ostensibly a large city, Matt, Lisa, his friend Luke (Matthew Lillard) and the mysterious Alex (Rose Byrne) cross paths more frequently than family lines in Kentucky's marriage records. It quickly goes from absurd to unintentionally funny. Had you been standing outside the door of my screening, you would have sworn that the audience was watching a comedy. They laughed early and often. The only thing that quieted them down was when one of the characters tried to be funny on purpose.
Josh Hartnett seems to be pimping for a bust in the Keanu Reeves Acting Hall of Fame. He has all the expressive range of someone battling a Prozac overdose and the only way he could deliver more flat lines is if he were a corpse. Meanwhile, director Paul McGuigan seems primarily interested in padding his limited rŽsumŽ enough to be allowed to direct another film after this one, pulling us out of the story so we can admire his use of split screens, revolving camera shots, reflection shots, and the same four notes of emotive music played over and over again at key moments in the film.
"Wicker Park" also jumps around in time, but the only effect on the audience was to spur several people in my row to repeatedly check their watches; before long, more moviegoers joined in, and the whole theater looked like some sort of giant watch synchronization exercise. You'll take the lickin' seeing "Wicker Park."
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