Saturday, October 02, 2010

Should Case 39 be open or shut? Half and half for a laugh, perhaps?

Craig here, taking a look at Renée Zellweger's new cinema release. (There are a few mild spoilers contained)

Case 39 stars Zeéeeee as Emily Jenkins, a concerned social worker in a headband. She’s worried about the well being of a child. We’re more worried about her personal hair-care regime: when her hair is up, fixed in place with said headband, she’s out of danger; hair down means terror is likely afoot. Her life depends on the precarious positioning of her follicles. Make a note of the subtle differentiation as it will help guide you through the many twisty plot derivations of Christian Alvart’s new (though actually old*) horror-thriller.

Headbanded Emily Jenkins gets the titular case plopped on her desk, so she duly investigates a couple who she suspects have been mistreating their 10-year-old daughter Lillith (Jodelle Ferland). She scrambles to the couple's creepy house along with boss Ian McShane (growling an otherworldly accent as yet unidentified by literature or science), just as the parents are about to roast li’l Lill in the oven -- seriously, this scene is hilarious. Zellweger and McShane lay waste to moody-mom and bad-dad’s furniture and faces whilst rescuing the half-baked moppet. (McShane, trying out too-late for a role in The Expendables, literally dropkicks the mother into a table and indents a fridge with the father’s head - and McShane’s about 110 years-old! The Oscar for Best Supporting Sexagenarian Shit-Fit is his for the taking).

Be honest, does my hair look good like this?

Soppy ol' Emily, ditching the headband, gets to adopt Lillith and live happily... never after? ‘Cause, ah, you see, maybe there’s more to case 39 than our Zeéeeee bargained on (as we’ve only sat through half of the film's 109 minutes). Is Lillith actually as sweet and innocent as everybody initially thought? Could she be the devil with a dollhouse? If you haven’t guessed what’s happening by this point then you haven’t been paying attention to the headband theory. (Hair up = phew, safe; hair down = argh, get that spawn of Beelzebub off my property, post haste!)

Renée keeps the family dinner warm in Case 39

Emily soon forgets about cases 1 through 38 (all other kids in peril can obviously go take a jump) to do everything in her power to Get To The Bottom Of All This. There are a handful of amusing scenes along the way, and more than a few howlers peppering the plot; a fun so-bad-it's-good time’s almost to be had. If you're willing, try a few pre-movie drinks. One scene where Lillith asks a headbanded Zeéeeee if she could brush her hair had me shouting, 'Yes! For the love of God, yes! Take that headband away and brush her hair!'

Bradley Copper responds to Renée putting the Chicago soundtrack on.
and other captions.

There’s a naked Bradley Cooper as Zeéeeee's beefcake beau, who has his bath time royally ruined by a particularly pressing wasp problem; he then buzzes off halfway into the film (the script for The Hangover must have arrived.)  Although the scene where Ferland is interviewed by Cooper, and acts him and anyone else (in this scene and others) right off the screen, is genuinely creepy. Renée just puts on a tight face and stands by looking awkward. In a headband.

Renée is driven to dispair by her missing headband.

The editing may have been carried out by a drunken Edward Scissorhands, and the pace is defined by accident rather than design. Case 39 is more eventful than Joshua, but doesn’t have the daft-but-nifty twist or fun factor of Orphan - two other recent Is My Kid Satan's Spawn? genre entries. It’s so close to being a new trash gem, but, despite a grab-bag of chucklesome moments early on, it wimps out at the last minute with a wet whimper. Near the end Renée says, “You know, none of this should ever have happened!” Oh Zells Bells - you took the words right out of my mouth.

*The film was completed in 2006 but has only now seen the light of day, after an ever-shifting release date pattern that took in fifteen date changes over three countries.

Case 39 is in theaters now

20 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

oh my.

a friend is trying to get me to see this. he says "obviously you have to with your Renée history" but i don't know about that.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

Whatever happened to that movie she did with Forest Whitaker where she's the country singer in the wheelchair or something?

Or perhaps rather than not releasing it, the distributor is going one step further and pretending as if it doesn't exist...

NATHANIEL R said...

the pretentious -- isn't that how the Weinsteins sometimes play it? maybe they're the distributor ;)

pomme said...

funny review!

tropicman said...

i do love this website. but, come on, the renee bashing is really, really old. get over it!

Stevee Taylor said...

Awful movie. Made the mistake of watching it in March when it came out on DVD (here in NZ...for once ahead of America). I'm soooooo over the creepy kid movies. Seriously, just coz they're kids and kill people doesn't mean they are scarier than demonic sharks or something like that.

NicksFlickPicks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NicksFlickPicks said...

"Emily soon forgets about cases 1 through 38 (all other kids in peril can obviously go take a jump)..." - loved that bit.

Deleted the rest because, while trying to bang my head against the truly confounding state of what's become of Renée and her career -- so drastically, and in the aftermath of an awards-juggernaut performance in a high-grossing, high-prestige movie -- it came off like I was just piling on. I truly find the state of her career perplexing, even aside from my feelings about her, but I'm trying to heed Thumper's Mother.

GJB said...

You're only just getting this now? In New Zealand we were having a good laugh at this film years ago!

Yavor said...

I actually liked the film, it was good enough horror I'd say.

NATHANIEL R said...

Nicks Flick -- i find it perplexing too. Though I have in the past liked to tease Renee, I have only actively hated her for a very short period of time. But the freefall of the career is a total shock for someone who was quite outstandingly good in at least 3 to 4 movies and solid in several more.

tropicman -- hey, i didn't write this one . if you'll notice i have gone easy on Renee lately :)

cal roth said...

Zee, would you please call Neil LaBute and ask for a great role again? He is the guy that can save you.

MRRIPLEY said...

I think renee should stop doing star vehicles,seems like she needs to relax in a small supporting role she tries way too hard in lead.

some stars keep going on in the lead roles way after their star fades cameron diaz seems to be doing it as does jennifer lopez,drew barrymore and catherine zeta jones,no one wants to pay to see you anymore,take a supporting role a good one!!!

OtherRobert said...

A new variation on "blue light bad, white light good?" I can't fault the director for trying with the hair thing, but how about letting the scares come without warning in a horror film? Or, you know, logically build them into the screenplay so you don't have to consider telegraphing scary moments?

Four years in the can? That's longer than Trick-r-Treat and Saw combined.

Anonymous said...

Poor Renee. If My Own Love Song ever gets released -- and that's a big if -- it will just be another nail in the coffin. The movie's horrid. (Though, she's actually quite fine in it. But then anyone would look fine compared to Forest Whitaker in that film. Whitaker might even outdo Zellweger for worst post-Oscar career this last decade. He hasn't done anything of note.)

Cameron Crowe or Neil LaBute need to rescue her from career purgatory. In the right role, she can be great.

Craig Bloomfield said...

Pomme - Thank you.

Tropicman - Nathaniel is 100% innocent here. I wrote the review. It's the first, and so far only, time I've written anything about Zellweger in the negative, so for me it's not so old hat.

GJB - The US gets it now, but it came out in March in the UK and before that in other countries, inc. NZ.

badmofo said...

Bravo, sir! If the movie is half as funny as this review consider me SOLD.

George P. said...

After seeing this movie on bootleg on my PS3, this post actually made me want to see it a second time, to catch the "headband" fun!

Craig Bloomfield said...

Badmofo & George P. - thank you. It's worth a watch for the wasp scene alone. Make sure beer and giggles accompany your viewing!

imlobosmommy said...

towards the end when zellweger is in car with emily and it reverts back to the "accident" that her mom had when she was in the back seat, that killed her mom, was that suppose to mean that zellweger was responsible as the same type of child as emily, or that emily was responsible for that accident too? i am confused.