Judge David Johnson vs. the World: That's a bout you don't want to miss.
He never lived in the moment until he met someone who had to.
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Taryn Manning join forces to make you cry like a teething infant.
Facts of the Case
So we've got Jack (Prinze Jr.) and Jill (Manning), two people who are as unlike any two people ever. Jack is a tight-ass, buttoned-up advertising executive who lives life cautiously and with little adventure. One day he runs into Jill, a free-spirited wannabe actress who's fresh of the bus and lost in New York City. Their chance encounter leads to budding romance when Jack, in a moment of sympathy and/or raging horniness, allows Jill to room with him.
Some smoochy smoochy later, NYC's newest Cutest Couple find that it's hard work to maintain their relationship, especially since they're so different. It also doesn't help that Jill is keeping a massive secret to herself, a secret that will turn their tryst upside down.
As far as romcoms go, this isn't too bad. There are montages set to pop ballads, emotional arguments, hip monologues on the monotony of marriage, pigeons pooping on dudes, candid conversations between a father and a son using baseball metaphors, moments of deep introspection in an elevator, desperate chases in an airport terminal and emotionally-charged girl-on-girl ice cream fights.
Apart from the giant plot point, which I won't reveal here, we are talking typical romantic comedy. It hits the beats it has to hit—man and woman meet, fall in love, engage in sexual intercourse (points two and three are reversible), major impasse to man and woman's eternal happiness presents itself, impasse drives wedge between them, man acts like a jerk, they separate, they sulk, sad music plays, they rectify and a happy ending ensues. It's not a spoiler to say that Jack and Jill Vs. The World follows that time-tested playbook and were it not for the aforementioned plot point, we'd be dealing with mediocrity.
See, the "rom" is present, but the "com" is lacking. The writing just doesn't deliver enough wit and laughs to elevate the dialogue from the so-so ether that many Barely Adequate Romcoms are cursed to float in for all eternity. I think wit and laughs are the goals, but the clichéd rants on why marriage and living in suburbia sucks fail to deliver the yuks.
The juxtaposition between Jack and Jill's personalities is obviously designed to shoulder most of the light-hearted entertainment load. It's funny because Jack has a stick up his butt! And he doesn't like to laugh! And that Jill, what a spitfire! She likes climbing trees! Unfortunately, this repartee seemed forced rather than organic and I blame the script. It's lacking the charm to set it apart from the rest of the chick flick herd.
Not that Freddie Prinze Jr. and Taryn Manning don't give it their all. He's a stiff, but he's supposed to be a stiff and dials up the melodrama when called upon; she's got spunk in spades but also shows a nice touch for the emotional sucker punches that are required. While I wouldn't say they're torching the screen with their chemistry, they both do good work.
Okay, I know this hasn't been a ringing endorsement, but it's that little twist in the formula—Jill's secret—that gives the film some legs. I was surprised by it and there are some genuinely touching moments associated with the thread. Jack's reaction to the news seemed over-the-top, serving only to generate tension and drive the two apart.
The DVD looks great (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) and sports a solid 5.1 surround mix. A making-of featurette, deleted scenes and a cool series of shorts detailing the grueling process director Vanessa Parise had to endure to get her movie made.
Not a total crowd-pleaser, but not a waste of time. Should get the waterworks going here and there and you won't leave bummed.
Not guilty. I don't quite get the "vs. the world" thing, though. Sounds like a Toho Studios production.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.