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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Longest Week 2014 * * Stars

The Longest Week
Director: Peter Glantz
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman, Tony Roberts, Billy Crudup

Jason Bateman's latest is a 2014 release that runs the gamut on every Woody Allen/Wes Anderson film you could possibly imagine. And as it clocks in at a paltry 86 minutes, The Longest Week still feels like the "longest" piece of romantic propaganda out there. Bateman plays Conrad Valmont. He comes from a rich family and has never worked a day in his life. At 40 years old, he coasts through each moment in a smog of cigarettes, Tom Collins cocktails, and loose women. He's a writer or wannabe writer who has never finished a book. He's also persuasive, crass, somewhat intelligent, but incredibly unlikable all at the same time. When his parents decide on a separation, he temporarily gets cut off from his luxury pad in a swank Manhattan hotel. He then resorts to crashing at an old friend's house (Billy Crudup as Dylan Tate) all the while trying to steal said friend's would be girlfriend (the lovely Olivia Wilde as Beatrice Fairbanks).

"Week" is directed by newcomer Peter Glantz (in his seven year career, he's helmed mostly shorts like 2010's The Dinner Party). It has a forced, sort of annoying narration throughout (just think 2006's Little Children) and consists of repetitive, monotonous conversations between the three lead actors. Bateman, Crudup, and Wilde play their artsy fartsy parts looking and flailing around as if they wish they were somewhere else. You don't feel anything for them and you wouldn't want to hang out with their pretentious personas either. Peter G's style as mentioned earlier, borrows heavily from Wes Anderson in terms of panoramic wide angle shots and large title cards. And the fact that he throws in an actor from Woody Allen's acclaimed Annie Hall (an almost unrecognizable Tony Roberts playing Bateman's character's psychiatrist) only reeks of mild desperation.

All in all, The Longest Week might be the first ever straight-to-DVD release that feels like a veritable Starbucks moment between its cast members. It's Whit Stillman gone afoul with a hint of a very faint palate thrown in. As for Bateman, I give him credit for trying to steer away from bad, gross out comedies or bland PG-13 comedies. He's trying to branch out and his acting style here is unique with sly, quick line readings and sauciness to boot. But with an impractical script, a role featuring Olivia Wilde that's wishy-washy towards choosing a mate, and dourness that falls short of the similarly themed Igby Goes Down, The Longest Week might as well be called The Longest "Weak". Goodbye.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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