Friends With Money

Being off Fridays is going to cost me money in the long run. It just seems wrong to waste a Friday – even more than a Saturday or Sunday.

We headed to Orange to see “Friends With Money.”

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know Helaine picks a movie, I pick a movie. She’s usually the one who picks the movies we like. I pick the ones we like less… a lot less… OK, we usually hate the ones I pick.

This was a Helaine day.

At the moment she’s on the couch, next to me. So I can ask, why this movie?

She says she was attracted to the movie by the cast.

She’s right. Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, Jennifer Aniston and Catherine Keener make an excellent ensemble cast. And their acting in this movie was top notch. The problem is, where’s the story?

This is a movie about the relationship between four women; three married and one single. With money or without money, everyone had a life that was incomplete or unhappy… or both.

If you’re looking for a set-up/payoff, or some sort of satisfying conclusion, it’s just not there. These are little interrelated slices, not a full meal. I kept hoping for more.

Have you seen “Postcards From The Edge?” I’m asking because, for me, this movie suffered the same fate. It made me so uncomfortable, watching angst and personal tumult that were realistically portrayed, I couldn’t get to a point where I enjoyed it.

This is the second time I have seen Jennifer Aniston playing a person I felt sorry for, and uncomfortable with. As with “The Good Girl,” I thought she showed herself as an excellent actress, playing a role where she was ‘de-glamorized.’

2006 seems to be my year for Catherine Keener, who I’ve seen a bunch of times. The more I see her, the more I like her. Same for Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack.

None of these women are here because they’re twenty-something willowy sexpots. They’re here to be flawed and genuine, and they succeed individually even when the movie fails them collectively.

Helaine enjoyed the movie. I left feeling ambivalent.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Were we the last people in America to see The 40 Year Old Virgin&#185? We’ve seen it now!

Other than getting the newspaper and picking up the mail, I didn’t leave the house on Saturday. Helaine wasn’t far behind. Tonight, with little going on and both of us in pajamas, I asked if she wanted to see a movie?

We had never ordered a pay-per-view film before. I hit the big ‘money button’ on the remote control and scrolled through the titles. There’s a lot of garbage available. In fact, the percentage of crap is astounding, especially when coupled with the fact – someone wants you to pay for it!

We got to the “T”s before there was one movie we’d even consider watching. Helaine said “The 40 Year Old Virgin” was supposed to be funny, so we gave it a shot. The $3.99 we paid seems reasonable versus what it would cost to rent a DVD.

It was certainly a lot more convenient.

There’s plenty to like about this movie. The cast was excellent, starting with Steve Carrell and working down. But let me start where the credit belongs – the writing.

On many occassions Carrell and Judd Apatow’s script could have easily turned Andy, the title character, into a stereotype. Instead, at each fork in the road, Andy establishes himself as multidimensional and human. It’s a neat trick, and though some of his personality traits are unexpected, it works.

Andy, a stock clerk at a Circuit City type store, reveals his lack of sexual experience while playing cards with the guys. The movie is his journey out of virginity.

This is a real ensemble cast with five or six solid performances by characters that aren’t written paper thin. I particularly like Seth Rogen (the tattoos were ‘special effects’), Romany Malco and Paul Rudd as his co-workers and Catherine Keener as Trish.

Until last week I had no idea who Catherin Keener was. Then I saw Death To Smoochy, where she had a large supporting role opposite Edward Norton. She was very good last week and just as good this week.

If you were watching TV any time around the release of the movie, you probably saw a clip of the scene where Steve Carrell has his chest waxed. The word is, his pained expression… his pain actually… was real.

It was hysterical, but I am such a wimp I had to look away.

I enjoyed Carrell on The Daily Show and in Anchorman. This was far better and he is a fine comedic actor. I haven’t seen The Office, his show on NBC. I guess I have to now.

My guess is, in time this movie will be considered a classic. Honest. Is that too much to predict?

There is some nudity and explicit sexual content. If my daughter has seen this movie, I’d rather not know.

&#185 – Actually, no more than two minutes ago, my friend Farrell said he hadn’t see it either. He is in England at the moment, so we very well may be the only people in America not to have seen it.