Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: 'Easy Virtue' [C-]

By Chase Kahn

Stephan Elliot's Easy Virtue, based on the 1924 Noel Howard play of the same name, is a minor, messy, meet-the-family comedy with a boisterously playful jazz score delivered in an uninspired, breakneck package.

The film is a familial culture-clash about an eccentric, stunningly glamorous American racecar driver (Jessica Biel) who marries the young, dashing, only son (Ben Barnes) of a floundering, uncertain and fractured English family, predisposed to despise the romance. It generates mostly playful (albeit miscalculated) results early on until things predictably hit a road bump.

Easy Virtue just plays itself up too much like a modern, dysfunctional family checklist comedy. It's Meet the Parents meets Four Christmases and Gosford Park. Jessica Biel's Larita is subjected to a barrage of archetypical in-law behavior spearheaded by Mrs. Whitaker (Kristin Scott Thomas) and her two envious daughters (played by Kimberly Nixon and Katherine Parkinson).
Plus I just couldn't get over the hermetic Mr. Whitaker's (Colin Firth) miracle-grow facial hair, which goes from a stubby, all-night Don Draper to a Gillette commercial to Che Guevara.

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