The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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American Pastoral finds debuting director Ewan McGregor's reach exceeding its grasp with a well-intentioned Philip Roth adaptation that retains the form, but little of the function, of its source material.
All Critics (112)
| Top Critics (32)
| Fresh (24)
| Rotten (88)
McGregor's performance has sincerity of a frowningly oppressive kind, but the whole thing is tinged with self-pity.
McGregor's directorial debut is a well-crafted drama but lacks the depth of Roth's masterful book.
I haven't read the book, but I'm guessing Roth brought more nuance and authority to its story of a New Jersey family in the 1960s and '70s than McGregor and screenwriter John Romano have with this cultural cartoon.
It might have fared better as a TV mini-series, where novelistic plot strands can be unpacked at length. McGregor is simply wrong for his role: He's too young, too modern, too smart.
The actors emote deeply and energetically, but there's a disquieting sheen of artifice.
It's a remarkably committed effort that takes a few seriously misguided turns along the way, even as its actors lunge at psychological depth with every scene.
...the trouble with American Pastoral is that these individually competent scenes are strung together into an inchoate whole.
There are plenty of good scenes, but ultimately American Pastoral is less than the sum of its admirable parts. The story is meant to capture an American event through one man's misadventures, but the overall effect is of a painful melodrama.
Quickly dissolves into contrived drama and uneven and skewed character motivations.
Fails to suss out Roth's biting Jewish angst and humor.
The film is a tad too long but nevertheless is well acted and rather moving.
American Pastoral is boring at best, but it will play well to one audience-white suburban parents.
Cheesy, contrived and heavy-handed, it is made even worse by how it shows leftist revolutionaries as insane psychos/imbeciles and by the unsuccessful way it tries to make us sympathize with a passive protagonist who never reacts to what is happening in front of him.
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