Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Review: The Adjustment Bureau

This is posted at OK.

You wouldn’t know it because your life is unimportant and you lack tiger blood and Adonis DNA, but a gang of business suit-wearing agents with magic fedoras keep watch over the populace. They step in to set things right whenever a major historical figure is about to stray off course and create a butterfly effect that will destroy society and make the NFL lockout happen.

In the film they’re called the Adjustment Bureau, but what they really are is the Cock Block Bureau. The fellas really, really, really do not want high-powered politician Matt Damon to introduce Pocket Damon to super-important modern dance artist Emily Blunt, so they stop at nothing to keep the would-be lovers apart.

The Adjustment Bureau pulls out all the stops. They hang around the couple at parties, refusing to leave even after Damon and Blunt drop all sorts of hints, yawn dramatically and say “it’s getting late.” They show up during dates and share Damon’s super embarrassing Rocky Point spring break stories. They even refuse to play the good wingman and hook up with Blunt’s fat friend.

Well, not really. But they totally would do all that, given the opportunity. Acting with all the grace and tact of Steve Urkel, the Adjustment Bureau kills the mood with two methods: stalking and threatening. Every time Damon meets Blunt and gets super-romantic, in comes the Adjustment Bureau to tell him he’s got to dump her with no explanation. Which makes this movie the perfect date movie, because if you ever decide you’ve had enough of whoever you watch the movie with, you can just bail without an explanation and they’ll attribute your behavior to the Adjustment Bureau rather than you being a cowardly dick.

Adjustment Bureau agents have but two weaknesses, shared with Frosty the Snowman and the aliens from Signs. Take their magic hats away and they’re unable to maneuver through a system of doors that connect Yankee Stadium center field with the Statue of Liberty. And place them anywhere near water and they’re as clueless as that Gadhaffi character in Libya. Good thing their boss, the Chairman, whom we’re told over and over again without actually being told is actually God, didn’t place them on a planet that’s 70 percent water where it rains constantly.

Instead of gazing into one another’s eyes and declaring “Let’s honeymoon at Sea World!” Damon and Blunt partake in a game of cat and mouse that is every bit as much fun to watch as it is to make fun of. Damon is as Bourne-ey as Jason Bourne when he judo-chops hats after Adjustment Bureaueans, and even Good-er than Good Will Hunting when he flings sweet, sweet PG-13-safe flirtations at Blunt, who is allowed to keep her British accent for most of the movie and shakes her groove thing well enough to merit an audition on Hellcats.

Although I liked the movie, I must say I am disappointed that I’ve yet to do anything to merit an Adjustment Bureau intervention. Surely it must be because I’ve lived my life so perfectly, so they just nod and approve of all my actions. Either that or I just spend so much time in the shower that they get bored and leave.

Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp. Written by George Nolfi, adapted from a story by Philip K. Dick. Directed by Nolfi. 105 minutes. Rated PG-13.

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