The Tourist (**) And Other Underwhelming Star Vehicles


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The Tourist.  103 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.  Written by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes.  Starring Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, and Timothy Dalton.

Despite the A-list pedigree and undeniable attractiveness of its two stars, The Tourist is one ugly, odd duck.  It recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, which itself is weird because the movie is not a comedy.  A breezy caper?  Sure.  But any thoughts of true comedy are instantly erased by Angelina Jolie's utter lack of humor and inability to look anything but vain and preening on screen.  

So what is it then?  A crackerjack, wrong-man-accused thriller?  Nope - not unless you deem a rooftop chase involving Johnny Depp and some mystery pursuers shuffling leisurely along to be "thrilling."  Or a boat chase at the speed of 20 mph to be a real nail-biter.  I swear, the action sequences in The Tourist are about as exciting as that scene in Austin Powers where a steamroller is moving 2mph from about 100 yards ahead and a scared security guard just stands in place and screams, "Nooooooooooooooooo." 
Is it a romance?  Not an engaging one - Depp (who, after this and Alice in Wonderland, is in real danger of becoming (gasp!) boring) and Jolie share very little screen time and fail to generate sparks.  A mystery?  Not when the attempted "twist" ending can be seen a mile away.  Even though we know what's coming, the filmmakers still fail to make any sense out of it.  Let's just call this what it is: a failed star vehicle.  Or in the case of director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (who splashed onto the film scene with the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others): the ultimate sophomore slump.
In further (dis)honor of The Tourist, let's take a look at some other recent big-ticket star match-ups that underwhelmed (hint: the formula seems to be: Julia Roberts + other A-list star = Failure).  Read on:
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  • The posters for both The Tourist and The Devil's Own speak volumes. They're almost identical!

  • I talked to several people that saw Tourist & really enjoyed it despite the critic reviews. So, I decided to give it a try the other night not expecting much--I was pleasantly surprised. This is a throwback to the old caper type films including suspense, romance & humor. It's not going to win an Oscar, but I don't understand the thrashing it's received from critics. If you want a break from all the heavy drama films this holiday--this one fits the bill. I guess these days unless the actors are naked or engaging in sex in a movie, they're considered not to have chemistry. From what I saw, there was chemistry between Depp's character & Jolie's so I found it very entertaining.

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