The actors are attractive, the city is magnificent, the love scenes don’t get all sweaty, and everybody finishes the summer a little wiser and with a lifetime of memories. ” With a beautiful family, a nice house in the suburbs, and a healthy career, Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is feeling pretty good about his life.And then it all goes topsy-turvy: his wife (Marg Helgenberger) announces she’s pregnant, the company he works for is bought out, and his much younger new boss (Topher Grace) starts dating his 18-year-old daughter (Johansson) behind his back.Clearly, ‘s premise is fraught with soapy domestic melodrama, and according to some critics, that’s all it had to offer — but for most, the solid cast and sensitive work of director Paul Weitz made the film more than the sum of its parts.
, drafting a stellar batch of character actors (including Billy Bob Thornton, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub, and Frances Mc Dormand) to tell the story of a barber (Thornton) whose placid-seeming suburban post-WWII existence unravels into a crazy tangle of blackmail, murder, and one very precocious teenage girl (Johansson).
The black-and-white failed to make much of an impression at the box office, but it enthralled critics like Reel Views’ James Berardinelli, who praised it as “An unconventional, unpredictable thriller that Hitchcock probably would have enjoyed.” He’s a preening lunkhead and she’s obsessed with romantic comedies, but as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Barbara Sugarman and Jon Martello are far from the empty cinematic stereotypes they might seem like on paper — and their story (written and helmed by Gordon-Levitt in his feature-length directing debut) has much more on its mind than your average boy-meets-girl picture.
In fact, as many critics saw it, managed to impart some thought-provoking messages about addiction, technology, and the difficulties of modern relationships while also providing an effortlessly entertaining showcase for its appealing young stars; the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr, for one, believed it accomplished the former so well that “R-rating aside, it should be required viewing for every 15-year-old boy on the planet.” Take a fairly sharp late-period script from Woody Allen and a beautiful cast that makes a love quadrangle out of Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Rebecca Hall, and the awards pretty much hand out themselves.
Example: , which might have been able to generate its million worldwide gross simply on the strength of all that sex appeal even if it hadn’t earned a stack of glowing reviews from critics like Roger Ebert, who enthused: “He is a little like Eric Rohmer here.
Case in point: Jonathan Glazer’s -level depths in the wrong hands, but in this case, holds together as a hypnotically creepy exercise in existential dread.
“Johansson is phenomenal in every sense of the word,” enthused Peter Travers for Rolling Stone.
“She joins Glazer in creating a brave experiment in cinema that richly rewards the demands it makes.
The result is an amazement, a film of beauty and shocking gravity.” She’s yet to be granted a standalone Marvel movie of her own, but by now, Scarlett Johansson has played the morally complex superspy Black Widow more times than many actors get to portray a costumed hero throughout the length of an entire franchise, which goes a fair way toward explaining why her reunion with Chris “Captain America” Evans in the first , helped ground the plot’s post-9/11 politics and super-powered derring-do with real human chemistry — no mean feat in a movie that also boasts a memorable supporting appearance from Robert Redford and the first live-action appearance of Cap’s winged sidekick the Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie.
Observed Tim Grierson for Deadspin, “ easily could have been a garish, big-budget mess.
Leave it to writer-director Joss Whedon to weave all those disparate plot strands and larger-than-life stars (including Johansson, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Samuel L.
Jackson) into one of the more purely enjoyable superhero epics in cinematic history.