Mike at the Movies

The Age of Adaline (PG-13) ***

The effectiveness of a romantic fantasy based on eternal life for one of the members of the romance depends so much on the plotting that one holds one’s breath for about two hours wondering if they’re going to do it right. The climax is the thing. In “Adaline,” everything is acceptable and that may be the problem, ultimately, with this pictorially excellent film. Blake Lively, famous for her role in “Gossip Girls” on TV, is in with an older crowd in a MUCH older setting. She is reborn at 107, for heaven’s sake, is generally excellent and always attractive, trapped as she is in a late-20s body after an astoundingly complicated accident. That accident leaves her incapable of aging, resulting in a daughter who is in her 70s (Ellen Burstyn) and a former love who is also in his late 70s. (Harrison Ford). We are left with no reasonable explanation why she should be 107 and he 77, but that’s just one problem with the script.

She is left with eternal life after the accident but eternal fear that she will be discovered and exposed as a freak. (Adaline knows her modern media!) This leads to a mysterious existence, no sense of loyalty or permanence and six locks on her front door. We meet her as “Jennifer Larson,” working as a librarian in San Francisco. We have learned her secret from, of all the hokey means, an old newsreel found in a library that gives us her entire backstory, narrated! This is an inexplicable choice by the writers who could have stretched out the explanation with a bit more mystery. The choice was clearly made in the interest of efficiency and leaves the audience in full possession of the details before any of the cast realizes them.

Perhaps her background and circumstance can excuse Jennifer/Adaline and her ultra-coolness toward everybody she meets, a coolness that is broken by Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), an accidental entrepreneur, with whom she strikes up a relationship. Unfortunately for her and for believability, Ellis’ father is Adaline’s true love, formed when she was in her 20s either before or after the death of her husband early in their marriage. (Clarity of time is not a strong point in this film.) She was in England, studying French (that’s what they said, folks) when William (eventually played by Harrison Ford but acted first by Richard Ingruber, an uncannily likely younger Ford) fixes her stalled car on a backcountry English road.

It is the combination of William as Ford who recognizes her, and her love for Ellis that turn the story into its somewhat hokey finale. There is a flash of lightning like the one that started Adaline’s immortality, and we move swiftly to the conclusion. One would have preferred the ending to be more human, but it is a fantasy after all, so they have to play by fantasy’s rules.

For such an elegant romance, I kept wondering if it was my fault that I was not moved by the characters and what they had to go through in order to bring this off. Then I realized that Adaline is the only one whose suffering is forced by circumstance and her condition. Everybody else could have coped just fine. This is a slow-paced, low-intensity romance and the kids will get bored with it, but adults might like to play the fantasy game along with the characters and try to figure out what they would do if their mate suddenly turned out to be 80 years older than they thought. Unfortunately, nobody in the film is given enough time with the real Adaline to prove what they would have done.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (PG) 0

Fortunately, I cannot remember all the unfunny comedies I have seen, but of the ones I have seen and can remember, this has to be the unfunniest, uncoolest, most badly timed (I can go on but will spare you), absolutely worst filmed “comedy” I have ever seen. The first Blart effort several years ago was lame, but this … well, there is not an alleged funny scene that works, the slapstick is old and ineffective, and the characters are universally ugly or warped in an unfunny way. Blart falls for the gorgeous Divina (Daniella Alonso), whose “crush” on Blart makes no sense at all, so at least their scenes are logical by the logic of this disaster.

There are laugh breaks built into scenes that are not going to get the expected or desired laughs and most scenes go on far too long, including a fight with a rare bird, a keynote speech that is likewise too long and a “recovery” from hypoglycemia involving a far-too-lengthy use of an ice cream cone as a source of sugar.

Having said that this is honestly the least funny comedy I have ever seen, there is not much more to say. You may not catch a disease from seeing this, but I wouldn’t guarantee it. Avoid it at all costs and remember who was responsible: Kevin James and Adam Sandler, producer. A deadly combination.

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