Posts Tagged ‘Ed Helms’

The Fourth Son of a Political Dynasty

Chappaquiddick

Director: John Curran

Cast: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Olivia Thirlby, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffagan, Taylor Nichols, Lexie Roth

Many films have been made about the Kennedys or those related to them, most recently being Pablo Larrain’s beautiful film Jackie featuring an Oscar worthy performance by Natalie Portman.

While The Painted Veil director John Curran’s film Chappaquiddick is no masterpiece and is quite slow moving, it nevertheless remains a fascinating account of one of the Kennedy’s lesser known political scandals.

This involved Senator Edward Kennedy, superbly played by Australian actor Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby), who was the fourth son of the Kennedy clan and the only surviving son after his three older brothers died successively.

Chappaquiddick takes place in Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1969, two days before American astronaut Neil Armstrong successfully landed on the moon. Edward Kennedy and his cousin Joseph Gargan played by The Hangover star Ed Helms host a small decadent party on Chappaquiddick an island off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Among the guests is Mary Jo Kepechne played by former House of Cards star Kate Mara who gets fatally entangled with Senator Edward Kennedy.

As the evening progresses Edward and Mary Jo go on a moonlight drive around the island but this romantic venture turns into tragedy when after becoming intoxicated Edward unknowingly drives the car off a low bridge and it plunges into a river and he escapes the accident unscathed, while poor Mary Jo gets trapped in the drowning automobile and dies. The worst part is that Edward Kennedy walked away from the scene of a fatal accident and then later tried to cover it up using his family’s considerable political influence.

Chappaquiddick deals with the aftermath of the tragic event and the engulfing political scandal it could have for the ambitious Senator Edward Kennedy who is desperate to follow in his two older brothers’ political careers with JFK becoming US president and Robert Kennedy becoming a US senator, both of whom got assassinated during the turbulent 1960’s.

What makes Chappaquiddick so fascinating is the way in which Edward Kennedy, with a cool emotional detachment and often seeking advice from his wheelchair bound father Joseph Kennedy, wonderfully played by veteran actor and Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska) whose only word of wisdom is alibi.

The patriarch of the powerful political dynasty which is the Kennedys, based at their family compound in Hyannis port, Massachusetts, is determined to protect the Kennedy legacy, despite numerous tragic events and subsequent scandals.

Chappaquiddick is a riveting historical drama about a political scandal which literally gets eclipsed by the men landing on the moon on the same weekend. As compared to Jackie, Chappaquiddick lacks grandiosity and elegance, but remains relevant as to how political scandals are essentially covered up and the flow of information is conspicuously controlled.

Recommended for viewers that enjoy American historical films, Chappaquiddick gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. My only criticism is that sections of the film could have been edited to avoid repetition and the script required insightful dialogue.

 

Parental Misguidance

Father Figures

Director: Lawrence Sher

Cast: Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, Ving Rhames, J. K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, June Squibb, Kat Williams, Ryan Cartwright and Ryan Gaul

Considering how packed the cinema was on a Sunday afternoon, one would have expected Father Figures to be a really funny family comedy.

Unfortunately, first time director Lawrence Sher’s Father Figures is very lightweight and not nearly as hilarious as such classic films as The Hangover despite pairing Owen Wilson and Ed Helms together as non-identical twins who go on a quest from Columbus, Ohio via Miami to upstate New York in search of who their biological father really was.

As brothers, Peter and Kyle Reynolds they couldn’t be more different.

Dr Peter Reynolds is a conservative surgeon who has to contend with a failed marriage and a teenage son who doesn’t communicate with him. Ed Helms (The Hangover) plays Peter Reynolds perfectly while Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris, The Internship) plays the blonde Hawaiian Kyle Reynolds who supposedly made his fortune off a BBQ sauce recipe and is now chilling back living off the imagined royalties.

The premise for the two brothers to go on a trans-America road trip is when their mother Helen, a briefly seen Glenn Close, whose presence in the film adds some credence to the otherwise inane plot of Father Figures. Maybe the Oscar nominated star of Dangerous Liaisons and Albert Nobbs decidedly to play comedy for a change.

Although it is wonderful to see Glenn Close on screen in a maternal role especially to two forty something men who are desperate to discover who their biological father is.

What follows is a episodic journey around America whereby Peter and Kyle get to know each other as well as an assortment of fatherly figures ranging from the shady con-man Roland Hunt played by Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) who is still living with his own mother played by Oscar nominee June Squibb (Nebraska) to veterinary doctor Dr Walter Tinkler played by Oscar winner Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter).

Kyle and Peter also land up on a train track with an unsuspecting hitchhiker played by Katt Williams as well as being caught up in a family brawl with Irish brothers Liam and Sean O’Callaghan played by Ryan Cartwright and Ryan Gaul.

Despite, the acting talent and the normally funny Ed Helms and Owen Wilson, Father Figures fails to lift off as a truly believable story – the only relatable part was the constant sibling rivalry between brothers and genuine conflict which ensues.

Father Figures is an extremely lightweight comedy which doesn’t take itself or the characters too seriously. The film gets a rating of 5.5 out of 10. Recommended for audiences that enjoy low brow jokes and some contrived comic situations which do not come across as original or particularly witty but are merely inserted into the plot to create some generated and thoughtless laughs.

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