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Country: United States
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, David Hornsby, Anna Camp
Eye candy: Wiig
Director: Paul Schneider
Run time: 98 minutes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
As I’m typing this review, I’m watching a news report about a flying car. It seems that someone has actually built a flying car. All people will need to do to get this car is train for 20 hours, purchase a ton of expensive fuel, and move their house onto the airport runway. Oh, and they’ll need to shell out $196,000 for one of these things. If and when they ever actually get built. This all seems like a lot of work to me. It’s a car, and it flies, but you have to go to the airport to make it do that. On the plus side, you can drive the car to the airport, and then take off. I think.
Pretty Bird, out June 29th from Paramount Home Entertainment, is not about flying cars. Instead, it is about the next best thing to flying cars, that of course being jet-packs. Or, in the case of this film, more of a rocket-belt type thing that enables people to fly. Billy Crudup plays the fast-talking salesman who starts a company to produce these rocket-belts. Paul Giamatti is the loose-cannon scientist Crudup hires to actually design and build the thing. And David Hornsby is Crudup’s wealthy, put-upon old friend who puts up most of the cash for the venture.
Crudup is less than convincing. He’s vaguely charming, and in a sort of middling way he’s a smooth talker. He borders on being a jerk, and there is a hint of gleeful stubbornness in his character. But mostly he’s just an idiot. This guy, managing to get Giamatti and Hornsby to work with him, is simply impossible for me to believe. Oh, the movie sort of sets this up – Giamatti is insane, has no job, and is grasping at straws. Hornsby might well be gay and have a crush on Crudup. And Kristen Wiig, the woman he manages to date, is too stupid to notice that he’s an irritating d-bag.
But none of it adds up. I thought about Hornsby’s character for a while. If the person I thought was the hottest person in the world walked into my life one day (of course, that would be my wife…or Alyssa Milano), and asked me for $100,000. And then said it was for rocket belts. I would have to say “I’m sorry, Alyssa Milano. But your idea is idiotic and I can tell by talking to you that you have the IQ of an apple. I will not give you any money for your stupid, stupid scheme, because I would be better off using that money to insulate my outhouse. But will you still go out with me?”
At least Giamatti and Hornsby are fun. Wiig is given nothing to do, and Crudup is just annoying. But the biggest problem I have with the movie is – there are precious few scenes involving jet-packs! The whole movie is about them! And everyone in the world (I assume) loves the idea of jet-packs! Or rocket-belts or what have you. Stephen Colbert talks about them. Editorialists demand them (I refer to Scott Feschuk here in a recent Macleans piece). There is even a band called “We Were Promised Jet Packs”. That’s kind of how I felt after watching Pretty Bird. I was promised jet-packs. Instead I got a weak movie about three losers. I enjoyed the flying car news piece far more. It showed me pictures of a flying car.