This will be the first installment of When Bad Writing Happens to Good Actors. I saw Lake House last weekend. (I tried and tried to talk my friend into seeing Superman, but to no avail.) Alas, I am a huge Sandra Bullock fan, so even though all the reviews of the Lake House were correct in their assessment of how bad it is, we saw it.
I can quote verbatum Miss Congenitality. That character is me. And I laugh everytime I see it. Hope Floats breaks and warms my heart without fail. And Two Weeks Notice is exactly why Sandy needs to do more comedies. Now she’s had her stinkers (see Murder by Numbers), but Sandra makes it clear to me that good acting can only salvage so much bad writing. Then you add Keanu who can’t deliver his lines to save his life and this movie reeks.
You know why The Matrix was so awesome? Because the character of Neo is supposed to have no emotion. And we were watching for the special effects and fight scenes anyways. Hence why the last Matrix movie stunk. When you boiled down to the story part of the Matrix trilogy, it fell apart. The best part of my viewing Matrix 3 was when in the climatic love you/death scene of Trinity…and some guy in our theater sneezed SO LOUD. I went into full silent convulsion laughter. I still cry laughing thinking of that moment. My friends were so confused. They thought I was so moved that I was crying. But truthfully, I was trying hard to not be that obnxious person in a theater who laughs loudly in serious moments….as is my custom…
But I digress.
In the Lake House, they are exchanging mail between 2004 and 2006. The premise had promise. The plot was predictable. (I called the “twist” ten minutes into the film prompting a “I’m going to hate you if you’re right” comment from my buddy.) The tone was off balanced. It teetered between melancholy and hopeful but never quite landed on a true bittersweet. The characters were NOT relatable. At all. With Sandra, you at least wanted to know more. You could feel her emotions. Keanu on the other hand…ugh. and I’ll leave it at that.
My favorite example of bad writing meets good and bad actors is Smallville. Michael Rosebaum is my favorite on Smallville. I can’t wait for the show to end so he can do something else where he has hair. His hair is goregous. But he takes what would otherwise be extremely cheesy TV moments and turns into something bigger, better and believeable. There are other Smallville leads who, um, haven’t grown with their characters and if they should die off, I’ll go back to watching Smallville.
I just wonder how you can read a script for a movie or show and know how it’s going to come across on the screen. I wonder if the director of the Lake House read the script and said “hmmmm this doesn’t quite strike a chord.” I guess if you get all the way into the movie making process and are watching dailies, you just salvage what you have.
This just proves the best working writers in Hollywood work in TV.