REVIEW: THE CRAZY ONES

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CAST
Robin Williams (Jumanji)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy)
James Wolk (For a Good Time Call…)
Hamish Linklater (Pushing Daisies)
Amanda Setton (Beauty and the Beast 2012)
NOTABLE GUEST CAST / RECURRING CAST
Kelly Clarkson (American Dreams)
Gail O’Grady (Superboy)
J.D. Walsh (Two and A Half Men)
Saffron Burrows (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Josh Groban (The Muppets)
Brooke Lyons (2 Broke Girls)
Brad Garrett (Garfield)
Ashley Tisdale (Scary Movie 5)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Kurt Fuller (Superhero Movie)
Sarah Baker (Mike & Molly)
Marilu Henner (Vamps)
Joshua Gomez (Chuck)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Barry Shabaka Henley (The Terminal)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)
Cheryl Hines (Son of Zorn)
Steve Talley (The 100)
Jessica Chaffin (The Heat)
Tiya Sircar (Supergirl)
Robin Williams was finally back to doing what he’s always done best — off-the-cuff riffing on whatever subject you put in front of him. He’s brilliant. While America’s sense of humor has changed a bit since Mrs. Doubtfire, Williams’ ability to turn his incredible sense of humor into a source of drama  shows that as an actor, he’s gone from silly to serious and come back out the other side with a remarkable ability to showcase the two simultaneously and sensitively.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is perfectly cast in her role, as a foil for Williams. Her ability to  see the serious and important sides of absurd and silly situations is exactly what Williams’ character needed to have the truth of his tragicomic situation highlighted.
This show isn’t going to appeal to everyone — it’s paced like Scandal, has the emotional volatility of the Newsroom, and the pop culture references of Franklin & Bash. The problem is that it’s billed as a zany comedy/Mad Men with Robin Williams, but the truth is that it’s actually a very dramatic story hidden beneath zaniness, and a lot of people are going to have a problem with that.
Sadly the show lasted one season and not long after we lost Robin Williams. It’s a good show to see just how good he was as an actor.

REVIEW: LICENSE TO WED

CAST
Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones)
Mandy Moore (The Princess Diaries)
John Krasinski (Jarhead)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Josh Flitter (Hide and Seek)
DeRay Davis (Scary Movie 4)
Peter Strauss (XXX 2)
Grace Zabriskie (Norma Rae)
Roxanne Hart (Highlander)
Rachael Harris (Evan almighty)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks 2)
Mindy Kaling (The Office)
Rachael Harris (The Hangover)
Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) has always longed to marry the man of her dreams in her family church. Though she has found her lifetime companion in Ben Murphy (John Krasinski), Sadie is distressed to learn that St. Augustine’s has only one wedding slot available over the next two years, though after re-checking their planning book, they find that the wedding can be held in three weeks.
While Sadie and Ben do qualify for the slot, the church’s eccentric minister, Reverend Frank (Robin Williams), will not wed the couple until they agree to attend his prenuptial course (shortened, due to the new date, from three months to three weeks). As their wedding date draws near, Sadie and Ben must now follow all of Reverend Frank’s rules, attend his unusual classes, and complete a series of homework assignments designed specifically to irritate one another — in order to get past puppy love and ensure that their union will have a sound foundation.
In one part of the course, the couple has to care for twin “creepy robot” babies. They get on Ben’s last nerve and he destroys one, to the horror of bystanders in a department store. To Ben’s dismay, one of Frank’s rules is no pre-marital sex. On behalf of Frank, his young assistant (Josh Flitter) breaks into the couple’s house and bugs it. Thus, Frank and his assistant can listen to all conversations, though Frank does not let his assistant listen to the adult parts. Ben discovers the microphone/transmitter but does not tell Sadie, for fear she will accuse him of lying and planting the bug himself.
Problems gradually begin to develop between the couple due to the course. Ben begins an investigation into Frank, and eventually discovers that he was once married to a Maria Gonzalez. Shortly before the wedding, Sadie becomes reluctant to have the wedding, among other things because Ben has not prepared marriage vows as Frank instructed them to do, but instead drew a flip cartoon of a truck. Ben then confronts Frank over Maria Gonzalez, believing him to be a hypocrite. Frank reveals that the marriage was done to allow Maria, then an immigrant, and a member of Frank’s congregation, to stay in the U.S. Upset that Ben would waste his time on a “stupid investigation”, Sadie calls off the wedding. On Frank’s advice, Sadie goes on vacation to Jamaica, their slated honeymoon destination.
Ben seeks advice from his friend Joel, who advises him to give up on Sadie, saying that there are other women like her out there. Ben however disagrees with this, and decides to go to Jamaica. Frank and his assistant travel there too. He attempts to call Sadie, but she refuses to listen. Her parents assure her that all marriages have problems, and her friend Carlisle tells her that Ben may just want someone who relies on him, allowing her to forgive Ben more easily. Ben writes his vows on the sands of the beach to impress Sadie and they reconcile, and Frank marries them there
What’s not to like about Robin Williams in comedies like this one

REVIEW: ONE HOUR PHOTO

CAST

Robin Williams (Hook)
Connie Nielsen (Gladiator)
Michael Vartan (Alias)
Dylan Smith (Re-Animated)
Erin Daniels (The L Word)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Lee Garlington (Ameircan Pie 2)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Clark Gregg (Agents of SHIELD)
Eriq La Salle (ER)

Robin Williams in One Hour Photo (2002)

Mark Romanek’s under-appreciated One Hour Photo came about during a transition period in the mainstream photography scene, a point addressed early on in the film. Before the age of digital cameras — where people take thousands of shots nobody ever sees, duplicate them at home, and wipe them away with a few clicks — snapshots either needed to be processed in a dark room or entrusted with a lab for developing. That meant a person doing the developing would see , and possible remember, every single candid shot and glimpse at one’s private affairs. Romanek saw that suspicion as an opportunity, framed in a sterile department store and centered on the seeming trustworthy clerk whom you’d give those rolls of memories. Could that person have been Sy Parrish (Robin Williams), the bespectacled, clean-cut employee who obsesses over a repeat-customer family. The strength in Romanek’s thriller, a comment on blind trust and valuing the family dynamic, lies in how eerily possible that might be.

Should it be reassuring or alarming that the first image of Sy is of his in-custody interrogation? That’s the direction Romanek takes the audience, down the path of misgiving from the moment Sy offers his perspective on his time as a SavMart photo-lab manager, a job he takes very seriously; he calibrates and measures prints with the utmost care, diligently remembering repeat shoppers. The most important of all his customers, though, is the Yorkin family: an unpretentiously beautiful mother, Nina (Connie Nielsen, The Devil’s Advocate); the busy bread-winner father, Will (Michael Vartan, Alias); and their young, caring son, Jake (Dylan Smith). Sy knows these people in ways most don’t, from memorizing their address and the size of their home to the idyllic appearance of their domestic situation, adorned with birthday parties and little-league games. What’s also shown, though, are the moments when he returns to his home, a sparse apartment full of the Yorkin’s photographs.

Romanek could’ve easily forced Sy into a caricature of a stalker or an unashamedly disturbed villain, but instead he takes a more complex route: he’s interested in bringing this man as close to “normal” as the thriller’s setting and purposes will allow, until the situation no longer allows it. Constant narration — Sy’s interrogation — beckons the audience into the space of his mind, revealing his tolerant and often rewarding outlook on his customers. When he discusses unsavory people, they’re neutral observations with a twang of judgment, not unlike the musings of regular Joes. When he discusses the family dynamic, his outlook is almost admirably idealistic, as if he only knows of the families depicted in perfect photos. Navigating the intricacy of his mind becomes a sharp, disturbing experience as the knowledge of his police custody crosses our minds, and Romanek plays with that idea as Sy uses his job to cross boundaries in ways the general public would rather not consider. He’s the worst kind of monster: the one you really couldn’t foresee as being one.

One Hour Photo’s success, both in terms of intensity and dramatic potency, hinges on the utterly chilling performance from Robin Williams. While Good Will Hunting and Insomnia unveiled a comeback in his serious dramatic side, presenting him as physically intimidating and apt at carrying a dark past, Sy takes his talent in a more cunning, sinister direction than previously seen from the animated comedic actor. From behind large-framed glasses and under a peculiar blonde haircut, the intense eyes that Williams gives the photo-lab manager hide a disturbed man with a void in his life. The psychosis and obsession he conveys through nuanced facial reactions can be pretty remarkable, where the stillness in his gazes and the calmness in his voice often send chills down the spine when he interacts with families, co-workers, and children. The performances around him create a “safe” mid-sized town atmosphere — Connie Nielsen’s honest warmth lures in our attention as she drops off film and eats at a mall — proving ideal for Sy’s under-the-radar fixation.

Romanek explores a mesmerizing visual tone that becomes crucial as we’re making heads and tails of Sy’s mind, where the cinematography of Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club and The Social Network) switches between sterile, void sparseness and multihued vivacity for some clever jarring effects. He bathes scenes in the Yorkin’s lush upper-scale home with overbearingly warm oranges and browns, emphasizing a false sense of safety and perfection, while the stark-white aisles of SavMart almost convey a sense of blinding clarity through the eyes of Sy. The film very much filters through his point-of-view as his narration guides the audience within his psychosis, where the few impartial glimpses at his life blow the notion of privacy open by a mosaic of photos on his apartment’s wall. Backed by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek’s pulsating, haunting score, this is a striking sensory experience that lulls the audience into a bizarre combo of sensations between ill-omened fear and cautious sympathy.

That’s the nature of a beast like One Hour Photo, a Hitchcock-esque exploration of the underbelly of the mundane ad the family dynamic, not unlike a twisted combination of Cape Fear and American Beauty. Romanek’s film is, admittedly, far more interesting during Sy’s descent into mania than when he’s finally pushed over the edge though, driven by circumstances that come across more as overstated developments to elevate suspense instead of a natural progression of his mental instability. Romanek undeniably goes for bizarre shock value as his punctuation, which waters down the organic human properties that he’s worked so hard to develop. Yet, even when he takes Sy into the world of the truly demented, the reason he’s locked in cuffs and answering questions, Robin Williams and Mark Romanek still generates a disturbingly authentic perspective on idealistic relativism, and how the mind of “The Photo Guy” who yearns for the family in those snapshots is truly calibrated.