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Clive Owen and David Schwimmer don't deliver

Clive Owen in Trust

When movie critics see a bad film, the cliché response is “That’s two hours of my life I won’t get back.” The fun is that you can thrash the movie in your review. Well, imagine my surprise when I wasn’t even given that satisfaction with the movie Trust.

A few other interesting things happened with that film as well.

The studio asked if there were any of the cast members I’d like to interview. David Schwimmer directed the film (his second time behind the camera), so I said I’d interview him. I didn’t care about interviewing Clive Owen, but requested an interview with Catherine Keener (40 Year Old Virgin, Please Give). I enjoy her work.

Found out a few weeks later that the movie wouldn’t be opening in San Diego. You’re lucky; the movie was awful. I started thinking about something that has been happening more and more lately, and most of the critics dislike the practice. It’s people with clipboards standing outside asking what we think about the movie. Now, this has bothered me in the past only because the majority of films are bad. I feel like I’m disappointing them, even though they didn’t write or direct the picture, they’re just reporting their findings to the studios.

As I was leaving the Adam Sandler movie Just Go With It,the girl asked me what I thought of it and I said sarcastically, “It was the best Adam Sandler movie since Grown Ups.” Her response was “Oh good. I’m glad you liked it!” I listened,shocked,as another critic told her he liked it. And the president of a big, local film group had told me earlier it was his second time seeing it, and he liked it. At least I could count on local film critic, and all-around curmudgeon Scott Marks. I heard him bark at the clipboard lady “It was like a damn after school special!” We talked outside about how bad the film was – everything from the close-ups, to the music, and way the script was written. We continued on even as another critic tried to meekly pipe in with “It wasn’t so bad.”

Well, since it’s been a slow movie review week for me – I figured I’d give a review of Trust anyway. It might keep you from renting it.

It’s the perfect premise for a movie. A teenage girl that’s cute, but rather shy and uncomfortable at parties with her classmates, meets a guy online. They have a lot in common, and have an internet relationship. He listeners to her problems and they talk volleyball – he supposedly plays on the baseball team at USC. Now, at that point in the movie, I wondered why she didn’t just Google him. I’m guessing that any search will show you who plays on a sports team at a big college.

The movie goes down all the very predictable paths you think it will, and it does have a few different things that almost worked. One being the disappointment the girl has when she finds out the guys real age, and the way she decides it’s in her best interest to keep the relationship going. We also get the debate about rape vs. statutory rape.

Some of the side stories are ridiculous. Clive Owen works for an ad agency, and their big campaign is one that involves teenagers shown in seductive poses and scantly dressed. Of course, after finding out about his daughters “relationship,” he then becomes bothered by his company exploiting these teen models. Yawn. Another story involves Viola Davis, who was great as the concerned mother in Doubt, when her child may have been involved in a relationship with a priest. In this, she’s the psychiatrist working with the teen. For every interesting scene, there would be five horrible scenes. Another has Owen glancing over his daughters shoulder as she’s on the computer, and he’s so confused by phrases like “LOL.” Yeah.

Critics are being kind to this movie because it has a message. I prefer good movies to public service announcements.

Two other movies with similar topics that I enjoyed – Hard Candy (which is the first film that showed us the acting talents of Ellen Page) and Blue Car. That film has David Strathairn as a teacher many high school girls have a crush on, and one acts on it. Even a comedy like Fast Times at Ridgemont High – has a few scenes where the young and naïve Jennifer Jason Leigh gets manipulated by older people into losing her virginity at 15 with a man in his late 20s. Those few serious scenes with her were a lot more powerful, more realistic – and when combined with all the other scenes – made for a great film that’s considered a classic.

It’s not just the fact that we’ve seen enough of Chris Hanson to make Trust less powerful. The subject matter and what occurs should’ve still done the trick. The problem is that it’s boring, predictable, and amateurishly done.

This movie gets an F.