Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Procrastinator's Movie Review: "The Great Gatsby"

The Great Gatsby

Release Date: May 10, 2013

Who was in that one again? Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton

I can't remember the plot. Twenty-something young man named Nick Carraway comes to work in New York City and lives on Long Island in the summer of 1924, where his next door neighbor charms him with his rich lifestyle and crazy parties. The man - Gatsby - was a soldier in the Great War, and is in New York to win back the love he lost, Daisy Buchanan (who happens to be Nick's cousin). Unfortunately, Daisy is married to Tom now, who is a pretty big jerk and having an affair with a local mechanic's wife.

The review: I do have some background when it comes to The Great Gatsby: I read the book two years ago and really, really liked it. I think if I'd read the book any earlier in my life, I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it as I did. And as soon as I finished the movie, Bam! Baz Luhrmann announces he's making it into a movie.

I was pretty excited to hear Luhrmann was making the movie, because the style of 1920s New York seems ripe for a Luhrmann movie. And that portion of this movie doesn't disappoint - the lavish parties at Gatsby's mansion and views of New York City are spectacular. 

The casting of Leonardo DiCaprio also is very good. He can turn from smooth talker to childish wuss in no time flat, and even makes the phrase "Old Sport" work. Anyone else saying that phrase would sound like an idiot.

I don't mind Tobey Maguire either - he gives enough of a bright-eyed New York newbie excitement at the beginning of the movie that you believe him. His narration could be a little more animated - but that's the consequence of having Tobey Maguire be the narrator. His voice doesn't do very much.

The dragging parts of the movie take place after Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan finally reunite. Gatsby's manipulation of Daisy and convincing her to run away with him doesn't work, because Carey Mulligan doesn't give her any fire. Daisy isn't an independent spirit in the book, but she isn't so weak, either. 

The ending of the movie also takes a very long time to finish. From the end of the confrontation between Tom Buchanan and Gatsby to Nick's final words, the book sped through that with blazing speed. Maybe it was just my urgency to see how the story ended when I read it, but the movie seemed to take three times as long, and there was too much idle chitchat. 

I did not like the movie half as much as I did the book, but it was still a decent movie. But as it usually goes: the book is always better than the movie.

MVP: I'm gonna go with the police officer who tries to pull over Gatsby and Carraway as they drive to a speakeasy operated by Gatsby's boss, Wolfsheim. Gatsby doesn't stop, pulls out a card, and the policeman apologizes and says he'll recognize him next time. That was worthy of a chuckle.

Blurb Musing Rating: Three Jay-Z songs (yup, they're in there.)

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