'Hope Springs' and 'Finding Nemo 3D' something for the very old and young

By Dan Dunkle | Sep 20, 2012

I ended up watching two movies this weekend while being in the intended age group for neither.

Don't ask me why, but Christine and I decided to go to "Hope Springs," with Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep playing an aging couple dealing with marital problems.

Streep feels marriage is somehow unsatisfying with a grumpy old duffer (Jones), who sleeps in a separate room down the hall and dozes while watching golf every night. Ya think? Jones, on the other hand, is entirely oblivious of the torture he is subjecting her to, which is probably kind of typical. I think everyone knows this couple and if you don't, you're probably in this couple.

Spurred to action, Streep's sad housewife drags her poor hubbie to Maine of all places for an intensive series of marriage counseling sessions with a very sensitive Steve Carell serving as therapist.

So for what seemed to me like an endless period of time, we listened to them air out their very run-of-the-mill marriage issues while sitting on a couch. We also got treated to very frank discussion of sexual issues in the marriage. Oh goodie! I felt uncomfortable because I'm immature and it was kind of like the feeling you get having "the talk" with your old man.

The acting was terrific, though. Streep is predictably good. Jones is pitch perfect. Every crack and crinkle and crag of his weathered face bends to convey the very real struggle of a guy realizing that good enough is no longer good enough. Carell could easily quit his acting job and start working as a therapist.

My only real problem was that it isn't so much a movie, as in a fictional story with a plot, as a documentary using actors. It needed a little more humor, a few more wacky scenes, some comic relief to relieve the pressure.

When it comes to marriage problem movies, I prefer "The Ref" or "War of the Roses." When it comes to general oldness, maybe "About Schmidt." For a combo, how about "It's Complicated," though, I didn't really like that much either.

This was directed by David Frankel, who has been a bit off his game lately. He most recently bored us all to death with his bird watching flick, "The Big Year." Yeah, who knew bird watching would be a dull topic?

But I liked his previous movies, "Marley & Me" and "Devil Wears Prada." (Probably shouldn't admit that last one!)

Too many more movies like this and I'll be fast asleep, like Mr. Jones watching golf.

Hope Springs, PG-13

Dan's Grade: C+


More my speed was taking the kids to "Finding Nemo 3D."

On the one hand, I've seen the Pixar pic about a Daddy fish searching the entire ocean for his lost son about a million times and I think this whole repackaging old movies like "Titanic" and what-have-you in 3D is kind of a rip-off.

On the other hand, the 3D effects were actually pretty good. Better yet, I had forgotten what a wonderful job the cast did, headed by Albert Brooks as a serious clown fish and Ellen DeGeneres as his forgetful sidekick.

Ellen is hilarious, constantly referring to Nemo as "Bingo" or "Harpo" or anything but his name. I also always get a kick out of her speaking whale. She's the perfect contrast to the world-weary Brooks.

Then there are the voice talents of Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett serving as inmates plotting escape from a dentist office aquarium. It's all very good stuff, a brilliant premise executed perfectly right down to the end credits in a coral reef to the tune of "Somewhere beyond the sea." (If you're a geek like me, you'll recall that Shannon on the TV show "Lost" actually mentions the French version of this song at the end of "Nemo" when she's trying to translate a distress signal on the island. You probably aren't, but can consider this free useless information).

Anyway. Pixar is awesome, and I needed the pick-me-up after the marital doldrums of "Hope Springs."

I don't really need to go on and on since you've already seen this a dozen times yourself.

Finding Nemo, Rated G

Dan's Grade: A

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