By George Rose
April 14, 2009
Will is a perpetual proposer, funny and charming, and always falling in love too quickly. Because life could care less about most plans made, complications of sorts prevent any success with a variety of women throughout his 20s. The catch is that he is telling this story – about three possible loves – to his daughter, who must guess which of the women is her mother.
It's a great change of pace to most of the other clones of the genre, and might give you more of an appreciation for Reynolds before his next on-screen outing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, due in May. It's a great example of how he can only lend a supporting hand to major blockbusters, but Definitely, Maybe might be the preface needed to help him break out afterwards.
American Splendor (2003)
Wolverine isn't my favorite, but I can't get enough of super-heroes and comics. My other BOP column – the monthly Uncanny Update – revolves around them. My moral compass is guided by the magnetic fields of good vs. evil. It's a sick obsession, but any geek or writer will tell you our lonely nature leads to odd habits.
American Splendor was a Sundance darling back in the days when I was just getting into independent films. It's the true story of Harvey Pekar, a file clerk who creates a comic book about himself that becomes surprisingly popular, despite the oddities of Harvey and his new girlfriend. The masses seem to connect with Harvey and his life better than he does, turning the miserable grouch into an uncomfortable overnight celebrity.
This movie was Paul Giamatti's first leading role of overwhelming acclaim. I remember at the time how shocked bloggers and critics alike were when the Academy failed to nominate his performance. Maybe they thought the role was easier to accomplish then it actually was, since Harvey Pekar narrates the film. Giamatti isn't a perfect match, but you can tell there isn't an actor out there who would have come closer. It also garnered attention for its artistic infusion of graphic comic drawings, which bring an extra lighthearted touch to the unique film.
It came out in the middle of the Marvel takeover of Hollywood, so my comic book craving was on overdrive. I didn't know anything about the source material going into it, but still found it touching and hilarious. Harvey's relationship with Joyce Brabner – played by the endearing Hope Davis – is often as funny as the comic within, making this a surprise date movie. It's not the kind you'd watch with a one-night-stand or foreign exchange student, but the kind you can appreciate with someone you care about, someone who wants to pay attention to a clever film that doesn't use half-naked hijinks to portray falling in love.
Who Am I? (1998)
When thinking about Paul Giamatti's career after American Splendor, I can't help but be disappointed that Shoot ‘Em Up wasn't a bigger hit. It was hardly the greatest action experience but still pretty wild. It also stars Clive Owen, who deserves a bigger career. He isn't going to find it with music-video style fight sequences meant to protect the fragile nature of the silver-screen elite. Stunt doubles are over rated and usually noticeable. Then – with another unexpected flash of memory – I remembered the equally insane, but more realistic, action of my youth.