The Dead Don’t Die

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What a disappointment! What a waste of talent!

It is true that The Dead Don’t Die actually was the opening film of the 2019 Cannes Festival last month. It still stinks.

Who’s to blame? Jim Jarmusch. He wrote the script. He directed. He’s the guy responsible of the slow pace of the film’s feeble story. He’s the guy who is stingy with the funny stuff. For a “zombie comedy,” the laughs are scarce.

The cast includes people you know and like. Bill Murray is a police chief in the typical American small town of Centerville. Adam Driver is his partner. Chloe Sevigny is also on the force. Tilda Swinton is the new undertaker in town. Tom Waits is a local hermit. Also in the cast: Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez, among other familiar faces.

The set-up: The world is in a minor panic after fracking messes with the earth’s rotation. This triggers, among other events, a return to the above ground world by the previously dead at the Centerville cemetery. It’s a decent framework for comedy storytelling but it never gets traction.

Sturgill Simpson’s theme song is played several times in the film. His song is okay but the running gag is weak.

Look, I’m sure people worked hard to make this movie. I respect their efforts. But The Dead Don’t Die is one you should wait for and watch via streaming or cable. Not worth the price of a ticket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

If you like Steve Carrell, you’ll probably like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. This movie is funny and it is fun. TIBW has several hilarious sight gags to go with a good group of well-cast characters.

Carrell and fellow Steve, Buscemi, play childhood friends who parlay their love of magic into a long running gig together in Vegas as Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton. But the act gets stale, egos inflate and they get sick of each other. When audiences disappear, it’s not an illusion.

Meanwhile, a street magician, played brilliantly by Jim Carrey, is creating huge buzz with his over-the-top stunts. As his star rises, Burt and Anton’s is fading. A desperation stunt by Burt and Anton ends badly and their partnership goes “poof!”

Burt’s redemption comes with help from Alan Arkin, a man who adds a spark to any movie he’s in. Arkin is an aging magician who helps Burt regain a passion for magic. The beautiful Olivia Wilde adds more than just eye candy in her role as a magician’s assistant who helps Burt regain some humility.

James Gandolfini is the oily casino boss who hires and fires Burt and Anton, then gives them a big opportunity for a comeback. And the rarely seen but talented Jay Mohr plays a likeable small-time wannabe Vegas magician.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not what you would call a “laugh riot.” As with Carrell’s performance on The Office, some of the laughs delivered here are chuckles, not guffaws. But there’s plenty of fun in TIBW. If you’re looking for a pleasant amusement, my magic words are “go see it.”