I admit I am charmed by this. I believe the strength is in how much you can be charmed by the situations, how much you can sympathize. They really go all the way to make us feel empathy here by letting us know one of the characters will die at the end, of cancer. I cannot think of anything more horrifyingly sad, and we are clearly being manipulated, but for this to work the support needs to be charming as well, and it is.
A lot of the work here goes into defining the characters. Every segment of the first act works towards it. From there on it’s a choice of letting the charm enter you. You always will, unless you are misanthropic. How could you say no to such charming faces, such familiarity in the behaviour, such sweet acts of good will and malignant but justified safe intentions.
For instance, I sympathize with Parker’s situation. How can such an uninviting face struggle to be welcomed into our Hollywood visions of beauty? How would you welcome such a face as the lover of someone you love?
The answer is sweet, and you need someone like Luke Wilson to execute it. All the silent acting from Tenenbaums is reprised here. The way you are supposed to look at everyone’s flaws with warmth and recognition is channeled through him. Just think, it is not something Matthew McConaughey could pull off.
I enjoyed this, in the measure that it struggled against being a gag movie. Except for that slapstick bit at the end which I’m sure was forced by the producers. And Keaton, I will make time any day to see any project she’s in.