Friday, June 8, 2012
Movie review: Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
Love - and marijuana smoke - is in the air at this hippie hollow.
Despite featuring several characters who grow their own marijuana and only eat local food, there’s nothing organic about Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.
Everything is set up so that every fight is insignificant, every quirk becomes endearing, and every character finds happiness at the end. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a movie like this, but when you can see everything coming a mile away, the surprise and smiles feel unearned.
The movie begins with Catherine Keener - who lives down to the material for once instead of elevating it - hearing bad news from her smarmy husband Kyle McLachlan: He wants a divorce. So what’s an uptight Manhattan lawyer to do? Take the kids and go stay with her mom for a few days, of course.
“But you hate your mother,” McLachlan says.
And she does, but why? It’s kind of trivial as you’ll learn in the third act. And why go visit her now, after not seeing her for 20 years? Obviously not that important.
So mom and the kids (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) head upstate to Woodstock. You’d expect the kids to be chronic texters who never listen to their mother, but they’re well-behaved and don’t seem particularly spoiled. They’re not, which is kind of refreshing, but there’s no conflict or fish-out-of-water humor. They immediately love Granny’s tie-dye clothing and homemade pottery. The only one with a problem is Keener, who wears lots of business-professional suits.
The Woodstock of this movie is one of those idyllic small towns that only exist in the movies, the place where everyone is nice and wise and good-looking. Also, love is in the air for literally everyone but Granny, who’s so happy with her life as a protest organizer and pot dealer, she wants to spread that happiness to her family (but mostly through protests and pot).
Among these beautiful inhabitants are the always-charming Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a carpenter with a thing for Keener, even though she’s insufferable most of the movie, and Chace Crawford, a butcher with a thing for Olsen, even though she’s insufferable most of the movie.
Keener tries to resist Morgan’s charms for all of about 30 minutes. She doesn’t want to fall for someone during her divorce, but that doesn’t stop her from spending every possible second with him. Olsen can’t stand Crawford because of his profession. That’s right. He’s not a criminal or liar, but because he eats and hunts animals, he is repulsive. Again, this conflict lasts for a very short amount of time. He’s too chiseled for her to stay away. Plus, he quotes Walt Whitman.
There’s even love for the younger son, an aspiring but talentless filmmaker. His story was far more interesting than anyone else’s, mainly because it was just a nice story about awkward first romance. The rest of the story just runs through the beats laid out by the script, which makes this a rather pointless trip.
For showtimes for Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, click here.