Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Helly's Video View- Shop Girl

Okay, sorry for the delay but here's the deal- I was half way through writing a blog about a great little movie called Humpday, when I realised that the less you know about that movie going into it, the better. So  my one sentence review of it is that it's an unexpected delight,which pushes boundaries and you should definitely check it out! The other reason I chose not to review it, is that the other night Lee and I sat down with anticipation to watch the Steve Martin penned film Shop Girl and could not have been more disappointed with what ensued. I am yet to write a really scathing review and so I thought it might be fun to give it a go!

On paper everything about Shop Girl sounds enticing, written by and starring comedic legend Steve Martin, likable cast including Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman, and the plot outline makes it seem like we're in for an endearing little indie movie, akin to Lost in Translation. But somewhere along the line things went horribly wrong.

The core problem with this movie lies with it's characters, especially the central character Mirabelle (played by Claire Danes.) The film needs us to love her for the plot to work, yet this is impossible as we know absolutely nothing about her other than she works behind the glove counter at a department store and that she's quite pretty.  Steve Martin is not at all convincing as the materialistic sugar daddy he's supposed to be portraying, mainly because Steve Martin as a person is just too likable and exudes a fatherly (or grandfatherly) vibe. Jason Schwartzman probably does the best job in playing the terrible hand he's been dealt and does manage to pull off a few comedic moments. But some of his character's actions and behaviour seem so artificial and not something that a real person would say or do, however eccentric they may be.

The other glaring flaw with this movie is it's (sorry Steve) horrendous script. Some of the dialogue is laughably bad and you can almost see the words typed on the page as it plays out on screen.  There is one moment in particular which is in the climactic scene of the movie, there has been a big build up and there is a close up of Steve Martin and you are expecting something really profound to come from his lips and what he actually says is so mediocre that it's unfathomable. To quote Lee 'Does he not realise that it's a movie?! He can literally say WHATEVER he wants and he chose that?!!' The scenes and some of the 'meet cutes' also seem very poorly constructed and not at all realistic. In particular the scenes involving only women do not ring true at all and only illustrate the fact that Martin clearly does not how how to write female characters and also how women actually interact with one another. Another scene which involves the two main characters both re-telling their interpretation of a conversation is supposed to be comedic and I presume the intention was to be a 'hilarious' example of the many differences between men and women. The end result is neither funny or insightful. There are also some rather clumsy plot devices thrown in to account for some of the character's actions. For example there has been no mention of Claire Danes being bi-polar, but suddenly in one scene we see her throwing away her anti-depressants just to account for her having a break down in the following scene.

There are also some rather cheesey slow motion shots which are utilised throughout the film which are intended to be moving but the film hasn't earned these moments that it's trying so desperately trying to capture. Again Lee said it perfectly 'This movie isn't as beautiful as it thinks it is.'

Rarely do I walk away from a movie thinking 'that's two hours of my life I'm never getting back' but that was exactly the reaction I had with this movie. Seriously, if you pick this up in your local video store and think it looks promising, put it down and keep on looking...trust me!


  1. Every scene with Jason Schwartzman is hilarious! I actually rehired this movie a year or so after I first did, just to watch the Jason Schwartzman scenes again.

    Any Schwartzman fans should hire it, just to check them out!

  2. Thanks for letting me know!

    Oh, I'm sure you don't mind, but I just emailed this review to Steve Martin :)

  3. My number one fan is back ha ha! Yeah I have to admit that the moment that he awkwardly starts making out with her, did cause me to laugh out loud but that's the only positive I can draw from this movie.

    Russ- I guess I'm off his christmas card list eeek!

  4. I too think schwartzman did really good stuff with what he was given. I don't think any of the main actors were bad, but the tone of the movie was way too scattered for me. Some fucking horrible dialogue too. This is coming from a guy that pretty much likes everything he sees.