A lot of people in the screening audience were talking about how this was going to be like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but it’s more like Chances Are (Robert Downey, Jr.) with a dash of Groundhog Day. The difference is…Chances Are was truly romantic and had some laughs. Groundhog Day is a classic. It’s fun to watch the depressed Bill Murray live each day over and over, but you’ll never quite buy into the level of melancholy Adaline (Blake Lively) has. Seriously…who wouldn’t want to live forever, always looking like they’re 29? You don’t have to ask if your butt looks big in those jeans. You just have to buy new jeans (and clothes) every time your outfits go out of style.
And that segues into the biggest flaw of this movie. We see her in period dresses each decade, but there’s not a lot of depth to the material. We might hear a ‘60s tune with a ‘60s haircut…but we’re not given much of a story here. That’s a shame, because everyone could love this for a premise.
Adaline is born right after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. She’s involved in a car accident that keeps her immortal. I wouldn’t have a problem with the hokey science involved in all that, but it was the dopey narration. That same vocal style worked with the fun narration in Little Children (Kate Winslet), or the way Ricky Jay did it in Magnolia. Here, it’s just awful.
Adaline is working as a historian at a library, and she starts watching footage she’s supposed to archive. This lets the audience peek at some of her past. Yet she never updates any of these photos for “throw back Thursday” on Facebook. In fact, she’s always coming up with fake names and moving around a lot. That’s because of an incident where the FBI was snooping around and asking questions.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t see her daughter (Ellen Burstyn), though. And in a great scene where they meet, it’s reminiscent of one we recently saw in Interstellar.
At a New Year’s Eve party, she has a meet-cute in the elevator with a good looking guy (Michiel Huisman). She’s not one to jump into relationships, since she knows they’ll either end badly…or they’ll be perfect. Which means those will end badly, too. Yet Ellis is persistant, and since he makes a big donation to her place of work, she reluctantly goes out with him.
The couple to a 40th wedding anniversary party that Ellis’ parents are having and the dad (Harrison Ford), thinks he may remember Adaline. It’s one of the rare times I’ve seen Ford actually acting in a convincing fashion.
Ellis’ mom (Kathy Baker) seems a bit jealous, but should she be? Well, you may know the direction that might go, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less fun watching it unfold.
This isn’t a spoiler alert, but you have an awful lot of questions about what would happen about half way into the movie, that never really get answered. It just ends up making more questions arise.
The movie wants us to go along with the premise that Adaline would refuse to get into relationships because of heartbreak. What I was instead wondering was…how would she be charmed by any man? Usually guys in their 20s are giving lines to women in their 20s. Those lines work because they’re both a bit naïve. If you’re trying to throw romantic gestures and lines off a woman with 100 years of suitors…you better have some good game (the way he gave her “flowers” was one clever example of that).
Another scene that moved me was her looking at a photo album. I can’t say what the pictures were, but it was interesting.
A few of the dates the couple were on worked. There was a bit of chemistry and some fun dialogue. Other times, it felt like a Nicholas Sparks flick (nice shout out to San Diego’s legendary Ted Williams in a joke).
Usually my complaint in movies is that they’re not subtle enough in certain scenes. Well, Lively is a bit too much in that regard. Perhaps that’s because there’s just not enough depth to her character; and similarly to Benjamin Buttons, there’s just not enough of a story here.
There are two really romantic scenes in this movie, one reminding me of a scene in Casablanca.
The 3rd act is ridiculously bad, but at that point, the people that like this won’t be bothered by that.
The choice of music bothered me a bit, too.
No complaints when somebody uses a song (Simple Twist of Fate) from Bob Dylan’s best album – Blood on the Tracks – except for the fact that the year was 1966. The record came out about 10 years later. That same year in the movie they played Jefferson Airplane’s “Comin’ Back to Me.” Nice song, and this one only a year off (that came out on the classic 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow).
Movies also need to retire the Spencer Davis Group’s hit “Gimme Some Lovin’.”
Director Lee Toland Krieger (Celeste and Jesse Forever) is going to have a hit with this, but it should’ve been better.
It gets 2 stars out of 5.