Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Adjustment Bureau

The only time congressman David Norris is alone is when he's asleep or in the bathroom. After eight years of politics, the spotlight is becoming hard for him to take, and mooning a bunch of friends at a recent, college reunion hasn't helped his chances of winning New York's 2006 Senate race. As David (Matt Damon) stands in the men's room of his party's hotel headquarters practicing his concession speech, Emily Blunt emerges from one of the bathroom stalls with bottle of champagne in hand. Emily's character (Elise Sellas) is a ballet dancer who likes to crash expensive wedding receptions. She's currently hiding from both hotel security and an irate Ivana Trump. Apparently, fake Czech accents don't stand up well to several drinks and claiming to be Ivana's niece.

In 1954, Philip K. Dick wrote a 20 page short story entitled 'The Adjustment Team' upon which this film is based. Dick's story begins with a lazy old dog who falls asleep and fails to bark at precisely the right moment. As a result, the dog's owner is not summoned outside for an early morning car ride to work, and does not partake in the scheduled "adjustment" to his life and the inhabitants' lives of sector T137. In congressman Norris's case, divine intervention fails to prevent him from catching the cross-town bus, and from bumping into bathroom stowaway Elise a second time.

Philip's stories are responsible for the inspiration of many well known films including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly. I don't blame Mr. Dick (or the dog) for this film's failure to impress me. After all, a good premise and a handful of talented actors aren't enough to carry an intriguing idea.

In a nutshell, this film is a contest between free will and fate. The question posed is whether two people, Elise and David, should live as successful singles or as a mediocre couple. Some people might tell you that their romance ruins this science fiction thriller, but I enjoyed the witty flirting of the two actors, their onscreen chemistry is charming and one of the film's strengths. There are religious overtones, interdimensional doorways and hats.

- Ron Shaker

Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Sci-fi, romantic, action thriller
Rating: 3/5

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