Saturday, April 22, 2017

Gifted [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (3 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub () review

Gifted [2017] (directed by Marc Webb, screenplay by Tom Flynn) while generally well and compassionately acted, treads (except when the film-makers _chose_ to be stupid...) where it's safe. 

The story was to center on a seven-year-old girl Mary Adler (played quite convincingly by McKenna Grace) the daughter of at least one gifted mathematician (and quite possibly two) who had been raised up to this point by her uncle Frank (played by ... Luke Evans).  Why?  Why would her uncle Frank, her mother's brother be raising her and not either her mother or father?  Well her mother was a very gifted mathematician, from a family of gifted mathematicians, but ... giftedness has its price.  Mary's mother was awkward socially, got herself pregnant by a man who also proved incapable of making a commitment to the child produced by their encounter, and so ... Mary's mother _committed suicide_ (!) at some point, in Frank's apartment, leaving Frank with her.

Now Frank, in the story no slouch on the brainy side -- he apparently was an Associate Professor (in Boston ...) at the time -- took his sister's suicide as something of a sign (or final straw) to give up that lifestyle and ... took his infant niece to Florida where he chose to live in a trailer park and "fix boats" for a living.  Again, why?  One's guess is that he was _tired_ of being "special" and preferred to seek to have a more normal way of life.  And that is then what he wanted his niece to have as well.

Well, all went well, until Mary made it to first grade, and ... it became clear that she was ... gifted as well.  What to do?  Frank seemed adamant with almost Evangelical zeal that she _remain_ "in a normal school" (even if she was bored there ...).  The school teacher and then principal google the family's name and find that Mary comes from a family of mathematicians.  Since the principal becomes "fuzzy" about the validity of Frank's guardianship of Mary, she makes contact with Mary's grandmother (and Frank's mother...) Evelyn (played by Lyndsay Duncan), and Evelyn comes down to Florida to try to take away Mary from her wayward son to put her into a proper (genius) school ...

And soon, the battle for Mary's future / upbringing is on ...

The story isn't bad, just predictable except in perhaps the most banally stupid of ways: Frank and Mary's school teacher Bonnie (played quite well by Jenny Slate) following stupid / seamy "Hollywood protocol" find their way to bed, which could have cost Teacher Bonnie her job ... and certainly makes Frank into a "big dumb jerk" ... and makes a film that OTHERWISE would have made for _a very nice family film_ into one that really wouldn't be suitable for actual kids of Mary's age.

Stupid, but I guess why waste big hunk of "man flesh" like Luke Evans on a sympathetic regular guy role.  All that was missing, I guess was a speedo scene ... And then, perhaps the film-makers thought "Jenny Slate should have felt so lucky" to do a topless covered by a pillow scene with an "A-list hunk" like Luke Evans.

#Sigh. #Sad.

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