The Hours  (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Bud Frump

Scoop's comments in white:

Academy members are susceptible to schmoozing. The Hours is a film which received C's from screening audiences, despite some of the best acting in any modern film, but it was a critical favorite which won nine Oscar nods. It features plenty of great acting performances, and the acting contingent is the largest and most visible segment of Academy voters. That group is easily persuaded that a great movie is anything with great acting and high minded seriousness of purpose.

Tom O'Neil, host of the award prediction Web site GoldDerby.com got it right. O'Neil said, "The Hours is probably the best example of how studios can bamboozle moviegoers and Oscar voters and Globe voters into voting for a movie that is really, really awful."

Not all critics were taken in:

 "The film is way too full of itself; itís stuffy and pretentious in a give-me-an-Oscar kind of way."
-- David Cornelius, AMAZING COLOSSAL WEBSITE

  "A bloated gasbag thesis grotesquely impressed by its own gargantuan aura of self-importance..."
-- Sean Burns, PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY

 "Hypnotically dull, relentlessly downbeat, laughably predictable wail pitched to the cadence of a depressed fifteen-year-old's suicidal poetry."
-- Walter Chaw, FILM FREAK CENTRAL

"The filmmakers juggle and juxtapose three story lines but fail to come up with one cogent point, unless it's that life stinks, especially for sensitive married women who really love other women."
-- Todd Anthony, SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL
 

Time Magazine picked The Hours as the WORST film of 2002. That was going some, since Kidman and Co. had to compete with Swept Away and Pinocchio. They said, "For its high-falutin' literary manner, for its eager embrace of politically and socially correct attitudes, for its breathless belief in its own significance, for its sentimental approach to female victimization,for the pretentiousness and torpor of its structure, The Hours takes the prize."

 

ALERT! PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

My own comments are directed to men only. You need to know this right away. If your wife or girlfriend tries to get you to see The Hours, do anything you can to get out out of it. It is a precious, pseudo-feminist sobfest about dying, suicide, people who commit suicide because they are insane, people who commit suicide because they are in too much pain, people who commit suicide because they are gay, people who commit suicide because they are not gay, and people who abandon their children because they feel like they are about to commit suicide if they don't get away, thereby causing their children to grow up gay or suicidal (or both, in Ed Harris's case).

NUDITY REPORT

none

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic

  • Commentary by director Stephen Daldry and novelist Michael Cunningham

  • Commentary by actresses Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman

  • Filmmakers introduction

  • 4 featurettes:
     

    • "Three Women"

    • "The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf"

    • "The Music of The Hours

    • "The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway"

Dr Kervorkian would find this movie a little morbid. Oscar Wilde would find it prissy and lacking in masculinity. Yoko Ono would find it a bit affected. If God is not already dead, he would consider suicide after watching this. I can't stress too strongly that any good things you may have heard or read about this movie are essentially a halo effect derived from great performances from great actors like Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore

The value of that acting talent is greatly diluted by the fact that those actors spend all their time committing suicide and/or being gay.  Nicole Kidman plays gay, suicidal Virginia Woolf, using the John Cleese upper-class-twit accent and wearing a putty nose. Woolf increases the film's ratio of suicides per person to an uncanny figure of greater than one, since she actually committed suicide twice.

Bud Frump's comments in yellow:

"The Hours" was so lugubrious, meandering, and depressing that it took me three evenings to watch it on DVD.  The acting is excellent, and folks prone to depression may choose to view it for the sake of cloying empathy, but I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone else.

 
Making the best of a bad situation, I found the DVD's accompanying mini-biography of Virginia Woolf worth the watching.  Or perhaps it was merely a needed antidote after viewing "The Hours." 
 
For technical reasons, I would recommend one minute of the film, which comes up mid-movie.  Julianne Moore is playing a pregnant housewife contemplating suicide.  She's lying on a bed in a hotel room.  The camera is perched above, looking down.  Suddenly, as a powerful metaphor obviously resonant with the drowning death of Virginia Woolf,  funky river water comes surging into the room from under the bed.  The water rises, swells, surges, and engulfs Julianne Moore.  It's amazing to see, and I suspect was technically very pricey and difficult to film.  So skip to that scene and give it a few viewings.  It aptly represents the point of the film. 

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Entertainment Weekly B-.

  • It was nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture. It won one. (Nicole Kidman, Best Actress)

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. Voting results: IMDb voters score it a spectacular 7.7/10
  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed $41 million in limited distribution (400-500 theaters). The budget was $25 million.
  • Exit interviews: Cinema Score. It scored about a C from men, a B from women. There was no significant variation by age, although the scores improved slightly as the respondents got older.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C. A blatantly exploitative, manipulative, made-for-award sobfest. It's not a complete stinkathon like Solaris. Many people think it is a great movie. In many ways it is a very good movie, but it is not for you unless you have a minimum of one vagina.

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