Movie Review: Return to Sender – Boring and Exhausting With No Payoff


I saw Return to Sender for one reason; Rosamund Pike. She’s the Academy Award nominee from the hugely successful “Gone Girl” and I was so impressed with her playing the duplicitous Amy Dunn that I decided to give her second feature a shot.

I regret that.

Pike plays Miranda, a nurse who is the victim of a violent sexual assault. The assault disrupts her normal, orderly life where she works as trauma nurse and is trying to sell her home. Because of the attack, she has a tremor in her hand making her unable to work in a surgery center, and no one wants to buy her house because it’s a crime scene. Even after her attacker is convicted and sentenced to prison, Miranda can’t get closure. So she decides to start visiting him. The atmosphere after this is dual natured, and a bit of regurgitated Gone Girl. We don’t know whether Miranda is truly trying to understand her attacker, or if she’s simply setting him up for a greater revenge.

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They don’t play off the suspense well. The movie is like 2 hours of tedious “will she or won’t she” questions, and ends on an anti-climactic note. The tension isn’t good. It’s boring and exhausting, and there’s literally no payoff for waiting for the end.

This is a queasy exploitation flick wrapped in an ‘art’ package. They pulled in Pike to give this movie credibility, but it’s nothing more than some gritty, poorly shot torture porn wrapped up in a pretty package. That’s what it is. It’s a new version of “I Spit on Your Grave” one of the original rape-revenge flicks.

But Pike should have been warned prior to making this slightly tamer copycat movie that every single one of the leads in I Spit on You Grave never got another part in a major movie. They literally cursed their careers by making a movie that bad.

I can see this happening again. Rosamund Pike may have just shot herself in the foot. I don’t know what she was thinking when she accepted this roll. I don’t know who her manager is, who told her this was a good idea, or if she got in debt to the mob and this movie was the only way to pay it off, but this movie was an utter mistake. She might have just ruined her career.

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And Nick Nolte? Yeah, he served no purpose in the movie, other than making me question if he’d decided to go Amish with his giant beard. He mainly just plods around, warning Miranda to stay away from the man who attacked her while Miranda tries to put him at ease. Maybe Voltage owed him billing in a movie, but honestly, his character did nothing to advance the plot.

It’s crap. It’s cheap exploitation filth designed to draw in pervy audiences, and presented under the guise of art in an attempt to give it respectability. This is the kind of movie I would expect on late night cable, not from Rosamund Pike.

Despite that, I still think Pike is a talent. I’m just thinking that she might want to leave this mess off her resume because it was not worth the watch, not even remotely.

We Gave it: 1 Star: Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below

1 star

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Movie Review: Little Boy – The Writers Seemed Afraid to Give The Movie Any Edge

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Little Boy is a limited released faith based film, set in World War II. It’s the war seen though the eyes of a 7-year-old. While the premise has promise, sticky sentimentality and on the nose messages about tolerance turned it into a failed effort.

We start out by meeting Pepper (Jakob Salvati), a wide-eyed 7-year-old boy desperate for his father (Michael Rapaport) to return home from the war in the Pacific. Pepper is the subject of bullying at school and despair at home. This all sets up a pretty bleak picture. Add in an older Japanese man named Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), who is treated with suspicion and is shunned by the residents of the small California town this is set in, and you have the perfect recipe for a movie with a message.

Unfortunately, problems abound. The movie seemed to be afraid to ‘go there’ with its overall theme. Instead, it sands away the rough edges in order to give a pat, simplistic view of fear during war time. As a result, it doesn’t come across as realistic. Everyone is one dimensional, from Emily Watson playing Pepper’s saintly mother, to Hashimoto playing the patient, benevolent old man.

Right now is a great time to tackle an issue like this. After all, the fear and racism most Japanese American’s dealt with during World War II is similar to the fear and racism Muslims in America are dealing with now. It’s a complex issue, which has many layers that need to be examined.

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This film takes that complex issue and turns in into a simple “everyone should be nice to everyone, all the time.” While a sticky sweet theory, it doesn’t work so well in practice. What about racial profiling? What about sleeper cells, extremism and Guantanamo Bay? After all, there were Guantanamo Bay’s all over America during World War II. They were called Japanese Internment camps. None of this is portrayed in the film. Instead, everyone is one dimensional. No one really has a good motivation. They’re either a tolerant saint or a one dimensional bigot.

The unfortunate part of this is that it could have had a strong story line. One strong part of this film is the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy. I remember those from being brought up Roman Catholic and know they can make a strong storyline in and of themselves. It’s too bad that the writers seemed afraid to give the movie any edge. It sees things in black and white. People are either good or bad. That doesn’t work when you’re tying in a religious lesson. Instead, it just comes off as an overly long Sunday school lesson.

Also, in a movie that seems kind of ‘holier than thou’ the fact that the townspeople rejoice at the bombing of Hiroshima doesn’t ring true as godly. While casualties are a part of war, I think the deaths of 166,000 civilians should be treated with a bit more sensitivity, rather than proof that god exists.

WE GAVE IT: 2.5 Stars

2.5 Stars


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