San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

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At The Movies With Josh: Janet Planet

When there’s a really bad movie, critics often use the cliche: “That’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.”

Well, I have a solution for that. I get the time back. And how I do that, is how I did it with this two hour movie. After an hour and 19 minutes, since my wife and I were hating about an hour and 17 minutes of it, we decided to leave. That was 30 minutes of my life I did get back.

Julianne Nicholson, who was so great recently in “Dream Scenario” (Nicolas Cage), plays a single mom (Janet), and we see the movie through the eyes of her 11-year-old daughter Lacy (newcomer Zoe Ziegler, who was fine in the role). 

The film starts with Lacy threatening suicide if her mom doesn’t pick her up from summer camp. We’re not sure why, when she leaves, two friends are with her (and she immediately regrets the decision, when she sees her mom’s boyfriend). We quickly see why she doesn’t like the guy. He never talks, even if the Lacy asks where he’s from, and he takes 10 seconds to answer, and merely says “South Carolina” without saying anything else. The movie almost picks up, when we meet his daughter, and the two girls strike up a friendship.

We watch Lacy practice piano on a keyboard. That scene goes nowhere. We watch her taking piano lessons with an old lady. That scene goes nowhere. We watch as mom takes her to some cult’s weird performance (my wife pointed out, “Why are there no other kids there?”). That scene is idiotic. When a member of the cult (Sophie Okonedo) leaves and moves in with Janet and Lacy, those scenes are all completely ridiculous and boring, too.

We watched a bunch of poorly written, and very boring scenes. The writing is unfocused, and we couldn’t care about any of these characters. This is actress/playwright Annie Baker’s first film, and it reminded me of the boring movies Kelly Reichardt has given us (First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy, and Showing Up – a nice list if you have a case of insomnia).

This movie takes place in the early ‘90s, in Western Massachusetts. Janet seems more interested in her boyfriends or weird cult members, than her own daughter. Lacy clings to her mother, wanting to sleep with her, have parts of her hair, and get attention from her anyway she can.

There were only a few scenes that worked. Lacy’s new friendship, Lacy playing with her dolls, and when the weird cult lady asks why she isn’t playing with her friends and she responds, “I don’t have any friends.” When asked why, she says “That’s a mystery to me.”

My biggest regret with this movie is that I didn’t leave after the first 15 minutes. It’s an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back. This was minimalist crap, that I can’t imagine anyone enjoying.

It’s currently my least favorite movie of the year.

0 stars.


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