Sep 18, 2014

    Man-child you could root for


    Romantic comedy/86 minutes/

    Opens today

    Rating: 3/5

    The story:

    Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, living a carefree life in a luxe hotel. One eventful week, he gets tossed out of his suite, falls for the lovely Beatrice (Olivia Wilde) and finds his long-time friendship with Dylan (Billy Crudup) tested.

    THIS is not a Wes Anderson film.

    But, judging from the soundtrack featuring French pop songs, the wry voice narration and the moments of perfectly art-directed whimsy, one could have sworn that it was the American director at work.

    The elements are, after all, strongly suggestive of Anderson's signature style found in movies such as Moonrise Kingdom (2012).

    Whether writer-director Peter Glanz is an Anderson imitator or admirer, the result is a pleasant enough piece of good-looking fluff.

    Given that the protagonist, Conrad (Bateman), is a self-absorbed man-child, this is no mean feat.

    Conrad has been seeing a psychiatrist for years, but the only illness he is suffering from is chronic glibness.

    And, after meeting Beatrice, he learns that his best - and possibly only - friend, Dylan (Crudup) is also interested in her, but goes after her anyway.

    What could so easily have been an insufferable, overprivileged character becomes a sympathetic one you actually root for, thanks to the casting of Bateman (from TV's Arrested Development).

    Even when the material is weak, the actor can be counted on to brighten up the screen.

    While Bateman and Wilde (Tron: Legacy, 2010) make for a cute couple - despite her enormously fake lashes, which can be a little distracting - the more moving relationship is actually the competitive and mutually envious friendship between Conrad and Dylan.