’65’ Shines a Little Less Brightly Than Sixty-Five Stars

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Adam Driver stars in 65. (CREDIT: Patti Perret/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Starring: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, Nika King

Directors: Scott Beck and Bryan Woods

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Dino Chompers and Biting Bugs

Release Date: March 10, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: They called the movie 65, but it’s worth a lot more than that. Indeed, add several zeros after that title, as it takes place 65 million years ago. A couple of humans lead the cast, but it’s the time of the dinosaurs on Planet Earth. Time travel isn’t on the docket, but intergalactic transport instead, as a pilot named Mills (Adam Driver) is on a mission to find a cure for his sick daughter (Chloe Coleman). But it all goes kablooey when his ship crashes on unfamiliar terra, where he soon finds himself at war with a bunch of rexes and raptors, and more than a couple of hungry insects. And in his care is the only other surviving passenger, a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) who doesn’t speak the same language as Mills but is with him all the way.

What Made an Impression?: By major studio sci-fi standards, 65 is fairly low-budget, which you can definitely feel. The lighting is often dim, and we rarely see full shots of the larger dinos. That’s not necessarily a death knell if the human drama is compelling, but alas, there aren’t really any fireworks there either. Driver and Greenblatt have an easy rhythm, but that’s just the thing – it’s too easy. It’s not like there needs to be any major conflict in this sort of guardian-child relationship, but every triumph feels preordained. Mills and Koa are very much in mortal danger the whole time, but you never feel that viscerally.

So what to do with a functionally well-made movie that doesn’t really thrill or inspire? Well, I sat in the theater peacefully for an hour and a half and was grateful that I had an occasion to get out of the house. I was less happy, however, about the skittering and screeching sound effects that disrupted my physiological equilibrium. But that was more of a minor nuisance than anything particularly terrible. To reiterate, 65 didn’t make me feel very strongly in either direction. Maybe if you’re a completist when it comes to sci-fi spacefaring or dino-heavy larks, you can find something worthwhile here, but otherwise, there’s not much to get excited about here.

65 is Recommended If You Like: Genre Fare and you’re not too demanding

Grade: 2 out of 5 Laser Blasts

Will ‘Marry Me’ Make Us Merry?

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Marry Me (CREDIT: Barry Wetcher/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Maluma, John Bradley, Sarah Silverman, Chloe Coleman, Michell Buteau, Stephen Wallem, Jimmy Fallon, Jameela Jamil, Utkarsh Ambudkar

Director: Kat Coiro

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Fairly Mild Profanity

Release Date: February 11, 2022 (Theaters and Peacock)

Where does Marry Me the movie place in my rankings of pop cultural uses of that particular matrimonial phrase? Its opponents of course includes Maeby Fünke’s usage of it as a catchphrase on Arrested Development to deflect anyone and everyone’s suspicions about her actual age. And it’s also the title of indie rocker St. Vincent’s 2007 debut album (which was itself named after AD). So clearly the competition is pretty stiff! It’s even stiffer when you consider that there’s a song called “Marry Me” that’s performed multiple times in the movie. So in that sense, the film is competing against itself for Marry Me-dominance!

Okay, folks, I’m not going to jerk you around any longer: Arrested Development wins my vote for best use of “Marry Me.” But this new romantic comedy still has its own particular charms that are worth considering.

The premise is a modern day fairytale: Jennifer Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a pop superstar not too dissimilar from J. Lo herself. She’s all set to marry her musical/romantic partner Bastian (Colombian singer Maluma) in an extravagant onstage ceremony, but when she discovers that he’s been cheating on her, she suddenly chooses a random concertgoer in the form of single dad Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson) as a replacement groom. Their union is legally legit, but everything else is just for show for the tabloids and the Instagram-viewing masses, at least initially. Charlie hardly knows Kat anyway, as he was only at the show since his tween daughter Lou (Chloe Coleman) is a fan. He might also be the epitome of modern fiction’s social media-agnostic stock character, and if that character is going to be played by someone as effortlessly charming as Wilson, then I’m here for it!

Marry Me really comes alive in the quiet two-hander moments when it’s just Lopez and Wilson on screen. His advice about the publicity machine being B.S. might be simple and far from revolutionary, but it’s also tender and wonderfully supportive. “Support” is really the key word here, as both Charlie and Kat are surrounded by endlessly loyal friends who know just how to nudge things in the right direction. And in addition to all that, there’s a subplot about a middle school math contest, with Charlie as a coach and Lou as one of the mathletes. So therefore I must say, if back in 2001 when I was in seventh grade, Jennifer Lopez had randomly shown up at one of my math contests, that would have been pretty cool. And while a movie version of that scenario might not be quite as magical as the real-life hypothetical, it’s still something I’m happy to have experienced.

Marry Me is Recommended If You Like: Dreaming the Improbable Dream, Turning the cameras off to have a conversation, Math puns

Grade: 3 out of 5 Pi-thons