Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Real Parents Review: The Great Gatsby

I attended a sneak preview of this movie last night and I was actually very disappointed.  I think this movie will appeal to the Moms much more than the Dads. But, I was really looking forward to this movie, and I was expecting much more from a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. 

Having read the book back in high school, I was very familiar with the basic plot, but had forgotten many details. .  I intentionally did not want to go back and refresh my recollection for the movie so that I could experience the story anew. 
 The story itself is obviously one of the great classic of our times, which almost everyone will read at one point or another, but in my opinion, this movie version did not do the story any justice.  
While the visuals for this movie (and sets and costumes) are outstanding, there is no reason for it to be in 3D. The mansions that Gatsby and Buchanan live in are right out of the 1920s, complete with ornate decorations and kingly room set ups.   
The sets and designs were fabulous, but the storytelling didn't match up with the grandiosity of those houses.  
The scenes from the parties that Gatsby throws are everything you would expect to see in a giant Vegas casino.  Bands, dancing, drinks, hundreds of people enjoying themselves......all to the tunes of Jay-Z.  What?  There was no rap music in the 20s you say? 
 The story is set in the roaring 20's in NYC - a time of big bands, yet in various points throughout the movie we are subjected to heavy JayZ and Beyonce songs. I'm a fan of Jay-Z from way back, but I am also a big jazz fan and this was a missed opportunity to introduce a whole new generation to big bands and the music of the 20s.  Having Jay-Z provide multiple songs to the movie was distracting and took me completely out of the story since the songs were so out of context with what we were seeing visually.  They did such an amazing job of physically recreating everything about that period of time, but then destroyed the entire mystique with a really poor choice of songs for the soundtrack.  I'm not sure I've ever had songs in a movie distract me as much as these did.  This one choice dragged you from a gala blowout party from the Roaring 20s and pulled you right back into this century.  Very poor choice.

Leonardo DiCaprio gave a good performance but he lacked big supporting performances opposite of him, especially by Tobey Maguire who I thought was all over the place.  Tobey kept making the same wide-eyed dopey face we saw in Spiderman and Seabiscuit and vacillated from cowering friend to over the top bullying (especially in the scene where Gatsby first meets Daisy). Carey Mulligan, who played Daisy Buchanan, was the real star of this movie for me.  I felt her pain in the beginning as she struggled to keep her marriage together and later her love for Gatsby, after the two finally meet again after 5 years apart.  She doesn't overdo it on either end and her scenes really drive the movie. You can't wait to see her back on the screen after her scenes are finished.
I think my date for this movie enjoyed it much more than I did. This movie will appeal and resonante better to the females in the theater than it did for me.  This movie probably falls into the "chick flick" category which means it will probably do very well both in the theaters as well as afterwards in DVD sales, but its not going to show up on many people's "best of" lists for 2013. If you can ignore the out of context music and focus on the visuals, you will enjoy it more than I did.  But, you might want to lower your expectations just a little from the ridiculously amazing trailer that got me interested in seeing this originally.

As a parent I was glad I did not take my kids along to this movie.  There is no sex, minimal violence (people fighting with each other) and very little bad language.  So, you would be safe bringing your kids along to this movie, but I think your kids would be very bored and they would not enjoy it at all.  The kids might actually enjoy the JayZ songs more than I did. Leave me a comment if your kids enjoy it!  I would love to hear what they think about it.

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