Amy and Amanda hit separate coasts to see The Italian Job. Here’s what they thought…
Amanda: I just want to say up front that I was not a fan of The Italian Job.
Amy: I rather liked it. I wasn’t bowled over, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Amanda: You didn’t feel like it was a poor man’s Ocean’s 11?
Amy: I felt like it was two parts Ocean’s 11, with more than a splash of The Bourne Identity. Ocean’s 11 didn’t really have the emotional aspect to it. (And, I’m a HUGE fan of O11. I think it’s a brilliant film.)
Amanda: It did, though. They pulled off the heist because George Clooney (Danny) was still in love with Julia Roberts (Tess). And even though the emotion wasn’t something as vengeful as the death of a father, it felt more real to me. Because I thought there was zero chemistry between the cast of The Italian Job. ESPECIALLY Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron.
Amy: Well, let me address the Danny/Tess thing first. They are my biggest problems with O11 – they’ve got no fricken’ chemistry at all. Even less than Wahlberg and Theron. But it’s so obvious in O11 because everyone has chemistry but them. However, there is NO emotional arc for either of them. They both were in love with each other – that never changed. She just stopped being so pissed off at him. My take on the emotional arc had less to do with a romantic arc than the journey that Theron and Wahlberg take, individually. I didn’t like Wahlberg and Theron getting together, but I was content with them tacking it on at the end, and not making it some big scene. A lot of my issue with it going romantic is because they had set up Theron’s father, Donald Sutherland, as being like a father to Wahlberg, too, and dude. It’s like dating your sister. Creepy.
Amanda: I think my issues with Clooney and Roberts not having chemistry (I agree they didn’t) is lessened by the fact that I thought the script and direction were just so much better. I also agree that the romantic “arc” of The Italian Job – in quotes because it wasn’t much of an arc, to speak of – isn’t what stands out. Did you see The Truth About Charlie? Because Wahlberg seems to be working on this deadpan delivery, where his face doesn’t make actual expressions, and it isn’t working for me. So any emotion that I was supposed to feel about him and the death of Sutherland’s character (Who, by the way, had to deliver some of the worst, clichéd dialogue of the movie) made dramatically less of an impact.
Amy: I didn’t see it (TTAC). Ocean’s 11, to me, is almost flawless. Which isn’t to say it’s some deep, meaningful flick – but that Soderbergh had a vision and lived it. It’s not the same feel in The Italian Job, but it didn’t take away from the movie. They tried to establish TOO much in TOO LITTLE time with Sutherland: His relationship with his daughter, sending her presents; that he was an old-school robber; that Charlie (Wahlberg) was there; that Charlie was like a son to him; that he was more than a mentor to Charlie; that Steve (Edward Norton) was jealous of their relationship. Giving them a bit more time to give him a stronger presence would not have taken away from the story.
Amanda: I truthfully thought the only thing that salvaged The Italian Job was Seth Green. It’s like he was in color, and everyone else was in black and white. Any scene with him was worth the price of admission.
: I loved Seth in this. I kept wondering how much was scripted, how much was ad-libbed. And I kept thinking about how fantastic it would be to get him to do 20 Questions. He definitely stole the show, but Mos Def! Oh, Mos is so freakin’ cute. I loved him.
Amanda: I would bet that the scene where he makes fun of Handsome Rob hitting on the cable girl was ad-libbed.
Amy: I thought the Napster storyline, while running the danger of being dated, was a nice way of adding some currentness to an old script. However, it’ll be over people’s heads in 10 years.
Amanda: The movie could definitely have been improved with more Mos Def.
Amy: More Mos Def! More Mos Def! Can I talk more about how much I loved him – he slammed such throwaway lines like the dog one. And the detonator scene. SO fantastic.
Amanda: How did you feel about Edward Norton? I go back and forth on whether or not I’m a fan. I almost thought he was too good at being evil for this movie. He was just. Too Evil.
Amy: In general, I like Edward Norton. But here, I don’t know. I did like the clear-cut evilness, but I felt it was a leetle bit one sided. He does smarmy quite well, though. However, I was quite disturbed by the unevenness of his mustache in the scene with Theron. It’s all I could concentrate on!
Amanda: Even his hair was extra Evil.
Amy: It was!
Amanda: I would have liked to, perhaps, get a better feel for his place in the whole gang. He was supposed to be competition for Charlie. Except Charlie was better at plotting things out fully than Steve, so he was obviously the favorite, and eventual successor to Sutherland. It would have made Steve’s evilness better, for me, if I would have had a better feel for that.
Amy: I agree. Instead of going straight into the heist, I would have liked to see more planning – it would have helped get a real feel for the characters, as well as for their interaction. As the movie stands, you need to make it up for yourself. But, the two action scenes – they were great. So clean and concise – another favorable comparison to Ocean’s 11. Each one had me on the edge of my seat, and I was impressed with the tricks and turns they took. And I had minimal issues with suspension of disbelief. (Like the helicopter not killing Charlie.)
Amanda: I was actually distracted by a couple of things in the big chase at the end. I couldn’t figure out why the guys on motorcycles would care that much about going after the stolen goods. Were they on Steve’s payroll? I got the feeling that they were hired just for the transport. Yet they acted like mafia-like goons. And the helicopter part was just silly to me.
Amy:I had the feeling that he had a crew – and they were part of that crew. Like the folks in the beginning. So they would have a vested interest in getting that money back. The helicopter WAS silly, but I don’t know – I was swept up!
Amanda: But, again, there was no set up for Steve being the kind of guy who would instill fear or loyalty in that type of crew. I’d think big, tough guys like those would overthrow his skinny ass.
Amy: I see what you mean, but I felt like it was supposed to be established in the beginning, when they take out the other guys. And it was supposed to reiterate the division between Charlie and Steve – Charlie plans smart and no one gets hurt. Steve goes for the money, and his crew got hurt. Charlie steals to enrich his life, Steve steals to define his life.
Amanda: Ah, yes. The different kinds of thieves. I thought that was a bunch of hogwash. Ha! I said “hogwash.”
Amy: I was a little disappointed with Handsome Rob. I saw The Transporter with Jason Statham, and while it started out with a bang, it didn’t deliver. His action scenes in that movie were great though (if a bit long), and I would have liked to see him show off a bit here – instead of just being pretty.
Amanda: I was thinking, during Statham’s scenes, that I probably wouldn’t sleep with him. So I couldn’t buy that he was the Handsome one. Maybe, if he just talked for a while.
Amy: I felt like he was supposed to be charming, but they never showed that. He’s attractive, but he’s no Josh Jackson.
Amanda: Okay. I have to ask. Do you want a Mini more, or less, after the movie?
Amy: Fuck, a whole lot more. I had Lil’ Bro’s Jetta that night, and I was driving it all sassy, doing reverse spins and taking turns too fast. I wanted to be a Mini-driving rock star!
Amanda: See, and I thought the blatant product placement was distracting. Every time they were racing around in the little vee formation, I laughed at the absurdity of it all. Although they were really pretty.
Amy: Oh, I knew about the Mini product placement, and I love them, so I didn’t care. The Pepsi billboard irritated me (especially since I dislike Pepsi), but I see those annoying mobile billboards all the time so it wasn’t incongruous. But once I saw how it worked into the heist, my issues disappeared.
Amanda: I feel really uncool for not liking this movie.
Amy: Nah, not uncool. I do understand your issues, and I think they’re completely valid. I walked in knowing it was a summer, pre-blockbuster, chase flick. The lovely heist and characters were secondary.
Amanda: I was expecting it to be snappier. I thought the characters would work better, that the caliber of actors would jump off the screen at me. Of course I knew that the Mini involvement was going to be all about selling more cars, but it was like a big commercial to me. Only not as interesting as, say, The Monkey With A Cold commercial from Sprint.
Amy: Ah, but I believe the original The Italian Job (which I haven’t seen) featured the Mini greatly as well – hence the connection. I kind of wanted another person in the crew – it felt quite small to me for some reason. If I were to rewrite, I’d give it a longer intro, with one more person.
Amanda: If I could re-do it, I’d hire someone else to play Wahlberg’s character. I would save Sutherland’s character from being such a cliche-spouting tool, by giving him better dialogue. I would have three times as much Mos Def, and more scenes with just him and Seth Green. And I would love the Mini, without mutually-masturbating the Mini.
Amy: It was a very obvious film, I have to say. Whereas Ocean’s 11 and The Bourne Identity surprised me as the plot went on, the triggers here almost screamed to me. It was the actual heists that felt the most compelling. I couldn’t decide what I felt about Wahlberg. I loved him in the scene at the restaurant, but I didn’t buy him as an action star. And I bought Matt Damon as an action star. So, I’ve got a pretty strong suspension of disbelief.
Amanda: Matt Damon was fantastic in The Bourne Identity. Another movie that I liked way better than this one.
Amy: I liked The Bourne Identity enough to get the DVD and watch it many times. But I have to say that it’s a film with issues to stumble over, too.
Amanda: I don’t know what else to say, except that I was deeply disappointed in The Italian Job. I don’t think I could watch it again, even for Seth. And I love me some Seth. Mmmm. Seth.
Amy: I liked it. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I was definitely engaged. The chase scenes were well done and gripping. Charlize was hot, Mos Def was adorable and Seth rocked the house. And I really need me a Mini. I think the sparkly gold one.