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Movie Review – Up For Love (2016)

August 3, 2016 by Freda Cooper

Up For Love , 2016.

Directed by Laurent Tirard. Starring Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cedric Kahn and Stephanie Papanian.

Successful lawyer Diane (Virginie Efira) is in the midst of breaking up with husband Bruno (Cedric Kahn) but it’s complicated by their being business partners.  After an angry dinner together, she storms out of the restaurant but leaves her mobile behind, for it to be found by Alexandre (Jean Dujardin) who calls her to arrange to return it.  She’s in for a surprise when they meet.  He’s just 4 feet 5 inches tall.  She’s charmed by his zest for life and generosity but as their relationship develops, other people’s attitudes towards his stature – and her own reaction to them – become more problematic.

It’s no spoiler to say that Jean Dujardin’s character in Up For Love is shorter than average.  You can tell by looking at the poster or any of the promotional material for the film.  Nor is it the first time that the French have given us a romantic hero whose appearance challenges convention and is potentially an issue – not just for him, but for the lady in his life, and for the world in general.  There was a guy with a large nose called Cyrano De Bergerac, who became a fireman played by Steve Martin in the romantic comedy, Roxanne (1987).

Now, thanks to the wonders of CGI, we now have a 4 foot 5 inches Dujardin.  Small but perfectly formed, as they say.  He may not have Cyrano’s poetic gifts, but the humour and warmth in his voice is irresistible for Diane when they first speak on the phone and she’s naturally intrigued.  So this is a rom com trying to do something serious at the same time – confront attitudes towards people whose appearance doesn’t fit the mould.  It would be hard to class his lack of height as an actual disability as he doesn’t suffer from any form of dwarfism, but it certainly causes him practical problems.  When he sits down his feet often don’t touch the ground, while high bar stools are like a mountaineering expedition.  But he’s perfectly in proportion.  That’s CGI for you.

Despite their difference in height, he and Diane make a lovely couple.  She’s taller than average – like a lot of his friends – blonde and very attractive.  And he’s good looking as well.  But people stare, snigger and whisper behind their hands, making judgements based purely on appearances.  That’s people for you.  Even worse is when people simply don’t notice him and knock him flying.

But, social attitudes and practical problems aside, this is still very much a rom-com: appealing, funny and lightweight so it’s never likely to dig deep into the subject.  And on the rare occasions that it tries, it becomes heavy handed.  Diane’s mother, Nicole (Manoelle Gaillard) is married to her second husband, Philippe (Bruno Gomila), who has a serious hearing impairment.  Yet her tactlessness when it comes to her daughter’s “little man” is wince making – until Philippe points out that he’s the one living with somebody with a disability, not the other way round.  It’s hardly subtle and jars with the otherwise crisp tone of the film.

Of course, some of the humour is prompted by Alexandre’s height, such as his efforts to get some napkins from the top of a tall bookcase and the over-enthusiastic welcome he always receives from his son’s over-sized dog.  But not all of it.  Diane and Bruno’s assistant, Coralie (Stephanie Papanian) is in the unenviable position of being their go-between and artfully exploits it by stirring up the animosity between the two.  They fall for it every time, while we sit back, chuckling to our heart’s content.  She’s a treat.

The film does, however, raise a couple of questions, one less serious than the other.  Why, if Alexandre is such a successful and wealthy architect, is his luxurious house not designed for his needs?  The only concession to his lack of height is a bathroom stool that he uses when he’s shaving, but everything else is geared towards somebody of at least average height.  It doesn’t make sense.  Perhaps more controversial is the choice of an actor just under 6 feet tall to play somebody a lot smaller and using CGI to make him fit the bill.  It’s probably down to the box office: Dujardin’s name could mean wider distribution and it’s a story with broad appeal.

Romantic, sweet and with plenty of Gallic charm, Up For Love doesn’t have the weight to make a serious point about placing too much emphasis on appearances.  But, as a rom com, it has plenty of humour, warmth, all delivered at a slick pace.  It’s also the third time this story has come to the big screen: the others came from Argentina and Colombia and were both called Corazon de Leon.  So which country will be next to pick it up?  And what price an English version?  Nominations for the male lead on a postcard please …….

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

Freda Cooper –  Follow me on Twitter , check out my movie blog and listen to my podcast, Talking Pictures.

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Vive la difference: Virginie Efira and Jean Dujardin in Up For Love.

Up for Love review – French romcom falls short

Oscar winner Jean Dujardin plays a vertically challenged lover in a comedy that constantly misfires

Jean Dujardin , the star of The Artist and possessor of the toothiest grin in cinema, is digitally reduced in size to 4ft 5ins as the romantic lead in this amiable but not altogether successful French romcom. He is Alexandre, a dazzlingly successful, well-connected architect who woos lawyer Diane (Virginie Efira) after she leaves her phone in a restaurant following an argument with her ex. They’re a perfect match. But can Diane see past her own prejudices and Alexandre’s underwhelming inside-leg measurement and accept that good things can come in small packages?

The vive la (height) difference message and the slightly earnest third act are undermined by a slapdash approach to consistency, both tonally and in terms of the digital manipulation of Dujardin’s height. A film that preaches acceptance should perhaps refrain from chucking around so many jokes at the diminutive character’s expense. And a movie that relies on the emotional authenticity of the central relationship should probably have cast a smaller actor in the lead role. Instead, the audience is constantly distracted by a character who seems to change size from scene to scene, depending on how much the film-makers decided to spend on the digital effects at any given moment.

Both Efira and Dujardin are charismatic performers, and the honey-drenched warmth of the cinematography makes the aspirational interiors look almost edible. But the sanctimonious score, by Emilie Gassin , is another tonal misfire in a film that can’t quite decide what it is.

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up for love movie review

Up For Love – Review

The extent to which Diane immediately trusts Alexandre, the stranger who finds her lost phone and promptly whisks her on extravagant dates in planes and down dark alleys, is baffling, but Virginie Efira and Jean Dujardin are very watchable together. As a character Diane doesn’t always convince, but Efira and Dujardin portray the developing relationship beautifully.

The conveniently claustrophobic scenario of Diane and ex-husband Bruno (Kahn) working together allows for a neat legal subplot, and provides much humour by way of a double-crossing assistant (Papanian). There’s one brilliant gag involving older ladies and semi-nude photography, but overall the script leans too heavily for its laughs on only moderately clever wordplay (much like its English title).

Oddly for a French-language film made in the context of the French government’s endeavour to protect their native tongue, Up for Love is soundtracked with exclusively English-language music. The songs are as tired as the tropes trotted out: the post-coital note on the pillow, a lovesick woman crying as she drives – at its worst the film resembles a tearjerker music video. Sets look realistically lived-in, though the obviously expensive interiors are somewhat akin to magazine spreads.

However, there’s admirable cinematography of a kind not often found in this genre, including a gorgeous curving pan during a skydive, and a clever trompe l’œil. Though the effects which allow the 5’11’’ Dujardin to play Alexandre are faultless, the actor’s true height is likely to draw valid criticism about why a shorter actor wasn’t cast.

Among the assembled clichés of this French romantic comedy are arresting moments of social commentary and tentative yet problematic engagement with the continuing debate about diversity of representation in film. The plot’s a supermarket sweep, but Up for Love displays a lot of technical elegance.



CAST: Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cédric Kahn, Stéphanie Papanian

DIRECTOR: Laurent Tirard

WRITERS: Corazon de Leon, Marcos Carnevale, Laurent Tirard, Grégoire Vigneron

SYNOPSIS: After losing her phone a well-known lawyer receives a call from Alexandre, the man who finds it. They hit it off and agree to meet up the following day. But when Alexandre arrives, Diane discovers he is only 4′ 6″ tall. From that moment on, Diane tries to overcome her own prejudices and those of society.

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International Edition

Up for Love | Film review - Does size matter for French rom-com couple Jean Dujardin & Virginie Efira?

Up for Love Jean Dujardin Virginie Efira

A digitally shrunk Jean Dujardin is long on charm as a 4ft 6in man who falls for tall blonde Virginie Efira in French romantic comedy Up for Love.

In an era when everyone is swiping right and left, what moves remain for makers of romantic comedies? Can they still give the genre fresh twists and not get themselves into impossible contortions? With Up for Love ( Un homme à la hauteur ), French director Laurent Tirard proves game for the challenge, though it will be up to the viewer to decide whether he has tied himself in knots.

His first step, getting the film’s romantic couple together, couldn’t be simpler: he has contrived a good, old-fashioned meet cute . Virginie Efira’s Diane, a tall, blonde and beautiful lawyer, takes a phone call from enigmatic stranger Alexandre, played by The Artist ’s dashing Jean Dujardin. He tells her he has picked up the mobile phone she left behind in a restaurant and proposes meeting for a drink to hand it back. Attracted by his suave, flirtatious manner, Diane agrees.

Their rendezvous is when Tirard delivers his big twist: although every bit as charming in the flesh as he was on the phone, Alexandre is only 4ft 6in tall. In all else, he certainly measures up. He is amiable, amusing, good company, and a rich and successful architect to boot. He is, however, at least a foot and a half shorter than Diane’s idea of Prince Charming. Will her qualms about what the world – not to mention her ex and her mother - thinks of Alexandre’s stature stunt their relationship before it has a chance to grow?

Up for Love Cedric Kahn Jean Dujardin Virginie Efira

As it turns out, the person who is really obsessed with Alexandre’s height is director and co-writer Tirard (here adapting the 2013 Argentinean film Córazon de León ). He certainly doesn’t pass an opportunity to crack a sight gag based on his romantic hero’s size. The willowy Diane towers over Alexandre, and all the other women he knows appear to be similarly Amazonian. His feet don’t reach the floor when he sits in a chair. And he gets knocked off them every time his pet dog bounds up to greet him.

As Dujardin is around 6ft, Tirard has had to resort to all manner of CGI and other trickery to make these gags work. Whether the effort was worthwhile is another matter. Dujardin’s casting and the sizeist jokes may leave you with misgivings, but there is no denying the charisma of Up for Love ’s stars. Efira lights up the screen and Dujardin has charm to burn. Now, who can write them a romantic comedy with a genuinely fresh, up-to-date twist?

Certificate 12A. Runtime 98 mins. Director Laurent Tirard

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up for love movie review


Up for Love

up for love movie review

A delightful romantic comedy from France,  Up for Love  shows that small can be beautiful.

up for love movie review

The size of it: Jean Dujardin and Virginie Efira

Following a flaming row with her ex, Diane Duchêne (Virginie Efira) leaves her phone behind at a restaurant. Not long afterwards a strange man rings her back at her apartment and, with a bit of coaxing, persuades her to meet him for lunch the following day. Not knowing what to expect, Diane is more surprised than she could have imagined: the stranger who rescued her phone (Jean Dujardin) is suave, charming, funny, handsome and fabulously wealthy. And 4’7”… The French have a habit of producing delightful romantic comedies with a twist, which often end up being remade by Hollywood. The difference here is that Laurent Tirard’s effortlessly Gallic and engaging comedy is a remake of a 2013 Argentine film,  Corazón de León . Although technically a romcom,  Up for Love  is more than just touching and funny, although it is certainly both those things. The director has enough confidence in his stars to hold a shot when he needs to, which creates a different kind of romantic tension. Ultimately, though, the film is about prejudice, in whatever form it occurs, and in spite of his enormous success, Dujardin’s Alexandre does have his shortcomings – but only because of the preconceptions of other people. As with the recent advances in nanotechnology,  Up for Love  should shine a fresh light on our own bias towards the less than lofty. The diminutive can be extraordinary. It’s a small film, but an enchanting, witty and poignant one. JAMES CAMERON-WILSON Cast : Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cédric Kahn, Stéphanie Papanian, César Domboy.

Dir  Laurent Tirard,  Pro  Sidonie Dumas and Vanessa van Zuylen,  Screenplay  Laurent Tirard and Grégoire Vigneron,  Ph  Jérôme Alméras,  Pro Des  Françoise Dupertuis,  Ed  Valérie Deseine,  Music  Éric Neveux,  Costumes  Valérie Artiges-Corno.

VVZ Production/Gaumont/M6 Films/Scope Pictures-Soda Pictures. 98 mins. France. 2016. Rel: 5 August 2016. Cert. 12A.

up for love movie review

up for love movie review

Up for Love

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up for love movie review

Jean Dujardin (Alexandre) Virginie Efira (Diane Duchêne) Cédric Kahn (Bruno Cassoni) Stéphanie Papanian (Coralie, l'assistante de Diane et Bruno) César Domboy (Benji) Edmonde Franchi (Monique, la femme de ménage) Manoëlle Gaillard (Nicole, la mère de Diane) Bruno Gomila (Philippe, le beau-père de Diane) Camille Damour (Serveur Monte Cristo) François-Dominique Blin (Sébastien, le pilote)

Laurent Tirard

A lawyer dating a dashing, wealthy architect four and a half feet tall gets ribbed by her family, employees and jealous ex about his stature.


up for love movie review


up for love movie review

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Up For Love Review

jean dujardin virginie efira up for love

05 Aug 2016

Up For Love

As a woman takes a creepy-flirty phonecall from a stranger who’s found her lost mobile, Up For Love kicks off like a domestic thriller. But, once the maybe-stalker is revealed as twinkly charmer Jean Dujardin, it instead charts the safe, tepid waters of romantic comedy. With a single twist. Dujardin’s character is revealed to be four-foot-five. Which makes courting lawyer Diane (Efira) somehow more challenging...

up for love movie review

Up For Love is doggedly determined to make Alexandre’s small stature a big issue.

This is, though, despite the fact that writers Laurent Tirard (who also directs) and Grégoire Vigneron, adapting 2012 Argentian movie Corazón de León , make Alexandre glowingly, implausibly perfect in every other way. He’s handsome, compassionate, engaging, creative and — most importantly — rich. So, really, it shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Diane at all. But Up For Love is doggedly determined to make Alexandre’s small stature a big issue, whether it’s to make a trite point about the value of dignity or, rather more squirmingly, to ellicit laughs. One running joke, for example, involves Alexandre having to contend with his son’s lumbering St. Bernard everytime he walks through the front door. The intention, no doubt, is to tinge the supposed laughs with pathos, but while Dujardin pratfalls well and has a deep well of charisma to draw upon, the jokes fall flat.

up for love movie review

It doesn’t sit well that a six-foot-tall actor has been cast in this role, either. Aside from the unconvincing visual-effects and above-waist framing, it makes Alexandre’s plight ring utterly false, and renders Diane far harder to like. The script even bends over backwards to point out that Alexandre isn’t a “proper” midget, or dwarf. As if his pituitary gland problem somehow makes his relationship with Diane easier to swallow. All rather offensive, we suspect, to genuine little people. If Up For Love weren’t so numblingly predictable in every other sense, we’d say we eagerly awaited the US remake with Peter Dinklage…

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Up For Love

In Review , Theatrical by Cara Nash December 1, 2016 2 Comments


Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cédric Kahn, César Domboy

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

up for love movie review

…offers casual, light-hearted laughs…

up for love movie review

When successful lawyer and recent divorcé, Diane (Virginie Efira), gets a call from the man who has found her mobile phone, she is immediately intrigued and charmed. As she and Alexandre (Jean Dujardin) chat and make plans to meet, it becomes evident that the chemistry between them is great indeed. But when they meet the next day, a problem presents itself. Despite his charisma and good looks, Alexandre comes up a bit short (almost 2 feet, actually). Can this romance survive such a looming height difference?

The most problematic thing about Up For Love is not the wasteful use of its characters, the badly done slapstick, or even the seemingly “she’ll be right” approach to plot. It’s the almost offensive take on the vertically challenged, and the cultural implication that even when immensely successful, no one could possibly love a little person without doing some serious soul-searching.

The first and most obvious issue here is that Jean Dujardin is not a little person. It would have made the film exponentially more genuine and interesting to cast a little actor in the role, as opposed to a 6-foot actor who has no real understanding of what life is and can be like for little people. Not only would this have given Up For Love a level of authenticity and dignity, it would have also – at the very least – made production a hell of a lot easier.

Aside from the frustrating choices in casting, Up For Love does have sweet moments that catch you by surprise in the otherwise uneventful narrative. Virginie Efira and Jean Dujardin are equally matched in their ability to bring charm and humor to the piece, which regrettably gets buried beneath the lifeless story. Up For Love offers casual, light-hearted laughs, but for anyone looking for something more than a bit of respite from the daily grind, you’ll likely be disappointed.


Sounds like an honest review which discourages me from using the freebie. Got anything else? Kidding, I shouldn’t abuse your generosity.

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up for love movie review

Up For Love – Review

By Stefan Pape

Click here for more articles on Up For Love  »

Click here for articles on movies like Up For Love  »


Each and every year audiences in English-language territories are presented with a small handful of French romantic comedies to indulge in, and the vast majority maintain an ineffable sense of charm and enchantment, mawkish in their execution, but with a minimum contrivance; endearing and affectionate in their abiding to the tropes of the genre. Up For Love is the latest to hit screens outside of the European nation, and while the film thrives off a paramount gimmick, it’s one that wears somewhat thin as we progress throughout the narrative.

Virginie Efira plays Diane, a lawyer going through a tumultuous breakup with her ex-partner and colleague Bruno (Cedric Kahn). Amidst a row in a public setting, she hurries home, only to discover she had left her phone in a restaurant. But then she receives a call on the house number, and Alexandre (Jean Dujardin), the man who found her mobile, is attempting to arrange a means of returning it to her – and so proposes a date. After much flirting over the phone Diane anticipates a charming, handsome man to sweep her off her feet – and she’s not wrong. The only thing she hadn’t anticipated, however, is that he would be four foot tall.  As they get to know each other and realise they share feelings for one another, Diane knows she must overcomer societal prejudices to enter into a relationship, which she finds harder than she had anticipated.

Though featuring a handful of indelible sequences that revel in the unspeakable charm that illuminates so much of the romantic cinema to derive from this particular region – such as the scene at a house party where the pair share their first dance to a disco track – regrettably the feature remains littered with cliched, unbearably sentimental scenes that abide by formula in a way that is frustrating and restrictive; not to mention the horrible choice of music that makes up this unfavourable soundtrack. Nonetheless, there remains an intriguing study on society, addressing our own internal conceitedness, to pose a hypothetical scenario as we question whether we too could date somebody who isn’t of a normal stature. However the frivolous approach taken by director Laurent Tirard persistently undermines the aforementioned comment on humanity, struggling to quite find a compatible balance between the romantic elements, and the more pointed take on the modern world.

Thankfully the film is saved, on many occasions, by the sheer likability of Efira, who carries this feature with a certain subtlety. While she’s matched at every corner by Dujardin, an actor who has an unrelenting outpour of charisma. Which, given the very nature of this narrative, is completely essential in allowing the story to unfold and to work, as we simply can’t think of any good reason why she shouldn’t date this gentle, kind and beguiling man, which adds to the internal conflict not only within the protagonist, but ourselves.

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Movie's ratings

  • Kinorium 6.6 1000+
  • IMDb 6.3 9150
  • Critics 39% 36

up for love movie review

Un homme à la hauteur (Bande originale du film)

Different stars.

  • 1 Gala Freed from Desire (Acoustic Version) 3:06
  • 2 Eric Neveux Valse pour Diane 1:25
  • 3 Donna Summer Last Dance 3:21
  • 4 Emilie Gassin Let Me Break Down 3:55
  • 5 Antony & The Johnsons Hope There's Someone 4:21
  • 6 Emilie Gassin Follow Blind 3:43
  • 7 George FitzGerald Full Circle (feat. Boxed In) 4:55
  • 8 Eric Neveux Le grand saut 1:09
  • 9 Shake Shake Go England Skies 3:58
  • 10 Rebecca Ferguson I Hope 4:02
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Critique: 10

Dujardin’s man of short stature isn’t allowed to have any other flaws because his height is plenty. The character would be akin to Sidn...

A film that can’t quite decide what it is.

Wholly forgettable.

Dujardin does his best; he has charisma and suavity and plays the role’s poignancy to the hilt. But it’s more silly than funny, and aud...

Potentially great chemistry and good performances are largely wasted in this gimmicky rom-com, in which Jean Dujardin plays a four-foot-five Romeo...

The nagging feeling remains that for a film that appears to position itself as a comedic assault on political correctness, it pulls too many p...

Dujardin and Efira are both charming and beautiful, and the film glistens in its breezy cobblestoned scenery.

An otherwise mundane rom-com that doesn’t know how to handle its one point-of-difference; and even that isn’t as much of a big dea...

A French rom-com starring Jean Dujardin as a handsome, charming architect with one little problem: he is 4ft 5in high.

Making terrific use of M Dujardin’s prankster appeal, Up For Love doesn’t care for accurate proportions when there’s a...

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A Case for Love

Audience reviews, cast & crew.

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up for love movie review

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"Up" is a wonderful film, with characters who are as believable as any characters can be who spend much of their time floating above the rain forests of Venezuela. They have tempers, problems and obsessions. They are cute and goofy, but they aren't cute in the treacly way of little cartoon animals. They're cute in the human way of the animation master Hayao Miyazaki . Two of the three central characters are cranky old men, which is a wonder in this youth-obsessed era. "Up" doesn't think all heroes must be young or sweet, although the third important character is a nervy kid.

This is another masterwork from Pixar, which is leading the charge in modern animation. The movie was directed by Pete Docter , who also directed " Monsters, Inc. ," wrote " Toy Story " and was a co-writer on "WALL-E" before leaving to devote full time to this project. So Docter's one of the leading artists of this latest renaissance of animation.

The movie will be shown in 3-D in some theaters, about which I will say nothing, except to advise you to save the extra money and see it in 2-D. One of the film's qualities that is likely to be diminished by 3-D is its subtle and beautiful color palette. "Up," like " Finding Nemo ," "Toy Story," " Shrek " and " The Lion King ," uses colors in a way particularly suited to its content.

"Up" tells a story as tickling to the imagination as the magical animated films of my childhood, when I naively thought that because their colors were brighter, their character outlines more defined and their plots simpler, they were actually more realistic than regular films.

It begins with a romance as sweet and lovely as any I can recall in feature animation. Two children named Carl and Ellie meet and discover they share the same dream of someday being explorers. In newsreels, they see the exploits of a daring adventurer named Charles Muntz ( Christopher Plummer ), who uses his gigantic airship to explore a lost world on a plateau in Venezuela and then bring back the bones of fantastic creatures previously unknown to man. When his discoveries are accused of being faked, he flies off enraged to South America again, vowing to bring back living creatures to prove his claims.

Nothing is heard from him for years. Ellie and Carl ( Edward Asner ) grow up, have a courtship, marry, buy a ramshackle house and turn it into their dream home, are happy together and grow old. This process is silent, except for music (the elder Ellie doesn't even have a voice credit). It's shown by Docter in a lovely sequence, without dialogue, that deals with the life experience in a way that is almost never found in family animation. The lovebirds save their loose change in a gallon jug intended to finance their trip to the legendary Paradise Falls, but real life gets in the way: flat tires, home repairs, medical bills. Then they make a heartbreaking discovery. This interlude is poetic and touching.

The focus of the film is on Carl's life after Ellie. He becomes a recluse, holds out against the world, keeps his home as a memorial, talks to the absent Ellie. One day he decides to pack up and fly away -- literally. Having worked all his life as a balloon man, he has the equipment on hand to suspend the house from countless helium-filled balloons and fulfill his dream of seeking Paradise Falls. What he wasn't counting on was an inadvertent stowaway, Russell ( Jordan Nagai ), a dutiful Wilderness Explorer Scout, who looks Asian American.

What they find at Paradise Falls and what happens there I will not say. But I will describe Charles Muntz's gigantic airship that is hovering there. It's a triumph of design, and perhaps owes its inspiration, though not its appearance, to Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky." The exterior is nothing special: a really big zeppelin. But the interior is one of those movie spaces you have the feeling you'll remember.

With vast inside spaces, the airship is outfitted like a great ocean liner from the golden age, with a stately dining room, long corridors, a display space rivaling the Natural History Museum and an attic spacious enough to harbor fighter planes. Muntz, who must be a centenarian by now, is hale, hearty and mean, his solitary life shared only by robotic dogs.

The adventures on the jungle plateau are satisfying in a Mummy/Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones sort of way. But they aren't the whole point of the film. This isn't a movie like " Monsters vs. Aliens ," which is mostly just frenetic action. There are stakes here, and personalities involved, and two old men battling for meaning in their lives. And a kid who, for once, isn't smarter than all the adults. And a loyal dog. And an animal sidekick. And always that house and those balloons.

A longer version is here: http://blogs.suntimes.com/eber...

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Film credits.

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Rated PG for some peril and action.

Edward Asner as Carl

Jordan Nagai as Russell

Christopher Plummer as Muntz

Bob Peterson as Dug

Delroy Lindo as Beta

Jerome Raft as Gamma

John Ratzenberger as Tom

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All’s Fair in Love and Tennis

A long-awaited movie starring Zendaya and featuring threesomes, cheeky homoeroticism, and the sensation of having a tennis ball thwacked down your throat, ‘Challengers’ is guaranteed to thrill and titillate. Just maybe don’t expect it to do more than that. 

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up for love movie review

Subtlety is not one of Luca Guadagnino’s virtues. The 52-year-old Italian director thrives on excess, on sequences that feel like they could suddenly spin out of control. When Ralph Fiennes’s platinum-plated record producer vamps impulsively to the Rolling Stones in 2015’s A Bigger Splash , it’s a display that feels equally true to the character’s boozy exhibitionism and the director’s narcissistic sense of showmanship; they’re both vibrating on the same ecstatic frequency, in search of emotional rescue. After more or less perfecting his florid, open-hearted style in Call Me by Your Name —a movie drenched in bittersweet sensations of love and loss, whose much-memed money shots still hold up—Guadagnino has lately cross-bred his instinct for melodrama with an unlikely (and only semi-convincing) stint as a kind of festival-circuit artsploitation specialist. In the misbegotten giallo remake Suspiria and the Twilight -adjacent YA romance Bones and All , the director drained his usually colorful palette and began treating his characters with the same tough love as a meat tenderizer; the acres of fetishistically splintered flesh on display teased a Cronenbergian mean streak. Such shock tactics were ultimately lacking, however. For all their lubricious gore (and, in the case of Suspiria , pretentious pedigree), these films ultimately felt more like designer provocations than genuine, dangerous acts of multiplex transgression.

There is one moment of body horror in Guadagnino’s new and epically hyper-extended love triangle Challengers : a knee injury suffered in the line of duty by one of its three tennis-playing protagonists. That this single, split-second bit of cartilage-busting brutality registers more powerfully than any of the bloody set pieces in Bones and All suggests that Guadagnino is back in his lane. Written by novelist (and YouTube sensation) Justin Kuritzkes—and inspired as much by Serena Williams’s infamous rage-drenched 2018 U.S. open loss to Naomi Osaka as such polyamorous classics Jules and Jim and Y Tu Mamá También — Challengers arrives as a proverbial “movie for grown-ups,” which is to say it’s a study of sexual power and frustration without a superhero in sight. It was supposed to premiere as an Oscar contender last fall at the Venice Film Festival but, under the shadow of the SAG-AFTRA strike, its producers decided to wait until a time when its stars—or maybe just Zendaya—could walk a red carpet again.

It’s not quite right to call Challengers an art movie, or even an adult one—it’s broad, commercial entertainment aimed at mainstream audiences. And it’s not subtle: The camerawork by Thai master cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom features numerous CGI-assisted shots in which tennis balls scream past our eyeballs at warp speed, as well as point-of-view shots from the perspective of the ball itself. During one key love scene, in order to underline the stormy nature of the feelings on screen, Guadagnino conjures up an actual storm—one nearly as blustery as anything in the trailer for Twisters . The effect is so goofy it’s stirring, or maybe it’s the other way around. The question is whether a director known for glossy diversions deserves points for literally throwing caution to the wind and trying to make something genuinely elemental, or whether he’s merely pumped his latest creation full of hot air.

At 131 minutes, Challengers is certainly inflated, but it moves swiftly thanks to the ace editing by Marco Costa. The cutting has to be clever in order to complement the screenplay’s structure, which serves and volleys its way through a 13-year timeline to chart the formation—and mutation—of a seductively symbiotic (and dysfunctional) three-way relationship whose participants are all equally in love (and hate) with themselves and each other. In terms of chronology, things begin with a meet-cute: soon after ascendant future singles superstar Tashi Duncan (Zendaya) meets junior doubles champions Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) and Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) at the afterparty for the U.S. Open junior championship, she invades their hotel room and starts pushing their buttons. After coaxing the boys into some mutual fooling around—sitting up straight like a line judge between her groping suitors—she proclaims that she’ll consider dating the winner of their upcoming one-on-one match.

“I don’t want to be a homewrecker,” Tashi says before she goes, but that’s exactly what she wants to be, and not just because it turns her on. An obvious prodigy with Serena-sized ambitions, she’s drawn to talent, and senses that Patrick and Art are too cozy to get the best out of themselves. (The first time we see them hanging out together, they’re gobbling hot dogs: 15, Guadagnino; love, subtlety.) Since the characters are all ego-stroked up-and-comers exploring their adult emotions—and their perfect, precision-tuned bodies—such naughty manipulation is all in good fun, a night to remember when they’re older. (“I’d let her fuck with me with her racquet,” says Patrick in a wry bit of figurative foreshadowing.) Cut to the present tense, though, and the trio’s mixture of intimacy and solidarity has exploded, along with their respective personal and professional aspirations. Both men have had a crack at dating Tashi, with Art managing to stay in her good graces as a long-time partner—but only because her own career has stalled. Patrick, meanwhile, has fallen off the map, only to strategically resurface at a podunk tournament where he vows to be a thorn in his old pal’s side. Suffice it to say that questions of winning and losing look very different in one’s 30s than in one’s teens, and also that the same competitive spirit that drives people toward greatness can also plunge them into abjection.

Defeat and disarray are qualities squarely within O’Connor’s wheelhouse; the British-born actor was brilliant last year in Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera playing a rumpled archaeologist whose preternatural ability to locate lost artifacts hasn’t helped him find himself. Here, he inhabits Patrick’s mercurial nature with just the right amount of self-deprecating humor, as if he’s amused by his own running tendencies toward sabotage. Muscles bulging and eyes gleaming with appetite, he’s the ideal foil for Faist’s slender, soulful Art, who’s too anxious about his talent (or lack thereof) to ever consider becoming his own worst enemy: where his rival laughs off encouragement, he thrives on it, but never seems fully satisfied by the results. (Faist, who has a Broadway performer’s rakish sense of razzle-dazzle, comes off here as a pensive puppy dog, while O’Connor is a cool cat.) Each man is, in his way, a sitting duck for Tashi, whose supreme passion is not for sex, but tennis—a sport whose pounding back-and-forth nature offers the only plausible outlet for her pugnacious stamina. Watching the young Tashi stalk around the court in between points is like National Geographic channel footage of a predator in action; it also recalls Mitch Hedberg’s line about how no matter how much one masters tennis, they’ll never be as good as a wall : “That motherfucker is relentless.”

Zendaya’s stardom, meanwhile, is itself a byproduct of relentlessness—a phenomenon that’s routinely insisted upon more than it is illustrated on screen. It’s not that the potential isn’t there. Rather, she possesses such an obviously impressive package of poise, beauty, and talent—topped off with the willingness, exemplified by her work on Euphoria , to go to dark places—that it’s easier to simply anoint her as a generational performer than judge her work. What does it say that many of her most memorable moments have come on red carpets, or during promotional junkets (or while being upstaged by Tom Holland on Lip Sync Battle )? For the most part, her movie roles have either been boringly ornamental—playing expectant, supportive, dramatically sidelined love interests in franchise IP ( Spider-Man , Dune ) or would-be tour-de-forces undermined by bad material (see Malcolm & Marie , if you dare) .

With Challengers , Zendaya finally has a part that could potentially turn her into a modern screwball goddess (or, more to the point, she’s crafted one in her capacity as a producer). There are scenes that work beautifully, like the early make-out routine, which vibrates with sly, deadpan eroticism. Mostly, though, the performance suggests an actress in search of a real character. It’s one thing for Tashi to sell herself to the men in her life as a streamlined, eyes-on-the-prize cipher—it’s a good way to string them along and keep herself at a remove—but as the movie goes on, it’s clear that Kuritzkes doesn’t have much of a sense of what makes Tashi tick beyond some abstract (and cartoonish) notion of excellence. We never really get a sense of how she feels to be a wife or a mother (roles she inhabits only in brief, perfunctory glimpses); the movie is obviously much more interested in the lost, sulky boys bobbing in her wake.

This would be fine if Challengers were as attuned to the rituals of male rivalry as, say, Ron Shelton’s White Men Can’t Jump —still one of the great American movies about competition, and one that uses sports as a kind of divining rod to tune into larger cultural frequencies. That movie shows us, time and again, how basketball contains multitudes: it’s a showcase for fashion; a melting pot for racial tensions; a series of contrasting and complementary philosophies. Challengers tries to make the same all-encompassing point about tennis—a thesis that frames life (and love) as a series of hard, hostile volleys, and reduces the world beyond the court to a blur (there’s not nearly enough here about the culture and customs of the pro tour, for instance). In purely kinetic terms, the climax may be the best-executed scene of Guadagnino’s career, surpassing Suspiria ’s grotesque ballet recitals. But the only thing really pressurizing the action is style—it’s hard to truly care about characters when they’re at the mercy of such mechanical storytelling contrivances.

“Tennis is a conversation,” says Tashi, as Patrick and Art drool in response. It’s a good line, but it also unintentionally gets at the essence of this appealing and well-made movie’s failure—the way its particular kind of filmmaking eloquence ends up saying almost nothing at all.

Adam Nayman is a film critic, teacher, and author based in Toronto; his book The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together is available now from Abrams.

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What to stream: Crank up the adrenaline with these stunt-filled action films

Keanu Reeves, left, stars in John Wick: Chapter 4.

With David Leitch’s love letter to stunt professionals, “The Fall Guy” hitting theaters, and rumblings of a potential Academy Award for stunts on the horizon (something Leitch has advocated for), it’s the perfect time to fire up some of the best movies with the finest stunts that you can find on streaming. Of course this is in no way a comprehensive list, just some suggestions to get the juices flowing during your pre- or post- “Fall Guy” streaming session.

Plus, stunts were an integral part to the early advent of cinema, over a hundred years ago. Audiences were so startled by the Lumiere Brothers’ film “The Arrival of the Train at the Station,” they ran out of the theater. And filmmakers have been thrilling audiences since then with action-packed feats of derring-do, from Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton to Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves.

It’s always a good idea to start at the beginning, so start with Buster Keaton’s own cinematic train opus, the 1926 silent film “The General,” about a stolen locomotive with his lady love on board. You’ll be dazzled by Keaton’s performance, and witness how modern stunts evolved from, and pay homage to his work. Stream it on Prime Video, Tubi, Kanopy, or rent it on other platforms. Another pioneering stunt performer, Harold Lloyd starred in the 1923 film “Safety Last!” which is streaming on Max, Kanopy, the Criterion Channel and Tubi, so add that to the list as well.

Of course, modern Hollywood stunts would not be what they are today without the influence of Hong Kong action cinema, especially star Jackie Chan. After a disappointing Hollywood experience, Chan channeled his energy into the “Police Story” franchise, which became a massive blockbuster hit in Asia and Europe. Chan directed the first two films in the franchise, and utilized his Jackie Chan Stunt Team to create some of the most incredible stunts put to film. They are largely considered to be some of the best action films of all time. Stream “Police Story” and “Police Story 2” on Max.

We couldn’t talk about stunts on film without mentioning Tom Cruise and the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which sees Cruise executing more and more daring stunts, including the eye-popping motorcycle mountain jump that he pulled off in the most recent film “Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One.” Stream the entire franchise, all seven movies (it’s so worth it), on Paramount+.

Back in 1999, a stuntman named Chad Stahelski doubled Keanu Reeves on “The Matrix,” an action film that greatly advanced stunt work. Some 15 years later, Stahelski would direct Reeves in the “John Wick” franchise, their own love letter to stunt work, created in partnership with Leitch, who would go on to make his directorial debut with the chilly Cold War actioner “Atomic Blonde” (2017) starring Charlize Theron. Stream “The Matrix” on Netflix and Max, stream the “John Wick” franchise on Peacock and rent “Atomic Blonde” on all digital platforms to see a bit of “The Fall Guy” DNA.

Finally, no mention of stunt movies would be complete without a shout out to what may be the best action movie of the 21st century so far, George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.” This mad dash across the desert involved hordes of war boys clinging to vehicles tearing across the Namibian landscape, leaping and battling from swinging poles and scaffolding, motorcycle grannies, feisty wives, a steely Theron and a taciturn Tom Hardy. The film won several Oscars and would have no doubt scored a stunt Oscar if that was an option. It’s always the right time to stream “Fury Road,” and it also serves as prep for the prequel, “Furiosa,” which roars into theaters on May 24. Stream “Mad Max: Fury Road” on Max or rent it elsewhere.

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Review: Zendaya's 'Challengers' serves up saucy melodrama – and some good tennis, too

up for love movie review

The saucy tennis melodrama “Challengers” is all about the emotional games we play with each other, though there are certainly enough volleys, balls and close-up sweat globules if you’re more into jockstraps than metaphors.

Italian director Luca Guadagnino ( “Call Me By Your Name” ) puts an art-house topspin on the sports movie, with fierce competition, even fiercer personalities and athletic chutzpah set to the thumping beats of a techno-rific Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score. “Challengers” (★★★ out of four; rated R; in theaters Friday) centers on the love triangle between doubles partners-turned-rivals ( Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor ) and a teen wunderkind ( Zendaya ) and how lust , ambition and power dynamics evolve their relationships over the course of 13 years.

The movie opens with Art (Faist) and Tashi (Zendaya) as the It couple of pro tennis: He’s eyeing a U.S. Open title, the only tournament he’s never won, while she’s his intense coach, manager and wife, a former sensation along the lines of a Venus or Serena whose career was cut short by a gnarly knee injury. To build up his flagging confidence after recent losses, Tashi enters Art in a lower-level event that he can dominate – until he faces ex-bestie Patrick (O’Connor) in the final match.

Justin Kuritzkes’ soapy screenplay bounces between that present and the trios’ complicated past via flashbacks, starting when Art and Patrick – a ride-or-die duo known as “Fire and Ice” – both have eyes for Tashi. All three are 18 and the hormones are humming: The boys have been tight since they were preteens at boarding school, but a late-night, three-way makeout session, and the fact that she’ll only give her number to whoever wins the guys' singles match, creates a seismic crack that plays itself out over the coming years.

All three main actors ace their arcs and changing looks over time – that’s key in a nonlinear film like this that’s all over the place. As Tashi, Zendaya plays a woman who exudes an unshakable confidence, though her passion for these two men is seemingly her one weakness. Faist (“West Side Story”) crafts Art as a talented precision player whose love for the game might not be what it once was, while O’Connor (“The Crown”) gives Patrick a charming swagger with and without a racket, even though his life has turned into a bit of a disaster.

From the start, the men's closeness hints at something more than friendship, a quasi-sexual tension that Tashi enjoys playing with: She jokes that she doesn’t want to be a “homewrecker” yet wears a devilish smile when Art and Patrick kiss, knowing the mess she’s making.

Tennis is “a relationship,” Tashi informs them, and Guadagnino uses the sport to create moments of argumentative conversation as well as cathartic release. Propelled by thumping electronica, his tennis scenes mix brutality and grace, with stylish super-duper close-ups and even showing the ball’s point of view in one dizzying sequence. Would he do the same with, say, curling or golf? It’d be cool to see because more often than not, you want to get back to the sweaty spectacle.

Guadagnino could probably make a whole movie about masculine vulnerability in athletics rather than just tease it with “Challengers,” with revealing bits set in locker rooms and saunas. But the movie already struggles with narrative momentum, given the many tangents in Tashi, Art and Patrick’s thorny connections: While not exactly flabby, the film clocks in at 131 minutes and the script could use the same toning up as its sinewy performers.

While “Challengers” falls nebulously somewhere between a coming-of-age flick, dysfunctional relationship drama and snazzy sports extravaganza, Guadagnino nevertheless holds serve with yet another engaging, hot-blooded tale of flawed humans figuring out their feelings.

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Back to Black

Marisa Abela in Back to Black (2024)

The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time. The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time. The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time.

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  • Ryan Gosling shines in this action-packed film that pays homage to stunt performers and calls for Oscar recognition.
  • Inspired by the '80s TV series, The Fall Guy flips and rolls its way into theaters in May 2024, setting a Hollywood stunt record.

Ryan Gosling , recently revealed that none other than Steven Spielberg told him that he loved The Fall Guy . Gosling's star-power has shot through the stratosphere over the last few years. The actor's performances have received immense critical praise across a range of genres, including sci-fi ( Blade Runner 2049 ), quirky comedies ( The Nice Guys ) , dramatic biopics ( The Big Short ), and the utterly uncategorizable ( Barbie ). Gosling's appearance as the lovably forgettable Ken doll in Greta Gerwig's Barbie took the actor's career to a whole new level, turning his performance into an internet meme, and setting up the best live-performance in the history of the Academy Awards when Gosling performed the hit song "I'm Just Ken!" at the 2024 Oscars.

The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy is an action thriller from Bullet Train and Deadpool 2 director David Leitch. Ryan Gosling stars as a stuntman who is forced to find a missing movie star, investigate a conspiracy, and repair his relationship with the love of his life. The film was written by Drew Pearce and inspired by the 1980s TV series of the same name.

Speaking with Collider to promote the upcoming action comedy, Gosling was asked about which of the many incredible moments in his career stood out the most. Gosling was quick to answer, bringing up a recent conversation he'd had with a legendary director. "Steven Spielberg every time," Gosling said. The two met at the 2024 Golden Globes and had a brief, but memorable conversation. Gosling's co-star Emily Blunt, who was present during the interview, also asked him about the moment, saying "you didn't think he was coming to speak to you?" Gosling replied, "he was coming across the room, and I was looking. And I was like, 'there's no way he's coming to me.' I don't know Steven Speilberg, he's not coming to talk to me."

Gosling said he thought Spielberg was after someone behind him, saying, "I know what's going to happen. I'm going to go, *raises eyebrows to say hello* , and he's going to go 'no, not you. Behind you.' But then finally he was right there, and now I'm being rude if it is me. And I went 'me?' and he said 'yeah.' Then he said he loved The Fall Guy ."

The Fall Guy Is a Love Letter to Stunt Performers and Action Cinema

The Fall Guy sees Ryan Gosling play Colt Seavers, a Hollywood stuntman working on a new movie. Seavers is unexpectedly tasked with tracking down and returning the movie's star, Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), after he gets involved with shady people and disappears. The entire time, Seavers is desperate to impress the film's director, Jody Moreno (Blunt), after their past romance fizzled out.

The Fall Guy Director Already Eyeing Sequels Prior to Movie Release: 'I Want Lethal Weapon Numbers'

With a stuntman as the leading character, and David Leitch being a former stunt performer himself, The Fall Guy has been described as a love-letter to the stunt industry. The film has already broken a Hollywood stunt record by flipping and rolling a car eight and a half times - beating Casino Royale 's record of seven rolls. The Fall Guy is also an unapologetic appeal to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to finally recognize stunt performers with an awards category. During an interview with Jakes Takes , Gosling said "They have deserved an Oscar for a very long time."

The Fall Guy releases in theaters on May 2, 2024.

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‘Civil War,’ ‘Independence Day’ and Hollywood’s tradition of blowing up D.C.

Movies and video games frequently annihilate this city of symbols. here’s when it truly works..

This article contains spoilers for the movie “Civil War.”

T he Western Forces descend on Washington.

Tanks and soldiers flood the District, helicopters loom above the low streetscape. The Lincoln Memorial, now a garrison, is destroyed by rocket fire. The invading army’s final target? The Oval Office, where an authoritarian president has lost control of everything. Combat journalists wade through the battlefield so the world can finally see, with horror and relief, how the United States has fallen.

That is how writer and director Alex Garland films the climax of his dystopian thriller “ Civil War .” In it, he envisions a fractured nation: Texas and California have seceded and the Mid-Atlantic is a giant war zone. Critics have split over the movie’s scope and intentions, and whether Garland is playing with fire by invoking real-world political tensions while keeping the particulars blurry. Put me in the pro camp: A meditation on conflict’s tendency to exhilarate, horrify and compromise, “Civil War” teems with terror and suspense. As the protagonists travel circuitously from New York to D.C., they strain to remain impartial as they encounter unimaginable scenes on American soil: armed skirmishes, a mass grave. And then, finally, the destruction of a whole city — this one.

The decimation of Washington in “Civil War” hits you in the gut, which is actually kind of weird. Filmmakers love to destroy Washington. We see them do it — for the wrong reasons — all the time.

A city of symbols has something very important going for it: It’s also a city of shorthands. Pulverizing Washington — sacking it, wrecking it, roughing it up a bit — tells audiences that they’ve just witnessed a cataclysmic, unfathomable loss, a blow to the American spirit. But the most harrowing scenes of D.C. getting ethered — the ones that connect on an emotional level, like in “Civil War” — are from films that want to do more than use the monuments for pyrotechnics practice. Boots on the ground, the suggestion of a real city, are the only way to create intimacy and human stakes.

The most famous offender: “Independence Day,” the massively popular alien invasion film from 1996, in which a flying saucer fires a death ray directly onto the White House. Los Angeles and Manhattan get zapped too — but have some actual humans in the streets, including Harvey Fierstein’s “Oh crap”-sputtering New Yorker . In D.C., any catastrophic loss of life is incidental; the president and his entourage are whisked away from the White House just in time. No thought for those living nearby, no quantifiable loss of life, not even a tourist on Pennsylvania Avenue. Director Roland Emmerich might as well have blown up a dollhouse. In fact, that’s what he did .

That exploding White House is an impressive feat of practical effects, a money shot that intrigued audiences from the movie’s first trailer. But the shallow nature of “Independence Day” can be felt in how often the sequence has been remixed. The shot is a literal punchline in an Austin Powers movie . If you go to the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in D.C., there’s a statue of Bill Pullman as the president he played in the film. It’s trivial. You cannot fathom “Civil War” lingering in the popular imagination as kitsch, because Garland wants to shake his audience, not have D.C.’s destruction amount to little more than movie magic.

Other, similarly cavalier examples abound. Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!” (1996) includes a cheeky sequence in which aliens use death rays and UFOs to juggle the Washington Monument until it can fall on a Boy Scout troop. For these cartoonishly evil Martians, that comes with a pay bump, as undoubtedly does dropping a chandelier on the first lady. Like Emmerich, Burton was borrowing Washington’s symbols for his own purposes — in his case, really handing it to elites — but at least his frantic, over-the-top film doesn’t register as glib.

More affecting is the mediocre sci-fi thriller “ The Invasion ” (2007), which is restrained in its assault on the District. But it is a frightening depiction of the city losing its grip, because it presents a ground-eye view of aliens taking control. I barely remember the film, but I have not shaken the image of people flinging themselves off the roof of Union Station.

How about superhero movies? “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” includes a giant hovercraft crashing into the Potomac River (the filmmakers had to digitally widen the waterway for their climactic shot). “X-Men: Days of Future Past” has a scene where the mutant Magneto levitates RFK Stadium from the banks of the Anacostia, then drops it onto the White House South Lawn. Like “Independence Day,” these sequences are technically impressive, but they need a human touch. Before Magneto lifts the football arena, he at least has an exchange with a worker — a human, who lives here! — who can only stand by and watch, powerless.

Blockbuster filmmakers like Emmerich aren’t seeking out character beats when they demolish the District and that’s not why we see his movies — or the decades of chase movies, fight movies, disaster movies and monster movies that ignore the human toll of the carnage they depict — anyway. These scenes are often made with impressive skill and craft, but unless there is a sense of humanity or loss, they’re can’t truly abhor or thrill. We can see an empty, technically proficient exercise when superstorms wreck D.C. in “The Day After Tomorrow,” or Cobra tanks roll toward the Capitol in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” Almost all these scenes offer a distant view of the Capitol, rather than the street-level panic they would actually inspire. They don’t hit. The only drawback to finding some humanity in the District would be that directors might become less eager to annihilate it.

W here is the destruction of D.C. affecting? In video games.

Released in 2008 by Bethesda Softworks, the sci-fi role-playing game “Fallout 3” is set in a post-nuclear Washington, D.C. Players wander the National Mall and surrounding areas, known in the game as “The Wasteland.” Memorable dungeons to explore included Metro stations and Smithsonian museums, where players encounter zombies, mutants and giant insects. Ads for “Fallout 3” appeared around the D.C. Metro in 2008, showing the Capitol destroyed by a nuclear blast, and it was disturbing enough that a Washington Post reader wrote a letter to the editor complaining, “The people of our city do not need a daily reminder that Washington is a prime target for an attack. We do not need a daily reminder of what our worst fears look like.”

I wonder what that reader would have made of the 2019 action game “ Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 .” It is set in the near-future and envisions a Washington, D.C., where a genetically engineered virus obliterates the population, so it is up to an elite force of well-armed warriors to stop the city from being taken over by roving street gangs. Like “Fallout,” this game includes shells of famous landmarks, and yet it is the little details where the game finds its haunting verisimilitude. If the player wanders the map, they will find digital reproductions of every business and storefront. Promotional material for the game elaborates how developers used GIS data to get its setting just right, whether it’s each tree lining the Mall or the precise location of the Chinatown gate. The game’s developers even hired locals. Kelly Towles, an artist whose work can be found all over the D.C., contributed in-game graffiti that felt especially accurate to locals like me who are used to seeing his murals all over downtown.

I’ve lived in D.C. since 2006 and have sunk an embarrassing number of hours into both games. It was strangely comforting to wander the National Mall in “Fallout,” wondering whether the Metro could provide adequate shelter during a nuclear blast. In “The Division 2,” I could visit my old office and my favorite local cinema. That game became extra-eerie during the pandemic. In spring 2020, riding my bike through the abandoned streets of D.C. made me feel like a member of the Division, and made me see how the developers stumbled into something singular by making the game about how people might realistically attempt to survive in the actual D.C. When my player wanders into the Air and Space Museum or near the Tidal Basin for a protracted, desperate shootout, the game attains an emotional resonance that often eludes the medium.

“Civil War” does similarly right by this town. Before the Western Forces and the combat journalists can enter the White House, they have to make it past soldiers guarding the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Garland imagines the EEOB protected by large concrete walls designed to repel on-the-ground troops — but it’s honestly not that much more intense than the security theater that visitors encounter in real life when they visit the building for a work event. A city of symbols, sure, but one that can hold multiple meanings. A city you hate to see go boom.

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up for love movie review


  1. Up for Love (2016)

    Up for Love: Directed by Laurent Tirard. With Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cédric Kahn, Stéphanie Papanian. A lawyer dating a dashing, wealthy architect four and a half feet tall gets ribbed by her family, employees and jealous ex about his stature.

  2. Up for Love

    Rated: 3/5 Feb 20, 2019 Full Review Andrew Parker The Gate It would be easy to pick on Up for Love as an offensive movie, but in reality, it's just useless. It's a stupid film with a stupid ...

  3. Up for Love review

    Up for Love review - short on laughs, but not without charm. Jean Dujardin does his best as a handsome 4ft 5in architect who falls for a beautiful lawyer, but this middling comedy is more silly ...

  4. Movie Review

    August 3, 2016 by Freda Cooper. Up For Love , 2016. Directed by Laurent Tirard. Starring Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cedric Kahn and Stephanie Papanian. SYNOPSIS: Successful lawyer Diane ...

  5. Up for Love (2016)

    Like every romantic farce, Up For Love (2016) is a comedy based on situational humour rather than dialogue or action. It's a genre that shows people revealing themselves by how they react to the unexpected and this one is funny and sad and loaded with charm. The plot line is simple: a beautiful lawyer loses her phone and a caller offers to ...

  6. Up for Love

    Up for Love is a sweet romance that doesn't overplay its premise or overstay its welcome. Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Sep 2, 2016. There's not enough material for even a modest 98 minutes ...

  7. Up for Love review

    Up for Love review - French romcom falls short. Jean Dujardin, the star of The Artist and possessor of the toothiest grin in cinema, is digitally reduced in size to 4ft 5ins as the romantic lead ...

  8. Up for Love

    Up for Love lacks tact and substance but its leads make it a watchable, albeit bite-size, jaunt. Read More By Matthew Anderson FULL REVIEW. User Reviews User Reviews View All. tbd. User reviews are not available for this movie yet. Details Details View All.

  9. Up for Love

    Up For Love - Review. The extent to which Diane immediately trusts Alexandre, the stranger who finds her lost phone and promptly whisks her on extravagant dates in planes and down dark alleys, is baffling, but Virginie Efira and Jean Dujardin are very watchable together. As a character Diane doesn't always convince, but Efira and Dujardin ...

  10. Up for Love

    A Gallic romcom about a beautiful girl (Virginie Efira) falling for a short chap, it battles heroically, if not hilariously, to confer PC special status on lovers experiencing height mismatch. You ...

  11. Up for Love

    Up for Love Cedric Kahn Jean Dujardin Virginie Efira (Image credit: gaumont films). As it turns out, the person who is really obsessed with Alexandre's height is director and co-writer Tirard (here adapting the 2013 Argentinean film Córazon de León).He certainly doesn't pass an opportunity to crack a sight gag based on his romantic hero's size.

  12. Up for Love

    As with the recent advances in nanotechnology, Up for Love should shine a fresh light on our own bias towards the less than lofty. The diminutive can be extraordinary. It's a small film, but an enchanting, witty and poignant one. JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

  13. Up for Love (2016)

    A lawyer dating a dashing, wealthy architect four and a half feet tall gets ribbed by her family, employees and jealous ex about his stature.

  14. Up for Love critic reviews

    Total Film. Aug 15, 2016. The film flirts with near-offensive gags and attitudes, but there's inventive use of forced perspective, even if the focus should be more on Diane changing hers. Read More. FULL REVIEW.

  15. Up For Love Review

    Jean Dujardin stars in Laurent Tirard's Up For Love. Read the verdict at Empire Online. ... Up For Love Review. ... adapting 2012 Argentian movie Corazón de León, make Alexandre glowingly ...

  16. Up For Love

    PG-13. Comedy. Ratings and reviews aren't verified info_outline. Diane, a newly single lawyer, suddenly gets a call from Alexandre, a mysteriously charming architect who happened to have found her lost phone. The two hit it off and decide to meet, but their first date takes an unexpected twist and Diane's not sure she's up for this new romance.

  17. Up For Love

    About this movie. Diane is a lawyer who is newly single. She gets a call from Alexandre, a charming architect that she's never met, who happened to find her lost phone. The two hit it off and decide to meet, but their first date takes an unexpected turn. Diane is a lawyer who is newly single. She gets a call from Alexandre, a charming architect ...

  18. Up For Love

    FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth ... The most problematic thing about Up For Love is not the wasteful use of its characters, the badly done slapstick, or even the seemingly "she'll be right" approach to plot. It's the almost offensive take on the vertically ...

  19. Up For Love

    About Stefan Pape Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others.

  20. Up for Love (movie, 2016)

    All about Movie: directors and actors, where to watch online, reviews and ratings, related movies, movie facts, trailers, stills, backstage. ... On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, which categorizes reviews only as positive or negative, 39% of 36 reviews are positive. ... Up For Love doesn't care for accurate proportions when ...

  21. A Case for Love

    By clicking "Sign Me Up," you are agreeing to receive occasional ... Rated 3.5/5 Stars • Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/24/24 Full Review Love All People Stories for all people in all walks of life ...

  22. Up movie review & film summary (2009)

    "Up" is a wonderful film, with characters who are as believable as any characters can be who spend much of their time floating above the rain forests of Venezuela. They have tempers, problems and obsessions. They are cute and goofy, but they aren't cute in the treacly way of little cartoon animals. They're cute in the human way of the animation master Hayao Miyazaki. Two of the three central ...

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    Back to Black: Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. With Marisa Abela, Jack O'Connell, Eddie Marsan, Lesley Manville. The life and music of Amy Winehouse, through the journey of adolescence to adulthood and the creation of one of the best-selling albums of our time.

  28. Ryan Gosling Reveals Which Legendary Director Gave The Fall ...

    Ryan Gosling, recently revealed that none other than Steven Spielberg told him that he loved The Fall Guy.Gosling's star-power has shot through the stratosphere over the last few years. The actor ...

  29. 'Challengers' serves up a dizzying tale of love, manipulation

    Challengers, directed by Luca Guadagnino — whose repertoire boasts successes like Call Me by Your Name and Bones and All — subverts the expectations of your typical sports film with its tale ...

  30. 'Civil War,' 'Independence Day' and the movies that love to blow up DC

    The shot is a literal punchline in an Austin Powers movie. If you go to the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in D.C., there's a statue of Bill Pullman as the president he played in the film. It ...