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"All the Money in the World" offers a vehicle for fine performances

"All the Money in the World" offers a vehicle for fine performances

Rating: ***1/2

I don’t mean to be glib when I say “All the Money in the World” is the kind of movie your parents and grandparents will really, really like. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, but it will have long passed from your memory when you find your dad watching it on the couch (I have to believe AMC is getting the cable rights to this sucker) in five years for the third time. 

This film is methodical, well-acted and always on message. It’s a machine John Paul Getty himself would have been proud of, I think. The film takes extra, perhaps unnecessary lengths to distance itself from the real-life kidnapping and human beings it draws its inspiration from with text cards at the beginning and end of the film. 

That helps in some ways, by keeping the focus on the drama on screen, as opposed to on Christopher Plummer’s Getty. It’s a phenomenal turn by Plummer, one that will surely earn him Oscar consideration when the time comes. "All the Money in the World” is very interested in its craft as a serious thriller/drama. Sometimes, it gets a little too serious, perhaps a little too methodical; and it gets a little slow as a result. 

At just over two hours, it’s possible there was room for director Ridley Scott to leave something on the cutting room floor. Or, at the very least, make something slightly more interesting happen during the two hours he decided to put on screen. While the cast is excellent, particularly Plummer and Michelle Williams, things get a little repetitive. Once we get to the film’s climax, we’ve seen the same sort of events unfold multiple times without the tension ratcheted up to a sufficient degree.

That seems odd, given the brutality of the kidnapping and the suffering endured by the kidnapped John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). There are certainly no holds barred throughout the runtime, which is to the benefit of the film. While newspapers hawked minor details of family members’ personal lives to turn a profit, the violence in “All the Money in the World” feels earned and newsworthy in order to show how much pain greed can cause. 

This message would be handled better by a director who actually gives a shit about taking a stand, of course. Scott is interested in the drama of the story, not politics. He sees an individual man’s greed and waves his hands about how that greed can destroy a family, but it goes no deeper than that. Someone with a little more courage would have made a better film; but by now you know the director of “Gladiator” doesn’t have that in him. 

Instead, we get great performances, someone who really knows how to drive a Mercedes around an empty freeway and a fine film. That was good enough for Scott to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director. Sorry, that and being born with a penis, of course. 

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