Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)

Boring, pointless docudrama about the Manhattan Project, where the U.S. raced the Nazis to build the atom bomb, focusing on General Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer. Paul Newman is Groves, Dutch Shultz from the A-Team is Oppenheimer, and John Cusack, Laura Dern, Bonnie Bedelia, and John C. McGinley are also on hand. The film is well-produced; it is well-staged (save for the actual climactic atom bomb blast) and the cast valiantly tries to inject some life into the proceedings, but only Cusack leaves an impression. The '80s mentality of not giving the audience ANY credit whatsoever is definitely at fault here, for the philosphical and scientific questions on hand (such as SHOULD THIS BOMB EVEN EXIST TO BEGIN WITH) are glazed over like a half-assed Krispy Kreme, and the focus is on domestic horseshit like Cusack trying to get with a nurse and Oppenheimer having an affair with a Commie. Cusack serves as a sort of protagonist for the film, and actually does manage to evoke sympathy for his young, overwhelmed ingenue, but the fact that his character was specifically created for the film decreases much of his arc's overall impact. Despite the talents of Bruce Robinson and Roland Joffe (who also directed) on screenplay duties, the plot is clunky and doesn't go anywhere, the characters are thin and poorly presented, and the emotion is, simply, not there. If you cut out Cusack, this movie's less moving than the goddam Wikipedia entry of the Manhattan Project.

Skip it. I assumed that, given the subject matter, this film would have no choice but to be at least somewhat provocative, intellectual, or moving. Whoops.

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