3 December 2012 | q_imdb-545-859085
A predictable, yet surprising gem
While you must admit, Morgan Freeman is the type of actor who generally falls into the category of playing the same style for each of his films, he does it with solid style and the "Morgan Freeman-esque" on-screen persona we can all recognize from voice alone.
In this story, it was incredibly reminiscent of "High Crimes" (2002), a film directed by Carl Franklin where he also plays a character with a bit of a weakness for the booze, except of course, he was a lot older in this one. When Morgan Freeman plays a man with a weakness for alcohol, he still manages to appear so wise and commandeering of the role that you can't help but to admire him anyway.
As any other review will tell you, the story is very predictable although I personally feel that it's not a story about the ending and resolution, but one whose importance stems from the very journey itself. Sure, we all know what kind of movie this will be based off the film's introduction sequence alone, but you must let go of traditional Hollywood movies where the focus is all on the resolution, and appreciate every minute for what it's worth -- a series of small and magnificently written and directed dialog that all adds up and becomes the sum of the film, regardless of the overall picture you may have already deduced from the first 15 minutes.
Throughout this movie, I found myself to be smiling constantly even after I'd long stopped paying attention. When I saw the single mother and her children, I began wondering what sort of "chick flick" I'd gotten myself into, but Rob Reiner did it right (although he only seemed to have time for the bigger picture and had no choice but to neglect some smaller elements).
I only had two major complaints with this movie and neither contain spoilers, so feel free to read on.
First, the product placement was a bit on the absurd side. There is a scene that takes place in a small convenience store where way too many minutes are devoted to discussing certain snacks by name-brand, going so far as to have the cashier *slowly* hand over merchandise with the product labels even perfectly facing the camera, and even a bit where the cashier announces a certain cereal to be "gluten-free". As I watched Morgan Freeman recite a brand by name and borderline a slogan too, I had to wonder, "What are you doing, how can you say that with a smile on your face?" The other problem I had was with believability in Freeman's character. This is a rather pleasant, heart-felt story that'll leave you with warm fuzzies, although Freeman's character is introduced as an ornery and bitter man. So I thought, "Okay, there is going to be some character transformations in store, right?" Not quite. Despite a convincing performance as a cranky (but still Morgan Freeman type) character, we see that he flawlessly integrates himself into social situations as an overly warm, polite, and cheerful sort, even when supposedly drunk. It is almost as if the movie went from start to finish with no in-between, since Freeman was already charming as could be, despite being a cranky old sod.
But then again, this is Rob Reiner, and the goal is to get a wonderful story told as smoothly as possible, even if it means putting away some of the smaller details. Also as refreshing, is the PG rating. I'm really not used to seeing good, wholesome films like this, although it is still very guy-friendly. The ongoing dialog with the dog was absolutely brilliant.
While this is not a story about its end, but rather the smaller moments throughout the journey itself, I still found it unusually pleasant and fun to watch, and will not be forgetting it, but recommending it.. especially to the parents.