Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review: "A Perfect Getaway": A good hike spoiled

Milla Jovovich (top) and Kiele Sanchez
in Hot Bitches With Knives!

When I was around ten my parents decided I should take golf lessons. Three days a week they shoved me down the gravel path at the Thunder Hills country club toward a bunch of golf-crazed tweens and then hopped into a cart to zip off to the back nine before I could attach myself to their plaid-wrapped legs.

This went on for an entire summer, but little did my folks know that even though they may have succeeded in delivering me into the Lacoste-emblazoned bosom of the enemy, I never played more than a single hole of golf. Because as soon as the class teed off for the second hole, my neighbor Abby and I would duck into the woods, circle back to the clubhouse, and spend the next two hours sitting at the bar sucking down pineapple smoothies and watching MTV.

Anyway, this doesn't have anything to do with anything other than at some point during my miseducation I heard someone use the following quote by Mark Twain: "Golf is a good walk spoiled."

Which brings me to A Perfect Getaway.

An entry into the "claustrophobic thriller" genre that doesn't trouble itself with the whole "claustrophobic" part, Getaway takes place entirely on the breathtaking open cliffs and beaches of Hawaii. Likely written and produced as an excuse to write off a hell of a tropical vacation, the story places three couples (and a few assorted extras) on a trail through the Hawaiian wilds, where a gruesome double-murder has just been committed by - you guessed it! - a couple that could potentially match the description of any of the three.

First and foremost there's Cliff (Steve Zahn, looking like he's been hitting both the gym and the HGH pretty hard) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich), relatively bland and annoying newlyweds who are on their honeymoon. While driving to the trail they almost pick up hitchhikers Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Chloe (a near-unrecognizable Marley Shelton), grubby neo-hippies who look like they could be dangerous ... or at least smelly (hence the "almost").

Once in the hills Cliff and Cydney meet Nick (Timothy Olyphant, looking extra-edible) and Gina (relative newbie Kiele Sanchez), a free-wheeling couple who seem decent enough, although Nick's Black Ops background and Gina's way with a hunting knife don't exactly put Cliff and Cydney (whose name becomes more and more infuriating the more I have to write it) at ease. And when the new tennis doubles run into Kale and Chloe on the trail, the plot thickens (by exactly 50%).

Of course, the "oooh!" factor is supposed to be driven by our wondering which of the couples (if any) are the murderers, but honestly the lean plot and rote genre machinations are overwhelmed and eventually pulverized by the sheer gorgeousness of the location. Great pains are taken to get the actors near-naked as often as possible (including an impressive butt-shot for Olyphant ... no tan line!) in order to compete with the landscape, and although I greatly appreciate the effort, it's a vain one.

"It's okay, I'm still hot!"

As far as the mystery goes, I'm actually a bit flummoxed by the whole thing. Getaway seems to think itself very clever - something of a riff on Natural Born Killers but with a brilliant second-act twist and a couple of great red herrings. And why do I imagine the movie thinks these things? Because it actually tells us.


As in, in the dialogue.

Using the dubious device of having Cliff and Nick discuss thriller screenwriting throughout the hike, the movie pretty much tells you what's going to happen next, which isn't terribly ... well, thrilling. Add on the fact that if you pay any attention whatsoever the big "twist" is more or less spelled out in smoke signals and semaphore in the first 15 minutes of the movie, and you're in for a very long walk, indeed.

On the plus side, the photography is quite impressive (when it's not being hacked to death by some of the most annoying editing I've seen this side of a Rob Zombie video), Olyphant and Sanchez in particular are a lot of fun to watch, and ... well ... did I mention the butt shot yet?

Oh. Well, I'm done, then.

See you at the bar for a pineapple smoothie.

(out of 5)

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