Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★½

High percentage play here. Enlist Rian Johnson to do his high-floor polished competence thing, snag a ton of veteran A-listers, and let them all ham it up in a kooky locked room murder mystery. How are you going to have a bad time with that?

With the high floor comes the low ceiling, though, which makes this a fine time in a cinema as you’re sluggishly digesting the bowling ball of traditional holiday foods in your guts, but unlikely to be a movie that one revisits over and over in future years. The plot is a twisting and turning potboiler, though the central whodunit question is resolved pretty early on. There’s not a whole ton of arresting moments or memorable sequences, which might be the product of almost every working Hollywood actor having a piece of this. 

A hangout mystery, I guess. Almost all of the enjoyment comes from spending time with the characters as they all swirl around each other. Standouts include Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), the Kentucky gentleman detective, Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), the eldest daughter who’s sporting a killer look for this one, and Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette), conniving daughter in law and a latter day New Age layabout. Any scenes with these guys tend to have the best lines, which is sort of a shame since they’re fighting for screen time with the likes of Michael Shannon and Lakeith Stanfield, both of whom pack a pretty unique comic energy that gets underutilized in this production. 

Maybe not the one to dethrone Clue when you’re in the mood for some good old fashioned mansion bastardry, but a good time, no doubt.

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