Knives Out

Knives Out ★★★

Perhaps the greatest surprise that Knives Out has to offer is that Ana de Armas is pretty much the lead role despite the plethora of marketing material that barely mentioned her presence whilst the movie’s main sociopolitical merit badge was a pro-immigration agenda. I guess you have to sneak stuff like that in when you’ve got the family Thanksgiving weekend on lockdown for your opening week and still want everybody’s conservative uncle to buy a ticket. Seeing as the film centers around a squabbling family populated with disparate political views, there is no arguing over the genius timing of the release. It’s just unfortunate that since the movie forsakes the central murder mystery for a character-driven examination of capitalism’s corrosive effects on the civic core of America, its commentary doesn’t have much conviction to it. Since the promised “murder mystery” is all but solved by the end of the first act, for the rest of the run time you get what director Rian Johnson is best at (for worse or better): Subverting Expectations™.

I would hazard to say that Johnson should stick to this tier of filmmaking after wizzing most of the good faith Disney had with the Star Wars fandom down his leg. This is probably the best network television movie money could buy. Almost the entire cast is recognizable, and they say their lines like they’re getting paid to do it. Aside from some edgy content it is mostly family friendly. It has about as substantive a critique of American politics as any given episode of “Saturday Night Live”. And it’s long enough that Meemaw can get in a nice nap before Captain America gets corn chowdered in the face. For fans of “Murder She Wrote” and “Matlock”, I’m sure it’s a thrilling two and a half hours because it’s a distended episode of one of those series with Daniel Craig as Hercule Poirot by way of Foghorn Leghorn.

Up until now you might have thought that this was negative review of Knives Out. Yet I actually thought that the movie was completely acceptable. In fact, it might be the okayest movie I’ve seen in literally weeks. I chortled several times because some of the dialogue and plot were clever. And even though it was too long, it wasn’t as boring or cheesy as Ford v Ferrari. But let’s be real here, Knives Out hardly needs my tepid praise to ensure that everybody and their aptly named son “Ransom” will be at a screening near you. Suffice it to say, you shouldn’t count me amongst the many people lobbing wads of gelatinous accolades upon Knives Out.

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