Sunday, November 27, 2016

Movie Review: "Grand Canyon" (1991)

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Movie"Grand Canyon"
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Year: 1991
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

A look at the intertwining lives of numerous people in Los Angeles in the 90's.

"Grand Canyon" is directed by Lawrence Kasdan, who also wrote the film along with his wife Meg Kasdan. Despite being called "Grand Canyon," this movie isn't about a giant hole in Arizona. The film is about the lives of many different people from many walks of life in Los Angeles whose lives intermingle in one way or another in some way, shape, or form. It stars Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Mary McDonnell, Steve Martin, Mary-Louise Parker, and Alfre Woodard. This movie could also be called "The Irrational Fears of Suburban White People," or "The Dangers of Living in South Central Los Angeles in the 1990's," but these more accurate monikers wouldn't exactly get butts in seats.

At the beginning of the movie, Mac, played by Kline, has his car break down in Inglewood, where he is harassed by what appears to be a gang of people who were riding around that evening looking for someone to accost. He is saved by a tow truck driver named Simon, played by Danny Glover. The pair strikes up a friendship based on this one occurrence. Then Davis, played by Steve Martin, who is a Hollywood producer, gets held up for his Rolex and is shot in the leg. Next, Mac's wife Claire, played by McDonnell, comes across an abandoned baby in the bushes while out jogging one morning because why not? Simon's sister Deborah, played by Tina Lifford, has her house shot up in a drive-by because her son is involved with gangs. Dee, played by Parker, had a one night stand with Mac, who is her boss. She is still deeply in love with him, and one night after crying about this situation, she randomly has her car window shattered by an unknown person with a crowbar. The only person who doesn't have something completely awful happen to them is Woodard's Jane, who gets fixed up with Simon at some point and they hit it off very nicely.

Needless to say, "Grand Canyon" certainly paints a pretty horrible picture of life in Los Angeles, though maybe it is just a reflection of the time as crime rates were at their peak in the early 90's. This movie definitely shows a rather cynical outlook, at times stating things are never going to get better. And yet, here we are 25 years later, and violent crime is at its lowest point since the 1960's, though you wouldn't know that by looking at the news. The whole message here seems to be life really sucks, but the Grand Canyon exists, so maybe it's not all that bad! Maybe it is telling the audience to focus on the natural beauty of the world and forget all of the man-made problems once in a while. Whatever it was trying to say,  it was compelling enough to earn it an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. "Grand Canyon" has a strong, very accomplished cast, all of whom do very good jobs in their roles. As far as the acting goes, this ensemble works well together. The pacing, however, is almost always slow, building to a less than worthy conclusion for such a vast and seasoned cast. It winds up feeling much longer than its 134 minutes run time.

Watching "Grand Canyon" may make you second guess ever leaving your house again, unless it's to visit the Grand Canyon.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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