' ' Cinema Romantico: Adventures in Movie Posters, part 272

Thursday, October 05, 2023

Adventures in Movie Posters, part 272

You didn’t necessarily need to see the ostensible romantic comedy “Six Days, Seven Nights” in 1998 to know it went bust. No, working in a movie theater that late spring, early summer of 1998, I could see its brewing non-success clear as day in the gargantuan “Six Days, Seven Nights” standee set up in our lobby. Like an old salt who knows when the color of the sky portends inclement weather, that standee predicted rain. It was the air of both Harrison Ford and Anne Heche, betraying the movie’s lack of froth, romantic or otherwise, sight-unseen, and in their holding hands, which looked a little too airbrushed. You didn’t see that standee and think, “Fun!” You saw it and thought, “Are we sure these two like each other?” That came flooding back to me when I stumbled, in an online sort of way, onto the poster for the upcoming “Freelance,” which like so many movies these days, this less-and-less ardent movie blogger didn’t even realize existed.

Thing is, the premise of this comedy/adventure, I sort of like it, an-ex special forces operative (Cena) working as private security for a has-been journalist (Brie) finding themselves in the middle of a coup when she interviews a dictator. “Freelance,” in other words, is “Plane” crossed with “The Lost City,” which is to say, one more spiritual remake of “Romancing the Stone,” even though it can’t be as good because just like air conditioners, rom coms aren’t built to last anymore. But. Like “Six Days, Seven Nights,” hoo boy, I’m getting – wait, what do the kids say? – bad vibes from that poster. I mean, did I say, “The Lost City?” I meant, Photoshop City! Yikes! These two likenesses of John Cena and Alison Brie have just been dropped into some likeness of some tropical locale. I mean, if it’s gonna look fake, why lamely try to make it look real? Just give us the version of a Harlequin book cover. Like “Romancing the Stone!”

Because what even is this? Cena’s expression is defined by a lack of one. If it wasn’t for the gun in his left hand, he could be here to fix the smartphone that is photoshopped into her right hand. (And I guess the smartphone is in her hand in order to denote she’s a journalist? Because this is 2023 and they couldn’t photoshop in a notepad and pen because nobody would know what those were?) They might be in some pool of water, but he’s not even wet, as if he’s not even rescuing her from a lagoon but, like, a wet t-shirt contest at Porky’s in the Everglades. 

What’s more, their facial expressions, his lack of one and her more panicked one, look less like a comedy/adventure and more like something…serious? I mean, it does say right there above the title that Freelance is from the director of “Taken,” an action/thriller. That means it is also from the director of “Peppermint,” and “The Gunman,” humorless both, and “From Paris with Love,” described by the late Roger Ebert as “mostly bang bang and not kiss kiss” which does not bode well for a comedy/adventure.

But the writer of “Freelance,” it turns out, is from the staff of Jimmy Kimmel Live! You’re pairing a Kimmel writer with the director of “Taken?!” What is this, Coverdale/Page?! 

Wait! As if this confounding recipe required one more unlikely ingredient, do you see whose name is also on the poster, getting the boost of the classic “and” credit? Christian Slater! I mean, what?! This could be anything! This could be “Broken Arrow”; this could be “Kuffs”; this could be “Dawn Rider”; this could be Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh at a Sonny Chiba triple feature! NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING!!!

And though I’d be smart to walk away, to paraphrase Pop Culture Conqueror Taylor Swift in my desperate gambit to inject some relevance, here, right at the end, and not see “Freelance” come October 27th, rom coms like this, they’re quicksand.

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