Carnage - 4 out of 5
Ah, conflict resolution…as a man with a degree in Communications I had to take entire courses on the subject yet I am incapable of engaging in a discussion with my girlfriend about the toilet seat that doesn’t end in me blaming her for the bombing of Pearly Harbor and she informing me that there is a possibility that my mother and father were not married when I was conceived. Then the tears start up and before long nothing is accomplished. Later, after I stop crying, we come to the apologies and laugh about how absurd it is to get mad about the toilet seat being up…and then I notice she put a DVD on top of the DVD player and not back in its case and it starts all over again…West Side Story-style knife fights usually follow.
|"You guys want to go out into the garage and practice karate?"|
Carnage is a tale of conflict resolution and communication gone horribly awry. After the child of Nancy and Alan (Kate Winslet and Christophe Waltz) hits Penelope and Michael’s (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) kid in the face with a stick, the parents are forced to come together and discuss the issue and come to some sort of reconciliation. However, the more time they spend together the more their friendly exteriors breakdown and they begin to bicker, air their dirty laundry about their marital troubles and become increasingly more childish as they resort to name calling and passive aggressively backhand each other.
|Waltz is gearing up for some Tarantino-esque violence.|
This movie is a great comedy built entirely upon the human condition, interaction and how NOT to resolve a disagreement. The film isn’t a comedy for all types and doesn’t appeal to a wide audience. I’m not trying to sound like a snob like the characters that make up this film but if you think the pinnacle of comedy involves calling another man a “fag,” most likely has farts involved and think Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a Redneck” bit has yet to reach its expiration date (FYI, the expiration date for that bit was the second after he uttered the first syllable) then this is not the comedy for you because the humor comes from the growing tension and arguing these people engage in and it REALLY gets good when they no longer pretend to be the people their not and their resolve breaks and they reveal themselves for who they really are. So, if you think that Jeff Dunham’s dead terrorist puppet is the height of satire for commentary on the human condition and revel in Dunham’s not-so-subtle racism then you are going to find this movie boring and will find yourself saying, “All they are doing is yelling at each other…and why aren’t the husbands beating their wives?!? That’ll shut ’em up.” **Disclaimer: Not all fans of Jeff Dunham are wife beaters but all wife beaters are fans of Jeff Dunham**
|I look exactly the same after watching Jeff Dunham's act.|
The reason this film works so well is the performances from the two couples. Foster, Reilly, Winslet and Waltz all interact with each other perfectly—not only does each team act like a real couple trying their hardest to keep their personal issues from rising to the surface and project an image of dignity but the way they interact with the other couple and the way their able to perfectly raise the tension in the film that by the end they are arguing like children debating the finer details of which vampire/werewolf team they align themselves with and you are fully committed to these characters and are not seeing them as John C. Reilly as Michael or Kate Winslet as Nancy but as Michael, Nancy, Penelope and Alan.
|I assume Jodi Foster is making that face because there's a huge spider|
on John C. Reilly's shoulder.
Each actor completely immerses themselves in their characters and do so on such a level that you literally don’t need any history to give them any development. The way each actor holds themselves speaks volumes of the type of person they are playing and only makes their interactions more amusing. The depth of their performance and the harder impact the comedy has is only enhanced by the fact the movie was shot in real time with few breaks thrown in.
|Regular people don't sit like that...but Christoph Waltz isn't regular people.|
Director Roman Polanski (director of The Tenant, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist and convicted rapist), shooting the film this way, made the film feel real and that only added to the funny that came with these grown-ass adults becoming more and more infantile with each passing second. This aspect of the film also helped make the film feel like a stage performance as well—and it should since it’s based on a damn play.
|"Okay...I'm drunk enough where I'll let you draw me naked..."|
There’s no spectacle to Carnage. The movie isn’t slapstick or a collection of dick jokes; just a smart comedy about adults trying hard to take the high road but ultimately succumbing to their immature roots. With its humorous interactions and great performances, Carnage is, without a doubt, a fantastic comedy about how, no matter how old we get, we’re still just a bunch of kids pretending to be adults ready to resort to name calling when push comes to shove.
|"Nuh uh! You're the big face doody face!"|