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Movie Review: "Michael Clayton"

I wasn't going to post anything about this movie, which I saw on Friday night, but it's a sloooow Sunday -- apart from some rumormongering which you can discuss in this diary -- so I thought I'd go ahead and review this film, even though I know, just know, I'm going to get flamed. So read first, then fire away.

I had recommendations to see this movie from everyone from co-workers, to my dad, to Roger Ebert, who gave it a rare four-star rating.

But I'm here to tell you that I hated this movie; I almost walked out two or three times, and I never do that, even when I see something I don't particularly like.

Here's the basic plot: Clayton (George Clooney) is a "fixer" at a major law firm in New York; he's supposed to clean up messes that others make. The firm is trying to finalize a multi-million-dollar settlement against a large corporation that's supposedly environmentally conscious, but has done some not-so-kosher things.

That doesn't matter. What does? Nothing, really. In this movie there's a scene where Clooney runs up a hill, stares at three horses, and his car explodes. We see this twice -- once in flashback at the start of the movie, then once near the end, when it's sort of explained why the car explodes, but not why the horses are there. Further, this happens right after he is sent to the suburban Westchester County (you are told this, obviously, to let you know that the man is wealthy) home of a man who's very powerful but has done something bad, and Clooney's being asked to fix it.

Does this whole scene mean anything? Nope, it's absolutely 100% irrelevant to the plot.

There's a scene where another man runs naked through a parking lot in Milwaukee. So what? you're saying, and you'd be absolutely right. This same man entices a teenage girl to come from her home in rural Wisconsin to New York. No, it's not for the reason you're thinking.

Clooney's character owns a restaurant/bar. Or owned it, past tense. He's lost a lot of money there because of his brother. Does that matter? Nope. (Well, it does because this character had to be introduced so he could pick up Clooney after his car blows up.) Anyway, he spends a lot of time in underground poker games in Chinatown. Does this matter to the plot? Got me. He's divorced, and he goes to his kid's birthday party, and his (Clooney's) father makes a heartfelt speech. Does that matter? Nope. Clooney also drives his kid, who's about eight, to school, and swears up a storm in the car, about nothing in particular. Does this matter either? Nope.

Nothing really matters in this movie. It has a terrific cast -- Clooney, Tom Wilkinson (as the guy who runs naked -- he also winds up murdered, for no particular reason, either), Sydney Pollack, and Tilda Swinton. That doesn't matter either. These characters all have spiffy lines of dialogue, but they seem to be talking at each other, not to each other, as if they are all acting in a vacuum hoping to pick up an Oscar nomination.

Even the one climactic scene, where Swinton (who plays, with lips pursed so tight you wonder how she can even eat, the head lawyer for the large corporation) and Clooney talk at each other in rapidfire dialogue, and when I thought, "Finally! Maybe this will make some sense!", ends (Spoiler alert!) in a hurry when the cops suddenly swoop in and arrest all the bad guys.

I left shaking my head wondering why I had wasted two hours of my life. This is the worst movie I have seen in years. Don't go, don't watch it on HBO when it comes there in a few months, don't get it on Netflix.

OK, flame away.

AYRating: Zero