Saturday, May 3, 2008

Paging Karen Hughes

Cast in the girl Friday role that Kirsten Dunst did nothing with, Gwyneth Paltrow does her most charming work ever in Iron Man, in which director Jon Favreau demonstrates a new talent for male-female repartee, the usual talent for male-male repartee, and as talented as Karen Hughes in explaining nearly twenty years of American malfeasance to the tribes of brown-skinned hordes who hold Robert Downey, Jr prisoner. This farrago, which shows thoughtlessness instead of True Lies-style xenophobia, is the worst sequence in the picture. Yeah, yeah, it's a comic book movie. Then again, the process by which a weapons manufacturer makes the cover of Rolling Stone (on Jann Wenner's watch?), holds press conferences on command, and suddenly decides to stop selling weapons because it's evil is about as incredible as Downey, Jr.'s newfound sobriety. Elsewhere, Jeff Bridges, gluing on his King Kong beard for one more round of ogling a leggy woman, does a paunchy variation on his silken-villain routine from Jagged Edge and The Contender; he's such a pro that he winces just once when he hears his character's name aloud ("Obadiah"). The producer(s) who greenlighted this project should be congratulated: when was the last time a $200 million Hollywood film depended on a Luke-Vader duel between two middle-aged actors whose salad days are long gone?

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