I like to go to the movies every weekend. The pickings have been slim, in my opinion. So, last weekend I was casting around for what to watch and settled on See How They Run. Sam Rockwell's presence encouraged me, as did Saoirse Ronan's. Both of them generally have good taste in picking their projects. Overall, it's a strong cast.
The tone is more than a little tongue in cheek. It centers on a production of Agatha Christie's Mousetrap. So we have a murder mystery movie about a murder mystery production. It's shot in an exaggerated color palette which made it look a touch cartoony.
Where this movie fell down for me was the writing. It is a boring script. Rockwell plays this aging, alcoholic chief inspector who emotes so much ennui that it infects the whole movie. Nothing gets under that guys skin, nothing shocks him, and he seems to take nothing seriously. This contrasts, purposefully no doubt, with Ronan's rookie constable character who is hyper-dilligent. As a dynamic, it works. But when this duo is put into motion, they are not fun because the plot is so insipid. For instance, a good chunk of time is spent on the constable catching the inspector drinking on duty. It's cute, but for the time they spend with it, it's not enough. Then they make a joke out of the inspector's excuse for not being on the job while he's boozing--a dentist's appointment. They return to that insipid bit two or three times in the movie.
That's the movie in general: cute but not enough.
David Oyelowo and Adrien Brody likewise play their quirky characters well, perhaps purposefully a little over the top. But like the stars, their characters are given weak bits with which to mine their quirkiness for comedy. Again, it comes off a little cute, but really not enough.
The tone they picked is difficult, but they pull it off. The performances are all strong. The production values are likewise strong. It's just a boring script..