Take a Drink: for every voiceover.
Take a Drink: every time you flash back.
Take a Shot: whenever Adaline knocks boots (implied or otherwise).
Pour a Little Out: for Buddy.
Take a Drink: anytime Ellis stalks, I mean charmingly tracks down, Adaline.
Do a Shot: for each time period and/or car wreck.
Shotgun Your Beer: for the lamest ending ever. Of. All. Time.
By: Felix Felicis (Four Beers) –
I almost didn’t make it to screen this flick. Never has the universe conspired harder to try and make me miss a review (where were you when I had no trouble violating my eyeballs to write up 50 Shades, universe?). Whatever. The universe is a dick. But I digress. First, I wandered into the wrong theater courtesy of faulty directions from staff and only realized it when the film started “early” and it wasn’t Age of Adaline. Then, when the correct theater was located and I made my usual pre-flick dash to the bathroom (let’s talk about soft drinks so large you have to pump iron at the gym just to lift them) I accidentally mixed up the men’s and women’s restrooms, only narrowly avoiding ancient old man dong. The way my night started I fully expected to get abducted in the parking lot post-film. Sadly, no windowless panel vans made an appearance filled with candy and puppies (though, let’s be honest, all you’d need would be a handful of Starburst). What DID show up was another “timeless” (literally) dramatic romance primed to pump those XX chromosomes for all the feels they could squeeze out.
The Age of Adaline follows Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman, a turn-of-the-century woman who, after a strange accident involving snow, lightning, and slick roads, is rendered ageless. Fast forward about half a century and we find Adaline living a quiet life near her octogenarian daughter, Flemming (a spry, delightful Ellen Burstyn), when she meets a mysterious man at New Year’s Eve party. Fast forward through flashbacks and a slightly stalkery courtship with mystery man, Ellis (Michiel Huisman), and Adaline finds herself struggling to hold on to a love she’s waited lifetimes for while letting go of the fear she’s spent lifetimes running from. The only thing that could derail everything is a collision with her past that comes in the form of Ellis’s father William Jones (a charismatic Harrison Ford). Cue drama. Cue romance. Cue soft, choking sobs from the man sitting three seats down to my right.
Credit where credit’s due. Blake Lively channels all that world-weary ennui leftover from Gossip Girl and turns out fairly decent, age-appropriate mannerisms and speech that make Adaline seem an out-of-time woman held in stasis as the years pass her by untouched. Cate Richardson (in her feature film debut) plays a brief but memorable mid-twenties Flemming well before present day Flemming, Ellen Burstyn, comes in and makes a completely preposterous dynamic (a woman who’s never seen her mother age a day in her life) seem entirely plausible. But the movie really begins when Harrison Ford steps onscreen as William Jones. Both his younger incarnation (a visually and vocally spot-on Anthony Ingruber) and Ford himself channel authentic fascination and anguish at the sight of his lost love’s living ghost.
The actors in Age of Adaline breathe every bit of life there was into what, without these specific people, could’ve been a melodramatic train wreck across the ages. Taken in vignettes, these talented men and women are genuinely enjoyable and engaging to behold. In this case, the film lacked synergy where the end product was greater as a whole. The Age of Adaline, much like a hooker you need to transport in your trunk across state lines, is better in pieces.
Narration is a cinematic device that can make or break a film entirely on its own merits. If it interrupts, jars, or distracts from the message it’s trying to convey then it doesn’t matter what the content is, it’s failed to enhance the experience and, legally, I’m allowed to junk-punch whomever decided narration was the easy way out, plot-wise, in The Age of Adaline. In addition to that, the trailer actually managed to convey a slight air of mystery as to Adaline’s agelessness which gets popped approximately thirty-five seconds into the film with what may be the most idiotic, pseudo-scientific reason for immortality I’ve ever heard (that only a stoner would buy).
Not only is the narration distractingly bad, the plot is crack-addict credible and the mystery gets boned so hard early on that I’m surprised the actors could walk at all during the rest of the film. And I’m not totally against narration as a storytelling device, but in The Age of Adaline it’s used as a crutch to prop up a weak story and collapses under the weight of its own ineptitude. As my mother has said about my life at every family dinner I’ve ever been to: I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.
The pacing in Age of Adaline is weird and choppy, jammed with out of order flashbacks and awkward cuts to the present day; it all makes sense (kind of) in the end but damn it’s annoying throughout. Not to mention the focus on what to emphasize in Adaline’s life seems skewed in that we’re supposed to buy that there’s some greater cosmic reason for her to become immortal (to find her soulmate) yet most of their screentime together is rushed and fragmented so that any headway Adaline and Ellis make in the way of evolving chemistry falls flat.
Lively has more of a connection in a shorter time spent with both younger and older William than the entirety of her character’s arc with Ellis. This is a love story lacking in love and scraping across the surface of emotions instead of diving into the deep end of the pool. What’s most frustrating is that there was potential here, but the flick was front-heavy and majorly bobbled in execution. Imagine trying to herd a gaggle of white girls through Forever 21 during a Buy One Get One Half Off sale in thirty minutes or less without using a taser and you’ll be halfway to what Age of Adaline felt like.
This was going to be a Three Beer film… Right up until the ending when Age of Adaline went so far off the rails not even Charlie Sheen could snort it back on track. I mean, I swallowed the opening narration’s asinine explanation of immortality due to the travel-size bottle of Jack I dumped in my soda, but then that universal “love conquers all” message at the climax bitch-slapped my ass so hard I’m still curled in the fetal position as I dictate this to the team of genetically modified ferrets I’ve trained to write all my reviews. The ferrets love a scruffy leading man, though, so they fought me on this last beer.
Not since Interstellar have I been this disappointed in the idiocy of screenwriters. Yes, Age of Adaline is unarguably a chick flick but it’s shot well visually (added bonus: Blake Lively looks like Retro Barbie in glamorous gown after glamorous gown) and the actors are relatable and genuine so I couldn’t hate it… But I also couldn’t love it. Age of Adaline wasn’t as stupid as it could’ve been; it also wasn’t as good as it had the potential to be due to an epically weak plot and insanely stupid ending.
The Age of Adaline is yet another soon-to-be-forgotten footnote in the history of romantic dramas. I got more choked up during Furious 7 and that says everything you need to know right there. Actually, just go see Furious 7. Shit was BANANAS.