Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
A remarkable tale of immigrant success, wrapped around a crime story.
Director Peyton Reed became persona non grata with a particular kind of fanboy when it was announced that he would replace Edgar Wright as the director of a project that Wright originated at Marvel, "Ant Man." The finished film went on to become a hit and make a lot of money, but there was residual grumbling that a lot of what people liked about "Ant Man" was really the residual work of Wright's pre-production work and all the work he did on the screenplay with his regular writing partner Simon Pegg (who were rewritten by star Paul Rudd and "Anchorman" director/cowriter Adam McKay).
This is ultimately a movie credits detective story that will be sorted out at some future date, maybe in a tell-all book. The worst part of the whole "Ant Man" kerfuffle was that it made people momentarily think ill of Reed, who was filling a slot that would've been filled by someone else if he'd said no, and whose own movies have wit and style.
His biggest hit is still the cheerleader comedy "Bring it On," a classic of sorts, but he's made a lot of good movies. Scout Tayoya's latest "Unloved" video essay celebrates two of Reed's best but somehow less appreciated works, "Down with Love" and "The Break-Up." The former is a 1962 period piece modeled on the Rock Hudson-Doris Day romantic comedies, in CinemaScope with split-screens, fantastic outfits, and a knack for mocking the mores of the day but not so harshly that the film comes off seeming smug. "The Break-Up" is a surprisingly edgy romantic comedy that was too sour to become a hit, although stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston won some well-deserved plaudits for their performances as the main characters, a couple who incarnate Mars-Venus stereotypes about women and men.—Matt Zoller Seitz
Scout Tafoya's series for RogerEbert.com on neglected films continues with a double feature of great throwbacks from the underrated stylist Peyton Reed
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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