Demolition Review

“… you can just watch the trailer and get the same enjoyment as the movie would give you.”

Don’t you hate it when you see a great trailer for  movie, only to find out that the two minute trailer had literally every interesting part from the movie in it leaving you with 90 minutes of regret? Me too; and that same thing happened when I decided to watch Demolition. Demolition is a movie that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis, a man whose wife just died in a car accident. Everyone who knew her is obviously shaken up by the incident but Davis is rather clam, much like he has been for the entirety of his life. Having no one else to talk to, Davis begins to write letters to a vending machine company under the guise that one of their vending machines stiffed him on a pack of peanut M&M’s. Davis eventually begins to speak with the customer service representative, Karen (played by Naomi Watts), and the two become fast friends.

I’m just going to cut to the chase here and say that Demolition was very dull. When I originally saw the trailer I was actually very excited to see the movie, but I already said all of that. I love the idea of the movie, a man whose life is in shambles and the only way that he can cope is to write letters to a vending machine company and destroy his personal belongings, but the execution was not great. The biggest problem that I had with Demolition was the fact that the characters seemed entirely devoid of personality, or any life at all for that matter. I understand that Davis is supposed to be an emotionally-reserved character, but that should mean that he stands out as opposed to blending in with every other character in the film. The conversations that are had between Davis and Karen early on in the film are very weird. They reminded me of those videos on the internet of two computers talking to each other. Not only were their voices completely devoid of any emotion, but the way that the lines were written was very clunky and almost surreal. As a matter of fact, I was completely convinced that Karen would turn out to be a figment of Davis’ imagination, created as a way for him to vent his grief. Unfortunately the movie didn’t go that way, instead opting for the more boring relationship between the two characters. The characters with the most life in them would be Karen’s son, Chris (played by Judah Lewis), and Davis’ father-in-law Phil (played by Chris Cooper). Not only were these the two most interesting characters, but they also had the best performances attached to them. Chris is described as a “15 year-old who looks 12, but acts 21”, and it’s a very apt description. What is left out of that, however, is the fact that Chris is in desperate need of a role-model, which he eventually finds in Davis. To see the character of Chris eventually grow to respect and love Davis is a really beautiful thing. I could absolutely relate to Chris, even though we are nothing alike. On the other end you have the character of Phil, Davis’ father-in-law. Throughout the film, as Davis is off not really doing much, we get to see the true look of grief via Phil. Phil has just lost his daughter, and his son-in-law seems like he couldn’t care less. This allows for the character of Phil to show some real emotion. I will admit that a few of the emotions that Phil exhibits are a little on-the-nose, but underneath all of that we get to see a truly great performance coming from Chris Cooper.

On a technical level Demolition was competent. There is nothing in it that amazed me, but there as nothing in it that I hated. One thing that did get on my nerves a little bit was the constant “artistic” or “dream-sequence” shots that were used throughout the movie. We would be watching Jake Gyllenhaal sitting in a doctors office, then suddenly he would be getting a CT scan which would reveal that his heart was half-eaten by moths; oh no, that was just a dream sequence. We would then get a some character exposition, but that would be intercut with some kids running backwards, because I guess that’s deep. I don’t know, maybe all of this shit had a deeper meaning then it let on, but I wasn’t impressed. One thing I did like about Demolition was the musical choices. The movie puts a pretty big emphasis on music, especially toward the end of the film, and I felt that the music they chose not only fit the character who was playing it but it also fit the tone of the film.

Ultimately Demolition was a pretty big disappointment. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough for me to recommend. If you have any interest in Demolition, you can just watch the trailer and get the same enjoyment as the movie would give you.

I give Demolition a C

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