Review: Hillbilly Elegy

 Not like other Yale students

J.D Vance (Owen Aszataols as a child, and Gabriel Basso as an adult) grew up in rural Ohio/Kentucky with a recovering addict mother,(Amy Adams) his older sister Lindsay (Haley Bennett) and his no nonsense grandmother, Mamaw. (Glenn Close) J.D had a hard life, as many lower income rural people do, but he was able to somehow rise above it all and get to Yale, and boy does he want you to know how much of an anomaly he is.

Everyone is either dumber than J.D, or snootier than him. There's no happy medium, unless we count the underused Frieda Pinto as his girlfriend. We're introduced to to J.D saving a turtle from the middle of the street, and the first person he interacts with is a mouth breathing kid whose only contributions are "let's break open its shell! Let's see how far we can throw it!" Director Ron Howard in his infinite mediocrity really drives home how "less than" everyone is here.

To be fair, this movie isn't the massive trainwreck I thought it would be. It's not good, but it's also not unintentionally funny in the way that Capone was earlier this year. It's dull, insincere, and the acting makes it wildly uneven. I love Amy Adams and she's swinging for the fences here, as is Glenn Close, but this movie is not swinging with them. While she and Close are over the top in moments that seem pre-made for Oscar clips, Basso is completely wooden and feels like he's reading lines from a cue card. The only happy medium is Haley Bennett, and I ended up feeling the worst for her character because of the way she's painted. I constantly asked myself while watching this is "people really behave this way" and the short answer is  yes, but in melodramas. I haven't read the book on which this is based but it felt so phony. I don't mean to take away from what J.D accomplished. Getting into Yale is a big deal but this felt like the most basic rags to riches story. No one felt real.

This is another miss from Ron Howard, and while it's not the worst movie I've seen this year, I have no desire to ever watch it again. I did get a laugh out of Glenn Close a few times, so I guess there's that.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Get out before I cancel your birth certificate." - Mamaw (Glenn Close)

15 comments:

  1. i think ron howard is fine usually, but yes this is extremely mediocre and dull. i didn't hate the film, and i don't think it's insincere (plenty of people live like this). i just think the film is pointless, extremely male and overlooks any real sentiment to tell a drab story that is meaningless

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    1. That's true! When it comes to Howard, I thought I liked him more than I did. When I looked back through his movies, I realized I liked maybe 2 of them and the rest ranged from "meh" to "nah" for me.

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  2. Nice review! The bad hype killed my interest to watch this, especially if it's not intentionally funny like Capone. I'm just hoping Amy doesn't finally win her Oscar for this.

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    1. I can't imagine anyone getting nominated for this.

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  3. I'm one of those who found it unintentionally funny, but yeah, it wasn't as intense as Capone. I agree on everything else and I just hate they wasted Adams and Pinto like this.

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    1. Someone needed to be running around in a diaper with a tommy gun here.

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  4. I didn't dislike this quite like some, but it does have some issues. I actually like Adams' performance but she's written with such a one-dimensional angle. It's clear she's supposed to be a complex individual, but practically all we get is the 'bad side'. Also doesn't help that JD simply isn't that interesting. I did love Close though.

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    1. That is an issue, they talk about how Amy's character is supposed to be so smart, clearly competent enough to be a nurse but nope. Just a mean druggie the entire time. It was so shallow.

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  5. I suppose I'm going to probably have to watch this. It'll get nominated for something, I'm sure. That's the downside of watching based on a list.

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    1. I can't imagine this getting nominated for anything, even if older voters have a Ron Howard boner. It's just so bad.

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  6. I have no interest in seeing this as this just looks like bad Oscar-bait. I hate movies like that and I really wish Glenn Close would really just stop doing these kind of performances. It's pathetic. She should just cut her losses and wait for that honorary Oscar or do something that is the antithesis of these Oscar-bait performances. Amy Adams deserves better. Hell, Haley Bennett and Freida Pinto deserve better.

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  7. Glenn Close was never an actress I cared for. i don't think she's bad, I just don't find her interesting but considering what happened with Colman this does seem like she's trying way too hard. Adams is too. It's just sad all around.

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  8. I'm really struggling to find the enthusiasm to watch this. I'm sure it isn't as bad as Film Twitter is making it sound but I haven't found anyone who said it was good!
    I'm not a fan of Glenn Close but I would watch it for Amy Adams <3

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    1. I think if I were from Appalachia, I would be way more offended over how they choose to portray everyone, but I'm from a Northern hick town instead, so I'm still offended, just not as much. lol

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