April 08, 2013 12:00 PM

The Place Beyond the Pines

Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes | R |


It’s hard to imagine wanting to spend less time with two of the sexiest men alive. (Okay, technically, only one of them is official.) But Pines is such pretentious prattle, I was peeved that it didn’t pick the first of its multiple endings.

The three-act saga gets off to a promising start with Gosling as motorcycle stuntman Luke, who learns he has a son with waitress Romina (Mendes). With real vulnerability belying his tatted-up exterior, Luke aches to be a good dad. Naturally, that means becoming a bank robber. Act 2 turns to Cooper as Avery Cross, a cop who crosses paths with Luke. The striving Avery may be cut from finer cloth than the thief, but he’ll get those suits dirty soon enough.

Cooper struggles to give Avery as much depth as Gosling finds in Luke, but the script won’t let him. They’re both sent to the background in Act 3 as the story shifts to their kids, teens too dull to anchor the 2 hr. 20 min. slog. By the end, the only thing clear about the muddy Pines is its overambitiousness.


Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia | Unrated |


Steel yourself for a comedy so broad you’d have to cut it in half to get it on the freeway. Collette lets loose as Shaz, the stranger who steps in as a nanny when mom of five Shirley (Rebecca Gibney) loses it. Shaz is cracked too, but—say it with me—she might be just what the kids need. No, Mental (available on demand) isn’t all that fresh, but the cast, including The Sapphires’s Deborah Mailman as Shaz’s pal, makes it feel that way.

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