“I wrote 63 songs this year. They’re all about Jeter.” Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls’ Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don’t forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » Culture and Criticism


Submitted by on February 21, 2011 – 12:55 PM6 Comments

Sarah 37, Death Race 19; 17 of 24 categories completed

I liked it more than I’d expected to, but the guiding structural principle — the three plot strands that converge at the end — felt like a workshop exercise. The Marie strand is markedly less interesting than the others, but it’s more that, generally, it’s going around the block to get to the house next door.

Hereafter features another solid, lived-in performance from Matt Damon, though, which invests you in the outcome and de-cheeses the proceedings to a significant extent. The reading he does with Marcus (Frankie or George McLaren; IMDb is unclear) is wonderful, not least because Damon has to carry the scene — the McLaren twin on duty for that sequence is good elsewhere, but not up to the task of believable crying. Damon is doing what he always does: giving you the entire character, not just the two or three loudest notes. He’s not afraid to let George have a sense of humor or a grumpy moment or any other trait that a “has second sight” character brief wouldn’t suggest right away. It’s why his character in the Ocean’s movies is so funny, it’s why his Mr. Ripley is so squicky, it’s why the anti-Semite he plays in School Ties, somewhat cartoonish on paper, is loathsome and pitiable. When you look at the Damon roster of characters, for the most part, it’s not characters. It’s recognizable guys.

Bryce Dallas Howard is also quite good here. The Melanie character, while deftly pitched by both actress and script, is a skinned knee with bangs, standing too close, not catching the snap, and it’s cringe-tastic, but the movie makes a couple of unexpectedly smart choices with that subplot.

It has some nice work in it, but again, there’s the static feeling of an assignment. The pacing is inconsistent, stately here and abrupt there, and it could have lost a few of the more predictable Marie scenes. It’s up for Best Visual Effects, and I doubt it wins, but I imagine the nomination is for the tsunami sequence, which is gripping. (Could have done without the floating teddy bear, though. We get it, Clint.)




  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Is it me, or has Matt Damon been in eleven thousand movies this year?

  • Jaybird says:

    It is not you, Jen. He is the Michael Caine of our time.

  • eli says:

    I did not love this movie.

    I was bored by Marie and didn’t really enjoy the kid most of the time. Every time the storyline switched to either the kid or Marie, who weren’t being played by the most compelling of actors, I groaned. I wanted more Matt Damon.

    The extended CGI at the beginning with Marie floating, and that damn teddy bear, was annoying and looked very fake. Which, of course, it was. But still.

    Also, I feel like we were sold “supernatural thriller”, but it was very lacking in both the supernatural and the thrills.

  • WendyD says:

    Ok, now I’m totally jealous/annoyed that you can get screeners from publicists to complete this challenge.

    I get that this is your job and you’re also promoting these films so of course the promo people want you to watch them, but I’m a huge Oscar fan and the fact that I can’t actually finish this challenge because I can’t get my hands on the films is driving me nuts!

    I’ve got no access to any of the foreign language noms, nor the movies that aren’t still in theaters (and some of them never played in Iowa) or aren’t yet on DVD.

    But I realized that I was contemplating spending about $60 in gas to drive 2 hours round-trip to see ‘Tangled’ and 4 hours round trip to see ‘The Illusionist’ and realized that I’m not going to beat the death race no matter how hard I try.

    I’m currently at 30 films watched and 11 categories completed.

  • Sharon says:

    HATED this movie! Especially the BDH character! Unless, of course, she was supposed to be insufferably annoying. Terrible. I want my 2 hours back.

  • Jeanne says:

    @WendyD, I have a similar problem so I do a mini-death race. The only categories I complete are best picture, director, and the acting and writing categories. Having watched Animal Kingdom last night I am officially done with my MDR.

    Re: Hereafter, I didn’t like it at all. I wanted more Damon dammit! The other stories were weak and predictable. I don’t think much of Clint Eastwood as a director these days, I think he peaked with Unforgiven and has been phoning it in since then. His movies are all so pedestrian and “meh” to me, there’s never anything special. And this one was outright bad.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>