20 February 2014

Joe Johnston's "Not Safe for Work" looks unfit for viewing

Okay, so today the trailer for Joe Johnston's (last seen helming the initial "Captain America" in 2011) "Not Safe for Work" dropped. The thriller produced by horror mogul Jason Blum ("Paranormal Activity") has been the subject of unflattering buzz for a few months now; the majority focusing on the fact that despite the presence of a high-profile director, it's skipping theatres and going straight to Home Video in April.

It's fair to comment that Johnston's track-record in Hollywood has been spotty, although for every "Hidalgo" he's also managed to churn out a "Jumanji". I was pleasantly surprised by some of the creative decisions taken with "Captain America" -and heck -long-time blog readers will know I was much kinder to his "Wolfman" rehash than most.

But "Not Safe for Work" looks pretty diabolical. Blum's production ethos is based on a rigorous implementation of soft-budgeting, but the production detail in "NSFW" (as we shall henceforth call it) seems unfathomably cheap and amateurish. For instance, Blum stomped up the cash for 2011's micro-budgeted "Insideous", and for all its flaws that movie isn't without anesthetic merit. The cinematography in "NSFW" is without texture and garishly flat, not criticisms one could level at most of the Johnston's other work. Maybe he was gunning for a realist vibe, but if so, somebody should probably inform him that doesn't mean the onscreen space needs to be so barren and unadventurous.

The performances and dialogue look similarly uninspired, namely the cute relationship patter between lead Max Minghella (usually not a bad actor in his own right) and presumable love interest Eloise Mumford. There's nothing endearing about hearing a couple spout cliched witticisms at each other. The set-up looks like a sort of warped "Office Space" starring a psychotic Tom Hiddleston impersonator. Sounds awesome right? Na, the frights look obvious, the action unimaginative, the mise en scene miserly and the tone worryingly self-serious. Nothing about the movie's promotional material suggests it has much of a comedic or satirical prerogative, which makes its general po-faced ineptitude even worse.

I realise, I haven't seen this film. Curiosity dictates that at some point I probably will. But any money or time I donate toward "NSFW" will not be on the basis of this stagnant trailer, a piece of work that only underlines the film's assumed flaws. Over the last few years Blum has proved himself an adept marketing raconteur, which makes me wonder why he felt this was an appropriate way to sculpt this feature's first public bow. Unless of course, it really is as shit as we've been told. The trailer's below, and if you're inclined, "Not Safe for Work" can be viewed from the comfort of your couch this April.

An article by Daniel Kelly, 2014


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