Monday, January 18, 2016

HairBrained (2013)

Number Rolled: 20
Movie Name/Year: HairBrained (2013)
Tagline: This is Eli Pettifog. He’s got a score to settle, and it’s gonna get hairy.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: Love Lane Pictures
Producer: Sarah Bird, Stacy Blain, Stephanie Ingrassia, Tim Ingrassia, Sophia Lin, Avram Ludwig, Jason Mraz, Jim Walden
Director: Billy Kent
Writer: Sarah Bird, Billy Kent, Adam Wierzbianski
Actors: Alex Wolff, Brendan Fraser, Julia Garner, Michael Oberholtzer, Parker Posey, Greta Lee, Teddy Bergman, Robin de Jesus, Elisabeth Hower, Fred Melamed, Austin Pendleton, Kimiko Glenn, Toby Huss, Lizzy DeClement, Colman Domingo

Blurb from Netflix: When 14-year-old genius and outcast Eli Pettifog is rejected from Harvard, he ends up at Ivy League wannabe Whittman College. It’s hate at first sight. At Whittman, Eli meets 41-year-old freshman Leo Searly.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m not sure what I expected from HairBrained, but it wasn’t what I got.

What I got was a basic sports-recipe by way of a trivia contest that was mixed with something not totally unlike The New Guy (2002). It was a decent recipe and not a terrible movie… but I’m a little disappointed.

I expect more from indie films.

Indie films have their pitfalls. They usually have lower budgets, less-known actors, and first time writers/directors that haven’t had time to grow. However, they have a lot of benefits, too. Indie movies don’t have to play it safe because they don’t answer to a big company. No one’s throwing millions of dollars into making those films, so they’ve got less to lose and everything to gain.

What would Clerks (1994) be like if Kevin Smith had just copy and pasted a random recipe into it? What about Pulp Fiction (1994)? What would Pulp Fiction, arguably the best indie film in existence, be like if Quentin Tarantino had just decided to play it safe?

Recipe films are for the big-budget production companies that play it safe to save money.

HairBrained wasn’t a bad movie, but I feel like it could have been remarkable if the people in charge had taken more risks with what they had. The few risks they did take paid off big time and became very memorable.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe it was enough.

Cat’s Point of View:
For those that judge by the cover – beware. This movie is not about misfits that bond over tennis, as the poster suggests.

This movie is odd, quirky, likable, and unexpected.

I loved that this film was about a genius kid and his smart friends – and yet, doesn’t even try to get too cerebral. In fact, this movie thumbs its nose at pretentious snobbery.

While it does follow a bit of a predictable recipe in some places, I like that it was still marching to the beat of its own drum. Sure, the underdog competition story has been told a million times in different ways – from team sports to singing competitions – though, this movie managed to find a seldom used niche of that genre.

I think I’ve said it before – I love Brendan Fraser (The Last Time, Standoff, The Nut Job). He has a remarkable ability to blend goofy with sincerity. Though, sometimes his roles go way over the top on the goofy side until sometimes it’s a bit ridiculous. This is not the case here. There’s a good balance with his character between the immature humor and a sizable dose of wisdom.

Alex Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band, The Sitter, Coming Through the Rye) was a brilliant straight-man for this film. His delivery was so deadpan; it was beautiful. I haven’t seen any of his other work, but I am now inclined to look something else up – just to see how he handles a different type of role.

I think this movie has a lot to offer, is highly enjoyable, and I’d gladly recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 24%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 29%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. A small scene during the credits.

Movie Trailer: 

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