The second episode of Jane the Virgin (on Monday, Oct. 20) was as well-written as the first. This CW series is the new Desperate Housewives—i.e. the new plebeian, seriocomic soap—but so far it’s better than Housewives. It’s livelier and more amusing and, well, somehow a little less plebeian. Too, it’s moving (in the second episode), notwithstanding the gimmicky tear falling in slow-mo from the eye of Yael Grobglas’s Petra.
Gina Rodriguez is appealingly fine as Jane, resourceful and not as conventional as she could be. Yara Martinez also impresses as a doctor named Luisa, strikingly subdued in pain and fear. Among the men, Jaime Camil never overdoes his comic vigor as a telenovela star.
The ratings for Jane have been decent. Let’s hope the show remains decent.
I don’t know much about defense attorneys, but I don’t completely buy the depiction of them, or of one of the prosecutors (David Krumholtz), in David Dobkin’s new film, The Judge (2014). There’s something utterly specious here. Still, although this legal drama is not terribly good, it isn’t terribly bad—or even plain bad—either. It has Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall (as convincing as ever), Vincent D’Onofrio (full of depth), and Billy Bob Thornton. Critic David Edelstein is right about its “picturesque” outdoor shots. It has a story of very limited strength, but at least some strength is there.
That said, allow me to comment also that I like old movies (significantly old) because they were prohibited from showing the kind of gross vomiting and diarrheal excreting that The Judge gives us. Ugh!
Riding in Cars With Boys is what finally gets Beverly Donofrio (Drew Barrymore) pregnant. The young man (Steve Zahn) who must then marry her eventually turns into a junkie; Beverly throws him out. Raising her little boy alone, she is permanently prevented from going to college, and must forever wonder whether she is a good mom or a bad one. She loves her son, but her life disappoints her. She writes about it in the book on which this 2001 Penny Marshall film is based.
Anything but disreputable, Riding is felt and attentive to character. Its comedy, however, is lame, and sentimentality sometimes creeps in. The latter might not been so bothersome had scriptwriter Morgan Upton Wood been a little less unflattering toward the young men in the film. Middle-aged men like the one James Woods plays are treated respectfully, but the young guys are either stereotypes or close to it. At the same time, Ward nonsensically compliments women on their compassion with a line Beverly’s husband speaks to his son: “Even total screw-ups they want to help.”
Zahn and, as Beverly’s best friend, Brittany Murphy, provide some winsome seriocomic acting. James Woods is quietly compelling as the heroine’s father, but a redheaded Barrymore founders. She could have been fine, but she chose to be histrionic. Too bad Penny “Laverne & Shirley” Marshall didn’t restrain her.