Premise: This fly homeboy in old timey New York is throwing nonstop parties, and they are BALLER, hoping that this scorchin hawt honey he’s huntin shows up so that he can steal her away from some rich bro who treats her with mad disrespect, yo. Or at least that’s how my neighbor Tucker describes it.
-The obvious one: awesome visuals, and frequently great cinematography. Baz Luhrmann nailed the look he was going for. The party scenes in particular were very well put together. The small handful of boring scenes in the film at least had some nice things to look at.
-The mostly anachronistic music choices (Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin” plays out of a car radio at one point) worked pretty well. Listen, you either dig the way the music choices were made, or you probably think that this was one of the dumbest movies you’ve ever seen. Again, Luhrmann was going for a very specific atmosphere, and he created it to the best you could ask for. Whether any of the choices he made created a great movie is debatable, but it would be hard to argue that he didn’t accomplish the task of making a $105 million dollar adaptation of The Great Gatsby with Jay Z and Black Eyed Peas songs about in the way you’d expect it would play out. I was half expecting the piano player at the parties to be played by Skrillex. Which, in retrospect, would have been awesome. And I don’t even like Skrillex.
-On that note, the regular orchestral music score for the film was excellent from what I remember (sips Merlot with pinkie extended).
-DiCaprio was very DiCaprio-y. I like his film choices for the most part, but he’s slowly starting to fall into the category of actors who constantly act the same way in every movie. But it’s an entertaining schtick.
-Joel Edgerton is awesome and should be in more things.
-While it probably leaned more heavily towards the melodramatic, I found the attempts at comedy to be funny. The film has a pretty broad sense of humor, but it fits.
-If you turn The Great Gatsby into a drinking game, and take a drink every time the term “Old Sport” is muttered; you will get fucked up. Like pass out on your front lawn and crap your pants fucked up. That being said, it’s kind of a badass thing to call everybody.
-At times, it has brilliantly chaotic editing. It keeps the whole thing rather entertaining.
-Does this really need to be two and a half hours long? The beginning is really interesting, and it picks up again at the end; but the middle drags for a while. I do recall at least five minutes of this movie in the second act where I have no idea what happened because I spaced out and was thinking about what I was going to have for dinner afterwards.
-Tobey Maguire didn’t do it for me. The actor or the character he played. Tobey’s narration was blotchy and his acting consisted of just staring at everything with a dopey face. It’s usually a problem when a film is told from the perspective of the most dull character. Aside from his plot developing shoving of the two central characters together, I don’t even see what the purpose of following Nick Carroway around throughout the movie is. OK, OK, hold on, I know, I’ve heard this is based on some book or something, I know… But for the sake of this movie, the filmmaker’s take on the character was that of a blank-staring dolt.
-The Jordan Baker character also didn’t do anything for me. Another “one-scene of essential plot development, yet we’re stuck following her around for the entire movie for some reason” kind of character.
-I understand that Daisy is attractive or whatnot, but she’s almost an insufferably whiny and aloof person. She’s one of those characters that we’re just supposed to believe is the greatest person to be around, and worthy of two guys fighting over, simply because the film literally TELLS us she is, but without actually showing evidence of a great personality on-screen.
-The film begins and ends with Nick in a mental institution, telling us the tale of Gatsby through his writing. I waited the entire movie for an valid explanation of what would have caused him to be in a hospital… and… I’m not sure what the explanation is…? I guess it was when he grew a beard and wandered the city aimlessly because he was sad during the final montage? I know in the first scene they literally show a piece of paper with his symptoms on it… but, that can’t actually be the sole rational as to why he’s in there, right? That feels… cheap. Or dumb. I’m not sure which.
-I saw the film in 2D, and there were very obvious moments that were meant to only be interesting in 3D; and they looked pretty silly in 2D. But if you like the kind of 3D where stuff flies at the screen a lot, I’m sure it looked great?
-This has nothing to do with the movie, but there is a Motley Crue concert playing on my TV in the background while I’m writing this review, and it’s terrible. But the Comcast controller is way out of reach. Seriously, Motley Crue only has like two good songs.
Final Thoughts: I wasn’t great at doing homework back in high school, so I can’t say whether or not I actually read The Great Gatsby. I probably owned it. Maybe even opened it? But I’d say it’s unlikely that I made it all the way to the end. I do remember watching the Robert Redford movie version in my junior year American Studies class, though, but all I recall from that is that a guy lived on a golf course or something, and someone died or something. I wasn’t good at high school… Regardless, this is a more memorable take on Gatsby, if only because it’s real purdy and has bright colors being thrown in my face virtually nonstop for 140 minutes. I vaguely remember the story having much deeper meaning than a guy throwing a bunch of awesome parties leading to a steamy love triangle, but I couldn’t say for sure. I just know the 1974 version didn’t have a soundtrack featuring The xx. But I did remember the billboard with the eyes on it. That was in the new one, too. Haha, everybody remembers that stupid billboard…
7.5 out of 10