Premise: Dennis (Paul Giamatti) is an ex-convict released on parole after serving four years for robbery. He comes home to his family in Quebec, and his wife informs him that she told his daughter that he died of cancer a year ago, because she didn’t want him to be part of the family anymore. So, with no family and no job prospects (THANKS STEVEN HARPER), he convinces his former thief buddy Rene (Paul Rudd) to be partners on Rene’s annual business venture of selling Christmas trees in New York in a trash-filled lot, to make any kind of money to buy his daughter a Christmas present. I’m pretty sure this movie is supposed to be a comedy.
-Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd (the Pauls!) do the best they can with what they have to work with, but they aren’t even asked to do that much. I guess if you want to see Paul Rudd do a dramatic crying scene, you can see that here.
-I don’t know what the budget was for this movie, but it’s obviously low. Really low. If it weren’t for the big name stars, I’d assume this was a well-made student film from Canada or something. Oh, I meant that as a positive because they did a lot with a little, I guess.
-It has some interesting themes to read into, especially about the notion of crime, and how it never really leaves their lives, even when they go straight. They still do legal forms of “theft”, like stealing the other guy’s wife. Or how they get robbed by another thief. I did kind of enjoy how, even though they had the “best intentions” throughout the whole movie, they still had to resort to stealing stuff to make their end goal happen. THIEVES GONNA THIEVE.
-Giamatti rocks an awesome mutton-chop beard in this. I’m almost convinced that he took the role in this movie just so he’d have an excuse to grow that beard.
-As uneven as the movie is, I thought the (predictable) ending was still pretty heartwarming. If anyone has to play “guy who depressingly owns up to past mistakes without a fuss,” I’d prefer it to be Paul Giamatti. Dude has some sad eyes.
-I don’t know if the music was intentionally bad for comedic effect, or just they just purchased cheap, slightly-off stock Christmas music that wasn’t infringing on copyright laws, to save money…? Like “Jangle All the Way”, or “Santa Claus is Coming to Your Neighborhood”, or “Randy the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, where every fourth note is in a slightly different key than the original… But either way, I didn’t like it.
-It’s a movie of weird accents. Clearly the director and/or writer are from French Canada, and they cast a supporting group of actors that all either speak French, or have French accents. The only thing is, Dennis and Rene, who are characters immersed in this environment (they give no backstory saying they are from anywhere else) have American accents and mannerisms. So in a sea of Frenchies, they just act like two dudes from USA. At the beginning of the movie, Dennis even asks his parole officer to not speak in French. Though, in one scene, JUST ONE SCENE, Rene finally has Canadian speech patterns and is all about the “aboots” and the “drahma” and such. It must have been the first scene they filmed or something, and they decided to stop it after that…? I really don’t know.
-Then don’t even get me started on why Sally Hawkins was cast as a Russian woman, with the most “Moose and Squirrel” stereotype Russian accent I’ve ever heard. I’d almost be offended, if I cared more. But she calls Wheel of Fortune “Fortune Wheel” and is constantly talking about dentists for some reason. I think I missed the initial explanation of the dentist problem, but she talks about dentists nonstop. I think it was supposed to be quirky writing? HA! OH, INDIE MOVIES!
-It’s got an odd pacing and is about 20 minutes too long.
-Whoa, this is a bad movie poster:
Final Thoughts: I was curious as to what the deal with this movie was. Like how much did it cost? Why did Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd agree to be in it? How long did it take to shoot this movie? When did they shoot this movie? Why is a Christmas movie getting released in September? Is it just to sell DVDs in December? But upon attempting to do some research, I quickly learned that All is Bright doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Yikes. From doing a little sleuthing, I found out the movie is directed by the guy whose only other film is Junebug from 2005, BUT he also directed a bunch of episodes of Upright Citizens Brigade (which is an awesome credential to have). This is the first screenplay of the lady who wrote it. It also was originally to be called “Almost Christmas.” Those are called fun facts. You’re welcome. Only four critics have seen it on Rotten tomatoes, and there’s only one audience review there too. Gosh, am I only the 6th person to ever see this movie?! That’s a scary thought. I only knew it existed by stumbling upon its trailer, by chance, on the internet… Anywaaaaaay, All is Bright is a bit of a labor to get through, but I actually kind of (and I do mean just KIND OF) liked it after it was all over. Not a great selling point, I know; to say a movie is hard to watch, but is possibly rewarding if you can make it all the way through, but that’s how I feel about it. It’s not a total failure. Only a slight failure. But that’s still a form of failure.
5.5 out of 10