Fasten your podbelts, its going to be a bumpy (and very long) night

I can’t sleep on planes. I envy those who can. My personal purgatory involves and endless series of red-eyes involving flyover states. On these flights, I will spy someone sleeping soundly as if auditioning for a role in a Serta ad. I will gawk, flummoxed by what I see. “How is it your environment is conducive to sleep while mine is only conducive for sciatica? Your chair is equally as uncomfortable as mine; you are also presumably surrounded by 200 strangers. How? What am I doing wrong?” I can only guess the latter is a similar question to the one Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has when he became the only one of this group of spaceship Passengers to wake early.

258 crew members and 5,000 Passengers are traveling .5 light speed to Homeland II (presumably for greater security), a planet 120 years away. We might like to know what Earth conditions are that allowed for this possibility and why folks wished to sacrifice their lives to escape, but that’s a different movie. In this one, Jim wakes up 30 years into the journey, everybody else is asleep, and being a peon, the guy ain’t got access to nothin’ but the bar tended by mechanical Michael Sheen and the Dance Dance Revolution room. I do hope you want to get your groove on for all eternity, inter-Stella.

 Passengers (2016)

Passengers (2016)

 The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)

This is either an extrovert’s Hell or an introvert’s Heaven, huh? Ok, even an introvert would get bored. Jim doesn’t even get that far; he sees the lack of people as an immediate problem. Luckily, he’s an engineer. All he needs to do is figure out how to get back to sleep. Oh, if it were only that easy. 90 years of “me” time. Ninety years. Be great if he were the guy with the really thick glasses in that “Twilight Zone” episode. But he isn’t, and loneliness has a price, even with a half-bartender — are the Passengers bar scenes supposed to resemble the same in The Shining? At Jim’s personal nadir, he discovers and becomes smitten with Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). His dilemma switches gears – does he awaken this sleeping beauty, thus impressing upon her a very strange death sentence?

It’s hard to disagree with the production thesis – let’s give two hours of screen time to Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence and, basically, nobody else. Who doesn’t like those two? Not me.  I did, however, find it a bit unnerving to have Jennifer Lawrence say my name about fifty times over the course of two hours. I’ve said forever and a day the key to good romance is wanting to fall in love with the players – a gorgeous woman repeating your name over and over doesn’t hurt, either. Oh, if only this picture hadn’t degenerated by Act III. Sigh.

Passengers is a talk show film, the kind of film that gets ridiculed in other films for being trite or cliché. Remember the tongue-in-cheek space film “Helix” that Julia Roberts advertises in Notting Hill? Yeah, that. Passengers is a film where the leads go on talk shows and passengers1get asked “what was it like to work with Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt?” And they ask this because pretty and occasionally clever as Passengers was, the film devolves from something potentially insightful and intriguing into something where you’re more concerned about Miss Lawrence’s wardrobe than her acting – and for very good reason – not that she was bad, more like this role didn’t bring out the best Jennifer Lawrence has to offer. It was high time Miss Lawrence escaped the David O. Russell/Bradley Cooper Christmas noose, but the little gold statues ain’t gonna come callin’ this year.

♪Looking out at the “road” rushing through the cosmos
Looking back at time gone by wishing companionship close
In minute five I woke up alive and was out on my own
I don’t know how much time has passed and I’m still alone

Slumming on, slumming the galley
Slumming on, slumming blind
Slumming on, slumming over the ship
With my loneliness bind

Every one I know, every where I go
I can see in twenty minutes time
I don’t know –literally- anyone but me
If it takes some years, I’ll exhaust my fears
Faces many/voices none, a dilemma sublime

Slumming on. Slumming on empty♫

Rated PG-13, 116 Minutes
D: Morten Tyldum
W: Jon Spaihts
Genre: The annual JLaw Oscar run
Type of person most likely to enjoy this film: People who can’t wait for celebrity couple “Chrennifer”
Type of person least likely to enjoy this film: Hal 2000

♪ Parody inspired by “Running on Empty”

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One Response to “Passengers” Subscribe

  1. A2 January 1, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    Bummer. I’d hoped this was going to be good

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