Best and Worst of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' 'Lay the Favorite,' 'The Surrogate'
What to see and avoid when these flicks come your way
Worst: 'Lay the Favorite'
Oy vey. There have been some bad star-filled indies to hit Park City over the years ("The Deal," "The Informers," "Motherhood," "The Nines" and "Twelve" immediately come to mind), but "Lay the Favorite" may trump them all. Take an acclaimed filmmaker ("The Queen's" Stephen Frears), a charismatic Hollywood star always looking to branch out (Bruce Willis), a talented actress ready to become a real star (Rebecca Hall), a former Oscar winner desperately looking for good material (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Beth Raymer's true story about going from private dancing to the world of sports betting and you should have something interesting right? So, so, wrong. "Favorite" is a mess of a comedy that isn't even watchable on a plane. In fact, it might be considered cruel and unusual punishment. The film's biggest problem is Hall's character (Raymer's inspiration) needed to be played by a broader comedy actress (say an "SNL" vet) because the intended and expected laughs just aren't there. Vince Vaughn pops in at times to do his "Vince Vaughn" shtick, but that just seems increasingly tired and out of a different movie. And poor Joshua Jackson playing the blandest straight man character ever. What a waste of his "Fringe" hiatus. Avoid at all costs.
- Gregory Ellwood