There is a paradox in my life. On the one hand I am constantly watching films (both good and bad), while others in my household pretty much never watch a movie. For example, my doggy seems totally uninterested in the art of cinema (what a rube). So when I find a film that piques the interest of those nearest and dearest to my heart I jump at the opportunity. Wicker Park was one such film. The result is that I actually watched Wicker Park in the not too distant past. My conclusion then is pretty much my conclusion now (and I’ll save that for the end), but a sneak peak is what one of the members of my household thought: “great soundtrack.” It’s true, classic early 2000’s soundtrack that coincided with the greatest soundtrack run of our lifetimes: The OC. The other member had a different view: “I’m a dog, I don’t understand music, but Matthew Lillard was surprisingly charming.” Astute point, Sprinkles.
Quick recap, Matt has returned to Chicago to work for his (soon to be) fiance’s family’s advertising firm. We learn that a couple years ago he left Chicago heartbroken after the loss of his one true love: Lisa. Matt is given a big break by being sent to China to close a big deal, but just before he is set to leave he thinks he catches a glimpse of Lisa. He decides to delay his trip in order to find his true love. Thus begins the most suspenseful aspect of the film: the will he, won’t he… travel to China to close the deal. Come on, man! You can find Lisa when you get back. It’s like… a big deal for your company! If you’re not going to go, just tell them so they can send someone else to close it… gah! Sorry… I was just really worried about the deal. He left a lot of people hanging (I presume). Don’t be a dick. Anyway, with the help of his friend Luke he is able to find the apartment where “Lisa” is staying but finds a different girl there instead. Unbeknownst to him, this “Lisa” is actually an actress named Alex who is dating Luke (by coincidence?). In flashbacks we see that she was a good friend of Lisa who was secretly obsessed with Matt. So when Matt asks Lisa to move to NYC with him and Lisa balks (for reasons unknown) and coincidentally also gets a crazy urgent request to move to Europe it results in Alex playing a dastardly game of telephone where she deceives both of them into believing the other wronged them. In the present day, Matt sleeps with Alex (who he thinks is Lisa (but not that Lisa)), but almost immediately starts to get suspicious. In the meantime the real Lisa realizes that Matt is looking for her and tries her best to get him to meet her in… you know where. Ultimately Matt revelased Alex’s deception, chases Lisa to the airport, and they smooch right after he brushes away his GF and is all like “uh, I didn’t even go to China cause I suck.” THE END.
Confused? It’s actually not all that confusing because it’s actually just very silly. A lot of silly coincidences occur that keep Lisa and Matt apart. Like, think about the chances that Alex ends up dating Luke just when Lisa has returned to NYC and Matt runs into his old friend and starts hanging out with him? Or that Lisa has to leave for Europe within the hour just when Matt has asked her to move in with him? This is Coincidences: The Movie. The stakes also seemed very low. Just a bunch of silly people duping each other in mostly harmless ways and then everything working out. Acting was good though and the soundtrack is great. I do wish they made more films like this, but I’d suggest adding some thrills.
Very quick Hot Take Clam Bake. Josh Hartnett is the villain of the film. You had one job, man. Your future brother-in-law gave you the big job of closing the China deal. You are a low confidence weenie, but he believes in you. He honestly sounds like a great future bro-in-law and you could have a beautiful professional and personal relationship with him. But no, you totally leave him hanging. At least have the common decency to let someone (anyone!) know. Does it say something about me that this was the most stressful and memorable aspect of the film for me? I couldn’t stop thinking about that meeting and this idiot’s complete lack of professionalism. Lisa probably drops him like a hot potato once she finds out about the China Fiasco. She would probably be horrified by his behavior. Hot Take Temperature: Smoky Adobo.
‘Ello everyone! Wicker Park? More like Sick and Dark, amirite? Remember when you could make a film about sad people walking around Chicago for two hours and then just end a film in the cheesiest possible way? Those were the days. Let’s go!
- Two movies in a row where if someone asked me “should I watch this movie” I would scream “hellllllllllllls naw.” These films are bad (per se), that would make me recommend them (natch). They are just in the middle and kind of nothing.
- And this is the king of the nothing film. There once was a time long ago where independent cinema became infatuated with stories that roamed across a city filled with greys and browns. Tired of that corporate humdrum the protagonists searched for the dream girl who could unlock the arteeeeest within them and allow them to live that bohemian lifestyle they truly aspire for.
- Or something like that. The films, in reality, tended to wax poet about nothing for 90 minutes, and this is no exception.
- I will say that I found this film to be anxiety inducing. Harnett misses not one but possibly three flights to China? He’s missing meetings. People are calling him. People are surprised he is there (and not, you know … in China). I can’t even imagine what is happening at Faceless Corporate Media HQ. “We missed what meeting? But we sent Harnett. Get Harnett on the horn now! Oh no, something horrible must have happened to Harnett, call the hospitals.” Meanwhile, Harnett is just sleeping in random hotel rooms trying to avoid his fiance and narrowly missing his ex. The movie might as well be called Patrick’s Anxiety Nightmare. Harnett goes to a play and misses his third flight to China! Why are you going to a play?! Go to China you lunatic! People are relying on you! You made a whole sales pitch about … something I’m sure was important. All a waste. What a shame.
- I suppose the only interesting thing about it is the twisty twistiness. They did feel the need to layer coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence until the whole story fell apart around Rose Byrne and her unrequited love.
- And then as mentioned you get the cheesy ending where (presumably) Hartnett and his lady love live a poor bohemian lifestyle in the Wicker Park area of Chicago.
- I thought Hartnett, as usual, was solid. If you are into these kinds of movies (and/or live in the year 2000) I can see why it could be a three out of four star affair. Which is what Ebert gave it. There is a compelling argument there. But not really my cup of tea overall.
- A natural A+ Setting (Where?) for Wicker Park in Chicago. And a decent case for Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that Rose Byrne was behind all of the bad things in Harnett’s life. Closest to Bad just because it is boring, but I could entertain an argument for something else (although I’d never watch this film again, so it better be a good argument).
Hear all about the sequel to Wicker Park: Wicker Park 2: Huangpu Park. Cheerios,