TMG Scale  4.0
Starring Matt Damon and some other good actors but no real “stars” Jay Mohr, Richard Kind and Steve Schirripa perhaps.

I am still reeling (pun intended) that I am rating a Clint Eastwood film starring Matt Damon so low.  Truth is,  I might  have given it an even lower score. I am just giving Eastwood some benefit of the doubt.  Eastwood nearly walks on water as far as TMG is concerned.   This hurts. It’s painful. I feel like I am betraying my best friend here.  If I want to get this sad and introspective, I’ll just drop in at the funeral of some young child I don’t know. If you have seen this film, tell me where I am wrong here. When I left the theatre,  I walked outside to a rainy, cold and dreary day and it only refreshed me and lifted my spirits. I haven’t felt that relieved since leaving Poke’mon in 2000.  I am either right on here or I need a way overdue vacation from popcorn and musty theatres.

This film really had a stunning start. I was all set. An incredible tsunami scene where a hot investigative reporter for French television gets swept away and nearly killed. Great cinematography. Ten minutes later, I was just  lost and depressed. At 30 minutes,  I nearly walked out. It was noon on a Sunday. I was full of coffee and ready for a provocative tunnel and white light trip  into the hereafter. I had not been to church yet.  I was ready to buy into anything spiritual.

Hereafter tries to chronicle and then bring together (as if by fate rather than pure contrivance) a blue-collar American (Matt Damon), a French journalist and a London school boy named Marcus who are all touched by death in compelling circumstances. There were some brief moments. Damon has a touching moment giving a message to young Marcus how his dead twin saved him from a subway bombing by knocking his ball cap off his head. TMG was spared a like fate trying to find a cup of coffee at 12:14 Pm EST in the New York World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. Was it just caffeine deprivation or my near twin directing events from the Hereafter?  The Lord and my brother only know. These are very cool things to contemplate.

Matt Damon is often just mesmerizing. He could sit and read a Scottish cook book in his pajamas and I might find it entertaining.  His ability to channel from the dead holds him hostage to himself. He considers it a curse rather than a gift. He tries to avoid his gift rather than exploit and capitalize on it.  The film should have just focused on that theme. It had huge promise. But writer Peter Morgan just throws in the kitchen sink as if to see what will stick. Nothing does. I have not seen anything this disjointed since watching Evel Knievel after his failed jump over the Caesar’s Palace Fountains in 1967.

Plot?  Forget it. No sign of one anywhere. Near death experiences have been documented for centuries. Psychics who can channel from the hereafter are nothing new.  What was the ill-fitting cooking class doing in this film other than try to sponge off the craze of cooking shows now on television? Three product placements for Apple computer in this film only gave me hope that the Trinity are indeed ” All Mac Guys.”  Pushing a sleek BMW and C&H Sugar were beyond the pale..

Great Directors like Eastwood often feel the need to push the envelope. Same for uber-talented actors like Damon.  But even Brett Favre threw a few interceptions in his career and Michael Jordan  missed a few jump shots. I hear Picasso applied a few ill-conceived canvas efforts to a spoiled fish dinner or two.  Elvis once gave a bad concert.  Well maybe not. But Hereafter is forgivable error. If TMG tried to make a film I am sure even the likes of Norman Vincent Peale couldn’t find it in their hearts to find anything good about it.  Film making is hard.  A film about the hereafter is real hard. Swimming the English Channel is real, real hard. I could never do it but I sure can tell when anyone drowns halfway across. I can tell when Favre gets sacked. I saw when Jordan fell in the paint.

Watch Hereafter, and then see a film like Phenomenon (1996)  with John Travolta.  Which one had you more fulfilled and entertained? Well, you know how I feel.