If there is a plan for all of us, I don't see why it had me eat so much pizza last night.
I nearly drowned from the dog trying to lick the marinara off my face.
This would make sense if the grand plan were being orchestrated by the owner of a Brooklyn-style pizza chain. Which would further explain why you can't walk down the street without getting invited to join the Church of the Giant Animatronic Singing Mouse. Or why they replaced the cane sugar in pop with inferior-tasting high fructose pepperoni syrup. Come to think of it, that'd also explain why thousands of different people have reported that at the light at the end of the tunnel, they saw a giant black mustache.
It's comforting to think there's a plan out there, even one run by people who think bony, tiny fish are a topping. But if there is, it sure doesn't seem to be run any better than the men-behind-the-curtain mind-bender The Adjustment Bureau.
After being beaten in the New York senate race, Matt Damon meets Emily Blunt hiding in the men's restroom. Their chemistry is instant, but before he can get her number, she's chased off by security.
By chance, he meets her on a bus three years later. Before he knows it, he's dragged to another dimension by John Slattery, an employee of the Adjustment Bureau, the organization that makes sure people's lives follow the master plan. They have Damon's life all plotted out -- and Blunt isn't supposed to be a part of it.
In accordance with the Sci-Fi Movie Summit of 1998, in which it was declared that no other source material may be adapted for scripts besides superheroes and the short stories of Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Bureau is loosely based on a Dick story (thank God for capital letters). How loosely? If the all-wise, all-knowing Wikipedia is to be believed, about as loose as promiscuous mozzarella.
Oh well. I'm not one of those people who starts yelling at the screen when an adaptation diverges from the source. The Adjustment Bureau starts strong enough to forget all that anyway, racing with confident purpose through Damon's campaign, the scandal that derails him and his meeting with Blunt. Writer/director George Nolfi nicely captures Damon's charisma, Blunt's troublemaking spirit and the immediate spark between them. Foundation laid, the movie is poised to get all Dickishly mind-bending.
Instead, it gets dickishly boring. The reasons they want to stop Damon and Blunt from seeing each other naked are doled out with all the predictability and creativity of an assembly line. That makes safety scissors. Painted gray. Slattery's magnetic on Mad Men, but despite his snappy hat, his constant info-dumps leave him little room to build a presence here.
So rather than dragging us deeper down the rabbit hole, the exposition swings between stuff we've already guessed and stuff that's no fun. The details of the Bureau's activities are withheld so long that when the answers arrive, they're disappointingly generic.
Which is weird, because Damon's deductions about what Slattery and the Bureau are up to are well-crafted, providing just enough info for us to follow.
Meanwhile, however, Damon's actual efforts to thwart his fate feel rushed and undercooked as a spaghetti dinner made for obnoxious in-laws. Except with less rat poison. The further The Adjustment Bureau descends into its cliched, unappetizing mythology, the more it undercuts the strength of its assured first act. By the end, I would have preferred if a strange man in a nice hat had directed me to another theater instead.
* Contact Ed Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org. His fiction is available on Kindle through Amazon.