Monday, May 1, 2017

Looking At Movies - The Circle (2017)

The last movie role Bill Paxton ever played was Vinnie, the heroine's father in the 2017 release The Circle. Paxton's performance as a man with multiple sclerosis who is just trying to live his life was extremely convincing and added depth to the movie. The problem is that, in a cast filled with names everyone knows from Emma Watson to Tom Hanks, Paxton was the only person who actually delivered a deep and convincing performance. The rest of the movie takes a wonderful premise and turns it into a snoozefest.

The Circle follows the exploits of small town girl Mae (Emma Watson) as she makes the leap to the big city to work for the world's largest Internet social media company. In what seems like a matter of weeks, she becomes buddy-buddy with the CEO of the company Bailey (Tom Hanks) and the COO Stenton (Patton Oswalt of all people), her ideas become company policy, and she becomes recognized as someone who changes the world. We are never really given any reason for her to be considered so special by the company, but we all watch as she goes from being a nobody to a huge somebody in an improbable short period of time.

There were points when I really liked this movie, but there were more times when I was just confused. The message the movie tries to convey should be obvious, but it gets lost in vague and non-specific writing and some really bad character development. Does Mae really fall in love with being watched 24/7, or is it an act? Is Bailey a bastard, or does he really care about people and just happens to have a dark private side that most people have? And why is Stenton in this movie? He serves no purpose at all.

The Circle promises a grand look into the evils of social media, but then it fails to deliver in almost every respect. Instead of the characters being poorly developed, they are just not developed at all. None of the characters have any depth, nor does it seem like any of them have a conscience. Bailey gets outed as an egomaniac, or is he? Bailey's real intentions are never discussed or displayed, so we have no idea how to react when the climax of the movie starts to unveil itself. Stenton doesn't act like an evil sidekick, he is just kind of . . . . there.

My wife and I always talk about the movie we just saw at the drive-in as we are driving home, and she agreed that there is a potentially great movie hiding under this comatose attempt at drama. Mae is extremely difficult to understand. If there was some sort of transition that went on for her during the movie, it was almost impossible to see. One minute she seems overwhelmed by social media, and the next she is literally the queen of social media. There is nothing in between, and that lack of depth makes it really hard to follow this movie.

I want to recommend this movie because, to me, any movie looks great on a drive-in screen. But unless you are a big Emma Watson fan, then this movie does not have much to offer. The plot is subtle, but it is also underdeveloped. The characters are confusing and, in some cases, shallow. The writing is generic and, at times, boring. So, to be honest, I will leave this one up to you. You can never go wrong with a night at the drive-in, but I don't think that The Circle will do very well in Blu-Ray sales.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a movie fanatic who is not the biggest Emma Watson fan. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at