Tuesday, May 28, 2024

This is NOT Us: Hit TV Show’s Creator Braces for a Flop with Amazon Movie Release, “Life Itself”


The first thing that should tip us off about tomorrow’s Dan Fogelman movie release is the title, “Life Itself.” That was just recently the name of a well liked documentary about the late movie critic Roger Ebert. So what’s that all about?

Fogelman is the creator of the hit TV show, “This is Us,” which has a loyal following despite its treacly plot twists and crazy time jumping. In its first two seasons, “This is Us” had so many “surprises” and “revelations” it pretty much wore itself out. The only surprise left is that all the characters are dead, and that their grandchildren are telling the story.

Now comes “Life Itself,” which is manipulative and contrived. The story is so jerry-rigged from the beginning you can guess the twists in the first 20 minutes, if you’re still sitting in your seat. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 13% this morning, which is kind. You can get away with this stuff on TV, I suppose, where it’s all stretched out. But in a movie, where you have the audience’s undivided attention, it’s a different story. The hokum of “Life Itself” is just blaring in a large, dark room.

The movie is the fourth to be distributed by Amazon Studios, which seems to be struggling. Already this year they’ve released “You Were Never Really Here” ($2.5 mil gross) and “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot” ($1.4 mil). After doing so well with “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Big Sick,” they’re definitely having some growing pains.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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