Craig's Screening Room: "The Giver"

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In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world.
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“The Giver” is a book I know I had to read in school but little did I know I was going to be smothered in the same story every time I had to review another movie aimed at young adults. Honestly the hardest question this movie brings up is if I had to pick between another movie about romantic vampire teens or teens in love who rebel against dystopian futures, would I rather watch “The Smurfs” instead? The answer is probably so. I don’t remember the source material here, but this movie just seems like it’s trying to capitalize on the same audience in love with those “Divergent” books.

 

All the more disappointment here then since Lois Lowry’s book came out first and is supposedly a classic. We have a world where people have been prescribed anti-everything medication, making them docile, similar bores. Kids in this community go through a profession ceremony based on their attributes. Jonah (Brenton Thwaites) is kind of a jack of all trades and so he is picked to be the next receiver of memories, working with the Giver (Jeff Bridges), who gives Jonah a free pass to lie and be rude while studying the past to give advice to people in the present. His training cannot be shared with friends.

 

Based on a novel that’s supposedly thought provoking, it’s hard to rev up much thought when your movie just keeps coming up with simplistic analysis like “love is nice, war and violence are bad.” The movie’s concern is between Jonah and the High Chancellor (Meryl Streep), who feels Jonah is having too much fun learning about music, snow, weddings, and various things this emotionless society has left behind. That just means the movie is humorless, and if the best director Phillip Noyce can do to show real passion in the world is to go from black and white to color filming, then he should really watch “Wizard of Oz” or Pleasantville” again to see it done right. Later he adds drones in a vague attempt to make this look like a thriller, but at that point it’s already “droned” on in other ways too much to care.

 

A bearded Bridges spends most of his time in his pajamas and slippers, looking pretty morose. You wonder what led to him wanting to produce this thing. The rest of the movie is so bland that it seems cruel to even try to review other performances. I will say that Taylor Swift is in this thing and a fun game might be trying to spot her (I did not) and the movie ends so simplistically that I doubt it even makes sense. But at that point, like I said, it’s hard to care.