Sometimes navel gazing is a good thing, if an artist looks truly and honestly inside him or herself for material. If they're truly gifted, and can tap into something universal or human, the result can be a masterwork. But if the artist finds himself too far removed from everyday life, or if their visions and ideas are too close to home to find a logical shape, the result can be something of a mess. Navel-gazing dramas are a dime a dozen, but it takes a special talent to try it with comedy. Judd Apatow's Funny People was the #1 movie in a very slow week, which shows that audiences were probably about as fond of it as critics were. I would bet the main complaint across the board was the same: it's too long. Either way, there's usually something interesting about these projects.

1. Elizabethtown (2005)
Though Apatow is catching up, Cameron Crowe is the #1 comedy navelgazer in the history of cinema. This rambling, sprawling thing was supposed to be a cute romantic comedy about a depressed schlub whose life is turned around by a cute airline stewardess. Unfortunately, too many useless subplots about funerals and forgotten bands get in the way, in addition to the fact that the male character is overwritten and underplayed by Orlando Bloom, and the female character is underwritten and overplayed by Kirsten Dunst. The whole thing culminates in a weird musical, mix-tape road trip odyssey that must have lit Crowe's fire, but didn't spark for anyone else.
categories Cinematical