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I had always heard good things about this film, but had never gotten the chance to check it out. I am a fan of Danny Boyle’s work from Transpotting to 28 Days Later. A Life Less Ordinary has a lot of aspects that Boyle later used in his child fairy-tale Millions from inventive camera tricks to a melding of fantasy sequences with reality. The main thing taken from this viewing however is the tragedy that Ewan McGregor and Boyle may never work together again. Ewan proves here again to have done some of his best work, and the work that got him noticed, with his old friend and producing partner. It is a real shame that after their differences, stemming from Boyle’s casting of Leo DiCaprio instead of McGregor on The Beach, causes their creativity to never join again. At least we have some great films to show from it while it lasted.

McGregor’s and Cameron Diaz’s characters are fated to fall in love. God has deemed it so and the chief of police in Heaven has got his best team on the job to make sure it happens. Unfortunately for them, the hysterical Delroy Lindo and Holly Hunter, if they fail at their job they must stay on Earth forever. Let’s just say they think out of the box and do everything in their powers to make love strike. After a botched powertrip turns into a kidnapping, McGregor soon finds that his victim is starting to call the shots in order to make the crime successful. Comedy ensues as the two leads go on their journey to get back at Diaz’s rich father and make some money in the mean time. Whether their time together results in a Cupid’s arrow sort of love remains to be seen, but as the two orchestrate the crime while Heaven’s police conduct the circumstances, the audience just goes along for the ride.

Boyle uses an enormous cast of great actors that come and go through the proceedings. Stanley Tucci is fantastic, Tony Shaloub is great in a role that at first seemed unbelievably wasted, but, in a turn like that of Silent Bob in Chasing Amy, comes through with the poignant and funny anecdote needed to continue the plot, and Timothy Olyphant is a welcome face and humorous in a very bit part. The sheer number of cameos are too many to mention, but Maury Chaykin deserves singling out as the hick country man who’s simple mind adds many laughs, including the song and dance number he introduces with McGregor and Diaz singing Beyond the Sea. While filled with clichés and homage galore, the film moves along at a fast pace utilizing each aspect to full effect creating a satire on both the kidnap and romantic comedy genres. We even get treated to a reenactment of the memorable Tim Roth/Harvey Keitel getaway scene from Reservoir Dogs. The film gets everything right with pitch-perfect timing and tongue-in-cheek acting mixed with some real emotional performances when called upon. Every song enhances the visuals on screen, especially a nicely placed REM tune while our characters are in peril. Even the claymation ending credit sequence is a joy to watch.

Boyle proves to me here that he can do it all: the gritty drug lifestyle drama, the romantic comedy, the socially conscious zombie kill spree, and the family-friendly morality tale. Those are just the ones I’ve seen from his filmography, so it will be a pleasure to see how he continues on his string of successes without yet going to the same well. We’ll see how his first foray into the science fiction genre turns out when Sunshine is released in the coming months. While he and old friend McGregor had a great run, we can always hope that one day they will reconcile and bring us that sequel to Trainspotting that has been bandied about the rumormill.

A Life Less Ordinary 8/10

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