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Movie review: 'Waiting for Forever'

The reality-challenged film is an insipid contemporary fairy tale about a lovestruck young vagabond

February 04, 2011|By Robert Abele

At least when Peter Pan refused to grow up, we got flying, island peril, heroism and pirates as part of the package. With "Waiting for Forever," an insipid contemporary fairy tale about a lovestruck young vagabond shadowing a childhood sweetheart he can't bring himself to approach, we get stalking, juggling and cancer. Happy Valentine's Day!

It's rare to find a movie protagonist who singularly fails on every count to be a compelling, sympathetic or even understandable figure, but dopey street performer Will (Tom Sturridge) is one such character. If his twee bowler-hat/vest/checkered-pajamas get-up doesn't reel your eyes upward — and make you mourn for the term "Chaplinesque" — then his irritatingly moony behavior, open-mouthed looks of infantile confusion and reality-challenged outlook should.

The object of Will's affection — better yet, affectation — is Emma (Rachel Bilson), the girl who, when they were children, helped him through the tragic death of his parents. Since losing touch with her, though, Will has tracked her to every city she's lived in — and now their hometown, where most of the movie takes place. His operating principle is that a day in which he might see Emma is better than a day in which he knows he'll never see her, a sentiment one can only imagine screenwriter Steve Adams picked up from the depositions of convicted stalkers.

That Emma is a melancholic TV actress with a canceled series who's back home to tend to her dying father (Richard Jenkins) and distraught mother (Blythe Danner) only makes Will's fantasy quest seem that much more tone-deaf. Whenever his fed-up brother (Scott Mechlowicz) shows up to burst Will's merry-misfit bubble with intimations of mental unhealthiness, the effect is supposed to be true-love buzzkill. Instead, he's like a voice of reason.

Bilson's sense of nervous accommodation, then dawning worry, is spot-on when Will finally engages with Emma halfway through, but she can't sell the inevitable as director James Keach haphazardly stumbles toward happy-ending-land. Sturridge's task, meanwhile, is so impossible it will hopefully — for the sake of this gung-ho (and for all one knows, perfectly talented) young man's career — warrant its own post-traumatic disconnect: trying to forget it ever happened.


"Waiting for Forever." MPAA rating: PG-13 for some violent content, brief language and thematic material. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At Pacific's The Grove Stadium 14, Los Angeles

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