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Review: 'Memorial Day' suffers from battle fatigue

There's nothing memorable about this generic tale of a military family.

May 25, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • A scene from "Memorial Day."
A scene from "Memorial Day." (Perspective Films )

No, the aptly-timed "Memorial Day" isn't Garry Marshall's latest holiday-centric rom-com. Rather, it's a self-conscious, leadenly-paced drama that conflates the World War II combat experiences of stalwart Bud Vogel (John Cromwell) with those of his future grandson, Kyle (Jonathan Bennett), who fights in Iraq 60 years later.

These generic and overlong, if capably shot, battle scenes are juxtaposed via a strained pair of framing devices. The first, set on Memorial Day 1993, finds the now-elderly Bud (James Cromwell) reluctantly relating his war stories to a 13-year-old Kyle (Jackson Bond) as the earnest boy picks through his grandpa's wartime foot locker.

The next takes place in 2005 in an Iraq military hospital as a wounded, adult Kyle recounts that fateful 1993 Memorial Day to his curiously interested doctor (Emily Fradenburgh). Between all the flashbacks and flash-forwards, you'll need a scorecard.

Perhaps the chief problem with the film, which lands on DVD Tuesday, is that the older Bud is drawn as such a stern, closed-off grump, it's hard to muster much empathy for his grandson's devotion, particularly during the treacly later scenes. But, like much else here, their relationship is not as profound and, well, memorable, as director Sam Fischer and writer Marc Conklin struggle to convince us.

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"Memorial Day." MPAA rating: R for some war violence. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo7, North Hollywood.

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