This is from Lions Gate, which
could be good or bad. I don't recognize any of the crew, but
they did release the pretty cool Dagon, so they apparently
know quality when they see it and don't feel the need to screw it up
with chunks of non-quality, just for variety or hubris or
We start out with a nice house in the country. A mother and daughter have an awkwardly acted conversation about why the mom plants sunflowers all the time. The mom explains seasonal planting using the almanac, and the daughter announces that dad thinks the almanac is all made up stuff. Mom avers that dad doesn't know everything. They do note that dad knows a lot about weather, and we cut to a CGI stormy sky with some guy (off camera) saying it looks really nasty.
We cut to this guy, he is taping the storm with a video camera. He and his bearded friend make technical talk about the storm, opining that it's big and nasty and they've not seen the like. They decide to call in this weather, and they phone the Tulsa Weather Board with their info. The Weather Bureau Guy notes that they are in the middle of it and it looks bad, but the guys in the van say they have “high probability of vortex formation” that should happen “any minute.” They note that the Bureau should “issue a warning.”
Well, the guy at the Bureau hangs up the phone and grabs another to issue this warning, but a kind of pasty-faced guy in a dark suit asks if they have visual confirmation. They don't, and the rule is, no warning without visual confirmation. “This is the Weather Bureau, we're not a psychic shop,”says Pasty.
Back at the farm, the winds are starting to kick up, and mom notices this. She asks the daughter to wait at the picnic table, and she goes around to look in the backyard. As she gazes in awe, a tornado forms in the skies, touches down, and starts to move menacingly toward the house.
Well, mom ducks back to the daughter and, trying to keep her voice calm, gets daughter to follow, as they head toward the shelter. All the time, the little girl is asking what's wrong, while we here in videoland can hear the strong winds on the soundtrack; either hearing is not her strong suit, or the mix is different in real life. As they run across the open ground to the shelter (which I thought were usually in the basements of the main house, not off somewhere else, but what do I know), a lightning bolt strikes a tree and it falls, pinning mom's legs to the ground. Daughter goes back to help.
Back to the guys in the van, they walk slowly around the van, casting worried glances in the direction of the storm. I'm not exactly sure what they're waiting for... Eventually, one of them says that the storm isn’t funneling here, it's moved off somewhere else.
Back at the farm, mom persuades daughter to run to the shelter. There's lots of hugging and stuff.
Back at the van, they watch the storm clouds move off leisurely, and they get a call from the Weather Bureau, who tells them the tornado touched down in “Highland County.” The guy who was videotaping the clouds gets a worried look, and he pops into the driver's seat. They roar off down the highway.
Back at the farm, daughter runs to the shelter (which is just a little outhouse type opening) and goes inside. Mom continues to cry out as the funnel gets closer and bits of the barn start shearing off.
Back in the van, they call the Weather Bureau, trying to get more info. The guy there says there may be multiple twisters, and he sheepishly admits the warning didn't go out until after the touchdown. In the van, they pass another twister (I think) a mile or so off the road.
Or maybe it's the same one, as Bearded Guy says something like, “Look,” and Video Guy says “Mary...!”
And we're back on the farm, and now the twister is starting to tear up the house, too. The destruction is kind of nicely detailed—planks and bits of siding and such are all whipped off, no major structural parts get ripped away. The eye of the twister approaches mom, and we get a rapid zoom to her and fade to black.
And then, the skies seem clear and the van is racing past scenes of devastation, whole houses ripped to shreds (with no parts anywhere around, though) and people hugging each other. The van pulls up to the house...a freeze frame still shows the hugging people, I think...Video guy just stands there, and we get the credits (around seven and a half minutes in. To be fair, I was kind of caught up in this, and didn't notice the lack of credits.)
As the credits are shown, accompanied by mournful piano music, we get audio of newsreaders telling us about the devastation, while we see scenes of this very devastation and rescue workers and such.
And the credits concluded, we cut to Portland Oregon, where another subtitle tells us this is now Ten Years Later. It's nighttime, and it's raining like crazy.
Video Guy, who is called Pete and will be so referred to here on in, is sitting in a car with another guy, who complains, “What ever happened to Spring? It's cold.” He gets no response from Pete, so he repeats himself until he gets attention. I've known a lot of guys like that. The guy, who is named Lou, complains about Pete's non-communicative nature.
Pete says his mind is somewhere else.
Lou comically (quote unquote) repeats his assertion that “It's cold” and waits for Pete's response.
“There's a low pressure front coming down from Canada, connecting with the Jet Stream,” Pete answers, “It's unusual for this time of year, but it's not unheard of.”
“That's a conversation? That's a weather report,” Lou replies, and he isn't funny. Sorry guys. He'd better work on being a juggler or something. He notes that if he mentioned he was hungry, would Pete give him the chemical components of a cheeseburger?
“Weather's something I know about, you know?” Pete answers. Lou decides he's going to get a cup of coffee, and Pete asks for some as well. Lou steps out of the car, and while we still hear the rain, we don't see it any more. Inside the car, it was coming down in buckets; outside, no puddles stir.
As Lou leaves, the police radio fires up. All units are warned about a yellow Volvo, and just then, it speeds past Pete's car.
As an aside, I guess Pete got out of the weather business, and became a cop? Unless—and this is a horrible thought—this is just another actor who looks like Pete. But then, he has that weather hobby.
Pete roars off in his huge car and quickly gets right up behind the Volvo. He calls on the radio for more cops. Inside the Volvo is a youngish looking guy with a jacket. (He reminds me of someone.)
The chase goes on for a bit, but it's pretty well shot and edited. Finally, Pete chases the Volvo into some kind of factory, and the Volvo runs into some barrels. The guy tries to run, but Pete pulls his gun and the guy stops. Pete gets him on the car, and goes to get his cuffs, but the guy elbows him and runs away. However, a second police car comes up, so the guy runs up some stairs into an unlocked building, with Pete in hot pursuit. Pete catches the guy, there's a brief fight, and Pete cuffs him and reads him his rights.
One of the two approaching cops is Lou, and I bet he's all sour about being left behind.
Sure enough, but he's pissed off in a friendly, bantering way.
And we cut to some building, where Pete is returning home after a long hard day. He listens to his voice mail, and it's all credit cards, auto bills, and an old lady who says that “Kara's graduation is on Saturday.” I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say this is the daughter from the opening bit. The mournful piano music is kinda laying it on thick
He picks up a picture of the family that looks like it was taken on the very day (everyone is wearing the same clothes), and he calls the police station and says he's taking the vacation time he's built up.
And it's daylight now, and a taxi is pulling up in Tyler, Oklahoma (according to the subtitle). I hope he didn't take a cab all the way from Oregon!
He's in a nice suburban neighborhood, and he goes and knocks on the door, and then just walks in. There are a number of wreaths all over the place, but no snow, so maybe it's just an affectation of the owner. You know, a wreath-lover. A middle-aged lady comes up behind him and playfully whacks him with a pillow. She scolds him for forgetting his mother-in-law's birthday. He pulls out a present and says he didn't.
They chat a bit, and he's told that Kara (or Carol) isn't here, she's in Tulsa, attending some kind of biological type project. Mom in Law doesn't know the details, but she does work in a jab because Pete doesn't know them better himself. Carol's been interning at the Environmental Disease and Control center.
There's a bit more chat, and Mom in Law reveals that she's off to her mah jong game. And she leaves to toss the tiles.
And we cut to the local bar, where Bearded Guy (yes, the very same one from before) does a great pool shot, and explains to some bar bimbos that it's all simple geometry. And Pete shows up, and they laugh and hug and stuff. They catch up on stuff, and Pete definitely pronounces his daughter's name as Kara. So that settles that. They chat a bit more, then a news report comes on, which is about Tyler itself! The newscaster says it's ten years to the day (mournful piano music starts up, tracking shot to Pete) when the worst set of twisters ever touched down in Tyler. Is this really news? She goes on and gives some details. More close ups of Pete. Apparently, though, all that twister talk is prelude to the fact that they're opening another Environmental Disease and Control Lab in Tyler (which is, I guess, replacing one that was destroyed, um, ten years ago. Boy the wheels of government grind slow, eh?).
The newscaster then goes back to the twisters, as Pete takes a good swig of beer and Bearded looks on sympathetically. She says she's going to do a whole series for the entire week about the twisters! Is this logical? I should think one story ought to do it, as there's really nothing anyone can do about twisters, anyway. It's not like human error causes them, is it?
Bearded tries to fire up some enthusiasm about getting some guys together for “a game,” but Pete's all bummed out and just wants to go off to bed.
You know, I know we're watching a movie, and in movies, we follow a small number of characters until they triumph over the situation or are killed by it. But really, this whole “Week about the deadly storm” series seems like it's simply aimed to get Pete's goat. But let's be realistic here: there must have been dozens of other families that got hard hit and lost people. I know Pete's our hero (he'd better be), but this just makes it look like he's way over-sensitive, and like the elements around him (the TV people) are out to rub it in.
But come on, a week's worth of stories? Can you say, slow news week? Let's put this in perspective. Last December (as I write this) there was a devastating tsunami in which thousands of people lost their lives, and thousand more were left homeless. Do you think in ten years time there'll be a week-long series on it? No, I think in ten years time, it will be noted on the news, and they'll go on to the next item. If that. Because the point of these natural disasters is not to dwell on the terror and devastation, the point is what was done to repair the damage. Unless there's a volcano, or a crack in the earth, people simply repair what they can and go on with their lives. No one declares, say, the site of heavy rains and mudslides a Forbidden Zone. No, they fix it and move back in.
Anyway, sorry about that, I do that from time to time as you've noticed. Back to the movie.
Pete's in his hotel room, trying to sleep, and he's having flashbacks of the deadly tornado from ten years ago, but he's also having flashbacks of events he didn't even see, such as Mom urging Daughter to go to the shelter, Mom getting hit by the tree, Mom's final view of the eye descending on her...I suppose if Daughter had a vivid sense of description, she might have made these things seem so real to him (when she told him) that they became his own memories, but that's stretching things a bit to the breaking point. There are also, interspersed here and there, Peter arguing with his wife about “proving something” and some young woman (Mom? Grown up Daughter?) screaming while at a window. One suspects that there might have been some Family Issues here. I guess the film will tell us, won't it?
So, like in all movies, Pete shoots awake, and rubs his hands over his head and sad piano music starts up again. And it's the next morning, and he goes to his wife's grave and puts some flowers there.
And he starts soliloquizing, about how he looked for tulips (they were Mom's faves) but the store didn't have them. What about sunflowers? And he goes on for a while. All the regrets, blah blah blah. Don't get me wrong, I've seen worse, but then, I've seen this kind of scene a lot, and there's nothing really new here.
Kara, now grown up, shows up and they have a bit of a conversation. Pete is kind of emotional, but Kara has a chip on her shoulder (not literally) and is cold and kind of snippy. This will, no doubt, come to play in the big heart-warming “I love you” scene that will probably play when disaster is about to take everyone. I'm just guessing but that usually happens.
Anyway, Kara turns full-blown hostile, about how Pete hasn't been around (last visit: four years ago) and then she stalks off. Which makes this whole dynamic kind of weird. I mean, Pete seems pretty emotional here, but then, he did go off to the northwest; his last visit was four years ago, and so on; the scene would have played much better if both of them were a bit cold and distant, but Pete's almost tearyness—well, it makes it seem that if this was his character, he would have visited a lot more, if not just stayed in Oklahoma. (Oklahoma I'm sure needs cops too.) The two parts don't fit.
Anyway, cut to the local Weather Bureau, where Beard and Pete are getting into a van to track another storm. Beard is all excited about how a pet storm of his has been upgraded to Tropical storm (aren't they cute at that age?), while Pete wants to get something to eat. Beard is kind of impatient, though. There's some other hurricane that is going to intersect the tropical storm, and Beard wants to go up and look at it, or whatever it is he does. But, he condescendingly tells Pete that he understands how he (Pete) isn't interested in that sort of thing anymore. This has the expected effect and Pete agrees to go too. So, Beard won't die a tragic death yet.
On board the plane that will observe the storm, there are banks of computers and stuff. It's pretty impressive. Beard talks about the equipment and how great it is, there are other techs, and a lady pilot. Banter banter banter. Oh sorry, those are my notes.
One of the things brought up is Pete's “IC” theory, which he spells out as “inter-correlation.” He then goes on to elaborate, “The theory goes that before a twister forms, lightning flashes between clouds increase a hundred fold.”
“Does it work?” asks Lady Pilot.
“It's always been difficult to test,” Pete says. “Most intercloud lightning can only be seen from space, so until we quadruple the number of weather satellites, it's gonna be pretty hard to test the theory.”
Just then Lady Pilot gets a call, and tells her flunkies that the weather pattern is changing, and they change course to follow. Then there's some weather-talk about this storm, and how it's becoming more powerful (“Just like ten years ago,” Beard offers a bit thoughtlessly), and the plane starts to rock a bit from the winds and things. Lady Pilot tells the guys to strap in.
They start getting buffeted by hail (“The size of golf balls,” says Pete, but Lady Pilot corrects him, “Bigger!”). Lady Pilot calls in to the ground to say, whoah, they've got some weather up here. Everyone starts to talk about how this storm is shaping up to be pretty huge and things. And they say things like about big the storm is, and all, more times.
So they decide to head on home, but as they do, lightning strikes the plane and the door flies off, and of course, just before that, Lady Pilot sang her songs of darkness and despair. No, wait, I mean, she unstrapped herself. So she goes flying toward the door, but Pete grabs her, and Beard grabs Pete, and the other pilots are heading for a lower altitude and stuff. Although they don't seem to be doing so really quickly.
And Pete and Beard wrassle Lady Pilot back to her seat, and everything is okay. And everyone thanks Pete.
And I guess they get on the ground okay, because next we cut to Beard and Pete heading off down the road in a van, and Pete deduces that Beard and Lady Pilot have “Something” going on, and Beard fesses up to this very fact. (Pete is a police guy, remember.)
There's more banter and stuff, and Pete really wants to watch Beard eat somewhere, but Beard has to, um, correlate all that data the plane got (remember, the storm was getting larger and more powerful, after all), so he doesn't have time to eat. And they banter some more about old times and things. (This makes the characters more three dimensional to the viewer, so we can be drawn into their lives. Just thought I'd let you in on one of Hollywood's secrets.)
Then the van drives off into the setting sun, and next, Pete shows up at Mom in Law's house, but, get this, Kara answers the door! And if Pete's there, she's outta there, but Pete says no, I'm outta here, and Mom in Law pops up and says, in essence, both of you behave.
And we cut to the dinner scene, which is all tense and stuff. Mom in Law and Pete try to be civil, but Kara is going to be ultra-bitchy, and plays that role to the hilt. Note to film-makers: this is not a good way to make her into a sympathetic person. We get to see Pete in all his human frailties (he has nightmares) and glories (he saved Lady Pilot). In her only two scenes, Kara is an ice-cold bitch. You know, if she wandered off camera now and was hit by a truck, I wouldn't care. Well, I might, but that's just me.
There's a “John” who is mentioned, who is apparently Kara's boyfriend. Pete wants to know what she's going to do when she moves “back to Portland.” Kara says she isn't moving back, she's going to stay here and work at the AEDC.
Okay, stop the presses here. This is totally the wrong way to give us exposition. When we're introduced to Pete in Portland, it looks as if he's simply jumped ship and left Kara behind with Mom in Law. But, apparently she lived with him in Portland (one can't move “back” somewhere unless one has already lived there). So, Kara lived with Pete until...when? College? Post college? I mean, I could understand her bitterness if Pete immediately left Oklahoma after the storm ten years ago, and left her in the care of Mom in Law. But that, apparently, isn't what happened. In fact, judging from Pete's reaction, he and Kara apparently had some kind of agreement where Kara would move “back to Portland.”
Geez, the things these people get wrong. A book could be written!
Anyway, Kara opines how she never wanted to move to Portland, but she did because that was the best thing for Pete (and, at age ten or so then, what would have been the best for her, exactly?). And then she storms off to her room.
Now, me, I would have gone to her and said, “Okay, I think I understand. You don't want me around. I mean, that hurts, but then, it's not about me anymore. It's your life. And you've chosen your path. So, I offer my apologies, for not doing, or being, what you needed when Mom died. All I can be is who I am, and all I did, I did because I thought it was for the best. I'm sorry I upset you by coming here, and I realize that you don't want me here. So I will return to my hotel, and tomorrow morning, I will book a flight back to Portland. And I hope for you, every happiness that life has to offer. Goodbye.”
But that's not how the movies work, so we go onward with what these guys wrote for us.
And onward happens to be some bar, someplace, where two people we've never seen before are talking about stuff. I think the female is the reporter from earlier (you know, she was going to host that series on the twisters of yesteryear), but the male, who knows? He talks about what it must be like to be in one of these here natural disasters, and how everything you know and love and own is gone in an instant. He's kind of bummed by these thoughts. She, then, says that's why this guy is going to be a great journalist, as it would be easy to “zip in and out” of the stories of those who lived through the storms, but “Jerry” (the male guy) puts himself in their shoes, and that's the human angle to the story.
He agrees, saying that the two of them are heading toward a “major market” in a year. And they both drink to that there thought.
They banter a bit, and discuss what might be on tap for tomorrow. Story-wise, not beer-wise, just in case you were confused. Reportette says that they're covering a tornado story in the middle of Oklahoma, which I would have thought obvious but then, hey, that's my middle name.
Anyway, they compare notes, and their notes say that Beard is the go-to guy in terms of, uh, weather knowledge and stuff. He has experience and things like that. There is bunches, way more than we need, of newsy banter, Reportette really goes overboard on the fake compliments, but Jerry eats them up. He gives her Beard's contact information. And again she goes way overboard, but alas someone throws her a lifeline so she's still in the movie. Yes, it isn't fair but then the movies never are, are they?
They banter some more, and again, it is so uninteresting I can't type it up. PayPal me some money and I'll do it, otherwise, shut up about it! And stay away from my pool!
And cut to the next morning at the hotel, and Pete is brushing his teeth.
But he hears Reportette yakking on the TV, and she's talking about how the twister ten years ago ruined this building (sad piano music, damn it), but now in the building's place, there's that new disease control thing everyone was so on about.
The TV camera zooms out to reveal some bald guy standing next to Reportette, she still talks on about Questions and Concerns and that sort of thing, and he stands there looking uncomfortable, waiting to be grilled like a pork loin.
She goes on to say this is good because it means jobs, but it's also bad, because there are all these diseases stored here. She asks Baldy how good this is, and he says to the camera that the building can't be destroyed, so it's all good. (This is called hubris, if you didn't know.)
Pete, of course, sadly shakes his head at this [p;zdxmn xw23] bit of hubris. (He's read the script is why.) (My cats wrote the bit in the brackets, including the first bracket. I'm going to get them to write more reviews—they need to earn their keep--so be prepared.)
Cut to some microbes under a microscope, and--
--you know, we've seen all the elements, here. There's almost no need to go on. Even the people who haven't read the back of the box know what's going to happen, right? This big storm is going to hit, and it's going to threaten to destroy the disease control place, scattering the diseases everywhere, but this will be prevented at the last possible second, but not before Beard heroically sacrifices himself, and Pete almost sacrifices himself. Before he almost does, though, Kara, in the meantime, will (also at the last second) become un-estranged to Pete, and tell him she loves him and give him hugs and beg him not to throw away his life now that they're a family again, and he will realize the importance of keeping in touch and stuff, but say it doesn't matter what happens to him, he has to save the world (because it will look like he might die, but we know he won't, so it's kind of wasted on us). And probably her boyfriend will turn out to be a weasel who only wants to save himself, and she'll get rid of him pronto, and he'll die a hubraic death. Probably Mom in Law will be an early victim of the Devil Winds, just so Kara can hate Pete more in the last few minutes before she stops hating him.
Before you ask, no I have not seen this movie before. But in a way, yes I have. Many, many times. But I'm gonna keep going, because, you know, I wouldn't lie to you. Knowingly. And I won't write this up and cheat you of the full experience. Because I couldn't sleep at night, you know. Well, no, I could, but, you know, in theory and all.
Anyway. Microbes. Always nice to see them in a movie. And there they are, moving under microscope-view. And they're dividing, too. And we see that Kara is watching this microbe porn, but it's okay, it's work. And boyfriend comes up behind her and they make small talk. They talk about how the press is on this place, thinking it unsafe, and Boyfriend also thinks it's unsafe. He's going to go down to “the vault” to get some stuff, to show the board of directors that it is, in fact, safe. Kara wants to come with, but he says no, and as he pointed out a moment ago, he's her boss, so his word goes. She tries to entice her way in by mentioning how sexy it would be, the two of them down there among the spores. He says, sounds tempting but no. The word I would have used is not “sexy” but “stupid” and it doesn't raise my opinion of Kara one bit, though I have to give props to Boyfriend for not being a carnal-crazed fool and giving in.
Cut to a laptop screen, showing some weather, and Pete and Beard are wondering about this big storm coming up. And as they talk about this, the news van pulls up alongside their own van. And Reportette and what's-his-name from the bar pop out, and go to ask Pete if he's Beard. For some reason, this is introduced in slow-motion. What the hell? I would figure Reportette and Whatshisname were goners, but maybe Pete will fall in love with her and thus, through love, save her. We'll see. Anyway, Pete admits he's not Beard and directs them to him. She explains she's doing a Tenth Anniversary show on the storms and wants his input. He puts her off, though. And he and Pete drive off to see storm stuff.
Reportette is bummed by this, but Whassis suggests another family that lost some cows back then. She's less than pleased. “As soon as I think you're having a breakthrough, you bring me cows!” she opines. I think it's supposed to be funny.
“It'd be big in India,” he suggests, and she laughs fakely and points out that they are, in fact, in Oklahoma. But she wants to follow that van.
Back to the Pete van, where they banter a bit about stuff. Pete opines that if they're chasing a storm, they're heading in the wrong direction. He says the clouds are showing this, and he knows how to read clouds. So they peel off to go East, where the clouds are calling Pete through space and time to his destiny. We hope.
And they've parked, now, and they're looking at clouds. Pete says he's probably wrong about the clouds and stuff, and Beard says “That's a load of bull, and you know it.” They debate whether to call in the storm warning based on Pete sensing a tremor in the Force.
Beard decides to make the call, and he calls the Weather Bureau and talks to the same damn guy! Only instead of passing him on to a Richard Lewis clone, he passes the call on to a bald black guy. Black Guy is friendly and all, put points out that they have no radar or anything of any bad activity where Beard says it is. He further says that they need “confirmed touchdown” before they can issue warnings, and he'll take the matter up with his superior.
Beard advises him to do just that, and he hangs up. He tells Pete that the warning is unlikely, as the folks at the Weather Bureau have “lost their nerve.”
Really? After NOT listening to Pete ten years ago, and NOT issuing a warning, they've become MORE cautious? Is this likely?
Anyway, cut to Reportette's van, as they swerve off to the stormfront, thinking they'll find Pete and Beard's van.
Speaking of which, they're parked, either in the same place or someplace new, and they're looking at radar screens and making pronouncements about them. “Pete, look at this,” Beard says, and Pete looks at a radar screen that, well, means nothing to me personally. It doesn't look like “increased menace” but I'll take their word for it. They seem to think they're in for a big storm and things.
The News Van pulls up behind the Pete and Beard van, and it extends its satellite antenna. Beard pops over to say that isn't a good idea, as it's a lightning rod (Whassis, I smell your doom), but Reportette says they have a live feed and can't lower it. Whassis points out a funnel touching down right in visual range.
Pete and Beard note the funnel-cloud building and getting fat with debris. They also note that it's getting very powerful, and they need to get out of there—all of them. Sure enough, lightning strikes the News Van antenna, and somehow seems to shoot over to Whassis as well, knocking him to the ground. It also knocked Reportette to the ground as well, but Pete and Beard are on this, and they trundle both of them into their own van. Whassis is in less than optimal condition, while Reportette is up and aware immediately, but no matter. The Weather Van drives off, but Beard notes, “It's gaining on us.” I'll say. It seems to be, if I'm generous, maybe fifteen feet behind them!
They get to a bridge and park the van there, and everyone pops up into the bridge underlayer. Apparently, this is a good idea, as, um, the twister goes over the bridge and doesn't disturb anything beneath it. Just so you know the score, Beard props unconscious Whassis, while Pete gets to see that Reportette is all right.
And after the twister passes, we cut to the Bald Guy who was earlier interviewed about how the structure of the Disease Facility was indestructible. He repeats this to Boyfriend, who notes that the structure “isn't to code.” Bald Guy says he doesn't care, this is all bureaucratic doubletalk, the roof is too high, an outlet is a millimeter off, etc. Kara takes this opportunity to hear the last bit.
Bald Guy says the whole thing was cooked up by a bunch of “tree huggers” who want “vaccines, as long as they're not tested in their own backyard.”
Boyfriend thinks this is “a little harsh,” and Bald Guy says Boyfriend is “over reacting.” Boyfriend notes that if the diseases in the building were ever released, it could have “a devastating effect.”
Gee, Boyfriend, I think you just described the plot! I know this because I'm psychic. Also, I think he has spared himself the Coward's Death, but Bald Guy has just assumed the role himself. We'll all find out together, won't we! Except for the fact that you've clicked elsewhere in your browser, I can still pretend, can't I? I mean, what's the point if I can't? None, that's what.
Anyway, Boyfriend and Bald Guy continue their discussion, with Bald Guy hitting all the (movie) craven points, as how the facility is good for the economy, and some senator wants it. But Senator would back away in a second if he found out the place was “unsafe,” because it would “jeopardize his reelection.” Boyfriend points out that lots of lives lost would be worse than that for the senator's chances, but Bald Guy says he's not going to start a panic. He goes on to say that if Boyfriend shut the place down because of some “out of date report” then hundreds of jobs would be lost, and so would the lives of those who this research facility is supposed to benefit. Both good points, but they enforce the status quo, so you know they don't matter. Besides, it's a movie called Devil Winds. Not Bureaucracy. (That would be too scary.)
Anyway, that's Bald Guy's final word (until, later in the film when he ruefully surveys the damage and admits tearfully that Boyfriend was right), and Boyfriend leaves in a bit of a huff.
Back in the van, Pete and Beard discuss how the storm will get “here” in less than three days. So, what were they just running away from? One of the storm’s advance scouts, come to soften us up before the big guy gets here? Does weather really work that way, where you have tornado weather that stays in one area for several days? I honestly don’t know. Anyway, Beard says it's good to have Pete back. Pete admits he's glad to be back.
Beard asks if Portland is all that great, and Pete dunnos about that. Beard opines that Pete really belongs here, chasing weather, as some people are meant to do certain things and not other things.
Turns out they're going back to the hospital to check on “those two reporters” but Beard is no dummy, he figures Pete's really interested in Reportette and they chuckle over this.
So, at the hospital, Pete meets Reportette just coming from Whassis' room, and she reports that his condition is okay and stable and such, and could have been worse, blah blah.
Reportette apologizes for being stupid and getting people in danger, Pete says that she has to go where the story is, she insists she's stupid, and he chuckles and says “I'm trying to throw you a rope here, you just keep grabbing the anchor!”
Anyway, they go to the bar. She gives the story of her life (not as long as that sounds) and they make small talk. But she knows about Pete's tragic history and stuff. More small talk.
Pete blames himself for his wife's death, as he was out chasing storms to find data to prove they were predictable, but then one walloped his house, which he didn't predict. (Remember the “hubris” thing up above.)
So, then, Reportette asks, you don't believe storms can be predicted? He says no, but it doesn't matter as he's not in the weather business anymore. So, she asks him about his life as a cop, and she asks if he's ever been shot.
He says yeah, and she wants to know where, and he says it's “kind of personal, actually.” He uses the scientific term, “gluteus maximus” which is what scientists say when they mean “buttock.” She disbelieves this, he offers to show her, she says “Not here!” and he slides in with, “But you do want to see, don't you?”
As come-on lines go, well, it's unique at least.
But instead of the thrilling ass-inspection scene, which would segue into a sultry sax-driven love scene, we cut to a guy at the Weather Bureau who's looking at a screen and says “Oh no!” and he rises and goes to a fax printout of something. It's the same guy who's been at the Weather Bureau for like, forever. And he's looking at a computer screen showing a huge storm.
And we cut again, to Bald Black Guy looking in his refrigerator. There's milk and a jar of pickles and some desserts wrapped in plastic and put on little dishes. In the door, we see the lid of a mayonnaise jar, and the fact that he's got no butter or eggs. Anyway, Weather Bureau Guy comes in and hears Bald Black Guy complain about the food, including the donuts, but Weather Bureau Guy wants Bald Black Guy to focus on this storm picture. Which he finally does. He opines that this storm is big, and it's heading straight—here!
And cut to Pete looking at rain clouds from his hotel room. His phone rings, and he quietly answers it. It's Beard, talking about “Casey” (the storm's name) and how it's moving closer and stuff. We haven't seen, but I bet Reportette is in the hotel room too. We'll see. Beard says he's gonna swing by and get Pete, and Pete says he'll have coffee ready.
Sure enough, Reportette is there under the sheets. No, we don't see anything. Pete says he and Beard are going to go look at clouds.
“See, if my six year old nephew said that, it would be okay,” she says, being no fool. “But you saying that, it brings a whole new meaning.”
Pete mentions that Beard will be by in twenty minutes, and stealing a bit from Starship Troopers, Reportette says, “That means we have ten,” and they get under the sheets together. “Ouch!” he says, as she giggles, “that's my gunshot wound!”
And we cut back to Bald Black Guy, handing a report to that Richard Lewis kind of looking guy, from way earlier. He and Bald Black Guy have a discussion, whereby Richard Lewis wants to play it safe, but Bald Black Guy is worried, saying that this is kind of what Pete predicted, and if the two weather fronts collide, it will be a “major disaster.”
Richard Lewis says that Pete has been out of the weather business for ten years, and they, at the Bureau, have “the best equipment that money can buy.” Which is always a bad thing in movies, because science and technology and instruments and stuff are always inferior to intuition and gut feelings and things.
Cut to Beard and his van pulling up to where Pete is with his coffees. Beard shows Pete some printouts, and Pete says he was right all along and stuff. Beard notes that the Bureau will issue a “Watch” but not a “Warning.”
Pete notes how Beard is looking at him funny, and Beard notes the smell of perfume. Pete tries to pass it off as deodorant, but come on, these are storm chasers! Nothing gets by them, Pete! You of all people should know that! Sheesh! Etc! Beard has it all figured out with Pete and Reportette. He points to Pete's hickeys, and Pete tries to pass them off as mosquito bites.
Of course, Reportette takes this opportunity to come out of the hotel, and Beard points and says, “I believe there's one of those mosquitoes right now! And it's heading our way! What should we do?” with mock alarm and all.
Well, Pete, he says nothing, but when Reportette moseys up to the van and a-says she's a-coming, he pulls out the charts and points out that it's a-gonna be dangerous. That doesn't work to dissuade her, so he says that he didn't get her any coffee.
“That's okay, I'll have yours,” she says, grabbing the cup and climbing into the van.
“Morning,” she and Beard exchange. And they drive off.
And we cut to Kara and Ma In Law (or whatever I called her) discussing Kara's future plans. Kara is not moving back to Portland, and that is that. Ma in Law points out that she (Ma in Law) is not going to be around forever, and that she (Kara) has to resolve things with her (Kara's) father.
Well, yes, she does, but not until Ma in Law has been sacrificed and her father has heroically saved the day. I mean, cough, that's how, uh, ahem. That's how Orson Welles would have done it. No, honestly! I read that somewhere. Oh, you take that back!
Anyway, Pete shows up and warns Kara not to go to work. But she sees this as more Controlling Dad stuff, and brushes him off.
And we cut back to Pete, Beard and Reportette in the van, traveling along the nice scenery. So, that whole scene was just to establish that Kara is something of an unsympathetic bitch? Uh, we already knew that. I mean, if Kara got sucked up into the hurricane's vortex (a hungry vortex with red fangs and bloodshot eye), Pete would be sad, but Beard and Reportette would say it was actually okay, and I'd believe them, myself.
Man, how long is this thing? We're at the one hour, five minute mark. Lemme look at the box.
Oh, God. You don't wanna know.
Anyway, they pull the van off the road, and look at some angry looking clouds, and make Specialized Weather Talk about those clouds, and Reportette tries to write it all down. Unlike me. The consensus between Pete and Beard is, this is bad. Really bad.
And cut to White Bald Guy (I have to differentiate him from Black Bald Guy), who takes a call from Richard Lewis. Richard Lewis is concerned about the weather, how it kind of looks bad and things like that. White Bald Guy basically says, So? And Richard Lewis says he won't order an “evac” or anything like that (an Evac would generate bad publicity, you see). Bald Guy says he appreciates that, but why did Richard Lewis call, then?
Well, Richard Lewis pretty much damns himself (which is different from dooming oneself, one day I'll let you in on that) by saying that his lack of warning-issuing is so that White Bald Guy can talk to the Senator about “that opening in Washington.” See, Richard Lewis wants to leave this crappy Kansas or Ohio or whatever place, and go to DC, where he can hobnob with the “proper sort” of person and all that. It's a bad thing to want to do in movies. In real life, it...it happens all the time.
Anyway, White Bald Guy hangs up and observes, “Strange fellow” about Richard Lewis's urge to be in DC. And we cut to Boyfriend, leading a group of cute middle-school students through the Plague Facility on a little tour. He's not very good at it, but I suppose actors cost money and they weren't going to get another one just to do a tour. You know how all those tours go in movies like this? This tour isn't breaking any boundaries. But it's nice to know Boyfriend's so non-essential he can do this stuff.
Back to the Pete Trio, as they stop and look at more clouds. They say these clouds are bad mojo, and Pete tells Reportette she's about to see “the finger of God.”
“Which finger?” she asks.
“Guess,” he says, and a...not terribly realistic funnel cloud descends to the ground and starts wreaking havoc. It's really not good CGI, and I have to wonder two things: 1. Could they not get good stock footage of a funnel cloud forming, and 2) If they could get good footage, did their conscience bother them, to make them not use the footage?
Of course, it could be the conversation went like this:
Producer: “Wow, look at this funnel cloud footage, this is great! I would like to use it, but the stock library people want thirty-five dollars, and that is too much money for me!”
CGI Tech 1: “Well, gee, that does seem like a lot! I, um, and my crack team, I think we can do that for ...twenty-eight dollars...”
CGI Tech 2: “Twenty-eight ninety-five!”
CGI Tech 1: “...and ninety-five cents.”
CGI Tech 2: “Don't question it!”
Producer: “I love you guys! You guys are my best friends, through thick and thin--”
Master Shake: “Singing is forbidden!”
Well, that might be how it
plays out in the rich theatre of our imaginations. Here,
though, we're looking at a CGI funnel that isn't that great. I
mean, it gets the idea across, but then, so does a sign saying
“FUNNEL CLOUD HERE.”
Back at the actual movie that we have to watch, the Pete Trio look at this dangerous funnel cloud. Reportette says it's kind of beautiful, which some CGI can really be, but Pete trundles her and Beard back into the van and they drive off. Into very nice looking skies, I might add.
Back at the Weather Bureau, Weather Bureau Guy and Bald Black Guy talk about how this looks bad, and then Pete calls and says they have a confirmed sighting of a funnel, heading their way. “Stay on the line, Pete,” Bald Black Guy says, and turns to Weather Bureau Guy. Weather Bureau Guy has nothing definite, and Bald Black Guy says he'll call Pete back. Weather Bureau Guy says, “Let's just issue a warning for Hughes and Tyler county.”
“Are we sure about this?”
Bald Black Guy asks. Weather Bureau Guy gives Bald Black Guy a
Significant Look and says, “I am.”
But Richard Lewis shows up, and he kiboshes the whole Warning thing, because he wants that Washington DC position. Bald Black Guy and Weather Bureau Guy are both still concerned, though.
Back at the Disease Place, White Bald Guy is greeting the distinguished guests by handing them reports in binders, suggesting that they all get out of the rather nasty weather that has suddenly descended.
Which has, I should note. There's no rain, but a lot of wind, and it looks cold, too. So they all go inside, and White Bald Guy schmoozes them in further to the “Presentation.”
Kara, in the background of all this, gets a call on her cell phone. It's from Pete, but instead of immediately taking an opportunity to Bitch On!, she takes the call calmly, when Pete asks her to look at the clouds, she notes how angry and swirly they look, and when he suggests she evacuate the building (it's now in danger) she says she'll take care of it.
...so did we miss the whole Father-Daughter Reunion thing? I mean, honestly, this isn't the Kara we saw ten minutes ago, who would have accused her dad of calling just to jeopardize her career. What the hell?
Back to Pete, he's trying to call Ma in Law, but she's not picking up. So, you know, huh, rather than, gosh, LEAVE A MESSAGE, he just gives up. He then calls...someone else, while Reportette says that if she could just get on the air, she could deliver the warning, and stuff. And I'll be nice and suppose, just suppose, that they're driving to the TV Station to do just this.
Back at Disease Central, Kara stops Boyfriend's tour and tells him that they need to get the kids out of the place, as a big twister is going to hit and destroy all kinds of stuff from all over.
So, Boyfriend and Kara get the kids out of the building (through winds that are, well, alarmingly strong) to their bus, and get them on the bus, so that Beard can sacrifice his life to save them.
--no, I'm just guessing. Not hard to do with this film.
Back to the Pete Trio, Reportette is on the phone to her producer, saying the warning has to be issued now, and no, she doesn't have a camera or mike, but she needs to be trusted.
And back to Disease Central, Kara is issuing the warning to everyone to get to the shelters.
And we cut to Reportette's voice, on the local news, reporting that there's a twister down and it's bad and stuff, and just like earlier, the twister is roaring up behind the van. They even pull off the road to evade it! And the twister stops, and hunches down, and forms a giant nose, and sniffs the air, but remember Reportette's perfume? That confuses it!
No, sorry, I lied, they pull off the road, sure, but the twister says Heck With You and goes on down the road. And yes (not lying here) it does follow the road. I bet it passes cars when the solid line is on its side, though.
Back to the Weather Bureau, where Bald Black Guy and Weather Bureau Guy and listening to Dire Straights, I mean, Dire Reports, and Bald Black Guy tells Weather Bureau Guy to “issue the warning.”
“This is going to mean our jobs,” says Weather Bureau Guy.
“Do it,” says Bald Black Guy, and Weather Bureau Guy does just that. To very dramatic music.
Back at the Pete Trio van, the decided to get back on the road, and, like before, the twister is RIGHT BEHIND them. I mean, way less than the worst tail-gator. Is this the same twister? Did it back up to get them, or did it hide in a side road and shoot out after them when they passed it?
Well, new twister or old, they're trying to out-drive it, but like Jason Vorhees, it just appears when the plot thinks it's most convenient for it to appear. Only, it's a tornado and it doesn't have a machete or a hockey mask.
Which, you know, hate to mention it and all, might have added a bit of interest. I mean, sure, the Friday the 13th movies are dumb and predictable, but I don't think Jason ever outran a car. I may be wrong there, but, I...hope not.
Well, anyway, back to this thing. Kara barges in on White Bald Guy's meeting with Senator Snort and the aides and all, and says they have to get to a safe spot. White Bald Guy dismisses her as, you know, just a woman and all, but Kara talks about how this place, destroyed, could release devastating plagues and things, and White Bald Guy weasels, and Boyfriend shows up, and says that he (Boyfriend) doesn't care if he (White Bald Guy) has a death wish, but that the others probably don't, so everyone should leave the building, NOW. And they all do. But before Kara and Boyfriend can leave, White Bald Guy says “You'd better be right” in that bitter way he has, and Boyfriend says something like, “Oh my God, the samples!” (not a direct quote, if you want the real deal, he says, “The vault!” and she says “Oh my God!” and he says “I gotta put the samples in the vault!”)
And there's ado and hubbub that the samples have to be put away and stuff, and Boyfriend says he'll do it, and Kara says it can't be done by one person, so she'll help, and perhaps Boyfriend is going to that great Plot Contrivance in the sky. Hey, it could happen!
And back to the Pete Trio, they're driving along, with the, uh, deadly tornado right behind them, and yes, as before, it is RIGHT behind them, twenty feet at the max, and that is taking into consideration my bad eyesight and stuff. Pete offers that he can't get Kara on his cell phone. “Maybe she's already left,” says the astonishingly long-lived Beard.
Well, we cut to Kara and Boyfriend loading bunches of test tubes into orange “hazard” boxes, while the two of them grimace all the time. So those test tubes must be, like, uh, well, full of CONCENTRATED EVIL or something like that. The slightest shake will make 'em explode!
And we cut to a really, really stupid shot, as White Bald Guy is up top, in the harsh winds, telling some flunkies that they need to “get to lower ground.” So, where did he bring the senatorial staff? If he brought them to lower levels, then went back up for the rest of the staff, I guess he should get some extra points for going to the surface to, uh, mention that going to the surface isn't a good idea.
Down below, Kara and Boyfriend are carrying the SHEER EVIL flasks and associated materials to a still lower level. So they can seep into the ground water! Mha ha ha, that's forward thinking, Kara!
The Pete Trio arrives at Disease Central, and despite the arguations of Beard and Reportette, Pete says he'll get Kara in three minutes and be back to the safety of the Pete Trio Bus in that time. And he gets slow-motion footage to show how sincere he is.
Speaking of sincere, Kara and Boyfriend bring the Horror Plague Germs to the sealed vault, where they—get this—have to wear GLOVES to enter. No masks or anything non-Hollywood like that. So, she slides her card through the reader, and the vault opens, and they go in, and Soupy Sales shows up, okay, no he doesn't, but David Bowie does, and, well, okay, he doesn't either. It's just some dry ice. But the two of them have to open this really way over complicated container for the thermoses, and other stuff, and they leave, and I...I sure wish David Bowie showed up. Or Soupy Sales. Well, to be honest, anyone who was kind of interesting to look at or talk to. Wish I had a CB radio, that would take care of a lot of that, wouldn't it? Maybe I don't want to know.
So, Pete is running along these corridors labeled LAB1, LAB2 and other such ominous markings, but he keeps running anyway, heedless of the—oh, wait. He's the hero. He doesn't have to worry about anything. Like loud cats that yell when you touch them. He can run anywhere.
But then, Boyfriend gets a call on his cell phone. Someone or something didn't get on the schoolbus, and I guess Boyfriend is the “go to” guy when stuff doesn't work out right. He dashes up the stairs to do his job. Kara follows along.
But...none of that matters, as when we cut to Pete, he runs into Boyfriend, who is carrying some cartons of Green Slime down to the vault. He tells Pete that Kara is making sure that “Samantha” is being safe and stuff. So Pete runs off...at the same moment (who would have guessed this, I mean, besides all of you) Kara is running along LAB3 and LAB4 calling out for Samantha. Well, I hope all those Labs are Labrador Retrievers, because they are great, friendly dogs and they are (whispers) better than cats any day.
Outside, the storm is really hitting big.
Indoors, more Samantha calling, but Kara finds this very Samantha. She's a middle school kid from the tour who got left behind, and now she's curled up in a locker room, where this self-same Samantha complains not only that “everyone left” her, but that she's “scared” as well! How we baby the youth of tomorrow! In my day, we would have fought unaided against nine-foot tarantulas! With thread and a needle! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!
Cough, so, Pete happens to find them both as they burst from the ladies room. Up top, where, you know, the storms are raging, Reportette notes this very fact to Beard. Beard wants to go and poke around inside, til Reportette notes that he can't do anything, really, and he ought to just wait. And, who would have guessed it, Kara, Pete, Samantha and Boyfriend all emerge from the main doors! And they're heading for the van. And they all get in fine, and the storm rears a lot, and threatens a lot, but Beard pulls away fast, looking for a safe tunnel (see earlier in the review), and who would have guessed it, Boyfriend knows where just such a tunnel is!
Well, the tornado makes short work of Disease Central, turning it into a flea market, but, you know, but for the efforts of Kara and Boyfriend, this could have been exciting and interesting. Ooops! I mean, of course, devastating and horrible. The fact that Kara and Boyfriend prevented a biological catastrophe reflects nothing but credit upon them as scientists, but, alas, as dramatists, it makes the movie SUCK.
We are treated to the destruction of Disease Central as it, um, is destroyed, but we're not even the tiniest bit worried because Kara and Boyfriend secured everything bad, even bad clown dreams, so it's all okay, you can cut to the closing credits, please.
There's a cool CGI shot of a door ripped off its hinges and flung down the hall, the rest of it is petri dishes and things being smashed. And, it pains me to write this, but, you know, Petri dishes? Yawn.
And there's some more petri dishes smashed and stuff, and maybe that is a tragedy, maybe even on a world-wide level, because, you know, petri dishes? Who will give us more of them? They have to be mined, carved from the very living rock of, er, Ecuador or someplace. Maybe the world will run out! Yikes! Let's not even think about that. Let's just moan a lot and, hey, maybe SPONSOR some petri dishes! The world rejoices!
Well, let's hold the rejoicing down a bit, our heroes still have a few more minutes of screen time to survive. Which they do, by jumping out of a moving van and running under a bridge. Again! Man, I wish I knew more about nature, I've been listening to this David Attenborough guy and he's like smart and all, but he never did tell me nothing about surviving no hurricanes!
Anyway, where were we? Oh, yeah, everyone runs into the tunnel for safe-keeping. And they cut back to the van they all left. And after a long, long time, the van lifts off into the promised land, and there's a door flung down the tunnel they're in, but it's okay, no one gets hurt, and...the bad wind (the Devil Winds) goes away.
Samantha, the student, opines how she would like to go home, and Reportette takes this as her assignment. Pete and Kara look at one another, and the estrangement is over like [snaps fingers] THAT. They hug and everything. EVERYONE hugs. (And, by the way, good luck to Beard and Boyfriend, who didn’t have to die, or Ma in Law either!)
We fade to a taxi pulling up in front of Ma in Law's house, and Pete and Kara, now all happy and crap, running hand in hand up the stairs.
Ma in Law meets them, running down the steps, and notes the two of them. “I haven't seen those two smiles together in a long, long time,” she says (just in case we missed it. We didn't though, did we, crew? Thought not!)
As the three of them go into Ma In Law's house, we hear Reportette's voice talking about how this was the worst storm in “ten years” and how Disease Central was okay, though, and, as she notes, “no lives were lost” because of the dedicated staff of the Disease Central local, which sealed away the bad germs in time.
Uh, so, unless I miss my guess, this storm was better (less destructive) than that other one of ten years ago. Sorry if that deflates the drama, but, uh--
Well! Pete and Kara are meeting on Ma in Law's porch. They kind of awkwardly approach their non-estrangement. Kara wants to know, if it's about her moving back to Portland, but Pete interrupts: “No, it's about me, moving back here.”
“What do you mean?” she asks.
“I think I've been gone from home long enough, don't you?”
“Are you serious?” she asks, and when he indicates YUP, she hugs him. Who wants to bet a call comes from Beard right about now?
Well, you would have lost that bet, as the hug indicates that the credits should roll. Which they do, but damn, after a few moments of drum-heavy main-title stuff, we shift to that sad piano music again!
Most of the folks I thought would die lived to the end, but am I complaining? Heck no, if that means the end of the movie! I will always cheerfully admit when I’m wrong in my guesses. But did the movie trick me (do something different), or did it just ignore me (do nothing)?
Pretty much the latter. We’ll get into that below, but first, an overall assessment.
What do you tell an athlete when he's just run the 100-yard dash or something, and he's all pumped and stuff, and you see that the time he logged was the exact same time someone else did a few years ago? Me, I don't know the answer to that. He might be glad he did well, or unhappy that he didn’t do better.
That’s kind of how I feel about this film. It didn’t really do anything new, it kind of reveled in all the old stuff it re-did.
It's hard to know how to judge
a film like this. All the elements are in place, and they were
reasonably well done, but, there was just a spark of something
(originality, maybe) missing. In a way, judging Devil Winds is
like judging a paint-by-numbers work. The best you can really
say is that the artist stayed in the lines. But many people may
have stayed in the lines, and others might have done an even better
job; the thing is, none of them have created an original work of
art. That was done by the guy who originally designed the thing
in the first place.
Perhaps the painter, noting that White Bald Guy, Boyfriend, and many other lived, when drama dictated they should have died, would point out, “Notice how I softened the edges? Kept everything from just, you know, fulfilling the plan?”
You might nod, nod approvingly, and ask, “And what did you put in place of those softened edges?”
If he has no answer--
Think of it another way. Me, I sure predicted a lot of things that didn't happen, didn't I? Part of that is hubris (see above) and part of that is the very well-worn paths that this movie chose to tread. So, I'm not sure how much blame I have to shoulder for being wrong about this—well, I should shoulder it all, but in fairness, this is like someone telling you a joke you've heard a thousand times, and then NOT giving you the punchline. Sure, you could have predicted it, but the fact that he just stopped thwarted you. The thing is, leaving out the punchline makes the joke pointless.
Consider that word, pointless.
I mean, why does this movie exist? What does it do? It goes through the motions many times, fails to go through a number of times, but it constantly acknowledges those motions. There's nothing else other than expectations fulfilled and expectations ignored. No surprises, except all those people who I thought would die, but lived instead.
There may be a reason for that, as well. This movie is rated PG “for action/peril, and a scene of sensuality” but there is no reason this couldn't be shown, uncut, on any TV station. There are no overt deaths (even Mom's at the beginning is kind of oblique), there's no nudity, there's not even any swearing. I think the avoidance of all these unpleasant things, and the unwillingness to show some honest suffering caused by these storms (heck, no one even gets fired!) is why none of the predicted deaths (Ma in Law, Boyfriend, Bald Guy, even Whassisname) came to pass. The movie didn't want to turn off anyone by any show of boldness.
To repeat in the movie's favor, the acting is good throughout (Joe Lando and Peter Graham-Gaudreau, as Pete and Beard respectively, were very good indeed), the production values are very good, and the movie keeps a decent pace. The characters, aside from Kara, are well-drawn and believable—none of the performers ever appears to be “acting” here. There’s nothing really wrong here, but then there’s nothing really right either. The whole movie just colors inside the lines laid down by lots of previous films.
When's the last time you went to an art gallery to see some paint-by-numbers canvases?