An Atypical Thriller

Movies featuring special needs characters always end up being tear jerkers. It’s rare to find a feel good or even a thriller that deals with people who are non-typical. When these characters are in movies like this they are usually secondary and stereotypically and overly dramatic versions of what people with these issues really are like. The Accountant does a great job integrating someone who is different and enmeshing them in a thrilling fantasy world.

the-accountant-5Christian Wolf (and his plethora of aliases) was diagnosed with autism at a young age back at a time where society was even less accepting of those that were different. His mother wants to do everything to help her son succeed life but his father sees his son’s issues as weakness. As his father tries to eradicate these weaknesses by putting Christian and his brother through a variety of trials that will affect them the rest of their lives, his mother leaves the family because of the lack of help for her son. Christian is now an accountant using his talent for math and organization to have a semblance of a normal life. But he hides his true work like he hides his autism negating his work with mob bosses and drug cartels to the background and keeping his head down. That is until he goes to work for Lamar Black and uncovers a money laundering scheme that puts himself and his coworkers in danger. Christian uses his certain set of skills to protect her and solve the puzzle.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Accountant. As someone who has studied and worked in the field of autism for over a decade, I was worried how they would portray the main character and his developmental disorder. Luckily, it seems that the writer, directors and actor were truly aware of what autism entails and how it often manifests. The entire movie was entirely respectful not negating it to an unrealistic role in his life nor over blowing it for dramatic affect. Affleck does a great job with the character and does well portraying a high functioning autistic adult.

The rest of the cast shines as well. Iconic actors such as J.K. Simmons, Jean Smart, Jeffery Tambor and THE ACCOUNTANTJohn Lithgow add powerful depth. While Smart and Tambor have minimal parts, it’s always great to see their face on the big screen. But the best parts of the movie feature Affleck and Jon Bernthal, an up and coming heavy hitter. The two have major chemistry and their interactions are imbued with a variety of emotions. Bernthal is an amazing actor, and I look forward to seeing where his career takes him.

The plot seems farfetched in the trailer but the movie smooths things out nicely. The movie spans Christian’s entire life featuring flashbacks to his youth and the defining moments of his life. It builds a complex story about family and nature vs nurture. Stories that seem to run parallel entwine and most often come full circle. The movie features two promenade twists (only one in which I saw coming early on) that answer any questions that the movie brings up.

Well researched, written, and acted, The Accountant is a fun thriller that changes the way we see movies with nontypicallly developing characters. Now if Affleck would just continue to make these kinds of movies instead of the Batman movies.

 

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Will Ferrell Maps out a Hilarious Campaign

Will Ferrell movies are either brilliantly funny or low brow stupid. For every Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, or A Night at the Roxbury (my guilty pleasure), there is Step Brothers, Semi-Pro, and Anchorman. Jay Roach’s (Dinner for Schmuks) direction helps put The Campaign in the first category.

Ferrell plays Cam Brady, an unopposed career Congressman in the vein of Bill Clinton. His world is upended when the Motch brother (Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow) bring in an eccentric local named Marty Huggins (played beautifully by Zach Galifianakis).  The begin throwing out the word “communist” and bashing the opponent’s family values. Marty Huggins looses himself to the prepping and changes made by his campaign manager (gorgeous Dylan McDermott), and Cam Brady tries to find himself.

The movie takes actual campaign strategies and pulls them to the extreme. In fact, you have to laugh at the truthfulness or you might cry. And this is the secret to this film, the reality in it. In fact, the viewer has no idea who they should root for. Which of the two is the lesser devil? The ending was a surprise as the writers add depth to the characters and hope for the future of politics. It’s this critical thinking that gives this comedy its true depth. There is some stupid, silly humor, but I must admit every time Marty Huggins couldn’t open I door, I laughed till I almost cried.

Ferrell and Galifianakis working together are beautiful. They both become their characters changing speech patterns and walks, and really give depth to flat political stereotypes. The movie is at its highest point when the two start trash talking together, with Marty Huggins sounding like a second grader. I’m not sure how these two made it through a scene together with out bursting into laughter every time. Even McDermott’s straight man is hilarious as he yells at his protégé or deadpans that they are out of Honeynut Cheerios. It was also great to see more range in Jason Sudeikis as Cam Brady’s campaign manager.

The Campaign wins you over with its comedy and heart. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon this election season.