I enjoyed watching this film and would recommend other to give it a try , (as I am) but this movie, although enjoyable to watch due to the better than average acting fails to add anything new to its storyline that is all too familiar to these types of movies.
It really made me laugh, but for some moments I was tearing up because I could relate so much.
The movie turns out to be a little better than the average. Starting from a romantic formula often seen in the cinema, it ends in the most predictable (and somewhat bland) way.
Actress is magnificent and exudes a hypnotic screen presence in this affecting drama.
After World War II, William Saroyan gambled away all his money but he preferred to resort to hack work rather than sell movie rights to any of his novels. Not after his disappointment with the original movie of The Human Comedy. Part of it was vanity. He'd wanted to direct the movie, and MGM wouldn't let him. But it's also true that Hollywood has its own point of view and it doesn't always match Saroyan's.In Ithaca, which is a remake of the Human Comedy (now that Saroyan is dead), the main story and characters are preserved, but to me it doesn't look like Saroyan. In the book's classic illustrations by Don Freeman, Mrs. Macauley is older-looking and certainly not an attractive but obvious plastic-surgery veteran like Meg Ryan. Grogan is older-looking too. The character brought most successfully to the screen is Ulysses, although he shouldn't be losing his baby teeth if, as the dialog says, he's four. He's remarkable.The visuals are, to my taste, too expressionistic. The telegraph office is huge, the roads are wide, and things are too big in general except where Marcus the faraway soldier is involved. All the scenes with Marcus are crowded. That does emphasize the contrast between Ithaca and where Marcus is, but Marcus is not remote enough. Because there are continual voice-overs from his letters, I think the audience doesn't appreciate his absence as a factor. Even the dead father isn't completely absent, and although he adds a sorrowful note, this unkillable family togetherness diminishes the philosophical message that our human condition is one of loneliness and we must actively reach out.On the one hand, I expected a dustier, less prosperous-looking Ithaca. On the other hand, I was surprised that the choice of music verged on primitivity. More Appalachian than Californian. I think that a more realistic movie might have worked better, because of the need to carry some dialogue that can, if not handled right, sound unrealistically divorced from what everyday people really say. People declaiming unrealistic-sounding dialogue amidst unrealistic-looking scenery may be fine for the stage but it's difficult to sell on the screen.Still, the movie tries to be respectful of the original. It even includes some salutes to matters that only readers of the book will fully appreciate-- such a mention of unripe apples, referencing a whole episode involving unripe apricots in the book. I hope that since Saroyan is no longer alive to object, Hollywood will continue to mine his canon.
First, this was a terribly directed and cast remake of "A Human Comedy" which did not need a remake unless it was going to be impeccable. Too many things wrong, lots and lots. This was wrong from the outset, the Telegraph office was incorrect as there were not any metal door/ window framing on buildings of that nature in the 1940's. And it just goes down hill from there. Sad about the direction. Too bad about the casting. It was a little like scratching fingernails on a chalkboard. I could not finish this movie. So save your money and time.
"Okay, the faster you deliver messages, the more you can deliver. The faster you pick up outgoing messages, the more we can send. The more we can send, the better our chances of beating western union and staying alive. We're postal telegraph. We get there swiftly. We're polite to everyone. We take off our hats in elevators and above all things, we never lose a telegram.""Wow!" I thought for a minute. A drama with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks demonstrating their skills once more. Is it a sequel to the masterful romantic comedy "You've got mail"? Well, it's about sending messages for sure. But Tom Hanks won't send a lot of messages anymore. Or he's sending them from the afterlife. It's the era before the internet even existed. These were the happy days without spam or ransom-ware. But to deliver the telegram within an acceptable time frame, the telegraph services needed young boys who could ride a bike swiftly enough. And since "Ithaca" is situated during the 2nd World War, with lots of American boys fighting on the European continent, it's no surprise most of the messages brought no good news.And that's something Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) is facing. He's betting his life on being the fastest courier on bike ever. Despite the fact that he's racing back and forth like a kind of Cavendish the whole movie, the film on its own is rather slow. Biggest surprise was the rather limited contribution by Tom Hanks. Was he doing Meg Ryan (debuting here as a director) a favor? Or was it just to stir up the former movie chemistry? In contrast, the film was hugely predictable. I could guess early on in the film which fate Homer was quickly sprinting towards. I know it wasn't the intention to create a mysterious puzzle. But I was hoping for a little surprise. Ultimately, it's once again about fear and hope. Left behind families waiting for some news from their sons who are sent to war. And this combined with the story about a boy, who's confronted with the less pleasant events in life, while delivering these messages.Because of the short playing time, Meg Ryan failed to unravel the fragile personality of Homer in an orderly manner. His leap to adulthood is fairly abruptly after the death of his father and the departure of his older brother. A brother who writes terribly long letters while on his way to the front, in such a prosaic writing style that it seems as if he wants to win a Pulitzer prize. The occasional reading of excerpts from these letters probably was meant to bring drama into the film. Eventually, I thought it was quite disturbing. A short playing time with a variety of story lines results in unfinished and "fast dealt with" pieces. The loss of a father figure, the responsibility as the eldest son, dutifully performing a job as a courier, the disastrous reports, war scenes, the drama of an old telegraph operator and a mother who occasionally experiences "Sixth Sense" situations. And then there are a few minor (but briefly quoted) secondary plots. It's all a bit too much.The acting isn't really bad. But it seems like everyone is groping in the dark about his character. Especially Homer's boss Tom Spangler (Hamish Linklater) is such a blurred figure. We can be brief about Ryan and Hanks. As brief as their actual playing time. It's negligible. I only enjoyed the performances of Alex Neustaedter (obvious of course), Sam "Midnight Special" Shepard and the cute Ulysses (Spencer Howell) whose cuddle factor is very high. Especially Shepard makes a momentary impression. A brilliant and intriguing character. Eventually this coming of age story during the war makes a fairly comatose impression. It isn't really vivid.More reviews here : http://bit.ly/1KIdQMT
Greetings again from the darkness. The source material is the 1943 novel "The Human Comedy" from Pulitzer Prize winning writer William Saroyan; and it's the directorial debut of Meg Ryan, the one-time 'America's Sweetheart' who reunites with her Sleepless in Seattle co-star Tom Hanks (in a ghostly cameo). Due to these juicy ingredients, we can be excused if our expectations are a bit high.As a viewer, it's easy to relate to the emotions of young Homer McCauley (Alex Neustaedter) as his messenger job expedites the disillusionment that often accompanies adulthood. While Homer becomes more disenchanted the more he learns, we feel let down with each successive sequence. The adapted screenplay from Eric Jendresen never picks a direction, and instead teases us with numerous pieces from the novel with little follow through on any.Homer's dad (a very brief Tom Hanks apparition) has recently passed, and with his older brother Marcus (Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) off at war, Homer takes it upon himself to secure a job to help support his saintly and melancholy mother (Meg Ryan), his older sister Bess (Christine Nelson) and his little brother Ulysses (an energetic Spencer Howell). He pledges to be the best bicycle messenger ever when hired at the local telegraph company run by Tom Spangler (Hamish Linklater) and old-timer (grumpy and frequently inebriated) Willie (Sam Shepard).Being that it's war time, some of the telegraphs Homer must deliver are the worst possible news for the parents on the receiving end. As the film progresses, we see the light slowly go out of Homer's once bright eyes. The accelerated coming-of-age aspect is at its best when his father-figure Willie brusquely tells him "You are 14 years old and you're a man! I don't know who made you that way." It's the most poignant moment of the film and the closest we get to a real theme.The letters Homer receives from older brother Marcus contribute to his understanding of the world and the reading of the letters serves the purpose of story narration. The film is nostalgic and idealistic, but so unfocused that we are never able to fully connect with any of the characters. We are caught off guard when Homer proclaims his mother as the nicest person ever, although she has offered even less guidance than Forrest Gump's mom. Ithaca, Ulysses, and Homer
we can't miss the mythology ties, as well as the importance of home, but it always feels like something is missing.In 1943, six time Oscar nominee Clarence Brown made a movie based on this same novel, and the cast included Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, Donna Reid and Van Johnson. In this new version, John Mellencamp provides the musical score, and Ms. Ryan has stated that the novel helped her work through a difficult time in her personal life. She's likely to get more opportunities to direct; her first outing is easy enough to watch, but just as easy to forget.