Knives Out (2019)

This is one of those big, fun ensemble comedies that used to be a lot more frequent in the 1990s. Maybe it’s a reflection of the reboot/sequel age of Hollywood mainstream movie-making expectations but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of an original property like this when it was out in theaters, but I’m sure glad I gave it a shot because it’s a delight. Unlike many ensemble comedies, this is one of those few where each member of the all-star cast is given several opportunities to shine, and the characters are unexpectedly, impressively well-developed, given how many there are and how interconnected all their dynamics are. Jamie Lee Curtis and Daniel Craig are the ostensible leads (and for Curtis, that’s primarily because of her steely command of the screen), and writer/director Rian Johnson does a great job of expanding the mystery of the central whodunit that propels the narrative forward by exploiting as much comedy out of the material via his talented cast and their terrific dialogue, while also laying a solid foundation for a number of prescient socio-political observations about wealth distribution without becoming pedantic or preachy. At over two hours it’s maybe a little on the overlong side, but when it’s all over, it’s definitely worth the ride and will likely stand up to repeat viewings.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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