The Tourist (review)

Who knew the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had such a sense of humor? A nomination for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, for The Tourist? Unless… No… They can’t mean “Inadvertent Comedy,” can they? (Although HFPA did once give a Globe to Pia Zadora…) Because if this desperately unentertaining film is intended as a comedy, it’s even less successful than the suspense thriller it appears to be attempting to ape. A stunning combination of obvious and stupid, this all-around inept wet-blanket of a film manages to sap all the movie-star appeal out of both Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland), as a math professor on vacation in Venice, and Angelina Jolie (Salt), as the paramour of a notoriously elusive thief who tricks the elite police investigators of three major European law-enforcement agencies who are spying on her into believing that Depp is the man they’re looking for. There is much running around the cinematic eye-candy rooftops and byways of Venice in elegant pajamas and chic evening clothes as the mistaken identity waxes and wanes — it doesn’t take long for the cops to realize the trick their lady-quarry has pulled on them — but if director (and one of the screenwriters) Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) hoped to evoke the stylish comedic thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, the lead-balloon stylings of the supposed humor sink straight to the bottom of those glorious canals. (It’s only in light of the HFPA’s deeming the film a comedy that I can even begin to catch a glimmer of the suggestion of humor in the film at all.) Much worse than the fact that the film features what must be the dumbest police in the history of film — they don’t seem to realize that the surveillance they’re doing requires some subterfuge, or that they should not be leaving crime scenes utterly unprotected while there are still bodies on the floor — is that it requires that one character be an unforgivable dupe. The kind of movie The Tourist wants to be demands smarter, sharper, more knowingly sly characters, and not one that is the butt of the joke.

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