March 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Review: 'Adjustment Bureau' is silly and convoluted, at best

Matt Damon is confronted by angels who wear hats in this film based on the work of the late author Philip K. Dick. )

It's hard to imagine a more spectacularly silly film making it to theaters this year than "The Adjustment Bureau."It doesn't matter if Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and Jack Black all dress up in diapers for a production of "Death of a Salesman," nothing is going to top this.

It's sort of hard to tell whether the movie intends to be quite as ridiculous as it is. It seems quite serious about being a romance, and the thriller elements are apparently supposed to thrill, despite being wholly absurd. But then get this plot:The world is filled with angels and they all wear hats.

Not funny hats, understand, just your basic fedoras and baseball caps. And for some reason, most of these angels appear to be male.

These angels work for The Chairman. Of course they do. And they try to make sure his master plan, which is written in a series of notebooks the angels carry around with them, comes to pass. Which is where David Norris (Matt Damon) comes in.

He's a young politician on the rise, and the angels want to make sure he keeps rising.

But then one night he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) in a men's room (where else?) and instantly falls in love with her.

That's not part of the plan.

Nor is it part of the plan when David walks into a meeting room and finds a bunch of angels and their black-clad thugs playing with folks' brains.

This is such a breach of security that the angels take David aside, explain their existence to him, further explain he must not hook up with Elise — not part of the plan — and that if he ever tells anybody about their existence they will reduce his mind to oatmeal.

Speaking of minds reduced to oatmeal, it should now be pointed out that this film is written and directed by George Nolfi (he wrote "Ocean's 12" and "The Bourne Ultimatum") and based on a story by the late Philip K. Dick, who was probably just kidding around.

That's the essential problem with "The Adjustment Bureau" — it doesn't seem to be kidding around. Or at least not near enough.

Anyway, since Emily Blunt looks and acts like Emily Blunt, David decides to heck with the angels and eventually pursues her anyway. Then the angels get really tough and threaten to ruin her life as well as his. So he backs off.

It hasn't been mentioned yet that the angels wear hats because they enable them to open a door in one place and come out another place entirely.

So you open a door at the Museum of Modern Art and step onto the lawn in front of the Statue of Liberty. Why you're not stepping into the Egyptian desert in front a pyramid is not really explained. Apparently angels prefer New York City.

A friendly angel (Anthony Mackie) gives David a magic hat so he, too, can run from city hall to a baseball field to a sewage plant in a matter of seconds, so … Wait. Does this really need to go any further? Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are charming now and again in this movie, but the whole story is so beyond preposterous, and so cheesy, and so confused in tone, that's it's hard to grab onto and even harder to care about.

It would take more than a few adjustments to make "The Adjustment Bureau" work. Seriously, The Chairman would have to redo the whole thing.

'The Adjustment Bureau'

GRADE:D+

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image

Running time: 105 minutes

tlong@detnews.com

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Matt Damon and Emily Blunt fight for love and self-determination in the ... (Universal Pictures photos)