As Mel and her husband (Chris Pratt) and their adult children (Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Hemsworth) try to find some purpose for their lives, they're kept busy passing messages back and forth with a group of people in suspended animation who are their children. And yes, because the movie is so packed with messages from the marketing department, they all work out. This is not a bad thing, not when the only other choices are: 1) to try to outlive the end of the world; or 2) to sit back and enjoy it.
Passengers has a large cast of characters, one that includes some actors you may have heard of and others that might be less well-known. But the performances are so perfunctory that they rarely have time to leave a mark. Lawrence is a welcome presence, but she makes up for her thin role with a set of eyes that pop with intelligence and feeling. If only she could apply those same eyes and that same intelligence to her work.
Passengers scores high on the sheer stuff of existence. It's fun to watch people a hundred years out on a date, doing that thing where you stare into each other's eyes as if there were no camera there. It's even better to watch them mumble into each other, like TV, with one eye on their watches. But that's as exciting as it gets. Lawrence and Watts have a lot of other movie roles to complete, and they'll probably do them. But it's hard to see this one as a minor work that will endure.
Still, it would be nice if the story of The New Guy were more simple or more clear or more satisfying. But it's a good-looking movie, and the acting is so good I barely notice the narrative deficiencies. And I loved the soundtrack. (No, I don't know who wrote or performed the music. So sue me.)
The New Guy is the first post-Romantics movie that I've seen this year that stays with me. It is unusually sophisticated for a comedy, in large part because it is not afraid to have its characters commit gaffes and behave badly. (They even laugh at themselves, but not in a cringe-making way.) It lets its characters know they are both human and, in fact, kind of dumb, and they know it, and they like it.