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adjustment bureau
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The Adjustment Bureau

Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly and Terence Stamp
Screenplay by George Nolfi
Based Upon the Short Story "Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick
Directed by George Nolfi

IN SHORT: A great sit. [Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image. 105 minutes]

The Adjustment Bureau is adapted from a story by Philip K. Dick -- the guy who wrote the original story from which we got Blade Runner. We're pleased to say that classic film is now in pretty good company.

It's hard to be a human. Your parental units try to instill values and give you the tools with which you can live a good life and the, sometimes, things go horribly wrong. Or astoundingly, wonderfully right. Depending on the circumstance, you may just be experiencing some kind of Luck -- good or bad or flat out miraculous. Unless you don't believe in such nonsense and through your lot in with the equally inexplicable Fate, also known as Destiny.

Or let me put it this way. If you've had virtually any kind of basic religious training, you've probably heard a phrase something like "God has a Plan for each one of Us." Substitue "Universe" if you don't believe in "G". Said phrase is a catch-all for when those incredible things good or bad happen in your life. Call it Fate, perhaps.

In the world of The Adjustment Bureau, "fate" is a four letter word. Boss "G" is a very real entity, who has a whole passel of men dressed like outtakes from the 1950s making sure all things go according to plan. Fate or Chance has other ideas in this story, and the battle between drives what we can best describe as the worst case of heartburn the Universe has ever had.

Take David Norris (Matt Damon) for example. As a boy his father took him on a trip to Washington DC where he sat in the Senate gallery and watched our government at work. They must have actually accomplished something that day because David came away knowing that he wanted to be a politician and help people via that route. In subsequent years, though, David would lose his parents tragically, go on a hard partying bender all through his college years and come pretty close to wrecking the metaphorical Train that is his Fate.

Somehow, somewhere along the line he grew up and, as we meet the more mature David, it is election night of his first run for Congress. The position: a seat in the House of Representatives from his native Brooklyn. Stepping into to a hotel bathroom to compose himself, just as it is time to accept his new responsibilities, David has a chance encounter with the Girl of his Dreams. She's crashing a wedding celebration, currently in progress on a different floor of the hotel where David's campaign ball is underway but, hey, Lightning Strikes.

And then Lightning is gone, leaving David without so much as a name or phone number. Just that inexplicable gut feeling that he has to see her again. He will, over the next several years as his political career takes off. But each meeting is random and only a snippet of information comes to light.. It's almost as if someone or something is actively at work, deliberately trying to keep David and his Mystery Girl -- her name is Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a classically-trained dancer (think ballet, not stripper) -- apart.

Indeed, that is the case. These beings, called "adjusters" work for a higher authority. Hint hint. In the case of David Morris, the job of the adjusters is to keep him away from Elise. We won't tell you why. We will tell you that Adjuster Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) is, initially, in charge of David's destiny. When he drops the ball, metaphorically speaking, his supervisor Richardson (John Slattery) steps in. Both adjusters want to keep this mess out of the notice of the Head Office but, wouldn't you know it, said Office does notice. Bureau Supervisor Thompson (Terrence Stamp) decides to handle the situation once and for all.

Thompson's nickname is "the Hammer." Need we say more?

We could but we've said enough already. With cameos from real-life news commentators and/or politicians like Chuck Scarborough, Jon Stewart, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, James Carville and Mary Matalin The Adjustment Bureau moves quickly through its paces, keeping the otherworldly story grounded in the real world. Buy the premise and the film delivers a pretty good sit.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Adjustment Bureau, he would have paid . . .


The Adjustment Bureau has something for both the ladies and gents in the viewing audience. Perfect for dates.

One last detail: The adjusters can be "recognized" (sic) as they all wear hats in a world where most people don't. So the film expands the category to include baseball caps and yarmulkes. A yarmulke isn't a hat, it's a religious head covering worn by Jewish men. It's too bad the film doesn't drop David in the middle of one of Brooklyn's ultra orthodox Hasidic communities. It would've been interesting to watch the man totally freak out. <g>)

amazon com link Click to buy films by George Nolfi
Click to buy films starring Matt Damon
Click to buy films starring Terence Stamp
Click to buy books by Philip K. Dick

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.