As high schoolers, we were subjected to The Great Gatsby in our academic curriculums. I have to say, The Great Gatsby is not one of my favorite books. Its one of the few times in my life I resorted to CliffsNotes. The only thing more boring than reading the book was watching the 1974 film adaptation with Robert Redford. So when I heard that The Great Gatsby was coming back to the big screen again with Baz Luhrmann directing, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. But the fact that Luhrmann cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and the soundtrack would be littered with Jay-Z had me questioning my pre-determined opinions. Could there be an incarnation of The Great Gatsby I could actually enjoy?
You should all know the plot of The Great Gatsby, but just in case you were sleeping through English class here’s the rundown. Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) arrives in New York City and becomes involved in the wealthy upper class through his cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton). Nick also befriends his mysterious rich neighbor Mr. Gatsby, who has a history with Daisy that Nick is unaware of. All of this socialite drama is set in the Roaring Twenties. Where they got Jay-Z’s new album 80 years before it dropped is beyond me.
Once again I walked away from The Great Gatsby with the same thought… Boring! The Great Gatsby runs 2 hours and 25 minutes and feels even longer. I just don’t find rich people who are sad intriguing. I find them dull. For all the talk that surrounded The Great Gatsby getting the 3D treatment, I found it middle of the road by 3D standards. The format did not improve the experience of Gatsby as it did with Life of Pi or Avatar. To be honest, I thought Iron Man 3 made better use of the 3D technology than The Great Gatsby did.
As far as the acting goes, there are good performances in The Great Gatsby. Leonardo DiCaprio was tailor-made to play the man of mystery Jay Gatsby. Joel Edgerton keeps showing why he’s more than just a character actor playing the hot-headed Buchanan. Unfortunately, the glaring problem with The Great Gatsby comes in the form of Tobey Maguire’s performance as Nick. For such an integral role, Luhrman should have cast someone with more range than Maguire. Tobey Maguire has two moves in his acting repertoire, wide-eyed astonishment or sniffling dweeb. You would think that Maguire would have chemistry with DiCaprio since they’ve known each other for years, but there’s zilch. Maguire’s performance ruins Nick Carraway just as he did before with Peter Parker in Spiderman.
I know there are some people who love F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic love story, but not this guy. I always found the source material rather boring and the film adaptations to be slow-moving. I will say that Luhrman’s glitz and glam approach made this version of The Great Gatsby more watchable, but that’s not saying much considering the other film and TV adaptations of The Great Gatsby in the past. By the end of The Great Gatsby my legs hurt from the running time and my eyes and ears hurt from Tobey Maguire’s acting. Overall I give The Great Gatsby 2 potatoes out of 4.
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