Reviewing the Reviews: 'The Guardian'

92751__guardian_lDoes The Guardian sink or swim? Does it stay afloat or end up waterlogged? There: I’ve now used up most of the puns needed to write a review of the new Kevin Costner-Ashton Kutcher Coast Guard adventure. Critics reviewing the film today indulged in soggy cliches, but then, many of the reviewers say, so does the movie. Most noted its similarities to other grizzled-vet-trains-cocky-upstart movies, like An Officer and a Gentleman and especially Top Gun. (One wag dubbed The Guardian ”Squirt Gun,” and another called it ”Top Snorkel.”)

Many critics were also unable to resist comparisons to Costner’s last ocean epic — that includes EW‘s own Lisa Schwarzbaum, who wrapped her review by observing, ”There’s something endearing about the rugged leading man’s constant pull toward square sagas, but really: gills? Again?” The headline on the review by The New York Post‘s Kyle Smith screamed, ”YEAH, IT’S THAT BAD! REMEMBER THE LAST TIME KEVIN COSTNER MADE A WATER MOVIE?”

In case you didn’t know which all-wet Costner movie I’m talking about, the nation’s most influential critics (at least, while Roger Ebert is on sick leave) will spell it out for you. The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Richard Roeper ends his review by saying, ”Still, The Guardian isn’t the worst aqua-themed movie of Kevin Costner’s career. Not with Waterworld in his rearview mirror.” Writes A.O. Scott of The New York Times, ”You might have thought that, after the debacle of Waterworld more than a decade ago, Kevin Costner would be loath to leave dry land. But like his character, Ben Randall, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Mr. Costner just can’t stay out of the drink.”

addCredit(“The Guardian: Ben Glass”)

Some reviewers raised the Waterworld comparison only to shoot it down and then praised Costner’s performance. ”Costner, who hasn’t been this wet since he spouted gills in Waterworld, wisely underplays throughout. Even his Full Metal Jacket-style address to the new batch of recruits is surprisingly restrained,” writes Nick Chordas of the Columbus Dispatch. ”A decade after the commercial and critical flop Waterworld nearly drowned his career, Kevin Costner goes back to sea in The Guardian, and this time his dignity remains afloat,” says The Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Colin Covert. Writes Christopher Borrelli of The Toledo Blade, ”Though Costner spends much of his time in the water playing a former golden boy in the middle of a career rehabilitation, you’ll never once think, ‘Oh, what a sly commentary on Costner’s own career, especially Waterworld.”’

Lisa Rose of The Newark Star-Ledger noticed another similarity to an old Costner film, writing, ”While it doesn’t rank among Costner’s worst efforts, it still seems repetitious and formulaic, like The Bodyguard meets Waterworld.” The Boston Globe‘s Wesley Morris also saw a link between The Guardian and The Bodyguard, prompting today’s funniest review, which includes a riff imagining a mash-up of the two movies:

”By far the most powerful moment in The Guardian comes at the end, when Kevin Costner drops Ashton Kutcher on the runway in front of Ashton’s private jet. Things between them had been rough, what with Ashton’s diva-driven tantrums and Kevin’s stoic determination to keep his famous client safe from the crazed killer hired to blow him up — at the Oscars. The airport scene is their goodbye. Ashton, wearing a head scarf that whips in the breeze, thanks Kevin for saving him. Kevin walks away. He hasn’t gotten too far, when Ashton calls out after him, running down the steps, along the jetway, and into Kevin’s arms, while on the soundtrack Ashton’s version of Dolly Parton’s…”

Mercifully, Morris stops there.

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • mark in nyc

    Any movie that uses “expect the unexpected” in it’s commercials can expect me not to see it. I will read the “Big Book of Cliches” instead.

  • dave

    funny… the ads call this the “one of the best tested movies in paramount history.” huh…

  • Will Holston

    So Dule Hill is in this, eh? Let’s see he’s African American in an action movie….wonder if his character dies.

  • Howard

    I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen this movie before – in about twenty different settings.
    BTW, this could be one of the most generically titled movies of the year. Just by title, how do you diffentiate between “The Guardian” and “The Sentinel”?

  • Fagqua

    The Gay Mafia wants to know if there’s even a bare ass shot from Ashton? We’ve successfully intergrated Mario Lopez into our growing numbers; we’re hoping to get a hottie like Ashton into our ranks.
    Don’t underestimate us.

  • Maeve

    Does anyone else remember that other water-themed Costner movie, Message in a Bottle? That was sooo bad.

  • Eric

    The New York Times and the L.A. Times employ critics that ‘WISH’ they were writers, and really just have a sore tongue for Costner. It has tidal waves of emotion and heart, and it’s a perfectly told story of a mentor and apprentice.
    This story is not for the highly artsy fartsy liberals who like to spit upon the working class. This original script was written for the Working Class, real people.
    The Guardian will likely be the only movie that will have an applause at the conclusion in nearly every theatre across the nation.

  • Bob Woolsey

    As a filmmaker and former Coastguardsman it was hard watching this film. I give the film a thumbs up but there were a lot of technical problems with the film. As a filmmaker and acting coaching I don’t like it when actors cry. I don’t think that scene is particular is very good and know what those choppers can do they would have never lost him those seas. That chopper would have stayed there because Kutcher wasn’t hurt until another copter got there. THe ending sucks. They needed to rewrite. How about saving the captain and living to save another day. Not a good ending.

  • jake

    i get really annoyed when film critics come down on good movies. There seems to be this division of what critics find great films to what is a great crowd pleaser. The Guardian is a great crowd pleaser. It is not meant to be win awards but to make you fall in love with going to the movies again. I’m sick of seeing critics trash movies that are good when there are a ton of movies that they praise that are not that great and you get to the theater and think — what is so special about this movie? and you end up missing a movie because of all the negative reviews. All I can say is that if you want action/drama/bit of comedy and a good time at the movies — catch the guardian.

  • Duluth

    Before I went to see The Guardian, I read many review, all of which said that this movie was cliche and to not go and see it. My initial thought after seeing the movie was “can I just turn around, buy another ticket, and see the movie again”? It was one of the better movies that I have seen in the theaters in the last few years, and I highly recommend going to see it.

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