Will Smith plays Lucifer. The story jumps ahead 100 years with no explanation. Will Smith wears a blazer over a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt – in 1916. Russell Crowe speaks in an Irish accent with no explanation. Kevin Corrigan plays Kevin Durand’s grandfather. There is a horse named “Horse,” but apparently it’s actually a dog, but really it’s a pegasus. Will Smith reads A Brief History of Time while hanging out under a bridge. Based on that Winter’s Tale review alone, I understand if you now want to run out to go see it right away, but be forewarned, other than the moments I’ve mentioned, it’s more boring than crazy. (Also, it probably isn’t even in theatres anymore anyway.)
When I saw the trailer for Winter’s Tale, it initially looked like typical romance goop, albeit goop with a strong cast, but then it started jumping back and forth in time and got all mystical, and I thought, “This could be interestingly crazy.” And there are parts when it is appreciably interestingly crazy. When Winter’s Tale is on, it is batshit. But most of the time, it is plainly underwhelming, and most of the actors don’t really seem to have any idea what they are doing.
There is some message in this film about how the stars and the light shine through and connect everything and make miracles possible, and all that is actually not as annoyingly bullshitty as it sounds. It doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t come off as insulting because it is so nebulous. It sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person who might actually have some insight but who is operating on a plane of existence so far removed from everyone else. But it doesn’t sound like it is supposed to be crazy because the dialogue about it is delivered with such conviction by Jessica Brown Findlay.
Supposedly the novel Winter’s Tale is based on, written by Mark Helprin, is something of a modern classic. I haven’t read it, but I still got the sense that the film chopped off at least half of the book’s narrative and subsequently didn’t bother to explain what was missing. It’s worth watching Winter’s Tale if only to listen to the episode of the podcast How Did This Get Made? that covers Winter’s Tale, for the sake of hearing Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and guest star Andy Daly try to figure out what was missing and for you to try to figure it out along with them. So ultimately this Winter’s Tale review is a recommendation of How Did This Get Made?
Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.