Movie review: Carnage

By Columbus Alive
From the January 12, 2012 edition

It’s a movie about grown-ups acting like children, but the disappointing “Carnage” left me pouting.

“Why?” I whined. “Why couldn’t it be better?” Given the pedigree, it certainly should have been.

Director Roman Polanski adapted the screenplay with Yasmina Reza from her Tony-winning stage play “God of Carnage.” And he assembled a talented and interesting cast. But I ultimately found myself squirming in my seat restlessly, waiting for things to really take off.

After their sons are involved in a playground fight, two sets of New York parents gather to discuss things like, well, adults.

It’s amiable enough at first. The parents of the victim (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) and the parents of the attacker (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) are all in agreement about the incident. End of story, right?

Except that they stick around in this apartment. And their level of discourse begins slowly unraveling, until pettiness and bitterness really start to kick in.

This cast? This director? This material? What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, “Carnage” isn’t as good as its parts, although watching these actors bare their teeth is sometimes worthwhile.

But the production feels as restrained as a stage play, without the immediacy. As it wears on, you may wonder “Why don’t they just leave?”

You may wonder the same about yourself.