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  • Jared Huizenga

‘Bliss’ Succeeds in Theory, but Fails in Execution

You ever sit around, smoke a bunch of pot and come up with the “best idea ever,” only to discover later on that you can only recall bits and pieces of it, but not enough for it to make any sense at all?


Now, have you ever done that and turned it into a screenplay?


I can’t say that writer/director Mike Cahill did that while creating ‘Bliss,’ but if it comes out that he did, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson star in ‘Bliss.’ (Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle. Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

‘Bliss’ tells the story of Greg (Owen Wilson) a seemingly normal guy that is going through a decidedly abnormal time in his life. He’s recently unemployed, recently divorced, hopelessly addicted to drugs, estranged from his son, and consistently breaking his daughter’s heart with his unreliability.


And somehow, he hasn’t even hit rock bottom yet.


Enter Isabel ((Salma Hayek), a mysterious and seemingly homeless woman, who first helps Greg out of a sticky situation with former employer and then convinces him that the world they’re living in is actually a simulation and virtually everyone and everything around them is a part of it.


As the pair grows closer, the lines between fantasy and reality blur, leaving Greg unable to choose between the life he thinks he knows and the life he things he wants.


On paper – or in the electronic promo packet I received – I thought it sounded like a helluva an idea. Alternate realities; hopping between timelines with the assistance of magic crystals that are ground up and launched into the nostrils through something resembling one of those giant metal flavor injectors; Salma Hayek; and Owen Wilson wowing his way through 90 minutes.


What’s not to like?


Quite a bit, actually.

Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson star in ‘Bliss.’ (Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle. Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

It’s starts out promising, with a “holy crap” moment right off the bat. Don’t be fooled: intriguing moments like that one are few and far between. In fact, it’s the only moment that stands out in any way.


By the time we meet Isabel, which is right after that moment, ‘Bliss’ is already veering toward the shoulder of the highway. By the time we get to know her a bit more, it’s jumped the shoulder and is gunning it through the ditch – it’s bumpy, hard to control, and – quite frankly – pointless. Beyond the first 10-15 minutes there seems to be no direction or agenda for the story and it just sort of sloppily meanders around waiting for its next “holy crap” moment, which you can see a mile away.


The disjointed story doesn’t do its stars any favorites. Hayek and Wilson aren’t going to be confused Streep and Hanks, but they’re bankable, affable stars that generally do enough to keep you invested in the story. Here, however, both seem checked out from the jump. In fact, the most consistent part of the film is their apparent disinterest.


The entirety of my rating is for the ambitious story … even though virtually everything else about falls flat.


★ of ★★★★★

© 2021 by Man Versus Movie

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