Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints (2006)

Who Gave This The Green Light?

- Written and directed by Dito Montiel (adapted from his book), A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints (2006) is a story about none other than Dito Montiel - and what an uninteresting story it is.

In the present day, Dito's father has fallen ill, causing Dito to go back to his hometown of Queens, New York. On his journey back home, he revisits old memories of growing up in the mid-1980s, why he left and why he has not exactly thrilled about coming home. Unfortunately nothing in Dito's life is remotely interesting and nothing happening on screen is worth caring about. Dito gets into some teen trouble, gets a girlfriend, gets into fights with his father and ultimately gets the false impression that it would make a good film. Well, thanks, but it does not since complete dysfunction does not automatically equal a good story.

Unfortunately, the list of problems does not end here. A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is shot in a way that is just as uninteresting as its progression of events. Shot through a third person hand-held viewing, we as the audience gets a window into Dito's life that has been done to death as of late.

The performances found in the film are also hit and miss - missing mostly. Since Robert Downey Jr. receives top billing in this film, it is only natural to think that he has the largest amount of screen time. Well, wrong! While Robert Downey Jr. does well with what little screen time he has as the grown-up Dito, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is very much a Shia Lebouf film, as Lebouf plays the featured young Dito. The problem with that is, not only does he not begin to resemble a young Robert Downey Jr., Shia Lebouf is not a very good actor at all. The film features some good performances from Downey Jr, Melonie Diaz and Chazz Palminteri; but, for the most part, the performances found in the film are of poor quality. When the film does not feature actors who are doing a mediocre job, like Dianne Wiest and Shia LaBeouf, it is filled with actors who are just horrible in their roles like Julia Garro and especially Channing Tatum, who is absolutely painful to watch.

By and large, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is not made up of anything special. I would suggest avoiding this film like one avoids a life on the streets.

CBC Rating: 3/10

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