Because He Got High
by LAUREN BANS
dir. Neil Burger
For whatever reason someone is trying to make Bradley Cooper a leading man. Okay, not for "whatever reason", specifically for his Crafted by Pilates (TM) abdominal area and that cocky facial expression of his that says "Gurl, I know where you hid those Girl Scout cookies." The problem is a star needs a starring vehicle that can go places, like to mainstream multiplexes. Limitless is not that vehicle. It’s more of a recalled Toyota that explodes into flames on the highway leaving the driver paraplegic.
B Coops plays Eddie, a newly single, science fiction writer who looks like 1998's Eddie Vedder. He has a serious case of writer’s block and an apartment reminiscent of the aftermath of an open Jumanji board. Eddie runs into his ex-girlfriend’s druggie brother on the street and ends up accepting an $800 black market trial drug, called NZT, that renders everything mentally “clear.” The pill enables him to finish his book in an hour. He earns millions on the stock market. He cleans his apartment real good. (And isn’t that is the problem with Adderall? You always swallow it with great intentions and 15 minutes later you’re on your knees, scrubbing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, Israeli-army style.)
When he’s on the drug, Eddie inexplicably sees his surroundings through a fisheye lens, and struts down the street to a set list seemingly plagiarized from a “Rock of the Ages”-type radio station in Nebraska. It’s probably how Charlie Sheen experiences the world.
The tragedy of the movie is there may not be a worse person upon which to bestow the planet's last few super intelligence tablets. Watching Bradley Cooper gulp them down and proceed to waste his high transforming himself into a Brooks Brothers model feels somewhat unjust, like watching a goldfish eat a Peter Luger steak. Shouldn’t someone be crushing those up and spooning it into Stephen Hawking's mouth instead?
The most disappointing moment is when you realize Eddie’s voiceover narration pre-pill-popping wasn’t deliberately hackneyed - even with a four digit IQ he still says things like, "A fight? I don’t know how to fight. OR DO I?"
Of course the whole Better Living Through Chemistry imperative isn't without a few roadblocks. Eddie begins to get headaches. He starts forgetting how he spent huge blocks of time (we see one such period in a fast hazy montage — it involves gambling, drinking, effing models, and a fat bearded man. I assume it was a paid promotion for The Hangover 2.) Mysterious people attempt to kill him. The girlfriend whom he quickly wins back by ordering her sushi in fluent Japanese (women are so easy!) dumps him again, and this big focking CEO (played by De Niro, who apparently ordered Fredo to off his agent at some point in the last decade) tries to blackmail him.
But don’t think Limitless is anti-pharmaceutical. Bradley Cooper is just too beautiful to die, like the other plebes who get addicted to NZT do. This pat solution is very satisfyingly explained near the end when he taunts De Niro, "You actually thought that I wouldn’t learn how to overcome the side effects?" Um, yes? At least I did. Maybe the trick is you need to watch Limitless on brain-enhancing drugs for it to make sense, otherwise it's like looking at a hologram without 3D glasses. On that note: if anyone wants to send me some Adderall, I promise I will rewatch this movie and report back. Right after I finish exfoliating the grout on my bathroom floor.
"In Every Sunflower" - Bell X1 (mp3)
"The Great Defector" - Bell X1 (mp3)
"Apple of My Eye" - Bell X1 (mp3)