This should have been our first warning.
Date nights come around only so often, and they get to be pricey once childcare is involved, so by no means should you make the same mistake we did tonight by squandering your romantic evening out on the movie Contagion. This is especially true if one of the people in your marriage is a hypochondriac.
Contagion begins with a cough. Then we see Gwyneth Paltrow looking a wee bit under the weather. Within ten minutes, she is dead. In another five, her head is being cut open for an autopsy. The director, Steven Soderbergh, who clearly hates us, films Paltrow’s face so we can hear the saw but not see the cut … until a doctor folds her scalp down over her forehead. The elderly woman in front of us leaned over to the person sitting next to her and said, “What’s going on?” Someone behind us laughed heartily. Someone else muttered, “At least somebody is enjoying this.”
Contagion proceeds to track the rapid spread of a bat/pig virus that has ruthlessly mutated and begun wiping out our finest Oscar-winning actresses. It is a creepily satisfying thriller — the virus goes global, and we are informed of all the cities and their populations being introduced to this lethal outbreak — but you will not want to do any cuddling or hand-holding during or after the movie, and possibly you will never want to touch another human being ever again. For that, you would be better served going to see 50/50 (our second choice), or perhaps even Moneyball (sold out).
If you insist on seeing Contagion, however, you will be treated to Jude Law’s truly awful teeth; a delicately restrained performance from Matt Damon; many pensive looks from Marion Cotillard; lots of coughing Asians; some sharp editing work that makes everyday objects like a drinking glass radiate germs; and the implicit message that government is a force for good that should be trusted in times of crisis. You’ll also get a good laugh any time Jennifer Ehle or Demetri Martin put on their hazmat suits. The world may be going to hell in a handbasket, but who can resist laughing at people with big, goofy balloon limbs? Not us.