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Critical Mass: 'The Lincoln Lawyer' keeps his shirt on (mostly)

March 18, 2011 | 12:53 pm


OK, first the bad news: Matthew McConaughey keeps his shirt on for most of "The Lincoln Lawyer's" running time. (There is a brief bit of shirtlessness, but it's certainly not as notable as the actor's previous efforts.) Now, the good news: After a long run in the cinematic romantic comedy wasteland of "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" and "Fool's Gold," McConaughey has decided to star in a real movie and is getting some of the best reviews he's seen in years. In fact, based on the reviews of this film, it seems Matthew McConaughey is nigh invincible.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey had her problems with the film overall, but she lays those problems at the feet of screenwriter John Romano, who adapted mystery writer Michael Connelly's novel about a Los Angeles attorney who prefers to work out of the back of his chauffeured Lincoln Town Car. As for McConaughey, she has nothing but praise: " 'Lincoln's' saving grace is the way McConaughey manages to be magnetic against all odds. In Mick, there is a maturity not seen in his other work, a more nuanced performance as the actor exposes the uncertainty inside the smooth sarcasm, the decency behind the grifter's smile. If only we could have seen more of that, even with his shirt on."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis thinks she's found the secret of McConaughey's appeal: It's the even-better woman standing in his shadow. In this case, that woman is Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei. She writes, "Tomei plays a character and not just the love interest. She isn’t the star, of course, but without her and the other exceptionally well-cast supporting players, Mr. McConaughey would have a tougher time making you believe that he was to the sleaze born."

Rolling Stone's Peter Travers confesses to being a die-hard Michael Connelly fan, but even he was won over by "Lincoln Lawyer's" (or is that McConaughey's?) charms.  He writes, "This is rock-solid entertainment. McConaughey, a cunning mesmerizer in the courtroom, steers this 'Lincoln' into what could be a hell-raising franchise."

The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday had another kind of rock solid on her mind when she wrote her positive review: "McConaughey makes the most of his Texas drawl, slicked-back hair and ingratiating affability — and for those keeping score at home, yes, he does take his shirt off, but not until 45 minutes in, and even then it's too dark to see the actor's famous six-pack."

There's no escaping the the McConau-charm. Even Village Voice critic Mark Holcomb, who called the film "as devoid of spontaneity as a D.A.’s defense strategy," is unable to say anything nasty about the star. He writes, "At least McConaughey is game; he generally acts as if he’s getting away with something nobody can prove anyway, so playing a smooth-talking Southland shyster may be the role of his life."

But wait! Across the country, in Newark, N.J., critic Stephen Whitty appears to have been the only mortal to hold fast against the vast entertainment-McConaughey complex. He writes, "All Matthew McConaughey's Haller has to his character is his cockiness, and that gets a bit tiresome."

So there you go, McConaughey. You can't please all the people all the.... Oh wait. Here's this bit further down in Whitty's review: "Still, McConaughey -- who's spent far too many years strolling bare-chested through romantic comedies -- gives this scoundrel a little spark."

And McConaughey ruled the land.

So let's hear it. Did you find Matthew McConaughey irresistible?


Movie Projector: Matthew McConaughey, Bradley Cooper and an alien battle for No. 1

'Lincoln Lawyer' director looks ahead to next film

Matthew McConaughey and Michael Connelly talk 'The Lincoln Lawyer' over beers

--Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Matthew McConaughey gets ready to step into his office in "The Lincoln Lawyer." Credit: Lionsgate Films

Comments () | Archives (2)

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Saw the Lincoln Lawyer and loved it! Matthew was on point. Also, it didn't hurt watching Matthew, Ryan and Josh! Good story line, good acting! a must see!

The movie did an admirable job adapting the novel – hinting at all the same elements that are hinted at in the book. The only significant change – Haller has two ex-wives!


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