Spencer was a fan. Me, not so much. The film’s pretty successful on the level of ideas, I’ll grant you, but Eric Roth tends to pace his screenplays at a leisurely pace. That can be okay. But the film’s also suffused with a persistent thematic gloominess. That, too, can be okay. But then you add in Matt Damon in the lead role. His signature affect-less performances can be extremely effective in the right hands (Bourne Identity, The Departed) but in combination with the gloominess, the slow pace, and the long length of the film, the results are just deadly dull.
The portrayal of vintage WASP mores — alcoholism, loveless marriages, otherwise-serious men singing and dancing, secret societies, beloved gay teachers — however, is pretty cool. On the other hand, at this point in time there’s really nothing more cliché and, frankly, a little churlish than Jews and white Catholics teaming up to offer unflattering portrayals of the old regime elite we’ve displaced.