Adjustment Bureau is time well bent

A fun re-reading of Philip K. Dick short story

The Adjustment Bureau
Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Generally, the adaptations of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s work tend to be pretty bad, coasting on the iconic success of Blade Runner to give cachet to some half-assed piece of matinee fodder. That’s why The Adjustment Bureau is such a pleasant surprise. It’s actually pretty good. Who would have expected a solid date movie inspired by one of Dick’s short stories? And that eternal frat guy Matt Damon could lighten up, be self-effacing and actually be charming?

Here, Damon plays a Senate candidate trounced on election night because of the sudden release of evidence of a youthful indiscretion. It’s a very bad night for him, but because of an unplanned bit of kismet, he meets his soul mate in the form of aspiring dancer Emily Blunt. Due to some big-picture revisions, however, she’s no longer slated by the eponymous bureaucracy to cross his path. And so the suits sweep in to clean up the mess and Damon and Blunt go through all sorts of rom-com complications to work out what seems on paper to be a done deal, which leads to a sort of a French-farce approach to banging through the doors of perception.

There’s no real heavy lifting here, but on the other hand the filmmakers display a welcome faith in the audience. The story plays out on its own terms without spoon feeding information that most folks can suss out on their own. It also helps that the dialogue is clever and playful, which allows the two leads to develop a nice dynamic and lets the romance unfold properly without being drowned in the quirkiness of the premise.