Is Promised Land a Fracking Good Movie?

01/04/2013 at 06:00 PM EST

Promised Land: Matt Damon, John Krasinksi Take on Fracking
Matt Damon and John Krasinski
Scott Green

Matt Damon

Matt Damon

It's award season, which naturally means there are plenty of great movies lingering in theaters.

It's also January, which means, well, let me put it this way: You know that gross mix of old slush, dirt and motor oil that submerges your boots as you step off a street corner around this time of year? That's what debuts in theaters around now.

So what do we do make of Promised Land, a Matt Damon/John Krasinski movie (yay!) that opens in January (oh dear)?

The Good:
Promised Land is more engaging – not to mention funnier – than a movie about fracking has a right to be. Damon plays a hotshot oil company exec (is there any other kind?), who's ready to move on to his big promotion, once he gets the locals in a small town to sign over drilling rights to their pristine land. (Seriously, the cinematography is glorious.)



Krasinski is the environmental activist who pops up to tell the townsfolk that Damon's fracking operation is nothing but trouble, and that starts with "t," which rhymes with "b" and that stands for "big oil."

The Bad:
Now that you know what's going on, try not to doze off. After Promised Land sets up all the players, it snoozes along, not saying or doing much for long stretches, until a twist ending that'll make you sprain your eyes from rolling them so hard.

Also, Rosemarie DeWitt and Frances McDormand, both incredible actresses, simply don't get much to do, playing a local teacher and Damon's colleague, respectively. The movie basically boils down to what it might be like to watch Damon and Krasinski talk politics over a couple of beers – which makes sense since they co-wrote the script.

The Verdict:
If you're a fan of either Damon or Krasinski, want to see a quiet movie about how beautiful America still is, or really, really want to know more about the effects of pressurized water below the Earth's crust, then Promised Land (in theaters now) could make for a pleasant evening. But anyone still coming off the cinematic highs of Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables, or, yes, even Django might want to sit this one out.

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