*After Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, it has become almost too easy to mock and dismiss the conventions of the traditional biopic. Although uneven as a comedy, Jake Kasdan’s 2007 parody so effectively spotlighted and skewered the hoary tropes of the genre that any film employing them with a straight face risks looking ridiculous. When The Theory of Everything, a straight-faced biopic about theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane, fades into gauzy flashback within the first few minutes, I half expected Tim Meadows to step in and say, “You’re going to have to give them a moment. Stephen and Jane Hawking need to think about their entire marriage before he accepts a prestigious award.”
*Rosewater, the directorial debut of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, reaches for high levels of sensitivity and evenhandedness throughout, often to its own detriment and nearly to the point of flavorlessness. Stewart overfills his plate with agenda items when he should have focused on the characters.