Turns out when all is said and done, the Oscar kids are all right -- but all right wasn’t good enough in a lumbering show with few surprises that was still about two hours too long.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway gave the 83rd Academy Awards the youthful energy it has needed for a long time, buoyed by a clever opening that put the hosts in all the movies nominated for Best Picture.
But that energy quickly faded into the inertia of a bloated, self-important ceremony, where "surprises" were reserved for Billy Crystal tamely presenting an award, James Franco in drag and Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo dropping the "F" bomb.
Read also: The Complete List of Oscar Winners
Add to that the fact that “The King’s Speech,” Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Colin Firth all won as expected, there wasn’t a lot to get excited about.
Sadly, the Oscars are still overweight.
It wasn’t just that the middle hour lagged and the final hour inched along as it always does at a ceremony that really should be just like most movies, only 90 minutes long.
It was also that the attempts at ‘new’ didn’t work. Like inviting 94-year-old Kirk Douglas to present the best supporting actress; he was painful to watch, and the audience held its breath to see if he would stumble.
And that Auto-tunes number? Really? Doesn’t “Saturday Night Live” own that joke?
The show’s high production opening mocking the Best Picture nominees was similar to what Crystal used to do at the Oscars, and what the MTV Movie Awards have been doing for years. The cameos of Morgan Freeman and last year’s co-host Alec Baldwin dragged.
Thank God for the mash up of “Back to the Future.” That at least made you hope the funny bus was going to come back round.
But it never really did. It took an hour for the first Charlie Sheen joke to come out of Franco’s mouth -- which was about 50 minutes longer than it should have.
But that’s the Oscars for you – out of touch with even the biggest meltdown in town.
Nothing was much of a surprise. Happily, Franco and Hathaway played off each other effortlessly. Hathaway was glamorous and relaxed, and Franco – whose plan to dress as Cher and sing her song from “Burlesque” got nixed – livened things up slightly by dressing in drag.
But no show can be truly light-hearted when serious grown-ups like Tom Hanks take to the stage early. Immediately the droop began. And, with a few exceptions like the electricity between presenters and “Sherlock Holmes” co-stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, it never really picked up.
Adding in the “man on the street” segments, which included a cameo from Barack Obama, was just one of many fast tracks to “who cares?”
The thing is the Oscars are like winter. Every year we forget just how bad it was last time and then act surprised when it isn’t all sunny and new.