After the wild success of The Hunger Games and the slightly less wild success of Divergent, and before the hotly anticipated success of The Maze Runner, they decided to let Jeff Bridges realize his 18-year-old dream of bringing this YA dystopia novel to the screen. That was nice of them (if perhaps a bit mercenary). They even let him star as the eponymous keeper of society's memories, and gave him Meryl Streep to play against. Plus they brought in whole slew of fresh-faced, earnest youths, some of whom dare to want something more than their muted, medicated, black-and-white existence. But for a movie about the importance of emotion, The Giver is surprisingly inert, and also clumsy about hitting its beats. Plus, it's scattered: is it about the importance of feeling, or the importance of shared historical memory, or the importance of the freedom to fail? Much of the blame must fall on director Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American), but then, he was working for his star, who also produced. (2014) — Matthew Lickona
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