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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: 2010

Morning Glory (2010)

If Indiana Jones and Annie Hall told me what was going on in the world everyday, the world would be a better place.

Becky (Rachel McAdams), a young, high-strung TV news producer feels as if she has it all, but somehow doesn’t. She gets let-go from her current job at a New Jersey local news station, and can’t seem to find a way to make a living in today’s economy. That is, until she’s hired by one of the least-rated morning news programs called Day Break. Becky’s first decision is to fire one of the co-hosts (Ty Burrell), but leaves the other, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), without anybody to help her out. By searching through thick and thin, Becky ends up with getting snobby, old-timer Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to do the job, but his old-school business of telling the news (you know, the stuff that matters) clashes with producers, his fellow co-host, and the ratings. Can Becky save her job, but the show as well? Oh no! Who knows?

I can probably assume that just by reading that synopsis up top, you can already bet just where this bad baby is going. Obviously, she’s going to struggle, run into some problems, find a way to get past those problems, run into more problems, and at the end of the day, possibly learn a lesson or two and make others feel happy for themselves. It’s the typical plot-line we are so used to following and it’s nothing that this movie doesn’t strive for, so what the hell could be the problem?

Well, believe it or not, nothing really. Just that it’s so typical, it barely even lasts in your mind, almost to the point of where you could probably go right on over to The Today Show, watch the Roker say some random shit about the weather, and not remember that you actually saw a movie that was sort of about day-time talk shows. However, the weirdest thing about this movie is that it wants you to remember it, and know the message it is trying to get across.

Don't even think of it you dirty, old bastard. She's mine!!!! I hope!!

Don’t even think of it you dirty, old bastard. She’s mine!!!! I hope!!

Yes, this movie does have a message here and as honest as it may be, it’s still freakin’ obvious because they actually say what it is once during the film. There’s a scene here where McAdams’ character tells Ford’s character that he has to get used to the fact that news isn’t what matters, it’s what’s entertaining that matters, so he better get used to it and man-up. That wasn’t word-for-word verbatim of what she said, but it’s pretty damn close and it made me wonder just what type of agenda this film had on it’s mind. It seemed like it was just gunning for a conventional, happy little movie about a girl finding her place in the world, but it went for so much more that it shocked me.

Not in the good way, either.

It’s a very strange predicament this movie runs itself into. It doesn’t seem to really want to be the type of movie that makes you think about the state of journalism and where it’s going (Spoiler alert: to hell), but at the same time, when it’s not making us chuckle or feel all cozy inside the pit of our tummies, it’s trying to do exactly that. The idea that news-programs can survive off of ridiculous stunts being caught on live-television is a bit dumb, but it’s very true because honestly, when was the last time you saw Matt Lauer actually ask a person about their feelings on the legalization of marijuana? Or abortion? Or college loans going up? Or anything of that matter that people actually give a hoot about?

Anybody?

Yup, didn’t think so.

As I said, it’s a very weird road this movie decides to go down, but it does it with enough charm that I can’t say that I hated myself for watching it. Can’t say that about a lot of movies, so when that idea actually does come into my head and stays; well, it’s a nice, little feeling that reminds me why I love watching and reviewing movies so much. Then again, with all of the movies that I do watch and review, it can be a bit hard to take pleasure and be happy with the little things, and the little movies in life that put a bit of a smile on your face. That’s not to say that this movie had me grinning cheek-to-cheek, but it’s pleasant in the way any good chick flick should be.

Speaking of ladies, ain’t that Rachel McAdams a beauty to behold? This gal really is something else because not only is she charming, but she’s able to make such a conventional, obvious character like “the career-woman who puts her love life on the back-burner”, seem sympathetic and adorable in her own, cutesy-way. McAdams just has that spark to her that makes you get on-board behind character right away, no matter what type of dead-ends she may hit on her path to being successful and happy. This is one role that could have easily been given to somebody like Jennifer Garner or Katherine Heigl, and probably would have had me searching for my remote under every seat-cushion, but it wasn’t given to them. It was given to McAdams and the girl really gives the role all she’s got and make it work, despite her character being one big cliché, after another.

The romance she has with Patrick Wilson also seems slightly forced, even though they both seem to be trying to make it work for the movie’s sake. Still, I have to give it to a movie that can not only feature McAdams’ tush in one shot, but the charming Patrick Wilson as well. That one shot, shows that there’s something in this movie for everyone: boys, girls, straights, gays, you name it. You know exactly the shot I’m talking about, because it’s the only thing anybody ever remembers from this damn movie.

"Should we talk about the latest gun reform, or what the hell Kim and Ye's baby is going to be called? The latter? Okay, thought so."

“Should we talk about the latest gun reform, or what the hell Kim and Ye’s baby is going to be named? The latter? Okay, thought so.”

But perhaps the best performance out of this whole movie has got to be Harrison Ford as the old, cranky newsman; Mike Pomeroy. As most of us saw with 42, it seems to be that old Han Solo has still got some acting-skills left in his bag of goodies, and he shows it here quite well. Not only is the guy funny by acting all crotchety and mean, but he’s also a bit endearing as well, because we see what happens to a man that put his career in front of everything else, and can’t really come to terms with where his life has actually ended up. Okay, maybe that was a bit more deep than anything the movie actually tried to get across, but hey, it’s what makes Ford still a solid actor, even after all of these years of shooting Greedo first and getting nuked in fridges.

The only one in this cast that feels like a bit of a waste is Diane Keaton, who seems to really be having a ball as the older, but still-foxy co-host of the show. Keaton’s still got the looks, the charm, and the comedic-timing to still make her character work, it’s just a shame that her character sort of gets thrown to the side, just so Ford can live long and prosper. Guess it was needed, but damn did I miss myself some of old-school Diane!

Consensus: Everything in Morning Glory is calculated, manipulative and obvious from the very start, but at least it’s still charming, much ado to the fine cast that seems ready to make us happy and smile.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

And Diane be like, “Oh mah lawwddd!”

And once again, Diane be like, “Oh mah lawwddd!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

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Clash of the Titans (2010)

Why fix what was clearly not broken?

Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is thrown into the real-world where Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and his evil ways have seem to take over the rest of the world. To end this all of this pain and suffering throughout the land, Perseus and fellow warriors go on a dangerous mission, where they run into many obstacles along the way. However, seeing that Perseus is indeed Zeus’ (Liam Neeson) son, many of the obstacles can be powered through, except for one. And yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Yes, yes, yes! We all know that this movie sucked when it first came out, with post-production 3D and all, but just think about this movie in a different way, if only for a second: Maybe it’s somewhat okay? Alright, maybe that was asking too much but please, do bear with me here as I show you why exactly this flick may not be as bad as people say it is, and say if it is bad, why it is bad in a so-bad-it’s-good-way.

Have I lose anybody yet? Okay, if I have, it’s my fault and my fault alone. But I’m not done here just yet.

The thing about this movie that pissed so many off is the fact that it doesn’t really adhere all that much to the 1981 original. Sure, the story-line and plot-happenings are somewhat the same, but overall, it’s a bit of a different take, with a different way of telling it and a whole new tone that goes in well with what I said before. Then again, the tone here isn’t really too serious that it’s painful to watch, it’s almost so serious, that you can’t help but laugh every five seconds when somebody new decides to throw exposition-upon-exposition down our throats. Even the male-posturing that was always so present within these Greek myths, all gets over-played and used in ways that makes you wonder if the movie was trying to be funny, serious, or nothing at all. More or less, the movie rolls with the last option, but I’m fine with that, as long as it can keep me entertained.

"May we please get your autograph, guy from Avatar?"

“May we please get your autograph, guy from Avatar?”

And entertained is what this movie kept me throughout the whole hour-and-a-half. Basically, the whole movie is built upon three battle-sequences that are supposed to take up the whole run-time and keep us going for more – which seems really stupid considering that this is a movie about titans, having them clash, and eventually fight that lovable sea monster we all know of and love. But somehow, it actually works because the movie injects some fun nature into them. This is most surprising to me, mainly because I know the type of crap that director Louis Leterrier goes for when it comes to his movies, and injecting a quick, shaky-cam is one of them, but it somehow kept this movie moving at a quick-enough pace that I didn’t mind all of the stupidity. And do trust me, there is plenty of stupidity to be had here.

Even though it seems as if three writers were apart of this movie, it doesn’t seem like any of them were able to capture any sort of emotion, feeling or idea to this flick that would make it the least bit more interesting. Instead, everybody yells, screams, commands others to do something, goes “argghh”, and talks about the Gods up above and how dick-ish they are for releasing all of this agony on the people they are supposed to love, care for and watch over. Then again, the movie never really makes up it’s mind of what type of stance it wants to take concerning the Gods. At times, it seems like the movie is saying that to not pray to the Gods and worship them is a sign of being disrespectful and arrogant, but at other times, it tries to say that the Gods are wrong for all of the command they issue out onto these citizens, and even go so far as to show Zeus as being non-other than a high-class, serial rapist. I mean, think about that for a second: Perseus is Zeus son because Zeus decided to bed his mommy in the middle of the night, only to have her realize that the baby wasn’t her actual hubby’s babies, and instead, have it be Zeus’, the God of all things God-like.

Kind of creepy, eh?

You bet your damn ass it is!

However though, the movie isn’t too concerned with all that nonsensical logic and understanding – it’s about big, loud, and angry things being huge and monstrous, so that we all just go “oooh” and “aahhh” the whole way through. It works, but that doesn’t really matter to me since the movie has fun with it’s B-feel, and never let me forget about it. Maybe I was in a good mood; maybe I was feeling generous; and yeah, maybe I was being a nice guy (for a change), but I honestly cannot say that this movie is near-torture to watch and sit-through. Hell, if I caught it on television anytime soon (which with HBO, I most likely will), I’ll probably not mind plopping my rear down on the couch, grabbing a couple of snackaroo’s, getting myself a soda, find the remote and give it a nice, little watch. The worse it could do is probably ruin my day, and that’s all up to me, isn’t it?

I can tell that I’m losing all sorts of credibility here, but that’s what a movie-critic’s life and career is all about. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Since he's Zeus, of course he has to look like Liberace!

Since he’s Zeus, of course he has to look like Liberace!

As you could probably suspect, if the story, the script, and the themes of this movie blow, then, most likely, the characters do as well. However, they aren’t so damn bad, to the point of where watching them will also follow-through with the action of finding hot candle-wax and throwing it in your eyes, in hopes to release the memory of what you have just witnessed on-screen. Sam Worthington leads the pack as Perseus and has that feel and look of the type of Demigod you can believe in to not only just do the right thing, but to kick some fine-ass while doing so. That aspect of Perseus, Worthington does well with, but everything else is just Dullsville right from then and there. Then again, knowing Sam Worthington and what the cat’s been up to in recent-memory, you can’t expect too much from this dude. All you have to know is that he’s going to do some bad-ass things, use the same face for every scene, and somehow, change his accent with the reading of every line. There’s Sam Worthington for ya right there, in a nutshell!

The rest of the cast is only here for show, and all are probably just as interesting, if not less than Worthington and his Perseus. Liam Neeson seems like he’s sleep-walking through his role as Zeus, the type of role that seemed like it would fit Neeson like a glove by now; Ralph Fiennes tries too hard to seem vicious and evil as Hades, even though he just sounds like an old nut-ball; and Mads Mikkelsen doesn’t deserve to be here, and doesn’t seem like he wants to be either. He’s just there for that pay-check, in hopes that he’ll end up breaking the barriers down into the States someday. I think that wish has been fulfilled.

Consensus: Though it is remorselessly stupid and over-the-top, Clash of the Titans can actually be considered as entertaining and enjoyable if you take it as the B-movie it obviously sets its sights on being, and just leaving it at that.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, stop saying "aaaah".

Okay, quit saying “aaaah”.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Jack Goes Boating (2010)

Dan does typing. Dan likes typing. Dan continues typing.

Jack (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a meek, mild and closed-off guy that doesn’t really ask for much from others, so therefore, he never gets asked of much in return. He’s sort of just there, without really bringing anything to the table or to the world, even though he does have a pretty fine job as a limo driver. Through mutual friends, Jack gets set-up with a woman who is a little bit of the same as him (Amy Ryan), although a tad more scared of a human-connection, which she apparently has a dark history about. Together, they meet, they hit it off and Jack suddenly becomes interested in cooking, being a better guy and even learning how to boat, so that he can take him and his girl out on it. On the other hand, we have Jack’s best buddy, Clyde (John Ortiz), who is having a bit of his own lady problems; except in his case, it’s his long-term wife, Lucy (Daphne Rubin-Vega). All four do spend time together, hang out, eat food, get drunk and try to have fun, but eventually, problems do begin to arise for both couples and lead to some very sad, very upsetting truths being unearthed.

Usually when an actor goes to make that jump from being in front of the screen, to trying their hand at the back of it, most of the time, they tend to go for the small, sweet and simple stories that aren’t that big, or ambitious to pull-off well with a lot of skill. All they need is just a simple idea of how to handle a camera, and basically, just know how to film a movie, of which most actors-turned-directors have a clear idea of. Or at least they should have.

"So....uh, should we kiss? Or, I mean, we don't have to? Not if you don't want to, that is. You know? Okay...uhm yeah. Kiss, right?"

“So….uh, should we kiss? Or, I mean, we don’t have to? Not if you don’t want to, that is. You know? Okay…uhm yeah. Kiss, right?”

So, that’s why when Philip Seymour Hoffman decided that he wanted to try and shake things up a bit with his own career and get behind the action, it seemed like a no-brainer that he’d not only adapt a play he starred in back in the day, but also not try to really reach out of his limits as a director. Which, for some directors, would be rather lame, but for him, it works in its own condensed, easy-going way.

Sure, there’s nothing here about Jack Goes Boating that’s really life-changing or revolutionary in terms of what you’ll be thinking about when it ends, but does every movie need to change your life? Especially when all it’s about is a bunch of people with some very closed-off personalities who just so happen to know one another, and talk and fall in love? Yeah, I don’t think so and I have to give Hoffman at least credit for not really trying to over-step his boundaries as a director. If it was somebody like Scorsese, or Spielberg, or even Spike Lee behind the mantel, then yeah, I’d be a little ticked-off and disappointed considering I usually expected them to make something, out of anything, no matter how small or large; but as for Hoffman – the guy never over-steps anything that’s given to him. Instead, he just focuses on our four characters and gives them a chance to show us why they deserve to be looked at, thought about and discussed.

And even if you don’t go that far into your thought-process with these characters, there’s nothing all that wrong with that because each and everybody is good with their own respective roles, which is something to applaud Hoffman for in at least handing over the spotlight, on many occasions, to his supporters in this rather tiny cast. Even so though, it’s apparently clear that Hoffman really owns the screen whenever he gives himself a chance to do so, and it’s great to see him play this nervous, awkward and twitchy guy, but not done so in a way that we’ve seen him do before in something like Magnolia and Happiness (where he was a lot more creepier). Jack’s just a simple guy, who wants to impress this lady of his that he just met and practically fell head-over-heels for and we can’t help but want to see the big lug get his happiness, get the love of his life and best of all, get his boating-license. There are small goals these characters set for themselves, and just being able to watch them as they try their hardest to get to that point, truly is something worth seeing, especially in Jack’s case.

However, as much as this story may be Jack’s, it could have easily been Clyde’s as well, and it still would have been just as compelling, if not more. Most of that has to do with the character is written so richly to where you get a general idea that he’s a different person everywhere he goes, but that’s also because John Ortiz himself is so damn good in the role, making you think just what the hell he is going to do next every time he shows up. Ortiz has been one of my favorite character actors since I first checked him out in American Gangster, and I’m happy to see that not much has changed; especially here with his role as Clyde where he gets to show all sorts of sides to his character. Clyde can sometimes be too touchy and put people in an uncomfortable situation; sometimes too open to the point of where he’s revealing stuff his wife sure as hell wouldn’t want revealed in a million years; sometimes too happy and spirited to where he’s just simply over-bearing; and sometimes, he can be a bit of a dick, saying and doing the wrong things, to the wrong people, at the wrong moments. However, I never hated Clyde for doing these things because I truly did feel like he always meant well and never meant to hurt those around him. Mainly Jack, though.

Women: Always driving us men to drink.

Women: Always driving us men to drink.

The ladies get to do some fine work as well with both Daphne Rubin-Vega and Amy Ryan putting in some fabulous work that clearly challenges the guys in how well they can developed and looked-at. Rubin-Vega is great here and seems like the type of wife that can put up with Clyde’s crap for as long as she has, but also seems like the type of woman who doesn’t want to be tied-down too much, regardless of if it hurts her hubby’s feelings or not. We should dislike her for that, but we sometimes see just how pushy Clyde can be, so instead, we sort of sympathize with her and hope the two work it out. As for Ryan, she has a bit more of the “shticky” role where she gets to be odd, off-kilter and slightly neurotic, but never to the point of where it’s annoying. Rather, we always feel like we’re seeing a truly messed-up person who definitely wants love in her life, but just can’t get past that point into intimacy where she has to giver her whole-self to that one and only person. That’s why her scenes with Jack truly are nice to watch, especially their little kiss in the snowfall. Only Ryan and Hoffman could pull that scene off so well, but with Hoffman directing that, it feels all the more sweeter.

Poor guy. He truly will be missed. Another legend gone from the silver screen. But at least we have the memories. At least we have the memories.

Consensus: Essentially, Jack Goes Boating is the type of small, uneventful directorial-debut we expect to see from a well-known actor trying to make that stride over to the other side, but Philip Seymour Hoffman still shows that he was a good director, and definitely understood the tiny, simple and easy-going pleasures of these character’s lives, as well the fact of life itself.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

At least he got a chance to reach his goal. Good for Jack.

At least he got a chance to reach his goal. Good for you, Jack.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Tangled (2010)

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Long hurr, don’t curr.”

Separated from her real, royal parents as a baby, a young girl named Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) with very long, very flowing and very magical flowing locks longs for the day she’s able to go outside into the real world, where she can just do whatever it is that she wants. However, her adoptive mother (Donna Murphy) doesn’t allow her to for many reasons, but the main which being that she tells her it’s too dangerous for a wee-little chick-a-pee like her to be in, and that she also doesn’t want Rapunzel to lose her hair because if she does, that means the mommy loses her young age. One day though, a noble thief by the name of Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) somehow finds himself in her tree-house, where she takes away his crowned-jewels. She’ll give it back to him on one condition: Take her to see these beautiful lights in the sky. Rider, despite being obviously hesitant to go back to the same town where he’s wanted dead or alive in at first, eventually softens up to young Rapunzel and starts to feel the love connection. But mommy ain’t too happy about her protected and sheltered girly being out there in the crazy world, so she decides to take matters into her own hands, which isn’t going to be so pretty for the star-crossed soon-to-be-lovers.

What a charmer! What young, adolescent male doesn't want to be just like him!?!?

What a charmer! What young, adolescent male doesn’t want to be just like him!?!?

Pretty much, it’s the story of Rapunzel, but with a lighter-twist that makes it suitable for all kiddies out there in the world. Oh, and it’s a different title, too, just to appeal to all genders, not just the gals. Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, let’s go onto the movie, shall we?

This may not be a surprise to anyone at all out there, but this is a pretty damn good-looking animated flick. Apparently the production-costs went so high-up for this thing, just to marry both traditional-animation, with the type of color-patterns that make it look like a painting, but needless to say, it works out well. You could practically turn the sound down all the way when watching this, and still find something about it to enjoy because it’s a beaut of a flick, giving plenty of detail, color and visual-pizzazz every the story takes itself.

However, you wouldn’t want to keep the sound turned down the whole time as the music itself is pretty damn stunning as well, if not entirely memorable like what we’re so used to having with Disney animated-flicks. The songs definitely hit their peaks with each and every singer who’s performing it, and while you may be absolutely stunned when watching it, you won’t really find yourself humming the tunes for the rest of the day. But the songs are still worth listening to, especially since every performer seems to give it their all and add a little “signature” of their own on it.

For instance, Mandy Moore gives all of her songs a fun, jumpy-feel as she’s vibrant and constantly moving around; Donna Murphy’s the obvious pro at-work here who gives her very-few songs the feel of something you may see with your mother or grand-mother in an very expensive opera house; Zachary Levi doesn’t have much singing to do in the first place, but at least gets a chance to show his coolness, even when using his vocal-chords which, for any guy out there, is a hard-feat to actually pull-off since, we all know, being a dude and singing, doesn’t always come closest to being considered “cool” in the slightest bit; and though the voices are all-over-the-place with whose singing at one point, there’s a song taking place inside of a bar where a bunch of huge, demanding forces-of-nature sing about their dreams in the most sensitive-way ever, and got a lot of laughs out of me while it was being performed.

Totally see the resemblance. How could you not?

Totally see the resemblance. How could you not?

See though, there’s a reason why I went into so much detail about the tunes of this movie, and how different they are from one another because they aren’t the only thing that’s inconsistent with this movie. In fact, it’s the tone as well. There were a couple of times throughout this movie where I began to question what it was that I was supposed to be watching; some scenes seem like they’re pandering to the young girl, female-crowd that may want to venture out and see a flick about a young girl falling in love and living out her dream, while other scenes made it seem like it was appealing to the younger boys that want a slick, cool bad-ass hero that not only gets the girl at the end, but seems to get out of any terrible situation Scott-free whenever he oh so chooses. The movie definitely tries to have itself both ways, but it ends up coming off as a bit disjointed, as if it was like the movie want to be more for the girly-girls, but didn’t want to totally alienate the young guys either.

That said though, the movie’s still fun regardless of which way you spin it. It’s funny, quick, witty, sometimes emotional and overall, a huge crowd-pleaser meant for the families who need a bit of escapism around this time of the year. Also, something else that should be noted that this is an animated-flick released in the 21st Century that has just about little-to-no pop-culture references involved at all. Which also means, you don’t have to be a total whiz, or smarty-smart to get the jokes that the movie brings out of itself. All you have to do is have a relatively nice sense of humor to where you like slapstick, you like jokes, and heck, you may even like it when horses try to act like humans in a demanding, powerful way. If that’s your type of humor, then this one will surely work out well for you. If not, go watch Shrek, and it’s 500 other, unnecessary sequels.

Consensus: Surely not the best Disney animated-flick ever made, but Tangled still works well in the way that it’s a pleasing, exciting, funny and worthy-enough piece of escapism that may not appeal to all viewers out there in the world, but does just the trick for whomever it’s for, even if that itself is a bit harder to pin-point down than anything else that has to do with this movie.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Mandy Moore's voice can command anything. Even horses.

That’s the type of power Mandy Moore’s voice has over things.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Switch (2010)

Would it REALLY be that hard for J-An to get preggo?

Besties Kassie and Wally (Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman) can pretty much do whatever they want with, or around each other, and it wouldn’t matter a single lick. They’re just that comfortable with the other, that it doesn’t matter. However, the only thing they can’t do is have a child together, even when Kassie says that she desperately needs to have one, even if it is just through artificial-insemination. Some people, like Wally, think this is weird, but so be it! It’s the 21st-Century and a woman should be allowed to do with her body and life, what a woman wants to do with her body and life. Throughout her search for the biggest, best and most promising sperm-donor, she finds Roland (Patrick Wilson), who Wally is ultimately jealous of. So basically, through one night in a drunken-stooper, Wally accidentally spills Roland’s jizz-sample everywhere, and decides that he can’t just leave the whole bottle empty, so he decides to do it himself. Not realizing what he did, Kassie gets pregnant with what she thinks is Roland’s baby. Fast-forward seven years later and Kassie’s son is all grown-up  now, showing all sorts of signs that his daddy is not in fact Roland, but Wally. However, neither of them know this, JUST YET.

Despite what some of you may see or believe, but I feel like I’m a pretty easy guy to please. No, seriously. You can give me the most trite, conventional, clichéd and utterly hackneyed script in the world, and I may, just may be able to find something that I like about it, and therefore, roll with it for as long as I can possibly stomach. So many bad movies I’ve seen in the past couple of years have all been saved by this feeling I usually get when watching something, and it’s helped me stay fully-together as a two-bit movie critic, and full-fledged movie-lover.

The ole' switcheroo. I remember those days.

The ole’ switcheroo. I remember those days.

Which means if you give me a movie that I can’t ever seem to enjoy, no matter what it’s trying to do, then you know you have a shitty flick on your hands. Bar none.

And I get that “whatever Dan the Man says, is the total truth, no doubt about it” isn’t really true, but there is something to be said for a movie that I go out of my way to view (Netflix), and I don’t enjoy a single moment of. Okay, scratch that, maybe a couple moments, but they were all because of three people and three people only. And no, I am not talking about either Jason Bateman or Jennifer Aniston. In fact, while I’m talking about them, let me just give you the skinny on why this movie bored me to hell: Them.

Yes, I know. Despite me being a fan of both of these stars, and the utter-idea of them two starring together in a rom-com would give me the willies, the movie solely lives and dies by them. Maybe that’s more to blame of their poor character-development, their lack of chemistry, or their phoned-in performances, but something was just not mixing well here. Aniston makes all of her female characters breathe with a lively, expressive soul, but her Kassie can’t help but feel like a bit of an idiotic dummy in the way that she doesn’t realize that her seven-year-old son is exactly like her best buddy, and not like the supposed “father”. Also, the fact that she decides to get so serious with the “father” so sudden after his recent, and tragic divorce, also makes you wonder where the heart of this film really lies. You can tell that it wants to be about a woman taking charge, but in the end, it’s really all about the guy finding himself and realizing that it’s time for his ass to do a little growing up; which would have been fine, had it not all been so poorly-written and uninteresting.

That’s a real shame, too, because Jason Bateman, despite seeming like he’s trying really hard, can’t make this character of Wally work. Bateman’s doing his whole snarky-act to show us how negative and cynical his character is with the world around him, and while this is supposed to charm us and make us feel like we’re seeing a real character being written here, it still can’t help but feel annoying, like as if the card has already been dealt a bit too many times. He’s just miserable to be miserable, and that’s the type of person you don’t want to even be around with, let alone, watch a whole movie dedicated to that said person. Like I said, Bateman does seem like he’s trying, but the movie doesn’t help him out in any way, shape or form. Instead, he’s just told to do the same act he’s been doing since he saved that damn Bluth family, and it showed shocking signs of getting real old, real quick.

Who cares what he's saying, he's so damn charming!!

Who cares what he’s saying, he’s so damn charming!!

But who I really feel bad for the most is the kid who plays the young Sebastian, Bryce Robinson. The kid is young, so I won’t really rain on his parade too much, but the writing for him makes him annoying coy, as if every moment he does or says something, we have to automatically follow it up with a response like, “Awww!”. Like Wally, his real father in the movie, he gets really annoying, really quick and all of the little neuroses that he has, that he apparently inherited from his real daddy, just continue to show more signs of implausibility, proving that kids who act like they know it all in movies, make you want to shut that kid up, or all kids up for that matter, too.

The only ones that end up saving this movie, even in their smallest moments, are Julliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson and last, but sure as hell not the least, Jeff Goldblum. Lewis is playing the typical, gal-pal that everyone of the rom-com heroines need to shake things up a bit, and she does the sure best that she can; Wilson is charming-as-hell and gives us one of the better-written characters as he’s less of a deuche that just wants to get rid of his sperm and bang whomever he want, and more of that he’s just a guy who is going through a bit of a rough-patch, means well and is doing all that he can to make things right; and Jeff Goldblum is, well, Jeff Goldblum in all perfection. That’s all you need to know about that.

Consensus: Conventional, obvious, implausible and just plain shallow, The Switch doesn’t do anything with the potential its premise holds, and instead, just plays it all up for goofy laughs, and cloying sentimental moments that tug so hard at your heartstrings, that you may have to call a doctor as soon as you’re done watching it.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm...?"

“You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm…?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Please Give (2010)

Leave the homeless be! They’re already fine living their simple, care-free lives.

Kate (Catherine Keener) and Alex (Oliver Platt) seem like a happy couple because not only do they own a mid-century antique furniture shop where they sell stuf for a much larger price than they originally get it at, but because they see nothing really wrong with their lives. Sure, they take stuff from families who just had somebody die, but they aren’t exploiting them and even give them some cash for their problems as well, so they can rest easy on their conscience, right? Well, for some reason, Kate still feels guilty about all of this and begins to start helping anybody that she can, especially her neighbors (Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall) who aren’t really fond of her because of the fact that their 91-year-old grandmother (Ann Guilbert) lives in the house that she owns. Meaning basically, when she croaks, then they get the house back and are able to sell it for whatever they want and do whatever they want with it, which obviously rubs the granddaughters the wrong way, as you could expect.

I must admit, even though I’ve only seen two of her flicks so far (this one included), I don’t really see the whole appeal behind Nicole Holofcener. She’s a good writer and is more than capable of stacking together a very talented ensemble, but she seems like she has a little too many ideas crammed into one, less-than-2-hour movie, and doesn’t seem to go anywhere with them. Like I said, this is coming from a guy who has only seen 2 movies of hers so far so take with that what you will, but I feel as if I’ve seen two, realized that they both sort of share the same ideas and plot-points in ways, than I’ve practically seen all of them. While Enough Said looks like a bit of a change-of-pace for her, once again, I’ll expect to see somebody complaining about how much or how little money they have, and/or start talking about how they’re getting older and how they have no control over it.

"Hey, hey, hey! We're just a happy, old-time family from Manhattan. Love us, please.

“Hey, hey, hey! We’re just a happy, simple-minded family from Manhattan. Love us, please.”

But those aren’t bad things to talk about in movies, regardless of if it’s over-and-over again, because they’re problems actual, real-life people have. Which, in a strange way, made this movie a bit more interesting to watch because even though it gives us characters that aren’t all that pleasant to be around as they bitch and moan about their financial issues, it still gives us a reason to care or at least be interested by them, just by the way they’re written. There’s more than meets the eye with these characters, and even though most of them aren’t happy people, you can tell that they are capable of being happy, and making those around them happy as well. At times, it may seem like it’s hard for them to do, but you know they’ll be able to in the near-future, and I think that’s what really kept me going with this movie.

Holofcener could have really thrown it in my face and given me characters that I didn’t give a shit about, and made me watch them as they throw their misery and unpleasantness on others around them, but she doesn’t allow for that to happen. She allows them time to grow, experience life, and realize that there are bigger problems out there in the world which, believe it or not, are more important than a $200 pair of jeans. But Holofcener also does something else with these characters where she does have a sort of playfulness with them; one in which she isn’t making fun of the way they overreact to little happenings, but at the same time, she’s not really supporting it either. It’s strange, but somehow, some way, it works well in the movie’s favor. It allows plenty of room for character-development, some emotional moments, as well as others that are rich with dark-comedy. Take, for instance, the awkward birthday party that goes oddly astray once the liquor is brought out. It’s a funny scene, but also a very dark one for reasons I won’t give away, but will open your eyes to what the rest of this movie can and will do.

However, this is a very slight movie that I don’t think you need to see right away, but definitely should if you’re just hanging out and slumming around the house. Everything that happens to these characters by the end, can sort of be seen a mile away, but it never rings false. It just sort of happens, with enough humanity to seem believable, despite it being as obvious as humanly possible. But, that’s life, and sometimes, things just happen the way you expect them to happen. Maybe not in the way you had originally imagined, but still with the same result.

Like with most of Holofcener’s films, Catherine Keener obviously plays a big role in it, which isn’t such a terrible thing to have because Keener has been a solid actress for as long as she’s been working, and she’s able to turn any character into a likable, sympathetic person. Even though the main conflict that Keener’s character has is that she can’t stop “giving” to people who seem as if they are in need of something. For example, one of her main quirks is that she gives money away to homeless people that she sees on the street, except that sometimes, they aren’t even homeless. Wouldn’t be so bad either if all she did was give her money away to the homeless people that need it, but she won’t even give her daughter money that she oh so desires and has been desiring for quite some time. The fact that this character can’t stop helping and reaching-out to others is a problem that nobody should care about, nor ever want to see a whole movie surround itself around, but Keener makes it ring true and Holofcener never judges her character for the over-dramatic gal that she is. Sometimes the movie will throw a joke making fun of her ways, but never anything that could be deemed as “disrespectful” or even “mean”. They both keep Kate likable and sympathetic enough to where you sort of want her to wake up and change her ways, even if that means giving the homeless $5, instead of $20 . Hey, any change is a good change, especially for her!

Caught in the act of actually appearing in a good movie.

Caught in the act of actually appearing in a good movie.

Everybody else gets the same fair-treatment as Kate and Keener, even though it’s obvious that Holofcener’s heart truly lies with her. Oliver Platt is, as usual, fun and fluffy playing Kate’s husband who’s a bit more realistic with the way he lives and spends his money, however, also has a bit of problems too that are shown throughout the movie and make you wonder if he’s a nice guy, or not. Amanda Peet gets a meaty-enough role that’s worthy of her talents as Mary, the more stubborn granddaughter of the two and seems to really be enjoying herself with this material, while also being able to get past all of the high times, and give us some substance that a character like hers so desperately needed in order to be considered “tolerable”, and she pulls it off very well. It’s been awhile since I’ve really seen Peet do something that’s as dramatic as her work here, and it makes me wish she would take these types of roles more often.

Rebecca Hall plays her younger sister, Rebecca (original), who’s a lot more meek, quiet and sweeter, even though there’s an underlying sadness to her that you can’t help but make you feel as if you want to hug her, hold her, and just tell her that life will go on and she’ll be happy. Hall’s good in this role, even though it feels like she could have easily been the main character in this movie, and it probably would have been better had she been. However, that’s not what happened, so what the hell do I need to complain about?!?! Nada, that’s what!!

Consensus: Though the problems the characters in Please Give face may be a little over-dramatized, the emotion and heart is still there enough to make you feel for them, rather than belittle them for being so self-loathsome all of the time.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Believe it or not, G-Mom's the happiest one out of them all.

Believe it or not, G-Mom’s the happiest one out of them all.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

A 2-hour-long wet dream for any video game nerd out there. All that’s missing: Bewbs.

In Toronto, 22-year-old bum Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is trying to make it big with his garage band Sex Bob-omb, lives with his gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), and has just recently fired up a relationship with a young high school student named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), even though everybody around him disapproves of it. Everything’s going all swell between Scott and Knives, that is until Scott has a dream of a girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a quirky, color-haired American gal that seems all to good to be true. Thing is, she isn’t something only dreams are made of, SHE’S FREAKIN’ REAL!! This obviously gets Scott’s heart beating up and down, and his mind going berserk, so he does what any love-struck dude would do: He pursues her in hopes of being her new love-interest. However, in order to do so, he needs to defeat her 7 evil exes with any trick he can pull off. Which ultimately means, a lot of “KAPOWS”, “WHAMS”, and “BAMS”.

No “THANK YOU, MAMS”, cause honestly, that would just be way too meta.

For the third time since it came out, I have watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and why I never decided to chalk-up a review for this until now, is totally beyond me, although I think I may have a clue as to why. There’s something about Edgar Wright movies that just intimidate the hell out of me; so intimidating, that I’m scared to even bother writing reviews about them, and feel more better just telling people that I’m a fan of them through conversation. It seems like every Wright flick has its own core audience that understands every joke, every pun, every piece of wit, and just about everything thing about it, so much so that any person who doesn’t quite “get it” or even like it for that matter, is ultimately “a noob”. Maybe that’s just all in my head (most likely is), but that’s the main reason why I have yet to write a review of this flick.

Got her with the old, "Do you know the history of Pac-Man" line. Works like a charm every time.

Got her with the old, “Do you know the history of Pac-Man?” line. Works like a charm, every time.

That is, until now. Three years after the fact, and just in time for The World’s End.

Never reading any of the graphic novels going into this, I have to say that I went in, originally, not knowing what to expect, other than sure mayhem. Why? Well, because it is directed and co-written by Edgar Wright who, as you may or may not know, is the creator of two of the funniest comedies from the past decade: Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. So yes, going into it, I knew that I was going to have to be watching the screen the whole time just to see and spot out all of the visual-gags, and get ready for what would be a very quick and fast movie, one that would not slow up for me or hold my hand, guiding me through to where I wasn’t left behind. If I missed a joke or two, Wright wouldn’t stop doing what he was doing so I could keep, so therefore, I knew I couldn’t either. However, despite Wright’s style being practically the same from every one of his other movies (meaning that they’re all hilarious, including this one), there’s something a tad bit different to the approach that he takes with this flick.

Rather than being a full-on parody of a certain genre, then becoming a film that could easily be considered apart of the same genre he is mocking, Scott Pilgrim is more of a straight-forward story that doesn’t make fun of any certain genre; instead, it combines two different types of styles that we usually see done in movies, but never to the full extent as they are done here: Video games and comic books. Right from the beginning of this flick, you can tell it’s obviously going to be an ode to video games; where when characters get hit, there will be words like “BOOM” and “BANG”, along with a bunch of frenzied colors gracing the screen as well. Even other action words like “RIIIING” or “THONK” show up, but here’s what surprised the hell out of me here: It never gets boring to see. Instead, Wright finds a way to make each and every one of these aspects of his style work and continue to spring out more inventiveness within his project, even if it is solely for the gamers out there that grew up on Zelda, and know the Final Fantasy II theme song by heart. I’ve never considered myself a full-fledged “gamer” of sorts, but this movie made me feel like I was watching one on screen, and a very fun and hilarious one at that.

And yes, there are plenty of comic book trademarks here, but not as obvious or as over-zealous as the video game trademarks. With that said, the movie still has plenty of fun with its manic energy that, not even for a single second, let up. There do come the moments in this movie where it has to slow down and give us a little bit of characterization and development, just so that we care a bit more, but even then the story still never cools down. It continues to fire more and more jokes, gags, and funny quips at us, all while feeling like an honest and heartfelt story about a dude just trying to overcome his own mishaps with love and life, and just be with the girl of his dreams, literally. Which actually surprised me because even though the flick never gets too serious or meaningful in the least, it still has a story placed well into the middle somewhere, that goes beyond just being about “a dude facing off a bunch of evil ex-boyfriends”. It’s more about a guy coming into his own, realizing how much of an ass he was in the past, and best of all, still learning that love is the most sacred thing to behold in your life, and you shouldn’t let it go, not even for a second. Some pretty soapy stuff, but it has a meaning for being present and I have to give Wright credit once again for at least tackling a the rom-com genre, and giving it a new vision, while providing the same kindred thoughts and spirits as well.

But like I said before, this movie is fun, fun, fun, and that must never be forgotten. Everything you expect to see from an Edgar Wright movie is here, if not more than that. Obviously there’s going to be a generational-gap between the people that did love the hell out of this, and the people that hated its guts, but that’s neither here nor there. What is “here”, is the matter of fact that this flick knows what type of movie it is, and continues to find new, improved, and refreshing ways to tell its story, while also giving us just the right amount of adrenaline and craziness we need to really get involved with it. You can be a “geek”, and love this; and you could be just a normal, average dude who enjoys movies for the sake of entertainment, and still love this. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll enjoy the hell out of this, and continue to find more and more aspects about it that you love about it.

That IS how people dress in Toronto. So disgraceful!

Yes, that IS how people dress in Toronto. So disgraceful!

Case in point: Me. I’ve seen it about three times by now, and it continues to get better and better. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally got a handle on what good humor is, or maybe its just that I’ve wised-up in the past couple of years and came to notice that Edgar Wright is one of the freshest voices we have in the movie world, and it’s better to embrace him, rather than be away from the rest of the pack and say “I don’t get him”. Maybe that’s it. I still don’t know. I love this movie, let me just leave it at that, okay dammit!!?!??!?

It seems pretty obvious though, that if you’re going to have a movie strictly dedicated to nerds from all over the globe, that it’s only right to include none other than everybody’s favorite celebrity nerd in the lead: Michael Cera. For most people, hearing Cera’s name attached to anything just gets them waving their hands up in disapproval, which makes sense. The guy definitely hasn’t done himself any favors by practically George Michael again and again, role after role; however, from my side of the room, I like what Cera does with these roles and even though he is still awkward, still a bit nervous, and always not-so sure of himself here, he’s still amusing and shows that he can prove to be a bit of a toughie as well. Also, surprised to see that he was playing that wasn’t the smartest guy in the room, or even the whole movie for that matter. He’s a bit of an bumbling idiot when it comes to certain decisions, and shows that he can still get by using his typical trademarks you may, or may not, love him for, but also spice it up a bit as well. Nothing too drastic in terms of what he does as Scott Pilgrim, but the dude seems really comfortable and seems really deserving of the honor of playing every nerd’s favorite superhero, that isn’t Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman (if you get my drift?).

While Cera’s doing his thing in the lead, everybody else on the side do their things as well; the difference with them is that they not only seem to be having more fun, but absolutely living it up in the moment, no matter how long they have on screen. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty rad as Ramona Flowers, not just because she’s every hipster dude’s dream woman, but because she handles the dry sense of humor with perfect ease and resilience that it’s not hard to see her popping-up in more of Wright’s features; Keiran Culkin was an absolute riot as Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace, and handles the humor perfectly as well, while also adding his own bits of charm; newbie Ellen Wong is a great fit for Knives Chau because not only is she funny, but she’s quite endearing and cute as well, making it easier for us to get past the fact that she does become a bit stalker-ish by the end; and lastly, nice to see Brandon Routh actually do something with his career and life after donning the cape and spandex for Clark Kent, but also be very funny and show he may have a future in comedy, if he decides to wake up and smell the moolah burning. Those are the ones that just came to my mind first, but honestly, if you think long and hard enough, you’re going to find more and more people in this movie that just knock it out of the park. Everybody’s hilarious, everybody has something to do, and not a single cast-member feels wasted. Not even Mark Webber. Now honestly, when was the last time you saw that guy being funny?!??!?

Consensus: The central demographic for this movie may ruin some viewers, and win the hearts of others, but it can’t be argued that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the perfect example of a movie that never lets up for anything or anyone, while also being hilarious, and always offering us something new to see or enjoy every time we watch it. Third time for me, and I’m still finding stuff out!

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

I guess "Finish Him!" wasn't in the script? Boo! Points taken off!

I guess “Finish Him!” wasn’t jotted down in the idea book? Boo! Points taken off!

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Red (2010)

They are old as hell, and not going to take it anymore!

Retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has found himself in a bit of trouble when a younger, hot-shot CIA agent (Karl Urban) is hot on his trail. Rather than running away and hoping that he doesn’t get caught, Moses not only takes a possible gal-pal of his (Mary-Louise Parker) along for the ride, but also calls up some of his old pals as well. Some have been waiting for this sort of action all of their later-days (Morgan Freeman); others have just been lounging and relaxing in retirement (Helen Mirren); and well, frankly, others have never left the force and are still waiting to get attacked any second, at any time (John Malkovich). Together, they form the team that they once were and stop at nothing until they unveil the truth about their pasts.

The whole idea of having a bunch of old-farts, go back to their golden days and act all bad-ass and violent again has been just about done to death by now nor has it ever really worked. Most movies like that try so hard to be funny and zany with it’s presentation, that you too, have to laugh at it because honestly, just think about it: Would a small, petite thing like Helen Mirren be able to hold up a huge machine-gun? Well, maybe in the movies, yes, but in real-life: hell no! That’s why movies like these are made; they are supposed to make us laugh by how outrageous they are, supposed to make us feel happy for the old people getting in the spotlight once again, and most of all, supposed to make us feel like we can join in on the fun.

None of these factors that are supposed to work for this type of film, actually happen here, but I still found myself pleased for the most part. Weird, I know, but please do bare with me here.

Totally see the attraction....

Totally see the attraction….

The whole tone of the movie likes to play around with the fact that it’s goofy, but is also very laid-back. A little too laid-back, some may say. For instance, the plot is supposed to be filled to the core with non-stop twists, turns, moments of danger, panic, and heavy-breathing, but since the movie itself seems to take such a lax-approach to it’s material; we never really get to that part where we feel like all hell is going to break loose and that our beloved characters could perish at any moment. Heck, even when one does (and I’m not going to give it away, trust me) bite the dust, quite surprisingly too, I may add; the film plays it off with a shrug of the shoulder, a couple of shots (of Vodka, obviously), a couple of wisecracks about how they’re “too old for this shit”, or something along those lines, and then they’re back on with the story, action, and supposed humor. It’s an odd way to attack a film like this, especially when you’re supposed to have havoc occurring just about every second of it, and it somehow didn’t quite work.

But still, I can’t fault this movie too much because yes, I did have fun and yes, I did enjoy what most of what this flick had to offer me. Could it have been better? Bet your damn tushes it could have been, but I wasn’t going to be hating against this flick for something that it wasn’t, especially when I didn’t see much potential in it in the first place. That means, nope, I have not read the graphic novels that this movie is based off of, but coming from a person who knows what type of movies work and how they should, I know that this movie was not destined for anything more than a couple million at the box-office, some nice sales on DVD, and back to the box of forgotten movies (aka, WalMart $5 Dollar Bin).

But, much to my surprise, I was wrong. Dead-wrong, in fact, and one Golden Globe nomination later (then again, the Tourist was nominated that year as well), the movie screwed-away all of the nay-sayers and just had fun with itself. That was something I was very grateful for, especially when you take into consideration how freakin’ dumb and dull action movies can get nowadays, no matter what type of talent is involved. What makes it so much better to watch here is that not only is the cast the movie working with, very acclaimed and very strange for this type of material, but actually how the movie doesn’t let us forget that this is a dumb action movie that not only did they sign up for, but one that we did, as well. That sharing of fun and joy, is what makes this movie work and at the end of it, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed. Besides, who would pass-up a moment to watch John Malkovich run towards the Vice President with a bomb strapped to his chest.

Okay, maybe that was a bit too weird, but you see what I’m saying. It’s fun, for the sake of being fun, that it’s. Nada!

Even if the material is dumb and only made so that you’ll get the Extra Large popcorn and hopefully come back for a refill, the cast still doesn’t treat it like that, which does sometimes work, and sometimes doesn’t. More of the former than the latter, but the latter is more noticeable. I don’t want to say that Bruce Willis seemed like he was phoning it in here as Frank Moses, but it does seem like the type of performance that the dude has been giving us every so often. He squints, he makes random googly-eyes whenever possible, and just seems as if he’s itching to say everybody’s favorite line. It is John McClane, so you can’t go too wrong when you have Willis and a gun in his hand, but after awhile, the act does get stale and it seems that the dude is more or less just in the mood for getting a new summer house, rather than actually putting in any effort into making his character three-dimensional or fun to watch.

The one who really keeps his character interesting and begging for more is Mary-Louise Parker as his gal-pal, Sarah. Parker has never really got me much in the movies that she’s shown up in, but she does well here with the humor-aspect of her character, and also being able to make us believe that this chick could fall for a dude like Moss, no matter how dull or boring he actually may be, underneath all of the violence and espionage. Of course even for her age, she is still freakin’ smokin’, but looks aside, the chick’s got comedic-chops that are always worth checking out. Along with her other chops. Hayyo!

Cheer up, guys. This is the best you're going to get. Okay, that's a lie, but still: cheer the fuck up!

Cheer up, guys. This is the best you’re going to get. Okay, that’s a lie, but still: cheer the fuck up!

Helen Mirren doesn’t let Parker steal her spotlight as being the only chick that has something bad-ass to say or do, and gets to show us why she’s still so damn foxy, fun, vibrant, and awesome to watch, no matter what the hell it is that she does. Yes, she played the Queen no less than 7 years ago, and here she is, holding up a machine-gun and letting the mofo’s have it. Awesome. John Malkovich seems like his role as the paranoid, loose cannon of the group would be tailor-made for a dude who’s made a career out of these types of roles, but much to my dismay, played it straight most of the time. It was still entertaining to watch this guy play around with a character that’s a bit loopy in the head, but he never goes so far, to the point of where you can really tell this guy couldn’t wait to start killing people, something that, I think I speak for everybody else when I say, is what seems to go through Malkovich’s mind whenever he plays characters like these.

Lastly, rounding everybody else out here, is Morgan Freeman as the oldest dude of the group, who also happens to be diagnosed with liver cancer and is need of this fun and adventure the most. Freeman is good in the role, even if it doesn’t seem totally right for him, considering how unsubstantial his character is to the plot, and how half of the time the dude is just sitting around, smiling, and poppin’ B’s, as he checks out the house-maids “fix” the television. Yup, apparently when you get old, that’s all you have to live for: boners. Even if you are Morgan fuckin’ Freeman.

Consensus: Some of it tries to be more witty and wild than it actually is, but Red still stays fun, light, energetic, and well-acted enough to be worth a watch, even if you do just want a silly action movie, with non-other than Dame Helen Mirren holding up a machine-gun. Seriously, it’s so awesome to see occur on-screen.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

See what I'm talking about!!!

See what I’m talking about!?!?!

The Last Airbender (2010)

Where was the twist?

Aang (Noah Ringer), is the last in a long line of Avatars who was born with the super ability to control the four most powerful elements: earth, air, water, and fire. This makes him the target the evil Fire Nation, specifically, the exiled prince (Dev Patel) who needs to capture the Airbender in order to return home and prove his daddy proud. Appearing in this movie definitely didn’t do the trick.

I must admit, I never read the magna or even watched the anime show that this flick was based on, so maybe I wasn’t as hype as others out there were for this thing but from what I heard: it had a lot of promise in terms of material. Look at it: you got martial-arts, you got people with super powers, you get Asians and Indians duking it out, and better yet, you got the guy who did the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable! That ain’t too shabby, right?

Well, that’s where the final-product, aka, our movie, comes into discussion.

There’s so much to say about where, how, when, and why this flick messed up on so many, goddamn levels but I think the main element to start on first would be writer/director/producer/twist-master M. Night Shyamalan. I’m one of those very-rare breeds of people that actually think Shyamalan is still talented, still has got a lot going for him, and is due for a comeback, eventually one of these days, but here, he just makes me look like a dumb ass. In all honesty, I thought it would have been better had this movie been actually made in Asia, since they can handle this shit a lot better than us Americans, but that’s just where the problem for Shyamalan begins.

Looks like a student-made film of that's dedicated to Mortal Kombat.

Looks like a student-made film of that’s dedicated to Mortal Kombat.

Way too much of this flick is just exposition, exposition, exposition, and exposition. All of which is told in this hilarious, over-the-top dialogue that seems like a 5th-grader wrote it, and considering that most of the target-audience for this movie was them, I wouldn’t throw out the possibilites. Nobody actually speaks to each other in this movie, instead; they just yell, command, argue, or go on and on about some freakin’ mystical tale that we don’t know anything about, or don’t even care that much to listen. All we really do care is to get some action with some stories on the side for more chewing, but we barely get that, and it’s more or less the other-way around. The exposition probably wouldn’t have been that bad had they actually had some person that knew how to write interesting dialogue like this on-paper, but is just unbearable to listen to after awhile. As the years have gone on by, Shyamalan has gotten weaker and weaker as a script-writer, but Jesus, he just lost me here. I think it’s time just for the dude to stick directly to directing and leave the writing-assignments to others that may know how to make this type of material sizzle.

However, even when the action does eventually come around, it’s filled with that, Zack Snyder-ish slow-mo that seems to just try really hard to add emphasis on the hits and blows people take during these battles, when in reality; they just seem really annoying and like an escape for the director to get past the fact that he’s got nothing going on for himself. The special-effects were definitely on-top-of-their-game, but even looked a bit goofy whenever people would just randomly fly all-over-the-place because of some crazy power one of them would unleash. It just looks goofy and too hard to take seriously, which is why I think M. Night wasn’t the right guy for this material and sure as hell wasn’t the type of person who should be directing action.

What’s even worse than M. Night’s directing and how it seems like it’s out-of-place, is the casting of a whole slew of white actors, in roles that obviously seemed to have been made with Asians in mind. It’s bad enough that you have shitty, white actors in these roles, but to have these shitty, white actors, run around a whole movie and go by the names of Aang, Karata, and etc., because then it’s just freakin’ distracting. However, as I said, it wouldn’t have been as distracting if it wasn’t already for the shitty acting from these kids and yes, they’re kid actors so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but when a film rests entirely and solely on their shoulders, and they can’t muster-up any type of acting-prowess whatsoever, then I not only blame them, but the director as well for not being smarter and realizing that these kids can’t act for shit.

Jackson Rathbone plays Sokka and has only one look the whole movie: the constipated, oh-em-gee-I-am-so-shocked-I’m-actually-in-a-movie look. Seriously, this kid is as bland and dull as a box of rocks and every time he just let loose of some half-assed piece of dialogue, I just wanted him to go away and be killed off, if that’s even possible in an adaptation of a Nickelodeon’s kid, TV show. He gets the most shit out of all of these kiddie-actors, mostly because he’s almost 30 and should know how to act by now. I mean there are some actors who still have yet to channel any type of emotion (R-Pats, I’m talking to you), but with this kid, there is no exception. Playing his little sister is Nicola Peltz, and she does what she can, but she’s another chick that’s stranded in Dullsville and can’t seem to get a boarding-pass the hell out of there.

Bruce Lee would total your ass-up, kid.

Bruce Lee would total your ass-up, kid.

However, the worst of them all is most definitely Noah Ringer as our main hero: Aang. I get it that Aang is supposed to be this young kid who has mystical powers that can do any type of damage, to anything that opposes a threat towards him, but I did not for one second feel threatened by this kid, nor did I ever cheer him on. Ringer is such a bad actor that I feel almost too guilty to pick him apart, limb-by-limb, but I’m going to do it anyway because I review movies, and I’m also a dick. As simple as that. But seriously, he is horrible to the point of where I didn’t want to watch him anymore. Even the shit where he conjures up the cool powers, full of CGI and special-effects, didn’t even seem cool because he was the one doing it. Anybody else, it would have seemed alright with, but this kid just really annoyed the fuck out of me and I swear to God, if they make a sequel out of this, he better get killed off in the first 5 minutes, Count Dooku-style. I’m not kidding, I never, ever want to see this character, or even possibly this actor ever again and if I do and he’s still shitty, I’m going to find any copy of his movies, and just blow them up to pieces so nobody ever has to bother with this kid’s shit. I’m sorry, Noah. Actually, fuck that, I’m not. You blow, kid.

The only person here who seems to come away from the rest of this flick unscathed is Dev Patel, but even he’s horribly miscast as the evil, and self-righteous prince that just wants his daddies appreciation. Patel is way too cute-looking, in a boy band type of way to really be taken seriously as a bad-ass, especially when he’s throwing down fire and brimstone in the 3-to-4 battles that take place throughout the whole flick. There’s a whole bunch of other cats you may, or may not recognize in this movie and trust me; if you don’t, they probably won’t care a tiny, teenie-bit. Hell knows I wouldn’t. Especially if I was standing side-by-side to Noah Ringer.

Okay, I’m done with the kid. But seriously, fuck him.

Consensus: It’s pretty-looking, but that’s about all that’s left for the Last Airbender to offer as it is as terrible as you may have heard it as being. With a terrible script, terrible group of “actors”, and a story that makes no sense or is not worth caring about, probably 10 minutes in, you’re more likely going to want to get drunk rather than remember this movie or write a review. Trust me, that’s why this review is being written a day after the first, initial-viewing, because I just got shit-faced to wash all of the painful memories of this turd away.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Don't worry, things will get better after this kid. Just ask Jeff Daniels.

Don’t worry, things will get better after this kid. Just ask Jeff Daniels.

Winnebago Man (2010)

Now, all who’s left to find is that damn Star Wars Kid.

Although it was originally intended as an inside joke among co-workers, a video of a Winnebago salesman yelling, screaming, and cursing during a shooting for his new commercial spread across the globe like wild-fire. First, it was on VHS tape, then went straight to YouTube, and finally, the whole world. All of this notorious fame earned Jack Rebney the title of “The Angriest Man in the World”. The documentary explores the story of the clip’s origin and how, two decades later, it affects the man who never even knew it existed.

Before I get into this review, you got to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you have never, ever seen the “Winnebago Man” video, ever, then get your ass on over to Youtube, check it out, laugh your ass off, and get back over here.

Back yet?

Okay, solid stuff. Now that you know what all of the fuss is about, I can finally delve deeper into what this documentary really explores.

To be brutally honest, I thought that video was pretty funny back in the day. You know, because it’s all about a simple guy, who’s probably been having the worst day of his life, screams, curses, swats at flies, tries to figure out what the hell the word “accountrement” means, and just yells at every single person who dares walk into his wrath. That stuff was hilarious when I was in 5th grade, when it first came out, but now I’ll just watch it, laugh from time-to-time and that’s just about it. However, this director Ben Steinbauer, really found this stuff not only to be funny, but almost life-changing in a way and it’s surprising to see a guy get over-taken with so much joy and inspiration, by a guy who just drops F-bombs the whole video. But I have to give it to this guy, because he really goes all out in trying to find this Jack Rebney, and even if I wasn’t totally on-board with finding this guy; I have to say that it was a pretty interesting ride in and of itself.

Still makes that face from time-to-time.

Don’t laugh! You’d have that face too if some little piece of shit fly flew into your face on an extremely, fucking hot day during the fucking, hot-ass summer! Fuck!!

That’s actually where the whole charm of this movie comes into play: through Jack Rebney himself. This is one of those behind-the-scenes, insider-looks at a guy that everybody knows, loves, laughs at, and wants to meet, but hasn’t been seen ever since this video first came on the Y-tube. It’s interesting to see where this guy went, how he looks at the world, what he thinks of the term “internet celebrity”, and also see if this guy really is THAT pissed off all of the damn time. And it’s surprising to see, but yes, this guy really is as miserable in real life as we see him in that video. He’s cranky, he’s old, he’s pissed off at everybody around him for no good reason, but he’s not all that bad of a dude.

I was pretty interested in seeing what was going on with this guy behind those closed doors, but it wasn’t like I was asking for a documentary about this. Then again, what I got to see of Rebney was pretty cool because this guy is somehow able to be a total old fart, with all of his curses and insults, but still be able to be loved by over 50 Y-tube lovers in a room and probably more all over the world. What’s even crazier is that Rebney doesn’t change his personality once and it’s a surprise to see a guy that can be such a miserable git at some points, still have the love and adoration from millions and millions of people all over the globe. Not everything Rebney says is funny, that’s for sure, but when he is pissed off for no reason, it makes you chuckle here and there. Plus, by the end, when you actually see him confront his “internet celebrity” status, it’s actually pretty interesting to see since the guy has pretty much locked himself away from the world for the past 30 years. Wasn’t really begging to see where this guy went with his life and how he was doing, but it’s pretty cool to see what actually does happen to a normal dude that just so happened to be in the right mood, at the right time, at the right place, and in front of the right camera.

However, once you get past Rebney, you start to realize that there isn’t really anything else to this flick other than seeing what happened to one of the first V-list celebrities. Granted, it’s pretty cool to see where Rebney is mentally and physically in life, but we never get to know much about him other than he used to be a writer for CBS and left on his own terms. That stuff actually was interesting, but the film never dives deep into that probably cause this director seemed like he was too afraid to go for the hard and heavy line-of-questioning. He sort of just lets Rebney rant and rave throughout the whole film, which is fine because that’s who he is, but I kind of wanted to know what makes this guy tick (pretty much everything), and just more about him in general. Maybe there was TOO much love and adoration on Steinbauer’s part. Just maybe.

"You eye-ballin' me, little director boy?

“You eye-ballin’ me, little director boy?

Also, I couldn’t help but think that this documentary is a bit mean-spirited in some of its own ways. Think about it for a second: you’re alone, happy in your life of solitude, free to do whatever you want, have the world all to yourself, have your own little doggy to keep you company, own rifles for protection, and just no real bother from the outside world. Sounds pretty ideal, right? Well, it was for Rebney, who seemed pretty effin’ glad to be living the way he was. That is until Mr. Director had to bring his simple-minded ass up there and bother the poor, old guy. I get that this kid wants to meet “his inspiration for life” and will stop at nothing to do so, but really; think about what that guy wants. I highly doubt Rebney wanted anybody bothering him in his peaceful life, and it’s kind of rude when you think about how this director just walks himself into poor Rebney’s life, without Rebney able to stick up for himself and tell him to beat it. Poor Jack Rebney. I just hope that he’s feeling free and relaxing on his own terms now. Just hope he stays the eff away from that little punk, Ben Steinbauer!

Consensus: Winnebago Man is the type of documentary that’s interesting because of what the human-mind wants to, and must know in order to feel some sort of relief after laughing at this poor, old guy after all of these years. However, it doesn’t seem to go any further other than the fact that dude’s just a slightly-senile, cranky person that wants to be left alone, and probably should have been for the sake of his own health.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Blacks and whites should continue to be segregated. Wait what? They aren't?"

“Blacks and whites should continue to be segregated. Wait what? They aren’t?”

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

I think big brother Ben may be a whole lot nicer now.

Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) has a bunch of problems. Woman problems. Law enforcement problems. An ever-growing pile of murder victims in his West Texas jurisdiction. However, he gets so caught-up with one of his victims, that it throws him a curve to the point of where he’s getting closer and closer to being found out. It’s only a matter of time until he loses total control.

Serial killer movies are hard to do. Sometimes, they can be lovable right from the start (American Psycho). While other times, they can totally miss their mark and be something you’d much rather not waste your time in watching (Mr. Brooks). This falls somewhere in between.

This is a film directed by Michael Winterbottom, a guy who seems all over the place when it comes to his films with comedic picks like 24 Hour Party People, to soft-core porno flicks like 9 Songs, and then to dark drama’s like A Might Heart. Basically, this guy has no real genre and that’s pretty neat. He doesn’t have any real sense of distinctive style or look, but he brings a lot of zealous-energy to everything he chooses, it’s almost too hard to talk bad about anything that he does. But that’s also why I liked this movie because he brings something atmospheric and moody to it all. He definitely has the perfect feel for the dark, hot American West because he shows it in such a noir style that really pulls you in from the start. There is a story to be told here, but this is more all about one dark, sinister trip into the mind of a psycho where everything starts off bad, goes to worse, gets better, and then just gets even more worse than before. Great job from Winterbottom, as he definitely makes up for the movie’s big faults.

"Oh, honey. It's been such a long and vigorous day. Let's go murdering!"

“Oh, honey. It’s been such a long and vigorous day. Let’s go murdering!”

Those big faults I’m talking about, lie within the story here. The story actually starts off pretty strong because you feel like you know where it’s going to go and build-up from there, but the problem is that the story isn’t as interesting as you may have mapped it out in your head. Some parts are cool and interesting once we see inside the mind of our closet killer, but whenever that doesn’t happen, the film focuses on how Lou tries to hide away from all of the accusations that are being thrown at him and curiosities he can smell off of everybody he’s around. This isn’t nearly as interesting as the stuff that goes on inside of his head and instead of being thrilling and unpredictable, the actual mystery tale is just there to provide a story for our lead.

Now, to my real problem with this film. In case you haven’t already heard about this flick: this flick is really, really fucked up. Without getting into any spoiler area, two disturbing acts of violence happen to two main characters here and the one thing that really got me here was that the camera never once pans away from it. In today’s world of movie violence, most stuff doesn’t phase me or even get to me because 9 times out of 10; it’s usually just shock value, done for the sake of shock value. That’s never worked on me and probably never will but the violence here feels real and needed to enhance the story, as if it almost pertains to the story and the way this guy feels and thinks. However, I think that’s my biggest problem with this flick.

I can’t really say that I hold anything against this film for showing me some violence that was disturbing, but I can say that it definitely made me think differently about it all because those were the only things left in my mind about this film. It’s some hard stuff to swallow, and as good as the rest of the film may be, I couldn’t help but keep on bringing my mind back to those violent scenes. It’s not like it doesn’t fix well with everything else, it just stuck in my mind more than all else happening. Still, have to give Winterbottom the benefit of the doubt for not panning away once during these scenes and making us actually see the brutality of these grim scenes. On the other hand, I think it also got to me after awhile and may have been more memorable than the actual flick itself. Good for some movies; not good for this.

The 50's needed Jessica Alba.

The 50′s needed more Jessica Alba.

Actually, he second most memorable aspect of this flick would probably have to go to Casey Affleck and his amazing performance as Lou Ford. It’s obvious, right from the start, that Lou has some pretty fucked up ideas in his head but somehow, Affleck is able to make that sexy and interesting through it all. Affleck doesn’t really look like the kind of dude you could put in the role of a closeted maniac, but I think that’s why he works so well here because he’s able to be subtle about his emotions and feelings throughout the movie, but also totally show how vicious he can be when he has to turn on the “crazy meter”. Affleck has never been that actor that people have been feeling the total and complete need to see in movies, but here, he demands your undivided attention and devotion, even when his character is just sitting there, thinking of who to hack-up next. Lou Ford is a great character to watch and makes the film a whole lot better, mainly because of Affleck’s kick-ass performance. He surely has come a long way since being “Big Ben’s little bro”.

Also, I was surprised to see Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson in some pretty down-and-dirty roles that I usually wouldn’t see myself watching them in. But what was even more of a surprise was how good they actually were. They both play Ford’s main ladies and each show a different side to his love, and both work very well. Been awhile since the last time I’ve seen them actually do something worth recommending so I have to give them some love and kudos right here and now. Oh, and there’s a pretty gnarly Bill Pullman cameo here as well. Can’t ever forget about that dude.

Consensus: With a dark and grimly style to make everything moodier and strong performances from the cast, mainly a terrifying Affleck, The Killer Inside Me feels like it has all the right ingredients for a dark and sinister trip in the head of a maniac, but it’s over-shadowed by two appalling scenes of violence and the story doesn’t really grab you, unless its focusing on Affleck’s character.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Them ten-gallon cowboy hats: never get out-dated.

Surprised ten-gallon hats like that could even fit through the door.

For Colored Girls (2010)

Never thought I’d say this, but I needed Madea.

Being a woman can be hard, but being an African American woman living in New York City, can be even worse. We get a glimpse at nine different stories as we see them through the eyes of women who need love, feel love, feel pain, need pain, and just want to be accepted in a world that’s tearing them down. If you’re a member of the KKK, you may not want to see this, because it’s all black, ALL THE TIME, with little to no white in sight. But then again, you’d expect that coming from Tyler Perry.

No matter how much you may hate his Madea movies, or the fact that he hasn’t contributed any type of positive aspect to the world we live in, you still have to give Tyler Perry credit for keeping the black spirit alive and well, especially in today’s day and age where it almost seems like it can be made a mockery of sometimes. That’s why it seemed like a very, very ambitious step for Perry to take, and go on about adapting the 1975 play that apparently ever black women, man, or child lauded, even till this day. Ambitious is exactly what it was for Mr. Perry, and it was the ambition, the skill, or anything else for that matter, that he could handle. That’s right, folks. This here is a train wreck.

I’ve never seen the original-play, but I can already tell that it was made for the stage, and meant to stay there as well. Whatever the hell that Perry added to the mix of this movie, does not work a single bit and comes off like the guy’s trying too hard to get his point across, without surprising us or even being subtle about it. Literally, characters will be talking about their problems, and then start breaking-out into long, 5 minute metaphorical speeches about how they can’t handle being a woman, and letting the men take them down. Maybe for people that actually go through these types of problems on a day-to-day basis can relate and in a way, can have this material touch them, but even for a person like that, I don’t think this is going to work since it all seems so unbelievable.

She can see the light, and it's a better movie.

She can see the light, and it signifies a better movie.

The dialogue can be okay at times, especially when they are discussing real-life problems that all women go through everyday, not just black women, but it doesn’t get any deeper than that. It all plays out as if it was a daytime soap opera that you caught your mom or your secretly gay brother watching, and what’s even worse about that is that Perry never seems to get the hint to tone things down a notch. Nope, instead, he continues to have everybody scream, holler, yell, piss, moan, and practically beat the shit out of one another, only to show that they are angry as hell, and ain’t gonna take it anymore. Once again, maybe to some this may work and really connect with them, but I highly doubt it since Perry seems way out-of-his-league here, and that’s really saying a lot.

If anything, I have to give kudos to Perry for at least trying and being able to show us the side of black women that most of us need to see, but it actually begins to feel like the type of movie that I talked about earlier, in the way that it almost does more harm than good for the people it’s supposed to reach out towards. For instance, almost every women in this movie has a yelling scene where they can’t control their emotions, and just feel the need to let loose on one another for whatever reason they may have. That’s fine and all, but EVERYBODY at least has one or two of those scenes, and it doesn’t depict them as real-life people, it depicts them as a bunch of annoying women you can’t stand to be around, let alone be married to.

I can’t lie though, some sad shit actually does happen to most of these ladies, and I can’t say that I don’t blame them for being the least bit upset about what happens, but it gets to a point of where it’s almost as contrived as the dawnest day, where everything bad, happens for a reason. There’s always a problem with one of these women, and they always, no matter what, seem to bring it out on the others around them. Yeah, some of them are dealt a bad card and have people that treat them like crap, but the fact that they can never seem to hold their emotions and just love the one’s they’re with, doesn’t humanize them in the least bit, it just makes them seem shallow. You don’t really care for much of these women, although you do share their sympathies because like you, they are human, they have feelings, and they do have problems. However, they are problems that don’t feel genuine and coming from Tyler Perry: that’s saying a fuck load.

The only area this film comes even close to succeeding in are the performances, but once again: that’s not saying much. The problem with most of these performances, is that some are actually VERY GOOD, whereas others, are just TERRIBLY BAD. One of the performances from the first-category that I thought was worth mentioning was Janet Jackson as the upper-class wife, who owns and runs a fashion magazine, but also has problems running and owning her hubby who’s up to no good (as usual). Jackson has never really struck me as the type of gal that can act, but she does very, very well here showing us that she can be a total bitch, but also allow us to sympathize with her as well. It’s not easy, but by the end, you definitely feel like you got the full round-about of who this character is, and what she stands for in life. Other’s that do knock-out jobs with their roles are Loretta Devine as a woman who can’t seem to get control of her already-married boy-toy; Michael Ealy who does over-do it sometimes, but still keeps it grounded in-reality as one of the hubby’s that’s a bit out of control (sarcasm intended for the term “a bit”); and Phylicia Rashad as Gilda, the wise, black women who knows it all, and always love to tell others about everything she knows, even if they don’t want to hear it.

"AWWWWW HELL NO, BITCH!! YO ASS AIN'T OUT-ACTING ME!!!"

“AWWWWW HELL NO, BEEEITCH!! YO ASS AIN’T OUT-ACTING ME!!!”

Then, we get to the second category, and that’s when things really start to run off the trail. One of the worst performances in this movie, and one that I’ve seen in awhile, is Whoopi Goldberg as the religious mother of two girls, that seems to love her religion and everything she stands for, but is wacko beyond belief. Goldberg is an Oscar winner, but none of that ever shows in this movie, because she is absolutely, freakin’ crazy, and not in the good way either. She’s always screaming about Jesus, the righteous way of living, and how to see the Lord through your eyes, but is always going about it by yelling at people, and sometimes hitting them. It would have been fine if she at least toned it down a bit, but Goldberg goes full wack-job on us and it’s as hilarious to watch, as it is compelling. After all of these years of sitting her boothang on that couch from the View, I think Whoopi got a bit rusty. And if that’s the case, then just stay the hell away from movies.

Others in the cast aren’t as bad as Whoopi, but they aren’t good either. Thandie Newton comes into a close-second by almost out-acting Whoopie, and the funny thing is that Newton is playing Whoopi’s daughter, that always has a man in her bed, and can never be real with anybody. Newton is usually a solid actress in whatever shit-pile she is in, but here, she over-does it, almost to the point of where she seems like a caricature of that ghetto, slut-gal that most women frown-upon. In fact, this is probably the only character that never learns a single thing throughout the whole damn movie, and instead, just seems like she’s going to continue to whore-around, fuck whoever she wants to fuck, and maybe, just maybe, end up with a little person in the pit of her stomach, along with a beautiful-case of AIDS. Also, shame on this movie for giving a talented and beautiful actress like Kerry Washington, nothing else to do but piss and moan about how she can’t have a baby. Seriously, just go to the freakin’ orphanage, pick up a Indonesian baby, and put a smile on. Brangelina did it, and look at them.

Consensus: Tyler Perry deserves a small-amount of kudos for trying to really break out of his shell, and go for the gut when it came to adapting a classic-play like For Colored Girls, but deserves no credit for the job that he actually pulled-off. It’s laughable, stupid, shallow, does nothing for the group of people it’s speaking for, and even worse, makes you feel like all of these talented-actresses that took this material, were a little too busy to take any roles in Precious, so instead, decided to go with a shit-ass script and movie like this. Shame on all of you, especially you, Mr. Perry.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Come on girls, we gotta stick together and hope our careers don't all end at the same time."

“Come on girls, we gotta stick together and hope our careers don’t all end at the same time.”

Tiny Furniture (2010)

Does staying at-home and going to community college count as the same experience?

Lena Dunham plays a Aura, a twentysomething gal who just broke-up with her boyf, lost her inspiration of what to do in life, and is now living with her artist mother and little sister. Aura is finding it hard to make sense of the world that she’s living in, mostly because she feels like she should be doing more with her life, and just isn’t. It’s a whole bunch of post-collegiate problems that nobody cares about, except for white people. We eat that shit up.

Here’s the type of flick I automatically expected to hate going in, but had the exact-opposite feeling afterwards. Here I was thinking that this was just another mumblecore movie where a bunch of people say and do quirky things, all for the fun and entertainment of people that love this type of stuff and why? Oh, because it’s an “indie movie” and their allowed to get away with all of that junk. This movie isn’t one of those that I rant against, and that’s all thanks to Lena Dunham, who, as you all know by now, is pretty much “The Shit”.

Dunham not only starred in this flick, but she directed and wrote it, and that self-reliance of knowing one’s self is what shines through the brightest here. The direction is nothing new, flashy, or original that won’t have you going crazy over night, but the screenplay is exactly that. Actually, I wouldn’t even say that the screenplay itself is anything new, flashy, or original, it’s just simple. But it’s so simple that it works and feels like real-life, where real people speak to one another, in a sometimes quirky-fashion, but still works because you believe in everything and everybody in the movie. You could totally tell that whatever the hell Dunham went through once she got out of college, is all packed into this screenplay for us all to see and hear, and that brutal honesty is what resonated with me the most because sometimes I feel like Aura, or Dunham for that matter.

Hanging out in pipes: totally normal.

Hanging out in pipes: totally normal.

Granted, I’m not necessarily in the same position as Aura is where she has a post-college life and is just trying to get her foot on the ground, but still, if you have ever felt lonely, sad, or just not able to make sense of the things around you, then this is most likely the type of film that you want to see because it will feel real and honest to you, almost as much as it did to me. Aura isn’t a walking-stereotype of the person that can’t seem to get her shit together, shut the hell up, and move on with her life, but just a person who thought she had it all, and got it snatched-away from her in a single second, without an idea of what the hell to do. I’m sure that I speak for most of us out there and say that yes, we have all felt like that at least during one point of our lives. If not, you gotta start living, man!

As much as I may make this movie seem like a total debbie-downer, that isn’t what Dunham’s all about. She’s about showing us the crazy-situations we roll through in life, and just how we can get by them just by being ourselves. You can not only tell that Dunham is her original-self through the script and direction, but through her performance as well. There’s this certain essence of just being plain, original, and nothing but the truth that feels more realistic than anything else in this movie, and made me wonder how much of it she was acting. Dunham obviously isn’t the hottest bean in the soup, but I don’t think she cares about that and neither should we. She absolutely gets by on just being herself and telling others to shove it, which is what I always love in my women, especially my leading-actresses. Dunham’s “no-charm” act is what probably what makes her so charming in the first-place and I can’t wait to see what she has to do next for film, whenever she gets a break from Girls.

The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of no-names, but each and everyone are just like Dunham in the way that they feel emotionally-honest and true, almost to the point of where it doesn’t seem like they’re acting. The fact that Dunham cast her real-life mommy and sissy was really smart and builds up a sweet-chemistry between them all that fits within the context of the story, and shows you that even if you do get in fights with your fam and have disagreements, at least you can always go back to them because no matter what; they love you underneath it all. I know I would never be able to make a movie with anybody from my fam, but hey, good for Lena. Sure she makes them all proud. Once again, nothing flashy, new, or original, but they all nail their roles and show what it’s like to be young, a bit wild, a bit nasty, a bit grumpy, a bit free, but always dumb with the things they do or say. As I said before, I think I speak for everybody else out there when I say, we all know exactly what that means.

Next time you get depressed, go play with small antiques of furniture. Always cheer ya back up!

Next time you get depressed, go play with small antiques of furniture. Always cheer ya back up!

The only problem that I actually felt with Dunham’s movie is that I feel like it goes on and on and on for so long (an hour and 39 minutes, okay), but never really has much of a point. Maybe I missed the point when I was laughing my ass off at the humor that Dunham has, but the overall-message of this movie seemed to be lost as soon as that wacky and surprising third-act comes into play, and we realize it’s a bit more serious than we expected. However, even if it is serious, I still never really felt like I knew quite where Dunham was getting at with this story or what she was trying to say. Being with family is great? Being with family sucks? Love your parents even if they piss you off? Don’t have unprotected sex? I don’t know what, but the main message of this movie seemed to be skewered out of nowhere, and it didn’t really hit me as hard as the rest of the movie. That being said, it was still a pretty good movie that just so happened to have the unfortunate problem of not knowing what to say, mean, or end.

Consensus: Tiny Furniture is one of those loose, simple, sweet, and to the point movies where the story happens right in front of your eyes where people act like people, things are done, and words are exchanged, but at the end of the day: that’s just life, yo.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

See! Not every dude and girl lying in bed needs to bang. Although it wouldn't be so bad if they did, just saying.

See! Not every dude and girl lying in bed needs to bang. Although it wouldn’t be so bad if they did, just saying.

Get Low (2010)

Lil’ Jon should have at least scored the soundtrack, if anything.

For years, townsfolk have been terrified of the backwoods recluse known as Felix Bush (Robert Duvall). Then, one day, Felix rides to town with a shotgun and a wad of cash, saying he wants to buy a funeral. It’s not your usual funeral for the dead Felix wants. On the contrary, he wants a “living funeral,” in which anyone who ever had heard a story about him will come to tell it, while he takes it all in.

Simple movies are never that bad, and when you have an idea about a dude planning a living-funeral, it makes a simple movie seem pretty cool, yet still simple. Director Aaron Schneider definitely knows the type of material he’s working with as he sets the mood, sets the pace, sets the characters, and sets the ideas of what we come to expect with movies like these, but in the end, they are all simple and for some, that may not be so bad, but for me, it is. Well, sort of.

See, as much as I liked this flick and felt like it delivered on what it was going for, I also feel like a lot of what could have really hit me hard here, just didn’t. For instance, the script is pretty weak whereas not only does it seem like these people do the usual, “talk-like-a-bunch-of-goofy-Southerners”-speak, but they also try too hard to make people laugh and none of it ever feels like actual humor. I mean, yeah, watching a hermit who lives out in the middle of the woods, invite a dude from the town in for a nice pot of rabbit can be a tad humorous  but it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen before and I think that’s what the deal is with this whole film.

We never get to see anything new or awesome that we haven’t already seen done before, and even worse, the flick doesn’t really bring much to the table to distract you, anyway. The scenery definitely looks good and has you feel as if you are in the South during this time-period, but that’s pretty much it. You can have a movie that looks all nice and dandy, but if you don’t have anything else to make up for it, then I just lose interest. However, thanks to a cast like this, I was paying attention enough times to relatively-enjoy myself. Not fully or totally, but relatively and I think that’s better than not enjoying myself.

Bill Murray is always a blast to watch in anything he does and his performance as the greedy, funeral parlor-owner is no different. His contemporary way-of-speaking definitely seemed a bit distracting for the first five-minutes of him on-screen, but as time went on, I just let it slide and love every-singe-bit of Murray’s performance and some may be surprised to know that he’s not the most hilarious dude in the movie. Murray does have the occasional zinger here and there for good sport, but he actually has an interesting dramatic arch that forms a dynamic between him and Duvall and it continues to go on through the whole movie. I don’t want to say that I loved the hell out of Murray, but I can say that the guy was a good character and showed that he can always balance out sleazy, humorous  and likable, all at the same time.

"Wanna see my dead squirrel collection?"

“Wanna see my dead squirrel collection?”

Playing his lackey-of-sorts is Lucas Black, who is obviously still trying to have everybody forget his days in Sling Blade, but no need to worry, because the guy’s actually a solid actor as a grown-up. Granted, when he is side-by-side with heavyweights like Duvall and Murray, he definitely seems like the weak-link, but when he’s doing his own thing and that’s just about it: he’s good with it. I definitely would like to see this guy step-away from the dirty South and try his best with any other accent but for the most part, he’s fine with his own native tongue and I don’t think playing a Bawstan gangster would be the next best thing for him. Although, it’d be fun to see him try at it.

Sissy Spacek plays Duvall’s former-fling and as she gets older, seems to not only get more beautiful, but also even better as an actress. Seriously, I thought she was just going to be one of those females that showed-up and bitched about her life and why it never amounted to everything she wanted, but the gal actually has a nice arch to her as well, and it’s great to see the scenes with her and Duvall cause you can tell that there’s something powerfully and genuinely felt between the two, but you just don’t know what. Spacek never seems to age and as time goes on, she still knows how to deliver and that’s so great to see from a living legend like herself.

Then, of course, there is the one, the only, the Grizzly Adams-look alike himself: Robert Duvall. Duvall is such a classic actor, that roles like these where all he has to do is grunt, say weird things, and be his typical-self, he makes it so good that it almost seems like he’s not acting. After awhile, you start to forget that it’s Duvall and take him in as this strange, weird old man, and yet, you are never scared of him. You feel like he’s a good guy at his core and that whatever he did, no matter how disturbing or brutal it may have been, that he’s still a nice guy that deserves to have people around him. No matter what type of character Duvall goes for, he’s always good at it, and always knows how to make us give two shits about the guy, even if he may be a bit mysterious in his own ways.

Bill Murray, probably doing his best John Waters-look he could get himself to actually go through with.

Bill Murray, probably doing his best John Waters-look he could get himself to actually go through with.

However, once you get to thinking about the whole mystery of this flick and what it actually ends up being, then you start to feel a bit disappointed. Without spoiling the last twenty-minutes of the movie, Duvall finally gets a chance to break the ice and tell everybody what he’s been hiding-0ut for, for so long and the kind of effect that it has had on his life. Throughout the whole movie, I was ready to see what it was as each and every single little clue, came-up to the forefront and had me guessing a bit more. It gave what could be considered this simple, character-study a nice deal of mystery and suspense to it that had me playing-along for awhile, that is, until the actual “reveal” came out and ended on a total whimper.

It’s not the fact that what Duvall ends-up telling us is what’s a bummer, it’s that you just don’t really care and see how a guy could leave the rest of civilization for a thing like that. I guess when you take guilt and memory into consideration, then yeah, it could definitely eat you up inside, but leaving the people you know and may possibly love, to go out into the far woods, break logs, eat animal stew, walk around with a shotgun, hunt, and chase little kids off your property, doesn’t seem all that reasonable. It sort of made me feel like the flick had the central idea and premise, it had the characters, and it had the setting, but the most important factor of them all, the ultimate reveal, was something that they just didn’t have and felt like they just made it up as they went along. And if they did have it on, way before filming began, then when it actually came to filming this movie, they didn’t have a firm enough grasp to really make us care enough or feel like we are glad we spent so much time of our lives with these characters and with this story.

Consensus: Benefiting from a strong-as-hell cast, Get Low definitely has moments that keep you watching, despite the slow pace, but doesn’t have the best script in the world and that shows, especially when you take into consideration the final twist that gives you the feeling that this flick sort of lost itself, as it tugged along.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Give me a one-blade. All around."

“Give me a one-blade. All around.”

TRON: Legacy (2010)

Almost 30 years later, and I still don’t get what the hell they’re talking about.

Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), son of the famous Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), responds to a message from his long-lost father and is transported into a virtual reality called the Grid, where Sam and the algorithm Quorra (Olivia Wilde) try to stop the malevolent program CLU (a younger Bridges in CGI-form) from invading the human world. However, times have changed for dear old Kevin Flynn and he’s not exactly what he used to be, so it’s up to Sam to save the day.

After checking out the first TRON and not seeing it as anything more than just a pretty film that’s easy on the eyes (if you take the time-period into consideration), but still, very hollow once you get underneath it all, I was actually looking forward to this one. The reason being is just because it’s been almost 30 years since the original, so therefore it seems like they would have a new hold on the visuals, the story, the acting, the writing, and just about everything else that didn’t work in the original. Somehow, that idea didn’t get around to anybody working on this movie, except maybe the people working on the soundtrack. Yeah, giving Daft Punk a call was a bit different.

If you haven’t seen the original, you may want to do that now before you even bother reading the rest of this review or even seeing this movie because going into this one blind and having no idea what to expect will probably leave you in the dust. Not only does the flick barely touch on anything that happened in the first movie, but it’s story (or lack thereof) is mainly for the people who saw and could at least understand some portion of the original’s. Basically, see the first one and THEN, check this one out. You’ll be happy I gave you that piece of advice, but then again, you maybe be unhappy that I gave you that piece of advice because not only did you have to sit-through one TRON movie, but two! My condolences, people. My condolences.

"I'm the Flynn, man."

“I’m the Flynn, man.”

Actually, all of this pre-game shit-talking may not be deserved because to be honest: I actually enjoyed myself with a good-portion of this flick. Heck, if I was to put it head-to-head with the first; I’d probably have to go with this one pulling out the close victory. Close-call, but still a victory none the less. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that the same problems I had with the first movie aren’t here, it’s just that there is more to distract me this time around. Thankfully, that distraction lies in the form of Joseph Krosinski’s visual-direction. In the 30 years ever since the first one came out and shook-up the world of movies and video-games as we knew it, technology sure as hell had changed and improved in ways that we wouldn’t have ever been able to swallow back in those days. This means that the movie actually takes advantage of that fact, the same way the original did, except with more CGI, more 3-D, and more IMAX.

Obviously, the first one for it’s time, was revolutionary and visionary with what it could do back in the dog days of Summer in ’82, but now, in the 21st Century; there’s so much more than we ever imagined. The world of the Grid looks more beautiful and breath-taking than it ever did before and you really feel as if you are swept into this virtual-reality world with the same shit from the first movie like electronic cars, frisbees, and weapons, but this time; with more pizzazz and style added to the mix. I really felt like Krosinski had a total understanding of what the look and feel of this world would be like, and he doesn’t drop the ball on it once. Especially in one scene that takes place inside this wild and crazy night-club that had me feel like I was watching a whole, different movie. Also, the scene works because that’s really when Daft Punk’s score begins to kick-in and if it wasn’t for them and their pounding, electronic-beats in the background in that scene, as well as for the rest of the movie, there probably wouldn’t have been the same amount of electronic-energy involved that just got your senses alive and pumping.

Thanks to Krosinski, you feel as if you are there in this virtual-world where everything is on such a higher-platform than it ever was before and the guy absolutely revels in it. You can tell that he really did grow-up with the original movie, and shows that he loves this world just as much as any other nerd, who probably watched it back in the day, and fell in love with it just the same. However, the difference between Krosinski is that he has a camera and about $170 million to work with, whereas the nerds are just left there, making $10 an hour, eating Doritos off their chests as they sit-back, and watch as a fellow-nerd lives out their shared-dream to the fullest. In a way, that can all be viewed as a humble experience, but it still goes to show you that if you have inspiration and a vision that you want to get-out there for the rest of the world to see, don’t hold yourself back from showing yourself. Get the hell out there and make it happen! Fuck yeah!

Anywho, I think I may have gotten a bit too carried away with what I was trying to say because yes: even though Krosinski knows exactly what he’s trying to do behind-the-camera and with the visuals, he still hits the same dead-end that the original hit way too many times: the script. For all of you who probably guessed it, then yes, the script is pretty terrible and without getting into the whole gist of this thing and finding myself in a circle of total and complete convoluted craziness, I’m just going to state that this plot practically makes no sense, even to a person that has seen the original no less than a week ago. There are some interesting ideas here, but nothing all that special that the Matrix didn’t already cover, about 11 years earlier. Which means watching it now, just seems like a bit of a re-tread of something that was done and said, a hell of a lot better before. God, you gotta love the 90′s.

As you could probably suspect, the dialogue is pretty shitty but you don’t come to a movie like this for winning-dialogue and understandings of the world we surround ourselves with; you come to these movies for fun and fun only, and that’s what element this script is missing out on: fun. What made the original a relative joy to watch was that no matter how corny, no matter how dated, and no matter how lame the rest of the script was (and trust me, it did get unbearable at-points), the film still always had this breath of fresh air that knew it wasn’t taking itself so seriously and always allowed there to be room for play-time. However, this movie, this story, and this script, only allows little to no room for play-time and really brings down the whole mood of the film. Terrible shame too, because it could have really saved a lot of the shaky-material this movie had on-display.

Don't worry, Garrett. On the Road will win you praise."

Don’t worry, Garrett. On the Road will win you praise.”

Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be a bit of a dumb movie that’s strictly for fans of the original and people that like extra butter on their popcorn, but is this really the BEST material they had to offer? I mean, you can live-off the fanboys money for only so long, all up until the point where the fanboys begin to realize something is wrong, dead-wrong with the way things are structured in a movie, especially a movie that’s living in a cult-name like TRON. Even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call the final-product a total cash-grab for that said audience; it still feels like a lame and disappointing attempt at trying to re-create the fire that was once there. The fire that also never really caught my eye in the first-place but then again, it’s a different type of movie for a different type of person. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

The one thing they did improve on, if only a tad bit, from the original is that the characters at least have more to them than I originally expected. Jeff Bridges returns as Kevin Flynn in two forms: the goodie and the baddie. The goodie-form of him show the Zen-like fashion where he’s more of The Dude, than the precursor to Neo. This especially works for the aging-Bridges who always seems to be the most reasonable and coolest guy in the room, no matter what type of role he’s playing in any movie he appears in. However, the baddie-form of this character is where things really start to get topsy-turvy for Bridges because it isn’t exactly that it’s Bridges actually playing the character and giving a realistic-performance, it’s more that the computer is taking over and giving us another one of those terribly-creepy, Robert Zemeckis-like motion-capture performances that not only have us scared, but totally take us away from the movie.

Flynn’s baddie-version of himself was supposed to be intimidating and threatening in the way that he could control almost everything and everything, due to the set of skills and prowess he had from the computer codes Flynn gave him. However, when you give the guy the motion-capture treatment like this, he doesn’t look the least-bit scary. The only form of scary, is that he’ll probably just give the kiddies nightmares, that’s if you even bring them to see this. Don’t know why you would, but you never know: nerds have done far worse. However, instead, you’re too busy laughing your ass off by how dull his eyes look and how stupid it seems to be whenever he opens his mouth. They did nail some aspects of Bridges when he was a younger lad, but it’s still not enough to be less distracting than a form of CGI in say, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That was not only used to enhance the story, but done very, very well. Here, it just looks dumb and takes you totally out of the movie and character, even if Bridges does try his hardest to make this character, in both forms, work. I mean, I’ll give a lot of credit to Bridges for actually allowing a movie to take a younger-version of himself and plant it in a movie where he shows-up quite frequently, but still, for the movie’s sake, it’s a bold-move that doesn’t work.

Garrett Hedlund plays his son, in what seems to be the type of role that could make him a star and send his name up into the highest-rankings (sort of like Chris Pine in Star Trek), however, he’s just not really talented enough to allow that to actually happen. Hedlund definitely looks the part of a young, wild, and brass go-getter dude that knows his shit don’t stank, but there was just something that felt off in his delivery and sent his character into a daze of dullness. You sort of forget that he’s even around and if it wasn’t for the plot needing him to do cool, flashy action-moves (mainly because Bridges sure as hell can’t do them anymore), then he would have not served any purpose to this story whatsoever. Okay, maybe that’s a bit drastic to say but you get my drift: the guy blows here.

"BELIEVE IN ME!!"

“I’M MORE THAN CGI!!!”

Olivia Wilde is the one who really saves this cast, and in a way, the movie as well. She plays Quorra, the ass-kicking femme fatale of the group and is not only a gorgeous soul to just gaze at, but also has some nice dramatic-chops to her that she shows in full-display here. Something tells me the script didn’t really ask for much with a character of her liking, but Wilde doesn’t ever seem to settle for conventionality and actually brings the cake to the screen, whereas her co-star Hedlund, seems to really fall-apart. Not only does she have the looks, but she has the brains as well. My type of woman.

Also in the cast, is Michael Sheen who seems to be having a freakin’ blast as Castor, aka, the sci-fi version of David Bowie that only gets about 10-minutes or so of screen-time, but lights it up the way he always likes to. He’s apart of that crazy, club-scene I was alluding to earlier and is one of the main reasons why it’s so electric and fun in the first-place. Still, it’s a total downer that the guy doesn’t show-up more as I feel like the film could have totally used his type of contribution here. I also have no idea why Cillian Murphy was here and decided to show-up for 5-seconds of screen-time, but hey, I guess it’s just another job to put down on his resume, so good for that guy.

Consensus: The promise for a TRON sequel may lie somewhere in-between the loads of amounts of CGI in TRON: Legacy, but it somehow falls by the same waist-side the first one did. That’s all due to lack of character-development, a story that makes little to no sense, and a feeling of joyful fun that’s about the action, adventure, excitement, and playing the deadliest-game of Frisbee, rather than incomprehensible exposition that doesn’t add anything to the final-product, other than snores from the audience. Even the nerds!

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Daft Punk is playing in my mediocre-movie, my mediocre-movie.

Daft Punk is playing in my mediocre-movie, my mediocre-movie.

The Company Men (2010)

Rich people can be sad too.

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) are living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves them jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.

As everybody in the world knows, October 2008 was the time where we all found ourselves in an economic-crisis and yes, even though it is a bit hypocritical from a 19-year-old, who at the time, was 15 and lived with his parents, had no job, had no responsibilities  and no bills to pay other than my money for lunch, I can still say that it was a sucky time for everybody and in a way, still is. Everybody was affected by it, not just the common-man, but everybody!

I start off with this middle-minded rant mainly because this is one of the biggest problems with this movie that we have here: who it focuses on. Having a story about a regular, average-Joe who loses his job out of nowhere and finds himself really struggling isn’t a story that hasn’t been done before, but would have probably been more engrossing than watching a bunch of millionaires go from everything, to nothing in a matter of a couple of weeks. Of course, the fact of the matter is that this did happen in real-life and it wasn’t just a certain group of people that were affected by the corporate downsizing, and that’s why this movie feels like it should hit harder, mainly because it’s so timeless and easy to connect with, but it just isn’t.

"They always say, "you're never as good as you're first movie". I guess in your case, that's false."

“They always say, “you’re never as good as you’re first movie”. I guess in your case, that’s false.”

Watching all of these guys be pissed-off by the fact that they don’t have the money to pay for their golf clubs or their Porsches really just seemed stupid and something I didn’t really care about. It gets even worse when some of these guys still feel like they can’t tell their wives, or the people around them that they lost their job. Yeah, I get that losing your job is sort of like losing an ounce of your pride, but there comes a point where you got to nut-up, shut-up, and get moving on with your life in order to make that moolah fall from the skies. Sitting around, pissing and moaning about it, and not even telling your wife why you don’t have the money for the mortgage, isn’t going to solve shite.

But to back away from a topic and theme I guess I don’t know much about since I’m not necessarily the hardest working-man out there in the world, let me go back to something I do know a lick about: movies. The whole idea of watching these rich people be sad by the fact that they can’t spend 500 dollars on dinners any longer, definitely didn’t work for me but I was able to get past it and at least try my hardest to look at the brighter-things in this movie, which didn’t seem to come to me right away. The problem I think I had with this movie stems from what and how writer/director John Wells tries to tell his story. He tries to show us that maybe, just maybe by going back to an old-school America is the only way we’re going to live and survive in this world, but he he shows us in the most obvious and predictable way that’s enough to make the people on the employment-line just scoff at.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that this economic crisis was a very, very depressing time for all men and women of America, but Wells shows how sad and depressing it is in the most conventional ways possible. For instance, Chris Cooper’s character is probably the best example of what I mean because when his character gets fired, he doesn’t just go home, act as if nothing happened whatsoever and go out there and try to make another living with his life, no, he sits at the bar all-day, gets hammered, throws rocks at the old, corporate-building he used to work-at, and tries to act like he still works there by slugging-around the same briefcase. Same example can sort of go for Tommy Lee Jones who finds himself banging-around with the same chick that fired him, and choosing her over his dearly, old-wife, mainly because he’s just depressed. I get it, they’re sad and when you’re sad, you do dumb stuff. Get on with it!

"I'm guessing meeting at a bar was out of the question?"

I guess meeting at a bar was out of the question?

The only light and shiny material actually in this flick, is actually the performances from the characters that try their hardest to make everything work and in a way, succeed in doing-so. “In a way”, however. Ben Affleck has the main-spotlight here as Bobby and definitely seems fit for the job of a guy who loses it all, tries to avoid it by acting like nothing has happened, only to get slapped in the face with reality and realize that he has to do a whole bunch of crap he didn’t want to do when he was rich. His character isn’t all sympathetic to begin-with, considering that he continues to blow-off the idea of saving money and not robbing the bank, but Affleck works through it and does what he can with this role. His wife, played by the always magnificent Rosemarie DeWitt, is always supportive, but at the same time, also never seems to notice how much of a dick he’s being and as hard as she can be on him for not accepting reality, she seems very lenient in terms of actually telling him what’s up in the world. I get it, they’re husband and wife and they forgive each other over everything, but she doesn’t seem all that strong and loving at all, so why the hell should be that way when the guy’s acting like a dick? Ehh, I don’t get it.

Tommy Lee Jones is doing his usual, crotchety  old-man shtick that never seems to run dry, even if his character even seems to get tired of it about half-way through and begins to get all soft and weak in the knees. Tommy Lee is a great actor so this weakly-written role doesn’t do as much harm to him as it does to others, but it’s still obvious that there should be more meat for us to chew-on with this character and his emotions. Chris Cooper has the most sympathetic character out of the bunch, but like I mentioned before, seems a bit too obvious in terms of where his story goes and why. Like Jones, Cooper is a great actor so it’s not that glaring, but still, he should be given more material that’s suited for his great, acting-self.

"So, you still polish your Oscar?"

“So, you still polish your statue? Yeah I’ve been doing that for 19 years.”

Maria Bello is always good with what she does and is fine here as the chick that goes around firing people, and instead, more or less comes-off like a person doing her job, rather than a monster out to get people’s hearts, souls, and above all, their bank accounts. Kevin Cotsner also shows up as the blue-collared, American worker that makes a living off of hanging up dry wall every day of the week and it’s definitely a fun performance that Costner has a blast playing, even though that New England-accent seems to be way too heavy, especially in the seems with Affleck. How the hell do you have a movie that takes place in the state of Massachusetts  that stars Ben Affleck, and not have him doing a Bawhstan accent? Seriously, the guy’s made for it and if you don’t believe me, watch The Town and Good Will Hunting, aka, two movies that will probably inspire you more than this.

Consensus: The premise and themes are as timeless as they may come, but when it comes to delivering on those important ideas and thoughts, the Company Men doesn’t seem to succeed with a bunch of great actors, working in thinly-scripted roles that seem to be placed-in the right category of “Conventional”.

5/10=Rental!!

"They ain't like us."

“They ain’t like us.”

The Next Three Days (2010)

Save me, Maximus!

Life seems perfect for John Brennan (Russell Crowe) until his wife, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn’t commit. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison.

It may seem a bit strange that director Paul Haggis would return to the director’s chair after two character-driven flicks like Crash and In the Valley of Elah, to do something very action-oriented in a way that would remind me a bit of the Bourne movies. Total change-of pace if you ask me, but a pretty intriguing one, none the less. However, this is also the guy who wrote Casino Royale and I think he should have kept it that way and try not to stretch out his action skills anymore teaming up with this dude, because he said he was an “Oscar-winner”.

What I liked about Haggis’ direction here is that he does have a good combination of character-driven drama and a suspense-thriller for a combination that sort of evens each-side out. We first start this flick off by focusing on Crowe, how he’s struggling with being a single father, having a wife put in jail wrongly, and it basically just sets up a lot of sadness for his character and the situation he so sadly found himself so involved with. But underneath all of that, there’s also a very interesting prison-escape drama that shows how Crowe goes around, checking for all of the clues on how to get his wife out successfully without any problems whatsoever, and it’s so interesting and well-done, that it actually made you wonder just how the hell this guy was going to pull it all off in the end, if at all. Prison-escape movies are always fun to watch, but it was really cool to see that aspect, used on the outside, from a guy who’s trying to break somebody out, and not really being able to tell how smoothly everything will go. Definitely a good combo for Haggis, but sadly, it all ends up losing it’s way about half-way through. Oh well, at least it was intruiging for the longest-time.

Mainly the problem with this flick is that it can be very hard to buy at times, especially the main bond between Crowe and Banks. As soon as we step into the movie, we see Banks and Crowe at dinner together, then in no less than 5 minutes later she gets hauled out by cops and that’s pretty much all of the love we get see come from them. That’s right, only 5 minutes of them actually being loving and happy together and we’re supposed to buy the fact that Crowe would go the ends of the Earth to save his wife from prison. Who knows, maybe they had one of the most beautiful marriages that any person has ever seen, but with the very limited-amount of time they have together on-screen, I found it very hard to actually believe Crowe would do what he ends up trying to do for her.

However, that’s not the only part of this movie I didn’t buy. The whole film revolves around Crowe and whether or not he can pull off such a plan as the one he has mapped out on his wall (so original) but I couldn’t really believe much of that either. The film does show him doing certain things to gain pieces of information that ultimately help him out with this plan and gaining more information, but it was never fully-developed to the point of where I understood how he could make it all happen to begin with and even worse, only showed-up every once and awhile. In fact, the whole escape itself by the end was really just based on coincidences that Crowe just so happened to find himself running into by sure luck. Crowe’s character had so much time to think everything through and to get everything right, but by the end, everything just happens in a very messy way and like almost every obstacle he got through was just another piece of perfect-timing, that was just a bit too perfect for my taste, really.

Now I say all of this crap but I did have a certain bit of fun with the very fast-pace this film was going through. As implausible and coincidental things may get for this plot, Haggis kicked up the volume and the speed of this movie and kept it going perfectly where I actually felt like I was on the edge of my seat for a good time. That’s why I can’t go too far into how much this film didn’t make sense to me, because I like prison-escape movies and seeing the sensitive-edge Haggis brought to it, kept me interested. However, a lot of that is lost on some very obvious twists this film goes through.

Russell Crowe is one of the best-working actors today and can make almost any character he plays, work. His performance as John Brennan may be the only exception to that statement. My problem I had with this character wasn’t necessarily Crowe’s performance itself, but it was more or less the essence and nature of the character he was playing here. Brennan is such a meek, awkward, and shy dude that it really seemed “out of his element” and unbelievable whenever he would just decide to g0 around and start doing crazy shit just, in order to help his wife escape from jail. I can understand what a man does and thinks when he’s pushed to the edge, but I never saw that for Crowe and that’s a surprise because this is a guy who’s known for beating the shit out of people in many other films as well as real-life (telephone-throwing joke right there). This performance really surprised me and I think with other actors it would have worked, but when you get a tough-ass like Crowe, ehhh not so much.

One performance that really took me by surprise was Elizabeth Banks as his wife. Banks is always one of those very cute, very funny, and very sexy ladies that pop-up in these raunchy-comedies, but she shows she has a lot of dramatic depth here and makes her character seem a lot more believable than Crowe. Hopefully she continues to get more and more dramatic roles that fit her, and no, I do not mean Man on a Ledge. Liam Neeson is also here as a former prison escapee that helps out Crowe and is easily one of the best and most memorable parts of this flick even though it only lasts for 4 minutes. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is here as the only model, single mom in Pittsburgh. Wilde is a random character to have for this movie and what made it even worse and just added to the implausibility of this movie, was the fact that Olivia Wilde, was playing a single-mom! What the hell! If this is what single moms look like in Pittsburgh, get me my 2005 Scion right now! I’ll be there soon, ladies! Just you wait.

Consensus: The Next Three Days starts off pretty-strong with a great combination action, mystery, suspense and character-drama, but the script really starts to lose itself about half-way through with all of its implausibilities, strange coincidences, and unbelievable character relations, especially the ones between Crowe and Banks, who was supposed to be the core-relationship for us to really connect to this movie and actually give a damn.

6/10=Rental!!

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Apparently the sun never comes out in this alternate history, either.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them. It ain’t pretty, trust me.

I have never read the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and to be honest, that may have been a good decision on my-part, since I didn’t really know what was happening and also the fact that I had no idea what type of mood it was going to put me in, because damn man, it’s a total downer. No, I mean it. It is a REAL downer.

However, let’s not talk about all of that sadness that goes on here, let’s focus on the finer things with this flick (and in life) considering I’m not ready to walk into traffic just yet. It was really cool to see director Mark Romanek back after all an 8-year hiatus from movies and take a subject matter like this because he fits it’s feel and style very well. This whole film, from start to finish, is absolutely stunning and beautiful to look at. The whole look has this very dry sense of color the whole time, but it also ended up giving some of the most beautiful images of this movie such as onne image that stands out the most in my mind is the shot of a beach and a little old tugboat was lying on its side in the sand, with the orange sunlight just barely shining over it. That’s one-shot from this film that really stayed with me and made me understand just the type of world I was placed-in with this flick. It’s a dark piece of material we have here, but with Romanek on-board, beauty still finds it’s way of climbing back into the story and presenting itself the whole way through.

I also felt that the mood that Romanek set for this film was just the right way to approach this material to begin with. I don’t want to get into too much about what goes on in this flick and how it all happens, but the fate these kids are left to live are pretty damn sad to begin with and Romanek doesn’t try to gloss that up with any unnecessary humor or themes about the joys of life. No siree, instead he makes this a flick about how we as humans, are supposed to live out our lives and be happy even though it may not always go that exact-way we want it to be. Then again, I highly doubt that that is what the central message of this flick is all about, but it’s what I could get underneath all of the sadness that Mr. Romanek used so well.

The problem was that there was also a bad-side to that depressing mood as well. This flick is so based on being a total debbie-downer, that even the parts where the flick tries to bring some little moments of being happy, they don’t really do much because you know that no matter what happens, the violin score will just come right back on and thus bring on back the sadness that we thought we escaped. There’s no problem with a film being sad the whole time, especially if that’s what it’s mood is conveying straight from the start, but it’s a real problem is when it seems like that’s the only thing that the film has any time to focus on and rather than just giving us something to smile and at least be happy about for the meantime, we are instead treated to total and utter depression. I guess I don’t quite get it since I didn’t read the original source material but I seriously could have only imagined how bad that must have been.

What really brought me into this flick though was the performances here by this young and attractive cast that have all proved themselves in their own respective bouts, but come together here and do a nice-job with some dull-ass characters. Carey Mulligan is great as Kathy H., and once again shows that she has the emotional chops and presence to pull off any character and have you know she is always around. The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is also nice to watch as Tommy and feels like a real kid who just doesn’t know how to act around girls, or anybody for that matter. Then again, he also got jipped out of being the co-founder of the largest social network of all-time so that may add a bit of insult to injury as well. (teehee, Facebook jokes rule) The real stand-out here may be Keira Knightley though, who is very one-dimensional as the bitchy and manipulative chick, Ruth, but is very good at it unlike anyway we have seen her before.  However, her character does end up starting to change and show some real humanity by the end of the flick and was probably the only character I could actually feel something for once everything was said and done. Which brings me on to my last and final problem with this flick.

I get that these characters are here for a reason that I won’t say, but something just felt off about them to the point of where I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel for any of them. Since there was so much depth to the sadness of this whole plot, the characters themselves are sort of just left on the side and are there for you to care about if you want to or not. The film can be a little stuffy, but it barely let me feel anything for them and then when their fate is finally said to them, it was weird how I didn’t feel any emotional connection. Now it would be hard to say that I could ever relate to anything that any of these characters have been and are going through but I still think as a film, there should have been more emotions centered at the characters rather than just their surroundings. Maybe I was supposed to feel this emptiness or maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for them, maybe it was just for the whole situation itself. Maybe. I don’t know really.

Consensus: If you are in happy mood and want to keep that going, then don’t check out Never Let Me Go, because it is sad, empty (in many ways), and doesn’t have any real moments of shining suns in the sky, but it is also beautiful to look at, a very moody piece that can really put you into its setting, and features a fine young cast that does a great job with all that their given.

7/10=Rental!!

Dogtooth (2010)

Don’t worry, it gets stranger.

This film is about a husband and wife who keep their children imprisoned on their property into adulthood. However, things start to go arise once an outsider pops into their house and throw some knowledge on the kids that they never had before.

Sounds pretty weird already but trust me, it gets a whole lot worse baby. Greeks are definitely a lot more freaky then I ever expected.

I don’t know where to begin with this review only to say that I wasn’t expecting what I got here. Yes, the premise sounds weird and seems like something that could be played out to an inspirational tale showing how people should live free and not be taken back by barriers. Nah uh, not this movie. Instead, this is one freak show of a movie that starts off strange and continues to get that way, except that it’s also very watchable at the same time too if you can get past a lot of things that usually upset the regular-viewer.

Even though it’s a big movie that can only be told with one statement (WTF?!?), the film actually has a whole lot of moments that had me laugh, which is a very big surprise. The whole film is one big satire of what a normal families conventions are and just how this very weird family, decides to take all of that and live their own, effed-up way. Since these kids are so sheltered away from the rest of the outside world, they don’t really know what the real terms for certain words are because the parents feel like they want to fuck them up more in the head, then they already are. For example, one of the kids asks what the word “pussy” means and the mother says a bright light, or another example is like when they ask what the word “zombie” means and they tell them its a tiny, yellow flower. Stuff like that made me laugh and caught me off guard especially when one of the girls actually asks for the “telephone” at the dinner table, and she gets a salt shaker instead. Clever, but also could have been a lot funnier if it wasn’t in something that was so damn disturbing.

As the story does progress, and the weirder it gets, you actually start to see this film pick up some more steam and get a lot more tension to it then you actually expected in the first place. You start to feel a lot for this kids, considering they have no idea what the hell is going on outside in the real world and it’s actually pretty sad after awhile. But then things start to change for these kids and they start to get more wiser and realize more things about the world and it just made me root them on more and hate those damn parents of theirs. Then again, those parents were also my biggest problemo with the flick as well.

I can understood some parents wanting to keep their kids away from the horrors of the outer-world, so they cut down on TV time, keep them away from sweets, and watch the type of gang they’re hanging out with. However, I could never understand a family going so far as to keep their own children, locked up in their own place where they can’t do anything but compete with each other, play games that tests each other’s ability to do certain things, read up on fake information, and never know anything about what’s going on out in the world. But then these parents will argue and say that they shouldn’t see the world because of how bad it is, but do they really think they’re making it any better?

Rather than just listening to me ramble on and on about how dumb of an idea this is for a parent to actually use on their own kids, I’ll just get to where my main point of anger was towards. I didn’t like the parents here, mostly the dad, because I felt like they were so stubborn, so controlling, and so unbelievably harsh with all of his rules that it never made any sense as to why he would even do something like this in the first place. The kids barely ever question it so therefore, the point is never brought up but still, some sort of understanding as to how and why somebody would want to do this would be awesome for me to hear. Instead, the film just focuses on these kids and as compelling as that may be, I still wanted the father to get the shit kicked out of him and just when I thought he was going to, the film pulled one out from underneath me and made me wish for me. Maybe it’s a good thing that I hated this guy so much because I was supposed to but either way, I just wanted something more. Sounds vague, I know, but there was just some sort of missing piece here to the whole big puzzle.

I can’t really go very far and talk about these performances, mainly because they are all pretty good and their names may be a little too hard for me to pronounce. They all do great jobs, considering some of the situations they are placed in and since it’s all so serious with this premise, they are all great at deadpan. So great, that it’s actually terrifying at points. Good job Greeks!

Consensus: Dogtooth is one of those flicks that you can’t sit down, watch, and enjoy. Instead it’s one that messes with your mind, disturbs you, and makes you feel anger towards some of these characters, but then again, that’s sort of the point so good job on their behalf. Some will love it and some will definitely be freaked out by it.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Monsters (2010)

You thought illegal aliens were bad, what about actual aliens?!?

Six years ago a NASA space probe crashed to earth with a shipload of alien stowaways on board – in the time since, a massive section of the Mexico-US boarder has been fenced off and is now quarantined as an ‘infected zone’. Photojournalist Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is keen to get pictures of the creatures, but when he’s tasked with getting his boss’s daughter (Whitney Able) back to the US, a one-day trip turns into a surprising journey.

I have to give a lot of credit to director Gareth Edwards, who practically made this film for only $500,000 dollars and does a pretty damn good job with it. Actually, it’s probably a lot better than half of the big, studio flicks that come out every month and have about 20 times the budget and still can’t deliver. Take that Hollywood!

A huge problem with this flick that people may have here is that the title and premise has you thinking that you’re going to get plenty of alien action, filled with space ships, ray guns, universal translators, and all of that other crazy alien shit we see but that isn’t the case we have here. In fact, it’s more of an “Adults Only” sci-fi flick (not in that type of way you pervs) and is a lot more character-driven than you would expect, which was a nice touch here. It was sort of like we were joining these two peeps on the road trip from hell taking place in a future that isn’t as destructive as you would think with a whole bunch of aliens constantly running around, instead, it just looks like a wasteland that is still itching for order and control without Edwards ever shoving it in our face that something catastrophic happened here.

Edwards also did a great job of shooting on location, using actual locals that he would find off the streets for the parts, and add in the CGI later. It gave the film this real authenticity where it seems like everything is actually happening right in front of our eyes, and even though we all know it’s not real and this will probably never ever happen, it still feels like a snapshot of what our world could come to in the near future. I mean the whole film is one big metaphor for illegal immigration, so it sort of does make sense after all. Basically, give this Edwards guy a whole bunch of moolah and let him do whatever the hell he wants to do with it because the guy can deliver a lot more than certain directors out there like Roland Emmerich. However, I did like Anonymous, so I can’t knock on the guy too much.

For some odd reason though, as much as I liked and can give a lot of credit to Edwards for his low-budget film-making, I couldn’t help but feel that it took a lot away from the story as well. The obstacles that Edwards puts in here, weren’t enough to actually leave a mark on me, and yes, I did crave a lot more action than this film delivered with. I know, I know I should be shamed about this but I wanted more alien action and shenanigans because it would have really kept more of my interest when the film started to just really linger on and on with these two peeps walking, talking, and sometimes, running. Definitely don’t go into this expecting an Independence Day-like alien flick or else you’ll be left more pissed off than piss happy.

I also may seem like sort of a dick for talking ish about this other element of the flick, but I just have to go with it. I don’t know what it was here that bothered me but almost every time a CG helicopter came up in the flick, whether it was just roaming around or not, I was taken out of this film more and more. They seemed to pop-up in the sky almost every 15 minutes and looked so incredibly fake, whereas everything else was pretty realistic looking and fit well with the rest of the area. I don’t know what it was about these copters but they just seemed so goofy for this type of a serious story.

Because I bought most of the world that Edwards put us in, I actually bought a lot of the characters and feared for their safety as well. Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able are two people that I have never seen before in my life, but both do pretty good jobs of playing these two accidental tourists, Andrew and Samantha. McNairy is good in this a-hole role where he started to peel away his emotions, layer by layer, whereas Whitney, was also very good playing the vulnerable and scared girl role as well. Both had great chemistry together, which they should have because they’re a freakin’ married couple, and both should added a lot more to their scenes, where it’s just the two of them talking basically, a lot more than I expected. No other notable names, other than these two and that’s pretty much all we need.

Consensus: Though it’s not what every sci-fi movie aficionado would like, Monsters is still an impressive debut flick from Gareth Edwards who gives a very original movie with great chemistry between the leads, a story that you care for, and some impressive, low-budget special effects. Hope to see this guy more often!

6.5/10=Rental!! 

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