Maybe I was wrong when I said in the ’21 Jump Street’ review that high school sucks. Maybe I meant to say “public” high schools suck.
The film stars Adrien Brody as a disillusioned substitute teacher named Henry Barthes, who seems to have just as many problems as his apathetic students. When he inadvertently becomes a role model for the student body, he finds that he is not the only lost soul struggling to find meaning in this world.
It’s been a long, long time since director Tony Kaye has graced us with his presence and every time I watch ‘American History X’, which is a lot I may add, I can’t stop thinking to myself, “where the hell has this guy gone?”. Now, I know the answer and it’s simple: making great movies that are set in high school.
Former teacher, Carl Lund, wrote this story and from what I see here, this guy had a lot of hard shit to go through. I mean I don’t know what Lund had to go through as a teacher but from what I see here is that being a teacher is hard. Lund brings up a lot of questions about the public high school system but he never points any fingers or condemns anyone, he just shows that being a teacher is hard mainly because you try, you try, and you try to help out a student and in the end, they either don’t care enough or don’t care at all. This wouldn’t be so bad but the fact that these kids don’t care, eventually gets sprung out onto the teachers and then you basically have 40-45 minutes worth of class-time where neither anybody cares about anything and all your time in this world is wasted.
Since I go to a Catholic high school, I’m not too sure of what it means to have such problems like this but I can easily say that a lot of the public schools around me have started to fall apart just because of school districts that just want high grades from these students with no return and teachers continue to demand more and more money. Hell, actually, that’s happened at my school earlier in the year so it’s not just the public schools either, it’s all schools. This script is a pretty big wake-up call because it not only shows the struggles that teachers go through on a daily basis, but also the struggles schools have in general and just how bad everything really can get behind closed doors. It’s a pretty good look at high school, and it’s also a look that I haven’t seen before considering these types of films usually end with all of the slacker kids getting A+’s on their final exams.
Lund definitely found the right director for this material with Tony Kaye because he brings so much energy to this otherwise simple story. Kaye is a veteran of music videos and commercials and a lot of that skills show through is way of bringing so much flair and style to this material that at times, it may get a little over-bearing, but at other times you also have to realize that he’s making this film more tense and provocative. The film has a narrative that jumps around to all of Henry’s sub-plots (and trust me, there are plenty) and the way Kaye is able to show this sometimes through a documentary feel or either through having Brody speak to the camera indirectly by letting all of his frustration out. It definitely creates a lot of tension with this flick and it shows how well Kaye is able at stirring the pot but is also great at taking us out of that as well with a couple of amusing animated shots of what’s going through a lot of these teachers’ heads. They are all pretty funny to watch but they are also brutally honest in the way they show just how it must really feel to put up with all of the shit that they do sometimes. Still though, I’m not always behind teacher’s backs. Trust me on that.
The problem with this flick is that it won’t be for everybody considering there is so much sadness going on and around this flick that it almost is contagious. I didn’t really go into this flick expecting a light and happy-filled flick about how a teacher brings the spirits back to his students, but it can get a little too dark for me and even when the comedy does come around every once and a blue moon, it’s a totally huge surprise.
Another problem I had with this flick was that I think they somewhat over-do the whole “problems between teachers and students” thing a little too much. There are some moments that are genuine as hell and feel like they were taken right out of the classroom, but then there are other moments where somebody starts crying or acting outlandish a way that would probably get out a lot of emotion from the audience, but they sometimes don’t feel that genuine. There’s one scene in particular where Lucy Liu is this school counselor that is so fed up with her job that she just starts balling her eyes out while hooting and hollering at this one student and it seemed totally dumb, unbelievable, melodramatic, and pretty much poorly-acted from Liu herself. There aren’t many moments like this in the flick but when they did happen, I couldn’t help but think that they were a little too over-dramatic.
In recent time, Adrien Brody has taken apart of some questionable material ever since he won his Oscar in 2002 but this is probably his best performance ever since that win. Brody gives a likable performance that makes it easy for us to stand behind him as his life starts to unfold and he’s able to express so many emotions from happiness, to anger, to sadness, and he does it all by the use of his eyes which makes it all believable and real. It’s a great performance from Brody and one that reminded me just why he did win that Oscar in the first place.
As for the rest of the ensemble, they are all pretty good with the limited amounts of time each one is given. James Caan is amusing as the pill-popping teacher who finds a dark way of enjoying his days in school; Marcia Gay Harden feels real as the watered-down principal that is expecting to be fired soon; but the two kids out of this cast are probably the best with Sami Gayle and Betty Kaye both giving compassionate and realistic performances and every time each one of them is on-screen with Brody, the film always seem to light up.
Consensus: Detachment may have some over-dramatic moments, but with Kaye’s inspired direction, great acting by its huge ensemble (especially Brody in the lead), and a real examination at the public high school system, makes it a powerful and dramatic flick that will and definitely should serve as a wake-up call to teachers and students alike.
Cheating, breaking up, making up: that’s the way love is sometimes. Or at least when you’re going through a mid-life crisis that is.
Thirtysomething couple Michael (Zach Braff) and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) grapple with parenthood and other life-changing events. Instead of pushing him toward the altar, Jenna’s impending pregnancy has only made Michael feel more trapped. So when he meets flirtatious college student Kim (Rachel Bilson), he’s tempted to stray.
After the total success of the great film, ‘Garden State’, many people were trying to use Zach Braff in any way they could because thirty-somethings from all-over-the-world were in love with him. It’s not a real shame that this is what they ended up with, but they could have gotten something better.
The script written by Paul Haggis (‘Crash’) creates an honest look at modern relationships with all of the fun, love, and even heart-break that can sometimes occur during a relationship. I felt like a lot of what they were talking about here and how everything played out seemed very honest and realistic. Most of this is coming from a guy’s perspective as well but I still had to say that whenever a script comes around, that shows the way love really is, how it feels, and what it should be like, then it’s enough for me to appreciate it. This is why it’s such a real disappointment when things start to get a little hoaky by the end.
I can’t give too much away but somebody utters the words, “never give up” to Michael and this guy literally takes that piece of advice and uses it, which to some may seem sweet and totally romantic but to others like me (basically heartless assholes), this may seem a little cheesy and sort of against the whole film and what it was trying to at least go for. The ending is also stretched longer than it should have been and instead it took forever to get to the last shot, and even that was a disappointment by how it just ends. But then again, I don’t want to say what happened.
The film does have this very fun approach at the beginning, with all of these different characters doing their own thang, having fun, making jokes, and making sexy-time as well. This was good but it soon then begins to narrow down slowly but surely to just being about Michael and his little dilemma that he pops up into, while the other ones just totally disappear and have no real end, they are just gone from the picture completely. This was a bummer because there were plenty of other stories that had promise and they could have tried using to wrap-up real nicely at the end of the film but I never understood why they didn’t do that, instead of just ending with one story basically.
A lot of it seemed trimmed down to where director Tony Goldwyn can’t really do much other than just throw in a real cheesy montage and end the film, rather than actually have it actually impact anybody who’s watching. Although there are parts that certainly stand-out more than others, I was kind of bummed to see such a real talented and great cast sort of go to waste with a story-line that seems to bring the film down a bit by the end.
As messy as this film may sound, or at least how I make it sound, the cast is what really keeps this film moving and getting better and better by the second. Zach Braff uses his usual lazy charm that always seems to get a win for anybody who’s watching, even though he’s essentially playing the same dude in every film. Jacinda Barrett gets a real good role as his pregnant girly-friend, Jenna, and shows exactly why she is so amazing to have as someone who loves you and why Michael is such a dick for questioning in the first place. Rachel Bilson plays Kim, and I think the film was trying to make her the same kind of quirky character Natalie Portman was in ‘Garden State‘, which isn’t a bad thing because her performance is good but I could see where they were going with this character. Surprised that she can actually act though.
The ones here that I actually thought held their own the most was Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson as Jenna’s parents because their whole little love-life starts to fall-apart too, and this is what brings out the most in them. Danner is great as this very messed-up and very sad lady, who just can’t seem to get over the fact that she doesn’t get any lovings from her hubby. Tom Wilkinson is amazing with every scene he gets especially in the end, where he impacts not only the characters in the film but also the whole story as well.
Consensus: The Last Kiss has some great touches of honesty about love, life, and hitting a time in your life where you just don’t know what you want, but that all soon starts to fall down as the film gets a little hokey by the end and loses sight of all of its characters and rather just focuses on one.
Makes my first awkward meeting with my ladies parents seem like a walk in the park.
Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is ready to marry his girlfriend, Pam (Teri Polo), but before he pops the question, he must win over her formidable father, humorless former CIA agent Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), at the wedding of Pam’s sister. As Greg bends over backward to make a good impression, his visit to the Byrnes home turns into a hilarious series of disasters, and everything that can go wrong does, all under Jack’s critical, hawklike gaze.
The “Meet the…” film series has been going on for about the whole decade with three movies, and probably more coming up. So it’s just really cool to see where it all started off at.
This honestly is a very funny film that uses a lot of these awkward, outrageous, but always hilarious situations where you can’t believe this is actually happening. There are a lot of bad gags, toilet humor, and sometimes painful awkward comedy that will have almost all who watch laughing, and it really works out.
My only gripe with this film is that a lot of the jokes do seem a little too obvious. Something will pop up, and have a bit of significance to the plot, and will pop up later as a joke. I could see all the jokes coming up right before they did them but how they execute them is what had me really laughing in the end.
I think the real extra kick this film get’s is from the cast. Robert De Niro is perfect as Jack Byrnes who is so hard-nosed, and menacing about everything with this poor guy Greg, that you can’t help but laugh at everything he’s doing, or saying for that matter. By just sitting there, De Niro brings out huge laughs and I must say, I’m glad he’s not my girl’s daddy. Ben Stiller is the perfect guy to play Greg. He’s cute enough to be attractive and intelligent enough to be real but has a wonderful airhead quality where you can actually see the smoke rising from his ears when he tries to think. His timing is spot on and his physical stuff is full of energy, which brought me back to his days in There’s Something About Mary. Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, and the always reliable Owen Wilson provide laughs as well here, and add a lot of heart to the whole film.
Consensus: The jokes may be obvious and predictable, but De Niro and Stiller give Meet the Parents the extra kick of comedy that it deserves with hilarious gags, and believable situations that will have anybody laughing.
I hope that if aliens do exist, that there more like this dude.
Nick Frost and Simon Pegg star as two science-fiction freaks who, while on a quest to discover what lies at the heart of Nevada’s infamous Area 51, cross paths with an alien (voice of Seth Rogen) on the run from earthly authorities.
Looking at a cast like this, a premise like this, and a director like this, you would be expecting the funniest thing in years. However, it’s just pretty funny.
The screenplay that was written by Frost and Pegg has some good moments of humor that aren’t what I was expecting from these two, but that isn’t such a bad thing. The comedy is more broad for an American comedy, rather than the smart wit and cleverness of some of the British comedies that these two have been a part of.
My problem with this film was that it wasn’t funny enough, and I think the main reason why that is, is because of the non-stop sci-fi references. Maybe for me, since I’m not a huge science fiction dude, I didn’t get a lot of the references that they were using here, but at the same time they put way too many jokes to a certain crowd and almost abandon everybody else who isn’t familiar with these references. They seem to also be satirizing geek culture with this film, and although it can be cute at some times, it just doesn’t seem all that fun if you don’t get what their saying. Also, the film isn’t as daring with it’s jokes like I was expecting, because there are times where this does get a little bit predictable, and I just wish I had more times where I laughed my ass off, instead of a chuckle here and there.
Director Greg Mottola is a good director for this work because he does a great job of blending comedy, action, and a tad bit of sweetness to the story that actually works and doesn’t come off as fake at all. This isn’t like Superbad where all three worked so well, but for the most part he does a good job of keeping us watching and being entertained.
Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as you could already tell, do well together. They have that great buddy chemistry going on well and has us believe them as these two sci-fi geeks. What really stands out in Paul is, well, Paul. Seth Rogen is fantastic here as Paul, because he’s not really doing anything different, he’s just playing Seth Rogen, and Seth Rogen always has me laughing. I didn’t look at Paul and see a piece of CGI like I often do, but as a real character. From a technology standpoint, the mo-cap is obviously not as groundbreaking or impressive as Avatar, but Rogen made the character convincing without any of that fancy expensive shit.
There are also others in this impressive cast that do amazing especially Kristen Wiig, who plays Ruth, the little Christian. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to see a hardcore Christian have their faith destroyed and Wiig makes it all the more funny. Jason Bateman is alright as Agent Zoil, even though he’s not really doing anything funny. Sigourney Weaver is bad-ass as The Big Guy, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio work perfectly as the two cops that can never do anything right, and Blythe Danner does a good job as well.
Consensus: People may not understand many of the many science fiction references that inhabit this film, but they still will get a chuckle out of this sweet, and funny screenplay, with a great cast. However, you do feel that it could have been better given the talent involved.