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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Zac Efron

Neighbors (2014)

Don’t join frats! Join a sorority! Who cares if you’re a dude!

Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are a happily-married couple with a newborn baby, a simple life, simple jobs, and a quiet, carefree neighborhood around them. That all changes once a frat moves in next door, and if you know anything about a fraternity, they can be loud, obnoxious, constantly partying, and filled with all sorts of dirty, disgusting debauchery. Not a perfect environment for anybody to grow up around, let alone a family with a baby constantly around, which is why the two decide to make sure things are all hip and cool with the leader of the fraternity, Teddy (Zac Efron). At first, they think he gets the picture – don’t be too loud, and just be respectful of each other’s properties. But, one day, when Mac and Kelly decide that enough is enough and call the cops on Teddy and the rest of the frat, then Teddy not only feels betrayed, but ready for what turns out to be a rivalry of sorts between the two. A rivalry which, mind you, spews-out from just the comforts of each other’s homes, but even to their work-places and such.

Seems simple, right? Frat vs. family? Well, it is. Except for the fact that it’s so much damn fun to watch.

Sure, it’s a blast to watch and be able to laugh almost non-stop throughout a whole movie such as this, but what’s so neat about Neighbors is how it’s more about the actual plot itself, and all of the joy it can have with just milking it for all its got. For example, the whole idea of this plot that is moving it forward, is the fact that these two groups of people are messing with one another, with harmless, as well as harmful pranks and whatnot.

Ugh. Like LAME.

Ugh. Like LAME.

Usually, in most comedies, that’s an idea that would be thrown away as soon as it got started, in hopes that they could just focus on dick jokes and being raunchy, but not with Neighbors. The raunchy, penis jokes are still around and heard, but they’re not done in a way that it’s the only thing you get. Somehow, you get the whole package: You get the fun and the thrill of the plot; the hilarity of the script; the charm of the performances; and the heart of it all. A heart which, mind you, is actually tucked in underneath all of this debauchery, havoc and craziness, in hopes that it won’t bring down the mood too much.

Which, believe it or not, doesn’t actually happen. In fact, dare I say it, this comedy is actually a whole lot better with the heart and the message it brings across, which is that college life is great and all, but it doesn’t last forever. Eventually, you’ve got to grow-up, figure out what you’re going to do with your life, how you want to live it, why, with whom, and whether or not you want to keep on going after the things you want, or if you’re just going to sleepwalk through the rest of your life. Neighbors, on the outside, may look like the type of comedy that’s totally glamorizing the frat/college lifestyle that’s full of drinking, partying, sexxing, and hanging around, like a bum, but what it really is, is a “dramedy” about how you’ve got to move on from all that and become, well, an adult.

“Eww, boring!”, is the response I bet most of you would be giving me after hearing something like that is found in here, but it’s what makes the movie works and somewhat thoughtful. Cause yeah, being known as “the wildest guy at the party” (or, my favorite, “the guy who slept in the same bed with that donkey”) is great and all, and heck, may even do some wonders for your self-esteem for at least a week or two, but eventually, all of that goes away and you have to continue life without all of the non-stop partying and wild antics. You can still have a good time every now and then, and maybe even take a couple of shots, but you do have to wake up, smell the cauliflower, and realize that it’s time to kick that donkey out of your queen-sized and grow the hell up!

But that’s about where all of my preaching ends. Because, to be honest, I’m even starting to get myself down in the dumps and make me re-think every choice I’ve ever made in my life leading up to this moment in time now.

So, yeah, ANYWAY!

I don’t know if I’ve stated this before, but this movie is funny. I mean like, really funny. It’s a quintessential Apatow-production in which we get plenty of weed jokes, gangsta-rap references, and plenty of sex, or at least, in this movie’s case, sex-talk. However, it’s never boring and is actually really short by getting everything it needs done, within a time-limit of only a little over an-hour-and-a-half. And for people who aren’t big fans of Apatow and the type of comedies he has a hand or two in, all because his time-limits exceed way beyond their limits, this may come as a major surprise. But, I kid you not, the hour-and-the-half breezes by so quick, you’ll wonder where all of the time went and just how much, or how hard, you actually laughed.

For me, it was an awful lot. Then again though, these types of comedies are my forte and it’s what I’ve come to expect by now.

Most importantly though, I’ve come to expect that Seth Rogen, no matter what he’s in, will always be Seth Rogen in some way, shape, form, or idea. Still though, that doesn’t bother me because he’s clearly comfortable in his own skin and always the most likable guy in any room he enters. Here, his performance is only slightly different in the idea that he’s a father and husband now and has a bit more responsibilities on his plate, but that’s sort of funny to watch and played up for a whole bunch of jokes that make a lot of sense, given that Seth Rogen doesn’t really seem like the “father-figure” type.

Rose Byrne plays Rogen’s wife, and is an absolute revelation. I’ve been a bit mean and harsh on Byrne in the past, but that’s only because the roles she has in the drama’s she does, all make her seem dull and uninteresting. However, whenever she does a comedy, she always seems to be the one having the most fun and joy with the material she’s given. Such is the case here with her character, Kelly Radner, the type of fun-loving, hip, and cool, but responsible mommy that we don’t usually see in movies like this, played with such likability or charm. In any other movie, she’d be thrown off to the side for not being any fun whatsoever and just acting as a total party-pooper. But, there Byrne is, not only giving Rogen a run for his money, but everybody else as well, showing everyone that it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman in a rated-R comedy, you can be just about as funny, if not moreso than any guy with a penis.

Best thing De Niro's done in a long while.

Best thing De Niro’s done in a long while.

But, as amazing as Byrne is, the one who steals the show is Zac Efron, showing us that he’s finally reached that peak in his career where it may just be his time to truly shine and get away from his High School Musical past. And I guess his role as the leader of the fraternity, Teddy, is sort of a riff on that general idea people have about Efron’s image – the same image he’s been trying to tarnish for so damn long. While I think he’s gotten past that more than a few times, there’s still duds like That Awkward Moment or The Lucky One, that makes it seem like he’s a hot guy, who knows he’s a hot guy, and therefore, tries to be cool and funny about it. However, he isn’t cool or funny, it just seems like he’s bragging, with a hint of self-awareness. Which, somehow, still isn’t enough to justify his gorgeous-looks, his rockin’ bod, and his knack for choosing what so often seems to be sort of the same role, time and time again.

Anyway, I realize that this is getting me off-track, so what I am trying to say is that Efron is great here because not only is he a little self-aware about his sent-from-heaven physical features, but he’s also using his comedic-timing to perfection. He’s cool, charming, likable, a dick when he wants to be, and a bit of a loser when you start to get to thinking of who he really is and why this frat matters as much to him as it does. He’s actually a character, fully fleshed-out and all, and isn’t just a walking, talking stereotype of one of those jerky, muscle-bound, needs-to-be-loved-by-their-mommies-and-daddies frat dudes; he’s living, breathing, and doing all sorts of other crazy stuff, yet, feels real, as hard as that may be to believe. Dave Franco is great here too as Teddy’s second-in-command/best-friend at the frat, but it’s Zac Efron who really struts his stuff, and then some.

Please let this be the chance Efron gets his time as a superstar. Please!

Consensus: Dirty, grotesque and full of all sorts of debauchery and teenage-humor, Neighbors may seem like a totally brain-dead comedy, but effectively finds ways to be something more, with messages about growing up, moving on, and realizing that as rad as a certain party may be, it’s not always going to last.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Not my house. Ever.

Not my house. Not ever. God. I need to be in a frat.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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That Awkward Moment (2014)

Moments are only awkward, if you make them be. There. I said it.

Three, twenty-something friends since college, decide that they’re going to keep on doing what they’ve been doing for awhile: Stay single, get ladies and party hard, with no commitments at all. Both Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) have been keeping up with this life-style for quite some time, but due to his recent split from his wife, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) joins in on the fun and learns a thing or two about being back in the game. And while everything starts off fine with these guys getting laid every which way from Saturday, eventually, feelings do come into the mix of things and surprise these guys more than they ever wanted to be surprised. For Jason, he starts up a relationship after a one-night-stand with Ellie (Imogen Poots); Daniel begins an intimate-relationship with one of his long-time girlfriends and “wing woman”, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis); and as for poor Mikey, the guy gets back together with his wife, although it’s not fully clear whether or not they’re actually, full-on “back together”, or just “having fun”. For all three of these guys, though they definitely want to stay in the single game for a long time, they end up realizing that maybe it’s time to start settling-down, especially if you’ve already found that special someone to do it with.

We get it, Zac! You're sexy as hell!

We get it, Zac! You’re sexy as hell!

Though I am probably wrong, you don’t usually see a movie being totally and centrally targeted towards “the bros” out there. Sure, you see Apatow flicks where guys are always talking amongst themselves about dicks, farts, weed, boobs, pop-culture and all sorts of other things we associate with Apatow movies, but so rarely do we get movies where young, single and free-wheeling guys, are just being themselves. Reminds me of the good old days with movies like Swingers and…..well yeah, Swingers.

Like I said though, maybe it has been, or maybe it hasn’t been a long time since the last time we just had a movie that solely focused on a group of dudes, the booze they consume, the parties they venture out to and the ladies then end-up snagging by the end of the night, all while still maintaining their “bro code”. It reminds me of the times me and my buddies hang-out, where all we do is talk about whatever comes to our minds first, mainly girls; the same type of girls none of us will ever get. But hey, that’s why you have your guy friends around, right?

Anyway, my point is, since movies like this don’t come around so often (or maybe they do and I just don’t know), they have to work and seem somewhat believable, so it isn’t just a bunch of d-bags spouting-out their ways of picking up insanely-hot woman, and how they are practically rubbing it in your face for not being like them, and getting these insanely-hot women. But sadly, it can be just that. While I do think that these performances were charming enough to win these characters over with me, I could only handle it so many times when I saw a guy like Zac Efron pick up a lady, or two ladies, a night, and say how he craves and wants more. But then, all of a sudden, wants a relationship, and still can’t help but call-up the last-second “booty-call”. It’s fine and all because Zac Efron is a good-looking guy, with a jacked-up body who can easily get any woman in the world that he wanted, but I just don’t want to see a movie about that.

And NO, it has nothing to do with jealousy. There’s just a fine line to where it becomes watching an actor play a role of a guy who is a bit like him, to playing a role of a guy that is him. Got a bit annoying after awhile, and although I did like Efron here and felt like he handled himself well with the script’s calling for humor, too much of his male, macho-posturing could only go on for so long with me until I had to spend the next 12 hours at the gym, trying to rip my body-up just as good as his.

Needless to say, it didn’t work. Damn you, Zac.

As for Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, they fair a lot better by just being charming, without really trying to show-off. Both of their characters are thrown into odd positions where they get put into these relationships, but don’t actually want to brag about it or even tell anybody; so, they keep to themselves and seem like modest, young gentleman for doing so. Made them seem a lot cooler, nicer and maybe with a bit more set of morals than Efron’s character had, although he’s the one we’re supposed to cheering for to get the girl in the end. Personally, I was cheering on Jordan’s character, and it wasn’t because I like him in general, but because he was tapping somebody’s ass he’s very comfortable with and enjoying it: His own wife’s! Good for him, man!

How is "banging in the shower" considered "an awkward moment"? It's the way of life! Just ask the guys at the Golf Club!

How is “banging in the shower” considered “an awkward moment”? It’s the way of life! Just ask my high school football team-mates.

But it’s not like this whole movie is a total dude’s fest from beginning to end, because the lucky ladies that do get thrown into the mix, actually hold their own. Imogen Poots is good here as the sassy, but adorable love-interest of Efron’s character and while her accent can be god-awful at times, she still does a nice job at giving us a reason why we should believe that she’d fall for this guy’s charms, let alone actually stay with him, once she began to find out how much of a dick he could be. Same goes for Mackenzie Davis as Teller’s girlfriend who doesn’t have a really strong back-story going on between her and Teller’s character, but still has a cool-enough presence to where you don’t mind her being around and trying to be funny. Also, you have to commend an R-rated, rom-com that doesn’t show any nudity from the ladies, and in fact, only comes close to showing man-ass, or man-dong. That’s it, and I actually thought that was a smart decision. Showed that we didn’t need to rip these ladies’ clothes off to make them attractive; they just were.

Aside from all that nonsense, the movie itself is funny, but only due to the fact that the cast is so charming. When everybody’s clearly having fun being around one another, it’s a good time. Though the movie itself clearly likes to think it’s “more than just your traditional, average rom-com”, I can’t help but say that, “it isn’t”. There are some bits and pieces of insight, but none really go so far as “Man, relationships with girls are serious, man”, or, “Settling down is hard, man”; and even most of the plot-conflicts end up being resolved quite easily and obviously. Nothing ever really feels at-stake here and while you like these characters and their relationships with one another, if one was to cut all ties with the other, nothing would really make me sad, wishing for the day they re-connected. I would just hope that they found better people to be around, or possibly a new love in their life. Either way, I’d just hope they were happy. That’s strange, right? I don’t know. Don’t listen to me when I ramble.

Consensus: At times, That Awkward Moment can be entertaining, funny and charming, all due to the wonderful, young cast on-display, but that’s pretty much all there is to this plain material. Oh, but it does feature the best cameo of 2014, so far! Trust me, stay for the end credits. You’ll thank me when you see it.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

It's as if Hollywood graduated all of its hot, young, attractive and promising males-under-30 and let them act as if they were over-30. Cappuccinos, scarves and all!

It’s as if Hollywood graduated all of its hot, young, attractive and promising males-under-30 and let them act as if they were over-30. Cappuccinos, scarves and all!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Parkland (2013)

We got Bobby, but now, here’s Johnny! Sort of.

When JFK was assassinated in Texas, the whole nation was left in a widespread panic of not knowing what to do next, how to pick themselves up from such tragedy and what would be the best way to move on. But before any picking up and moving on could be done, there had to be some simple procedures done, like finding out who killed JFK, who that killer’s family was, who the person filming the incidence was, how they can keep it away from the media, an so on and so forth. Basically, this is a look inside the various lives that were affected after JFK’s murder, and how most of them coped with the disaster in many different ways, sometimes some were more positive than others. But the ones who were negative, they really were hit hard, as you’ll soon see.

The JFK assassination is something that no matter what type of person you are, history buff or not, will always interest you. All controversies about whom did it, why and whom with, there are still some very interesting facts about it that many of us have yet to even know about, while some are still being unearthed. It’s strange to think that even 50 years after the fact that we’re still getting bits and pieces of info about what really happened, who was behind it and possibly just if it was all a ruse or not, is really surprising. However, one must remember that it’s the U.S. government we’re dealing with here, folks. They can’t always be trusted.

About to have themselves a bloody good time. What? Too soon?

About to have themselves a bloody good time…….. What? Too soon?

Anyway, those said interesting little facts about this well-known assassination is probably what does this flick some good in the first place. For starters, it gives us a glimpse inside the lives of a bunch of people we’d never expect to see get a movie made about and it actually allows them to have their story shown. Some get better than treatment than others, but overall, everybody here has a story to tell, and they are all somewhat worth watching and paying attention to, even if the direction doesn’t quite follow suit with that the whole way through.

Some have been having problems with this movie because it’s considered “overstuffed” and “jammed”, and I can’t say I disagree. With a movie that runs just about under an-hour-and-a-half, showing all of these stories, with all of these different, familiar-faces, definitely does come across as “too much to take in”, especially when you pretty much know that the material would benefit a lot more from something like a miniseries or hell, even a longer movie. The stories that are interesting get the most attention here, but the others that don’t, still feel like they have something that we would want to see or take notice of, yet, they aren’t really given much time of the day.

For instance, there’s this one story the movie focuses on that features Ron Livingston playing an FBI agent that knows all about what’s happening with the president, who killed him and where they can nab him, but we never actually see him go out onto the field, actually gathering info, clues, hints, or anything else that would probably help him get a clearer view of the case. This subplot also leaves more questions than actual answers as it becomes clearly evident that the movie, in some way, shape or form, is suggesting that Oswald didn’t act alone and had to have some outside-help in order to kill the president. Personally, I agree with this sentiment, but I feel like when you have a movie that’s dedicating its legacy to an event, as well as to a public, iconic figure no less, that it may not be right to choose sides. Then again, I’m always down for when things get shaken around a bit, so who the hell am I to even talk, you know?

Other than Livingston’s character’s story, there are plenty of other ones to that get the light of day, most are a lot more interesting than the one I just mentioned, and some far more deserving of their own movie or hell, one-hour running-time. The one story I’m mainly talking about is the one in which James Badge Dale plays Oswald’s brother that somehow gets wrapped up into all of this, all because he shares the same last name as the man who killed the president. The movie paints a nice picture of this conflicted man who knows what his brother did was wrong, and yet, still can’t bring himself away from totally abandoning him and leaving him out to dry. Because honestly, let’s face it: Family is family, no matter what.

Dale is not only great in this role, as he is in all of the 50 movies he’s shown up in in the past two years, and really gives you the sense that this is a good-natured citizen who knows what’s right, and what’s wrong, and yet, still can’t help but get thrown under the bus all because of who his brother is and the dirty act he committed. While Dale’s performance is very nuanced and subtle for this type of material, Jacki Weaver, playing Oswald’s crazed attention-whore-of-a-mother, is a little more nutty and over-the-top, but is still worth watching because if you watch any of the interviews with the real-life figure, you’ll see that she more than just hits the nail on the head. She absolutely bangs it in with utter force.

The rest of this studded-ensemble is a bit of a mix-bag, which is less of their fault, and more of the film’s because it doesn’t quite utilize their skills as well as it should have, which is a damn shame, considering the type of true talent we have on-deck here. Colin Hanks, Zac Efron and Marcia Gay Harden all play the nurses and doctors that examine both JFK one day, and Oswald the other, which gives us a nice contrast between the two, even though the characters themselves are never fully sketched-out to be more than scared fellas and gals. They all try, but their characters are thin. Billy Bob Thornton gets a chance to show up on screen and do his bit for a short while as the FBI agent assigned to figuring out what happened here and how they can fix it all up in a neat and tidy bow. Nice to see Thornton do something where he isn’t either a total and complete a-hole, or for that matter, a total and complete dirtball that has no sense of normal hygiene or normalcy.

"Make way! We got a guy trying to pretend he's dead!!"

“Make way! We got a guy trying to pretend he’s dead!!”

The one who I was most surprised by, not because he was bad or anything, but by how uninteresting his story actually was, was Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder who, if you don’t know by now, was the poor individual who had the displeasure (or pleasure, in some crazy mofo’s minds) of not only filming the assassination, but to be the one the media and FBI came to first, throwing away any price he would deem desirable. Giamatti is great in this role, as usual, giving us a distraught, scared old man that doesn’t quite know what to do with himself for the time being, but definitely doesn’t want to wake up and smell all of the real harsh realities that the world brings. While I felt these sad, emotional connections coming from Giamatti’s performance, I never quite felt that for his story, which actually felt like it could have been given its own movie, and maybe even be up for some Oscars along the way as well. However, we may never get to see that happen. And if we do, it won’t be with Giamatti. Poor guy. He so deserves better.

And don’t even get me started on Jackie Earle Haley as the priest who gives his final blessing to JFK’s corpse. It’s one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roles, and is by far one of the strangest aspects of this whole cast. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say the movie as well.

Consensus: The approach Parkland brings to its infamous event, surely is one of the far more interesting aspects going for it, but can’t help but feel disappointing once you realize how under-cooked, short and jammed-up it is, and even worse, it didn’t need to be either.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

How he didn't recieve an Oscar for Best Documentary short that year is totally beyond me......What?!?! Once again, too soon!??!

How he didn’t receive an Oscar for Best Documentary short that year is totally beyond me……What?!?! Once again, too soon!??!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

At Any Price (2013)

AnyPriceI guess when a male teen is going through angst in Iowa; he doesn’t drink, do drugs, or run away. He races. Pretty cool, I guess.

Henry and Dean Whipple (Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron) are a father-son duo that are trying to get along, while they are also trying to buy as much farm-land as possible. Henry is all about his job, making money, being with his wife (Kim Dickens), and also being able to lay-around with his gal on the side (Heather Graham). As for Dean: he’s all about racing, causing havoc, being with his gal-pal (Maika Monroe), and having the dream that he will one day become the next big, NASCAR racer. The two don’t get along and can’t really see eye-to-eye on what their lives have turned out to be, but once Henry runs into the possibility of losing the one thing he loves the most (his farm-land), the two come together in surprising ways. Sort of.

The movie’s title, At Any Price, may seem like the dullest in the world. It’s almost as if the creators had a finished-product, but didn’t know how to sell it to the big crowds, so they just decided something that seemed inspirational would work and get people interested. Not for me, which is why I was not expecting anything at all worth while from this flick and for the first hour or so: that’s exactly what I got. Then, something happens in the middle of it all, that not only changes your view on the movie as a whole, but also has the title make more sense than ever. Can’t say what it is, but it will hit you like a ton of bricks, as it did to me. Trust me.

Maybe I’m out-of-the-loop or something, but I’ve never seen director Ramin Bahrani at work. I hear great things about his movies, but just have never given any of them a chance for the sole reason that none of them have ever seemed to really interest me. However, that’s just me and as I can see from his past movies ratings on Rotten Tomatoes: the dude’s got a lovely-following. But as the movie began and the ground-work for the story was being laid; I had no idea why.

It’s not that the dude’s a dull director, actually: it’s the opposite. Bahrani finds a way to paint a portrait of this small town in Iowa that feels and looks as if it should be the little slice of Americanism that you can only get with these types of places, and that’s exactly what it seems like after awhile. He finds beauty in the most simple things, such as a father tending to the rows and rows of corn, or a mother fetching potatoes out from underneath the soil. It’s all there and it all makes you feel at home, but there’s more stuff going on here than meets the eye, and that’s the whole problem right there.

My man, D-Quaid, catching them rays.

My man D-Quaid, catching them rays.

Bahrani takes the over-stuffing of useless characters and subplots, as a way of portraying conflicts among the central characters. Instead of having the character of Henry Whipple just be a guy that’s struggling maintaining a loving-relationship with his son; he’s got to be banging some chick on the side, or his one son (the favorite) didn’t come home when he was supposed to and is out, climbing up the mountains in Argentina, causing even more anger and pain for the man on the inside. But Henry isn’t the only one: Dean goes through the same motions too. Not only does Dean seem to be having daddy-issues; but he also is having problems with his racing-career, being a loyal boyfriend, and is leading a life of crime and hate.

Sounds like too much already for a hour and 45 minute movie? Well, that’s because it is.

If Bahrani left these two central-characters alone, have them face one dilemma each, and leave that be it; then everything would have been fine, dandy, and easier to take in. However, that’s not what Bahrani does and instead, adds more and more context to this story that doesn’t feel needed. Yes, some of it does round-out these characters to make them feel and seem more humane in the way they go about their days together and separated, but it also feels like unneeded melodrama  that we could easily deal with if we came home from school and turned on the Lifetime channel. Also, not to mention the fact that the movie goes down some crazy-routes that not only will make you scoff, but just might have you wonder what the hell it is that you’re watching.

But it should be noted, once again, that the one crazy-route that they decide to go down is something I was not expecting in the least-bit, did not know what to make of it at first, and after awhile of thinking and contemplating what it meant to the whole story in a nutshell, I came to the conclusion that it made sense and made the movie a whole lot better as a whole. I’m so damn tempted to go down that dick-headed road and say what it is, but I just can’t. What this final-twist in the story brings to the front, is not just character’s relationships and what each one means to the other, but how they are in everything and anything together.

After all of the strange shit that Bahrani throws at us, he ends on a pretty heartwarming note that touches any person who’s ever been there for a family-member. Whether you noticed that your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, dog, cat, etc. is going through obvious problems or not; you’ve always been there for them when they needed a helping-hand the most. That’s the idea that this movie touches on and despite taking some odd side-streets to get to it’s destination; it still works. Not in the longest-time has there been a flick that I’ve seen, but relatively bored and unsurprised by it, and kick me in the ass, slap me in the face, and open my eyes out of nowhere and change my final-thoughts on the whole-product; what it meant and what message the director was trying to get across. Seriously, once the final-twist comes up: you are going to either run with it and continue to think about it, or throw it in the garbage, and forget about the rubbish you just witnessed. It’s your call. Mine was the former.

Probably the best and most memorable aspect of this whole movie, without a doubt is the fact that after all of these years of showing up in random, bloated CGI-fests like this one, or that one: Dennis Quaid finally gets a role that’s worth his time and effort. Quaid has been one of these actors (refuse to call him a “character actor”), that shows up for work, does what he has to do, and goes on with his day. Nothing more, nothing less. He barely leaves an impression on the viewer, but lets us know that he’s there, if it’s only soeley to collect a paycheck.

All of that better change now, especially after a performance like this as Henry Whipple.

What’s so great about Quaid here is that the dude never seems like he’s phoning it in. Henry Whipple, on-paper, doesn’t seem like a very-complicated character as he’s just a dude trying his hardest to make his son, his wife, and his wallet happy, and leaving it like that. However, Quaid finds a way to make this guy as complicated as ever, which was a total sight to see because with every new scene you get with Quaid on-screen, is another new scene where you find out more about Henry, and his character. You always feel for this guy whenever he’s doing something; whether it be trying to win the heart of his son back again by showing up to his racing matches, or trying to buy-off somebody’s land during a funeral. No matter what the situation may be that the dude finds himself in, you always feel for the dude and has you on-board with his character throughout the whole movie, even when he is fucking up. And trust me: he does. Quaid is amazing and I hope this gets him more and more quality roles in the future, as the dude deserves it. Screw, Meg Ryan! Team Quaid!

"We hate each other. Hurray!"

“We hate each other. Hurray!”

That’s not to say the others in this cast aren’t worth talking about, because they all do fine with their lettuce and carrots. It’s just that Quaid is the one with the real meat. Zac Efron is fine as Dean, the troubled-son who doesn’t want to take over the daddy’s business and wants to be a rebel by racing. Efron is fine in the role as he shows off his guns, his good-looks, and his attitude, but the character is thinly-written and feels like he’s trying to go for the same feel of a young-Brando or Dean. Doesn’t quite hit the same marks, but is good with what he’s called on to do.

Playing his mommy is Kim Dickens who knows what’s going down with these two when they are busy at work, and are out in their free-time, but she keeps it all to herself and is good at it. She’s very subtle, but still dramatic to make enough of a difference in the grander-scheme of things. Heather Graham is wasted here as the whore of the town, Meredith, as it seems like she can’t be a normal person without a dick in her or some form of her clothing taken-off. Lastly, to round of the troupe of women we have on display here is Maika Monroe as Dean’s girlfriend who not only likes him for what he is, but also likes his father because of the determined business man he shows to her, as well as everybody else around him. Monroe is a welcome newcomer because she feels like a young gal that’s confused and unknowing about what she wants to do with her life, but still full of love and life. Hopefully, just like with Quaid, this means we get to see more of her in the near-future.

Consensus: At Any Price is a strange movie, but not for the sake of it’s tone or direction. It’s one of those movies that starts off so dull, continues on with same feeling/pace, but ends up taking you by storm with a final-act surprise, giving us a wider-glimpse of these characters, who they are, and what they mean to one another.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The Paperboy (2012)

Would have been better, had it been based on the Nintendo games.

Ward, a reporter (Matthew McConaughey) and his younger brother, a college drop-out named Jack (Zac Efron) investigate the events surrounding a murder to exonerate a man on death row, named Hillary (John Cusack). However, the only reason they are doing so is because the gal that wants Hillary out, a sexxed-up, piece of work named Charlotte (Nicole Kidman), just so happens to be the apple of Jack’s eyes.

I’ve been hearing a lot of crazy shit about this film and to be honest: it’s all deserved. Everybody knows Lee Daniels because he pulled-off Precious about 4 years ago and it showed him as the type of director that can get a story, no matter how gritty or despicable, and be able to make it in the least-bit inspirational for people. However, it wasn’t his first rodeo, as that honor (and I guess, dishonor) goes to a little, fucked-up movie called Shadowboxer. If you’ve never heard of it, please, don’t go watch it because it’s just an insane piece of work to watch and it will have you question whether or not you’ve just watched two films, from the same director. And if you have heard or have actually seen it, then buckle up, because that exactly the same type of crazy shit you’re going to get here.

As much as Daniels’ debut may have blew huge gonads, this flick is actually more controlled than that one and that’s probably because it’s just wild, without making any excuses for being so. There’s definitely that type of grungy, exploitative look and feel to the movie that has you feel as if you are in the dirty South, around the 60’s when racial-issues were up to the forefront and everybody was just sweating their asses off. If anything Daniels does do right in this flick, it’s at least nail the look and feel of the period that he has it placed-in, but everything else, well, it is sort of all-over-the-place.

Being “all-over-the-place” isn’t really all that much of bad thing if you can do it, and get away with it. The problem isn’t that Daniels can’t do it, because he sure as hell makes sure that everybody knows he can in every, damn second of this movie, but it’s more that he can’t get away with it. He can show two people making each other cum without ever touching one another and just simulating dirty things to one another, but it sticks out like a sore-thumb to everything else, and he can’t get away with it; he can show a girl peeing on a guy because he got stung by a bunch of jelly-fish, but it’s just odd and seems like it was only done for shock-factor, and he also can’t get away with it; and lastly, he can try and bring some issues up about the whole Civil Rights-movement, but when you compare it to the last sequences I just mentioned, it seems uneven, and once again, he can’t get away with it. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar (who apparently wanted to take this material at one time), or even Robert Rodriguez  for that matter, could take this material, do whatever the hell they wanted to with it, and at least make all of the crazy shit and melodramatic stuff gel well enough together, that you almost don’t notice it, but Daniels isn’t one of those directors. He’s just a regular-director that seems like he’s trying his damn near hardest to have us all forget about the over-weight girl story he pulled-off 4 years ago, and try to distract us with insane amounts of sex, whether it actually happen on-screen or just be insinuated. Either way, there’s a bunch of sex that seems to come out nowhere at times.

Look what you've been missing out on, Tom!

Look what you’ve been missing out on, Tom!

Is all of this wackiness and cookiness fun? In a way, yes it is and honestly, as much as I may be ragging on the film right here, I am more or less just hating on Daniels. Not to say that the guy doesn’t know how to make a story move, because he definitely does, but it focuses way too much on the personal lives of these characters and not in an exciting or electric way either, it’s just a boring, way-too-dramatic way that comes off as trying too hard. We never really care for these characters, the case they continue to push to the side, or what their relationships are with each other and how that affects one another, and I guess that was the point. Daniels is just giving us a bunch of dirty people that we can either care to like or not. Whether or not we actually do, doesn’t matter, because as long as Daniels is just allowing us to see how insane he can be, then he’s the one with the real joy in the end. That kind of ticks me off now that I think about it, because there was definitely a crap-ton of promise with this flick and premise, it’s just a shame that it had to fall so far from ever achieving that said promise.

The only promise that this flick ever does hit head-on, is the ensemble cast and what they are able to do with each of their roles, no matter how wacky or unbelievable they may be. Zac Efron is the sort-of voice of reason throughout this whole flick and is definitely growing-up right in front of our own eyes, but if you think about it, it is sort of a dull role for the guy but nowhere near as dull as the role Robert Pattinson had in Cosmopolis. Still, Efron makes this character work and his performance shows-off a kid that definitely wants to be treated like an adult, yet, still has the tendencies of a kid that just doesn’t yet know what to do with his life or who to spend the rest of it with. Sort of how Efron is now, just without being peed-on. Then again, I still have no idea what him and Vanessa Hudgens did in their spare-time.

Playing his big bro, Matthew McConaughey is good as the slick and sly reporter that can not only charm his way into getting whatever the hell he wants, but also has a bit of problems brewing underneath that he’s pretty good at hiding. This is a nice role for McConaughey and it’s one that he can practically play while sleeping, but after a year where tore the roof down as force to be reckoned with in flicks like Killer Joe and Magic Mike, this one definitely ranks the lowest-of-the-low for him. Not to say it’s bad, but it’s not to say that it’s anything special, either. John Cusack is playing really, really against-type here as the psychotic and nutty Hillary, and shows that Cusack can probably do more than any of us ever expected from him. He’s strange, he’s weird, but he’s also very sinister and I like how Cusack totally just swan-dived right into the role, totally leaving all shades and memories behind of Peter Gabriel tapes in his pathway. Not to say that this is a special performance that makes us think of Cusack in a different way now, but it’s definitely a role that shows the guy can do more than just be that old dude from the 80’s we all remember relating to when our dates walked-out on us at prom. Yeah, that he is no more.

Better get used to that look, because that's all you're going to see him look half of the damn movie!

Better get used to that look, because that’s all you’re going to see him look half of the damn movie!

The one who really steals the spotlight from the rest of these dudes is Nicole Kidman, as the starlet fire fox, Charlotte. Kidman hasn’t been this sexy or bad-ass since the days of Eyes Wide Shut and To Die For, but here, she totally steals all the glory and attention, and has all of the fun out of everybody here. She just relishes in the fact that she can be sexy, be a little dirty, but also be a little bit sympathetic as well and once things start to go South for her and this story, she’s the only one you really give a single hoot about, especially since she’s the only one that has the most believable convictions out of the whole story (she just wants love). Kidman is probably getting the most recognition and praise for her work here and rightfully so, because the gal just looks freakin’ hot and steams up every scene she’s in, whether she’s trying to seduce people and act sexy, or not. Either way, Kidman definitely had my attention in almost every scene and I’m glad so, too, because she deserved it.

Consensus: You may have a boat-load of fun with The Paperboy if you’re looking for some weird shit to happen, non-stop without any rhyme or reason as to why exactly, but if not, then you may just be bored and annoyed by how uneven everything is, despite Daniels trying his hardest to make us think or see otherwise. You strike-out this time, my friend!

6/10=Rental!!

"I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd....."

“I triiiiiiieeeed to not get type-castedddd…..”

Liberal Arts (2012)

Once I’m past 30, man, my life is going to suck.

Jesse (Josh Radnor), a 35-year-old college admissions officer from New York City who loves literature and language, returns to his alma mater in Ohio to attend a retirement ceremony for a beloved professor (Richard Jenkins). While there he meets nineteen-year-old girl named Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), whose love of literature thrills him. They become pen pals, among other things and realize more about their life than anything ever before.

I’m not going to sit-here and lie to all of you, because quite frankly, that’s just not how I roll my dice and I never intend on doing. So, by saying that I’m just going to state that when it comes to movies about trying to hold onto your youth and staying cool, I can’t really find much to relate to. I mean I’m 19 years old, I still go to college, I still take classes, I still drive my own car, and sadly, I still live under my parents roof. So that’s why when it comes to a story about an older-dude, trying to go back to his glory days and see what he can do with a much-younger gal, not only am I bit horrified (age-gaps in relationships bother me, I don’t know why), but I also find it hard to be able to reach out and say, “Hey, I know where you’re coming from, man.” Obviously, I’m probably not the only one who feels like this but it was just something that kept-on going throughout my head as I was watching this and what made it even weirder, was the fact that I actually liked the film for that reason. Very strange thing for me, indeed.

"Alright, well, your sisters are 3 years older than you so that's not so bad, right?"

“Alright, well, your twin-sisters are 3 years older than you so that’s not so bad, right?”

This is the sophomore-effort from writer/director Josh Radnor and I have to be frank with you, I don’t really like the guy. That’s not to say that I don’t think he has talent or isn’t funny, but I was just never a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother, and even when I did actually stop-by to check-out an episode or two, he never really came off as funny to me. He tried a bit too hard it seemed and it was almost like that TV show was going to be his only claim-to-fame. However, it seems like I am terribly wrong with that idea because the guy actually has a great talent behind-the-screen and even though I didn’t check out the guy’s first movie, I still think it’s easy to say that I look forward to seeing what this guy can do.

One of the main points about this whole flick is how people, men especially (trust me), try to play both sides of the fence when it comes to mentor-teacher relationships. They try to be hip, with it, and cool, like all of the youngsters out there, but at the same time, they can’t help themselves to throw a little bit of wisdom down there for short measure and still feel like they deserve the equality and respect because they are older and apparently, know more. I’m not saying all older-people are like this, but it’s obvious that this is how most of them feel and that’s why this movie is intriguing  because it walks a fine-line between being all about being young, once again, but at the same time, also shows you that you sort of have to embrace the fact that you’re getting older, and your glory days are sort of behind you now. It’s a very true-statement to humans and the way of life, and the way that Radnor goes about it in this flick really surprised the hell out of me, mainly because it seems believable.

Before any of you out-there begin to write this movie off as a piece of garbage because it shows a relationship between two people that are 16-years-apart from one another, don’t worry, because Radnor sort of shows how it as well. What I mean by that is that Radnor understands that this “sort of” relationship between these two people is a bit ridiculous in terms of the age-gap, but also makes it seem pretty reasonable because they actually share a lot in-common and it makes you wonder if Radnor is ever going to take that plunge into her bed, or just her brain. There is some-bit of suspense to that, but while you’re waiting, you can also just sit-back and realize that these two don’t just have to be boyf and girlf, they can actually be very, very good-friends that can help each other in the world and how to make it better for themselves. It’s a nice relationship, that is treated more as a friendship and shows you that sometimes, a man and a woman can have more of a connection between each other by sharing thoughts and ideas, rather than fluids. If, you get what I’m saying.

You know how we can tell he's having a mid-life crisis? Facial hair.

You know how we can tell he’s having a mid-life crisis? Facial hair.

Radnor’s ideas are very well thought-out and very pleasant to see play-out, in terms of his easy-going direction, but the film as a whole, just doesn’t seem to stick with you, quite as much as the scenes between Radnor and Olsen. A lot of the scenes where it’s just Radnor talking to other people about life, growing-up, and reading literature, feel like they came right from his brain and obviously from a guy that knows what he’s talking, but is also trying to sound a lot like Woody Allen but less realistic in how people actually speak. Some people here work in montages and speak as if they’ve been waiting to say these witty lines for days on end and as entertaining and funny as it may be to hear in a movie like this, it sort of comes off as a bit unrealistic. People who love literature and read about a book-a-day, would definitely have open discussions about the meanings and themes behind certain pieces of it, but still, would they really get right down to it by quoting random lines and it’s significance and meaning to actual-life as a whole? Maybe they would, I guess it all depends on the type of person you’re talking about, but here, it doesn’t really quite work and shows you that maybe Radnor has some areas he needs to work on.

However, the most believable aspect behind this whole movie is actually the friendship between Olsen and Radnor, and I think that’s mainly because their chemistry is so perfect. Olsen works perfectly as Zibby, because she has this look and act to her that seems wise beyond her years, whereas Radnor has this boyish charm to him that makes him seem like a guy that’s tired with getting old and just wants to live it up a bit. Watching them work together is great and really has you thinking about how much you can’t blame the guy for being so attracted to her in the first-place and may just have to go for the relationship, despite the 16-year age-difference between the two. Yeah, I’m a big believer in that those types of relationships just creep me out and rarely ever work but for this one, I was able to let my guard down just a tad bit and that’s why I enjoyed this film, as well as the relationship a lot more.

"To bone, or not to bone?", is the real question at-hand in this scene.

“To bone, or not to bone?”, is the real question at-hand in this scene.

Playing the aging-professor of Radnor’s is Richard Jenkins, who, once-again, gives a fabulous performance that shows the guy being the coolest and hippest old dude out there. Some of the scenes with Jenkins really struck a chord with me, since it’s obvious to see how and why somebody would get so caught-up in teaching other people all you know and it just shows you the type of skill and talent Jenkins has as an actor. Allison Janney is alright as the stand-offish professor of Radnor’s who shows up every once and awhile, and acts like a total bitch and as good as she is at playing it, it’s a bit annoying considering it’s an act she does quite-well and a bit too often for my liking. The most surprising one out of this whole cast is probably Zac Efron as the hippie who shows up on campus whenever Radnor is around, and they just chill-out, talk, and trade some soul-secrets with one another. Efron’s very good in a small-role like this and it has me happier to know that not only can this guy dance and sing, but he can also act and make his presence one that you’re happy be around. Hopefully it continues on-and-on for him, as I’ve always had hope in him, no matter how much The Lucky One still stays in my mind.

Consensus: Though it’s ideas and themes about growing-up and trying to stay cool don’t stick with you as much as they intend-to, Liberal Arts still proves that Josh Radnor is not only just a likable guy in-front of the screen, but knows how to write and direct a movie that shows him for what he used to be, wants to be, and gives us a feeling like we will soon be hitting the same mid-life crisis this guy seems to just be hitting, as of right now. Poor guy.

7/10=Rental!!

I think this is the rare instance where I say that Allison Janney is the hottest one out of the four.

I think this is the rare instance where I say that Allison Janney is the hottest one out of the four. If only Olsen lost the preppy, school-boy look.

Me and Orson Welles (2009)

You don’t have to be a dick to be an actor, but it seems like a good excuse.

Seventeen-year-old Richard Samuels (Zac Efron) spends his days dreaming of the bright lights of Broadway. Richard happens upon Orson Welles (Christian McKay) and his fledgling Mercury Theatre company. Richard impresses Welles and lands an unpaid bit part in the Mercury’s forthcoming run of Julius Caesar. He is taught the ropes by a beautiful, ambitious production assistant, Sonja (Claire Danes). Richard falls into Sonja’s womanly charm almost instantly.

Now I haven’t checked out every single  piece of work this legend (Orson Welles) has to offer, but from what I hear there seems to be three things about him: he 1. was talented, 2. was very big on his ego, and 3. was a huge dick. But hey, you can probably get away with number 3 when you’re considered one of the greatest actors and directors of all-time.

I was a tad disappointed to see that Richard Linklater  directed this without adding anything of his own writing, but it didn’t matter too much once I realized just how fun and charming a flick like this can be. I have only been a part of  2 or 3 plays and I can easily say that Linklater definitely nailed down what it’s like behind-the-scenes of one. Everybody’s constantly rushing, getting tense, and trying so hard not to mess up their lines that almost anything the slightest thing makes you crazy or pushes you to forget everything. All of that continuous hustle-and-bustle from the first rehearsal to the final show is captured here perfectly; the passion of the people who surround the play is so present that it brings you into this place that makes you forget it’s the miserable thirties.

But who am I kidding?! The real reason this film works so damn well is because of Christian McKay‘s larger-than-life performance as Orson Welles. I have never heard nor seen McKay before but I think he definitely nails everything about Welles from the gruff in his voice, to the ways his eyes move when he’s mad. Welles (as portrayed here) is a genius but is also very egotistical in the way that he only wants the show done his way, and anybody else who dares to argue against his vision will either be kicked to the streets or used for their opening night, then kicked to the curb. Welles may have been a guy that only cared about himself, and himself only, but he also shows a lot of talent when it came to getting just about every detail right and the performance from McKay only proves that to be even more true. McKay doesn’t just sound or act like Welles, he is Welles and for the whole time I was watching him, I couldn’t get past the fact that who I was watching right now wasn’t actually Orson Welles himself. Definitely a performance that should have made him a lot of a bigger name but I guess it was the film’s limited release that sort of screwed him over in that case.

However, as amazing as McKay as Welles is here, he’s also the biggest problem with the flick because when it isn’t on him and is focusing on all of this other junk, it sort of gets a little fluffy and uninteresting. All of the stage stuff was fun to watch but when they started focusing on the story outside of it all, I really started to lose my interest as I found this coming-of-age story to be rather, —bland. It seems like the writers here just borrowed from a whole bunch of other coming-of-age flicks, and found their ways to throw them in there without any real interest in actually moving the plot along. Basically, it’s just here to give us another story that isn’t all about the stage but that’s what I started to miss out on and I think if Linklater at least wrote this, it would have been a lot better.

Claire Danes is pretty good here as Sonja and definitely is a lot happier in this role than she was in Shopgirl. Zac Efron is also good in his role too as Richard (how cute, Linklater), but he definitely sticks out like a sore thumb when it comes right down to it. It’s not that Efron is bad, it’s more that he is just way too Hollywood for this role and movie, and the costuming just looks a little too goofy on him. He definitely has charm: charm that we will see more of in upcoming years, but like wise he doesn’t seem anywhere near the perfect fit for this role.

Consensus: Me and Orson Welles is at its best whenever it focuses on the behind-the-scenes stage antics of 1937 Manhattan and McKay’s perfect performance as Welles, but whenever the focus goes towards its fluffy and bland coming-of-age story, things get a tad uninteresting.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Lucky One (2012)

It’s a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. There’s nothing else that needs to be known.

The story centers on Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Efron), a US Marine who finds a photograph of an unknown woman Beth (Taylor Schilling) in Iraq and credits it for saving his life in combat. He vows to find her once he returns to America and eventually does nothing less than stalk her while taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Great way to get the babes.

Basically everybody knows what to expect here that can be seen in plenty of other Nicholas Spark’s adaptations that have come out in recent years such as ‘Message in a Bottle’, ‘The Notebook’, ‘Dear John’, ‘The Last Song’, and plenty others. All of those (with the exception of one, I’ll let you guess which one) are very bad and pretty much the same exact thing. This is another one that can be added to that stupid list that needs to go away and go now!

Women and young, teenage girls who have probably read this novel about 20 times will probably love this movie to death because that’s the audience it’s mainly for. However, I am not that audience and that was the biggest problem here. Every single character in a Sparks novel are about as one-dimensional as a piece of paper but are still treated like as if they can do no wrong, with barely any flaws whatsoever.

Logan starts off in the movie suffering from post-traumatic stress, but after the first 10 minutes, they act as if it was never there in the first place once he gets to the cozy countryside. Then when he actually gets to this countryside and has starts to woo over Beth, we see how he really is which is even worse. He’s humble, nice, strong, in touch with his emotional side, starts to tear up a bit when he’s playing piano as if it was his last time ever playing piano again, checks out classics like Moby Dick whenever he feels like it, and can play chess so well that he actually lets her young son win against him just to boost up his self-esteem. The film treats him as if he was the second coming of Christ that pretty much walks around with a halo around his head the whole time making everybody’s lives a whole lot better, which annoyed the hell out of me within the first 20 minutes because they just kept on constantly shoving it down our throats just how perfect and amazing this guy was. And to be honest, I didn’t care one bit. Oh yeah, need I forget to mention that this guy walks from Colorado all the way to North Carolina with his doggy. However I feel like if I got into that rant, we’d be here so much longer.

Aside from the characterization, this film is also laughably bad in many aspects where I don’t even think it intended to be. The melodrama gets kicked up to about 100 here and at times, almost feels like it’s making fun of itself but that’s the thing, it’s dead serious. There are so many corny scenes where these characters start to have realizations about one another and how beautiful that other person is and the sweeping score just comes in booming right in your ears and it just gets even worse as the film starts to dive deeper and deeper into this schmaltzy material.

This film also has one of the worst “sex” scenes I have seen in the longest time where Logan is blatantly shaking Beth’s left butt cheek and the film makes it seem like it’s some sort of cute showing of love and companionship but just came off as really lame and definitely a little too detailed for a PG-13 movie. I mean they show both of them moaning at one point and even though I’m no prude to this kind of stuff (hell, I saw ‘Shame’ for Christ’s sakes), I still don’t think that many parents will appreciate Ms. Schilling hitting a full-on orgasm with Mr. Efron.

Speaking of Mr. Zac Efron, I can’t really say anything bad about him here because he is obviously trying but he better be careful with the types of roles he’s getting. Yeah, ‘The Notebook’ put Ryan Gosling on the map but ever since then he has barely done anything close to that and even Channing Tatum is starting to find himself farther and farther away from this stuff with edgier flicks coming out in the upcoming future, but Efron is still building up his star and he better make sure that he doesn’t make any more shit films like this or else we may just get a ‘High School Musical 4′ just so he can get a quick paycheck. As for Taylor Schilling, her character is pretty paper-thin as well so she at least tries with what she’s given but the material really does end up bringing her down. Hopefully this movie gets her face out there and maybe we’ll see her in more upcoming flicks and check out what real talents she has as an actress other than showing how passionate getting boned by Zac Efron can be.

I think it would be safe to say that the best performance out of this whole film, and probably the best thing about this flick really is Blythe Danner here as Nana. Danner is that wise, funny, and always witty old lady that has something to say and made me laugh just about every time. And with a film like this, you need any type of humor just get you through. It’s a small compliment but it’s a compliment to this film none the less and this film needs all of that it can get.

Consensus: The Lucky One is what you would expect from a Nicholas Sparks adaptation: corny, schmaltzy, full of one-dimensional characters, and writing that will make you laugh even though they may not be laughing with you.

1/10=Crap!!

Shocker, right?

The Lorax (2012)

Don’t mess with the little orange people mob.

The story around the journey of a boy (Zac Effron) as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams (Taylor Swift). In order to find it, he must discover the environmental tale of the Lorax (Danny DeVito), the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world against the unscrupulous Once-ler (Ed Helms).

There’s been so much controversy surrounding this flick already about how it’s too political and is basically getting kids too involved with politics and right-wing messages. Haven’t these people ever watched the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons!?!

What works for this flick is that it is definitely one of the better-looking animation flicks I have seen in 3-D in a long time. Being that this is a Dr. Seuss adaptation, it’s pretty cool to see all of the characters and locations look like they just came from his own hand and given an extra-dimension. The 3-D also works because it is used in a way that is meant to thrill you but then again isn’t that what 3-D is meant for? You see almost every little piece of hair in The Lorax’s mustache, the drool coming from the bears’ mouths feel as if they’re coming right towards you, and when a tree grows, it almost seems like it’s growing right in the movie theater. This is 3-D that is meant to feel like it’s actually there and even though so many other countless animated flicks do the same thing, they don’t do it quite as well as this flick. Basically, this is a very good-looking film that should be seen in 3-D, but if you can’t see it with the funny glasses then don’t feel bad because you’re not missing a whole lot.

Another part of this film that works is that it is a kids flick that has a good spirit with it the whole way through. Throughout the film, we get nice bits of comedy that will not only appeal to the parents but also provides some slap-stick for the kids that will always seem to get them laughing no matter what. The songs are also very good and original and I like the way that they didn’t try to take any old songs and rehash them into the plot to make them seem relatable to the plot, instead they just made their own original tracks and they work. “Let it Grow” and “How Bad Can I Be?” were definitely two songs that I couldn’t stop humming on the way home even though I had some Bob Marley cranked up real high.

Where I think this film hits its problem is its whole political message that may seem like the wrong taste for a flick like this that’s centered towards kids and most adults bringing their kids to see it. I’m not against a film having their own agenda and trying to reach out to kids and making a point but in a film about a little orange tree hugger named The Lorax? Really? It also didn’t help that within the first 5 minutes the film was already showing these people of Thneedville as totally oblivious/and or ignorant townspeople that just brought everything because it was plastic and it was hip. Much like ‘Despicable Me’, too much of it seemed a little too mean to be taken seriously and a subject to ever be taken lightly.

Don’t get me wrong here though folks, I did like the message that this film brought up to kids and I hope it definitely gets them out there trying to preserve the land we live on and making sure that people are taking care of our beautiful planet, but then when they throw in the really crappy villain named Mr. O’Hare, who owns an air company, it seemed to get really really lame. The whole villain plot of this film seemed like the last thing we would see in anything from Dr. Seuss and I almost wish that they went for a villain that was a little more wild, crazy, or just overall outlandish. Rob Riggle does a pretty good job with O’Hare’s voice but they then ruin it by using the most unoriginal use of a villain by showing how small he is. I’ve seen the same damn thing in ‘Shrek’ and so many other animated flicks that have a villain, so show me something different for once people!

As for the rest of the voice cast, they all do pretty fine jobs. Ed Helms is pretty good at handling this film all by himself as The Once-ler, and does a great job especially when it comes to the music where he gets to show off some guitar-o skills; Zac Efron does an alright job as Ted, our main protagonist, but it seems like he’s a little too old for these sorts of voice roles and I think he may have to start to move onto his bigger roles he has lined up; and Taylor Swift may seem like another piece of stunt casting to get teenage girls seeing the flick and buying the soundtrack but she’s fine as well. The best out of this whole voice cast is probably Danny DeVito as The Lorax who is a perfect fit because he’s funny, charming, a bit of an ass, and they are both the same size. I don’t mean any disrespect when I say that though Danny, I really don’t.

Consensus: The Lorax may run into problems about getting a little too political with its message, but the talented cast and beautiful visuals keep this film going even when the story seems to slow down.

7/10=Rental!!

New Year’s Eve (2011)

Just another excuse for people to go, “oooh look who it is!”.

‘New Year’s Eve’ celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in the intertwining stories of couples and singles, told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.

Oh once again, another holiday, another holiday, and yes, another time for Garry Marshall to make Robert Altman turn around in his grave. This is basically the same exact thing as Marshall’s same ensemble-filled film, ‘Valentine’s Day’, and even though this one is only just a tad better, that really is not saying much at all.

What these types of films always have problems with is that all of these types of films have so many stars passing in-and-out of the flick as if it was I95 but they are sometimes not really given much to do, instead of just to be there and look pretty. This is the case with this flick and I felt like Marshall really rushed things here to the point of where he wasn’t really concerned with the stories as much as he was more concerned with just getting as much stars up on the screen before they had to go leave and shoot a better film. When I say this, I’m not talking about Sarah Jessica Parker. She loves this kind of stuff and I think she may be the only one who does too.

Another problem with all of these films is the fact that almost everything everybody says here either seem like cliches, something taken out of another flick, or just plain schmaltz. The film always goes for being sweet, cute, and loving but it more or less just comes off as being the same old crap that I’ve seen time and time again, except this time with Jon Bon Jovi spouting out corny love songs. But then again, the guy owned The Philadelphia Soul, so it’s not as bad if say someone like Nick Jonas was doing it. Yeah, that kids lame.

I knew I was going to get this kind of stuff before I went into this flick but I honestly think that these films try way too hard to give more meaning about a holiday that is basically all about getting plastered with your buddies, yelling random shit at people you’ve never met in your life, freezing your ass off, counting down till a big-ass glow ball hits the bottom in 10 seconds, ending up making out with a person that chick that looks like your sister, and waking up the next morning in somebody else’s bath tub with a splitting headache. I’m not at all speaking from experience but let me just tell you that when it comes to this holiday, not many people are reflecting on the past year and what they are thankful for and what they aren’t thankful for. So stop trying to give it more meaning than it already needs Garry!

However, as much as I wanted to diss on this film for what it obviously fails in, there were moments here where I was enjoying myself probably because New Year’s is such a fun holiday and that’s something that I don’t think Marshall took away from. There are moments where this film actually seems funny and had me chuckling here and there, mainly because of the cast and probably just because this film sort of put me in a good mood. It’s also one of the rare cases where the “bloopers” during the end credits had me laughing a lot more throughout them, instead if the whole film itself.

The whole cast here is star-studded everywhere you look and made this film a little bit better. Instead of naming the whole cast like I normally do with these ensemble-like films, I’ll just run down the people who were probably the most enjoyable. Zac Efron was probably the one dude I had the most fun watching up on screen; Hilary Swank is actually quite convincing as a Times Square vice president; and Sofia Vergara is not only stunningly gorgeous but fun as hell to watch here as the sex-pot chef. There are others that were somewhat fun but too many times were there just these big-named stars just sitting around doing nothing. I’m talking to you, Ludacris. And no, I will still not call you by your “real name”.

I mean to be brutally honest, Valentine’s Day is not a very joyous and fun holiday probably because it’s too centered on having a love on this one special day. However, New Year’s Day where you can just do whatever the hell you want basically and have a blast the whole time no matter how old, young, or if you’re single or not. This film may have it’s obviously problems with plot, writing, and overall construction, but keeping to the fun and reckless spirit that is New Year’s, is what made my enjoyment level of this flick higher than I ever expected it to be in the first place.

Consensus: There is plenty of schmaltz, corniness, and moments that will more or less make you want to punch the writers in the face, but when it comes to keeping the actual fun and unpredictable atmosphere/spirit of it’s holiday, New Year’s Eve is a fun flick for anybody that wants to see stars coming-and-going non-stop for a whole 118 minutes.

5/10=Rental!!

If you have just read this review and cannot believe I just did what I did, please do not have any lost hope for me. I will once again get back to reviewing shit and calling it exactly what it is. I promise people.

17 Again (2009)

You know if I was seventeen and looked liek Zac Efron, I would go back too.

On the brink of a midlife crisis, 30-something Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) wishes he could have a “do-over.” And that’s exactly what he gets when he wakes up one morning to find he’s 17 years old again. With his adult mind stuck inside the body of a teenager (Zac Efron), Mike actually has the chance to reverse some decisions he wishes he’d never made. But maybe they weren’t so bad after all.

Basically just imagine this movie as Big, but backwards. And instead of silly Tom Hanks, you have teen sex appeal god, Zac Efron. Big Difference.

The film uses an overly used premise and I can’t quite say that it hits the money in originality. The high school that Efron attended was filled with all the usual stereotypes you could imagine: the sluts, the geeks, and of course the jocks. The film tries to be like many other teen vehicles like Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, or even Hannah Montana for that matter.

There is also a huge sense of creepiness in this movie. So many times when Efron and his wife Leslie Mann were on screen together and everything was just so creepy and weird that it was so hard to believe. Things got even weirder with his daughter, and although they handle the material with ease it is still a bit weird.

The film though does have some clever writing. There were some moments where the film had me laughing a lot more than I expected, and actually had me caring for the characters also more than I was expecting. The movie handles its material with nice and kind sweetness, and doesn’t over-shower it with too many sexual jokes, if any at all.

This is Efron’s first role to branch out of The High School Musical role, and to say the least he does a good job with it. He has a lot of charm and enthusiasm, and actually shows that he will be able to have a long career with the right film choices. Tom Lennon does have some good moments as his zany nerd, but sometimes I felt like he gets over-used and should have been played once and awhile.

Consensus: Though its uses an over-familiar plot and doesn’t bring much new to the screen, 17 Again is a sweet teen comedy, backed by a energetic and charming performance from Efron.

5/10=Rental!!!

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