Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Intruders (2012)

The boogeyman is too old school.

The film stars Clive Owen as a father trying to save his daughter from a specter-like figure that appears to be the product of her own imagination. There is also another story that is about this kid in Spain who is having the same problems, but nobody really cares.

The new trend in Hollywood lately seems to be that in order for horror films to stay cool and hip, they need to be old school. Sometimes this works like in ‘The House of the Devil’, and other times it fails miserably like with ‘Don’t be Afraid of the Dark’. So what better way to keep horror movies even more trendy by bringing in one of the oldest horror stories of them all: the monster in the closet.

Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo definitely seemed like he owed somebody money here because he just does not deserve this. I don’t love this director either (I’ve only seen like one film from him), but for a guy that did the sequel to one of the greatest horror flicks of the past decade (’28 Weeks Later’) I have to say that he’s really falling off the map. Juan Carlos definitely does add a lot more to this flick than you would expect because his camera is used well to speed things up, like he did with ’28 Weeks Later’, and has some pretty cool imagery that is spooky but also very good to look at. He seems like he’s trying his hardest to bring some sort of atmosphere here to this flick but it’s all taken away by the script he was given.

This plot basically comes down to the children facing off against “Hollow Face” but neither side is worth cheering for. You never get any real sense that these kids are in danger because every time the boogeyman seems like he has finally succeeded in killing these little pieces of crap, they end up being safe after all and have only a scratch or two on them. Also, why the hell does this damn creature want a face so bad? To be accepted? To be loved? To keep this film going on longer and longer, until I practically fall asleep? I think yes for that last question.

The script also goes from bad to worse considering there is barely any horrific stuff happening here and after awhile, just gets boring. They even place an exorcism scene in the middle of the flick (cause what horror film doesn’t need an exorcism scene?) and it’s one of the most boring and unscary exorcism scenes I have seen in some time and mind you, I did see ‘The Devil Inside’ over two months ago. There was also no reason for this flick to even be two separate stories either considering they are so obviously focused more on the British family then anything else and could practically care less about the story in Spain. They both come together in a dumb way that is expected from these types of films, but it still ends on an awkward note that just feels so damn forced. Then again, so does everything else in this dumb film.

Oh, I almost forgot that there is probably one of the most unintentionally funny scenes here that I have seen in quite some time. First, Clive Owen’s daughter gets scared and says that she is having nightmares about this monster and can’t get to sleep. Thinking that he would be a good father, you expect him to just tell his daughter that all will be fine and dandy and she should just go back and dream a little dream of fairies, unicorns, rainbows, and all that good stuff. Instead, he makes a scarecrow monster, takes it outside to his backyard and lights the thing on fire hoping that it will cure her dread of the boogeyman. This scene was so stupid and dumb that I honestly thought that the film was just making a little light of this whole premise, but instead, they were totally serious and this was probably the high-light of the film, which isn’t really saying much good.

I don’t know what it is with Clive Owen, but the damn dude should be getting A-list roles that get him Oscars, Golden Globes, and all that other honorable shit but instead he’s been stuck doing dumb-ass flicks like ‘Killer Elite’ and this, which both take him further and further away from hitting total stardom. This guy is a good actor, and he at least tries his hardest with this role here but he needs to go back to the days of when he was scoring huge hits in-a-row with ‘Closer’, ‘Children of Men’, ‘Inside Man’, and even ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’. Dammit Clive! Just stop taking shitty movie roles and start making better ones before it’s way too late.

Consensus: Intruders is a horror flick that doesn’t do anything new or exciting with its premise, instead it is just boring, badly executed, and one of those horror flicks that you watch with a whole group of girls because they’ll get scared and hold onto you, but you never watch it again. Cause you never know if you want to remember the night with that chick anyway.



Goon (2012)

Stifler vs. Sabretooth. The show-down of a life time.

When he’s seen dispatching a rude opposing hockey player in the stands, Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is hired by a rival team for his fighting skills. It seems the new team’s star is gun-shy after being hit by a puck, and Glatt’s job is to be his on-ice bodyguard.

Hockey fans don’t get so much love their way when it comes to getting their own movies. I mean you got classics like ‘Slapshot’, ‘Miracle’, and ‘The Mighty Ducks’ franchise to an extent but they are all pretty spread-out far apart from each other. Thankfully, I think you can add this one into the “pretty good” list.

The script, written by Apatow lovers Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, is taking a big step with this flick considering that all of the controversy in the NHL today is all about how they are starting to come down hard on fights or hits that may cause concussions so the general premise here can be either taken in bad taste or as politically incorrect. Either way, it doesn’t matter because these guys seem like they love hockey, love watching it, and just love watching these guys take off the gloves and get into big-ass brawls. This script definitely shows a lot of love for the sport of hockey but it also shows a lot of love for its story and the characters that inhabit it as well.

This film is definitely funny and has plenty of those raunchy moments that we should come to expect from R-rated flicks, but the film has more heart than it may have you think at first. The film explores some dark themes such as drugs, death, and even adultery but it’s never too serious to where it’s strange, instead, the film focuses on it just for a small amount of time to have us feel something for this story. The drama here isn’t over-bearing but it’s used in some nice ways that may take you by surprise and even though you won’t be shedding tears over this material by the end, you’ll definitely feel a lot closer to the story and its characters.

Still though, this film doesn’t really take itself too softly and still delivers the goods when it comes to showing some straight-up ass-beating coming from one of the sports that’s most famous for it. Each scene has a gory look to it and even though blood never spills out like this in real life, it’s still awesome to see somebody lose about 12 pints of blood when they’re getting their teeth knocked out. I love hockey fights the most (then again, who doesn’t?!?) but they were definitely a lot of fun to watch as simple and unoriginal they could be. Besides, any fight sequence that’s played to “Working Man” by Canada’s own Rush is a win-win for me.

My complaints with this film aren’t huge but they still did take me out of this one a bit. I think that this film over-did it a bit with it’s whole raunchy/dirty side because it really got annoying after about the 20th time I heard the word “fuck” used in the film, and it hadn’t even been 5 minutes yet. “Fuck” isn’t a word that bothers me, but once you use it too much just to gain laughs, then you start to make that word even less unfunny. Also, for a film that’s all about hockey, there definitely wasn’t as much hockey playing as I would have liked to see from this flick but I guess it was all about the ass whooping and that’s all that matters folks.

What really makes this film’s heart come out is its performance from Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt. Scott has never really done a role like this before because instead of just being Steve Stifler and letting out all of these dirty and degrading sex jokes towards girls all the time, he is actually more toned down and creates a lot more of a likable character. At first, Doug seems dumb and very slow but after awhile we start to realize that he’s just a shy and kind-hearted guy that never really got the time of day from the people all around him. He’s a very lovable character right from the start and one of those guys that seems so easy to root for even though he’s beating the shit out of everybody on the other teams.

Liev Schreiber is once again adding onto his list of great “villain” roles and his one here as Ross Rhea isn’t any different, except for the fact that he seems a lot more of a grounded person that has been so used to beating people’s asses that he sort of knows that he’s not gotten any younger and it’s time to pass the torch. The show-down between him and Glatt is also pretty freakin’ awesome and ends the film on a pretty high note. Jay Baruchel is pretty funny as Glatt’s buddy, Pat; Alison Pill is a revelation as Eva because she brings so much warmth to her very messed-up character, but it’s so hard to deny that you like her; and Eugene Levy had his moments as the disapproving father of Doug, but it was still a tad confusing for me to see Jim’s dad as Stifler’s dad too. Oh well, still can’t wait for the reunion in a week!

Consensus: Goon isn’t perfect but that’s not the point, it’s supposed to be a funny, violent, and entertaining hockey flick that features not only the goriest fight sequences I have ever seen in a hockey film, let alone sports flick, but also has a lot more heart to its story than the trailers, posters, and even its talent involved may have you expect. If you love hockey, definitely give this a try.


Monster’s Ball (2001)

Those beautiful black women just love those redneck freakoids.

The story is about Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) who is an embittered prison guard working on Death Row who begins an unlikely but emotionally charged affair with Leticia (Halle Berry), the wife of a man under his watch on The Row.

For the first hour or so, nothing was going right for me with this flick. I knew that it was going to be a slow-ass flick right from the start but the film barely felt like it was moving at all. It has this very dark and depressing feeling to it right from the start, which will kind of throw you back a bit but somehow, somewhere there was happiness and hope in this story, and then it suddenly started to grow on me. Damn Billy Bob!

I think the main reason why this flick got better in the way that it did was because of its script. This a very character-based flick that focuses on these gritty, dirty, and sad people that all need something in their life, whether it be love, family, or just a nice little bang here and there. The script just feels very human in the way how everybody deals with their problems and it’s also one of the rare cases where the the screenplay decides to take a step back from actually having non-stop talking but focus more on the quiet side of this story which spoke louder to me than any of the racist crap Frank Barone was saying here.

The problem with this flick is that I don’t think the direction here from Marc Forster does the script justice. Take it for granted, there isn’t anything really flashy here done by Forster to get in the way of the material at-hand but he feels very unfocused. There will be moments where it focuses on this nice romance between Billy Bob and Halle, then will go towards the racism she faces, then towards the fact that she has little or no money, and then it will go right to Billy Bob being sad about something. There were too many times where I feel like the film constantly brought up all of these other things that these characters were feeling, which in all honesty, were definitely not as interesting as the romance between Berry and Billy Bob, especially when they start boning in everybody’s favorite sexy time scene.

Where the flick did work was at the center of it all: the romance. The romance between these two feels subtle and something that would happen between two 8th-graders almost but then it really turns into something serious, heart-breaking, and very very real. I liked this romance that these two had going on because it showed just how much they needed each other at a certain time in their lives and even though they both may not be the same person, they still feel hurt and need someone or something to take their pain and anguish away. However, whenever they are on-screen together, you can feel the romance and deep-down inside, was this sweet little love they had going on which really worked for me.

Halle Berry won the Oscar here for Best Actress and even though I can’t recall seeing any of the other performances from that year, I have to say that I think the Academy made the right decision. Berry lets it all hang loose as Leticia. She’s sad, vulnerable, full of pain, anger, remorse, but also very optimistic for the future and feels like a very real person when it comes to how she wants to be treated. Berry is a very stunning chicky but she lets the grit take over here and she dives into this character without any fake steps. Her emotions are almost all-over-the-place but Berry makes us sympathize with this character and actually feel something for her no matter what. Amazing performance from Berry and one that truly did deserve the Oscar.

Billy Bob Thornton was pretty good here as Hank, even though when he is being compared to Berry, his character is definitely the one you least remember. It’s not that this is a bad performance by any means, it’s just that Billy Bob isn’t really doing anything other than playing sort of a dick that somehow changes half-way through, even though we don’t really realize it until his own daddy brings it up. Speaking of his daddy, Peter Boyle is quite good as the totally racist dad, even though it was kind of funny watching him spout out the N-word left and right; Heath Ledger is also good in this flick as Hank’s son, Sonny, and is very chilling every time he is on-screen; and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs does a nice job as Lawrence, Leticia’s husband, and doesn’t really over-play any of the lines like rappers-turned-actors usually do.

Consensus: Despite a slow beginning and feel to the film, Monster’s Ball starts to pick up with a very sweet romance in the middle of the story, great performances from the cast, especially Berry, and a script that doesn’t try too hard but still is able to make us feel something for these characters.


Out of Sight (1998)

The beginning of what some people may call “The Clooney”.

Meet Jack Foley (George Clooney), the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of jail, he finds himself stealing something far more precious than money, Karen Sisco (‘s heart. She’s smart, she’s sexy, and unfortunately for Jack, she’s a Federal Marshal. Now, they’re willing to risk it all to find out if there’s more between them than just the law.

I guess back in 1998 the names Clooney and Soderbergh didn’t draw that much attention considering this was a pretty big box-office flop. If it was released in today’s world, the film would have been doing some major work but I guess everybody just has to get their start somewhere.

The film is adapted from a Elmore Leonard book that I have not read but from what I hear, is just exactly like the same tone and pace that this film gives it. What I liked about this writing is just how funny it was without being too obvious and that there was still a lot of suspense, mystery, and crime to be happening. I mean everybody in this flick is a little bit goofy, just like the situations they get themselves caught up into but for some reason the film didn’t seem uneven with its wacky humor and awesome heist and action sequences. Let me also remind you that this is a story that actually has some believability to it where I could actually see certain things like this happening if these certain people were to actually be put into these situations. Then again, I’m not saying that your average con-men/bank robbers look like George Clooney or do many Federal Marshal’s look like Jennifer Lopez, I’m just saying that a lot of what happened here doesn’t seem too insane for a flick.

The film is also perfectly directed by Steven Soderbergh, who took one big-step out of the indie world that he caught himself in and did a great job with just about everything here and finding a way to give it his own cool style. His style makes the film feel like a 70’s crime flick with the sort of funky music playing in the background and the grainy-looking camera he uses that looks as if it was used for filming some old school porno’s back in the day. It’s a really cool style but it’s also the fact that this film just breathes cool where everything you see works.

There are plenty of heist and action moments that this film works perfectly with but it’s the romance that I keep on remembering the most about. The romance is perfectly handled here, which was a total surprise to me in the first place, but the fact that Clooney and Lopez get into a discussion about how in ‘Three Days of Condor’, the romance felt forced and too quick and then they have the same exact romance. What I liked about this element is that the scenes are laced in here perfectly to the point of where it doesn’t feel like the film is just shoe-horning it all in there. It’s also pretty sexy if you think about it and it’s one of those romances between two different characters that seems to work even when the film constantly shifts in between them both fighting one another on opposite ends.

My only problem with this flick that actually didn’t take away too much but it still had me bothered was the fact at just how much this flick reminded me of ‘Jackie Brown’ and I think it’s just one of those cases that since both films were adapted from the same author, that they both kind of give off the same style. Tarantino’s flick was witty, suspenseful, filled with a cool style, and had his usual signatures that he features in just about all of his films but here, it’s kind of the same with a little bit of different touches. Hell, both films even have Michael Keaton playing the same role in both so it’s pretty obvious that I would get some déjà vu.

The main reason why this film works though is because of its awesome all-star cast that shines with every single star. George Clooney broke out with this role as Jack Foley, and would continue playing that same role for the next 13 years but to be honest he’s great here. He’s sly, funny, sexy (for the ladies, not for me..then again maybe for me), and everything he does here he seems to be having a blast playing this bad guy that we can’t help but to love considering he seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else. Jennifer Lopez is also equally as good as Karen Sisco. She is basically the same person as Jack Foley, instead she is all for the law rather than against it. They both work great together and the romance between them I was talking about earlier I don’t know would have worked with anybody else in these roles. Every scene they have is more memorable than the one that came before it and it’s kind of a bummer that Lopez hasn’t really done much else that’s worth noting since this flick.

Don Cheadle is also good as a dick playing Foley’s main opponent in the heist-game, Snoopy; Ving Rhames is the man and surprisingly very funny as Buddy; Dennis Farina is J. Lo’s dad and it’s surprise to see him playing someone else other than a gangster; Albert Brooks is barely in it but still good; and there is even some nice little side-spots from Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, and a very young Viola Davis as well. Everybody here is great and they all seem to be having a ball with their performances which added more to my enjoyment of this flick as well.

Consensus: Out of Sight may remind me of Jackie Brown, but Soderbergh’s stylish direction and everybody’s performances here make this one of the most exciting, fun, and enjoyable crime comedies I have seen in a long time and it still makes me wonder just why this didn’t get much money in the first place.

9/10=Full Price!!

The Deep Blue Sea (2012)

Before he faces the Avengers, Loki gets to bone married women. Nice year this dude’s having.

The film centers on a London socialite (Rachel Weisz) whose loveless marriage with a well-to-do and much older high-court judge (Simon Russell Beale) is crumbling. She engages in a passionate affair with an ex-RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston), a romance that is doomed from the start.

From what I hear,  writer/director Terence Davies is a dude that people love and he has a style that cannot be messed with. I haven’t seen any of his other flicks except for this one and I have to say that maybe he’s not the perfect fit for a rowdy, 18-year old like myself.

What really brought me into this story right off the bat was the vision from Davies. This film takes place in one day, with plenty of flash-backs, but the film’s setting never really goes anywhere else except for its post-War England 1950’s setting and that was fine for me. The costume and production designs all look like they were taken right from a history book and put onto here and the film itself carries this very bright lighting approach that at first may be a bit distracting since it’s constantly in your face, but after awhile makes you realize that its actually drawing some extra layers to these characters and the story. It’s a very good style that may be a bit distracting at first by how damn good it is, but you start to forget it’s there and just pay total attention to everything else that’s going on…well..kind of..

The screenplay, which was adapted from a play, is pretty good even though I can say that there are a few missteps to be had here. I liked how the film showed this one woman’s troubles with both of these men and shows how they both made her happy and also how they made her go completely mad. We see her fall in love and decide whether or not she is sharing passion or love between these men and the answers in the end never really come up and it’s very brave for a film to show a woman’s love/passion in such a dark and sad way.

However, where this film fell through for me was the character development itself. We do get plenty of flash-backs of this woman and the two men in her life but barely ever do they convey any more emotions than the score tries to pull off. Both of the romances seem like they could work, mainly thanks to the cast involved, but the film barely touches on this in order to have us believe in what road she should end up choosing. The younger dude is obviously there to make her feel young again and the older dude is obviously there to make her for more upper-class and sophisticated, but there wasn’t anything else other than that here and I needed something more to work with.

Another problem was that not only did we not know how powerful of a love she shared with both of these guys was but we also didn’t know too much about her and what really made her tick. In the beginning, we see her sad and messed up over something and for the rest of the flick she never really gets out of that funk. We’re sort of left there the whole time to watch as this chick tries her hardest to make sense of what she wants, while she cries and acts like one of those chicks that you can’t trust home alone because no matter what, something will be effed up when you get back whether it be her or something in the house, you just know it.

I do have to say that this is where the cast came in and actually won this flick over for me. Rachel Weisz gives a very brave and emotional performance here as Hester, the woman in peril and gives one of the better performances that I’ve seen from her in recent time. She owns all of these scenes and as much as Hester may be a bit one-note, Weisz still seems to give her a believable side and also an understandable side as well. Tom Hiddleston was also very good here as her young lover, Freddie, and he definitely shows a lot of spunk and energy in a performance that could have easily been one of those “wild and crazy young lover” role, but instead makes it very likable and believable. Stage star Simon Russell Beale is also very good as Hester’s hubby, Sir William, and gives a good performance here as well even though I was shocked to find out that he is gay in real life. Gave me a whole bunch of more respect for him considering it’s so hard for a straight man to play a gay man, that I can only imagine how hard it must be for a gay man to play a straight man! Oh jeez, the acting skills!

Consensus: The Deep Blue Sea is beautiful to watch and has great performances from its trio of leads, but the story is a bit jilted in a way and we aren’t given much to care for here except for a couple of moments where there’s obvious devastation from our lead, but other than that, it’s all pretty lame.


Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

If I ever need someone to drive me around, I definitely would want Morgan Freeman as the dude.

A genteel but strong-willed Southern matron (Jessica Tandy) is an old-crochity lady who wants to do everything herself. That is all until one day when her son (Dan Aykroyd) hires a driver for her by the name of Hoke (Morgan Freeman). She’s displeased with this, but she soon starts to form a bond with him.

Adapted from the 1988 Pulitzer Prize winning play, ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ is a film that I have been wanting to see for a quite awhile now considering it’s the last PG film to win Best Picture. To be honest though, there were better films that year.

Director Bruce Beresford does a great job here of giving us a story that is initially slow-paced but feels real by the way it moves and by the way characters act. The film starts off by showing these two characters who talk their own way, act their own way, and basically live their own way but soon start to change after they continue conversations with one another. Beresford really down-plays a lot of the changing moments between these characters and it almost feels like something that would happen in real-life is two people of different races and backgrounds were to come together and realize something about each other.

The film also has a great deal of love and warmth in the air, which I think is a real testament to Alfred Uhry’s screenplay. Beresford and Uhry make a great team because the smooth direction almost goes hand-in-hand with this very charming but very real screenplay that not only addresses a lot of the racial problems that were going around the time-period (1948 to 1989) but doesn’t over-do it and does it more subtle than I expected. I think it’s the way that Uhry is able to combine heart, humor, and race issues into this film is the reason it won so many Oscars and why I actually enjoyed listening to these characters talk.

The problem with this film is that even though it may talk about these racial issues, it never seems like anything we haven’t heard or seen done before. We never really get any insight on how these characters feel and even though we get glimpses of them changing, there’s never any real moment where we really see these race issues tackled up-front and center. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what the film was trying to show me but there isn’t anything really new or surprising that this film has to say other than old white women should not drive.

Also, I like the film for being very relaxed and warm with it’s direction and writing but I never actually felt involved with the emotion of this story. Yes, it does have a nice little friendship between two different people that is at the heart of this film but we never actually feel any certain type of heart-wrenching moments towards either of them until about the last 20 minutes. Before these 20 minutes actually happened though, the film brings up little snippets of these two actually getting along and becoming very close but there was not enough of that for me to fully get into the emotion that this story was trying to make me feel.

What really saves this flick is the performances by everybody in this small-cast of characters. Morgan Freeman gives an incredibly likable performance as Hoke and probably the one that put him right on-the-map. Hoke is just one of those Southern bumpkins you get that is always happy about something and finds joy in making others happy but is also true to himself no matter what may come his way. Freeman plays this up perfectly and he uses a lot wit to great advantage and makes us feel so much more for his character. Dan Aykroyd is also here and gives a very quiet and subtle performance as Boolie, and even though it’s a little too hard to forget who’s playing the role, it’s still great to see him actually watch him doing something that makes you laugh considering he doesn’t do much of that nowadays.

Jessica Tandy was absolutely perfect in this film as Miss Daisy and deserved the Oscar she got that year. Tandy is playing a Jewish woman and even though she may never seem Jewish her role as this old and grumpy old woman who complains about anything and everything, still somehow made me feel a lot for her. We see little moments in this film of her being alone and being very scared to be alone but as soon as somebody is there with her, she goes right back to her old and grumpy self. These moments were very moving as we see an old woman who starts to see not only the world changing, but her life as well and the way Tandy plays it all up works perfectly for this character. Her and Freeman actually work perfectly together using moments of silence to actually convey more emotions rather than when they actually are speaking.

Consensus: Though Driving Miss Daisy doesn’t have anything new or biting to say about its subject material, the performances from Aykroyd, Freeman, and especially Tandy and the warm screenplay will make you feel something for this story even if you won’t be crying your eyes out by the end of it.


American Pie 2 (2001)

Bigger and badder, but surprisingly no pastries were harmed.

After a year apart – attending different schools, meeting different people – the guys rent a beach house and vow to make this the best summer ever. As it turns out, whether that will happen or not has a lot to do with the girls.

The original is by far a classic by all means and a favorite of mine so when I was going to see this one again, I was expecting something all the same but still enjoyable enough to not hate. Thankfully, I didn’t hate it this time around but damn is it like all other sequels.

The one element about sequels is that they always do everything that they did with the original, but instead do more of that because the more the merrier, right? Well, in some cases it works here but other times, I think they really dragged on with this flick and it’s jokes. The first one was crude, but at least the crudeness came in and did its thing and made me laugh. Here, they came in, lingered around for awhile and waited till the joke was practically dead in the water and then they just gave up and went onto another scene. I can’t be too surprised considering most Hollywood sequels do this but still, it’s something that’s noticeable right away.

I’ll also point out that everything else from the characters, to the plots, to the relationships, all seemed a bit under-developed with the exception of the main relationship between Jim and Michelle. I already knew all of these characters for what all that they are and were from the first flick, so I didn’t need that much character development but there was barely any of that and instead of actually focusing on these characters, the film felt it was more important to just focus on the gross-out gags that go on way too long sometimes. And I don’t know if it was me, but did anybody else feel like all of this partying could have been much more exciting than it actually was? Then again, it’s just a thought so don’t mind me.

However, as much ish as I may be talking here I still had an enjoyable with this flick mainly because the parts that did work, really worked. There are a couple of gross-out gags that really made me laugh and there are plenty of other moments full of comedy that made me laugh just because it’s a bunch of young dudes partying, drinking, and trying to pick up girls. It’s all in good fun and there’s a couple of moments that are very memorable such as when Jim gets glue and lube mixed up, and another time where Stifler and Jim have to do a little version of “shadow” between a couple of “lesbians”. It’s all funny, trust me, even if it does seem a bit too much like a Farrelly Brothers comedy.

I also liked the focus on Jim and Michelle’s relationship that I thought made the film so much better every time they were on-screen together and I was glad that they actually did decide to go down this road. It’s such a sweet, little romance that works because they are both geeks and it’s just great to see two geeks in love even if the one is a total freak in bed and the other is just a dude who can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to getting it on. But it’s not all about the sex, it’s all about the love between two people that matters and you could feel it with this flick and it sure is believable.

As for the cast, everybody here has returned and all do great jobs with their own, respective roles. Seann William Scott gets a lot more screen-time here as Stifler and made me laugh just about every time and is definitely that one kid you would invite down to the shore with you because he has all of the moolah in the world. However, it’s great to see everybody all be friendly with each other once again and it totally serves up the whole point about this film about how we all change but we should all stick together and keep in touch. Maybe there was no point to this flick after all, but it’s always good to look in a lot more than you would expect.

Consensus: American Pie 2 features an over-abundance of what the first one did and starts to drag a lot, but the moments that worked, really made me laugh, and it was just also great to see the cast all back together doing what they do best with these likable characters.


The Accused (1988)

Never going to be able to play pinball the same way ever again now.

After being raped by three men in a local bar, Sarah (Jodie Foster), enraged at the light sentence her attackers receive, persuades attorney Kathryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) to press charges against the men who cheered on the attack. But it won’t be easy: Sarah has a shady past that could be used against her in court.

There have been many films to deal with the subject of rape but never before 1988 was there one that dealt with it in such a straight-up and frank way. I mean we practically see rape happen in almost every horror/thriller but never do we get to see what happens when that racist is finally poned.

The film is based off of a real-life case that took place in 1983 and the film never loses that raw edge and feel about the whole subject of rape. Rape is obviously something that’s not good no matter who the person may be but this flick shows all of the damage it can do to one person and how they deal with it on a day-to-day basis. It’s a good and important story that deserves to be told but I still feel like it deserved a better flick.

The problem with all of this is though, the film never gave me any type of emotion to feel for the story or characters the whole time, probably because of its made-for-TV movie feel. We know how this case is going to go down right from the start and even though I may have been a bit intrigued by the courtroom drama scenes, they never really showed anything new or exciting that I haven’t seen done before in other dramas of this nature. There is also never any real insight or emotional depth to come along with these proceedings and as much as the film would like to say that it’s getting inside the mind of a person who’s just been rape, it really is just showing a person frustrated over the fact that the dudes who were there to watch the rape, never really did anything in the first place.

The other major problem with this flick is that you can’t really believe a lot of what is going on, with these evil characters and the actual rape itself. I’m not very sure that a whole bar of men, would just stand there and cheer on as three dudes constantly rape a chick into oblivion. Isn’t there any dude that would just stand up and say “what the eff are you doing!?!”? Of course there are people out there in the world who are this sick, but doesn’t anybody know what a rape looks like and know that it is a crime? Take it for granted though, the flick is based on a true story so it could have definitely happened that way but for some odd reason, it comes off as more exaggerated and over-blown than realistic in ways.

However, where this film’s strength really lies in is its amazing performance from Jodie Foster. Foster plays this character Sarah who is not too entirely likable. She’s white-trash, a whore, and dirty but somehow Foster gets us to actually care about her character and her story as well. You can tell that she feels pain from this rape that had happened to her and you know that she doesn’t mean any harm to anyone or anything, which is why it’s very easy to back her up and just about every chance Foster gets, she really lets loose with her raw energy built inside. The whole speech that she gives about what happened to her is definitely the best part of the flick and definitely the one moment that assured her that she was definitely going to get that Oscar.

Kelly McGillis is also fine as Kathryn, handling a lot of the court stuff pretty well but her character still seems underdevoloped in some way. She starts off as this strong-minded career woman that only wants to do the right thing but then she all of a sudden starts to turn into this woman who is all about fighting for a cause and woman’s rights. I’m not saying that this couldn’t have happened to anybody who would have taken a case like this but the film never really focuses on her enough to actually give her the chance to really show her character for what she is.

Consensus: The Accused features an amazing performance from Foster which rises this above the whole made-for-TV movie feel, but in the end it’s predictable, a little over-the-top, and something that you can’t really get emotionally involved with no matter how hard the film tries.


The Hunger Games (2012)

The best way to have kids learn their lessons fast, is to just put them in a fight to the death. Then they’ll wise up, trust me.

In the story, a dystopic Capitol requires its twelve subjugated districts to pay tribute in the form of a teenage boy and girl who are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. When Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen in the lottery, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place.

I must admit that I have no idea where the hell I was when this book was first published and created all this hype for a flick. However, what I did have an idea about was that it was a hell of a lot cooler and more bad-ass than that ‘Twilight’ garbage and that’s really all that matters.

For the whole first hour, things really weren’t taking off which is a problem, but at the same time I was still interested. I liked the setting this film made where the rich basically got richer and the poor got poorer (which is sort of how it is in today’s society, but you didn’t hear that from me). The setting is here and I felt very intrigued by seeing how these kids all trained for the games, how they got siked up for it, and just how they spent what could be their last days alive. However, the problem with a lot of this is that even though the film has all of this interesting stuff going on right off the bat, the film moves very slow and it’s a tad boring. I won’t sit here and say that I was dozing off at any chance, because my eyes were always watching the screen, but all of the important things said (like what these kids had to say about their lives possibly being put to an end) and important things shown (how these kids were defined by these situations), all sort of went down without any real emotional connection.

After this first hour though, the film really starts to pick up and that’s where Gary Ross‘ sturdy direction really comes into play. Ross has a lot to deal with here such as a big-budget full of eye-catching visuals and CGI effects, plenty of social themes to be shown without seeming to hit us over the head (‘The Lorax’ *cough* *cough*), and a crap load of violence that had to be bearable enough to supply a PG-13 rating but also please the fans of the book that wanna see some gore. Ross is easily up for the challenge by making each of his three different locations (poverty stricken areas, lavish metropolis-like looking buildings, and a forest that isn’t a normal one you would find in your state park) all look beautiful and bring you into this world that seems similar but at the same time feels like something you have never seen before. Ross is also a great action director because he’s great at speeding up the camera just when he wants to and bring some intensity to the scenes but is also able to slow it down and give us one of the better “trip scenes” that I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s nothing spectacular or different that Ross is doing here but he seems pretty comfortable having to deal with so much pressure and so much money on just one movie by getting it done in a way that would both make regular movie-goers happy but die hards of the book as well. Good job Gary!

I also have to say for a film that has a premise where a bunch of kids are going around hacking each other to death all for their government, the film keeps the violence pretty toned down. There isn’t that much blood, there’s hardly any gore, and the violence is usually sped up so fast that you can barely make out what’s going on but when it does happen, it’s pretty disturbing. It definitely deserved it’s PG-13 rating but I can tell you that there are some stuff here that you’ll see that are pretty hard to watch but feels right to the story. It also may show us where I world is running towards with richer people looking for more entertainment in the ways of watching the lesser people practically kill each other, so you better all start working on your fighting and hunting skills.

My key problems with this film are just from a person who didn’t read the book, and probably didn’t fully “get it” like so many of you probably reading this did. Example numero uno is the whole love story between Katniss and Peeta. First off it all came off as forced, which at first was the intention but then it started becoming serious and that’s where I didn’t buy it. It practically comes out of nowhere and even when it does come around, the film makes it seem like these two kids have so much more to win for other than their lives, they also have their love. Maybe there was something that made more sense that I didn’t read but it just didn’t lock me in and have me believe in these two characters any more than I already did. Also, the little “love triangle” between these two and Gale (a totally underused Liam Hemsworth) didn’t draw me in mainly because it was too underdeveloped and didn’t really do anything for me either.

What sold me on this film though was the key performance from Jennifer Lawrence who is nothing but spectacular as Katniss Everdeen. This chick is endearing enough to where you can feel for her character, believable enough to not only make you feel for her character but also make it seem like she’s just an ordinary girl put into a real shitty situation such as this, a little smart assy to have you feel like she always has something witty to say, but also very tough where you think that she can win these “Hunger Games” and fend for herself even when things really seem like their going South for her. Lawrence gives a very well-rounded performance and doesn’t make this just seem like another character drawn right from the book, but an actual human being put into a life and death situation such as this. If ‘Winter’s Bone’ didn’t make her a star, then this definitely will and I’m glad that is the case.

As for everybody else, they are all pretty amazing too. Josh Hutcherson looks and fits the role as Peeta, and has you believe that this kid is always one step ahead of everyone else; Elizabeth Banks was goofy and flamboyant as Effie; Wes Bentley finally comes back from the dead (or wherever the hell he’s been since ‘American Beauty’) here as Seneca and gives a pretty solid performance even though he is upstaged by his awesomely-drawn tattoo/beard he’s got going on here; Woody Harrelson gives his usual witty but seasoned role as Haymitch; Lenny Kravitz was surprisingly very good as Cinna even though I had a feeling he was going to break out into “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”, which would have been perfectly suitable for the action scenes; and Stanley Tucci steals the show as Caesar Flickerman, the totally goofy-looking and smiley talk show host that seems to always be winning the crowd over, even though he’s a total cheese ball.

The only cast member that I thought was pretty lame was Alexander Ludwig as Cato. I don’t think it was necessarily Ludwig who played this character wrong it was just that the film basically made him out to be the most dangerous person in the whole “Hunger Games” and when they actually start, he’s pretty much absent from everything and has Seneca do more work for him. Then again though, I don’t think he was “the real enemy”………

Consensus: The Hunger Games probably would have been a lot better for me have I previously read the book, but without that, it features an inspired direction from Gary Ross, a great cast that all work wonders with their parts (especially Lawrence), and will be able to provide enough adventure, pathos, action, and themes for anybody who are big fans but also for people who just want a teen novel adaption that’s a hell of a lot better than those ‘Twilight’ pieces of shite.


Breaking the Waves (1996)

Marriage is a beautiful thing, that is until von Trier touches it.

A childlike, devoutly religious woman named Bess (Emily Watson) marries a foreign oil worker, Jan (Stellan Skarsgård), who must leave for the barges not long after the wedding. Distraught, she prays that he comes home, and immediately afterward, he’s severely injured, almost completely paralyzed. Thinking it’s her fault, when he requests that she sleep with other men and describe it to him so they ‘can be together’, she takes on the task with tragic determination.

Writer/director Lars von Trier is a guy that I can’t really find myself loving but at least admiring for whatever the hell it is that he’s trying to do. Now, I can maybe move even closer to loving him like so many others already have.

von Trier films this in his grainy, handheld camera signature style which uses only actual light for each and every shot and also no score whatsoever which is always a win win for me. These little elements added in there are what made me really admire this flick because I didn’t feel like I was actually watching a film after awhile, I felt like I was watching a real if bizarre true story play out right in front of my eyes. von Trier also uses chapters for this flick and each one is accompanied by a classic rock song ranging from the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart. It’s a very strange idea but it’s still an idea that works somehow, even if it is von Trier just messing around like the mad-man that he is.

Where this film really works is its story even though its insane. The whole synopsis may have you scratching your head, as all von Trier synopsis’ probably do, but after about the third chapter, it all starts to turn into a real heart-felt story that I actually started to follow. The film isn’t enjoyable to say the least but the little romance that these two have and how sweet and sort of innocent it actually is, works in the films favor and gets us ready for all of the dark and sad shit that takes over the last 2 hours of the flick. Still, once it does start, I still felt the same way I did before.

I like how von Trier combines all of these ideas with sex, faith, religion, sacrifice, and most of all, love into one film but it never feels too jam-packed with ideas nor does it ever feel like its focusing on one more than the other, they just somehow get focused on all at the same time. You see how this girl is treated because she may be a little weird, but once she gets this husband it’s almost too good to be true of how happy and in love she is. Once that starts to go away though, it’s even worse to see what happens to her and that’s when the film started to make me feel something for this character probably because von Trier cared for her as much as I did.

von Trier may exploit these characters beyond belief but he never loses sight that these characters are just about as real as you or I am and the way he handles just about every scene that builds up the emotional punch until it’s through the roof, is a true testament to von Trier’s writing/direction. We actually feel something for this character and every decision that she makes has another lasting impact not on how we feel about her, but us as well considering that the film never lets us lose sight of who we are dealing with here. She’s not a mean, cruel, or bad person she’s just a girl who’s doing something for her husband, no matter how twisted or effed up it may be. The film even brings up the whole point about what she is doing could be referred to as “good” and I can’t say that I am against that idea either.

Where my problem with this film was, lied in the fact that for every heart-breaking moment here had a nonsensical, bizarre, and strange moment just ready to follow it up, which is what I expected but since this story was so rich it almost feels like a rip-off in a way. von Trier shows too much of the controversial vision of love and faith that he has here and it starts to take away from the believability of things here and give us a firm belief of what we are watching. I know I sound kind of like a cheese ball considering I knew I was going to get a lot of this going into the film but it just seemed unreasonable for von Trier to put all of this crazy and wild sexual stuff in this flick even when it doesn’t really need it with the story that it has.

The real reason to watch this film though is for the performance of Emily Watson here who plays Bess McNeill. Bess is a very strange, weird, messed-up girl who also has a very vulnerable, loving, and playful side to her as well and even though at first it may seem very hard for us to actually get involved with her character, Watson makes this one of the best characters I have seen on the screen in awhile. Watson plays every emotion that goes through Bess perfectly with all of the crying, moping, anger, joy, and downright pure neediness and makes this somewhat schizophrenic character seem very believable in her portrait. A lot of the things Bess does here is pretty effed up but I still thought she was a nice and sweet girl despite all of the problems that she was going through. I think Watson definitely deserved this nomination that she got but I also think that she should have gotten the Oscar as well, even though I still need to see the other nominated performances from that year.

Stellan Skarsgård is also very good in an early role that shows him playing many different emotions as well and us never being too sure as to what really is going on in his mind at the time. Considering he is practically crippled throughout the whole flick, it takes a lot for Stellan to draw out some emotions and mystery within his character, which continues to work considering we never know what’s on his mind, if he is even in the right frame of mind, or if he wants to live or die. None of this is ever really made clear to us which I liked and I think that Stellan did a great job with this mysterious but also likable performance that he gives.

Consensus: Breaking the Waves has a problem with too many bizarre things occurring but it also benefits from a very good story that is weird but also very emotional, amazing performances from everyone involved, especially Watson herself, and a story as far-fetched as it may be, that still comes off as heart-breaking and true, even though it comes from the mind of Lars von trier.


House of Sand and Fog (2003)

What would have happened to Gandhi, had he decided to live in America.

When her husband dumps her, the emotionally unstable Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) finds her house in the California hills seized in foreclosure and put up for public auction by local authorities, including a sympathetic sheriff’s deputy (Ron Eldard). An exiled Iranian air force colonel (Ben Kingsley) buys Kathy’s “dream” house at a bargain price for his family. But Kathy is obsessed with getting it back.

Having a home and being able to call it your own has to be a great thing so it’s not wonder why so many people would actually go the ends of the Earth to get it back, when its taken from them. I have never had a house that I can call my own (only mansions, holla!) but I can easily say that if I do have one in the future, I’m paying those damn taxes!

This was the debut for Vadim Perelman who actually does a pretty good job here with a story that seems very hard to actually sit, watch, and enjoy. Both of these characters have certain traits to their personality that are very ugly and unlikable which makes it a lot harder to really get behind when character, considering they could be doing something nice one second and then the next they just do something so despicable to make you feel like you want to beat them the hell up. Perelman makes every single twist within this story just as shocking as the last, and our opinions on these characters change within every second which makes it hard for anybody to actually be deemed “likable”. It’s a very hard story with some very hard characters to stand by but somehow Perelman makes it all work.

The film is also done very well in a technical way by Perelman as well. The cinematography looks beautiful and just about every shot features little hints of fog, darkness, and this glum look that really does add a lot to the films feel. You never feel like something here is going to go right with this story and these characters and that’s mainly because of just how tense and suspenseful this film got after awhile which is a real surprise as to why Perelman has only done one other film after this, which was apparently a bomb. I mean I’m not saying that this is a perfect direction by any means but it’s very tense and he keeps the story going at a nice pace for us to feel a lot of what’s going on and it’s something that the horror genre may need right about now. Just saying though.

The one problem with this film though is that something about the screenplay just feels a bit off when it’s more about the plot rather than the cops. The story constantly jumps back-and-forth between Behrani along with his family and Kathy along with her dumb-ass cop boyfriend. I liked Behrani on screen and I also liked some of Kathy’s scenes as well but the angle with her cop boyfriend who seemed like a total dickhead in the first place, didn’t interest me one bit and the fact that they kept on going back to this story really annoyed the hell out of me since the tension sort of got lost. I also can’t forget to mention that the performance Ron Eldard gives as the cop, feels very wooden and a lot of his scenes feel like they should have some sort of dramatic feeling, but instead got lost by the fact that he’s not a very good actor, which is surprising because he was awesome in ‘Super 8’.

Earlier I mentioned before how the film is difficult to really enjoy considering that both of these characters are a bit unlikable in their own ways but for some reason, Kathy’s story just did not do anything for me at all. Kathy is obviously messed up, sad, and heartbroken but she is a total dumb-ass the whole time who should have just payed her damn bills and stop whining like a little bitch in the first place. It wouldn’t have been so bad if she just let them take her house and didn’t put up a fight about it but she just constantly keeps on coming back for more and more annoyance talking about how she was cheated and that her house is her house. She’s not really a character we can sympathize with, but then again, who else in this film actually is!?!

The main reason why this film works is because of the two performances here given by its two lead performances. Ben Kingsley is great here as Behrani channeling just about every emotion there is to be had in this character. This guy is one who obviously was a hot-shot in his native country, but then soon moves to America where he is basically a nobody and has to struggle with so much such as pride, anger, and just the frustration that actually comes to him when he buys this house. Kingsley is so precise and good at what he does here that it’s no wonder that he got nominated for an Oscar and makes a lot more of the hokier scenes this film has at times, seem very real and heart-wrenching.

Jennifer Connelly is also just about as perfect as Kathy who plays that sad character we usually see her play but since she’s the lead now, she’s allowed to do a lot more now with her character and does a great job just about every time on-screen. Even though I couldn’t like her character and sympathize with her, I could still like Connelly here considering she puts a lot on the line in this flick showing just about the best of her depression with an under-lining sense of happiness that comes to her in the middle. She’s riveting in almost every scene and there was almost just one part where I really felt like I was going to sympathize with her, but then I just didn’t. Shame that she didn’t at least get a nomination for this flick.

Consensus: House of Sand and Fog may suffer from a script that starts to lose its focus at points, but it’s still incredibly well-acted by Kinglsey and Connelly, who both give performances that divide us between who we like more and who is in the right, and who is in the wrong.


American Pie (1999)

Main reasons as to why I’m letting my senior year go out with a bang!

A group of four horny high school buddies decide to make a pact in which they all plan to lose their virginities before the high school prom. In their valiant quest for getting their collective rocks off, the boys get into all kinds of trouble and wildly unpredictable hilarity ensues.

Since the reunion of this famous high school film series is coming up some time soon, I thought what better way to take a trip down memory lane and make me realize how much I’m going to miss my days as a high schooler.

One of the main reasons why ‘American Pie’ is considered the classic that it is today is because it’s a teen sex comedy flick that doesn’t have us forget that and makes no apologies for it either. I mean this is one of those high school comedies where there is just so much raunch, gross-out visual gags, and obvious sex jokes that for the biggest stickler to dirty stuff will probably piss away this flick, but for the horned-up, sex-crazed teenager like myself and plenty of other ones out there too, I loved it. The jokes are dirty, yes, but they are also hilarious and with every situation that seemed to get even funnier and grosser just as the film went on where it felt like these guys could pull anything out of their ass, and they probably would too. It’s definitely one of those raunchy comedies that are for a certain audience, but if you are that audience, you will have an absolute ball. Hell, try to guess what the title is actually about! I can tell you it’s not named after that Don McLean song.

Probably what’s so much better about this flick apart from it’s gross-out comedy stuff is the fact that it does a pretty realistic job at capturing just what it’s like to be in high school. The essence is here in every scene such as when you feel peer-pressured into doing such things as sex with a major babe or taking a couple of brewskies, and even those moments with the other high school classmate that are just awkward beyond belief but at the time you’re not really thinking and you don’t care either way. Being in high school myself right now (as you could have probably already assumed), this one hit close to home with me because I could identify with everything that these characters were going through and it just felt honest, real, but also totally hilarious in just how everything played out and the film never loses that funny edge to it.

But you don’t even need to be in high school at the present time to fully enjoy it, all you have to do is remember all of the people that made up your best (and sometimes worst) moments of high school and also the other little people in between like the skanks, or the jocks, or the weirdos, or even the parents that always seem to be up your ass trying to pep you up about sex and tell you what’s right and what isn’t. It’s all so true and the way that first-time director Paul Weitz was able to show this makes it even better considering it brought back the high school teen sex comedy back from the grave that it was in for so damn long.

Another great aspect of this film is that its characters aren’t terribly unlikable pieces of shit that you wouldn’t want to even sit next to in class, let alone spend a whole hour and 36 minutes with, they are actually sweet characters that you care for and want to be around more and more. Jason Biggs is perhaps the most impressive here as Jim because he totally just lets himself loose, degrading himself on countless occasions just to do anything for a quick laugh and it always had me laughing my ass off. He’s also incredibly nerdy which gave me that type of idea that he’s like what Woody Allen would be like in a comedy like ‘Porky’s‘. His dad, played by the always funny Eugene Levy, is also hilarious and the father-son duo they got going on here works because it feels so real in a very funny way.

Everybody else in the cast is great too and every character is just worth mentioning because they all add something to the film that makes it what it is known as today. Chris Klein is perfect as the sensitive jock, Oz; Eddie Kaye Thomas is funny as the sophiscated and high-standard type known as Finch; Thomas Ian Nicholas is good as the inspired virgin, Kevin; Alyson Hannigan is so damn cute and charming as the band weenie, Michelle, and easily brings out the best moments in the flick; Natasha Lyonne is hip and cool as the chick who knows everything about anything, Jessica; Mena Survari is nice as the sweet choir singer, Heather; and Tara Reid is just fine as Vicky. Oh yeah let’s not forget to mention that the biggest high light of this flick is probably every time Seann William Scott shows up as Steve Stifler, but you know what? There’s nothing else that needs to be said about just how amazing of a character this dude is and how great Scott is at playing him considering he plays the same character just about in every movie now.

Also, can’t forget to mention Shannon Elizabeth either but I think we all know why I can’t forget. Rawrrrrr!

Consensus: American Pie may not be for the more older/sophisticated types but who it is for, works in every single way from it’s acting, to its gross-out gags, humor, atmosphere, embarrassing reality of what it’s like to be in high school, and also will probably bring you back to thinking about the days of you and your pals in the day and all of the people who made it what it was.

9/10=Full Price!!

Detachment (2012)

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.


Casa de Mi Padre (2012)

Spanish is such a fun language to speak, especially if your Ron Burgundy.

This film tells the story of Armando Alvarez (Ferrell), a struggling ranch owner whose fortune seem to turn when his younger brother Raul (Diego Luna), a successful businessman, shows up to save the property. But when Armando falls for his brother’s fiancee (Genesis Rodriguez), and Raul’s business dealings turn out to be a bit shady, all hell breaks loose as they find themselves in the crosshair of Mexico’s most feared drug lord, the ruthless Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal).

It seems like Will Ferrell is able to do anything as long as it consists of him doing anything funny or that makes him look utterly ridiculous. This film does both but not as well as I or the film itself would have it liked it being.

This is basically one long parody of those corny-ass, Spanish television shows you would see at around 1 p.m. and it actually is very funny even though it could be said that the film is just using one joke, over and over again. There is a lot that they parody with this flick (all of the sets and animals look so damn fake!) and it made me laugh much like I was expecting. But it’s not just a satire because there are plenty of moments where it seems like straight-up low brow humor that we have seen from certain Apatow flicks. It’s a funny combination of both styles of comedic writing and they both come together pretty well.

Some people are actually complaining about how the script is so dumb, but that’s pretty much the point. The whole film focuses on pointing little jokes here and there at how over-dramatic these certain stories can get and it works in that way. It had me laughing, that’s for damn sure, but it definitely could have had me laughing a hell of a lot more. However, that’s what brings me onto my biggest problem with this flick.

Since the film is essentially a one-joke premise, there is a part where the film really starts to run out of steam and feel as if it was long, extended SNL skit. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely laughed plenty of times but there were other times where I felt like the jokes started either totally missing the mark or just trying too hard to be funny that it almost seemed like the film was actually straining itself. It also gets bad when certain jokes go on a little too long like where they explain what a scene would have been like if it weren’t for the fact that it was a little too crazy for its budget. That may sound funny on paper, and it’s actually funny in the film itself but it runs on just a tad too long like the director didn’t know when it was time to end his punch-line.

What also was sort of a total let-down was the fact that this flick looked like it was going to be one big ridiculous comedy that just got more and more dumb as it went on, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but think it’s not as ridiculous as the plot and advertisements may have you think at first. Of course you have Ferrell speaking Spanish and a whole bunch of other moments where it seems like they are being over-dramatic just to be funny, but for some odd reason it just never crossed that boundary into utterly ridiculous territory. Maybe I expected too much, but then again coming from Ferrell, I should be expecting this sort of stuff. And lots and lots of it.

I must say though, it was great to see Will Ferrell explore his comedic talents with his way of trying to speak in Spanish and even as unbelievable he may be at that language, it still doesn’t matter because he’s very funny playing that lovable, big, goofy dude we all know and love him for. Gael García Bernal is also quite funny as the notorious drug kingpin villain that we always get in these sort of flicks; Diego Luna is having a pretty good year so far with this and ‘Contraband’; and Génesis Rodríguez is so damn hot that I didn’t really pay attention much to her performance rather than just her rack. Still though, good performances from everybody speaking in their native tongue, except for Ferrell obviously.

Consensus: Casa de Mi Padre features some very funny moments that will either leave you crying or just chuckling thinking about it long after the movie is over, but there are times where the jokes seem to go on for too long and the fact that it isn’t consistently funny may be a bit of a draw-back, especially when you consider that Will Ferrell is in it.


Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012)

Always count on your big bro to make you feel less weird than you already are.

The film revolves around one man (Jason Segel) searching for the meaning of life while running to the store to buy wood glue. Using the universe as his guide, Jeff looks for signs to help determine his path. However, a series of comedic and unexpected events leads him to cross paths with his family in the strangest of locations and circumstances. Jeff just may find the meaning of his life… and if he’s lucky, pick up the wood glue as well.

The Duplass Brothers‘ last big film was ‘Cyrus’, a film that was strange and quirky but still had a nice heart to it and some pretty good laughs. It’s also the film that got these guys big and made people realize that they are an indie force to be reckoned with, however, I don’t think that they should be showing this one off if that is the case.

The film seems like a minor one because it just barely gets by a run-time of only 80 minutes and takes course over a single day but this is also a film that seems to show The Duplass Bros. stretching out their legs and seeing what they can do with a somewhat bigger budget. The plot here allows them to at least branch out a bit by having the whole thing take place outside and even let them pursue some action here although it’s not the kind you’re probably thinking of. Still, they have the same old hand-held camera style where its jumpy and constantly zooms in-and-out awkwardly on the characters. Their style of mumblecore works well for this flick because there are many moments where I felt myself laughing a bit but also feeling something for these characters and investing myself more and more into them. However, that only went so far.

Much of the script is improvised, exactly how the directors like it, and it adds this sort of genuine flow to the film that works but at the same time takes away from the flick. Since you have these two funny-as-hell actors up in front of us the whole time, you would expect them to make us practically howling out of our seats but instead, they just resort to yelling the F-bomb out of each other and getting in physical fights, physical fights that are actually a lot funnier than what either of them say. Usually these guys are hilarious and have me on the verge of tears but for some odd reason, everything they said just came off as either unfunny or totally flat. I guess Segel was just waiting for Kermit or Miss Piggy to pop-up.

The two different story-lines that these brothers have aren’t very interesting since their so damn simple. Jeff is just a pot smoking dope who lives in his mommy’s basement and barely ever comes out and Pat is a regular dude who seems to be having a marriage that is falling down to an impending doom. There’s nothing too special about either of these story-lines at all but what was pretty neat was the whole idea Jeff has behind that everything in the world is connected to each other in some way or another. It’s pretty cool to see how everything does come together here, just like it was supposed to in Jeff’s mind, but then that mumbo jumbo spiritual crap started to get redundant and made it get a bit annoying after awhile.

What was bad with this film though was that by the end, all of the “comedy” that we saw in the beginning of the flick starts to go away within the last 20 minutes and everything begins to get dramatic. And when I mean dramatic, I mean DRAMATIC. I don’t mind if a comedy is trying to show some of its heart and even a little bit of its love it has to give but it gets very cheesy, very quick and it just came across as melodramatic rather than natural. At least with the Duplass’ last flick, they at least were subtle about showing their soft side, this film just bares it all with the over-powering indie score and everything.

However, when it really came down to it, the performances from everybody involved is what really made this flick work in the end. Jason Segel is good as this goofy and very philosophical dope, Jeff, and the slacker that he always plays his roles with is here but this time it at least has more of a heart and soul this time; Ed Helms is good as Pat but was a little too deuchy for me at points but then again, that was pretty much how he was supposed to be so my point was pretty dumb; Judy Greer is once again great in her little role as the wife of Pat, Linda, who seems to be cheating on him and she has a couple of good scenes where she shows some real emotion and gets this film into its dramatic territory but there’s not enough of her here (then again though, when is there ever?); and Susan Sarandon plays Pat and Jeff’s mommy who actually has the most interesting story as she deals with a secret admirer in her work-place, but then her story sort of gets thrown into unbelievable material by the end and it kind of loses it’s fun feeling it had.

Consensus: Jeff, Who Lives at Home has some funny and touching moments much ado to the cast, but ultimately feels like a let-down from the Duplass Brothers considering how lazy the writing feels, how unfunny many parts, and just how damn dramatic everything gets by the end. It definitely makes me want to watch ‘Cyrus’ again and see what made that one way better than this flick.


21 Jump Street (2012)

High school sucks.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as young and clueless police officers who go undercover at a high school to investigate a drug ring, effectively giving them the opportunity to relive their student lives all over again.

The idea of remaking an old TV show as a movie doesn’t seem too promising. However, all of those problems were gone as soon as I saw the hilarious Red-Band trailer for this one and then I got to see the actual film itself and it was so much better than I expected.

The whole structure of this flick is pretty simple: put two bros in uncomfortable situations, have them run into a problem, and then have a nice, but action-packed resolution. However, that structure doesn’t go down so easily here considering it doesn’t go for the cheap laughs and isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at itself in the meantime. This is one of the funnier flicks that I have seen in recent time because it has raunch that is deserved, jokes that hit the mark just about every time, and a bit of satire about how high school really is in today’s world which definitely hit a lot closer to home for me and seemed so true. Everything is so much different today from what it used to be and instead of the philosophical, softer kids being the ones you shoved in lockers, they are now all of a sudden the cool kids that find their ways as being hailed at the end of the year as “the one most likely to succeed and be uber cool”. It’s something I see in school today and even though I’m not really trying to complain about it, I just still find it funny that a film that takes place in high school is able to hit the mark so perfectly.

What’s really strange about this flick is that it’s actually from the directing duo of Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, aka the guys behind the animated hit ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’. It’s definitely a strange pick-up for these guys to go from kiddie flick about obesity to an R-rated comedy but they somehow are able to make transition work with their strange ideas to keep this flick moving. The film isn’t unpredictable by any means but there is so much here that seems so funny and original, that you wonder exactly why none of this hasn’t been done before and just why it’s so easy for these two dudes to do it and comedy director veterans still can’t hit the right marks. One funny example from this flick is the drug-montage scene they have here. Every flick that has to do with drugs in one way or another all have a weird montage, but this film takes that one step further and makes it so much more funnier than it had any right to be and that’s just one scene. There are so many more like them that made me laugh like crazy.

However (yes, there is always a however), as fresh as this flick may be, it does start to falter by the end as it dives more towards action and loses a bit of its comedic edge. I didn’t mind this as much considering the action is surprisingly very good but everything ends so predictably that it’s a shame considering this flick really had me thinking I was about to see a new and original twist on this type of formula, only I never got that. It also seemed a little strange that Hill’s character starts to get more and more attracted to Brie Larson’s high school character even though she’s a little too young for him. Then again, it could happen so don’t mind me.

The main reason why I was looking forward to this flick in the first place was because of the strange pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and they both deliver in their own little ways. Hill is once again hilarious here (in a slightly less fatter way) and makes it seem like comedy can come to him so easily no matter what the script demands. Then again, a lot of it does start to seem like it’s just improv, which is definitely a lot better for Hill considering he owns that. I was also incredibly happy to see my main man Channing, finally get a role that suited him with his action and comedic skills. Tatum was hilarious in the strange flick, ‘The Dilemma’, and it was great to see him show his comedic skills once again, this time playing up his meat-head look for laughs. Both of these guys play-off of each other perfectly every time they are on-screen together and it was such a blast to see these guys having a blast that I wanted more of them on-screen. So glad these guys were able to nail these roles considering Hollywood has been really finding it hard where to put them lately.

The supporting cast is also great and all play up their own comedic skills to add more to the flick. Ice Cube is funny as the predictable, angry black chief that always seems to be yelling and dropping the F-bomb every time the film focuses on him but he plays that up perfectly and hopefully this will get him back in doing better comedies than ‘Are We There Yet?’; Dave Franco has a funny performance here as the wise-ass high school kid, Eric, and reminded me so much of James Franco that it was too funny to be true; and Rob Riggle has his hilarious moments as the creepy gym teacher that always seems to be effing around with these kids. There’s also a totally memorable cameo at the end of the flick that’s perfect but I don’t want to give anything away because it is definitely something has to be seen to be believed.

Consensus: 21 Jump Street isn’t really doing anything to re-invent the buddy-action comedy wheel, but the chemistry between Hill and Tatum, the rapid fire humor, and the fresh and brutally realistic look at the present-day high school make this a comedy that actually will make you laugh consistently.


Friends with Kids (2012)

Good-looking people should just stop boning each other if they don’t want kids.

The film centers a group of close friends at a moment in time when children arrive and everything changes. The last two singles in the group (Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) observe the toll that having kids has taken on their friends’ relationship and wonder if there is a better way. They decide to have a child together and then date other people.

After last year’s sleeper hit ‘Bridesmaids’ came out it seems like every person in the world has been searching for that next big comedy that will not only do well with critics but also the box-office, because we all know how hard that can be…. Of course this idea went right into Jennifer Westfeldt’s head as she got her real-life boy toy, Jon Hamm, to give a call up to not one, not two, but three of his fellow ‘Bridesmaids’ stars and what we have here is anything but that. I mean that in a good and bad way.

Where this film works is in the way that it explores exactly what it’s trying to show and say. I’m not over thirty and I definitely don’t have any kids (that I know of) so this film seemed like it wasn’t going to really connect with me but through this script and all of the funny and sometimes sad situations these couples had to go through, gave me a better understanding of what being a parent in your 30’s is like. You see the couple that loves each other dearly but still bickers over the smallest stuff, you see the couple that were once red-hot every time they were with each other but now can’t stand the sight of either one, and then you have that one “bff” couple that doesn’t let things between them get serious at all and still are able to be cool with each other through everything. This film seemed very true in a lot of things it showed and it’s insight is not only humorous, but can also get somewhat dark especially by the end when a ski trip between all of these pals go sour as one person brings up the other person’s dumb thinking skills when it comes to being a parent. Hey, we aren’t all perfect!

The film has a lot of funny people in this flick but it’s not hilarious like you would expect. There were plenty of moments where I laughed and definitely had a chuckle but those moments were spread far apart from one another and I think it was more of the fact that it’s the cast that had me laughing rather than the script itself, which will probably disappoint everyone who goes out to see this expecting people to take craps in the sink. Then again though, not every comedy needs that.

The film for the first hour or so, feels fresh, somewhat original, and insightful. However, things start to get pretty familiar after this first hour and that’s where this flick started to lose me. It goes down this road of where the two bff’s start to realize that they really do love each other and I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything by saying that either considering it’s pretty obvious just by seeing the trailer.

Being conventional wasn’t just its biggest problem though, it also didn’t help that Westfeldt isn’t very good as a director. There were scenes that I wish went on longer because of how funny they could be and how much energy they had stored in them with all of this talent on the screen together but for some reason, those scenes felt like they were cut short. It may sound like I’m being a tad too nit-picky but I just couldn’t help thinking that if they put this film in the hands of somebody who knows how to film comedians improving without ever cutting away and just letting them rant on and on, then this film would have had some brighter moments, but ended up only having less than I expected.

As for this ensemble, everybody here is good even though I feel like the script didn’t allow them to be funnier and just wanted them to be somewhat funny but more honest. Jennifer Westfeldt has a likability to her that works for her character, Julie, but I couldn’t help thinking that there could have been more spirit in her act; Adam Scott is very good in this lead role as Jason and should definitely get more considering he’s not only funny every chance he gets, but he also can handle being dramatic without stretching his skills too far; Megan Fox is good as Jason’s first very serious girlfriend, and even though it’s nothing too spectacular, it’s still good to see her at ease but then again, I couldn’t help thinking that her role could have been expanded a bit more; and the real stand-out for this flick probably has to be Chris O’Dowd who is hilarious here as the always happy but honest husband, Alex, and worked particularly well as the voice of reason because he was funny but also seemed very genuine with everything else he had to say.

Consensus: Friends with Kids has some good insight, some funny moments, and a good ensemble that works well with this material, but it ends up falling into conventions that not only take away from the first hour but also make Westfeldt’s sloppiness as a director show up a lot more.


Silent House (2012)

I guess the Mary-Kate & Ashley finally got tired of hearing about their much more talented younger sissy.

Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), retreat back to an old family home for renovations before her family sells the house. The windows are boarded up, doors are locked from the inside, the power doesn’t work, the landline service is non-existent, and the wireless signal is terrible. Then she hears noises and everything goes from bad to worse all in a course of 88 minutes.

In all honest, without knocking this film down in any way shape or form, this is essentially a gimmick horror flick just made to be different from what we usually see with this genre. It’s all filmed in one-shot (or so they say) and takes place in real-time. Pretty cool gimmick and one that is pulled off pretty fine if you ask me.

For the first hour or so, this flick had me strapped into it’s creepy and tense atmosphere. Co-directors Laura Lau and Chris Kentis do a great job here of capturing all of horror here in one-shot, following Sarah as she roams around her house as everything gets creepier and creepier around her. It felt like another found-footage horror flick by how close this camera just followed her but it worked in giving us a view that was intimate, up close, and made it even freakier to sit through considering we didn’t know what to expect next. There is definitely plenty of chilling moments that will get you and make you feel on the edge of your seat (I know, it’s a tired statement) but from a technical stand-point, it’s pretty impressive what you can do with one shot the whole time, even though there may be a couple of invisible cuts here and there.

I never saw the original so I went into this flick expecting something new and original and in a way that’s what I got, but in another way, I couldn’t help but think that they just didn’t do their best job with this material. This is a cool combination of both a home invasion and haunted house flick but the difference here is that we have no idea what is in the house, how it’s in the house, and just what it wants to do. This is a pretty good mystery that the film has going on for pretty long and what makes it even better is that it is apparently based on a true story so there was definitely some shock to that.

However, what dropped the ball for me was the explanation for all of the things that happened at end. I don’t want to get into any great detail about the end and I definitely don’t want to spoil things but it was definitely a little bit more obvious than I thought it should have been. There are a couple of subtle hints that made me think of what was going to be the out-come at the end and it was a little dumb to place these in there because as much as I knew something was up, I still knew that this flick was going somewhere with the little hints it kept throwing by us. For some, it may totally surprise but for others, it will just come across as lame but then again, that’s maybe what the original flick had already done in the first place so who am I to blame these directors for that misfortune?

Another problem with this ending isn’t so much of the explanation as much as it is the fact that the film doesn’t really make much sense once you realize what is really happening. There are certain films out there where you get a mind-boggling twist at the end and can go back again to watch it and realize that it all makes sense after the second watch, but this is not that because even though I have not seen it twice, I’m still thinking about it and realizing that it doesn’t make any sense. Once again, I don’t want to spoil anything and get into any details but once that ending comes up it’s just a bummer and seems very unrealistic, even though it was based on true events. I wonder just how true they really were.

At the heart of this flick though, is none other than Elizabeth Olsen, who makes this film and her character better than they had any right to be in the first place. She’s likable, easy on the eyes, and very believable as this girl Sarah. She pulls off every scene she is given here and makes it really easy to be on her side even when she does start to make some shocking questionable choices. Olsen is just a natural with this performance and it’s great to see her go through such range and hopefully she continues to get more and more jucier roles like this and get a whole bunch of people behind her.

Consensus: Silent House may have a big problem with its ending, there is still a creepy, tense, and shaky atmosphere this film gives off with it’s one-shot approach and Elizabeth Olsen is once again great in a role that asks a lot, in which she delivers on.


A Thousand Words (2012)

Who’s brilliant idea was it to have a whole film where Eddie Murphy can’t talk?!?

When he learns that his karma will permit him to speak just a thousand more words before he dies, fast-talking agent Jack (Eddie Murphy) must make every syllable count to make peace with his wife, Caroline (Kerry Washington), and his celebrity author client, Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis). But can the man notorious for his idle flattery truly change his ways?

So after sitting on the shelf for over 4 years, I went into this flick expecting nothing but pure and utter crap. I mean with the director of such other Eddie classics like ‘Meet Dave’ and ‘Norbit’, how could one expect anything different?

The premise we have here is one of those high-concept premises where we see an ass of a dude, get flung into a situation that makes him re-think his life and do better for ones around him. That concept does not change here and everything is basically by-the-numbers, which wouldn’t have been so bad if everything weren’t so damn unfunny. I mean I had a chuckle or two but the rest of the film tries so hard to make constant jokes that either don’t hit the mark, or just come off as awkward. The jokes actually seem out-dated (even for a flick that was made in 2008) and sometimes it honestly just seems like the writers are recycling material from past comedies that are in the same air as this (‘Click’, ‘Bruce Almighty’). Basically, this film is not funny in the least bit and is what you would expect from an Eddie comedy of this nature.

Obviously this film goes into some pretty schmaltzy and sympathetic territory but it’s not what you would usually get with these types of comedies because even though all comedies seem to go in this direction and create some life lesson for their protagonist, this film really nails that in. By the last act, the score starts to swoon and there is just constant scene after constant scene where they practically show this guy breaking down and crying to everyone around him telling them how much he loves them and will do right. It’s downright cheesy and is a little too over-dramatic for a “comedy” flick like this, even by its own standards.

What was also pretty weird about this flick too is the audience that it doesn’t really seem to have an audience that it’s reaching out towards which makes a lot more sense for it to be delayed for so long. There’s barely any kiddie stuff in here whatsoever, they say the word “shit” about 20 times also not forgetting the one F-bomb I think heard as well, and on top of that, it’s rated PG-13. It’s definitely not the type of movies that are centered toward the family audience that Murphy has been aiming towards lately, but it’s also not nearly as edgy or dangerous as his older material neither. In a nutshell, this is just a weird film to market considering there is no audience for this flick and that probably makes it a good reason as to why it was number 6 at the box office for the weekend.

As for Eddie Murphy himself, his performance here as Jack is one of his usual hammy, by-the-numbers, and lazy performances that we didn’t think we were going to see much more of ever since ‘Tower Heist’, but sadly, it’s all back. I don’t know why the film decided to have him in a premise where he doesn’t get to talk and use that hilarious voice we all know and love him for, but it’s also no help that his shtick gets old real quick considering he isn’t very known for his physical stuff. It’s a shame because this guy really was one of those comedians that people were afraid of because of how dangerous he could be but now he just does family-oriented junk like this and really starts to lose cred from the very few fans that still think he’s funny. Yes, I am one of them so eff you guys.

As for everybody else, I have no idea why the hell they even decided to even be in this flick and I don’t think they do either when they think about it. Clark Duke is the only funny thing about this flick but also looks embarrassed to be apart of every scene here as Jack’s assistant/little white bitch; Kerry Washington is beautiful and elegant but is given nothing extraordinary here as Jack’s clueless wife and it’s a shame considering she is great actress and is definitely on the high rise; and Ruby Dee has probably one good moment as Jack’s mom, who is starting to lose her mind, and she’s good but is definitely wasted here and could have been used for a far better flick.

Consensus: A Thousand Words is not funny, predictable, and one of those shelved comedies that should have stayed right where it was and released as straight-to-dvd flick, rather than actually making people go out there and have to pay 10 bucks for it. However, that’s why I snuck in. Teehee


A History of Violence (2005)

I’m guessing Cronenberg doesn’t really like diners all that much.

Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom Stall, a man who leads a quiet, charmed life with his loving wife (Maria Bello) and family in a small town. But when an unexpected incident turns bloody in his diner and brings unwanted attention to him, Tom is forced to return to his secret past in order to rescue his family from peril.

Director David Cronenberg is a dude that I haven’t been so fond of (‘A Dangerous Method’) and other times I have been fond of (‘The Fly’). This is just one of those flicks that somehow stands right in the middle but is definitely his most accessible since we don’t have to do with people getting it on to the sound of car crashes here.

The way Cronenberg opens this flick up with a deliberately slow pace really sets the bar for the rest of this film because it isn’t your normal, average thriller. See, this is more like a thinking-man’s thriller that just so happens to be directed by a nut-job like Cronenberg. Then when the film switches over to the whole happy film thing that this flick tries to get over towards us, my interest with this film started to wan very early on. I don’t know what it was that just was bothering me here but I think Cronenberg is so used to doing weird stories that when it comes to a simple story about a family, he doesn’t bring anything new to the table other than a bunch of dull, slow, and somewhat mindless conversations that don’t really move the film forward. That is until, the actual killing in this flick goes down.

Right when the murder in the diner happens, then that’s when shit really starts to fly off the handle, and I mean that in a very good way. There are a lot of opportunities for Cronenberg to use his dark-style for this flick considering that it’s rated-R and all of the sex, violence, and gore that he brings to this story as everything starts to pick up, actually works. There isn’t that much action in this flick but when it does actually happen, it’s gory, bloody, and just freaking awesome and it was pretty cool to see how Cronenberg could make each and every little scene of action turn into something we did not expect in the least bit. It’s definitely not a film for the squeamish but if you can at least appreciate a flick that knows how to put in a very over-the-top action scene without seeming “too strange” then it’s definitely a watch in my book.

Besides all of the action though, there is a lot that Cronenberg actually brings up about the whole reason of violence and when it should, and should not be used. The message here isn’t very clear since it seems like Cronenberg is against violence but then the next second he’s showing Aragorn bust some guy’s nose off, but if you can sort of get past this you can see that Cronenberg is more about violence in the use of self-defense as I am as well. Cronenberg is also able to supply some subtle touches of humor here as well that is good for a surprising chuckle here and there but when he seems to be more intentional with it, then I kind of got a bit annoyed.

Viggo Mortensen plays the nice guy Tom Stall, who seems like such a good and kind-hearted dude that when he actually starts to show signs that he is a huge psycho behind all of those smiles, it’s pretty realistic and works all of the better because Viggo can play good and bad both very well. Maria Bello is also very good as his wife with a role that got more screen-time than I was expecting but the scenes she has are pretty impressive considering she is able to be this strong house-wife that still comes off as this real person who may be a little good-looking to be stuck in Indiana. But then again, I have never been there so I don’t quite know how the women down there look.

Ed Harris gives that predictable devious performance that he usually gives here as the gangster Fogarty, but his performance is definitely over-shadowed by the one dude that got a nomination for his work in this flick. William Hurt shows up out-of-nowhere by the end of the flick with just about 9 minutes of screen-time but absolutely owns it bringing out all of this humor, creepiness, and just downright devilish side to his acting that we all knew he had, he just never showed it before. Hurt is great in this role and I think that he should have gotten more roles after this considering he reminded me a lot of what Christopher Walken has been doing for the past 20 years. Show up for about 5 to 10 minutes, but be the best part of the flick. That’s the way you got to do it.

All of these performers are great on-screen and make each and every single one of their scenes memorable, especially Hurt, but when it comes to the two kids here, the film starts to really lose its tension. Ashton Holmes plays the moping son here who is such a geek that he can only win his fights through words but for some odd reason when he is actually pushed to the limits, he beats the eff out of these two dudes which seemed way too realistic for me. I don’t care what seed you come from, nobody can beat the shit out of two dudes like this kid did and it’s also even worse considering that this kid’s acting is pretty shitty in the first place. I can’t really say anything bad about the other little girl that this family had since she was like 4 but you get what I’m trying to say.

Consensus: A History of Violence starts off slow and has its rough patches, but it also shows Cronenberg having a lot of fun with this material and inserting all of his crazy sex, violence, and gore into a story that works as an intellectual thriller and as a character study with great performances from the cast.