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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Cameron Diaz

My Date with Drew (2004)

A date with anyone? Where does one begin?

Aspiring filmmaker Brian Herzlinger has been in love with Drew Barrymore since he was a young boy. So in love that he even joined her fan club at a very young age, receiving all sorts of letters and pictures that drew him even closer and closer to his Hollywood crush. After buying a video camera from Circuit City, Herzingler and his crew have 30 days to find Barrymore, date her and return the camera for a full refund. Unfortunately, Barrymore is Hollywood royalty, and Herzlinger is just a guy from New Jersey. It will take every ounce of charm Herzlinger can muster to make his way through the minefield of agents, publicists and bouncers to reach his prize. But to make it even worse, Herzingler is constantly finding himself running into roadblocks, whether they be people who aren’t willing to help him out, or the simple fact and reality that he doesn’t have a job, needs money, and can’t do anything else involving this project without it. Needless to say, it’s an impossible mission, but it’s one that Herzlinger won’t stop trying to complete.

Uhm, why?

My Date with Drew isn’t necessarily the kind of hard-hitting, thought-provoking that it sometimes intends to be. You’d think that a movie about a guy trying his absolute hardest to get a date with his Hollywood crush, while not just creepy, would have a little something to say about the Hollywood culture, the stalker culture, and the relationships celebrities hold with their fans, and how far they can go, but nope, not really. It’s literally just a documentary of watching, waiting and wondering when, or even if, this dude is ever going to get a chance to date Drew Barrymore.

And is that okay? Yeah, sure.

Would it have helped to been about something deeper, or better yet, try to make this situation more interesting? Yeah, possibly, but even without any of that here, My Date with Drew still works because it’s entertaining and never seems to slow down. In fact, the idea that it doesn’t try too hard to harp on the hard-hitting, possibly serious issues a situation like this could bring up, actually helps it out in not taking away from the action, or what actually matters: Finding and dating Drew Barrymore.

Considering that the movie was made for a little over $1,000, it’s interesting to see how all of that money is spent, what it goes towards, and just how easy it can be to shoot a documentary on the cheap, even with such a subject as this. It’s an ambitious mission for sure, but it helps that the camera is there literally every step of the way, giving us a better idea of how one outsider could possibly get a date with Drew Barrymore (in the early-aughts, that is, times have definitely changed), and also never forgetting that the sole focal point of this project isn’t just Barrymore herself, or the movies she’s made, but Herzlinger himself.

But even with him, I’m still a little bit put-off.

Not because what he sets out to do is creepy, or even downright weird, because in a way, I kind of respect the guy – he knows that he’s being weird for having this crush and knows that going about this idea is even weirder, but still, he chugs along, trying his absolute hardest, leaving nothing off-screen. The camera is always there and Herzlinger wants it that way, so of course, we get to see a whole lot of him, hear him talk, and try to keep his cool persona, even when it seems like he’s creeping every person out around him. He’s a likable presence, too, which makes it all the easier to watch him in interviews, even when, once again, he’s literally asking random people within Hollywood about Drew Barrymore, and even they know it’s a little weird, but aren’t sure if they want to, or know how to say it.

Once again, why? You’re fine! She was married to Tom Green, after all!

But then there’s this other part of Herzlinger’s that’s odd and nothing to due with the whole Barrymore-aspect – it’s the persona he actually puts-off to the camera. There’s plenty of real, raw and rather genuine moments that Herzlinger shares for the camera, but then there are these other, like when he’s showing his body off to people, working out, having random conversations with needy exes, that it feels like he may be putting on a bit of an act. Or, if he isn’t, then it’s a wonder why he includes any of this stuff in this first place; the work-out/grooming scenes are tedious, and the whole ex-sequence within the film could have been taken out and not have at all changed the film, considering how random it is.

I’m not saying that the Herzlinger we get in the movie isn’t the real guy, but a part of me feels like, possibly, he’s acting a little bit.

Just a little bit.

Then again, maybe that was intended; maybe he wanted it to appear like he was this way-more charming guy than he actually was in real life and maybe, he was just doing it all for the sake of the movie and in hopes that he wouldn’t scare Barrymore away, had he actually gotten a date with her. Makes sense and okay, whatever, I’ll accept it. But still, there’s some weird stuff about him that goes beyond the Barrymore stuff that yeah, threw me for a loop, if only a bit. And then I realized that, “Oh wait, it’s about him, but also this date. So who cares?”

And it all got better from there.

Consensus: My Date with Drew isn’t particularly deep, but then again, doesn’t need to be with its entertaining idea, and likable, if flawed subject in Herzlinger.

7 / 10

My Date with Eric? Make it happen, Hollywood.

Photos Courtesy of: Rotten Tomatoes

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Very Bad Things (1998)

Bachelor parties. What’s the worst that could happen?

Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) is finally ready to settle down with his fiancee (Cameron Diaz). But before that all goes down, he’s got one weekend with his four pals, where they’re going to take a trip out to Vegas and celebrate his bachelor party the right way. While Kyle’s perfectly fine with a weekend chock full of booze, drugs and pay-per-view, he gets a little more than he bargained for when his best buddy, Boyd (Christian Slater), decides that it’s time to call up a stripper and let her do her thing. She does, but she also gets a little more than what was asked of her when the guys accidentally kill her. Having to tie-up all sorts of loose-ends, the guys all plan on covering it up and acting as if it never happened. However, when you have to tie-up one loose-end, there’s plenty more that need to be tied-up, especially when you have a bunch of yuppies dealing with all these sorts of issues.

One wedding....

One wedding….

Very Bad Things is the kind of movie that was meant to be despised and disgusted by when it first came out. It’s the kind of pitch black comedy that we hear so much about, yet, because more and more studios want to actually make money off of their movies, so rarely actually see. And with Very Bad Things, we get the kind of pitch black comedy that deals with all sorts of ugly and disgusting issues, like rape, like murder, like death, like crime, like incest, like drug-use, and like so many, many other problematic issues that so many movies are actually afraid to even take a whiff at.

And that’s sort of why this movie works as well as it does.

Peter Berg made his directorial debut with this and it’s actually quite surprising; while he’s become known as the go-to guy for true stories of heroic people, acting heroic, it all came from somewhere very dark and disturbing. That’s why, as sick and twisted as the movie may be, there’s still something interesting about why, of all people and of all the material out there in the universe, did Peter Berg decide to direct this? Was it because he needed to get his start and didn’t quite care? Or, was it because he actually liked the material and was basically against the idea of pleasing anyone with his first movie?

Whatever the reasoning behind his decision, it doesn’t matter because Berg does all that he can with this movie and, for the most part, makes it work. Because its grisly, upsetting and downright vile, Berg has to really make us feel as if we’re lowering ourselves down to this sort of heinous material, which he does, but he also allows us to have a little fun in it, too. Sure, a lot of people won’t like the idea that we’re supposed to be entertained, let alone, compelled by a premise involving a bunch of yuppies killing a stripper and trying to get away with it all, but there’s still some fun in watching that all play out here. After all, Berg makes the smart choice in not ever showing these guys in a positive light and is clearly against each and everyone of their ugly decisions.

One funeral....

One funeral….

But does that mean we have to hate the time spent with them?

Not really and it’s why, Very Bad Things, like a lot of other dark comedies in the same vein as it, feels like it’s enjoying itself enough to where we know that it’s in on the joke and is having fun, yet, at the same time, also isn’t afraid to pay attention to the darker, grittier details of a very dark and gritty tale such as this. There’s always a sense of joy in the air, for sure, but Berg isn’t afraid to show the kind of emotional-toll something like this can take on the people involved – especially when a bunch of the people are just your typical white, middle-class jagbags. Berg doesn’t make Very Bad Things all that serious, but there’s a hint of that to be found, which underlines all of the near-comical situations that arise, which makes it, at the very least, admirable.

Of course, it also helps that the cast is very good and clearly able to work with material as mean-spirited as this. Jon Favreau, despite not even getting top-billing, does a fine job as our lead protagonist, as well as his fiancee, as played by Cameron Diaz, who actually turns out to be the harshest, maybe even meanest character of the whole bunch. And as the friends that join in on the activities, David Stern, Jeremy Piven, and Leland Orser are all pretty great, but it’s really Christian Slater who gets to steal the show as the crazy and demented Boyd. While Mr. Robot has, no doubt, allowed for Slater to show off a more maniacal side to him, it’s really Boyd where he gets the perfect shot as displaying his range of crazy, hell-bent anger, without ever making it seem like he’s joking. Slater’s always best when he makes it seem like he’s absolutely losing his cool and here, as Boyd, he doesn’t shy away from it one bit.

Sure, Mr. Robot‘s a better watch, but hey, there’s no problem with getting a wild and nutty Christian Slater.

Consensus: Though its material is, at the very least, upsetting, Very Bad Things still has enough of a funny, comedic-edge to make it, on few occasions, hilarious, but also slightly serious, all things considered.

7 / 10

Five d-bags....

Five d-bags….

Photos Courtesy of: Isaacs Picture Conclusions

The Holiday (2006)

It’s always those attractive celebrities who need the most love during the holidays.

Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) are both women who seem to be going through the same sorts of problems, even though both live in different countries. The former is from London, and had an affair with a man (Rufus Sewell) who has just recently gotten engaged; whereas the later is L.A.-bound and has a boyfriend (Edward Burns) who cheated on her. They both feel hopeless and upset, and with it being the holidays, they have no clue what to do next with their lives other than sit around, mope, and cry. However, Amanda has an idea that will also affect Iris: She wants to take a trip to London and Iris wants to take a trip to L.A. So the two concoct a plan where they’ll switch residencies for the time being and live in the other’s shoes. This all happens, but what surprises them both is how they end up meeting new people and, believe it or not, start striking up some romances of their own. Iris starts to see a film composer, Miles (Jack Black), whereas Amanda starts to hook-up with Iris’ brother, Graham (Jude Law). Both are happy and enjoying their time together, but the reality is that they’ll eventually have to get back to their real lives, and it’s something that may keep the relationship’s away from being anything more than just “some fun”.

She's attractive.

She’s attractive.

And honestly, that’s all there really is to this movie in terms of complications or tension. There’s no big twist thrown at the end to throw the whole plot and/or its characters into a whirl-wind of chaos, nor is there any sort of hurdle that these characters have to get over in order to make themselves feel fulfilled. It’s honestly just a bunch of hot-looking, attractive people, flirting, dating, smooching, sexxing, and then, oh wait, having to then come to terms with the fact that they’ll be living in separate parts of the world in a few days.

That’s it.

A part of me should be pleased that writer/director Nancy Meyers didn’t try too hard to make this movie anymore complicated than it needed to be. So rarely do we get movies that are literally about, what it’s about, and don’t try to stray too far away from that original-plot. So in that general aspect, Meyers does a fine job of giving the audience, exactly what they’re seeking for.

But at the same time, there still needs to be a bit more of a plot to make up for the fact that this movie is over two-hours long. However, it’s not the kind of two hours that flies on by because of the company the movie keeps; it’s every bit, every hour, every minute, and every second of two hours and 16 minutes, which is to say that it definitely needed to be trimmed-down in certain areas. The main which being the scenes that Iris has with her older neighbor (played by the late, great Eli Wallach). Don’t get me wrong, these scenes are nice, charming, and sweet, but as a whole, they don’t really add much to the final product; we just sort of see that Iris is a kind, loving and caring gal that’s nice to old men.

Once again, that’s it.

The scenes that she has with Jack Black’s Miles, tell more about her, her personality, and the kind of lover she is – the scenes she has with Wallach, thankfully, do not. However, Winslet, as usual, is as lovable as she’s ever been; it certainly helps that Iris is a strong-written character to begin with, but it also has to do a great deal with the fact that Winslet can handle both the comedy, as well as the more dramatic-aspects of the script, whenever she’s called on to do so.

He's attractive.

He’s attractive.

Diaz herself is quite fine as Amanda and also does the same as Winslet does: She balances out both the heavier, as well as the lighter material well enough to where her character stays consistent with the movie’s emotions. It’s not a huge shocker to know that I’m not a big fan of Diaz, but she’s actually quite enjoyable to watch here, because she doesn’t always over-do her act. Her character may be a bit stuck-up, but that’s the point; to see the cracks and light in her personality shine through, makes her all the more likable and sympathetic, regardless of where she comes from.

But this isn’t just a lady’s affair, because the men who do show up, also give their own, little two cents to make the Holiday work a bit more than it should. Black isn’t as grating as he usually is, and Law, the handsome devil that he awfully is, also shows certain layers deep inside of a character that could have probably been as dull as a box of hammers. Thankfully, he isn’t and it helps the relationship that his character and Diaz’s strike-up.

Problem is, though, it’s that run-time.

Also, not to mention that the movie doesn’t really make any reason for its existence. There are a few occasions where it’s funny, but for the most part, it’s just particularly nice. Nice does not mean “funny” – it just means that the movie can be seen by practically all audiences, regardless of age. Nancy Meyers always makes these sorts of movies and while they may not necessarily be lighting the world on fire, they’re just pleasant enough to help any person watching, get by. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a woman, a kid, an adult, a senior citizen, gay, straight, bisexual, married, single, widowed, engaged, in a “it’s complicated“, or whatever. All persons from all walks of life can enjoy a Nancy Meyers movie.

That alone does not make them amazing pieces of film – it just makes them accessible.

Consensus: With a likable cast and fluffy-direction from Nancy Meyers, the Holiday is fine to watch and relax to, even despite it being way too long, and feeling as such.

5.5 / 10

Aw, bloody hell! They're all attractive!

Aw, bloody hell! They’re all attractive!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Minority Report (2002)

“Don’t trust the police; trust Scientology.” – Tom Cruise, probably.

Set in a future where technology reigns supreme and decides just about each and every person’s decisions, the police force known as “the Pre-Crime Division” arrest people before they can commit murders based on the psychic intuition of three Precognatives. Or, for short, “Pre-cogs”. And lead cop, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), has been working alongside them for quite some time, wherein they trust them, he trusts them, and everything goes as smoothly as possible; murders are stopped, people are put in jail, lives are saved, and everybody goes home a lot happier! However, when looking through the pre-cogs’ memory-bases, Anderton sees a murder committed by none other than himself. Though Anderton doesn’t believe that he’d ever kill someone, no matter for what reason, it’s company policy to take any person in for questioning, no matter who the person is, or what the stipulations may be. But Anderton feels as if he’s being set up, and rather than letting himself get taken in, questioned, and possibly incarcerated for something he hasn’t done yet, let alone, doesn’t think he’ll ever commit, he decides to go on a run from the law. Along the way, he hopes to find out the truth behind the murder and whether or not he’s being set-up to begin with, but a personal disaster from his personal life comes back to bite him and it may not only cost him his innocence, but possibly his life.

Somehow, this seems to be left-over set-material from A.I.

Somehow, this seems to be left-over set-material from A.I.

There’s always two Steven Spielberg’s working in this world that, on occasion, seem to battle against one another. There’s the serious, dramatic director who makes emotional, sometimes stories that breathe-off huge levels of importance and show that there’s a true artist within the work (see Saving Private Ryan and/or Schindler’s List). Then, on the other hand, there’s the fun, free-wheeling dude who appreciates his blockbusters and succumbs more to the mainstream, without really caring who is happy with that decision, or who isn’t (see Jurassic Park and/or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). And while I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing that he plays both hands, it also calls into question just how hit-or-miss he can be; while the blockbusters he creates can be exciting and better than most others out there, they also sometimes make it seem like he’s sleeping on those fine talents of his we so rarely see put on full-display.

And then, there’s Minority Report, which seems more like a psychological battle inside of Spielberg’s head, rather than an actual, great movie.

If there’s credit that has to be given to Spielberg, it’s in the way that he allows for this dark, brooding future shine through in some neat, fancy ways. Because this is a Philip K. Dick adaptation, obviously there’s going to be a whole bunch of social-commentary about the government, the way in which they spy, as well as technology, and how it controls our each and every lives. But Spielberg doesn’t seem all that incredibly interested with focusing on that, and instead, seems incredibly taken away with all the sorts of strange, but original pieces of technology he can give us.

For a few examples, there’s weird-looking, electronic spiders that crawl around and search for people; there’s the high-velocity mag-lev cars, that are actually a lot easier to jump out of, despite the speed they appear to be going in; there’s the eye-scanners stationed nearly everywhere that not only keep track of where each and every person is at, but bother you with advertisements; and, as small as it may be, there’s cereal-boxes with electronic-screens that move and make noises. It’s such a small, little detail, but it’s the one that keeps on giving and assures me that Spielberg was just amped-up to make this movie, as some may be to watch it. That’s the Spielberg we all know, love, and wish we saw a whole lot more of.

And that’s the same kind of Spielberg we get for the longest time in Minority Report.

If Colin Farrell takes over your command, you know you're in some deep trouble.

If Colin Farrell takes over your command, you know you’re in some deep trouble.

Considering that half of this movie is literally just Tom Cruise running away from the police in a futuristic-world, it makes sense that the movie moves at a quick-as-nails pace and continue to do until there’s time needed for smaller, more character-based moments. And this part of Minority Report is enjoyable; everything moves in such a swift pace that even though there a few plot-holes to be found (like, how does someone get back into their job’s headquarters, when they’re literally on-the-run from those said people in the headquarters?), it’s easy to forget about and forgive them because everything’s so energetic as is. It’s almost like Spielberg cared so much about the look of the movie, that he didn’t get too bogged-down in certain plot-details; as long as everything’s moving nicely, all is well.

For awhile, too, everything is well. Until it isn’t.

The next-half of Minority Report is where it seems like Spielberg starts to fall back into his own trends of diving too hard into all of the family drama, twists and turns that don’t make much sense, and a sugar-coated, happy-ending that seem to come out of nowhere. And the reason why most of this stuff seems to come out of nowhere, is because a good majority of the movie is as bleak and as scary as you’d expect a Philip K. Dick adaptation to be – which isn’t something we expect from Spielberg himself. That’s what makes it all the more disappointing to see the final-act of the movie, not just grind to a screeching halt, but also seem to forget about what makes this world so damn interesting to begin with: It’s sadness and just how far Spielberg is willing and/or able to go through with developing that more and more.

Because through the likes of Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Neal McDonough, Peter Stormare, and, well, many more, we’re able to see how such human beings get by in a world that’s so upsetting and miserable, and still be somewhat happy. Once all of that begins to wear thin, it becomes clear that we’re out of a Philip K. Dick story, and more of in one that’s Spielberg’s own creation; where everybody hugs, cries, goes on about their daddy-issues, and all sorts of other sappiness ensues. Sometimes this is fine, but it feels misplaced here.

If only this had been directed by Ridley Scott, straight after he finished up with Blade Runner.

Consensus: For a good portion, Minority Report is as fun, ambitious, exciting, and artistically-driven as Spielberg can get, but later on, it goes back to his ham-handed old ways and feels like a bit of a retreat.

7.5 / 10

It's okay to trust Tom, Samantha. A lot of women have.

It’s okay to trust Tom, Samantha. A lot of women have.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Annie (2014)

I hear the Jay-Z beat, yet, I hear no Jay-Z. What gives, Hov?

Ten-year-old Annie Bennett (Quvenzhané Wallis) is a foster child living in Harlem who has to deal with the mean treatment of her caretaker, Colleen Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), and always looks towards the bright side that her parents may, one day, come back to get her. That’s a dream for sure, but it’s one that Annie doesn’t ever give up on; just like she doesn’t really give up running everywhere she goes, all because she states, “it gets her places quicker”. However, all that running comes back to almost harm little orphan Annie, until the rich, famous and mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), saves her from a possible car accident. This moment finds an audience and gives Stacks the kind of lead in the election that he so desperately needed. Therefore, he is forced to, by his oily campaign manager (Bobby Cannavale), that it’s best for him to keep relations between he and Annie constant and always in front of the public to see. Even if Stacks doesn’t really care for kids as is, he has to do this in order to seem like a relatively likable guy. But then, something changes: Stacks begins to care, but it may be too late.

Oh, and yeah, it’s a musical, too. That’s if you didn’t already know that.

Oh, I get it. You apparently can teach an old dog new tricks.

Oh, I get it. You apparently can teach an old dog new tricks.

Anyway, a lot of people have been raining down on Annie‘s parade as of late and it’s disappointed me. Sure, I get that we didn’t really need a remake/updated-version of the 1982 classic, but then again, you could say that for many other movies out there in today’s day and age that are made for the screen, for no other reason than just money, money, and more money. To me, the fact that critics have been trashing this movie, not only proves that some people aren’t willing to change and go along with the times, but anytime that anybody touches something near, dear and sacred to their hearts, and changes it up a teeny, tiny little bit, there’s automatically resentment. I can’t say that I haven’t acted like this before, but for the most part, when seeing something that’s been remade or updated for a modern-day audience, I sit back and wonder how it could all turn out to be.

Because either way, if the movie’s a train-wreck or not, it’s still something interesting to watch and ponder about. Like, for instance, why was this remade? And the simple answer to that question is simple, “No reason really”. Maybe Jay-Z saw some money in the name-product that is Annie and decided that he might try to cash in on some of that money, even if it did mean making a movie for the whole family, and around the holidays no less.

But I’m definitely beating around the bush with this one. What I’m trying to say about this latest version of Annie, is that the reason for its existence isn’t known and it sure as hell isn’t perfect. That said, I found myself enjoying a lot more of this movie than I maybe wanted to. Most of that has to do with the fact that director Will Gluck makes this out to be the kind of movie that not only doesn’t take itself too seriously, but isn’t afraid to throw some jokes here and there for the older ones in the crowd that may have gotten sucked into seeing this because of a young one at home, begging and pleading to be taken out. Or, they could have just been older, creepier people and saw it by themselves.

You know, like me.

Anyway, moving on!

Like I said though, Gluck’s film isn’t perfect and more often than not, feels like it’s being almost too adorable and cutesy for its own good. There’s a certain sense one can get with a family-film that even though the audience who wants to see it may not think deeper or further than the ones who get roped into seeing it, the charm has to be turned up to eleven and annoy the hell out of everyone who is watching it that may be above the age of twelve. This is exactly in the case of Annie; while it’s charming at times, other times, it feels cloying and like it wants you to not just laugh at it, but pet it, adore it, and take it in as your own.

Sort of like an orphan, really.

And for the longest time, this absolutely bothered me. It made me feel like I was watching a film that didn’t know whether it wanted to be too smart for it’s own good, or just downright earnest that it’s practically asking for a hand-out. To me, Annie seemed a little more like the later, but there’s was always that feeling in the back of my head that maybe I was being a tad too harsh on this. After all, it’s an Annie movie, made for the whole family to see, enjoy and not think too much about, not a piece of awards-bait that asks the hard questions about humanity and demands that you think/discuss them after you’ve just witnessed it. In a time like late-December, where nearly everything I see now is about to bludgeon me to death with their intellectualism, it’s quite refreshing to see a movie which, on paper, is simple and plays out exactly like that. Sure, it’s a tad too earnest for its own good, but once you’re willing to get past that, then it actually works.

If anything though, Annie deserves to be seen for a reminder that Quvenzhané Wallis isn’t just a simple, one-and-done flash-in-the-pan that we’ve seen so many child actors like her become. With Wallis though, there’s an inherent charm and likability to her that not only makes her Annie seem like a real, actual kid, but one that appreciates life more than you’ve ever appreciated anything in your life. Some of this is because of the way she’s written, but most of it is because Wallis seems like she’s having the time of her life on the set of this movie and it helps a lot of her scenes.

Turn away kiddies! Not safe!

Turn away kiddies! Not safe!

And of course, because it is a musical, what matters most is that Wallis is able to belt out some tunes, and she is more than able to. Her voice is sweet and tender, and adds a nice amount of emotion to some of the more cornier-tracks in this movie that could have easily been taken out and we would have already gotten the idea it was trying to get across. She’s an orphan! She’s sad! We get it! Move it on over!

One of the problems with Wallis being so good here, is that she takes away from the rest of the cast, all of whom are big, respectable names in the biz. Thankfully though, since Gluck’s direction is so over-the-top and goofy, everybody here seems like they’re either hopped-up on too much Pop Rocks, or are just simply happy to get a paycheck that they want to express it for everybody else in the movie. Either way, it works in favor of the performances and allows for some of the more badly-placed jokes, to land. Even if they weren’t intentional to begin with.

Jamie Foxx gets to display his key sense for comedy as Stacks and seems like a nice fit alongside Wallis, as they build a nice, but realistic chemistry together; Rose Byrne doesn’t get much to do here as Stacks’ assistant/possible love-interest, although she’s charming enough to get by; Bobby Cannavale is, as you guessed it, a dick and doesn’t hide any of that back whatsoever; and Cameron Diaz is campin’ it up, big time, as Miss Hannigan, but seems to be at least having some fun with the material for once in a long while, so I can’t have too much of a problem with that.

Just like I can’t with the rest of the movie. Even if everybody and their mothers, at the time, seem to despise its guts.

Consensus: Sweet, simple, and overall, pleasant, Annie is the kind of musical that doesn’t try to pummel you over the head with thought-provoking questions about humanity, but much rather, entertain the whole family, with a simple song, a dance, and a huge grin on its earnest-as-hell face.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

So this is why I was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours? Thanks. Next time, harmonize and dance somewhere else!

So this is why I was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours? Thanks. Next time, harmonize and dance somewhere else!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Sex Tape (2014)

Should have learned their lesson from Pamela and Tommy Lee’s horn-honking dong.

Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) are the type of couple that, at one time early in their relationship, were constantly having sex. And when they weren’t having sex, they were thinking about where and when to have sex next. They just did it because they were young, horny and in love. However, as with most relationships, that all came to an end once Annie became pregnant and the two decided that they wanted to get married, have another kid, get jobs, buy a house, and eventually, turn into the same old and boring couple that they didn’t want to be when they first started out together, but sadly, became exactly like. And to make matters even worse, the two aren’t even having as much sex as they definitely would like to. That’s why Annie and Jay decide to clear out one night together where they’ll have sex and do everything they used to do when they were young – except that it doesn’t happen like that at all. In fact, barely anything happens. So that’s when the two come to the idea that they need to film themselves having sex for one reason or another, which totally works, especially since Jay deletes the video as soon as it’s over.

But does he?

And right from there, you have an-hour-and-a-half adventure movie of sorts in which we have this married-couple running all over everywhere in order to snatch iPads and find any way that’s at all possible in which they can delete this sex tape from all existence. While that should totally sound like buckets of fun, made even better with Segel and Diaz in the lead roles, it doesn’t transpire into much except just a couple of chuckles and plenty of missed opportunities.

Kids? A family? Breakfast and coffee in the morning? Ew! Boring!

Kids? A family? Breakfast and coffee in the morning? Ew! Boring!

Save for one sequence in which we get to spend a lovely 20 minutes with Rob Lowe’s wild and crazy corporate exec character that seems like he’s going to be a total square from the beginning, and then turns into a total loose cannon once the Scotch has been poured, the Slayer is turned on and the lines have been snorted. This whole sequence is easily the best, most hilarious part of the whole movie; not because Lowe is so damn funny (which he is), but because this movie actually seems like it wants to surprise us with showing this rather nerdy, all business-like guy, and have him totally be somebody else that’s not only crazy, but fun to watch be crazy.

That Rob Lowe, man. He truly is something else.

That being said, the rest of the movie is kind of a blur in my mind, only because it never seemed to surprise me with the things in which it was doing, or in how it wanted to make me laugh and why. I guess when you’re talking about a comedy, those two elements sort of go hand-in-hand, but for Sex Tape, they’re sort of different. See, we know we’re supposed to be laughing at this situation and how screwed-over this married-couple truly is, but there’s really no point in caring, so watching them think they are one step closer to solving their problem, only to have it then slam back in their face, was actually where most of the laughs came from. Not because they’re terrible people in any way, but because the movie itself never seems to know what to do with either of them, except have them run around, yell and talk about how angry they are with one another, as well as the situation they’re in.

And if that sounds like the quintessential piece to creating near-perfect character-development, then you and Jake Kasdan may have a lot in common, because that’s all he seems to think is needed here for Annie and Jay, our married-couple-in-peril for the next hour-and-a-half. Though a part of me wants to give these two characters a slide because Diaz and Segel are so believable in their chemistry together, another part of me wishes that there was more to these characters than just that they’re angry and desperate-as-hell. That’s all we really get to know about them and personally, it wasn’t enough to really care.

"Four-some anyone?"

“Four-some anyone?”

In fact, a more interesting movie could be made out of this in which the Sex Tape actually goes viral to the whole public, and the bond between the two is eventually tested. Would Annie and Jay be absolutely ashamed of having others see them butt-naked and boning? Or, would they just let it all slide off their backs as if nothing ever happened and just move on with their lives? Sure, placing these questions in would mean a darker, more dramatic movie, but I feel like it would have placed itself to being a rare comedy that not only makes people laugh, but has a lot to say as well.

Would it work? Who knows. But what I do know is that there was a huge element to this movie missing and that was its laughs. There needed to be more and most of all, there needed to be more coming from our leads. I mean sure, when you have a supporting cast featuring the likable-talents of Rob Corddry, Nat Faxon, Ellie Kemper, Nancy Lenehan, and a surprise appearance from somebody I swear to myself I wouldn’t spoil, it’s hard to complain, but when they over-shadow who are supposed to be your main focus-points throughout the whole presentation, it’s a bit of a problem. But what makes it an even bigger problem is that you have two likable peeps such as Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel in these roles, where they aren’t given much to do at all, except, like I said before, just run around, yell and talk about how angry they are with one another. Sure, they do an awful lot of banging as well, but honestly, who cares about that in a R-rated studio-comedy? I know there are some pervs out there who totally disagree with me, but trust me, you’d have a much better time just watching some of the most famous sex tapes made just to get what all of the hype is about.

Or just straight-up porn. Your choice, my friend.

Consensus: Most of the laughs in Sex Tape come from the supporting players, rather than Diaz or Segel themselves, although it’s clear that they are trying their hardest and just coming up empty on a route, relatively unfunny script.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

I'm usually the one with the roller-blades on. I'm freaky like that.

I’m usually the one with the roller-blades on. I’m freaky like that.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

The Other Woman (2014)

Some dudes just have all the luck. Except for the part about getting caught. Yeah, that sort of blows.

Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a wealthy, middle-aged lawyer who thinks she has met the man of her dreams in the form of Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). What she thinks, though, is different from the reality. See, Mark is hiding a bit of a secret that he’s actually married to his spunky housewife Kate (Leslie Mann) who accidentally finds out what is going on between the two when Carly unexpectedly shows up, knocking on their front-door. Though Kate is upset with this shocking piece of information, she decides to not let her husband know that she knows, and instead, devolves a game in which she and Carly will spy on him and try to take him down with everything he’s got, just in case the two get a divorce. However, while spying on his every move in Miami, they stumble upon another girlfriend of Mark’s – this time, a lot younger and in the form of Amber (Kate Upton). Amber, like the other two, is clearly upset and distraught with what to make of this new info, but also like the other two, decides that it’s time to teach dear old Mark a lesson about screwing around way too much.

In other words: Girl power!

So yep, anytime you get a movie that boasts a female-dominated cast, more than likely, it has to do with the fact that a dude screwed up something. Better yet, the dude screwed most of them over. Which, I can’t complain too much about because spouses do cheat on other spouses, but it just sucks that the only types of mainstream, female-centered movies we’ll get to see have to feature a member of the male gender, doing something reprehensible that allows the ladies to have something to talk and yell about; without just getting a movie in which women want to be women, and live it up like no tomorrow, guys are optional!

Some nights, this is me. Usually Fridays.

Some nights, this is me. Usually Fridays.

However, what’s even worse is the fact that this is the type of movie we get when Hollywood decides to give a project all the big bucks it needs to be completed.

Which is very strange considering that this is coming from none other than Mr. Nick Cassavetes, the son of John, a man who was always known to do movies on his time and dime, regardless of what others think they wanted to see or throw some shillings out to see. That man just made movies because he wanted to and he loved the art, whereas his son, as much as I hate to say it, doesn’t really have that going for him. That’s not to say the dude’s never made a bad movie (the Notebook is probably the only Nicholas Sparks-adaptation I can actually fathom), but it is to say that when your dad is that much of a legend for something like making small, independent-movies, to go on and make big, mainstream rom-coms drab-fests like this, sort of seems a bit like wasting good-genes, eh?

Then again, my dad’s a correctional officer, so it goes to show you what I know!

Anyway, like I was saying about this movie and it’s director, it’s a shame that Cassavetes got stuck with doing this (I hope), but it’s an even bigger shame how much of this movie just does not add-up. First off, it’s just not funny. It’s that clear and simple. The movie tries to be all about the wacky situations these gals get into and how they all play it off so awkwardly, and it rarely ever got a giggle from me. Especially not from when Leslie Mann was doing it because, bless her soul, she tries so damn hard to make this material funny and her character likable. But I just could not get past all of her non-stop rambling and yelling, as if she was in one of her own hubby’s movies, where he would just let her run wild with whatever script he sort of laid-out, and tell her to “stop” when he felt was necessary.

But Nick Cassavetes, clearly isn’t Judd Apatow. Not because he can’t seem to tame the lion that is Leslie Mann, but because he doesn’t seem to have a single piece of comedy in his directing-repertoire whatsoever. Sure, maybe I giggled a few here and there, but they were nothing where I felt like this movie needed to be seen. And heck, if you want anymore clarification as to why I laughed a bit and it didn’t matter, it was because most of the laughs came from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka, the same guy whose playing the dick that cheats on everyone except for his right-hand in this movie.

So yeah, when the person you have made-out to be the bad guy ends up getting more laughs than two female stars who are known to be funny whenever they see fit, then you know your movie has problems.

Even worse is when you realize that your movie wasted Kate Upton. And NO, I’m not saying that because we don’t get one-million shots of her half-naked body, running down a beach in a bikini like all us guys so obviously wanted, but because she seems to actually have some charm and spunk to her. But, like I said before, she’s wasted on a bunch of gags that involve her looking at either Diaz or Mann, nodding her head, smiling and laughing. There’s even a part in which she dances risque, but I won’t bother you with any of that right now….

"All I'm saying is that if we're going to split the bill, we have to decide who got the most food. And to be even more honest, I barely even had a sip of that wine."

“All I’m saying is that if we’re going to split the bill, we have to decide who got the most food. And to be even more honest, I barely even had a sip of that wine.”

Okay, moving on.

As for Cameron Diaz, a gal I’ve never been a fan of, I have to say, is given the worst character in this whole movie. Diaz tries and tries a billion times to make this Carly woman likable in the least bit, but she just is not. I get that she’s supposed to a snobby, know-it-all, super-serious Sally, but after awhile, I felt like she was so stern and tense that I didn’t know if she could ever fall in love with anybody, let alone have sex as many times as she does with one guy. Diaz has some of her comedic-timing still with her, but it seems like she’s starting to really fall-off-the-radar by picking bad roles, or, when she does pick interesting roles, gets saddled with having to hump a car.

Yup, that’s a sight one will never, ever forget.

Consensus: The three leading-ladies are charming and beautiful as always, but the Other Woman doesn’t give them much to do except giggle, perform terrible, grade-school-like pranks and get drunk a lot, without really giving us a chance to identify with any of them, except that they want revenge on the same guy, for sort of the same reasons.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

I'm sorry. What we're you saying again?

I’m sorry. You were saying?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Yes guys: Girls this hot can indeed kick your perverted-asses. So watch yourselves!

When danger is looming and the world is on the brink of self-destruction, who is there to save the day? Well, the mysterious and unknown Charlie is, but he isn’t the one doing the action, he’s just simply pulling the strings. Who he has in his place to take over things and make sure that all is fine and right with the world, he has three of his kick-ass, female agents, who he also calls his “Angels”. We have Natalie Thompson (Cameron Diaz), the bookworm who is oblivious to the dudes around her (except for the ones who want to end her life), Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), the tough girl who finds herself in more beds of other men than she probably should be in, and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu), the class-act who longs for a life outside of being a secret-agent with her Hollywood star boyfriend (Matt LeBlanc), but just can’t help but kick some butt when it comes around her way. Together, the ladies, along with John Bosley (Bill Murray), their informant, find out what’s going on with secret weapons and tools that have suddenly go missing, and may just endanger not only themselves, but their beloved-Charlie as well.

I’m pretty sure that, by now, every person on the face of this planet has seen at least one episode of the classic, Charlie’s Angels 1970’s-era TV show, right? Okay, if not everybody, then definitely every man on the face of this planet has. And if they say they haven’t, well then ladies, get a flash-light, shine it in their pupils and question them harder, because they’re lying dogs!

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a "6" would have been handed-out.

Hate to say it, but if only they were wearing T-shirts. Then maybe, just maybe a “6” would have been handed-out.

Anyway, I think what we all have, you know, as a society, garnered from that show was that it doesn’t matter if these women are extremely good-looking, hot and have huge jubblies, give them some corny lines, some action-moves and plenty of cool, unique gadgets, and woolah! All of a sudden, a woman that looks like Farrah Fawcett is able to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money! And there’s nothing really wrong with that, however, you can’t do that type of story seriously for a single bit, which is probably why it’s a good thing the show only lasted until the early-80’s, once people had about enough of it with their non-stop array of campy-material (okay, maybe the 80’s were even worse, but you get my drift).

Basically though, what I am trying to get across is that it’s extremely hard for a movie to pull-off the same type of charm, magic and fun of the original material, without having it be placed in the same decade of the 70’s, or at least being able to show it all with a wink in the eye, and the tongue, placed firmly in the cheek. And it’s apparently clear that that’s exactly the type of notion this movie is going for: It wants to crack a joke about how goofy these gals look when they get in their kung-fu stances and start whooping the ever-loving crap out of everyone that strikes a danger to them, but at the same time, it also wants to still be able to revel in how awesome these girls look when they’re kicking ass and taking names.

Which, as much as I hate to make it sound like otherwise, I didn’t have a problem with because McG certainly does inject this movie with plenty of energy and style to make this feel like a music-video, done with a lot of fighting, sexy women and explosions. The only problem is that everything else he does with this movie, it not only doesn’t work, but it’s too messy for its own good. Certain scenes just don’t work together, and McG himself, as a director, only seems to feel comfortable with his movie when something is either ripping-off the Matrix and being shown to us entirely in slow-mo, or when he’s giving us a close-up of one of these ladies spreading their legs open. And not in that type of way either, ya pervs!

For awhile, it’s all fun to watch and whatnot, but when the movie wants to try and be a bit goofy and satirical with its material and where it seems to have come from, it doesn’t work and instead, totally misfires. Most of that has a problem to do with the fact that McG himself came from a long, long line of music-videos before he made his film-debut with this, and also, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the writers didn’t know if they wanted to give us anything more than plenty of action, and leave it at that. The plot doesn’t make sense; the jokes don’t quite hit; and the action begins to feel like the same sequence showed to us, over and over again. Needless to say, while it may not be anything to write home about, it definitely isn’t terrible. Just misguided is all.

Who needs that much tail when you're Bill Murray? Serious question...

Who needs that much hot tail when you’re Bill Murray? Serious question…

However, as misguided as the rest of the material they’re working with may in fact be, the cast still seems to prevail and make ends meet with whatever it is that they have to work with. The three, leading ladies are all fun to watch, but it’s really Cameron Diaz who gets to walk away with the spotlight placed firmly in her hand as she always seemed to make everything better for herself and for the movie, whenever she decided to give us a glimpse of that beautiful, lovely, cheek-to-cheek smile of hers. Along with her sweet-ass, white girl dance moves, Diaz is very charming to watch here and definitely comes across as the most distinguishable Angel of the three, if only because she seems to actually show some personality. That’s not to discredit Barrymore or Liu or anything, but it’s Diaz who reminds us why she was so young, hot and promising at one time in her life, where now, all she is, is another botox-surgery away from being a parody of herself, much like Ms. Farrah Fawcett ended-up becoming in her later-life as well.

It’s a shame to see a movie in which not only does Sam Rockwell and Crispin Glover get wasted as villains, but so does Tim Curry. Rockwell has a bit more to work with here than the other two, but he still doesn’t seem like he was given much at all to work with, other than a bunch of cocky-lines to sound intimidating with and a random back-story that would, for some reason or another, make sense as to why the plot is so convoluted and nonsensical to begin with. But, to look on the bright side, at least THE Bill Murray wasn’t wasted here, and for that, I have to thank the movie. Then again though, it’d be pretty hard to waste Bill Murray to begin with. He just doesn’t allow for such a wrong-doing to happen.

Consensus: You could definitely place Charlie’s Angels into the “late-night rental” category because while it’s not memorable, it’s still fun, but still seems like a waste of mostly everybody involved, as well as some funny material that never seems to materialize into being anything more than just a bunch of hot ladies, running around, kicking ass and using a lame-pun every now and then.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Ouch.

With legs wide open…

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

In a World… (2013)

Make sure to say the title the right way and don’t be such a boob.

The world of the voice-acting isn’t one that’s been particularly kind to women in the past, and for the most part, never will seem to be. However, Carol Solomon (Lake Bell) wants to change that once and for all, although it may be a tad bit difficult with her dad being the famous, highly-acclaimed Sam Soto (Fred Melamed). But, like I said before, Carol is inspired to be the first ever woman to ever narrate a trailer and she will make sure that she gets that chance, even though her father, as well as her father’s protege (Ken Marino), may sometimes get in the way of her dream. Also, Carol’s sister, Dani (Michaela Watkins), has her own dilemma of sorts, but with her marriage to Moe (Rob Corddry) and how she can’t seem to swat-away the over-bearing feelings of philandering around with this Irish guy who continues to keep on flirting with her. And yet, another story also happens to be around here in which Carol may possibly have a new boyfriend in Louis (Demetri Martin), one of the dudes who is making her dream possible. Or at least something close to that.

It’s hard to hate on a movie that’s as pleasant and joyful as this, because while there are many faults to be found here, they all mean well. For instance, one of the problems that I have with Lake Bell’s direction here is that not only does she seem to carry too much weight, even for her directorial-debut, but she doesn’t quite know what point or “message” to end on when the story’s supposedly all said, done and over with. However though, I can’t hate on that aspect too much, as each and every idea of a story that she tries to cram in here, do actually work; and in other ways, they actually add more to the movie’s overall charm that’s easy-to-like and enjoy.

They're one pair of Chuck Taylor's away from being "full-on hipster".

They’re just one pair of Chuck Taylor’s away from being “full-on hipster”.

Thus, there’s my dilemma of sorts with this movie: While at times it definitely seems to be a sweet and entertaining piece of Hollywood-fiction, it still doesn’t know how it wants to say anything that is on its mind. Maybe I’m looking a bit too far into this movie than I possibly should be, but I can only allow myself to smile for so long, up until I finally realize that there is some nastiness at the bottom of the barrel, and I found some of that here. Even despite it being made with, once again, good intentions.

Anyway though, I could rant, and rave, and go on and on and on and on about this movie without really getting anywhere, so let me try and keep my mind at ease here and get down to the basics of this movie.

For her first time not just behind the director’s chair, but behind the writer’s, as well as the producer’s, Lake Bell does an alright job at keeping up the pace with this flick to make sure that it doesn’t linger on anything too heavy, for too long, as well as not trying to be too funny, for too many instances. She actually seems like she knows a thing or two about how to give us a good gag, and have it continue on throughout the whole movie, without ever seeming like it’s already been done-to-death. For example, Demetri Martin’s character is a very nervous, twitchy guy that always ends-up saying the wrong things, at the wrong time to Bell’s character, and gives us the idea that he really likes her, but doesn’t want to seem too weird or forward with the feelings he’s trying to get across. We’ve seen this idea done a million other times, in many other comedies out there in the world, but here, it feels fresh, vibrant and fun every time it pops-up, as if Bell herself knew what people would expect with a character who’d be written like this, so she decided to spice things up a bit.

But Martin’s character isn’t the only one she does that – she practically does this for each and every character that shows up here. Even down to the smallest, tiniest role, we get a sense that Bell actually took some time out of her busy day, to give us rich, well-written and charming characters that could be the same type of people either you or I would meet at a party someday. A lot of this credit goes to the cast, but it also goes to Bell as well for at least making sure that nobody is put to waste here, nor really as one-dimensional as they could have been in a lesser movie. These characters are also the main reasons why most of this comedy works, and keeps on surprising, even at what seem to be the most random moments.

Though, like I just said, most of this comes down to what the cast is able to do with these small, unimportant characters – all of whom seemed to be in Lake Bell’s mind the first day she took her pen to a piece of paper. Even for the character she herself plays, Carol, the type of slightly off-kilter, yet smart and witty girl that we usually see movies done about, but never as charming as she is done here. I don’t know if Bell meant to do this on purpose, as to give her a role in which everybody would see the talent she truly is and was never able to show before in the numerous supporting roles she’s done, but either way, it works for her and it works for this movie. She’s funny, sweet, kind and a bit of a smart-ass when she needs to be, but only to the people that deserve it, and it makes us feel a lot more for her, even when it seems like Hollywood, as well as everybody is working against her and her voice.

I don't blame her for not being able to see that huge, silver tape-recorder located right near he right-eye.

Whatever it is that’s on that computer-screen must really grab her attention away from the big, silver block tape-recorder near her right eye.

The rest of her family-unit is pretty solid, too, with wonderful character actor Fred Melamed getting a lot of moments to shine as the cocky, slightly arrogant father that thinks he is better than anybody, all because he’s been in the business for so damn long. While he would definitely seem like the type of guy you’d automatically hate in any other movie, he’s actually very charming here and sometimes, even seems like, at one time, he was a really nice guy that loved his wife, his kids and his whole family, but has been through this hard-hitting business-world we know as Hollywood, and it’s taken quite a toll on him so far. Even the actress who plays his much-younger, strange girlfriend, Alexandra Holden, doesn’t seem like the type of annoying, obviously idiotic gold digger we tend to see a lot in these movies depicting a relationship between an older, famous guy, and a younger gal; she actually wants him to reach-out towards his kids and as a result, be a better man that she can be proud of being with in the future.

And even Carol’s sister isn’t all that bad either, it’s just that her story may be the weakest one here, and practically expendable. However, Michaela Watkins is good, as well as Rob Corddry, as they both get a chance to show that they can actually act and emote quite well when they want to. But there’s plenty more where that came from along the likes of Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Ken Marino, and even surprise cameo’s from both Geena Davis and Eva Longoria, with the latter even going so far as to portray herself in a light that’s actually a bit mean. But hey, she’s the one who’s doing it, so it’s not that bad, right? I guess not! Good for her! Tony Parker should be sad.

Consensus: May not stay in your mind long after it’s over, but considering how much love, fun and pleasure went into making this, I don’t think that will bother anybody who decides to check-out In a World…, especially if they want to see just who this “Lake Bell person” is all about.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

If only Lake Bell let her beard grow-out and maybe then I'd be able to buy into the notion that they're biological father and daughter.

If only Lake Bell let her beard grow-out and maybe then I’d be able to buy into the notion that they’re biological father and daughter.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Being John Malkovich (1999)

If it’s 15 minutes, then sure, give me Malkovich. However, if it’s FOR LIFE, then give me Brad Pitt!

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a sad, bored and out-of-work puppeteer that eventually gets tired and fed-up with all of his wife’s nagging (Cameron Diaz) and decides to get a job as a file clerk at some place where he works on the seventh-and-a-half floor of the building. There, Craig focuses his attention on his work, but also mostly on a smart, sexy and very intimidating co-worker named Maxine (Catherine Keener) who he continues to try and win over, but always to no avail. One day though, at the job, Craig finds a whole new meaning to his life when he discovers a portal behind a huge file-desk that leads to John Malkovich’s brain, where he can only stay for fifteen minutes, until he is dropped onto the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Strange, right? Well, it gets even stranger once Maxine and his Craig’s wife find out about this portal, where, through some way, somehow, they end up falling in love with the other, almost to the point of where it gets Craig very jealous and able to use anything in his power to break them apart and be the apple of Maxine’s eye.

And poor John Malkovich, the man just gets thrown right into the middle of it all.

So adorable together because they both seem like they haven't bathed in two weeks.

So adorable together because they both seem like they haven’t bathed in two weeks.

So let’s face it, nobody in their right minds would ever believe that something like this could ever happen in the real world, let alone any world for that matter. Science would get so wrapped up into its own twists and turns that eventually, the world would just blow up as a result. Okay, maybe it’s not that severe or crazy, but you get the point: No way in hell could something like being inside of John Malkovich’s mind for 15 minutes ever happen, but that’s the whole point behind this movie. Once you can get past that measly fact, you’ll realize that there’s so much more to Charie Kaufman’s script than just plain and simple weirdness, and actually realize that this is all about the human-condition in which all of us humans from all over the world, no matter what time-period, all long to be somebody else.

Even if that person is indeed, John Malkovich.

Really random choice of a celebrity to have your movie revolve around and include more often than not, but that’s probably what makes this movie so unique; it doesn’t go for the typical ways of telling its story like you’d expect. Sure, once everything starts out and we get a glimpse at what a sad-sack loser this Craig guy is, who can’t seem to nab this hot chick at work, can’t seem to make any money, can’t please his wife, can’t get her pregnant and just can’t seem to do anything even remotely close to “right”, it seems to be like a down-beat character-study of a genuine loser. Then, once that portal is found out, the movie switches in a way that you’d probably never expect it to on a first-viewing, but still adore once you get to the second, or the third, or the fourth time around.

But like that sudden plot-twist right slap-dab in the middle, the movie whole movie itself is chock full of surprises that keep on giving and showing up in ways that never seem to lose you. Everything that plays out inside of Kaufman’s mind may not be the most realistic ideas imaginable, but they sure are fun, clever and original, so who cares about realism and science and all that crap! Just let a crazy idea, run on even crazier and see where it goes! That’s the motto I’d like to think Kaufman had in his mind while he was writing it, but also inside of Spike Jonze’s as well when he was adapting this, which must have been no easy-feet to begin with.

However, knowing Jonze from his background in some rad-ass music videos, the guy definitely knows his way around a camera and how to make anything work, regardless of how cooky it is. I mean now we know this as nothing more than a mere fact, but back in the days of ’99, he was nothing more than an actor-turned-director, who had plenty of ideas and aspirations with what he wanted to do, just nothing to really break off into the world with. But he found it here with Kaufman’s script and we’re all better human-beings for it because while he’s able to play around with genre-conventions and what we usually can expect from stories like this to play out, Jonze cuts to the core of what, or whom, runs this story and make it matter. I’m talking about the characters here, and how each and every one of them aren’t just a bunch things set in-place for the plot to run laps around, but actual human-beings with emotions, feelings, ideas and wonders about other lives out there that can’t help but get all excited and curious about this whole new “Be Malkovich for 15 Minutes”-thing.

But think about it, wouldn’t you be, too?

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that Jonze knows exactly who these people are and why they are the way they are. Some people want to feel like somebody else for the sole sake that they can get away from their small, meaningless lives that are usually full of non-eventful happenings. And whether or not that’s actually true to begin with, doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that anybody wishes they could be anybody, somebody new and different for at least a day. Of course famous people are always on the top of that list, but usually, it’s just that any person in the world longs for a new life full of surprises, love, adventure and all sorts of new experiences that that person may have not been able to have in their old life. Yeah, this all sounds like I’ve been puff, puff, puffing away on the magic dragon, but we’ve all wanted that at one point in our lives. Heck, I want it right now! Oh, R-Gos! You hunk of man, you!

Oh, the third-and-a-half floor? Yeah, that's another name for "Interns".

Every building has a seventh-and-a-hath-floor. It just ends up being where most of the interns get thrown away to before termination.

And that’s exactly the type of people who these characters are in this movie: They long for something more, something that isn’t concerned with their own lives and somebody else’s. John Cusack’s Craig is exactly like that, and while you do feel bad for the guy at first, you do begin to feel like maybe he’s using this new-found freedom for the worst, rather than the betterment and you do begin to not like him. But that’s more of a compliment than a take-away, because with this type of flick, you need to know exactly whose going to use the power to their ability and for the right reasons, or the exact opposite, and take advantage. While Cameron Diaz’s nearly unrecognizable character may go through those same types of shifts at times as well, she too still comes out like a human-being, with a very soft, inner-core that just wants to be loved, be somebody else, but also, still be able to hold grip on reality if she must. Together, the two feel like a realistic, honest and rather innocent couple, that makes it all the more sad when they eventually get broken apart by this fascination with both Malkovich, and this other gal named Maxine, played by the always wonderful and terrific, Catherine Keener.

Keener is always good at playing these slightly snobbish, but also painfully honest characters and she hits it hard on the head right here. Maxine does not pull-back once she sees something she doesn’t like, disagree with or feel comfortable with, and I like how she had no filter whatsoever, yet, making her the perfect object of both of Craig and his wife’s’ affection. She’s so different and mean, that she just has to be the girl that they want to spend the rest of their lives with and be excited about seeing everyday. However though, while it would have been easy for Keener to play it up as this one-sided, cruel and nasty bitch, there is an emotional side to her that begins to show and we realize that maybe her character is the one we’re supposed to be caring about all of this time?

Then again, maybe not as it’s definitely none other John Malkovich himself who deserves all of the love, credit and sympathy for many reasons, but the main which being that he actually decided to do something as weird as this and thankfully for him, it all paid off in spades. Not only is Malkovich the strangest, most random guy to have a movie like this have be its center, but he seems so willing to do anything here. He’s always been a solid actor who, time and time again, has proven that he can surprise us by showing depth and emotion, even in the most sickest and evilest of characters, but he really took me by surprise here when he started to s play-up all of these different sides to his “character”, yet, never feel like he’s just yucking it up for the camera. When Craig jumps into his body, you see a man that is ultimately infused with an endless supply of energy and happiness, and it makes you feel happy for Craig, but also for Malkovich himself as he’s clearly having the time of his life, playing what seems to be his greatest role ever: John Malkovich. Casting doesn’t get anymore genius than that.

Consensus: Strange? You bet your ass it is, but that shouldn’t have you take yourself away from seeing Being John Malkovich, one of the most originally mind-bending movies ever made, with a inner-core to its characters and message that makes it feel more than just a gimmick, but an actual life-lesson as well. Minus all of the sappy and manipulative chord-strings.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

MALKOVICH MALKOVICH!!

MALKOVICH MALKOVICH!!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo,

The Counselor (2013)

Seems like everybody has to be a drug dealer nowadays. I place blame solely on Mr. White, that damn chemist.

A counselor (Michael Fassbender) has the life we would all like to live: Nice job, nice house, nice wife he so frequently pleasures (Penelope Cruz) and all sorts of other glamorous things around him. However, the life we would all like to have, apparently isn’t enough for him, which gets him involved with the drug-trafficking business in hopes of making some extra cash-flow here and there on the side. This is when the counselor gets involved with shady characters like Reiner (Javier Bardem), Westray (Brad Pitt) and perhaps the most suspicious of all, Malkina (Cameron Diaz), who seems like she has more up to her sleeve then just banging the hell out of her boyfriend and automobiles. Maybe she has something to do with this drug-dealing business which, as a result, draws further consequences for the counselor and all of his fellow associates involved with this deal that suddenly goes sour.

There’s been a lot said about the Counselor, and most of it is deserved. It is an odd piece of filmmaking, filled with more uneven pieces than actual comprehensive ones, but somehow, it works. See, the film’s marketing really created a shit-storm for this because it seemed like all it promised was non-stop sex, drugs, bullets, murder and DEA agents. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth as this is more or less, another crime-thriller in the vein of last year’s Killing Them Softly: It’s all about pacing, baby. Pacing, pacing, pacing. And if you’re willing to stick by it, even when it does get incredibly strange, then you’ll find yourself happy and confused.

Don’t worry, those feelings are good because it’s abundantly clear that Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy both want you to feel this way.

He really needs something more?

He really needs something more?

Making a mention of Cormac McCarthy is probably the most important aspect in reviewing this movie because while some out there may not be familiar with him before seeing this movie, it’s almost imperative of you to know that his style of writing is not one that mixes so well with movies. Yes, he does have a stylish tongue that he likes to use on all of his characters and he definitely doesn’t have the happiest outlook on the world surrounding him, but because I already knew this, the movie was an easier pill to swallow than it most likely was for some, even in its weirdest moments.

The weird moments that i continue to allude to come at you aplenty here, but the most infamous one that seems to be getting the most attention, is the scene where Cameron Diaz’s character bangs a car. Honestly, this scene is so random, so strange and so out-of-place, that I honestly wondered who the hell saw this in the final-cut and thought it was okay to leave in. I get that it was supposed to be telling us that this character was not your normal female heroine, as in that she definitely likes to get what she wants right away, but it was just too distracting to get by, no matter how understandable the character’s motivations were. The only thing making it easier to get through this scene is Javier Bardem’s crazy faces and narration, which can be even more painful to see and hear, all because you’ll wonder what movie it is that you’re watching after awhile.

Thankfully, right after this scene, the movie gets somewhat back on track and shows us how these characters respond when shit begins to hit the fan. Everything leading up to this half, don’t get me wrong, was good because it focused a lot on dialogue and the setting-up of what would be a very tense final-half; but once this half kicks in, you do realize that the cast has finally taken notice of the type of material they’re given to work with, which is also, oddly enough, when Scott decides to throw some of his artistic-direction in as well. And as odd as it may be to say, this is probably the least “Ridley Scott-ish” movie he’s ever done. Not only is he restrained, but any moments that give him a free-reign to just get nuts with the look of the film, he somehow backs out on. Can’t say I was disappointed with seeing this, considering that the material didn’t seem like it demanded much of an overbearing style to get in the way of it, but I did also wish I saw some more of Ridley Scott in here. Just a shaky-cam bit or two. At least.

But I can’t get on Scott’s case too much because he does do the nice deed of letting the cast and script come together in a way that this flick so desperately needed in order to survive and stay interesting. And what a great coming-together of actors and material, save for one that I’ll get onto in a bit. Leading the cast is Michael Fassbender who, if you don’t know by now, is not just the most handsome mofo in the whole world, but also one talented dude as well that seems to be popping up more and more now for American audiences to get used to. While this won’t make him a household name by any stretch of the imagination, his role as the counselor shows us that he’s able to handle a film like this all to himself, where he practically goes from one character to the next, talking, showing emotion, giving each one of them a different piece of his personality and just creating a person that we can either loathe, or love. But sometimes with this character, it’s at the same time because he isn’t the most moral guy in the world, but then again, he isn’t the most evil one either; he’s just a guy trying to make some few extra bills here and there, in order to make a life for his wife more glamorous than it already is. He’s greedy for sure, but he isn’t a terrible person for that; he’s just a person. Plain and simple.

Fassbender’s best parts in this movie come mainly from the scenes he each has with both Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt, which makes it all the more tragic that all three never show up on-screen together at one point. Disappointing, but at least we still get to see them all act their asses off and have fun while doing so. Bardem has that crazy hair going on, but gives his character plenty of personality to where you really like the dude, but due to the company he surrounds himself with, you still never quite know if he can fully be trusted. And as for Pitt, well, needless to say, the guy steals the show everytime he shows up, which is sadly only about 15-minutes out of the whole 2-hour run-time. Pitt not only fills his character with plenty of wistful charm and coolness, but also gives him a slight humane-aspect as well, that somehow has him come off as the most reasonable human-being in the whole movie. The character only seems like he could be written for the screen, and yet, he still comes off like a relateable guy that knows what type of business he’s dealing with, and won’t think twice about who he throws under the bus, once that time eventually comes around.

"Yee-haw, baby. Yee-haw."

“Yee-haw, baby. Yee-haw.”

The boys in the cast have plenty to play with, which is good, but also disappointing as well, considering that the girls don’t fare quite as well. Penelope Cruz is underused, but sweet, soft and a bit sassy with her performance as the counselor’s girl who doesn’t always nag him about what he’s doing for most of the hours of the day, and is just happy to know that he’s alive, safe and still loves her. Total girl of his dreams, as well as all of ours, indeed.

However, I would have traded a whole flick dedicated wholly to Cruz’s character, if that meant we didn’t get a single scene of Cameron Diaz’s Malkina, all because she is absolutely, positively terrible in this movie and it gets very, very hard to watch after awhile. I remember when this flick first got announced and its cast was shown to us, I remember thinking that Cameron Diaz had herself an Oscar-nominee in the bag because the character of Malkina wasn’t the type we usually associate her with. There’s no inkling whatsoever of a heart, a soul or even the typical charm we usually see come from her performances; she’s actually the total opposite, which is probably the biggest problem with Diaz’s performance in the first place. Not only can she not play-against type to save her life, but she’s so outmatched by everybody else here that it makes you wonder who the hell she beat out for this role to get it. The accent she supposedly has, goes in, and it goes out; everytime she talks about something, she’s supposed to come off as “one bad-ass bitch”, but instead, seems like she’s trying WAY too hard; and if you don’t include her previously-mentioned scene where she humps a car, there’s no arch whatsoever to be found in this character, but it doesn’t hurt as much because you don’t care. I’ll give Diaz some credit for stepping out of her comfort-zone and doing a total 180, but it comes off more like a miscast opportunity, then a respectable one in terms of her career and where it’s going. Can’t say that same thing for the others here, only her.

Consensus: Definitely not the type of film its marketing has been promising, which is why, for better or worse, the Counselor is worth a watch to see what happens when you give a good cast, some worthy material, and just let them do their thing, as odd as that “thing” in question may be at times.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

This is when it all begins.....

The car is so willing…..

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Gangs of New York (2002)

Even without guns and cars, I’d still be pretty freakin’ scared to go toe-to-toe with a gangster from the 1800’s. Especially, if they were in-character the whole time.

Taking place in New York City around the 19th Century, the son of a gang leader named Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) comes back to his hometown in order to avenge his father’s death. He plans to do this by killing the leader of the Natives, a simple and kind fellow named Bill Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis). By the way, the “simple and kind” statement, was bullshit. The guys fuckin’ crazy.

Apparently, this was a “dream project” for director Martin Scorsese for about 5 or 6 years that took longer than he expected to actually get made. Like all dream projects we have in our minds, we joggle them around forever, and actually crash-down to reality and realize, “oh shit, this is going to take longer than I ever wanted to”. Yeah, even directors feel that way and yes, even Marty Scorsese apparently too. It was reported to cost over 100 million dollhairs, took months and months to build actual sets of the film, needed to go through tons of editing, and was released in December of 2002, a year later than it originally had planned. Usually when this kind of crap happens, this usually shows trouble with the overall film quality, regardless of who the actual director is. Thankfully, Marty is unlike any other and that’s all that matters.

What I liked most about this flick is how Marty tackles the same exact style of gangsters, crooks, and bastards in the 1880’s, the same way he would with the ones of the 1900’s. There’s a very fast-paced essence and feel to the whole film that keeps you on-edge as to what’s going to happen next, what characters are going to be finito by the end, and when this final-battle between the two opposing sides is actually going to occur. Now, does it look and feel like an actual Scorsese flick? Not really, but that’s what’s so interesting about the guy. He’s able to change-up certain trademarks he has about himself and give a new story, a whole different type of look and feel you wouldn’t quite expect from him. It does get pretty damn violent at times, so there’s the obvious trademark for ya, but regardless of how many trademarks are shown in here, it’s still pretty damn entertaining to watch even if you have seen it over 5 times and can calculate everything now, like yours truly.

"Hurry up, Cameron. Let's get you out of here before Marty changes his mind."

“Hurry up, Cameron. Let’s get you out of here before Marty changes his mind.”

However, as many times as I have sat-down and watched this 2-and-a-half-hour-movie and been entertained by it, I still can’t deny that there lies a whole butt-load of problems brewing beneath the surface. First of all, one of the biggest hints that this film was going to have trouble with itself was the fact that it has three writers working on it (Jay Cocks, Steve Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan). Usually, that spells out trouble and that’s exactly what we get here as this film tackles a bit more than it can get away with. In fact, it actually seems like these writers were all given different subjects to write about, understand, and bring back to Marty so they could make one, big, and long epic about life in NYC in the 1800’s. That idea, in case you were confused by what I was saying, does not work here as it’s too many ideas, with too little of a pay-off.

The whole idea is about gangs that hide out and cause havoc in New York, which makes a compelling and entertaining watch on it’s own, but then, once you add all of those other ingredients in, it get’s a bit over-stuffed to the point of where you have no freakin’ clue what this movie is trying to talk about or even convey. Is is about a young dude getting revenge on the guy who murdered his dad? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about a possible “romance” between this young dude and untrustworthy gal? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about the history of New York in the 1800’s? Yes, well, sort of. Is it about the war and how everybody had to take part in it? Yes, well, sort of. Or, is this flick all about how politics usually came into play with the gangs and how they all acted around one another? Once again, yes, well, sort of. As you can tell, this film touches on too many subjects, adds in too many subplots, and juggles too many ideas, which shouldn’t have been such a huge problem, given the time-limit offered to the script, but somehow it just does not work altogether and seems jumbled around like the best bits of an musician’s career. However, these “best bits”, aren’t really the best. They’re slightly mediocre to say the least.

Probably the most compelling story of all should have been the whole revenge tale with this young dude going after the man that killed his father when he was a child and he vowed at nothing to stop him from succeeding at that. However, that whole story seems a bit half-baked considering we barely get to see the young dude with his father as a kid; barely get to see how all of this has an effect on him as an slightly older dude and constantly being in that man’s presence; and barely get any tension except for the last 20 minutes where everything really comes into play. And heck, even that final stand-off doesn’t really count, for reasons I can’t state.

Speaking of the ending, some people freakin’ despise it and count it as one of the worst of all-time (and once you see it, you’ll know why), but I actually thought it was a pretty clever way to allow it to tie into history and give it more of an importance in terms of how we view New York City now, and how it really was. Yeah, it wasn’t the best way that a genius like Scorsese could come-up with and yeah, it may have dropped the ball on some fun and excitement, but it still was pretty neat to see how everything was going to be tied around in a nice little bow at the end. It comes off as a nice reminder that NYC has history and is a beautiful place to live, which was an idea that some people may have brushed-off to the sides during the lean days of ’02.

Despite all of this bad talk, I still had a lot more fun with this flick because of the performances from an impressive ensemble that Marty always has a knack for casting well. Leonardo DiCaprio proves he is able to take on a stronger, more dramatic role as a young kid going through a bit of a crisis and makes Amsterdam a believable, and compelling character to watch. It’s also better since the guy is easy to get behind and can practically kick anybody’s ass, but doesn’t get too in-over-his-head like most characters of this same-exact convention usually do. The kid may not always have a huge ounce of charm to his look and personality, but it’s Leo, and the guy is always great to watch on-screen and you can’t help but root for Amsterdam as things start to go from better-to-worse, sooner than later. Then, there’s Cameron Diaz, who I am not a very big fan of but is serviceable in a role that could have easily gone to any other actress and still been as good or entertaining. That’s not really a good thing or bad thing, it’s just that her character doesn’t offer much to really intrigue you and Diaz doesn’t help us with that much, either.

I'm afraid to ask him if he needs that lit.

I’m afraid to ask him if he needs that lit.

But despite these two, the one who really steals the show is none other than the man, the myth, the effin’ crazy man who stayed in-character the whole time during the making of this flick: Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill Cutting, or as my dad likes him to be referred to as, Bill the Butcher. Cutting is a very fun character to watch and the fact that he’s played by Daniel Day just makes him all the more compelling to keep your eye on as every chance he gets, he proves to you why this guy can never be trusted and why so many damn people in the city fear him for the things he can do. Cutting is a bit caricaturish, but Daniel Day makes sure it doesn’t get too over-the-top and strangely, keeps the guy human and believable in his own, sadistic way. There’s the one memorable scene that really touched me where he’s talking to Amsterdam about the only man that was worth remembering that he killed (Amsterdam’s father) and it gives us a wonderful look-see into a man that does some pretty terrible and evil things, but still feels something for the people he kills, even if they are his biggest enemies. Daniel Day is electrifying in this role and makes it all the more fun to watch, but sadly, he is probably the only interesting character of the bunch, and he’s the freakin’ bad-guy you’re supposed to despise!

Consensus: Gangs of New York struggles with way too many ideas, themes, and a bunch of plot-points that never come fully-realized, but has a very entertaining feel and vibe to it, that places you in this setting of New York City during the 1800’s, and features compelling performances from everybody involved, including the magnetic Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill Cutting/the Butcher.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The only way they knew how to party in NYC during the 19th Century: LIGHT SHIT ON FIRE!!

The only way they knew how to party in NYC during the 19th Century: LIGHT SHIT ON FIRE!!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

Getting knocked up sucks but I guess the sex is fun, right?

This is a look at love through the eyes of five interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn’t always deliver what’s expected.

Once again, Hollywood has decided to give us a whole slew of stars and jam them into one rom-com. However, it’s not as bad as New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day and Gary Marshall isn’t direction so that’s good, right?

Going into this flick, I wasn’t expecting much (pun), probably because I’m a dude and dudes don’t care about all of that pregnant ish except for if the baby is theirs or not. Hate to say it, but it’s true fellas. But I was pleasantly surprised by this flick and I think a lot of that has to do with director Kirk Jones‘ way of giving every story a purpose of their own. I’m glad that this flick focused more on one certain issue to connect all of these characters with, rather than just one day or some stupid holiday, but I’m also glad that the flick didn’t really fall into the pit-falls of absolute cheese that most of Marshall’s did. Each story has their own bits and pieces of humor, but they also have some heart to it that sometimes feels fake, and other times doesn’t. It’s definitely a mixed bag here but I think I’m just going to go off and talk about each of the stories individually, rather than focusing on all of them at the same time. Let’s see what I can do here.

1) The one story between Anna Kendrick and Chace Crawford, was a story that was interesting at first, then continued to lose more and more steam as it went along. The whole idea of these two having a one-night stand and wondering whether or not they’re a good fit for the other, is a pretty interesting story in and of itself, but whenever the flick focuses on it, it starts to become a major downer and just took my mind off of it more and more. It’s the one story that doesn’t go the obvious route, but that wasn’t really a good thing considering how the film handled it. Crawford doesn’t seem like he’s better than this material, but Kendrick does and that’s what really sucks to see because this damn chick was nominated for an Oscar about 3 years ago! Come on Anna!

2) The other story about Cameron Diaz hooking up with her reality show dance partner, played by Matthew Morrison, is not necessarily a downer as it’s more just bland and uninteresting every time it’s up on-screen. Diaz is a reliable actress when it comes to comedy, but Morrison seems so damn stiff with her on-screen that he makes it seem like he’s scared to be around her. Then again, I would be too, considering all they do throughout this flick is bicker and fight about stupid shit. Maybe this is how real-life couples act whenever one in the relationship is pregnant, but here, they almost never seem stop and it’s a real wonder as to how the hell these two will do when they have to worry and care about another life. Glad they weren’t my parents and it would suck even more considering I still have a chance with Diaz. I know it. She knows it. We all know it. The chick just has to come to her senses, that’s all.

3) Another story that was pretty lame was between Jennifer Lopez and Rodrigo Santoro, who both play a couple that can’t have a baby, so they decide to adopt one from Ethiopia. Lopez is good, but seems like she was trying too hard to gain some laughs and Santoro also seemed very stiff every time he was around. Actually, I think the problem with his performance is that I couldn’t really understand him all that much with his Spanish accent that makes him sound like he is just learning English. Then again, maybe he is and maybe I’m just a dick. This story is also a downer and one I didn’t really care about but got so much better whenever they focused on Santoro hanging out with the “Dudes Group” with Rob Huebel, Thomas Lennon, Amir Talai, and Chris Rock as the leader of the park. Every time these guys were on-screen, I always laughed and that’s mainly because of Chris Rock. This guy always, no matter what flick he’s in, shows that he can get at least one laugh out of the crowd before the camera goes black (another pun intended), and even though he’s confined in PG-13 territory here, he still delivers on all of the laughs. Funny stuff with these guys but I just wish they did more of that and eliminated the whole J-Lo story altogether.

4) Probably my favorite story out of the whole flick, and maybe even the one that’s worth the price of admission alone, was the one with Elizabeth Banks and Ben Falcone, who play a couple that seems to be really struggling with pregnancy because of Banks’ hormones going up-and-down all of the damn time. Both of these stars are hilarious throughout this whole flick and made me laugh with everything they did, whereas about 5 other stars from this cast probably would have made me jump off of a bridge by how hard they tried. Banks is always reliable when it comes to comedy, but it’s Falcone who really surprised me as he showed he had great comedic timing (something else that I saw from him in Bridesmaids) and could make you care for his character just by being the sweet guy. These two have great chemistry together and easily won my heart over. Whenever they introduced the story-line between Falcone’s dad, played by Dennis Quaid, and his much-younger wife (Brooklyn Decker), I also laughed even though I think they forced the whole “dad and son are constantly in competition” thing a little too much but it still worked because Quaid and Decker both have fine comedic timing. This story was the best and even when it gets into dramatic territory by the end, it surprisingly worked which was something I wasn’t expecting from a movie like this at all.

Consensus: What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a very passable flick with some moments of genuine comedy and heart, but also isn’t very original in the way it offers a look at pregnancy and all of the problems that come along with it. My idea: get rid of every story, except for Banks and Falcone’s story, combine that with the “Dudes Group”, and keep the father angle with Quaid and Decker, and you got comedy gold. Or at least something that’s ten times better than those Gary Marshall flicks.

6/10=Rental!!

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

It seems like Todd Phillips must really like some Hunter S. Thompson himself.

Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his Samoan lawyer, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), go on a three-day romp from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Motoring across the Mojave Desert on the way to Sin City, Duke and his purple haze passenger ingest a cornucopia of drugs ranging from acid to ether.

After seeing ‘The Rum Diary‘ for the bore that it was, I realized that I needed to see the one and only Depp and Thompson connection that everybody’s been talking about for so long. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

I haven’t really been all that familiar with a lot of Hunter S. Thompson‘s stuff but I can say that from what I know and hear, his shit is really crazy and out-of-this-world. This film is really freakin’ weird and it’s all about the insanely-real, and drug-influenced nightmares that go through this guy’s head when he’s taking LSD, coke, and some other crazy stuff that I didn’t even know existed. The whole film feels like a pretty long acid trip, which is much thanks to director Terry Gilliam.

Gilliam is great at these very eccentric and trippy set pieces that really get inside of your head and wonder just if what you are looking at is real, or all just a dream/imagination. Gilliam makes from what I hear pretty unfilmable stuff, and makes it damn realistic but not without making a lot of these drug-induced nightmares very funny and just very crazy to watch. Gilliam was the perfect choice for this type of film and even though this definitely isn’t the type of film that will make you wanna do some drugs, there is still a lot here that shows what it’s like to be on drugs and just how effed up your perception of reality can actually be.

The problem I think this film has is that a lot of the tone feels a bit uneven. Everything starts off all hilarious and very funny, without any type of real judgment on these dudes and all of the shameful things they do when they are completely drugged up, but that all starts to go away by the end of the film and that’s when it gets pretty dark. It blends right into this depressing kind of a film that doesn’t try to throw any messages about how “drugs are bad” at you, but to me, this still seemed a bit weird considering I spent the whole time just practically laughing at all these dudes.

I also feel like the film is a little too long and some scenes could have definitely been cut out, even though it seems like they were just going along with the material. The whole angle with the little, church girl seemed random and unneeded, and the diner scene where Gonzo totally gets big and nasty seemed very out-of-place for a film like this. It was a little too serious, a little too dark, and a little too sad to be placed in a movie where two guys are just tripped out the whole entire time.

Despite those little problems though, I still had a blast with this film, mainly because of the cast. Johnny Depp is the freakin’ man and totally crazy as Raoul Duke. Depp, as we all know, is perfect at playing these eccentric and cartoonish characters, and what he does here not only made me laugh but just watch his whole performance with happiness knowing just how great he really is with these sort of characters. Benicio del Toro is also totally convincing and crazy too as Dr. Gonzo. They are both great together and it’s funny how two completely different actors with two different styles, can come together on a film and just make everything seem like their having a great time with their roles.

Let me also not forget to mention that there are also tons and tons of cameos from a bunch of A-listers and random celebrities such as Ellen Barkin, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Flea, Lyle Lovett, Cameron Diaz, and even the man himself, Hunter S. Thompson. Oh and then there’s also Garey Busey, but he’s barely ever hard to miss in any film.

Consensus: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has its fair share of being too long and too uneven, but at other times, still has a direction from Gilliam that is beautifully trippy and inspired, and the cast just makes this whole bizarr-o film seem real without getting too serious.

8/10=Matinee!!

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Knight and Day (2010)

Too many reminders of Vanilla Sky.

Perpetually unlucky in love, June (Cameron Diaz) becomes intrigued by a mysterious man (Tom Cruise), who unexpectedly drags her into a whirlwind adventure involving devious enemies, life-threatening confrontations and a major discovery that may alter the future of humankind.

Already by seeing this plot, you know just exactly how it’s going to begin, continue, and then finally end. But usually, it doesn’t matter if it’s formula. It’s all about the ride itself.

Director James Mangold knows what he’s doing when it comes to creating some fun action. Mangold keeps the pace moving at a breezy movement with just enough hits of whimsy and action to keep anybody satisfied. The action sequences may go on too long, however, I still liked a lot of them and they actually made up for a lot of the weak parts of the story.

There are also some beautiful exotic locations here that Mangold takes us to such as Spain, Germany, and Austria. The story may go all-over-the-place but with a lot of these great spots that the film goes towards, you really can’t help yourself but gaze at the beautiful scenery itself.

For me, I didn’t think this film was really that funny and that it tried way too hard to get laughs out of the person watching. The film tries to be goofy and a romp on all those old spy-flick thrillers, but none of it really works since it just seems like they will take 5 minutes to actually get a joke out. Maybe I chuckled once or twice, but other than that, I was just annoyed by how annoying this film could be with it’s comedy, or lack thereof.

Although the action was good, I couldn’t help but be terribly annoyed by the fact that the CGI here was pretty blatant. I wish that a lot more of the action was just actual stunts and if they were going to use actual special effects, that they would look a lot better rather than just a bunch of crappy effects they used off of a DELL computer. You’ll be able to tell the special effects from the actual action happening here, but it’s a lot more of an annoyance than you would expect.

Tom Cruise is an actor that seems like at the beginning of every film he does, I’m going to be terribly annoyed by his character and I almost never am. His performance here as Roy Miller is pretty fun to watch because he’s got that cool charm, that mannish look, and that mysterious thing about him that just has you wondering what he’s going to do next. Cameron Diaz does that smile and laugh gig that she’s been doing forever, but it’s not so bad here and she’s pretty charming as well as June Havens. Their chemistry works as I would come to expect from these two pros and may actually get the film through some of it’s more rocky parts. The rest of the cast is good too such as Viola Davis, Peter Sarsgaard, the sexy Maggie Grace, and the always dorky Paul Dano.

Consensus: The comedy doesn’t work as well as the CGI, but the chemistry between Cruise and Diaz, the beautiful locations that are shown, and the fun action action make this an OK, action date movie.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Bad Teacher (2011)

Wish more of my teachers were and looked like this.

Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey, a scheming and coarse-tongued middle school teacher who gets dumped by her wealthy boyfriend and rebounds by sinking her claws into a handsome substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake). There’s just one problem, though: He’s already dating Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), the most revered teacher on campus. And Ms. Squirrel is not at all eager to hand over her beau, who is slated to inherit his family’s fortune.

Once everybody heard the title and saw the trailer for this, they automatically thought of “Bad Santa”, and how hilarious this one was going to be compared to that one. No comparison.

Considering how much promise this film held due to its premise and cast involved, nothing here really had me laughing as much as I expected it too. This is basically a one-joke movie, but there are different variations of that joke being told, but it just didn’t work here as it has with other films.

I found myself chuckling a little bit at this material but here it was just too predictable at times for me. I knew where this film was going to go right from looking at the trailer, but I still got barely any surprises here, as far as comedy goes. With so many R-rated comedies gunning for that raunchy and just plain nasty kind of humor, this film doesn’t really seem to push the envelope at all and way more outrageous than what it really was in the end.

However, I have to give the film some love in the end because when it seems like it’s going to turn all around and get incredibly sympathetic, it stays mean and nasty surprisingly. I liked this because with so many comedies, the sympathy usually works and sometimes it doesn’t. If they got sympathetic with the material here it would have felt strange and forced but surprisingly they kept staying mean and although the laughs weren’t coming like I expected them to, I appreciate at how dark a film can stay.

Cameron Diaz has never been the funniest thing in Hollywood, and here with this role she had so much promise of being the comedic force that so many people have wanted for years. Sadly, she isn’t anything special. She gets into the role very well as Ms. Halsey, and it isn’t that she’s mis-cast, it’s just that none of the real comedy comes from her character and I don’t know who’s fault that it, but it could have been done so much better really.

However, the rest of the cast is awesome. Justin Timberlake is good as the very preppy Mr. Delacorte; Lucy Punch is very strange but funny as the competitive teacher; Phyllis Smith is good as another teacher; and John Michael Higgins has his very funny moments as the school principal.

The best in the cast for this whole film is a guy who is barely even in it, but when he is just had me laughing my ass off. Jason Segel is basically the voice of reason as the school’s gym teacher, and almost every time feels like he’s part of a different movie. All this crazy and insane shit is happening all around with this story, and this guy is just hanging around, wise-cracking up a storm, and delivers his line like a champ while it seems everyone else is trying so hard around him.

Consensus: Here and there, Bad Teacher had me laughing, but not as much as I thought it would have because it goes into predictable, if not cheesy territories, and just doesn’t really push the envelope when it comes to it’s comedy. Still, the cast makes this a somewhat enjoyable dark comedy.

5/10=Rental!!

Vanilla Sky (2001)

I thought Tom Cruise was confused in Eyes Wide Shut, but damn was I wrong!

David Aames (Tom Cruise) has it all: wealth, good looks and a gorgeous woman (Cameron Diaz) on his arm. But just when he’s found true love with warmhearted Sofia (Penélope Cruz), his face is horribly disfigured in a car accident, and he loses everything … or does he?

Vanilla Sky is directed by Cameron Crowe, and this is a remake of a Spanish film called Open Your Eyes. Once again, an American director is remaking a foreign classic, however, this is not so bad compared to others of that demographic.

I think my favorite element of this film is Crowe’s direction. It seemed kind of odd having his guy direct this type of material, but he has a bigger budget this time, and he spends it all so dearly. The film starts off all normal, with a sensational shot of a deserted Times Square, but then the car accident happens, and that’s when shit gets out of whack. However, it’s also so well done.

The film gets a lot of ish talked on it because it doesn’t make all that much sense the first time around, but that’s because you won’t be able to get it really the first time around. It’s one of those films that right from the beginning you have to pay close attention to every little detail, because they eventually will come back up later in the film. I also found myself finding a lot of beauty within this film, and some shots are just so perfect the way they look, and gets you this idea that you are in dream-like state of some sort.  There are little clues to the real idea behind this whole story that you kind of have to look at, and at first you’ll be totally confused but if you can look past all the confusion and look at the clues underneath it all, you’ll find a real, brilliant message from the story.

The message is that the world we live in, is it just a dream, and if so how far do our dreams go, until they become nightmares. David Aames is a douche who thinks he’s got it all, but then in a quick second he loses it all, and creates this world of fiction where everything is perfect, and means something. What does reality consist of? This film searches for those answers and although they may not be telling you them right in the open to your face, it’s the idea of looking at everything and thinking is where the real beauty of this film lies.

My only gripe with this film is that I do feel like their are times where the film loses itself. Especially the ending since it kind of gives everything in a way that we aren’t really expecting. I feel like Crowe gives too much of a conclusion to this story and the reason as to what is happening, but somehow you can’t be too sure really. This is a minor complaint, because even though I feel like I have the whole story already thought out, I can’t be too sure honestly.

Tom Cruise does a lot with David Aames here, and it’s not easy stuff to do in the first place. Cruise has to play this narcissistic asshole, that goes through a whole bunch of transformations as he starts to have no idea just exactly what the hell is going on. His character gains a lot of depth, and many of the more emotionally intriguing scenes are from Cruise, and his crazy, balls-to-the-walls performance. Penelope Cruz is very likable here as Sofia, and you can see why Cruise’s character fell in love with her after all. Cameron Diaz is sickly sexual as Julianna, and brings out the films best performance because her character is so disturbing, and crazy that you almost feel like she is a big nightmare. There’s also some nice little side performances from the likes of Jason Lee, Kurt Russell, Timothy Spall, and the always creepy in any film Tilda Swinton.

Consensus: It may be too ambitious at points, but Cameron Crowe’s fearless direction brings out intelligent points about dreams, the life we live, among others, and the performance add more dimensions to this film than you expect.

9/10=Full Price!!

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Football is a lot more messed up than I thought.

Master director Oliver Stone crafted this look at the gritty world of professional football, capturing the trials and tribulations of the fictional Miami Sharks, a team beset by unnecessary roughness on and off the field. Stone’s brilliant ensemble cast includes Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Dennis Quaid in a full-blown assault on the senses, portraying every tackle, pass — and torn ligament — in vivid detail.

I like, and I play football. I think it’s tough, fun, and overall vicious sport that if your good at, well then be ready for the big bucks. However, sports in today’s world isn’t always the happiest place to be. Oliver Stone knows what I’m talking about.

As usual with an Oliver Stone film, this is packed and packed with a lot of information, and stories that all seem to occupy the 2 hour and 43 minute time limit. This film is very long, and I must say that if you do not want to sit by a movie for a very long time, where you may not like many of the characters, you may not want to check this film out.

There are a lot of interesting parts every once and awhile, and Stone does a great job of filming it all. The football scenes are perfect by the way they portray every hit, every cheer, every sack, and every single little piece of pain that is involved within a game of football. He also uses his crazy camera-work, that moves from story to story, and the use of loud, percussive music and rap feel like life itself and it keeps us involved with this film as well as the big game itself.

I just wish that there were more parts to this film that seemed like they were needed. I feel like Stone was putting some of these random parts in to create more compelling stories that would have us attached to all of these characters, and it just kind of got tire-some. There seemed to be more random parts then there were actually parts that were needed in this film, but I will give Stone credit for at least adding all these other elements to this film to get the full spectrum, and at least make it something easy to follow. The script isn’t so bad either, it’s just all over the place, but it is entertaining cause it shows the world we live in where the game has changed from being prideful to more commercial.

Al Pacino is perfect and exactly what his character requires: a hard-arsed, old school coach with more honor than commercial savvy. He loves the game he discovered 30 years ago and cannot face the prostitute that it has become. Dennis Quaid is great as the faded glory of the old game: tattered, bruised, bleeding and down but not quite out. Together they quantify everything that is good about sport. Cameron Diaz is surprisingly good as Al’s polar opposite: young, fiscal and dynamic. She has inherited a job she doesn’t want but cannot quit. She sees football as a game of commerce, not endeavor. She is supported by an amazing Jamie Foxx, the tough, brash youngster given a shot at the top position and grabbing it for all he’s worth. Together they quantify everything that is real about sport in the USA. I liked how the film showed how these two opposing sides faced off against each other, even though their all on the same side. It’s old school vs. new school, and you get to decide who wins in the end. There are others in this huge ensemble cast that are worth noting such as LL Cool J, James Woods, Matthew Modine, John C. McGinley, Aaron Eckhart, Lawrence Taylor, and the man himself, Jim Brown.

Consensus: Oliver Stone’s “football movie” is a bit messy and some parts don’t seem like they belong at all, but Stone’s direction that captures the perfect feel of the game, and the perfect performances of the cast make this a film that any football fan can and probably will enjoy. It will just take about 2½ hours out of your day to watch it.

7/10=Rental!!

The Green Hornet (2011)

Wished it just kicked more ass.

Seth Rogen plays Britt Reid, the son of the owner of one of LAs major newspapers The Daily Sentinel. After his father’s death he inherits his newspaper and meets his mechanic Kato (Jay Chou) , who is not only his mechanic but also developed weapons for Reid Sr. They then decide to take on LA’s criminal underworld by posing as bad guys while Britt using the moniker The Green Hornet. But the city’s biggest and only crime boss Chudnovski (Christoph Waltz) doesn’t like people assaulting his criminal dominance.

The Green Hornet is a film that has been moved around many times, and even though that would be a bad sign right away for some projects, this one was different. Although, not all that different really.

The film is directed by Michel Gondry who is most known for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, and many crazy-cool music videos. This seemed like an odd film for him since it’s kind of different from what he’s used to, and to be honest I don’t think he really does much here although he tries too. I must say that he does a good job here of showing off some really cool action sequences that actually add a lot to the film. Gondry makes the scenes look cool, even though they seem rather pointless, but that distinctive flair he has it what makes it a tad better than other action sequences. I didn’t see this in 3D but I can see why they chose Gondry, cause it looked really cool in 2D, I can only image how cooler it would have looked if it went that one dimension.

However, the script is where the problem lies here. The comedy wasn’t as funny as I was expecting, because it is very inconsistent. Sometimes I found a joke that I chuckled at, other times I found myself feeling very awkward because a joke or one-liner just wouldn’t stick well, and all I could do was sit there and squirm at it. I rarely ever found myself bursting out in laughter, and that’s what disappointed me cause this film looked like it had plenty potential to be hilarious. It also had plenty times to be something new and inventive, instead it just went for the regular super-hero film route, that we have all seen time and time again. By that last act, you almost feel as if there’s too many things going on, and it just gets so wrapped up in itself.

I usually can stand Seth Rogen‘s bumbling, nerd shtick, but here he was just way too unlikable. Britt Reid is this spoiled brat, who doesn’t get all the attention that he wants, so he does mean things, and although Rogen has this signature likability to him that usually works with any character, here he just was such a dick that I couldn’t stand him after awhile. Jay Chou does a pretty good job here although he has that problem that Ken Watanabe had in Inception, and that’s we can’t quite understand what he is saying. He’s adorable (no homo), and looks like he’s got the stunt skills to actually pull all of these moves off, but it’s hard to fall in love with this character when you don’t know what is comedy, and what is not, because he isn’t all that understandable. Christoph Waltz was perfect in Inglorious Basterds playing a villain, and here he’s not so bad playing a less-than noticeable role as a villain. I liked how Waltz played Chudnovski, this hot-tempered yet insecure kingpin and gives him this goofiness that has us not take him as seriously, and I think that works because the film doesn’t really take him seriously also. Cameron Diaz’s character, Lenore, was a character that I think they could have left out, but with her scenes, you can tell she’s trying her hardest and does alright. And who cannot forget cameos from James Franco and Edward Furlong, who plays a meth addict, and actually looks like he’s been trying some as well.

Consensus: The Green Hornet has moments of fun, with good comedy and stylish action, but the script lets down this cast, and promised us a new take on the superhero genre, even though it turns out to be the same as they all are, and you can’t help thinking this could have been so much better given the talent involved.

5.5/10=Rental!!

She’s the One (1996)

Wish more people actually saw this.

Reeling from a breakup with his fiancée (Cameron Diaz), twenty-something New Yorker Mickey (Edward Burns, who also directed) impulsively marries Hope (Maxine Bahns) — a passenger he picked up in his cab — after a weekend courtship. Meanwhile, Mickey’s brother, Francis (Mike McGlone), is having doubts about his own marriage to his longtime love (Jennifer Aniston). Soon, Francis finds himself attracted to his brother’s ex.

This film judging by the trailer, the poster, and that plot, you would think that this romantic comedy, would be one of those breezy watches. And it is, just with more than that.

Writer/Director Edward Burns does a great job here of writing this film just the right way, with the right moods. There’s a lot of insight with these characters, and although all these characters make dumb decisions, Burns gives them more integrity, and heart, so they feel like actual real people, making real life mistakes. Burns touches on a lot of elements such as family, and love, and although some of them are hard-hitting, they don’t come of as nasty, and we aren’t turned away by what he’s saying.

The only problem with this film is its direction I felt was way too jaded. Burns’ pace doesn’t feel right with a lot of this material, he starts off slow, then he just about picks up the pace, but then slows it back down again, and your confused as to what kind of emotion this guy is trying to convey with this direction. Also, there’s insight in this film, but nothing that we have never seen before, so when the film is over, you really haven’t learned anything new, you were just entertained.

Edward Burns has this very cool, and slick charm about him, that just automatically has you like his character. Mike McGlone is very good as the stuck-up, asshole brother, that has always been jealous of his big bro, and throughout the movie, you can see him being a selfish prick, but by the end you don’t hate him. Jennifer Aniston‘s character is funny, and this is one of her early performances, so it’s nice to see where she was going to be going after this. Cameron Diaz is equally as good, as the evil, back-stabbing, ex-girlfriend of Burns’ character, that plays around the whole movie, and every time she’s on screen, you can just feel the tension. Maxine Bahns gives a very “cute” performance, I say cute, cause she doesn’t necessarily knock it out of the park, but she’s sweet, and you like her. John Mahoney was simply hilarious as the dad who gave out all the advice, and although some of his advice is so stupid, its just funny to hear him say all this junk, but never does it seem fake.

It’s also nice to end out the film with some nice hits from Tom Petty. Can’t get enough of him!

Consensus: It may not be the best thing, but for a small-budget, R-rated romantic comedy, there’s enough humor, heart, and insight in this film to keep you entertained.

7/10=Rental!!!