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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Johnny Galecki

In Time (2011)

Not only do you stay the same age for the rest of your life, but you always stay sexy and gorgeous. Yay!

When Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is falsely accused of murder, he must figure out a way to bring down a system where time is money (no, literally) enabling the wealthy to live forever while the poor, like Will, have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through another day. Along with him, he takes Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), daughter of one of the wealthiest men alive, and they venture out to change the world, they once knew, and try to make it back to the way things once were before.

In today’s day and age, hearing the term “time is money” seems very relevant and places you in the world we live in where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and cash is getting harder and harder to acquire. It’s a mess of a world we live in and it’s another perfect opportunity for Andrew Niccol to capitalize on and make a great sci-fi future about, just like he did with Gattaca. However, comparing those two seems a bit mis-matched, as one plays out like an actual drama, where this is just guns, chases, women, sex, and money. Lots and lotsa money.

What I liked most about this flick was the set-up and premise from Niccol. He takes you into this future where everybody is practically living day-to-day, working their asses off just for another hour, and people don’t waste any time at all with what it is they do, so they just run just to keep up with time. It’s a pretty neat premise that Niccol shows and actually spends a butt-load of time developing it, showing us the perks, showing us the obvious cons, and also letting us know how people get by when they live in a world like this. It also looks gorgeous with some really lavish production designs and something about those cars that combine a futuristic look, with a 70’s grindhouse-car look and made them look so cool and retro, but something I’ve never seen before as well. Either way, this whole world that Niccol put me in was really cool but it only becomes a total shame when things started to change right in the middle, and not for the best, either.

Even though everybody around him is dying, he's still pleased that he's the sexiest man on the planet.

Even though everybody around him is dying, he’s still pleased that he’s the sexiest man on the planet.

The film changes it’s tempo from this dark, brooding drama about a messed-up future, to a slam-bang, action thriller where two Bonnie and Clyde-types are going around, shooting people, taking time, and trying to save their own time as well. You would think that with a good chunk of this film surrounding two people, running for their lives as their clock ticks and ticks away, there would be a lot more suspense and momentum to this flick, but I never felt it. The pace should have been more frantic, where you felt like these characters could have timed-out at any second and even though there were some parts where that feeling came over me (last 15 minutes were pretty damn tense), it sure as hell wasn’t enough especially when you take into consideration that the last hour is dedicated to it.

This film is also terribly silly, but not in a good way, either. There’s a lot of lame dialogue used here where characters use all of these dumb time puns and the usual corny, action bullshit where you have JT saying that he’s going “to take their time back”, and all that lame-o crap that we hear in every sci-fi, action film. But this time it’s different: because it’s all about time. Honestly, if I heard “cleaning one’s clock” ever used again when somebody said they were going to kill somebody, I was going to rip out all of the alarm clocks from my house, get a hammer, set them down, and smash every single one to pieces until I couldn’t hear a ticking noise! And yes, even the ones on the microwave and stove as well! Sounds dramatic, I know; but it gets so annoying after awhile. Just trust me on that and be ready to check-off every “time” pun you can find because I don’t think you’ll have any left by the time this is over. See what I did there? Okay, I’ll shut the hell up now.

But the idea of how these people actually lose and gain time was pretty silly as well, if not fully realized to its fullest. I’m not a big mofo when it comes to movies not making any sense or seeming illogical in terms of plot or character-development, but when a flick like this depends on it’s tools and methods, I have to expect a little something more in the plausibility department. Think about it: the only way to gain and lose time in this future is by touching arms together. That’s it. The way a person can save your life is by basically, taking your arm, saying how much time to give away, and holding it for about 5 seconds or so. That’s pretty much all there is to that idea and it would seem pretty easy to steal anybody’s time just by walking by somebody and taking their arms, regardless of if they want you to take their time or not. Maybe Niccol didn’t fully think this stuff through, just maybe.

If this is what all women in the future look like, sign me the hell up!!

If this is what all women in the future look like, sign me the hell up!!

If anything makes this film a lot better, it’s the action and the cast that this film has assembled. Since every character in this film has to look either 25 or younger, it seems like a very big stretch for this film to get people that look this age and I don’t think one person in this film was actually that age, but they all do fine jobs with it. Justin Timberlake is fine in one of his first starring roles, playing a very serious and heroic-like character as Will Salas. JT does his best with this material and even though a lot of the lines he’s given are terribly corny as hell (yes, I speak of the “time” puns), he still works through it and makes a realistic/sympathetic character that we can all stand behind easily. Amanda Seyfried begins, at first, by playing his damsel in distress that seems to just want to go home back to her rich mommy and daddy, and live the life she’s always wanted to, but that surprisingly changes when we soon start to see her and JT connect with each other, which is where her performance seems to get better. Their chemistry is very good together and I could actually buy them as love interests, as well as two bad-ass rebels that wanted to take down “the man”. It’s also surprising that I believed them as a couple because they rarely have any actual love scenes together, and even when they do, they are always rudely interrupted by the dickhead time-keeper; Mr. Cillian Murphy himself.

One of the more distracting aspects behind this flick is that 35-year old Cillian Murphy looks the oldest out of this whole cast, but other than that, is still pretty good as our “villain”, Raymond Leon. I use quotation marks around the word “villain” because the film never really seems to decide whether he’s a troubled, government worker that is just doing his job, or a guy that is truly a bad soul that just wants to make people’s lives miserable. That aspect of this character is never fully realized until the last couple minutes or so with him and it’s only because of how good Murphy is at playing him, that I can forgive the film for this mis-step. The actual villainous villain in this flick is played by Alex Pettyfer, and after seeing Magic Mike and loving him in that, I was really happy to see this kid here give a pretty good performance as a dude that goes around, killing people, and taking their times right before he does so. Such a baddie!

Consensus: The set-up and initial-pace from Andrew Niccol, has In Time start off with plenty of promise, but it soon falls down after about an hour or so, where the film goes from a thriller that features no real thrills, no real suspense, and a whole bunch of corny-dialogue that makes you feel like this film was supposed to be made way back in the 80’s, when these films made killings at the box-office. They still do now, but not as much as that lame decade.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!! 

Has to be the sexiest mom that's single, under 30, and has a teenage son.

Has to be the sexiest mom that’s single, under 30, and has a teenage son.

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Happy Endings (2005)

Those only happen to women. They have all the luck and fun when it comes to massages.

It’s an interweaving of various stories, that all have to deal with issues such as money, adultery, sex, movies, relationships, being gay, being in a band, being a sperm-donor, being a parent, being a brother, being a step brother, being a step sister, and many, many more. Trust me, there’s a whole lot going on here with these people and self-indulgent their lives.

Awhile back, I was just lingering around on Netflix and I stumbled upon a little-flick called, The Opposite of Sex. Had no idea what it was, but I saw some good-buzz about it and decided to check it out. I liked it a lot and I dug what writer/director Don Roos brought to the game and how his story, as unpredictable and weird as it may be, was still pretty thought-provoking and had me interested in where it was going to go with itself. Sadly, I never got-around to actually reviewing it, but if I was to actually give it some sort of a rating, I would probably say it’s around an 8/8.5. Pretty high for a movie I just watched on a whim and that’s sort of why I was excited for this one, considering this was Roos’ return to the indie-game. Sadly, I think he left some of his “cool-parts” back in 1998, with a pregnant Christina Ricci. If only she was here, but Maggie Gyllenhaal is a good substitute, right?

What made this flick so interesting is that Roos takes all of these different stories, shows us how they relate to one-another, who these subjects are, and what exactly to expect from each and every one of them. However, it’s not just the way he sets-up these stories that make them all work, it’s how he keeps them interesting and alive through an lovely energy that is apparent through Roos’ writing and direction, right from the start. We never know where these stories are going to go and how, we just know that they’re interesting to watch, for the most-part and Roos always finds a way to add in a great-deal of ironic, and sometimes, dark humor for fair-share to keep us alive and awake.

But as the funny as the stories may be, it’s the heart of this flick that actually does work and we begin to feel that all of these characters, as goofy and weird as they may be, still have an underlining sense of humanity to them that has them come-off as believable and it’s Roos’ caring treatment of them that works so well. Yeah, not everybody here is nice person and there are definitely some people who can be declared, “absolutely despicable”, but they always felt real to me. No matter how far they may have went with their actions, and motivations for the acts that they chose, they still came-off as real people and I don’t know if that was because of the ensemble-acting, or because of Roos’ tender love and care for the actual characters themselves. It’s this frank depiction of humans, how they act, how they feel, and how they treat one another is what really resonated with me the most and even though I didn’t find myself crying as I sat and watched in my living-room, I still felt more of a connection than I ever expected.

Still, at the end of the day, I continued to think to myself, “Just what the hell was the point of all that?”. See, with Roos’ other flick, he goes to show-us that a sexual-gender shouldn’t make-up a person and their stances in life. That point is pretty obvious and not necessarily something we haven’t already seen or heard before, especially in a movie featuring homosexuals, but at least it went deeper and further than anything this movie was trying to shove-away. I don’t really even know what the whole-point of this movie was. I mean there is a lot of unpredictable moments here that sort of goes off to show how life can be so unpredictable at times, and how gay people are just like you or me, but at the end of the day, I never really “got it”.

Oh no she did not just bring up ex's?!?!

Oh no she did not just bring up ex’s?!?!

Maybe Roos was working on some sort-of higher-standard than I may have imagined, but nothing really hit me as hard as I would have liked. It’s even worse when you consider how much this guy seems to get in the way of his actors and their skills, when he constantly has a screen pop-up on the side, to tell us what happens to the characters, their motivations, and thoughts in almost half-of-the-scenes. Once, twice, or maybe even three times is fine, but it continues to pop-up every 10 minutes, just when Roos believes that his characters motivations aren’t as clear as he wants them to be. It gets in the way of actors, the audience, and most of all, the message as to what the hell is the point for focusing on all of these characters, who’s lives are as unpredictable as a sex orgy.

Even though he tries to get in the way, a bit too much I think, Roos still always allows his ensemble to give-off some great performances, especially ones from people I never expected to see ever. Tom Arnold was great as the subdued and subtle aging-father, that is sort of coming to terms with the fact that he’s getting older and starting to lose his grip when it comes to sex, love, or even being a hip and cool father like he once was. Seeing Arnold in a very-rare, dramatic-role really gives me more hope for this guy that he can do movies like these and actually make a thing or two out of not being all corny and trying to come-off as funny. Just be normal, dude, it works for ya.

Another performance here that I wasn’t expecting to like is the one given-by Jesse Bradford as the hipster-like, documentary filmmaker that is like every other young, hip person aspiring to make a living off of movies: dirty, broke, and very all-over-the-place. Bradford has never really been a stand-out in the acting-department, but the guy shows that there is more to him than just another pretty face and I actually liked his character a lot more than I ever expected to. I don’t think I’ve seen another performance from this guy that was ever really good, or hell, worth mentioning, but here, he was great with what he could do with such an obvious, and a tad thinly-written character. He still looks like he’s 15, though, I gotta give him that.

"Don't mind Uncle Stevies British-wit. They all have that."

“Don’t mind Uncle Stevies British-wit. They all have that.”

Perhaps the best out of this whole cast, and probably to nobody’s surprise is Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jude, the one and only gal that comes into this story to fuck shit-up. Gyllenhaal is great with roles like these because she uses her brass and raw-attitude to really make you despise a character who has such dirty intentions like hers, but also feel an ounce of sympathy for her as well. Jude is probably the meanest character out of this whole-bunch and ended-up staying on my mind the most, even though I have no idea just what the hell Roos was trying to say about her. At the end of the movie, we get to see these characters, where they are today, and whether or not they actually received *ahem*, “happy endings” of sorts, and there is an extra-emphasis on her character and what she’s been up to as of late. It’s weird because they make such a big-deal out of it, with very little rhyme nor reason, just the fact that she’s there to be the shit-stirrer of the whole story, for no reason. Gyllenhaal is great, but it’s really confusing as to what the hell Roos was trying to make sense out of a character like hers in the beginning of it all.

Consensus: Happy Endings starts off perfectly and keeps your attention the whole-way through, but never seems to go any further than to just make us laugh, make us feel a bit emotionally-invested in what we see, and actually realize that Tom Arnold can act. I don’t know if there was anything more than that, but if there was, I couldn’t find it.

7/10=Rental!!

"Sit back. Relax. And feast your eyes on my finest acting-performance to date."

“Sit back. Relax. And feast your eyes on my finest acting-performance to date.”

Countdown to Claus: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I’m definitely not having half of my family over for Christmas now.

Hapless Clark (Chevy Chase), exasperated Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and their ever-changing kids (Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki) gear up for Christmas. As usual, all the good intentions in the world can’t save them from disaster … or Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), whose unannounced visit throws the house into further disarray.

Since it’s “the most wonderful time of the yeaaaaarrr” I thought it would be cool to do a little Christmas-movie marathon starting with a film that I loved when I was a kid, but now realize that it’s not as funny.

John Hughes wrote this screenplay and has a great blend of some real silly humor that gets mixed in with a lot of the cartoon mayhem that occurs around the time of Christmas. Hughes is obviously not afraid to get a little goofy with this film as he throws a lot slap-stick in our faces with Clark Griswold getting hit in the chin, then falling down a ladder, then falling through the ceiling, and then basically everything else catching on fire. I like how Hughes is able to have a little fun with this screenplay and is able to show his goofy side.

My problem with the script though is that there surely is a lot here in this script that is pretty annoying and not very funny at all. The slap-stick at first was funny but then there were scenes that went on way too long that seemed too cute to actually be considered funny. There’s a long-ass scene with a squirrel running rampant throughout the whole house-hold and everybody is running around like a bunch of goons to bring out some sort of laughter, when in reality, this was just a lame way to get some laughs. This isn’t the only scene that tries a little too hard to be funny but I can easily say that it’s the one I remember mostly rolling my eyes at.

Although I may rag on this film for not being terribly funny, like it was trying so hard to be, I still think it captured a lot of the fun, warmth, and joy that goes into the holiday season. I mean you got you’re whole family right there with ya’ to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and the whole “getting the perfect Christmas tree” to the “lighting of the lights” is what really will make you feel all happy even if the comedy can’t do that much all for you.

Chevy Chase is great as as always as Clark Griswold who always seems to have everything figured out, until something changes right away to completley terrible. Chase has mastered this role and he shows no signs of a bad performance but it’s also a real shame considering that this guy doesn’t really do much now. The last time I probably saw him was actually in ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ and to be brutally honest, he was the most forgettable part of that forgettable film. That’s saying something.

Randy Quaid seems to be having a lot of fun as Clark’s cousin, Eddie, who is a total country bumpkin which is where the majority of the jokes for this film come from. I’m not saying Quaid is bad or anything here, because he’s actually one of the more delightful performances in this flick, it’s just that all of the jokes here centered around him just being this total red-neck that can’t pay for anything or even use his head right. They pulled this joke about 15 times and wasn’t funny once so I have to say that Quaid kind of got pulled under the neath the crap-shoot here.

Consensus: While Christmas Vacation isn’t funny the whole time, there is still enough silliness and warm moments to make this a great seasoned treat for anyone wanting a nice little laugh right next to the Christmas tree.

5.5/10=Rental!!