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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Juliette Lewis

Cape Fear (1991)

Criminals never forget.

When attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) knowingly withholds evidence that would acquit violent sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro) of rape charges, Max spends the next 14 years of his life in prison. And of course, while in the clink, Max has been thinking about that decision each and every day of his sentence, while on the other side of the bars, Sam has been living life with his wife (Jessica Lange) and young daughter (Juliette Lewis), who seems to be getting more and more rebellious as the years go by. But now that the 14 years are up, Max is ready to extract some revenge right from the get-go. However, rather than just beating the hell out of, or better yet, killing Sam, what Max does is spend every waking moment of his life and dedicating it all to stalking Sam, his family, and especially his friends. To Max, no one is safe and after awhile, Sam starts to realize that he’s going to have to come to some pretty drastic decisions if he’s going to protect the lives of those that he loves and wants to keep alive.

Bad lawyer.

Bad lawyer.

There’s nothing like watching an insanely talented director have the absolute time of their lives. It’s like watching a little kid in a Toys R Us, but rather that kid being limited to only buying a few items, the kid’s allowed to have the whole store. They can do whatever they want, however they want, and with all of these wonderful, fabulous and great toys.

That’s what it’s like watching Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear; the kind of movie where a master of his craft knows exactly what it is that he’s doing, having a lovely time with it all, and is barely ever going to let-up. And honestly, when you’re doing a remake on an already-great movie, that’s sort of the way you’ve got to go – you can’t follow the same, beat-for-beat, note-for-note, track-for-track, but instead, amp things up a bit differently. You can focus on a different plot-point altogether, bring out more interesting ideas of the story that may not have been discovered originally, and basically do whatever else you want with the story, so long as you stay true to heart and soul of the original. So few remakes actually abide by this rule, but despite the changes in story and style that Scorsese goes through here, he still sticks true to the original with an eerie tone humming all throughout.

But what’s interesting is that it’s different this time around.

Scorsese approaches the material as if it was an over-the-top, wild, wacky, crazy and unpredictable adventure into one man’s psychotic psyche – someone who doesn’t seem to have a moral compass anywhere to be found and because of that, is taking out the nice, somewhat innocent people. The original touched on this idea, obviously, but Scorsese really hammers it in, allowing for the character of Max to be as depraved and as sickening as humanly imaginable. Sure, it’s campy, it’s wildly insane, and it’s really schlocky, but you know what? It actually kind of works.

A good portion of that has to do with Scorsese’s quick pace, but another portion of that definitely has to do with De Niro’s committed-as-ever performance. Of course, working with Scorsese brings out the best in De Niro, but here, it’s unlike how we’ve ever seen him before – he’s definitely flirted with the idea of being a villain in other flicks before and after this, but never to the supreme extent that he goes with Max. The movie does try some avenues to have us, in the very least, sympathize with him and his stance, but for the most part, the movie knows that he is a monster, and so does De Niro, which makes every scene in which he’s just acting like the creepiest, most erratic person around, so damn entertaining.

It almost makes you wonder where all of the inspiration’s gone in the past few or so years.

Bad housewife.

Bad housewife.

Regardless, Scorsese doesn’t shy away from letting the rest of the cast have their moments, too, especially since they also get to have some development and not just become a typical white, suburban, upper-class family who plays golf and tennis. Nolte’s Sam has got some dark issues to work with, Lange’s Leigh seems to be struggling in her own ways, Lewis’ Danielle, while most definitely a teen, is also a little bit smarter than we’re used to seeing with this kind of character, making her one key scene with De Niro all the more creepy, and Illeana Douglas, in a couple or so scenes, shows true fun and spirit for a movie that seems to enjoy her presence, yet, at the same time, remind us that there’s something dark and grueling really behind all of this fun we’re having.

In fact, where Cape Fear works less is probably in the last-half, when Scorsese really loses his cool here. In a way, Scorsese wants us to see Max as a sort of Christ-like figure which, for a short while, is fine and all, but by the end, becomes such a major plot-point, that it’s almost unbearable to sit and listen through. We get the point as soon as it’s mentioned, yet being that this is a Scorsese movie, faith must be driven into the ground and because of that, the final-act of Cape Fear feels more like wild and over-the-top symbolism, on top of symbolism, and less of a thrilling, compelling and wholly satisfying to a wild ride of thrills, shrills, and shocks.

Still though, it’s one of the rare remakes that rivals the original and how many times can you say that?

Consensus: Wild, a little insane, well-acted, and always exciting, Cape Fear is the rare remake that works just as much as its legendary original does, especially what with Scorsese seeming to have the time of his life behind the camera.

8 / 10

Bad criminal. Or is that sort of obvious?

Bad criminal. Or is that sort of obvious?

Photos Courtesy of: the ace black blog

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Nerve (2016)

Truth, or Dare, or Die?!?!

Set in the world we currently live in, a social-media platform exists and is quite popular in which players can choose between two options: Either be a “watcher”, or a “player”. If you choose the former, you get to sign into your account, pay a small fee, and watch as people do all sorts of crazy and death-defying stunts and dares. However, choose the later, and you’ll be given all sorts of cash from users, daring you to do one thing, after another. There’s more rules to the game itself, how it’s played, and why outside interference (i.e. the cops), is extremely frowned upon, but all that needs to be known is that it’s a sick and twisted game, that finds high school senior, Venus (Emma Roberts), not sure if she wants to go as far as the users want her to. Eventually, the night takes her to meet another user (Dave Franco), who can’t help but love the money thrown his way, even if the dares themselves start getting more and more dangerous. Which is what happens, especially when it turns out that they’re both the most-watched and popular users in Nerve, making them not only richer, but even bigger targets.

"Hey, girl. Wanna ride?"

“Hey, girl. Wanna ride?”

Nerve is a neat idea that, for awhile at least, is as fun as it promises. The dares themselves continue to get more and more wild, there’s a certain air of tension no matter what, and yes, the fact that it’s meant to take place on this one single night in a colorfully-lit NYC, makes it all the more fun to watch. The world in which Nerve takes place in, isn’t all that far-fetched, what with Pokemon Go taking over the whole world, and yes, even the dares themselves still seem somewhat in the realm of possibility.

So why is that the movie falls apart by the end?

Well, the fact remains that sometimes, just having a good idea, isn’t enough to sustain a whole movie. Because when you take into consideration that movie’s themselves need to have a story, with characters, archs, some twists, some turns, and most of all, a satisfying, if also, believable ending, then you’ve got yourself what some people consider “a movie”. Nerve is “a movie”, obviously, and while it definitely has a good portion of what I just listed, eventually, it starts to show cracks within itself.

For one, it tries to be about something that doesn’t quite work. It wants to have discussions about social media, privacy, and the government, but doesn’t really connect with either message/viewpoint; if anything, Jason Bourne was more effective discussing and allowing for the same ideas to find its way into the plot. It’s not that what they’re saying is dated or wrong, it’s just that they come into a movie that feels more like giving us high-flying and crazy stunts, rather than actually sitting down, looking up to the sky, and ponder what it all means.

Which, isn’t all that surprising, when you realize that the same directors behind Catfish, henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, are helming this feature and are showing why they don’t trust the internet. That movie, honestly, came at a time where there was a lot meant to be said for Facebook and Twitter and all sorts of other social-media, but here, they don’t seem to be able to connect their themes to the plot. What they do know how to do is keep the excitement going, whenever they rely on the actual dares themselves.

But like I said before, everything else just doesn’t quite work.

Listening to whatever the cool kids listen to nowadays.

Listening to whatever the cool kids listen to nowadays. Or whatever the cool kids in the early-90’s listen to back then, because that’s what’s “in” now, right?

Well, with the exception of the acting, that is. While it may be a tad difficult to believe Dave Franco and Emma Roberts as high school-aged kids, together, their chemistry works like gangbusters. Roberts works well as this very repressed teenager who clearly seems like she has a lot of personality-issues to work through, whereas Franco’s character is hard to pin-down. We know that he’s supposed to be the love-interest here, and therefore, we’re supposed to like him, but there’s something a little troubling about him and his character that, quite frankly, makes their night more interesting.

There’s others on the side of whatever Franco and Roberts are doing together, like Emily Meade stealing the show, Juliette Lewis having the duty to play dim-witted mommy, and Machine Gun Kelly being less annoying than he is on Roadies, but honestly, characters don’t really matter in a thing like this. What Nerve proves is that sometimes, all you need is an interesting idea to roll and have fun with. Then again, it’s also the same kind of movie that proves that maybe, just maybe, more thought has to go into all of the other pieces of the puzzle, so that audiences don’t lose interest in something that had already been grabbing their attention in the first place. And this matters, too, because when you have big theater chains trying to incorporate cell-phone usage into the movies, well, then you know you’ve really got to work extra hard to keep those teenie-boppers off of their damn phones.

Then again, you could just play this PSA before every movie and it’ll probably do the trick.

Or, maybe not.

Just turn your cellphones off in the theater, people!

Consensus: Interesting and compelling for a good portion, Nerve is surprisingly entertaining, but then it all starts to fall apart by the time the implausible and silly final-act comes around to spoil all of the fun being had in the first place.

6 / 10

Oh man. What a shame it would be to have to walk around, half-naked, with the bodies of Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. Jeez. Could. Not. Imagine.

Oh, man. What a shame it would be to have to walk around New York City, half-naked, having the bodies of Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. Jeez. Could. Not. Imagine.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz, Indiewire

Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Probably the tamest movie I’ve ever seen that says “coke” about 15 times. And I’m not referring to the soda, although if it were the late 1800’s, I would be referring to both I guess, right?

Detective David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is all about following the rules, getting the job, and having the law come out on-top, at any means necessary; Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is far different in the way that he’s so cool, calm, relaxed, and mellowed-out, that he doesn’t really care if he gets the job done or not, he just wants to look cool and smokin’. They’re polar-opposites, but they get strung together somehow and have to solve a drug-ring of coke on the streets, lead by millionaire Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn). Together, they have their fair-share of problems, but together, through the insistence on getting along and the help of their ears and eyes of the street, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), they finally realize that the law always prevails. Or something of that nature.

It’s strange to think that a man who has been known for his fair share of R-rated, raunch-fests, Todd Phillips, would ever stoop so low as to go for a PG-13. But somehow, with this, he did and his struggle with actually trying to keep to that rating without over-stepping it at all. As I said up-top, there’s plenty uses of the word “coke” and nothing but; girls make-out with other girls; the F-bomb is dropped once (and randomly); partial-nudity is seen (sort of); and the word “shit” gets dropped about 5 or 6 times. It’s just strange because we know that when Phillips turns on the dirty-jets, he has a fun time and lets loose like no other, but what we mostly know is that when he does get down and dirty: he’s a lot funnier as well.

Whatta fun time!

Whatta fun time!

And trust me, it’s not that this flick isn’t funny, because it sure as hell does have it’s moments of comedic-inspiration that are more than likely going to win you over; it’s just that the tone itself is a bit uneven. What I mean by that is that the flick tries to go for a satire of an episode of the original Starsky & Hutch, and at other times, seems like it’s trying to be a straight-forward comedy that makes up it’s own jokes, is in it’s own little universe, and doesn’t even know about the other show. Hell, it even plays out like a failed-pilot of the original, except with more knowing-humor and a switch-up of the lead characters.

Since the movie never seems like it knows what it wants to be, or how for that matter, some comedy hits and some of it misses. More of it hits than actually misses, but knowing what Stiller, Wilson, Vaughn, Ferrell, and even Phillips are capable of, it comes as a bit of a disappointment. The jokes they use get a bit stale after awhile, especially the part where Starsky is high on cocaine and gets into a dance-battle, even though he doesn’t know he’s high, and become the same old, “70’s-fashion-was-so-corny”-type of humor. Nothing as witty or as smart as Zoolander or even Old School here, just a bunch of repetitive jokes made towards the decade it’s apparently supposed to take place in, even if it feels like we’re just watching a bunch of current-Hollywood stars play dress-up and act like their in the 70’s. I don’t know if being a tad bit anachronistic was the movie’s point or not, but if it was; it probably would have been a lot smarter and funnier in that case.

But in all honesty, I can’t discredit this movie too much cause the cast seems to be having fun and is mostly the reasons why we find ourselves laughing at times, despite it seeming a bit desperate at times. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are seemingly playing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. They both seem to be enjoying themselves, not having to stretch their acting-muscles all that much, and getting a chance to dress in some fine, sexy 70’s digs. Together, they’re a bunch of fun and keep this movie cracking, but after awhile, you start to think how much of this movie was made because they really wanted to make a Starsky & Hutch movie, or how much of it was made as an excuse for the two to pal-around with one another? One has to wonder, and sometimes, it feels like the latter-aspect. It’s fun to watch them, but it feels like their having a bit more fun than we are and that poses a problem, especially when they’re trying to steal the laughs out of you.

Come on! Gimme more!

Come on! Gimme more!

On paper, having Vince Vaughn do his spastic, fast-speech act and Jason Bateman do his dead-pan act, team together, and play the smart, but slightly off-kilter baddies in a movie would seem like comedic-brilliance, but it never musters up any of the courage to really keep them funny or relevant all that much. Vaughn seems like he’s bored being serious and conning, whereas Bateman actually seems like he’s bored, and isn’t just using that to his and his character’s advantage. He actually seems like he’s bored and wants to get his check, so he could get the hell home and get ready to film another season of Arrested Development. Also, any movie that has thew chance to showcase Juliette Lewis and her comedic-talents as the dumb, trashy-chick in the movie, but squander that potential, has seemingly all but lost points from yours truly. The girl is not only a foxy mama, but she’s pretty damn funny, especially when she’s given the chance to be.

Others in this cast that show up do what they can like Snoop Dogg, who actually has some of the funnier-moments in the whole flick of funny people; Carmen Electra and Amy Smart show up to only make-out and provide some sex-appeal for a movie that didn’t need any, and when it finally got it’s chance to showcase it, made it seem more misogynistic than titillating; and actual cameos from the original guys, David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, who made it funny just being there, but once I got to thinking about it, made it almost seem like the film was making fun of them and how hell-bent-out-of-shape they seem to have gotten. Poor guys. Oh well, they probably got a nice, healthy paycheck from this. Just like Bateman. Although, needless to say, he probably made that paycheck last.

Consensus: Bits and pieces of Starsky & Hutch seem inspired enough to transpire plenty of inspired moments of comedy, but not too many as the flick struggles to make up it’s mind of what type of comedy it wants to be, or even make us laugh at all.

6 / 10

"1, 2, 3 and to tha 4, Huggy Bear is at tha doe."

“One, two, three and to tha foe, Huggy Bear is at tha doe.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Hellion (2014)

Growing up problems? Crank up the Slayer!!!

13-year-old Jacob (Josh Wiggins) is an angsty troublemaker that loves to start fires, run from cops, and teach his little brother (Deke Garner) how to be just like him. This mostly has to do with the fact that they’re mother just passed away, but it also has to do with the fact that the two boys’ father, Hollis (Aaron Paul), is hardly ever around. And even when he is, it’s usually with a beer in his hand and a slurred-speech. Needless to say, they’re a pretty messed-up family that’s just barely getting by. But that all changes when child services come around and takes Jacob’s little brother away from him and puts him with their Aunt Pam (Juliette Lewis). This pisses Jacob off to no end and he starts to act out a whole lot more, although he now also focuses more of his attentions onto his passion: Motor-crossing. Also, Hollis starts to undergo a little transformation of his own by not just putting down the bottle, but also when it comes to getting his kids all back in one house together.

"Betch."

“Betch.”

Most coming-of-agers that mean well, tend to do well for me. Not because I was once a kid, but because it seems so hard to write childhood, and to do so in a non-judgmental way, that it always earns a pass from yours truly. Problem is though, there is such a thing as seeing the same type of coming-of-age flick, being told to me, time and time again. Though it might be dressed up with a different cast, title and narrative, the story still remains the same: Growing up is hard to do.

This is obviously nothing new to express in the world of film, but where I think writer/director Kat Candler slips up at times is by not really delivering anything new or intriguing about this idea. Sure, we get that growing up, especially when done inside a broken home, is downright difficult and can either make or break a person into being who they are for the rest of their lives, but is that it?

To me, it’s not that Candler’s film isn’t well-done, it’s just so typical.

You can’t tell me that as soon as we saw Aaron Paul’s character leaving his home with a six-pack of booze, flowers, and going straight to the side of a random street, that he wouldn’t be going to visit his obviously-deceased wife’s burial-spot? Or, better yet, that when our lead character starts to get involved with what seems to be his passion, that he’ll do so with anger and hate, only to then not really do well with it all? And, honestly, how easy was it to pin-point the moment that the tubby kid of the group would start to become the overly excessive and vulgar one?

It’s all here and it’s all been done before. That’s not to say that movies like this can’t bring something neat or enjoyable to the mix of others in its same genre, but Hellion feels like it’s treading familiar-waters that don’t really feel like they need to be touched in the first place. Though, where Hellion works the most is with the performances and how each and everyone of the cast-members dig deep into their characters, giving off a very raw feel that kept me watching, even when the story seemed to just disappoint me and go into predictable spots.

By now, I think everybody knows Aaron Paul’s a quality actor and is able to bring any type of fiery energy to whatever he does and as Hollis, he’s very good. But it’s not because he’s constantly excited or yelling “betch” all over the place, it’s because he actually dials it down. Hollis is the kind of deadbeat dad character we get in these kinds of movies, except that he’s written a bit better as not being an asshole, as much as just a troubled dude who needs to pay a bit more attention to his kids. Because of this small detail, Hollis seems more like a little lost puppy who, for better and for worse, is doing the best with this “fatherhood” thing that he can. It may not always work for the guy, but the effort is there and that’s what matters the most.

Anyway, what Paul does so well here is that he channels all of the sadness this character clearly has, and keeps it all in. He never really breaks away and loses his total mind, so much so as that you can tell he’s about to crack open at any moment. The same goes for Josh Wiggins as Jacob, who has more of a showier-role here, but is still believable enough that it makes me wonder just how much of what he was doing is actually acting, or is just him being a kid, plain and simple. Regardless of whether or not he’s actually reading a script, Wiggins still gives off this tense feel to a character who, honestly, was already brimming with it early on. Wiggins, right here and now, is a young talent that I’m interested in seeing what he has next on his small plate.

Suck on that, Maleficent!

Suck on that, Maleficent!

But the one I really was impressed by here was Juliette Lewis as Pam, the well-meaning, but incredibly hated sister of the deceased mother. See, what Lewis does so well here, that she doesn’t quite do in many other movies, is that she dials most of her expressiveness back. She’s like Paul in that, whenever you see one of them show up in something, you know that you can expect them to be jumping up and down with nonstop energy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as much as it’s just a thing I’ve noticed after having watched these two in many movies.

For Lewis though, she’s already given the hard task of making a character like Pam seem sympathetic in nature, even though every character in the movie is clearly against her from the start. She’s made out to be like some sort of stuck-up, prude-ish woman that just wants to ruin this family’s little unit, but in reality, she’s trying to keep them together and in it for the long haul, even if that means some line of separation has to be made for the time being. You feel bad for Pam because you know she’s doing the right thing, it’s just that everyone around her is so hell bent on getting back to normal, that she’s made out to be the villain. It’s not hard to feel bad for Pam, the character, and that’s not just to do with the situation her character is written into, as much as it’s Lewis’ need to back-off and play it straight-laced, rather than as a woman who so desperately wants a child of her own and will do anything to make that dream a reality.

She’s the real revelation of this movie. It’s just a shame that she wasn’t thrown in a better one.

Consensus: If you’ve seen a Southern coming-of-age drama in the past five or six years, most likely, you’ve seen Hellion already, except with a few very good performances worth checking out.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

That poor bike. We all know what's next for it with that kid at the helm.

That poor bike. We all know what’s next for it with that kid at the helm.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

August: Osage County (2013)

A family reunion at Orange County probably would have cooled everyone off just a tad bit.

After her dear hubby, Beverly (Sam Shepard), turns up dead at the bottom of a lake, Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) is left alone, confused, upset and pissed-off at just why the hell the man she’s been married to for half of her damn life would leave her in such a horrific, unexpected way. And since the body has been found and claimed, that can only mean one thing: Funeral arrangements! Actually, better yet, that also means another thing: Family reunion! Violet’s three daughters come up for the funeral and, presumably, haven’t seen one another for quite some time, either due to the fact that they don’t like one another, or got too much already going on in their respective lives that they don’t really have much time to chat-it-up every once and awhile. The oldest, Barbara (Julie Roberts), is going through her own crisis of sorts with her failing marriage to college professor Bill Fordham (Ewan McGregor), and the fact that she can’t seem to connect with her 14-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) any longer; Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is the middle-child and practically the only one who decided to stay back and watch over mom, dad and the house, but also has a bit of a crisis on her own that just so happens to be more controversial than anything else going on here; and the baby of three girls, Karen (Juliette Lewis), is a bit of a gold digger that’s had plenty of flings in the past, but is now with a man (Dermot Mulroney) who is ten years older than her and may not be a perfect fit. There’s also plenty more where that came from, so just enjoy the show! Or play, whatever you want to call it!

Not since the release of The Phantom Menace has Ewan wanted to run and hide himself in a corner so much more.

Not since the release of The Phantom Menace has Ewan wanted to run and hide himself in a corner so badly.

Though I’ve never seen the play, from what I hear, it’s a stunning piece-of-work that yes, is long, but yes, is also worth seeing. And after being a witness to its film-adaptation, I think I might just have to. Which is very strange considering that this was actually adapted from the man who created the original play himself, Tracy Letts, and in case you couldn’t tell with Letts, the guy definitely has an ear for dialogue. Especially those of some pretty messed-up, dysfunctional people that you may not always like, but you can always watch, even in their most questionable moments.

That’s why after seeing two other film-adaptations of his plays (Bug and Killer Joe) I feel like the standard has been set for what a stage-to-film-adaptation can be, let alone one those of Letts’ own creation. Which is why when I saw the huge ensemble director John Wells put together here, I felt like I just could not miss out on this, not even for the world. And for the most part, I wasn’t wrong, because while plenty in this flick doesn’t necessarily work to the best of its ability, the cast consistently puts in great work, which is definitely something to commend, especially considering that they’re given dialogue to work with that is in and of itself a bit too taut and awkward for their own good.

Actually, the same could be said about the direction from Wells also, as this feels more like a forced-job than anything else. See, the complaints that I heard with both Killer Joe and Bug (moreso Joe, than Bug), was that too much of it felt “stagey”. Which is, in essence, exactly what it’s supposed to be, but not done so in a way that makes it feel like you’ve shelled-out money to just see a bunch of people do the same things that you could have seen them do on a big, ole’ stage. It’s quite tricky for a director to maneuver an adaptation around so much so that you don’t have too many scenes where a person will walk into a room, talk about god knows what for ten minutes, go into another room, talk about god knows what for ten more minutes, and then continue to do so until another person decides to take the throne, go into a room, and talk about god knows what for ten minutes. It all just gets to the point of where it’s been so rinsed-out and recycled, that you feel as if you’re on “dialogue-overload”, but not in the fun way you’d hear with a Tarantino, or Scorsese flick. Rather, you’re just hearing a bunch of people rant, rave on and ramble on about crap you don’t really care for, but sort of have to because it’s right in front of your face, and will continue to be so for the next hour or two, and you can’t do a single thing about it.

Hence why that feeling of being crammed-into a place you don’t really want to be at, with a bunch of people you don’t really care for, should have worked absolute wonders for this movie. However, Wells seems like he’s bit too much of a polished film-maker where everything is all nice, clean, frothy and pretty to look-at. Which may be fine for a movie about a family who gets along, rarely ever get into any sort of scuffles with one another and find a way to look on the bright side of any dark day. But this is not a movie about that type of family. This is a movie about a bunch of mean, twisted, dark, angry and sometimes sinister people that see each other as family, but don’t necessarily treat each other as such. Instead, they treat each other as punching-bags when they feel defenseless and have nobody else to poke-fun at or pick a fight with. And when the going gets good and one gets offended, then they bring everybody else into the fight, allowing there to be more and more victims in line for the slaughter.

That’s what I saw with this family, but it was pretty clear that Wells didn’t see that and instead, makes this more of a “commercialized flick” that has plenty of arguments that dive into some pretty dark places, but end on a goofy-notes that you’d see in a feel-good, “crazy family” movie. Even the poster I decided against using promises that there will be a cat-fight by at least some of the characters here, and it gives you the impression that this is going to be a light and happy-going movie, that still has a couple of lessons about life to bestow upon us. It certainly does too, but not the kind that make you feel like you want to hug your mommy, daddy or nearest family-member. But Wells didn’t seem to get that notion and the movie feels a bit disjointed as a result.

But that disjointed feel doesn’t just begin and end with Wells’ direction, it actually can be said the same for this very talented, very entertaining cast, which is a damn shame too, considering almost everybody involved puts in some great work. The main culprit who I think probably runs the highest-risk of getting caught in the cross-fire of this movie’s production is Meryl Streep who, once again, may be putting in an amazing performance here as Violet, still feels like she’s just going for the big, over-exposed sense of acting that we usually see her do from time-to-time, but don’t have much of a gripe with because, well, it’s Meryl Streep for lord’s sakes. That doesn’t mean she isn’t good or anything, she totally is, it’s just that every scene Streep is given to act her ass-off as Violet, she doesn’t hold-back and after awhile, you start to wish that she would just tone it down a bit. I get that she’s a bitch in the play and that’s probably how she was written in the first place, but Meryl’s a talented-enough actress to know that a character/performance can be adapted into many different ways, using many different styles of acting.

Same can be said for Julia Roberts as Barbara who, is definitely relishing her time in a role that we don’t usually see her do, seems like she’s going for the big, the loud and the over-exposed, rather than just taking it down a notch here and there. Roberts is still great and shows us why she doesn’t just have the looks, but the talents as well, but the problem remained that whenever her and Streep were on the same screen together, it seemed like they were both trying too hard to steal the spot-light from the other. It does make the slightest bit of sense when you take into consideration the fact that their characters are supposed to be constantly at-battle with one another, but most of the time, they just end-up in screaming bouts that only seem to go on and on and on, without much entertainment involved whatsoever. You’re just watching two of Hollywood’s most well-known actresses go up against one another and, for lack of a better word, do shop.

The dinner table: Where it all goes down.

The dinner table: Where it all goes down.

Some of it may be fun to watch, but after awhile, the act begins to get a bit old and you begin to wonder why one of them doesn’t just leave the other one’s sight for the rest of eternity. And don’t feed me that “family is everything” bullshit either.

While Streep and Roberts are more than likely going to be the sole-performances here that get plenty of the awards-attention (and in some cases, rightfully so as they definitely do put in some great work), I can’t help but feel like there are some far better, more in-tuned performances left out on the side, looking in while these two wild ladies go at it. Margo Martindale has been putting in great work practically everywhere she shows up, and does a fantastic job as Aunt Mattie, playing-up both sides of her act that we see many times. She can be either very, very sweet, with just a slight sense of sarcasm, or terribly mean and cruel to those around her. She’s great here and in ways, feels like she would have been a better casting-decision for the role of Violet than Streep. In ways. Chris Cooper is also great as her very calm, very peaceful hubby that you can tell doesn’t take much of crap from anyone, but surely isn’t the one to keep a fight going on once it’s already begun.

But somehow, the real stand-out among this whole cast is Julianne Nicholson who gets by on playing it soft, sweet and rather subdued, which is a shock considering all of the havoc going on around her. Maybe it was just that she was granted a better role than the others in this movie, but she was the one I resonated with the most and actually felt bad for, whereas everybody else seemed like just a bunch of mean a-holes that I didn’t want to spend another second with. Loved listen to them bicker and bat with one another, but if this was my own family, I think I would have to move away to a whole other state, let alone country.

Consensus: There seems to be a bit of a disjoint in the way in which August: Osage County is supposed to tell its story, which causes plenty of problems with its tone and overall message at the end, but watching all of these talented actors just do work with one another, whether it be small and subtle, or loud and over-bearing, is always worth watching, especially if some of those said “talented actors” just so happen to be Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Chris Cooper, just to name a few.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Cheer up, girls! It's not like two of you won't get nominated, while the other gets left-out in the dark....

Cheer up, girls! It’s not like two of you won’t get nominated, while the other gets left-out in the dark….

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Switch (2010)

Would it REALLY be that hard for J-An to get preggo?

Besties Kassie and Wally (Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman) can pretty much do whatever they want with, or around each other, and it wouldn’t matter a single lick. They’re just that comfortable with the other, that it doesn’t matter. However, the only thing they can’t do is have a child together, even when Kassie says that she desperately needs to have one, even if it is just through artificial-insemination. Some people, like Wally, think this is weird, but so be it! It’s the 21st-Century and a woman should be allowed to do with her body and life, what a woman wants to do with her body and life. Throughout her search for the biggest, best and most promising sperm-donor, she finds Roland (Patrick Wilson), who Wally is ultimately jealous of. So basically, through one night in a drunken-stooper, Wally accidentally spills Roland’s jizz-sample everywhere, and decides that he can’t just leave the whole bottle empty, so he decides to do it himself. Not realizing what he did, Kassie gets pregnant with what she thinks is Roland’s baby. Fast-forward seven years later and Kassie’s son is all grown-up  now, showing all sorts of signs that his daddy is not in fact Roland, but Wally. However, neither of them know this, JUST YET.

Despite what some of you may see or believe, but I feel like I’m a pretty easy guy to please. No, seriously. You can give me the most trite, conventional, clichéd and utterly hackneyed script in the world, and I may, just may be able to find something that I like about it, and therefore, roll with it for as long as I can possibly stomach. So many bad movies I’ve seen in the past couple of years have all been saved by this feeling I usually get when watching something, and it’s helped me stay fully-together as a two-bit movie critic, and full-fledged movie-lover.

The ole' switcheroo. I remember those days.

The ole’ switcheroo. I remember those days.

Which means if you give me a movie that I can’t ever seem to enjoy, no matter what it’s trying to do, then you know you have a shitty flick on your hands. Bar none.

And I get that “whatever Dan the Man says, is the total truth, no doubt about it” isn’t really true, but there is something to be said for a movie that I go out of my way to view (Netflix), and I don’t enjoy a single moment of. Okay, scratch that, maybe a couple moments, but they were all because of three people and three people only. And no, I am not talking about either Jason Bateman or Jennifer Aniston. In fact, while I’m talking about them, let me just give you the skinny on why this movie bored me to hell: Them.

Yes, I know. Despite me being a fan of both of these stars, and the utter-idea of them two starring together in a rom-com would give me the willies, the movie solely lives and dies by them. Maybe that’s more to blame of their poor character-development, their lack of chemistry, or their phoned-in performances, but something was just not mixing well here. Aniston makes all of her female characters breathe with a lively, expressive soul, but her Kassie can’t help but feel like a bit of an idiotic dummy in the way that she doesn’t realize that her seven-year-old son is exactly like her best buddy, and not like the supposed “father”. Also, the fact that she decides to get so serious with the “father” so sudden after his recent, and tragic divorce, also makes you wonder where the heart of this film really lies. You can tell that it wants to be about a woman taking charge, but in the end, it’s really all about the guy finding himself and realizing that it’s time for his ass to do a little growing up; which would have been fine, had it not all been so poorly-written and uninteresting.

That’s a real shame, too, because Jason Bateman, despite seeming like he’s trying really hard, can’t make this character of Wally work. Bateman’s doing his whole snarky-act to show us how negative and cynical his character is with the world around him, and while this is supposed to charm us and make us feel like we’re seeing a real character being written here, it still can’t help but feel annoying, like as if the card has already been dealt a bit too many times. He’s just miserable to be miserable, and that’s the type of person you don’t want to even be around with, let alone, watch a whole movie dedicated to that said person. Like I said, Bateman does seem like he’s trying, but the movie doesn’t help him out in any way, shape or form. Instead, he’s just told to do the same act he’s been doing since he saved that damn Bluth family, and it showed shocking signs of getting real old, real quick.

Who cares what he's saying, he's so damn charming!!

Who cares what he’s saying, he’s so damn charming!!

But who I really feel bad for the most is the kid who plays the young Sebastian, Bryce Robinson. The kid is young, so I won’t really rain on his parade too much, but the writing for him makes him annoying coy, as if every moment he does or says something, we have to automatically follow it up with a response like, “Awww!”. Like Wally, his real father in the movie, he gets really annoying, really quick and all of the little neuroses that he has, that he apparently inherited from his real daddy, just continue to show more signs of implausibility, proving that kids who act like they know it all in movies, make you want to shut that kid up, or all kids up for that matter, too.

The only ones that end up saving this movie, even in their smallest moments, are Julliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson and last, but sure as hell not the least, Jeff Goldblum. Lewis is playing the typical, gal-pal that everyone of the rom-com heroines need to shake things up a bit, and she does the sure best that she can; Wilson is charming-as-hell and gives us one of the better-written characters as he’s less of a deuche that just wants to get rid of his sperm and bang whomever he want, and more of that he’s just a guy who is going through a bit of a rough-patch, means well and is doing all that he can to make things right; and Jeff Goldblum is, well, Jeff Goldblum in all perfection. That’s all you need to know about that.

Consensus: Conventional, obvious, implausible and just plain shallow, The Switch doesn’t do anything with the potential its premise holds, and instead, just plays it all up for goofy laughs, and cloying sentimental moments that tug so hard at your heartstrings, that you may have to call a doctor as soon as you’re done watching it.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm...?"

“You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm…?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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!!

Conviction (2010)

I definitely know that my little bro would not do this for me that little bastard.

Convinced that her brother, Kenneth (Sam Rockwell), has been unjustly convicted of murder and incompetently defended by court-ordered attorneys, high school dropout Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) puts herself through law school in order to represent him in his appeal.

Last year I was supposed to see this at a press screening but for some odd reason, never actually got to it, so I just ended up waiting for it to one day pop-up. When it finally did, I kind of felt bummed by what I missed.

This story here is a true under-dog story that usually gets schmaltzy and feels like a “made for TV” film but somehow director Tony Goldwyn makes it better than just that. The story telling here was not easy to pull off because it all takes place in 16 years of visitations, back-story, courtroom dramas, and marriage problems but Goldwyn does well when it comes to setting up a pace and sticking to it well.

However, where this film fails is within it’s right to actually keep me glued into the story even when I knew all that was going to happen. Right from the get-go, I knew what was going to happen, but then again so did everybody else who watched this and I mean even though its pretty formulaic and predictable it was still fun to watch, but with barely any surprises.

The problem with this film though is that I feel like they had a lot to say about the judicial system and how they are not always right but for some reason, this film only went down that road about twice and that was it. I think with the type of material they had here and the constant showing of mishaps with the actual courtroom system and how evidence is handled and whatnot, that they could have said a lot while still being able to tug at our heart-strings, but only mildly does both.

The real strength of this film though is the cast at hand, and let’s just say it’s a pretty-looking bunch we got here. Hillary Swank is good here as Betty Anne Waters but my problem with her was that her character just has the same look on her face the whole time, and didn’t really give us any real reason to care about her. This wasn’t Swank’s fault but the script could have helped her more. Minnie Driver is also good as the smart-assed best friend of Betty; Peter Gallagher is awesome as Barry Scheck and just had me staring at his eye-brows the whole time; and Mellisa Leo, Juliette Lewis, and Ari Graynor chew up some good scenery as well.

The whole cast is good but compared to Sam Rockwell as Kenny, they are totally forgettable. Rockwell plays up all the charm and humor that he always puts into his performances but he also puts in a great deal of sadness and depression that this character goes through while he’s in prison. Since we only see him through the visitations at the prison, it would be incredibly hard to develop a character solely on that but Rockwell is great at keeping our attention on him the whole entire time.

Consensus: Conviction features plenty of good performances from the cast, especially Sam Rockwell as Kenny, but too much of it feels like the usual, under-dog story we get on cable and in the end, feels like a film that could have went more for the gut than the heart but instead chooses the latter.

6/10=Rental!!

Kalifornia (1993)

Kaliforniaaaaaaaaa Lovveeeeee!!!

While researching a book on serial killings, writer Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) and his girlfriend, Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes), travel cross-country to the murder sites and unwittingly stumble upon strangers who know the subject firsthand. A pair of hitchhikers (Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis) offer to share expenses for the trip, but Kessler doesn’t realize just how close he is to his subject — even as bodies pile up behind them.

Watching early Brad Pitt is pretty cool because I got to see just how he was still the man, even when he was doing B-thrillers, like this one here.

This film starts off very well with you already knowing that these two “hicks” are basically murderers and as the awkward moments go on and on, you start to feel a great deal of tension throughout this film. I liked how the film worked up its suspense and kept me going the whole time just waiting and waiting for something really bad to happen.

The film also has something smart to say about violence and when you write about it as well. It’s one thing when you write about murder and what happens, but it’s a totally different other thing to actually be stuck in that situation where you are stuck with a killer and may actually have to resort to killing, yourself.

However, my main problem with this film is when that really bad thing actually happens and once again just like every other thriller, turns into another Straw Dogs situation where the straight-laced, sort of nerdy guy is pushed against his boundaries and becomes an animal himself. This was just a cheap way to end a very smart story and even after that is all over, the ending still kind of blew. We never really actually learn anything in this film, nor does any of the characters themselves. I thought this was a very cheap way to end the film since it just seemed like almost a waste of exercise in suspense.

The real saving grace this film has is it’s amazing cast, most importantly, Brad Pitt. Pitt plays a very crucial role here as Early Grayce because we know this guy is a killer and a little loose in the head, but we never fully know what he’s going to do next because we feel that he may actually turn good after all. Still, Pitt is very creepy and evil in this role and knocked down his comparisons to a new Robert Redford that he was getting so much at this time.

Juliette Lewis is also very good as Adele Corners and has a lot very strange and at times, sad scenes that she pulls off very well. David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes are also very good as these yuppies that are totally out of their comfort zone with these two, and each one plays it off so well, especially Forbes who gets more and more freaked out as the film goes on and it’s just great to see how many emotions she can show within her character.

Consensus: There’s plenty of suspense here, and a very good cast, but soon turns into your typical, and predictable revenge thriller that may have a lot to say but by the end, can’t tell you what you’ve learned or even what the characters themselves have learned either.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Old School (2003)

College……damn it’s gonna be fun.

Three guys in their early 30s — Mitch (Luke Wilson), Frank (Will Ferrell) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) — try to relive their glory days by moving into a house near their old college campus. There, they establish a “fraternity” that draws the ire of the dean (Jeremy Piven), who took their abuse as a kid. And while Frank and Beanie just want to party, Mitch concerns himself with impressing single mom Nicole (Ellen Pompeo).

In all honesty, who doesn’t love watching college films? Especially college films with guys that are about 15 years over the age to be hanging around college kids?

The writing for this film is what really gets you laughing. I have seen this about 10 times, and almost every time it gets me laughing. There are constant one-liners all over the place, that will have you and your buddies, repeating for days, trust me, I do it all the time.

The comedy goes right below the belt usually, because it’s an “R” rated comedy for a reason, with lots of swearing, nudity (both genders), and plenty of potty humor, that for some may seem appalling, but if your a dude, or a chick that likes talking about balls, and boobs, your going to laugh no matter how much you try not to.

However, not all the comedy works really. There are jokes that hit, and others, well that don’t, but I mean it is comedy, and it’s not supposed to be laugh-out-loud from beginning to end usually. I also thought that some of the supporting characters, could have been used a lot more just for shits and gigs, but hey that’s just me.

The casting of these three in one movie, is so crazy, but it somehow works perfectly. Luke Wilson is very very good here as Mitch, who firsts starts off, as just your average Joe, who soon starts to become known as “The Godfather”, and thus, the charm that is within Luke, comes out, and it really is a pleasure to watch him on screen. Vince Vaughn is perfect with his fast-talking speech, that always seems to bring out plenty of comedy, no matter what he’s saying. But Will Ferrell steals the show on this one, or should I say, Frank the Tank, steals the show on this one. He’s absouloutly hilarious with everything he does, especially since he has no shame, and will do everything to bring out a laugh, and without this film, I don’t think he would have really gotten his start right away. There’s also nice little side steps from Jeremy Piven (aka Cheese), Andy Dick, Snoop Dogg, Juliette Lewis, and Seann William Scott, among others.

Consensus: Though not consistently funny, Old School still has perfect humor for all the raunch lovers, and also the witty comedy lovers too, that has just enough humor to satisfy all dudes who watch on.

8/10=Matinee!!

Whip It (2009)

Roller Derby looks like it frickin’ kills. Especially if your a chick, cause then your nails are always breaking.

Escaping her smothering mother’s (Marcia Gay Harden) beauty pageant plans for her, small-town Texas teen Bliss (Ellen Page) joins an all-girl roller derby team in Austin and begins living a thrilling double life as Babe Ruthless — a life that might catch up with her.

So this is Drew Barrymore‘s directorial debut, and you can tell. The film is much like her, not too creative, but very cute, I could just see her behind the scenes going in her little voice: “Yeah we’re going to skate”. She’s alright with her first film, but she doesn’t know how to set a tone, or pace all that well.

There would be moments in this film, that would move pretty fast, but then it would just get dreadfully slow, and your starting to actually hope they would just go to the roller derby scenes. But the sad thing is, they aren’t even that fun to watch. They are so poorly choreographed, and the camera work is pretty cool, you can’t help but think that you should be feeling so much more excitement when your watching chicks, on skates, beating the hell out of each other.

The screenplay, I thought could have been a little bit better. I will not lie, some parts did have me laugh, but other than that, I found this story nothing new. I’ve seen it all before, and the problem is that the film doesn’t do much else to take my mind away from that. It’s heart is in the right place, and the scenes with Bliss and her mother, work very well, because of how true they are, but it almost seems wasted in a film about chicks on skates.

Ellen Page may get on most people’s nerves, but she’s actually very good in here, and less annoying than you would expect her. Marcia Gay Harden does an even better job playing her mother that just can’t accept her passion, and the scenes these tow have are great together, as noted above. I also liked seeing Daniel Stern, back in action. Juliette Lewis plays that mean, snobby, bitch we all know and love/hate her for, and she doesn’t shy away from that act at all here, and well it’s still good. The guy who plays the coach, Andrew Wilson, just reminded me of bearded Owen Wilson, when in reality, that’s Wilson’s brother. He does a good job here, and I think he should try to pursue more small, comedic roles, but he needs to get a new shtick, so he doesn’t get annoyed about his brother. There are also nice other supporting roles from Eve, Kristen Wiig, Alia Shawkat, and Jimmy Fallon, doing what he does best, acting like a total nut ball.

Consensus: It’s an overly familiar story, that is showered down by a pace, and tone that may annoy some, but it’s heart is in the right place, and the performances bring a lot to the table.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Due Date (2010)

These are the last two people I’d ever go on a trip with.

When high-powered Los Angeles business executive Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) gets stuck in Atlanta during a snowstorm that grounds all flights just days before his pregnant wife’s due date, he hitches a ride across the country with slacker Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis). As Peter desperately tries to get home, he must deal with Ethan’s laid-back attitude, numerous delays and several mishaps in this road trip comedy. Jamie Foxx co-stars.

This film is being heavily promoted as the next big from from Todd Phillips, or as you mainstream audiences may know, “the dude who did The Hangover”. However, the problem is that is the only thing going for it.

The problem with this film is that it’s screenplay is terrible. Actually terrible is not right because, occasionally, there are a few funny moments, very few, but they are just watered over, by the sometimes numerous awkward, heavily violent, and lazy jokes that came through with this film. I get the whole concept of these stupid comedies, because in all honesty, I like them, but this film offers nothing really funny, and at times, the comedy just falls short way too many times, and your just stuck wondering, if it was meant to be a joke, or just something you wouldn’t find funny, but because it’s these two, it’s absolutely hilarious. The problem is, I didn’t ponder any of those thoughts at all, this film just wasn’t funny. I almost felt like the creators said: “The Hangover 2 is going to take about 6 months to write, let’s just make a film that will take about 6 minutes to write”.

The places this film takes are incredibly unbelievable. There are moments where these guys almost practically die on the road, because the driver falls asleep, and they do a 360 in the air. I also noticed a lot of comedy directed towards these guys getting there asses kicked, or to them almost dying. There’s nothing funny about near-death experiences people, so stop with the harsh slapstick in comedy.

I was probably more disappointed by the fact that I was expecting so much more from these two. I understand the whole odd-couple mismatch that the film was going for, but in order for that to work, you got to have two actors that can create a good chemistry that will last through out. This doesn’t have that at all. Robert Downey Jr.‘s character disappointed me, because I was expecting him to be a bit more likable, and at least a little funny, unintentionally, but he was just too mean to be likable or funny. I know he was trying to play against type, but for God’s sake man, it’s a comedy, be funny somehow! Zach Galifianakis is funny, but he is just too over-exposed by now, and I really do think he needs to slow down, before he becomes a bore to every film he is in. These two try their hardest to bring laughs, but they just can’t, and I think they would have been able to, with different material. There are also some funny spots from Danny McBride, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, and RZA. But not enough to make this film better, actually not even the master-bating French bulldog can do that.

Consensus: What should have been hilarious, mostly due to the fact of the talent involved, Due Date turns into a unfunny, lazily written, bore-fest, that tries hard to be funny, and just ends up being a huge failure for all involved. Let’s hope Hangover 2 is better.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

Husbands and Wives (1992)

Breaking up with a person really does take a lot of energy.

Director Woody Allen stars with Mia Farrow in his comedy as a long-married New York couple whose own relationship starts to crumble when their best friends (Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis) announce they’re separating. Smoldering resentments and unexpected jealousies soon rise to the surface, erupting in savage humor and hilariously unpredictable reunions.

When it comes to showing human emotions, basically about anything, Woody Allen is always known for showing it in its best, and brutally honest way. Although he is a huge dirt, I still love his work and can consider this a good one as well.

The one thing about this film that you have to know is that it’s incredibly honest about how relationships really are. We leave them sometimes, and were not exactly sure, until we start to think about it over ourselves and know we made a mistake. Allen brings that up countless times, showing these 4 characters trying to find anyway of expression of love, so they can be happy, as well as their partner. As usual with Allen, there is plenty of dry humor in this, but it’s also very dark. These people are constantly bickering, fighting, betraying, and hurting one another, all over love, and it’s kind of in a way it’s very mean spirited, but we don’t get that because of Allen’s tone.

I did have a couple of problems with this film that kind of did take the effect of this film down for me. I never understood why they were doing a random documentary feel to the film. It was kind of stupid and didn’t really allow many things to happen on its own, it was just telling us. Also, the little sub-plot between Allen and Juliette Lewis starts off good, but after awhile things just start to get dumb, because I knew what was going to happen between these two, everybody else watching this movie did too, his character was the only one who didn’t know, or even think about it, which was pretty stupid.

Woody Allen is as usual good here, playing Woody Allen nothing else. Mia Farrow is also sweet, but good ehre as well, and this was their last film together until the shit hit the fan with Allen and “his adopted daughter” Soon Yi Previn. It’s weird watching this film, cause the whole time it just feels like fore-shadowing between these two. The two best in the cast without a doubt is Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis who just eat up the screen every time their on it. You can see the emotions they feel, through their speech, and through they way they act, which is something great, cause they use their comedic timing to connect with the audience and make their characters all the more realistic. Liam Neeson is in this two before he became a big star, and does pretty good with the material, giving a lot more to his character than we were expecting.

Consensus: It may not be the best thing Allen has ever done, but it is cleverly written, with enough comedy, and dark drama, to keep you watching, as well with the perfect performances backing it all up.

7/10=Rental!!

Strange Days (1995)

God, the world really has gone to whack!

Ex-cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) is a pusher of potent — and illegal — virtual-reality clips, peddling sex, murder and violence to the masses in quasi-futuristic Los Angeles. But when a high-profile murder shows up in his collection, Lenny is snared in a fast-paced manhunt. With the help of his friend Mace Mason (Angela Bassett), he stays ahead of danger and tries to protect an old flame (Juliette Lewis).

From its first moments, the film creates a mood of anxiety and foreboding. With the new millenium just days away, the disenfranchised masses are ready to erupt in violence, and everyone knows that something BIG is about to happen. With a set-up like that, most films would end up with a disappointing conclusion. “Stange Days,” however, delivers an exhilarating, cathartic climax.

This film has a lot of ideas they want to put out there. Its all about the feelings of other people’s experiences, and taking them in your own life and living them. This idea is shown very well throughout the whole film in these little videos Fiennes keeps getting.

Director Kathryn Bigelow does pull out all the stops in this film on so many levels. On a visual level the film is fascinating, as it shows this world just doomed that is filled with havoc and crime all over the place. And, she does a great job of actually keeping this story interesting and involving. Yeah, it’s a little different from what we have seen before but it still feels like a regular action thriller set in this dystopian cyberpunk world.

There were some problems I did have with this film though. First of all a lot of things didn’t make so much sense to me. Like why was Fiennes, who was the ex-cop, basically go the whole movie getting his ass kicked, when Bassett, a limo driver, is beating more people up. Also, I liked the setting I just didn’t understand why everything was all of a sudden havoc, why were crimes always being committed, and just why was the world going to come to an end?

The writing also seemed a bit too cliche and obvious. It could have been stronger when it came to characterizing its characters as different people but instead goes on this road we have seen many a times with these films.

Fiennes does a very good job in the lead role mostly cause he isn’t playing the typical super hero. He is a solicitor, a snuff man, and a bad person, but thinks his way through every situation and is smart when it comes to what to do next. Bassett gives a very good performance as well, and the two build up a genuine chemistry that seems real and barely ever fake. Lewis is basically playing the same character as usual, and throughout the whole film never changes.

Consensus: Strange Days has its flaws, but also has wonderful ideas that are backed by a powerful direction from Bigelow, and features a thrilling story with good enough performances to keep you satisfied.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Mixed Nuts (1994)

What a messed up title for a non-porno.

Steve Martin stars as Philip, who runs a suicide-prevention hotline staffed by tetchy Mrs. Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and lovesick Catherine (Rita Wilson). After getting an eviction order on Christmas Eve, the counselors think they’ve hit bottom — till they cross paths with an array of wackos, including a psycho St. Nick (Anthony LaPaglia).

So watching this movie did get me a little in the holiday spirit, because I thought that “wow although my family is crazy as well, at least nobody is dead”. Thats the message I got from this one.

So the director from Sleepless in Seattle, Nora Ephron does this film, and not once shows that she can at all direct. This whole story is just trying so hard to be so dark, and so bleak, but yet so funny at the same time. Not once does it work.

The jokes are just piled on, and on, and on to the point of where your just saying to yourself “what the hell??!!!”. The lame jokes that were at times offensive started to really become just a total annoyance for me.

So many great stars are in this film, and are just so misused. Steve Martin is not very funny here, if at all, and Madeline Kahn’s whole role is just basically screaming in an elevator. Juliette Lewis is in this film and gets terribly annoying in this film, not like any of her others. Liev Schreiber was probably the only one that really made me laugh, considered it was just one big gay joke after another.

Consensus: Mixed Nuts has a horrible title, horrible dialogue, and just a horrible way to use the A-list cast they have. Also, a horrible way to spend my holiday.

1/10=SomeOleBullShiiTTtttt!!!!

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

Life is a terrible thing to sleep through, but only if your not this guy.

In a backwater Iowa town, Gilbert (Johnny Depp) struggles to take care of his mentally disabled brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and provide for the rest of his family. But after falling for the stranded Becky (Juliette Lewis), Gilbert discovers exciting new possibilities for his life.

The film is surely a film about a very odd looking family, and the things that happen I found very hard to watch. This is a better film than any other of those great piece of life stories that I have ever seen.

This story is based on a 1991 novel by Peter Hedges ,who also wrote the screenplay, and he and director Lasse Hallström create very memorable characters and spin them in ways so that you know about these people very well and care about them very well when the film is over. I felt myself very attached to these characters and they all gained my sympathy very quick, and anything bad that happened to these characters I felt totally effected by.

The story is very strong in showing how the towns people think of the Grapes as a weird family with a fat mom and a mentally challenged son, and you see how Gilbert tries to keep it all together. He soon falls in love with a girl but he doesn’t know if he can love her as she loves him due to the problem’s with his family. Very strong and compelling story.

Only problem I had with this film was that they just didn’t give Gilbert to express his feelings enough. He’s very quiet when his family bosses him around and you always see he is upset but you never see it come out. I think if it came out then this film would’ve looked to be more strong and very true as sometimes we can’t always hold our anger in.

Performances are also something very notable in this film. A young Leonardo DiCaprio does an amazing job at playing Gilbert’s mentally challenged brother, and he masters the acts and tics this character has without over doing it. He doesn’t get too annoying and your soul goes out to him. Also Depp and Lewis have a very good chemistry in this film that is awkward at first but soon comes out as genuine.

Consensus: Gilbert Grape is touching, true, and the most enchanting film I have seen in years. It gives me a new sense of feeling of life and connects me to all the characters within the film.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Mexico sure is a place full of wild crazy things, such as vampires, yeah OK!

Robbers-on-the-lam Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) take an ex-preacher (Harvey Keitel)and his kids hostage. On a race to the Mexican border, they rendezvous at a cantina, not knowing the owners and clientele are blood thirsty vampires.

The film starts out not that strong as a Hostage road drama, and then right in the middle switches gears into an vampire slaying movie. The film stars and is written by Tarantino, as Robert Rodriguez directs in what surely is to be labeled as a comedy-horror film.

From Dusk Till Dawn is basically a film that has no original content. Much of the content is taken from other films and most of it doesn’t seem original. Many of the features such as one bite and you turn into them and the conventional stab in the heart to kill are all taken from others and basically ruins an addition to the horror genre. Most of the originality starts off in the film and then ends in the middle and then it basically becomes something else we’ve already seen.

The film really does start to lose itself by the end of the film and actually started to lose me. I didn’t like the two characters, Clooney and Tarantino, and I really didn’t care what happened to these guys and they never really feel regret for what they have done in the past. When you feel like you just what the two main characters just to die then you have a problem with a film. The film by the last act starts to feel lazy and very tired and the action starts to lag into a very predictable boat.

The good things about this film are very noticeable as well. Tarantino does have a knack for a very clever written script and a fast-paced energetic directing job from Robert Rodriguez. They both have a good combination of making a very wise tongue-in-cheek horror action film. The special effects in this film are very good and don’t look like actors in costumes, although that’s what they are.

Clooney does an OK job but I will give him his credit since this is his first big movie role. The rest of the cast is pretty good and funny at showing all these opposite people who come together to face vampire’s and actually does prove some good laughs.

Consensus: The film is highly energetic filled with over-the-top action that will keep you glued, but I expected more from Tarantino and Rodriguez teaming together and didn’t feel my needs were there.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

Natural Born Killers (1994)

One of the craziest acid trips, that I didn’t take acid for.

Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, respectively) hit the road on an interstate killing spree that triggers a manhunt and garners amazing ratings for a tabloid TV star (Robert Downey Jr.).

Wow this surely is one of the craziest movies I have ever seen. The thing I can say about this film is that the violence, blood, gore, and everything else in between this film is what surely makes this film so controversial and insane.

With Natural Born Killers, the first time you watch it, it goes with visceral overload and you have to sort of stand back and catch the satire and comedy that’s interlocked with all that violence. The second time I watched and found the satire and mostly I found out what the real message behind it all was but it still didn’t come in too clearly as it may have been.

This is directed by Oliver Stone, who has always seemed to be my favorite. He directs this film with such pure authenticity and such art that it really is a beautiful movie to watch if you can get past the blood and violence. The visuals are certainly dazzling and overall amazing. Stone uses so many different takes within a scene that you can’t take your eyes off the screen cause your afraid you may miss a little footnote in the story, through the images shown. The color of this film is beautiful to watch and most colors during one scene change about 12 times and it surely is a beauty to see.

The message of the film is that the media praises and follows murderers as if they are some sort of celebrity. Through many other scenes Stone shows how evil and television pretty much do work hand in hand. Though I understood this message the second time, the first time not so much. I think that by the 3rd act the message does get a little over stated and worn out cause the violence is right there in your face and there’s really no message behind all the violence, it’s just violence and nothing else to it.

There are many parodies in this film all on old TV sitcoms, and cheesy crime TV shows which are pretty well done and actually funny. Stone’s ambition to show that the violence in this film influences what happens with the media and the rest of society. The message is comes pretty clear after the second watch if you can get past all the violence and blood.

The performances from the cast are very over-the-top. Harrelson and Lewis are great and you can actually feel the love and also the psychotically from these two that lies beneath them in every situation. The supporting cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, and Robert Downey Jr. all do equally as good as supporters and show their own type of parody’s as well.

Consensus: Not for the faint of heart. Natural Born Killers is bloody, satirical, violent, and chock full of a message that can be easily understood even if Stone does put a lot of guts in your laps.

9/10=Full Pricee!!