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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Justin Theroux

Inland Empire (2006)

Wait. What?

Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is an accomplished actress who, after much time spent waiting and wondering, finally gets the role as the lead in On High in Blue Tomorrows. It’s supposed to be her comeback role, so to speak, so there’s a lot of pressure wearing on it, not to mention, a lot of pressure from her husband not to fall in love with her co-star Devon (Justin Theroux). Sure, it can be done, but the two are playing characters who are having an affair, making it a tad bit harder. However, the director (Jeremy Irons) trusts that both of them will keep it as professional as can be and will make sure that the movie comes out perfectly, because believe it or not, it’s been attempted before, but for some reason, the movie just hasn’t been made. Why, though? Eventually, Nikki and Devon find out and it causes both of them to start imagining weird, rather insane things, that they don’t know if is real, or not.

Wait, what?

Honestly, there’s a lot more to the premise of Inland Empire, in that there’s not just one story, but about three or four more of them, none of which make a single lick of sense, or better yet, ever seem to come together in a way that you’d imagine. Now, if sitting around for three hours and watching as a bunch of random stories get told to you in the most confusing manner imaginable sounds like a good time, then be my guest and enjoy the hell out of Inland Empire.

I, however, didn’t and just couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. Sure, there were things to admire and of course, this is David Lynch we’re talking about here, so I can’t be all that surprised, but still, it just didn’t quite work for me. There was so much going on, without any rhyme or reason, that after awhile, I had to sort of give up and just accept the fact that the movie’s going way beyond my intelligence and I’m best to just let it do its thing and see if I can make it up in the end.

Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.

Sure, is that more of a problem with me, as opposed to the movie? Definitely, but by the same token, there is something to be said for a three-hour movie that not only feels every bit of it, but never seems to show any signs of actually going anywhere. Lynch is well-known for doing this sort of thing time and time again, and while it’s always had me happy and rather pleased, this go around, it just didn’t work. It seemed like too much meandering and craziness for the sake of being meandering and crazy, as if there wasn’t a whole lot of story, but weird and surreal imagery that Lynch just had to get out of his system.

And okay, it makes sense, because the look and feel of this movie is, above all else, freaky. Then again, how could it not? Filmed on a hand-held digital-camera, the movie is grainy, dirty and downright gritty, but in a way, it’s also more terrifying for that reason alone, often times feeling like a documentary, than another glitsed-up flick. Film itself can do wonders, but digital-video can also do the same, especially when you’re really trying to go for an aura of realism, even if, you know, there’s nothing realistic happening here.

No seriously, what?

And once again, that’s all me. The movie gets away doing its thing, but it’s so frustrating to watch, that no matter what Lynch does behind the camera and how much inspiration may come out of him, it just didn’t connect for me. There’s a lot going on here and a lot that randomly happens, but the only thing I could remember clearly in my head was a very few haunting-images, bunny-rabbits, a dance to “the Locomotion”, and a lot of walking down hallways.

Like, a lot.

But Laura Dern, all issues aside, is great here and gives it everything she’s got. There’s no denying that Dern’s probably perfect for Lynch’s creepy, twisted and warped mind, and it’s why her performance here, with so many shades shown, is something to watch. Even when it seems like the rest of the movie has gone far, far away, she’s always there, working her rump off and making sure that everything sticks together. She allows for it to do so, too, it’s just a shame that it didn’t fully connect at the end.

For me, at least.

Consensus: Absolutely confusing, weird and random, Inland Empire is a hard movie to get into, mostly due to its frustrating plot, but there is some art to be seen here.

5 / 10

See, even Laura doesn’t know.

Photos Courtesy of: Pretty Clever FilmsFour Three Film

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The Girl on the Train (2016)

Sometimes, you just got to make public transportation a little fun.

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) takes the train to New York City each and every day and has a lot of time on her hands to do, well, lots of stuff. For one, she likes to drink. She also likes to think about stuff and, on occasion, make-up things in her head. But one thing she loves to do is watch a couple, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans), from her train seat window every morning, from the window of her train. However, her life is thrown for a wild loop when, all of a sudden, Megan is with some other man (Edgar Ramirez) and not her husband. And then, it gets even crazier when Rachel finds out that Megan’s missing and Rachel herself could be the prime suspect. But why? Well, because Rachel’s ex-husband (Justin Theroux) and this new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) live literally right around the corner, Rachel, in drunken, jealous stupors, will find herself around the neighborhood, acting out in certain ways that most adults like her shouldn’t be doing. Now though, with the investigation against her, Rachel has to think long and hard about what she remembers and what she made-up in her mind, while also figuring out the truth of Megan’s whereabouts.

Who's baby is that?!? Mystery!

Who’s baby is that?!? Mystery!

The Girl on the Train is trying so hard to be Gone Girl that it’s actually kind of sad. Here’s a movie that, despite so much plot, could have honestly been an enjoyably wacky, over-the-top romp, just like Gone Girl. Instead, it’s rather drab, dark, serious and not nearly as crazy as it should be.

Which is also to say that Tate Taylor is no David Fincher. Believe it or not.

But honestly, the problem with the Girl on the Train is that, aside from it so desperately wanting to like that Fincher classic, it also doesn’t really know what to do with itself for a solid majority of its running-time. For the first hour or so, we’re watching our main protagonist, Rachel, live a pretty miserable and depressing existence – one that’s full of alcohol, wild dreams, and unrequited love. In a way, it’s actually very serious and heartbreaking, but aside from maybe one scene of an actual, full-out breakdown, the movie never gets as deep as it should about her mental and psychological issues and where it all came from. Rather, the movie uses her anguish and pain as a plot-device, to give us more and more characters, more conflicts, and most importantly, more and more unnecessary twists and turns that, after about fourth or fifth one in a minute, gets a tad annoying.

And really, all of the problems with copycatting Gone Girl would have been fine, had Girl on the Train tried to at least bring some real, honest characters to the forefront; most of them are just created for the sole sake of being a plot-device, or a twist that can eventually kill them off, or show that they’re not exactly as who they should be. Although, as is the case with Edgar Ramirez’s psychiatrist character, some characters hardly serve any purpose whatsoever – they’re just hot, sexy and attractive window-dressing to a movie that’s as mean-looking as you can get.

No. Not a leftover scene from the Leftovers. Although, I honestly wished it was.

No. Not a leftover scene from the Leftovers. Although, I honestly wished it was.

Ramirez isn’t the only one who, unfortunately, doesn’t get a whole lot to do. The whole ensemble, as talented as they all are, are saddled with material that doesn’t allow for them to really reach deep, or far dramatic heights – instead, they just have to settle and live with the results. As said about Rachel before, she’s a deeper character than the movie gives her credit for, even if Emily Blunt tries all that she can to not only make her look ugly and disgusting (as much as Emily Blunt can look “ugly” and “disgusting”), but really, the character feels like a missed-opportunity. Same goes for Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett’s characters who, despite getting some semblance of personality and emotion, are also meant to be plot-points.

The boys don’t fare any better, either.

Justin Theroux does what he can as the ex-husband, while Luke Evans does his best hard-Brooklyn accent, despite being a character that lives in the New York suburbs. Only the wonderful Allison Janney really gets a chance to shine with this material and it’s not only a testament to her true talent as an actress, but also a nice bit of excitement in the first hour or so. Because honestly, for the first hour, the movie can be quite a bore – laboring on certain parts of the plot that don’t matter, never picking up the pace, and giving us a mystery we already know the solution to.

That said, it does pick itself up after the hour-mark and thankfully, it’s where the Girl on the Train becomes, surprisingly enough, “fun”. Granted, it’s still not nearly as fun to watch as Gone Girl and it sure as hell doesn’t improve on its issues with its character, but it eventually starts to realize that there can be some wild times had with these weird characters, the sexy tone and feel that Taylor sometimes gives off, and most importantly, the fact that we’re here to watch a bunch of hot, sexy and attractive people bone and deceive one another. Sometimes, that’s all you need with a movie and here, with the Girl on the Train, while it takes forever to get to that part, I’m glad it eventually did.

Because if it didn’t, honestly, it would have been a waste of everyone’s time. Most importantly, my own.

Consensus: Despite trying desperately hard to capture the same excitement and craziness as Gone Girl, the Girl on the Train never quite gets moving, despite a good cast and a promising premise, chock full of twists, turns, mysteries, and surprises that are, honestly, a little too obvious to be shocked by.

6 / 10

You see a lot from public transportation. Maybe not someone's home life, but hey, dare to dream, eh?

You see a lot from public transportation. Maybe not someone’s home life, but hey, dare to dream, eh?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Wanderlust (2012)

I’ll go any place that has Jen Aniston getting naked. Any place…

The story centers on New York City couple George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) who are forced to relocate to Atlanta when George is downsized out of his job. Once there, the two stumble upon Elysium, a peculiar community populated by colorful characters who embrace a much simpler way of  life.

After checking out director David Wain‘s last flick, ‘Role Models’, and actually liking it quite a bit, I went into this one expecting the same type of laughs. Oh who am I kidding, I went into this ready to see some naked ladies. However, what I got was naked dudes and a so-so comedy. Not a very good combo.

As a comedy, this film works pretty well. All of the jokes here are very raunchy and dirty but also had me laughing quite a bit at times. Wain takes a whole bunch of risks and basically does anything in his will-power to make a joke connect, and it’s worth it because even though he doesn’t always hit the right spot, the moments where he does gets your mind off of the bad times. Besides, it’s always funny to see hippies being hippies in their own natural habitat but it’s also a lot funnier to see two, normal American people be brought into this new and cool life-style. It’s not really trying to be anything else and it’s also pretty surprising to see hippies get the kind of treatment in today’s world as they did way back when. Yes, hippies are still around people.

My problem with this flick is that the plot’s one-joke premise does get stretched on a little too long in my opinion. There is a lot of funny stuff here that works but then there were other times where Wain just seemed to throw any raunchy joke he had at us whether it was about poop, dicks, boobs, or anything else that came to his dirty little mind. This is definitely a lot more raunchier than Wain’s last flick and even though it may work when it comes to creating some good laughs, other times it just gives us that feeling that the jokes are starting to get stale and over-done.

The other problem with this plot is that it does get very uneven by the end, especially when it starts trying to show some of these hippies to be some evil mofos. Every comedy by about the last act starts to get mundane and use plot elements that we have seen done before and this one here, is really no different. We get all of the same predictable results we expect to get due to this premise being so damn simple and even though it may get pretty dry by the end, it still lifts itself back up somehow with a pretty funny epilogue. Basically, if you’re a comedy and you start to go soft, I’m always going to find my way to complain about it. I always do with the exception of probably ‘The Change-Up’ which was definitely a lot more raunchier than this flick by far.

What really worked here was the cast, that shows Wain bringing together all of his buddies as well as some other comedy favorites that you have probably seen before. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are great as George and Linda, because they not only feel like a real couple, but a pretty fun one at that even before they started their lives at this community. Aniston has really started to show herself winning back audiences with her raunchy comedy appearances and this one is no different. Aniston is funny, goofy, and shows that she has the comedic timing chops that aren’t just all about being that playful and witty girl we always see her do, she can also be pretty dirty. Still though, no boobage from her so once again, we have to all wait it out men. Rudd is also what really makes this film work because he is just so damn funny with every scene and ad-libs his ass off to great effect. Rudd has always been funny in every movie he performs in and he gives one great scene where he’s basically prepping himself for some sexy time and it’s much like that “Slapppa da basss” scene in ‘I Love You Man’, but it still had me laughing my ass of by the end and was by-far the most memorable scene of the whole flick. These two really do bring out the best in each other when it comes to acting together, and their chemistry just makes their relationship and everything else that they go through, feel real even though it may get a little cheesy by the end.

The rest of the supporting cast has a bunch of other great performances but only a couple that are worth noting. Justin Theroux is pretty wild, insane, and goofy as the community’s main-leader, Seth, and shows that he’s funny in a more visually and physical way as well; Alan Alda is playing another great role for him as the senile and old founder, Carvin; and Malin Akerman, Kathryn Hahn and Lauren Ambrose all have great little scenes considering they are all very hot as well as good when it comes to showing their comedic timing. Still, they don’t get naked. WTF!??! Plus, there are some many others in this cast that do great jobs but these were the ones that I found more worth of being noted.

Consensus: Wanderlust’s one-joke premise may stretch on for a little too long by the end, but the raunchy writing and hilarious cast give this film some very funny moments, which are definitely enough to make up for it’s more uneven ones.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Megamind (2010)

A big-blue testicle vs. Brad Pitt.

A big-brained and blue super-villain named Megamind (Will Ferrell) finally beats his big-time rival, Metro Man (Brad Pitt). He soon then faces an existential crisis of sorts after he finds out that having no superhero at all to stop him from evil-wrong doings, is actually pretty boring. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life.

After checking out ‘Despicable Me’ for the first time earlier this year, basically everybody started comparing that to this film, making me want to see it even more. So now that I’ve seen it, all yo guys can shut yo mouths!

What really works with this film is that it touches just about every single plot-line, cliche, and convention that comes with a superhero comic-book story. You got everything from the smart villain, to the goofy-looking costumes, and whole lot more other elements that are not left untouched and that’s where the real fun of this film comes from. The film sort of pokes fun at everything we know of these superhero stories and twist them around in their own cool and original ways to be their own story.

The film is funny, but not in the way that you would expect from an animated-flick rated PG, it’s actually pretty adult-like. The humor is pretty witty with a lot of in-jokes, pop cultural references, but even enough jokes for kids that they will understand and laugh at but not as much as the parents. I actually found myself laughing quite a bit with this flick because the whole idea was cool right from the beginning, but how the film itself just tops on that with constant references, originality, and adult-like humor is what really made it work.

There is also a lot to look at here because the flick is beautiful and gets even better when the action is there too. The colors are very bright and vibrant but how colors will come and go in the middle of one action sequence is pretty cool. The music here is also pretty fun with a lot of old-school classics from AC/DC, ELO, Guns N Roses, Michael Jackson, and whole lot more to give this film the extra kick of fun it has.

My problem with this film is that the story is sort of what we always see in any superhero film, but when the film itself starts to dive right into those conventions it’s a little bit more disappointing. This film practically makes fun of these conventions so much that when it starts to hit into them by the end, it kind of left me bummed. The laughs also started to come less and less which had me bummed even more.

Will Ferrell is a lot of fun as Megamind because his character is not just evil, but he’s also very sensitive and likable which this film really worked well on with that character; Tina Fey is smart, funny, feisty, and a little sexy as Roxanne Ritchi, aka Lois Lane; David Cross is also very funny as Minion, Megamind’s second-man/thing-in-command; and Brad Pitt is awesome as Metro Man, who is the perfect combination of Elvis, Jesus, and Superman all rolled up into one hunk.

Jonah Hill is also pretty fun as Tighten but the problem with this character is that he is almost exactly like Syndrome from ‘The Incredibles’. Think about it for a second: both used to be good guys, they were both twisted into being villains by the good guys, and they both go insane-o in the end. You don’t realize this right from the get-go but once you start to think about it because it’s all the same disappointing as the ending itself.

Consensus: It may lose some steam by the end but Megamind is still a whole lot of fun due to its humor that pokes fun at all of the conventions of the superhero genre, it’s voices that are obviously having a ball, and the constant energy that this film keeps throughout the whole flick.

7/10=Rental!!

American Psycho (2000)

The 80s… those were the days. Plastic pop, designer drugs, pretension, fake wealth, bad hair. What a decade.

With a chiseled chin and an iron physique, Patrick Bateman’s looks make him the ideal yuppie — and the ideal serial killer. That’s the joke behind American Psycho, which follows a killer at large during the 1980s junk-bond boom. Bateman (Christian Bale) takes pathological pride in everything from his business card to his Huey Lewis CD collection, all the while plotting his next victim’s vivisection.

Taking a first glance at this film, you would think that it’s a horror film. However, it’s more of satire about all things that weren’t ever cool in the 80’s.

I have not read the book that this film is based off of and to say the least, I really do wish I did, even though this provides a lot of depth for a story and detail for a story about a yuppie who just goes around killing people. But I may have to tell you that it’s more about just the killings, it’s about the person behind the killings.

Director and co-writer Mary Harron puts a new spin on the horror genre and brings a lot of satire here that actually had me laughing. You see all these Wall Street dudes who are so full of themselves, and have so much greed that you just think these are the sickest and most cliche bastards ever, but that’s the whole joke. As Bateman continues with killing these people left-and-right, you may actually find yourself laughing because of the way all of these killings are portrayed, but then you soon realize, he’s laughing with you too.

The film also brings out a lot of great questions about what’s more violent; the fantasies we have in our head about certain amounts of violence, or the actual violence we see in day-to-day life. Bateman has no real reason or inspiration for these killings, and this whole film is not the portrait of an actual serial-killer.

This is more the portrait of a personality and that there are many people out there like this over-achiever, narcissistic, egotistical, and self-centered Patrick Bateman guy here who do whatever they can to satisfy their own needs, and forget everyone else’s. I also liked the fact that you never rarely see any of the killings except for some, and it’s all left to your imagination really and aside all of the chainsaw’s and axes that there’s more of an edge and smarter side to all of these killings because they all have reason.

My problem that I had with this film was actually this random sequence that went on for about 10 minutes and to me just felt totally bogus and not like the whole film at all. There’s a lot of action that goes down, and without giving too much away, just feels like a total fantasy in the end and made no real sense as to why it had to be involved.

Another problem I had which kind of had me confused, was how all of the female characters in this film are practically almost half-human and fall for any type of dumb gag, and it’s funny because you would think that with a film directed and written by a lady, there would be so much more to these lady characters. But for some reason they just seemed stale and very dumb.

Christian Bale really has made himself a house-hold name in Hollywood today, but people almost forget that his role as Patrick Bateman is the real reason. This character is the biggest douche-bag in the whole entire world and walks around like he’s hot shit just hoping that others notice how much his amazing suit cost, and how he just got in so much shape. Bale plays all of this narcissistic act very well in a compelling performance that had me loving this charming, and almost every-day serial killer. Bale really has made a name for himself in today’s world of Hollywood, but if you ask me, this is where people really started to notice.

The rest of the cast is alright even though they don’t really do much compared to Bale. Names such as Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Justin Theroux, and a sweet little performance from Chloe Sevigny. A good cast, but then again, they aren’t really given anything good in the first place.

Consensus: Though parts of it may not work as well as others, American Psycho is a great blend of horror and comedy, that makes the scares into satire, and features an amazing, star-making performance from Christian Bale.

8/10=Matinee!!

Your Highness (2011)

Weed + Swords = Kind of fun.

Your Highness is about a wayward prince (Danny McBride), his slightly less wayward brother (James Franco) and a warrior princess (Natalie Portman) out to save them from themselves. The blue-blooded slackers embark on a quest to save their father’s kingdom from doom, encountering sorcerers, dragons and Zooey Deschanel along the way.

If you think it’s been awhile since the last “big” stoner comedy, well smoke em if you get em for this film that reunites some of the crew from Pineapple Express. Trust me, it’s not that funny.

The one thing about most stoner comedies is that if their funny if you aren’t baked, because no matter what, everything is almost going to be funny when your high. I went with my good friend Bill who smoked before seeing this and he had a good time, he just didn’t think the weed really did anything for him, and he wished it was actually a lot funnier for non-smoking, and smoking members of the audience. I couldn’t have said it any better.

Most of the dialogue is improvised so therefore from all of these raunch kings we get a lot of swearing, dick jokes, homoerotic gags, and barely any medieval dialogue. I thought most of this was funny and I chuckled at it, however the jokes were pretty in-your-face about it, and it kind of got annoying. Many of the jokes actually could have been better here too if they actually wrote some of them down, instead of just letting this cast just curse non-stop. Honestly a curse word, when used right, is very funny. However, if you keep on doing it all the time for laughs, and putting one in almost every single other sentence, it becomes an annoyance and just makes your writing seem lazy.

Writer/director David Gordon Green of Pineapple Express, does a good job here of making believable set pieces and adding a lot of fun action here too keep us entertained. My main problem with this film is that he doesn’t keep our full attention on this film, and I really did find myself lost within a lot of dry spots where barely any comedy was happening, as well as any action. Maybe, just maybe the special effects could have been a little bit better too, but that’s just me being nit-picky.

The cast for the most part is pretty good. Danny McBride is hilarious here as Thadeous and brings out the most humorous and well-deserved laughs. His character seems like the only real human here, and McBride has the signature “real guy” attitude that has us believe that. James Franco plays Fabious who is very funny here saying outrageous things, while keeping a straight face. Natalie Portman is also pretty bad-ass as Isabel, and although she isn’t do anything remarkable here, Portman can still show she can play that bad, sexy type well. Zooey Deschanel actually received a top-billing for this movie but is underused and I feel like they could have used more of her quirkiness to really benefit this film. Others in the cast that do a fine job are Justin Theroux, Toby Jones, and Charles Dance.

Consensus: There are moments where you will laugh, and the action with the cast will have you enjoyed, but the non-consistent laughs, as well as the problems with the screenplay (if there is one), make this a slight fun, unmemorable stoner comedy that you’ll have some fun regardless of being baked or not.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Mulholland Dr. (2001)

A film that is basically about God knows what.

Writer-director David Lynch weaves another mysteriously complex tale in this story about an amnesiac woman (Laura Herring) who’s left stranded on Mulholland Drive and gets taken in by a young newcomer (Naomi Watts) who’s moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams. The two women gradually start to put the pieces of a troubling puzzle together, but the puzzle unravels a dark, sinister plot — as well as unexpected passions.

For me I think David Lynch is an OK director, if your favorite things are watching random shit happen for some odd reason. I liked Blue Velvet, and his most normal Wild at Heart, but this one even as crazy and nutty as it is, still is great.

The one thing I mostly have to praise is the direction from that crazy boy himself, David Lynch. Although, the whole film is basically up to interpretation, you can still sense a great deal of mature writing and directing when it comes to this job. Lynch, makes his usual wacko, surrealist, psychological films, but this time in the form of a Hollywood noir, and somehow, its works.Despite, being all confused entirely by the end of the film, I still somehow enjoyed it mostly cause of the fact that Lynch does create these great details and themes about imagination, and stardom, while plotting them in this helpless place of despair, combined with great elements of total suspense.

But yet, I also kind of have to fight against Lynch for this film. Lynch, does toy with us, the viewer, a lot during this film. Right when we think we have the story’s plain and simple plot in our minds, and understand it all, Lynch pulls the carpet right from underneath us all, and we are just being plucked away, one after another. In ways, I have to give Lynch the credit for at least, testing this idea out, but yet it kind of pissed me off, that the whole film was pretty much up to interpretation, meaning what’s the point of the film in the first place.

The visuals in this film will blow you away, because you got all these crazy colors flyin at you sometimes and you feel as if your trippin’ mad balls, when you realize your inside of the Lynch maze. There is also some natural beauty to this film, cause it showers the darker side of Hollywood, and some scenes are nightmarish material.

I loved how Naomi Watts, was basically, in other words, amazing. Her character goes in a total transformation, from this happy go-lucky chick in the beginning, to this evil, dark, bitchy character by the end of the film, but oh, wait I gave too much away, I’m done. Laura Elena Harring, is very good too, because she fits that look and feel of an old 1950s actress, and all she has to do is stand there and look pretty, cause she does that very well. I found her story to be the best thing about this film, because through this we sympathize with her character and the problem with her life.

There is also a nice side performance from Justin Theroux as the very arrogant director, who doesn’t take no for answer when it comes to his film, and its pretty obvious what the message is behind that character. Oh yeah, and Billy Ray Cyrus is in here too. Nothing like a good ole’ cameo from Achy Breaky Heart boy.

Consensus: It doesn’t do much to make sense, but Mulholland Dr. is one of those wacko films from David Lynch, that just is so strange, incoherent, and crazy, but yet so imaginative, well-acted, and intelligently structured, that it works.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!