Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Justin Timberlake

Wonder Wheel (2017)

Went to Coney Island and Man, We’re People Annoying.

It’s Coney Island in the 1950’s and there are a bunch of people who are just doing their best to get by, whatever the hell that even means. There’s Ginny (Kate Winslet), an emotionally volatile former actress now working as a waitress in a clam house and yeah, she doesn’t quite like it. There’s Humpty (Jim Belushi), Ginny’s rough-hewn carousel operator husband who just wants the best for his family, even though he knows that’s easier said then done. There’s Mickey (Justin Timberlake), a handsome young lifeguard who dreams of becoming a playwright and instantly takes a liking to Ginny, despite her marital-status. And lastly, there’s Carolina (Juno Temple), Humpty’s long-estranged daughter, who is now hiding out from gangsters at her father’s apartment. Together, all four are just trying to get by, finding work, finding love, and oh yeah, finding a whole heck of a lot of issues along the way.

He could save me from drowning any day.

Wonder Wheel is, yet again, another one of Woody Allen’s less inspired efforts, although it does flirt with the idea of being something so much more and something so much better. And yet, it doesn’t. It sort of just sits there, stagnate, telling its story, its characters, conflicts, and just moving at its own even-pace. Which is odd, because Wonder Wheel is never all that funny to be a comedy, nor is it really all that sad or emotional to be considered a “drama”; it’s mostly just a bunch of dialogue, with bits that seem like comedy and drama, yet never reach that magnitude.

Which had me thinking, “Why doesn’t Woody Allen give television another try?”

I know that Crisis in Six Scenes was considered a bomb (though I didn’t mind it), but seriously, with so much TV out there that blurs the line between comedy and drama, there’s a part of me that wonders, with more time, effort, and care, Allen may be able to make a great TV show. Of course, though, you could say the same thing about the movies he makes, where each and everyone only takes a year to write, shoot, edit, and release, which is surprising for an 82-year-old man, but also obviously inconsistent. It’s almost as if every 7th flick or so from Allen is good, whereas all the others are just incredibly mediocre or fine.

And yes, Wonder Wheel is that movie where it seems like it Allen may have an inspired idea, but doesn’t really go there. He could have chosen to crack jokes about post-WWII America and the utter nostalgia that frames every inch of the beautifully-lit screen here, but instead, he settles for a story about four people, finding love and inspiration on Coney Island. If Allen actually cared, these characters would be compelling, but that’s the rub: It almost seems like he doesn’t. It’s as if everyone written here were already small sketches that he somehow got the green-light to make more of, but rather than working on said characters, he just continued to write more and more plot.

It’s like the Sopranos, with Jim Belushi, somehow.

And it’s a bit of a sad affair that, without the actors in it, would have been terribly boring.

But it isn’t and that’s because the cast all come ready to play and give it their all. Kate Winslet is going way wacky and over-the-top here as Ginny, but the woman sells it because she’s funny, a little sad, and a little different from what we’re used to seeing from Woody Allen’s heroines. For one, she’s older and going after a younger man, so already, she’s a ground-breaker, but yeah, she’s also an enjoyable presence in the movie that I would have loved to have seen in another movie that cared more about her. Justin Timblerake is fine as the lifeguard that Ginny falls for and while a lot of people have been ragging on Timberlake’s performance here, he’s okay enough to where he handles himself well, even among the crowd of talented people he’s stuck with.

But really, my favorite is probably Jim Belushi as the depressed and rather upset husband of Ginny. This character is interesting in that we’ve seen Allen play with these sorts of characters and make them completely awful human beings (see Danny Aiello in the Purple Rose of Cairo), whereas Belushi’s role as the husband is a lot more sad and sympathetic. Usually, these characters are mean and cruel, but this guy seems like he just wants a little bit more love out of life, isn’t getting it, but isn’t going to give up, either. He’s the kind of character who I wanted to give a hug, too, but once again, Allen steps a bit shy of actually giving this character more to deal with. It’s mostly just Belushi doing all that he can and he makes it work.

Wish I could say that about the rest of the movie.

Consensus: Never quite settling on a tone, Wonder Wheel is another middling-effort from Woody Allen, who seems to get by with beautiful visuals, a nostalgic setting, and solid cast, but can’t quite get his scripts to work.

5 / 10

Wrong attire for the beach, but hey, at least you’re here!

Photos Courtesy of: Amazon Studios

Advertisements

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

If Mumford & Sons weren’t featured on the soundtrack, this would have been a total slap-in-their-faces.

It’s New York City in 1961, and Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) doesn’t quite know what to do with his life. He knows that he wants to continue being a musician, so that he can make the money, to get the house, to have a roof over his head that’s actually his, to have food to eat, to not rely on others, and basically, to just be left alone from the rest of the outside world. In case you may have not been able to tell now, Llewyn isn’t the type of guy people enjoy being around, or vice versa. He’s got a stingy attitude towards everything and everyone in his life, and with an ex of his coming out and saying she’s pregnant (Carey Mulligan), it seems like most of it all may be coming back to bite him in the rear-end. However, Llewyn Davis has a dream and he knows that if folk music isn’t the biggest thing since slice-bread in the Big Apple, then it may just be the case somewhere else, which is why he decides to venture out into the rural country-side and see if he can land some steady gigs, get a record-deal, get some nice cash-flow and eventually, settle into his own secluded life.

Need I remind you, this is a movie about folk music in the early-60’s? If you don’t already know the significance of that time-frame and genre of music, then I’ll just allow you to let it sit around and linger in your mind and see what I mean for yourself.

Get that cat a nomination too!

Get that cat a nomination too!

Here’s the thing with me and this movie: I love the Coen Brothers. Absoloutely, positively adore them, and if this past week was any indication of that whatsoever, then you’ll realize that I feel very strongly for these guys because of what they’re able to do with any plot or genre that comes their way. They’ve always had a knack for re-constructing genres to the best of their creative abilities and it’s never seemed to fall-back on them. They’ve always came out unscathed of something that may not have gone over so well with critics and audiences alike, but it doesn’t matter. You know why? Because they’re Joel and Ethan Coen, baby. And they can do whatever the hell they possibly please.

That’s why when I saw that they were making a film that’s was going to chronicle the life and times of this folk singer, during its hey-day in the early 60’s, something didn’t sit too well with me. I know that they appreciate folk music, but I don’t, and that’s where I was a little bit worried with this flick. I didn’t know what to expect, whether it be a love-note to this era of some sorts, or another one of their “stories that start out normal and simple, then turn into a complex tale of love, sex, lies and violence.” However, I got, neither. Instead, I just got a simple, slightly steady tale of a dude that practically hates almost everyone and everybody around him, yet makes some of the most beautiful folk music I have ever heard.

May not sound like much coming from my finger-tips, but trust me, if you’ve grown up in a day and age where hack bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers are being called “the best rock bands around”, then you’d at least sympathize with me. Or at least see what angle I’m coming from. At least.

But that’s where this movie really caught me off-guard, in the best way at all possible. The Coen Brothers take this conventional story of a down-and-out folk singer, and rather than spin it in a way that has him reach some life-changing prophecy or realize that there’s more to life than just pissing and moaning about useless things in day-to-day life, we just get a story about a down-and-out folk singer, who pisses, moans and has a problem with everything, and/or everyone that comes at all into his path of wrath. Sounds like it would be one of the most grueling and uncomfortable experiences to have to sit-through the whole year, but knowing the Coens, like I know the Coens: They manage to pull it off perfectly and make this guy’s life one that’s full of all sorts of interesting and entertaining happenings, even if there’s nothing really happening in his life at all.

More than likely, we’ll get a scene or two, in a row, where it’s just Llewyn walking from one destination, to the other, with his guitar case in hand and sometimes a cat in the other, and we’ll just follow him. We are never told where, why or when this is all happening, but we just watch and keep our eyes peeled to the screen because everything that’s said, heard or felt, is raw and realistic. Sure, there’s plenty of colorful and hilarious moments of comedy that usually come from the Coen’s writing-style, which goes to make sure that this thing isn’t a total drab to watch, but overall, I didn’t care too much about that. All I did care about was, believe it or not, this guy Llewyn Davis; the type of person he was, is and what he sees himself as being in the near, not-too-distant future.

Sounds crazy, I know, but it just so happens that I fancy myself a Coen Brothers movie where practically nothing happens, and yet, so much does seem to be happening. It’s just all about looking closer at the way a certain somebody does something, how they say something or just how they are in general. I know I’m getting all emotional over here, but really, this flick will surprise you with how compelling it is, without really doing anything at all. I guess the Coens finally got tired of killing people, and decided that maybe it was time to take a chill-pill and just let their actors and mood do the talking.

And if my prediction is correct and that was their thought-process when making this movie, then smart move on their parts because it’s one of the best casts I’ve seen this year.

You’ve seen him many times before, but you can never match the face with the name. After this movie and this star-making performance, you better remember the name Oscar Isaac and you better be able to match the face. Why? Well, for starters, he’s in my profile picture (that’s always a plus in my book), and well, let’s just say that the guy is the total package: He can sing, play guitar, act, be funny, be sad, be mean, nasty, hilarious and do all of these sorts of things, and find a way to incorporate them all so perfectly into the character that is Llewyn Davis, one character I didn’t expect to like or even come close to caring for, but as time goes on and you realize that there’s a lot more simmering beneath this guy other than bouts of rage, you just can’t help but want to give him a high-five. Nothing too touchy feeley. Just yet, that is.

Anyway, what makes Isaac so amazing here is that the dude nails every aspect of this character that he needed to, and gives us the impression that we’re seeing a man for all that he is. Sometimes we can see a fictional character, and sometimes we can see a character made upon other elements of other people; but the whole time, I saw Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis, a guy who was not only a huge dick in his own right, but an entertaining dick that realizes all of the problems he causes in his life, and is trying to the best of his ability to make up for them. While he definitely doesn’t go about doing so in the best of ways, it’s the thought, in his mind, that counts, because while he is trying to make end’s meet with whomever is on the opposite end of his deal, he’s still never losing that edge that makes him such a smart guy that you want to be around, but never get into an argument with. Not only to top that off, but the dude can freakin’ sing his heart out and when it came right down to it, the guy brought a tear down my eye more than a few times. Not just with the weeping of his guitar, but with his soft singing voice, that shows more depth into his character than any back-story we ever hear about.

Oh, the good ol' days. You know? When you actually USED TO BE ABLE TO SMOKE ANYWHERE!

Oh, the good ol’ days. You know? When you actually USED TO BE ABLE TO SMOKE ANYWHERE!

And I could go on and on and on about how great the soundtrack is, but in all honesty: I won’t. The reason being is that the soundtrack is so good, that it should already speak for itself as is. And I’m telling you now, if “Please Mr. Kennedy” doesn’t walk away with the Oscar this year, then I’m straight-up protesting! You heard it here first, people! Mark my words!

Anyway, while Isaac is amazing in the lead role, as expected, so is everybody else in this supporting cast, which just goes to show you that the Coens never make a bad move on their parts. Carey Mulligan gets down, dirty and mean as the ex Llewyn screwed over and ever single chance she gets, she lets him have it in a very funny, entertaining way. However, once we do get past her usual tantrums of anger-spouting, we do get to see a gal that loved Llewyn, and probably still does, for the sad-sack, asshole that he is, which gives their scenes more emotion than I ever expected it to. Some may shiver and scratch their heads at the thought of Justin Timberlake showing up in a Coen Brothers flick, but the dude holds his own quite well, especially when most of what he does concerns singing and just being charming as hell. Same goes for Adam Driver who is another reason why that song up top mentioned is such perfection.

I said it once and I’ll say it again: Oscar-gold, baby! Oscar-gold!

However, the supporting cast doesn’t just begin with Mulligan and end with Driver; there are two other peeps in this cast that get a lot of attention for quite some time and are great at what they have to do, yet, don’t feel wholly in-sync with everything else that’s happening. In case I’m being too vague as it is, the two performers I’m talking about are John Goodman as an aging blues musician who gives Davis a bit of a run for his money in the insults department, while Garrett Hedlund plays his brooding and mysterious driver, Johnny Five. While both were a treat to watch, especially Goodman who just revels in playing a total dick whenever he sees fit, they fit more with the Coens’ more off-kilter flicks like Barton Fink, or Blood Simple, or if you really wanted to get crazy, Raising Arizona. Nothing against them as performers, but they felt more like caricatures, rather than actual living, breathing human beings that had hearts, emotions and feelings, like Llewyn and the type of people he hated to surround himself with. Like I said though, nothing against them and their performances, it’s just that they could have easily been placed in another Coen Brother flick, and probably fit like gloves. Here though, they just seem a tad too goofy, especially since you know Dylan’s just around the corner.

Consensus: Rather than giving us a strange, slightly odd flick that just so happened to involve the folk music scene and singers, the Coen Brothers make Inside Llewyn Davis a sad, heartfelt, but overall, complex look inside the life of a guy that you’d never thought you care about or want to spend time with, yet, with Isaac’s superb performance and the Coen’s writing, you never want to leave his side.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Just a man, his guitar and his voice. Who just so happens to not be Bob Dylan.

Just a man, his guitar and his voice. Who just so happens to NOT be Bob Dylan.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Runner Runner (2013)

He’s Bruce Wayne, and he’s bringing sexy back. So why the gambling again?

Sometimes when you have an addiction, it’s just too hard to let it settle down and end. Sometimes, hell, you just got to go all in and see if luck can come out on your side, and that’s exactly what Princeton graduate student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) does. However, in his case, lucks doesn’t come out on his side, but more or less comes over to his side, bites his ass, takes all of his money, and leaves him squandering with pennies, nickels, and dimes in his hand. This all happens to Richie when he decides to pull-out an all-nighter on an online gambling site so that he can pay his college-tuition, and out of there like swimwear. But once Richie does get screwed over by this site and realizes that it may be something of a “cheat” implemented by another user, Richie decides to take his problem to the source, owner of said site, billionaire playboy Ivan Block (Ben Affleck).

You have to face it, even as dumb and as idiotic as these gambling movies may be, they still know how to have a little bit of fun as if you are right there, betting all of your money and luck, running the high risk of losing that all, and either actually doing so, or pulling off the impossible and winning. Yes, these movies are insanely corny and predictable-to-a-T, but you can’t help but join in the fun when you see a bunch of really good-looking, really rich, and really powerful people just soaking up the sun, swimming in pools of Benjamins, and even better, going back to bed and shagging as many dames as they ordered.

He just can't bring himself to leave the $20,000 yacht. Nobody can.

He just can’t bring himself to leave the $20,000 yacht. Nobody can.

Seriously, it’s just the life all of us wish we had, except, we don’t. Instead, we just sit in front of our computers, talk shit about the movies that portray these beings, and act as if we’re better off in our sad, little pathetic lives of normalcy. Cause guess what: We aren’t!! Deep down inside, we all want to be doing exactly what these hunks and hookers are doing in these gambling movies, and it makes it easy for us to be against them, rather than with them and just enjoying all of the fun, the glitz, and the glamour while it still lasts and the bill hasn’t come in yet.

That said, this movie is so stupid, that if you were to talk some shit against it, I would not only back you up in a fight, but agree with you on everything you state, and say that it is fact. Yes, the movie is poorly-written and feature situation-after-situation that would never, ever possibly happen in real life, let alone, should happen in a movie no less, yet, still does happen and makes you question whether or not these writers really thought that “sheer stupidity”, actually meant “creative and cool”. Everybody is given laughable dialogue to work with and you just don’t know who’s game for this type of material, or are just trying their hardest to collect that paycheck in hopes that they’ll be able to go home, get on their type-writers, and start cranking out actual interesting, thoughtful pieces of work.

Most likely, Ben’s chipping away right now. Oh wait, I forgot, he’s a LITTLE occupied at the moment, so I guess this just leaves Mr. JT to do all of the smart thinking in his downtime.

Speaking of said former-boy band leader, Justin Timberlake, Lord bless him, does all that he possibly can to make this material work for him and the others around him, but he just can’t. It’s evident that he can’t play tough in a way that would work in an action movie, and he can’t really spout-out math numbers and try to sound smart while doing it, as if it was the first thing coming out of his pretentious mind. He tries, and he tries, and he tries, but he just does not work in this role and I don’t know if it’s a bad case of shitty casting, shitty acting, shitty material, or a shitty combination of all three. More than likely, it is, and I feel bad even hating on JT right now since I can’t get “Take Back the Night” out of my freakin’ head! Seriously though: Why does a song have to be so damn catchy!?!?!?

Goes from JENNifer, to GEMMa. Yeah, that's all I got.

Goes from JENNifer, to GEMMa. Yeah, that’s all I got.

And even though the dude is getting more than enough crap for the iconic role he took no less than 3 months ago, Ben Affleck still shows all of them naysayers why he’s so good at what he does, that he doesn’t need to worry about how many tweets hashtag about him not being right for Battie, he just needs to have a good time and allow us to do so in return. With that said, he definitely does do so as Ivan Block and made the film so much damn fun to watch whenever he was around. Everything he says whether it’s insinuating sex, murder, more money, or a business deal in-the-works, the guy’s just so much fun to watch as he makes you laugh at just about everything he says. The lines he’s given are dumb, yes, very much so, however, he rolls with them like the champ that he truly is and never lets you forget that this is HIS character, and HIS way of performing him. See what I’m doing there? Like I’ve said before, peeps, give it time and allow him to shine. Once you give him that time of day, then you can continue to be angry. But until then, pipe up and enjoy him while you still can.

But I feel like, as usual, this review is getting further and further away from my damn point, which is: It’s fun. It is as obvious, as predictable, and as dopey as you can get, yet, the movie has some fun with itself and with all of its money, and in the beginning of October, what else can you ask for? Not much else, so enjoy, dammit!

Consensus: Wooden script and acting from people who deserve a lot, lot better than Runner Runner, however, they make the best of it with what they can and for that, it’s worth a watch, and not needed to be taken seriously.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Late-90's, man. That was OUR time. Now what the fuck is this?"

“Late-90’s, man. That was OUR time. Now what the fuck is this?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

In Time (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.5 / 10 = Rental!! 

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

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

The Illusionist (2006)

Sorry, ladies. Leave the magic tricks to the men.

When word of famed-magician Eisenheim’s (Edward Norton) astounding illusions reaches the powerful and pragmatic Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), the egotistical-ruler attends one of the magician’s shows in order to debunk Eisenheim during the performance. However, when the Prince’s intended, Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel), assists the magician on-stage, a dormant love affair is rekindled. That’s where Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) steps-in to clear the air and find out just what the hell is going on here.

Back in the golden days of 2006, there was not one, but TWO movies made about 20th century magicians (the second-one being Christopher Nolan’s far-better The Prestige). Apparently, David Blaine or Criss Angel just weren’t cutting it for the movie-going audiences and they needed more magic, more illusions, and more bullshit! And even though Neil Burger is nowhere near the type of director Nolan is, and probably forever will be, at least the guy keeps us believing in that everything we see is real, no matter how much CG they may use. Oh, it’s actually fictionalized-tale? Could have fooled me. NOT!!

All kidding aside, the guy, Burger as I could probably assume he loves to be called, actually does a fine job with this material because he is able to not only keep us wondering just what the hell is going on here, but where this story is going to end-up lastly. It’s not easy to see the twists and turns coming and that’s where the fun of Burger’s direction seems to lie: the element of playing with his audience’s minds and expectations, much like the illusionist this story is all about. However, maybe I’am a bit biased in my own way and found more to reach for than mostly other-viewers.

On the next episode of Whisker Wars: The 20th Century Version....

On the next episode of Whisker Wars: The Royal Days….

I have to say, I love movies about con-men and in a way, magicians are sort of shoved into the same category as them. Therefore, fore me, watching as this magician would pull-off tricks and illusions to play with the minds of everybody who cared to go out and see him, really interested me and had me wonder just where exactly Burger was going to go with this story. Some places he takes you; you expect, whereas others; you don’t. All you do know is that Burger seems to have a fiery-passion for this material and it shines through in every, which way. Also, make sure to pay close-attention to all that’s going on here because it may just help you in the end. That’s the only piece of advice I’m giving away, and it’s all for free. Sadly.

Then again, the fact that Burger loves this material so much, you know, magicians playing tricks on each other, you sort of start to lose reality of what this story is actually about: a love between two people that can’t be together. It’s the age-old story of two kids that knew each other when they were young, fell in love, had their first, awkward kiss together (trust me, there’s plenty more where that came from you youngsters), and vowed to always be together, until they eventually are separated by two walks of life and class-situations. To be honest, there isn’t anything wrong with the story here, it just doesn’t get as much as love and dedication as the whole mystery does. It’s obvious that maybe Burger needed a little som-som to back-up all of his fun and games, but it doesn’t work or even have you give a lick about the forbidden-love between these two. You sort of just want them to bone, get it over with, and shut-up about the whole thing and move on with their lives. That would have been a lot more entertaining to watch then a bunch of people just moping and pissing around about how they can’t be with the one they love. I love Scarlett Johansson, but you don’t see me bitchin’ about that every, damn day, now do ya?!??! Didn’t think so. Get over it!

Half of the problem that I had with this plot-line, also had to do with the fact that Jessica Biel can’t act for shit, and when she tries too hard: this is what we end-up getting. Not a good thing to witness at all. Every movie I see this gal in, I always want her to blow me away, show me something more from her that I never, ever thought she had, and just make me believe in her once again as an actress (I don’t know when the first time was), but she just can’t pull that off here, no matter how meaty the material may be. Around all of these heavy-weights, she sort of sticks out like a sore-thumb and it’s very, very noticeable. I can’t even blame Burger either, because every obvious and predictable line this flick they throw at her, she hits it as if she was in a day-time soap, or better yet, still on another episode of 7th Heaven. Now, I think is the time to fully give-up on Biel as an actress and just face the fact that half of the roles that she’s offered, her hubby JT should just take mainly. May be a bit far-fetched for some people to believe in, but the guy can do no wrong. Let’s just face that fact and live our lives a little bit better now.

Even though Biel is bad, everybody else seems to be on their A-game. Hell, with a cast THIS GOOD, I actually wonder what the hell even drew Burger to cast Dullsville-Biel in the first-place. Was it the looks? Was it the possibility of the nude scene? Was it because he was secretly having a fling with her that JT didn’t know about? Or, was it just because she was a big name and that’s what this movie needed to get any sort of viewers whatsoever? I’m going with the former. But anywho, back the cast at-hand.

Edward Norton is, as usual, good as Eisenheim and gives the guy a very dark, mysterious-path that never gives us the easy answering of knowing whether or not the guy is good, or bad. His intentions are never clear, and you never really have the idea in your head that he’s doing all of these magic tricks for the entertainment of others or the money, but something more. He’s an interesting character that I wish we got to see more of, other than just realizing who that person is that makes his knees weak. He even gets pushed to the back-burner somewhere around the final-act, as the movie takes it’s own detour into mystery-thriller territory and sort of forgets all about what makes him a living, breathing character. It’s still a fun, last-act, but a very disappointing one if you take Norton and the character he was playing into consideration.

Biel's facial-expressions tell it: she what she is doing in a movie with such fine actors as these.

Biel’s face tells it all: she has no idea what she is doing in a movie with such fine actors as these.

Rufus Sewell, much to nobody’s surprise whatsoever, plays Crown Prince Leopold, the corrupt and bastard-like ruler of the land, who soon hopes  become king of the empire one day. Obviously, you know this guy is going to do evil and sadistic things throughout the large-portion of the flick, however, you sometimes get teentsie, tiny surprises of emotional-depth with this guy that seems real, honest, and more than just the traditional villain that we are used to seeing in these types of movies. But even though that depth and insight of that character comes out every once and awhile, it starts to be shoved back into him, just so the plot can move along and make him feel like he’s more and more of a dick, rather than a human-being. There’s a scene by the end with him where I really feel like I was starting to get the full picture of who the heck this guy really was, underneath all of the royalty and fancy-shizz, but sadly, it was a little too late for me and for him to really get the credit he deserved. Even if Sewell did a great-job with this character, I still feel like the script didn’t accompany him as well as it started-off as being. Poor guy, at least he still will forever and always be type-casted as that dick from now on.

The one who really steals the show in this whole movie, however, is in-fact Paul Giamatti as Chief Inspector Uhl. Uhl was a character that I thought was going to be the straight-up dickhead of the whole movie that was corrupt, mean, terrible, and ridiculous with all of the things that he did and used to his power as head of the police force. However, things for him, just like the plot itself, start to change and we see more of a moral-compass shell out of the guy, which was anymore than I ever expected. Giamatti plays this up so perfectly as we have no idea whether or not to trust this guy, believe he will do the right thing, or even, do anything reasonable to make his job and life seem like it has some sort of meaning. Watching Giamatti go through this internal conflict with himself was something of a work of magic (heehee), and it goes to show you that the guy can play anything he wants, and still have that pure-bread, lovable personality to him, no matter how dark or mean the character may be. Swell job, Paul. Swell.

Consensus: The Illusionist may not work when it comes to being about the love between our two main-characters, mainly because it doesn’t feel developed as well as the all of the fun and games of the magic-tricks, but with a superb-cast (minus Biel) and an inspired direction from Burger who seems to really enjoy this material, you have more enjoyment than you expect.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Fuckin' rabbit out of the hat?!?!? No!! So stupid and unoriginal for a mind-bender like myself!!"

“Fuckin’ rabbit out of the hat?!?!? No!! So stupid and unoriginal for a mind-bender like myself!!”

Playing for Keeps (2012)

All the single, hot-to-trot mothers can never keep those hormones in-tact whenever that Scottish accent comes through. Oh, roar!

A former professional soccer player (Gerard Butler) with a weak past tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team, only to find himself unable to resist when in scoring position with his players’ restless and gorgeous moms.

Alright, before all of you get your torches and brooms and come right to my door-step and try to burn the witch that has apparently taken over my movie-viewing control, let me just tell you that the decision to not only watch, but review this movie, was all mine. Yes, nobody other me, myself, and I chose to watch and review Playing for Keeps and because of that, I have come to terms with myself and just realized one thing: I am a fucking idiot. Yes, I am a lot happier now that I’ve realized that about myself. Thanks Gerard Butler!

"Hahaha but seriously! How many how more of these lame-ass rom-coms do I have to do?"

“Hahaha but seriously! How many how more of these lame-ass rom-coms do I have to do?”

I have no idea where to begin with this piece of shit other than to just focus on the director, Gabriele Muccino, and just what the hell was going-on throughout his mind during filming. This movie tries to be one-step above the rom-com genre by infusing the thrill and fun of the sport of soccer into it, but really, it’s just the same old shite we have all seen before. Dad tries to pick himself back-up from nothing, does a very good job at doing so for quite awhile, finds himself in a dilemma, finds himself back into nothing, and then, low and behold, he’s back on-top and everybody is happy, running around in fields of daisies and rainbows. Okay, maybe I just gave away the whole movie there and maybe, just maybe, that isn’t exactly what happens but seriously, if you get pissed about how the whole movie was just spoiled in one sentence and you had no idea what was going to happen, then you, my friend, should not even read my site anymore, let alone watch movies.

This movie, is as obvious, predictable, and conventional as they come, but it’s even worse because it’s so damn dull. There’s nothing new here, there’s nothing fun to really watch here, and worst of all, there’s just nothing to stick-around and watch. You watch these characters just do their thang, act like you’d expect them to, and to have absolutely no effect on you, your life, or your thoughts whatsoever. It’s almost like you’ve never seen this movie and coming from a guy who actually did waste his precious time and life seeing it: you’re probably better off that way. In case you couldn’t tell by now, this movie fucking blows and if you want to see more as to why that is, continue to read-on but if you get the point and want to just get on with your life, then leave this site and come back tomorrow when I have another review of another movie coming up. Trust me, I won’t be offended, I’ll actually commend you for doing-so.

Ever since the new millennium hit, they had absolutely nothing to clap about. So, why the hell are they?!?

Ever since the new millennium hit, they had absolutely nothing to clap about. So, why the hell are they?!?

The biggest question-mark going-on in my mind throughout this whole flick was: who’s wife did Gerard Butler fuck? Honestly, Butler must have done something terribly inhumane to some higher-up in Hollywood, because it seems like they just place him in these movies, regardless of what it is, tell him what to do, tell him to use no emotion whatsoever, and just act like you don’t really care if you’re there or not, just accept the check and be done with it. I don’t know if he cut a deal with somebody where he has to do shitty-movie-after-shitty-movie to lose the price on his head, but whatever it may be, the guy’s got it bad and what’s even worse, is that he does nothing to help this movie out in the least bit.

Butler is as dull and boring as they come and the whole time I wondered just what the hell made him so much more different from any other male-lead in these rom-coms that come-out once a week? Is it the facial hair? Is it the sexy build that has somehow decreased year-after-year since 300? Or simply, is it the Scottish accent that seems to get every gal’s panties to fly-off into the mist? I think it’s the latter and that’s a shame too, because after seeing a movie like Coriolanus and realizing that this guy kicks total ass when he gets the chance to do so, just makes this movie, his role, and his performance all the more terrible and disappointing to watch. Come on, Hollywood! Give Gerard Butler another chance! I’m sure the guy is sorry for whatever the hell he did.

What’s even worse about this flick is the rest of the impressive cast that this movie has going for it, and how equally dull they all are. Jessica Biel plays Butler’s ex gal-pal that he has a kiddie with and as hot and sexy as she is here, she is also nothing more than just a piece of cardboard here with some dialogue she has to spring-out of her. Biel, just give up on acting and do porn or something and make yourself useful. Make us all happier and stop trying to take your career seriously because honestly, nobody does. Not even, dare I say it, Justin does.

"Remember me! I was in the Descendants last year! Please hire me again!"

“Remember me! I was in the Descendants last year! Please hire me again!”

As by-the-numbers Biel is, it isn’t much of a surprise since the girl blows in just about everything but actresses like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Greer, and Uma Thurman!!?!?!? Aww, hell no! In the past decade, these girls have all given some of their best performances in their whole-careers and it’s such a damn shame to see them do a pile of shite like this, try their hardest, but in the end, just come-off as a bunch of obvious, walking cliches of a bunch of women that couldn’t keep their clothes on whenever some sexy, built Scottish man came strolling through their neck of the woods. It makes me very, very sad to see them all do this type of crap and what’s even worse, is that Dennis Quaid is here as well, and I don’t think I need to say anything more about that. Okay, I’m going to go and cry now.

Consensus: Playing for Keeps may have one redeeming factor to it: it’s fun to watch and make fun of if you’re reviewer like yours truly. However, if you aren’t, then you’ll probably find yourself cringing, upset, pissed-off, confused, and just plain and simply, bored with everything that occurs on-screen and wonder just when exactly you can begin to move on with your life and act as if you have never, ever seen this piece of shit. I already have, and I’m about to finish my last sentence of this review, right….about…..now! Yes!

1/10=Crapola!!

In case you wanted to actually know, those are their REAL heads, attached to their REAL necks. Convinced yet?

In case you wanted to actually know, those are their REAL heads, attached to their REAL necks. Convinced yet?

Trouble with the Curve (2012)

“Getttt offffff of myyy fieeeeld.”

The film centers on an aging Atlanta Braves scout (Clint Eastwood) who is starting to lose his sight and goes on a last scouting trip with his reluctant daughter (Amy Adams), who, in her own time, becomes slightly involved with a rival scout (Justin Timberlake).

Not only does it seem like Dirty Clint has lost his mind (talking to chairs and all), but the guy’s also losing a lot of energy and steam to not only make movies, but to star in them as well. That’s why it is heavily rumored that this may be his last flick, ever, and thought what better way to go out then give the directing duties over to a first-timer he’s been working with for over 12 years. Problem is, there is a better way to go out: make your own movie because you got the skill to do so jackass!

First-time director Robert Lorenz doesn’t really do anything spectacular with this material whatsoever. It’s a generic, boring, and dull-looking film that doesn’t bring-out anything neat or different in it’s story-line, either. Now, I know Eastwood was no master when it came to directing flicks (hell, his last directorial effort was  J. Edgar, and we all know how that did) but at least the guy put some heart, emotion, and feeling into his work. This Lorenz guy doesn’t really seem like he has any of that and is just trying to see what he can do with himself behind the camera this time. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this was another George Lucas situation where he plays the head-producer behind the flick, but is automatically the director in his own way because he takes over every decision that was made. Actually, I would be surprised because this doesn’t seem like something Eastwood would just churn out, no matter how old or goofy he gets.

A lot of the people going into this flick will probably expect a baseball drama along the lines of last year’s fall-hit Moneyball (even though it talks-out against using a computer for statistics), or the classic baseball tearjerker, Field of Dreams, but will end-up most likely being disappointed with how little baseball action there is. I knew it wasn’t going to be a full-out baseball movie where bats were hitting balls, peanuts were being chewed, and tobacco was being dipped, so I wasn’t all that bummed when it started focusing on the actual-story at-hand but I kind of wish they did something more with this generic story. Right from the first scene, you can tell where it’s all going to go. It’s going to follow the same patterns you would expect from a family-drama like this one here and any chance the film actually gets to surprise us, it either tries and fails, or doesn’t even try at all. It’s sort of like this flick trudges along, like a baseball game between two teams that suck, but you only went to go and see because the tickets cost less than the whole McDonald’s Value menu combined together. Been there, done that and don’t want to go back to it again.

The story itself was also quite repetitive and never seemed to fully make sense with itself. There’s this constant problem that Clint has with getting old, then Adams tries to help him, he gets mad, growls at her, she gets mad, leaves, and then they are back together in the next scene acting as if nothing had just happened between them. I don’t know how most families work out most of their problems but if my mom or dad basically tells me to piss-off, I’m not going to be sitting with them at a baseball game, telling them how everything’s going. I’m going to tell them to kiss my ass and ask for somebody else to help. Then again, I may not be the most lovable son out there, but you get my point. Then, the ending pops-up and it seems as if nothing was fully resolved. Well, yeah, in a way it was but nobody ever really comes out of this feeling like a changed-person and never really admits to doing any wrong in their lives, ever. It’s almost as if this film/story never happened which is a shame because these stars make the best of it and deserve a hell of a lot better.

Clint Eastwood (in which I hope isn’t his last role) does a great job playing the usual, cranky old man that people have come to know and love him for, but this character has a bit of an emotional ting to him that makes his character a bit more accessible. Granted, a lot of the film has Clint doing his usual “growl”, and non-stop yells at random people, but he has a bit of a soft-side to him that you see very early on and continues to show various times throughout the whole flick. It’s a nice performance from Clint, but not one of his best and I hope that he doesn’t decide to end a stellar career on this one because I think, and this is just my opinion, he’s got one more solid performance left in him that may give the Academy voters a bit of a run for their money. Don’t know if I’m ever going to actually get to see that but that’s why I keep my fingers crossed.

Amy Adams is fun to watch as his everyday woman, that has a bit of that tomboy-ish act to her that separates her from most gals. Adams is good here and offers up plenty of real and honest emotion, and most of her scenes with Eastwood feel genuine enough to make me believe in that story only, but I couldn’t help thinking how much more powerful and special this role would have been, had it been given to Sandra Bullock in the first-place like they originally planned. Obviously, that whole idea would just change-up the whole movie in general, but it would have been more interesting to see her in a dramatic role, opposite of a legend like Eastwood. Still though, I can’t take too much away from Amy as she does do a nice job with what she’s given.

Everybody has this terrible hate for Justin Timberlake which in ways, I do see, but at the same time, I don’t because the guy is just so damn likable. Timberlake is a lot of fun in this role because he seems like a genuinely nice and fun guy to be around, and brings out a lot of energy and spirit in most scenes that seem a bit boring and generic. His whole love-story with Adams seems a little tacked-on, but they have a nice chemistry that makes you believe in it and makes it a lot more fun to watch their scenes. There’s a whole bunch of other actors that show-up in this flick and all do their parts well, but also seem like they just decided to do this movie because it had Eastwood in it. That’s not a terribly bad thing, as this film really isn’t, but it also shows you the type of impact Eastwood still has on everybody in the business. Yes, that’s right, even Matthew Lillard.

Consensus: There’s a crowd-pleasing feel to Trouble with the Curve that will have the audience happy, as well as the great performances from the talented cast, but is also too predictable, too repetitive, too manipulative, and too disappointing to be anything that really hits you hard and seems like a flick that Clint better not end on.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Black Snake Moan (2007)

Trust me, you’ll get it.

Found lying on the side of the road, beaten and nearly dead, is Rae (Christina Ricci), a 22-year-old who has developed a reputation around town for having an insatiable “itch” for sex. Her rescuer is Lazarus (Samuel L Jackson), an ex-blues guitarist who has grown used to life’s relentless strains of trouble and sorrow. Lazarus then ties Rae up by a chain in order to “heal her of her sins”.

Just by reading that plot and looking at that effed up poster to the right, you know you’re in for a real bizarre-o flick from the mind of writer/director Craig Brewer, who also did a favorite of mine named ‘Hustle & Flow’. This isn’t quite on-par with that one, but it still works if you like a white guy making a movie about black people music.

What Brewer does perfectly here is that he captures the time and setting perfectly with a look that sets the tone for this film right away. It’s dirty, sweaty, gritty, and just really cool where you can tell that this is a film-maker that knows how to make a setting feel authentic even if the story itself may be a little too far-fetched for its own right. The soundtrack that also goes along with the setting too is perfect with a bunch of great growls and howls of blues music that not only fits perfectly with the tone of this film but also the story as well as these are hurt and tortured people right here and blues music is the one genre where all of these sad people can just let it all out and make it seem more like its poetry rather than just a person whining their asses of. Brewer did a great job with the sweat and hip-hop in ‘Hustle’ and he did a great job as well with the sweat and blues here.

The problem that I feel like this film ran into was the fact that it doesn’t have a plot that you can necessarily believe considering how weird it is. Almost a little too weird really. The whole film is used as some metaphor even though we have this little white-girl chained up to a radiator who gets horny with just about any sound of a man’s voice and starts to hear this “hissing” sound in her head every time. I couldn’t really connect myself to any emotional territory considering that’s where this flick was going and I think instead of trying his hardest to make this film play-out seriously and a little bit dramatic, he should have at least tried to get some real fun out of it and realize that it’s a weird story in it’s own right.

I think that with ‘Hustle’ you have a story that not many people can relate to but just the whole message about putting your past behind you and looking past that to reach to the top, is very inspirational and what a true under-dog story is all about. Here though, it was a little too hard to honestly relate to anything here unless you are a young and white female slut or an old and black blues musician that plays at all of these random times for no reason. It also got a little too annoying with all of the constant Biblical references they had spewing around in this flick but it was still reasonable considering the time and place they were in.

When it comes to the acting though, that’s where this film really works. Samuel L. Jackson is great as Lazarus, giving us this old-folk who doesn’t take shit from anyone and is doing a very weird and bad thing, but you know deep-down inside that he is not a bad man o matter who looks at him like that. Jackson also does a great job when it comes to him jamming out to the blues songs considering that it is him playing and he just looks like he’s feeling the music through his soul the whole time. Christina Ricci is also very impressive as Rae, a chick I thought I was going to hate the whole time but after awhile started to grow on me. Ricci is half-naked the whole time but that actually works in her advantage and gives her character, Rae, some real feeling of pity that we feel towards her. Both are great together and even though the plot may not seem so believable, they still do and give great performances for these two character.

Let’s not also forget to mention that Justin Timberlake himself has a little side performance as Rae’s solider lover, Ronnie, who isn’t annoying or bothersome in any way but then again he isn’t in the film all that much, so there isn’t a whole lot he could have done to annoy me in the first place.

Consensus: Even though its plot is very outlandish and unbelievable, the inspired and detailed direction from Brewer, and the great lead performances from Jackson and Ricci make this film work in ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined in the first place.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Alpha Dog (2006)

Wiggers gone wild.

Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) controls the drugs on the well-manicured streets of his neighborhood. Where Johnny goes, the party, the girls and his loyal gang follow. When he’s double-crossed over missing deal money by raging hothead Jake (Ben Foster), Johnny and his gang impulsively kidnap Jake’s little brother, Zack (Anton Yelchin), holding him as a marker and heading to Palm Springs. With no parents in sight, they grow used to having the kid around, and Zack enjoys an illicit summer fantasy of drinking, girls and new experiences.

Writer/director Nick Cassavetes seems like he’s always trying to not be known as “the legendary directors son”, but it’s almost too hard to get by that. But with films like this, I have a feeling he can do it right.

The first hour of this film doesn’t really have anything going on other than show all of these asshole teenage kids, doing stupid and annoying teenage kid stuff. It was kind of annoying since we have all seen this done time and time before with no real originality here other than some kids drinking, smoking weed, and cursing up a storm like nobody’s business.

However, after the first hour the film starts to pick up and I think this is where Cassavetes really starts to show signs of a great director as well. Since this was based on a true story, the film is told as if it were a police investigation, watching this whole film as if it were looking for details, witnesses, and just the truth on what actually happened.

The script itself is kind of uneven but overall I found myself chilled with not knowing just what was going to happen next, and just how damn evil and dumb certain people can be. The whole time this film never loses sight of the people who it’s trying to portray. You get a real sense that these dumb-asses were so shallow in their mind-set that they could have easily just let him go back to his mommy and daddy, to then tell them he went off with a girl and got some pootang in the meantime. That plan would have worked but these asses instead let him hang around, get drunk, get high, get some ladies, and overall, just feel free to finally be away from that home of his. I was angry with these people and personally when a film can do that to me, it’s pretty good.

The only problem with this script is that for every chilling and good moment of emotion, there’s an almost unintentional funny moment that this film always seems to find. One of the highlights of this film and probably the best example of unintentional hilarity at it’s finest, is when Foster’s character goes into a party and absolutely beats the shit out of everyone around him, making him almost look like a ninja. The guy does a round-house kick to someones face, gets hit with a bottle then keeps going, and even knocks out a girl there or two. I mean this scene was awesome by how insane it was but it felt out-of-place for this film and was one of the various moments of unintentionally funny moments this film had.

This ensemble cast though, I must say does a pretty good job as well. Ben Foster is insane and crazy as Jake Mazursky, and owns just about every scene he has on screen, but it’s a shame that he has only about 4 or 5 scenes throughout this whole 2 hour film; Emile Hirsch is pretty good as our baby-faced villain, Johnny Truelove, who I actually truly hated; Shawn Hatosy is convincing as Truelove’s little sheep-dog, Elvis; Justin Timberlake gives a surprisingly good performance as Frankie; and Sharon Stone and Bruce Willis just basically are here to chew up scenery as they do so well.

Anton Yelchin is actually amazing in this role as Zack, who has this sort of too sweet voice that makes him seem a little fruity and geeky at first, but instead has you totally feeling so many emotions for him even by the end. Yelchin’s great in this role because honestly shows what a tied-up kid would do if he was able to live a little and just party all the time, without having to worry about parents, responsibility, or grades for that matter. I felt like I was watching an actual kid on-screen the whole time and as it goes on the film gets more and more disturbing.

Let, me also not forget that Olivia Wilde is in this too, showing off some pretty nice boooooobiesss too. And that’s always a watch in my book.

Consensus: Alpha Dog has some genuinely chilling and disturbing moments that are heightened by the whole ensemble cast that’s in this film, but too many times does this film get a little too laughable to take seriously and the characters just weren’t as likable except for two or three maybe.

7/10=Rental!!

Friends with Benefits (2011)

A better remake of that shit that came out 6 months ago.

This rom-com chronicles the relationship of two busy singles, Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis), who agree to include sex in their friendship — minus the emotions and commitment. But things get complicated when Dylan (inevitably?) falls for his gal pal. Patricia Clarkson co-stars as Jaime’s hip mom and Woody Harrelson plays Dylan’s practical confidante, who advises him to man up when he pursues the newly dating Jamie.

After seeing No Strings Attached, I really knew that rom-coms have gone down the tubes pretty quickly and then when I heard they were basically doing the same premise to a different film I thought well it is probably better than that crap I just mentioned. But this is way better, way way better.

The best thing about this film is that this is some real funny stuff here that actually had me laughing more than I expected. The banter is all-over-the-place but the jokes and one-liners are quick, sharp, and fast and as raunchy as they may be at times, will still have you cracking up many times. I’m not saying you will be on the floor dying of laughter but a lot of LOL moments will happen.

You would also expect a film like this to be completley dumb and just tell silly jokes with a romantic subplot but director Will Gluck, who directed Easy A, knows how to keep a film going with a bunch of jokes, bunch of sex, and actual smart writing that fleshes out almost every character well. There’s a lot of raunchy sex stuff to be seen here but it’s balance with some sweetness that actually worked and has you smiling more.

The problem with this film is that the whole time it’s sort of starting to make fun of all of the rom-com cliches we all see just about every week, but it eventually falls victim to it’s own satire. I didn’t understand why they did that because what I thought was actually going to be a sort of different and smart rom-com just ended up playing out like I should have imagined in the first place.

Another problem with this film was the emotional weight this film tried to carry which seemed a little too far-fetched for me because it almost seemed like the script was relying to heavily on these emotional moments to show some more heart to these characters, when you can just have these two talk about their lives and understand them even more and actually keep you laughing rather than just feeling odd with these sappy moments.

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are the real show to watch here because I have to say without them, this film wouldn’t have been as believable. JT and Jackie…ehrrrr…I mean Mila seem like they are buds and have this instant chemistry that begins as soon as they meet each other and continues on and on throughout the whole thing. They play off one another so well that the banter between the two is just constant and adds so many more laughs to each of their scenes than I expected. Great performances from these two and the chemistry that they have together seems so perfectly-well executed.

The whole rest of this ensemble is just amazing as well. Patricia Clarkson is Jamie’s MILF mom that is sexy but funny as anything and takes over the screen every time she’s on, which it seems like something that she does so now often; Woody Harrelson is just downright gay but hilarious as Tommy; Jenna Elfman is pretty good here as Dylan’s cool sis; and Richard Jenkins could have been funnier as Dylan’s dad, but still adds a lot to his character. There’s a lot of other great faces that you’ll see here and there such as Emma Stone, Andy Samberg, and a very funny cameo from Shaun White of all people.

Consensus: Friends with Benefits is a funny, good-written, and well-acted rom-com that actually uses it’s two leads perfectly as their chemistry holds the whole film until the film itself succumbs to the cliches that lie within the genre. But in the end I guess it’s all about how the film gets from point A to point B is what really counts.

7/10=Rental!!

Bad Teacher (2011)

Wish more of my teachers were and looked like this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5/10=Rental!!

No Strings Attached (2011)

Once again, another romantic comedy about people boning without feelings.

Emotionally unencumbered and sexually satisfied, friends with benefits Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) have an open relationship that suits them just fine. That is, until those pesky little things called feelings enter the picture.

So it seems like romantic comedies have started to lose the spice they once had, so Hollywood has decided to bring it back with romantic comedies about casual sex. Love & Other Drugs hit last year, and was OK, now this, and then apparently there is some summer film with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis coming out called Friends With Benefits. Hollywood can’t get enough sex.

I don’t mind chick flicks sometimes, as long as they keep me entertained, and at least give me something to look at. This right here is not one of those chick flicks, mainly because the script is terrible. Right from the get-go, you know how this is all going to turn out and everything but that didn’t bother me as much as the fact that the screenwriters thought by looking up Urban Dictionary sex slang terms, they could bring a lot of humor. They try so hard to be funny, that at times I actually forget what was supposed to be funny and then I got that awkward feeling I rarely ever get while watching films, comedies especially.

There is also problem here because too many times does the film not know where to actually go with its tone. There are times where this film steps into some pretty raunchy stuff, like a “tunnel buddy”, but then will be try to be really cute with it’s little love story, and this just struck me as a little strange since I didn’t know what to think of this comedy as.

The cast is at least alright here. Natalie Portman does a fine job as Emma because she can be cute, sweet, but also very funny, and sort of mean altogether. Portman is a joy to watch and although this is crap compared to Black Swan, she still at least brings that general likability to her character. Ashton Kutcher is OK as Adam, and although I was expecting him to be worse, I still didn’t fully believe his performance here. However, the script really did let him down as it did with almost everyone else in the cast. There are some nice little bits here and there from the likes of Ludacris, Lake Bell, Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling, and Olivia Thirlby. The real problem with this cast is Kevin Kline as Adam’s dad, Alvin, who is just so cheesy sometimes, and such a dick that I had no idea what his reason to be in this film was in the first place. Also, a lumber-jack looking Cary Elwes shows up as Emma’s boss, and probably has about 3 lines the whole film, which was pretty unneeded the whole time.

Consensus: The cast tries their best with whatever they can do, but the script brings No Strings Attached down way too many notches, with it’s bad jokes, and very mushy romance that isn’t very appealing. Rent Love & Other Drugs instead.

2.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

The Social Network (2010)

I never thought I would actually love a film, that is about Facebook.

David Fincher’s biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Way back when, I remember hearing news that crazy, dark director, David Fincher, was making a film on Facebook. So I don’t know how everybody else felt, but I was basically wondering “why the hell are they doing this!??!”. I thought it was a dumb idea, then I saw the trailer, and that’s when my guilt was finally taken away.

When it comes to directing, deep, strange, and bleak material, David Fincher is the main for that job, and here he shows that he can branch out and take a story like the creation, and overall effect of Facebook. He does it so well, with keeping a fast pace throughout the film, but not forgetting to show us how Facebook came to be, and the people that were “the other creators” of Facebook. The film bounces back in forth between showing the creation, and also the lawsuits that soon followed, and at first, I felt like it was going to be confusing, but I feel like that was the best way for this film to be structured, through flashbacks, and then you see how these people react with each other, before and after the creation of Facebook. It really is something remarkable what Fincher can do with this big-budget, Hollywood story, and still keep his own type of style in it, but attract mainstream audiences.

However, the main reason this film works, is the amazing, and I do repeat, amazing script job done here by Aaron Sorkin. This is what all films should be like, smart, witty, dark, and true to the point. Sorkin blends a great deal of comedy, and drama within this film that keeps it going, as fast as these geeks are talking, and the lines that come out, feel so real, and so genuine, as if your actually hearing somebody talk from the 21st century, just as this was going on. It works as a character study because the script dives into the egos that these people create, as they get bigger, and bigger, but not without showing us how they get the job done. This literally is the perfect script, cause you understand everything that these people are saying, even though they are speaking 50 miles per second. You also don’t really know who to hate, or who to sympathize with. Sorkin doesn’t just show you how much of a dick Zuckerberg is, but it does show the true emotions when a friendship is tested between business’, and who the real, and the fake friends are.

I was so astonished by Jesse Eisenberg in this film, and can easily say he has gotten rid of the awkward nerd title, that has been on his forehead for quite some time now. There are moments in this film, where you can see that Zuckerberg is just ready for something genius, and you can tell through Eisenberg’s purely amazing performance, because he’s got the look of a smart, and witty geek, but when he gets the attitude of a kid that will just rip your ass to shreds, by how much more rich, and famous he is than you, your just amazed by how good Eisenberg really can pull this off. He plays a dick so well, but yet his charm also attracts us to him oddly enough, and he’s likable, and utterly disgusting at the same time. I really do hope he gets nominated this year, and that he doesn’t once shy away from playing even more serious roles, cause he really can do them.

But it’s not just all about Eisenberg, the supporting cast, has also got some very bright spots as well. Andrew Garfield (aka New Spider-Man), is just perfect, and sort of the wild-card here in this film. This film mainly shows Eisenberg as the big see in this film, when Garfield, gives some honestly great showings of emotion within this film. You can feel the anger within this guy, as he sees his best friend, and ultimately whole life, go right down the tubes, and you just watch him every time he’s on screen. Justin Timberlake goes back to the old days of his N’Sync curly locks days, and basically gives a surprisingly very, very good, and energetic performance. This one shows that he is indeed an entertainer, and if his music career starts to slow down, he can just keep on doing acting, he’s obviously good at it. Armie Hammer also plays both of the Winklevoss Twins in this film, and does a great job at showing, two both arrogant, and cocky son of a bitches, that rely on their last name for everything, and he plays both sides very well.

There is also an amazing score job done by the Trent Reznor, which at first struck as me as odd, simply because he’s known for making crazy weird songs like: “Closer“, or “March of the Pigs“, and adding a creepy score to a film about Facebook, doesn’t seem to match very well, but somehow it does, and gels very well with the story, and brings a lot more emotion to the scenes.

The only problem I had with this film that I can think of, was that I do feel some things were made up, just for the fact of dramatic effect. Which in ways is alright, but at the same time, it kind of gets you thinking, why would you dramatize something, if it wasn’t as interesting in the first place? I don’t know, but other than that almost flawless film.

Consensus: When it comes to modern film-making at its finest, The Social Network, is brilliantly directed, written, and acted, but will also be a 21st Century defining film, for the years to come.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!