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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Leslie Mann

The Cable Guy (1996)

What’s a “Cable Guy”? Better yet, what’s “cable”? Is it like Netflix?

Matthew Broderick plays Steven, a dude who just got out of a relationship and needs someone to fix his cable one day. He calls up the cable guy (Jim Carrey) and he’s a bit weird, but he gets the job done. However, the cable guy wants more than just the job, he wants a buddy and that’s something Steven isn’t quite up for just yet.

The Cable Guy is often forgotten about in today’s world of media, whenever it comes to the conversations of the careers of both Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller. See, while they are both two of the most recognizable names in comedy, at one time, they actually got together and tried to make something that, well, wasn’t quite a comedy. If anything, it’s a lot darker and weirder than anyone had ever expected, which is probably why it’s hardly ever heard from and basically bombed when it was first released.

But did it deserve all that?

It's Jim Carrey being wacky! What could go wrong?!?

It’s Jim Carrey being wacky! What could go wrong?!?

Not really.

 

The Cable Guy is a strange movie, for sure, but definitely more of a comedy, than an actual drama. There’s lots to laugh at, but there’s also plenty more to cringe and be surprised by, too; there’s no real distinction between genres here and Stiller does a solid enough job as writer and director, never letting us in on the lines. We think we know what should be laugh-out-loud hilarious because of other comedies and what they constitute as hilarity, but with the Cable Guy, it’s far different and it’s why the movie, while not always successful, is an interesting watch.

And at the center, yes, it does have a little something to say about the culture of television and how, in ways, it can shelter us off from the rest of the world, and have us feel as if we are in our own, little bubble – the same kind of bubble where you are always loved, accepted and taken in, for who you are, not what you should be. Sure, it’s obvious and been said many times before, but the Cable Guy tells it again, but in a much smarter, heartfelt way, especially with Carrey’s portrayal of the title character who, surprisingly enough, is never given a name.

See! He's not so bad!

See! He’s not so bad!

How fitting.

Which isn’t all to say that the movie’s a down-and-out drama, because it’s actually pretty funny when it wants to be. Of course, though, it brings on problems with tone, where it seems like the movie may have bitten-off more than it can chew and handle all at once, but still, there’s something refreshing about watching a major-studio comedy flick give it the professional try. It may swing and barely hit, but at least it’s trying in the first place, so sometimes, a pat on the fanny is all that matters.

Right? Eh. Whatever.

Anyway, Carrey is the real reason why the movie works as well as it does, because he, like the movie’s tone, constantly has us guessing. We never know what he’s going to say, do, or try next and because of that, we don’t know whether to love, like, or be terrified of him. There’s this slight sense of danger to him, but also a bit of fun, too. Then, there’s also this sad aspect to him that may make you want to give him a hug. It’s a rich character that could have probably done wonders in a far darker, more dramatic movie, but as is, Carrey’s terrific in the role that, unsurprisingly enough, audiences just weren’t ready to accept just yet. It would take some time, obviously, but man, if only they had caught on sooner, rather than later.

On the opposing side of Carrey is Matthew Broderick, who’s fine as the usual straight-man he’s so used to playing by now, but his character has some issues. For one, he’s a bit of an a-hole; he’s constantly a Debbie-downer, never having anything nice or pleasant to say, and yeah, just not bringing much to the movie as a whole. Like I said, Broderick tries, but it seems like the script wasn’t there for him; instead of developing another compelling and well-rounded character, the movie just made him something of a blank slate, with little-to-no personality and allow for the Cable Guy to get all the work. It’s not like it doesn’t work, but hey, it would have definitely helped if we had a little more to work with.

Consensus: It’s obvious what the Cable Guy is trying to say, but it’s less about the message, and more about the funny, sometimes darkly odd premise, bolstered by an unforgettably crazy and all-star performance from Carrey.

8 / 10

Oh, uhm. Ha-ha?

Oh, uhm. Ha-ha?

Photos Courtesy of: Monkeys Fighting Robots

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The Comedian (2017)

Isn’t stand-up comedy supposed to be funny?

Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) has seen better days. He was once the star of a much-loved sitcom from the 70’s, hit the stand-up circuit as one of the biggest, loudest and meanest shock-comics out there on the scene, and yeah, he had a whole bunch of love and adoration from people in his world. However, time went on and eventually, the rest of the world sort of forgot about Jackie. Nowadays, he’s forced to work for the nostalgia circuits, playing to small crowds, filled with either hapless teens, or barely-there senior citizens. Jackie realizes this and because of that reason alone, tension builds up within him, more and more. One event goes bad when Jackie beats up an audience-member filming and heckling him, leaving Jackie to have to serve out a some jail time and community service. While on community service, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), a troubled gal who gravitates towards Jackie and his ways. But she doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of the jokes, and he doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of her beauty, either.

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

The Comedian is a perfect example for what happens when you have a good cast, and that’s about it. The plot, the jokes, the heart, the humor, the meaning – just about everything about it is odd and doesn’t quite work. But man oh man, whenever they’re given the chance to do so, the ensemble here tries with every bone, every fiber, and every material of their body to make this material work.

And because of their effort, and because they’re all good, yes, they do help the Comedian out a whole bunch. Does that mean it’s a good movie? No, it does not. But it does help make a very bad movie, slightly less worse than it could have been, with less talented and committed people involved.

And this doesn’t just go to the cast, either – behind the cameras is director Taylor Hackford, who hasn’t always had the best track record, but does have more hits than misses, and four writers, Art Linson, Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese, Lewis Friedman, all of whom seem to know what they’re doing in their own, respective projects. But for some reason, they just didn’t quite know what to do here; it’s as if they signed on to do a movie about comedians and late-aged ones, but ended up just telling one too many dick, fart and sex jokes.

And oh yeah, the jokes themselves are pretty lame, too.

If there’s one big no-no in movies about comedians, it’s that the comedy you’re selling us on, in the first place, has to be funny. Like, does anyone remember that subplot in Mother’s Day where the British dude wanted to be a comedian and strutted his stuff out on the stage, told really awful jokes, and everyone in the movie was laughing at him, as if he was some sort of godsend? Well, if not, don’t worry, because you didn’t miss much. But if you did see that, then you get an idea of just how the Comedian is – not really funny, even though no one seems to have told it so.

There are the occasional moments of actual humor, but it’s mostly because of Jackie’s brand of comedy – he’s the kind comedian who Stern would have had on his show every day, just going as deep and as far into the dirty talk as either of them could. If that’s your brand of humor, then yeah, a lot of De Niro’s jokes will work perfectly for you and hit the mark, but if not, well then the jokes will just continue to be more and more grating as they go on. De Niro’s character gets grosser, meaner, and far more idiotic, making us wonder whether anyone involved knew what actual humor was in the first place?

"Get it? Fart!"

“Get it? Fart!”

Or, at the very least, just how stand-up comedy worked?

And then it goes on. The movie then tries to deal with romance, drama, and almost attack the showbiz industry itself, but it just never makes sense, mostly because a good portion of it can be unbelievable. Jackie goes viral at least three times, none of them ever making sense, or seeming as if they could happen in the real world that the Comedian seems to inhabit. It’s odd because it seems like everyone involved behind the cameras are so out-of-touch, you almost wonder just how long this script was sitting around on the shelf for, never got looked at, and collected up dust.

Probably a lot and yeah, it shows.

But like I said, the cast really does help this movie out, a great bunch. De Niro does what he can in the lead role; he’s deliciously mean and cruel when he wants to be and it works, but the jokes just ruin him. De Niro’s line-delivery feels awfully too stilted to make it sound like we’re hearing an actual comedian on the stage, and not just an actor reading lines and forgetting where the punchline is. Still, when he’s off the stage, De Niro is compelling, as we get to see a sad, old man for what he is: Sad, old and kind of miserable. This character and this performance deserve a way better movie, which is why it’s hard to just accept this one for what it is, as poorly-written as it can sometimes be.

Then, there’s everybody else. Leslie Mann is charming, despite her character having some awfully weird baggage going on that’s never fully explained; Harvey Keitel plays her controlling and generally creepy father who is way too over-the-top, but has some fun scenes with De Niro; Patti LuPone shows up as De Niro’s sister-in-law to yell at him and get in his face, which is fun; Danny DeVito plays his brother who basically does the same thing; Edie Falco plays his manager and has nice chemistry with him; Charles Grodin shows up as a rival who’s barely around; Cloris Leachman shows up as this sort of aging Lucille Ball character and is fine; and yeah, there’s many, many more cameos from all sorts of real life, well-known comedians. It makes you wish there was more of them and less of the scripted jokes, because lord knows the Comedian would have been, well, funnier.

Consensus: Try as it might, the Comedian just doesn’t have enough juice to make itself funny, relevant, sad, important and interesting enough, even with the talented ensemble helping out as much as they humanly can.

4.5 / 10

"So yeah, when's Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?"

“So yeah, when’s Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?”

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

How to Be Single (2016)

It’s actually quite simple: Just do it.

After four years of college, Alice (Dakota Johnson) decides she needs a break from her long-term boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun). Though she’s not too sure if she wants to do this, she still knows that she wants to live a life of her own, for now, and see, at a later date, if being single is what she really wants. Still, she’s very excited about this new freedom she’s found in her life and starts up a friendship with her co-worker Robin (Rebel Wilson), the kind of gal who loves a good time, to party a whole lot, sleep around, and just generally be as reckless as can be. Now, through Robin, Alice an meet new guys and have a whole bunch of new experiences, that may or may not include sexual relations with other men. Meanwhile, Lucy (Alison Brie) is looking for that special someone in her life, even if it seems all too clear that the bartender she constantly sees (Anders Holm), may be the perfect man for her. Also, Meg (Leslie Mann) finally decides, after many years, that she wants to have a baby and goes through with the procedure. However, at the same time, she meets and starts to fall for Alice’s co-worker (Jake Lacy) and doesn’t know if she wants to settle down and tell him about the situation, or just pull away altogether.

Drinking....

Drinking….

There’s a lot about How to Be Single that doesn’t work and there’s a lot about it that does. What the movie wants to do is not get on these women’s cases for having sex, going from man-to-man, doing their own thing, and not really needing a man to tie her down. Still though, the movie doesn’t try to say that any women who may want a man, or to get married are “bad” or “stupid” – after all, it’s just a fact of life that some people live and others don’t.

At the same time, though, How to Be Single also wants to talk out on these female character’s ways for having so much sex with so many random people that it gets mixed up in judging them. This is something I didn’t expect to see, but was still surprised by, because the movie does have some interesting anecdotes to bring up about women’s lives that you don’t too often see in mainstream rom-coms of this nature. Normally, the characters will be judged and held on some mantle as if the audience is supposed to learn from their mistakes, but here, in How to Be Single that thankfully doesn’t happen.

But there’s a odd unevenness about this whole movie that never fully gels well together.

For one, there’s at least one or two stories going on here that probably don’t need to exist at all, but are still around, if only because they feature talented, somewhat famous actors in the scenes, so rather than tossing them out and wasting them, they’re used and put in the film anyway. Alison Brie is charming and likable in just about everything she does, but here, if you were to take her character away, the movie would not change one bit. There’s a core group in the film that holds down the center, which Brie’s character hardly even brushes by and is instead, left to sit at the bar and only have interactions with Anders Holm’s character. Granted, there’s no problem with this because it’s always nice to see him in something, but still, it can occasionally feel like unnecessary filler.

Same goes for Leslie Mann’s character who, even despite being related to Dakota Johnson’s, still feels like she’s got a whole story of her own, going on elsewhere and not really connecting to the main-frame of the story. But then again, like is the case with Brie and Holm, Mann and Jake Lacy are both lovely presences, so the more scenes with them, the better honestly. That’s why it’s hard to get on this movie’s case for having so much talent around and deciding to use them all, as superfluous as their screen-time and involvement can sometimes be.

And this is all to say that they help How to Be Single be better than you’d expect.

More drinking...

More drinking…

Rather than making this cloying, in-your-face rom-com about how great it feels to be in love with someone, it’s actually more about these certain character’s lives, their ventures into romance, and just where they head to when they make a decision. The movie is nowhere near as insightful as it likes to think it is, but it’s at least trying and with the cast it has involved, that’s fine enough. Nobody here has to light the world on fire, but instead, just be ready to deliver the material as best as they can.

In fact, if there’s any weak spots in the film, it’s specifically through the main protagonists of the movie: Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson. Both are supposed to be our main center-points of the movie, and while Wilson is mostly around for strictly comedy, it gets a bit tiring to see her do the same thing, over and over again, without hardly a laugh or shed of humanity to be found. Johnson’s character is slightly more interesting, but the movie constantly betrays her with the random, sometimes idiotic decisions she make, that it can get pretty frustrating. Johnson is good and clearly seems to be enjoying her time with the camera in front of her face, but really, you’ll just wish she had better material to shed out more. We know that it’s within her, we’re just waiting to see when that time will eventually come around.

Hopefully not in Fifty Shades Darker.

Consensus: Given the cast involved, How to Be Single works as an entertaining, occasionally dramatic rom-com that doesn’t know what it wants to say, but like the people it’s working with enough to just let them do their things and be charming.

5 / 10

The true life of a hard-partying single girl.

The true life of a hard-partying single girl.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Aceshowbiz

Vacation (2015)

Just go to Six Flags instead. At least you’ll get to see a dancing old dude.

After spending many vacations with his family, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) now feels that it’s about time he took his own family out to the one and only place he loved as a kid: Walley World. Problem is, nobody in his family is nearly as siked as he is; his wife, Debbie (Christina Applegate), is starting to grow tired of the lame vacations, while their oldest son, James (Skyler Gisondo), constantly gets picked-on by their youngest, Kevin (Steele Stebbins). Though there are many odds working against it, Rusty still finds a way to make sure that everybody gets together and embarks on this little trip where they’ll meet all sorts of lovely characters along the way. One of whom is Rusty’s sister, Audrey (Leslie Mann), who is all grown-up now and is married to a local weatherman, Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth), whose absolute stunning and handsome looks seem to bring out the worst in every woman around him – most importantly, Debbie, which Rusty has a real problem with.

My god! Where has the time gone?!?

My god! Where has the time gone?!?

Today, August 23, 2015, marks the official last day of my summer vacation. To be honest, this summer, as a whole, has been a fun, exciting, memorable, and lovely time that reminds me why summer in and of itself matters so much to begin with and why I’m happy to at least have some sort of freedom left in my life to where I can do the sort of things I do during the summer. That could mean a huge list of things like going out to the bars, drinking with my friends, listening to good music, working every now and then, and most of all, going to the movies.

The reason I state all of this because it just proves to how forgettable a movie like Vacation may be, even in a summer as memorable as the one I just had.

But “forgettable” doesn’t always mean “terrible”, or “wretched”, it can sometimes just mean that a movie isn’t entirely the greatest thing ever created, but at the same time, still isn’t all that good. It’s just slap-dab in the middle of mediocrity and that’s exactly why Vacation is the kind of movie, while I may not remember having seen in a few years, still did the fine service of being a comedy that, once, or twice, or hell, maybe more than three times, made me laugh. Granted, it’s not always that easy and it’s not always as hard, either, but Vacation, with a few bits here and there, had me laugh-out-loud to where it was noticeable and known to those around me that I was indeed laughing at what co-writers and co-directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley were doing.

However, if you take into account the fact that nearly every other line in this movie is supposed to be a joke, a gag, or contain at least some bit of humor, the math gets a little shoddy. For instance, if 100% of this movie is filled to the brim with jokes, and if I only laughed for about six-to-ten of those jokes, then surely, the grading-scale cannot be too positive. It’s hard to say how much this movie made me laugh, other than, it just didn’t really do it for me at times and at others, it did.

So above all, the movie is a perfect 50%. Meaning, it’s not too bad, but it’s not too good either.

"Something" is on Ed Helms' shirt and it's HILARIOUS.

“Something” is on Ed Helms’ shirt and it’s HILARIOUS.

Most of where Vacation works is in how bizarre and truly random Goldstein and Daley allow for their material to get. There’s a chunk of celebrity cameos that occur along the way, and while not all of them work, there are a few that brought some fun and excitement to the screen, if only due to the fact that it was so odd, that it just worked. Charlie Day has a sequence that’s like this, as well as does a certain someone who I won’t name that drives a truck throughout the movie, but other than them two, most of the cameos fall flat. Some of them come out of nowhere and it’s cool to see just who Goldstein and Daley are able to bring in for this, but sometimes, it just seems like a wasted opportunity on jokes that seem to fall flat.

They don’t all do, like I’ve stated before. But when they do, it’s obvious that Goldstein and Daley are trying a tad too hard.

And this doesn’t necessarily hurt the main cast as much, although they too definitely suffer from the script not being able to keep up with their energy. Ed Helms’ shtick by now isn’t over-played, as much as it needs some sort of livening-up and his portrayal as an older Rusty doesn’t do him that sort of justice. Still, Helms clearly seems to be trying here and it’s better than just seeing him sleep-walk through something. Same goes for Christina Applegate who, thankfully, gets a few opportunities to prove that this isn’t just a man’s affair and that she’s able to be funny, too. Problem is, it’s on a throw-up gag that gets a bit old, a bit quicker than it should have. They both have fine chemistry between one another, but once the movie starts to get more serious about their marriage, it seems like it’s just something to fall back on, rather than deserved, or as a way to stretch these characters out anymore.

As Rusty’s sister and brother-in-law, Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth are sadly, saddled with a one-joke the whole way through and it’s sort of a shame that they weren’t able to stretch their wings out and do more. We know for sure that Mann is hilarious when she wants to be, and Hemsworth can be, too, but he’s just not allowed to do much of anything funny here. The whole joke surrounding him is that he’s this huge, sexy man-hunk, who also happens to have a ginormous dong. So basically, he’s playing Chris Hemsworth – the man every woman loves, and every guy so passionately despises.

Now where’s the humor in that? That’s real life speaking!

Consensus: Occasionally funny, but too often, Vacation feels as if it’s missing its mark of not allowing the talented cast to own up to their full potential, nor really allowing for the comedy to settle every now and again.

5 / 10

Spoiler alert. I guess.

Spoiler alert. I guess.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Other Woman (2014)

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

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

In other words: Girl power!

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

Some nights, this is me. Usually Fridays.

Some nights, this is me. Usually Fridays.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, moving on.

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

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

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

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

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

I’m sorry. You were saying?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Rio 2 (2014)

You’re the last of your species! Now, stay indoors and shut up!

Now that both Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) have fallen-in love and even started their own family, it’s about time the cracks within the relationship show. Jewel is still that fun, adventurous-type, like she believes every blue macaw bird should; whereas Blu is still sort of like a human, equipped with making pancakes, using a GPS to navigate from place-to-place and even allowing his kids to use technology. Adding more tension is when they both find out about another breed of blue macaw’s that are apparently somewhere out there in the middle of the Amazon. Seeing as this may be their time to find others just like them and hopefully get some excitement in their lives, Blu and Jewel, along with their three children, decide to take a trip out to there, where they stumble upon all sorts of birds that are just like them. Heck, one of them even just so happens to be Jewel’s father (Andy Garcia), whom she thought was long gone by now. So yeah, it’s a nice place where all blue macaws live in perfect harmony with one another, except for when a certain entrepreneur decides that it’s time to start making more paper, and cutting down all of the trees in the Amazon, threatening everything that these birds have made their sanctuary.

As most of you may, or may not have seen, I was actually very surprised by the original Rio. Not only was it a fun movie that made me sort of feel like a kid again, but it didn’t really need to do much to surprise or even shock me. It was just exactly what it was – an animated movie made for the whole family. Sometimes, those types of movies can be utterly cheesy and only work for those little ones who don’t know any better, but other times, they can actually work for everyone who decides to take some time out of their day and give it a try. That’s what the first Rio was. Its sequel though?

He reads and performs Shakespeare. So no, honey, he doesn't want you.

He reads and performs Shakespeare. So no, honey, he doesn’t want you.

Meh. Not so much.

Actually, not at all.

See, with the case of Rio 2, as is the case with any major-motion sequel, everything that worked so well in the first movie, is now re-amped with more of everything. Here, we get more vibrant colors popping out at us; more subplots that don’t need to inserted into here at all; more characters added in; and just more, more, more! And usually this is done to really keep us interested in what is going, while to simultaneously keep track of which characters, are doing what things, for what reasons, but here, you almost never get the sense that anything is happening.

While I may have written the plot-synopsis up top as being a simple story of Blu and Jewel going on an adventure to the inner-levels of the Amazon for a happenin’, joyous good time, there’s actually plenty, PLENTY more where that came from. Remember those birds that were voiced by will.i.am and Jamie Foxx that were always singing, being hip and saying sassy stuff? Well, yeah, they’re here again, and apparently, they’re looking for cast members for their latest production they’re going to put on for Carnivale. That’s all fine and dandy. Not like it’s going to make, or break the movie. In fact, you need a subplot like this to bring some much-needed comedic-relief to this flick.

However, like I alluded to before, there’s plenty more where that came from.

Blu’s human-owner, voiced by Leslie Mann, is with her scientist hubby, voiced by Rodrigo Santoro, and they are running all throughout the Amazon as well; Jemaine Clement’s villainous-character is back around and looking for vengeance for what Blu did to him all those years ago, but this time, has an admirer constantly behind him; Jewel runs into an old friend of hers that may, or may not actually be interested in her; and oh yeah, before I forget to mention it, there’s also sort of a subplot about one of Blu’s daughters wanting to break out her shell and get involved with everything, without getting too involved to where it isn’t deemed “cool” anymore.

So yeah, as you can tell just by reading that, all of those subplots are a bit too much for any film, let alone a kids movie that runs about an-hour-and-a-half, give or take. It’s too much for any kid to keep track of, but better yet, it’s too much for a movie that wants to be so playful and simple. It just takes all of the fun out of what could have been something exactly like the first, except maybe a bit better. That doesn’t happen though, and while it may not all be terrible (the song-and-dance-numbers are just about the only elements working for this movie), it still made me want to watch the first one all over again, just to get the memory of this dull movie out of my mind.

"Aw hay, hay, hay!"

“Aw hay, hay, hay!”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that god-awful, but you get the point. Could have been a good, escapist time if it stuck to its cards, but it didn’t. So therefore, it was just “meh”.

Meh, meh, meh.

As for the voice-cast that’s all returning, nobody is really outstanding; then again, nobody else is really all that bad either. They are just seemingly doing what they did in the first movie, and that’s it. The only one who is still slightly amusing to listen to is Clement’s Nigel, who is still funny when he’s vindictive and angry, but also has plenty of moments where we see his character as being more than just a “villain”. It was interesting to see that happen in a movie that seemed to be so distracted by everything else going on, that they’d actually allow for some neat character-development to actually happen. See, it’s just the little things that make a movie slightly better than what they should be. If only that transitioned well into the rest of the movie, then I would probably be singing a different tune. Not that I can remember any of the songs from this movie in the first case.

Consensus: With too much going in every spectrum of it, Rio 2 ends up being a jumble of many different strands of story, yet, barely any of them ever excite or intrigue one bit.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

That's what true love looks like. Minus all of the disdain and hatred that they hold for one another brewing beneath.

That’s what true love looks like. Minus all of the disdain and hatred that they hold for one another brewing beneath.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Rio (2011)

Sort of like City of God, but with birds.

After being found stranded on the side of the road, domesticated bird Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is taken in by a simple, closed-off-from-the-rest-of-the-world gal from Minnesota, Linda (Leslie Mann). Together, the two create a lovely bond that’s stronger than what some humans have together, which is why they are almost never apart or leave one another’s site. However, one day, that idea looks to be challenged once ornithologist Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) finds Blu and tells Linda that he needs Blu to mate and continue his species on with another bird of his, due to the fact that Blu is the last of his kind alive. Though they are both hesitant, they decide it’s for the best, even if where they end-up at is very, VERY far from Minnesota – it’s Rio de Janeiro! The party never stops, there is always excitement in the air and just about anything is bound to happen. Well, except for Blu and this supposed-mate of his, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), getting together because, let’s just say that they’re a little bit of polar-opposites. Which yes, is bad, but what’s even worse is that they get kidnapped by a local animal-smuggler looking to make a quick-buck and shipping these birds off to America, where they’ll either be some fancy person’s dinner, or sent to spend the rest of their lives in either this place, or that place. So yup, Blu and Jewel must find a way to get free, which may only be able to happen with some of the native’s help.

I have no clue as to why, but for some reason, when this movie first came out around this time three years ago, I didn’t really care to see it. Wasn’t that I don’t like animated-movies and have no soul or something, it was just that it didn’t seem like the type of movie that needed to be rushed-out to in order to see, nor did I have any of my 25 kids like I do now. So in reality, what was the point? Go to an animated-movie all by your lonesome and be that creep in the corner? Hell no! Even if I do that now, three years ago was a different time, and I sure as hell was in a different place than I am in now.

Pearl and I have a way better relationship. She's my bulldog by the way.

Pearl and I have a way better relationship. She’s my bulldog by the way.

Mentally and physically.

But anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that the story seemed so conventional that I just didn’t think I needed to even bother to see it. And, to be honest, now actually having seen this movie, I can’t say my original assumptions were all that incorrect in the first place. The story started-off like I expected it to where this little bird got kidnapped and found a new home with a delightful, peaceful keeper, and then after that, practically every note that this film hit, has been hit a million, gazillion times before. Nothing really new, nothing really inventive. Just straight-laced, ordinary kiddie-fare that the parents get dragged into seeing, just so that they can feel as if they did something right for their kids, so that when they grow up, they don’t hate their guts and blame all of their problems on them.

Hate to break it to you parents, but either way, it’s going to happen! All kids hit that stage. Trust me. It’s not pretty, but it happens. So buy as many movie tickets as you want, because you’re not ever going to get off the hook! Hate to sound terrible and mean, but it’s the truth, Ruth!

Anyway, I realize that I am getting further and further away from the movie itself, but there’s sort of a reason: I’m in a good mood. No, not because I actually just gone done finishing Rio and I can finally move on with my life, but because it was such a pleasant surprise. See, even though the movie hit every single note, exactly like I expected it to, it never bored me. In fact, I’d say that it seemed to always have me smiling; whether it been so because of the vivid and bright colors on full-display, the witty, lovable personalities that this movie created for us to latch onto, or because at the center of the story, with rather adult-themes like crime, smuggling, and sex, there was a sweet message to be found that can do well for both the younglings, as well as the old-heads.

What this story is really about, even if I may be reaching a whole heck of a lot, is it’s telling us to never be afraid to get out there in our lives, do something we wouldn’t normally do and not over-think something to the point of near-insanity. Just let life take you as it goes, without trying to calculate every move it is that you make next. Sure, it’s good for a person to know the difference between what’s “right”, what’s “wrong”, and what’s “acceptable”, but it’s also good for a person to not hold themselves back because of some sort of fear they may actually have, or think that they have. This isn’t just a message that works well for kids, but one that also works well for the parents of these kids, which will hopefully have them feel a tad better about themselves and all of the decisions that they made.

Like I said, I’m stretching here, but there’s something endearing at the core of this movie and it deserves to be noted, because not too many animated-movies can pull that off, without stumbling on their own feet, or being not-so-subtle.

"Sheeeeeeit".

“Awhhhhhhh sheeeeeeit”.

As for the actual movie itself, like I alluded to before, it’s a fun time no matter who you are. Director Carlos Saldanha clearly seems to not only have an eye for imagination, but also a knack for keeping the excitement in the air up, even when you know exactly where everything’s going to end-up and how. It’s all so clear and predictable, but that doesn’t really matter when you have a setting as wild and crazy as Rio; the same type of setting that Saldanha uses to perfection. Also to be noted, there’s plenty of slap-stick humor for the kids, like when a group of birds face-off in a playful brawl against a group of monkeys, or like whenever Tracy Morgan’s bulldog character comes out to shake-up his goofy rump and drool everywhere; but there’s also plenty of witty humor that most of the adults may get. Although, if you’re cool, hip and happening parent like I would love to think I’ll be (even though I’ll probably start taking up drinking as a hobby once my newborn comes out and ruins my peaceful, calm life), you’ll laugh at just about anything and everything this movie does.

And with the voice-cast, everybody is fine as everybody seems perfectly-suited for their own respective characters, as zany and wild as some of them may be. Jesse Eisenberg is good as the dorky Blu, as you could suspect knowing that Jesse Eisenberg is playing anybody; Anne Hathaway is charming, and gives you the impression that she’s just so pleased with herself while talking into the microphone doing this; Jamie Foxx and will.I.am. play, what are essentially, the goofy, black sidekicks who come around, teach Blu how to make on the ladies, sing most of the songs and just basically crack jokes as if they were two old geezers sitting-off on the side of the road, just commenting on every person they see walk by, whether they like them or not; Jemaine Clement is great as the villain bird that’s always getting the upper-hand; and George Lopez does a great job at being both the voice-of-reason, as well as the father-figure as Toucan. Yup, everybody’s fine and adds just a little bit more spice to a movie that clearly doesn’t need much more to be satisfying.

Consensus: Can definitely be seen as predictable, but Rio can also be seen as a pleasing, fun, exciting and beautiful-looking movie that makes just about anybody who watches it, happy. Especially if they aren’t expecting much going into it, like yours truly.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Moral of the story: Don't be such a wuss, go flying!

Moral of the story: Don’t be such a wuss, go flying!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

Most of the knowledge you’ll ever gain in your life comes from your dog. Screw cats!

Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is, well, yeah, he’s a dog. But he’s a dog that’s capable of all sorts of things most dogs aren’t capable of doing: He can talk, learn, read, travel in time, dance, sing, play any instrument known to man, drive, and hell, even raise a kid. This is where Sherman comes into his life and, despite him not being a very conventional father-figure for such a young boy, decides to adopt a small boy named Sherman (Max Charles), who was left all alone in a basket one night. Peabody gets clearance from the law to adopt Sherman and be his legal-guardian, enabling him to teach him everything he knows. For the most part, Sherman an Peabody get along splendidly, however, things are going to get a bit more complicated for them now that Sherman’s going to start going to school and being around other kids, where he’ll most likely be subject to a lot of teasing and pestering. Why? Well, because all kids are evil and if your dad’s a dog, well, you’re kind of asking for it. Anyway, one thing leads to another and Sherman gets lost in time with a little ship called “The Wayback Machine”, prompting all sorts of wacky and goofy hijinx to ensue where all sorts of historical-figures get in on the action.

I’ve never watched the original Peabody animated-shorts, but from what my old man tells me, their funny. That’s all, really. That’s actually all I had to work with when it came to this movie, which is why I decided to take him and see if this movie shit all over his childhood like those horrendous Smurfs movies have done.

They aren't walking the right way. Geddit?!?!?

They aren’t walking the right way. Geddit?!?!?

Needless to say, he was pleased. But most importantly, I was as well. Which, if you think about it, is all that matters, right?

Okay! I know. I’m just kidding. Love you, daddy.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t have much high hopes going into this, and for once in awhile in a long, long time, I went in and came out unexpectedly happy. With most animated movies, they run a very fine-line to where they can be either Pixar-heavy, crying-for-days lite, or just light, ordinary, bring-your-fam-squad-out-for-a-good-time lite; very rarely does one go in between, or, even if they do try, they fail miserably. But somehow, through those creative mofo’s at DreamWorks Animation, things actually work out quite well, even if they are juggling around a bit.

See, what works so well with Peabody, is that it never tries to hammer us over the head of what message it is trying to get across. It’s quite clear that by setting this in the present day, with current themes, ideas and norms, that the movie is trying to tell us that it doesn’t matter if your guardian is a dog or a human, all that does matter is whether or not they treat you right, make you feel special, inspire you and give you all of the common-knowledge in the world that you need to know in order to grow up and be all that you can be. The movie throws that idea out every so often, but it never feels preachy, mostly because Peabody and Sherman themselves, as characters and as a father-son duo/combo/relationship/something, are so well-done that you almost forget about the whole “talking-dog-fathering-real-life-human-being”-aspect of the story. And yes, done anywhere else, that would have been creepy as hell.

I’m not going to keep myself any further from not making a mention of this, but when I saw this sequence in this movie, I knew it was the real deal. About half-way through, the movie shows us, through a sweet, heartwarming tune and various, eventful flash-backs, the life that Peabody and Sherman have built with one another. What’s so nice about it isn’t that we get to actually see how Peabody found and was able to adopt Sherman in the first place, but how much they both matter in each other’s lives, all done in a way that’s played backwards, if to show us how all of their constant time-traveling and history-learning has affected them both as people, as well as knowledgeable people. I know I’m maybe harping on this part a bit too much, but I think it deserves to be. Not only did it get me fully in-tune with the rest of this movie, but it made me tear-up like I haven’t done so in an animated movie in quite some time.

Not until, well, you know. Oh, gosh! Shouldn’t have even posted that link! Crap!

The next "white Hendrix", if there ever was one.

The next “white Hendrix”, if there ever was one.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

And like I said before, right after that sequence, the movie really picks up and all of a sudden, not only do we care about both Peabody and Sherman, but also the adventure they are thrown in. But the adventure only adds more to the whole story, as it not only teaches us a bit more about family-values, but also a teenie, tiny bit about history, in its own funny, pun-y way. Speaking of which, the humor may not always work, but when you have a kids flick that features at least two or three poop/fart/bathroom-jokes, and you are still able to get a laugh from yours truly, then you’re golden pony boy. The kids of course will love the jokes and just how many times people slip, fall and almost nearly die, but the parents will also be able to appreciate that there’s some humor in there for them as well, without totally abandoning the kiddies. Aka, the same type of kiddies that parents will most likely use as an excuse to see this with, just so that they can see if their childhood has just received a huge turd on its chest from a bunch of billionaires.

The parents will also be pretty darn happy to see that both Peabody and Sherman are voiced well by both Ty Burrell and Max Charles, respectively. Burrell is obviously attuned to this type of deadpan, sarcastic humor with his stint on Modern Family, and it’s clear that it doesn’t matter in what form he’s delivering it in, he’s still pretty damn funny and able to make everybody laugh. Same goes for Max Charles, sounding how a spirited, happy and energetic seven-year-old should sound like. Good job, kiddo! There’s also some other neat, little voice jobs by the likes of Leslie Mann, the almighty Stephen Colbert, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci, and even Mel Brooks, if you can believe that! Nice to see the man back, even if we never do see him and just hear his voice. Still, it’s better than no Mel Brooks, that’s for sure!

Consensus:  Part family-tale, part adventure, and even part history-lesson, but ultimately, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is animated-fare that’s meant for everybody, especially the parents who may be curious to see if their childhoods are ruined or not. Spoiler alert: They aren’t.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

A boy and his dog, clogging up traffic during rush-hour. But oh, the bonding.

A boy and his dog, clogging up traffic during rush-hour. But oh, the bonding.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Bottle Rocket (1996)

Reminds me of the days that me and my buddies used to day-dream about robbing places. Then never would.

After a nervous breakdown, Anthony (Luke Wilson) “escapes” from a mental hospital and begins to hang with his best friend Dignan (Owen Wilson). They have a healthy relationship that has them planning for the future, however, they’re a bit of an odd-couple where Anthony is nice, sweet, and calmed-down, whereas Dignan is more crazy, daring, energetic, and always willing to pull of something dangerous. You know, like robbing a bookstore, which he and Anthony both do, before settling down in an hotel, out in the middle of nowhere. However, both run into the problem where one falls in love with the hotel maid, and the other just wants to find a way to get more money, and pull off more jobs, just so that he can fully live by his expectations he has set for living in the 21st Century. A lot easier said then done, however, especially when you have two different ego’s facing-off against one another.

This is one of those movies that I am, yes, reviewing again, but I feel like Bottle Rocket was in much need of a re-watch for a long while. Not only have I gotten a firmer grasp on what works in movies, and what doesn’t, but I’ve gotten way more used to Wes Anderson’s sense of style and why so many people love the hell out of it (mainly white people). And thank the heavens I did, because not only did I realize what a loser I was back in the day for giving this a “Rental“, but how much a boob I was for not even really paying attention to it because it wasn’t “like The Royal Tenebaums“.

Look at him! He practically wants to take a swan-dive right out of that car!

Look at him! He practically wants to swan-dive right out that car!

Obviously, nothing is! Jesus, I was such a dick back in those days.

Anyway, nothing here really separates this movie from the rest of Anderson’s catalog; the colors still pop-out at you with their quirkiness, the human-tension between characters is obviously felt, and the folky, ironic soundtrack cues up just about every five seconds Anderson gets tired of silence (and there’s also a choice track by the Rolling Stones in here as well, but did I even need to say that?). So yeah, nothing really different here that you haven’t seen Anderson do or explore before, and it surely won’t change your mind on what you think of him as a director. But it’s sort of a novelty watch considering that this was his first flick, his first shot at the big-times, since all of the stuff that he does here that would soon become trademarks of his, were so fresh and vibrant during this time. Also, he added a lot of snippy, snappy writing to create an original-spin on the heist genre; although, I do feel like a bit of a moron for referring to this as something in the “heist genre”, because it really isn’t.

Yeah, there are a couple of robberies done in the span of this movie’s run-time, but they’re more or less pushed to the back-burner, so that character-development and human-interaction can take center-stage and give us a reason to care, which is exactly what happens in this movie. There aren’t any “father-son issues” to be seen here like there are with most of Anderson’s work, but the characters are still interesting enough to pay attention to, especially because they seem like normal people. Sure, they have their quirks and their personalities that may be a little rambunctious, but I never really threw out a character here as being “over-the-top” or “too zany” for me to take in for all that they are. They’re colorful, that’s for sure, but they do have living, breathing pulses underneath their image, and I think that’s where Anderson’s skill in his screenplays shine the most. Not by how funny or unlikable he make his characters be, but just by who they are, and showing that with no strings attached.

That said, it sure as hell isn’t the guy’s best work, but coming from a first-time director, I didn’t expect that. Hell, the first time watching this, I didn’t expect anything except what some consider “his masterpiece”. That was my fault then, but now, I almost feel like I actually get what Anderson is all about and I see why he makes certain decisions in terms of writing and direction, that he does. Every scene has a reasoning for being in this movie, whether it be to build character, suspense, or full knowledge of what type of world we’re placed in, and it all works well. It’s not perfect, and you can definitely tell that some of Anderson’s low-budget problems do come into play and become very noticeable around the middle-act where we spend almost too much time at the hotel, but it’s nevertheless worth paying attention to, if not to just laugh, but to be a bit touched by as well.

And that’s exactly where Anderson’s characters come into this discussion. Though the cast is small and sparse, given the material, everybody does what they can with it and makes it all the more interesting and entertaining to watch. Luke Wilson has always been my favorite Wilson brother, mainly because he has that everyday, get-to-know-me-guy type of charm that works on me, as well as it probably works on the ladies he meets. There’s just something sweet and endearing about the way he handles himself and talks to the people around him, even if those said people around him are total dicks and don’t quite know it just yet.

Nice to see the jumpsuits still hold some relevance today in pop-culture. Obvious connection, I know.

Nice to see the jumpsuits still hold some relevance today in pop-culture. Obvious connection, I know.

The perfect example of one of those people is Owen Wilson as Dignan, the type of friend nobody wants to have, but sadly do. Owen Wilson hasn’t really been showing us much of himself that’s worth loving and caring about, but he’s very good here as Dignan because he acts like a total nut, yet also gets to the bottom of this character, making him more and more endearing in the process. Dignan always senses there is a time for adventure, even when there isn’t one. He tries to get a hair-cut because he feels like he needs to “lay low” after his robbery, and he takes almost any dire situation, to the utmost sincerity, almost to where you wonder if this guy’s joking around or not. Problem is, he never is joking around and always seems like he’s ready to jump-off a building at any given second.

Dignan’s the type of wired-up dude that nobody wants to be around, but we sadly can’t get away from, and Wilson plays him to perfection, not by being funny and dead-panning his ass off, but because he’s able to let us care for the dude, even when he’s obviously not-knowing of his own stupidity. We all know that he means well, and in a way, can’t help but root him on when the going actually does get going, and he needs to man up. The climactic scene where he does finally nut up and shut up, is probably the most memorable and fun, because we too, feel the same type of adventure and fun that Dignan longs for; the only scary part is that it’s real this time, and it could end very badly for him. Good start for Owen though. Wish he took more roles such as this, and actually challenged himself for once, rather than just hanging out with the same damn crew, each and every movie.

Also, nice cameo from James Caan. Can’t get enough of them in this lifetime, so might as well take advantage of them while you still can.

Consensus: While it’s nowhere near being Wes Anderson’s best piece of work, Bottle Rocket is still an effective flick for him to get his start with because it’s heartfelt, funny, a bit weird, a little quirky, and an all around entertaining watch, regardless of if you’re white or not. Mainly though, I’d suggest you be white, because us people, we love the hell out of Wes Anderson and his whimsy! Nearly as much as we love French movies with subtitles! That’s up for debate, though….

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh! The "grown-man-on-small-bike" gag! Never gets old!

Oh! The “grown-man-on-small-bike” gag! Never gets old!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Bling Ring (2013)

If you can’t steal other people’s belongings, then how the hell do you expect to make it in Hollywood?!?!?

High school friends Rebecca and Marc (Katie Chang and Israel Broussard) find themselves bonding over their love for fame and fashion on the first day of class, which also leads them on to their next love: stealing. At first, it’s just small amounts of jewelry and money here and there, but after awhile, once the groups gets bigger, with two more added to the mix (Emma Watson and Taissa Farmiga), and the fortune and star-appeal begins to get to their heads, they decide that they can’t stop while they’re on top and might as well go for it all while they still can. So, this leads them onto a slew of break-ins into some of the most famous stars’ mansions (Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan, among others). But since they’re young, stupid, and as vain as you can get, they eventually find things to get a bit too hot, almost too hot for them to control at a certain point.

Believe it or not, we live in a world where shit like this happens, gets placed on TMZ.com, and is considered “news”. However, it is real and does provide some compelling story-telling, so why not do it one better and make it a full-length feature-flick? Hell, to top it off, why don’t we throw in writer/director Sofia Coppola, a chick who seems to know quite a thing or two about fame, letting it all go to your head, and how it makes you feel like you’re everybody else, but also empty inside at the same time? Yep, sounds like the right ingredients to me, doesn’t it?

Have your popcorn handy, boys.

Have your popcorn handy for this one, boys.

Well, yes and no. More on the “no”, and less on the “yes”, but let’s stick with the positives and keep people happy, shall we?

We shall!

Anyway, Coppola being the inspired and stylistic director that she truly is, always has this movie popping. There’s always a wonderful color-scheme going on, some form of camera-trickery happening to take you off-guard, and shots that literally speak for themselves, without any needed dialogue whatsoever. All of those three trademarks we sometimes love and hate Coppola for, are all here to be seen and enjoyed, even if it doesn’t add much to the story in the long-run; save for one shot where Coppola keeps her distance from one robbery in a glass-mansion, where all of the action you see is through the windows themselves. Shots like that rarely show up in this flick, but when they do, they are very original and exciting to see but I think this flick needed more of that.

Okay, I promised that I would start off light and happy but screw it! This flick sort of pisses me off because of what it had the ability to do! See, Coppola has a pretty interesting story here on her hands, and what makes it even better is that it’s all real. Now, of course we don’t know how much of what actually happened is pure speculation or the truth, and nothing but it so help you God, but for the most part, either/or: it’s a pretty interesting subject that shines a light on what it means to be “famous” or what it takes to be considered a “celebrity”, especially in the day and age we live in where almost everyone is channeling somebody else more famous, in hopes that they’ll be noticed just like them. That’s the 21st Century for ya, folks, and as much as it may suck, it’s the reality of the situation.

But see? What I already discussed right then and there is what makes this movie/story so interesting to begin with, so when Coppola didn’t seem to do much else with it other than give us the same damn sequence of these a-hole kids going around, stealing shit from people’s houses, going to the clubs, taking pictures, showing off their gifts, and posting everything they took on Facebook, it seems like a bit of a missed-opportunity, albeit a repetitive one that gets old quick as soon as the third robbery occurs. I get the point that Coppola is trying to get across about these characters and what it is that they pulled off: their lives are so dull and monotonous, that the actions they commit are just about the same way. Nothing new happens, and yet, you aren’t totally satisfied and need more. That’s what a lot of people say about our generation and if these ass-bags are the clearest-examples of it, then damn, I’m sad to be apart of it. I’m apart of it, and that’s something I can’t undo, but I sure as hell do feel bad about it.

Back to what I was saying about Coppola though; the gal obviously seems to know what she’s talking about and trying to get across, but it isn’t as interesting or as compelling to watch as you might expect coming from a chick that seems like she knows so much about achieving fame, but not knowing what to do with it’s boring life-style. After awhile, it seems to become the same scene, over-and-over again, without any more insight to what’s happening, it’s cultural-effect on the mass medias, or the characters themselves. Actually, if there was anything about this movie that got me a bit fired-up, it was that the characters just aren’t the type of people you want to spend time with in any movie, let alone a movie like this; and that’s not because they’re detestable as it is, they just aren’t in the least bit interesting.

Each and every character in this movie is probably the most shallow you can get, and whether or not the real-life people were actually like this makes me wonder just if they changed and if so, how much? Then again, those are smart thoughts that are too smart for a movie that doesn’t seem to care about them, and only cares about showing what these characters do, whenever they aren’t bored with their daily-lives of going to class and sitting down on the beach. They’re boring and dull people that only care about the riches in life, rather than the pleasures that can be seen by the most simplest things in life, but we never get a chance to go any deeper because Coppola obviously puts her hand up and shows that she doesn’t want to judge them. Fine, don’t do that, but at least give me something, hell, anything else to really make me want to pay attention to these characters with. They all seemed to be wanting the same things, had no uniqueness to them that made them humane in the least bit, and never popped-off the screen, into my lap, and ready to have a wild time with. Instead, they just robbed, talked stupid shite, and acted like they were hot shit, while we all watched and wondered, “Why?”

They're all coming to my house, except for that dude on the left. Yeah, what the hell's he doing with them!!??

They’re all coming to my house, except for that dude on the left. Yeah, what the hell’s he doing with them!!??

The answer to that, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. No, literally, it blew away and probably never coming back. Smooth move, Sofia!

I even feel bad for the cast because even though they’re given characters to work with that could be fun and exciting to watch, they’re just dull and uninteresting and fall under the weight of Sofia’s insistence on not shedding a light on who they were. Works for a tiny bit, but once it starts to affect the performances, then enough is about enough! Katie Chang is good as the ringleader of the group who starts it all off with her kleptomaniacan ways and shows that there’s so much fun, joy, and feeling of empowerment when you’re going into these celebrities houses, and stealing their shit. Chang is nice and detestable in her own way, and is probably the most subtle of all, which does go a long, long way for this cast. Israel Broussard is a nice equalizer for her as Marc, the closeted-gay friend of hers that loves all the things that she does, including herself. His character seemed like he could have been the most interesting of all, but Broussard isn’t that much of a talented actor to pull it off and eventually, you just see him get dropped off in a pool of obvious cliches and happenings that you can see coming a mile away. Even Emma Watson’s character falls prey to this, only because she’s so remarkably dumb, it’s a wonder how she even got away with it all in the end. I’m talking about the character Watson plays, not Watson herself, although the chick is already known for stealing her fair share of shit from celebrities.

Consensus: Coppola’s style and unique-ways of telling a story her way, or the highway is what makes The Bling Ring a bit of an entertaining watch, but the lack of development with characters, reasoning, or cultural-significance makes it feel like an opportunity missed by a long ways.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Don't worry honey, you look good. Trust me.

Don’t worry honey, you look good. Trust me.

This is 40 (2012)

21 more years, and this is most likely going to be my story. Yay!

This film continues to follow the lives of middle-aged married couple, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann), as they face the challenges of their lives and also turning forty. They both are dealing with turning forty and each of their jobs and children Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow) also adds stress to their relationship.

Knocked Up is one of, if not, my favorite Judd Apatow movie so-far. It’s not only of the more realistic depictions of a real-life, modern-day relationship between two people and the problems they go through, but also is one of his funnest outings thus far, mainly just because it never stops being hilarious, even when it’s being serious. That’s why I was really looking forward to seeing Pete and Debbie come back to the big-screen, mainly because every scene they had in that movie, they totally stole it away from Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, no matter how hard those two tried to not let it go down that way. Still, even mentioning those two characters from that movie, would probably be selling this flick the wrong way because it is the farthest thing from being romantic. It’s marriage, bitch, and it’s pretty much misery.

If the casting-choices didn’t already make it clear enough to you, this flick seems to be the most autobiographical of Apatow’s whole career and rightfully so, because the topic of marriage and getting older, can be played for laughs but should also be played for all that it is. Maybe I don’t have much room to talk because I am only 19, I am not married (if you don’t want to count that one week in Vegas), and do not have any kids (not that I know of yet), but seeing people that I do know who are married and who are quickly-approaching this mid-life crisis in their lives, I can easily say that I have a general idea of how much it pains certain people, and that’s why this film really stuck with me. Hell, saying the term, “really stuck with me”, in a Judd Apatow movie, of all movies, really surprised the hell out of me and that’s what works so damn well with this flick.

Megan Fox is totally battling-it-out with Rosamund Pike for...well...you know the award.

Megan Fox is totally battling-it-out with Rosamund Pike for…well…you know the award.

As usual, Apatow’s humor never ceases to amaze me as the guy knows how to write witty-dialogue that teeters on raunchy, but yet, is still hilarious. I found myself laughing a whole bunch with this movie because Apatow knows the stars that he’s writing this material for, and he knows their timing and what fits them the best, that’s why every-line of dialogue that these people shoot out of their mouths, feels perfect and for that, is even funnier. Knowing that this is a Judd Apatow movie, you should come to know that there are a shit-load of pop-culture references that some will get and some won’t, but either way, you’re going to laugh and realize that Apatow is on a roll as a funny man, the guy never stops and always keeps us laughing like a bunch of wild hyenas. I felt bad for some of the people sitting next to me in the theater, because to be honest, I laughed at almost everything and quite loudly, too, whereas they just sat there, moped, and probably got freaked-out by how much I thought was actually in the least bit humorous.

But as funny as Apatow’s movie may be, the drama surprisingly hits, and it’s hard. Since it seems like Apatow, as well as many other members of the cast are going through the exact same dilemma’s that he’s going through, it’s only right that the guy give’s his own two-cents on the way he thinks marriages are, how they play-out, what makes them successful what doesn’t, and ultimately, the trick to raising a family and keeping everybody happy in their own, little nook. Being married to Leslie Mann for almost 15 years now, I would have to say that I trust Apatow’s opinions and views a bit more than any others, and the guy shows that as loving and beautiful it may be to have that love and comfort of your own family and home, it can also be a bit of a bitch.

Back in 2007, Pete and Debbie were happy, a bit wild, a bit fun, but also nagging at each other a lot, too. Now in the year 2012, not much has changed but now they have a lot more on their plate in terms of responsibilities, money, food, services, cars, kids, parents, and ultimately, the future. You can totally tell that Apatow feels that a lot of these subjects/elements are touched-upon when you’re in a marriage and seeing how Debbie and Pete react to the stress of them all, is not only very repetitive and constant, but also realistic.

For instance, whenever Pete and Debbie get into a fight, they always get made at each other, piss and moan around one another, barely talk to each other, but in the end, make-up and enjoy their company while they still can. However, it begins to happen again, and again, and again, and they just continue to go through the same cycle and as annoying as you may think that is, it’s sort of the reality of the situation. Not all problems are going to be fixed, not everything is going to be peachy-keen, not everybody is going to happy all of the freakin’ time, and worst of all, not everything is going to be alright. But it’s not about looking at the dark side of things and letting it get in the way of what could be a whole bunch of sunshine and rainbows with the people you love, but looking at how you can make things better, no matter how shitty or miserable life may be at that exact place, or time.

What here does not fit?

What here does not fit?

That idea really touched me because I don’t feel like you have to be married or in a relationship to understand that, you just have to live life and realize that things will get better, if you just trust, trust, and trust the other one your with. This stuck with me and probably will continue to do so, and I think this is why it’s Apatow’s most touching and mature piece of work, because the guy seems like he’s fully beginning to grow-up now and understand the responsibilities that have been thrown onto him. Actually, maybe I wouldn’t say he’s a big grown-up now, but he’s getting there and I think that’s a lot to see and understand, especially when you’re dealing with a subject like marriage, that gets so sensationalized in movies nowadays, when in reality: it sort of sucks.

But no matter how much Apatow may begin to grow-older and wiser when it comes to making movies and making real, honest truths of life, he still has those occasional problems that can only come to a director that has way too much to say, in such a span of time. That may sound like a strange-statement considering that this flick is over 2 hours and 14 minutes long, but trust me, it’s over-stuffed. Apatow touches on so much here and it feels like he had enough material to last him to 2 more sequels of these same characters, but instead, takes the easier-road for himself, and jam-packs it all into one flick where some aspects of the story get fully-realized, and others just sit there and pop-up whenever Apatow pleases.

In a way, I guess that’s sort of going along with what Apatow is trying to get across and how he leaves his final-point, but getting your final-point across by any means necessary, still doesn’t make a flick that I want to spend awhile with, especially when it seems to go onto tangents that last over 5 minutes-longer than it should be. Right now, at this point in-time, I can’t really say what I feel like Apatow should have cut-out, and put more of in, but there was definitely a whole lot of trimming that needed to be done and no matter how much everything on-screen seemed to entertain me, intrigue me, and even make me laugh, I still felt like about 10 to 15 minutes could have been shaved-off and I use those numbers, just so Apatow could have still been left with his usual, 2-hour long comedies that he so rightfully holds close to his heart and trademark. Don’t worry, Judd. I still like you and I still feel like you have the right to keeping up your own reputation as being the only comedic-director left alive, that’s willing to work with 2-hour long scripts. You, and James L. Brooks, but we all know how that guy has turned-out.

Another reason why this movie is so obviously Apatow’s own, autobiographical-take on marriage and growing-up, is because it features his whole-family as leads, with the exception of himself. Paul Rudd takes over, what is essentially the role of Apatow’s life and persona, and to be truly honest, who better? Seriously, if I wanted a movie done about my life, my times, and my mid-life crisis, I would probably want Paul Rudd playing the character of me, regardless of how much he doesn’t look like me. Looks and personas aside, Rudd is still perfect as Pete because the guy is still so hip, still so cool, and yet, still so conflicted from the first movie, that he really never seemed to change, other than the fact that there is more pressure on him to be a daddy and to be the man of the house, aka, the man they can all depend on. This is Rudd’s most dramatic piece of work in quite some time and he handles it with ease, giving us a lot of the goofy, funny-side of his character, but also the more serious-side that keeps to himself whenever anger comes to him, and just begins to build and build up inside of himself, until he just can’t take it anymore and bursts out with rage. It’s a fully-realized character, and a fully-realized performance from Rudd that shows exactly why he is the most likable, leading-man working today. And trust me, you cannot dispute that.

"So, where has your career gone as of late?"

“So, where has your career gone as of late?”

Playing his wife, is Leslie Mann who is absolutely terrific as Debbie, showing that the gal still has some control issues over what she wants done with her husband and her marriage, but at the same time, is still one lovely gal to watch on-screen. Mann is one of the finer, comedic-actresses working today because she knows how to balance-out the crazy-side of her comedic-acting, with her down-to-earth, realistic-aspect of her dramatic-acting, and make it all seem believable. Watching her and Rudd is perfect because they both play-off of each other as husband-and-wife in such a perfect way, for better or worse. When they fight, it feels real. When they make-up and love one another, it feels real. And whenever they just sit-there, don’t talk, and realize that the other is not really happy with what’s going on at that moment, it feels real. I honestly don’t think that anybody else could have played these two characters and as funny and hilarious as Rudd and Mann may be whenever they are together, just clowning-around, they still painfully real and honest, which is why it becomes so clear that these two people, really are, Pete and Debbie.

This idea also extends to the real-life daughters of Mann and Apatow, Maude and Iris, who both play Charlotte and Sadie here, and are still getting better and better as time goes on. It’s crazy to think about it, but they are essentially growing-up, right in front of our own eyes and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, mainly because of these girls are so talented and great at what they do, that it seems more like a wise-decision, rather than a self-righteous one, that Apatow would actually cast his-own kids in a movie, as the children of their own, real-life mother. It’s a bit too surreal, but after awhile, you start to forget about it and realize that talent just runs in the Apatow-genes. I wish I was one.

The whole ensemble works perfectly-well too, and everybody, and I do mean, EVERYBODY, gets their own-chance to shine and make you laugh. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow play the fathers of both Pete and Debbier, respectively, and play them fine with all of their flaws and positives. Brooks’ positives is that he a nice guy and knows the family for all that they are, but his negatives are that he’s a mooch and continues to try and get more money from a family, that really seems to need it more than him, in a way; whereas Lithgow’s negatives are a lot wider, seeing that the guy left Debbie when she was young, really didn’t want much to do with her, and never seems to connect, but later on, we begin to find-out more about that fact and it’s very-touching to see, coming from Lithgow, a guy who really seems to be falling-off the radar as of late. Also, Megan Fox is hilarious here, playing another sexxed-up version of herself, where she is in on the joke, playing everything-up to the point of where you don’t really know if she’s acting or not, and is just perfect with all that she does. I really do hope to see more of her in the future, as well as her body. Hot damn!

Consensus: Though (like the review I just wrote), This is 40 is a bit lengthy and could have been chopped-up at times, but is always funny, always entertaining, and always feels realistic and honest in the way it portrays aging, marriage, and holding a family together, especially in today’s day and age, where it’s harder and a lot more stressful to do.

8/10=Matinee!!

That's a sign of a man marking his territory.

That’s a sign of a man marking his territory. Watch your back, Paul!

ParaNorman (2012)

See, those kids who talk to dead people aren’t so weird after all! Haley Joel Osment is jumping in the air somewhere right now.

The small New England town of Blithe Hollow comes under siege by the undead. Only a misunderstood local boy, Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who has the ability to speak with the dead, is able to prevent the destruction of his town from a centuries-old witch’s curse. He’ll also have to take on ghosts, witches, zombies and worst of all, the moronic grown-ups. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Maybe I was all alone in a boat by myself back in 2009, but I really just did not like Coraline. There was something about it that just didn’t work and I felt it was just too scary and serious to be considered a kids flick. This one follows in the same exact steps as that one except it has the one key ingredient that always makes these films work: the fat kid. More on that later, though. Let’s start with the positive things that came before he arrived.

The animation for this flick, is exactly what you would expect from the animation studio Laika. Even though I may have disliked a lot about Coraline, I still thought that they had plenty of eye-candy to help me get through, and that’s exactly what we have here but probably used a lot better in the terms of 3D. It was a really neat thing to see stop-motion animation done in a 3D way, and it added some real color and zaniness to this final product, as if it was one of the horror films that it was making fun of in the first place. Needless to say, the kids will love how much shit is constantly popping out at them (not literal shit, but you get my drift), but the parents will also be able to appreciate a 3D used right and almost not feel like their over-priced $13 dollar ticket will go to waste. Actually, if you add the kid’s ticket as well it’s going to be a lot more so it’s a good thing that it at least delivers or there’s going to be a loud of pissed-off parents.

Another element of this film that separates itself from Coraline, is that there is loads and loads of amounts of comedy to be had here, which really took me by surprise considering how much I actually laughed. There’s a lot of goofy sight-gags that you have to look closely to see and there’s a lot of jokes that only true horror movie fans will get, but what separates this film from all the other animated films that have come out in the last 2 years or so, is that is able to make almost any movie-goer laugh. Have a couple of kids? They got their fart jokes and slapstick. Got a bunch of grumpy adults? They have their sly humor and wit about a dark situation that somehow makes it lighter. Got a horror movie lover out there? They got the movie references. Have you average, movie-goer that just wants to laugh and have a good time? They got plenty of jokes that will work and make you laugh, as they did onto me. You’ll be surprised by how far this film goes with it’s comedy but it works, and instead of just dropping out pop-culture reference after pop-culture reference like we see in Shrek films, we get the type of comedy where goofy things happen, all for a reason. And that’s funny enough as it is.

Problem with a lot of this comedy is that it comes in a little too much. I get that the film wanted to always keep things light and humorous, even when it get dark and scary as hell, but they could have at least slowed down a bit and let some scenes just play out in a very serious matter. Sounds pretty strange that I would actually want a funny film to stop it’s humor for a bit and just be serious with us, but it gets to the point of where you can’t pay attention to what’s going on with this story and what’s on-screen because you’re constantly just waiting for another funny quip to come right through. Strange complaint, I know.

Another complaint about this film I had was that it take a bit too long to get where it exactly needed to go. With these films, you know exactly what’s going to happen from start to finish, which means that it better hurry it’s ass up by keeping us entertained. This film definitely keeps us entertained for the most part, but doesn’t really hurry it’s ass up either. The film just sort of just takes it’s time with it’s awfully predictable story, which doesn’t really work when you have something as conventional as this. Two very weird complaints, I know, but this is not necessarily the most normal film out there either and I think that’s all because of Norman himself.

Kodi Smit-McPhee seems like a great choice as Norman because the kid has always been type-cast as these weirdo-types and gives Norman a whole lot of boyish sympathy, that’s easy to fall for and stand behind; Anna Kendrick voices his older sister who is always bitching and trying to impress a hot dude around her; that hot dude I’m talking about is Casey Affleck as an older brother of somebody and shows he’s got great comedic timing with a weird, scratchy voice like his; and Christopher Mintz-Plasse proves he can be funny, but not as a nerd as the school bully here. Everybody else from this talented ensemble is fine, but when it comes right down to it, nobody stands in the way of the fat one.

I don’t know who this kid is and I don’t know if I have ever seen him ever before, but Tucker Albrizzi absolutely nails every line he has the token fat sidekick, Neil. Neil is such a great character right from the start because he’s fat, a nerd, and doesn’t get along with most kids, but still has a big heart and you can feel that from Albrizzi’s voice and just how they make this character look. Honestly, you cannot say that the picture of Neil in this movie just doesn’t want to make you pinch his cheeks or feed him some Cinna Buns. Every time this kid just about opens his mouth, it’s a piece of comedy that works and thank the lord for Albrizzi, because he makes everybody in this flick seem like a bunch of rookies, even though he’s only 13 years old. Kids got a bright future and I hope he keeps it going. Then again, I have never seen him before or if he can act well, but I know the kid’s got a great voice for animated characters that’s for damn sure.

Consensus: ParaNorman may not be the best animated flick all year, but is still a hell of a lot better than Coraline, the film that came before it with a playful sense of humor that can have anybody who sees this laugh, and a talented voice cast that milks all of the lines for all that they got.

7.5/10=Rental!!

The Change-Up (2011)

Proof that the comedy genre is running out of ideas.

Single playboy Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and responsible husband-father Dave (Jason Bateman) are best buddies who want each other’s life — and they get the chance when they magically swap bodies after a night of drunken revelry.

The body-switching comedy has been done before, so when I saw the preview for this one I thought it was going to be a big pile of crap. However, even though the critics hate this one, I can’t really say I don’t like this either.

For the most part, the script itself knows exactly what this film is all about and doesn’t try to do anything new with this body-switch story, instead it just loads up with tons and tons of raunchy jokes, which isn’t so bad. A lot of the things said and done here are sometimes we haven’t seen or heard hit the screen before but that doesn’t mean it’s still not funny. The jokes are constant, as well as rude, mean, and just plain nasty but it kept me laughing a whole lot throughout the first 30 minutes of this film.

This is also an R-rated film, and when I mean R, I mean a heavy R. There is a huge amount of poop, ball, penis, sex, and fart gags to be had here which makes it even more disgusting once you see the situations these dudes get into which is some pretty messed up stuff. It actually gets so bad to the point of where you may actually start to gag at the things you see. Trust me, it’s some pretty bad and dirty stuff.

Some may say this is all in bad taste, while others will say it is just incredibly repulsive. I say that this is some raunchy stuff that is actually pretty funny and something that hasn’t been done before in a body-switch film and with the director of Wedding Crashers teaming up with the dudes who wrote The Hangover, I can’t believe I was actually surprised by a lot of the stuff I was seeing here. In case you couldn’t tell this is not a film you bring mommy and daddy to.

However, as the film kept on going, I started to realize that the laughs started to fall more and more until there was barely any and then we just got the usual annoying, sympathetic plot device. The film actually does have us care for these guys which is something I wasn’t even expecting but the problem here is that it just gets way too sappy by the end, almost till the point of where I just kept on rolling my eyes left-and-right at every single piece of dialogue that came out of these character’s mouths.

The film doesn’t go off formula for one second, yet it spends it’s sweet time getting there regardless of the fact that everyone knows exactly how it’s gonna end. This is the biggest problem here because it goes on for way too long. It went on so long that after the 90-minute mark not a single person was actually laughing until the film itself realized that it was actually a raunchy comedy and then decided to throw in some dirty stuff there.

The real saving grace to this film is actually the cast which shines in almost every moment they get. Jason Bateman plays the straight-laced funny guy in almost every film he does now as Dave, but here he gets to branch out now that he’s taking over Reynolds’ mouth. Bateman takes over this film bringing so many hilarious one-liners, non-stop crass remarks, and a guy that is actually kind of mean and unlikable which Bateman seems to channel incredibly well in this performance. Ryan Reynolds is a lot more subdued as Mitch, but the guy still shows that he has the hilarious comic chops to make this character work well. It’s probably been awhile since he’s actually gotten a very funny role but Reynolds is given a lot of opportunity to just fly that foul-mouth around and shows why he’s got perfect comedic timing and not just a great body with a killer smile.

The problem with the casting of these two in this role is that both actors actually kind of have the same dead-pan comedic delivery so when these two switch bodies and minds, there’s nothing really terribly new to their persona’s. I think if they casted two actors that have two totally different ways of bringing out laughs, then this would have provided a lot more hilarity seeing an actor take on a different role for once. But instead, we’re stuck with these two and that’s not to say that their not all that bad anyway.

The ladies in this film are actually pretty good too. Leslie Mann is funny as well as pretty endearing as Dave’s wife and although she’s been a lot better, I still have to say that she owns that sweet and mean side to her acting that she has. The always gorgeous Olivia Wilde does a great job of not letting her good looks get too much in the way of her comedy and actually brings out some very good laughs that I wasn’t really expecting from her character after all.

Consensus: The plot turns into some sympathetic and formulaic crap that kind knocks the comedy down more and more, but The Change-Up still has it’s fair shares of totally raunchy, dirty, and just downright wrong jokes that actually work mainly thanks to the very great performances from Reynolds and Bateman.

7/10=Rental!!

The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Really makes me wanna get it on! Any takers?

Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) has a pleasant life with a nice apartment and a job stamping invoices at an electronics store. But at age 40, there’s one thing Andy hasn’t done, and it’s really bothering his sex-obsessed male co-workers: Andy is still a virgin. Determined to help Andy get laid, the guys make it their mission to de-virginize him. But it all seems hopeless until Andy meets small business owner Trish (Catherine Keener), a single mom.

This was the directorial debut for the man we now call, Judd Apatow. The guy went on to direct Knocked Up and Funny People. Even though this isn’t as good as them both, it still is frickin’ hilarious.

My favorite aspect to this film is that it’s script is basically just one running gag for about two hours, but somehow Apatow and company make it work. The humor here is gross-out, disgusting, sexxed up, but sometimes insightful, and always hilarious. There are plenty of one-liners that you’ll find here, as well as some funny little hits on Michael McDonald, horse shows, hood rats, and the movie Gandhi that are all funny as hell, and although they may not always hit the mark you still find yourself cracking up at everything these people say. This could have easily gone the wrong way, and just have been one bad sex joke, after another, but it never seems to get old.

However, there’s more to this film than just a bunch of dick and sex jokes. There’s actually more of a sweet tone to this film that works out for this film because in between all the raunchiness, there is actually a caring, little love story here. It’s not just about this dude trying to bag a bitch, but more about him actually having a meaningful relationship with somebody and falling in love. It all sounds pretty corny, but just to watch how Apatow pulls all this off is something great to see.

My only problem with this film is that it does run on for a bit too long. The version I watched was 2 hours and 13 minutes, which made some conversations run on longer than others, and by the end you feel like this runs on about 10 minutes too long. Speaking of the end, what the hell was up with that ending? I didn’t really get the whole “Age of Aquarius” song number at the end, and to be truly honest, I don’t think anybody else watching this did either.

Not only did Apatow become a star after this so did the whole cast. Steve Carell makes his first star turn as the geeky, but lovable Andy Stitzer, and makes all the scenes with him hilarious. Nowadays, it’s almost hard to see him as anything other than Michael Scott, but no matter what he is in, he is an absolute riot to have up there, and this first big role for him proves it. Catherine Keener is good as the main romantic interest, Trish, but my only problem with her is that I feel that her character was a little too sweet for this type of movie, but despite that Keener is always a delight to have. This film also put so many other talents on the map such as Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, Leslie Mann, Elizabeth Banks, and a little cameo from a very young Jonah Hill. All do great jobs with the material their given, and thanks to this film, are all getting big-time paychecks from so many other films.

Consensus: Some of it may run on too long, but The 40-Year-Old Virgin has a great combo of a hilarious script filled with raunch and vulgarity, and a sweet story at the bottom of it all, with plenty of great moments with this funny cast.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)

Never would I have thought that I’d see the day when I saw Obi-Wan and Ace Ventura smooching on the screen.

When upstanding Texas cop Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) realizes he’s gay, he changes his entire life and pulls a series of bold con jobs that lands him jail — where he meets his one true love, cellmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). When Morris is transferred to another prison, lovesick Russell mounts a series of jailbreaks just to be with his beloved soul mate.

This film has been all over the place for the past couple of years. It’s been getting edited, finding American distributors, and also trying to actually find a release. And although nobody will probably see this movie, you should really get out and try to.

The fact that this film couldn’t find an American distributor because it had “a lot of gay sexual sequences” is totally beyond me. Yeah, there is gay sexual happenings in this movie, but its not to the point of where your basically disgusted at everything that’s going on. In the first part of the film I was a little annoyed by how the gay stereotypes were all over the place, but they soon started to dumb down, and that’s what I liked the most.

This film is not flaming with gay material, it’s more about the sweet love story. This film had me laughing at a lot of parts, and really worked when it came to comedy all over the board, and not just gay sex jokes. Its sweet tone also is kept throughout the whole film, and you can actually feel an emotional connection to all of these characters, even though they may be a little messed up. The pace throughout is generally well-done, without moving too fast, or too slow.

But I honestly liked how the whole story was all true, and the con-man events that happen are even funnier. I think Steven Russell is just such a smart guy, that it was really interesting to see how his story played out into this film. He did many, many crazy things that I would have never have thought about, just to be with his boo, which was funny, and also sweet at the same time. Never have I watched a film and thought that I can do whatever want to do, and be who I want to be, I just got to be good at making stories up, and act really well.

The problem with this film is that the comedy and drama doesn’t quite balance out as well as I would have liked it to. By the end of the film you can kind of see that the film is relying too hard on the drama aspect, which kind of seemed strange, since this whole film itself was kind of goofy. But in the end, I guess it all worked out.

The best thing that this film has going for itself, is the fact that Jim Carrey is on fire (or flaming for that matter)! He is perfect as Steven Russell, and you can really see he is having fun actually playing a “character”. Everybody is so used to seeing Jim Carrey playing the usual Stanley Ipkiss, or Ace Ventura, that it really is a surprise when he can be an actual real-life person. I thought he was doomed, but he came back and showed me after all, why we all love him. It’s not the bravest performance ever, but he does a perfect job at mixing both his dramatic, and comedic aspect of his acting skills. Ewan McGregor is fine as Phillip Morris, as he plays this really gentle, sweet guy that just wants love. It’s great to see these two together on screen, cause they really do make it all work, and their chemistry is actually very solid, as strange as it may seem.

Consensus: Despite its flaws, I Love You Phillip Morris is a funny, fact-based, romantic comedy, that doesn’t exploit the homosexual love, and instead keeps it cute, with Carrey and McGregor doing great jobs in the leads.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Drillbit Taylor (2008)

Sounds like a porno, and in ways, I kind of wish it was.

Three high school freshmen devise a novel plan for dealing with the treacherous school bully: They hire a bodyguard. Salvation comes in the form of Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a beach bum ex-soldier who teaches the boys some handy life lessons. Leslie Mann co-stars as an English teacher.

What starts off as a fresh, and actually funny idea, then turns into one of the usual, crappy, high-school comedies, that don’t work at all.

The main problem with this film is that it’s tone is way off. There is some funny moments, however, the constant fighting, and bullying, actually starts to get darker, and pretty sad, to the point of where you don’t know whether to laugh, or start to feel bad for these kids, as almost everyday they go into school, and single handedly get raped. The bullying scenes were way over the top. These things would never happen and certainly would never happen now especially the duration of the abuse. Someone would be roughed up by the police and sued at the very least for displaying this level of violence at a public school.

But things get worse, because nothing nothing makes any sense. Owen Wilson just walks into a school, with a shirt and tie, and everybody already thinks hes a teacher. Also, the school in this must be the same ones used in almost every single high school film, where no teacher is around to see any of this.

Owen Wilson I will say got me through most of this, but he is playing the same guy, he does in every movie, but it always works. But we never knew, and understand why this guy turned out to be such a bum. We see that he has the smarts and charm to be something more, but we’re just left with the fact that he still lives on the streets. The three kids here are funny, and almost reminded me of Superbad, mainly because they did look like three high school freshman, but they can’t do much with this script.

It also sucks that this was John Hughes last film before he died, and I just want to say, that although this sucks, it kind of makes me know that, he will always and forever be a legend in the world of cinema, no matter how bad, or good his work was.

Consensus: Though it may have some funny moments, Drillbit Taylor has problems with it script, because it gets too carried away with bullying, and just doesn’t fit well in today’s world.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!

Funny People (2009)

I could only wish that everybody was as funny as the title says.

When famous comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is given a second chance at a new beginning, he and his assistant, a struggling comedian, Ira (Seth Rogen), return to the places and people that matter most…including the stand-up spots that gave him his start and the girl that got away (Leslie Mann).

With Judd Apatow’s last two at bats (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) he has shown that he can make hilarious comedies, with heart-felt messages somewhere in between. This is no different, except it kind of is.

Apatow as the writer is perfect. He always fines a perfect balance of heart and hilarity, and this is no exception. The jokes as usual, are hilarious, if you like a lot of boner jokes, and it almost never slows down. The stand-up seems just wreak with hilarity and a lot of originality. When Simmons gets cancer, you would think that the most would slow down, and get very very serious, however, Apatow changes that and never stops bringing out the jokes, and surprisingly a lot of them had me laughing-out-loud. You can tell that he has matured, and his writing makes you have more hope for him in the future.

Although, Apatow as the director, now that’s a stretch. He overuses the slow-zoom to show his characters being emotionally effected by something, it’s almost too obvious at times. Also, the first act between Rogen and Sandler works so well, it was this close to getting a 10/10, then came the next story with Sandler and Mann, then it just kind of lost me. It’s less of a buy-one-get-one-free deal, and more a but-one-and-get-one you really didn’t ask for deal. Both stories just don’t seem connected, and although the jokes kept up during the last act, I still didn’t find a reason for it. Oh, and the film is about 2 hours and 30 minutes, so be ready to be looking at your watch many times.

Apatow does a great job of blurring the line of fiction and non-fiction to create compelling, realistic performances from the cast. George Simmons is sort of the dream role for Adam Sandler. Mainly because Simmons is a goofy comedian, Sandler gets to indulge in that goofy side, we all know and love him for, but he gets to show the characters darker parts, and does a fantastic job at it. Although, I think the film could have done a better chance of showing Simmons in a more positive way sometimes. Simmons is a dick, especially towards the end, but we never get to see him come out of that dark shell, and understand who he has come to be.

The rest of the cast is perfect too. Seth Rogen (who is looking very, very slim) plays probably the least Seth Rogen he has ever played, because he doesn’t do that famous “Rogen chuckle“, and instead he does a character with nervous twitches, and mega-awkwardness. Leslie Mann is funny, but more serious than her usual character, and seems a lot more genuine during the last act, than she has, in a long time (yes, I’m talking about you George of the Jungle). There are other little characters that will make you laugh such as Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, RZA, Aziz Ansari, but the most surprisingly funny one was…………….Eric Bana! He comes in the film and you expect him to play this really deuchy character, cause the whole film they talk about him so badly, then you meet him, and he’s downright lovable. He’s hilarious, sweet, and really cool. Kind of makes me forget about The Hulk.

The film probably should get an Oscar for the film with most cameos, if there ever was one. I mean you got Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, James Taylor, even Tom from MySpace (I don’t know how that guy still has a career). But the funniest one is between Eminem and Ray Romano, that will just have you cracking up, although it does seem really random. Better yet, you never know, Eminem probably wasn’t acting.

Consensus: Funny People is consistently funny, as well as being heart-felt, with great performances from the whole cast, even though the last act may take some away, and not very inspired direction.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Knocked Up (2007)

Why it’s better to be safe then sorry. Always wear a condom.

A one-night stand results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl), who vows to be a good mom and keep her career on track by trying to make things work with the slacker (Seth Rogen) who knocked her up. It’s anything but smooth sailing as the odd couple gets acquainted, but Alison finds there’s more to her baby’s daddy than she originally thought.

Judd Apatow is most known for making raunchy as hell scripts, with even dirtier stories that eventually take place. However, when he takes a slight serious look, its somewhat refreshing.

There is still a lot of Apatow’s signature comedic screenplay. There is a lot of raunch in this film, as you would expect, but the whole film isn’t just about the raunch, and the hilarity, there is some seriousness. Most of the film walks a fine line between romantic comedy and relationship drama, and all of it balances out well. We never get too much of everything, and the sentimental moments hit real well.

The film is however around 2 hours and 13 minutes, which leaves plenty of time for drag time. I think the film could have been cut down to maybe under an hour, cause some scenes didn’t feel like they had any meaning and were put in just to be raunchy. Most people will be put off by the last act probably, cause there is a lot of “here come’s the baby” stuff, but some material does drag, while as others do not.

Probably the best thing about this film that wins everybody over, is the characters themselves. Seth Rogen is once again great here, playing that awkwardly funny dude, that you just want to chill with, and make constant movie references with. However, you see a transformation in his character by the end of the film, and it all seems realistic. Katherine Heigl also probably compared to the crap she’s done in the past couple of years, gives off her best performance here, and the chemistry these two create just feels real. They start off as not knowing anything about each other, and probably not liking each other, then they try to get to know each other, but you still can see that there are moments and touches of awkwardness between the two. There are plenty of other other great comedic characters in this film like Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, and plenty of more, that are just comedic gold, and add a lot of flavor to the film, even when it’s in its dramatic stages.

Consensus: Knocked Up may drag on, especially during its last act, but still gives a refreshing, if not raunchy, and hilarious look at child-bearing, and parenthood. But it all feels real, with realistic performances, and screenplay.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

17 Again (2009)

You know if I was seventeen and looked liek Zac Efron, I would go back too.

On the brink of a midlife crisis, 30-something Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) wishes he could have a “do-over.” And that’s exactly what he gets when he wakes up one morning to find he’s 17 years old again. With his adult mind stuck inside the body of a teenager (Zac Efron), Mike actually has the chance to reverse some decisions he wishes he’d never made. But maybe they weren’t so bad after all.

Basically just imagine this movie as Big, but backwards. And instead of silly Tom Hanks, you have teen sex appeal god, Zac Efron. Big Difference.

The film uses an overly used premise and I can’t quite say that it hits the money in originality. The high school that Efron attended was filled with all the usual stereotypes you could imagine: the sluts, the geeks, and of course the jocks. The film tries to be like many other teen vehicles like Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, or even Hannah Montana for that matter.

There is also a huge sense of creepiness in this movie. So many times when Efron and his wife Leslie Mann were on screen together and everything was just so creepy and weird that it was so hard to believe. Things got even weirder with his daughter, and although they handle the material with ease it is still a bit weird.

The film though does have some clever writing. There were some moments where the film had me laughing a lot more than I expected, and actually had me caring for the characters also more than I was expecting. The movie handles its material with nice and kind sweetness, and doesn’t over-shower it with too many sexual jokes, if any at all.

This is Efron’s first role to branch out of The High School Musical role, and to say the least he does a good job with it. He has a lot of charm and enthusiasm, and actually shows that he will be able to have a long career with the right film choices. Tom Lennon does have some good moments as his zany nerd, but sometimes I felt like he gets over-used and should have been played once and awhile.

Consensus: Though its uses an over-familiar plot and doesn’t bring much new to the screen, 17 Again is a sweet teen comedy, backed by a energetic and charming performance from Efron.

5/10=Rental!!!