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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Matthew Broderick

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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Bee Movie (2007)

Not the bees, indeed.

Now that he’s fresh out of college, Barry the Bee (Jerry Seinfeld) can finally spend the rest of his life doing what he’s always been wanting to do: Work. However, Barry doesn’t quite know what he wants to do just yet, or better yet, knows that he doesn’t want to work with honey. So, he decides to take a brief stroll out into the real world and realizes that there’s something incredibly wild and magical about this outside. He also gets to meet a human lady named Vanessa (Renée Zellweger), who he not only strikes up a friendship with, but continues to learn more and more about the world outside of the beehive. Eventually, this has Barry thinking less and less about the life and career he lives inside the hive, and more about the one outside of it, where he can do whatever he wants and not have to worry about certain ideas that society mandates. That is, until he realizes that the outside world isn’t all that it’s made out to be, either.

"Get back in, ya bee! Get it? Cause we're all bees when you think about it, bro!"

“Get back in, ya bee! Get it? Cause we’re all bees when you think about it, bro!”

For some inexplicable reason, Bee Movie is currently having a moment. Why? Who started it? And when will it end? Well, I don’t know the answer to any of these questions – what I do know is that all of this attention is being placed on a nearly decade-old movie that, quite frankly, was never something to really talk or get all crazy about in the first place.

In a way, it’s odd watching Bee Movie now, in 2016, knowing full well how far and advanced animation has come. Sure, 2007 may not have had nearly as many of the technological advances that we do now, but still, Bee Movie, even in the clearest, brightest and prettiest HD imaginable, still looks kind of murky. The bee characters don’t have much to them, except maybe one physical difference, the humans all look dull and dead in the eyes, and when the movie is adventuring into the great big world that we call Earth, you can tell that a lot of the budget went to certain shapes and figures, and not to the rest of the image.

Still, that’s all silly technical stuff that doesn’t quite matter.

What does matter, and what mostly every meme has been pointing out, is that Bee Movie is a pretty ridiculous movie, but not like the kind we’re used to seeing with animated flicks. With most animated flicks, like how Bee Movie starts out initially, is that they take us to this fantastical, weird and unbelievable world, where inanimate objects speak, have thoughts, feelings and can do things, like you or I, except, maybe, yeah, in their own way. At first, this is exactly what Bee Movie seems to be, but eventually, it turns the other cheek and doesn’t know what it wants to say or do.

In fact, it all changes when we’re introduced to Zellweger’s Vanessa, who is perhaps the dumbest human character in an animated flick to-date. It’s odd that she can not only talk to bees, or other inanimate objects, but how, despite the movie trying to make as many jokes as possible, is still totally cool and normal with it. I wouldn’t mind this in an animated flick, but there does come some idea that the movie has to not only explain itself, but even make sense of it all; to even say that “there’s a force in the air”, or some silly mumbo jumbo like that, honestly, is fine with me. All I need is an explanation and I won’t complain.

Corporations, man.

Corporations, man.

However, Bee Movie doesn’t give that.

Instead, it just takes what could have been a very simple, easy and relatively fun premise of a bee seeing the outside world for what it is, a la, A Bug’s Life or Antz, but instead, drives for something more ambitious. Is it an admirable effort on the writers and directors behalves? Sure, but does it pay-off? Not really.

Once the movie starts getting into a honey-producing corporation headed by Ray Liotta and takes us to court, the movie gets all too wild and insane to really keep up with. This isn’t to say that the jokes aren’t good, because they mostly can be, however, that’s when the movie itself isn’t enamored with finding every bee pun that they can find. It gets annoying after awhile and almost feels like a bunch of 12-year-olds just discovering what comedy is and constantly trying to one-up one another.

It’s nice to hear the voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, Chris Rock, and others, but they all feel oddly-placed. Seinfeld and Broderick are both voicing characters who are, essentially, 21-year-old dudes, and don’t sound a single thing like it, Warburton is, as usual, hilarious and the most understandable character out of the bunch, Rock is in it for maybe five minutes, makes us laugh our pants off, then leaves for good, John Goodman shows up at the end as born-and-bred lawyer from Missippi and I probably would have paid to see his face while uttering some of these lines in the voice that he uses, and Zellweger, as mentioned before, feels awkward. Her character not only looks it, but even Zellweger’s line delivery still feels like she’s maybe not in on the joke, or simply, understands it and is not a fan of it in the first place.

Why she or anyone else signed-up is beyond me. But hey, at least the movie made some money, was for the kids and continues to live on in the internet-age.

So, who knows? Maybe everyone’s a winner.

Consensus: With an awkward premise, Bee Movie seems like it could have been a lot funnier and interesting, had it tightened-up its writing and gotten rid of all the inane bee jokes.

5 / 10

"Yeah, at least we're getting paid."

“Yeah, at least we’re getting paid.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Rules Don’t Apply (2016)

When you’re Howard Hughes and pissing in Mason jars, you can do whatever you want.

It’s 1958, and Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), a devout Baptist beauty queen from Virginia arrives in Hollywood, her eyes chock full of hopes, dreams and wonders of possibly taking over the movie world. She gets picked-up at the airport by Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), who will soon be her permanent driver and aspires to achieve the same sort of fame and fortune that Marla does, however, it’s a tad bit different. Together though, the two form a connection and affection for the man who is employing them both: Billionaire, womanizer, and famed aviator, Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty). They’ve both heard all of the crazy stories and don’t quite know what to believe about Hughes, but what they do know is that he’s a very hard man to see, track down, or better yet, even have something resembling of a conversation with. He’s so mysterious, that it’s almost like he doesn’t exist. However, the two eventually do cross paths with Hughes in some very odd, strange ways that change both of their lives forever and may also crush whatever it was that they expected from Hollywood in the first place.

After what’s been nearly two decades, it’s nice to have Warren Beatty back in our lives and on our screens, regardless of how short-lived it may be. As an actor, Beatty has always been a master at playing any sort of role, whether dark and dramatic, or light and fun, bringing the best to whatever flick he’s in. As a director, he’s far better. Ambitious, smart and always equipped with something to say, Beatty doesn’t just take on directorial projects for the hell of it – he needs to have a reason to tell a story and a certain passion within it.

He loves his hats.

He loves his hats.

Which is why for all its faults, flaws and obvious issues, Rules Don’t Apply, despite the awful title, still deserves a watch.

It’s unfortunate though, that Rules Don’t Apply has been in the works for so long, because it clearly shows; with nearly four editors on-tap here, there’s obvious moments where it seems like the movie was cut, pasted and messed around with way too much. Certain scenes play too long, too short, or sometimes, literally make absolute no sense. Does this have more to do with the directing/crafting of the movie itself, or more to do with how the movie was edited and perhaps made to reach some sort of arbitrary standard for the studios involved? Whatever the answer may be, it doesn’t matter; the fact remains that Rules Don’t Apply is still a pretty messy, uneven piece that has the look and feel of a movie that’s been tampered with one too many times.

Still, however, it’s a movie that deserves a watch, mostly because there are certain aspects and elements to it that are interesting and do work. Beatty seems to craft two different stories simultaneously; there’s the love blossoming between Marla and Frank, and there’s the crazy and wild persona of Howard Hughes that sometimes finds its way of getting between that. Aside from the other, they work and are incredibly compelling, but together, they don’t quite hit the same notes. Most of this has to do with it being very clear from the get-go that Beatty is more invested in Hughes himself and less of how Marla and Frank come together – their romance, while cute and sweet at times, also feels like a macguffin just to give us a sneak-peek into the secret and weird life of Hughes.

In a way, Beatty wants to explore the sheer hypocrisy and sadness that lies within such a system and place like Hollywood, where it seems like a lot of promises are made, a lot of money is thrown around, and a lot of people talk, but nothing actually happens or get done. It’s not necessarily original, but it is interesting to watch, mostly because we see it all play out through the dough-eyed eyes of Frank and mostly, Marla. But in another way, Beatty also wants to show us that someone as crazy, as insane and as certifiably nuts as Howard Hughes, did exist, have power, have control, had a whole lot of money, and mostly, got by in life based on the pure fact that he was labeled a “mysterious genius”. Rules Don’t Apply constantly seems to be battling with itself over what to say, but mostly, just ends up presenting two different sides to a coin that we’re not really sure about, which leaves it feeling slightly unfinished.

Still, it’s hard not to watch.

Don't be too happy, kiddies. Howie's always watching.

Don’t be too happy, kiddies. Howie’s always watching.

Beatty, the actor, seems to be having the time of his life as Hughes, lighting up the screen with his casual weirdness that we’ve never quite seen from him before. At nearly 80 years of age, it’s interesting to see Beatty try something new on for size and work with this odd, idiosyncratic person and give us a compelling performance; we feel as if we’re supposed to trust him because of how he speaks, but we also know that he’s insane and because of this, is unpredictable. Beatty plays at this idea very well and has us constantly wondering just where he’s going to go next with this performance and how it’s going to factor into the movie as a whole.

It also helps that Beatty doesn’t allow for his performance to get in the way of Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, who are both pretty amazing here. Though Ehrenreich seems to be on the rise what with the Han Solo movie coming up, it’s really Collins who surprised me the most, giving us a character who is so bright, so bubbly, so charming and so lovely, that it’s hard to imagine watching her dreams shatter before her very own eyes. If anything, a movie about her life and brief touch with stardom would have been its own move, but of course, Beatty himself does have different intentions and can’t seem to help himself, leaving Collins’ performance, while very good, seeming like a missed opportunity.

Then again, there’s a whole slew of others that seem to literally show up, do their thing and then leave, all with the drop of a hat. Certain players like Annette Bening, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick and Taissa Farmiga get a few scenes to help develop their characters a bit, but others like Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Amy Madigan, Steve Coogan, Dabney Coleman, Paul Schneider, Haley Bennett, and trust me, more, all have nothing to do. It’s as if they could have only shown up to film for a day and we’re allowed to have that scene put in. If that was the case, it’s impressive that Beatty was able to get such a wildly eclectic group of people to come out and work, but also a tad annoying cause all it does is add to an already rather stuffed flick.

Something Hughes himself probably wouldn’t have had a problem with.

Consensus: With so much going on, Rules Don’t Apply can’t help but seem uneven, but does benefit from a few good performances, as well as a welcome return from Beattty himself.

6.5 / 10

Behind every crazy man, is one who is trying so hard to translate everything that's being said.

Behind every crazy man, is one who is trying so hard to translate everything that’s being said.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, News Report Center

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Life’s a little sad. So just take the boat out.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) lives a pretty sad life. Most of the time, when he’s not cleaning out toilets, fixing sinks, or working on pipes in four apartment complexes, he’s spending most of the time drinking at the bar, getting drunk and starting brawls with people. However, his life is shaken-up a tad bit when his older brother (Kyle Chandler) dies of a sudden heart-attack, leaving Lee to pick up after his brother and become the legal guardian to the son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). This means that Lee has to return to his hometown, watch over Patrick for the time being, take care of his brother’s affairs and figure out where to go next. But there’s something going on deeper and darker underneath Lee that makes his travel back down memory lane a whole lot more disturbing and it involves his ex-wife (Michelle Williams), who is still reeling from the affects of a tragedy she and Lee both had gone through when they were together, some many years ago.

Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan has such a distinctive ear for dialogue, it’s a wonder why more of his movies haven’t worked. You Can Count on Me, while perhaps his most famous, is a good movie, that’s still outdone by its quirks and Margaret, even despite all of the setbacks and controversies during production, is still an uneven, overblown, and occasionally interesting movie that gets outdone by Lonergan not having enough focus. But here, all of those issues and problems there, seem to have gone away. Now, with Manchester by the Sea, Lonergan has found focus, he’s found humor, he’s found heart, he’s found self-control, and most importantly, he’s found a great cast who almost never let him down, or let-up in giving him the best that they can.

manchester2

Uh oh. Get the Kleenex ready, boys.

So, what the hell took so long?

Regardless of the “whys”, or “whos”, of that inane question, Manchester by the Sea is one of the better dramas I’ve seen in quite some time, but it isn’t quite what you’d think. Sure, it’s a little sad, it’s a little depressing and it’s definitely a little hard-to-watch, but all feels real, raw and gritty, to the point of where it never rings true or feels overdone. Rather than just making this a sad movie, about sad people, Lonergan finds smart, small and interesting ways to not just inject some humor into the proceedings, but also have us more interested in these characters in the first place.

Rather than just being a tale about sad people being sad, Lonergan takes it one, small step forward and shows us why they’re sad in the first place, how they cope with it all, how they get by, and most importantly, how they all connect with one another. Manchester by the Sea is one of the rare drama’s where you may actually get excited by the sight of watching a bunch of characters gather into one room and just speak to one another; Lonergan, despite a heavy theater background, knows how real people talk and express themselves, without ever seeming like he’s reaching too far and wide to show that. We could have all easily been turned off and away from this sad, repressed world that Manchester by the Sea shows us, but Lonergan does the smart thing in that he embraces it all and shows that, underneath all of the quiet, dark moments, there’s some light and love found in there, too.

Which is why Manchester by the Sea is far better than most indie dramas out there.

Sure, it embraces the darkness and sadness its characters represent, but also doesn’t just wallow in its own misery, either; the movie takes pride in building its characters, showing them for all that they are, and never passing any judgement. A movie like this, with these kinds of characters, could have easily came off as pandering, or even rude, but Lonergan seems to adore each and everyone of these characters, warts and all, that after awhile, it’s hard not to follow suit. They’re not all perfect, they’ve all got issues, they’ve all got benefits, and they’ve all something about them that’s just not, for lack of a better term, “troubling”, but then again, so does everyone on Earth. This idea that we’re actually sitting around, watching real life people, talk and engage with one another, makes it not just easier to relate to them all, but come closer and closer to loving them all, as well.

Ain't nothing like a brother's keeper.

Ain’t nothing like a brother’s keeper.

Oh and yeah, it helps that the ensemble is pretty amazing, too. Casey Affleck is a pretty great actor, but over the past few years, hasn’t quite shown it. He’s been a little out of the spotlight, occasionally popping up in supporting roles, or being giving leading roles without much mainstream appeal, but here, as Lee Chandler, he gets the best role of his career and he makes every second work. Right from the start, there’s something interesting about this guy that makes us want to see how he lives his life, how he talks to people and generally, how he gets by. Affleck shows us that there’s more to him than just this downtrodden and slightly alcoholic shadow of a man – he shows that there’s a living, breathing and feeling human being that wants so desperately to get by in life, but for reasons that come very clear to us in the middle of the movie, just can’t. It’s a raw, gritty performance that doesn’t always go for the big emotions, but when it does, Affleck shines through it all and shows that he’s dangerously on the cusp of breaking out for the whole world to know his name and face.

Why it hasn’t happened yet, is totally beyond me.

As his brother, Kyle Chandler makes the best of what he can, what with the flashback structure popping in and out whenever it wants. However, as much as flashbacks can sometimes ruin a flick and seem obvious, above all else, it works here and helps make us understand more about these characters, as well as Chandler’s dead brother-character, who we see as a loving, adoring brother who was always there for his little bro, even when it was nearly impossible to do so. Despite playing the conventional role of the angst-y teen, Lucas Hedges does a nice job as the orphaned nephew in that he shows us a kid trying to come to terms with his life, where it’s heading and exactly who his family is. He has a nice bit of chemistry with Affleck that shows that there is some sort of a relationship there, but still clearly needs to be worked on.

However, the real standout in maybe just four or five scenes is Michelle Williams, showing up occasionally as Affleck’s ex-wife. While it may surprise some that she’s not in here a whole lot, every scene that Williams gets, she makes count for all that it’s worth; she’s funny, smart and dramatic, sometimes, all at the same time. There’s one key scene late in the movie where her and Affleck’s run into one another on the streets and it’s hard-to-watch by how emotional it gets. It shows that as long as the material is there, you can give an actress a small role and watch her work wonders for the whole product.

Not that Manchester by the Sea needed much help in the first place, because it’s quite great, but it’s definitely nice to have.

Consensus: At times, it’s funny and light, others, it’s dark, dramatic and sad, but no matter what, Manchester by the Sea is an expertly crafted and acted character-piece about life, love, regret, family and heartbreak, without ever coming off as melodramatic as it may sound.

9 / 10

It's okay. Go crabbing. Feel better about yourself.

It’s okay. Go crabbing. Feel better about yourself.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Glory (1989)

Yes. People did go to war over the Confederate flag.

During the Civil War, the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the more infamous troupes, due to the fact that they were, for the most part, filled with black men. Some were freemen from the North, others were slaves, but all of them were under the command of Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), a commander who is still reeling from the affects of the warfare he’s experienced in his lifetime. Already, before they even set out for battle, there was already plenty of trepidation towards the 54th, because some believed that blacks could not be controlled, or commanded in such a way that would have them prepped and ready for war. Despite this, Shaw, along with his second-in-command (Cary Elwes), try their hardest to not only discipline the soldiers, but even relate and connect with them, as hard as it may seem to do. Some soldiers, like John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman), are more than willing to go along with all of the problems they encounter fighting for a country that doesn’t accept them as human beings, whereas others, like Trip (Denzel Washington), aren’t and want the whole unit to know that they aren’t fighting for freedom at all – they’re just fighting to die. Obviously, this causes problems between each and everyone and all culminates in the disastrous attack on the Confederate fort in Charleston, S.C.

Goofy-looking 'stache.

Goofy-looking ‘stache.

Glory is, as most people say, a “classic war film”. Not to take any spit out of that statement, but that’s sort of true. It’s a very good movie, in fact, and one that shows both the humane, as well as harsh realities of the war. At the same time, however, it’s also a film about slavery, and how two races can simultaneously connect to one another, while also having to prepare for a war that they may not actually win and come away alive from. Edward Zwick clearly had a lot on his plate here and it’s one of the many things that makes Glory a solid war film that deserves to be seen by any person out there who either, loves film, history, or a combination of the two.

But, that doesn’t make it a perfect movie, as some may call it.

For one, its extremely dated in the way the story is told. What I mean by this is that rather than getting a story about black people trying to get by under extreme war-conditions, told by a black person, we are told the story through their white commander, as played by Matthew Broderick. It’s understandable that the reason for this is to show how the black soldiers are helping to make Shaw open his eyes a bit more to the realities that, well, believe it or not, African Americans are humans, too. Even though he lives in a world where slavery does exist (although, not for much longer), he knows that these black men are just as honest and humane as he is, which is why we see the tale told, in his own words, through his own eyes, and in his own way.

However, at the same time, it sort of feels like a disservice to the actual black folks in the story. Why are we being told that these fellas are all magical and lovely people, when we can clearly see that happening, right in front of our very own eyes? Did we really need to deal with Shaw’s voice-over to begin with? In all honesty, probably not, because it’s already understood that Shaw will start to warm up and grow closer to these black soldiers that are under his command. So, for anything else to be thrown on, makes it feel like stuffy and, well, a bit schmaltzy. Not saying that it didn’t happen in this way, but the way Shaw is used as our heart and soul of the story, makes Glory seem like it’s taking the easy road out – rather than letting the story be told by those who are most affected to begin with.

But, everything else about Glory, aside from that little nugget of anger, is great.

Like I stated before, Zwick clearly had a lot to work with here, and he does so seamlessly. He gives enough attention to the black soldiers that matter most and show how each and every personality can, at times, clash, while at other times, rub against one another to create a far more perfect and in-sync union. No character here is made out to be a perfect human being, and because as such, it’s easy to sympathize with these characters early-on – and makes it all the more tragic to realize that, in all honesty, they aren’t really fighting for much.

There’s one scene in which this is presented perfectly when Denzel Washington’s Trip goes on about the fact that even when the war is over and everybody goes home, he’ll go back to whatever slum he’s been forced to stay in, whereas Shaw and his white counterparts will be able to head back and relax in his big old mansion, and continue to live his life of total luxury. This scene, above all else, drives home the point that these soldiers may, yes, be fighting for their lives, but are doing so in a way because, quite frankly, they have nowhere else to go, or nothing else better to make up with their time. Most of the soldiers are slaves, so therefore, they have no freedom to begin with; however, even the ones that are free, don’t really have much to do except still be treated as minorities and non-equals, although not as harshly as slaves.

Mediocre 'stache.

Mediocre ‘stache.

So yes, it’s a very sad tale, if you really think about it. But Glory shows that there is some light to be found in the folds. There’s heart, there’s humor, and above all else, there’s humanity here that shows that each and everyone of these soldiers were, race notwithstanding, human beings. And because of this fact, the performances are all the more impressive by showing the depth to which these characters are portrayed.

Though Broderick’s Shaw didn’t really need to be the central figure of this huge story, he’s still solid enough in the role to make me forget about that fact. Ever since Ferris Bueller, it’s known that Broderick has always been trying to get past that image and, occasionally, he’ll strike gold. This is one of those times wherein we see Shaw as not only a clearly messed-up vet of the war, but also one that has enough pride and courage to still go back to the battle and ensure that each and everyone of his men are fit for the same battle he will partake in. Cary Elwes is also fine in showing that, even despite him being more sympathetic to the slavery cause, still has to push his men as far as he possibly can, without over-stepping his superior, obviously.

But, as expected, the best performances come from the three cast-members who get the most attention out of all the other black characters: Andre Baugher, Morgan Freeman, and of course, the star-marking turn from Denzel Washington. As an educated, smart and free black man, Baugher’s character faces a lot more tension from the rest of the black soldiers, and his transition from being a bit too soft for all the training, to becoming a far more rough, tough and gritty one, is incredibly believable. Freeman, too, stays as the heart and soul of the black soldiers and proves to be the one who steps up the most when push comes to shove and a leader is needed. Freeman, in just about everything he does, always seems to become a leader of sorts, so it’s no surprise that the role here fits him like a glove.

However, the one that shines above the rest is, obviously, Denzel Washington as the rebel of the group, Trip.

And the reason why I said “obviously”, is because it’s well-known by now that Denzel was given an Oscar for his work here and understandably so; not only does he steal every scene, but when you get down to the bottom of the story, you realize that he’s the heart and soul of the whole thing. Without him, this would have probably been a normal tale of blacks and whites coming together, to fight the obstacles set against them, and fight a war, but it’s Trip who’s the one that hits everybody’s head and wakes them up to the harsh realities that is the world they live in. Denzel is, at times, hilarious, but also brutally honest, and it’s his voice that keeps this movie’s humanity afloat.

Now, if only the movie had been about him to begin with and not the white dude.

Consensus: Heartfelt, emotional, and well-acted on practically all fronts, Glory is a solid war picture, that also happens to have a message about racial equality that doesn’t try too hard to hit you over the head.

8.5 / 10

No 'stache at all and guess what? He's the coolest one.

No ‘stache at all and guess what? He’s the coolest one.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Dirty Weekend (2015)

Keep business away from pleasure. Especially if your “pleasure” is crazy kinky.

Les (Matthew Broderick) and Natalie (Alice Eve) are coworkers who are currently going through their own sorts of issues. Both are delayed in the same city where they’re left with nothing more to do than to drink, talk and get to know one another a whole lot better. Through their non-stop conversations, Natalie finds out that Les has a bit of a risque sexual history; one that he’s ashamed of, but one that Natalie wants him to pursue on this little trip of theirs. Still though, Les is foggy on certain details on what happened that night and whom it was with, which gives him and Natalie a journey to set out onto where they meet all sorts of colorful characters, in certain areas of the city that they’d never expected themselves to be found in. But because they have nothing else better to do, they’ll find out whatever it is that they can about this one eventful night in Les’s life, even if Les himself doesn’t want to hear all the nitty, gritty details.

Sitting....

Sitting….

For anybody who knows me, they’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Neil LaBute. Sure, he’s had some stinkers in his life, but for the most part, when he’s making pieces of work that he himself concocts from the ground-up, there’s nothing more entertaining or fun to watch. In the past few years, LaBute’s made something of a comeback with Some Velvet Morning and the terrific, but under-seen TV show, Billy & Billie, all displaying what LaBute does best: Give us a couple of morally-corrupt characters who speak so eloquently that it doesn’t matter how mean and detestable they can sometimes be.

And now, with Dirty Weekend, there’s an odd combination of LaBute’s more mainstream piles of junk, with his indie delights. Which basically turns out to be a piece of indie-junk.

Which is, the worst kind.

Part of the problem with Dirty Weekend isn’t that it’s like everyone of LaBute’s other flicks. Sure, the characters are rude, self-involved and mostly mean, but here, they’re just so annoying that you don’t care for anything they have to say, how they feel, or whatever sort of dilemma they may be going through. We’re literally thrown into a random situation with these two characters, without getting any sort of background info or what have you; it’s just us, watching these two characters having conversations.

Which isn’t a problem with LaBute’s films because he finds ways to make even the most innate conversations seem fun and snappy, but here, he seems lost. He doesn’t know what to make of these characters, or even the plot they may service; so instead, he seems to just make something up to roll with. And what he comes up with is, disappointingly, a random night that Broderick’s character had where he was involved with all sorts of sex and doesn’t know whether he’s gay, or straight, or bi?

If this sounds exciting to you, then please, be my guest and check this movie out.

But if you, like me, feel like there isn’t much of anything to develop or dig into deeper here, then get in line, because it’s just as worse as you expect it be. LaBute is definitely better than this and it makes me wonder why he even bothered in the first place. I’d much rather enjoy seeing one of his plays adapted, rather than watching a piece of original that’s as boring as this.

...more sitting....

…more sitting….

But a good portion of why Dirty Weekend doesn’t wholly work is because the cast doesn’t seem too involved, either. Alice Eve, despite having done incredibly well in LaBute’s Some Velvet Morning, seems like she’s going through the motions a bit as Natalie. Though it’s never easy to be able to put our finger on just what her intentions are, Eve still seems like her mind is elsewhere and not adding any certain oomph to her line-readings (something that LaBute’s movies always depend on). But I still have to give her credit for trying.

And “trying” is another form of credit I have to give to Broderick here who, despite seeming like he’s doing everything and anything in his power to play against-type, just isn’t able to make it happen. Some of that has to do with the fact that his character is so uninteresting, that it’s hard to really want to watch and listen to whatever this character has to say. Most of the time, anyway, is just spent listening to him whine on and on, without there ever seeming like a reason for it.

Together, the two hardly have any chemistry. Which would have been fine, had the movie not all of a sudden turned into this friendship piece about how close and willing to depend on the other, they are. I didn’t quite buy it, except for the moments where they were bickering with one another; these were probably the only real scenes of actual fun and bite to be found in the whole piece.

Everything else is just as lame as you can possibly get.

Consensus: Boring, overlong, and annoying, Dirty Weekend is the kind of Neil LaBute movie that LaBute-haters love to rant about, even despite Alice Eve’s and Matthew Broderick’s best intentions.

2 / 10

...and, you guessed it, more sitting! Holy shit! Just get up already!

…and, you guessed it, more sitting! Holy shit! Just get up already!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Godzilla (1998)

First time anybody realized dinosaurs were lame.

After a giant-sized creatures leaves a foot-print in a foreign country, Dr. Niko “Nick” Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), a worm-enthusiast/scientist, is brought to the scene to scope it all out and hopefully let the army know what the deal is. The problem is, Nick doesn’t know what the deal is until New York City just so happens to get attacked by this creature, leaving half of the town in ruins and evacuated. This is when Nick and the army decides to take their mission-work over there, where they will hopefully get rid of the beast, and not even think twice about how it all started in the first place (smart move). But standing in their ways, sort of, are a group of Frenchmen (lead by Jean Reno); a news cameraman that wants to get every shot he possibly can (Hank Azaria); a mayor, aka Roger Ebert, who doesn’t want his whole town blown to bits (Michael Lerner); and even Nick’s ex-girlfriend, Audrey (Maria Pitillo), who not only happens to be in town, but a reporter that’s just waiting for her big break. She feels as if she’s finally gotten that chance now with Nick back home, however, she realizes that they have bigger fish to fry right away.

Get it? It was sort of a pun.

Aw, who am I kidding?!? What the hell do I care if you got that or not? Because, to be honest, you’d probably be a lot better off, had you not understood the joke – which would have also meant that you never even bothered to see the movie in the first place. Good on your part. Seriously.

The state of modern journalism: Getting trampled on by whomever it is you're covering.

A metaphor for modern-day journalism: Just imagine the foot as the internet.

Sadly, for somebody such as myself, I’ve seen it more times than I can count, and I have nobody else to blame that on except for my parents. Yep, that’s right: My parents. Not only did they practically force this down my throat once it came out on VHS, but it was practically the only movie they’d allow me to watch whenever I was bored. No professional wrestling, no video-games, no MTV, no nothing! Just this 1998-reboot of Godzilla that, dare I say it, is an absolute offense to the original Japanese creators who made it, or anybody else who shelled-out money to go and see it all the way back in the summer of ’98.

It makes sense why some would go and see it – hell, it was the late-90’s, and when you have something with the tag-line, “Size Does Matter”, and you’re advertising your movie as, “from the creators of Independence Day“, chances are, people are going to see this. Especially during the 90’s. Nowadays, Roland Emmerich and his rag-tag team of over-eccentric goofballs, can’t really seem to get a hit on their hands, and I think that’s with good reason: People stopped trusting them as soon as this movie came out.

See, with this here Godzilla, what works well is the build-up. Even though the characters suck, the plot suck, and every line of dialogue sucks, there’s still a nice bit of tension leading up to the moment of when we’re finally going to see that huge monster that is “Godzirra!”. However, once we do see him, not only does he look like total, CGI-crap, but he doesn’t really have much personality or anything. I know that’s a bit hard to ask of for a movie creature, but for some creatures in film, the slightest ounce of personality can go a long way for them; heck, even the old-school, clunky-looking Godzilla’s were at least half a bit of charming, if only because they looked so cheap, that it didn’t matter whether you could take it seriously or not.

But here, with this Godzilla, not only does he look like garbage that only a late-90’s DELL would be able to fix up in a matter of seconds, but we don’t know what to think about him in the first place. Is he good? Bad? Or, is he just simply living the way he was supposed to live, and we, as a society, are just in his way and living on his land? I, for one, don’t really know. It seemed like here, that the only time Godzilla actually started doing some straight-up evil, villainous stuff, was when he was either getting shot at, hit with explosives, or chased all around downtown like it was some harsh game of “Cops and Robbers”. Any other time before or after then, we don’t really get a sense that Godzilla is being all that much of a meanie; in fact, it’s probably more of the government that are the ones being the meanies here. Not Godzilla.

And no, I am not saying that they should have just let Godzilla walk all across the Big Apple, tearing down buildings, stepping on cars and endangering thousands and thousands of lives, but I would have said that they should have found a more humane-way to level with him. Sounds very hippie-ish of me and, considering the movie I am speaking about, a bit ridiculous, but hey, it’s a creature-feature – and with creature features, you have to think of the creatures themselves and whether or not you can put a tag on them as “good”, “bad”, or “easily misunderstood”.

Here, with this Godzilla, I never fucking knew. It was only until the end where they tried to give us some sort of sad-sack attempt at sympathizing with him in a very quiet, rainy-night sequence. It’s the type of scene we need to see in these types of movies to gain some perspective on what we have just all went through as humans, as well as audience-members, but it’s handled so poorly afterwards, it seemed almost like an after-thought. Almost as if Roland Emmerich didn’t want to seem like a total savage when this movie came out, and instead, wanted to give us a glimpse at a peaceful Godzilla, that is really just peaceful because he went to war with practically the WHOLE DAMN UNITED STATES ARMY.

But you know. Just saying. Most likely, I’m looking into this a lot deeper than I should (that’s actually a definite), but the fact remains: This movie sucks.

There’s hardly much more for me to bitch and moan about with this movie that hasn’t already been said before. The action is whatever; the script is god-awfully cheesy; the special-effects would have been dated, even by ’98’s-standards; the ensemble tries, but are just pawns in the huge chess game that is this terrible script and movie; and half of the movie is a total rip-off of Jurassic Park in the first place (especially once those little twerps’ eggs start hatching). How Steven Spielberg didn’t lawyer-up right away and bankrupt the hell out of Roland Emmerich and his aforementioned pals is totally beyond me!

"Aw shucks! Guess I shouldn't have taken that day off in the first place!"

“Aw shucks! Guess I shouldn’t have taken that day off in the first place!”

Maybe he has yet to even see it? Maybe, just maybe, this could be the big break we as film-goers have been waiting for. Maybe Steven Spielberg, if he gets the right lawyers, picks the smartest angle to go at this case that he can find, and stick it to Emmerich and Pals, then maybe, we’ll never have to see another Roland Emmerich movie EVER AGAIN! Oh my gosh! Say it ain’t so! This really and truly could happen, people!! Whose with me?!?!?

Anybody?!?!

Huh??!?!

Really?!?!

Come on!

Oh, fine.

Whatever.

We could have changed history right here people. Not just for ourselves, right now, at this moment in time, but for future generations to come. Think about it, people. That’s all I ask.

Consensus: Overlong, dull, poorly-written, thin, a complete rip-off of better movies (*ahem* Jurassic Park), and just plain boring, Godzilla never really gets going once it shows us its titled-monster, and instead, just gets worse as it goes on, and on, and on, and on, into a state of complete oblivion that should be kept that way so no more people have to be punished into laying their eyes on it.

1 / 10 = Crapola!!

Hey look! They just took the Happy Meal figure and filmed it!

Hey look! They just took the advertised-Happy Meal action-figure and filmed it!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Margaret (2011)

This is exactly what a teenager’s life is like: confusing as hell.

Anna Paquin stars as a 17-year old girl named Lisa Cohen who has to deal with her regular life as a conflicted teenager as well as the moral, legal and sexual pitfalls of the adult world. She struggles with what is right and wrong after taking witnessing the seemingly accidental death of a woman and fighting the ever-building guilt resulting from her role in it.

Holy hell is it a total surprise that I actually got the chance to view this movie! This film has been basically sitting on the shelf for about 6 years now, all because of the fact that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan had an over 3–page script, that made the movie run for as long as 3 hours. Apparently, the studios didn’t like this idea he had and they made him try to shorten up the run-time to make it under 2 hours. Surprisingly, nobody got their way because the film got cut-down to a 150-minute time-limit (all thanks to the master of swift editing, Martin Scorsese) and despite a pretty big-name cast, the film was released in limited theaters, barely even seeing the light of day. Thankfully, that’s what DVD-viewing is all about baby.

"Was somebody that pissed that I didn't show-up in the new Bourne movie, that they had to go-off and spit in my food? Typical NYC diners."

“Was somebody that pissed that I didn’t show-up in the new Bourne movie, that they had to go-off and spit in my food? Typical NYC diners.”

So after going over the whole history of this movie for you in that last paragraph, you would think that a production this troubled goes two ways: either it’s a unknown masterpiece that only people who go out there and reach for it, will love until the day they die, or, it’s just a bunch donkey crap, that should have just stay shelved. Somehow, the film is somewhere in the middle and I don’t really know where I stand on this flick just yet, however, being the dedicated critic that I am, I’m going to give it my all just for you kind souls out there who actually give a crap what I have to say about this little indie.

There’s a lot to this film, maybe almost too much, but from what I was getting most of the times with this flick worked for me because of Lonergan’s superb writing. This is a very dramatic but heartfelt story about a young girl who’s coming to terms with the world she lives in and she’s starting to realize just what this world is really like, for all of the good and for all of the bad. Obviously this isn’t something new, daring, or original but Lonergan makes every scene, no matter how random or awkward, seem real and to be honest, a lot of these scenes and what he’s having these character say, did ring true to me.

I am not a young lady, never have been, and maybe never will, but I can definitely say that a lot of Lisa’s problems that she goes through here aren’t just what young ladies go through, but young adults in general. Everybody around you just annoys you, you want to get your point out there to the best of your ability, everybody is out to get you, and at the end of the day, you just want to be understood and listened to. This is how a teenager thinks and Lonergan gets us inside the mind of a teenager, by showing us your typical, everyday one that just so happens to be dealing with one of the most traumatic moments in her life so far. She’s confused, she’s guilty, she’s angry, she’s horny, she’s misunderstood, she’s scared, and she’s so many other things, but this is exactly how a young person is, especially when you live in a world like the one Lisa lives in where everybody seems to be just at your neck, no matter what it is you do or say. This provides some real, heart-breaking emotional context for a character that seems so based in her own reality, that you just don’t want to see her have her heart broken when she realizes one thing about the world: it’s not all sunshine and daisies. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there that you may have to be ready to fight off every once and awhile. Maybe that’s a little bit too much of my left-over teenage angst coming out, but it still seems true and reasonable considering the film I’m discussing here.

"I told you, I have no idea where Logan went!"

“I told you, I have no idea where Logan went!”

No matter how great most of that teenage angst stuff may be, the film still feels very stuffed together and I was sort of left wondering why they didn’t just take a risk and end up going with the 3-hour version instead. There is about 4 or 5 subplots here that could have been taken out, but instead, Lonergan leaves them in and has them pop-up at some of the most random parts throughout the flick, without us ever getting a chance to fully feel for them and get behind them. I get it, Lisa’s life is hectic and has a lot going on it, but did we really need those 5 scenes with her and her daddy (Kenneth Lonergan himself in a very greedy role) just talking about random ish? Or what about that little teacher-student “relationship” she may be trying to get with a hot and young male teacher, played Matt Damon? Oh, and let’s not forget about some of the random class-room scenes where Matthew Broderick actually gets mad over a kid totally schooling him in Shakespearean comprehension? There’s a lot of material that could have been easily cut-out here. Or, if they really wanted to, which they obviously didn’t, but if they did, they could have went with the 3-hour version that Lonergan proposed in the first place and we could have had a more coherent and understandable story that lays everything out for you all nice and even.

But even with this edited-down version that were given here, some of it almost feels like Lonergan’s coming on a little too strong with his numerous ideas and messages he’s trying to get across. There’s a lot of discussion about a post-9/11 New York that is very realistic, but also feels very random and pushy, as if Lonergan was trying to find a way to voice his own opinions about what’s happening to the area after that disastrous day, so thought the easiest way would to have kids yell and holler at each other about. Doesn’t feel right for this film, given the story itself, and I think Lonergan kind of loses his head a little bit with what he’s trying to say but after awhile, I just didn’t care and tried my hardest to get involved with this story, as crazy as it could be.

I wish all NYC bus drivers looked this cool, and especially wore a cowboy hat.

I wish all NYC bus drivers looked this cool. Especially with that cowboy hat.

Seeing this movie now, in the year 2012, you have to wonder what a bummer it must have been for Anna Paquin to just see her high-rising, dramatic acting career, go almost to nowhere because honestly, this is a phenomenal performance, if not, the best I’ve seen from her, ever (still haven’t seen The Piano so bear with me for a little while). Lisa Cohen is not a very sympathetic character and she definitely is not a very emotionally-grounded character, and it’s one that Paquin plays up perfectly on almost all-sides. We see Lisa for all that she feels, all that she does, and all that she wants to do, and even though not all of her choices may be the most morally correct, they are still her choices and we have to accept them for what they are because she is a human nonetheless. Paquin was about 23 when this film was made, so it seems a little strange for her to be off playing 17-year olds, but she pulls it off perfectly and makes you believe that she really is this confused and bewildered young woman that just wants to do what she thinks is right, even if it may not have the best consequences for all involved. Yeah, I know that Paquin’s got it big now with her role on True Blood, but this film would have definitely made us think twice about her acting, whenever we saw her kill some dude by kissing him. Rogue reference, in case you didn’t catch on!

While you probably wouldn’t have been able to tell from my whole review, trailers, or poster, this film is much more about Lisa’s mom then it is about her, and I think with good reason. J. Smith-Cameron is somebody I haven’t ever really seen too much of in movies and with a performance she gives here as Lisa’s mom, I have to say I’m going to look for her more now because this gal knocks this performance right out of the park. Even though I do think that some of her scenes, just the ones where it’s her all by herself, could have been cut-out, she still gives us a sympathetic mother character that wants nothing more but to connect with her daughter like she feels like she should, but no matter how hard she tries, she still can’t seem to break the ice between them and get them together, connecting once again. It’s a sad thing to see in a film like this because you know this is how it is for almost all mothers having to deal with young adults in the house and Smith-Cameron plays it up just about as perfectly as Paquin does with her own character. They also fight like a real mother-daughter combo and that’s pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

Consensus: With a time-limit that sort of jams everything together in a very incoherent way, Margaret can sometimes feel like a film that can never make up its mind about what it wants to do or be about, but it’s also much like it’s lead character, Lisa, played to perfection from Anna Paquin. It’s a little-known flick that makes me want to see it again, just as long as I can get a hold of the 3-hour director’s cut. That’s if they actually have one for this movie.

7/10=Rental!!

"Walking through the streets of New York and nobody has yet to ask for me an autograph? Now I'm really scared."

“Walking through the streets of New York and nobody has yet to ask for me an autograph? Now I’m really scared.”

Election (1999)

Exactly why I never ran for high school president. Well, that and because it’s just lame to begin with.

Election tells the story of Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a popular high school history and civics teacher in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, and one of his students, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), around the time of the school’s student body elections. When Tracy obtains a nomination for class president in the school election, McAllister believes she does not deserve the title, and tries his best to stop her from winning.

High school elections are probably the dumbest things I ever had to go through throughout my 4 years of high school because it’s the same old shit every single year. People promise to change the school, they promise to listen to what you, the student has to say, they promise to talk with the principal about certain changes to the school that will never, ever happen, and when that’s all said and done, it’s onto the next year, and the year after that, then after that, and then so on and so forth. As you can tell, I hate high school elections and this film reminded me exactly why.

Co-writer/director Alexander Payne takes what we usually expect from “teen comedies” and gives us something a hell of a lot smarter and dark than anybody would expect. Payne starts this flick off as if it was a normal, every day type of high school comedy with all of the goody-goodies, the hard-working teachers, the goofy jocks, and of course, the lesbian girl that nobody really likes or wants to be around. But when the actual elections come around in the film, that’s when things really start to get interesting and very mean-spirited, but in a good way.

At its core, this film is a biting satire about how teachers don’t really like the students and how students don’t really like the teachers. It’s pretty much one of those unsaid understandings that are always around in high school. Of course, there are those teachers that everybody loves and feel like they can go up to and talk about anything with, but mostly, the teachers themselves aren’t as fond of you as you aren’t of them. I’ve learned this throughout all of my 4 years of high school and have realized that the quicker I understand this, the better and that’s when things for me in my high school life started clicking. Then again, a lot of teachers started to dislike for my “deauchy” attitude towards them but it’s mainly because I just knew that there couldn’t be a friendship between me and them. Sounds strange, I know, but that’s how I have lived for so long and that’s how I may always live.

But enough about me, more about this flick that we got here. Payne’s writing for this film is awesome because not only is it funny in the way it satirizes high school as we know it, but also shows us a funny glimpse at how life should not be based on just high school. Sure, sometimes we’re stupid, sometimes we’re mean, sometimes we make dumb decisions that regret the next morning, and sometimes we deserved to be laughed at. But when it’s all said and done, it’s high school and in the end, we’ll be OK. Maybe that’s not the smartest message out there in today’s world, and I can probably bet you that there are about 10 other flicks just like this with the same theme, but Payne’s message hit well and felt like a well-deserved pay-off after all of the time he dedicated to these characters and all of their immoral acts.

My only complaint with this film would probably have to be that I never really laughed all that much, even as much as it wanted me to. Yeah, the satire bites and there is a lot here that’s very honest, if a little too honest, but I still never caught myself with a gut-busting laugh and I think that’s just because it’s too dark to laugh at some of the stuff here. Some character’s lives go into some pretty sad places and even though the film seems to be pointing the finger at them and showing us that “their misery = humor”, I still couldn’t find a way to laugh. I don’t know, maybe I love human beings too much to laugh at their misfortunes but not much here made me laugh like I expected to with a guy like Alexander Payne.

Casting Matthew Broderick in the lead role of Mr. McAllister is an obvious riff on his days as the iconic hookey player, Ferris Bueller, but Broderick brings more to this role and makes it more than just a one-joke character. Mr. McAllister is one of those teachers that thinks he can change every student who ever needs him and loves to be involved with his school in anyway that he can. However, Tracy Flick is a girl he can just not like (mainly because his buddy boned her) and because of this problem he has, his life spirals out of control and you can’t help but just feel bad for the guy. There are plenty of great scenes that actually made me laugh just because Broderick has that great comedic timing that has done him so well, even all of these years later, but there’s a certain amount of honesty to his character that makes you feel for him, even when he betrays his morals (or is it ethics?). Actually, that same honesty could probably be said about another character here as well: Tracy Flick.

Reese Witherspoon is absolute dyno-mite as Tracy Flick, everybody’s favorite (or not favorite) perky, goody goody two shoes that wants to do every single activity and be the face of the high school, just so she can have that it can make her look good for college. Flick seems a bit like an innocent character at first, but after awhile, we soon start to realize that she is anything but and once she starts to find out that she’s going to have to fight for her presidency, that’s when her character starts to get lean, mean, and crude, unlike any other character Reese has ever played before. Since Reese has devoted most of her time to lame, chick flick roles, it’s nice to get a reminder of just how awesome of an actress she can be and how powerful her skills no matter who the character is. Tracy Flick is definitely one of her more iconic roles and it’s one that reminded me of plenty of other girls I knew in high school that just bothered me to death. Yep, I’m still at that stage where I look back at all of the bad things in high school but that will probably change within the next year or so.

Chris Klein is pretty good as the dumb jock, Paul Metzler, who gets conned into running against Tracy for president. The problem with this character is that this guy is so goofy, so dumb, that it almost doesn’t seem like this guy is even a human character that we can root for, even if he is the nicest character out of everybody else here. Even as much as I liked Jessica Campbell as his little sister, Tammy, the film never gives her enough screen-time and the rest of the flick, she is sort of just forgotten about until a last-minute montage showing all of the characters and what they’ve been up to as of late.

Consensus: Election may not be as funny as it would like to think of itself as being, but the satire is biting and very honest with it’s three-dimensional characters that do bad things, but you still care for, mainly because of the great performances from the cast, mainly Reese Witherspoon in a role you have never seen her in before. That is, unless you have already seen this flick.

8/10=Matinee!!

You Can Count On Me (2000)

You can always depend on your doped up brother to bring some shock to your life.

The return of wild brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo), is an unwelcome surprise to Sammy (Laura Linney), a young mother who is starting to cheat on her fiancé, Bob (Jon Tenney), with her boss, Brian (Matthew Broderick).

Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is a dude I hear so much about considering he has only done two films in the last decade. Still though, I’m surprised that he isn’t a bigger name, especially after doing something like this.

What I like about his script is how it is a very honest script that shows what real relations between family is like. Every human emotion here doesn’t feel contrived or like they just rehearsed it, everybody reacts to each other the way that they normally would in real-life and it’s that kind of human honesty is what made me react to this flick the most. These are sad people, with sad lives, but they are all trying to get through it with one another and even if it may not work out to the best of their imaginations, they still somehow find ways to make good with what they have. This is a script that has some very smart moments with its drama and its emotions but its also very funny at certain points that you wouldn’t expect right away.

I also liked how Lonergan didn’t try to make us feel more for these characters than we already did by throwing us a bunch of sappy and cheesy moments that all emotional films like this try to snake us into. Since the film also shows the relationship between a long lost bro-bro and sis-sis, you would expect that there would be plenty of key scenes about their past and what happened so that the viewer would know more, however, the film doesn’t show this at all with the exception of the beginning, and it works. It’s quite impressive when films like this can do that because it lets us think about what happened through how they are now and it doesn’t try to spell anything out for us.

Lonergan is very good and skilled as a writer, no doubt about that but as a director, it seems like he may need a little working with. There is a lot of shots in this flick that shows these characters either just sitting, sleeping, watching TV, driving, or just randomly doing something that doesn’t pertain to the story and is just there because Lonergan wants to show us how unhappy these characters really can be. Some of these scenes seem very random and un-needed and one in particular with Broderick’s wife, seemed to go on a little too long for my liking. May sound like a weird complaint but there a couple of random scenes like this that didn’t really need to be here in the first place.  As good as the script may be too, everything still plays out the same way you would expect a drama like this to. It’s not as terribly disappointing as I may make it sound but it was still something I noticed right off the bat.

Laura Linney isn’t an actress that I usually like, because I thinks she plays the same character in almost any flick that she does but she’s very good here as Sammy. Sammy is one of those confused but very strong-willed women that just wants to do the right thing no matter what, but always seems to be dragged down by all of these mean people around her. Linney plays this character well because she shows what it’s like to be a woman who’s been through so much and just can’t seem to get a grasp on things but it’s not a one-note performance. Linney takes this character and give her a charming likability that is easy to relate to and understand right off the bat and I’m glad that she was nominated for an Oscar here.

Mark Ruffalo was also amazing in his role as her brother, Terry. Terry is one of those characters who has a lot of obvious problems but always tries to do the right thing no matter what. Problem is, he’s taken down by other people, just like his own sister. Ruffalo plays this role perfectly with just enough anger and heart to give us a full-rounded character that may be a little rough around the edges, but still is a good person no matter what he may mess up with. The scenes with him and Linney are all great and they feel like the an actual brother and sister that haven’t seen each other in so very long. Matthew Broderick is also good as Brian, Sammy’s boss, and he actually has a couple of funny scenes that work here even though his character may be a tad strange. Still, good performances all around here.

Consensus: Though some moments may not work, You Can Count on Me works mainly because of the great script from Lonergan that feels honest, insightful, and emotionally here, as well as the great performances from the whole cast.

7.5/10=Rental!!

New Year’s Eve (2011)

Just another excuse for people to go, “oooh look who it is!”.

‘New Year’s Eve’ celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in the intertwining stories of couples and singles, told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.

Oh once again, another holiday, another holiday, and yes, another time for Garry Marshall to make Robert Altman turn around in his grave. This is basically the same exact thing as Marshall’s same ensemble-filled film, ‘Valentine’s Day’, and even though this one is only just a tad better, that really is not saying much at all.

What these types of films always have problems with is that all of these types of films have so many stars passing in-and-out of the flick as if it was I95 but they are sometimes not really given much to do, instead of just to be there and look pretty. This is the case with this flick and I felt like Marshall really rushed things here to the point of where he wasn’t really concerned with the stories as much as he was more concerned with just getting as much stars up on the screen before they had to go leave and shoot a better film. When I say this, I’m not talking about Sarah Jessica Parker. She loves this kind of stuff and I think she may be the only one who does too.

Another problem with all of these films is the fact that almost everything everybody says here either seem like cliches, something taken out of another flick, or just plain schmaltz. The film always goes for being sweet, cute, and loving but it more or less just comes off as being the same old crap that I’ve seen time and time again, except this time with Jon Bon Jovi spouting out corny love songs. But then again, the guy owned The Philadelphia Soul, so it’s not as bad if say someone like Nick Jonas was doing it. Yeah, that kids lame.

I knew I was going to get this kind of stuff before I went into this flick but I honestly think that these films try way too hard to give more meaning about a holiday that is basically all about getting plastered with your buddies, yelling random shit at people you’ve never met in your life, freezing your ass off, counting down till a big-ass glow ball hits the bottom in 10 seconds, ending up making out with a person that chick that looks like your sister, and waking up the next morning in somebody else’s bath tub with a splitting headache. I’m not at all speaking from experience but let me just tell you that when it comes to this holiday, not many people are reflecting on the past year and what they are thankful for and what they aren’t thankful for. So stop trying to give it more meaning than it already needs Garry!

However, as much as I wanted to diss on this film for what it obviously fails in, there were moments here where I was enjoying myself probably because New Year’s is such a fun holiday and that’s something that I don’t think Marshall took away from. There are moments where this film actually seems funny and had me chuckling here and there, mainly because of the cast and probably just because this film sort of put me in a good mood. It’s also one of the rare cases where the “bloopers” during the end credits had me laughing a lot more throughout them, instead if the whole film itself.

The whole cast here is star-studded everywhere you look and made this film a little bit better. Instead of naming the whole cast like I normally do with these ensemble-like films, I’ll just run down the people who were probably the most enjoyable. Zac Efron was probably the one dude I had the most fun watching up on screen; Hilary Swank is actually quite convincing as a Times Square vice president; and Sofia Vergara is not only stunningly gorgeous but fun as hell to watch here as the sex-pot chef. There are others that were somewhat fun but too many times were there just these big-named stars just sitting around doing nothing. I’m talking to you, Ludacris. And no, I will still not call you by your “real name”.

I mean to be brutally honest, Valentine’s Day is not a very joyous and fun holiday probably because it’s too centered on having a love on this one special day. However, New Year’s Day where you can just do whatever the hell you want basically and have a blast the whole time no matter how old, young, or if you’re single or not. This film may have it’s obviously problems with plot, writing, and overall construction, but keeping to the fun and reckless spirit that is New Year’s, is what made my enjoyment level of this flick higher than I ever expected it to be in the first place.

Consensus: There is plenty of schmaltz, corniness, and moments that will more or less make you want to punch the writers in the face, but when it comes to keeping the actual fun and unpredictable atmosphere/spirit of it’s holiday, New Year’s Eve is a fun flick for anybody that wants to see stars coming-and-going non-stop for a whole 118 minutes.

5/10=Rental!!

If you have just read this review and cannot believe I just did what I did, please do not have any lost hope for me. I will once again get back to reviewing shit and calling it exactly what it is. I promise people.

Tower Heist (2011)

Donald Trump better watch his men extra close now.

When a group of workers at a ritzy Manhattan condo realize their boss has swindled them out of their pensions, they vow to reap their own justice. With the cooperation of the building manager, the group devises an ingenious plot to recover the funds.

When I first heard of this film and saw the trailer, I thought it was going to be good because it had the return of Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy. But then I thought about it, and I realized it was the return to form of Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy I was talking about but this is certainly nothing like the pieces of shit they have turned out recently.

This is basically the concept of the “Ocean’s” films but with a sloppier cast of characters and a high-rise building in Manhattan but it’s not all that much different. The film is very funny and had me laughing a lot but there are also other times when the film gets a little bit serious about getting back at the ones who have made your lives miserable. In some sense the film feels a bit uneven because of this but regardless I still had a fun time laughing my ass off as what all these characters were saying.

The film doesn’t seem like it would be original or new in any kind of way, but it actually is a bit original which provided a lot of enjoyment for me. I love heists, and I love comedies when they are done right so when they put these two together for this film, everything just felt right. I liked how they had all of these buffoons who had no idea really how to rob or steal anything, so basically the whole film just shows you exactly how real people would act if they were put into these types of situations that go from bad to worse to sometimes perfectly executed. It’s a whole lot of fun to see this and it was definitely more original than another “heist/plan gone wrong” film ‘Horrible Bosses‘.

I think the real fault of this film is that it did so well in keeping me laughing as well on the edge of my seat the whole time, that the film sort of starts to fall away from the comedy and be more about the heist itself. It may seem weird that I had a problem with this because I was still enjoying myself, but I still thought that they could have done a little laugh here and there, but instead just totally focused on the action and heist at hand. However, I was very surprised by how well Ratner did with the action and kept the film moving at a fun pace that never really stops to just sit and get emotional.

Eddie Murphy is not the best part of the film as Sly, but he is one of the better parts because he is just so funny here and almost makes you forget about all of the dumb-ass family films he’s done in the past decade. I was glad to see Murphy go back to his old-school roots and finally be that snappy-ass, crazy, and always funny black dude that you don’t wanna mess with because he’s always too smart and too cool. Murphy made me laugh every time he was on screen and I thought this was a perfect choice as Sly and hopefully he continues to do cool stuff like this.

The reason he may not be the best is because I don’t think the film used him as much as I was expecting. In the first act, he shows up only a couple times, then he totally takes over the second act with every line he says, but then by the end of the film, his character’s resolution is just sort of just left there and almost like he was forgotten about, considering he was probably the most memorable out of the whole cast. This was a shame but I still will say that Murphy owns this role and every chance he gets with it.

The rest of the cast is hilarious and all of them do well. Ben Stiller is good as the usual average Joe, named Josh; Michael Peña fills a lot of comedy when Murphy isn’t around, and he does it well like I expected; Matthew Broderick is maybe the 2nd funniest by how random the things that his character says, and how almost everything he says has nothing to do with the heist really; and Casey Affleck is surprisingly very funny as well as Charlie, but I still can’t get over Ben. Alan Alda is the man in this role as Arthur Shaw, and he’s almost too likable to actually hate him. However, Alda is so good at playing villainous roles that he can make the worst son-of-a-bitch seem just a tad bit charming. The girls in this film are also good with Téa Leoni playing the FBI agent, who has a hilarious drunk scene with Stiller; and Gabourey Sidibe is also funny with her Jamaican accent that seems fake, but still had me laughing just because her character is so damn funny.

Consensus: Tower Heist may seem a bit uneven, but it still has a very fun feel to it with goofy comedy, fun performances from the whole entire cast, especially Eddie Murphy, and a story that actually entertains with some very funny moments.

7/10=Rental!!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

I wish when I skipped school, it was as fun as this.

High-schooler Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) knows everyone — and every trick to faking an illness. So with the entire school convinced he’s at death’s door, Bueller grabs his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and best friend (Alan Ruck) and hits the streets of Chicago for a well-deserved day off. Fed-up principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) is determined to catch Bueller and put a premature end to his field trip. But it’s tough to outfox Ferris.

Writer/Director John Hughes is known as one of the premiere directors for when it comes to 80’s films. With films like Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, and now Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it almost seems like Hughes is a teenager when he’s writing all this stuff.

There is a lot to love here, and the best thing about this film is the creative screenplay from Hughes. There is a lot of comedy here, for me, it was a lot of laugh out loud comedy, and other times it was little chuckles, but overall it had me laughing. But it’s not just the funny in here that’s great, it’s capturing the emotion, and the mind-setting that was within all the teenagers back in 1986. There are plenty of parts where they bring it up, but around this time was when the teenagers started rebelling against all their parents and standing up for themselves. It’s great to see how Hughes captures the generation of the 80’s teen, and he never stopped, but it’s a shame he had to go so soon. R.I.P. Brotha.

But it also delves a lot more into the fun of life. To be truly honest I was pretty jealous of everything Ferris was doing. I mean going on top of parade float singing The Beatles, driving around in my friend’s  dad’s 1961 Ferrari GT California, and faking dinner reservations at a fancy ass place, makes me want to go do something fun. Ferris says it himself twice in the film: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And that’s what this film is all about, enjoying the fun things in life while you have it, cause you never know when your going to have that chance again.

Matthew Broderick does a great job of portraying Ferris Bueller probably cause he feels like a real cool guy. He’s funny, he’s got the hot-ass girl, and he can basically get himself out of any situation. There are constant times when Bueller breaks the fourth wall and talks to us, and that brings us to connect more with his character, and say hey, this guy is really cool, I wish I was him, or at least hanging out with him. It sucks that Broderick doesn’t do much stuff now, but for me, he always be a lovable star.

Other characters in this movie are great too. Alan Ruck as Cameron is the most developed character in the movie, and although is a total mook that can annoy you, you feel the pain he feels, and he has one scene where he’s on the phone with principal Rooney, posing as Sloane’s dad, and it’s easily the funniest scene, and that car scene is just perfect. Mia Sara does nothing now, and that kind of sucks, cause she’s actually good in this. Jeffrey Jones is good here as Mr. Rooney, who is just the biggest d-bag ever, and he reminds you of all high school principals out there. Too bad that guy had to have child porno caught on him, he would still be in a lot of stuff, creepy bastard. There is also some great stuff from Ben Stein, and an amazing cameo from the always funny Charlie Sheen.

The only problem I had with the film that doesn’t make it one of my all-time favorites, is that it doesn’t go far enough, as far as other’s character’s emotions, and feelings, but it all still works none the less.

Consensus: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a prime example of a film that’s hilarious, fun to watch, but well-written, with plenty of ideas and trends about the times in the 80’s, with a timeless message of life.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!