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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Neil Patrick Harris

Gone Girl (2014)

Anybody down to get married?

On the wee early hours of July 4th, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) comes home to a bit of a shocker: His wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has mysteriously disappeared. Seeing as how this could possibly be a kidnapping, Nick decides to call the local authorities, in which two detectives (Kim Gordon and Patrick Fugit) get called onto the scene to investigate. While they do initially believe that Nick doesn’t have the faintest clue of what happened to his wife, the way everything is laid out just points towards him. However, they continue on with their investigation and keep themselves as subjective as possible. Problem is, the same couldn’t be said for the media who, upon hearing of this mysterious case, jump on it right away and focus most of their attention on Nick, his efforts to help find Amy, and just whether or not he actually has anything to do with it in the first place. This leads Nick to hire an attorney (Tyler Perry) that will not only help with his public persona, but also may help skewer the investigation away from him. But the truth is out there, just waiting to be exposed, and it’s up to everybody to discover what really happened to Amy.

Alright. Alright. Alright. No, I am not channeling my inner-McConaughey. Nope, instead I’m trying to prep myself for this review here because this baby won’t be easy to talk about. Not because I have so much love and praise for it that putting them all into cohesive, understandable sentences and phrases would be a challenge in and of itself, but because this movie is chock full of surprises.

Which also means something else….SPOILERS!!

Picking up girls in a library. So Affleck.

Picking up girls in a library. So Affleck.

Yes, everybody. It’s that dreaded “s-word” that just about every person on the face of the planet hates to hear, but such is the case with movies like these: The more mysterious they are, the more easier it is for bloggers/writers/critics to spoil the fun for everybody and anybody else out there who may actually be looking forward to seeing this. Because honestly, most of the fun in Gone Girl is from not knowing what to expect next, how, why, where, and from whom. In that sense, it’s your typical David Fincher flick, however, there’s something more fun about this piece in particular.

See, while I have never read the novel of which this movie is adapted from, therefore, I don’t have much knowledge of how it is actually written, seeing this was a total treat for me. I had no idea what to expect, except a possible kidnapping, an investigation into this kidnapping, and a whole lot of mystery. And this, my friends, is what I always look forward to when I see Fincher’s flicks; I expect to be thrown about, tussled around, and taken in all these different directions, until I can’t handle it anymore and want to give up, yet, the ride itself is so much fun, that I just can’t help but keep on with the ride.

And with this ride in particular, it’s satisfying. Not because Fincher keeps us guessing every scene, of every second, with every character, but because, for once and awhile at least, Fincher really seems to be relishing in the material that he’s working with. Don’t get me wrong, when I watch films like Fight Club, the Game, and, to an even lesser extent, Panic Room, I continuously get the idea that not only is Fincher having a great time messing with our minds and our expectations of what to expect next, but that he’s having an even bigger blast just setting up all of these set-pieces and plot-threads. That’s not to say his other, more serious movies aren’t considered “fun”, it’s just that there’s a very dark and morbid tone to them, that where it seems like there’d be a time and place for some fun to be had, there’s nothing but sadness. Which, like I will say again, isn’t a bad thing at all, but watching something like this reminds me what it’s like to go to a David Fincher movie and just witness a master at work with his craft and having a ball with it all.

So, with that said, it goes without saying that yes, Gone Girl is a fun ride, from start to finish. And although I am quite compelled to say more about this movie and its story, I’ll stay away because the real marvel of this film is realizing just what the hell is actually happening in this story, as it is brought to our attention. There’s several twists, turns, and alley-ways this movie goes down throughout its near two-and-a-half-hours, and they’re all unexpected (that’s if you haven’t already read the book).

It should also be noted that while this film definitely takes some aim at the mass-media and, most importantly, biased news broadcasts, Gone Girl isn’t particularly a deep movie. There’s no real sense that what Fincher is creating here, is supposed to be any bit of ground-breaking, thought-provoking, or even revolutionary; instead, it’s just a simple mystery that goes through all sorts of hoops and constantly takes you for a whirl. Is it a bit disappointing? Sort of, yes, but only because we know Fincher is capable of much more than just keeping his stories as simple as they present themselves on the page.

But that said, I’d much rather have an exciting thrill-ride from Fincher, rather than a bold, ambitious piece that seems to miss its mark. Not saying that there are many of those kinds of movies out there, but those expecting this to get a whole bunch of Oscar nominations, may be in for a surprise. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Anyway, even though this is clearly Fincher’s show for the taking, from the beginning, to the end, he still doesn’t make the fatal mistake of getting in the way of his cast. Which was a smart move on his part, because he’s assembled a pretty talented bunch here. And seeming to be leading the pack is Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, the husband of the missing who everybody, with good reason, calls into question as soon as the story comes to fruition. A lot of people were pretty heated up about Affleck’s casting in the role and although I have not read the book, and therefore cannot attest to this, I will say that Affleck seems tailor-made for the part. Not only does Affleck just light the screen up with that boyish-charm of his, but he also makes us continuously wonder just whether or not he is actually as apart of his wife’s disappearance as the rest of these characters are leading us to believe. While we see that Nick Dunne is a nice guy at heart, albeit, a very troubled-one to say the least, we still know that there’s a human deep down inside of there and although it would be as easy as pie for us to write him off as “the baddie”, the movie makes it quite clear that we shouldn’t and instead, see his side of the story and make up our own conclusions. And most of this is thanks to Affleck for having us constantly question who to believe, and who exactly to root for.

"Uhm.....what's in the box?"

“Uhm…..what’s in the box?”

But although Affleck’s amazing in this role, the one who totally steals the show is Rosamund Pike as his wife, “Amazing Amy”. But see, here’s the double-edged sword of describing Pike in this role without spoiling any of the film’s real surprises: You really can’t. Much of this film is dedicated to her back-story and exactly what happened to her, and to give any of that away would be a total disservice to all parties involved here. So I’ll stay away from really getting into her character, but I will say this: Pike is downright amazing and don’t be surprised if she ends up getting a nomination come Oscar season. Maybe even possibly a win….

You never know, people.

And of course, the rest of this cast is great, if also, quite interesting concerning who Fincher casts in some of these roles. For instance, the casting-decisions of Tyler Perry as the PR-representative of Nick Dunne and Neil Patrick Harris as a slightly off-kilter ex-boyfriend of Amy’s were definitely bold choices; choices which, mind you, were willing to fail at any second. However, they both pay-off and believe it or not, give me more hope in Tyler Perry as an actor, much rather than Tyler Perry as a director (although this still has me scratching my head).

But there’s plenty more where these two came from and they’re all pretty phenomenal to watch, especially since each and everyone brings their own little flavor to this overall meal. Kim Gordon and Patrick Fugit play the two detectives that seem to be just as confused as the audience is in knowing whether or not Nick Dunne did anything to his wife and because of this, it’s interesting to see their conversations with him; Carrie Coon (a favorite of mine from the Leftovers) is great as Nick’s twin-sister and seems like she herself may be up to no good as well, although it’s clear that all she really wants to do is make sure her bro doesn’t get jailed; and Missi Pyle plays a television news-analyst by the name of Eileen Atkins who, get this, has a Southern-accent, likes to bad-mouth certain people in ongoing investigation, and does it all for “the ratings”. Now, tell me, who does that sound exactly like?

Oh, that David Fincher, man! He’s a pure-jokester!

Consensus: Maybe not as deep as Fincher’s previous-flicks, Gone Girl still serves as an exciting, enjoyable, and delightfully twisted tale of a marriage gone wrong, and even worse mystery that may, or may not be, exactly what you think it is.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Stop mugging it up for the cameras, Affleck!

Quit mugging it up for the cameras, Affleck!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Talking to a silent dude who wears a poncho is definitely one way for sure.

During the year of 1882 in Arizona, a loser sheep farmer by the name of Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) practically loses it all; his pride, his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried), his courage, and even his own self-respect. Basically, Albert has no reason to live and even though he doesn’t want to off himself, he still knows that life in the West is dumb, which is why he decides to move away to San Francisco in hopes of changing his life for good. However, things turn around for Albert when a new lady comes into town named Anna (Charlize Theron). Not only is she smokin’ hot, but she seems to take a bit of an interest in him and makes him a deal: She’ll help him gain enough of his courage back so that he can win his ex back and eventually live happily live ever after. Albert thinks this is a great idea, except for the problem that he isn’t able to shoot a gun – which is practically a big “no no” in a place like the West, where just about everything and anything could kill you, at any time. To make matters worse, Anna also has a bit of a secret past that includes known-killer Clinch (Liam Neeson) and he’s not happy about her not being with him, and off with some wimp like Albert.

Though I’ve never been a huge fan of Family Guy, that sure as heck didn’t stop me from enjoying Ted. Sure, Seth MacFarlane loves his sophomoric jokes and and gags, but that’s sort of the point to his humor and for the most part, it’s done him quite well. And since Ted was such a success, it’s no surprise to see that he would eventually take all of that studio-money and make something that he clearly wants to do, from his heart and with himself thrown right into the middle.

Oh, I get it. He's a sheepish guy, in the middle of a flock of sheep! Clever! I think..

Oh, I get it. He’s a sheepish guy, in the middle of a flock of sheep! Clever! I think..

I’m coming very close to calling this something of a “passion project”, which it may very well have been, but from the results of it, too much passion may have went on way too long and for too much.

That’s not to say it doesn’t seem like there isn’t much effort on MacFarlane’s part, because there totally is, however, it does seem like that a little of his humor can only go on for so long, until it all becomes repetitive and over-used. Maybe, just maybe I could have gone a whole two-hours without hearing jokes made about someone’s fancy-looking mustache – better yet, maybe, just maybe I could have gone the whole movie without a handful of jokes revolving around sheep’s penises. But with Seth MacFarlane that’s what you have to expect, which makes me wonder why it just did not work here at all.

Okay, that’s a lie, there are times when this movie can be pretty funny, but it’s not because of MacFarlane himself. Mostly, the laughs come from the fact that the ensemble he’s put together is clearly working their assess off to make any sort of joke hit. Because, even if they do fall flat, at least there’s still something to be interested by; like, for instance, why wouldn’t you make a joke or two about Liam Neeson’s terrible Southern-accent? Better yet, why wouldn’t you ever crack a joke about the fact that all of the townspeople look like your usual, ragged-type to be seen in these types of Southerns, yet, everybody else in the movie looks like they just walked off the set of a Loreal commercial?

For some reason, we never get those kinds of jokes, and instead, we are “treated” to ones about smiling in old-timey photographs, 19th century racism, hookers, virgins, pooping, and bar-brawls. Maybe that sounds like a good time to you, because it totally does to me, but somehow, Seth MacFarlane found a way to suck all of the air out of it and give us a piece that’s pretty boring, even when it is trying to be funny. Which, believe it or not, is about 75% of the time; the rest of the 25% is dedicated to action, drama, romance and awkward situations without barely a lick of comedy. And do trust me, I don’t have much of a problem with a comedy trying to be a tad serious and throw some heart into the story for good measure, just to even things out, but it was never interesting here, nor did it really do much for the characters themselves. It just seemed thrown onto us and almost like Seth MacFarlane needed a new editor-in-charge. Much like the feeling I can sometimes get with Judd Apatow’s pieces.

Which brings me to the man himself: Seth MacFarlane. Of course we all know, recognize, and, for some, love MacFarlane from his various voice-roles and maybe even his culturally-divided Academy Awards hosting-job, but here’s the first time in which we really get to see all of Seth, in his full-on, human-made form. None of that animated, voice-over crap; it’s just him, his face, and his ability to actually act and emote for the camera.

And, as much as it pains me to say, it makes total sense why he’s stayed behind the camera for so long in the first place.

I get why he's here, but Sarah Silverman? Come on, honey! You must have had something better to do!

I get why he’s here, but Sarah Silverman? Come on, honey! You must have had something better to do!

That’s not to say that MacFarlane is really bad with the material really, it’s just that it’s obvious his face wasn’t really made for film. He’s sort of a bland screen-presence on screen that tells his own jokes, yells, hollers, acts goofy, puts on an “OMG” face numerous time, and occasionally have to act where he has to put on his “serious face” and whatnot. Sometimes, it works, and some other times, it doesn’t really do much of all. It just seems like him, hogging up the screen and taking away from some of the better, way more-talented members of the cast. Not to get on MacFarlane’s case or anything, but I don’t really see the guy taking over the acting world anytime soon. For now, I’d say to just stay behind the camera, keep on doing the voice-work and every once and awhile, show your face to let everyone know that you’re alive and you are in fact still working.

Anyway though, the rest of the cast fairs a lot better, if only because, like I mentioned before, they are a lot more skilled with material in general and they can usually make the most out of anything as silly as this. Charlize Theron gets the best acting out of MacFarlane because it seems like they share a natural-chemistry that makes it more than just being about her hot, rockin’ bod, even while she’s on the prime of reaching 40; Neil Patrick Harris gets the most laughs out of the whole cast as the mustached-man that Albert’s ex is now dating and shows us why if you give NPH something worthwhile to do, he’ll run with it and never look back; and Liam Neeson has a goofy accent but doesn’t get much funny stuff to do (even though we know he’s clearly capable of doing comedy). Also to mention, there are a few cameos here and there that are rather hit-or-miss. There’s one actually that’s quite spell-blindingly clever, yet, is totally ruined just by the sheer awkwardness of it all. Want to say what it is, but you may just have to wait and see.

Then again, maybe you don’t have to. Because honestly, you’re not missing much to begin with anyway.

Consensus: It isn’t that Seth MacFarlane isn’t trying with A Million Ways to Die in the West, it’s more that he’s just trying too much and doesn’t really know what’s considered “well-done crude humor”, against, “annoying, repetitive crude humor”. You know, if there is such a thing.

3.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

Okay, that 'stache is a bit ridiculous, but it totally beats the 10-years-late faux hawk MacFarlane's got going on.

Okay, that ‘stache is a bit ridiculous, but it totally beats the 10-years-too-late faux hawk MacFarlane’s got going on.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Clara’s Heart (1988)

HAhahahahhahaha, Neil Patrick Harris!!!

While vacationing in Jamaica to get over her baby daughter’s death, Leona Hart (Kathleen Quinlan) strikes up a friendship with perceptive maid Clara Mayfield (Whoopi Goldberg). Soon, she transfers her place of employment to Leona’s Maryland home and becomes a surrogate mother to the Harts’ impressionable son (Neil Patrick Harris) — a bond that will be tested when the secrets of Clara’s past are exposed.

This is one of those little heartfelt films about how a boy that can’t find any love in the world finds it with the most random person ever. This just so happens to be between a young spoiled child, and a Jamacian, heavy-faithed woman.

So the cliches fly out of everywhere. I felt like if this film went many different ways with its story instead of the usual and obvious route it would have been a lot better and more inspiring.

Another problem I had with this film was that the two parents in this film were so nasty and cruel, that they didn’t even seem belivable. I mean no matter how bad divorces can be, never ever do they just single handedly just forget about the kid and let that kid stay with the house keeper, well not any parents that I know would do that.

The one saving point of this film is the two main performances from Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris. Goldberg gives a very fine and strong performance as a woman who doesn’t take anything from no one, and you sense much knowledge as she underplays many times throughout the whole story. Neil Patrick Harris, does an OK job for a young child actor, as in the end you actually do feel that this kid moves full-circle.

However, there is a little subplot that just really annoyed me about Clara’s little secret. It was kept throughout the whole movie and when it is finally revealed its revealed an hour too late, and never really gives a meaning of why Clara acts the way she does.

I think the message was good, about how you should grow up and always do the best to your ability, I just don’t think it came out at all that well by the end of the film.

Consensus: Though it has good performances from the leads, Clara’s Heart is predictable, slow, and at times not very belivable as to why these people act the way they do.

2.5/10=SomeOleBullShiitt!!!!!