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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Patrick Wilson

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Hey, somebody’s gotta eat.

A bunch of people start going missing somewhere around in the West and it gets people thinking, “Just what’s going on?” Some believe that the people tailed-off and died, whereas others think that they were kidnapped by a savage tribe of cannibals that hide-up in the mountains and are most definitely best left alone and to their business. Problem is, Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) can’t allow that to be enough for him, so he decides that it’s time to find these people, infiltrate this cannibal-tribe and oh yeah, save some lives. But in order to do so, he’ll have to get the help of some of the most trusted gunslinger’s he knows. Like, Arthur O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) who, despite a leg-injury, sticks it out on this mission. Or like Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the Sheriff’s Deputy who knows that time has passed him by, but he’s not willing to settle down just yet. Or, like a random cowboy named John Brooder (Matthew Fox), who shows up randomly into town and makes it his duty to stop these cannibals, all for a hefty-sum of course.

The more out West they are, the more scraggly the facial-hair.

Bone Tomahawk is the kind of movie that won’t be for everybody and that’s why it’s pretty great. It starts off as a slow, meandering and rather meandering Western that’s languid and taking its time, but then rapidly changes into something far more disturbing, barbaric and grueling that we never see it coming, nor do we know what to do with it. Writer/director S. Craig Zahler deserves loads of credit here for not just turning the Western-genre on its side, but also realizing the pulpy-limitations that can be reached when such things as convention, or good-taste are thrown to the side; sometimes, it’s better to just show a bunch of blood, guts, bullets, and cannibals.

Something that, honestly, the John Ford Westerns always seemed to be missing.

But I kid. Zahler does something interesting with this material in that he lets it breathe and move at its own pace. That can sometimes mean that it’s a bit slow and boring, but it also means that Zahler is using his time wisely, setting-up and building characters, giving us a better idea of who, or what exactly, we’re working with. It may not seem like much in the world of film, but when it seems like almost every other movie feels the need to rush itself, get going, and immediately jump to all of the gore and action, it’s a nice change-of-pace to get a movie that doesn’t rush things along.

It also helps that Zahler knows that by doing this, he’s also building tension, which is exactly why Bone Tomahawk works as well as it does. Cause when we get all of the necessary build-up that we need, the movie’s tension snaps like a rubber-band that’s been stretched too tight; the action that we’d been waiting around for so desperately, does eventually come around, but it hits a lot harder than we expect. It’s quick, brutal, unrelenting, and oh yeah, pretty damn shocking – all factors that seem to be missing from today’s film’s violence, without seeming gratuitous or over-the-top.

Why would anyone want to leave her at home, all alone?!?

Nope. In Bone Tomahawk‘s case, the violence is just a sick and savage culmination of all the building and waiting around that’s been done and it’s hard not to be gripped by this. Zahler is a smart director in that he knows the best way to film this kind of heartless action is not to look away, shake the camera, or pull off some sick style-points, but keep the camera there, tightly and firmly, so that we can see just what sort of carnage is being done. It makes it not just more hard-to-watch, but rather disturbing.

Another factor missing from most of today’s movie violence.

But if anything, Bone Tomahawk is a solid B-movie that wants to be a bit of an A-movie, what with its stars and possible ideas about land and freedom. Then again, the movie is best when it’s not caring about this certain kind of stuff and just allowing for these characters to blow each other’s heads off. Sure, there’s something more to this small dynamic of characters, but really, the movie’s not necessarily as character-based, as much as it just uses them to be pawns in a much larger, much more dangerous game. Zahler knows that it’s best to have us care about them and sympathize with them, even when we know that it’s all going to blow up in their face, as well as our own.

But hey, that’s just the price we pay for caring.

Consensus: A tad long, Bone Tomahawk isn’t high-art, as much as it’s a B-movie with some pretty horrifying violence, a solid cast, and a smart direction that plays on genre-thrills, but never shying away from the sheer brutality that’s actually shocking, given today’s standards.

8 / 10

Uh oh. Look out cannibals. Or, I guess, prepare the hot-sauce.

Photos Courtesy of: Image Entertainment

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The Founder (2017)

Yeah, still eating at McDonald’s. Sorry, guys.

Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is just another salesman trying to get by in the world so that he can come home to his wife (Laura Dern), and have something to show for it. While on his travels one day, Ray stumbles upon this new fast-food restaurant in Illinois called McDonald’s. While there’s not much to them at first glance, the fact that they actually have only a few items on the menu and are so quick, automatically strike Ray as something that he needs to work with. So, he hatches a plan with the owners, brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman), in that he’ll help them expand and bring McDonald’s to the rest of the world. But eventually, as time rolls on, he starts to realize that there’s more money to be made in this food-joint, but the only way to do so is in having to back-stab and get rid of everyone in his life, who has loved and supported him all of these years. Also, he’ll have to get rid of Mac and Dick, leading to an all-out legal-battle that will continue to haunt the McDonald’s name until the end of time.

Okay, probably not, but still.

Yeah, this convo's about to get real weird.

Yeah, this convo’s about to get real weird.

The Founder is actually a pretty misleading title, but it works perfectly with what the rest of the movie is trying to get across. This idea that a person who thought of an idea, as smart as it may be, entitles them to some sort of power, fame and fortune, is an interesting one, especially when said person didn’t actually do anything with the idea. In the Founder, we get this sort of conflict – Ray Kroc may forever and ever be known as the one who got McDonald’s name out there to the rest of the entire world, but he didn’t find, or better yet, even invent the place, the art, the craft, and originality that went into it all in the first place.

Which begs the question: Who’s worthy of being considered “the founder”? The guys who made the place, or the guy who brought the place to where it is today?

It’s a bunch of interesting questions that, thankfully, get brought up many of times throughout the always entertaining, compelling and rather insightful tale about McDonald’s, how it got started, and how it got to be the fast-food juggernaut that it currently is today. Say what you will about McDonald’s, their crappy, fast and easy food, and even the people who work there, but it’s a place that is everywhere you look and will probably stay that way until the person is left breathing. So yes, it’s very interesting to see where it all came from and how it came to be, especially since there’s darker-beings at play surrounding this tale.

For one, director John Lee Hancock approaches Robert D. Siegel’s script in a smart way; he never allows for us to think that this is going to be some quick, fast-paced and glossy biopic about this one smart businessman who hatched this plan to become one of the richest men in the world. There’s always this idea of a darker, more sinister undercurrent here, which makes all of the ups and constantly colorful montages, in a way, seem eerie; we know that Kroc is going to eventually turn the other cheek, lose that winning-smile of his, and start to, as they love to say in the entertainment world, “break bad”, but when, where, and how it all goes down is always left in the air, making this tale a rather unpredictable one at times.

Then again, it’s also a smart and honest tale about what can happen when one person sees money-bags in their eyes and doesn’t really care about the people around them. The Founder makes us wonder whether it was all worth it for Kroc and everyone else involved with the restaurant; can you be a rich, successful and live a rather comfortable life by sticking to your principles and not letting your image get away from you? Or, do you have to get a little down in the dirt at times, hitting elbows and yeah, making some uncomfortable compromises? The Founder asks these questions, never quite comes up with a clear-cut, obvious answer and for that and that alone, it’s a very good movie.

It doesn’t ask whether or not you should go out there and support McDonald’s (which yeah, you probably shouldn’t), but it does ask whether or not someone can stay true to themselves when they want to make some money for themselves.

Sorry, guys. Should have stuck with Burger King.

Sorry, guys. Should have stuck with Burger King.

That, to me, has stayed in my head ever since.

Regardless, as Kroc, Michael Keaton gives us an amazing performance because Keaton, like the man he’s playing, always seems to have something brewing underneath the surface. On the surface, Kroc seems like a rather nice, almost squeaky-clean guy, but the more and more time we get to spend with him, the more realize that there may just be a small screw loose in his head that has him ticking like a bomb, ready to explode and lose all control. Keaton constantly has us guessing just where he’s going to go next with this person and constantly surprises us with his portrayal; while this is no doubt a person we’re supposed to have hard feelings towards, it’s kind of hard because Keaton is just so damn charming. The movie doesn’t let Kroc off the hook, though, and in today’s day and age, that’s something definitely needed.

Everyone else is pretty great, too. Laura Dern doesn’t get a whole lot to do as Kroc’s first wife, but she brings enough warmth and sympathy when is necessary; John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman are perfectly as the two brothers who came up with McDonald’s and are slowly, but surely, starting to see that dream slip away from them; Linda Cardellini shows up in a under-written role as Kroc’s second wife, but tries; B.J. Novak is perfectly slimy as the one who hits Kroc’s head the hardest with opportunities and business ideas; and Patrick Wilson, as brief as he’s here, does a solid job at seeming like a guy who may be a little smarmy, but also may just be something of a good guy, trying to make a quick buck, and oh yeah, loses his wife for it.

Chew on that, people.

Consensus: With an absolutely terrific lead performance from Michael Keaton, the Founder not only makes us question the meaning of its tale, but many others, while still giving us a smart, rather haunting portrait of a business man, with an idea, an agenda, and of course, a shady moral compass.

8.5 / 10

What an empire of morbidly obese customers.

What an empire of soon-to-be morbidly obese customers.

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Come on, ghosts! Let’s try and play nice now, ya hear!

With all of the hype and infamy surrounding the Amityville horrors, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) have become something of overnight celebrities. Everyone wants to know more about them, but they also want to question them more and figure out if everything that they say, or do with ghosts is actually real, or all just a put-on. For this reason alone, Ed and Lorraine decide to take something of a sabbatical from the paranormal-busting world and just focus on getting back to reality, where they can continue to raise their family in a carefree, quiet environment. However, when they hear about a family being terrorized somewhere in England, the Warrens can’t help but feel inspired for one more battle against the dead. This time, though, they may have met their match. And with Lorraine losing her touch with reality and starting to battle more and more with the dead and dark spirits that have been haunting since she started seeing them, it’s all coming to head and this may be the most dangerous mission they’ve had to work with yet.

Oh, those silly, little children. Always seeing dead people.

Oh, those silly, little children. Always seeing dead people.

The first Conjuring, if anything, was a fun horror movie. While a lot of people shrieked, screamed, hooted and hollered during it, the movie, at least from my point-of-view, wasn’t all that scary; sure, it had some jumps here and there, but it seemed like the movie was less about the jumps and more about the tension, the suspense and the thrill of waiting to be scared and actually having it happen. James Wan is a smart director in that he doesn’t just throw everything at us, altogether and at once – he takes time to build his pieces, so that we get a clear picture of what we’re heading into, only to then pull the rug from underneath us and have us not knowing just what the hell to expect next.

That’s why, underneath it all, the first Conjuring was a fun movie. It wasn’t great and it, for me at least, wasn’t this terrifying experience that made me go home scared of turning the lights off when I went to bed. It was a normal horror movie in that it had a simple premise, a simple ghost, and simple characters, without trying to go any further on any of that; it had a ghost who needed to be taken out of a house and well, that’s exactly what happened.

But the only reason why I bring so much of this up is because the Conjuring 2 is a step-up from the original and shows that James Wan isn’t just trying to make the same movie, over and over again.

Sure, he has the scares, the jumps, the spooks, and the ghosts on full-display here, but once again, there’s more to it than just that. In making it seem like the almost indestructible Warrens are up against the grain here, Wan has made sure that this ghost is as evil and maniacal as you can get. In fact, I’d say that the first hour of the movie is dedicated solely to this family getting slowly tormented by this spirit who, for lack of a better word, just wants people out of “his house”. Why? Well, the movie goes into a little bit of that, too, but it doesn’t always matter, because the scares are there and we know that when the Warrens come around, everything’s going to be all fine and dandy, right?

Well, no. Not really.

Wan makes the Conjuring 2 out to be a do-or-die experience where anything could go wrong, at any second, and the unpredictable nature of the spirit takes over the story and has us hoping for the best, but also expecting the worst. After all, it’s a horror movie, so obviously, bad stuff has to happen to good people, regardless of whether we want it to, or not. Wan knows this, which is why he actually allows for there to be character-development with all of the characters, not just the Warren’s.

Because the family getting terrorized by this spirit is, after all, a middle-to-low class family just getting by, with a husband who is out and about, living a different life with a neighbor, a daughter who sees things in her sleep, and a boy who has a stuttering problem, we really sympathize with them. We aren’t doing it because, oh yeah, ghosts suck and all of that, but because do they really deserve this? Obviously, no family in their right mind deserves it, but Wan really does make us ache for these characters and it’s why we really want to see the Warrens show up and, essentially, save the day.

Pretty.

Van Gogh would be proud.

But once again, Wan is a smart enough director to know that not everything can be so simple and laid-out, even in a horror movie like this. Surprisingly, there’s more to the relationship between Ed and Lorraine than the first movie ever touched on and through this second installment, Wan shows us that they really are each other’s world and without the other, they’d be nothing in this life, or the next. It’s actually kind of sweet and makes these two characters appear less as just “religious ghostbusters”, and more as a married-couple who want to help those around them, while also trying to make sure that they still come home to one another, alive, well, and happy to go on another day on solid ground.

And really, that’s why the Conjuring 2 is better than the first.

Wan seems like he’s more interested in going darker and deeper into this story than ever before and not just leaving everything on the surface-level. The movie does run a tad too long, however, a lot of the reason why it’s over two hours, is because there is more time dedicated to character-development, as well as more opportunities for Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga to work with material that is, fine at best, but still gives them something to do, rather than just yell at goofy-looking spirits.

In fact, yeah, let’s try and work on those spirits next time, okay VFX team?

Cool.

Consensus: By adding an extra level of depth and emotion to the proceedings, the Conjuring 2 packs more of an emotional wallop to go along with all of the effective jumps and scares.

8 / 10

Does she not have any posters?

Does she not have any posters?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Space Station 76 (2014)

Being up in space can make a lot of people upset. And horny too, apparently.

Somewhere all the way up in space, lies Space Station 76 a refueling outpost that is being currently used in the 70’s. Aboard the 76 are a bunch of sad and lonely people, most of whom don’t really seem to understand that there’s more to life than just what’s given to them. Like, for instance, try the ship’s mechanic (Matt Bomer), who can’t seem to get a grip on his emotions, or even his philandering, constantly pill-popping wife (Marisa Coughlan). Then, there’s also Captain Glenn (Patrick Wilson) who, because of a secret he’s holding near and dear to his heart, is slowly dying inside and is contemplating whether or not this life that he has is worth living after all. But, soon, both of these men’s lives are changed once Jessica (Liv Tyler), a new second-in-command to Glenn, shakes things up. Not to mention, she comes around during the most joyful, happiest time of the year: the Holidays! What’s so sad about that?

"What did I tell you about singing, "Walk this Way" in my presence?"

“What did I tell you about singing, “Walk this Way” in my presence?”

On the surface, Space Station 76 seems like an over-the-top, campy-farce that wants to make fun of 70’s fashion, ideas, and conventions that they can’t even contain themselves on the very retro-looking poster. And pretty much, for the first thirty minutes or so, that’s exactly how it all plays out. It’s definitely over-the-top and campy as one would expect, but also incredibly weird, with random, almost shocking scenes of sex and masturbation, and an overall tone that was so bizarre, I couldn’t help but feeling like I stumbled upon a late-night special from Adult Swim. That’s not to say any of what I’m saying is actually a bad thing, as much as it was just a thing that I was enjoying, but wasn’t too sure about how well it would still hold-up for the next hour and ten minutes.

Then, things got weird. But again, in a good way.

See, where Space Station 76 really pulls the rug from underneath its audience, is in the way that it slowly, very tenderly-like, reveals itself to be something of a dark, intimate drama about some very sad, emotionally-troubled people. It still has an odd sense of humor placed in throughout, but for the most part, once the second-half rolls on by, it becomes clear that we’re not dealing with a sci-fi camp-fest – in fact, we’re dealing with a rather interesting dramedy. But it’s not that because the movie plays with its audience’s expectations is the reason why this is interesting, it’s mostly because the characters put into it, as much as they seem caricatures, are mostly all well thought-out, three-dimensional human beings. Sure, they have some weird stuff going on with them, but tell me, what person doesn’t?

With each and every character here, we get a few that we know we’re supposed to like and actually care for, even if we don’t really know them fully well; all we do know is that they’re sad and want more out of life. Because of that, the movie works best as a way to figure out which characters deserve our attentions the most, but here’s the real kicker – even the characters who initially seem to be just plain old, immoral a-holes, they actually turn out to be more human than you’d expect. It’s a wonder that a movie can make us sympathize with Marisa Coughlan’s wife, considering that she constantly cheats on her dedicated, honorable husband (with a character portrayed by Jerry O’Connell no less), then comes home, only to bitch at him for not doing something she wanted, or whatever, but that’s what co-writer/director Jack Plotnick is able to do and it works for every other character here.

Matt Bomer’s lonely hubby character, not only makes you’d want to give him a hug, but hope that whoever does give him said hug, is a person he can spend the rest of his life with. I didn’t expect Bomer to work for me here as the down-and-out mechanic, but he works well in creating a character wants our sympathy, but doesn’t demand it; he’s just wholesome enough that you appreciate his nice tendencies, but isn’t a perfect human being either. So when Liv Tyler’s character walks in and changes thing around for Bomer’s character, not only does he feel happiness and hope for his future, but it also makes you, the viewer, feel the same as well. What I said about Bomer is the same thing for Liv Tyler, the kind of actress who has left me quite cold in the past. She’s fine here in that she’s allowed to be a bit of a sweetheart, albeit, one who may not be exactly who she presents herself as being from the first appearance of her in this flick.

Tee-hee. 70's clothes are funny.

Tee-hee. 70’s clothes are funny.

But the one character who really kept my interest the most was Patrick Wilson as Captain Glenn, a character who’s secret dilemma I called from a mile away, but still didn’t affect him, the character. Because, as he’s written, Glenn too is a very sad individual, but Wilson does something neat with him in that he makes him rather insufferable in certain spots of this movie. Whereas the movie wants us to be a bit creeped-out by his appearance and actions towards those around him on the spaceship, Wilson still can’t help himself to make him the least bit likable, although he’s still not fully as trustworthy as Wilson’s characters have been before. Still, as it is, there’s something inherently sympathetic to this character that makes him worth standing by and, ultimately, rooting for. For lack of a better term.

While mostly all of these characters are strong in their ways, there’s still a feeling this movie could had been a lot better, placed as just an ordinary drama as was. Sure, the spaceship-setting probably was done so on purpose to divert its attention away from the other dramedies of the same nature, but it still seems unnecessary at times, especially considering it’s the 70’s and there are a little too many jokes made at the expense of the fashion, the look and the feel of those days and ages. Don’t get me wrong, I always have a little chuckle whenever I see somebody spotting a silly, 70’s-era porn-stache, but for something as smart and well-done this, I felt like it was a little too cheap for its own good.

Oh well, guess you have to please everybody.

Consensus: Though it pulls a bit too many lame jokes, Space Station 76 surprisingly works best as a drama, and one that pays plenty of attention to its well-written characters.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Okay, this little guy was kind of funny.

Okay, this little guy was kind of funny.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Stretch (2014)

Just drive. And do other crazy stuff, too.

Stretch (Patrick Wilson) is a limo driver who is a bit down-on-his-luck. Not only did his incredibly smokin’ hot girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker) just recently break up with him, but his $6,000 debt is starting to catch up with him and now the dangerous people he owes money to, want it back and by 12 tonight. Though Stretch knows this is an impossible feat with his salary and his self-esteem issues, he gets a chance to possibly change that when he picks up known millionaire Karos (Chris Pine) who is a bit crazy in his own ways, but always gives his driver’s a hefty tip. The only problem is that his drivers have to do some very daring, challenging tasks for him; one of which Stretch gets called onto do. The mission: Get a briefcase from a French gangster (James Badge Dale), bring it back to him by a certain time, and get all the money he wants. But while the night starts off simple and pain-free, it’s everything but and Stretch soon realizes that in order to get what he wants, he’s going to have to play a little dirty.

If you’ve never heard of this film, despite the cast and crew involved with it, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. Apparently, the powers that be at Universal felt as if this movie was a little too much for a major-audience to go out and see, so rather than allowing for it to play in theaters across the country like it was originally supposed to, it gets the shaft. Well, maybe not a total shaft, but for a movie with this much known-names, it’s a pretty big surprise to see it not only get a straight-to-VOD release, but get thrown onto Netflix Instant less than a month later. Usually for any movie, regardless of who is involved, this proves to be troubling and can only mean one thing – it’s got to be bad.

James T. who?

James T. who?

Well, in the case of Stretch, we finally have one rule to the exception and thank heavens for that.

For one, writer/director Joe Carnahan is the type of guy who, you either love, or you hate his movies. Most of them aren’t smart, well-written pieces of film that inspire countless thought-pieces, or even provoking conversations at the local diner, but are just fun, entertaining, and sometimes, incredibly crazy features. Though the Grey was a different side to Carnahan than we we’re used to seeing, it still packed a hard punch that made it feel like a Carnahan film, just without all of the wild jokes on the side.

Here though, with Stretch, Carnahan seems to be back in full-on form and it’s one of the main reasons why it works so well. It’s clear early on that Carnahan is making this film as if it were another one of those, “one, wild night” movies from the 80’s and it plays off early as that. Almost like a tribute you could say, with the cheesy synth-score, the use of hot-as-heck L.A., and David Hasselhoff, but eventually, it stops becoming a tribute that’s desperately pleading to be loved by its inspirations, and actually becomes one of them.

This is where Carnahan’s creativity really shows, because while movies like Smokin’ Aces or the A-Team may not be all that perfect, they still both do great jobs at entertaining the hell out of its audience when Carnahan throws all of his cards on the table and just allows for everything to run wild. He does that many of times here, but not just in terms of the action; the story literally goes certain places that you don’t expect it to. And while this would normally be a problem for some movies that seem like they’re just making it up on-the-fly, Carnahan hardly ever runs into that problem because he keeps his story moving and most of all, exciting. Even if the first 30 minutes or so of this movie are a bit slow, they’re still effective because they are used to just build characters, their situations, and why they might be worth keeping an eye on once the actual story gets going on.

That, and well, because the later-half of the movie is so damn fun.

Which is, yes, definitely thanks to Carnahan for just stepping back and watching as his roller-coaster gets moving, but it’s also for the cast, and how each and everyone here, no matter how large or small their roles may be, give it their all and add another twisted-layer onto this already strange flick. Patrick Wilson has always been a favorite of mine and here, as our titled-character for the next hour-and-a-half, he finally gets a chance to just have a heck of a time with the material he’s working with. Usually, whenever I see Wilson in something, the dude’s given a role that asks on him for mainly one thing and one thing only: Be charming. And it’s definitely not hard for a handsome fella like him, but we hardly ever get to see him really slum himself up to where we care less about his looks and more about what he’s actually putting into his role.

Jessica Alba in a role that didn't make me want to turn off the TV every time she showed up. Which is definitely something worth congratulating.

Jessica Alba in a role that didn’t make me want to turn off the TV every time she showed up. Which is definitely something worth congratulating.

But that’s all different here with Stretch, where he not only gets a chance to just be a wild and crazy guy, but use his comedic-timing to perfect effect. It’s a sign that no matter how many times you think you have a certain actor shoehorned into the kind of role you think they should be playing, they’ll turn around, give you the finger, and try something different. Whether or not it works, is totally up in the air, but the effort is all that matters and here, for Wilson, it’s more than worth the effort.

Same goes for another actor attractive guy who happens to be slumming himself up for the cameras, Chris Pine who, oddly enough, isn’t credited as being in this film. Either way, Pine’s solid in this movie as the wildly unpredictable and nearly-insane Karos, and gives us a chance to see more of his skills as an actor. Though I see him do sort of the same kind of role in Horrible Bosses 2, it was still nice to see how well Pine would perform in a Carnahan’s wacky vision and needless to say, the guy doesn’t disappoint.

And of course, Ed Helms is funny, but did you really expect anything else?

Consensus: Over-the-top, but ultimately, a fun, wild ride, Stretch finds Joe Carnahan back into his comfort-zone of just letting loose on everything in front of him, not apologizing for it, and definitely not trying to coax into being anything more than what it already is: Madness and pure destruction.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

My nickname, all of the time.

My nickname, all of the time.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Morning Glory (2010)

If Indiana Jones and Annie Hall told me what was going on in the world everyday, the world would be a better place.

Becky (Rachel McAdams), a young, high-strung TV news producer feels as if she has it all, but somehow doesn’t. She gets let-go from her current job at a New Jersey local news station, and can’t seem to find a way to make a living in today’s economy. That is, until she’s hired by one of the least-rated morning news programs called Day Break. Becky’s first decision is to fire one of the co-hosts (Ty Burrell), but leaves the other, Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), without anybody to help her out. By searching through thick and thin, Becky ends up with getting snobby, old-timer Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to do the job, but his old-school business of telling the news (you know, the stuff that matters) clashes with producers, his fellow co-host, and the ratings. Can Becky save her job, but the show as well? Oh no! Who knows?

I can probably assume that just by reading that synopsis up top, you can already bet just where this bad baby is going. Obviously, she’s going to struggle, run into some problems, find a way to get past those problems, run into more problems, and at the end of the day, possibly learn a lesson or two and make others feel happy for themselves. It’s the typical plot-line we are so used to following and it’s nothing that this movie doesn’t strive for, so what the hell could be the problem?

Well, believe it or not, nothing really. Just that it’s so typical, it barely even lasts in your mind, almost to the point of where you could probably go right on over to The Today Show, watch the Roker say some random shit about the weather, and not remember that you actually saw a movie that was sort of about day-time talk shows. However, the weirdest thing about this movie is that it wants you to remember it, and know the message it is trying to get across.

Don't even think of it you dirty, old bastard. She's mine!!!! I hope!!

Don’t even think of it you dirty, old bastard. She’s mine!!!! I hope!!

Yes, this movie does have a message here and as honest as it may be, it’s still freakin’ obvious because they actually say what it is once during the film. There’s a scene here where McAdams’ character tells Ford’s character that he has to get used to the fact that news isn’t what matters, it’s what’s entertaining that matters, so he better get used to it and man-up. That wasn’t word-for-word verbatim of what she said, but it’s pretty damn close and it made me wonder just what type of agenda this film had on it’s mind. It seemed like it was just gunning for a conventional, happy little movie about a girl finding her place in the world, but it went for so much more that it shocked me.

Not in the good way, either.

It’s a very strange predicament this movie runs itself into. It doesn’t seem to really want to be the type of movie that makes you think about the state of journalism and where it’s going (Spoiler alert: to hell), but at the same time, when it’s not making us chuckle or feel all cozy inside the pit of our tummies, it’s trying to do exactly that. The idea that news-programs can survive off of ridiculous stunts being caught on live-television is a bit dumb, but it’s very true because honestly, when was the last time you saw Matt Lauer actually ask a person about their feelings on the legalization of marijuana? Or abortion? Or college loans going up? Or anything of that matter that people actually give a hoot about?

Anybody?

Yup, didn’t think so.

As I said, it’s a very weird road this movie decides to go down, but it does it with enough charm that I can’t say that I hated myself for watching it. Can’t say that about a lot of movies, so when that idea actually does come into my head and stays; well, it’s a nice, little feeling that reminds me why I love watching and reviewing movies so much. Then again, with all of the movies that I do watch and review, it can be a bit hard to take pleasure and be happy with the little things, and the little movies in life that put a bit of a smile on your face. That’s not to say that this movie had me grinning cheek-to-cheek, but it’s pleasant in the way any good chick flick should be.

Speaking of ladies, ain’t that Rachel McAdams a beauty to behold? This gal really is something else because not only is she charming, but she’s able to make such a conventional, obvious character like “the career-woman who puts her love life on the back-burner”, seem sympathetic and adorable in her own, cutesy-way. McAdams just has that spark to her that makes you get on-board behind character right away, no matter what type of dead-ends she may hit on her path to being successful and happy. This is one role that could have easily been given to somebody like Jennifer Garner or Katherine Heigl, and probably would have had me searching for my remote under every seat-cushion, but it wasn’t given to them. It was given to McAdams and the girl really gives the role all she’s got and make it work, despite her character being one big cliché, after another.

The romance she has with Patrick Wilson also seems slightly forced, even though they both seem to be trying to make it work for the movie’s sake. Still, I have to give it to a movie that can not only feature McAdams’ tush in one shot, but the charming Patrick Wilson as well. That one shot, shows that there’s something in this movie for everyone: boys, girls, straights, gays, you name it. You know exactly the shot I’m talking about, because it’s the only thing anybody ever remembers from this damn movie.

"Should we talk about the latest gun reform, or what the hell Kim and Ye's baby is going to be called? The latter? Okay, thought so."

“Should we talk about the latest gun reform, or what the hell Kim and Ye’s baby is going to be named? The latter? Okay, thought so.”

But perhaps the best performance out of this whole movie has got to be Harrison Ford as the old, cranky newsman; Mike Pomeroy. As most of us saw with 42, it seems to be that old Han Solo has still got some acting-skills left in his bag of goodies, and he shows it here quite well. Not only is the guy funny by acting all crotchety and mean, but he’s also a bit endearing as well, because we see what happens to a man that put his career in front of everything else, and can’t really come to terms with where his life has actually ended up. Okay, maybe that was a bit more deep than anything the movie actually tried to get across, but hey, it’s what makes Ford still a solid actor, even after all of these years of shooting Greedo first and getting nuked in fridges.

The only one in this cast that feels like a bit of a waste is Diane Keaton, who seems to really be having a ball as the older, but still-foxy co-host of the show. Keaton’s still got the looks, the charm, and the comedic-timing to still make her character work, it’s just a shame that her character sort of gets thrown to the side, just so Ford can live long and prosper. Guess it was needed, but damn did I miss myself some of old-school Diane!

Consensus: Everything in Morning Glory is calculated, manipulative and obvious from the very start, but at least it’s still charming, much ado to the fine cast that seems ready to make us happy and smile.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

And Diane be like, “Oh mah lawwddd!”

And once again, Diane be like, “Oh mah lawwddd!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJobloComingSoon.net

The Switch (2010)

Would it REALLY be that hard for J-An to get preggo?

Besties Kassie and Wally (Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman) can pretty much do whatever they want with, or around each other, and it wouldn’t matter a single lick. They’re just that comfortable with the other, that it doesn’t matter. However, the only thing they can’t do is have a child together, even when Kassie says that she desperately needs to have one, even if it is just through artificial-insemination. Some people, like Wally, think this is weird, but so be it! It’s the 21st-Century and a woman should be allowed to do with her body and life, what a woman wants to do with her body and life. Throughout her search for the biggest, best and most promising sperm-donor, she finds Roland (Patrick Wilson), who Wally is ultimately jealous of. So basically, through one night in a drunken-stooper, Wally accidentally spills Roland’s jizz-sample everywhere, and decides that he can’t just leave the whole bottle empty, so he decides to do it himself. Not realizing what he did, Kassie gets pregnant with what she thinks is Roland’s baby. Fast-forward seven years later and Kassie’s son is all grown-up  now, showing all sorts of signs that his daddy is not in fact Roland, but Wally. However, neither of them know this, JUST YET.

Despite what some of you may see or believe, but I feel like I’m a pretty easy guy to please. No, seriously. You can give me the most trite, conventional, clichéd and utterly hackneyed script in the world, and I may, just may be able to find something that I like about it, and therefore, roll with it for as long as I can possibly stomach. So many bad movies I’ve seen in the past couple of years have all been saved by this feeling I usually get when watching something, and it’s helped me stay fully-together as a two-bit movie critic, and full-fledged movie-lover.

The ole' switcheroo. I remember those days.

The ole’ switcheroo. I remember those days.

Which means if you give me a movie that I can’t ever seem to enjoy, no matter what it’s trying to do, then you know you have a shitty flick on your hands. Bar none.

And I get that “whatever Dan the Man says, is the total truth, no doubt about it” isn’t really true, but there is something to be said for a movie that I go out of my way to view (Netflix), and I don’t enjoy a single moment of. Okay, scratch that, maybe a couple moments, but they were all because of three people and three people only. And no, I am not talking about either Jason Bateman or Jennifer Aniston. In fact, while I’m talking about them, let me just give you the skinny on why this movie bored me to hell: Them.

Yes, I know. Despite me being a fan of both of these stars, and the utter-idea of them two starring together in a rom-com would give me the willies, the movie solely lives and dies by them. Maybe that’s more to blame of their poor character-development, their lack of chemistry, or their phoned-in performances, but something was just not mixing well here. Aniston makes all of her female characters breathe with a lively, expressive soul, but her Kassie can’t help but feel like a bit of an idiotic dummy in the way that she doesn’t realize that her seven-year-old son is exactly like her best buddy, and not like the supposed “father”. Also, the fact that she decides to get so serious with the “father” so sudden after his recent, and tragic divorce, also makes you wonder where the heart of this film really lies. You can tell that it wants to be about a woman taking charge, but in the end, it’s really all about the guy finding himself and realizing that it’s time for his ass to do a little growing up; which would have been fine, had it not all been so poorly-written and uninteresting.

That’s a real shame, too, because Jason Bateman, despite seeming like he’s trying really hard, can’t make this character of Wally work. Bateman’s doing his whole snarky-act to show us how negative and cynical his character is with the world around him, and while this is supposed to charm us and make us feel like we’re seeing a real character being written here, it still can’t help but feel annoying, like as if the card has already been dealt a bit too many times. He’s just miserable to be miserable, and that’s the type of person you don’t want to even be around with, let alone, watch a whole movie dedicated to that said person. Like I said, Bateman does seem like he’s trying, but the movie doesn’t help him out in any way, shape or form. Instead, he’s just told to do the same act he’s been doing since he saved that damn Bluth family, and it showed shocking signs of getting real old, real quick.

Who cares what he's saying, he's so damn charming!!

Who cares what he’s saying, he’s so damn charming!!

But who I really feel bad for the most is the kid who plays the young Sebastian, Bryce Robinson. The kid is young, so I won’t really rain on his parade too much, but the writing for him makes him annoying coy, as if every moment he does or says something, we have to automatically follow it up with a response like, “Awww!”. Like Wally, his real father in the movie, he gets really annoying, really quick and all of the little neuroses that he has, that he apparently inherited from his real daddy, just continue to show more signs of implausibility, proving that kids who act like they know it all in movies, make you want to shut that kid up, or all kids up for that matter, too.

The only ones that end up saving this movie, even in their smallest moments, are Julliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson and last, but sure as hell not the least, Jeff Goldblum. Lewis is playing the typical, gal-pal that everyone of the rom-com heroines need to shake things up a bit, and she does the sure best that she can; Wilson is charming-as-hell and gives us one of the better-written characters as he’s less of a deuche that just wants to get rid of his sperm and bang whomever he want, and more of that he’s just a guy who is going through a bit of a rough-patch, means well and is doing all that he can to make things right; and Jeff Goldblum is, well, Jeff Goldblum in all perfection. That’s all you need to know about that.

Consensus: Conventional, obvious, implausible and just plain shallow, The Switch doesn’t do anything with the potential its premise holds, and instead, just plays it all up for goofy laughs, and cloying sentimental moments that tug so hard at your heartstrings, that you may have to call a doctor as soon as you’re done watching it.

2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm...?"

“You think all humans are a waste of precious air and space, too? Hmm…?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

Just get rid of the haunted house, or the human-being! Problem solved!

After the Lambert family got their son back from “The Further” everything goes back to normal. The kids are happy and playful, the parents feel safe, and the spooky grand-mom (Barbara Hershey) is done with all of her ghost-talk. It seems like everything’s a bit back to normal, except, Josh (Patrick Wilson) is acting a little weird. Not only does he not seem himself, but his wife (Rose Byrne) notices that he doesn’t remember certain things about their past, like the song she played for him on piano when they first fell in love. Something weird is happening and everybody begins to wonder whether or not it was actually Josh that came back, or something more deep, dark, and sinister? Also, on the side, the ghost busters from the first movie are back and are diving into the history of who this ghost is, where it came from, and how to get it the hell away from Josh’s soul.

While I think I was sort of in the minority for only marginally liking Insidious, I still do have to say that I was looking forward to this one quite a bit. It wasn’t that the story was one I couldn’t wait for them to just develop more and more of, but because James Wan proved himself as a new voice in the horror-genre not too long ago with the Conjuring. And yes, while I did have my many gripes with that movie as well, I still have to give it to the dude and pat him on the back because he gave me a horror movie that amped-up the terror and the tension, in a way to create more scariness, even if I wasn’t all that petrified by the end. So, with that said, I think it’s safe to say that we know what Wan is capable of when it comes to having a meager-budget and a plethora of scares at his disposal, and sadly, this does not rank-up with what we know.

"WHY THE HELL AM I IN THIS?!?!? ACTING BRAIN ABOUT TO EXPLODE!!"

“WHY THE HELL AM I IN THIS?!?!? ACTING BRAIN ABOUT TO EXPLODE!!”

In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that this one is a lot weaker than the original; aka, a movie that I wasn’t too fond of in the beginning. The department that I will give Wan and his pals credit in is that they avoid doing what most sequels do: Tell the same story again. Rather than giving us the same old story of somebody being creeped-out by strange noises in the house, this one actually expands on the first, ties up some loose-ends that may have been left dangling, and explains why certain things happened in that movie, making this one of the rare sequels (a horror one, no less) where it’s almost mandatory that you see the first, just to understand all that every character’s alluding to and what to make sense of all the happenings.

In that regard, yes, Wan deserves credit. He does use some of the same jump-scares that he’s been using for quite some time, but he at least gets his story going to somewhere new, and dare I even say it, improved, almost to the point of where it feels like it’s a sequel that could leave plenty more questions than it answers, and we’d be fine with that. However, this is a horror movie, and it is essential for it to have scares, which, sadly, Wan isn’t able to produce all that often, save for the first 20 minutes or so. And even then, the movie feels like it’s just recycling the same scares from the first, even if they are still somewhat effective. “Somewhat”, is what I said, and somewhat is what I mean.

And when Wan is missing the moments that are supposed to make us shriek for our lives, he’s making us laugh and point at just how ridiculous some of these moments are, which is both a sin and a blessing,. It all depends on what type of viewer you are. When Wan had us travel to “The Further” in the first movie, it was silly, but still a bit cool because of how all of these characters looked like “The Circus Act From Hell”. Yes, it was campy, but it was still cool to see because it showed that Wan used his budget for a reason. However, here, “The Circus Act From Hell” shows up many more times than it should, and everytime we see them, we can’t help but chuckle at how over-the-top they are. Certain lines are said in a way that’s supposed to have us pee our pants in fright, but do so more because of our non-stop laughter. Whether or not this was solely the intention of Wan, has yet to be determined, but if there’s something that’s different from the first movie, it’s that this sequel seems to explore more of the goofiness of its material and does it so in a way that makes it seem like it’s doing it on purpose, but in a very serious matter as well.

That James Wan sure has comedic-timing.

That James Wan sure has comedic-timing.

Basically, what I’m trying to get at is that the movie tries to be scary, but is more funny, both intentionally and unintentionally. There! I said it!

While the cast from the first movie mostly stays the same here, some of the performances are a bit different, for better or worse. The most glaring difference in certain character’s personalities is the one of Josh, played by Patrick Wilson, in what has to be his hammiest performance to date. Since we know that Josh is possessed by a very threatening, powerful spirit of a sort, this time being a serial-killer, we pretty much have to expect him to be all over-the-place in a way that’s nearly uncontrollable, just like the rest of the flick. You’d think that the two aspects of the movie would go together like peanut butter and jelly, but come out more like peanut butter and potato chips. Wilson is the peanut butter in this equation, and he takes over the movie in a way that’s distracting to the story, and upsetting to watch for anybody who has been as big of a fan of this guy, as I am. Wilson tries to go as crazy as can be with this performance, but he just is way too cool and charming for this type of nutty-stuff to fully make it seem like it’s all in a day’s work. They should have just given that role to somebody normal like Rose Byrne. Now that would have been over-the-top and campy, but in a freakin’ fun way! Not with Barbara Hershey, though. I’m afraid she’s already played “creepy and crazy” many times before.

Consensus: The first movie wasn’t a masterpiece of the horror genre, but at least it had its fair share of scares, character-development, and sense of fun, which Insidious: Chapter 2 seems to have lost most sight of, but instead, replaced all of that with unintentional yucks and chuckles.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Just your average, run-of-the-mill family, with a bunch of weird ghosts and ghouls slumming around the house. But that's besides the point.

Just your average, run-of-the-mill family, with a bunch of weird ghosts and ghouls slumming around the house. But that’s besides the point.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Insidious (2011)

Once the creepy kid in the house stops being creepy, then you know you’re screwed.

Young couple, Josh (Patrick Wilson), and Renai (Rose Byrne), realize that their family is growing larger and larger by the newborn, so they decide to move to a bigger house. No big deal. Once they get settled in and Josh goes off to his day-time job as a middle-school teacher, Renai is left at home with the baby, where she tries to make songs out of music career (even though it’s never fully explained if she is or isn’t, it’s just there); but then it gets weird when she starts to hear, see, and feel stuff around her in the house. Then, it gets even weirder when their oldest son falls off of a ladder in the attic, only to be placed into a “coma” a couple of days later, one that he doesn’t seem to be waking out of, and one that the doctors have no clue about, how it happened, why, or how to get him to snap out of it. Basically, all hope is lost for Josh and Renai, until they begin to get really, REALLY paranoid about there being some ghost-like figures in the house, so therefore, they call on a professional in the form of a happy-go-lucky paranormal investigator (Lin Shaye).

You got to hand it to James Wan, the dude knows how to make a mainstream movie, even out of an indie-budget. For a movie that apparently cost a reported $1.5 million, had very little CGI-effects, and barely all that much blood (with the exception of a bloody hand-print), Wan knows how to keep things scary and tense, even if he isn’t showing us everything that needs to be seen, in order to be scared by. Obviously for anybody who’s seen his latest-venture in horror with The Conjuring, knows that the guy is good at giving us very little, in order to give us a whole of uneasy feelings in the pit of our stomach; hence why the from first act, to somewhere in the middle, works so damn well.

"Darren? Is that you? Cause if so, this form of foreplay just is not working."

“Josh? Is that you? Cause if so, this form of foreplay just is not working.”

The score that screeches every time something SHOCKING or UNEXPECTED happens, does get to be a bit much at times, but when it comes to creating a sense of dread or fear, just by making us feel like we’re going to see something we’re not going to want to see, is a specialty that Wan seems to run with and actually love. Most of the scary scenes here do occur with the score, but when Wan keeps it quiet and sudden, you’re really on edge throughout most of it. The main scene that comes to my mind right away is the key one where Josh is running around the house late at night, and for some reason, the door keeps on swinging open every time he leaves it all alone. Every time he comes back, it’s open, and you can just feel that there is a presence in this house with him. You don’t know where it is, you don’t know what it looks like, and you don’t know how it’s going to show itself, but the anticipation to find out for yourself is what really gets you going throughout this whole scene. And hell, when it shows up, it’s pretty freaking scary.

But the problem is, once that scene is over with, and Josh realizes that this is all too true to an illusion, then the movie begins to fall apart by its own deception. Case in point: Wan’s direction.

First of all, what Wan set-up perfectly with this first-to-second-act was that this was going to be a horror flick, no doubt about that whatsoever; however, at the same time, it wasn’t going to be the same type of horror flick we usually see from the mainstream. It was going to be small; it was going to be quiet; and it was going to go back to the roots of horror, haunted-house idea and all. This had me all pumped-up for what was churning out to be a great, as well as very effective horror flick, one that didn’t need to change the game to work, but just be scary, that was it. Like I said though, around this time is where the movie began to slap me in the face, and in a way, began to slap itself in the face as well.

See, Wan betrays his own sense of direction by getting extremely goofy by the end, almost in a way that seems like it’s ripped out of an entirely different movie altogether. Without spoiling too much for the fellow-beings out there that haven’t seen this yet, I’ll say that the ending feels like a cheesy, homemade haunted-house you’d walk into if you had a first date with someone on Halloween night. You know it’s not scary, instead, it’s just random and over-the-top, but the person next to you/who you’re with is scared, and so you just sit there and enjoy the fellow person’s crazy emotions. That’s how I felt watching this movie, except, I wasn’t on a date with anybody, it wasn’t Halloween night, and I was all by my lonesome. Which basically means nobody was there to have me entertained by their fright.

All in all though, it’s Wan’s fault, and nobody else’s, that the movie falls apart and gets nutty by the end. And yes, although I do have to say it did look cool and it kept me intrigued the whole time, it felt like a bad move on his part, because what we were working with in the beginning was just doing so well, and was working so many wonders. Why the dude decided to change all of that up, and go for big, loud, and odd, really is beyond me. Then again, it was a mainstream horror movie, so maybe there were more powers at work here? Maybe, baby.

"Look! It's "something"!"

“Look! It’s “something”!”

Anyway, the other source of intrigue I had with this flick was the couple at the center, played by both Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson. Both are good in everything that they do, but I feel as if they are almost too good for this type of material where they have to play somewhat clueless, somewhat stupid, but also scared by what may happen to them. Byrne can yell, hoot, holler and scream her way through just anything, while Wilson just has to be stand there, and he’ll already be the coolest, most happenin’ guy in the room; but when you put them together and place them in a haunted-house, where scary things happen. it doesn’t quite work so well. They’re nice people, and you care for them and their family, but they just feel like they’re slumming it down a bit too much, and could totally be using their skills for something better, and a lot more worth their time.

Same goes for both Barbara Hershey and Lin Shaye, both very accomplished actresses in their own right, but feel oddly-misplaced here. Mainly Hershey who, I guess with how her career has recently been turning out to be, might just have to stick with these “creepy mommy”-roles for the rest of her life, which is a shame too, because she’s a solid actress when she’s given the right material. This isn’t it, and I could say the same thing about Shaye, although she comes off in a better light than Hershey, mainly because she seems more-equipped for this outlandish, nutso horror stuff. After awhile though, her only purpose in this movie is to shout out exposition and tell us what should happen, at any certain time. Boring!

Consensus: While Insidious does start off mighty fine with just the right amount of tension, chills, and suspense in the air, it all goes away once Wan realizes that he has a bigger budget to work with here than he originally thought, and decides to let ‘er rip with the non-stop costumes, ghouls, demons, creatures, and Tiny Tim music, as if that dude’s jams weren’t freaky enough.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

It's like college, man. Let's hope there's some Hendrix in that background.

“Well, what we have to do first is smoke whatever’s in this gas-mask, and then we’ll end up searching for the ghosts. Most likely, we’ll find them, or at least some figures that resemble what seems to be a ghost.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Conjuring (2013)

JUST LEAVE THE HOUSE!!

During the swingin’ days of 1971, trucker Roger Perron (Ron Livingston), his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters, all move to a big old Rhode Island house in the country. At first, it feels like a nice escape for the family to start anew, but that’s before things start going creek in the night, the dog doesn’t come in the house, birds fly directly at the house, and the youngest daughter of the five gets an imaginary friend. Once that all begins to happen and turns violent, the Perron’s know that they have no other of where to go except to call in the professionals. Enter mega-serious ghostbusters Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) who stand up to the hard task of defeating this demon and not killing anybody while doing so. However, being in the ghostbusting business for as long as they have does begin to take a toll on even the strongest souls, especially once demons come into play.

Here’s one of those horror flicks that’s been getting some of the biggest buzz I’ve heard in a long, long time. Obviously the teaser scared the shorts off of me because it was so simple, yet at the same time, freaky as hell. And then, the second trailer came in, ruined everything, and had me realize that maybe this was just another generic, horror flick that just so happened to take place during the 70’s, where apparently the Zombies were constantly playing in everybody’s hearts and minds. Felt like a gimmick that could have worked if it had the right creator for it, but James Wan hasn’t done much to really get my interest-meter boosting off the radar so, as usual, I remained cool, calm, collective, and ready to see what this horror flick could do for me, if anything at all.

"Help!!! She just told me that "my mother sucks cocks in hell!!"

“Help!!! She just told me that “my mother sucks cocks in hell!!”

Needless to say, I was scared and I jumped. More than a couple of times actually.

And yes, for a schmuck like me that doesn’t care too much for the horror genre and considers October to be a pretty weak month; that’s saying a hell of a whole lot and it makes me respect Wan as a director more, because the guy has a knack for directing horror here that could really do some damage to people. Seriously, the way he’s able to manipulate the audience into being freaked out just by a single action of somebody opening the door they weren’t supposed to, or losing the only source of light you have in the pitch blackness, really requires a certain skill and trade that I haven’t seen in quite some time, especially within the horror genre. Wan isn’t really re-inventing the wheel with this flick, or even the tricks that he pulls off, but he does show you that you can create something tense and scary, even if it is convention, as long as the inspiration and the sure-will to make something fun and entertaining for all is there.

However, calling a horror movie “fun” and “entertaining”, isn’t necessarily doing it any favors. A horror movie has to be scary, jumpy, and full of terror that makes you sleep with more than just one night-light on. And this is that type of movie, even if you’re a movie-dork like me and can see each and every one coming away. Even then, the movie-dork inside of me sort of began to fall back because I soon realized that this is a horror movie that isn’t trying to do anything new, yet isn’t trying to bore me either. It wants to have me jump and cover my eyes, even if it’s only for a scene or two and with that extra-push from Wan’s direction: it happened. Wan is the type of director I know I have to look out for now, and let’s hope he can single-handedly revive the horror genre into being the wrecking ball it used to be, for both critics and audiences alike.

That said, there’s still a lot that I feel like this guy has to work on and if there’s one aspect I had to choose to talk about the most, it’s the writing. With the oodles of scares and jumps Wan has at his disposal, obviously he can’t be too concerned if the script’s anything memorable or smart for that matter, but with the high-caliber cast he has here, he should have done more. Certain lines come off cheesy; character-development is obvious and practically leaning on the star’s talents to squeeze anything out; and the back-story for the reason why everything is happening is unoriginal, and feels like it was the easiest way out of exploring any type of new ground possible. Once again, I get that the movie isn’t trying to create a new type of horror flick that needs to be seen to be believed, but a little more effort in the writing-department would have made an absolutely huge difference here, even if the regular, everyday movie-goer didn’t notice it.

Critics at least would have been happier and aren’t they worth satisfying?

"What? Did I miss a spot or something?"

“What? Did I miss a spot or something?”

At least Wan’s lucky enough to have assembled such a talented cast such as the one he has here, because they really, REALLY do help this material out, even when it seems to linger towards the most conventional parts that you can see coming and ending a mile away. Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston make for a sympathetic married-couple that obviously seem to love one another, as well as their five daughters, so that when the bad shite does begin to happen to all of them, we at least feel some sort of emotion as it shouldn’t be happening to them. But then we think about it and realize that if it wasn’t happening to them, then we wouldn’t have a movie. So then, we’re happy and are especially glad it wasn’t us that this demon decided to attack.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are perfect fits for these two, confident pros who know what they have to do to get their jobs done, as well as how to do it without any casualties or injuries on their hands. There’s just something about Wilson’s demeanor that not only makes him the coolest guy in the room, but also makes him the smartest one too that I could totally trust with my own well-being, had I run into the same situation as these peeps found themselves. Also, there’s something about Farmiga’s look and feel that not only has her seem like the same person as Wilson, but with a little bit more love, care, and feeling added to the mix where we can see that she’s not just doing this for the money or notoriety, but for actually saving people from those a-hole demons. Together, they make for a great married-couple, even if their story together is a bit hokey, and you trust that they will do the right thing, the safest way possible. That is, until they start getting regurgitated on. P-Wilson ain’t dealing with that shite.

Consensus: You won’t be seeing anything new or ground-breaking with the Conjuring, but what you will see is a movie that’s surprisingly scary, will make you jump, will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight-up, and most of all, will make you think twice about going down that long, dark hallway to get a glass of water from the tap.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"So, what is it that you mean when you say, "shit here is pretty fucked up?""

“So, what is it that you mean when you say, “shit here is pretty fucked up?””

Running With Scissors (2006)

Cue the jokes about how this movie runs with scissors and ends-up tripping.

At the age of twelve, Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) finds himself amidst Victorian squalor living with his mother’s doctor’s bizarre family, while she (Annette Bening) goes off and becomes a total drug-addict, amongst other fucked-up things. Oh yeah, and it’s hard for little Augusten since not only is he a poet at such a young age, but he’s a gay one at that. Yay!

I never read Augusten Burrow’s 2002 memoir of the same name, and despite what all of the literary hipsters that I know continue to tell me, I still don’t ever plan on reading it, either. I’m not much of a reader as it is but with material that’s all about people being all wacky and strange just for the sake of being so, definitely rubs me the wrong-way, especially when it’s done in a flick like this.

See, the fact of the matter is that you can make a movie about a bunch of near-functional nut jobs that can still be a bit whack-o in the brain department, but are at least likable and understandable enough to connect to. Writers/directors like Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach can do this, and do it very well, but writer/director Ryan Murphy is not one of them, nor does he come even close. Instead of making these characters a bunch of whack-o’s that you actually feel something for, as if they were normal, functioning human-beings, you just seem them as whack-o’s with nothing really nice to say or do throughout the whole, dreadful 2 hours.

All you do throughout this whole flick is see a bunch of crazies yell, hoot, and holler at one another, and just do a bunch of random crap to each other that would seem almost too weird to be true (but trust me, this flick wants you to believe it’s source material REALLY IS TRUE!), and in ways, totally is. You never, not for one second, actually believe that all you see on-screen is actually how things happened in real-life for Augusten and if it did actually happen, it sure as hell shows you that it wasn’t a story that needed to be shown on the big-screen in the first-place, mostly because there isn’t much here to hold onto. I would say that the characters are worth the shot of standing-by and listening to, but even that’s a bit of a far-stretch since they are only there to be nothing more than just a plot-device of sure craziness. Watching people act all wacky and wild can be fun every once and awhile to watch, but as time goes on, there needs to be more substance brewing from underneath and that is just not here.

"And that little bitch that played the psycho ballet dancer won! Ever since then, I haven't felt the same."

“And that little bitch that played the psycho ballet dancer won! Ever since then, I haven’t felt the same.”

Maybe the fact that I never read the memoir was the reason why I didn’t like it all that much, because there was a lot of crap that happened or was said here that I just didn’t understand. The whole idea of people looking at every single bit of life’s details with a clear-view and making something out of nothing, simply annoys the hell out of me in real-life, and even worse, annoys the most when I see it in a movie and that’s all I saw here. Everybody speaks as if they just got done reading Hemingway and felt the need to rant and rave about what life is all about, and it’s okay at first because it makes sense to why these characters are so strange, but it becomes to be a bit of a bore and unbelievable. You know, just like the rest of the characters and the movie itself. Heck, there’s even a scene where Brian Cox is checking out his crapola (be ready to hear that term sooner or later) and talking about what it’s shape, size, and formation means to his life and everybody else’s around him. Did I get it? No, but would I have had I actually took time out of my lazy day and read the memoir? Probably not. It’s just the type of writing that annoys me and shows that people have nothing else better to do with their way of contracting humor, then just showing a bunch of ridiculous and crude things to really shock you and make you feel as if you’ve seen something from another planet. However, I think I was on another planet when I saw this movie.

It’s even worse, though, when you take into consideration at how freakin’ uneven this whole thing is. My buddy and I were just bored one night, decided to watch this because it was under the “Comedy” section on On Demand, and for the first 30 minutes, neither one of us were laughing. We weren’t laughing because what the flick was trying to do and shove down our throats, wasn’t funny (even though it really isn’t a funny movie), but it was because there was nothing really funny actually happening. It was just a bunch of dark, sarcastic drama that I didn’t know whether or not I was supposed to feel weirded-out by or just go along with it and see if I ever lighten-up to the dead-pan tone and feel. I never did and to be honest, I don’t think the flick itself did, either, because there was just way too many moments where the film changed itself-up. One second, you’ll be watching a scene of some cooky lady eating doggy biscuits, and then after that, you’ll get some heartbreaking discussion between an estranged mother and son. It’s all-over-the-place and constantly changing tones from right-to-left and that is not as fun or entertaining as it sounds. It’s obvious and it never stops to be, and that’s why I just wanted somebody in this flick to die and spice things up. I’m sorry, it’s just the thought-process I go through when a movie sucks THIS BAD.

The only, real saving-grace to this whole flick is the ensemble cast of characters that do all that they can here, but in the end, fall prey to a terrible script and direction. Joseph Cross is fine as our lead, Augusten Burroughs, and is serviceable as a kid that obviously has a lot of problems with growing-up, being a poet, being gay, and not really having a connection with his mother. It should have been a lot more relateable for most kids going through, or have been through teenage-angst, but it’s oddly not. It’s just a kid having a problem with a mother of his that just so happens to be hopped-up all of the time. Hey, I don’t know if that’s everybody else’s life story but if so, well, you just may be able to find something to suit your fancy here.

Right about now is where breakfast would be the second-thing on my moment.

Right about now is where breakfast would be the second-thing on my moment.

Actually, the real stand-out of this whole cast is the woman who plays that same hopped-up mother, Annette Bening. Bening is great as this drugged-up, but somewhat schizophrenic that does all that she can to make herself happy, but in the end, just can’t. Bening can play a bitch like no other and she’s great in this role as a mother that’s never there and when she is, is like a freakin’ plague of problems. Yeah, she’s a mean, old woman that seems like she really deserves a nice kick in the teeth by not just me, but anybody, but regardless, it’s still impressive to see from here, especially considering the fact that the girl keeps all of the energy alive and well in this dead flick. And by “dead”, I mean Grateful Dead because let’s be honest, you may just want to be high for this movie. It would probably help a crap-load, although, it obviously didn’t help me with anything.

The rest of the cast is fine too, but none of them can really keep up with Bening. Brian Cox plays Dr. Finch, a slimy psychiatrist who seems to be doing people favors, but also has a bit of a dark-side to him as well that’s maybe not so favorable. Cox is great, what else is new by now? Evan Rachel Wood plays the skanky-looking daughter of his that definitely should have been in this movie a lot more, considering she brings a lot of fun and wit to the screen, when everybody else seems like they’re falling asleep (count me in on that nap). Same could almost be said for Gwyneth Paltrow as the total kiss-ass of the family, Hope, and definitely seems like she got a role for herself that displayed her looks, her beauty, and her knack for comedy. Sad thing is, she’s not that funny here. Not her fault, writer’s fault. I was also very surprised to see a very good performance from Joseph Fiennes, who plays the gay boy-toy of Augusten and just so happens to be the only boy of the Finch family. Fiennes rarely shows up in anything now but it was nice to see him when he was a bit wild, wacky, and free. Too bad he had to be all that, especially in a shit-pile like this.

Consensus: Despite that obviously seems like they’re game for this type of material, it really lets them down as every character is unlikable, distasteful, annoying, and terribly unbelievable, almost to the point of where the whole 2 hours and 2 minutes of Running With Scissors seriously makes you take that title into consideration with your own life. It’s a drastic way of thinking, but it’s the truth.

2/10=Crapola!!

Looks like my backyard, come hoarders season. Can't wait!

Looks like my backyard, come hoarders season. Can’t wait!

Prometheus (2012)

Crews of explorers should just not go into space unless they are with a freakin’ army.

Prometheus centers around a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

Let me just start off by saying that after watching Alien and realizing it to be the true sci-fi/horror classic that everybody has ranted about, I was very pumped for this quasi-prequel of sorts. Problem is, when you watch Alien, there isn’t really any need to see this flick.

What makes this “prequel” so different from many others out there, is that it’s directed by Ridley Scott himself. The thing with Scott, is that he won’t just go for a quick and easy job where he’ll just make some moolah. No, instead he’ll put his heart and soul into production that quite frankly, deserves it and that’s what makes this film better than plenty of the other prequels we see out there. Scott brings us back to the universe he made famous and expands it, answering more questions for us that we already had. But even though this film’s big selling point is it’s tie-in to Alien, it’s a real beautiful film to just gaze at.

Scott always has a great attention to detail and his production design for Prometheus just totally backs that up. There’s some cool, futuristic stuff here like space suits, vehicles, holographic displays, medical devices composed solely of robots, and plenty of other impressive treats to see here as well. Everything looks so dazzling, especially if you see it in 3D, where a couple of scenes may just take you by surprise by how you feel like you can just reach-out and touch whatever it is that’s on the screen. Some real beautiful stuff here, mainly because Scott feels something for this universe that he’s created and has given all of his might to make it work.

The problem with this flick isn’t really Scott’s fault, it’s more of the story itself. The core of this story is basically Alien done all over again. Crew wakes up out of deep sleep, spaceship lands on mysterious alien planet for some strange reason, crew discovers some ancient alien crap, alien force is awakened by them, people get others infected, and then they are all picked off one by one. It’s pretty obvious where this story is headed, because it’s pretty much the same thing around and that took away from the surprise factor for me. I knew that only a few were coming out alive and the only sense of guessing with this film, was who was it going to be. Sadly, I guessed right.

Even though this film is about 2 hours long, for some odd reason, a lot of it feels like there were some actual big scenes cut-out from the final product. The main reason for me saying this is because there’s a lot that goes down here, that makes no sense and seems somewhat random. One example is how Captain Janek is able to explain the purpose of aliens and what was inside of them so damn quickly. It almost comes out of nowhere, without any clues or signs to how Janek must have known this and comes off like a way to make the finale hit harder. Another example is how David knows how to work the Space Jockey devices without any faults whatsoever. How did he know how to do all of this? What, did he just learn it all by reading a bunch pictographs from Earth or is it just that he’s so totally uber smart cause he’s a robot and all? Not explained at all and it gets even worse when he can apparently speak the alien language fluently, as if he has been doing it his whole life. Yup, didn’t make any sense.

Scott does do a pretty good job with the pace of this film and I can easily see that he put a lot of effort into making this film thrilling, just like he did with Alien. However, there is a huge difference between both of those films and it’s pretty obvious considering the whole hour and 50 minutes of that movie was filled with tension out the wahzoo, whereas this one, had about 4 to 5 scenes of actual tension in it’s whole 2 hour run-time. I don’t know what it was about this flick that made it so different but for some reason, I wasn’t really on-the-edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next to these characters. I just sort of sat there and kept on waiting for Scott to really knock me out of my seat. Which was a shame too, because there seemed to be plenty of opportunities for Scott to do this but just ended up, well, keeping me somewhat satisfied. Somewhat satisfied is not something I want to feel with a product like this, especially when it’s coming from Ridley Scott.

As for the performances, everybody is good but nothing out-standing by any means. Noomi Rapace is fine as our leading lady, Elizabeth Shaw, but feels too much like Ripley and definitely isn’t as strong as her considering we never fully see her lash-out and get “tough”. She just runs away and screams, except for one scene that feels too much like the infamous “chest bursting” scene from AlienLogan Marshall-Green looks like Tom Hardy, but is fine as Charlie Holloway even though the character comes off extremely dicky at times, to the point of where you don’t care if he lives or dies. Charlize Theron plays a villain for the second week in a row, but is more subtle and stoic this time as Meredith Vickers and does a good job with her, even though I think they could have done more with her. Idris Elba is good as Captain Janek and probably has the most likable personality on the whole spaceship.

Probably the stand-out performance from this cast would have to be Michael Fassbender as the robot David. David is a pretty unsettling character the whole way through this flick as you have no idea whether or not he’s going to be good or going to be bad. He’s also a character that sort of just goes his own way the whole movie and doesn’t really care about the others, but you still can’t let that get in the way of what you may think of him since we all know that robots in sci-fi movies usually aren’t the nicest “things” around. Thankfully, those results are told to us by the end but for some very brief moments, he kept me guessing and I think a lot of that is credit to Fassbender’s skills as an actor. Wish I had more to say about him considering he was the best but it’s just one of those good performances that are notable once you see the movie.

I usually love Guy Pearce in everything he does, but his casting here as Peter Weyland just didn’t seem like it belonged in this movie at all. Peter Weyland is an elderly character, so why did Scott feel it was necessary to cast a younger dude as him and just keep on stuffing his face with make-up and effects. First of all, it looks stupid and fake, and secondly, it just seems like such a waste of a talent like Guy Pearce.

Consensus: Prometheus has some great moments that dazzle and excite, but still has plenty of pot-holes that make this story more confusing, makes the characters seem very one-dimensional, and also make a lot of the genius opportunities Ridley Scott had here, seem to go right out the window.

7/10=Rental!!

Hard Candy (2005)

Chris Hansen has just shit his pants.

Hayley Stark’s (Ellen Page) a smart, charming teenage girl – but even smart girls make mistakes. She’s hooking up in a coffee shop with Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson), a guy she’s met on the internet. And even though he’s a cute, smooth high-end fashion photographer in his early 30s, Hayley shouldn’t be suggesting that the two of them go back to his house alone. When they get there, Hayley quickly finds some vodka and starts mixing screwdrivers. She even suggests a photo shoot and strips off some clothing. Everything is going well for Jeff… until his vision blurs and fades, and he passes out. What happens after this is all hell breaking loose as Hayley rains a terror on Jeff.

Basically, this film starts off like something you think you’ve seen done a million times before but then turns into a cutting thriller that almost seems like it could go anyplace at anytime. The subject matter of pedophilia is pretty effed up as it is, but I think everything they deal with here, is a lot more effed up than I could have ever imagined.

Despite being an effed up movie in the fore-front, deep beneath all of that is a character-driven drama that messes with your head about who you should feel sympathy for: the victim or the predator. That line is blurred many times throughout the whole flick as you constantly feel like one person is in the wrong for what they’re doing, but then again, you can’t help but think that this person has a reason for doing what they are doing mainly because of what they know and have against the other person. The film gets terribly uncomfortable when it comes to the decisions of who you think should get the sympathy and what that other person should do. Sometimes, I even felt guilty for sympathizing with the person I felt sympathy for but that’s the way that this flick messes with your mind and makes you think to how you would feel if you met one of these people in your life.

The film’s screenplay does bring up a lot of questions but mostly it is made just to have us on-the-edge-of-our-seats the whole entire time. Right when you think something is going to happen, director David Slade just pulls the carpet from right underneath us and gives us a scene we weren’t expecting to see next but it’s so tense and suspenseful to the point of where we can’t even sit still and watch this. It keeps on getting more twisty and more twisty as the film goes on and I think Slade did a good job at making it seem like this flick could honestly just go about anywhere and anyplace to where I just gave up predicting what was exactly going to happen next.

Let me also not forget to mention that this flick also has some very hard scenes to watch due to the extreme levels of torture that actually come around, especially one scene in particular that I refuse to say anything more about. These scenes were very effective but at the same time provided the biggest problems for me when it came to this flick. First of all, the conversations that these two have are effective enough so to just throw some torture in there seemed a bit like a cheat. Secondly, it was pretty obvious that Jeff would never really be able to do anything terrible to Hayley considering that Page was pretty young when this film was going on and I think that Slade would have had a lot more problems to deal with rather than just his subject material, if he showed anything that had her fully harmed in anyway.

However, my last point is brought up in the situation we have with the character Jeff. Yes, this character is pretty much a slime-ball who basically came to this little “meeting” to do nothing else other than bring a young girl home and try to mess around for a little bit. The guy is a shit, no doubt about that, but there are things that happen to him that I feel are very questionable. The levels of torture that this guy has to go through seemed like it was a little too torturous even for a person like Jeff himself. Maybe I’m not the right person to make that call considering I have never been through any sort of sexual experience with an older person, but then again I’m just thinking like a human. Things get terribly bad for Jeff to the point of where he is given a decision at the end and I don’t know what I would do in his situation, but by the same token, I don’t think a person should ever put to these types of limits and in the end that’s what the film is trying to show us. I probably missed the point of this flick, but I still think that this film went a little too far with its torture as well as when it came to Jeff’s circumstances. Poor pedophiles, they just want to be loved. Then again, they should watch who they message next time.

This film is essentially two people going at it with one another for a whole hour and 40 minutes but it works because of the two stars that portray them. Patrick Wilson is great in this role as Jeff. One of the main reasons why this guy is so good here is because even though we know right from the start that this guy is a dirt, he still makes us question whether or not he’s the monster we perceived him to be in the first place. Wilson constantly toys with our feelings and emotions towards how we feel for him, but it’s also a lot of the more emotional scenes that rang true for me as well considering that this is an actor that we rarely get to see so so up-front in our faces with sadness and confusion.

The real stand-out for this flick though is Ellen Page here as Hayley, aka every pedophiles worst enemy. Page is amazing here because she totally makes us think twice about her in every way. There are moments where a lot of the things she does is very questionable (honestly, how could a person plan out something like this so perfectly?) but she seems so hip, smart, and intelligent for her age that it’s also quite believable. She’s a chick that always seems one step ahead of Jeff, and even the audience, and it’s also one of those performances where Page really seems like she’s too smart for anybody’s good. She practically commands every scene and never loses sight of what this script and film was trying to say and convey.

Consensus: Hard Candy is exactly that: it’s perfectly-acted, hard to watch, tense, and makes you think about the world of internet chat and how we view sexual predators in our lives. Yes, it can get very gruesome at times but it still is a flick that will have you question certain things about how you think and feel, and if any film can do that to me then that’s a good one in my book.

8/10=Matinee!!

 

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

Just wait for Russell Brand to ruin this chick, too.

The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy following Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) as their relationship becomes strained from the continued delays of their wedding an prolonged engagement.

When you get a movie that seems like it’s going to be a mixture of something from Bridesmaids (producers),  Forgetting Sarah Marshall (director), and straight-up Judd Apatow (also producer) comedy, you would think think that this would be laugh out loud funny, right? Ehhh, who knows!

Director Nick Stoller does do what he does best; and that is, keep the laughs going even when the plot seems like it’s starting to float away. There’s definitely a great sense of improv here, which is what makes this cast so damn good; but regardless of whether or not this film’s jokes were actually written, I still laughed many more times here than I did with Stoller’s last flick. Yes, I know a lot of people praise Get Him to the Greek as if it was his end-all, be-all masterpiece, but I guess I’m just not with you on that one.

I also thought that it was cool to see this premise go down and show us something about two people in love, which is something I haven’t seen much in flicks that are about a happy-happy couple such as this. The film shows what it’s like for two people to be together and less of how easy it is to love the other person for all that they are, but at the same time gets into how hard it is to be happy for that other person when they’re doing the things that they’re doing as you’re in total and complete misery. I know this isn’t anything that’s necessarily ground-breaking or inventive to talk about, especially when you talk about half of the rom-coms that have come out within the past 10 years, but it’s still a subject/theme that is done very well here, and I don’t think you see too much of that in rom-coms nowadays.

However, that theme, along with a lot of the jokes, seem to somehow get lost in the shuffle of this 2 hour and 4 minute movie. It seems like every rom-com lately has started to fall into this path where they aren’t just about being a funny, romantic movie, but they also have to have a huge deal of drama in it too, just so it can even things out. The film seems very disjointed in parts, as it was more just a bunch of sketches put together, but they were still funny enough to hold me over and get past it. But by last couple of acts where the film shows Violet and Tom’s relationship starting to crumble down, the film starts to get a bit darker and focus more on the sadness these two have away from each other, rather than focus on some cool moments of comedy. It’s actually a big downer when these two aren’t together because not only does it take a lot of steam out of the comedy, but the idea of these two being perfect for each other is uprooted as well.

Also, did I mention that it’s a 2 hour and 4 minute movie?!? Only Judd Apatow can do comedies like that people so stop trying to hop all over that skill cause it ain’t happenin’, ight? I don’t know why I started talking like that but I guess I got so much love for my homeboy Judd Apatow, I had to back him up. Anywhoo, back to what I was talking about…

Another quibble I had with this flick was that since the film shows 5 years passing, you would think that these characters would change or look a bit older in anyway, but instead, the movie feels more like it’s happening in about 5 months rather than 5 years. Tom gets a caveman beard and Violet gets bangs later on, but other than that, nothing else really changes between these characters and they all sort of just stay the same without any difference in change, look, or act. Then again, not every person in the world needs to change every single day that goes by, but 5 years is a pretty long time.

What I can say about the pairing of Emily Blunt and Jason Segel is that they both have obvious chemistry and use it well with the surprisingly slim amount of scenes they get together. Segel plays more of the straight-man role and Blunt pretty much plays his somewhat goofy, psychiatrist honey and both display a lot of fun working together on-screen, but the film shows more scenes of them apart than together. I wish the film focused more on them just hangin’ out, goofin’ off, or just simply being a loving couple, rather than just worrying they’re going to go next with their relationship and whether or not they’re going to work out. Just be happy and loving you damn kids! Even though you are both older than me!

But since a lot of these scenes are dedicated to what’s going on around these two, the film gets to show more scenes with its awesome supporting cast. Chris Pratt (who looks like Patrick Wilson, if he just got back from an all-you-can-eat buffet) is hilarious as Tom’s bro-bro and steals just about every scene he has; and I probably would have liked to see a whole film dedicated to just him and his wife, Suzie, aka Violet’s sister, aka the hilarious and very sexy Alison Brie. Rhys Ifans is pretty slimy but good as Violet’s charismatic supervisor, Winton Childs. And there are so many others here that are worth mentioning but it’s really just such a huge supporting cast that it’s really hard to name them all.

Consensus: The tone may be a disjointed, the laughs may not be constant, and the run-time may be about 30 minutes too long, but The Five-Year Engagement still entertains enough with it’s very funny laughs, and it’s charming leads, that are backed by an amazing supporting cast that steals the scenes almost every chance they get.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Little Children (2006)

A pedophile and a red-hot affair don’t really mix.

Two stay-at-home parents (Patrick Wilson and Kate Winslet) both end up striking affair after they both realize how bored they are with their own actual lives at home. Then another story happens where a convicted sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) moves back into his house and is soon harassed by almost every person he sees.

This is the sophomore effort from writer/director Todd Field, who some will remember from the big-smash he made back in 2001 with ‘In the Bedroom’. Somehow, he took that similar story mixed it with some ‘American Beauty’ satire and divided it with a hint of ‘The Woodsman’, then he got this crazy flick.

The film starts off very strong with these two immature parents who obviously don’t know what to do with their lives except just nag each other and hope that all their depression and angst goes away. I dug this beginning because the film showed these characters in a very interesting light while also focusing on the fact that it’s telling us that these adults are just like kids in some ways, they both forget the responsibilities they have in the world and they go with their gut-feeling rather than just using their heads.

A lot of people complained about the whole narrator from PBS thing so much that when I heard it in this film, I couldn’t say that I was too bothered. Yeah, he does spell out everything a little too much but there are times when his narration actually makes a lot of this moments in this film a lot more entertaining then they have any right to be. It seems as if he is reading a children’s story to us, like one of those audio-tapes you would get for a book if you didn’t know how to read, and it really divides the line between what’s funny and what’s sad in this film. I found myself laughing at some of the things that the narrator was saying, while others, I didn’t know how to feel.

The main problem that lies within this film is that it is very very messy because it constantly shifts back-and-forth between these two stories and they shouldn’t be in the same film together either really. There would be moments where the film would just focus on the suburbanites and their affair for a very long period of time, and then randomly go to the peddy without any real reason other than to show this dude who has obvious problems. Both stories are pretty interesting in their own rights but together, they can’t really share the same screen considering that after awhile the “affair story” becomes the same thing over-and-over again whereas the “pedophile story” becomes a lot more interesting as the time goes on. I think I would have rather watched two different films of these stories rather than just one because it wouldn’t have been so messy.

I do think Field as a writer is very talented but there are times where I think he loses himself with trying to be too smart, which I know is a weird thing to say but just bare with me peeps.. There are moments here when Wilson and Winslet are getting it on and Winslet will constantly ask him, “Is she pretty?”, she meaning his wife. She doesn’t only just ask this once but also many other times during whoopie and this to me seemed very unbelievable as some chick would just constantly ask the dude who’s mounting her about his own wife. There are also plenty of other moments where this film doesn’t feel all that realistic but not worth mentioning.

Everything with this film is all pretty messy until the last act, where the film really loses itself with the shock-o-riffic ending that seems more put-on than anything. I don’t want to give anything away really but I think Field tried a little too hard to convey these certain types of emotions for these characters to the point of where this ending came up, and it probably looked good on paper, but when it came to actually filming it up on the screen, it seemed very dumb.

The cast is very good though despite all of these other problems with the film. Kate Winslet is great as the conflicted house-wife, Sarah, and Patrick Wilson has never been more charming or conflicted as Brad. Jennifer Connelly is good as Brad’s wife, Kathy, but I wish there was more of her that gave more of her side on things. Granted, we get a scene here and there but I really did feel like her character could have done a lot more for this film if they included her just a little bit more considering Connelly is such a good actress as well.

The best out of the bunch though is probably Jackie Earle Haley as the pedophile who plays up that man-child act so well that it’s almost too hard to hate this guy when he’s being such a dirt-ball. I mean yeah, he’s a dirty dude that I would never have over for dinner around my kids but he’s also a very troubled soul that wants nothing more but to be accepted once again and feels the need to fit in, mainly because his mommy says so. Haley is great here and just by looking at him, you get the sense that this is a sad and tormented soul.

Consensus: Little Children has some good elements, such as its good acting and very strong beginning, but then starts to fall apart with being too repetitive, too unbelievable, and just by having two different stories that don’t really mesh all that well in the same film.

5/10=Rental!!

Young Adult (2011)

Fast-food, Diet Coke, the Kardashians, and writing novels for little shits to swoon over.

Charlize Theron stars an alcoholic writer of young adult novels who decides to return to her small-town in Minnesota to win back her high-school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), a now happily married husband and father. This eventually leads her to another high-school classmate played by Patton Oswalt and a whole bunch of troubles.

Director Jason Reitman is a dude who’s films I can’t really get into all that much, even though he doesn’t really have a style to declare his “own”. However, this is probably my favorite of the 4 that he has done, and I can easily say that I think I can get into this guy.

Being the fact that this is written by Diablo Cody, I was expecting for this to be one of those snarky and annoying teen-lingo scripts that would just use cool and hip phrases of the time, rather than give me an actual story. However, Cody is showing some real transition as a writer as she gets by with a real character and some real situations that may actually seem too realistic for some people to get by. There are moments where the film lingers on some terribly uncomfortable dark comedy but Cody actually shows that she can be funny in scenes that should be a lot more serious. I liked this about Cody but when it comes to the actual story itself, she does an even better job.

The one thing about this story is that the whole time I just felt this under-breathing sadness. I never could fully put my finger on just what it was but for some reason, I caught this sad feeling that just stayed with me for the entire film until it actually showed up right in front of my face, and then I realized that this is a sad story after all. The main reason why this story is so sad is because Mavis Gary is a terribly unlikable character that is just very upset deep down inside and I felt like she was going to meltdown any second.

Take it for granted. Mavis is not a likable person: she drinks too much, is self-absorbed, doesn’t live in reality, and more or less lives her life without any consequences on any of the terrible and mean things she does and call me crazy, but I liked her a lot. Cody does a great job of creating this rich character that is a total bitch who you think you’d never ever root behind but as soon as the film starts to gear towards the end, you start to feel like you may actually like this chick, as did I. Mavis never apologizes for anything of the things she does and she never learns from her mistakes, which I think is a real big step for a Hollywood film to adventure towards considering its so hard to pull off in today’s world of cinema where every character is mean in the beginning, but soon has some epiphany by the end and we’re forced to believe it.

Mavis is also not just a bitch, but also a character that I could really feel for. She doesn’t understand that she’s an adult with a child’s brain that still wants to be able to do the things she used to do, even if that may mean that others don’t accept it either. Let’s not also forget to mention that she has no friends and she just sort of goes on about her days trying to write this really crappy final book for a teen series, or trying her hardest to win over her high-school sweetheart. Mavis had me wondering just what is really wrong with her until the end where we see these three scenes in a row where she not only totally breaks-down but reveals a lot about herself that made me almost want to just give her a hug. She may be a terrible person at heart, but deep-down inside there is a sad and lonely soul somewhere to be found and that’s where I think I connected not only with this film, but also with this character.

This is where Reitman comes in and shows his talents as a director. Reitman has a perfect balance of uncomfortable dark comedy to where you laugh a lot but also feel a lot to the point as to where you actually start to feel bad for laughing at these characters the whole time. I do think that the film should have definitely been a lot longer just for there to be more depth and give this story to breath but I still do think having it clock in at 94 minutes, keeps this film short, sweet (or rotten for that matter), and straight to the point.

If there was one problem that I had most with this film was the fact that there is a constant connection between Mavis’ life and her story that she’s writing. This seemed a bit obvious considering that the first time we actually see her start writing things down, is when she’s actually talking about her life and it’s nothing new that hasn’t already been done in films before, but hey, it can be forgiven because at least Cody wasn’t trying to bring in sayings that I used in AIM 9 years ago in as well.

It’s hard to believe that this is actually Theron’s first ever comedic performance and probably her first ever role where we can’t stand her. Except for maybe ‘Monster’ but she was probably just more scary there. Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary perfectly because she is obviously very attractive but still is a terrible person by the way she acts and just lets loose of the ugliness within her. Theron hits these great moments where she’s just being a total bitch by flirting with her ex-boyfriend right in front of his wife, or by sipping this rare alcohol from her “friend”, or just by simply just acting like she deserves everything in the world because she wrote some cheesy novels made for teen chicks. Mavis is, as I have already mentioned, terribly unlikable which Theron brings out very well but she also makes her character have more heart and get by her being a one-dimensional character. Theron owns here as Mavis and I definitely think she should get nominated.

Patton Oswalt is also an awesome addition here as Matt Freehauf, a guy who can’t seem to get past his high school days either. Oswalt plays this character perfectly with some very funny comments on how ridiculous Mavis is being but at the same time is totally honest with her about her and his own life. He seems like a natural when it comes to the comedy in Cody’s script, but when it comes to the more dramatic moments he is even better and shows us that he has a great balance as an actor. The on-screen pairing of him and Theron is unlikely but also features some of the best moments of the whole film and brought out the most in both of these great stars. I definitely would love if Oswalt got at least a nomination for his performance here.

Patrick Wilson is also just a regular but likable dude as Buddy Slade. Not much else to say really other than this guy is just generally cool and charming.

Consensus: Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman re-team once again for Young Adult and make it not only a funny, if uncomfortable comedy, but also a realistic and slightly moving story anchored by one of Theron’s best performances she’s given in a long time.

9/10=Full Price!!

Watchmen (2009)

I just cannot get enough of blue schlongs!

Zack Snyder directs this adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel set in a parallel Earth in 1985, where superheroes are prohibited from using their powers despite the threat of nuclear war. When one of their number is murdered, however, the outlaw heroes — including Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Silk Spectre (Carla Gugino), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) — unite to defend themselves.

So after seeing this movie the first night it came out, I really did like it, but this didn’t fully satisfy me. So I took it upon myself to read the graphic novel this is based on, and I’m so glad I made that decision.

This is a film that everybody said was un-filmable, due to the graphic novel being so dark, different, and so disturbing, some felt that this could never make into the mainstream. However, Zack Snyder proved everybody wrong, and in all honesty does a very good job at doing so. He uses a lot of slick production values, to have all the outfits fit the certain time, and convey a certain emotion. He also stays true to the graphic novel and keeps this film dark, but not without getting rid of mainstream viewers.

The main problem with this film is that although it does stay somewhat true to the original source material, there were many faults about it. First of all, it can be viewed at as way too slow. There were moments in this film, where they just kept hammering away at one scene, and I was just waiting and waiting for the next scene. Secondly, there are way too many stories with this film. In the novel, a lot was going on, but it was handled so nice and carefully. However, in this film it was handled in such a messy way, that it didn’t quite know how else to put it up on film, so they just felt like knocking it on screen when they felt like it. Lastly, this film can get ridiculous.

In the novel, Dr. Manhattan’s “man-part”, is a little nub that catches out eyes every once and awhile, but in the film, it’s this huge, dangling thing, which in a way hurts the movie. Almost every scene he’s in, your watching that thing, and it takes away from the seriousness of the film, and makes it almost comical, seeing a big blue wang. I did like the soundtrack though, cause it fit a lot of the moments, but there was one un-needed sex scene, played to “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. It was really random, and the way the sex scene looks, just really makes me laugh thinking about it.

Though despite all these little problems I still did fairly enjoy myself. The film was long enough to fully cover the whole story, and that at least kept me happy. Also, knowing that this was a Snyder film, I was expecting plenty, and plenty of slow-mo. And that’s exactly what I got. It wasn’t bad, because it did fit well with a lot of the action, and the violence is bloody, gratuitous, and altogether a lot of fun to watch.

I liked a lot of the performances in this film, from a fairly unknown ensemble. Patrick Wilson is good here as Nite Owl, cause he plays a guy that wants to do something with his life again, but doesn’t have the right emotion, and Wilson plays it all well. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, brings a lot to the film, considering he is the main reason for this film. Billy Crudup here as Dr. Manhattan isn’t really playing this film, more as a voice. But his voice matches the overall feeling, and tone that Doc has. Matthew Goode reminded me of a Jude Law in this role, and he does good at playing this stuck-up asshole. Malin Akerman is the weakest part of this film, and doesn’t bring much to this film which sucks, cause a lot of emotional scenes are placed on here. The best story, and performance here is from Jackie Earle Haley, who plays the iconic Rorshach. He’s funny, dark, and could kick your ass in any second, and I just loved watching him on screen every time.

Consensus: A hard piece to adapt in the first place, Watchmen provides a lot of action, good performances, and pretty cinematography to hold you over, it just may not be the most enjoyable 2 hours and 40 minutes of your life.

8/10=Matinee!!!