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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Ron Livingston

Lucky (2017)

Realism truly is “a thing”.

Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton) is 90 years old and believe it or not, feels fine. He can’t move his body like he used to and sure, it’s a little creaky every so often, but for the most part, he’s getting by just fine. He spends most of his days doing the same things, like waking up and getting a coffee. Then, he watches game shows on TV and tests his knowledge. And then, lastly, he ends up at the local bar, where he wants to smoke, but doesn’t. Instead, he sits around and waits for someone to have a stimulating conversation with him, whatever it may be, or about whatever.

Lucky doesn’t have much of a plot and that’s actually fine. All it really needs is a solid bit of characters, good performances, and a sweet sense of time and place and it gets by just fine. Making his directorial debut, legendary character actor John Carroll Lynch seems to know how to let a story like this play itself out; he takes his time enough to where some could say it’s “boring” and “slow”, but really, it’s just languid and it fits with everyone and everything else here.

“Coop?”

Especially the one, the only and the late Harry Dean Stanton himself.

And yes, it’s pretty crazy to watch this movie and realize that this would end up becoming Stanton’s swan song, but it feels so incredibly fitting. Stanton himself has never really gotten the chance to have a movie all to himself and it seems like, even at age 90, he was due; the role doesn’t really challenge him, or stretch the talents we know him for, but it doesn’t necessarily have to, either. All it has to do is offer us another great glimpse of the never-ending and charming talents of Stanton, why he was great, why it was always nice to have him around, and why, above all else, he will be missed.

And yes, like I said, Stanton’s pretty great here. He’s charming, wise, and seems like he’s years above everyone else that he meets. But the movie is smart in that it isn’t just about Lucky and his life, as it’s also about the people he runs into on a daily-basis, most of whom put up with him and have been doing so for quite some time. Some will be happy to see David Lynch show up in a cooky-role as a guy looking for his tortoise, others will be happy to see Ron Livingston show up as a life-insurer with a huge mustache, and others, like myself, will be happy to see a nice little Alien reunion between Stanton and Tom Skerritt, in one of the movie’s sweeter scenes.

Seriously, why’s that ‘stache so huge?

But the movie isn’t just about one character over the rest – it’s about all of them and it’s why it’s so sweet.

Carroll Lynch and co-writers Drago Sumonja and Logan Sparks seem to understand how to get the heart of this tale, but never playing their hand too much. Some may not see this as having much of a point, or better yet, not really being about much other than just a bunch of old people talking and yammering on about things that can kind of seem random, but it really isn’t. It’s about watching life pass you by, understanding that reality, moving on, and doing whatever the hell you can to make the best of it while you have it. It sounds cheesy, in retrospect, but Lucky, the movie, as well as the character, aren’t and it’s why it’s a small joy of a movie.

And it’s why we’ll forever miss the talents of Harry Dean Stanton.

Consensus: Sweet and sultry, Lucky is the kind of small and oddly charming movie that works best because of its time, attention, care, and solid performances, especially from the late, great Harry Dean Stanton.

7.5 / 10

Goodbye legend. You will surely be missed.

Photos Courtesy of: Magnolia Pictures

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James White (2015)

WhiteposterSome kids just need to grow up. Especially when they’re nearly 30.

James White (Christopher Abbott) has been through a lot in his life, but at the same time, not really. While his father basically abandoned him at a young age and his mother (Cynthia Nixon) has been going through frequent battles with cancer, he has no job, no girlfriend, and no real place to live. But James feels as if life has chewed him up, spat him out and left him for dead, even if that hasn’t actually happened. But in order to get his back in-check and be prepared for what life has to throw at him, James decides to go to Mexico with his best pal (Scott Mescudi) where they drink, party, and do drugs, while also meeting the very young Jayne (Mackenzie Leigh). However, all of the fun comes to an end when James is called back home to tend to his mother and his needs – something he’s not quite ready for, especially when it turns out that her cancer has returned and it’s rougher than ever. Now, for James, it’s time to grow up and shut up, even if he can’t seem to do either.

Sometimes, Mr. Rager just wants to hug it out.

Sometimes, Mr. Rager just wants to hug it out.

We all know someone like James White. That self-pitiful, bratty, almost immature guy who cares only about himself, his needs and always has something to whine about. He’ll complain about not getting what he wants and being asked to do too much in his life, when, if you look at it, he’s not called on for anything. He is, for lack of a better term, a bum.

But that doesn’t make him any less interesting.

What’s neat about James White, both the character, as well as the movie, although, what’s the difference, is that the movie never tries to make any amends for the way James acts. In the first fifteen or so minutes, we see him pick a fight in a bar, let it settle down, and then start it all back up. Then, we also see him outright threaten a family member with violence at his father’s wake. There’s something to James that’s so despicable, yet, he’s so relatable that it’s hard to actually hate him; if anything, I quite enjoyed my time with James

Sure, you could say that writer/director Josh Mond is using James White as a way to spend time with an a-hole, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. In a way, there’s always been something inherently compelling about what drives and draws a person to always constantly being an a-hole; something about how that character doesn’t give a crap about what people think of them or their actions, is, in a way, very intriguing. These types of people in life may bother us, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, which is why every second spent with James White, watching as he navigates through his life filled with sex, booze, drugs, hotel rooms, and couches, I quite enjoyed.

You could say that I wasn’t supposed to, but somehow, that actually happened.

Mond keeps his focus so tight on White that it’s hard to stray away from him and to anyone else here. The movie uses close-up like its day job, where we are right up James navel cavities, not seeing what’s around him, but only peering down at him, seeing his eyes and that’s it. This is an effective, if very suffocating device, as it really draws us closer to this character; we may not get greater ideas of what kind of person he is, but it makes us feel trapped and alone with this guy, the way he would probably love and enjoy.

It also helps that Christopher Abbott is pretty damn great in this role, too. Even though Abbott was probably best known for his stint on Girls, time will probably change after this, and we’ll start to see more of him, which is great because he’s a naturalistic talent. As James White, Abbott gets a chance to do a lot, with seemingly, so little; while we get small outlines of who this character is, the movie leaves a lot up to Abbott to pick up the pieces and he does a good job with it. There’s this unpredictable feeling with James where we don’t know if he’s going to do something nice, or better yet, relatively sweet, or downright reprehensible, and screw-up his life anymore that he already has.

Just can't handle it right now.

Just can’t handle it right now.

Abbott, as well as Mond, keep us guessing, which is definitely a testament to the fine acting-display from Abbott – someone who deserves every role that’s probably getting thrown his way about right now.

Cynthia Nixon plays James’ mother, and even though a lot of what she has to do her is look and act sickly, especially given that her character is battling cancer, she does a good job with it. You get the feeling that she’s the warmth and love in James’ life that he so desperately holds onto and needs – not just to keep him alive, but to keep him from sleeping on the streets. They have a nice chemistry that isn’t always love-love, nor is it always hate-hate – as with any mother-son duo, they have issues, but they also have qualities that make them love the other and it’s nice to see.

If anything, James White doesn’t so much as lose focus by the end, as much as it just narrows it down more. To me, this was perhaps the weakest parts of the movie; while I understand that a story like this needed to narrow its focus down even more than it already has, there was still a part of me that was missing watching James go out into late night-NYC, cause all sorts of havoc and chicanery wherever he want. Then again, that’s not the movie I continued to get – instead, I got something that showed him more as a human being who, of course, may not be perfect, but still has any qualities like you or I and because of that, should be seen as a human being.

A very troubled, almost imperfect human being that I wanted to hang around more.

Why? I don’t know. Maybe I see a little bit of James within myself.

Consensus: With a stellar lead performance from Christopher Abbott, James White is an interesting look at a person’s life that we don’t always see portrayed in the movies.

8.5 / 10

Nothing like a son and a mother love. Even if the son is a spoiled brat.

Nothing like a son and a mother love. Even if the son is a spoiled brat.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

The End of the Tour (2015)

Writers hate writers. So don’t be one.

In 1996, David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) was a writer for Rolling Stone and was in desperate need of a story to make his mark on, or better yet, get his name out there with. He found this in the form of novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) who, through his novel Infinite Jest, was receiving all sorts of praise and attention. And to promote this book even more than it needed to be, Wallace is forced to go out on a book-tour, which he invites Lipsky to the final day of. Initially, Lipsky and Wallace don’t seem to really know how to talk to one another or get around the fact that they’re both writers, and one is writing a story on the other. There’s a lot of awkward sighs and pauses between the two, which may be mostly due to the fact that Lipsky can’t help but be enamored by Wallace’s presence he holds both on the page, as well as off of it. But once personal issues of Wallace’s past, family and themes get brought up, it brings out a whole other side that Lipsky doesn’t want to believe is true or see, but also can’t deny is there and be scared of.

Lipsky likes Wallace.

Lipsky likes Wallace.

I’ll admit it, I’ve never read or purchased Infinite Jest and honestly, I don’t know if I have any intentions on doing so. It’s not that the length of the book scares me (after all, I sat through all 500-plus pages of Glamorama and didn’t complain), but it’s more of the dedication it takes to not just get through all of the pages, but also to appreciate the genius of David Foster Wallace for all that he was, or, from what I’m told he was. Basically, one day, when I’m older, a tad bit wiser, and don’t have much going on in my life other than just sitting around and wondering, waiting for the next show to binge-watch, then yeah, I’ll find a copy, sit down, and read all of Infinite Jest in its entirety. But, like I said, for now, all I have to base any respect on is what people say about Wallace and the book itself.

And that’s kind of the beauty of the End of the Tour: You don’t really have to know anything about Foster Wallace or Lipsky to become enamored with either personas or what they’re saying – they’re interesting enough as is that it doesn’t matter what it is they may be discussing or be delving into, all we want to do is hear them talk more and more.

This is why writer/director James Ponsoldt really does deserve a lot of credit – not only is he tacking subject-material and a story that may be very limited to a certain kind of audience, but he’s also trying to find a way to make these subjects themselves accessible and compelling enough to watch, even if we don’t already know anything about them to begin with. Right from the very beginning, there’s this feeling that Ponsoldt has a good idea of who each of these two guys are that, when they get together to conduct this so-called “interview”, they’re really just chewin’ the fat and enjoying every second, which is why we sort of do the same. It’s the kind of movie where smart, talented people, talk to one another, but instead of sounding like total and complete pretentious a-holes when discussing the meaning of life and Sternheim, they sound like interesting, sometimes funny fellas who may have some actual insight into the way the world works, as well as movies like Die Hard or Broken Arrow.

But what always keeps the End of the Tour moving, when it isn’t just focusing on these two chatting about their lives and careers, is that this is all happening because of an “interview” – one of which makes both of these guys pretty damn awkward. That Lipsky is already jealous of Foster Wallace for all of the fame and fortune he has seemingly gotten because of the book’s success, already not only draws him to the person, but also to the legend of who this guy really is. At the same time, however, he still has to do this interview with the guy, which tends to lead to the tense moments where he has to put away his hat of admiration, put back on his journalist one, and try to get the deepest, darkest secrets out of this guy, while at the same time, still not trying to offend him enough to where the interview is over and Lipsky has lost someone he could actually call “a friend”.

Wallace likes Lipsky.

Wallace likes Lipsky.

Same goes for Foster Wallace who, yes, is the one being interviewed, but also finds it quite comforting to actually be able to sit down and talk to someone who is actually interested in what he has to say, as well as understand all that he’s talking about. Still, because Foster Wallace was a very odd person and was reportedly on anti-depressants, he didn’t know what to say, or not to say to Lipsky and that tends to lead him to the same area where he doesn’t know if saying a lot is too much, or if saying nothing at all is fine, even if a bit rude.

Still though, despite this obvious issue between the two, they still clearly want to be great friends and adversaries, even if they’re only together for three or so days, due to this “interview”.

And it should be said that yes, Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, other than being great in their own rights, share a wonderful bit of chemistry here that makes us cherish these two moments together all the more. Even though there’s always that discomforting sense of distrust between the two, there’s also the same feeling that, had they met under different circumstances, they would have been the very best of friends. Sure, they talk about everything in their lives, but also seem to be able to relate to one another in nice, funny ways that surprise even themselves. That’s why, it’s sometimes sad to see whenever the one gets uncomfortable and clearly not happy about something the other said or did; after all, the possibility of a meaningful friendship lies and it’s one that we actually want to see happen, even if we know, yes, it never did.

It’s sad, but oh so true.

Consensus: With two great performances from Eisenberg and especially, Segel, the End of the Tour gives both literary figures enough chemistry and persona to make their trip together not just an enjoyable one, but an interesting, if at times, weird one that ended way too soon and would, sadly, never happen again.

8.5 / 10

They both like one another, however, they're both writers, so it's not meant to be.

They both like one another, however, they’re both writers, so it’s not meant to be.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Digging for Fire (2015)

Buried treasure is a perfect metaphor for one’s mid-life crisis.

Tim (Jake Johnson) and Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt) are, for the most part, a happy couple. They have a child together, and even though they can’t necessarily agree on what education is the best for him, they still love one another enough that it’s only a slight problem. But having been married for so long can make a person feel a bit suffocated; which is why Lee decides to take it upon herself to head out on a little relaxing trip of her own. This leaves Tim at home, all by himself, for the whole weekend – which he more than takes advantage of. For one, Tim throws a banger full of booze, drugs and women, and then, all of a sudden, discovers a bone and a gun in his backyard. Where it’s come from, he doesn’t know, however, Tim is more than inspired to find out just what the hell else is hidden underneath the dirt that surrounds him and his pad. Meanwhile, Lee herself is having some bit of fun as she goes out gallivanting one night, and stumbles upon the charming Ben (Orlando Bloom), who immediately takers her breath away and makes her ponder whether or not marriage is actually cut-out for her in the first place.

If he can smoke...

If he can smoke…

You could make a fair argument that Joe Swanberg tends to make the same movie, over and over again. While he does switch-around the plots, for the most part, everything is exactly as mumblecore-ish and as simplistic as you could expect it to be. When you go into seeing a Joe Swanberg movie, you expect something with a fly-on-the-wall approach, where it may seem like nothing’s happening, or that it ever will. To some, this can annoy up to high heavens, but for others, such as myself, it’s truly a treat to watch in amazement.

Even if, sometimes, the end results aren’t always so great as you’d hope.

But that isn’t to say Digging for Fire isn’t a good movie from Swanberg in any sort of fashion – in fact, just the opposite. Compared to last year’s Happy Christmas, it feels as if Swanberg has more of a story to roll with here and even though he’s only using them as a way to pass through his metaphor about growing old and marriage itself, it’s still done in such a way that didn’t seem manipulative. Are the rusty gun and odd-looking bone symbolism for how tired and worn-out these two main characters feel? Or, are they just story-telling devices that Swanberg utilizes to make us think that something crazy, or better yet, shocking is going to happen around then, until we realize that, well, not really? Does it really matter?

Nope, not really. And the reason that is, is because Swanberg knows how to tell a story by standing back and letting everyone in front of the camera do the talking for him. Though Swanberg apparently co-wrote this script with Jake Johnson, a part of me still feels like that doesn’t account for anything; there are still many patches throughout this movie where it’s evident that everybody’s just riffing on whatever they feel should come next in the scene that they’re currently filming. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint, seeing as how I usually love the spontaneity Swanberg’s able to draw-out of his performers using this directing-approach, but it does make me wonder how much better some of these films would be, with a little more push here and there in the creative-department.

But, that said, Digging for Fire still works enough as is because it is, for one thing, a funny movie. Sure, some of that has to do with the fact that, in addition to the two main stars, the likes of Sam Rockwell, Mike Birbiglia, Melanie Lynskey, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Messina show up for a little while, but it also has some part to do with the fact that Swanberg takes Tim’s life and main dilemma seriously. Basically, the main question is why Tim’s going to town on digging into the yard? Does it really matter what Tim finds?

Maybe.

Then, so can she dammit!

Then, so can she dammit!

But whatever Tim does find, Swanberg makes it a point to keep himself more invested on what goes in and around Tim’s life and while they may be all a bunch of fun to laugh and be around, it’s Johnson’s Tim who always comes off as the more charismatic figure. For one, his character is given the most background info in that he seems like a bit of a boring, tied-down, but after a little while, shows that he’s capable of having a great time and being the life of the party when he’s called on to do so. Sure, he’s still got a wife and kid, but he won’t hesitate one second to snort that line of coke. Johnson does well with this character in that he shows he’s both smart, but a bit dopey at the same time, and it makes you hope that, even if it isn’t as memorable as he hopes, whatever he finds underneath all that dirt, at least gives him some satisfaction in life.

Of course, because Johnson’s role is so well-done, Rosemarie DeWitt does seem to get cheated here a bit. It’s one thing if DeWitt’s scenes just aren’t that interesting, but she hardly gets that much time on the screen. There’s the first-half of the movie and then, randomly, she’s nowhere to be seen until the final act where she’s now out on the prowl herself. DeWitt’s still solid in this role and shows that she’s able to work with not that much, but at the same time, makes me wish that Swanberg and Johnson, gave her character just as much time and effort as they gave the Tim character.

Like I alluded to before, though, there’s a lot of funny and famous people who show up here, all of whom, do fine. Rockwell is his usual killer-self; Birbiglia is nerdy and twitchy; Brie Larson is cool and full of personality; Kendrick is, for some lovely reason, a bit of a skank; and oh yeah, Orlando Bloom shows up. See, here’s the thing about Orlando Bloom: It’s not that I think he’s a bad actor, per se, it’s just that he hasn’t even really had time to grow out of being anything more than just Will Turner. You could say that he had Elizabethtown, but honestly, nobody had that movie to work with. Bloom shows up here for a short time as an object of Lee’s affection and does a solid job, given the time that he’s given to work with. He’s cool, suave, charming and most of all, not annoying. To me, this shows that maybe, given some time on his part, Orlando Bloom could start showing different layers of his acting-talent, if given the right chance and time to do so.

So, please guys! Try and do that if you can!

Consensus: Though Digging for Fire is typical Swanberg-fare, it’s still funny, insightful, and well-acted enough to where it feels like there was a bit more effort on not just the part of Swanberg’s, but the unexpectedly star-studded cast as well.

7 / 10

And they might as well, too.

And they might as well, too.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Parkland (2013)

We got Bobby, but now, here’s Johnny! Sort of.

When JFK was assassinated in Texas, the whole nation was left in a widespread panic of not knowing what to do next, how to pick themselves up from such tragedy and what would be the best way to move on. But before any picking up and moving on could be done, there had to be some simple procedures done, like finding out who killed JFK, who that killer’s family was, who the person filming the incidence was, how they can keep it away from the media, an so on and so forth. Basically, this is a look inside the various lives that were affected after JFK’s murder, and how most of them coped with the disaster in many different ways, sometimes some were more positive than others. But the ones who were negative, they really were hit hard, as you’ll soon see.

The JFK assassination is something that no matter what type of person you are, history buff or not, will always interest you. All controversies about whom did it, why and whom with, there are still some very interesting facts about it that many of us have yet to even know about, while some are still being unearthed. It’s strange to think that even 50 years after the fact that we’re still getting bits and pieces of info about what really happened, who was behind it and possibly just if it was all a ruse or not, is really surprising. However, one must remember that it’s the U.S. government we’re dealing with here, folks. They can’t always be trusted.

About to have themselves a bloody good time. What? Too soon?

About to have themselves a bloody good time…….. What? Too soon?

Anyway, those said interesting little facts about this well-known assassination is probably what does this flick some good in the first place. For starters, it gives us a glimpse inside the lives of a bunch of people we’d never expect to see get a movie made about and it actually allows them to have their story shown. Some get better than treatment than others, but overall, everybody here has a story to tell, and they are all somewhat worth watching and paying attention to, even if the direction doesn’t quite follow suit with that the whole way through.

Some have been having problems with this movie because it’s considered “overstuffed” and “jammed”, and I can’t say I disagree. With a movie that runs just about under an-hour-and-a-half, showing all of these stories, with all of these different, familiar-faces, definitely does come across as “too much to take in”, especially when you pretty much know that the material would benefit a lot more from something like a miniseries or hell, even a longer movie. The stories that are interesting get the most attention here, but the others that don’t, still feel like they have something that we would want to see or take notice of, yet, they aren’t really given much time of the day.

For instance, there’s this one story the movie focuses on that features Ron Livingston playing an FBI agent that knows all about what’s happening with the president, who killed him and where they can nab him, but we never actually see him go out onto the field, actually gathering info, clues, hints, or anything else that would probably help him get a clearer view of the case. This subplot also leaves more questions than actual answers as it becomes clearly evident that the movie, in some way, shape or form, is suggesting that Oswald didn’t act alone and had to have some outside-help in order to kill the president. Personally, I agree with this sentiment, but I feel like when you have a movie that’s dedicating its legacy to an event, as well as to a public, iconic figure no less, that it may not be right to choose sides. Then again, I’m always down for when things get shaken around a bit, so who the hell am I to even talk, you know?

Other than Livingston’s character’s story, there are plenty of other ones to that get the light of day, most are a lot more interesting than the one I just mentioned, and some far more deserving of their own movie or hell, one-hour running-time. The one story I’m mainly talking about is the one in which James Badge Dale plays Oswald’s brother that somehow gets wrapped up into all of this, all because he shares the same last name as the man who killed the president. The movie paints a nice picture of this conflicted man who knows what his brother did was wrong, and yet, still can’t bring himself away from totally abandoning him and leaving him out to dry. Because honestly, let’s face it: Family is family, no matter what.

Dale is not only great in this role, as he is in all of the 50 movies he’s shown up in in the past two years, and really gives you the sense that this is a good-natured citizen who knows what’s right, and what’s wrong, and yet, still can’t help but get thrown under the bus all because of who his brother is and the dirty act he committed. While Dale’s performance is very nuanced and subtle for this type of material, Jacki Weaver, playing Oswald’s crazed attention-whore-of-a-mother, is a little more nutty and over-the-top, but is still worth watching because if you watch any of the interviews with the real-life figure, you’ll see that she more than just hits the nail on the head. She absolutely bangs it in with utter force.

The rest of this studded-ensemble is a bit of a mix-bag, which is less of their fault, and more of the film’s because it doesn’t quite utilize their skills as well as it should have, which is a damn shame, considering the type of true talent we have on-deck here. Colin Hanks, Zac Efron and Marcia Gay Harden all play the nurses and doctors that examine both JFK one day, and Oswald the other, which gives us a nice contrast between the two, even though the characters themselves are never fully sketched-out to be more than scared fellas and gals. They all try, but their characters are thin. Billy Bob Thornton gets a chance to show up on screen and do his bit for a short while as the FBI agent assigned to figuring out what happened here and how they can fix it all up in a neat and tidy bow. Nice to see Thornton do something where he isn’t either a total and complete a-hole, or for that matter, a total and complete dirtball that has no sense of normal hygiene or normalcy.

"Make way! We got a guy trying to pretend he's dead!!"

“Make way! We got a guy trying to pretend he’s dead!!”

The one who I was most surprised by, not because he was bad or anything, but by how uninteresting his story actually was, was Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder who, if you don’t know by now, was the poor individual who had the displeasure (or pleasure, in some crazy mofo’s minds) of not only filming the assassination, but to be the one the media and FBI came to first, throwing away any price he would deem desirable. Giamatti is great in this role, as usual, giving us a distraught, scared old man that doesn’t quite know what to do with himself for the time being, but definitely doesn’t want to wake up and smell all of the real harsh realities that the world brings. While I felt these sad, emotional connections coming from Giamatti’s performance, I never quite felt that for his story, which actually felt like it could have been given its own movie, and maybe even be up for some Oscars along the way as well. However, we may never get to see that happen. And if we do, it won’t be with Giamatti. Poor guy. He so deserves better.

And don’t even get me started on Jackie Earle Haley as the priest who gives his final blessing to JFK’s corpse. It’s one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roles, and is by far one of the strangest aspects of this whole cast. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say the movie as well.

Consensus: The approach Parkland brings to its infamous event, surely is one of the far more interesting aspects going for it, but can’t help but feel disappointing once you realize how under-cooked, short and jammed-up it is, and even worse, it didn’t need to be either.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

How he didn't recieve an Oscar for Best Documentary short that year is totally beyond me......What?!?! Once again, too soon!??!

How he didn’t receive an Oscar for Best Documentary short that year is totally beyond me……What?!?! Once again, too soon!??!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Touchy Feely (2013)

If Rosemarie DeWitt wants to touch me, she can be my guest. Hell, she can be my wife!

Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a woman that “feels” for a living. She gives massages to people, and they consider her one of the best and most worthwhile, mainly because she has that touch and feel for what it takes to give a good back-rub, or something like that. However, once Abby loses her touch, she finds herself in a bit of a funk that not only jeopardizes her job, but her relationship with her boyfriend (Scott McNairy). While on the other side of things, her brother, the up-tight, socially awkward dentist Paul (Josh Pais), seems to have gotten her “touch” and “feel”, therefore, giving him an ability to cure almost anybody’s problems they may have with their mouths. This boosts his self-confidence a bit, and may actually give him the chance to talk to his daughter (Ellen Page), and find out what she really wants to do with the rest of her life, rather than helping him out fixing cavities.

Writer/director Lynn Shelton has been something of an indie-darling, and practically, the go-to-gal for an indie-dramedy that’s not just funny, but heartfelt and insightful into human-relationships, and the way we all function. Humpday and Your Sister’s Sister are perfect examples of this, not just because those are her last two flicks before this, but because they show exactly the same type of balance of heart, humor, and humanity that I talk about. She knows how to make us laugh, while also having us cry by the end of the story, all because she gave us characters worth paying attention to and caring for. However, all of that goes right out the window here, as it seems like not only has Shelton gotten a bigger budget in her palms now, but that she’s also found a way to try and mesh her indie-style, with something that’s more mainstream and accessible to the wider audience.

She can use those hands on me anytime she wants. She just can't "talk" to me about it, while she's doing it.

She can use those hands on me anytime she wants. She just can’t “talk” to me about it, while she’s doing it.

Sadly, it doesn’t work.

And what doesn’t allow it to work is that this flick doesn’t have a single-beat that feels real, honest, or even believable in any way. It’s all quirky, all of the time, and done for a cheap-set of laughs that not only don’t amount to anything, but build characters that you can’t really reach and grab; mostly because they feel like one-dimensional characters. But I’m not saying they’re unlikable per se, it’s just that they don’t feature any type of realism to the way they act, speak, or go about their daily-life that makes you feel as if they are just like one of us, except more good-looking and talented. That’s how I felt with Shelton’s past two movies, and it’s what I expected to feel here, except, it didn’t happen. The story just went on, and on, and on, and on, and then, ended.

Which is a shame because you can tell that the cast seems to be trying. Rosemarie DeWitt is as charming and as cute as she’s ever been, and gives Abby a sense of down-to-earth honesty that makes her feel like a person, but the script takes over and makes her sort of a weirdo that feels all sorts of emotions a little too much. More than your average person should FEEL. And it was enjoyable to watch at times because DeWitt made it that way, but when you have a character that does such actions like tells her boyfriend to take off his shirt, only to walk away seconds later, bang him in her brother’s bathroom (and visibly too), and take ecstasy, only to get pissed-off when the boyfriend considers it “a random choice of actions”, you have to wonder just how unpredictable a character can be until they’re annoying. For me, I got annoyed of her pretty quick; and not just because I hate people that are like her character, but because she shows no rhyme or reason for the way she is. She knows that she can be unbearably odd at times, but never takes a second to think about why, or apologize to the people she loves the most, who are also sometimes the ones she hurts the most.

Near-tears at an indie music show? You bet your righteous ass they're hipsters!

Near-tears at an indie music show? You bet your righteous ass they’re hipsters!

Same kind of goes for the rest of the cast as well, even though they are all just as thinly-written as she is, just with less charisma. Scoot McNairy feels like the type of cool, hipster boyfriend that should be winning all of the ladies’ hearts with his good-looks, his sweet voice, and scruffy beard, but somehow comes off as a bit of a wimp, the type of dude you wouldn’t expect to see with Abby or last as long with her as he has. Granted, they do make a mention to how he was “the rebound” for her, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that his character doesn’t seem to really stand-up for himself when he needs to and tell his girlfriend how he feels, at any given time. Ellen Page plays Abby’s niece, who is also the same girl who has eyes for McNairy’s character and seems like she should have that whole “angst-ridden teen” thing down by now, but feels like she’s too much of a negative Nancy to really qualify as a teen, or a character worth watching either. She’s just here and you can tell that Shelton cared about her character and her story the least. Poor Juno, we all know she’s better than this.

Surprisingly though, the only one who walks away with this movie and makes it somewhat watchable, is the least-known name on the cast-list, even though he may be the most noticeable considering of how many pieces of work he’s shown up in all of these years. The name of the face is Josh Pais, who plays the weird, quiet, and oddly-placed brother of Abby, and does what he can with this role, neurotic twitches and all. You can tell that the heart of the movie lies with this dude, and you know that Pais is capable of making us laugh at this dude, then have us want to give him a hug when all is said and done too, however, you also know that this material doesn’t seem like the type of “breaking out” piece that he may have needed so late in his career. He’s a bit of a goofy and plays all of the weirdness of this guy very well, but it doesn’t amount to much, as his character never seems to learn anything that may have needed to be learned, in order to change the way he viewed life, his sister and what his daughter wants to do for her future. There’s a sign it may happen, but it never seems discovered and that’s a real shame. His character, the most beloved one out of them all here, also ends up having no real revelation and just goes about his daily-life as usual. Boring, and slightly depressing.

Consensus: While it certainly isn’t terrible and can be watched for some good performances from this talented-cast, Touchy Feely is probably Lynn Shelton’s weakest movie to-date, and shows her in a bit of a muddle, wondering what to say about each character, how to say it, and when it should all end for them, but ends up not really saying anything at all. Maybe that’s how life is? Actually, I don’t know!

5 / 10 = Rental!!

"So...uhm....awkward, right?"

“So…uhm….awkward, right?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Drinking Buddies (2013)

Hipsters and beer: Let the sexual-fluids begin to fly!

Luke and Kate (Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde) work at a brewery in Chicago and could probably be confused as a loving, long-term couple. They bicker, they flirt, they play around, they constantly hang out, they get drunk together, and they’re always talking, so why the hell aren’t they together? Well, for starters, Luke is with a modest school-teacher Jill (Anna Kendrick), and Kate is tied-down to the quasi-intellectual, older Chris (Ron Livingston). Eventually, these four all hang-out and spend the weekend at Chris’s mountain house, but that’s when things begin to get a little weird for these four, and they eventually all come to terms with who they want to be with, why, and just who they are as people. Well, that, and a whole bunch of drinking as well. Can’t forget about that fact.

Many will probably dub this as the “coming out” of sorts for writer/director Joe Swanberg who, in case you don’t know, has been the name to run by when it comes to looking for “Mumblecore” films. The style irks some, but recently, it’s been getting a lot of notice and it seems like Swanberg has finally picked-up all of the momentum and speed he needed to finally get his beloved genre out there for the rest of the world to see. Whether or not they’ll take it and accept it for all that it is, is totally left to be decided, but if it’s is this movie that’s going to bring that somewhat annoying genre to the center-fold of the rest of the movie world; then I can see a brighter-future ahead. For the genre at least.

Playing with one another's food? Yup, totally in love!

Playing with one another’s food? It’s gotta be love!

What works so well with this flick is that everything about it, from the conversations, to the style, to the plot-transitioning, all feels real and natural, as if we’re watching real-life happen right in front of our very eyes. Granted, these characters are probably a lot better-looking than us normal-beings, but it’s easy to take them in as real people, who obviously have real feelings and emotions, despite them trying to hide it with all of their might. Most of what happens in this movie, actually, is very small and subtle, but the reactions and the feelings are real, and never make you feel like you’re watching a movie, where a bunch of really talented-people are acting their assess off, just so they can seem “indie enough” to be respected. For most movies, that is obviously the case, but everything here feels so normal and well-played, that you don’t feel it.

Despite it being a very naturalistic movie, it’s also a very thoughtful one that isn’t preachy or as obvious with it’s message as one may think. Swanberg touches on several points about our human-psyche like love, attraction, infidelity, and what cost they have attached to them but never anything too emotional or heavy-handed. It all plays itself out in a way where it makes you feel like you have just as much to learn as these characters in this movie, and that can sometimes be a blessing or a curse. However, with these characters and this script, it’s definitely more of the former than the latter. You’ll be happy to be hanging-around with these characters, feel a bit of an attachment to them, and also hope that everything churns out well for them, whether or not they fully deserve it.

And to be honest, there’s never any real “unlikable” character here to be found. The character of Chris should, on-paper, seem like a total and complete deuche-cake that thinks way too much, about nonsensical, meaningless things, but he actually comes off as just a dude that wants a little bit of love in his life, hasn’t quite found it yet, and is just waiting for that time to come, despite him being a little bit too old in the game to be slumming-around. He’s the only one that comes close to be considered “a bad guy”, which means that everyone else is lovable and easy-to-like, even if they do have some flaws. Actually, major flaws, but what would a human be if they didn’t have a little bit of flaws here and there, eh?

Probably the loveliest part of this whole flick is watching Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde on-screen together. Not only do they share a pitch-perfect chemistry that makes you believe these two as besties on and off the screen, but they also continue to have you guessing throughout the whole movie. Since there’s so much sexual-tension and under-lining love between the two, you can just feel like anything could happen between these two, at any given moment, for any reason. And hell, since they’re always around each other getting a little crunked-up, the odds get even more and more stacked-up as each and every new brew is consumed. These two together, whether it’s mostly improvised or scripted, is a work of beauty to behold and it’s made even better because both are great performers respectively.

The drink of death.

The hospitable drink of death.

Everybody knows Jake Johnson can act his ass off. Whether it’s being serious or comedic, Johnson’s always the go-to guy to make you laugh one second, and then cry the next. He just has that skill and it’s shown to full-effect here. However, when it comes to trumping Olivia Wilde’s screen-presence, Mr. Johnson can’t help but retreat and let her do her thing, which was great because it’s probably Wilde’s best performance ever. Not saying that she won’t get any more of these down the line, but for right now, the girl’s shown us something that not only impressed me with not only how unsympathetic she can be with some of the actions and decisions she decides to take, but with how sad and vulnerable she can be as well. We rarely ever see that side to her act, and it’s one that I wish to see more from her in the future because she’s so good at playing up the dramatic-side, but also still be able to charm us with her light touches as well. Wilde allows Kate to have a presence that isn’t all about being the life of the party or constantly-funny, but just a real person that lives in the moments and tries not to get too tied-down by dumb crap like break-ups or heartbreak, as hard as they may be to avoid.

Let’s hope this means better roles for Wilde, even if they don’t concern her getting naked. Although, I wouldn’t mind that that much either. I’m a man, dammit! I have needs!

Anna Kendrick is also here and very good as Luke’s gal-pal, Jill, who’s actually a bit more confused and depressed than anybody else in this flick. Kendrick is good at being all cute and cuddly when she wants, but also shows an under-lining sadness to her character that works and makes us feel like she’s more rounded-out, than just being known as “the girlfriend.” Same goes for Ron Livingston as Chris who, as I alluded to before, should be a dick, but somehow isn’t. He’s sympathetic, wholesome, and easy to care for, even if he does pull some odd actions here and there. Everybody here is good and all work off of each other perfectly. I can only hope that this means brighter, and better things for all of these stars in the future, even if some of them are already established ones as it is.

Consensus: Drinking Buddies sure as hell won’t last in your mind long after it’s over, but Swanberg’s writing and directing-style, and perfectly-cast group of workers, don’t really seem to be all concerned with that, and more concerned with showing us the realistic, if heartbreaking aspects of friendship and love, no matter how hard you try to stray away from it all.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Practically sleeping together...

Practically sleeping together…

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?””

Office Space (1999)

Life in a cubicle.

Overwhelmed by stress on the job, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) goes in for therapy and comes out with a life-changing career philosophy: work sucks. Eager to begin a new life of unemployment, he decides to spend more time with his sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) and less time at he office.

Everybody, at one time or another, has hated getting up early, getting stuck in traffic, and going to work where they stay from 9 to 5. It’s all so monotonous and pretty much anybody who has ever worked a day in their life can say that they can easily relate to a premise like this, and I can as well even though I’m not much of a big worker. Thank God for that!

Writer/director Mike Judge is a dude that can be very funny mainly because of how he is able to make a satire about regular, every-day life and this time chooses something we all know a lot about: work. The satire here is that this company, Initech, are pretty much a joke in and of themselves. For anybody that has ever worked a job, whether you were in a cubicle or not, you can still probably go “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about bitch!” when Peter starts to over-sleep and miss work or when him and his pals go out to destroy the officer copier. Regardless of what sort of jobs you have done in your life, shitty or non-shitty, it’s still something that everybody can relate to and laugh at.

A lot of this film is very, very quotable and funny without even really being lewd or raunchy. So many comedies in today’s world are pretty much based on how funny they can place the word “fuck” in thier lines, but here, it’s all about Judge’s writing and how he is pretty much able to make painful observations on life. Everything you would expect a job like this to be, it exactly that: hell. Very simple piece of comedy with a couple of running gags here and there, and a nice feel of satire to make you realize that work really does suck. Then that’s when you wake up and realize that yeah, it does suck but it’s what pays the bills so I’m gonna go anyway. Sucks to say but true.

Problem is with a lot of this flick is that as funny and biting as its satire may be, something happens to it in the middle where we lost a lot of what really had me going for the first couple of acts. When Peter was walking into work late and not really giving a shit about anything and telling his higher-ups that, I thought it was awesome because it’s something we would all love to do but have no balls to do so. However, there’s a middle patch where the flick starts to show Peter in a rut, where he may be getting put in jail and we see this film go into more of a farce rather than a satire. Sometimes, farces aren’t so bad but here, it was sort of a disappointment considering everything else was working so well.

That was a strange problem I had with the flick, as well as noticing that a lot of the laughs weren’t really coming up all that much, probably because they start to focus on the plot. The plot isn’t so terrible, but it starts to get really thin and rather than focusing on the stuff that mostly worked and made me laugh, like all of the office scenarios and incidents, they try to go with this semi-crime caper of a movie that doesn’t really keep you interested or laughing. However, you got to give a lot of love to Judge for actually pulling something off like this and being one of the first people to do it too.

Ron Livingston lives it up here as Peter and basically gives this guy the cool, laid-back persona where you know that if you were to see this guy on the street, you would give him a huge high-five just for being so cool; Gary Cole is pretty much awesome as everybody’s worst nightmare of a boss, Lumbergh; David Herman is funny as hell as Michael Bolton, no not that one but trust me, they do bring it up enough times here; Jennifer Aniston is great in a very young role from her as Peter’s lovey-dovey girlfriend, Joanna; and how could I ever forget the hilarious Stephen Root as Milton, aka a dude who should have been and should still be the spokesperson for Swingline staplers because honestly, imagine how much business that would do for them. It’s great to see a cast with a bunch of unknowns that can all do awesome in their own roles, but now they pretty much can’t escape the roles they all play here, with the exception of Aniston of course. May not be the worst thing in the world really, but then again, it would get old real quick if people were just coming up to you saying “Aren’t you that dude from Office Space?”.

Consensus: Office Space may not have the best plot out there, but it still a comedy that works mainly because of its satire of middle-class, blue-collar America with hilarious one-liners, and pitch-perfect observations from the master, Mike Judge. Definitely gets better if you have ever worked a job in your life too.

8/10=Matinee!!

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)

This will probably bring up a lot of awkward questions about where babies come from and how they’re made. Questions I look forward to answering.

The film stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as an happily married couple who have been unable to conceive a child and are ready to give up. One night after a bit too much wine, they fantasize about what their ideal child would be and bury a box with all these wishes in their backyard. Lo and behold, a dirt-covered little boy (CJ Adams) appears on their doorstep the next day.

That’s a pretty strange premise to have and it’s only weirder that the son of Frank Zappa, Ahmet, wrote it himself. However, while his father was inventive and original with what he could with his profession in music, he just so happens to be the total opposite with his.

What bothered the most about this flick was how damn predictable it was. I sort of knew that I was going to get that right from the start going into this, but I wasn’t expecting it this bad. Everything happens in the same ways you would expect it to normally go down in flicks like these, and what’s worse is that I barely got a surprise. The recipes for this family-oriented flick have already been written out and predicted before-hand, and it was only a matter of time until I was throwing money down on what was going to happen next, how, and when. Sadly, it was only me and my grandparents who went to go see this (go ahead, make jokes) and they weren’t down to throw any moolah around but you can bet your sweet-asses if I had gone with a bunch of girls I would have been loaded. With money, that is.

As soon as Timothy shows up in these people’s lives, he somehow makes all of these miraculous dreams and miracles come true but without ever doing anything. Take it for granted, the kid’s a nice kid and has a certain amount of goody-goody charm to him but he doesn’t do anything that could be deemed terribly special to the point of where you actually believe in these townspeople actually standing behind him altogether. I thought that they were going to play this story out as if it was “the Forrest Gump for kids” but even that would have been too much of a stretch for this movie. A lot of belief has to be suspended for these types of films but not so much to where you think people would buy the fact that these people know he has leaves on his legs, and they never choose to say anything. Where I come from, that kid would have gotten his ass thrown in so many lockers they would run-out. And don’t even get me started on all of the lunch money he’d lose.

But as terribly formulaic and predictable this all is, it still has a nice message deep-down inside that I couldn’t help but enjoy every time it was on-display. Basically, this film is all about how kids should be themselves, live up to what they want to do, and don’t have anybody ever tell them that they are weird for doing so. I got this message right from my parents when I was a young kid and I’ve been living that way ever since and look where it’s gotten me. I’m no major success in life or anything, but I still have stay trued to myself and the things that I want to do regardless of how weird it may be viewed at as by other people. This message is very prominent in this flick and I hope it is one that gets out to kids, as well as parents so they can tell their kids the same thing.

The real element of this movie that actually won me over was probably the performances from everybody involved, even if their characters may have not been the best that they have ever portrayed. Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton are awesome as the wife and husband couple that eventually get Timothy Green and they play up this very loving mother and father-combo well, and you could see why they would be great parents to have, especially for a kid with such odd predicaments as Timothy. Garner is fine but it’s Edgerton who really nails it as the fun-loving dad who just wants Timothy to have the love and support from a father-figure that he never had, and that sometimes results in the funnier and more heartfelt scenes of the whole movie. Not saying that there were many, but they still worked mainly because it was Edgerton behind all of them.

I was actually surprised that this kid, CJ Adams, didn’t bother me as much as I was expecting him to. Kids actors aren’t always the best to watch in movies like this, especially those ones that try to sound ultra-smart and cute, but somehow just end up being annoying and that’s what I thought Timothy Green was going to end up being. Thankfully, he’s not and this young blood, Adams, plays him very well by giving him a conscience that’s easy to stand-behind. Also, without sounding terribly effin’ creepy, the kid’s very cute and will probably have a lot of young girls swooning over him. I was like that once, but then I started to get facial hair. That’s when it all went South for me.

Everybody else in this cast is fine too, the only problem is that they aren’t giving characters that are worth paying much attention to, even though the film tries to make us see otherwise. Ron Livingston easily steals every scene that he’s in as Edgerton’s boss, but his character is played off as this one-note dickhead that we don’t really care what happens to him or what lesson he learns; Rosemarie DeWitt (who is almost this year’s Jessica Chastain with how many times I’ve seen her show up in random shit) plays Garner’s younger sister that believes all of her kids are miraculous and so much better than what they really are, and she’s alright with the role but she is another one that feels too one-notey for us to care about; David Morse has a very interesting character as Edgerton’s dead-beat daddy that was barely ever there for him when he needed him the most, and actually gives it his all even though by the end of the film, his character is sort of wasted in a bunch of false sentimental moments that don’t do much development for his character, or Edgerton’s for that matter; and Dianne Wiest, as great as she may be, she gives off one of the biggest one-note pieces of trash in this whole movie and seemed way too mean and cruel to be a chick that these many people would put up with, let alone have her as the head of the city council. There’s plenty of other familiar faces to be seen here, but they’re all given characters that don’t really seem like you should care about at all and the film takes too much of its focusing on them, when they could be focusing more on Timothy and his so-called “parents”.

Consensus: Though it is well-acted and features a nice message for the whole family, The Odd Life of Timothy Green just doesn’t bring any surprises, emotional resonance, or any type of extravagant characters to hold onto. Still, it’s bearable to sit through and won’t kill you to check out on a rainy, Sunday afternoon.

5/10=Rental!!

Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Maybe I need to start having dinners where funny people show up and do funny things. Be a lot better than my past couple of Thanksgivings.

Tim Conrad’s (Paul Rudd) boss hosts a dinner party where he invites his friends to bring along the saddest, most pathetic loser they can find. But when the ultimate schmuck Barry (Steve Carell) arrives, his actions somehow turn everyone else into the losers.

This is based on a French film that I still have yet to see, and even though i had tremendously low expectations going into, I actually really liked it.

Director Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers) has a big knack for putting a nice guy in an excruciating situation that just keeps on getting more bizarre and more bizarre as the film goes on but I still found myself laughing at almost everything that was going on. The set pieces are used incredibly well because this is a film that isn’t afraid to be weird and then get weirder some more. I laughed so much here that I surely was totally surprised by the end of the film.

Roach also directs this film with a surprising sweetness even when it’s too busy relying on farcical misunderstandings, I never actually found myself at what Roach was trying to sympathize with. The friendship that Tim and Barry actually create is funny but at the same time a very sweet thing and you see how these have each others backs in many situations which makes this film a lot more than just a crazy bizarro fest after all.

However, what really stung me as weird with this film was that it tells us it’s not right to laugh at schmucks but for the whole hour and 54 minutes, that is exactly what you are doing. This seemed very strange to me as I had no idea what Roach was trying to convey across the film and when everything was over, I just kept wondering if I should feel guilty or not for laughing.

Another problem here was the actual tone itself, which at first I didn’t have a problem with but it does start to actually go all-over-the-place and take away more from the comedy and sweetness aspects of the film. Also, the chick in this film named Julie played by Stephanie Szostak is pretty lame and I didn’t really find anything about her that was so damn amazing for Rudd to keep on fighting for her and having the film itself go back to her.

Steve Carell is always somebody that has me laughing no matter what it is that he does and his role as Barry is just downright hilarious. What sets Carell apart from a lot of other comedians is that he can play a total moron, while still being able to tug at your heart-strings just by being so damn lovable. Barry is a wild and crazy little bird that at times wasn’t always a total dipstick, which had me truly not knowing just what he was going to do next. Paul Rudd is incredibly likable and although he associates with total jit-bags, played so well by Bruce Greenwood and Ron Livingston, you’re still pulling for him. Rudd stands there with a straight-face while everyone else around him is goofy, but he still has his moments where he is just downright hilarious as well.

The rest of the cast filled with plenty of other comedic heavy-hitters are great as well. Jemaine Clement almost steals the show as the artsy freak, Kieran Vollard and just provides that signature weirdness that just doesn’t let us take his character seriously at all; Lucy Punch is also good as Darla and has some insanely sexy scenes; Chris O’Dowd is also good here as Marco the blind swordsman; and Zach Galifianakis plays Therman, an auditor that can control your mind, and his scenes with Carell are some of the funniest in the whole film.

Consensus: The tone may be a little shifty and the central message is very strange as well, but Dinner For Schmucks has a hilarious cast, some very funny moments, and an unabashed sweetness to it that actually brings much more heart to this material than I actually expected.

8/10=Matinee!!

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Talk about a terrible way of being cock blocked.

Due to a genetic disorder, handsome librarian Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) involuntarily zips through time, appearing at various moments in the life of his true love, the beautiful artist Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams).

So from a first glance at this plot your main question, as mine was: Why the hell is this chick getting married to a guy that time travels, and then complaining how he’s never around!??! This question is never really brought up that well, and it has you suspend all disbelief of this actual story.

The story itself is just a bore, but it also does something that I didn’t think was able to happen, and that’s make time-travel boring. I never read the book, but what looks good on paper sometimes doesn’t look so good in a film. There’s a lot of confusion to what exactly is going to happen next, but not because your in suspense, it’s mainly because your confused as to what in the blue hell really is happening. He can’t control his time-changing, and he can’t keep his clothes on while doing it, but he can cheat at the lottery? Plenty of head-aches come around to this one, especially when your trying to figure out the logic to this one.

The romance is somewhat sweet, even though it does seem a bit confusing at times, but there are scenes that do have you a little bit emotionally riveted, but only a little bit. I think the reason why this romance actually does work is because the performances from these two are the strong-point of this film. Eric Bana turns in a performance that has him running around naked, disoriented, and most of all tragic. He can’t help what happens to him so he tries everything he can to be with the people he loves, and you can in a way feel that struggle within this performance. Rachel McAdams is also fine as Clare, and does that usual “sweet one minute, but totally upset another minute” act really good. Ron Livingston is up in herrre as Gomez, and almost every time he’s on screen brings the usual great charm that we all know and respect him for.

The problem with this romance was that this was the only thing that the film actually focused on. Except from the “hello, I’m going” problem, I didn’t really know much about these characters or what held them together, so in all honesty I started to stop caring after awhile. That may sound harsh but hey, they didn’t really give me anything remotely interesting to watch here.

Consensus: Two fine performances can’t save The Time Traveler’s Wife from being a confusing, illogical, and sometimes dumb romance, with a little sci-fi twist that could have been used better.

3.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!