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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Steve Zahn

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

The War of the Rise of the Dawn of the Why Are These Titles So Long?

After their last battle with the humans, due to the actions of evil Koba, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are still fighting for their lives and are still forced into a deadly conflict with the humans, who see their extinction coming and coming very soon. That’s why the ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson) wants Caesar and all of the apes gone, prompting the apes to suffer unimaginable losses. And as a result, Caesar sets out to find this colonel and take him down, once and for all. But on the trip, Caesar and his fellow band of trustees find something odd is happening – people are losing their ability to speak. How, or better yet, why? Caesar doesn’t know, or understand, but the further he adventures into this cold, dark and cruel world, the more answers he gets and the more he discovers about the possible end of the world, where the apes may take over, the humans may become extinct, and nothing will ever be the same again. It’s only a matter of time, though, and it’s a coin-toss of who is going to win this battle and continue to habitat the planet.

Comedic-relief? In the ape-apocalypse!??!

This new, rough, tough and re-vamped Apes franchise has been a pretty solid one, to say the least. I say “has” because apparently, it’s going to be the last. Well, at least, for now, and it’s odd because the movie seems like it still could continue on, getting better and better, and make more money for all of those involved. It’s one of the rare franchises that, if over, I’d be a little sad to see gone because, hey, these movies were actually pretty good and considering that the word “franchise” nowadays brings about gag-reflexes, it’s nice to have something that makes up for all of the marketing and tie-ins.

That said, War for the Planet of the Apes is still a fine movie that, whether or not it being the end, still works because it presents a pretty dark and disturbing future that the past two movies have tried to build-on. The only issue that I’ve had with these movies, and especially this one, is that they’re just so dour and mean at times, it almost feels like they’re trying way too hard. Director Matt Reeves knows exactly what he’s doing with this material for the second time around and it’s clear that he’s taking this premise, this world, and this idea incredibly seriously, without barely any jokes or goofiness thrown in there for good measure, but often times, it feels like he’s maybe trying to out-serious himself.

It’s basically the only summer blockbuster you’ll ever see that may depress you and mean to do so in the process.

And that isn’t to say that movies such as these can’t be ultra, super duper serious, because that’s fine; in this world, where the apes have taken over, the humans are struggling, and yet, for some reason, we’re still supposed to root for the more powerful species, things are allowed to be told to us without a punchline. But Reeves can also get a little sucked into this sadness and depression and because of that, the movie can often feel slow, plodding and above all else, a little boring. It’s too in-love with its own dourness that it’s almost too afraid to get its act together and start moving somewhere, hell, anywhere.

But as usual, once it does get going, War is quite the ride, mostly because, like I’ve stated before, Reeves knows what he’s doing with this tale. It’s actually quite interesting how the story plays-out – not by hitting the same sort of beats and conventions that we’re used to seeing with these kinds of stories, but keeping us, the audience, in the dark, for as much and as long as possible. Reeves always seems to have a little trick up his sleeve and because of that, the movie almost feels dangerous, as if anything bad, disastrous, or awful, could happen at literally any second.

“The horror.”

I know, it sounds all so simple and easy, but trust me, this is the kind of stuff that so many movies get wrong and/or can’t do, like at all.

But that’s why War, even despite it being the saddest thing since Trump’s Twitter, still works – it does get moving and can be fun, exciting, and hell, even a little scary. It’s the right kind of blockbuster and honestly, I’d say more about it, but basically, it does everything that the last movie just did, except also wants to provide some closure. And sure, that’s fine; possibly saying goodbye Andy Serkis’ Caesar is a bummer, because Serkis is always so good in the roles, as well as the fellow new apes along for the ride, like Steve Zahn’s possible comic-relief. But a possible ending also does provide a better hope and future for the state of franchise flicks, in that they don’t always have to be about the Easter-eggs, the tie-ins, the merchandise, the references, or even about the greater universe.

Honestly, all it needs to be about is telling a good story, with good characters, and a compelling arch that we want to see continue on, for many, many more movies. That’s what this franchise was able to do – even though, back in the day, it seemed like it was a dead brand – and it’s the hope that for the future franchises to come, they’ll take a lesson or two.

Let’s just hope they brighten up the damn rooms, though.

Consensus: Undeniably thrilling, emotional and exciting, War provides all of the action and adventure, as well as the darkness you’d expect from this ramped-up franchise by now.

8 / 10

And they’re not monkeying around! That works in this context, right?

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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Captain Fantastic (2016)

Be one with nature. Not with people.

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie, and their six children all live in the wilderness of Washington state. They’ve done so as a way of life for as long as the oldest has been around and because of this, they’ve taught their kids a lot about life. For one, they’ve learned how to survive, read, think for themselves, and take care of one another, without getting bogged down or too distracted by what’s going on in the overpopulated world outside of the woods. However, their lives all begin to change when Leslie suddenly dies and has a funeral back in her hometown, leaving Ben to bring the kids back around to not just see their real family, but the rest that the world has to offer. Of course, not everyone takes a liking to seeing Ben back around, criticizing those he hasn’t seen in years, but Ben doesn’t care – he’s too busy ensuring that his late wife gets the proper burial she deserves and so desperately wanted before her tragic death. But obviously, not everyone believes what Ben wants is the right, or better yet, proper way.

I'm pretty sure using phones is a big no-no when sticking it to the man.

I’m pretty sure using phones is a big no-no when sticking it to the man.

The first 20 or so minutes of Captain Fantastic are, honestly, pretty bad. Most of it takes place in the woods, with Mortensen’s character and his family all living away from the rest of society, loving every second of it, getting by and letting it be known that this is the way of life that ought to be lived. In a way, it felt like writer/director Matt Ross was saying the same thing, only through these characters; that living in an overpopulated society full of people, cars, restaurants, stores, etc., really isn’t what life should be all about. Instead, it ought to be lived vicariously through nature and appreciated for that alone. It was so nauseating to hear and watch that it had me feeling like it was time to just tune the rest of the movie out and hope that the best comes around.

But thankfully, it does.

Eventually, the story changes and all of a sudden, we’re given something of a “road movie”, in which Mortensen’s character and his family are out traveling, running into family-members that they haven’t seen in forever, or met, and trying to get used to these new surroundings. In a way, it’s a fairly more conventional movie than the one originally promised/planned, but it’s one that’s far more likable and well-done as it seems like, believe it or not, Ross has something to say and it’s that maybe living outside of society isn’t what it’s all made out to be. Perhaps, being and living around other human beings, doing things, communicating, interacting, so on, is really what’s the most enjoyable aspect about life in the first place?

Sure, it sounds so cheesy and obvious, but Ross brings this out in a very smart manner that isn’t ham-handed in the slightest. If anything, he gives us great, lovable characters and shows just exactly how they live their lives and get by, without ever trying for anything more. It sounds so simple and easy, and that’s because it is, but it still works so well that it’s hard to really get across, other than just to say, “Yeah, it’s a sweet and honest tale about life, growing up and accepting the world for what it is.”

Well, essentially.

"Freebird? Again?"

“Freebird? Again?”

And in it, Ross has assembled a pretty great cast, especially what with Viggo Mortensen in the lead as Ben Cash. What works so well about Mortensen here is that, underneath all the 70’s mop and beard, you can tell that there’s an earnest, lovely human being, however, he’s also a challenging figure. The movie is interested in exploring the ideals and history of this family, as well as it’s interested in just what goes on throughout this man’s head; he’s a barrel of contradictions who doesn’t always know what’s best for his kids, but at the same time, still doesn’t know what’s best for kids from other families. It’s not just entertaining to watch as Mortensen constantly plays around with what this character “thinks” is right, as opposed to what “is” right, but pretty interesting as you never quite know where he’s going to end-up next, metaphorically speaking.

Surrounding him is a pretty solid cast, though, who all measure up to his abilities. Certain talented folks like Ann Dowd, Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, and Steve Zahn are all perfectly cast as the family members that he casually runs into during this trip of his and all bring out a different aspect to this character, based solely on the way that they interact with and react to him. We get a sense that they’re all loving people, trying very hard to connect with someone that they just don’t know how to connect with, mostly because they don’t actually like him. Sometimes, showing us a character and the way they are with those around them, does a better job than just telling us, which may sound obvious, but it’s a rule that seems to be lost on a lot of writers and directors today, which is why it’s great to see Ross utilizing that here.

The only downside of the movie is, unfortunately, the family of kids themselves.

Actually, that’s wrong. All of the kids in the cast are fine, but there’s one who seems like he doesn’t quite measure-up as well and that’s George McKay as the oldest, Bo. McKay is fine and does what he can, but unfortunately, his American-accent is just awful. You can tell that he’s doing one and because this character has a lot of yelling/freak-out moments, it’s not hard to hear it even more and get distracted. Also, not to mention that the character’s subplot can be a little silly at times; the fish-out-of-water scenario is a fun bit, but the idea that this character is casually looking into colleges on the sly and trying to make something of his genius brain, not only feels ridiculous, but a lot like a ripped portion of Shameless. Either way, it doesn’t quite work and because it does take up a bulk of the flick, it can’t help but keep Captain Fantastic away from being great.

Still, it’s a very good movie nonetheless so yeah, see it. Please. It’ll make you laugh, happy and possibly, even cry.

Consensus: Heartfelt, sweet, funny, and well-acted, Captain Fantastic takes what could have been a very annoying plot, turns it on its head and makes something exciting and lovely out of it.

8.5 / 10

Those kids desperately need Netflix in their lives.

Those kids desperately need Netflix in their lives.

Photos Courtesy of: Cannes, Aceshowbiz, Indiewire

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

Don’t tell me, but they die at the end. Right?

Imagine a world where the dinosaurs didn’t die and instead, continue to roam the planet as if nothing ever happened. Humans are other species exist, but for the most part, the dinosaurs are the dominant ones. And in this alternative timeline, lives an Apatosaurus named Arlo (voice of Raymond Ochoa), who isn’t nearly as a strong-willed or smart as his older brother and sister. His parents knew this at an early age, which is why they’ve always tried to push him into taking more care of himself and being there to help the family when help is needed. However, for the most part, Arlo’s father (Jeffrey Wright), has always been there to save the day and pick up Arlo’s slack. After a tragic event that leaves Arlo forced to have to pick up his own slack, as well as more responsibilities, he meets a small human who he doesn’t know if he can or can’t trust. But regardless of this, he gets lost and taken away from the rest of his family, which leaves him no other choice than to trust this little human to get him back home, where he can be safe, sound and help his family finish stocking food and shelter for the winter. Issue is, the trip home is going to be a brutal and scary one, which is why Arlo and this human may need to trust each other more, even if they don’t like it.

Oooooh.

Oooooh.

With Inside Out, you could say that Pixar has been on something of a roll, as since the release of Cars 2, they haven’t done so well. Which is to say that any Pixar movie from now, until the end of time, that’s considered to be “good”, will be fine enough; the bar isn’t raised as high anymore and for now, we’re just hoping that they continue to make good movies and not get caught up in their own system again. Sure, even though Inside Out was an amazing movie, it still came after a time where we don’t fully know just yet what to expect from Pixar.

But now we know that the Good Dinosaur is, well, good Pixar.

And that’s all it needs to be, really.

As usual with Pixar, everything about the Good Dinosaur is beautiful to look at. Because the movie is dealing with large landscapes, with hardly anything in them but trees, mountains and water, it’s surprising to see just how much the movie actually brings to the table in terms of what it wants to pop-out at us and have us gasping, wondering just how they made it all look so great. But then again, that’s the beauty of the animation team at Pixar – they make the kinds of movies they want and they don’t give a damn, all they want to do is make sure that they’re something worth looking at.

But honestly, this should come as no surprise to anyone knowing Pixar, but it deserves to be said because the story here isn’t nearly as surprising, or breath-taking as the visuals. If you take a gander at it, the Good Dinosaur is another re-working of the Lion King, where instead of having lions, we have dinosaurs, and instead of it just being Simba all by his lonesome for awhile, it’s now Arlo, accompanied by a cave boy human named Spot. It’s obvious from the very start just what’s going to happen with the story, where it’s going to go, and what sort of messages it’s going to push along, but surprisingly enough, it still kind of works. It’s not all that original and can, in some ways, appear to be “the Lion King for the new age”, but overall, it’s still a heartfelt story told with power and emotion that made that movie so damn great to begin with.

There’s no dancing, singing, or Nathan Lane, but hey, it’s got dinosaurs and sometimes, that’s all you need.

Still though, despite the story not winning points for originality, there were still plenty of moments where, like usual, Pixar found a way to have me reaching for the box of Kleenex and making sure nobody was looking at me. But what’s so surprising about this is how it seems like they’re not trying at all. One scene in particular has Arlo and Spot communicating with one another about their own family-units, but because neither speak in a language the other can understand, they just use the ground and a few sticks. It’s the one scene in this movie where it was obvious that the people in Pixar were reaching for my tears, but I didn’t care – it worked, it was effective, and it didn’t seem like they were trying to show off anything at all.

Aaaah.

Aaaah.

The only issue that seems to persist in the Good Dinosaur is that because they’re dealing with so many deeply heavy emotions and feelings, that whenever they try to throw comedy in to lighten things up, it doesn’t always feel pertinent to the story. Of course, it’s understandable why some of the comedy is here, what with this being Pixar and their a family-oriented company, but still, the comedy tries a bit too hard and if anything, comes in at unnecessary moments. When we see Spot and Arlo getting along with one another and building something of a friendship, it’s light, goofy and playful, just like we expect from Pixar, but other times, like with the characters Sam Elliott and Anna Paquin voice, it just seems obvious that Pixar wants people to laugh and forget that so much death has already occurred in such a story as this.

But no matter what, it’s the lovely friendship between Arlo and Spot that makes it worth watching. The heart is still plenty in-tact for a story like this, but it’s really them who make us wonder just where they’re going to go together. If anything, if there’s to be a Good Dinosaur 2, I’d be fine to see, if only because this one leaves plenty room open for new, inspiring things to happen.

Or, Pixar could just give us a Cars 3 and ruin everything they’ve been trying so desperately build back up. It’s their choice, I guess.

Consensus: Gorgeous-looking, but also heartfelt and sweet, the Good Dinosaur may not be a slam-dunk for Pixar like Inside Out, but still features plenty positive attributes that make us understand why they’re so trustworthy to begin with.

7 / 10

Oh, human? Nah.

Oh, human? Get out of here!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Ridiculous 6 (2015)

RidiculousposterAt least Tarantino has a Western coming out.

In the old West, a man by the name of Tommy Stockburn (Adam Sandler) is raised by Native Americans, where everyone calls him “White Knife”. While he doesn’t know who his real father is, he still hopes to meet him one eventual day. After getting kidnapped by a bunch of bad, evil bandits, Stockburn finally understands who his father is (Nick Nolte), which leads him on a trip. Along the way, he ends up meeting 5 other men who, believe it or not, also happen to be his brothers and looking for their father as well. There’s Chico (Terry Crews), a black man who doesn’t know that he’s black; there’s Herm (Jorge Garcia), who can’t speak a single discernible line of dialogue; there’s the slow and obviously mentally challenged Lil’ Pete (Taylor Lautner); there’s the slippery Hispanic named Ramon (Rob Schneider); and last, but not least, there’s the cool and suave Danny (Luke Wilson). Together, they will search far and wide for their father, while at the same time, also stopping any wrong-doings they encounter along the way.

PT, where are you?

PT, where are you?

Why is Netflix making an Adam Sandler movie? Better yet, why are they making not one, not two, and hell, not three, but actually four Adam Sandler movies? Well, folks, in the biz, that’s what we like to call “profit”. Apparently a lot of Sandler’s movies are exceptionally popular on Netflix and it brings into question just in what capacity people want to actually watch his movies.

Do they either want to get in their cars, drive a half-hour, spend nearly $20 on tickets and concessions, watch and spend a few good hours of their lives watching as Sandler and all of his pals get paid vacations? Or do they want to just sit at home, think of something to do, and when push comes to shove, just watch them? Because, if you think about it, it doesn’t really cost much to begin with, so what’s the big deal?

But no matter which way you put it, you should not see the Ridiculous 6. Even though it’s not getting the same treatment as Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation and not playing in any actual movie theaters, it still doesn’t matter. You should not see this movie so therefore, just don’t even bother getting into your Netflix account, either.

Just stay away and spend time with your friends, families, or whoever else, cause anything would be better.

And yes, I know I sound incredibly dramatic right now, but seriously, it’s the truth. Not only is the Ridiculous 6 nearly two-hours long, but it has hardly a laugh to be found. There was maybe one chuckle or two to be found, but other than that? Nope. For the most part, it’s the same as it is with just about every other Sandler movie: The jokes are lazy, tired, and most of the times, offensive to just about every demographic out there in society.

This is something obvious to expect from a Happy Madison production, but what surprises me so much is how this movie, at times, seems to be trying to parody other Westerns. The Magnificent Seven is the clear genre example they use to poke fun at, but honestly, you’d never notice unless you actually saw that movie to begin with; there’s no real actual jokes made at the expense at the genre, or any attempt to be satirical. Everything is, as it appears to be, just made for the sake of being jokes and having people laugh, which surprisingly enough, doesn’t actually seem to happen.

Which is all the more depressing because you take a look at the cast and realize that most of these people involved don’t need this movie to help them out, either financially or professionally speaking.

A lot of Sandler’s buddies like Nick Swardson, David Spade, Dan Patrick, Rob Schneider, and Jon Lovitz all show up and it’s no surprise that they’re here, so it’s not all that upsetting when they show their faces here. However, it’s the likes of people like Luke Wilson, Nick Nolte, Will Forte, Steve Zahn, Danny Trejo, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, and well, yes, even Taylor Lautner, who actually make me sad because you know they don’t really need the help at all. They’ve all got fine careers to begin with and are probably making as much money as Hollywood stars in their positions should be, so why are they even bothering with this? Is it just a favor to Sandler? Or is it just because they’re bored, the paycheck looked that nice, and well, they didn’t really give a hoot?

Keep on looking, boys, you're not going to find a good movie anywhere.

Keep on looking, boys, you’re not going to find a good movie anywhere.

Whatever the reasons were, it’s just a shame to see them all here trying to do what they can with an awful script, a misguided direction from, yet again, another one of Sandler’s buddies, Frank Coraci, and jokes that nobody in their right mind would try to deliver. That none of the jokes actually land, also call into question just what Sandler actually considers “humor” nowadays. Because Sandler co-wrote the script here, my mind automatically shoots to assuming that he did it because he had a contract obligation and decided to piece together a bunch of non-sequiturs and lame gags, regardless of if he actually found them funny.

Because yes people, Adam Sandler actually is funny.

However, here, as with the countless other flicks in his long career, he’s hardly shown it. As an actor, he seems awfully tired and bored here, which already makes me wish that somebody who is actually an innovative, intelligent director would pick him back up and give him something to do. This is something I state in just about every review of an Adam Sandler movie, but it’s the truth: Now, after all of these stinkers, it’s become more and more clear that he doesn’t care, is just collecting the money that flows in, and is going to continue to keep on making hack-jobs such as this. When it will end, nobody knows. All I do know is that Adam Sandler has clearly given up and you know what?

We’ve got three more of these movies.

Enjoy, folks.

Consensus: As expected, the Ridiculous 6 is another one of Adam Sandler’s hack-fests where jokes fly, yet, never land, everybody looks embarrassed, and everyone feels as if they’ve just lost hours of their lives they can’t get back. Except, in this case, it’s two hours.

1 / 10

Yes. I feel bad for this guy.

Yes. I feel bad for this guy.

Photos Courtesy of: Joblo, Hollywood Life

Sahara (2005)

Being in the desert is hot enough, but having Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz together might make things melt.

Master explorer Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) and his goofy sidekick, Al Giordino (Steve Zahn), are two dudes that have known, explored, and been through everything else in the world together. However, this next mission they’ve come upon, may be their hardest one yet, and it gets even worse once a doctor, Eva Rojas (Penélope Cruz), climbs aboard for the ride to find a fabled coin linked to a historical legend, as well as stop the African waters from being poisoned by corrupt government-officers. But for Pitt and Giordino, it’s all fun and games, and just another chance for a wild adventure.

Here’s one of those movies that will always remain in infamy, but not for the reason those behind it may have wished for. The movie debuted nearly a decade ago and did pretty well. It debuted at #1, got an audience, and had McConaughey and Cruz back on top of the action-adventure world like they wished, but here’s the strange kicker: It still lost money. In fact, it lost a crazy ton of movie.

See, even though it was leading the box office, it grossed only a bit over $16 million, which is fine for most movies. Then again, most movies don’t cost around $160 million to make, meaning that this movie was a total bomb in every sense of the word. Hell, even to this day, it still hasn’t made all of it’s budget back and whenever you have a movie like that, you have to wonder: Did it really deserve all of those problems?

Well, in this movie’s case, I’d say, “maybe”.

Then again, that’s not to say that the movie is all that bad to begin with, it just tries so damn hard to be something else, without ever being anything at all. A bit confused? Well, let me sort of explain it. Despite never reading the novels that this movie is adapting, from what it seems, there’s a fine mixture of James Bond’s tricks and gadgets, with the wit and swash-buckling adventure of Indiana Jones. That sounds like a pretty damn awesome combination, especially when you have a cast like this, but somehow, it all got lost somewhere in the fold. It wasn’t that the movie totally got rid of this cool combination, but instead, didn’t know which one to side with the most.

Instead of having all of the non-stop fun and action, the movie decides to focus in on a plot that not only makes barely any sense once it goes on and on, but also preaches a bit too much. Yes, polluted water in poor countries like Africa is no joke, and not something that should be batted-away as if it doesn’t happen, however, the movie focuses on it too much, to the point of where the fun of the movie seems to go away. Then, you get to the humor of the movie, which has some fun jokes here and there, but in all, seemed strange and oddly-placed. It wasn’t like the humor wasn’t supposed to be in the movie, it just did not come at the right times and moments.

Put those two elements together, you have a movie that doesn’t really know what to do with itself, so instead, just focuses in on the action and the hot bodies and looks of Cruz and McConaughey. And yes, the action is fun, and yes, the bods are hot and sexy (much like the desert they spend most of their time causing havoc in), but it doesn’t amount to much more other than a movie that aspires so hard to be something, that it’s too noticeable to take in as a piece of legitimacy. I know I may sound a bit too serious for a movie like this, but if I wanted to see Indiana Jones, I would just watch all three (except that last one) in one day. I don’t really care to see a carbon-copy of it, which not only tries to capture the same charm and humor that made those movies such a joy to watch, but also the action scenes that feel like nothing more than a way to get our minds off of the preposterous plot in our hands here.

I could only imagine how hot those babies would be.

I could only imagine how hot those babies would be.

Although, I must say that watching McConaughey and Cruz give off some dull performances was not all that enjoyable, especially since both of these stars are sometimes the best parts of other movies that they show up in. McConaughey’s charm seems to weave in and out of a character that has plenty of wise-cracks, but not much of a heart, which makes him less of a human, and more of a superhero with a pretty body and face. Cruz is also a tad dull, which is a shame, because when she’s enjoying her work, it’s always a blast to watch. However, since her character is a nice, sweet doctor that cares for other people, we don’t get to see much of it. She’s much more reserved here, and even she seemed bored by it. She was just waiting for THAT moment to start yelling out in Spanish, and throw everybody else around her into a deep frenzy of unknowings.

Now, that would have been fun to see.

Thankfully though, there’s one person to save this movie and that’s none other than one of the most underrated actors of our generation, Steve Zahn. Zahn gets all of the sarcastic remarks down perfectly, but also seems like a smart cat that knows what needs to be done next, and will stop at nothing to see it actually happen. He acts like a stoner and listens to classic rock, but he isn’t that brain-dead, which comes off as a surprise, since the whole movie tries to make him seem like that. However, Zahn knows better than that and makes the material so much better than what he was given. Poor guy. Still waiting for that one, big break.

One of these days, I assure you, it will happen, Stevey.

Consensus: Despite its infamous legend, Sahara is an okay watch portrays hot people, doing hot things, in even hotter locations, even if none of it really adds up to a spectacular movie.

5 / 10

Saving the movie; one baseball-cap at a time.

Saving the movie, one baseball cap at a time.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Guess Advil and getting your recommended nine hours doesn’t cure everything.

The true story of Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a hard-partying rodeo-man that doesn’t take a single ounce of his life for granted, that is, until his life is about to be cut-short after he receives news of contracting the HIV virus. Woodroof is the type of good ole’ Southern boy that likes to party hide, with all sorts of women, drugs and booze, which is why he responds so violently and angrily thinking that only homosexuals contract the virus. Basically, he thinks it’s a mistake, until he realizes that his body is only deteriorating by the day, which is when he ultimately wakes up, smells the cauliflower and realizes that he has a life that’s worth living, and he will do whatever he has in his might to keep it going. Especially even if that means he has to get involved with illegal drug-trading with the rest of the gay community through local cross-dresser Rayon (Jared Leto). Especially then, even if he is a total homophobe that wants nothing to do with men, or their penises. He just wants to make some easy cash and just keep on living, man.

There have been plenty of movies in the past that have touched upon the HIV virus and for that, we have Philadelphia to thank. Now, I know that Philadelphia sure as hell wasn’t the first flick ever to discuss the HIV virus with such bluntness, but it was the first mainstream movie to do so, all in order to get people’s attention and wake them up to the real problems that people were facing on a daily-basis, the same type of problems that you may or may not have heard on the six o’clock news. That’s why it is only fitting that 20 years later, the HIV virus still continues to get the movie’s it deserves to have people look up, take notice of what’s happening and try to band together and find a cure, dammit!

Hey! Remember me from Ghosts of Girlfriend's Past? Yeah, neither does anybody else.

“Hey! Remember me from Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past? Yeah, neither does anybody else.”

What surprised me the most about this movie was, aside from the fact that it is awfully emotional when it wants to be, is how much of a light-hearted approach it takes to a very serious subject, yet, it isn’t out-of-place or in bad-taste at all, because the subject that this movie is basically all about, was that type of person: Fun, exciting, jumpy and always in a rush to get whatever he needed to get done, done. The movie gives us its story, gives us a reason why it all matters, why we should care and basically lets it all breeze-by right quick, where we see how this underground drug-trading may have been illegal as illegal can be, but yet, benefited those who needed it the most.

In a way, despite Woodroof being a very homophobic man that wants nothing to do with the gay community whatsoever, starts helping out that same community and becomes something of a savior to them. Granted, he still wants his money right up-front, and if he doesn’t get the known-amount, it’s your ass to the curb, but you can still feel like this guy wants to do right for the world and for people who need it the most, even if he is a bit of a prick that’s in it just for the money and to keep himself alive. So yeah, he’s not the most sensitive guy out there in the world, but the movie still has you on his side right away and begins to build up this whole “him vs. the rest of the world” argument that the flick takes a little too one-sided, but still utilizes effectively in getting you inside the minds of so many people that were. and probably still are, having the same exact thoughts as to why they weren’t getting the treatment they oh so desired, and if they were, why wasn’t it legally FDA approved?

Basically, what it all comes down to is that people want to make money, and that’s that. Or, at least that’s what I got from this movie which was a bit of a lame-ass way of telling both sides and giving them their story. I get it, the movie is more on the side of Woodroof who literally did all that he could for the same community he all but banished, but there could have been a bit more juggling in terms of view-points and sympathy. For instance, the strangest aspect behind this movie is that the only openly-gay actor in the whole movie (from what I know of) is Denis O’Hare who, believe it or not, plays the most detestable character in the whole movie as the main doctor who doesn’t really care much about Woodroof’s drug, only that it takes away his patients that he wants using his approved-drug, AZT, the same type of drug that also happens to be doing more harm, than actual good for those said patients.

What’s odd about O’Hare’s character is that you’d feel like since this man himself is part of the same community that his character is against, that you’d get more dimensions to him than just meets the eyes. But nope. Instead, he’s just a schmuck who is all about the money, getting the rewards benefits at the end of every year and doesn’t give a lick what actually benefits his patients. He’s not alone in those regards as the DEA agents who continuously crack down and grow suspicious of Woodroof’s “business” he is attending to, also seem like a bunch of cold, heartless a-holes that don’t give two shits about whether or not these homosexuals he’s helping actually live or die, they just want to prove that the law, no matter what, always prevails. Except for Steve Zahn’s character, but then again, he’s Steve Zahn. What? Did you actually expect him to play an unlikable dude? Come on!

Since the antagonists are such ever loving douchebags, this gives the protagonists plenty of leg-room to show their likable features which, in essence, also allows the actors themselves to strut their stuff and give some of the best performances any of them have had in a long, long, long while. The main person who is getting the most attention out of everything else that has to do with this flick is Matthew McConaughey, and for so many justifiable reasons. For starters, the cat lost close to 50 pounds here to give us the impression that yes, this man is dying; yes, his skin is all wrinkly; and yes, his clothes barely fit him. Not only does this add a huge sense of realism to his performance, so much so in a way that it’s uncomfortable to watch him much like Christian Bale was in the Machinist, but also makes you feel like the guy is literally dying right in front of our eyes, just as each and every day goes by.

Someone give him a burger already.

Someone give him a burger already.

McConaughey’s boyish charm comes into play many of times, giving Woodroof a playful, fun feel that works well for him when he practically becomes a small-time drug kingpin, but also gives us a man that feels like, despite all of his cracks and screws being shown to us on countless occasions, is all doing this for the right reasons. Like I said before, he’s not perfect, but he does eventually grow into becoming an receptive, nice, kind and generous man that knows when business becomes more than just business, and humanity begins to take over. Of course, this transition from bastard-to-good-guy never, not even for a second, rings false, because McConaughey always shows him as the type of hardened-soul that wants to keep on living on, just as for long as he can, with as many pleasures as he can, without having sex and infecting others around him. Plenty of buzz has been made about McConaughey here, and it’s all deserved because not only is this his most-demanding performance yet, but it’s also probably his richest, giving us the type of lovable, enthusiastic character we love seeing him play, and giving him a darker side that shows layers, upon layers, upon layers, just as his life-watch continues to keep on tick, tick, tickin’ away.

However, plenty of buzz is also being made about Jared Leto’s huge transformation as well, playing Rayon, the local crossdresser Woodroof starts business up with, and that’s definitely deserved too. And that’s a huge surprise coming from a person like me, especially considering that with every new album or song his shitastic band 30 Seconds to Mars releases, I continue to grow less and less fonder of him, not just as an artist, but as a person. Thankfully though, Leto comes back from shadows and gives us a performance that’s not only captivating in the way that he shows this Rayon character as being a saddened, rendered soul, but one that’s still strong and will find a way to end this epidemic, along with the homophobic Woodroof. Together, they form a nice bond that isn’t like buddy-buddy, but more that it’s business-partner relationship, that has some ties in friendship, but nothing too much that crosses boundaries; the way that Woodroof clearly likes it. I would not be the least bit surprised if Leto gets a nomination for his work here, not only because of what he does with his character, but how, now two, totally opposite times, he has done a full-on transformation, embodying his character’s soul anyway he can.

Let’s just hope this means that he’ll stick with movies from now on in, and keep away from making anymore crappy music. And no, I will not even throw a link in there. I refuse to.

Also, Jennifer Garner’s here trying to earn some street-cred playing a nurse that not only joins the cause that Woodroof is fighting for, but works as something as conduit that gets him bits and pieces of information in order to help him continue what it is that he’s doing to save these people. Garner is good, but in all honesty, her role is stretched-out a little further than it needs to be; and the only reason it feels like that is because it’s Jennifer Garner in that role, and not somebody like say, my sister, Siobhan, or my dog, Pearl. Either one of them, no attention whatsoever. What’s wrong the movie-business these days, dammit?!?!

Consensus: There may be a lot of emotional-baggage that it certainly can’t handle, but nonetheless, Dallas Buyers Club is still a heartfelt, poignant and somewhat inspiring take on a little-known, but very important story about Ron Woodroof, played to perfection by an Oscar-worthy, and nearly-starving Matthew McConaughey.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Out-method the other on the count of three. 1.....2....go!!"

“Out-method the other on the count of three. 1…..2….go!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

That Thing You Do! (1996)

If only songs were as catchy and simple as this one.

In 1964, teenage garage band The One-ders — singer Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech), guitarist Lenny (Steve Zahn), drummer Guy (Tom Everett Scott) and a nameless bass player (Ethan Embry) — become an overnight sensation when their debut song jumps to the top of the charts. But internal tensions threaten to make the group’s fall just as rapid as their rise.

Writer/director Tom Hanks is obviously a guy we all know, love, and care about when it comes to his acting but his writing and directing maybe was pushing it a little too far. However, have no fear, Hanks still is good no matter what he does.

What I liked about this flick was that the simple premise is showed in a very fun, entertaining, and nice way just like the bubblegum pop days of the early 60’s were before all of the drugs started popping on in and out. The story starts off as your usual “band gets bigger and bigger” story-line which was fun to watch because of how charming this script was, and the film keeps that charm going on throughout the whole flick. Hanks does throw in a little bit of satire against the whole music business, but it’s nothing too much to where he seems to be aiming too high.

But enough about the script, let’s just get to the real reason why anybody really remembers this movie and that is for the title song. It’s so catchy, so fun, and is played probably about 7 times throughout the whole flick but it’s not like “I’ve Got You Babe” in ‘Groundhog Day’, to where every time we hear it we want burn every single copy left of that song, it’s a song that’s just really good and actually seems like a song that would be on heavy-rotation during that time-period. There are a couple of other tracks in this flick that are pretty good, but this is the only one that I can remember having stuck in my head after it was over and while hell, even I’m writing this I kind of humming it now as we speak.

However, as good as good as this song may be, it’s also one of the bigger problems with this flick. The direction, writing, and attention is detail is fine the way it ought to be but there’s nothing else that really stands-out from this flick other than the song. It also didn’t help that by the end, there are a little bit too many parts where the film starts to dive into some lame melodrama and just gets really soapy and unbelievable. Then again, I wasn’t looking for anything that seemed like a realistic take on the lives of pop music stars during the 60’s, I just wanted a fun and entertaining flick, which is basically what I got.

I also liked how Hanks put the main focus on the dude that is essentially the back-bone of the band, the drummer. Being a drummer myself, I thought that this was pretty cool to see considering it’s always either the singer or guitarist in the band that hogs all the spot-light. Also, Tom Everett Scott is pretty good as Shades. I’ve seen this dude in plenty of other stuff but this is the only film that I can remember him best in because he’s pretty likable and seems like a dude I would love to jam with due to his love of jazz music. The guy also had a pretty good technique even though it wasn’t really him drumming obviously.

The other band-mates are all pretty good here with the likes of Steve Zahn playing his usual funny/sarcastic-ass character here as the lead guitarist; Ethan Embry being a lot of fun to watch as the semi-mentally challenged bass player aptly named T.B. Player; and Johnathon Schaech probably being the weakest of the bunch as the singer, because when shit starts to hit the fan for this band, he really just seems like he’s starting all of it, just to start it. Tom Hanks is also great as the band’s manager, Mr. White, which also probably helps considering he has the film’s best lines and seems like a dude I could trust with all of my money and fame; Liv Tyler is nice to watch, as always, here as Faye; and it was also really funny to see a very young Charlize Theron as Shades’ girlfriend. There are so many other people in this flick that I could mention but it’s honestly a lot more fun to just point at and think about who he/she is during the film.

Consensus: Though there’s nothing all that spectacular about the flick, That Thing You Do! is still a fun, charming, and well-acted tale of what all bands during the early days of the 60’s all dreamed, hoped for, and had to go through. Also, that song is just catchy as hell.

7/10=Rental!!

Out of Sight (1998)

The beginning of what some people may call “The Clooney”.

Meet Jack Foley (George Clooney), the most successful bank robber in the country. On the day he busts out of jail, he finds himself stealing something far more precious than money, Karen Sisco (‘s heart. She’s smart, she’s sexy, and unfortunately for Jack, she’s a Federal Marshal. Now, they’re willing to risk it all to find out if there’s more between them than just the law.

I guess back in 1998 the names Clooney and Soderbergh didn’t draw that much attention considering this was a pretty big box-office flop. If it was released in today’s world, the film would have been doing some major work but I guess everybody just has to get their start somewhere.

The film is adapted from a Elmore Leonard book that I have not read but from what I hear, is just exactly like the same tone and pace that this film gives it. What I liked about this writing is just how funny it was without being too obvious and that there was still a lot of suspense, mystery, and crime to be happening. I mean everybody in this flick is a little bit goofy, just like the situations they get themselves caught up into but for some reason the film didn’t seem uneven with its wacky humor and awesome heist and action sequences. Let me also remind you that this is a story that actually has some believability to it where I could actually see certain things like this happening if these certain people were to actually be put into these situations. Then again, I’m not saying that your average con-men/bank robbers look like George Clooney or do many Federal Marshal’s look like Jennifer Lopez, I’m just saying that a lot of what happened here doesn’t seem too insane for a flick.

The film is also perfectly directed by Steven Soderbergh, who took one big-step out of the indie world that he caught himself in and did a great job with just about everything here and finding a way to give it his own cool style. His style makes the film feel like a 70’s crime flick with the sort of funky music playing in the background and the grainy-looking camera he uses that looks as if it was used for filming some old school porno’s back in the day. It’s a really cool style but it’s also the fact that this film just breathes cool where everything you see works.

There are plenty of heist and action moments that this film works perfectly with but it’s the romance that I keep on remembering the most about. The romance is perfectly handled here, which was a total surprise to me in the first place, but the fact that Clooney and Lopez get into a discussion about how in ‘Three Days of Condor’, the romance felt forced and too quick and then they have the same exact romance. What I liked about this element is that the scenes are laced in here perfectly to the point of where it doesn’t feel like the film is just shoe-horning it all in there. It’s also pretty sexy if you think about it and it’s one of those romances between two different characters that seems to work even when the film constantly shifts in between them both fighting one another on opposite ends.

My only problem with this flick that actually didn’t take away too much but it still had me bothered was the fact at just how much this flick reminded me of ‘Jackie Brown’ and I think it’s just one of those cases that since both films were adapted from the same author, that they both kind of give off the same style. Tarantino’s flick was witty, suspenseful, filled with a cool style, and had his usual signatures that he features in just about all of his films but here, it’s kind of the same with a little bit of different touches. Hell, both films even have Michael Keaton playing the same role in both so it’s pretty obvious that I would get some déjà vu.

The main reason why this film works though is because of its awesome all-star cast that shines with every single star. George Clooney broke out with this role as Jack Foley, and would continue playing that same role for the next 13 years but to be honest he’s great here. He’s sly, funny, sexy (for the ladies, not for me..then again maybe for me), and everything he does here he seems to be having a blast playing this bad guy that we can’t help but to love considering he seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else. Jennifer Lopez is also equally as good as Karen Sisco. She is basically the same person as Jack Foley, instead she is all for the law rather than against it. They both work great together and the romance between them I was talking about earlier I don’t know would have worked with anybody else in these roles. Every scene they have is more memorable than the one that came before it and it’s kind of a bummer that Lopez hasn’t really done much else that’s worth noting since this flick.

Don Cheadle is also good as a dick playing Foley’s main opponent in the heist-game, Snoopy; Ving Rhames is the man and surprisingly very funny as Buddy; Dennis Farina is J. Lo’s dad and it’s surprise to see him playing someone else other than a gangster; Albert Brooks is barely in it but still good; and there is even some nice little side-spots from Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, and a very young Viola Davis as well. Everybody here is great and they all seem to be having a ball with their performances which added more to my enjoyment of this flick as well.

Consensus: Out of Sight may remind me of Jackie Brown, but Soderbergh’s stylish direction and everybody’s performances here make this one of the most exciting, fun, and enjoyable crime comedies I have seen in a long time and it still makes me wonder just why this didn’t get much money in the first place.

9/10=Full Price!!

Shattered Glass (2003)

Damn, I’m scared to be a journalist now.

This fact-based film depicts the rise and fall of disgraced magazine journalist Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), a staff writer at The New Republic and a contributor to Rolling Stone who ultimately fabricated many of his stories, which led to his downfall.

Writer-director Billy Ray takes a film that I had some little interest in at first, and totally takes it into places I was not expecting in the least bit. I mean because it does have Anakin Skywalker in it, and he just blows.

Ray does a tremendous job of telling the story: giving us the facts of what exactly happened, the tough world of journalism, and even a little character study of a sociopath. This all may seem a little too much for a story that’s about a dude lying, but it brings so much more depth to this story that as it developed more and more, I found myself more and more intrigued by this film.

I, myself, actually want to be a journalist and I found this to be a big warning for all journalists out there to not make up phony stories, even though sometimes they would be nice to hear. It’s not necessarily about making people happy with the stories, it’s more about telling the truth, and how we should all never try to make things up as they go along just for some kicks. This theme is amazing because the fact is that today reporters at every publication seem to be exposed for doing the same thing. You’d think the lesson would have been learned eventually, but it hasn’t.

The film doesn’t show Stephen Glass as this total dick-head of a dude who messed with his stories to be “fun”, he’s actually just a kid that messed up big-time and wanted nothing more to make people happy when they read his stories. I mean I actually did sort of feel for this kid, as did everybody in this film because this Glass kid, was so charming and nice that when the ish really started to hit the fan, everybody stuck up for him, except for the editor who was downright embarrassed when he let such fake stories go by him. This brings up some moral questions as to how you would feel if you were ever put in the same situation and how you would respond it.

However, the problem with this film is that even though they show us a nice-portrait of this kid Glass, we never really get inside of his mind except for a couple of dumb foreshadowing scenes. When this kid was on-screen, I was actually on the edge of my seat as he tried to cover up more and more of his lies and then saying it was just because he was in a state of panic. This all was interesting and the film could have actually went deeper into this character more to actually have us understand just why he did what he did, but the film never really does.

We get all of the who’s, the what’s, and the when’s of the story, but never exactly the why part. I think Glass wanted to just get his stories read and make people happy, but never understand as to why he lied about so many of his stories, and what lead him to continue the lies as it seemed like things were going from bad to worse for him. Was he a little crazy? Was he just trying to make it big? Or was he just an insane kid that never really got paid attention too that much because he was so charming? I never understood why Glass exactly did what he did, and that’s what kind of took me away from this tale to make it a little less interesting.

Judging by the poster to the upper-right, you probably already gave up all hope on this film because of that big head you see. Yes everybody, that is Hayden Christensen, but I have to say his performance as Stephen Glass is probably his best ever, and although that’s not saying much, it’s still great in and of itself. The melt-down for Stephen Glass is a slow one but the way Hayden handles it is very believably, especially the way he manipulates almost every one around him to the point of where of no one knows because its terribly subtle. Stephen Glass didn’t seem like a bad kid, just confused and way-over-his-head and Hayden’s performance is so terrific that it almost makes me forget about Anakin. OK, maybe I won’t go that far.

Peter Sarsgaard is also very good as Chuck Lane, the editor who finds Glass out for all of his lies. Lane is a great character because you can tell that he’s going to have some real impact on this story by the end of it, but you just don’t know how, and the way Sarsgaard handles every scene he has is just brilliant. Lane tolerates Glass the most even when the kid lies to him with every statement that comes out of his mouth, which is sad, because Lane really is the one who seems like the actual voice of reason here that knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and knows what has to be done. Great performance from Sarsgaard who is easily becoming one of those signature supporters you need in almost any film.

The rest of the cast is pretty good with the likes of Chloë Sevigny and Melanie Lynskey playing Glass’ two best girly friends; Hank Azaria as the nice and understanding former editor, Michael Kelly; and Steve Zahn and Rosario Dawson are also very good as the two people who find all of the information out that Glass is lying about.

Consensus: The film may have missed a major up-grade in showing us more about the person of Stephen Glass, but other than that, Shattered Glass is phenomenal with great writing and insight into the world of journalism, and great performances from the whole cast, especially Christensen and Sarsgaard, who provide so much context for their characters by the end, that we actually know more about them then the actual story.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Rescue Dawn (2006)

If only George of the Jungle was here to save THE BATMAN!!

Renowned director Werner Herzog’s inspiring drama recounts the heroic saga of Dieter Dengler, a German-American fighter pilot and highly decorated Vietnam veteran whose reconnaissance plane was shot down in 1966. Captured by enemy forces and held in a Laotian torture camp near the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Dengler (portrayed by Christian Bale) defied death by organizing one of the most daring escapes in the Vietnam conflict.

I know how much everybody loves director Werner Herzog but I just haven’t ever really checked out any of his stuff before now. To say the least, he isn’t as great as everybody says he is but he’s still good.

Herzog knows how to make a very grueling and brutal story like this almost seem beautiful in his own poetic way. There’s a great deal of suspense here as a scene goes on, with the camera just slowly right behind the characters as the suspense gets larger and larger. I also liked how Herzog didn’t make this film about being a proud member of the U.S. army, and make it more about one man’s eternal struggle to survive and adapt to the environment that surrounds him.

My problem with this film was that nothing here really interested me other than the fact that this was a true story. A true story that I knew exactly how it was going to all pan out in the end. A large majority of the film felt like everything was a routine and didn’t have a natural feel and even though the suspense worked incredibly well at certain points, overall to me, this just felt like something I’ve seen before and didn’t have much of an effect on me as much as the film wanted it to.

Another problem with this film was the fact that all of the captors here just seemed like total idiots and goof-balls just for the sake so that we didn’t even get to know these bad guys one bit. The ringleader has hair down to his shoulders and glasses that look like they would be better used on Ray Charles’ face; another henchmen uses karate on the air randomly for no reason; and the most random of all, a grinning dwarf that seems totally oblivious to everything around him and is just put in the film because Herzog for some odd reason has a love for dwarfs.

Christian Bale here as Dieter Dengler is what really makes this film work and kept me watching the whole time. Bale does his trademark physical transformation that he has used many and many times before but the real power of his performance lies within his emotional transformation that feels so gripping. Bale just seems like a total mad-man when he is forced to adapt to his primal instincts and uses that rough and raw edge to his character that we all have seen before, but works so well right here.

Steve Zahn is also great in this role as Duane Martin. Zahn is always funny and great to watch in little comedic supporting roles but here he is so much more believable and still gives off that extreme likability we all know and love him for. The bond he and Bale create almost seems like a marriage, but that just adds so much more energy to this film. I mean somebody has to give this guy his own film soon! Jeremy Davies does that sort of annoying talk “really strangely act” he always does in everything, but he’s alright here as a Charles Manson look-alike.

Consensus: There is a lot to be on the edge of your seat about in Rescue Dawn but for some reason I just didn’t feel that connected to what was going on, most of it felt generic, and overall, Herzog doesn’t do anything really new that I haven’t seen before. However, the performances from Bale, Davies, and Zahn are what really make this a better film to watch.

6/10=Rental!!

Reality Bites (1994)

The 90’s looked so cool, and kind of annoying.

A small circle of friends (Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn) suffering from post-collegiate blues must confront the hard truth about life, love and the pursuit of gainful employment. As they struggle to map out survival guides for the future, the Gen-X quartet soon begins to realize that reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

This along with Singles, has to be those early 90’s, Generation-X defining films that probably seemed all hip and cool then, now, not so much.

First-time writer/director Ben Stiller, maybe you’ve heard of him, maybe not, does a good job of combining good elements of comedy, romance, and a dash of 90’s reality. There’s a lot of pop-culture references that some people like myself didn’t quite get, and others you will get and think are kind of funny. Underneath, all of that humor though, there’s actually a sweet little romance that works well here, especially with the tone and everything, since it’s both at times dark, and light. There’s also a lot of insight about the constant struggles there were to actually get a job, and do something with your life after your schoolio days are over.

However, the insight starts to lose it’s flavor, and kind of actually becomes a little annoying, probably because it all seems so dated. These chumps are so used to fighting the system, and saying no to the common man, that they literally don’t do anything with their lives and just sit around and mope a lot about how people have dreams and ambitions, while their doing the same things. I liked some of the discussions about living in the world of AIDS, and the Clinton era, but after awhile those witty discussions start to die down into some annoying territory.

There are also many moments where I felt like this film was almost trying way too hard to be different and cool, just for the sake of being different and cool. I know I have said the word, “cool” a lot during this review, but that’s only because I feel like Stiller was just there behind the camera trying to do some cool things with this film because it’s the 90’s. Maybe it’s dated because that’s the point because it’s a snapshot of a generation and an age. However, I still wish it didn’t try so hard to be so damn cool.

Winona Ryder is a natural in this role as the quarter-life crises infected, Lelaina, who just wants something to do with her life and get pass all of these problems she faces. Ryder is good in this role, and it’s easy to follow her character on a day-to-day basis, because she has that cuteness and charm, but also that harsh reality of someone stuck in a jobless life. Ben Stiller does a good job as Michael, the yuppie that comes into Lelaina’s life, and does that nerdy and nervous awkward shtick that he has in a way perfected, and it works well with his character here. Steve Zahn and Janeane Garofalo are also here and do some nice jobs bringing more humor to the film. My favorite out of this whole cast was Ethan Hawke as Troy, the definitive 90’s slacker. Filled with so many quotes, one-liners, and insightful sayings, Hawke perfectly captures the mind sight and speech of what it was like to live in this generation when all you had to work with were your words. He is at times a dick, and at others, a total charmer, and Hawke plays him so well that he gives off a great early performance that shows what talent he would have for later on in his career.

Consensus: Though it’s insight start’s to get annoying, and may seem just like random conversations after awhile, Reality Bites has a sweet, romantic comedy-like tone, with good performances and a nice snapshot of Generation-X.

6/10=Rental!!

Crimson Tide (1995)

Black vs. White, in a submarine.

Controversy boils over when Soviet rebels point nuclear weapons at the United States, and a message for the nuclear-missile sub USS Alabama gets cut off during transmission. Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) thinks he’s been ordered to launch a pre-emptive strike, while Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) believes the submarine has been ordered to stand down. Will the Alabama prevent a nuclear holocaust, or start one?

Crimson Tide is directed by my not-so favorite director, Tony Scott. He has always been known to make crazy action/thriller films with no real purpose, other than to just have you brainlessly entertained.

This film film looks like a thriller and plays like a thriller, but what distinguishes it, are it’s ideas it has. In the high pressure world of submarine-in-crisis, this film stages a debate that gets to the very heart of nuclear deterrents. The paradox is that nuclear weapons only deter war as long as you don’t use them, and you have to be instruction of your own side. There is also a lot of questions about right-and-wrong, which will stay in your mind long after your done watching this film. You’ll also notice some pop-culture references randomly in here, probably because some of this script is written by Quentin Tarantino. That crazy bastard finds himself in everything!

Tony Scott also does a good job at directing this film keeping a lot of tension built to the point of where you think something just terrible is going to happen. With this film, I knew exactly where Scott was going but he puts us in this submarine with these men, and we feel stuck in there with them as their lives are being threatened. When the energy picks up Scott kicks it into high gear, but when its slow and working on suspense, it works as well. In my opinion, this may be one of Scott’s best directorial efforts.

The only problem I had with this film was the ending. I felt a little bit too much of it was uninspired, and way too hokey for a film of this raw nature. Now I know you can’t judge a whole film on it’s ending usually, but in this case I can, cause when you see it, your honestly going be so letdown.

Denzel Washington is as usual, awesome here, and keeps that strong and smart man act up. He doesn’t do anything completely different here, but that’s not a problem, cause he is just great at it. Gene Hackman is down-right amazing playing Frank Ramsey, the guy who we all soon start to hate, and love at the same time. He is just so callous about his job and so prideful, that when he starts to see his high-position getting taken away from him, he just gets so pissed and does things you would have never expected. However, you believe it because Hackman is so good at playing this type of character. Others who are good in this are Steve Zahn, Viggo Mortensen, James Gandolfini, and Matt Craven.

Consensus: It may look like slam-bang action thriller, but it has more ideas and messages than just your ordinary popcorn thriller. The cast is having a ball with this material, and Scott is probably at his best keeping the suspense, as well as energy up the whole time.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

A Perfect Getaway (2009)

Staying away from Hawaii for awhile now.

Newlyweds Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) are enjoying a perfect honeymoon in Hawaii — until they run into a pair of menacing hikers, Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez). As it turns out, the two are dangerous killers who begin stalking the not-so-happy couple.

There is a lot about this film that not many people will actually accept upon first look. This is a suspenseful/psychological thriller, that in ways works.

The first two acts, I will say are very dull. There is some nice camp here and there, but there’s not that much drama to keep you interested with this film, and with its characters. And although the atmosphere kind of works, it never goes the extra mile, to keep your attention fully on the screen.

The film also promises to be so much smarter than your ordinary, thriller pick, but instead, turns into one, that doesn’t do much other than show the over-zealous, bloody violence that we basically see in all films of this nature. As things get all ‘First Blood’ in the end, the cinematography and the editing go hog wild as well, trying out some fancy stuff that works. I admit, I got pumped by the look and the action….and I almost forgot how forgettable the rest of the film was.

Basically, the whole film, your always guessing what is actually going on, and who are the real killers. All of this worked very well, cause we aren’t given many clues as to who is, we’re just left to think ourselves, which I thought was used well. And then when the major plot twist comes in by the last act, you are totally taken back, and shocked, mainly cause it works. The twist is thoroughly explained, and sometimes events that weren’t explained in the first two acts, are then explained by this twist.

The performances from the cast are very good here, which is why your mainly glued to the screen. Timothy Olyphant is perfect here mainly because they just let him get crazy, but at the same time, become a likable, and believable character. Steve Zahn is also good, doing a lot of stuff as a character you wouldn’t expect him to, as far as his acting goes. Milla Jovovich is also good here, and she has one scene where she actually expresses her emotions in a way I haven’t seen her do in a while. Kiele Sanchez also has a lot of fun with her role, and starts to show her dynamic’s as an actress by the end.

Consensus: A Perfect Getaway may have you checking your watch for the first two acts, but the twist comes in, and your entertained, as well as the performances from the cast.

6/10=Rental!!!

Saving Silverman (2001)

Say what you will about this film, it is funny.

Trouble and laughs come in spades when clueless losers Wayne (Steve Zahn) and J.D. (Jack Black) conspire to prevent their best buddy, hapless sad-sack Darren (Jason Biggs), from marrying shrewish Judith (Amanda Peet). Wayne and J.D. will stop at nothing to “save” their friend, including setting him up with long-lost love — and soon-to-be nun — Sandy (Amanda Detmer).

Now I have seen this film about 10 times since I was in 5th grade, and I can’t lie this film hasn’t changed as much for me.

Yeah, the film does have its obvious plot holes. Like why after six months are these living with each other?, and why are things happening the way they are? The plot holes are there and I can see they did a lot of this stuff just to move the story on, but its not like I really cared. There are some weak spots where the jokes from when I was 11 got different for me as I got older, but I didn’t care as much since I still laugh.

The jokes in this movie are funny, and also wildly random, but random in a good way. I foudn the jokes added on a lot more comedy in a raunchier way than trying to be smart and going over their heads. And, believe it or not, when these guys talked, I felt like I knew who they were because many of my friends talk exactly like them, even me sometimes.

The cast is very funny and all are up for good sport. Biggs is his usual Woody Allen awkward dude, Zahn is great as usual with his hilarious physical comedy as well as great deliverance with his lines. But the best here is Jack Black who is funny once again as the lovable loser who we all love and know him for. R. Lee Ermy had me laughing almost every time he was on-screen, and Amanda Peet, ehhhh, she’s not that bad. Even when they brought out Neil Diamond I couldn’t stop laughing cause although he can’t act he is still a good sport doing a riff on his own character.

Consensus: Saving Silverman ha sits obvious dry spots and plot holes, but to me its still is funny as it was back in 5th grade, with clever jokes, and good comedic performances. Hey, we all have our own guilty pleasures.

6.5/10=Rental!!!

Happy, Texas (1999)

How Steve Zahn got his start, playing Steve Zahn.

Mistaken as consultants to a beauty pageant in the town of Happy, Texas, two escaped convicts go along with the ruse, masquerading as gay lovers Harry (Jeremy Northam) and Wayne (Steve Zahn). In trying to teach Happy’s Junior Misses to win, the two run up against a sheriff (William H. Macy) with the hots for Harry, and a local teacher (Illeana Douglas) catches Wayne’s eye.

The film starts out with what is probably one of the oldest stories in the book, the escaped capers/fish-out-of-water story, I mean we even saw it in Shakespeare. But it just proves that old wine can sometimes have a fresh taste.

The film really does go through a lot of changes without ever going too far out of hand. However, I felt like there were some parts when the film got too in the element of trying to be cute was very very light for this film, and obvious. When Harry is trying to act gay towards the local teacher and everything its pretty obvious that he was not gay by the way he talked, spoke to her, and at times even touched her. I just couldn’t believe she didn’t pick up on that.

Just homophobic enough to be offensive to gays, not funny enough to be a genuine spoof. A sample of the dialogue: “You know, you spoke better when you were gay.” I just think that some of these lines in the movie were in bad taste for jokes, cause it went diving right in to the gay jokes, and really those aren’t very funny after awhile.

The one thing I will say about this film is that it does have some good humor despite the gay jokes. It looks they were having a lot of fun with this material, and almost all of that fun pours out right onto us through the screen. The little twists and turns of this story actually don’t get involved with any of this humor so we’re not taken away by it at all.

The performances from the cast are very very good. But the best in my opinion come from the supporters Zahn and H. Macy. Zahn uses a lot of his crazy eccentric styles to make his scenes work, as well as his psychical humor which is just terrific. But H. Macy does a very sweet job at playing this very awkward cop, who always finds new meaning in life with everything he does.

Consensus: Though some of the jokes are out of bad taste, but Happy, Texas has fun humor, hilarious acting, and a given proof that fish-out-of-water capers aren’t at all out of style.

8/10=Matinee!!!