Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: The Parent Trap

The Canyons (2013)

Blame it on Generation-Y. What else is new?

In modern-day L.A., Christian (James Deen) is living on top of the world. He’s good-looking; charming; rich; powerful; has a sexy girlfriend named Tara (Lindsay Lohan); screws around on her; and is able to bring more men and women to bed whenever he feels the need to spice up the love life. After a meeting the two have with Christian’s assistant (Amanda Brooks) and her boyfriend Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk), they all decide to get ready and make a movie. Whatever the hell the movie is about or what the purpose is, is totally irrelevant, all that matters is that they’re making a movie, and it gives them something to do. However, as time goes on, Christian begins to realize that there’s something a little strange going on between Tara and Ryan. He suspects them of cheating around on him, but he can’t be too sure. This is where Christian decides to take some charge in the matters and see what’s really cracking behind the closed doors.

Despite The New York Times article that focused on all of the behind-the-scenes problems this movie was having, there is more to this flick than just “Lindsay’s big comeback”. Yes, she does have a performance here that makes me recognize her talent once again, but that’s not all there is to this flick. See, many people are seeming to forget that this is a collaboration between non-other than director Paul Schrader and writer Bret Easton Ellis who, if you are familiar with their work already, know that these guys are some bleak, dark, and disturbing mofos. They don’t hold back, ever, and this movie seems like it could have been one of the best examples of two artists working in their prime. Ellis loves his dull, amoral characters that do nothing with their lives except evil and bad things; whereas Schrader loves showing the darker-side of the world that we think we know.

The Parent Trap was how long ago?

The Parent Trap was how long ago?

If you put this combo together, you’d think you have a total winner on your hands, but somehow, someway, it doesn’t mix perfectly like it should. At times it does, but not all of the time and that’s where the problem lies.

I can handle Ellis’ writing. Yes, he is purposefully dull with his style of writing, but it’s something that you have to expect going into this flick in order to not mind it as much. For me, I can handle it because I’ve read many of his books and know that the dude does not shy away from showing us the more unattractive sides of our society, as strange and weird as they may be. With this flick, he shows us all that he has at his disposal, but it doesn’t quite land anywhere. There’s plenty of nudity, some erotic sex-scenes, and much more talk about hanky-panky, but what does it all lead up to? Something here felt like it should have meant something deeper and more thought-provoking, and even though there are some interesting ideas that Ellis toys around with because he wants to and he can, not everything works like it should.

Take for instance, the message of the movie. I get what Schrader and Ellis were trying to say: The future of movies are doomed because young, uninterested, and snobby kids get involved with the business of film-making all because they have nothing else to do, and gives them a sense of meaning for their lives. With some of the shite I see almost each and every year, I wouldn’t throw this idea out as “total fiction”, but at the same time, I can’t help but think the message didn’t get across as well as it should, had there been less of a satirical-approach to it. And I don’t mean “satirical-approach” in the way that this is movie is funny, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s drop-dead serious about the subject it’s discussing, the people it’s pointing the finger at, and what it’s all supposed to mean to us, but it also feels like Ellis plays around too much, and doesn’t get to the bottom of this material. He definitely touches it, but pulls back once he gets too close because he wants to give us as much Lohan-boob, as humanly possible.

And trust me, I’m all for a little bit of “Lohan-boob”, but I also want more material and substance to work with, just to round it all out.

"You got my text saying that this was a nice dinner, right?"

“You got my text saying that this was a nice dinner, right?”

Speaking of Lindsay Lohan, despite her being a diva on the set and demanding a bit more than she could possibly chew, the girl does a great job with a role that could have been failed by any other actress out there, all because it seems like Lohan herself is as empty and dry as the character she’s portraying. Lohan’s been awaiting her comeback for awhile now and even though I do not think that this will mark it, she shows signs that she still has the talent to make any character of hers work, as unlikable and painfully boring as they may be. On paper, Tara is just another cookie-cutter character that screws around, snobbish, and gets whatever she wants, however she wants it, yet, Lohan makes her slightly sympathetic, especially once all hell breaks loose within this plot. She does an awful lot of crying here that’s willing to make any Julliard-grad throw their hands in the air, but she never over-does it, nor does she over-do anything else here. She’s mean when she wants to be, sweet when she can find the momentum to be that way, and also show a bit of vulnerability if she has it in her. Not a perfect performance, and that’s mainly because the script does seem to fail her at times, but Lohan shows us that she’s still got the milk to keep her career going, she just has to stray away from the funky stuff on the side.

As for her co-star, porn-star James Deen is actually quite impressive in his first leading-role in an actual, scripted movie. Granted, the dude’s been in plenty movies before this, but they’ve all concerned him using the “O face” more than a dozen times, and even more shots of his dick, so I think it’s safe to say that this is his “feature film debut”, despite it not being his first leading a film. Anyway, Deen is actually good with Ellis’ script because it seems like he knows the type of character that he’s playing, what he has to get across, and what he has to do to make his presence known. Some lines come off a bit jumpy and awkward, as if Deen himself wasn’t quite sure on what tone certain lines were supposed to be said in, but for a guy who’s most known for showing his junk rather than his ability to carry a film; I gotta give it to him. I highly doubt that he’ll be getting more movie roles after this, but if in the future, I see his name attached to some sort of project, I won’t close my eyes in fear. I might just be a little interested. Regardless of if he shows his “beast” or not.

Consensus: The leading-performances in The Canyons are what keep it from falling apart at the reigns, even though it comes very close due to the misdirection from Schrader, and a tad too serious-approach from Ellis and his writing.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Just think about it, all those years ago, so many nerds camped-out in front of this theater just to see The Phantom Menace. Now, those nerds are replaced by drug-addicted homeless people.

Just think about it, all those years ago, so many nerds camped-out in front of this theater just to see The Phantom Menace. Now, those nerds are replaced by drug-addicted homeless people.


Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Being Jack Nicholson has to be awesome.

Sixty and still sexy, Harry (Jack Nicholson) is having the time of his life, wining, dining and bedding women half his age. When he agrees to go to the Hamptons with his girlfriend (Amanda Peet), plans go awry when her playwright mother, Erica (Diane Keaton), stops in unannounced. While the living arrangements are awkward at first, Harry soon discovers there’s nothing wrong with — and plenty good about — acting your age.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers is known for her usual, old-school rom-coms such as It’s Complicated, The Parent Trap, and What Women Want among others. Out of all of those ones I’ve seen, none have really been amazing but still fun which isn’t something I could say for a lot of other rom-coms that come out just about every Friday.

The film has a good balance of comedy and drama which starts off very well in the beginning of the film. It’s more a comedy of manners, where people say certain goofy things, they wouldn’t normally say so there is that sort of nervous laughter thing going on but it still works and actually had me laughing.

The romance aspect of this film also works well too because it actually has a little sweet tone to it, that is even better because of the smooth pace this film is given. However, the whole charm and sweetness of this film doesn’t run on forever, and soon starts to fall down the “cheesiness-ladder” quicker and quicker than I expected. There are moments that feel way too over-dramatic, which is something I expected from this chick-flick but come on, it got to be a little too much at points.

There is a scene where these two have sex and after wards they both start to cry, which at first, I laughed because I thought the film was doing a joke or trying to be humorous, until I realized that the film was serious when it showed these two grown-ups crying after a little session of doing the dirty. This had me unintentionally laughing as well as the ending, which feels way too over dramatic and heavy when it’s compared to the beginning and how this film first started off.

It also looks as if it was made on the same set as those really cheesy and lame soap commercials where they show somebody just running down the beach with their “man”. This wasn’t a total bother, I could just tell that the whole set was a little too bright for me and I found it a little hoaky to begin with.

When it comes down to it though, Jack & Diane can act. Jack Nicholson is the total man as Harry Sanborn, this old playboy who doesn’t date over 30. He’s the man in this role and almost every line is just totally charming because it has him saying the lines. I don’t even think he really needed an audition, he just got the part as soon as he said yes. Diane Keaton is also very good as Erica Barry, a woman who hasn’t been in “the game” for quite some time and is brought back into it by Harry. Her performance is also great because she finds a way to balance out that cuteness, hilarity, and that endearing real soul behind her character and shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still be a fine and sexy lady. Their chemistry is great and it’s just total fun to see these two together on-screen.

Consensus: Something’s Gotta Give has two great performances from Nicholson and Keaton, as well as some funny and sweet moments, but feels overly dramatic and has scenes here that may seem unintentionally funny, depending on how you look at them