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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Tucker Albrizzi

I Am Number Four (2011)

I feel like Number 666 is pretty damn cool. Where’s that person’s movie?

John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) seems like an ordinary teenager, who wants to live long, prosper, have a great time, find some hot chicks, drink, party, and just do what every other teenager in the whole entire world wishes for. However, he’s very far from ordinary – in fact, he’s an alien on the run from merciless enemies hunting him and the eight others like him. So in order to make sure that he doesn’t get found out by this group of baddies, he and his guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), have to constantly go from town-to-town, changing their identities and staying as hidden and as unseen as they possibly can. That’s easy for Henri to do, but for John, he just wants to be out there in the world, living life like a typical teenager, which leads him to start going to the local high school, where he meets an falls for the cutest girl at the school (Dianna Agron), but at the same time, also captures the attention of the school-bully (Jake Abel), who isn’t afraid to start some stuff with John whenever he oh so feels the need or desire.

Basically, it’s high school, but you know, with aliens.

"Trust me, I'm hot."

“Trust in me, I’m hot.”

Just like Disturbia was D.J. Caruso’s junior-Hitchcock, I Am Number Four is definitely his junior-Spielberg. Everything in it just breathes, hell, screams Spielberg; the high school-setting, the angsty, misunderstood teenagers, the aliens, the government conspiracies, the monsters, etc. It’s as if Caruso felt the need to start trying out whatever famous director’s style he could go for next, regardless of whether or not he actually had the talent to do so, so in a way, it’s an admirable effort on his part.

Issue is, I Am Number Four also feels a whole heck of a lot like every other YA adaptation that tried so desperately hard to recapture the same magic and success as Twilight did and because of that, it definitely feels like a step-down for someone who is a pretty competent director. After all, Caruso gets a lot right here that other Spielberg-wannabes have tried to aim for; the high school and its characters are compelling, if also somewhat realistic, and for awhile, the mystery of these aliens, their powers, and all that stuff, is interesting enough to stick around for. But then, the movie also dives really, really deep into the mythology which, honestly, doesn’t matter, or work.

I Am Number Four is the kind of movie that probably works best, when nobody takes it serious – the director, writers, cast, everyone. It’s so goofy and weird that often times, it would have probably been best if the movie made itself out to be something of a parody of these YA adaptations, and then decided to turn the other cheek and become its own genre-flick, like say Shaun of the Dead, or even Airplane. But of course, that isn’t the case here – instead, we get a relatively self-serious movie that doesn’t always know how to tone down the sci-fi mythology that nobody can understand or care for, nor does it know when the best time for some fun character-stuff needs to happen.

Then again, maybe that’s just a problem with me – expecting human stuff out of a YA adaptation.

Metaphor for technology? Eh, probably not.

Metaphor for technology? Eh, probably not.

But still, Caruso does offer up enough to make the movie, at the very least, an entertaining piece of mainstream trash that doesn’t need to be thought about long, especially considering that all it really wants to do is set-up more and more sequels to come. And considering that this is the film-business, is that such a problem? It isn’t if you have something to really work with; Twilight got five movies, whereas I Am Number Four only got one and honestly, there’s something wrong with that. A part of me feels like if I Am Number Four got the opportunity to expand on its universe, hire some better writers and whatnot, that it would have grown on to be something better than just another YA-knockoff that people forget about after a week or two.

It probably wouldn’t have been the next Hunger Games in any way, shape or form, but it would have at least been somewhat of an enjoyable diversion, right? Cause with the cast, the movie could have definitely done more to add some sizzle and spice to the whole YA-genre. Alex Pettyfer, despite always having to work with an odd American-accent, is perfectly fine and hunky as Four, or the apt-named, John Smith; Dianna Agron’s pretty-girl-who-takes-pictures-so-yeah-she’s-interesting character is boring, but she does enough of something with it; and yeah, Timothy Olyphant is a blast to watch, making the best of what he can, even going so far as to infuse any bit of humor that he can find in the creases. Everyone here is fine, but sadly, they never got the next opportunity to see what they could do next with this story, this franchise, or even this world.

Oh well. At least we got another Divergent movie coming out sometime soon.

So that’s good, right?

Consensus: Too serious to be campy, and too weird to be hilarious, I Am Number Four is an okay diversion from the rest of the YA-fare, but unfortunately, also doesn’t have much of its own identity to help itself out and break away from the rest of the pack.

5 / 10

Wow. Alex must not really want Isabel in his life. Deuche.

Wow. Alex must not really want Isabel in his life. Deuche.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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ParaNorman (2012)

See, those kids who talk to dead people aren’t so weird after all! Haley Joel Osment is jumping in the air somewhere right now.

The small New England town of Blithe Hollow comes under siege by the undead. Only a misunderstood local boy, Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who has the ability to speak with the dead, is able to prevent the destruction of his town from a centuries-old witch’s curse. He’ll also have to take on ghosts, witches, zombies and worst of all, the moronic grown-ups. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Maybe I was all alone in a boat by myself back in 2009, but I really just did not like Coraline. There was something about it that just didn’t work and I felt it was just too scary and serious to be considered a kids flick. This one follows in the same exact steps as that one except it has the one key ingredient that always makes these films work: the fat kid. More on that later, though. Let’s start with the positive things that came before he arrived.

The animation for this flick, is exactly what you would expect from the animation studio Laika. Even though I may have disliked a lot about Coraline, I still thought that they had plenty of eye-candy to help me get through, and that’s exactly what we have here but probably used a lot better in the terms of 3D. It was a really neat thing to see stop-motion animation done in a 3D way, and it added some real color and zaniness to this final product, as if it was one of the horror films that it was making fun of in the first place. Needless to say, the kids will love how much shit is constantly popping out at them (not literal shit, but you get my drift), but the parents will also be able to appreciate a 3D used right and almost not feel like their over-priced $13 dollar ticket will go to waste. Actually, if you add the kid’s ticket as well it’s going to be a lot more so it’s a good thing that it at least delivers or there’s going to be a loud of pissed-off parents.

Another element of this film that separates itself from Coraline, is that there is loads and loads of amounts of comedy to be had here, which really took me by surprise considering how much I actually laughed. There’s a lot of goofy sight-gags that you have to look closely to see and there’s a lot of jokes that only true horror movie fans will get, but what separates this film from all the other animated films that have come out in the last 2 years or so, is that is able to make almost any movie-goer laugh. Have a couple of kids? They got their fart jokes and slapstick. Got a bunch of grumpy adults? They have their sly humor and wit about a dark situation that somehow makes it lighter. Got a horror movie lover out there? They got the movie references. Have you average, movie-goer that just wants to laugh and have a good time? They got plenty of jokes that will work and make you laugh, as they did onto me. You’ll be surprised by how far this film goes with it’s comedy but it works, and instead of just dropping out pop-culture reference after pop-culture reference like we see in Shrek films, we get the type of comedy where goofy things happen, all for a reason. And that’s funny enough as it is.

Problem with a lot of this comedy is that it comes in a little too much. I get that the film wanted to always keep things light and humorous, even when it get dark and scary as hell, but they could have at least slowed down a bit and let some scenes just play out in a very serious matter. Sounds pretty strange that I would actually want a funny film to stop it’s humor for a bit and just be serious with us, but it gets to the point of where you can’t pay attention to what’s going on with this story and what’s on-screen because you’re constantly just waiting for another funny quip to come right through. Strange complaint, I know.

Another complaint about this film I had was that it take a bit too long to get where it exactly needed to go. With these films, you know exactly what’s going to happen from start to finish, which means that it better hurry it’s ass up by keeping us entertained. This film definitely keeps us entertained for the most part, but doesn’t really hurry it’s ass up either. The film just sort of just takes it’s time with it’s awfully predictable story, which doesn’t really work when you have something as conventional as this. Two very weird complaints, I know, but this is not necessarily the most normal film out there either and I think that’s all because of Norman himself.

Kodi Smit-McPhee seems like a great choice as Norman because the kid has always been type-cast as these weirdo-types and gives Norman a whole lot of boyish sympathy, that’s easy to fall for and stand behind; Anna Kendrick voices his older sister who is always bitching and trying to impress a hot dude around her; that hot dude I’m talking about is Casey Affleck as an older brother of somebody and shows he’s got great comedic timing with a weird, scratchy voice like his; and Christopher Mintz-Plasse proves he can be funny, but not as a nerd as the school bully here. Everybody else from this talented ensemble is fine, but when it comes right down to it, nobody stands in the way of the fat one.

I don’t know who this kid is and I don’t know if I have ever seen him ever before, but Tucker Albrizzi absolutely nails every line he has the token fat sidekick, Neil. Neil is such a great character right from the start because he’s fat, a nerd, and doesn’t get along with most kids, but still has a big heart and you can feel that from Albrizzi’s voice and just how they make this character look. Honestly, you cannot say that the picture of Neil in this movie just doesn’t want to make you pinch his cheeks or feed him some Cinna Buns. Every time this kid just about opens his mouth, it’s a piece of comedy that works and thank the lord for Albrizzi, because he makes everybody in this flick seem like a bunch of rookies, even though he’s only 13 years old. Kids got a bright future and I hope he keeps it going. Then again, I have never seen him before or if he can act well, but I know the kid’s got a great voice for animated characters that’s for damn sure.

Consensus: ParaNorman may not be the best animated flick all year, but is still a hell of a lot better than Coraline, the film that came before it with a playful sense of humor that can have anybody who sees this laugh, and a talented voice cast that milks all of the lines for all that they got.

7.5/10=Rental!!