Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, 6/19/09

Year One - 1 1/2 stars

Thank the lord for Michael Cera. If not for him, I don't think I would have laughed once in this entire movie. Look at all the funny actors who are in this movie: David Cross, Paul Rudd, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, all funny people who were not given anything funny to do or say.

Jack Black is trying too hard to be Jack Black, and I don't know if I am just tired of Jack Black, or if its just the material and direction. Michael Cera has quite a few lines that work, but he also has a lot of stuff that doesn't work.

You know a movie is in trouble when a character picks up a piece of shit. Then sniffs it. Then licks it. Then ... wait for it ... takes a bite of it. Yeah, it actually happens. Michael Cera pees himself (upside down, so he pees in his own face). A character farts for like 20 - 30 seconds. There are quite a few references to penises and foreskin (actually, some of those are kind of funny). But you get the point - you get dick jokes, fart jokes, and jokes about poo and pee.

Look, I like a good dumb comedy, as long as its funny. I could look past the dick and fart jokes, and even look past Michael Cera rubbing oil on Oliver Platt's obnoxiously hairy chest if the movie were funny. But its not.

Oh, and you know how if a movie shows bloopers over the credits, they're usually funnier than anything in the movie? In this case, even the bloopers are not funny.

The Proposal - 2 1/2 stars

I liked this movie more than I thought I would, but it is predictable as any movie I have ever seen. The setup is ripped off from Green Card: Sandra Bullock is Canadian, and she has let her Visa status lapse. She is about to be deported, so she forces her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her. Since she is an editor at a big publishing house, and he wants to become an editor himself, he agrees if she will help his career.

So its a pretty sitcom level setup. And now, we're off to visit his family in Alaska. But do you think he tells his family what's going on? Don't you think he could say "hey family, I'm going to marry my boss (who I have told you a hundred times that I hate), so she will help my career. In 6 months, we'll divorce, forget it ever happened, and I will have the job I have always wanted." Isn't that what any sensible person would do? Well, if he did that, we wouldn't have a movie, so of course he doesn't tell them. They are a little surprised he doesn't hate his boss anymore and wants to marry her, but they don't question him too much (except for his dad). His parents are played by Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen, and his grandma is played by Betty White.

If you have ever seen a romantic comedy before, you know that they will eventually fall in love for real. And if any character has a secret, you know the secret will come out and start the third act of the movie. And when the secret does come out, it will be in the most embarassingly public setting possible. You could leave the theater at the halfway point and write the rest of the movie yourself, and you wouldn't miss a thing.

What saves the movie is Ryan Reynolds. He is incredibly funny. He makes the first half of the movie really, really good. I could watch the first 30 minutes or so over and over. My biggest problem with the movie (besides the whole predictability thing) is that as the movie goes on, it gets less and less funny as it gets more and more serious. We are supposed to really care about the characters (and I guess we are supposed to be surprised by the events in the movie) and as these movies usually do, it stops being a comedy and becomes a romantic drama. That's what I didn't like.

Tyson - 3 stars

Before I watched this, I had no desire to see it. I'm not a big boxing fan, and I have never cared that much about Mike Tyson. I have heard the stories about him for most of my life: heavyweight champion, married and divorced Robin Givens, went to jail for rape, and bit part of Holyfield's ear off. As a kid, I spent many hours playing Mike Tyson's Punch Out on Nintendo.

I really enjoyed hearing him tell his life story. It was mostly chronological and he talked about everything I wanted to hear him talk about. How does one go broke after making hundreds of millions of dollars? He talks about that. Why did he bite Holyfield's ear like that? He explains it. How does he feel about Don King? I had no idea he hated him so much. I guess I missed the news stories about him attacking King outside a hotel.

One problem with the movie is you have to get used to the way Mike Tyson talks, because its all him. There is no voiceover narration by anyone else. If you have a hard time understanding him, you will have a hard time sitting thru the movie. The first 10 minutes, I was getting really tired of trying to understand him thru his lisp, but after 10 or 15 minutes, I didn't even notice his speech problems.

Another problem is its all from his point of view. He is pretty candid about a lot of stuff, but no matter how candid he is, there is always another side to a story. He owns up to a lot of stuff, but he denies ever raping Desiree Washington.

Whether you like boxing or not, you will probably enjoy this movie.

Easy Virtue - 3 stars

I like movies that treat the audience with respect. You really have to pay attention to the dialogue in this movie. There were several jokes that I missed completely because I was distracted temporarily (luckily I watched this at home on a DVD screener, so I was able to rewind it and catch what I missed).

The story is pretty simple. Set in Britain right after World War I, prodigal son John returns home with an American bride, Laurita (Jessica Biel). Not only is Laurita American, she is a race car driver. She wants to live in London so she can race, and his family wants them to live in the family home, far away from London, where he can work and help keep the home. The estate has been in the family for generations.

His parents are played by Kristen Scott Thomas and Colin Firth. His mom is very old fashioned and hates everything his bride represents. His father is unhappy, bitter, and sarcastic, and is happy to have Larita in their lives (he probably wants to marry her himself, since he doesn't seem to love his wife anymore).

The story is a little predictable but I enjoyed it. I laughed more than I thought I would, and I actually cared about what happened to the characters. The longer they stay at his family's home, the more John neglects Larita and makes her feel like an outsider. He doesn't really mean to, but you really feel sorry for her. She has a mother in law who is always trying to take her down a peg, and her husband who should be by her side is off playing tennis with his sisters, or catching up with his former girlfriend. And Larita has a back story that adds a lot of depth to her character.

Yet another movie that I had no desire to see, and I'm glad I saw it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday, 6/12/09

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 - 3 stars

This was a hard one to rate. I couldn't decide between 2 1/2 and 3 stars. Its kind of right in the middle of that. Which means, its almost a good movie, but its not bad. Its slightly better than mediocre.

If you have seen the trailer, that tells you exactly what you need to know about the movie. They're selling it just right, so if the trailer gets you excited, you will probably like this movie. If not, don't bother. You're not really missing anything.

John Travolta is way over the top as the bad guy, but its kind of fun to watch. He is in full Face/Off mode here, except not as funny. Well, once in a while you will chuckle at him. I do wish he lightened up a little more and had more fun with the role. He is angry the entire movie, but he does make an effective villain.

Denzel Washington is good as always. I especially like the way his character stammers when he is under pressure. That's the way most people would react, but its rare to see that in a movie. Near the end of the movie, he becomes a bit more of an action star than a regular guy, and I had a hard time buying that. I don't think his character would chase after the bad guys the way he does. He would leave the rest to the police.

Basically, the movie is a decent action movie if you want to go see something this weekend. But you will forget about it once Transformers 2 opens.

Imagine That (didn't see)

... but did I really need to see it? Is there any chance this doesn't suck, suck, suck??? What happened to Eddie Murphy? He hasn't done an R-rated movie since Life in 1999. Where is the guy who gave us Delirious, Raw, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours, Coming to America ... WTF?

Look, its great that he has a family and wants to do some movies that they can see. But A) they don't have to suck, and B) you can do a funny, dirty movie once in a freakin' while! Don't let your kids boss you arround, Eddie. You're the boss.

Treeless Mountain (didn't see)
Valentino - The Last Emperor (didn't see)
Call of the Wild 3D (didn't see)

Yeah, once again I didn't see very many of the movies. What can I say? Some weeks I have more time than others.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Hangover - 3 stars

The hangover is every bit as funny as you have heard. And it works on 2 levels - not only is it a comedy, its also a mystery. Doug is getting married, and his 3 friends go to Vegas with him for a weekend of partying before he ties the knot. But when they wake up, Doug is gone, Stu is missing a tooth, the hotel room's a mess, and there are animals in their room. They can't remember a thing that happened the night before, and the movie is basically them trying to retrace their steps, figure out what happened, and (most importantly) find Doug.

Its a pretty simple setup - kind of reminds me of Dude, Where's My Car? It could have been a pretty mediocre comedy, but the actors elevate the material. They are all good, but Zach Galifianakis steals the show as the weird guy. My favorite line of his: "I'm not allowed within 200 feet of a school. Or a Chuck-E-Cheese." Got to love a movie that has the balls to make a pedophile joke and hit a baby in the face with a car door.

The movie is rated R, and for good reason. Don't go if you're easily offended, but I laughed out loud many times. This movie is Land of the Lost's polar opposite.

Speaking of Land of the Lost, I realize I didn't say much about it. I am going to elaborate on it a little. I don't know who the movie is for. The comedy elements fall so flat that I can't imagine anybody over the age of 10 finding it funny. There are also very simple fantasy elements, so I think its trying to be a kids movie.

But at the same time, there is a lot of sexual jokes that are not appropriate for kids under, I don't know, 13 or so. So maybe its not a kids movie. Its for teens. So it fails on both levels.

I used to like Will Ferrell a lot. But I think his success has gone to his head. Just like Adam Sandler, he now has the power to do whatever movies he wants, and he has total control over the material. Just like Adam Sandler, he was funny at first, and he can still be funny if he's used right, but the movies he makes as vehicles for himself are terrible. We have had 3 horrible Will Ferrell movies in a row: Land of the Lost, Step Brothers, and Semi-Pro. He needs to take a year or two off - try the Ben Affleck route. Let people miss him a little bit, then come back with supporting roles in good movies.

So to sum up: The Hangover = great, enjoyable, funny movie. Land of the Lost = none of those things.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Friday, 6/5/09

Land of the Lost - 1 star

Lame. Not Funny. Maybe kids will like it, but I was bored.

The Hangover (didn't see)
My Life in Ruins (didn't see)
Lemon Tree (didn't see)
The Limits of Control (not screened for critics, so didn't see)

Yeah, another week where I shirked my duties. Next week will be better. I have already seen The Proposal and I see Taking of Pelham 123 on Wednesday.