182: Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction (R) - 1987 - Runtime: 119 minutes
Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close
Director: Adrian Lyne

Yeah, I've never seen this movie. And Maggie was super stoked for me to see this. Although the ending was spoiled when I watched BJD (arrgghh! Damn you Bridget Jones!),  it still was a pretty intense watch. Mainly because Glenn Close can play psycho so well.

Okay, let's just get this out of the way. You really have to suspend disbelief in this movie because Michael Douglas' wife (played by the lovely Anne Archer - who's still hotter than Close, just check out her scene in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. In fact, that's the only scene you should watch in that movie) is smokin' (well, as far as smokin' can go in the 80s) hot! And Glenn Close, well, let's just say I physically shouted YIKES! when they revealed her face. She looked like a circus freak in the first scene. You know, the scene where Michael Douglas (Dan Gallagher) is supposed to cream his pants for her? I mean, there is no way that he could possibly be attracted to this when he goes home to this. I mean, he cheats on her when she's only been gone for one day!

So just go with it because you won't find a better psychopathic movie. Sure there's some fairly good imitations (The Crush) but mostly it's just awful (Obsessed), but nothing will top this R-rated thriller. It's pretty good and Glenn Close most definitely deserved her Oscar nomination. And even though I knew how things were going to turn out, it was still pretty intense and oh man, that poor bunny! Bitch had it comin' after that!

The only really unfortunate thing about this movie is, well, it really hasn't aged that well. It's such an 80s film. It screams 80s, with the bad haircuts, the oversized t-shirts and the general lack of fashion sense. Hell, their kid in the movie looks like a boy. But it's not! It's a girl! But you wouldn't know if they hadn't said girl at some point in the movie - I couldn't tell if they were saying Ellen or Alan. I like to believe that secretly,  the Gallaghers just want to mess with their kid's head. Trying to confuse her gender is dangerous, but it was the 80s, so they have a valid excuse.

All in all - check out the granddaddy of all the bitch-gone-crazy movies if you haven't already. It's worth your time, just don't expect a shred of believability with Dan - he's really not the smartest guy in the world.

Rating: Rent It!

182: Chocolat

Chocolat (PG-13) - 2000 - Runtime: 121 minutes
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Carrie-Anne Moss
Director: Lasse Hallström

To quote one of my favorite movies from this year, this movie was just delightful. It would have been only made better if I watched it with some wine and summer salad! But seriously, folks, it was a sweet and delightful movie. But don't let that movie poster fool y'alls - Johnny Depp really isn't a big part of the movie. Sure, he shows up (as a pirate! I bet this is where Bruckheimer saw his potential as flamboyant booty hunter) halfway through the movie, sashaying his way into Juliette Binoche's heart, but it's hardly a big role. But Depp is dreamy and he sells tickets, so whatevs.

For those who managed to skip this delight - Juliette Binoche plays Vianne, a somewhat mysterious and fantastical woman who opens up a chocolate shop in a small, conservative French village. It soon becomes apparent her concoctions are just what this sleepy town needed. Lots of people start living - L-I-V-I-N - living! But some people like to be oppressed, like the local minister (Alfred Molina - playing another nefarious villain - seriously, this is where Raimi decided Molina would make a good Doc Ock - I mean, the roles are practically interchangeable here), who takes charge to try and banish Vianne from his town that he used to have control over. It's a good movie - there's a bit of fantasy to the story and it's something that I really like. Vianne brings such magic and energy to the town and it's fun to see how she changes people's lives.

The performances are wonderful - especially Binoche. I wish she would do more American movies - she's a great actress and I loved her in The English Patient, too. She creates such a wonderful character that at times, is very enigmatic and at other times very honest and open. She balances those two traits wonderfully and when the love of her life shows up - a somewhat subdued Johnny Depp - she becomes a whole different person. And it's that struggle between who she's born to be and what she wants to be that is at the heart of this story.

Like I said, it's a delight and if you haven't been delighted in a while, you should really rent this one. Seriously, delightful.

Rating: Rent It!


182: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 80 minutes
Starring: John Krasinski, Will Forte, Oh hell just look at the movie poster
Director: John Krasinski

I really don't like movies that have no discernible plot and are just a series of vignettes or just a series of scenes. And I was hoping that with such a great cast there would be some great interviews and stories being told, but the only thing I wanted to do at the end of the movie was take the disc out and toss it in a dumpster and then set the dumpster on fire.

That was harsh I know, but I just hated this movie. I don't know what I was thinking when I sat down to watch this movie, but it didn't offer any insight into the brain of the male species (and as a male I'm offended for my gender) or new, meaningful dialogue. The movie is just a series of random interviews by a grad school student who recently was cheated on. She's intrigued as to why her boyfriend did this to her and decides to get to the heart of men and their relationship towards women. It's all very pretentious and not very funny. It's a series of dull stories being told that all culminates at the end when said boyfriend (played by Krasinski) gives such a bullshit answer to why he cheated on her. He is a hideous man, no doubt, but it's just so anticlimactic and not very intriguing whatsoever.

The big problem with these movies and a lot of movies that take on gender issues (whether whimsical or seriously) is that they tend to generalize every single male or female. Like all-men-are-the-same jokes or theories. But to be honest, you can't just take a few assholes' opinions and stories and make an assumption as to their gender (same with race, religion, etc. ). It's stereotyping at best and I just can't get past the idea that this movie is just generalizing all these men into some formula. Yeah, some guys are dicks, but then there's a guy like me, who's a shining example to all men, even to the human race, how awesome and selfless and humble someone can be. Maybe I just don't get it because the title is all about "hideous" men, rather than just men, but I'll just assume I'm right and they're wrong.

But overall, there are a few stories that are interesting at best, but they tend to drag on and lose their luster or they end up turning sour. It's a tough eighty minutes to get through and you're better off philosophizing to your cat about the foibles of men than watching this dull traipse of a movie.

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague!

182: Bridget Jones's Diary

Bridget Jones's Diary (R) - 2001 - Runtime: 97 minutes
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth
Director: Sharon Maguire

Let me set this straight. I honestly like chick flicks. I'm a big fan. I don't hide it - I'm shamelessly in love with movies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (and for some reason this is the gold standard for me. Don't ask me why, it just is) and The Proposal. Despite the fact that most romantic comedies pretty much follow the same formula, I still can really enjoy them, no matter what. And so I was kind of looking forward to watching BJD (I've shortened it to this acronym simply because I cannot type Jones's": - see? - without screwing up! Arrghh!) but I don't think I was really prepared for this one.

I'll give props where it's due - Zellweger is pretty good in this movie and I liked how it wasn't afraid to be ballsy and get an R rating (unlike The Ugly Truth, which on top of being awful, really didn't deserve an R rating). And despite that Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are very dreamy in this movie - I really didn't like it. And I've pretty much committed mortal sin and have failed to live up to expectations as a proper partner because of it. But I just didn't think it was funny and I felt after a half an hour that more than an hour had passed. But I was wrong! We still had an hour left! Maybe it was the British humor or the pace, I don't know, but I found myself becoming extremely bored.

I also made the unfortunate mistake of telling Maggie that I really didn't like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, either. Mainly because I didn't find that one funny at all. Well, if you're going to be honest, I guess be brutal, right? Maggie had mentioned something about how I might enjoy chick flicks/romantic comedies when the other part of the equation (mainly the guy) is more involved in the story. I think there's some truth to that. And to quote a Kevin Smith film, I guess I just need the cock (sorry to all those virgin ears!).

So I gave it a try and I just think this movie isn't for me. I can see why a lot of people love this movie - it's got a lot of heart and energy in it - it's just not aimed in my direction. So if your significant other asks you to see it, go ahead and make sure to smile and say it was good. Otherwise you might find yourself on the couch.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For

182: Chinatown

Chinatown (R) - 1974 - Runtime: 131 minutes
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston
Director: Roman Polanski

This movie had been sitting in my Blockbuster envelope for quite some time. I forgot I had it next on my queue and when it came, I don't think I was in the mood. But somehow, I managed to put the disc in one afternoon and slowly became immersed in one of the best noir movies I've seen (I seem to be on a kick with this kind of movie - it's turning into one of my favorite genres, even if they all seem to follow the same formula.

Jack Nicholson plays Jake Gittes a private detective (what else, right?) who mainly deals with cheating husbands and wives. When he gets hired to follow the city's water engineer, who's suspected of cheating on his wife. But it isn't the usual case and soon Jake finds himself caught up in a conspiracy involving land, water supply and murder. It all unravels so well that you'll find yourself done with the movie before you know it. The movie deals with a very serious topic back in the early twentieth century where there were huge disputes over land and water rights. Jake's story all ties in very nicely to something much larger than just murder. And beneath a smart detective story, there's more to tell.

I love these kinds of movies because I find this era (late 1800s and early 1900s) fascinating - it's a time of tons of growth and change for America. And despite all this change, America sometimes feels like a foreign land, ready to be tapped for it's potential. That's part of the reason why I love There Will Be Blood so much - it's just so damn absorbing. And that's how I felt about Chinatown - it's a great way to delve into subjects talked about in the movie. I'll find myself browsing Wikipedia after the movie just to get more information. To me, those are the best movies, when you think about them after it's all done.

It also doesn't hurt that the movie's plot is so well written. You're never given too much information, you're put in Jake's shoes and you're just as invested into figuring out what the hell is going on as he is. And it unfolds at the just the right pace, so that you're not dissatisfied. And, obviously, Jack Nicholson is great in this movie and so is Faye Dunaway. You're always guessing as to whether she's a femme fatale in this movie or if she's just a victim. It speaks volumes to the writing and her performance that she treads that fine line.

It's a great noir film that will keep you guessing and the performances are just fantastic. If you like movies like L.A. Confidential, this one is right up there.

Rating: Rent It!


182: The Accidental Husband

The Accidental Husband (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 90 minutes
Starring: Uma Thurman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Colin Firth 
Director: Griffin Dunne

I kind of feel bad for Uma Thurman. She seems to be struggling lately. Remember My Super Ex-Girlfriend? Probably not because it was bad. And things don't look too good with this movie. You know it's bad when your movie gets pushed back more than six months and then finally gets dumped onto DVD (there are a few exceptions). It doesn't help when your studio that produces your movie goes bankrupt.

And this is another movie that, at least in the trailers, looked promising. But despite a pretty good performance by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who should be doing more movies), this movie never really gets going or manages to create a spark that good romantic comedies have. Uma Thurman is Dr. Emma Lloyd, a radio talk show host who dispenses with sage advice about how most men are pigs and fairy tale weddings are just that. In doing so, she manages to decimate Patrick Sullivan's plans for a bright future with his fiance. He then decides, with a little help from his friend, to marry her by hacking into the system and declaring she's married to him. Unfortunately, she's about to be married to Colin Firth (so dreamy) and this isn't a good thing, apparently. So hi-jinx ensue and everyone ends up happy with their destined lover (except poor handsome Colin Firth) and pregnant (well, just Uma really).

And it may seem like I spoiled the ending, but trust me, you do not need to see this movie. It's just a fairly pedestrian romantic comedy that doesn't go anywhere, or provide enough laughs to make it a comedy. The best part of the movie is Morgan, who seems to be really committed. There's a few laughs to be had, but overall it was probably a wise decision to send this straight to DVD.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For!

182: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 106 minutes
Starring: Michael Douglas, Amber Tamblyn, Jesse Metcalfe
Director: Peter Hyams

Oh boy, this movie was just awful. It had promise, too. Supposedly it's based on an old 1956 noir thriller of the same name and while the plot sounds intriguing (and it actually is), everything else in this movie seems to stumble around like a hapless drunk with his (or her - don't want to leave out all those women drunkards!) pants down around his (or her!) ankles.

Jesse Metcalfe (who was in John Tucker Must Die, a good teen comedy that unfortunately does not have anybody die in it) plays C.J. Nicholas, an earnest reporter who's looking for his next big break - apparently he already got one when he made a very good puff piece (which it is not - it's so badly shot and put together, something about some crazy junkie who threw her baby away after it died in childbirth, I think. It's not very clear because it's not a good report.) for the local Buffalo news. It was so good they sent him to the big leagues, New Orleans. Yes, the big easy is apparently the next step towards the network nightly news desk. Lame, right? It already sounds a bit implausible. But for some reason, C.J. just knows the D.A. is falsifying evidence. And the only way to prove it is by pleading guilty to a recent murder that he didn't commit - but tape evidence of his innocence as a way to show up the D. A. during his trial.

I'm not gonna lie, it sounded pretty good. But I just can't get past the poorly paced and un-thrilling scenes that take place. And on top of that, it just seems like everyone is phoning their performances in. I'm sure Michael Douglas was just trying to pick up a paycheck because he's, umm, like not convincing as an evil D.A. getting off on his power trip. And Amber Tamblyn is the love interest, but there's absolutely no chemistry between her and Metcalfe. And in the movie, they fall in love in a matter of six or seven days. It's completely absurd - Maggie and I had some fun MST3K-ing some lines about their puppy love. There's way too much building up to the ending that it was pretty excruciating. I just wanted to get to the end because it seemed like all the actors did too.

So do yourself a favor and skip this one - it's pretty awful and no amount of good twists (and there is a fairly decent one at the end) could help save this one from peeing all over itself.

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague

182: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (PG) - 2009 - Runtime: 87 minutes
Voiced by: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Director: Wes Anderson

I really enjoy Wes Anderson. I absolutely loved Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. I really liked The Darjeeling Limited and even his weakest movies, in my opinion (The Life Aquatic and Bottle Rocket), are still great. So I was really looking forward to his take on a classic Roald Dahl movie. And I'm a big fan of Roald Dahl - my brother had all of his books and I would read a lot of them - my favorites were The BFG and the The Twits. Dahl has a unique perspective on children's literature - something that's a bit absurd and a bit scary, but with a lot of heart and good humor. And although this movie isn't necessarily a great kids film (I think some kids might find it absolutely dull), it's still a great, funny and unique movie - worth watching a few times.

The story unfolds as Mr. Fox and his wife are trying to escape from a squab farm (yeah, they're a kind of bird - the poor man's chicken, I guess) when they get caught. At that moment, Mr. Fox decides to dedicate his life to his wife and family (after Mrs. Fox reveals she's pregnant). After a few years later (several in fox years), Mr. Fox is not content with his digs (literally) and wants to move into a tree. After moving in, he's tempted to go back to his stealing ways - where he annoys the cuss out of the local big wig farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean. They decide to wage war on Mr. Fox and hilarity and calamity ensue. It's a great set up for some good jokes and action - all in stop motion.

Which, by the way, is pretty wonderful. I like stop motion a lot and I think Wes Anderson's visual style really suits the stop motion here. His story telling also fits this story well - he embellishes the story with some great side characters and plots. The best is Mr. Fox's son, Ash, who's a bit awkward and feels like a social outcast not only among his peers, but his family, too. Jason Schwartzman is perfect as the voice - he has some of the best lines and gags in the movie. And it all works, it never feels forced. I think that's what I like about Wes Anderson's movies - he seems to really find the poignant and funny moments between families. He's great at showing the best and worst moments in a family's life without ever seeming too harsh or too mellow.

It's a great, fun movie and writing about it makes me want to go see it again. If it's still playing nearby, check it out, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how funny it is.

Rating: See It!

182: Extract

Extract (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 92 minutes
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig
Director: Mike Judge

This is kind of the perfect movie for me - Mike Judge is directing (the genius behind Office Space and the underrated Idiocracy), Jason Bateman is the lead (he's so dreamy!) and a whole cast of some of my favorite comic actors right now (Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis, J. K. Simmons) and even Ben Affleck is awesome, who's had a pretty good year in my opinion, even if his box office doesn't reflect it. So it's no surprise that this movie made me laugh a lot and I hope Judge can keep churning out movies like this, because they're exceptionally good.

Jason Bateman plays Joel, owner of his own flavor extract company and at a bit of a crossroads in his life. He's dealing with a possible lawsuit at work, trouble with his wife and on top of that, just managing his company through a possible buyout also. It's in this environment that Mike Judge works so well: the regular workplace. He's not afraid to let his characters react normally to some of the crazy situations that are happening all around them. Despite the dick and fart jokes and stoner moments, this is a very smart and well-done comedy with a lot of good actors at the top of their game.

Every single character seems slightly absurd, but not too far from reality. Jason Bateman does what he does best - play the sane character around a battalion of slightly off-kilter characters. One of which is Ben Affleck, who plays Dean, his pro-drugs best friend. Somehow Joel takes his advice - which seems absurd, but Joel is just looking for someone to guide him through his problems and Dean's the only one who's offering. Joel is having problems with his wife, who seems to have no interest in him anymore and decides, with Dean, to hire a gigolo to seduce his wife, played by Kristen Wiig. He leaves the bait and takes it, more than a dozen times, to be exact. On top of that Mila Kunis plays Cindy, a con artist looking to score big on a potential lawsuit with Joel's company and tries to seduce her way through the movie. All of these crazy situations come together pretty cleverly and if it was anyone other than Mike Judge, I think the movie could have gotten out of hand - but he keeps things grounded in this very real community and work place he's created. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the brilliant performance by David Koechner as the most annoying neighbor on the planet.

It's a pretty hilarious movie and the ending may seem a little weird, but I thought it ended perfectly. It's going to end up being a cult classic, I'm sure. Keep 'em coming, Mr. Judge.

Rating: Buy It!


182: Five Minutes of Heaven

Five Minutes of Heaven (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 90 minutes
Starring: Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

 "The man shot my brother three times in the head. The man is having the life of Riley. Do I shake is hand, or do I kill him?" That quote got me hooked into watching this movie. James Nesbitt's execution of that one line had already sold me on a movie that I may have otherwise passed on. Well, despite the two really strong performances out of this title, this sort-of revenge flick doesn't really live up to to the expectations I had with it. Not to say that's a bad thing.

I will say, I really had no idea the back story of this movie going in. Call me ignorant, but I had to get on Wikipedia to find out about the IRA and the Troubles, as they have called the conflict in Northern Ireland in the late twentieth century. So I will give the movie that - it made me more aware of the conflicts that I only read or heard headlines about while growing up. James Nesbitt plays Joe, a man who witnessed when he was just a small boy, the killing of his brother by Liam Neeson's Alistair. The movie takes place in three different segments - the actual plot and killing by Alistair, the TV interview between the two men after more than thirty years have gone by and the subsequent meeting that happens afterward. Alistair is part of a protestant terrorist group, the Ulster Volunteer Force and gets roped into killing a Catholic. While he kills his target - he looks over and sees a little boy staring at him - Joe, the target's little brother. Flash forward thirty years and Alistair is still haunted by Joe's staring image. He's since been a reformed man, or so we're lead to believe. And some hippie, "love conquers all" TV station decides to sit both of them down for what they call a reconciliation. Little do they know Joe plans on killing Alistair.

It a good set up - but one that fails to get things going right away. There's some good parts - the last third in particular was pretty spectacular. But to get there is a bit tedious and almost repetitive. I will give props to Liam Neeson who does a great job playing the redeemed lost soul and James Nesbitt is even better - he's maniacal, somewhat diabolical and completely unpredictable simply because of this one event that changed his life forever. I wouldn't say this movie was fantastic or great, but if you can stick through the first half - the movie rewards you with a great ending.

The movie was directed by the man who did Downfall, which has since become an internet meme on YouTube. You can pretty much find the clip in which Hitler is throwing a temper tantrum and the subtitles are changed to fit any number of topics: the Avatar trailer sucked, Brett Favre's unretirement, even Hitler reacts to all the Downfall parodies out there. Despite this unusual phenomenon, the movie I've heard is pretty fantastic and he's done a pretty good job with this one, too.

Initially this was going to be a lot harsher review, but after writing about it and thinking back on the movie - I was actually struck by the performances and the chills that Nesbitt sends down my back when he says some of his lines. It's a better movie than I initially thought - so check it out if you're up for a good, character-driven story about two men who seem to have lost their way in life.

Rating: Rent It!


182: Flame & Citron

Flame and Citron (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 130 minutes
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thure Lindhardt, Stine Stengade
Director: Ole Christian Madsen

I was really intrigued by this movie when I saw the trailer for it before some other DVD that I rented a while back. I'm always up for a World War II-themed movie and this Denmark import had enough pizazz in its trailer to make me really want to see it. And I'm certainly glad I did, although at times it was hard to get through.

I really like movies that take actual events and people and either fictionalize the story or at least tell the true story in a unique way (It's the same way with books - I've become really interested in this sort of fiction, Drood being my latest obsession). The movie tells about the most famous Danish resistance fighters during WWII and the lives they led. They're both good at what they do - dispatching Gestapo members and taking out the Nazi regime that occupied their country. Against this backdrop, they get involved in a series of targets that leads both of them to question who's really the enemy and who they can really trust. It's a good tale to tell - it's not only a war film, but a good noir film with enough twists to keep you guessing as to what will happen next.

For the most part I really enjoyed the movie. Mads Mikkelsen, best known for his role as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, does a fantastic job of portraying a hero that struggles with his own inner demons and being a good husband and father. The other role, Flame, is played by Thure Lindhardt (who had a small role in Angels & Demons) who does a pretty good job of being a cold-blooded killer when he needs to be. But even though I enjoyed most of the movie, there were times where I struggled because I just wanted it to get on with the plot. It isn't exactly well-paced and at times it does seem sluggish. But it's not enough for it to detract from a pleasurable experience.

If you haven't got your fill of WWII movies yet, this one is a pretty decent one - it's got some action and the noir elements are a nice touch. It's well acted and I'd recommend renting it, so check it out!

Rating: Rent It!

182: Four Christmases

Four Christmases (PG-13) - 2008 - Runtime: 88 minutes
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Seth Gordon

What bugs me about Christmas movies is that if you don't catch it in theaters, you're going to have to wait almost a full year for it to come out on DVD. Such is the case with Four Christmases - something I wasn't eager to spend money on with a ticket, but I was looking forward to renting it. Well, let's just say I'm glad I waited, because this won't really be remembered too fondly as a great Christmas movie after a few years.

Four Christmases is about Brad and Kate, a couple who have no desire to have kids, get married or do anything but just be a couple. And they're having fun - until they get landlocked in San Francisco during Christmas and are forced to visit all of their parents (who are both divorced). They don't get along with their families, which explains their noncommittal relationship. And throughout the movie they deal with the families they've ignored, each realizing they may want to start their own.

It's a fairly straightforward movie - you know where this is headed and what these two characters are going to do. It's too bad most of the hi-jinks they find themselves getting into are only somewhat funny and sometimes mildly annoying. There's really nothing bad about the movie, it's just that there's nothing really great, either. You're just kind of waiting for something spectacularly bad or funny to happen and it doesn't. And don't for a second buy into this idea that it's a Christmas movie. It really isn't - the Christmas theme is just an excuse for them to visit their parents (and to sell tickets, really).

Vince Vaughn is his usual self in this movie and that isn't a bad thing, but I just didn't feel any connection whatsoever to Brad and Kate. They just seemed somewhat detached from the real world - like they're floating around San Francisco in a daze, begrudgingly visiting families whom, by the end of the movie, don't seem like a family at all. It's too bad, because these types of broken family movies can be done really well (see The Family Stone) and in this one, everyone's just phoning it in.

So if you're looking for a Christmas movie, just rent one of the classics and skip this one. It's ninety minutes that you'll end up regretting.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For


182: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (PG) - 2009 - Runtime: 105 minutes
Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams
Director: Shawn Levy

If you look at the movie poster to the right, you can pretty much guess how this movie is going to be. They're just going to throw as much shit at you as possible and hopefully some of it will be funny and good. I really didn't want to see this but it was really the only choice my family could watch over the Thanksgiving weekend. And they all fell asleep during the movie.

I really did enjoy the first movie. Whatever mojo they had going worked really well. It was just well put together, the pacing worked and seeing Dick Van Dyke play some steroid-induced bad guy was pretty funny. Plus Steve Coogan as Octavius was pretty frickin' hilarious. So what do you get in the next one? Some cameos by the characters in the first movie and a brand new host of history's greatest thugs and heroes. Yawn. There's just way too much of everything. Hank Azaria as an ancient pharaoh really tries too hard to be some goofball character. Why does he have a lisp and an British accent? I don't know, apparently that's funny. And his henchman, Napoleon, Al Capone and Ivan the Terrible could have been funny, but they don't get enough screen time. The only decent character was Amy Adams' Amelia Earhart. What made the first movie great? Octavius and Jebediah, the T-Rex and the monkey. They all play second fiddle to a new host of characters that all suck. Even Bill Hader's Custer really isn't that funny. They pretty much took all the good stuff from the first one and decided to throw it out the window.

The other problem I had with this movie was the continuity from the first movie. Where's that chick Larry hooked up with at the end of the first movie? Why is he an inventor now? I guess I have a problem with this in most sequels & franchises. It's like some events never existed in the past movies. I guess that's why I never got into the Bond films (except the new ones - at least Quantum of Solace managed to acknowledge Casino Royale) - there's pretty much no evidence of past exploits and events. For some reason, it really bothers me!

But to make matters worse, the plot is just as bad as the poorly written characters. It's just all over the place and the bad guy pharaoh's evil plot doesn't seem very evil or grand. It's just written in as an excuse for Larry to run all over the place with Amelia. And that's supposed to be his love interest, too BTW. I know, it sounds stupid and it is stupid! But somehow he finds a girl that happens to look like Amy Adams/Amelia Earhart at the end of the movie. And they supposedly share a connection. You know he's going to hook up with her and soon Larry's becoming sort of a man whore by now.

It's just a bad movie all around and I will not be watching the third movie when it eventually comes out. I'm going to avoid that one like the plague, hence:

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague

182: Gone With the Wind

Gone With the Wind (G) - 1939 - Runtime: 238 minutes
Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh
Director: Victor Fleming

It's hard to cast judgment on this kind of movie. It's a lot like Casablanca - it's adored by millions of people and still, after seventy years, considered one of the greatest movies of all time. Maggie was surprised when I came home with this movie completely ignorant of the plot, back story and even the cast (I thought the lead was Cary Grant not Clark Gable - and I consider myself knowledgeable about most movies!). The one thing I knew was that it was set during the civil war. So I guess you could say I'm the most objective viewer for this movie, right? All joking aside, I was just hoping I had a good time with the nearly four hour (!) movie.

And although I did not dislike the movie, I really didn't like it, either. I wouldn't consider it in my top ten, certainly not number six of all time (according to AFI's list). But that's all fairly subjective and this is part of the reason why I started watching all these movies in the first place. If there's any comparison to a modern day movie, it would be Titanic. Big budget, relatively unknown stars (although Clark Gable was a fairly big name by the time the movie came out), Oscar worthy material, etc. But unlike Titanic, which I consider Hollywood's biggest mistake (I mean if we could rewind back to 1997 and seriously watch that movie for the first time - I think we would all agree it's a stupid little movie. James Cameron, you better make up for this with Avatar.), Gone With the Wind actually holds up after all this time and the message of the movie and epic scope are still very relevant and meaningful. But even after all that (somewhat) praise, I didn't like it that much.

My problem with the movie is not necessarily the length, but how long it took Scarlett to stop being such a brat and grow up (pretty much the whole four hours). And maybe that's the point, and so be it, but I still don't like it and much like Rhett Butler, frankly, I don't give a damn. I really did enjoy the idea that this certain way of living was "gone with the wind," that is, the innocent part of the southern way of living became extinct after the civil war.

But going back to the length of this movie - it is long and it's not something you can just pop in on a Tuesday night. You have to be invested in wanting to see this movie. It's the same way with the Lord of the Rings movies. I get the grand, epic feeling of it all - but it's something I don't think I'd want to revisit anytime soon. Sometimes characters rub me the wrong way or just get on my nerves to the extent that it ruins the experience - and that's how I felt about Scarlett. I didn't enjoy watching her pout and carry on like a diva for most of the movie. It didn't help that her friend was pretty much Mother Teresa, a perfect person who never did anything remotely wrong or sinful. The only real character I bought was Rhett - he was played brilliantly by Clark Gable - I thought he was brash and delightfully charming through the whole movie.

Even though I'm not too hot on this movie, I at least respect why it was such a phenomenon, and still is. If you count attendance, it's still the most watched movie of all time - according to Box Office Mojo, and adjusted for ticket price inflation, almost made a 1.5 billion dollars domestically. That alone is a powerful statement as to how this movie was received back then. And like I said earlier, it still holds up today as a powerfully epic story and something to see simply because it's considered one of the greatest.

I would recommend this movie if you haven't seen it yet and you're looking for an epic, romantic movie. Just be prepared and don't get too discouraged at all the whining Scarlett does - she has a fitting ending in the movie.

Rating: Rent It!


182: I Love You, Beth Cooper

I Love You, Beth Cooper (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 102 minutes
Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust
Director: Chris Columbus

Sometimes with teenage sex comedies, you'll find a gem. Like earlier this year, Sex Drive was a huge bomb at the box office, but it was one of the funnier movies I saw this year. So I was hoping that, despite the reviews and the box office, I Love You, Beth Cooper might be charming and funny enough to win me over. Boy was I wrong.

Let's just get this out of the way first: I don't think Hayden Panettiere is hot, nor has any discernible talent as an actress. Apparently she's a singer, too, but I cannot judge her on this, as I haven't really heard any of her tunes. So I will admit I was taking this movie with a grain of salt already - hoping that it would win me over and tickle my funny bone (and it does love to be tickled). However, this movie ends up trying too hard to sell you on the sex, but serving it in a PG-13 rating! This, in my humble opinion, is an injustice! You can't have a sex comedy without the sex! What if American Pie was rated PG-13? Ho-damn, that would not be a good movie! All right, enough, I've made my point.

But putting aside the whole rating issue, there's still got to be some good laughs to be had, right? not really as most of the jokes are fairly lame - dorks versus jocks, middle school sex jokes, etc. I did enjoy Paul Rust for the most part - he plays a good dork. But Hayden Panettiere really isn't suitable for this role. She plays it like a schizophrenic girl next door with bad girl vibes, where deep down inside, she knows the best times of her life has just ended and she's going to end up a sad little waitress stuck in her hometown. And that's the other main problem with this movie - the really goofy and funny bits (which aren't exactly that funny) don't mesh well with the serious, coming-of-age stuff that they throw in. The movie tries to play it too safe with both sides and they both get ruined because of it.

And I feel like I'm getting old, but some of the stuff these kids do and the trouble they get into are just ridiculous for high school students. Seriously, there's no way that these kids wreck and destroy two separate houses, cause numerous traffic accidents/violations and have unprotected sex without any consequences. I guess they live in a dream town where the police can't be bothered and actions don't have any real consequences. I mean, they're just kids, right? And this is a sex comedy, so liven up, ck! No, I will not - it just got to be too much. Like I said, I'm getting old.

Well, I say the kids aren't alright in this movie. To quote Bart Simpson, the movie does the physically impossible: it sucks and blows. Take my advice - watch Sex Drive instead.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For

182: When in Rome

When in Rome (PG-13) - 2010 - Runtime: ? minutes
Starring: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Dax Shepherd, Danny Devito, Jon Heder
Director: Mark Steven Johnson

We got free screening tickets for this movie at work and I decided why not? It looks like harmless fun. And if I don't like it, I didn't pay for it, right? Well, to put it nicely, this movie comes out on January 29 next year and you could probably find a thousand better things to watch or do than go check this stinker out.

Kristen Bell plays Beth, an ambitious PR gal who recently got dumped and on top of that, has to play the maid of honor at her sister's wedding in Rome. What luck! Well, don't ya know it, she makes a fool of herself at the wedding in front of a dreamy (and steamy) Nick (Josh Duhamel). But after failing at picking up anybody, she decides to take her anger out on a poor magical fountain by removing the change from the pool where people wish for true love. And in so doing, she finds herself being wooed by five very different (and goofy!) men, one of which is Nick. And it's up to Beth and her witty assistant to sort things out and find out who's the true love.

Despite my sarcastic embellishments with the plot, it sounded like a good premise. Unfortunately this is a poorly written and executed movie. And the cast just misfires - it seems like most of the actors are just phoning it in and waiting for their paycheck. Will Arnett? Funny man, but not so funny in this movie with his silly haircut and accent. I like Dax Shepherd, and he probably had the most laughs, but otherwise uninspiring. I actually thought Duhamel was pretty great, he's a klutz (By the way, there is a lot of physical comedy in this movie. In fact, it's too much, it's as if the writers couldn't come up with better jokes, so they have Josh run into a pole!). The rest of the cast? Umm, Kristen Bell is pretty?

Overall, it just wasn't funny and honestly, I really don't know how this got a PG-13, it's really a PG movie. There's nothing overtly sexual and the language isn't bad at all. The only threatening thing in this movie is a naked mural of Kristen Bell that isn't as bad as some magazine covers. So, despite the great premise and incredible cast - this one strikes out. Not only is it not funny - most of the movie doesn't even take place in Rome! I know! How crazy is that? And the ending just keeps going, too! Once you think things are going to settle down and the credits will pop up! BAM! They hit you with another chase sequence or twist! It's a little ridiculous and I was frankly getting tired by the end when I knew how things were going to work out.

So it's best to avoid this movie at all costs, go sit down and watch 13 Going on 30, hell even Just Like Heaven was better than this "magical" romantic comedy.

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague

182: Blade Runner

Blade Runner (R) - 1982 - Runtime: 117 minutes
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Darryl Hannah
Director: Ridley Scott

So I was really excited to sit down and watch this movie. It's supposed to be one of the defining sci-fi movies of ALL TIME, a classic and so on. But what my mind had anticipated was something totally different than what appeared on screen.

Not to say that this movie was a disappointment. I think I need to watch the movie a second time through (and I watched the final, super director's cut or whatever - I guess this is what Ridley Scott wanted as the final version) to really appreciate all the details, metaphors and symbolism that are running throughout. I'm so used to modern-day, fast-paced action sci-fi epics (as in Minority Report and I, Robot) so to slow down with this more noir film pace was somewhat of a jolt. So if you think you're going to see a lot of action, brace yourself, this is not that movie. What you'll find is a very smart and tense noir film that takes place in the future where robots (called replicants) look just like humans.

For those not familiar with the plot, there are robots (replicants) that live among the humans. That is, until a mutiny by the replicants on an off-world colony turns ugly and ends up killing a lot of real humans. After that, replicants are deemed illegal and are "terminated." Harrison Ford plays Deckard, a blade runner who is tasked with terminating all the replicants living on earth (or at least in his city). He's recently assigned to track down four replicants that have landed on earth and are living among the humans. It's a fairly straightforward story, but one that gets complicated with the idea that Deckard cannot trust anyone.

There's a lot going on in this movie - from questions raised about morality (do these replicants actually have rights and do they deserve their place within society if they're exactly like us?) to immortality (man has created man himself - does that make him god?). It's a fairly deep sci-fi movie and like I said earlier, one that deserves a second examination to really appreciate what Ridley Scott and the screenwriters are saying and how they adapted Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The acting is a little scatter shot - but Rutger Hauer definitely stands out, even more than Ford, as the best part of this movie. He's slightly maniacal (especially near the end) and just menacing enough to give you the creeps. And Darryl Hannah just creeps me out in general, so the fact that she's all dolled up and weird in this movie just ratchets her up in the stratosphere of super freaks. And the sets are pretty amazing and the visual effects still hold up after more than twenty-five years. I always think that's a testament to a movie - whether it can still be appreciated after more than a decade. Although some of the costumes and characters scream the 80s, it doesn't detract from the atmosphere and gritty feel of the movie.

I highly recommend this movie if you haven't seen it already and are a sci-fi lover. Even if you like noir movies, this one is right up there with the best of them. It may not get you the first time, but by second viewing you may just love it.

Rating: Own It!


182: In the Loop

In the Loop (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 106 minutes
Starring: Tom Hallander, James Gandolfini
Director: Armando Iannucci

Oh man, this movie was hilarious. I still snicker everytime I see the trailer and Peter Capaldi shouts "Nazi Julie Andrews!" There's so many obscene and wonderful lines in this movie, you could really watch this over and over again and find something new to laugh at.

Simon Foster, the British Minister for International Development, states off the cuff in a radio interview that "war is unforeseeable". He later tries to recant this statement to a hoard of news reporters with another statement: "to walk the road of peace, sometimes we need to be ready to climb the mountain of conflict". Both these remarks start a series of manoeuvrings on both sides of the Atlantic by both the pro- and anti-war factions in both governments (taken from imdb.com). Although this may seem like a cut and dry plot, it's bolstered by an abundance of absurd and very much obscene characters. Peter Capaldi plays Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouth PR guy for the British government whose every line is filled with hysterical metaphors and every dirty word you can think of: "Well, it is out there, it's out there now, lurking like a big hairy rapist at a coach station. You know, if I could, I'd punch you into paralysis!" He's certainly the focal point of the hysteria, but the bumbling and rambling Simon Foster is just the polar opposite, who is the catalyst for sparking the anti-war charge. And on the other side of the pond are a bunch of idiots, too.

The movie portrays everyone involved as a self-centered, inept douchebag. Everyone has their own agenda and by the end of the movie, despite all the laughs, you're left wondering how hopeless and pathetic the government really is. Everyone that's rooting to push the war forward wins, no matter how much interference by the opposite side. It's a sobering end to an otherwise laugh out loud movie, but it doesn't detract from the movie, and I'm not complaining either.

So to wrap up, if you're not afraid of obsceneties blasting from every line, then this one is definitely worth your time - it's a fairly scathing comedy about the assholes and idiots that run our government. It's a keeper!

Rating: Own It!


182: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 106 minutes
Starring: Denzel Washington, John Travolta
Director: Tony Scott

I've enjoyed Tony Scott as of late. While Deja Vu was not great, it was a decent rental and I thought Domino was sorely underrated. I thought I was going to see this movie in the theaters when it first came out, so I rented the original movie just so I could see what the hype was all about. Apparently the original 70s version is considered a cult classic, drawing inspiration for a list of modern day directors, including Quentin Tarentino. And I didn't like it. I guess I just didn't get it. It moved too slow, the tension wasn't really there and the climactic ending was sorely lacking in suspense. I didn't get the sense that the bad guys were really that bad. So I decided to not make a point of catching the Scott version in theaters.

But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Scott's modern spin on this "classic." It was well paced, the bad guys struck the right note of villainy and mystery. And you get a back story on Washington's character enough to sympathize with and despise him at the same time. It all adds up to a great drama with enough suspense and action to whet the appetite. Washington does a great job at playing a schmuck who's been relegated to dispatcher in the subway traffic control department. It just so happens the day he's working happens to be the day Travolta's character, with a few goons, hijacks a train with a super sleek and super smart plan to make tons of money. And unlike the original, I actually felt all the passengers were in real danger this time. However, there was way too much cursing in this movie! It was utterly ridiculous. Yeah, I see that you have a dragon tattoo on your neck, you wear sunglasses and you can kill people. You don't need to throw in f-bombs in every sentence to get across the fact that his character is a "badass."

And the movie leads up to an actually climactic ending with a little bit of a twist. It wasn't exactly a twist, which I'm glad for, because sometimes movies try too hard to insert some sort of "gotcha" moment at the end and this movie didn't need it. It can stand on its own without winking at the audience. And not to be gone unnoticed, James Gandolfini's performance as an unsympathetic lame duck mayor is pretty superb.

All in all, I really enjoyed this one! Scott, I'm looking forward to your next movie, don't let me down!

Rating: Rent It!