Monday, August 25, 2008


“ELEGY” (Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson & Peter Sarsgaard)
Lou Grant didn’t like ‘spunk’... Me? I don’t like pompous tripe & ‘Elegy’ is jam packed with it. I wish I had counted the number of times I rolled my eyes at a line of dialogue and thought, “What pompous tripe!”
I also wished I’d taken a pen so I could quote directly from the screenplay some of the exceptionally dopey lines. One I tried to remember came as Professor/Theatre Critic David Kepesh (Kingsley) was making love to one of his two ‘true’ loves; “When a man has sex with a woman he is getting even for every bad experience he’s had in his life” (Or some dribble like that) That was the first line that had me thinking, “HUH?”
Here’s the plot; Elderly Professor Kepesh is teaching a class which contains a Cuban-born student that looks remarkably like Penelope Cruz (named Consuelo) The Professor, we learn thru his v/o gears the entire year to lead to his bedding of the beautiful woman who is young enough to be his Granddaughter. (Never mind that SHE looks like Penelope Cruz & HE looks like Ben Kingsley – Great actor/not exactly known for his tremendous good looks)
I could see where the student might become infatuated enough to possibly sleep with ‘wrinkled Gandhi’ once, but once he turns into an obsessed stalker, it should have been ‘So long, Grampa!’
David is a dull, exceedingly conceited character – someone who thinks his opinion is the only one that matters & tells you what your opinion should be. Women are merely vessels to be anchored to long enough to satisfy his sexual needs & then discarded.
He has a regular lover/friend with benefits closer to his age range - Patricia Clarkson, playing a poorly drawn woman, but giving her as much life as any actress possibly could.
In other words, I bought Patricia’s performance as ‘becoming’ that character – I just thought the character was weakly written; her quotes & actions somewhat confusing at times. She and David seem to have an understanding that their relationship is purely physical, yet she throws the tantrum of a jealous wife when she discovers a tampon in his bathroom. David, adding to his many lovely qualities is also a habitual liar (One gets the feeling it’s because ‘chicks are easy to fool’ in his mind)
Dennis Hopper plays George, David’s best friend & poet – it’s easy to see how the two became friends, they are practically carbon copies of one another – ergo, George is a dull character, also void of the ability to remain faithful to his wife.
The biggest surprise involving George is that his wife is played by ‘Blondie’ (Debbie Harry in a short cameo) I won’t give away any of the plot twists, but there was one scene where I felt that David was attempting to make a pass at ‘Blondie’ at a most inopportune time. It just struck me as odd – one of the dudes from ‘Easy Rider’ matched with Blondie?
Peter Sarsgaard plays Kenny – David’s son who hates his guts for abandoning him as a child & having very little to do with his upbringing... So when Kenny gets entangled in his own extramarital affair, to whom does he go to for advice? Of course, the father he hates with a passion. Another message sent loud & clear by this production – ALL MEN CHEAT ON THEIR WIVES – NO EXCEPTIONS!
Although the reason for Kenny to visit his estranged father is irrational & senseless, the latter portion of the scene is probably the only poignant moment in this film full of pompous tripe.
This would have been a much more interesting, realistic & entertaining film had they stayed along the vein of having David become Consuelo’s stalker – obsessed with her every move – fantasizing that she’s having numerous affairs with men much younger & better looking than he; a potboiler building to an exciting climax – will he flip out & kill her, or will she manage to get the upper hand & snuff his sorry, arrogant butt?
After repeatedly hurting her emotionally, Consuelo disappears from David’s life – only to reappear to ask him to take some nude photographs of her. “I have no one else to turn to,”
she says... “Uh, how about a professional photographer instead of the conceited old geezer who made you feel like you weren’t worth 10 minutes of HIS time unless you were naked & in his bed?”
No, David has no interest in Consuelo beyond stroking his own inflated ego – so when the final heartfelt scenes played out – none of it seemed sincere to this viewer. In fact, as tears flowed like tap water from actor Kingsley’s eyes, I had to cover my mouth to keep from snickering out loud.
So if you see this film someday & find yourself thinking, “Boy, what a load of pompous tripe!” You’ll know who to thank for that phrase... Oh, you’re entirely welcome – it’s all in a day’s work.

Monday, August 18, 2008


“TROPIC THUNDER” (Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Nick Nolte & Special Guest Star Over-rated Actor Trying To Revive A Failing Career That He Should Be Grateful To Have Considering His Lack Of Any True Acting Abilities... Though He Does A Decent Job In This)

First off, the clown that stood, applauded & called out “Oscar winning performance!” at the end of this film is a complete buffoon. I liked this film, I liked it a lot, but I’m also very aware that it has been a long time since I’ve seen a funny comedy, so perhaps this won’t hold up that well when compared to top comedic flicks of past years – just that I was starving to laugh & ‘Tropic Thunder’, particularly Robert Downey, Jr. fed me enough humorous lines & scenes that I ate it all up with relish & mustard & the bun wasn’t stale... Mmmm, hot dogs! Oh, where was I? Let’s tackle the controversy first; Downey’s role as an Australian actor that undergoes surgery to have his skin darkened to play the black Sergeant in a war movie about a daring POW rescue mission couldn’t possibly be conceived as insulting – To me, he was doing a parody of Daniel Day-Lewis by going to extremes to ‘become’ the person he was playing (Or as the actor/character Kirk Lazarus puts it, “I’m just a dude playing a dude that’s disguised as another dude!”)
Plus there’s ‘actual’ black actor Brandon T. Jackson (playing rapper-turned-actor Alpa
Chino) on hand to remind Lazarus that he isn’t ‘actually’ black.
As in all Ben Stiller movies, the film could have done without Ben Stiller, but he must be given credit as the co-writer – though many scenes did have that ‘improv’ feel.
Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a mediocre actor lucky enough to latch onto a franchise hit of ‘Scorcher’ movies that, like any Sylvester Stallone series, has gone stale. ‘Tropical Thunder’ is supposed to be his come-back hit, but things aren’t clicking on the sound stage, so director Damien (Steve Coogan) takes his 5 man platoon of actors into the actual Vietnamese jungle to film them in authentic surroundings. This suggestion comes from the author of the script, Four-Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte) a Vietnam vet whose hands were blown off during the real-life rescue his screenplay is based on.
Matthew McConaughey plays Tugg’s agent, Rick Peck & for him, this film is a come-back of sorts in that he doesn’t totally suck in it.
As the actors/pretend soldiers make their way thru the jungle, it is Downey’s Lazarus that realizes they are lost and in danger, while Tugg insists the script is still in-play. Tugg is subsequently captured by a child drug overlord & a ransom call is made to Peck.
Jack Black plays drug addict Jeff Portnoy, famous for playing a rip-off of the Eddie Murphy fat farting family flicks, Portnoy is out to prove himself a serious actor; in doing this, Black’s character is the least enjoyable until he gets tied up for his own good by his fellow actors – Portnoy’s bargaining with Alpa Chino to untie him is the funniest scene in the film.
The ‘surprise’ guest actor has the role of movie mogul Les Grossman, a foul mouthed, anything for a buck studio head that ‘dares’ Tuggs kidnappers to kill him & face the aftermath of his wrath... Les’s stance? - the film won’t make money as it is unless the star is killed during its making. This is the role the dork was applauding at the end of the film. It is NOT an Oscar caliber role; Robert Downey, Jr., as he is in almost every movie he’s in, is the best part of this & his performance isn’t even an ‘honorable mention’ Oscar possibility. Like I said, I’m not sure how good this film is yet – other than I liked it because I’ve seen an awful lot of sophomoronic crap this year... It is the funniest of a weak batch of ‘comedies’. The HEAVilY made-up ‘guest star' actor gives one of his better performances as Grossman, but it doesn’t hide the fact that the guy is a weak, vastly over-rated actor – Deserving of an Oscar nod? PLEASE! He was just a dude playing a dude that was disguised as a bald, fat, hairy dude...


“The LOVE GURU” (Michael Meyers, Jessica Alba, Romany Malco & Dusty Craterlake)

Someone has to tell Mike Meyers putting Verne Troyer in every one of your movies is dumb! However, in this case, ‘dumb’ is the theme of ‘Love Guru’ - I haven’t heard this many weak attempts at humorous lines since ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry’;
In other words, this should make quite a few ‘Worst movies of ‘08’ lists come yearend.
The good news – Jessica Alba is a very pretty woman. The bad news – everything else that’s in this movie isn’t (very pretty, nor humorous)
Meyers, as Guru Pitnik, longs to become the world’s #1 Guru, knocking off Deepak Chopra. He does this by agreeing to help the Tiger Woods of hockey, Darren Roanoke (Played by the usually entertaining Romany Malco) win his estranged wife back from the goalie of the L.A. Kings, Jacques Grande (Dusty Craterlake in another role that isn’t going to make him a movie star)
First off, Hello, ‘Shrek’ – nobody is going to care outside of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, if Guru Pitnik helps the Toronto Maple Leafs win ‘Stanley’s Cup’, so even if you’re successful no one in this country will care! & #2 – Mike Meyers is a Canadian; so how come in this ‘authentic’ (in that the NHL allowed the use of the names of actual teams to be used) hockey story were games 4 & 5 both played in L.A. As any hockey fan knows, the NHL sticks to the 2-2-2-1 formula & the NBA is the league that does the ‘cheesy’ 2-3-2 home court ‘advantage’. (Just a personal gripe – little mistakes like that bug me!)
Ben Kingsley, in his most embarrassing appearance EVER plays Pitnik’s cross-eyed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi & the aforementioned Verne ‘MiniMe’ Troyer inexplicably plays the coach of the Maple Leafs for no other reason than he can logically slug Meyer’s Guru Pitnik in the nuts...
Meyers constantly grins & mugs for the camera in such an annoying way you just want to smack him across the face & tell him to ‘change the expression’! He grins as he ‘picks’ his sitar & sings Dolly Parton’s “9 To 5”... Wait a minute, isn’t that the title song to another (& much, much better) movie? Near the end (& believe me, you’re grateful when it comes!) he does the same shtick with Steve Miller’s “The Joker” with similar non-comical results. & they miss out on a musical parody that just might have worked;
Roanoke’s straying wife’s name is Prudence. At one point Guru Pitnik’s face is (poorly) inserted into a photo of The Beatles. Any fan of the Fab Four already sees the connection – John Lennon’s “Dear Prudence” was actually written in India. They could have done a take off on Cyrano De Bergerac & had Roanoke attempt to win Prudence back by lip syncing the song while exceptionally white Mike Meyers hid in the bushes with his sitar and sang.
This is just a bad movie, folks – even the hockey scenes are phony – Malco’s hockey superstar gets beaten up on the ice & not a single penalty is called until he retaliates & then he gets a two game suspension. & what happens in the final :30 of game 7 of the Finals is so ridiculous... well, like I said, you’re just glad that it’s finally close to being over!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


“PINEAPPLE EXPRESS” (Seth Rogen & James Franco)

I would love to see the screenplay to this for two reasons – 1) To prove to me that there really was a script & 2) To see if someone actually WROTE the lines that Rosie Perez utters throughout this comedic masterpiece. 3 writers are credited, including Rogen & the ‘on a roll with everyone except me’ Judd Apatow; to think that someone might have actually scripted Perez’ female cop’s lines is unfathomable to me - & that someone else would read those lines & say,
“Oh yeh, THAT stays in the script” is totally mind boggling. & I’m just picking on one character that was exceptionally poorly written, the rest of them just suck ass on the general low-brow comedy scale.
I don’t believe that a script exists – it seemed to me that the actors were given set ups & told to
‘try & make it funny’. Rogen plays a pot head process server/ Franco the pot head he buys his weed from. Scene: Rogen buys pot from Franco, just remember to work in the fact that the weed is called Pineapple Express & its an exclusive ‘blend’. Scene: Seth & James run away from bad guys – James jumps into a dumpster. ‘Cut! James why did you jump into the dumpster?’
(James) “I thought maybe one of us would say something funny about it.” ‘Well, you didn’t,
but we’ll keep it in anyway.’
That’s the way this entire film plays out – Ending with an elongated ‘shoot out’ scene that is neither funny nor action packed – it’s just dumb & boring. When the amount of times your asking yourself ‘Isn’t this supposed to be a comedy?’ Outnumber the number of actual funny lines, you know you’re watching a quality flick!
The plot is sophomoronic (A new word I invented just for this review – I mean, how many times can I write ‘this is crap’?) & the acting is beyond pathetic. But possibly the worst offense this film makes is in the skin crawling matchup of fat, homely, too lazy to shave pothead loser Seth Rogen & his ‘girlfriend’ – A cheerleader cute high school girl... Yeah, Seth, THAT’S believable – just like they expected us to believe the same character got Katherine Heigl ‘Knocked Up’...
Oddly enough, the only character that made me laugh was Franco’s – the scene where he steals the cop car & attempts to kick out the windshield was quite humorous. But unfortunately most of this film ‘jumps into the dumpster’ for no particular reason...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


“I guess they had done as much as one pair of pants can do...” that’s a line from the opening monologue in ‘Sisterhood-2’... need I say any more to convince you to stay away from this over-the-top chick flick that even the chickiest of chicks should find insulting?
Not having seen the ‘original’ Tale of 4 chicks of various heights & sizes all being able to fit into the same pair of jeans, I had no idea what I was about to be subjected to.
4 supposed ‘friends’ get together after being apart for some time & all immediately go their separate ways (Only one, Americo Vespuchi seems to be upset that they won’t be spending the summer together) Apparently they have a rule where they mail this ‘magical’ pair of jeans to one another in a weekly rotation. Eventually a younger sister
of one the 4 ‘borrows’ the pants & takes them to Italy where they are stolen. With tears flowing down her cheeks the sister calls home & with all the bereavement of losing a family member informs her older sibling that the pants are gone!
This film jumps from one Panted girl to the next without any substance; every segment is crammed with overemotional rhetoric to the point where you just want to slap them all in the face & say ‘Grow up, girlfriend!”
A trip to Italy ensues (to find the missing jeans) where one of the 4 chicks meets with the lying conniver, who at the beginning of the film dumps her for the woman he’s impregnated. Now, all during the meat of the film, this particular Panted chick has been making goo-goo eyes at handsome Johnny Mathis, Jr. (A painter that models nude for her art class) They seem to hit it off, yet somehow he is cut out of the film without any explanation as to why he’s been ‘dumped’ – I thought perhaps I had mercifully dozed off & missed a few scenes, but my wife informed me that they never did resolve the Johnny Mathis, Jr. affair...
The ending monologue was even more hysterical than the opening with Americo wistfully lamenting the lost pair of pants that had done as much as one pair of pants could do... Hopefully this means there won’t be a Sisterhood of Chicks That Don’t Seem To Like One Another Except For Their Magical Pair Of Pants 3 – As Americo might say as the screen fades to black – “I think the pants would have wanted it that way...”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


“SWING VOTE” (Kevin Costner, Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, Madeline Carroll, Nathan Lane & Stanley Tucci)
I knew I had to leave logic outside the theatre for this film and I believe I was successful – the fact that no Presidential election could ever come down to one vote in this country didn’t bother me nearly as much as the rest of the film...Let’s start with what I do best – picking on little girls! Madeline Carroll might be a decent child actress, but she isn’t given a chance in this. Director, Joshua Stern has her playing Costner’s daughter, Molly, as the most miserable child on the planet. I’m sure his instructions before EVERY scene was; “Look sad & miserable”.
No matter what ‘worst father of the year’ candidate, Kevin Costner’s Bud Johnson did to try & please her, she was miserable. He buddies up to incumbent Republican President Andrew Boone (Grammer) & she hates him for doing so; he parties with Democratic challenger Donald Greenleaf (Hopper) & she looks sorrowful & pissed off before the party even starts!
So can the kid act? Who knows? She certainly isn’t given the chance to show any range in this sourpuss, mopey role...
As far as the other actors, the most impressive was TV actor Kelsey Grammer. A total wash out in his previous big screen roles, here, he displays a ‘presidential air’ about him as the leader of the free world – even nailing that political ‘phony friendliness’ and ‘shifty demeanor’ to make his portrayal more believable.
The TV actor that fails miserably (the word of the day) is George Lopez, who delivers his lines as though he were shooting an ad for an infomercial – shouting when there’s absolutely no reason to shout & grinning while delivering lines that are meant to be taken seriously. I’m hoping his next big screen opportunity doesn’t happen within my lifetime...
Of Dennis Hopper’s job, I’ll just say there wasn’t ANYTHING Dennis Hopper-ish about it. (Kind of dull) Nathan Lane & Stanley Tucci are fine as the opposing chief advisor’s to their candidates, & Kevin Costner, an actor of limited range, is actually a little too classy for the drunken dead beat role as Sourpuss’s uninformed, un-attentive father.
The plot - Bud is told by his daughter to vote in the presidential election & he promises to do so; Instead he gets drunk at his favorite watering hole & passes out in his truck. The daughter sneaks into the voting booth & tries to vote for him, but the computer is accidentally shut down & she runs out before being caught. The election comes out tied (Yes, in this fantasy film, the people actually do get to elect the president) with the exception of one vote that didn’t count because of a computer glitch. Gee, just ONE this time (more film fantasy fun, I guess) So Bud is overwhelmed by media & the 2 candidates to try & find out who he’s going to select (He has 10 days to re-cast his vote) The problem being, Bud never voted in the first place & so he comes off looking like the most uninformed registered voter in history...
A cute idea that might have worked if the bulk of the film wasn’t so downtrodden; One feels extreme sympathy for Madeline’s Sourpuss Mopeyface until it reaches the point when you realize this kid is pretty much in a constant ‘suicidal-like’ state no matter what the situation and nothing is going happen to better her life!
& when the screen went black in a spoof of the Soprano’s finale, no one in the crowd seemed to care...