Monday, February 22, 2010


“SHUTTER ISLAND” (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo & Michelle Williams)

“Why you all wet, baby?” . . . the last line in one of the later chapters of the book from whence this film was created. It had me shaking my head, wondering, “Huh?” when I read it for the first time. The line is delivered too soon in the film version which lessens its ‘Huh?’ value. It was, for me, the most memorable line in the book - & the only real complaint I have with Martin Scorsese’s version is that he didn’t treat this line with the respect it deserved.
“Shutter Island” is my favorite book by my favorite author so I have often referred to it as the best book I ever read (Although I’m not going to argue with the other side of my brain that says “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” should hold that distinction)
“Shutter Island”, the movie, will have to wait a few years before I can properly place it – Watching this film wasn’t as exhilarating as I was hoping it would be & I’d say that was due to the fact that it IS the book. To say this was an ‘adapted’ screenplay is a joke; all Laeta Kalogridis did was ‘edit’ Lehane’s masterpiece so it would fit into a 2 & a quarter hour running time. After a while, I found myself mouthing the dialogue as the actors were saying their lines – sometimes even before they said them. So for me, this was too predictable - & yet the book wowed me with the unexpected twist it took after a great set up.
Leonardo DiCaprio as U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels may very well win his first Best Actor Oscar; & I say that only because he didn’t mess it up – whoever played Teddy was going to get an Oscar nomination – but, & maybe this was due to the fact that I knew the dialogue so well, there were times when I saw him as an actor reading his lines, rather than ‘becoming’ Teddy Daniels. However, he is to be commended for taking on a very difficult role.
One of my least favorite actors, Mark Ruffalo did a decent job as Teddy’s partner, Chuck Aule. It helped that the character fit well with Ruffalo’s semi-boring acting style.
My only complaint with Ben Kingsley’s performance as Dr. Cawley deals with one very poignant scene in which I felt he didn’t deliver enough impact & the aforementioned “Why you all wet, baby?” line. Otherwise, he played the ‘shifty, what-it-is-he’s-hiding-here?’ creepy psychiatrist just the way I pictured him.
Every else in the cast does fine, yet at the same time it felt as though they were being paraded thru the story like cattle – John Carrol Lynch greets the 2 Marshall’s at the ferry dock with a believable Boston accent; later, he yells at them to get out of the rain & that’s pretty much it. Patricia Clarkson’s character appears in order to spell things out for Teddy & she does so with a wonderfully eerie sense of timing. A barely recognizable Jackie Earle Haley plays battered inmate George Noyce with such great aplomb, he completely steals his one scene. & Ted Levine, as the insane asylum’s ‘Gestapo-ish’ Warden, would have been perfect if they had just given him a few more lines from the book – Levine’s one scene of dialogue is much too short & confusing – the film version makes it appear as though the Warden feels a camaraderie with Teddy, when in fact, he loathes him. In the book, when Teddy says he’s taking the ferry back to Boston, the Warden snaps, “You’re not going anywhere, boy!”
A quick run-down of the plot – Teddy & Chuck meet for the first time on the ferry that is taking them to Shutter Island which houses the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane; their mission is to find escaped mental patient Rachel Solondo. After learning that her husband had been killed in WWII (The story is set in 1954) Rachel took her three children, two boys & a little girl, & drowned them in the lake behind her house. She then brought them back inside the house & set them in chairs around the kitchen table & made them dinner.
Rachel was sent to Ashecliffe where she lived in denial of what she had done – to Rachel the kids were always at school & husband Jim was away on business. Then one morning an orderly opened Rachel’s cell to discover her missing.
Teddy & Chuck are forced to surrender their firearms & are told to ‘obey protocol’ before being allowed to enter the hospital. Teddy discovers a note left in Rachel’s room which reads ‘The Law Of 4 . . . But Who Is 67?’
The Marshall’s are then denied access to hospital records on the patients & staff, which infuriates Teddy. To appease the lawmen, Dr. Cawley, the head of administration, grants them permission to interview the patients that were part of the group therapy session Rachel attended the night before her disappearance.
One very nervous woman, who killed her husband with an axe, grabs Teddy’s notebook & scribbles something into it before returning it to him. Later, when Chuck asks what she wrote, Teddy shows him the notebook with ‘RUN’ written in bold letters.
As they interview the patients, Teddy asks each one, “Do you know an Andrew Laeddis?” Each patient looks at him strangely, but replies ‘no’.
Afterward, Chuck wants to know who Andrew Laeddis is & Teddy tells him, “He’s the firebug that lit the match that started the fire in our apartment that killed my wife...”
Michelle Williams plays Teddy’s dead wife, Delores, who appears to him in his dreams –which always end with something tragic happening (The scene where Delores slowly burns to ashes is particularly disturbing)
As the layers of Teddy Daniels’ past are revealed, we discover why he distrusts Dr. Cawley’s partner, Dr. Naehring (Max Von Sydow looking like a senile Nazi zombie)
& the correlation between Rachel Solondo’s drowned little girl & the image of a dead child that haunts him from a scene he witnessed during the war.
Teddy’s migraines cause him to ingest any medication Dr. Cawley offers & by the time he realizes what a mistake that was, it’s too late.
The ‘Shutter Island’ book leads thru many twists & turns with each one making the story more compelling – the problem with the film version is that it tries to implicate too many of these twists & so the plot seems crammed with them. Returning to the “Why you all wet, baby?” line – Sir Ben blows the delivery by saying it in a monotone – I always pictured it as being said with a lilt. Along with the odd situation of hearing a prominent doctor of psychology saying such a line to a U.S. Marshall who is pointing a rifle at him, it should have been the line that everyone remembers after they discover why it was said. & I don’t think it did that.
I’d be very interested in hearing from people who have seen the film & haven’t read the book – I don’t have the privilege of not knowing Teddy Daniels’ & Chuck Aule’s fate in the foreboding lighthouse on Shutter Island – Did the story work for you? Could you follow it, or was it too jammed pack with confusing images to keep track of what was going on? As I left the theatre, I passed a group of moviegoers who were confused by the ending. I thought of telling them what it meant but decided against it for two reasons – sometimes it’s a good thing for a movie to leave you with unanswered questions you can decipher for yourself - & 2) perhaps it will drive them to get a copy of the book. Which is precisely what happened to me after seeing Clint Eastwood’s film of the Dennis Lehane novel, “Mystic River”; I wanted to know why Kevin Bacon’s character pointed his finger at Sean Penn’s Jimmy & fired it like a gun & I found the answer in the book. & then I bought everything Lehane had written & enjoyed every experience. Which brings up the question, why hasn’t anyone made a movie out of ‘Darkness, Take My Hand’?

Friday, February 19, 2010



When my 2 most anticipated films were shoved into 2010, I had a feeling 2009 was going to stink... & it did! When you add in the fact that none of my 5 favorite movies were nominated for Best Picture, the Oscar race looks pathetic – by expanding the list to 10 nominees they have succeeded in diluting the award instead of making sure any deserving candidates weren’t left off – they left off the 5 best as far as I’m concerned & I’m only going to tape the Award ceremony this year so I can hear Jeff Bridges’ acceptance speech.
I saw 7 of the 10 nominees so 3 of them didn’t interest me enough to take my time & money to sit through (Avatar, An Education & Precious) I liked 5 of the 7
(Blind Side, Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, Up & Up In The Air) District 9 improved as it went along, & the Jumbo Shrimp Aliens were very realistic, but that first 20 minutes or so were brutal. & finally, A Serious Man??? Are you Serious, man? That one is in my bottom 10. The Hangover being snubbed is my biggest complaint, followed by Amy Adams & Emily Blount not being nominated for Best Actress/Supporting Actress for Sunshine Cleaning.
So with very little interest in the outcome, here are my predictions...

BEST FILM (Let’s bring that up to date while we’re farting around with tradition – it isn’t a ‘picture’ – you can’t hang it on the wall, & if you do, it’s called a ‘poster’)
I’ll go with the process of elimination on this one – The ‘doesn’t stand a chance in Hades’ field includes The BLIND SIDE, DISTRICT 9, An EDUCATION, SERIOUS MAN & UP. Not that I think they’re the 5 worst, I just think they’re the 5 that wouldn’t have been nominated in a normal year.
HURT LOCKER & PRECIOUS were nominated because the people in Hollywood who aren’t gay are afraid of women & if they didn’t nominate the ‘macho’ film directed by a woman & Oprah’s over-bloated baby they’d have to answer to their wives, girlfriends & many mistresses.
I think it’s between AVATAR, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS & UP IN THE AIR & I’m afraid they will give it to the Big Smurf film, which is rather surprising when you realize that earlier in the year they had the Big Blue Scrotum film & snubbed it (You’d think the gays would have put ‘Watchmen’ into the top 10)
BASTERDS & UP IN THE AIR are the 2 nominees that are also in my Top 10 & both are similar in that I enjoyed them both up until the final 15 minutes when one turned ridiculously stupid & the other stopped being clever & went dramatic. I hope one of them takes it, but I believe the Sheep in Hollywood will reward James Cameron for yet another overblown, poorly acted remake aimed at the poor little lambs who’ve lost their way... PREDICTION: AVATAR (& what a joke it will be)

BEST ACTOR – JEFF BRIDGES wins; deservedly so. I thought GEORGE CLOONEY did a better job of acting in the panned MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. I though COLIN FIRTH was mediocre in the less-than-entertaining A SINGLE MAN. MORGAN FREEMAN, my overall favorite among these 5 actors, gave one of his weakest performances in INVICTUS – still a surprise it didn’t get a Best Film nod even though it wasn’t nearly as good as expected. & JEREMY RENNER falls into the Who? category – he had one impressive scene & I guess he deserves to be recognized for it because it was one of the most memorable of the year but am I the only one who thought The HURT LOCKER dragged quite a bit & was put off by the fact that the squad got their original bomb specialist killed & then THEY are the ones who are worried about the new guy?

BEST ACTRESS – SANDRA BULLOCK wins because like Sally Field, I think most voters like her. HELEN MIRREN, the best actress of the group already has one so there’s no need to reward her for a ‘career achievement’. CAREY MULLIGAN has a chance because she was prominently mentioned earlier in the year – but Hollywood usually gives newcomers 'Supporting' wins. If Mulligan takes it, I will be happy because she carried 'An Education'. ‘PRECIOUS’ can’t be taken seriously since I’ve heard from those who have seen the film that she’s basically playing herself. JULIE & JULIA was just falt out awful & to reward MERYL STREEP for her annoying portrayal of a cookbook writer would be a travesty.
(& yes, I didn’t want to bother to take the time to look up Precious’s real name for the correct spelling)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Usually my favorite category because here’s where you get the guys who aren’t doing it to become ‘stars’ – they are more interested in their craft. Unfortunately, The MESSENGER only played in Seattle for one week at one hard to find parking near it theatre. I really wanted to see it & was hoping for an early DVD release so I can’t comment on Woody Harrelson other than to say he was the best part of the awful ‘2010’ & very off-the-wall entertaining in ‘ZOMBIELAND’, so to add on this serious turn which others deemed Oscar worthy, he has to be considered for my made up category ‘Actor Of The Year’ – but I don’t think he’s in the running here. Neither is Matt Damon, whom I thought should have been given a Best Actor shot for The INFORMANT not for his mundane role as a rugby player in INVICTUS. Nobody saw The LAST STATION so there’s no need to mention that CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER played Tolstoy in it & that’s why the snobs insisted he get a nod. To me, this category comes down to STANLEY TUCCI & CHRISTOPH WALTZ. From the outset, it’s easy to say WALTZ has the advantage, but I’m not so sure he’s a shoe-in. WALTZ was outstanding, but in a film that was full of impressive performances (Diane Kruger SHOULD have been given a Supporting nomination & Brad Pitt gave his best performance to date) TUCCI, on the other hand, stood out as the best part of the much-hyped though poorly executed The LOVELY BONES. TUCCI made my skin crawl with his creepy portrayal. Both were excellent, memorable performances. The question is – do they want to throw Peter Jackson a lovely bone by rewarding Tucci – or give it to the previously unknown WALTZ to reward Tarantino for finally making something watchable? Either way, the Oscar goes to an actor who played an unscrupulous basterd.
Which is what usually happens in this category, isn’t it? PREDICTION: WALTZ

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – This has WHO CARES? written all over it. They’ll give it to MO’NIQUE. Didn’t PENELOPE CRUZ win here just a year or two ago? Why was she nominated instead of Blunt or Kruger? VERA FARMINGA loses out to ANNA KENDRICK in UP IN THE AIR so there’s your ‘cancellation votes’.
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL was a nice surprise nominee because she has deserved to be recognize many times before & has not.
BEST DIRECTOR – Do they totally suck on CAMERON’s ample teats here or do they go for the upset & hand it to the chick (KATHRYN ‘DEUCE’ BIGELOW) ? That’s what I believe it comes down to & sheep being sheep, they won’t throw a monkey wrench into the tradition of rewarding any piece of garbage James Cameron throws up on a screen. I’ll be rooting for JASON REITMAN or QUENTIN TARANTINO. & I won’t bother to even mention the 5th nominee because it’s kind of embarassing that they’d recognize someone who simply got his main actresses to be themselves’

For my picks, I lost my notebook where I graded every film, so I had to decide if I wanted to go back & read all of my reviews from this sucky year to make an accurate list – or just wing it... Winging away, here’s my ‘BEST of 2009’ lists...

10 BEST FILMS (Alphabetical) BROTHERS***
*** (In My Top 5) & my #1 favorite is . . . “THE HANGOVER” (by a landslide)

JEFF BRIDGES*** (Crazy Heart)
GEORGE CLOONEY (Men Who Stare At Goats/Up In The Air combo)
MATT DAMON (The Informant)
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. (Sherlock Holmes)

Honorable mentions to... Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) / Russell Crowe (State Of Play) / Jake Gyllenhaal (Brothers) Viggo Mortenson (The Road) / Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds)

AMY ADAMS*** (Sunshine Cleaning)
AMY BRESLIN (My Sister's Keeper)
ZOOEY DESCHANEL (500 Days Of Summer)

ED HELMS (Hangover)
TOBEY McGUIRE (Brothers)
STANLEY TUCCI (Lovely Bones)
CHRISTOPH WALTZ*** (Inglorious Basterds)

EMILY BLOUNT*** (Sunshine Cleaning)
DIANE KRUGER (Inglorious Basterds)

SCOTT COOPER (Crazy Heart)
CHRISTINE JEFFS*** (Sunshine Cleaning)
QUENTIN TARANTINO (Inglorious Basterds)
I went with the 5 films I thought got the best performances from their casts & I can make a case for each one being the best directed film of 2009... I would lean toward Tarantino because he got great performances from Pitt & Kruger (& that wasn’t easy) but I was also turned off by that idiotic assassination scene, so that puts Christine Jeffs in the spotlight for making a nearly flawless vastly under-rated film.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


“THE WOLFMAN” (Benecio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt & Hugo Weaving)

This film besmirches the good name of Talbot & because of that – it sucks...
What a major disappointment to me – As a kid in the early 60’s my favorite night of the week was Friday when The Count would present late night horror movies - & my favorite monster of them all was Lon Chaney Jr.’s ‘Wolfman’. He was the best because most of the time he was human; a brooding, tortured human, but a human nonetheless. Lawrence Talbot was cursed with lycanthropy after trying to save someone’s life. A good Samaritan; a sweet, gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a soul prior to being bitten by the old gypsy woman’s werewolf son. That was the Wolfman I loved as a child. So I was anticipating this remake with glee – A great story told with superior acting & special effects which would make the Wolfman actually look ‘real’.
Then director Joe Johnston stepped in & ruined the whole thing (With help from screenplay writers Andrew Walker & David Self, the basterds!)
Where do I begin in telling you the many ways in which this wonderful story was desecrated by these three numbskulls?
My opening line tells it all, actually, but I won’t spoil the ‘climax’ for you if you are planning to see this hack-job remake.
& the upgrade in acting? Didn’t happen – Anthony Hopkins skulk around as if he were trapped inside an uninspired slasher flick... which, it turns out, he was.
I thought Del Toro’s style would fit Larry Talbot to a tee, but he played the role like a moody 1890’s B-Rated theatre actor with no substance & no flare... which is not surprising since the screenplay writers decided to make Lawrence a B-Rated theatre actor.
The original also worked as a touching love story, Lawrence meets a charming young lady in a gift shop & buys a cane with a silver wolf’s head for the handle – he is smitten, as is she, even though she has a fiancĂ©. Emily Blunt does well with what she’s given, but a mistake is made by making her Lawrence’s missing brother’s fiancĂ©; hence, to have them fall as madly in love as they needed to in order to make the story work, the writers made the coupling awkward & a little bit sick when brother Ben’s mangled body is discovered in a ditch a few days after his disappearance.
Another mistake was made by having everyone in the village believe in werewolves & know everything about them – Sure, it was common knowledge in 1890’s England that werewolves roamed the moors of every Coventry & village – the suspense of the original was that No One knew what type of ‘animal’ was doing the killing & the discovery of a man turning into a wolf was horrifying.
There is one excellent scene where a psychiatrist attempts to ‘cure’ Lawrence of his delusion that he becomes a monster when the moon is full, but the ‘gore-fest’ of sickening violence that follows was more than a little disturbing – It was as if Johnston felt he couldn’t just make Larry’s transformation into a wolf the key special effect, he had to show the wolfman biting into people’s chests & ripping out their beating hearts (& other organs)
Yes, the gore is piled on thick, so if you have a queasy stomach about seeing throats ripped open, entrails spilling out from victim’s stomachs after being ‘slashed’ by wolfy’s huge claws, then you’d better steer clear of this blood bath & beyond...
If you care about such things - & I normally don’t – but the movie did LOOK impressive; the recreation of England in the 1890’s & the foreboding ‘Talbot Hall’ gave the film the correct feel... to bad the writing stunk.
There were also some unanswered questions – major unanswered questions concerning the werewolf that attacked Lawrence – the ending may have revealed what happened, but it’s never brought up & it should have been.
Another scene that did have an impact – it sent shivers up my spine when I saw it in the HBO ‘First Look’ special – was when Lawrence, the werewolf, leaps on top of Emily Blunt’s Elizabeth as she pleads “Lawrence, you KNOW me!” with tears in her eyes. As a clip it was powerful, but with the way the screenplay writers mangled the story, it would have been a joke for Elizabeth to say, “I Love You, Lawrence.” & that’s what the scene needed – it was like the writers just didn’t ‘get’ what this story was actually about... what a pair of douche bags.


“VALENTINE’S DAY” (Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, George Lopez, Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey, Shirley Maclaine, Hector Elizondo, Eric Dane, Queen Latifah, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates & 2 Annoying Twits Named Taylor)

This movie tries to be the ‘chick flick’ version of “Crash” & if director Garry Marshall’s plan was to make a total mess out of a dozen or so relationships crashing together, then he succeeded. Problem is, ‘Crash’ worked because it was well written & the subjects were easily discernible due to the variety of ethnicities involved – you put a load of bland white people in your cast of thousands that no one can tell apart (Let’s see Jennifer Garner is the younger version of Julia Roberts & Biel is lighter skinned than Alba, right?) For a change, Foxx, Latifah & Lopez didn’t stand out because of their poor acting, they were the token blacks & Latino in the cast(Sorry, Hector, you’re too white to fit your last name)

If you cut the cast in half & worked harder on the stories that had at least a little promise, Marshall might have made a cute little romantic film here, but instead he piled it on with so much crap, this Valentine’s Day candy couldn’t fit in the box so it went bad in a hurry.
The plot tries to focus on a central location - Ashton Kutcher’s flower shop, & believe it or not, Kutcher gives one of the few solid performances. & though not everyone in the cast makes an appearance at the florists, they all know someone who did.
So with 12 stories all taking place at the same time, you’d think at least ONE of them would be interesting or entertaining... think again, remember we’re talking about a Garry Marshall-led chick flick here – ain’t nothin’ entertaining going on.
I could rattle off the pairings & how they correlate to ‘Siena Florist’ but that would just be a way to pad my review & since I don’t get paid by the word, why bother?
Instead, I’d just like to point out a major flaw which happens with the Jennifer Garner-Patrick Dempsey pairing; Garner (an elementary school teacher) thinks Dempsey (a doctor) is divorced & their relationship is going strong. Kutcher, Garner’s best friend, finds out he’s still married so when Garner announces she ‘flying’ to L.A. to pay Dempsey a surprise visit on Valentine’s Day, Kutcher decides to break the bad news. Even though she realizes he’s probably telling the truth, Garner boards the flight anyway, obviously to ‘see for herself’.
Dempsey is having dinner in a posh restaurant with his wife when Garner shows up at the table pretending to be their waitress. She spews a few innuendos while staying in character before spilling the beans to Mrs. Dr. Two-Timer. The major gaff comes when Garner hands the actual waiter his apron & he tells her, “My son loves your class.”
Okay, she had to take a flight to L. A. – how is this waiter’s son in her classroom?
Does the kid fly back & forth to school each day or does dad make the two-way daily flight for his wait-staff occupation?
The only couple I wished were in it more was the Topher Grace-Anne Hathaway match-up; although one of the dumbest scenes happens when Grace thinks Valentine’s Day always falls on a Thursday... Really? Are we supposed to believe anyone can be that much of an idiot? “You’re thinking of Thanksgiving, Holmes!” his co-worker tells him.
Really? Are we supposed to believe that this moron really can’t tell February from November?
Anyway, back to what I liked about them – both are in ‘ground floor’ jobs – Grace works in a mail room & Hathaway is a temporary secretary & they are just starting their relationship as well. The twist being Hathaway’s character, to help earn more money, moonlights as a phone sex operator; a potentially stupid sub-plot that actually works, providing a slight bit of comedy & sweetness.
In a movie with a cast of thousands, who’d a thunk that the most interesting & reliable actors were the ones that came from ‘That 70’s Show’?

Monday, February 15, 2010


I don’t have a single solitary positive thing to say about “Where The Wild Things Are”.
It was listed as the #1 & #2 best movies of 2009 by the 'At The Movies' critics, so I decided to spend $3 to see what they thought was great filmmaking... Now I know – Don’t trust these two nitwits, their taste runs from ultra-snooty to ridiculously juvenile (‘Wild Things’ belonging in the latter category)
What was there to like about this rotten movie? The ‘Wild Things’ look like rejected Muppets on steroids & most of the film looks as though it was shot in someone’s back yard in Graham. I could see where maybe 5-to-8 year olds would enjoy it because I’m sure the dialogue was written by a group of them.
Expecting to dislike it, I took notes. Here’s what I wrote with my added comments in parenthesis.
Screaming kid bullies dog (Who doesn’t want to watch a defenseless animal being tortured?)
Brat starts snowball fight (He cries when his victims retaliate in fun - destroys his sisters bedroom afterward)
Teacher tells class ‘sun won’t burn forever’ (Why would he say that?)
Brat goes berserk over nothing (When asked to tell his sister to clean off the kitchen table)
He bites down hard on his mother’s shoulder & screams “I hate you!” (Cute kid, eh?)
Steals boat- sails out to sea (Would have been a better movie if the boat overturned & he drowned)
There’s no relating to this kid – he’s an obnoxious brat...
The rest of my notes basically follow the lame ‘plot’ of Max (the brat, decently portrayed by Max Records) meeting the Wild Things on the Island of Forgotten Overgrown Muppets On Steroids & becoming their ‘King’ simply because he tells them he was king of the Vikings – He tells them stupid, moronic stories that only another 8 year old would believe – The Muppets themselves are quite juvenile & naive; when they ask Max why he left home he tells them, “I don’t like frozen corn.” . . . There is no follow up question.
Every character in this movie is childish, selfish & stupid – The whole project is just plain dumb.
Now, those of you who have seen this & liked it I’m sure are thinking that I ‘just didn’t get’ the connection between the Muppets & Max’s real family – I did. You’d have to be an idiot not to be able to connect those two dots – it’s so obvious, it’s simplistic.
Max starts a ‘war’ selecting who the good guys are & who the bad guys are & they start throwing dirt clods at one another (Ala the ‘snowball fight’) The problem is, Max considers himself to be a ‘good’ guy when in fact he is a stubborn destructive brat.
It isn’t hard to figure why Max was a loner at home – no one would want a nasty little sh*t like him for a friend.
At one point in my notes I wrote, ‘this is an awful movie – I’m thinking about walking out it is so immature & childish.’
‘King’ Max makes all of the Muppets feel bad about themselves & their lives... just like he did back home with his family. I really wanted Tony Soprano to either whack him, or eat him so this would have a happy ending.
Like Max, the Tony Soprano muppet is only happy when he’s being violent & abusive (He tears the ‘wing’ off of the chicken muppet but strangely enough doesn’t bar-b-q it & eat it)
The other Muppets tell Max that Tony Soprano is ‘out of control’ & the King replies, “He’s just scared.” So now we’re supposed to feel sorry for this brat & forgive his atrocious behavior because he sees how Tony Soprano is actually a larger scarier version of himself?
& if you think the film redeems itself with Max going home & apologizing profusely to his mother, you’ve got the wrong script – there’s no Kermit the Frog or Miss Piggy to point out how this insensitive child learned his lesson.
I could see where 8 year olds would think this movie was cool, but adults who like it should Never become parents – there are enough brats in the world already.
As Comic Book Guy would say, “Worst Muppet Movie EVER!”


“DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS?” (Hugh Grant & Sarah Jessica Parker)
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking – this was a bone thrown to my wife for Valentine’s Day – she went to see ‘The Wolfman’ for me, so I suffered thru this for her.
It wasn’t as awful as the trailer made it appear due to one thing – I hadn’t seen Hugh Grant for a while & so his style of comedic acting didn’t bother me that much, in fact, he was clearly the funniest in the cast. SJP, on the hand, simply needs to stop trying to be funny... she isn’t. Nothing she did or said was even smirk-worthy.

Going thru divorce proceedings because he cheated on her, Mr. Morgan (Grant) is trying to get together with his estranged wife (Parker) to beg her forgiveness & to give their marriage a second chance. After agreeing to have dinner with the cad, the Morgans witness a murder & the killer sees that they’ve seen.
The Morgans are put into the Witness Protection Program & are whisked off to Ray, Wyoming where they bunk up with a husband & wife quartet of Marshalls (Sam Shepherd, his moustache, Mary Steenbergen & her annoying voice)
Then everything you expect to have happen happens. The end.
Like I said, Grant saved this from being horrible by delivering a few funny lines, but I wish someone would tell him that by constantly looking away from the person he’s talking to, his style becomes annoying after a while. But for a guy who peaked several years ago with “About A Boy”, Hugh was a welcomed sign of relief in this particularly bad movie... or maybe it was due to the fact that he seemed humorous because Parker was So Not Funny.
What we have here is another fish(es)-out-of-water story where you just wish the fish get flushed down the toilet as quickly as possible, but then some jerk picks them up & throws them back into the aquarium...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010



Somewhat undecided as to how much of the plot I should reveal; I try to tell just enough to peak your interest with the movies I enjoyed & then tell you a lot more of the ones I disliked to warn you to stay away from them. I liked ‘Edge Of Darkness’ – it’s akin to being Michael Clayton’s little brother, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Like ‘Clayton’, ‘Darkness’ is well acted – no one sloughs off / & like ‘Clayton’ it concerns a large corporation doing unscrupulous things to keep the American public from finding out what they really do (or have done)
I could see if someone were to complain that this is a ‘formula’ movie, following in Michael Clayton’s footsteps a little too closely, but the formula worked for me a second time & that’s possibly due to the height of the revenge factor; Clooney’s character never went ‘ballistic’ – Gibson’s Tom Craven does.
The film opens with 3 bodies popping to the surface of a lake under the glowing eye of a bright full moon.
One of those who should have floated to the surface was Emma Craven, Tom’s daughter. Instead, she shows up on Dad’s porch & shortly thereafter her nose begins to bleed & she rushes to the toilet to vomit her guts out. Shortly thereafter Emma dies.
Tom, a police detective, talks his superior into letting him investigate on his own since he technically can’t be a part of the official team of investigators.
He looks into Northmoor, the company Emma was interning for.
Danny Huston plays bad guy Jack Bennet – you know he’s bad because he’s the boss of a nuclear weapons company (Northmoor) Even while Jack feigns sympathy & tells Tom ‘If there’s anything I can do to help...’ you know he’s a lying pr*ck.
Then Captain Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) appears as a very calculating ‘hit man’ type. Speaking with his full blown English accent (And everyone knows you’re not supposed to go FULL English, but Winstone, like Sean Penn in ‘I Am Sam’ says ‘screw the rules!’)
Jedburgh is so cold & seemingly uninterested (Even while asking prying questions) that you’re not sure which ‘team’ he’s playing on – the good guys or the bad guys.
When Tom tells him, “I’m not gonna arrest anyone... You gonna try & stop me?”
Jedburgh replies, “Depends.”
When the trail leads to a prominent U.S. Senator, Tom opens up an even larger can of worms when he tells the Senator’s aide, “I’m an a**hole with nothing to lose – you tell the Senator that... & buckle your f***in’ seatbelt!”
Tom gets into sh*t so deep you reach the conclusion that there’s no possible way for him to survive this investigation. So I became intrigued with this story & anticipated how many Northmoor cages Tom would be able to rattle before meeting his demise – plus the added mystery of who would finish him off – Bennet’s hit men or the mysterious Captain Jedburgh? & I only reveal that because that was my thought as I was watching the film – I could have been right – or I could be way off on what actually happens, so don’t consider that to be a spoiler. As far as you know, Tom might live to film a possible sequel; ‘Tom Craven: Seat Belt Monitor’... but I didn’t give that scenario much of a chance.
This review brought to you by f**kin’ asterisks – When you absolutely, positively must use f**kin’ swear words, ask for f**kin’ asterisks by name – they’ll allow you to curse like a f**kin’ sailor & still maintain a PG-13 rating on your f**kin’ movie review blog!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


“OLD DOGS” (Robin Williams & John Travolta)

What is that saying about old dogs? Oh yes, that you can’t teach them new tricks...
Apparently you can’t teach them anything about comedy either.
Right now I’m asking myself, do you even want to write anything else about Robin Williams’ latest embarrassment & John Travolta continuing to prove that Vinnie Barbarino was a fluke?
Not only was this film ridiculously silly, it was weird since they had Travolta’s real life wife, Kelly Preston playing Williams’ love interest.
I did laugh at times during ‘Old Dogs’ but it was only due to my movie going companion’s enjoyment of it. Which I was glad to hear, it was nice to see at least one of us get our $3 worth of entertainment. & I don’t mean to insult my ex-music teacher/Robin Williams fan who accompanied me to the theatre, but the only reason I was laughing was over the fact that she was giggling at the silliness onscreen. Which proves the hit & miss quality of silly comedies – what made “Airplane” so damn funny? It was just one silly line after another; “Monty Python &The Holy Grail” couldn’t have been any sillier, yet I consider it to be a comedy classic, maybe the best ever.
I guess originality plays a major part because ‘Old Dogs’ didn’t have much. “Pineapple Express” comes to mind as a recent awful attempt at comedy because the entire movie seemed to be ‘made up as they went along, at least ‘Old Dogs’ appeared to be scripted, but the script basically weaved its way from one unlikely silly scene to another without much thought of depth. Obviously the golf scene where Robin Williams’ Dan was trying to impress the Japanese CEO was ‘planned’ – Dan, being over 50 needed a dozen or so pills to survive each day & his newly discovered children get them mixed up but don’t tell him so he has no depth perception during the round. It was worthy of a smirk, maybe even a quiet chuckle, but the other 4 people in the audience were laughing out loud... loudly. One man’s silly is another man’s moronic, I guess.
Mork & Barbarino play Dan & Charlie; friends from childhood, they start a sports agency & become successful agents. Just as they’re on the verge of merging with a large Japanese corporation, Vicki (Kelly Preston) appears – she’s a brief fling from Dan’s past that he’s always regretted breaking up with. Vicki gives Dan 2 tidbits of information; One/ She’s going to jail for two weeks (for being a protester, so she’s not a ‘real’ criminal) & Two/ She had twins after their fling & they’re Dan’s kids (Now 7 or 8 years old) The kids come rushing in with cross-eyed friend Rita Wilson & hug Dan, calling him ‘Daddy!’ before he even knows their names.
Rita is on her way to do a hand modeling assignment so they need Dan to watch the kids. & you’ll never guess what happens next . . . Oh, you did. Yes, Dan closes the trunk of his car on Rita’s hands & now she can’t take care of the kids (or do the hand modeling job) & so Dan must take in his children until Vicki gets out of prison.
I had the nerve to think Matt Dillon would provide an actual comedic moment playing an over zealous ‘Campfire Kids’ troop leader, but if anything his scene was a ‘low’ point, sliding from silliness into blatant stupidity.
The ‘He-Seems-To-Get-Less-Funny-Every-Time-I-See-Him’ Seth Green plays an employee of Dan & Charlie’s who is given the job of moving to Japan to aide with the merger. He makes it to Japan but then disappears. Later, when trying to get back into Dan & Charlie’s good graces, he finds himself in the arms of a gorilla singing “All Out Of Love”. This, though seen several times in previews & TV ads, still made the other 4 people in the theatre laugh. I remember thinking it would have been funnier if they had Seth being held captive in the arms of Kirstie Alley & he had to sing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” to appease her... but I guess that would only appeal to ‘Cheers’ fans.
With the success of ‘The Hangover’, I was hoping set-up comedies would start taking a turn for the better – more originality – more ‘intelligent’ silliness. But if this is the best they can come up with they might as well go back to the drawing board & go with that ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ idea with Travolta playing the lead role in ‘Welcome Back, Barbarino’.

Monday, February 1, 2010


“EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES” (Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford & Keri Russell)

In the early scenes this film has all the trappings of a mediocre ‘Lifetime Channel Movie Of The Week’ production – the dialogue is lame, the attempts at humor fail miserably (Married couple John & Aileen Crowley are ‘caught’ kissing by their children’s day nurse & John’s pants fall down – Tee hee hee!)
Just as I said ‘Brothers’ worked because the child actors were expertly directed, the children here are not. In fact, the movie doesn’t build any momentum until the sarcastic sickly girl & her depressing little brother are out of the picture.
Brendan Fraser is the star of the film as John Crowley, father of 3 children, the younger two afflicted with Pompe’s disease. The life expectancy of an average patient is 9 – the film opens with daughter Megan’s 8th birthday party.
Keri Russell is the ‘mom’ &, as with almost every film she’s been in, she doesn’t do much more than look on with that hokey ‘pained look’ in her eyes.
It IS rather pathetic when the best actor in your movie is Harrison Ford, but he clearly outshines every thespian in the cast. (Other than ‘Regarding Henry’, I’ve never been impressed with Mr. Ford’s acting abilities)
Ford plays Dr. Robert Stonehill, the scientist who is currently working on finding a cure for Pompe & the storyline consists entirely of John’s attempts to get him the funding & the resources to make his ‘cure’ come to light before his children bite the dust.
Their partnership is what drives this film from ‘movie of the week’ status to ‘respectable drama’. & then it hits a sour note when Crowley tells Stonehill to ‘imagine how much money he’ll make’ if they sell their company to a competitor, a large corporation with unrestricted financial resources. Stonehill snarls that he doesn’t give a damn about money, to which a now indignant John snaps. “Don’t you talk to me about more important things than money!”
This SHOULD have been an intense powerful scene between two people aiming for the same goal, but having to make concessions in order to achieve their quest – instead, it makes John look like a dick since HE’S the one who brings up money in the first place!
It would be nice if I could start a business where I could help scriptwriters that can’t write dialogue because 1) I think I’m pretty good at it; 2) I can spot a bad exchange a mile away & 3) I need the money!
I will give credit for the phrase ‘acceptable losses’ – it is used well for dramatic effect.
That, & ‘Uncle Bobby’, helped elevate this film to be an ‘acceptable’ drama. But it did take the long way to get there...


“LAW ABIDING CITIZEN” (Gerard Butler & Jamie Foxx)

I actually have a soft spot for vigilante movies – revenge is sweet when you know for a fact that the guilty parties deserve what is done to them in the name of vengeance. Movies provide that proof by showing you what horrendous crime the perpetrators committed. Denzel Washington’s “Man On Fire” is probably my favorite. “Law Abiding Citizen”, on the other hand, is probably the worst. It’s not just that Gerard Butler is no Denzel, but this entire film goes awry. It wants to be the ‘bad ass’ of vigilante films & only succeeds in turning the victim into as much of a deplorable human being as the sick criminals that raped his wife & then murdered her & his daughter.
Yes, it’s enough to drive a sane man nuts, especially when the actual murderer turns against his partner in crime & fingers him as the ‘killer’... By the way, wouldn’t forensic evidence prove which one of them pulled the trigger or used the knife?
So the accomplice gets the death penalty while the murderer does time but eventually gets released.
Butler plays ‘Clyde’, the father & husband who is incapacitated by two thieves that break into his home & apparently decide on a whim to leave him alive after forcing him to witness the brutal murders of his wife & child.
Apparently, in Philadelphia courts, an eyewitness account doesn’t hold much water; As D.A. Nick (Jamie Foxx) tells Clyde, “It’s not what you know; it’s what you can prove.”
Thanks to an untapped source of wealth, Clyde takes 10 years to extract his revenge – why he bothers to ‘assist’ the State of Pennsylvania as it carries out the death sentence on the guy that didn’t kill anyone is more than a little unreasonable & the way he ‘disposes’ of the actual killer is quite off-putting, but you understand the depth of his anger – If that’s how he needed to make closure, okay, get it off your chest & then go back to being that ‘law abiding citizen’ you were before your life was devastated by these scumbags.
But no, just making sure the killer’s lives came to a torturous ending isn’t good enough for Clyde, he has to brutally murder EVERYONE involved with the case. He starts with the murderers’ lawyer, & it’s an acceptable killing because Clyde sets it up so that the lawyer ‘could’ be saved if D.A. Nick & the police agree to his demands within the time limits he sets. One clever line is spoken when Clyde tells Nick, “After all, you’re the one that cuts deals with murderers, right?”
But lame lines like ‘Cut me a deal or everyone dies.’ & ‘I’m NOT having this conversation!’ help to send this vigilante revenge flick into the depths of stupidity.
There’s one continuity flaw that sticks out so badly it makes you wonder if they even cared about continuity, realizing their audience just wanted to see Clyde kill as many innocent people as possible & in the most blood splattering of ways. The scene in question is when Nick beats Clyde & the victim-turned-serial killer spits out a mouthful of blood – Three seconds later, Clyde’s mouth is fine & doesn’t even have a trace of blood.
The film also goes overboard in trying to NOT be racist – Every black actor is a good guy, fighting to uphold the law - & the murderers, rapists & serial killers are all white actors (Including the poor hayseed whose throat Clyde rips open just to get put in solitary confinement)
A newsman announces “The city of Philadelphia has been brought to its knees by a man who sits in prison.” It was hard not to laugh at that one despite the fact that the movie had deteriorated into total crap by that time.
The only fun I had was every time Bruce McGill appeared onscreen & my brain shouted ‘D-Day!’
I could reveal the equally dumb ending but I’ll just tell those of you who still want to watch this blood-fest that you won’t be disappointed because the senseless brutal killings virtually drive this film from start to finish...