Wednesday, August 31, 2011


“OUR IDIOT BROTHER” (Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks & Zooey Deschanel)

Paul Rudd was on Chelsea Lately & Ms. Handler called this movie ‘hilariously funny’. That’s not going to help, Chelsea, because if anyone goes to this film expecting it to be hilarious, they will be greatly disappointed. It isn’t even hilarious by accident. I’m not certain if it was even intended to be a comedy – but it is worth seeing because of the interaction with the characters that Paul Rudd & Elizabeth Banks play as brother & sister.
There are two other sisters, a brother-in-law & a mom, but I liked the relationship Ned (Rudd) had with Miranda (Banks)
Ned isn’t an ‘idiot’ – he’s naive. He’s too trusting. He’s ‘dim’. He’s likeable. But the word I think describes him best is ‘sweet’. Ned is just a sweet, lovable guy that can’t help but be sweet and lovable to everyone he meets. Unfortunately this also includes deceptive police officers. In the opening scene, Ned is arrested for selling pot to a uniformed policeman because he said he was having a ‘tough week’. Ned doesn’t WANT to sell weed to the man – he wants to GIVE it to him, but the officer refuses Ned’s charitable gesture & insists on paying for it. Ned’s biggest concern when the handcuffs are slapped on him is what’s going to happen to his dog – A golden retriever named Willie Nelson. Willie is turned over to Ned’s soon-to-be ex-girlfriend who keeps the dog out of spite.
When Ned is released from prison he moves in with mom. Mom is almost as sweet as Ned & that drives Ned to move in with his older sister Liz despite objections from her husband (Steve Coogan) Ned plays with Liz’s young son while she tends to her newborn baby. All Ned does is tell the truth – he makes no accusations, he doesn’t say anything to be a gossip – he just reveals to Miranda that their brother-in-law has the unusual habit of working in the nude with his latest subject – a Russian ballerina.
Ned then moves in with Miranda and once again gets the boot for being honest with Miranda & her friends & co-workers.
When he moves in with lesbian sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) & her lawyer girlfriend (Rashida Jones) whom Ned quickly befriends, she tells him he should just take Willie Nelson from his ex-girlfriend.
That endeavor doesn’t work out so well.
There is, one hilarious moment – which I can’t repeat here, nor should I, it would definitely be a spoiler. The line comes from Ned’s young nephew & it follows the scene where Ned tells the boy, “I want you to tell your mom, and your aunts something for me...”
The hairdos & some of the costumes made me think this film was set in the mid-70’s, but no it’s supposed to be in modern times. It IS mildly amusing, but mostly it’s just a sweet little movie about a sweet guy with 3 non-sweet, but well meaning sisters. It is worth seeing, as are almost all of Paul Rudd’s films (except “How Do You Know?” with Jack Nicholson – THAT was crap!)
I thought of Ned & Willie Nelson as being very much alike – they’re both just sweet & lovable, & as Miranda relates, “Ned gives love unconditionally” . . . just like a dog.



Just so you know... I thought the first Pirate movie was marginally well done (for a film based on an amusement park ride) The 2nd I could do without & when my wife told me she wanted to see the third installment, I briefly considered asking for a divorce, but knew no one else would put up with my sarcasm, so I bit the bullet & took her to see it... The only redeeming value of the sequels is that Kiera Knightly was in them – something pleasant to look at while the bad movie played out. Keira isn’t in this one – thus, it’s the worst Pirate movie ever...
Eye rolling dialogue such as : (Jack Sparrow to Penelope Cruz) “How can you say that I used you?” (Cruz) “Because you did!” (Sparrow) “I know, but how can you SAY it?”
Seriously? & a couple of people chuckled at this chuckleheaded dialogue?
Speaking of Cruz, here she plays a woman with a thick Latino accent – how does she do that in every film she’s in? I’m just amazed that every character she plays speaks in the exact same voice as all of her previous characters – incredible!
The first half hour is nothing but silly chases & swordfights on land. Then the action changes dramatically – to swordfights on a ship!
Geoffry Rush is back (I’d rather look at Keira, thank you) as Hector... Didn’t he die in one or two of the sequels? At least he looks like a legitimate pirate, unlike Depp’s Captain Jack Flash, er, I mean Sparrow who looks more like a member of the Village People (circa 1978) than an authentic pirate of the Caribbean...
There is one new addition to this quad-quel that made it interesting; mermaids.
The mermaids were very cool. Beautiful topless chicks that turn into ‘Jaws’ –
nice touch.
But alas, they are only onscreen for a brief period...
The thing about the other ‘Pirate’ movies is that they weren’t stereotypical ‘pirate movies’ ALL of the time. This one is. More buckles are swashed than in all of Erroll Flynn’s movies put together.
The premise of this swashbuckling bonanza is the search for the fountain of youth.
Ian McShane plays Blackbeard – the meanest pirate there ever was; why, he once made a man walk the plank just for snoring – and the whole idea of ‘Pirates 4’ is that Jack Sparrow has to lead Blackbeard & his daughter (Cruz) to the fountain of youth so Blackbeard can have eternal life. When they finally make it to the elusive fountain – with really gnarly effects such as water dripping upside down – what do you suppose happens? That’s right, another elongated swordfight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


“ONE DAY” (Anne Hathaway & Jim Sturgess)

I thought this was going to be a remake of “Same Next, Next Year”, but it isn’t – It’s much, much worse than that. The One Day in question is July 15th – St. Swithins Day in England. Those of us old (& lucky) enough to remember the British series ‘Doctor In The House’ will remember St. Swithins as the name of the hospital the young interns worked at initially before becoming full-fledged medical practitioners. If that sounds familiar, yes, “Scrubs” literally stole the premise to “Dr. In The House” and as far as I know never paid the origianl creators any residuals (cheap American bastards).
The fact that the events that take place in this exceedingly long film (4 hours & 44 minutes*) happen on St. Swithins day just made me long for someone (BBC America, are you listening?) to air reruns of ‘Dr. In The House’ just so something entertaining comes about from this film being made...
The film starts on July 15, 1988 – The day that Dexter (Sturgess) first remembers meeting Emma (Hathaway) even though, as she reminds him, they had met previously but he was too drunk to remember – or she just wasn’t sleezy enough to catch his eye...
The rest of the movie shows where these two characters are at in their lives every July 15th (the beloved St. Swithins Day)
In the beginning it is obvious that shy, demur Emma has a crush on Dexter, the arrogant womanizer but her intellect fights her desire to become one of his conquests – so they settle on being friends.
As the years roll on, Dexter becomes even more loutish and Emma gives up on her dreams and gradually becomes a permanent waitress in a Mexican restaurant. So I didn’t give a damn about Dexter, the jerk and only semi-cared about Emma only due to the fact that her life was so boring I was wondering why I was being forced to watch it play out.
Then something that should have livened things up happens – a young man named Ian comes to work at the English version of Jalesco’s & is immediately attracted to Emma. Ian’s goal in life was to become a stand-up comedian. Great! Someone to add some levity to this boring story – all right, Ian – makes us laugh, funny boy! . . . . Ian, we’re waiting . . . .
do or say something funny, would you please? . . . .
So Ian wants to be a comedian that doesn’t make people laugh. We are later told that the only time he made Emma laugh was when he fell down the stairs.
This is the funniest line in the movie. So I guess, in the end, after 15 years or so, Ian finally pays off...
Just when I thought, ‘although this movie is exceptionally dull, at least it isn’t annoying’, we then have to sit thru the most insufferable wedding/reception in the history of film.
So basically this story covers 20 years in the lives of two ordinary people leading dull, ordinary lives . . . this is the stuff that makes epics!
When Patricia Clarkson appeared as Dexter’s mother, I had hope that this film was going to spring to life – But no, her character is just as yawn inducing as all of the others...
Dexter does eventually turn his life around and becomes a decent human being – problem is, the writers don’t explain how he does this – just somewhere between 2003 and 2005, Dexter decides to stop being an a—hole. They also never mention what Dexter is doing for a living after making this epiphany. Lazy writing is the main culprit here - creating a wanna-be comedian who doesn't say anything funny is taking the easy way out; making the story only be told by what happens on every July 15th means we don't have to actually explain what happened the other 364 days of the year. This script was probably written in chicken poop...
Another odd, slightly annoying quirk is that Dexter clearly ages during the 20 year span of this tale, while his father looks the same age in 1988 as he does in 2008 (?)
“One Day” did set a personal record for the number of times I thought, “Jesus, when is this thing going to end?” (beating “Lord Of The Rings 3” by 1 ‘Jesus’)

(* may not be the actual running time, it just seemed that long)

Monday, August 15, 2011


“The CHANGE – UP” (Jason Bateman & Ryan Reynolds)

So what would happen if you took a tired, lame Disney-esque plot and filled it full of filthy humor, nudity and characters that don’t seem like cardboard cut-outs of all the other ‘body changing’ films? You get a surprisingly funny movie that catches you off guard, even though you are very aware of how over-used and moronic the entire premise of the film is. “The Change-Up” is the story of two best buddies, Dave (Bateman) and Mitch (Reynolds) who are as different as night and day; Dave is a successful lawyer, working feverishly to make partner at the law firm he toils at to better provide for his family in a monetary way – and Mitch; an unemployed pot smoking womanizer with about as much finesse as a chimpanzee with handful of feces. The only thing slacker Mitch envies about Dave’s life is his lovely and tolerant wife, Janice (Leslie Mann, who shockingly shows her nearly perfect breasts, all in the name of comedy) Janice, on the other hand, wishes Dave would cut Mitch out of his life for good.
During an evening of over-imbibing, Dave and Mitch find themselves urinating into a fountain with an angelic-like statue looking down on them. As they converse they say simultaneously, “I wish I had your life.” The next morning, Mitch wakes up in Dave’s bed inside of Dave’s body & vice-versa...
Even though there’s plenty of disgusting toilet humor (Can anyone make an R-Rated comedy these days without it?) ‘The Change Up’ features enough laugh out loud moments that it challenges ‘Hall Pass’ as the 3rd best comedy of 2011.
Prime example; Slacker Mitch inhabiting Dave’s body has to get through a very important meeting for Dave to stay on track to becoming a partner in the firm – Dave’s extremely hot assistant, Sabrina (Olivia Wilde) tells him, “I’ll have my briefs on your desk before lunch.” Mitch – looking & sounding like the normally gentlemanly Dave – replies, “And I’ll have my balls on your chin by dinner.”
Yes, it’s sophomoric, but that is a funny line and when it comes from a character that would never speak that way to any woman it takes you by surprise.
The funny thing is – whichever character is playing Mitch is the actor having the most fun and spouting the best lines. I never thought Ryan Reynolds could make me laugh, but he does in the early going here, and he does it several times.
Even when it slips into cornball schmaltz as Mitch ‘grows up’ as Dave and sincerely tries to save his best friend’s job and marriage, ‘The Change-Up’ still worked for me. Not every bit struck the right chords, but enough of them do so that the tired toilet junk and the search to find the relocated fountain doesn’t spoil the over-all good time you’ll have while watching ‘The Change-Up’.
All I can say is Jason Bateman is on a roll, with ‘Horrible Bosses’ one of the 2 best comedies and this one in the Top 4, I’m actually looking forward to his next project... And I never thought I’d write something like that!


“CRAZY STUPID LOVE” (Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)

After seeing this film, I wondered how they decided to call it ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ when a more apropos title would have been, “Wow, What A Coincidence, Huh?”
I’m not saying I didn’t like it – it is a very likable film; likable characters hitting snags & doing their best to forge ahead with life and making the best of their depressing situations – but it does play they ‘Aha, bet you never saw THAT twist coming, didja?’ card 3 or 4 times too often. It distracts from the overall enjoyment of a nicely acted film that blends just the right amount of humor and touching dramatic moments.
The film opens with Cal (Carell) & Emily (Moore) having dinner in a restaurant. Both look bored out of their minds as they contemplate whether or not to have dessert. Finally Cal says, “Okay, on the count of three we both say out loud what we want; 1, 2, 3.” Emily says “I want a divorce.” as Cal slowly mutters, “Creme Brule.”
On the ride home, Emily admits to having an affair with co-worker David Lingnaught (Kevin Bacon) As she goes into detail of what lead to their tryst, Cal says, “If you don’t stop talking, I’m getting out of the car.” She doesn’t, so he does.
We are then informed that their 13 year old son has a huge crush on his 17 year old babysitter... Now, there’s nothing unbelievable about the crush, but who thinks a 13 year old needs a babysitter? He’s just lovesick, not mentally challenged... Well, maybe those two have more in common than I originally thought...
Then we find out that the babysitter is in love with Cal, thus driving a wedge between father & son that dad has no control over.
So Cal moves out & finds his own place. He starts frequenting bars to meet women and winds up just driving them away by whining to everyone within earshot how David Lingnaught screwed his wife and how HE got kicked out because of her indiscretion.
A young gigolo in the making named Jacob (Gosling) hears Cal’s diatribes once too often and decides to help the guy out. It’s actually the relationship that develops between the young charmer and the older inexperienced (with women) heartbroken sap that makes this a film worth seeing.
Now the first, ‘Wow, What A Coincidence, Huh?’ works – when a woman that Cal ‘conquers’ by following Jacob’s rules shows up later in the film. But then it happens again and again and again until you just want to say ‘enough already!’
Emma Stone, an upcoming actress with loads of promise, enters the story as Hannah, a no-nonsense law school student that catches Jacob’s usually wandering eye and ignores all of his attempts to charm her into his boudoir. As I said, I like Emma, but she’s not gorgeous by any stretch of the imagination – she’s pretty, but not a striking beauty. So it doesn’t make sense that shallow, looks-infatuated Jacob should desire someone that doesn’t stand out in the crowd. I’m sure the writers felt that the audience would go for the old ‘he wants her because she shot him down’ routine, but that didn’t make sense here. Other than he saw her & just knew she was ‘the one’ that was going to change his life (the ol' beauty in the eye of the beholder gag) the pairing of Jacob & Hannah took a while for me to accept, but I eventually did.
So goes ‘Crazy Stupid Love’, silly one minute, serious the next; unrequited puppy lovers and mature ex-lovers learning to cope with a failing marriage and lots and lots of unexpected ‘wow, what a coincidence, huh?/never saw that coming, didja?’ moments.
Those moments are a distraction, but actually by the end of the film they didn’t seem to bother me in the long run – In other words, the ending doesn’t suck...


“LARRY CROWNE” (Tom Hanks & Julia Roberts)

This isn’t “Charlie Wilson’s War” by any means; which proves every movie is better with Philip Seymour Hoffman in it. The re-teaming of Hanks & Roberts has very little life and absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. Hanks is fine as the title character who is unexpectedly fired from his job at ‘U Mart’; but Roberts, who actually brought something different to the table in CW’s War, is as bland as she’s been in practically every other movie she’s been in.
But the premise is kind of far fetched which gets it off to a rocky start – Okay, if you’re a businessman who’s worked his way up the corporate ladder through many years of diligence and excellent workmanship and the board of directors discover you never went to college so they feel as though they need to ‘let you go’ since you’ve gone as far as you can according to their dumb rules that every executive must have a college degree, I can accept that – But a ‘U Mart’ employee??? Are you telling me most people who gather up empty carts around shopping mall parking lots and return them to the store are college educated? And Larry Crowne does this with glee; a perfect employee for such a business – More than eager to help customers, doing any duty that needs tending and doing it all with a sincere smile on his face. It would have made more sense if they laid Larry off because he’d been at U Mart for too long and was making too high a wage due to years of raises. Trust me, I know what it’s like to be downsized no matter how loyal you’ve been to the company so that they can save a couple of thousand dollars a year by bringing in someone younger and willing to work for less. If they’d used that reasoning for Larry’s dismissal, I’d have accepted the premise.
Over-all I think the problem with Larry Crowne is that the supplemental characters are relatively uninteresting; I liked the gorgeous black coed that calls Larry ‘Lance’, but I wanted to see that May/December romance blossom instead of Larry and his stick-up-her-butt disinterested in her job teacher (Mrs. Tainot)
Cedric T. Entertainer (Get a real name, would you, Clyde?) plays Larry’s bartering neighbor whose business is running a sixteen hour a day garage sale from his front yard. His shtick is to over-price his merchandise and come down just a few dollars at a time as numbers are bartered back & forth... No, it isn’t even funny the first time.
Larry buys a scooter from him because he can no longer afford the gas to fill up his SUV. Which, of course, leads to Larry offering Mrs. Tainot a ride home but only if she wears the stupid helmet – which, of course, she says she will NOT do & then in the next scene she is seen wearing the stupid helmet while riding on the back of Larry’s scooter. Oh, what hilarity!
Now, George Takei as an economics professor that thinks he knows the answer to every economic problem in the world got a few chuckles from me, but for what was promoted as being a comedy, this film doesn’t really have any memorable lines or scenes.
‘Larry Crowne’ is a film with good intentions and it is ‘likeable’ enough – it just doesn’t go anywhere interesting. Larry loses his job, buys a scooter and takes a couple of classes at the local junior college so the next job he works at for 20 years won’t fire him for not having a degree... Like the fry cook job he takes to make ends meet.


“FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS” (Mila Kunis & Justin Timberlake)

Yes, the ONLY reason I wanted to see this is due to the fact that Mila was supposed to be naked throughout most of it... she isn’t. In fact, she has one quick glimpse of standing in the nude with her back to the camera & that’s it. Aside from being disappointed by that revelation (or lack thereof) this entire movie is a complete waste of time.
If Timberlake isn’t gay in real life, he sure ‘acts’ like he is. Very effeminate in almost everything he does; voice, mannerisms & especially when he does his cute little singing & dancing routines. Speaking of which, I’m guessing there was supposed to be something humorous about them, but whatever the joke was, it went way over my head...
You’ll never hear me complain about getting old because if I were younger it would mean that I missed the Beatles, the British Invasion & the emergence of groups like Led Zeppelin. I feel sorry for anyone born in the mid-70’s or later – You missed the greatest era in music & you’re musical idols are no talent fruits like Justin Craterlake.

“Friends With Benefits” is almost as bad as “No Strings Attached” – the only plus being able to look at the much prettier Mila Kunis.. It amazes me how crap like this gets made. If I wrote a story & dialogue as lame as this, I’d give up trying to write because I obviously don’t have what it takes to succeed... Yet, here it is - & making money because horny old married farts like me will act as though I’m doing my wife a favor by taking her to see another chick flick when my biggest worry was whether or not I’d be able to get from pleasuring myself during Mila’s numerous nude scenes, thus becoming the guy known as ‘Seattle’s Pee Wee Herman Pervert”. What’s really disgusting is that Mila & Justy were raunchier on that awards show where he grabbed her breasts & she latched onto his crotch than they are in this R-Rated sex-comedy.
So I guess what I’ve learned about friends that decide to have sex with one another is that there’s nothing funny about it and there’s more male nudity than female (if any at all)
& who wants to see that? Oh yeah, gay guys like Dusty Craterlake...