Thursday, March 29, 2012

The BOTTOM 10 MOVIES Of 2011

Just when I thought I would stop lambasting films and try to look on the bright
side of life - I rented "The Tree Of Life".
One line review; This may possibly be the worst movie ever made.

I have had friends ask me what I thought of certain movies that they've recently
seen - usually via the rental route - and when they mention the name of one of
the really bad ones, I always say, "Why didn't you read my review first?"

My best friend rented "Black Swan" and as she and her husband were suffering thru
it, she sent him to the computer to find out what I thought of it. Their
conclusion was 'Always check Terry's blog before renting something'.

With that story in mind, I figured I should present my Bottom 10 of 2011,
just to create an easy to follow list of films to avoid. So stay away from ;

10 (meaning 10th worse) EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
It is exceptionally lame & ridiculously annoying.

Yeah, I know, if you haven't learned that anything with a number in the title
is going to suck, you never will. The mermaids were cool, though.

It is the best Adam Sandler movie onlt because of 10 seconds of footage -
Jennifer Aniston in a very skimpy bikini. Other than that precious moment,
it may be the least funniest 'comedy' ever.

Another Oscar nominated film I hated. The fact that dull as dishwater Jonah
Hill was nominated for an Oscar is probably the dumbest nomination of all

It was bad. It was Ashton Kucher bad. However, I liked Natalie Portman more
in this disaster than I did in her Oscar winning role in 'Black Swan'.

It was bad. It was 'No Strings Attached' bad. I love Mila Kunis and was
looking forward to seeing her do an Anne Hathaway style 'let it all hang out'
nude fest (Ala "Love & Other Drugs") and instead all I got was Dusty
Craterlake's butt and a whole lot of assinine dialogue.

Well, Ashton Kucher strikes again, but he isn't horrible in this - he isn't in
it that much, except to grin. The fact that Robert DeNiro and Halle Berry
embarrass themselves by appearing in this garbage not only make it torture
to sit thru, but also cause several moments of painful 'cringing'.

I normally cut a lot of slack for talking animal flicks, but this one is the
bottom of the barrel. Why Rosario Dawson stooped to this level of junk is
the big mystery here.

It brings new meaning to the question, "How ridiculous of a premise do you
think the American public will buy?" The sad part is - they were serious
with this tale of a young teenaged girl beating up and killing every adult
she encounters - and yes, every adult she encounters has military training,
yet they're no match for the deadly little blonde girl.

I had the good fortune to watch this on DVD so the 2 hour & 15 minute running
time flew by in about an hour & a half. Even then, I could only take it in
half hour installments. The only reason I gutted it out until the end was to
find out why the middle kid killed himself at age 19... They never say.
Sean Penn (who's in 3 totally insignificant scenes) after viewing the finished
product said, "I have no idea what the film is suppose to be about."
I can answer that question for you Sean, "It's about 2 hours and 15 minutes
too long."
Avoid this movie at all cost - If you're on an airplane & it comes on - Jump
out! Trust me, you'll thank me later.

ALSO - don't waste your time & money on
I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT - Why isn't this on the list? Olivia Munn is in it.
The horrible Re-make of ARTHUR - Not on the list because Helen Mirren is in
ONE DAY - I barely remember this, but I gave it a C-/D+.
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY - Unless you have insomnia and are looking for a
for cure - avoid this snoozer.

The FILMS THAT DID NOTHING FOR ME (Other than I didn't hate them so much as felt
indifferent by them) In other words, the films I gave C-'s...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


“JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME” (Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon & Judy Greer)

This is the story of Jeff (Jason Segel) who lives in the basement of his mother’s house. The odd part of ‘Jeff, Who Lives At Home’ is that for the bulk of the film Jeff isn’t at home. He’s at home when he receives a phone call from someone asking for Kevin, but then he leaves... possibly never to return.

To say Jeff leads a mundane life is putting it mildly. Jeff smokes pot, gets the munchies a lot and believes the movie “Signs” starring Mel Gibson was based on a true story.
The man asking for ‘Kevin’ becomes a sign to Jeff when he sees a black kid wearing a basketball jersey with the name Kevin on the back.
Did I say Jeff liked the movie “Signs”? We soon find out that he’s obsessed with it.
He stalks the kid with ‘Kevin’ on his back; gets into a basketball game with Kevin and his friends and seems genuinely excited when Kevin asks if he’d like to smoke some weed with him.
Ed Helms is Pat, Jeff’s older brother. Pat is the opposite of Jeff. He has a job. And a wife, Linda (the always adorable Judy Greer) Pat is high strung and somewhat of a jerk.
A chance encounter between the two brothers leads to a very telling line when Jeff yells at Pat, “You and mom will never understand me! And you’re all I have left!”
Jeff’s obsession with ‘Kevin’ picks up again when he sees a truck delivering ‘Kevin Kandy’ to various venues and hops onto the back of the truck to see where it takes him.
The adventure rolls through Pat and Linda’s troubled marriage as Jeff discovers his sister-in-law having lunch with a strange man.
Interspersed with Jeff’s Kevinly meanderings are scenes of his mother (Susan Sarandon) at work, discovering she has a secret admirer who throws a paper plane at her desk with a flower drawn upon it. The secret admirer then begins sending her Instant Messages.
So as mom searches thru the office hoping to draw out her secret admirer, Jeff is trying to keep his brother’s marriage from falling apart but not knowing how to do it.
Not surprisingly, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” is a low budget venture; no hi-tech cameras, the film’s a bit grainy (going for that ‘realistic’ feel)
And it is realistic – at times too much so – it kind of meanders after a while.
It was entertaining with enough humorous lines to keep it from becoming boring, but after a while I just wanted something a little more interesting than Pat and Linda heading for a divorce and mom's secret admirer search.
Obviously, I won’t even give a hint as to what happens at the end – but it blew me away.
I loved it. Just as the film seemed to be grinding to a halt, thanks to a huge traffic jam, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” comes up with a surprisingly energetic finale.
For a while there I was thinking to myself, “It’s called ‘Jeff, Who Lives At Home’, they weren’t trying to mislead anyone into thinking this film was going to be anything other than the life of slacker.” So I was content enough with what I was getting – it was an ‘OK’ movie... and then I walked out of the theatre thinking it was great...


“WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN” (Tilda Swinton & John C. Reilly)

I can’t decide if this is a poignant, impressive film, or just an exploitive piece of junk. Seriously, I can’t make up my mind – the more I lean toward the junk side, the more disturbing images flash in my mind from the film and I then start leaning toward the impressive angle simply because I can’t get the darn thing out of my head.

“We Need To Talk About Kevin” concerns a mother (Eva K., played by Tilda Swinton)
a father (John C. Reilly as Eva’s husband, Franklin) & their first born – the title character, Kevin. Later, when Kevin is around 9 or 10, his little sister, Celia enters the dysfunctional ‘K’ family.

The film opens with Eva on vacation in India, presumably prior to Kevin’s birth, since she appears to be carefree and happy. The reason for the sight of a large group of people playfully smearing each other with what appears to be salsa is never explained – but by film’s end, I assumed the movie opens with this as being ‘Eva’s last pleasant memory’.

In the next few scenes, the mood becomes darker and Eva doesn’t look so playful anymore. A glass door that opens out onto a patio is shown in darkness with the light coming from outside shining on the white curtains that billow as a breeze blows them inward. And then Eva awakes with a start. She is pale and looks hollow – nothing at all like the woman enjoying her splooshing experience in India.

Eva opens the door to her small house to find it splattered with red paint - her car has had a bucket of red paint splashed across the front of it as well. She waves at a neighbor across the street as he mows his lawn. The man reluctantly waves back. Eva acts as though nothing out of the ordinary has taken place. She gets into her car and goes to a job interview. Eva is shocked and excited when she lands a position for a travel agency. She rewards herself by going out to lunch where she is approached by a woman she obviously knows, but doesn’t want to encounter. The woman calls her a horrible person and slaps her hard in the face. A man comes to Eva’s aid, offering to call the police as a witness to the assault but Eva begs him not to do anything. Eva rushes away wiping the blood from her face. Her joyful moment was fleeting indeed.

A blur of scenes ensue; it’s dark out but there are several people gathered outside a school gymnasium. Police and firemen keep the crowd at bay as they demand to know what has happened. The woman that attacked Eva is seen among the crowd. Eva appears and tells the police, "My son goes to this school." She sees what is on the door to the gym and freezes.

“We Need To Talk About Kevin” does something that I normally hate – It bounces around in time without any reference as to what moment in time we are actually watching. I’m sure it would be easier to decipher the timeline should I watch this film again, but I’d have to be in the right frame of mind to want to take on this disturbing heavy duty drama one more time. The reason for the bouncing around in time becomes apparent about a quarter of the way thru the story – What we’re seeing are Eva’s drug induced/alcohol impaired memories of what led her son to do the horrific thing he does. Eva K. raised a monster. What I believe this movie tries to tell us is that – in Kevin’s particular case – he was BORN a demon, it wasn’t his upbringing. He wasn’t mistreated, except when his mother accidentally breaks his arm by shoving him during one of his extreme brat-attacks. This scene is introduced by Kevin, in prison garb, telling his mother, “It was the only time I got an honest reaction from you.”

Eventually the film starts to make sense, even though it continues to bounce around in time. We discover that when they’re living in the big fancy mansion that Franklin purchased we are in 'pre-whatever it is that Kevin did' era and if they’re in the dilapidated shack with the red paint splattered across it, we are in 'post-whatever it is that Kevin did' time.

Eva and Franklin are a loving couple until the baby comes along.
The problem is Mom can’t stand being around her baby because the child is constantly screaming. She stands on a street corner next to a group of construction workers using jackhammers just so they’ll drown out the sound of Kevin’s bawling.

Franklin comes home and heads for the basinet. “Oh please don’t wake him, “ Eva begs, “I just got him down for his nap.”
Too late – Dad is already cradling the baby in his arms. Kevin doesn’t make a sound, except for the occasional ‘coo’. “See?” Franklin tells his wife, “You just have to rock him & he’s fine.”

As Eva watches television she is jolted by the image of her son glaring into the camera as he says, “You think you’d be watching me on TV right now if all I did was get an ‘A’ in geometry?”
Eva searches her memory again, wondering where she went wrong.
Kevin is now a young tyke about 5 or 6, but still wearing diapers. He is joyless and morose until Daddy comes home and he gives him a hug and a kiss.
As Mom cooks dinner Kevin and Dad play a video game and all Eva can hear is Kevin repeatedly yelling, “Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die Die!” as he presses the buttons on his game player.

There was one moment where mom trumped dad in Kevin’s eyes; She decided to try reading to him at bedtime and selected ‘The Tales Of Robin Hood’. Dad peaks into the bedroom and Kevin tells him to “Go away.” He then crawls into his mother’s lap & says “Keep reading, mommy.”
Eva looks up at Franklin and beams a bright smile as she telepathically tells her husband, “This is the break thru we’ve been waiting for!”
Not to be outdone, dad buys Kevin a plastic bow & arrow set for his birthday. As they play with the plastic suction-cup tipped arrows in the back yard Kevin turns to see his mother peering at them from the kitchen window. He picks up an arrow and shoots it in her direction – the suction cup tip sticking to the glass beside her face.

When Kevin was 9 or 10, his baby sister Celia is created.
With Kevin in his teens & Celia a small tyke, it is obvious that Celia loves her big brother no matter how big of a jerk he is toward her. She brings him a Mountain Dew when he comes home from school & he says, “No, you retard, I want a Root Beer!”
His mother reprimands him for talking to his sister that way, but Kevin just grabs the can of soda from his sister and stalks off.
He belittles the little girl every chance he gets and yet she just keeps on smiling adorably at him. Kevin does something horrible to Celia’s pet and then to Celia herself – though I have to chastise the film for not explaining exactly why Celia is suddenly wearing an eye patch after being left alone with her big brother. Which also begs the question, why would Eva leave her trusting, loving little girl alone with what she knows is a sadistic creep?

It isn’t difficult to figure out why Kevin is in prison, and I won’t reveal what happens at the end, but it sickened me. If the film had ended the way I wanted it to, I’d be hailing it as a masterpiece, but it has one of the worse final scenes of all time and because of that, I’m not sure how much I should regale this film. IT IS MEMORABLE, I’ll grant you that.

Monday, March 19, 2012


“WANDERLUST” (Paul Rudd & Jennifer Aniston)

This raunchy R-rated comedy looked to be a comeback for Paul Rudd (from “How Do You Know?”) and a continuation of Jennifer Aniston’s breaking free of generic dumb comedies (from the promise of “Horrible Bosses”) Although it isn’t nearly as bad as “How Do You Know?” it isn’t even in the same galaxy as “Horrible Bosses”. For an R-rated comedy featuring my least favorite reason for an R rating (full frontal male nudity) “Wanderlust” is actually kind of tame; almost like a regular Jennifer Aniston movie, except with ‘F’ bombs and penises. “Wanderlust” even uses that old ploy of showing flubs and out-takes as the end credits roll – which usually means – ‘Sorry, we put forth such a bland effort so here are some out-takes so you’ll leave the theatre with a grin’...

“Wanderlust” has a decent beginning; Paul and Jen are married couple George and Linda. Living in New York and looking to buy an apartment – something they can call their own, instead of adding to someone else’s nest egg by paying rent. George is on the cusp of landing a big promotion at his job and Linda has produced a documentary she’s sure HBO will want to buy, so they invest in a tiny ½ bedroom apartment. George not only doesn’t get his promotion, his boss is arrested and the business goes under and Linda’s documentary on penguins with testicular cancer is deemed too depressing.
A promising opening, but after setting up the plot – where this ‘big city couple’ end up in rural Georgia at a commune called Elysium (or something like that) which changes both of their lives but in opposite directions – “Wanderlust” loses all momentum and turns into a run of the mill fish(es) out of water tale with very few humorous lines.
Part of the blame I felt came from the poorly thought out characters; George’s brother and sister-in-law being the most objectionable. They were totally unbelievable.
The wine making nudist that desires to be an author doesn’t lend much to the story, except his ever present penis, which of course he has to display for that hysterical never-before-seen sight gag of a man waking up to find a dong just inches away from his face. It’s that stooping to Adam Sandler-style comedy that runs “Wanderlust” into the ground.
Malin Ackerman plays virtually the same role she had in the original “Harold & Kumar” movie who wants to make ‘free love’ with George and for some unexplainable reason, George turns into a babbling incoherent a—hole after receiving permission from his wife to go ahead and nail her.
When one of the commune dwellers turns out to be a greedy sell-out, the film lost all credibility as far as I was concerned – It went from being an amusing idea with anticipation of bigger and better laughs to come to something you’ve seen before and didn’t care for the first time around.
And if you heard that Jennifer does a nude scene – it’s another cruel joke – she’s only topless – and because it’s shown as part of a newscast, her chest is pixilated...
I wanted to love “Wanderlust” because most of the comments I read and heard about it were positive, but I only liked it. And it made me wonder why everyone seemed to be raving about it. Is it just because it’s so early in the year everyone’s expectations are low? But then again, “Paul” came out early in 2011 and finished in my Top 10. I hate to think it, but I’m beginning to feel that Paul Rudd’s magical touch of making mediocre material work is wearing off. If his next project doesn’t pan out he’ll have 3 strikes in a row... I didn’t have a problem with the Rudd-Aniston pairing so I wouldn’t mind seeing them try it again with better material – or it could just be that the Rudd’s style of comedic acting is wearing thin on me...


“MAN ON A LEDGE” (Sam Worthington & Elizabeth Banks)

I liked this movie. I think the reason I liked it was due to the fact that it was a ‘crime caper’ without any car chase scenes & a minimal amount of weapons fired (Until the final scenes)
Was it far fetched? Sure, what crime caper movie isn’t? Did it get a little mundane with the ‘phew, that was a close call’ moments – Of course it did. But I liked the fact that the bulk of the movie concerned Sam Worthington’s Nick Cassady standing on the ledge outside of the hotel room he checked into as Joe Walker and his conversations with detective Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) as she tried to talk him off the ledge and he used her to stall for time while his accomplices robbed a safe in a building across the street.
Nick is an ex-cop who claims he was set up by billionaire David Englander (Ed Harris) by making Nick the fall guy for the theft of the Monarch Diamond. Nick’s defense was that Englander stole his own jewel but no one on the jury saw any sense in that. Harris, who normally plays a terrific bad guy seemed rather bland to me in this role – he actually showed more life playing bland John McCain than he did as a despicable billionaire.
When Nick’s father dies he is allowed, under armed guards to attend the funeral. During a heated skirmish with his younger brother, Nick escapes and sets his ‘man on a ledge’ diversion into action.
Ed Burns, one of the purveyors of bland acting to the point where he might as well use the same name for every character he plays since they all seem to act alike, is Jack Dougherty – the detective that is first called to the scene. Nick tells Jack the only person he’ll talk to is Lydia Mercer. Mercer, infamous for not talking down a depressed cop enters the film by crawling out of bed to answer the phone. It is one of the hottest non-nude scenes I’ve seen in a long time as Elizabeth looks smokin’ hot in just a wife-beater tee shirt and shorts.
Anthony Mackie plays Nick’s ex-partner Mike Ackerman and his uneasy facial expressions tell you that he’s hiding something, but yet he seems to care about what happens to Nick.
Add Kyra Sedwick as a bothersome news reporter and “Man on a Ledge” has a nice, easy to follow group of characters – It doesn’t get bogged down with too many exponential characters that only exist to complicate matters for the viewer.
Still, calling this plot ‘simple’ would be a misnomer; what goes on in the building across the street is where all of the ‘phew, that was close!’ scenes occur.
I wouldn’t discount anyone for disliking this film because of how easily Nick’s accomplices get inside a heavily guarded building and blow things up inside it without being detected. Plus, there’s only two people carrying out this elaborate scheme which makes it all the more unbelievable.
The surprise twist of revealing a supporting character’s true identity at the end wasn’t way off the wall like most surprise twists – this one made me smirk instead of roll my eyes... So there were some clever moments and some dopey moments, but over-all I liked the film because of the interplay between Worthington and Banks.


“CONTRABAND” (Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale & Giovanni Ribisi)

This is one of those early in the year hits that doesn’t have any reason to be a hit. I seriously doubt that most of the people that paid full price to see this did so for the same reason I shelled out $6 (total) for me and my wife to check it out – the supporting cast; I knew Foster and Ribisi were included, but an added surprise was J.K. Simmons, who turned out to be the best part of the movie... something he’s been lauded for many times in my reviews.
A plotline that stretches the boundaries of realism to begin with goes overboard with multiple complications that make the entire film impossible to take seriously.
Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, an ex-criminal gone legit by starting a successful home security business. He has a pretty wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale) who has a low-life younger brother, Andy, that gets caught smuggling drugs and has to throw a duffel bag full of cocaine overboard to prevent going to prison. The man he was working for, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) doesn’t have much sympathy for Andy and tells him he’s responsible for paying back what he threw off the ship.
Chris pays Briggs a visit to try and work out a deal, but Briggs is nonplused – He tells Farraday that if his skanky brother-in-law fails and he has to kill him that Chris then inherits the kid’s debt and if he doesn’t come through then he’ll go after his wife and kids and, well, that’s when Chris lets Briggs know that threatening his family wasn’t a very bright thing to do. Chris does agree to help Andy raise the money to repay what he lost by going back into the dirty business of smuggling, but this time the bounty is going to be counterfeit currency and a deal is struck with an old contact in Panama or Paraguay or somewhere south of the border.
Ben Foster plays Sebastian, Chris’s best friend and ex-partner in crime. While Chris sets sail to make the counterfeit score, Sebastian’s job is to watch over Kate and the couples’ two young sons.
J.K. Simmons shines as the stoic captain of the ship that’s carrying Chris and his crew to their destination. He’s aware of Chris’s sullied past and so he keeps a watchful eye on the ex-criminal. Making what Chris and Co. pull off even more far-fetched.
Everything that can go wrong goes wrong in a barrage of bullets and car crashes.
In a plan that left no room for error, there are errors galore and still the plan comes off without a hitch... Well, there are hitches aplenty as well but they kind of work themselves out without that bothersome plot getting in the way. Every move Chris and his boys make works in their favor and ALWAYS just in the nick of time. Whew! That was a close one, I wonder what would have happened if the scriptwriter added a little logic into the scenario.
There are a few plot twists as well but almost all are as predictable as a two horse race where one of the horses scratches. The one that really threw me for a loop was when Briggs and his two henchmen – loaded with automatic weapons and proving time and time again that they are not opposed to discharging them – simply give up when the cops surround the house where they’re enjoying the fruits of their labours. Sorry for the ‘spoiler’, but I’m sure those of you who’ve already seen this epic were shaking your heads at the same I was.
I always wonder – when dozens of characters die in such a short span of time in a movie like this – How did these airheads ever survive long enough to make it into the film? Were they smart criminals before the screenplay came along – or did the screenplay just cause them all to have massive brain farts and suddenly decide that firing their machine guns at the police while standing out in the open was a good idea?