Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Training The Lizard

As a movie lover, I hate not having kids. Part of it is that I'd love to pass on my knowledge and appreciation of this art form. Another part is that I usually have to go by myself when a so-called "kids movie" comes out that I want to see. When I do that, I'm thoroughly convinced that every parent there sees me as some sort of sexual predator and that I'll end up in jail because some stupid kid backed up into my knee or something. I'm exaggerating but I don't like to go to movies marketed to kids by myself and it takes a special one to get me to do so. I had heard good things about How To Train Your Dragon and I can tell you they are all true and it was well worth seeing. Wouldn't be worth having to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life but it's still pretty good.

Dragon is one of these "lessons in tolerance" movies that could easily turn stupid a la Pocahontas had it been made by less skilled filmmakers. Luckily the folks at Dreamworks managed to infuse enough humor, action and that rarest of all things seen in big budget movies, intelligence, to be a thoroughly entertaining experience.

The movie opens somewhere between a hundred and a bazillion years ago in a small Viking village that is constantly under the threat of dragon attack. Even the women here must be able to competently wield weapons so they can help fight off the dragons that destroy their homes and steal their food supply so there isn't really much of a place for a kid named Hiccup voiced by Jay Baruchel. Hiccup is a small and weak boy who has a high intellect in a world that values strength and fighting skill above all else. No one cares when Hiccup invents a catapult designed to take down the fastest and most elusive of all dragons called a Night Fury. Hiccup's physical shortcomings are accentuated by the fact that his father is Chief Stoic (Gerard Butler who is breaking the vow he made years ago that every movie he made after 300 would suck), a guy who can stand toe to toe with the toughest of dragons.

No one believes Hiccup when he says his catapult worked and he took down a Night Fury so he finds it but finds himself unable to kill the bound and helpless animal so he cuts it loose. He sees it later unable to navigate while flying due to damage to its tail so Hiccup builds a replacement tail (seriously) and manages to forge a friendship with what should be his mortal enemy. While all this is going on Hiccup's father puts him into dragon killing training along with every jerk kid in the village (including one really hefty nerd who hilariously describes the dragons using Dungeons and Dragons type stats like saying one of them is +5 to poison). Included in this group is Astrid (America Ferrera), the girl Hiccup has a crush on who's also the best dragon killer in the class. Hiccup, however, begins showing her up when he learns dragon weaknesses such as the fact that certain types of plants pacify them like catnip does and uses this knowledge in his training.

Hiccup comes to like and understand dragons but, of course, no one in the village wants to listen when he says an alliance can be formed and all the Vikings team up and hack the dragons to death thus exterminating the species. HA! Gotcha. I think you know how it ends but it's fun watching how they get to that ending.

How To Train Your Dragon isn't as good as Up but then again, what is? I shouldn't have even made the comparison anyway. That would be like comparing every war movie to Inglourious Basterds or every sucky piece of crap to New Moon or Transformers 2.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Come On, Let's Go Get A Drink

The title has nothing to do with the movie Repo Men. It's a line from the 1984 cult classic Repo Man with Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton as a couple of repo men who reclaim a car that has dead aliens in it. It's actually kind of cruel to be talking about that movie in a review for the new science fiction action thriller Repo Men since the former is a memorable and original movie filled with wit, charm and interesting characters and the latter...isn't.

Judging this movie on the "Three Strikes And You're Out" scale, Repo Men starts off with two strikes. First, it is my least favorite type of science fiction. I am definitely not a fan of stories that take a current trend or topic to a ridiculous extreme. In this case, the extreme is that, in the future, artificial organs will be widely available and ridiculously expensive. They'll be sold to just about anybody on credit but if you lapse on the payments then the company that sells them, the Union, sends out their repo men to kill you and reclaim the organ. This form of brutal murder is perfectly legal and has not caused people to take to the streets and go after Union officials with pitchforks. Strike two for this movie comes in the form of a ridiculous surprise ending I saw coming as soon as what was supposed to be the throwaway remark that alluded to it was uttered.

To avoid the third strike, this movie would have to be really excel in terms of rich characters, entertaining dialogue and memorable action sequences. I'll admit it comes close. Repo Men managed to attract actors who have either won or been nominated for Oscars. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play Remy and Jake, two childhood friends who grew up to work together as repo men for the Union. Jake feels nothing but heartless joy where his job is concerned but Remy is starting to become disenchanted with the daily grind of having to hack people up day in and day out mainly because his wife doesn't see the sheer awesomeness of it and wants him to transfer from repo to sales. After an on-the-job accident, Remy winds up needing a new heart and becomes a customer of the Union and his cold, money oriented boss played by Liev Schreiber who insists he makes payments just like everyone else. I don't know why. It happened while he was on the job. Don't they have workman's comp in the future? I guess not as Remy falls behind due to the fact that newfound sympathy makes doing his job impossible and from there, hilarity ensues and by that I mean he runs while people shoot at him. Unintentional hilarity really does ensue when Remy and his fellow runner/girlfriend played by Alice Braga make out while they cut each other open in an attempt to scan the serial numbers of their replacement parts to remove them from the Union's system.

The workman's comp thing wasn't the only question I had. Another big one is, "Why don't these people who know the repo men are coming start carrying guns?" You don't even see a real firearm until around 80 minutes into the movie. Or how about, "There's no such thing as civil rights groups who might protest the legalization of murder at the hands of corporations?"

And then there's the ending. Like I said, I saw it coming for about 90 minutes and was dreading it the whole time. It's my least favorite type of ending in my least favorite type of science fiction story and really knocks the movie out of the ballpark of mediocre and into the world of suck. If you must know what happens, mouse over the following block of white text.

At least two reference are made to one of the Union's new products, a neural net that can substitute the functions of a damaged brain. Jake even says that someone who has a head injury or a stroke can be hooked up to it and live the rest of their lives in a happy dream and when Jake said that I thought to myself, "PLOT POINT! PLOT POINT!" There comes a point where Remy is hit in the head and, as you find out at the end, Jake has the Union rig Remy up with a neural net and the rest of the movie takes place in Remy's head including the action scenes in which they take down the Union and the mega happy ending in which Remy, Jake and a bikini clad Alice Braga get to spend the rest of their lives on a tropical island.

Welcome back to those of you returning from spoiler world. You didn't really need to know all that to know that Repo Men isn't very good but I'm sure it helped.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Age Old Question

I was reading THR.com today and saw yet another article about Avatar. Since Avatar came out, I have come to truly admire James Cameron and this article only increased that admiration. Not only did he basically help create new special effects and 3D technology but he made sure the movie would look good whether you saw it on a 3d Imax screen the size of a football field or in the 100 seat theater movies go to the week before they finally leave the multiplex.
The version requirements were uniquely daunting for "Avatar," as the technically savvy Cameron entered uncharted territory to create the highest presentation quality possible.

"No studio has ever faced what we faced on this," says Ted Gagliano, president of postproduction at Fox. "Jim wanted the best, most immersive experience possible. So he pushed us to have a multiple-version inventory that would give each theater the best experience it could possibly deliver for that given theater."
Say what you want about Cameron but that's a filmmaker right there. He worked his ass off for years so schlubs like you and I could have fun for a few hours. Avatar is simply an amazing experience and I haven't even seen it in 3D. Directors usually get a disproportionate amount of the credit for the success or failure of a movie but really no one can doubt that the lion's share of the credit must go to James Cameron. His ex-wives talk about how his marriages have fallen apart because of his dedication to the craft of movie making.

Thinking about all this, I started to wonder. The guy spent years of his life making this movie. He pushed for the huge budget that risked not only his professional standing and reputation but the financial stability of the studio backing him. I'm not sure how he feels about "the little people" but I'll assume he's not a sociopath and at least has some regard for the people who would have lost their jobs if this thing had flopped. So, he took all that risk, expended all that time and effort and stood tall against the people who said it couldn't be done. Here's what all that makes me wonder and I say this as someone who saw Avatar twice and enjoyed it each time.

Why the hell would you do all this for a plot that basically a mishmash of Dances With Wolves and some 50s science fiction stories? Why would you go to unprecedented lengths for a story in which Kevin Costner's character is painted blue and plopped down on another planet? Why would you spend more money than had ever before spent to show us things that had never before been seen on screen and put those wonderful images into the service of a derivative plot? What not make a story and bold, innovative and original as the processes used to create the film's sights and sounds?

Oh well, this summer we have movies like Prince of Persia, The A-Team and Twilight 3 to look forward to. I'm sure Hollywood's saving all its fresh and original ideas for those.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 3/25/10

As I skipped Wednesday again, I feel I owe you wonderful people something. Too bad all you're getting is what I do every Thursday, another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

First it was Jane Austen characters fighting zombies. Now we're about to get Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires. I haven't read those books and obviously haven't seen the movies yet but it amazes me how little time it took the idea of inserting horror elements into old stories has itself gotten old.

Hot Tub Time Machine comes out tomorrow. It looks like it might be this year's answer to The Hangover. Reviews are good so far and it will almost surely be funny. However, I won't be happy unless the characters learn important lessons about friendship, tolerance, being young at heart and how important it is that you love your kids. That's the real appeal of broad comedies, right?

Regular readers know I'm a huge Doctor Who fan. Series 5 with the new Doctor Matt Smith premieres in the U.K. on April 4 and though we Americans won't get to see it until April 17. I assume the reason for this has something to do with that time we Yanks kicked them out of this country. Anyway, here's the trailer for the new Stephen Moffat produced (one of the best writers currently working in any medium) of Doctor Who.

Jaime Foxx is obviously tired of his mantle getting cluttered up with all those damn Oscars since he is now writing a big screen remake of Laverne and Shirley. Sadly, it will be directed by original L&S producer Garry Marshall, a fellow who's been responsible for such gaping holes of suck as Georgia Rule and the recent Valentine's Day. At least the lead roles will be played by Jennifer Garner and Jessica Biel which means this could be the greatest movie ever if Foxx makes Laverne and Shirley lesbians.

Robert Culp died this week. What a shame. I loved that guy. The press mainly talks about I, Spy, the show he did with Bill Cosby back in the 60s. While it was a good show, for me Culp will always be Bill Maxwell, the hard edged FBI agent who balanced out William Katt's more breezy super-hero character from The Greatest American Hero. And so it goes.

Big Hollywood's John Nolte is a really weird guy. How weird? This little screed in which he defines racism as a phenomenon of liberal elites is only the second weirdest thing he's written this week. This week's #1 in the "Huh? Someone actually wrote that?" category is this post in which he obsesses over fake breasts. Specifically, the producers of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie placed an ad for actresses with real breasts. Nolte then quotes a NY Post story that claims the actresses will have to strip and bounce for the producers. If you read the article, though, the only source for that lurid tidbit is Nolte himself. The NY Post made an unfounded assertion and Nolte turned it into a real life porn film. Here's the only bit of factual evidence in any of this, the actual casting call posted on Moviehole.net. There's nothing there about bouncing or jogging in place. The so called "show and tell" that made Nolte freak wasn't about breasts, it was about costumes. What happened here was that Nolte started thinking about lovely young females with real breasts contorting their bodies for his pleasure, felt his penis grow to a mighty four inches and furiously typed out his post stating the way he felt was an example of liberal hypocrisy before engaging in 30 seconds of sadly pathetic masturbation after which he hit the PUBLISH button and apologized to Jesus for "accidentally" touching himself and telling the Savior that it was all the fault of liberal Hollywood.

Oh look everyone, the director of such classics as Death Race and Resident Evil is going to take a crack at Buck Rogers. Did you hear me squeal with delight just then? That's because I didn't. Oh well, as always I cross my fingers and hope this movie beats the odds though in this case I think I'll have to cross my whole body.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Full Moon

I reviewed New Moon when it came out back in November. It's not that I hated that movie but that I hated it in a really special way. I really don't understand the appeal of characters whose entire lives are spent in either life threatening situations or crushing depression. The trailer for this summer's Eclipse looks like a continuation of this fine tradition which means I have between now and then to find new ways to make fun of Bella's mumbling, Edward's disinterested whisper and Jacob's pecs.

One thing I can tell you is that New Moon was much better on DVD. In fact, I absolutely loved it. Watching New Moon in the theater was a dark and sad experience but at home on my HD screen it was a wonder and a delight. New Moon viewed in the comfort of my home was a thing of wit, hope and imagination and it was all thanks to these guys.

Yeah, baby! Rifftrax! Some of you may remember Mystery Science Theater 3000, the television show that went off the air more than a decade ago. Opinion is split as to whether it was a great show or if it was the greatest show ever. MST3K was a show in which a guy named Joel (later replaced by a guy named Mike) and his two robots were supposedly being held prisoner in a satellite orbiting the Earth and, as part of an experiment, were forced to watch bad movies. The practical upside of this was that they would make hilarious jokes while the movie was playing and perform hilarious sketches when it wasn't. It went off the air, I assume, because they were a threat to The Man. Sadly, mainly due to various rights issues, you never see reruns playing on any network though many episodes are available on DVD. Thankfully, we also now have Rifftrax. This is the brainchild of former MST3K players Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. They make a separate audio track for movies that bypass any rights issues since they don't use a single bit of the movie's audio or video which means they can now make fun of any movie they want. And oh did they ever do it to New Moon.

Finally I got to hear out loud the insults I was thinking in my head while watching New Moon. Well, maybe not. If I had done the riffs they mostly would have consisted of, "This sucks," or, "Man, does this ever suck," or maybe, "Magic 8 Ball says THIS SUCKS!" (I'm proud of that one.) These guys, however, are professional comedy writers and so they make funny jokes about Bella's stammer and lack of expression, Edward's love of pauses and the general absurdity that is not only this film but the Twilight phenomenon in general.

New Moon and its predecessor, Twilight, are an excellent introduction to Rifftrax. Some have been better than others though I can't say I've heard a really bad one yet. Still, Eclipse is coming out soon. Who knows what that will do to their souls?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stupid Or Boring? Why Not Both?

If you think all big budget studio films are stupid, boring, trite and inane and want that opinion reinforced, The Bounty Hunter is the movie for you.

Bounty Hunter is a bland, inoffensive and forgettable comedy from director Andy Tennant, the master of bland, inoffensive and forgettable comedies. Remember Hitch, Fool's Gold and Sweet Home Alabama? Of course you don't but they were all directed by Andy Tennant and now we have his magnum opus of dull, The Bounty Hunter.

The movie stars Jennifer Aniston as Nicole Hurley, a reporter who stumbles onto a police corruption story and jumps bail on an unrelated matter to investigate it. While writing this I tried to remember the last time Jennifer Aniston was in a movie I liked and all I could come up with was Rumor Has It, a mildly entertaining comedy about a woman who finds out her family was the real life inspiration for The Graduate. Her IMDB profile is like a graveyard where bad movies go to die. I was sadly reminded of such flops as Along Came Polly and The Break-Up, movies that did their very best not only to end Jen's career but also those of co-stars Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Jennifer Aniston never says die though and now she's back with another lame comedy that could also sink the career of a famous male costar.

Not that Gerard Butler who plays her ex-husband Milo Boyd has huge bragging rights here. This will be the fourth bad movie he's made in the past nine months. The only saving grace is that this isn't as bad as his last attempt at romantic comedy The Ugly Truth.

I'm sure you all know the story from the ads and it will come as no surprise that the plot holds no surprises. Milo has been working as a bounty hunter for a bail bondsman since he split from Nicole and receives a pleasant and unexpected surprise when he's told to apprehend her after she skips out on her bail. Since they were married, he knows she'll be at a race track in New Jersey. We're then treated to the wonderfully comforting scene in which he picks her up, locks her in his trunk and drives off with her in full view of dozens of people that have no idea she's a fugitive and he's her bounty hunter. This must be a common site at New Jersey racetracks since no one thinks to pull out a phone and call the cops.

Anyway, hijinks happen which, predictably, causes hilarity to ensue and Milo and Nicole start forgetting why they got divorced. I mean they each literally said they couldn't remember. You'd think some of that would have stuck but no. Oh, don't worry, a Three's Company type misunderstanding occurs that keeps them from 69ing each other but it all gets resolved in the end. Oh yeah, some boring major police corruption thing is going on during all this crap too. Mix all that together and you have the perfect movie or at least that was the belief of the investors who were convinced to spend tens of millions of dollars on this garbage which elicited zero big laughs and maybe a half dozen mild chuckles throughout the entire film.

I'm sure all parties involved will redeem themselves in their next movie. Jennifer Aniston, for instance, is starring in another romantic comedy called The Switch (which I talked about on Thursday) and Andy Tennant will be directing a movie called Around The World In 80 Dates. I'm sure everyone's already laughing. As for Gerard Butler, he's disappointing everyone who loves his forays into rom-com by doing a film adaptation of Shakespeare's Coriolanus but don't worry. He's also going to star in Burns in which he plays a guy named Burns. I wonder if I can buy my ticket now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Who's Next

Matt Smith starts his tenure as the titular character in Doctor Who next month replacing David Tennant. This is what I think my reactions will be.

Okay, maybe this won't be so bad. Let's just turn this on and see how this goes. (One minute in) Oh my God this SUCKS! You hear me? SSSSUUUCCCKKKSSSS!!!!! David Tennant was awesome. Could this new Doctor be any goofier looking? You can bet I'm going to put a stop to this crap right now. (dials phone number) Hello, Buckingham Palace? I'd like to speak to Queen Illsbeth about getting David Tennant back on Doctor Who. What? that's not her name? So what, how many freaking queens do you have there? Just put her on. What the hell do you mean, "Her Majesty is not available to take calls from the public"? You tell Queen Betty that my taxes pay her salary. Hmm? I'm an American, what does have to do with...hello? HELLO? Oh no you did not just hang up on me! (dials number again) Hello, Buckingham Palace? This is the guy you just hung up on and I just wanted to say FUCK YOU! (slams phone)

There, I feel better. Who the hell do I talk to now about Doctor Who? Don't they have some kind of Prime Minister over there or something? Let me look up that number and...there. (dials number) Hello, 10 Downing Street? I want to speak to someone about getting David Tennant back on Doctor Who so put Tony Blair on. He's not there? When's he going to be back? He's not PM anymore? Lady, I don't speak British. What the hell is a PM? Is that like when you people say loo instead of bathroom? Oh, Prime Minister, okay. When the hell did he stop being Prime Minister? That long ago? Don't take that tone with me. I suppose you know who America's President is. Huh? It's Barack Obama? He won? Woo hoo! I had no idea. YES WE CAN! Okay, just put whoever the hell is in charge over there on the phone and tell him my taxes pay his sal...hello? Jesus, what the hell is it with that country?

Oh well, nothing I can do about this now. May as well watch more of the show. (one hour later) Oh well, that didn't suck too badly, I guess. I'm never going to like this guy though.

(three years later) What? Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who? No, it can't be, he was the best Doctor ever. I'm calling England.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 3/18/10

I imagine many of you are hung over after yesterday's holiday festivities. I don't drink so I'm fresh as a daisy but, for the sake of you who currently feel like leprechauns are drilling through your skull, I have prepared another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I see Repo Men isn't getting particularly good reviews. What a shock that a science fiction story that takes current trends to ridiculous extremes then adds action sequences just like Surrogates did wouldn't be any good. At least Bruce Willis and Jude Law can get together now and talk about how those stupid movie audiences don't appreciate good scifi-action-drama when they see it. By the way, this movie annoyed me when I saw it wasn't a sequel or a remake to the 80s cult classic of the same name but then I was very grateful it had nothing to do with that movie. In the modern "reboot" culture, that's really a movie that should be left alone.

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is coming back for a third season on U.S. television which means we'll get another season of suck unless they shoot the whole thing in England. The BBC version of that show is pretty good whereas the American version looks scripted, theatrical and unrealistic. The Americans look like they're doing what they're doing which is performing for the camera whereas the British behave in a much less dramatic manner. An American might say, "THAT LIMEY JERK DIDN'T LIKE MY CRAB CAKES? LET ME AT HIM!" then have to be held back by friends and family whereas the British are more likely to say, "Well, Gordon, I'm not happy that you said my shepherd's pie tastes like something that had been shat out of a dog's arse but I'll respect your opinion and I'll try to do better."

It will amaze me if Hot Tub Time Machine actually manages to be good but the signs are all pointing that way. I've yet to see poor word of mouth about it plus I saw the ultimate sign when I cut open a raven and saw it's enlarged liver. According to ancient lore, this either means that Hot Tub Time Machine will be good or this year's crops will die. Let's hope it's the first thing.

In the trailer for Kick-Ass, the kid who's going to don a mask and try to be a real superhero asks the question, "Why hasn't anyone just put on a mask and tried to be a superhero?" He's told that people who actually did that would get their asses kicked in less than a day. Yes, that's part of it. It's unlikely anyone could be such a good fighter that he or she could consistently clean out rooms full of bad guys especially if they have guns. Also, the odds are that you'd get caught. With modern facial recognition technology, either law enforcement or the bad guys would track you down eventually. Law enforcement would be more likely since they tend to take a dim view of people who consistently take the law into their own hands. The public would come to resent and even fear the guy they don't know who isn't accountable to anyone especially if he had real superpowers. You know, I'm pretty sure I had a point when I started typing this paragraph. Um, go see Kick-Ass?

I criticized Repo Men but look what's scoring lower? When did Gerard Butler decide to star in a series of mediocre rom-coms? In fact, when did he decide he was going to stop being in good movies after he did 300? I hope he's getting paid well. As for Jennifer Aniston, I was going to mention that we all get to look forward to her starring in The Baster, something that couldn't possibly be anything but an intrinsically stupid piece of offensive crap in which she plays a woman attempting artificial insemination and Jason Bateman plays her friend who, unknown to her, substitutes his sperm for that of an anonymous donor. That has to fit some definition of rape, right? Even if it doesn't, it's really an awful thing to do. Did I mention this was supposed to be a comedy? Anyway, I looked at her IMDB profile and the movie was gone. "Finally, the people behind this movie came to their senses," I thought. I thought that till I looked at other entries and found this, anyway. I'd say "nice try" but it's not.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The League of Below Average Dorks

I shouldn't be bothered by the fact that She's Out Of My League is unrealistic. What movie is? Currently showing at the same multiplex were movies about a man who possesses a genetically engineered body so he can blend in with an alien race and a girl who falls down a rabbit hole and enters a world where animals talk. Even if the technology that made Avatar possible is someday created, the movie still wouldn't be realistic. Clothing and hairstyles aren't going to change in the next 150 years? Still, that didn't bother me at all. the reason is probably that Avatar is a better movie than She's Out Of My League.

League isn't the horrific piece of crap I thought it would be mainly because of some wildly funny scenes and a couple of supporting characters, especially T.J. Miller as the lead character's best friend, Stainer. When I first heard that the guy's name was Stainer I wanted to kick the writers in the face so the guy must have been very funny for me to now say he was the best thing in the movie. I wish T.J. Miller had played the lead character, in fact, but that duty fell to Jay Baruchel.

Baruchel plays Kirk Kettner. If you've seen the trailer, you know that Kirk is a TSA official and a passive/aggressive douchebag. In fact, if you've seen the trailer then I probably don't have to tell you any more about the plot. I had the whole thing plotted out before the opening credits rolled. It's not the kind of movie where you look for surprises in the plot. You see a movie like this for likable characters who get into funny situations. And speaking of the characters...

Kirk is a sad, pathetic creature when the movie starts. His great ambition is to get back with his ex, Marnie. She has a new boyfriend who's in the room when Kirk tries his attempt at reconciliation but doesn't care and is even friendly toward Kirk as Kirk is clearly no threat to him. Adding to Kirk's non stop humiliation is the fact that his parents let Marnie hang around at their house even though she broke their son's heart two years ago.

Kirk's life picks up a bit when he meets Molly (Alice Eve) who, according to the movie, is the hottest girl in the history of anything ever. Kirk makes a good impression when he stops a coworker from using his position at TSA to sexually harass Molly by giving her an intimate search when she's trying to board her flight. Kirk later finds her iPhone and she asks him out when he returns it to her though he doesn't fully realize that it was a date and not some friendly get-together. Yes, she is the one pursuing him. Why? She just had a bad breakup and he seems nice. That could explain the first date but after Kirk spends that date slouching and looking like he's about to piss his pants at any moment, there is no explanation. Other than being a decent soul, Kirk really has no qualities that would make a girl think he'd be a good boyfriend. Molly, on the other hand, is not only gorgeous but at the age of 25 has built with her friend one of the most successful event planning businesses in the city of Pittsburgh. Luckily for Kirk, Molly isn't a real person but rather a fantasy construct created by screenwriters. This means that not only will a girl like Molly go after a guy like Kirk but she will do so with an unshakable childlike zeal. She meets his crazy family which includes his crude, vulgar brother who asks to her face if she's a hooker and not only does she not run screaming but she actually agrees to accompany them on a trip to Branson, Missouri.

As I said, the supporting characters really save this movie from its leads. Stainer is great as is Kirk's brother Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer). I instantly hated Molly's friend and business partner Patty (Krysten Ritter) whom we meet getting indignant over not being able to use her cell phone on an airplane but she grew on me after a while. That's saying a lot considering the one exception I would ever put on my No Violence Against Women Rule would be that some crazy bitch who thinks the Constitution gives her the right to use a cell phone on a plane should be taken out and maimed. Another thing that elevates this film from the abyss is a series of really funny scenes including the time where Kirk decides to shave his genitals and discovers it's more difficult than it seems. There is one scene though where I'd suggest you go to the bathroom and not come back till it's over. You've probably seen the ad where Kirk comes in his pants but you haven't seen what happens after and trust me, you don't want to. It defined the word gross.

Sadly, the jokes weren't enough to make me recommend the film but it's a lot better than I thought it would be. If I used the standard 4 star rating system I'd probably give it 2 and a half. One more thing: this movie has very odd definitions of physical attractiveness. Kirk's ex, Marnie, is described as a troll. She's only unattractive in the world of movies though. This is Lindsay Sloane, the actress who played Marnie. Yep, quite a troll.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Going Green

Green Zone is cleverly marketed as if it were a Jason Bourne movie. It is, in fact, what a Jason Bourne movie would be if they were overtly political and Bourne's abilities were pretty much grounded in reality instead of giving him Matrix-like super powers. It's a pretty decent film which, along with The Hurt Locker, means that maybe Hollywood is figuring out how to make decent films about Iraq. Director Paul Greengrass and writer Brian Helgeland take Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, changed the names and added action sequences to make their movie set around the time George Bush made his famous "Mission Accomplished" speech.

Matt Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy "No, I am not Jason frigging Bourne" Miller, the leader of a unit dedicated to finding and disposing of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. This seems like it should be a pretty easy job since, in the several months he's been doing that, he's found jack. The so-called 100% certain sure-fire intelligence they've received on WMD sites has been wrong each time. Miller is especially upset about finding empty sites since his team has taken casualties from sniper fire and the like. Around this time we meet Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), a high ranking American official who's one of the people in charge of rebuilding and deciding the fate of Iraq despite the fact that he knows very little about it. He probably hasn't left Baghdad's famous Green Zone since he first arrived there but then again, why would he? That place is awesome. When Miller and his team arrive to meet with Poundstone, they're surprised to see that the officials and bureaucrats who live there lead a downright decadent lifestyle thoroughly insulated from the horrors going on outside the Green Zone's walls. Miller encounters Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a CIA station chief who probably knows as much as any American about the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular so, naturally, his plans and suggestions are ignored by the know-it-all bureaucrats and Heritage Foundation interns who are in charge.

Real life events have been fictionalized for Green Zone though informed viewers will spot the parallels like an Iraqi exile based on a real man named Ahmed Chalabi who was supposed to have been installed as a puppet leader. In another parallel, the source of WMD information turns out to be a secret source known to most only as Magellan. This was probably mainly based on Curveball, a guy who told the Bush administration what they wanted to hear about WMDs even though he was a mentally unstable man who knew nothing. Miller discovers that Magellan is an Iraqi general who was promised a role in a new Iraq but has been betrayed by Poundstone after the decision was made to completely disband and cut out of power members of the Iraqi Army. This move is portrayed by the movie the same way it is mostly regarded now, as a huge mistake on the Bush administration's part as the Army might have been able to maintain order and put down the blossoming insurgency.

Miller spends the movie dodging bullets along with his Iraqi interpreter and source, a guy known only as Freddie who seems to be motivated only by the desire to help the Americans maintain order and, in the end, does what he thinks is the right thing (saying any more would be a huge spoiler).

Green Zone has already been denounced as anti-American by the usual suspects but can't be regarded as anything but accurate by informed viewers, even in its fictionalized state. Uninformed viewers might learn something but, if they don't want to, can still enjoy it as an action movie and covert ops thriller about smart people, some good and some bad. Its ending, I think, is naive but then again, it's a movie. It's not like any of this is real, right?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oscar Wrapup

This, perhaps, should have shown up a little earlier in the week. It didn't so you get to enjoy it now. You're welcome.

I still think Tarantino and Inglourious Basterds should have won for both Best Director and Best Picture but I won't complain about Kathryn Bigelow and Hurt Locker taking those prizes. She did a great job with very little money or star power and made a movie that managed to convince a large enough number of Academy voters that they should ignore the well regarded science fiction epic that became the highest grossing movie ever and vote for a small budget war drama that very few people have seen. Also, now that a woman has finally won Best Director, we don't have to let one win again for another 80 years.

I had a feeling that there would be some surprises this year and man oh man was I ever wrong. Conventional wisdom ruled this year. Chrisoph Waltz won this year's Christoph Waltz Award and Pixar won the award that was created so Pixar could win an Oscar. Sandra Bullock won the award that she really shouldn't have won. Her performance was much better than the movie she was in and it's nice she was able to finally take one of those statues home but there were better performances this year. Still, now that Sandra Bullock has won this, we don't have to let her win again for another 80 years.

I loved it when Neil Patrick Harris sang the opener. I loved it less when he stopped singing and Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin came out to give their hit-and-miss comedy routine.

When Jeff Bridges won Best Actor, I was going to go on Twitter and make a joke about how he should say, "The Dude abides," in his speech but was beaten by the 80,000 other people who had the same idea. Because of this, I will now say, "The Dude abides," whenever I see Jeff Bridges doing anything (which I did yesterday in reference to his appearance in the new Tron trailer). The only exception to this policy will be if he ever stars in a Big Lebowski sequel. I know I shouldn't be taking this out on Jeff Bridges but it's easier to retaliate against him than all 80,000 people on Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, I loved this comment about "That Montana girl and that Twilight girl" from someone who has in her life had intimate knowledge of Humphrey Bogart.

When Roger Ross Williams won his award for Best Documentary Short, I honestly figured this would be a good time to heat up a pizza slice and go to the bathroom. How the hell was I supposed to know that an event people would call the Oscars' Kanye moment was about to happen? I didn't even find out about it till the next day. There's a lesson in there somewhere about life being full of surprises. Still, if the same thing happens next year where someone I've never heard of wins one of the less prestigious awards, I'll probably miss it then too so best not to ponder too much on the lesson.

Farrah Fawcett was apparently intentionally left off this year's memorial list since the producers decided she was more of a TV star than a movie star. This decision is rendered bullshit by the fact that Michael Jackson who starred in one movie his entire life was on the damn list. Oh well.

That's it till next year, kiddies. In 2011 I'm sure I'll be congratulating Megan Fox for winning the newly created Hottest Body category. Buh bye.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 3/11/10

It's been two fun filled days since I lasted posted anything of substance. I can't think of a better way to come back than with my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Variety fired Todd McCarthy, it's chief film critic of over 30 years. If they think this act will push their profit margin back in the black, why not just fire all their reporters and make their paper a giant book of ads while also doubling the cover price? They'd make a fortune then. Other people do what you guys do, Variety. If you don't offer the public something unique such as, let's say, distinct and well known talent, why on Earth would anyone bother to go to your publication? I, personally, don't see myself ever even looking at Variety again.

Okay, um, just ignore that last sentence. According to Variety, Corey Haim has passed away at the age of 38. Drug addiction is a horrible thing, folks. I'm hoping I won't have to read a similar article about people like Lindsay Lohan in a few years. Little known fact: back in the 80s Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and I were known as the Three Coreys. They stopped hanging out with me when they found out my name wasn't Corey. It was fun while it lasted though. Farewell, Corey Haim. Thou shalt not fall...crryyyy little sister...

I usually like the MTV Movies Blog though I can't say that about this particular post. They have a 10 second advance clip of the new Twilight film but you have to watch a one minute commercial to access it. Classy, MTV. I'll save you the time. Edward and Jacob both mope around expressing their love for Bella in a way indistinguishable from the way a sufferer of clinical depression would do so. Bella, meanwhile, stares stone faced at both of them with her mouth open making one wonder when exactly drool will start dribbling out and...that's it. I'm happy to have saved you the time.

I've never been a huge fan of Tron. Thus, it's a mystery as to why I'm looking forward to the upcoming Tron Legacy coming out in December. This trailer may have something to do with it. We see that things haven't changed that much in the Tron world since we last saw it. We also see that the Dude abides.

The Hollywood Reporter, also known as one of those publications that does exactly what Variety does but still employs film critics, reports that CBS has renewed Undercover Boss for a second season. I've no idea how that will work. I suspect people will now be suspicious when a 50 year old guy has a film crew tagging along behind him when he shows up to report for his low wage entry level job at a major corporation. I don't watch that show so I don't care all that much.

She's Out Of My League comes tomorrow. I wrote about this under a little subsection called Movies I Haven't Seen though I was really reviewing the trailer. The producers need not worry though. I have no problem putting preconceived notions behind me. I've hated movies I expected to love and vice versa many times. I will enter the theater this weekend as a fair and impartial critic after which I will write a review so scathing it will melt your hard drive. Maybe.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Owie Ow Ow

Actually the foot is much better today but I was still too busy to write anything. Feel free to stop paying anything you were paying me to do this. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I hurt my foot and don't feel like doing anything today. That includes this. See you next Wednesday.

(Today's post was guest written by John Landis.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alice's Quest: A Rant

I liked Alice in Wonderland until it stopped being Alice in Wonderland and started being Chronicles of Narnia.

It seems to be a trend in children's book adaptations these days to age child characters into sexy adults and that's what director Tim Burton did here by casting 20 year old Mia Wasikowska to play Alice. Unlike the recent Percy Jackson film, however, they didn't just do it and hope no one would notice. This movie is more of a sequel thought the story is a mish mash of Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwock. The story opens in the early 1800s with a seven year old Alice describing a strange dream about a fantasy world with talking animals and the like to her father. She should be grateful that her father was enlightened enough not to have her committed or leached and was able to reach age 20 relatively unscathed. Her mother, a woman who apparently never read Jane Austen, is trying to marry her young, lovely daughter off to some foolish douche who also happens to be a wealthy Lord. Alice's odd dreams have followed her into adulthood and caused her to become easily distracted and prone to odd, random thoughts. While dancing with her fiance, she stops moving as she suddenly wonders what it would be like to fly. Though marrying a rich douchebag is considered to be the greatest thing a young lady can do in this society, Alice actually runs off when Lord Douche of Douchetopia pops the question and ends up following a waistcoat-wearing rabbit down a hole. What I write next is filled with shocking spoilers so be warned.

It turns out that hole leads to a room with a tiny door. Alice drinks from a bottle that says "Drink Me" and shrinks so she can fit through the door. Amazing, eh? Told you there'd be spoilers. Did I just blow your mind? She enters Underland, a place where everyone knows her, everyone being the rabbit, a wise caterpillar and a pair of goofball twins named Tweedledum and Tweedledee. This is about where we meet the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter, in this movie because Tim Burton is required by law to include her in all his movies) and her loyal soldier, the Knave of Hearts (Crispin Glover, who makes that character look unbelievably cool). The White Queen has taken over Narnia and cursed it to be under a perpetual layer of snow...oops, sorry, I mean the Red Queen has taken over Underland and cursed it to be perpetually bleak. The Queen rules by controlling a dragon called the Jabberwock and is somewhat worried about a prophecy saying Alice, who has visited years earlier and called the place Wonderland, would return and take possession of the mystical Vorpal Sword which, I assume, can take out the Jabberwock due to it having +12 Jabberwock damage. The Queen doesn't recognize the now grown Alice who has come to her castle to rescue the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp who, shockingly gives a memorable performance by playing the Hatter as a split personality, one an effete and silly party goer and the other a crazed Scot). Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

Making Alice an adult with feminist tendencies actually worked for me. I've always found the Alice stories to be more than a little disturbing and it's easier to watch all this weird stuff happen to a grownup than to a little girl. If only they hadn't felt the need to turn it into every other movie. It think it was Roger Ebert who wrote on Twitter that he has to write, "It was great until the action film ending," so often that people think he has no original ideas. Actually, it's the movies that don't. I didn't see this in 3D (which may be good since I've seen nothing but complaints about the movie's 3D version) but I know it 2D it had Tim Burton's trademark visual imagination and it even paid attention to things like creating interesting characters including making Alice into a (rather timid) feminist who doesn't feel she needs to marry to have a happy life depsite what everyone around her says. Then it ended with a battle between good and evil and a dragon fight. I won't tell you who won.

Therefore, i say yes, go see Alice in Wonderland. Just feel free to go to sleep during the ending. Trust me, you'll miss nothing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oscar Speeches

Through an extensive network of highly placed exclusive sources from all levels of the movie business, I have received advance copies of the Oscar speeches various nominees will deliver should they win Sunday night. We at Clear's Own are proud of our work and fully expect to receive millions in new book and syndication deals in which case we'll kiss the little Blogger piece of crap goodbye along with the genetic defectives who read it.

On that note, please enjoy this, my loyal readers.

AND THE WINNER FOR BEST ANIMATED FEATURE IS...UP, PRODUCER PETE DOCTER: Thank you, thank you. Okay, seriously, was there any doubt we would win. The Best Animated Feature category exists so Pixar can win Oscars and guess who made Up? Hint: it starts with a P and rhymes with Pixar and if you didn't know it was Pixar then how the hell did you get to be sitting in this room with the great and near great and near great of the film industry and not in some Jack in the Box slurping down cheap burgers with your fat kids? I'm actually a little offended that you made me wait through the reading of the other four nominees. I'm a busy guy with places to be and you all tried to act as if this was actually some kind of horse race instead of the foregone conclusion it's been since Up was released last May. In fact, it would be a good idea to just give me next year's award for Toy Story 3 right now. No? Fine, we'll all pretend to be in suspense this time next year then.

AND THE WINNER FOR BEST PICTURE IS...THE BLIND SIDE, PRODUCER GIL NETTER: Um, we won? Are you serious? ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? No way. I know this is a joke. I grab hold of the statue and it sticks to my hand, everyone laughs and I'm escorted off the stage and the producers of The Hurt Locker come up for the real award, right? Ha ha, very funny, assholes.

AND THE WINNER FOR BEST ACTRESS IS...CAREY MULLIGAN, AN EDUCATION: Oh my goodness, thank you so much. I want you to know I realize this isn't so much for the role I played in An Education but that you're actually recognizing me for the time I played Sally Sparrow on Doctor Who. I want you all to know I'll be returning in 2012 as the Doctor's new companion. (This may or may not be wishful thinking on my part. -- MC)

AND THE WINNER FOR BEST DIRECTOR IS...KATHRYN BIGELOW, THE HURT LOCKER: Wow, just wow. I never thought I'd be lucky enough to be standing here before you receiving this, one of my profession's highest honors. I want to thank screenwriter Mark Boal for the wonderful job he did in giving me and the cast an unforgettable script to bring to life. I also want to thank the brave men and women on the U.S. military who give so very much for our nation. Finally, I want to thank my ex-husband, James Cameron, for being such a huge piece of shit to me while we were married. He generated such an incredible amount of hatred for him within me that he inspired me to become a better director. Oh, hi James, didn't see you there, fuckface. Gosh, were you nominated this year too? I had no idea. HA! Lick my ass, James. You used to like to do that, as I recall, though not as much as you used to like putting on a pink lace bra and ramming a 15 inch vibrating dildo up your ass while we screwed. Fuck you, James. And thanks again, Academy members, for this great honor. Also, fuck you again, James.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Look At My Briefs -- 3/4/10

It's that time of year again, kiddies. Time for another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I suppose it was only a matter of time.

I wonder what it says about me that Nip/Tuck is going off the air and I've yet to see a single episode. I suppose it means I don't have 100 hours a week to watch television. I thought some grand philosophical observation would suddenly pop in my head after typing that first sentence but now...nothing. Moving on.

The only really classic moments of the third Pirates of the Caribbean film happened when Keith Richards showed up to play Jack Sparrow's father and people in the audience started muttering, "I think that's Keith Richards." The depth of Johnny Depp's affection for Richards makes me look forward to his planned documentary of the bass player though I've no idea how you're going to stretch, "I don't really remember that due to the drifting dunes of heroin I was doing at the time," into a full length feature but I'm sure Depp will find a way.

Young people may not know that there was a time when video games didn't have even the bare bones storylines they have today. Space Invaders, for instance, didn't take place during World War II or in a zombie infested post apocalyptic world. It was just "Shoot stuff out of the sky" and they made millions off of it. This makes me wonder how exactly one goes about turning something like Space Invaders into a full length feature film but why worry? If there's one source of filmmaking ideas that always delivers quality product, it's video games.

This woman writes an entire article advocating for The Blind Side to win Best Picture before finally admitting this in the second to last paragraph:
“The Blind Side” is not a great film but it is a great story which is documented at its end by the real life pictures of the characters portrayed by Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates and others.
The only reason she wants The Blind Side to win is because she sees it as something that affirms her world view. The reason it won't win has nothing to do with values or a liberal agenda. It won't win because there are nine other nominated films much better than The Blind Side, a mediocre film that shouldn't have been nominated in the first place.

Dealers of illegal hallucinogenics will notice a sharp drop in business tomorrow when Alice in Wonderland, a movie that makes them unnecessary, is released. Let your friendly neighborhood drug merchant know you still care and that he'll be back in business in a few weeks when the film slowly drifts out of theaters.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some Guy Trying To Figure Out "Lost"

When it first started I figured this was some Gilligan's Island type deal where the plane survivors would start building shit out of coconuts and have sex with monkeys (come on, you know they were doing that) while the radio would talk about nothing but them for years. After a while, though, it seemed so obvious they were in Hell or Purgatory or something but the producers insisted that they were all very much alive and not in Hell. I figured the producers were just total douchenozzles and that the last episode would show them in Hell and they'd come on and say, "Ha ha, you just wasted years trying to figure this out but they were in Hell the whole time like you thought."

Some time went by and I thought, "Nah, they're not in Hell, that's just stupid." This was when they started finding the polar bears and the sharks with that weird logo tattooed on them and THAT was what made me think that they're being manipulated by a group of super intelligent bears and sharks working together to conquer the world. I dismissed that when I realized bears and sharks would more likely try to eat each other before they would ever work together so I was back at square one.

After I got past the bear/shark conspiracy, the Others showed up. This is where I said, "Oh come on!" and almost stopped watching cause I figured they were just pulling things out of their butts at this point. That and the way they're on the island and then they're doing flashbacks to some time when they went out to buy bananas or some shit like that made me think, "Why bother? I can't keep up." Still, I stuck it out.

When six of the island's inhabitants got off the island, I figured the damn show would be ending then but the damn thing is still on so I have to keep thinking about it. I thought maybe the Oceanic Six would get an apartment together and the whole thing would turn into a sitcom with wacky situations like the Smoke Monster almost getting them evicted by setting off the smoke alarms but no, instead we see them wandering around looking all mopey even though they got off that stupid island where people were always shooting at them.

Speaking of that Smoke Monster, what's the deal with that? Is it some animal that's on fire? Now they're saying the Monster is also Locke who's dead but is alive back home because a bomb went off that never went off so the plane that crashed never did so everyone on the island is also back in Los Angeles eating In And Out Burgers instead of the wild boar that they're eating cause they're stuck on the island Norman Coordinate!

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. I think they're in Hell.

*Come on, you know they were doing that.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When Lives Explode

I finally got to see The Hurt Locker. This whole time I was wondering what the big deal was about this movie. The problem with most movies about the Iraq war is that they suck yet here's one that seems poised to beat out the top grossing movie of all time for the Oscar AND has the director of that top grossing film saying it probably should even though he ought to hate it since it The Hurt Locker was directed by a woman to whom he almost certainly refers as, "that bitch who took half of everything in the divorce."

What sets this apart from other contemporary war movies is that the former Mrs. Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, did not direct an anti-war screed but rather made messages and politics secondary to a fascinating story that is both a tense and suspenseful look at the business of defusing bombs and an insight into a guy who finds that he loves looking Death itself in the eye.

The story opens in Baghdad, 2004. After they lose their team leader, two members of an Army bomb squad unit get a new leader in the form of SSG William James (Jeremy Renner). Unlike their former leader who proceeded carefully and died trying to preemptively explode a bomb rather than defuse it, James fearlessly approaches bomb sites with little to no regard for his own safety. His partners are not happy about this, especially Sgt. JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie). He wants James to scout out locations using a robot or to abandon bombs that are too difficult and just let them blow up. James doesn't do that though. We discover that he is supremely competent at taking apart bombs and has done so with over 700 of them. We also discover that he's borderline crazy when it comes to facing danger. He's way too cool and willing to face death in these situations where there are many ways to die. His predecessor died when an insurgent remotely detonated an IED before he could get away from it. James doesn't even try to do that. Oddly, the bombers don't do this to James even though there is more than one instance where they're almost certainly watching from a distance. I admit not being able to figure this out. Roger Ebert says it's because the bombers are professionally curious to see if this guy can defuse the bombs without getting his hands blown off. Makes sense. Moving on.

The movie opens with a quote from war correspondent Chris Hedges who said, "War is a drug." James embodies that quote. People who take drugs do so because they love drugs more than they love themselves or anything else and that's how James feels about his job. He puts himself and his team in danger, sometimes impulsively. He has a wife from whom he may or may not be divorced and a baby son he's in no hurry to go home and see. Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (who also wrote the only other decent Iraq War film In The Valley of Elah) use this character to create frightening and suspenseful situations. James simply walks into crazy situations in which he could be blown up or shot at by snipers at any moment. His partners, Sanborn and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), are constantly on watch to make sure this doesn't happen and have to figure out if the various Iraqus who watch them while they work are the ones who planted the bomb or just some butcher wondering what all the fuss is about.

I still think Inglorious Basterds was last year's best movie but The Hurt Locker is certainly a close second. I don't freak out or act like I'm personally wounded if my choice for the Best Picture Oscar doesn't win. In the long run, Oscars are usually irrelevant anyway. Did you know Ghandi won over E.T. back in 1982? Even people who were in Ghandi probably don't know that. In the short run, however, it can be a huge boost to small (in the case, really small) films like The Hurt Locker and a lot of people will see it who wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

Still, things like box office grosses shouldn't be a concern for the audience. Just rent or buy The Hurt Locker because it's a good movie that can be enjoyed whether you try to understand the characters and the madness in which they live or not.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rock Out With Your Cops Out

I didn't expect a lot. I wasn't expecting to walk out of Cop Out thinking that a new standard for film making had been set and that director Kevin Smith would not be too fat to win an Oscar. All I asked was that I be mildly amused as I sat in a dark theater on a snowy Friday night watching Smith's tribute to 80s buddy cop films. Did I get that? That fact that I had to ask that question pretty much answers it.

I wasn't asking for realism either. A movie like this certainly doesn't have to be realistic. Hell, most really fun movies aren't. A really fun movie makes you forget to ask questions like, "Why don't they just call for backup?" or "Could you actually outrun a fireball like that guy just did?" In the case of Cop Out, not only were there too few funny jokes to make you overlook a stupid plot but the plot achieved a level of stupidity normally only seen in porn plots.

It starts off with a bit of cleverness when we meet the two cops who, we assume, will at some point be out somewhere, Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracy Morgan). Though he doesn't come off as being particularly bright, Paul does manage to come up with the idea to interrogate a suspect by pretending to be a an escaped felon hiding in the interrogation room. The first sign the movie was in trouble was that this bit went on too long. After that the two cops recruit the guy as an informant and manage through their utter incompetence to get the guy killed while his murderer gets away, an incident that leads to disciplinary action from their lieutenant. In movies like this you're supposed to be on the side of the street cop who sometimes has to bend the rules to get the job done. In this case, however, we witness their wise superior officer giving Jimmy and Paul the most justifiable "turn in your badge and gun" speech in the history of action films.

That's not where the dumb ends, though. We also get to see that they take the behavior that makes them shitty cops and apply it to their personal lives. Paul won't stop thinking that his wife (Rashida Jones) is cheating on him despite any real evidence that she's doing so outside of his vivid paranoid fantasies. This makes Paul the more rational of the two partners when we learn that Bruce Willis's Jimmy character insists on paying for his daughter's expensive wedding despite the fact that the total is ringing in at around $50,000 AND despite the fact that his ex-wife's new, well off husband (Jason Lee) has offered to pay for the whole thing. True, the new hubby is a douchebag but then again so is Jimmy. You'd think they'd form some sort of douchebag bond but that doesn't happen. This all leads to Jimmy's attempts to raise the cash that, while ridiculous, aren't particularly funny.

It's not that Cop Out is completely without laughs. There just aren't enough of them. It's a shame as it had all the elements required to make both a parody of and a tribute to old buddy cop films. You had the mixed race partners, the surly superior, the rival jerk cops and the scary ethnic villains. I was rooting for this movie but too many jokes fell flat.

Kevin Smith has more films in the works so maybe he'll redeem himself. Luckily, in a couple of years, we'll all be marveling how the guy who did a sucky film like Cop Out made the wonderful movie with this imaginative title.