Monday, February 28, 2011

Excellent Anger Management

OK, I liked it. I hate admitting this because, if you knew me personally, you'd know that I did nothing Saturday morning but make fun of Drive Angry, the movie I planned to see that afternoon. Why do I go and see movies that look stupid and I've decided in advance I won't like? Two reasons. The first is I love going to the movies. It's my favorite way to spend my disposable income and leisure time. Even movies I don't particularly like can leave me entertained simply because I saw them in a dark theater. The other reason I see movies I don't think I'll like is that sometimes I'm wrong. It doesn't happen very often, mind you, but it does happen and it happened with Drive Angry.

Drive Angry is one of those movies that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are so fond of making these days. It's basically a cheap 70s exploitation film made with top actors and a huge budget. Sure, it's a stupid plot but that's the whole point. If the movie had been even a little bit smarter, it wouldn't have worked. It was only when any pretense at realism or serious storytelling was completely thrown out that the movie was able to shine.

Nicolas Cage plays John Milton but don't worry, this movie has nothing to do with medieval Christian poetry. Milton is a criminal who died but managed to escape from Hell after his daughter is killed and his granddaughter kidnapped by a Satanic cult led by the charismatic Jonah King (Billy Burke). At least people say he's charismatic. Personally, I wouldn't follow this guy to Dairy Queen, much less the gates of Hell. This is a bad thing since Milton is one of those sullen, stone faced action movie heroes who's too cool to crack a smile even when he's having sex and you need an interesting villain to balance that out. Luckily, King isn't Milton's only adversary. There's also the Accountant (William Fichtner) who is some sort of death demon or death angel or maybe he's just some sort of temp who works in Death's office. Whatever, he's been sent to bring Milton back. Now, I know that you're probably thinking that a creature like that is too powerful to be stopped and can only be held off with a mystical rifle called the God Killer. Well, they thought of that. Milton just happened to bring along a God Killer when he left Hell. He also brought sunglasses so yeah, he thinks of everything.

Rounding out the cast is Amber Heard as Piper. I think Amber Heard can actually act, not that you'd know it in this movie. Amber Heard is insanely sexy and doesn't really need to act in this role though she you gotta love her for giving it a shot. Piper and Milton meet when he helps her get free of an abusive boyfriend but it still doesn't make sense that she doesn't run screaming when she realizes she's dealing with real, honest-to-God demonic forces but, in comparison to everything else, it's one of the most believable things in the movie.

Amber Heard is sadly not naked in this movie but that's OK because every other woman is. This movie has an old fashioned notion that sex and violence are fun things to watch even though they know it's impossible to make a movie like that anymore without being denounced by tightass prudes who form groups with names like the Parents Council Against Bare Boobies. Basically, Drive Angry actually is the type of movie that a lot of movies claim to be. Makers of films like Transformers try desperately to dismiss criticism of their efforts by saying that what they did is just good, old fashioned trashy fun when actually it's stupid and lazy filmmaking. Drive Angry is good, old fashioned trashy fun that worked very hard at being that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 88

It turns out that every time you take a dump you are fulfilling your part of some grand master plan.

There's truly no limit to the number of ways in which Twilight can be ripped off.

There's truly no limit to the number of ways in which Twilight can be ripped off.

There's truly no limit to the number of ways in which Twilight can be ripped off. Yes, I tossed that in too. Don't think filmmakers woke up one day and thought, "I think Laurence Olivier and George C. Scott missed some stuff so let's do it again."

Turns out vermin are super intelligent and capable of forming a society with complex social relationships. I'll still kill them if I find them in my house though.

There were just as many douchebag losers 20 years ago as there are today.

It's actually possible for Los Angeles to become an even suckier place.

The extraterrestrial obsession with anal probing suddenly makes sense.

Drugs are cool.

Jack Nicholson was right. Lawyers can't handle the truth.

Reality bites. On a side note, I will feel ripped off if there aren't at least three prison shower scenes in this.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Look At My Briefs -- 2/24/11

A little known World War II story is Hitler's successful operation to change the world's calendars so that February would only have 28 days. That means this is the last Thursday of February and thus, the final February edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

The producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark have finally figured out that the source of all their problems might be that they need a script.

You've probably seen that trailer for the game Dead Island by now. If you have, you should know that you and the millions of others who raved about it have succeeded in convincing Hollywood to turn it into a movie. This is really good news since the one thing our society needs is another zombie story and movies based on video games are always good.

Maybe there's a reason people keep calling you an asshole. I have nothing against Justin Timberlake, mind you, but if people keep calling you that, maybe there's a reason in the same way there was a reason people called me fat before I lost weight.

I find myself excited at the idea of a dark version of Pinocchio directed by Guillermo del Toro. As del Toro himself says, the idea of clean, safe and sanitized fairy tales is a fairly recent event in human history. Kids in previous eras used to hear stories of Little Red Riding Hood in which that little moron Red ended up in the belly of the wolf without a friendly woodsman saving her at the last minute. It was good for them to hear this as it took their minds of the fact that everyone around them was dying of the plague. I hope that del Toro knows that, despite the fact that it will get a PG and maybe a PG-13 rating, some doofus parents will place on del Toro 100% of the blame that they took their six year old to it and that the kid had a nightmare.

Every few years, some company tries to do something like take Kate Winslet's nude scene out of Titanic and then sell it to people who think boobies make the baby Jesus cry. The latest attempt at this comes from Family Edited DVDs Inc, or used to come from them anyway. As anyone who knew the legal version of their ass from their elbow could have told you, this is obviously illegal and was doomed to be shot down. I don't know what these people would do if they made movies and someone else started altering them for a profit but my guess is they wouldn't be cool with it. To all the bluenoses out there, you have my sincerest condolences for the fact that you all are stuck with Fireproof and Letters From God and various other unwatchable Christian films but that's the way it is. You can broaden your tastes or deal with your lot in life. On that note, I'd like to announce my new project called Clear and Dirty Inc. in which I take movies like Fireproof and add foul language and hardcore sex scenes. First up, I'm going to take Ben Stein's pro-Creationist documentary Expelled and change it into a flattering look at the life of Richard Dawkins. I'm sure the family friendly crown won't mind.

I love this story about Groucho Marx so much, I want to have sex with it. Is such a thing socially acceptable yet or do I have to wait till next year?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Four Is A Tragic Number

If you stopped by this site yesterday, you read my review of Unknown in which I acknowledged its plot weaknesses only to excuse them because the movie made up for them by being entertaining in other areas. I Am Number Four...isn't.

The movie's plot actually made far more sense than Unknown did. What lost me as a fan early on wasn't the fact that it was trying to rip off Twilight but, rather, its complete and utter lack of imagination. It's about aliens who look exactly like us. so much like us, in fact, that no one thinks it's odd when he falls in love with a human girl. When she finds out, does she say, "Ew, you're not human?" No. Why would she? Other than some super powers, he looks, sounds and acts exactly like we do and yes, I know I just described Superman and Lois Lane but they've had seven decades to get us used to them and besides, the makers of those books/movies describe themselves as superhero stories. Even if the focus is split between action and teen romance, it's still supposed to be science fiction and this doesn't even qualify as trying. Monsters had a fraction of their budget yet created truly alien creatures but all I can do is throw up my hands and say, "All right, how does it do as an action movie?" It will come as no surprise that this part of the movie also lacks imagination and originality.

Alien teen John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) and his guardian Henri (Justified's Timothy Olyphant) play the aliens on the run from the Mogadorians, a rival race that conquered their home planet. There are nine such children and they are being killed in order. I don't remember which one John is. The refugees are children of some sort of elite guardian class and so they gain special powers as they grow older. Mind you, their parents also had these powers and apparently weren't helped one bit by them but these kids are supposed to somehow mature and go back to free their planet which is a hell of a lot of pressure to put on a kid and these kids today enough to handle as it is what with their YouTubes and their Gagas and their crazy music. The Mogadorians easily track these kids down using the internet. They just wait for some sort of power to manifest itself and wind up on someone's website. For some reason, the Mogadorians themselves somehow stay inconspicuous despite having distinct markings and ridges on their faces plus they travel abound with two giant lizards trained to hunt and kill their enemies while the kids, who look just like us, are always winding up on YouTube.

John meets a girl named Sarah (Glee's Diana Agron) and quickly falls for her. Stephanie Meyer must be very annoyed at the way they shamelessly modeled this relationship on Twilight. I know she must hate it because the relationship between John and Sarah isn't the least bit abusive and it doesn't try to send the message that screwing before marriage could lead to your death. Sadly, their relationship isn't even able to reach third date butt sex before the Mogadorians track them down. John is also being tracked by a girl whose identity as one of the other refugees from John's planet was revealed ahead of time by an incompetent marketing department that revealed that in the trailer. Number 6 actually my favorite character and, to my surprise, Australian actress Theresa Palmer was actually allowed to speak in her native accent as opposed to most American movies that try to act like the USA is the world's only country. She's also in the best action scene in which she runs up walls and can vanish. In fact, she's the movie's real hero. Why couldn't the movie have been called I Am Number 6?

I Am Number 4 doesn't work as a romance, action or science fiction movie and those are the three things it tried to be. I can take some comfort that it was edged out at the box office by Unknown, though not by much. I know there were more books in this series though I've yet to hear if they've been greenlighted for production. If they are...well, I guess I can just use this review as a template for that movie so that will be a plus for me at least.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Preposterously Intelligent

I commonly complain about unbelievable plots and often gleefully tear them down in a way that is far more entertaining than actually watching the movie. However, I often toss in a qualifier, that being that the movie lacked a sufficient amount of entertainment to overcome the stupid plot. I'm happy to report that I will not have to say that during this review of Unknown. This has an unbelievable and sometimes flat out dumb plot but it has enough good acting, interesting characters and cool action scenes that I didn't really notice any of that until the movie was over and that's the highest compliment I can pay to a story like this.

If you're going to make a movie that stretches credibility, you should probably make sure you cast one of the world's greatest living actors in the lead role. Apparently, director Jaume Collet-Serra looked into the future, read this and took my advice because he cast Liam Neeson as Dr. Martin Harris, an American botanist who's in Berlin to visit a colleague and attend some international conference about corn which is a botanist version of what Comic-con is to me. He and his wife, Elizabeth (January Jones), checked into a suite in a rather luxurious hotel which made me wonder what the hell kind of money botanists make but he had to hop into a cab and rush back to the airport when he realized he'd forgotten his briefcase. If you've seen the commercials, you know that the cab Harris is in gets into an accident and drives into a river. Luckily, he is saved by Diane Kruger playing the world's hottest cab driver. She flees the scene for what is later revealed as a perfectly logical reason leaving him to be taken to the hospital with no identification. He wakes up two days later into a Hitchcock-inspired Hell in which another man has taken his place and even his own wife doesn't recognize him.

I kept scanning the opening scenes for the clues and plot points I knew would be there and I did spot a few but they didn't help. I've gotten pretty good at figuring surprise endings in the past decade or so when The Sixth Sense made them popular but I have to admit that I didn't figure out this story until they told me. It turns out the accident has affected the memory of Neeson's character and he has forgotten a crucial piece of information about a Saudi prince and a new type of corn that would have cleared this whole situation up for him. As I said, this piece of information really makes the whole movie unbelievable but this time around I didn't care. I found this movie to be very entertaining and if I must ignore plot holes and lack of credibility to do so, so be it.

This and Taken mark a new phase in Liam Neeson's career. I'm not sure how I wound up in a world where I say, "Oh boy, I can't wait for the next Liam Neeson action movie," but I'm here and I'm happy I am, unless that action movie is another A-Team movie in which case I will refer to him a Lame Neeson. You've been warned, Liam.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flux Crapacitor

WARNING: Today's post is mildly unsafe for work. You've been warned.

Once again, I had planned to give Miley Cyrus and The Last Song my Liveblog treatment and once again another movie caught my eye. She's had a rough week anyway what with her father saying he was ashamed of her wicked ways and that she wasn't really his daughter or something. Was that what he said? Probably not. Anyway, here is today's offering. In 2005, in the early part of this decade, Charlize Theron won a well deserved Oscar for her role in Monster. A brief moment of panic set in when she realized that the statue took up all the room on her mantle and she vowed to never win another one. Thus, in 2005, she made today's movie. I present to you...Aeon Flux.

0:02:00 -- Found out two things. The first is that a virus is going to wipe out 99% of the Earth's population in 2011. I hope they don't mean this 2011 cause then who would finish this article? Second, turns out instead of Aeon Flux I'm supposed to type ├ćon Flux. I'm not going to.

This is Charlize Theron as the title character. She dressed this way so as not to call attention to herself.

0:10:00 -- It's now 2454 and the entire human population has been reduced to a single city ruled by a man named Trevor Goodchild. Aeon Flux is a member of a rebel group trying to bring down Goodchild and, honestly, I have no idea why. This place is incredible. Standard of living here is off the charts. Normally, oppressive dictatorships actually oppress someone and yes, the government deals swiftly and mercilessly with dissidents but what the hell are those people complaining about? I'd move there in a minute. I found all this out from an opening narration. Opening narrations are the last refuge of incompetent makers of science fiction screenplays. This violates the rule of storytelling that says "Show, Don't Tell." That aside, Aeon Flux has orders from her leader to disrupt the city's surveillance equipment. It turns out that surveillance equipment is a giant pool of water. Aeon destroys it by pulling a plug and letting the water drain out. Seriously.

I'm sure there was a necessary and non-gratuitous reason to show her like this. Whatever that is, I'm doing it for the same reason.

0:26:00 -- Aeon's sister is killed because they think she's a Monican (the rebels). At least now Aeon actually has a really good reason to be pissed off at the government instead just being annoyed that her duck confit wasn't properly seasoned or whatever the hell people in this future paradise complain about. She gladly accepts the assignment to invade the government's main headquarters and kill Chairman Trevor Goodchild. She and a woman with hands where her feet should be (don't ask) storm an idyllic garden where the fruit shoots darts and blades of grass are sharp as knives to get into the compound. For some reason, all this activity sets off no alarms but that's not the dumbest thing that's happened in this movie so I'll let it slide. Goodchild is in a meeting of the ruling council. I don't know why they bother to have these meetings since Goodchild just ignores their opinions and does what he wants but I suppose it's a good way to kill some time. Aeon manages to get Goodchild alone while he's practicing some sort of speech but he calls her Catherine. I suppose there's a big mystery behind this but calling her Catherine was enough of a distraction to allow him to capture her.

This thing keeps flying around. I'm sure I'd be fascinated by it if I knew what the hell it was. In this future, technology really doesn't have to serve any specific purpose.

0:52:00 -- It turns out it was Trevor Goodchild's brother Orin (played by that Trainspotting guy, you know, that one guy from Trainspotting, no, not Ewan McGregor, the other one) is the one who engineered what was supposed to be Trevor's assassination before Aeon wussed out. Aeon goes after Trevor again but ends up having flashes of memory that look like the present day. These flashes must have been highly erotic for her because she ends up having sex with the guy she thinks killed her sister. It turns out that Trevor may not be so bad and that her sister may have been killed because she was part of some sort of experiment to prevent a new plague from rising. While this is being explained to Aeon, she is told, "You know how we're all sick? And how we're all having memories of things we never experienced?" Gee, thanks. That might have been nice to know before now. If I was sick and having odd visions, it would be my main topic of conversation non-stop. Anyway, Orin seizes the opportunity to have Trevor labeled a criminal for letting Aeon go and the Monicans now consider Aeon a traitor for trying to screw Trevor to death instead of by some faster method. Aeon then infiltrates that blimp thing in the picture above where she finds the late, great Pete Postlethwaite playing a holographic guardian, a role I'm sure he forgot about and denied on his deathbed he had ever done. Oh, and movie? Screw you for completely undermining the joke I made in that picture about the blimp. You think those are easy to come up with?

As relief from Charlize Theron and her boundless sex appeal, here's Pete Postlethwaite dressed as Cryptkeeper from the future.

1:10:00 -- That blimp is the nerve center of a massive cloning operation. It turns out that way, way back in that primitive time we call 2011, Trevor Goodchild managed to cure that plague that was killing everyone but it left the human race sterile so he cloned everyone. Only he and his brother have their memories. Trevor experimented on Aeon's sister and some other women and they managed to become pregnant without having a clone implanted so Orin had her killed because being a clone absolutely rocks. Finally, Aeon was Trevor's wife in a past incarnation. Wow, a lot happened in the last 20 minutes. The two lovers must now avoid both the government and the rebels while they try to retrieve Trevor's notes on Aeon's sister's pregnancy. Why the iPad, something that could have easily and conveniently stored his notes so he could always carry them around, was forgotten in the past 400 years is not explained.

1:32:00 -- One of the reasons I chose this movie is because it was only 90 minutes long. Orin burned Trevor's notes but we find out it doesn't matter. Women are getting pregnant on their own and Orin's been killing them all. He admitted all this when he had Trevor and Aeon trapped and, instead of killing them on the spot, decided to reveal every detail of his master plan for world domination. This gave the Monicans enough time to surround Orin and his forces and Aeon enough time to convince Hands-for-feet woman to help her instead of carrying out her orders to kill her. A massive gun battle then ensues but, luckily, Orin's men learned to shoot at Imperial Stormtrooper School and manage to miss most of the time. Even when Aeon and Trevor get shot, they just stand back up so I don't see the point of even trying to shoot them. There were times when they had Aeon on the ropes but they forgot that even the most innocuous looking object in this time can be a formidable piece of technology, things like the wart of her back that acted as a communicator and allowed her to coordinate with her friends. Trevor's back in charge and Aeon celebrates by crashing that cloning blimp into the wall that opens up to a lush forest, proving once again my point that, despite its flaws, why wouldn't anyone want to live here? Stop your bitching, future people.

The director somehow knew the position Charlize Theron is in when I dream about her.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Look At My Briefs -- 2/17/11

I like it when mid-February rolls around. It means the long, dark month of January is over and big studio movies, while not necessarily good, will probably be better than anything you've seen since Christmas. Mid-February is also a great time for another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

OK, not all the movies you will see this time of year will be better than the movies shown in the previous six weeks. For example, as of this writing Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son is clocking it at a rousing zero percent on the Tomatometer. I hope it stays that way. Oh, not for any vindictive motive. I want it to stay at zero for their sake. Getting zero percent is as uncommon as getting 100% and would be quite an achievement if they can sustain it at least until tomorrow when even more reviews come in and are added to the score. I'm pulling for you, guys.

Hey Coen brothers, if you two make a horror movie, I will suck your dicks. Seriously. A horror movie made by two is one of the things I now live for so yeah, going the gay route would be a small price to pay. Any way you want it. I can take you both on at the same time if that's what you're into. One of you could watch me with the other one. Whatever you want, I'll do it. Just make the movie.

The cinematic adaptation of Atlas Shrugged is sad looking when you consider it was once primed to be a big studio project with Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggart. I, of course, will always think of it as that boring book I was forced to read in high school no matter how many reality challenged people try to spin it as some sort of great work of literature and a cheat code manual to the game of life. I've heard it only cost $5 million to make so it will probably avoid the money losing fate of An American Carol, the right's last attempt to take over Hollywood. And hey, it's in three parts, one of which, if it's faithful to the book, will be consumed by a long, droning speech so that should fill the movie theater seats.

I, for one, am absolutely shocked at the Justin Bieber movie is being pirated. I mean, only every other movie from Avatar to the pornographic satire of Avatar gets pirated but I was sure the Justin Bieber movie would be spared. I fully agree with The Examiner columnist who blamed the parents of the movie's youthful audience. I can't believe that their kids did this as, normally, they would have done it themselves.

Speaking of the Beebs, His Royal Hairness has decided to express political opinions. It takes either someone very brave or very ignorant of the consequences to do something like that but I'm sure a 16 year old would be fully aware of this and would definitely possess the wisdom and maturity required to handle whatever sort of fallout he experiences from this interview. if nothing else, I'm looking forward to the schizophrenic Big Hollywood articles applauding him for his anti-abortion stance while calling him a typical Hollywood know-nothing for calling America evil because of its health care policies.

There used to be a little theater near me that mostly showed second run or small indie films. I used to love going there not just for the movies but because the owners also had a restaurant in the same building and you could order things like beer battered fish and chips instead of just over priced popcorn and soda. I thought of this when I read this Cinematical article about movie theater snacks outside the USA. The place closed when the owner retired and moved to Florida. I know expanding the menu at your average multiplex would be a pain but, if they did, I know I would probably pay rent to live in their lobby. You may say I'm a dreamer...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Monsters Are Due

It took me some time to truly appreciate Monsters. For once, I was happy I didn't see it in a theater. If I had, I may not have been able to appreciate its nuances and pace. Basically, it's a monster movie that concentrates on human characters rather big, blaring 3D CGI effects. Writer/director Gareth Edwards spent a lot of time asking himself what would happen if an invasive species from outer space took over a sizable chunk of the planet, in this case the northern half of Mexico.

Six years ago, a space probe came back with samples of an alien lifeform. I think they said it was from the Jovian moon of Europa but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that the probe broke up upon re-entry and spread its cargo all over Mexico. It's unlikely that anything that evolved on any moon or planet in this solar system would be able to live on Earth by gosh, that's what happened and now a good chunk of Mexico is referred to as the Infected Zone. The creatures are the size of 10 story buildings and look like a cross between an octopus and a spider. Anti-immigrationists finally get their wish when a large wall is built along the southern border of the United States to keep the creatures out, something shown to be an act of futility as the movie opens with a creature wandering into a small Texas town.

Meanwhile, south of the border down Mexico way, a American girl named Samantha (Whitney Able) is about to get trapped in Mexico for six months. Her father, a wealthy publisher, orders Andrew Kaulder (played by a fellow whose parents hated him so much that they named him Scoot McNairy), one of his photographers, to escort her to the coast so she can catch one of the last ferries back to America. After that, air and sea travel will be closed for six months due to the creatures migration season. Andrew doesn't really want to do this and, oddly, Samantha doesn't seem all that excited about going home even though she is about to be married.

In the first half of the movie, the creatures exist in the background of our characters' daily lives. South of the Infected Zone, people have adapted and go about the daily business of living as I suppose they would if this actually happened. You see them on television a lot, usually encountering the military, but even so close, they affect Andrew and Samantha in the same way that far off wars affect Americans. Anyway, after failing to get Samantha into bed, Andrew picks up a local girl who steals their passports. This means the last ferry has left without them and the only way home is through the Infected Zone. Samantha barters her engagement ring for guides and armed escorts, not that a couple of Mexicans with AK-47s would do much good against the creatures. On the other hand, the creatures seem to be fairly listless when they show up. It's the humans who look at them and say, "Oh look, something we don't understand. SHOOT INDISCRIMINATELY!"

One of the finest compliments I give to a movie is to call it intelligent science fiction. One advantage of having a low budget means you can't make a Michael Bay film and instead have to rely on your story and characters to move the film along which is what Gareth Edwards does here. His cast of unknowns includes many ordinary Mexicans who know exactly how to go about living the lives of ordinary Mexicans even when they're encountering an alien presence. As for the aliens themselves, I had many questions when the movie was over but so did the characters. How intelligent are they? How dangerous are they really? What do they want? These are questions that Gareth Edwards didn't really intend to answer. Rather, this film shows us a slice of the lives of both the humans and the monsters and we don't really know their ultimate fate after the movie is over.

Sadly, I hear a sequel is being made without Gareth Edwards but that shouldn't stop you from buying or renting Monsters. If you're like me, you'll enjoy it. If you're not, I truly pity you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Stop It

For 15 years, we've all been watching Adam Sandler movies. You all know them. They all feature a lead character played by Sandler. These characters are, on paper, amazingly diverse people but, in the end, they're all the same guy. They always feature some socially awkward jerk who becomes less awkward and jerky by committing horrible acts for which he is somehow always forgiven and they all live happily ever after. Mind you, not all of Sandler's movies are like that. There is a difference between Adam Sandler movies and movies that star Adam Sandler. The former are movies that are more or less under Sandler's control. They are produced by him, written by him and his buddies from when he did stand up and SNL and directed by someone he picked. These movies are usually very popular with the general public and hated by film critics. Movies with Adam Sandler (Spanglish, Funny People) usually are higher on the quality food chain and are made by well regarded filmmakers. They're usually pretty good, liked by film critics but aren't as popular or profitable as the first type of movie. Just Go With It is an Adam Sandler movie. It's dumb, offensive, and not especially funny and it came in at #1 in its opening week.

I'm not a fan of Adam Sandler movies. 50 First Dates is the only one I can say I liked. I can't say I liked Just Go With It. Like a lot of comedies, it is dumb and annoying. If you're going to do that, you have to load the movie with laughs to make up for it and Just Go With It fails to do that. That's what I think anyway. It seems the audience I saw it with felt the same way. Still, everyone went to see it anyway.

Sandler plays Danny, a guy who found out on his wedding day that his fiancee hated him. On the same day, he discovered that there is a type of woman who will have casual sex with married men so he wore his wedding ring anyway. This happened in 1988. In the meantime, he became a successful plastic surgeon and also perfected the technique of lying about his marital status to get women into bed. One day, after more than two decades of piggish behavior, he meets a sweet, 23 year old teacher named Palmer (supermodel Brooklyn Decker). In one of those coincidences that only happens in lame comedies, he had taken the wedding ring off and didn't try to use his usual ruse to get her naked. Despite the fact that she looks like the type of girl who could be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and he looks like a chinless melonhead twice her age, she instantly falls for him and they have hot sex on a nearby beach. She then finds the wedding ring in his pocket and thinks he's married. Luckily for him he's already a pig and has no trouble saying that yes, he's married but he's about to get divorced. I should point out that no mention is made of the daddy issues she must be dealing with or the emotional damage she must have suffered in the course of her life that caused her to fall so hard for this douchebag that she's willing to buy all of this and take him back.

Danny also manages to suck his perfectly decent nurse, Katherine, into all this crap by getting her to play his soon-to-be-divorced wife. Katherine is played by Jennifer Aniston, a name synonymous with quality movies yet, surprisingly, she failed to be the film's saving grace. I won't reveal if she turned out to be the true love of Danny's life as there's no possible way you could guess without seeing the movie.

While we march to the inevitable rom-com ending, we hear bad accents, see poor Brooklyn Decker trying to pretend she's the type of shallow twit who would have ever believed any of this and, because it's an Adam Sandler movie, someone falls face first in shit. In this case, that person is a little girl so, yay.

I honestly think Adam Sandler is capable of doing better films that Just Go With It. In fact, he's done so, more than once, but why does he have to? He can keep pumping out movies like this till he dies and you will all keep seeing them. For instance, his next movie is called Jack and Jill. He plays a guy named Jack and his annoying twin sister, Jill. Seriously. You'll all go see it too and both Sandler and I will continue dying a little inside. The difference is that Sandler will make a boatload of money doing it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 87

Lying your ass off to win a girl is fine so long as the girl is a Sports Illustrated cover girl.

Hollywood's kindness knows no bounds. For example, they made a movie that appeals both to teenage girls and prepubescent midgets.

You can call a movie The Eagle even when it's noticeably lacking in eagles.

God hates us. Seriously, He fucking hates us.

This and the Twilight movies try to teach girls to stay away from guys who are really, really good looking.

I feel this movie has an important lesson to teach but I just don't know what it is.

Nicolas Cage is truly the kind of actor who can play any role. Some he plays quite badly, but he can play them.

I've learned from this that stupid people will do stupid things for stupid reasons and the whole thing will end stupidly. I've also learned it's possible to lose both a piece of your brain and your soul just by watching a trailer.

We must keep garden gnomes apart and at each others throats because, if they ever get solve their differences and unite, the great Garden Gnome Uprising will begin.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Look At My Briefs -- 2/10/11

No, I will not be seeing the Justin Bieber movie. If you were hoping to see either one of my ever-so-fun scathing negative reviews or the much less likely possibility that I would have written the words, "His angelic voice sings me up to Heaven," sorry. As compensation, please enjoy another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

Let's start by laughing at the MPAA actually sending Google a notice threatening to cut off their internet access. Stuff like that only works on the powerless, guys. Thanks for the laugh, though.

I complain about sequels and remakes not because I think the originals (for the most part) were so sacred and pristine that to continue or retell the story is akin to blasphemy. Rather, I don't like sequels or remakes because that's all you freaking see anymore and they drive out more interesting original projects. That being said, if you're going to do such things, Fantastic Voyage is the type of movie that should be remade. It's a so-so film that could definitely be made better. Not that it's necessarily going to be, especially since Shawn Levy, director of the remake of The Pink Panther, has been hired to do this one. That does not bode well but maybe Levy will surprise us. If he does...the odds against him surprising us are huge so I got nothing.

If you'd listened to me when I told you that making Spider-Man into a Broadway musical was a dumb idea, you wouldn't be here trying to defend yourself against the predictable lousy reviews. Just be glad that no one's been critically injured lately and move on.

The really bad news is Arianna Huffington discovering that the $315 million dollars is going to be paid out in free AOL time.

She was joking, assholes. Once again, I seem to be the only who figured out that a celebrity told a joke that entertainment reporters en masse decide to take out of context and report as if it was true, the joke in this case being Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence saying she was attracted to her brother. Yes, Hollywood Reporter, Jennifer Lawrence is such an inbred Kentucky hillbilly that she thought nothing of telling the world she wants to ride her brother and zeroing in on that part of her Rolling Stone interview was damn fine journalism on your part. She's done one frigging movie and you're already trying to drive her out of the business. The actual interview was bad enough because Rolling Stone used a low cut bathing suit picture of her that would have been very sexy except that she looked like she'd been up for three days and forced to stand on a nail. Odd, I feel very protective of Jennifer Lawrence. I hope it's me being paternal and not because I want to ejaculate on her.

Apparently, every movie being made for the next two years is about Snow White.

Fox's The Chicago Code was very good, something I hardly ever say about a television show's pilot episode. The characters were interesting, the jokes were funny and I was interested if and how the good guys will eventually bring down a corrupt alderman. I really liked it which naturally means it premiered to very soft ratings. Enjoy the ripoff of Biggest Loser that Fox will use as its replacement if they cancel it, America.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hey Glee

OK Glee, let's have a talk. You and I both know I didn't like you when you first started up but you grew on me and the way you took serious situations and managed to treat them in a humorous way while setting the whole thing to what is sometimes very good music made me a fan. The only conclusion I can draw from what's been happening with the show since season 2 began is that you are now trying to lose me as a viewer by making me hate it. Why? Is it something I said? What can I do to make things right. I'm willing to work with you, Glee, but you have to at least meet me halfway. Sure, you introduced Darren Kress's character, the kind of gay guy who, like Neil Patrick Harris, makes totally hetero guys like me say, "All right, I'll switch." (Is Darren Kress gay or is it just his character? My sexual confusion needs to know.) Also, you had that great Britney Spears episode (never thought I'd say that) but you also had that mind bogglingly stupid religion episode that made me truly start to doubt you. Basically, you have to stop doing what you did on Sunday. You have to cease your attacks on my intelligence. I submit the following examples. I warn you, these examples contain spoilers from Sunday's episode.
  • Yes, it's so nice and life affirming that they let Artie join the football team even though he doesn't have the use of his legs but am I honestly supposed to believe that there's no rule against letting someone in a wheelchair play high school football? First, that "no rule against it" thing is what you say in lame kid movies when you're trying to get a goat or a chimp on a team and it's something that, if there actually was no rule against it, there would be within minutes of someone actually trying to do it. Come on, do you people really believe it's OK to bring Artie onto the field and have Finn use him like a battering ram against the opposing team's defensive line? You could put people in the hospital like that and if there really isn't anything in the rulebook, I'd be willing to bet there would be several laws against it.
  • When there's a guy in the offensive line whose job it is to protect the quarterback and he's purposefully not doing that, someone who's supposed to be one of the best high school coaches in the state should notice something like that yet Coach Biest fails to ream him out and remove him from the lineup choosing to yell at everyone instead.
  • Also, one of the plot points was that a faction of the team that bullies the Glee club is forced to perform with them as a team building exercise so they just walk out even though the coach says they're off the team if they do that which means McKinley High will most likely have to forfeit. Really? None of those guys really wants the championship ring and NONE of them has a college scholarship and his whole future riding on what happens in that game?
  • Why did the football bullies refuse to perform? At first, they didn't until the hockey team stole their usual humiliation tactic of tossing Slushies in their faces because these tough guys are now considered Glee Club nerds. Having a bully do that or worse to a weak kid like Curt or Artie or one of the girls with the victim declining to fight back is a perfectly plausible scenario. A half dozen big, tough football players who normally don't take anyone's shit having Slushies thrown in their faces and doing nothing but complain about it is not. I was expecting a battle royal when that happened but all they did was take it then go whining to the Glee Club.
  • The episode's climactic scene is when Finn launches a half-assed plan to get the other team's quarterback to fumble the snap by yelling "BRAINS" zombie style (they had zombie makeup on from their performance of Thriller during halftime) under the theory that the other team would be so disoriented by people in zombie makeup acting like zombies that they would pretty much forget how to play and basically hand them a victory and you know what? It worked. Personally, I think the only way it would have worked is if the other team was so busy laughing their asses off that they just dropped the ball but I guess now, having seen it with my own eyes, I know better.
Those of you who actually saw it are probably wondering why I didn't mention the initial plan of letting girls join the team so they could fill out their numbers requirement. It says a lot about the episode that this particular plot point was one of the most believable and least stupid parts of the episode.

Shape up, Glee. I still like Sue Sylvester and Curt and Rachel even though she's become more of a dick than she used to be so I'll watch for a little while longer. But I won't watch forever. Oh yes, there will come a time when even I will stop believing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Abyssmal

Whoever convinced Sanctum's producers to make it should get an Oscar just for the pitch. I don't know how I could have said, "I want to make a movie that stars no one, directed by a guy known for nothing and written by inexperienced screenwriters about people swimming around in a cave." Whoever did it managed to get some people to cut a check for the $30,000,000 production costs so it must have been an awesome pitch or it involved handjobs. Some people, including me, were expecting at least a sufficient amount of entertainment value from the movie because one of the producers is James Cameron who is also heavily involved in the marketing. Personally, if nothing else, I was expecting some exciting and suspenseful action sequences. I was wrong to expect that.

From time to time, I have to read pundits opining that the age of the movie star has ended and that the real star is now the concept. The makers of this movie figured they could save money by fully embracing that concept and hiring a cast either unknown or barely known only to get beaten almost two-to-one at the box office by The Roommate, a movie so bad that the producers were afraid to show it to critics ahead of time but that had a cast made up of of some of today's most popular young television stars. Other than Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, best known for playing Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four movies, I didn't recognize anyone.

The movie opens in Papua, New Guinea. Billionaire adventurer Carl Hurley (Gruffudd) has financed master cave diver Frank McGuire's expedition of a series of unexplored caves. Naturally, Frank's 17 year old son, Josh, is plagued by daddy issues over hardly ever seeing Frank when he was younger and he deals with said issues by being a relentlessly annoying twit who rebels in crazy ways like going to meet Carl at the airport. Carl went on a trip to pick up his girlfriend Victoria, an expert mountain climber who wonders aloud how you could die in a cave, a statement that practically dares the cave to show her how. They all go back down to Frank's base camp two kilometers below the surface and rejoin the large ensemble cast that exists in movies like this so someone can die every ten minutes or so just as everyone is buzzing about a huge storm heading to Papua but hey, it's all cool because the storm is two days away and weather forecasters are always right but OOPS turns out they were wrong when the storm becomes a cyclone that makes landfall early and traps them in the cave.

The movie starts slowly with all the dull character exposition but I was thinking that was OK because I figured we'd be rewarded. Eventually all this would end, the storm would move in, the cave would start to flood and all this personal crap would give way to an exciting struggle for survival. All that happened except that, sadly, the word "exciting" rarely applies. What I wanted was a replay of The Perfect Storm, a movie whose first half was rather dull but whose last half was non-stop action that pretty much negated and made up for the first half. That doesn't happen here. Sure, there are some decent and suspenseful scenes but they keep going back to their petty bickering and Josh whining that Daddy was never there for him.

I was especially disappointed by the character of Carl Langley and there are some spoilers here. I was expecting him to be some selfish spaz that Frank had to let come along since he was paying for everything but he turned out to be competent and knowledgeable and the type of guy who would spend millions of dollars of his own money for no other reason than to satisfy his childlike sense of wonder at the thought of seeing something no other human had ever seen before. Eventually, his entire character gets flushed down the toilet when he turns into a terrified little man who betrays the rest of the survivors.

Some final thoughts: 1) There was one black guy on the trip, a New Guinea native named Luko, and I won't reveal whether does what a balck guy is supposed to do in action movies, that being nobly sacrificing himself for some undeserving white A-hole. Nope, I won't tell you whether that happens. 2) There's actually a scene where Frank says they should mercy-drown a mortally wounded man so he doesn't drown later. Sweet guy. 3) Carl's stupid girlfriend stupidly refuses to wear a wetsuit because it belonged to a dead woman even though extended diving in the cold cave water will almost certainly result in hypothermia without one. When she gets out of the water, she's shocked to find out she's hypothermic. On the plus side, the solution to this was to strip this sexy woman down to her underwear and put her under a thermal blanket.

And finally, the 3D sucked despite the fact that it used James Cameron's advanced 3D process and added nothing but a higher ticket price. 3D is fairly useless and only really looks good in animation and don't tell me how amazing Avatar looked in 3D since that was mostly animation. All in all, Sanctum was a waste of time but at least it...sorry, can't think of a plus side.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bizarro World Movie Reviews -- The Roommate

Today, I realized what was wrong with the world and what the source of all our problems is. I learned how to halt the seemingly unstoppable downward spiral that will eventually doom humanity. When you realize the answer, it's so simple that you fail to understand how you could have missed it. So where did I find this answer? Maybe it was some lost book of the Bible I found in my backyard or maybe I met a wise man on a mountaintop who has devoted his entire life to this answer but no, it's neither of those. I found it in a movie. That's right. The key to happiness and salvation was found in some little film that everyone expects will suck. I doubt the studio releasing it knows what they have which is why they didn't make it available for critic screenings. They probably think it's just some dumb thriller with young television stars aimed at pulling in the high school/college crowd. Little do they know how The Roommate will change everything.

Yes, that's right, The Roommate is what will pull our unworthy asses out of the fire. I know what you're thinking. "Mike, isn't that the movie that rips off Single White Female? How could that possibly be any good?" That shows how shortsighted you are. The Roommate will save us all because it rips off Single White Female. We spend so much time trying to figure out the problems that plague the majority of our lives. How will we pay our bills or put our kids through college? Does that girl or guy I like even know I'm alive? Am I living in the Matrix? Is that squirrel staring at me because it's attracted to me and, if so, how do I get it to stop? These are the questions that haunt us late at night when we're trying to pleasure ourselves but we can't, damn it, because you just know that squirrel is out there lusting after you.

Well guess what folks! We now have The Roommate. There isn't a damn thing to figure out there. We already know what's going to happen. Some socially awkward, slightly unbalanced girl becomes roommates with another girl, becomes obsessed with her, moves into more and more areas of her life before a climactic fight scene where the stalker ends up dead. See? I haven't even seen it and I already know what happens, a fact that won't stop me from watching it again and again. What the hell am I supposed to watch? Inception? Why the hell was that top spinning? Was his wife really dead? How many frigging dreams were there anyway? AAAHHHHH!!!! That won't happen when you see The Roommate. You buy that ticket and sit down with your popcorn and put your mind totally at ease. Take a nap if you want. Talk on the phone even. No one will complain. What's going to happen? Are your fellow audience members going to miss some key plot point or essential line of dialogue? Is some thrilling action scene going to occur full of unexpected twists and surprises? Of course not. I already told you what's going to happen. Everyone who watches The Roommate will know exactly what's going to happen. That's what's so great about it.

Our society is in chaos. The Roommate is a model of order. No one knows what's going to happen tomorrow but we all know exactly what's going to happen in The Roommate. Life is a series of ups and downs but The Roommate is a masterpiece of consistency. It is The Roommate that shows us the way forward. We can all follow its example and eliminate unpredictability from the world. Life will be boring but at least it won't end. We will know exactly what we're going to do when we wake up and exactly what our dreams will be when we go to sleep. Is this some impossible dream? Ask the guy who had the idea to rip off Single White Female. Everyone laughed at him and said it couldn't be done and yet, here we are.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Look At My Briefs -- 2/3/11

I'm not sure what will fix the situation in Egypt but I know what won't help is another edition of my brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs. Sorry Egypt. I did try.

I haven't talked much about the Sundance Film Festival because I'm not there and those short sighted, small minded bastards didn't see fit to invite me to showcase my World of Warcraft fan films. Be that as it may, one breakout star who caught my eye is a girl named Brit Marling. She's not only performing in two films there but she also wrote them. Both of those movie sound freaky and unusual enough to suit my tastes, especially a science fiction film called Another Earth. My life has been a quest for decent, serious science fiction (and by that I don't mean lacking in fun, I mean something that follows logical rules and knows that a solar system isn't a galaxy) and that movie looks like it fits the bill. I even like this quote:
“My brain is rational and skeptical, but my heart is emotional. I want to believe in love and in poetry, that they are sometimes extraordinary, even in mundane settings,” said Marling. “Both movies have that longing.”
I BELIEVE IN LOVE TOO, BRIT! I feel a song coming on...I dreamed a dream of time gone by...anyhoo Brit, I'm kind of buying your products sight unseen so I really, really hope you don't suck. If you do, you owe me $10, just because.

Speaking of science fiction projects, apparently Orson Scott Card's 1985 book Ender's Game with three major studios and some venture capitalists fighting to see who gets to make it. This made me wonder how the hell Hollywood works. As I said, Ender's Game has been around since 1985 and now, 26 years later, everyone in the movie business just has to be the one to adapt it to film. Also, Hollywood? You still haven't made a movie out of Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man. Just saying.

Since the movie business is ignoring me when I keep saying that we don't need another Superman movie, they most likely don't care what my opinion of who should play Lois Lane is but I'll say Olivia Wilde would be the best choice from that list. Kristen Stewart would have been the worst choice so I'm glad she's out. I don't hate Kristen Stewart. She's at her best when playing vulnerable and that's not what Lois Lane should be unless they're planning to tell a story written in the mindset of Superman stories from the 40s in which case they should fight like hell to get her to change her mind.

I wonder who the guy was a few years back who said, "Let's stake our financial future on an unstable, middle aged drug addict." I'm betting he or she is now saying, "Would you like fries with that?"

Thank you, America.

Is it OK if I don't hate this sketch because of GLAAD's allegations of prejudice against the transgendered? It's just that I already hate it because it is to comedy what cancer is to healthy organs.

I don't think The Stand is filmable. If it is, I don't think the movie would be any good since one of Hollywood's main goals for over 30 years has been to make adaptations of Stephen King's work as shitty as possible. The exception to this rule has always been his non-horror works like The Shawshank Redemption, a category The Stand does not fall into. If this book does manage to find its own version of Peter Jackson or, hell, maybe Peter Jackson himself, it will mean Hell has frozen over and is probably a pretty pleasant place now.

Talking about how the commercial Kim Kardashian did for your company gave you a boner is something I could never do. Mainly because I wouldn't stop there. "Seriously, semen was being spilled by the gallon on that set. If a theme park called Jizz World ever opens, they'll model it after the way our set looked. I think women there were getting pregnant just by breathing too hard. The lighting was nice too. Oh, buy Skechers."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Evacuate The Dancefloor

Black Swan isn't the best movie of 2010 but it is the best horror movie of 2010. Mind you, there wasn't too much competition in that category what with its biggest competition being remakes and sequels. The Crazies was OK and Paranormal Activity 2 was pretty good but Black Swan is a great film for its genuine chills and compelling story of a ballerina whose obsession with perfection causes her to lose her mind.

Tragedy is foreshadowed twice in the movie's opening 10 minutes, first in a dream sequence and then when Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) the master of a ballet company, explains the story of Swan Lake, a ballet that ends when the Swan Queen thinks that only in death can she find freedom. Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, the dancer who now seems to be the apple of Leroy's eye now that his prima ballerina (Winona Ryder) has entered her mid-30s. Nina is a technically perfect dancer and you wouldn't think that would be a liability but it is when you're going for the lead in Swan Lake. For that, you actually have to play two roles that each require their own dance style. The White Swan Queen is perfect for Nina's graceful and perfect style but Queen's enemy, the Black Swan, requires a a looseness and spontaneity of which Nina seems incapable. This is when we meet Lily (Mila Kunis). She's everything Nina isn't. Nina is pale while Lily has a darker complexion. Nina is disciplined and controlled and still lives with her mother while Lily is more of a party girl. Worst of all, Lily's dancing is subtly imperfect and possesses that wild quality Thomas is looking for. Nina sees Lily as a rival and this is what pushes her over the edge.

Nina's entire career and, for that matter, life are part of a quest for perfection. The pressure on her in enormous and her former dancer mother sees to it that it continues even when she's home which means she rarely ever feels relief. All of these elements in her life collide with her preparations for her greatest role and that's when she starts seeing things. It's when mysterious scratches show up on her back. It's when she thinks she meets herself dressed in black. It's when she goes mad. No one in her life sees or cares about her increasingly erratic behavior or the warning signs she's presenting that she's losing her grip on reality. They see it as part of an extreme case of being a dedicated dancer and the price you have to pay for making it in the world of ballet. When the movie was over, I blamed them more than Nina for what happened to her. I've made many jokes about a sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis but it turned out to be fairly chaste. If you ever want to introduce your kids to hot girl-on-girl action, this would be the scene to do it with. The scene is not meant for titillation but as further evidence that Nina is losing her mind which it does in more ways than one.

I'm glad to see this movie achieving some real commercial success. A movie like this isn't for everybody. In fact, movies like this are normally just for me. I'm the only person I know who really enjoyed Aronofsky's 2006 film The Fountain. His 2008 film The Wrestler was well received but was also seen only by me. I was the only one in the theater that day anyway. I wonder if this is because a lot of younger people were drawn in by a marketing campaign that emphasized the horror film elements of the story and how many of them were disappointed that it was also an engaging character study and of dedication turned to madness. I didn't hear anyone complaining about the dearth of 3D chainsaws flying off the screen but I'm sure they were thinking about it. I also wonder how many Oscar voters convinced themselves that it was a "psychological thriller" and not a horror film they were voting for using the same process that turned Inception from science fiction film into a "psychological thriller". Maybe someday these genres won't be considered ghetto cinema that have to be dressed up as something else to be taken seriously but I suppose we have to take what we can get.