Saturday, August 29, 2009

Harold (2008)

Saw this on the shelf at the library and I remember I saw a clip for this somewhere. So, I gave it a shot and got exactly what I expected from it.

Harold (Spencer Breslin) is a 14-year-old who already suffers from male-pattern baldness. Needless to say, this is a problem when his mother gets a new job and has to move him away from his familiar surroundings. At his new school, he is humiliated after being forced to remove his cap. After that, he befriends Rhonda (Nikki Blonsky) and her group of outcasts and dweebs. He also gets help from Cromer, the janitor (Cuba Gooding, Jr). The one thing Harold wants is to take the bullies down a peg and beat them at their own game: Go-Carts.

There was only one thing in this movie that consistently made me laugh, and that was Cuba Gooding, Jr. He took the generic role of the "inspirational janitor" and used it to make a different type of character within those parameters. The rest of the movie fell flat. It was a great idea for an indie comedy that just didn't pan out.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Adventureland (2009)

This movie is not a comedy. The way the marketing was made, you would think this would be another Superbad, but no. Still good though.

James (Jesse Eisenberg) is not a normal college graduate. He studied literature and thought of himself as a more sophisticated person, one who doesn't act like the rest of his high school class. But once his dad gets demoted, James has to work at Adventureland to start making money for grad school. It's there where he meets Em (Kristen Stewart). Em is a girl who has no idea what she wants out of life and doesn't seem to care about that. Throw in an adulterer, two simple bosses, a nerd, a crotch-puncher and the girl who no one expected back, and you got the makings of a 1987 old-fashioned good time.

I felt that this movie was basically the late 80s version of Dazed and Confused. Just not as funny. Most of the comedy came from Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the husband and wife bosses. It's a good coming-of-age movie that a lot of people can really relate to. Watch this, just don't expect fall down hilarity.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)

Well, this turned out to make me laugh more than I expected. Watched this on a whim and laughed just enough.

Zohan (Adam Sandler) is an Israeli super soldier who can wipe out an entire army using just his bare hands and feet. After numerous encounters with the Palestinian super terrorist Phantom (John Turturro), Zohan decides it's time to hang up the fighting career and come to America to become a hairdresser. He hides out for a while, quickly making friends and begins to work at a salon run by a Palestinian named Dahlia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). But how long can he stay hidden in a country of such diversity? Answer: Not long.

I was really surprised by how often I laughed. Not many belly laughs, but a good amount of humor nonetheless. The supporting cast was great and the cameos, like all Sandler movies, helped make it enjoyable. My recommendation for this movie is: "Sure, why not."

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

I watched this at Lindsey's house on network TV and it was your basic romantic comedy. To say it was awful would be a stretch, but the term "not good" is fine.

Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) has just gotten engaged to the New York City mayor's son (Patrick Dempsey). Problem is, she is still married to her high school sweetheart, Jake (Josh Lucas), in Alabama. So, in order to get her marriage planning going, she needs to travel down to Alabama and get the divorce from Jake finalized. When she gets back to Alabama, however, she finds her roots are harder to get rid of than she would like. What is a girl to do?

Witherspoon was not the problem in this movie, her character was. In watching this closely, there was really no likable characteristics to Melanie. She's a constant user who can't help it. Of course, throughout the movie, that changes. The parts that made this watchable was the supporting cast. Fred Ward, Mary Kay Place, Candice Bergen and Ethan Embry all kept my interest in their respective story predicaments. I'm not going to recommend this, but I'm not going to stop you from seeing it, if your mind so chooses.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tyson (2009)

Mike Tyson is a very deep, thorough and intellectual human being who pulls no punches about the trials and tribulations of his life. He offers a lot of insight into his career and life....Not what I expected.

The story follows director James Toback and his very in-depth interview with Iron Mike. And Tyson obliged him with details galore. The movie is almost entirely in Tyson's own words and he talks about many of the key moments in his life. His childhood, Cus D'Amato, his first title reign, his family life, etc. He saves his harshest words for two people: Desiree Washington and Don King. He calls both of them "wretched" for different reasons. Washington for, in Tyson's mind, falsely accusing him of rape and sending him to jail for three years. King for, well, being Don King. It's sad when he talks about how much he loves his kids knowing that, before the movie was released, his youngest daughter died in a tragic accident.

I was amazed by how much Tyson shared about his life. Had he not done that, this may have been a completely different documentary and, odds are, not as good. He leaves no stone unturned and the audience knows more about him because as a result.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Love You, Man (2009)

I never thought I would enjoy a bro-mantic comedy, but I have been proven wrong. Reason being, this movie was absolutely hilarious.

Peter (Paul Rudd) has just proposed to his girlfriend of eight months, Zooey (Rashida Jones). The two are extremely excited until they realize that Peter really has no one to be his best man. Soon after, his mother and brother (Jane Curtain and Andy Samberg) start setting him up on man dates to get a best man. After failing, he happens upon Sydney (Jason Segel) at an open house. It's not too long before they are eating dinner and rocking out to Rush together. Oh yeah, Lou Ferrigno is intertwined in the plot. That should hook you right in.

Rudd is just awkward hilarity at its purest form in this movie. Segel is just as funny as the loner who, as successful as he is, doesn't really want to completely grow up. The supporting cast is top notch as well. Samberg as the "gay, but straighter than his brother" sibling, Curtain and JK Simmons as the parents, and Jon Favreau and Jaime Pressly as the couple who hate each other so much, it's love. They tend to steal the scenes they are in. I highly recommend this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

King of California (2007)

What a quirky, fun dramedy. Much more comedy than drama, but it definitely had heart. Michael Douglas is one of those actors who can create different characters without really changing that much about him.

Charlie (Douglas) was just released from a mental institution and was picked up by his 16-year-old daughter, Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood). Miranda has been looking out for herself and on her own since her father was locked up. She dropped out of a high school to make money. Since being released, Charlie's got a plan to scour California for Spanish explorer Father Juan Florismarte Torres' treasure. As crazy as he seems, he's trying to use this as an opportunity to reconnect with Miranda, who starts to believe him and his ramblings.

This movie was a lot of fun. I had a great time watching these two characters interact with each other and learn to deal with one another. Douglas and Wood have a great father-daughter chemistry on camera. I definitely recommend this movie. It's not too soft to be taken lightly and not too hard to be taken seriously.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

You know, in writing this and looking up all of Woody Allen's movies, I can't really remember the last time I thoroughly enjoyed one. Well, apart from Antz.

This movie revolves around Vicky and Cristina (Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson). Two friends who go to Barcelona to visit friends before Vicky is supposed to be married. By chance, they meet Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). He is a tortured sculptor who just got out of a violent marriage to Maria (Penelope Cruz). Juan Antonio decides to try and seduce both Vicky and Cristina, while keeping the psychotic Maria at bay.

An Oscar for this? That may be a stretch, but Penelope Cruz was the best part of this. She was funny and clearly enjoyed playing a raging bitch. Bardem was good, too, but is it weird I just wanted him to kill people with a Dorothy Hamill haircut? For a movie whose characters differ on opinions of cliches about love, that's all this movie turned into...intentional or not.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

This documentary was very interesting and informative. The film ratings system is something that no one can really explain and director Kirby Dick tries to do just that.

The film and Dick try to answer the question of "Why are there NC-17 movies and who determines that a movie gets that rating?" The answer to the latter is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They have a group of "normal, average parents" who determine whether certain aspects of a movie is something that could offend the average viewer. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it. As for the 1st part of the question, that's a little trickier. It really gets interesting when Dick submits this film to the MPAA for a rating and it comes back as NC-17.

I'm not going to explain much more because it would ruin a fun documentary to watch. This movie is rated NC-17 because it talks about and shows scenes from other movies that got an NC-17 rating. There is a lot of great insight from the filmmakers and actors director Kirby Dick interviews. Watch this movie if you want to know about the making of movies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

This was so much different than the other two of Python's Big 3 films (the others being Holy Grail and Life of Brian). This was basically a group of skits that all, in some way, revolve around various perceptions of the meaning of life.

Without going into too much detail about the plot, because there is not a linear plot, I'll just briefly describe the movie as a whole. First off, do not miss the open "short feature." It's quite funny. After that, the "feature presentation" begins and then there are 7 parts to the movie; Birth, Growth, Fighting, Middle Age, Live Organ Transplants, Autumn Years, and Death. The Autumn Years is probably the most famous of the skits because of the character of Mr. Creosote. It does get pretty gross but it is very funny.

All in all, it's definitely #3 of the Python flicks but it is still very funny. The lack of a straight storyline didn't hurt the movie in any way. It's a sketch movie but, for the most part, with one theme. Not to mention, the songs are classic.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Watchmen (2009)

This movie was almost 100% true to the graphic novel that it's no wonder it alienated a chunk of moviegoers. Since I read the novel, I enjoyed this loooooooooong movie.

This movie follows an alternate timeline from what actually occurred in the US in the 1940s - 1980s. Nixon is still President, well into his third term. A group of superheroes known as the Watchmen (the Comedian, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, etc.) have now been outcast from society after a law declares masks illegal. Years later, after one of them is murdered, a whole new crop of problems begins to arise as they try to find who's the killer.

This movie has its problems. The length, some of the pacing, and Malin Akerman (she should stick to comedy). But the movie was so close to the graphic novel that I was pleased with the outcome. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach was the best part of the movie and probably the character with the most interesting background. I know why people who haven't read the novel don't like this, but those who have should enjoy it.