Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pirate Radio (2009)

I still like the British title, The Boat That Rocked, better but this still was a very funny movie. It had the characters and music to keep me interested all the way through. Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn't hurt its chances either.

The ship called Radio Rock is captained by Quentin (Bill Nighy). The DJs include The Count (Hoffman), Dr. Dave (Nick Forst) and "Nut" (Rhys Darby). The story follows Quentin's godson Carl as he joins the ship and is subsequently overcome with a sense of release that has kept him hunkered down in his home on land. While all of the debauchery is going down on board, in the British government, officials are trying to find out how to shut them down. As they get closer and closer, the Radio Rockers are one step ahead of them every time. Can they continue to outrun the force of the British government? They're sure as hell going to try.

The cast is outstanding and they bring their A game throughout the entire flick. From Nighy to Frost to Rhys Ifans to Darby, everyone brought unique characteristics to their portrayal and you could relate to a little bit of each. The ending knocked off a few points for me, but it wasn't necessarily bad, just not what I expected. Watch and enjoy.

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

While this movie had its funny moments, the plot was just kind of boring in the end. I was just sort of taken along for the ride and ended up with no place to go.

Bob (Ewan McGregor) is a small town journalist who's determined to be the best at his job to show his wife, who just left him, that he can. He pretends to enlist as a reporter embedded in the Middle East, only to find Lyn (George Clooney). As time goes on, Bob realizes Lyn is part of a secret government initiative called the New Earth Army, a group that attempts to become "psychic spies." (Note: Before you think this is far-fetched, this movie is based on actual events) As Lyn and Bob begin to detail the storied past of the New Earth Army, they must try to avoid Lyn's enemy Larry (Kevin Spacey). Larry has never bought into Lyn's theory of of spying, so he begins to find out ways of taking him down, beginning in the 80s. What follows is a somewhat elementary attempt to stop him.

This movie wasn't awful, but it just didn't have a whole lot to keep me interested in the end. The biggest bright spot of this movie was Jeff Bridges. It was basically "What if The Dude joined the Army and somehow made it to the rank of corporal?" And it was hilarious. While the other actors definitely tried, this movie ultimately fell flat due to the plot. Enjoy it if you must, but I can't recommend it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Slammin' Salmon (2009)

Not Broken Lizard's funniest outing, but definitely had the best plot for any of their movies. The jokes aren't as spitfire as Super Troopers or as nonsensical as Club Dredd, but they are still there if you like their other films.

Former boxer Cleon "Slammin'" Salmon (Michael Clarke Duncan) opens the Slammin' Salmon restaurant in Miami to try and make it the newest swanky hotspot. The Broken Lizard crew make up the waitstaff along with Cobie Smulders and April Bowlby (both of "How I Met Your Mother" fame). One is the floor manager, one is a faux-playboy, one is an ex-actor, one is sprung on the job last minute, and one is Nuts...literally, that's his name. All of the waitstaff is trying to get a take of $20,000 in one night, but for reasons of which they are unaware.

The reason this has a better plot than the rest, I feel, is because Kevin Heffernan ("Farva" from Super Troopers) is behind the camera his time and not Jay Chandrasekhar, who has directed all the groups previous films. The almost consistently low-brow humor is still there, with some slapstick thrown in. It may upset some, but that's there style of humor and they're staying in their wheelhouse. Good movie, but don't go in expecting top notch stuff.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In The Loop (2009)

This was one of the better political satires I've seen in a long time. Not quite sure if it was worthy of an Oscar nomination, but still very good and very funny.

I'll try to condense the plot as much as possible since there are a lot of stories going on at once. Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) is a high ranking official in the British government, who is also a bit of a buffoon when it comes to keeping his mouth shut. Privately, the US and England are looking into invading a Middle Eastern country, but no decision has been made. Foster publicly states the war is "unforeseeable," which starts a firestorm. That statement turns Foster and his colleagues into hapless pawns by the US State Department and a war hungry general (James Gandolfini).

Based on a Britcom, this is a very biting satire and one that's consistently pushing out one-liners that are not only funny, but actually keep moving the plot along. While everyone was good, the standout was Peter Capaldi as Malcom Tucker, the foul-mouthed political spin man. Hard to tell if he's ever actually solved a problem or just yelled at them all. A little slow moving at first, but really picks up and gets better as time runs on.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

This movie, despite being animated, had as many Wes Anderson-isms as The Royal Tennenbaums or Life Aquatic. All of which helps this movie turn a great kids book into a great movie that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

Mr. and Mrs. Fox (George Clooney and Meryl Streep) are former thieves who decide that since she is pregnant, they need a new line of work. Mr. Fox becomes a successful newspaper writer and is looking for a new home. They find the perfect place that just happens to be across the way from three mean and ruthless farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Mr. Fox gets the idea for one last heist. The heist goes well, but the farmers realize where the critter lives and tracks it down. The ensuing chaos causes the Fox family and others animals to move deep underground until the whole thing dies down. Now, Fox needs to make amends for his reckless decision by taking down the farmers who attacked them. Time for a Danny Ocean-type spectacle.

The cast list was huge, as per usual with Wes Anderson. Clooney, Streep, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, and Adrian Brody to mention a few. They all are recognizable but also bring their A game to this movie. Stop-motion flicks always amaze me in the dedication to the craft at hand. I know these movies must take a long time to make and this film is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed this, so you should, too.