Friday, September 30, 2011

The Beaver (2011)

I expected to be mildly entertained by this movie, but I never, ever expected to love it. But, turns out, I do. Mel Gibson turns in an incredible performance, as does Anton Yelchin, who plays his son. This movie is a very moving portrayal of extreme depression. I love how he said it in the movie - something like, "For some people there comes a time when, in order to go on, they have to wipe the slate clean." People who are very unhappy sometimes do crazy things in an attempt to restore themselves. The movie is a *tad* bit too tidy in its resolution, but not in a way that distracted from the overall quality of it. Really, really nicely done. 4.5 stars.

Best Part: I was very moved by the moments where Walter tried desperately to speak but couldn't, and had to resort to using the puppet.
Worst Part: The transitions between Walter's and Porter's stories were really choppy. Although it tied together at the end, for most of the movie I found myself thinking, "And this connects how?"
FlickChart: Landed at #206, right below Chaplin and right above Another Woman. I KNOW it will drop from there over the next few months, but right now that feels about right.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hop (2011)

(Spoilers.) James Marsden is a likable actor, but even he is hard to root for in this piece of nonsense. Aside from one or two brief moments, nothing in it really works, and CERTAINLY not the ridiculous ending, where everyone simply accepts without question the fact that Fred is now the Easter Bunny and is going to fly away in a ship piloted by chicks. The jokes are tired attempts at cliches, the overall plot makes little to no sense, and none of the characters are interesting. I saw this for free at a kids' matinee and virtually none of the occasional laughs I heard came from children, indicating that this isn't even something children will like much. 0.5 stars.

Best Part: James Marsden's initial awkward response when the rabbit starts singing "I Want Candy" and he has to pretend it's him is kind of entertaining. However, that's lost the moment he starts enjoying the song.
Worst Part: That ending. That ending. What were they thinking? "I'm proud of you, son."
FlickChart: Landed at #1477, directly below the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland and above The Phantom Menace.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011)

So much funnier than I expected it to be. There are moments that are undeniably crude (usually not something I like) but although it's crude, it doesn't feel juvenile - it's handled in a very intelligent way, and the rudest moments are some of the funniest. Jason Bateman plays the calmer and saner of the three leads, as he does best, and is hilarious in contrast to Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. I saw Colin Farrell just a few weeks ago in the superbly campy Fright Night, and here he once again goes all out with a ridiculous villain role and milks it for all its worth (I have to keep an eye out for this guy - he's so much more interesting than I used to give him credit for). A solidly entertaining comedy, although nothing to write home about... and definitely not one to watch with the family. 3.5 stars.

Best Part: A lot of good moments, but I think Charlie Day's road chase attempt to talk dirty to Jennifer Aniston made me giggle the hardest.
Worst Part: ...I can't think of a moment I didn't like or a joke that fell really flat. That can't be right for a 3.5 star movie. I may have to come back to this section at a later date, after the "that was funnier than I thought!" glow has faded.
FlickChart: Landed at #616, right below The Majestic and right above Quitting. The crap? What's The Majestic doing up in the 600s? That's an 800s movie. Looks like it's time to re-rank...

Super 8 (2011)

(Lots of spoilers ahead.) Movies involving aliens are often very moving for me. There's just something about the idea of there being something out there in space... and there's... well, not to be punny, but something very universal about the fear of the unknown that could be out there. Those are big themes, but ones that ring very true for me and always affect me strongly when seen in movies.

That's the part of this movie that captivates me the most. When Joe's mother dies, he's forced into those bigger themes and is left a little isolated from the people around him. The movie never pushes this point (which I appreciated) but it's clear that he suddenly feels much more alone in the universe than he has been up to this point. The parallel between him and the scared lonely alien isn't belabored, but for me it was what made the movie fascinating and, in the end, very moving. As both are finally released from their captivity (whether physical or emotional) and manage to find their way back to security, I found myself tearing up a little bit. (It certainly helped that the visuals of that final scene are kind of gorgeous.)

Anyway. This is a much longer review than I usually write, but I had a lot to say. Heh. I feel like this is a movie that would be worth watching again. I felt the first 2/3 of the movie a little slow, but now that I found what I suppose I could refer to as "my theme" - the idea that connects the movie to me - I would love to be able to retrace it through the movie. 4 stars.

Best Part: That final scene. Beautiful both visually and emotionally.
Worst Part: I never did care for pyromaniac firecracker kid...
FlickChart: Landed at #357, right below Grave of the Fireflies and right above Garden State.

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

Spoilers ahead. Jesse Eisenberg is the best thing about this movie, which is far too often unnecessarily and unfunnily crude. The villains are over-the-top enough that any danger never feels like real danger (which means the ending is extremely abrupt and seems out of sync with the rest of the movie). Eisenberg brings a helpless victim quality which makes him a rather likable hero, but the only moment when the movie *really* comes together is during the actual bank robbery - a very funny scene as the two main characters play off each other in attempting to act tough and scary. 2 stars.

Best Part: Bank robbery scene - as stated above.
Worst Part: Just about every time Dwayne opens his mouth. If he had been a less central character, I would probably have enjoyed the movie a lot more.
FlickChart: Landed at #880, right below Le Samourai and above The Mummy (the 1930s version).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Our Idiot Brother (2011)

A pleasant little movie that comes alive only because of the actors involved. Not that they're great actors, but they do exactly what the movie asks of them. Each one of them embodies their character and makes them interesting. Paul Rudd's character actually ends up being one of the less interesting ones - he's always just a bit too mellow and eager to please, and when he does break it doesn't feel like it's for a plausible reason. I did laugh a few times throughout this movie, but I know it's not going to stick with me much longer than... well, probably tonight. 2.5 stars.

Best Part: Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Elizabeth Banks are all very different actresses but somehow manage to have amazing chemistry as sisters. Just great to watch.
Worst Part: "We put him in there. All of us. And you too." A cheesy line that turned an acceptable ending into complete nonsense.
FlickChart Ranking: #841, below Unbreakable and above Primal Fear.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Silver Streak (1976)

Unfortunately for this movie, the action parts aren't very suspenseful and the comedy parts aren't very funny. It may have hurt this movie further that I only kind of like Gene Wilder and don't like Richard Pryor much at all, and this material didn't change my mind about either one of them. I simply didn't laugh. 2 stars.

Best Part: Hey, that's Fred Willard as the guy who answers the train station phone!
Worst Part: The final lines of the movie were pretty bad. "He's crazy." "He's got the right idea. Let's get out of here and go to a park." Wait, what?

Happythankyoumoreplease (2010)

Indie comedy dramas are tough to perfect these days. Most of them either slide toward pretension or sentimentality, and, sadly, Happythankyoumoreplease has moments of both. There are some really beautiful stories (Malin Akerman and Tony Hale's is fascinating and beautiful, although I'm *really* waiting for that story gender-switched...but that's never going to happen) and some very good moments. There are also a lot of moments where it was just trying too, too hard. Not a *bad* writing/directing debut for Josh Radnor... but a very mediocre one. Here's hoping he steps up his game in his next project, because the parts I liked, I *really* liked. 3 stars.

Best Part: Although I said I liked Akerman and Hale, I'm pretty sure my actual favorite moments were the couple times Josh Radnor's character was around the kid and said, "F***! ...Don't swear." It was just very nicely done - a little moment of an adult having to adjust his life to a child.
Worst Part: The resolution of the plotline between the two characters who were trying to decide where to live. Didn't ring true for me at all. That plotline was also where most of the movie's worst moments came from.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Brother From Another Planet (1984)

After I watched this movie, I looked it up online and was *shocked* to see it got a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, since my film major roommate and I were both very, very unimpressed with it. Everything about it said crappy movie, from the unfunny jokes to the bizarre jarring transitions (more than once we asked each other, "Wait - so what just happened there?"), sound effects that appeared to have nothing to do with what was actually happening, the three instances where women I didn't care about gave long monologues about guys they were involved with (that I also didn't care about)... Nothing in this movie made sense. I couldn't pull anything out of it to be impressed with. Knowing it was supposed to be some sort of comedy cult classic doesn't change my mind on this one, although it does make me wonder what everyone else is seeing that I clearly missed. 1 star.

Best Part: Well, my roommate and I sure had fun laughing at the ridiculous sound effects.
Worst Part: Every time they went back to the bar. Least interesting characters *ever*. It wasn't even amusingly bad, just boring.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Open Season (2006)

While not actively offensive (as some kids' movies can be), this movie is just uninteresting. There are no engaging characters, no original plot, nothing at all that recommends it. I can't even really remember any of the jokes from it, so I can't tell you if kids will find this funny. There's a lot of sudden destruction at the end of the movie, which seemed inappropriate for the age range they were reaching (really, they blew up ALL the hunters' trucks with giant fireballs? And that's okay?) and the villain is so over-the-top that it seems more like a tragic portrayal of an extremely delusional man rather than, say, an Elmer Fudd kind of obsessive character. Nothing very entertaining here. 1 star.

Best Part: When the porcupine finds out the bear can't protect her, she trudges back into the woods and says sadly, "No more me." The only laugh the movie got out of me.
Worst Part: Elliot's lullaby, which includes a gas joke AND a pee joke. Classy stuff.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Curious George (2006)

I expected this to be *terrible*. And, while it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, it's got one hugely huge flaw: it makes the Man in the Yellow Hat the main character instead of George himself. The parts where George is frolicking around cheerfully goofing things up are usually rather charming, and a few even made me laugh. George is a great character. The Will Ferrell-ized Man in the Yellow Hat, on the other hand, is not. He's a bumbling idiot who has no business taking care of a monkey. He's annoying for adults and uninteresting for kids. (Honestly, which one are kids going to care about more: someone who gets in trouble for painting on the walls or someone who spends the whole movie worrying his job is about to become obsolete?) This had the makings of a cute children's movie, but taking the focus off of George himself takes away the charm of the original books. 2 stars.

Mother (2009)

Impressive as this movie is, I never quite connected with it the way I'd hoped to. The opening and closing scenes are very striking, and there are a few other moments scattered throughout, but for the most part I found myself intellectually admiring and emotionally closed off. I always wonder whether I will return to these movies a few years from now and enjoy them more with a different perspective. Although I don't ever plan to have children, movies like this make me wonder how differently I would view it if I'd had different experiences. 3.5 stars.