Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Our Idiot Brother (2011)
Except for the drugs, nudity and F-words, this is a charming family-values movie.
If your family is like "Leave It to Beaver" except that you swear at each each other, you might see yourself in this movie.
It's ultimately a movie about adult sibling relationships in a family the genuinely loves each other even when they can't stand each other.
But the movie is not too heavy, mostly due to Paul Rudd's charming performance as an optimistic loser hippie. Most of the other principles are flawed but likable.
Rudd is the center of the story but the ensemble cast is an A-list of B-listers with several memorable sub-plots. The movie was peppered with some of my favorite actors from TV or small movies. And after seeing this movie, I have some new favorites! For me, this film hits that perfect "Romantic Comedy" balance of funny and sweet but with some moral and emotional complexity. But, instead of a love between a man and a woman, it's the love between siblings.
And, like a good "Rom Com" should, it has a satisfying end without being too simplistic. (OK, one part is really corny but this serves the point of the movie.)
My Name Is Khan (2010)
America as an allegory for India
I found this movie both irritating and fascinating. It was irritating until I understood it -- then it was fascinating.
I spent the first half of the movie irritated at the ugly stereotypes of Americans as brutishly hostile to both Muslims and people with disabilities. Karan Johar so profoundly mis-understands America that he gets nearly every scenario wrong. For example, if a clearly disoriented person stepped in front of a cable car, a mob wouldn't gather to jeer him -- especially in one of the most liberal and tolerant cities in America.
My irritation gave way to fascination when I realized that the extremely mis-portrayed hurricane scene was actually about an Indian village in a monsoon. I went back and watched the movies as a allegory about India and it fits almost perfectly. For example, I've personally witnessed a mob of people in India set-upon a disoriented person, not just jeering him but beating him as well.
Especially interesting is the inter-faith dynamics portrayed in the movie. While nothing like America, it's what I remember of India where the people generally get along well until some event triggers nauseating naked aggression, splitting neighborhoods and even families. But, even at the worst times punctuated by remarkable acts compassion.
"My Name is Khan" is far more about the Babri Mosque demolition than it is about 9/11.
Let me be clear -- American Muslims certainly have experienced a hurtful backlash after 9/11. Americans with disabilities certainly do experience prejudice and even hostility. It's just not like this movie.
But, when you watch the movie as an allegory of India, it's quite interesting.
As a librarian, I highly recommend this series. Children will watch the show for the entertainment value but get a dose of literary education.
For a series that promotes classic literature, it has a very light feel. Something like what kids might watch on the Disney channel with the hyperactivity dialed down a little. I find it watchable as an adult.
Unlike modern talking animal shows, it doesn't use any computer effects. The voice of the dog is dubbed as thoughts. I think this simple approach is charming but kids highly accustomed to CGI _might_ find it cheesy.
I deduct one star because the series is starting to look dated. I wish the producers would release all the shows on DVD before they become outdated.
Mad Men (2007)
Character driven drama -- with no likable characters
I just finished watching Season One and expected that I would warm-up to some of the characters.. but it never happened.
There isn't a single primary character in the show I'd like to meet in real life. They all are so self-absorbed and valueless.
This might be OK if the plot was exciting but it's not. This is primarily a character driven show.
Contrast this with "The Wire" or "The Sopranos" where the viewer gets to see some likable sides of very bad people. (Tony Soprano or Omar Little). The characters in "Mad Men" are not evil -- they are just pathetically self-serving.
So, you're left with style -- and this the show has in spades. But, for me, that wore off after a couple of episodes.
The first season did touch on a several key social issues (anti-Semitism, feminism, gay rights) but only in passing.
Maybe these issues will be more fully covered in the following seasons or maybe some of the characters will become more likable. I understand that cable series take longer to develop characters and plot lines than do broadcast chows. But how many hours are we expected to watch?
The Good Guys (2010)
"The Good Guys" spoofs cops shows as well as "Glee" spoofs teen musicals.
Nobody is doing spoofs better than Fox these days.
While "Glee" may be getting all the hype, "The Good Guys" is every bit as good.
What makes "The Good Guys" so great is that it's not just a mockery of cop show stereotypes and dumb plot lines -- it's a fully developed TV show that works on it's own. (just like "Glee") That's how both shows avoid the pitfalls of other parodies which get old once the gag wears off.
Bradley Whitford ("Josh" on WestWing) plays the "not by the books cop" stereotype so spectacularly well that's it's hard not to snicker when you see other actors trying to do that same character straight.
Colin Hanks nicely plays the "by the books partner" straight man to Whitford and the supporting cast is strong too. The bad guys are very scary-looking but the stuff coming out of their mouths is hilarious.
The throw-away jokes are the best since "My Name is Earl" and the sub-plots (romances, etc) are as good as any TV show.
My only criticism is that the black humor can be a little too dark for me (like an FBI agent getting killed) but mostly the violence is cartoonish, as it should be in a spoof.
Noir... unrelenting TV Noir.
In the DVD extras on this series, the director is reluctant to describe this series as "noir" but that's exactly how I'd describe it. It's not just average noir, it's inky black.
If you like the noir genre, then rent this series right away. No need to even bother reading the reviews! This is spectacularly good noir.
If you don't like noir, then stay clear of this series... you'll hate them.
If you're new or ambivalent to the noir genre -- be warned that you won't be rewarded with even the dust of a warm fuzzy. But you will be rewarded with fantastic writing, layered story telling, great acting, quality cinematography, compelling characters and, simply, some of the best TV I've ever seen.
Probably the only caveat are the Yorkshire accents which are heavy. I enjoy accents and usually have no trouble understanding them but it's not just the accents ... it's the grammar and vocabulary too. But, if you're fine with subtitles, then it's no problem.
The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
"Family values" in the best sense.
This is a true family film -- for and about families.
Except for very small children (who might get bored) this film is has something for all ages. The actors -- both young and old, animal and human -- are excellent. The story-line is interesting for children but complex enough for adults.
It's as beautiful as most "art movies" but as plot-driven as a Hollywood movie, again making it appealing to a broad range of people.
It's non-offensive but not at all cloying like some family movies. (Well, unless you're offended by drinking or toddler nudity.) It's magical and mythic but still rooted in characters that seem believable. It also has interesting rural Irish culture which, I assume is accurate.
My wife and I saw this movie in the theater before we had children and we now watch it with our kids on DVD. I've seen it three or four times and I'm still not tired of it!
The only possible downside I can think of are the fairly thick Irish accents. I have no problem understanding but some people might.
Highway to Hell (1991)
Maybe not as bad as Troll 2
If found this movie almost unwatchable. If you like really bad movies, like Troll 2, then maybe you'd like this one.
It had a few mildly humorous moments -- even though I didn't laugh even once. The jokes where stilted and stale though.
The production values where terrible except for a little bit of nice makeup.
The plot made very little sense and there where endless plot holes.
I didn't find any of the characters compelling but it was interesting to see a few minor characters who would soon become big stars like Jerry Stiller.
If you are a fan of really bad movies, then you'll want to see this one. Otherwise, I recommend avoiding it.
District 9 (2009)
As groundbreaking at "2001 a Space Odyssey" and "Alien"
This movie will change the genre of science fiction.
It is a very good movie but, more importantly, it is a new vision for the genre.
Like, "2001 a Space Odyssey" and "Alien" it is a genre changer at a time when the genre was feeling a little worn out.
As a movie, it is a better than "2001" and maybe tied with "Alien" but that is almost besides the point.
With "District 9" the technology and freaky alien take a back seat to sociology and politics. Sci-fi fans are no longer wowed by futuristic technology or the possibility that superior beings might look like lobsters.
But this socio-political angle on sci-fi opens up a bunch of possible story lines that have not yet been explored in movies.
The Kingdom (2007)
Stunningly realistic portrayal of the Middle East ** MILD SPOILER **
I have not been to Saudi but I've been around some of the Arabian Peninsula and I was amazed to discover on the DVD that much of the set was built in Arizona.
Amazing! I really could not tell that it was not shot on location -- everything down to the wall switches is accurate.
I personally found the portrayal of Arabs realistic, too. On my first encounters with Arabs they seemed hard to understand or even strange but then became charming and personable as you developed a relationship with them. This is exactly how the movie portrays it.
I've met a few Muslim radicals and they were not one-dimensional stereotypes. This movie portrays that, too.
I've also been in a few "radical stronghold" neighborhoods and none where like in the movie. (But I entered them very differently -- unarmed, low key and certainly not shooting!) All-in-all, I have to give kudos to this movie for being culturally accurate.