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Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
"It's fun to get away from the camp, even if it's just for an hour."
The strangest point in this film is a point, about a half hour through, when all of the seemingly normal camp counselors go out in to the city. In a montage shot, they slowly go from reading books at the library, to smoking cigarettes, to smoking joints, to buying cocaine from a guy on the street, to becoming prostitutes, then becoming strung out heroin-addicts at the local crack house. This is not your parent's parody movie.
From this point on, the film is never the same. Seemingly normal character development goes out the window, and characters jump from one complete different personality to another within seconds. We get brilliant lines of dialogue that could only be brought from members of The State, like: "Hey, there's a problem. I've got something I need to tell you." "Oh no! You have crabs." "No. Well, yeah, but that's not the problem." "Oh good."
Pure genius!!! Why don't more comedies have lines of dialogue like this?
Some other great points: "There is a way we could save everyone's lives. Well, no that couldn't work. In order for it to work, we would need to have a device that could randomly generate numbers between 1 and 20." "That's impossible. That would take some sort of highly advanced supercomputer to work." "Not necessarily. No dungeon master goes anywhere without his...20 sided die."
I sort of wish I had known what films were being parodied in this movie. I saw strands that sort of matched what I had seen from old Summer Camp movies I had seen back in high school during the wee hours in the morning during comedy central. But, there were many things here that seemed like they must be references to other films. Oh well. It's just all crazy.
Anyway, I guess I should say that this isn't a really good...movie, per se, but...well, I have no excuses for it. Wet Hot American Summer rules! Dolphins suck it!!!
Birthday Girl (2001)
Nicole is the only bright spot in this otherwise unfocused, unbelievable, and totally forgettable film
Never have the Miramax Meddling Machine been at work more than with BIRTHDAY GIRL. I can tell you one thing for certain-The Butterworth Brothers did not have "final cut".
The music used in the film was awful. I could feel some sort of editor slicing and compressing scenes to their bare minimums. The overall cheesiness of the film came just as much as whatever Miramax producer got their hands on the film. I think we would have seen a very different film if the Jez Butterworth actually got the chance to finish the film that he and his brother had started, perhaps more of a Coen Brothers Fargo/Something Wild type of film. Thanks to the cheesiness, we have what is a total chick flick.
However, I am not saying that the film would have been competent without the meddling. I don't really think much original thought went into the making of this film. This is basically a "high concept" picture, meaning that its easy to put the premise into a one sentence summary: "A man orders a Mail Order Bridge, only to find out she wasn't the woman she pretended to be." This isn't a very interesting concept, and the Butterworths are not talented or experienced enough to sustain this idea into an entire motion picture. The final version that we have in screen is definitely a failure, an anti-noir that ends up being more and more preposterous and unbelievable at every turn. I felt so uninterested with what in the story came next because I just couldn't believe any of it. I really don't think any of the larger issues which kept the film from being a success would have played out beautifully if the Butterworths had their way in the film's completion.
That isn't to say that the film was entirely without bright spots. Nicole Kidman, obviously, is perfectly cast in the lead role of Nadia. With perfect to almost-perfect Russian dialects, she makes the turns at every corner as easy as her part in the film will allow. Playing the game of "Keep your eyes on Nicole Kidman" will probably be the only reason to rent this film once it comes out on video. Also good is Mathieu Kassovitz, who gives an inferior performance to Kidman, but nonetheless creates a confident, always believable character that creates a bizarre awkwardness and typical Russian scariness. Vincent Cassel, on the other hand, becomes desperately unbelievable, and any conflict he has with Kidman seems forced, rushed, and strangely incompetent. Vincent Cassel should stick to films where he speaks French and roles where he doesn't play the villain. Ben Chaplin does not belong in this film either, and doesn't pull his part of the weight in getting the film off the ground. He never seemed to know what type of film he was in, which perhaps wouldn't be a negative, per se, but when Nicole Kidman is so confident at every change, he seems to be rather apathetic and uncertain of what emotion he's supposed to display.
When the film actually slows down to let Nadia and John actually talk to each other, this is where the film actually has some positive momentum. This is what the Butterworths are good at, creating character development based on dialogue between two people. Its a shame that there is so little of it, as Kidman is forced to speak Russian for the majority of the film, and they seem to continually be separated throughout the rest of the film. I also don't like the way the director decided to stage some of the set-up, as in certain scenes, the actors only acted in a certain way to fool the viewer, who has been provided with subtitles and close proximity camera angles to Nadia while she was supposed to be in private. For instance, Nadia should know that John doesn't speak Russian, but when she speaks to the Russian friends for the first time, they all speak dialogue that is made to mislead who ever is listening, and in this case, it was only the person watching the screen. In my book, this type of tom-foolery gets a thumb down.
I find Birthday Girl to be a forced yet unfocused botched job that just happens to have one tremendous performance at the center and offers a few lines of good dialogue. I would not suggest anyone to go out of their way to see this film, but perhaps worth the time to turn on if its on basic cable. My advice to the Butterworth brothers is: Stay away from noir, stay away from thrillers. Your strong point is character development and dialogue. Make a nice comedy.
Overall: ** out of ****
It is difficult to write this review, as the experience of viewing "Rollerball" has destroyed my ability to form complete thoughts and express myself using words and sentences. Perhaps this should be a warning to anyone that is thinking of going out and seeing this film, but I would have to say that this moviegoing experience has given me more respect for the craft of filmmaking. No matter how bad I thought any movie I had ever seen in the past was at the time, I now realize that the film projected onto the screen during those viewings could have been replaced by the film under the heading "Rollerball". I now have more respect for anyone who did not, in anyway, participate in the making of this film. I also have more respect for films that did not fail in the ways
Watching this movie approximates doing acid. If you have never done acid, and do not wish to try, you can watch this movie to assimilate the effects that the substance does to the human brain.
RollerBall is a game that takes place in the future...way, way in the future...all the way in the year 2005. Chris Klein plays Jonathan Cross, or, as his many fans in Southeast Asia would refer to him, "Jon-a-ton". Jonathan was at one time considered to be the "Next Wayne Gretsky", which I find to be quite incredible since he had refused to play professional hockey LL Cool J plays Marcus Ridley Jean Reno plays the villain, Petrovich Rebecca Romijn-Stamos plays the part of Aurora, or as the fans know her, the "Black Widow" Half the time, there was never a ball in place. Another amazing fact is that there never was a score shown.
I think this movie has the greatest example of unintentional Dadaist scriptwriting that has ever been done. This film was a fantastic combination of nonsensical dialogue, pl
I think everyone that has any respect for the craft of filmmaking should go see this movie as soon as possible. Note that, only two weeks after the film was originally released wide into several thousand theaters, it is nearly impossible to find a theater that is still showing this film. I found that there were only two showings of this film in the entire city of Indianapolis that could be viewed. At one theater, it only played at 4 o'clock, while we see it at a different theater, where there was only one 9 o'clock showing. If you don't see this film now, you may have to wait until the film comes out on video, which would be a complete travesty. The full experience of realizing the horror of this travesty can only truly come to life on the big screen, and any disgust this movie would cause watched in the context of a 20-odd inch screen would be filtered. You owe it to yourself to see how corrupt and ill-managed the Hollywood system truly is, and you must realize that a film this horrendous was made to go on the big screen. This garbage was made with the idea that it would gross more than it cost to make, which was, quite embarassingly, an excess of 80 million dollars. Think about it. 80 million dollars. An amount of money that could have been used to build a much larger studio at MGM. An amount of money that could have been used to finance 80 small 1-million dollar budget films based on good independently written screenplays. Heck, an amount that would be much better given to charities to feed hungry people. Do you have any idea how many people 80 million dollars could feed? The fact that this mass of money, the majority of which will never be made back and is simply gone forever, was used for the soul purpose to create "Rollerball" sets a new low for the studio system. The very fact that producers at MGM thought that mainstream audiences would go for this trash makes me pessimistic in the Hollywood system, while the fact that audiences were smart enough to stay away from it gives me optimistic for the integrity of humanity. There is no reason for this film to exist. The fact that a major film studio would spend so much money on a film this bad shows that there is something wrong with the way the system works now. Wake up, Hollywood, wake up. 1/10
Funny while watching it, even funnier while thinking about it
ZOOLANDER is one strange film. Its sort of like a full on assault on the brain, spitting out so many weird ideas and creative jokes all at once that its impossible to catch them all. The plot is so bizarre and haphazardly constructed that talking about the story almost seems irrelevant. It is probably useful information to say that the plot has to do with assassinating the prime minister of Malaysia and involves a somewhat disturbingly funny funeral scene that overlooks the city of New York. These events would be disturbing enough if we hadn't all witnessed the WTC attacks a few weeks ago, but now they seem just so disturbing that the scenes seem appropriate. This perhaps made the film much darker than it needed to be when released, but perhaps the way in which these events are presented, as being rather dark and still humorous, that this film seems awkwardly precient in a way.
Still, as I said, the plot is irrelevant. What makes ZOOLANDER important is that it is probably the funniest film of the year, at least for me. Sure, its not as wholesome as BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, and it perhaps didn't have the unexpected charm of RAT RACE, and it wasn't as much fun as RUSH HOUR 2, and it wasn't as good of a film experience as SHREK. However, it is perhaps the most consistently funny film I have seen, and the biggest laughs are probably the most creative of the year. Overall, the film is so packed with cleverly conceived and executed ideas that just thinking about each individual scene provides entertainment in itself. My favorite scenes include what happens when Zoolander and his friends go out for Orange frappucinos, the orgy scene, Zoolander's film prepared for his nomination VH1 fashion awards, and the quite unexpected yet wholly appropriate 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY reference. I'm laughing very, very hard just thinking about these scenes. I wasn't quite certain how much I liked the film right after seeing it, but now I'm certain that it has provided quite enough entertaining memories to sift though.
If you let your mind think about it too much, it is perhaps easy to find ZOOLANDER offensive, or find the plot ludicrous, or realize nothing makes sense, or realize that you can't explain why your laughing. But I would advise you just let your inhibitions go. The good laughs here are some of the most refreshingly original laughs in years. The only thing keeping this film from achieving cult comedy status from the likes of films such as THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, WAYNE'S WORLD, or AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY is that it isn't quite well thought out enough to truly be as effective as a whole. It all just sort of fizzles out at the end, when everyone realizes that there's no way you could possibly lead up to with that incomprehensible of a plot.
If the trailer of Zoolander seemed incomprehensibly stupid to you as well as unfunny, don't go and see it. However, if you laughed at Zoolander's trailer and are dying to see it, go on, as it is at least as funny as the film's trailer. There's a lot of weird stuff here, but it all flashes by so quickly that it will all wash out of your brain very quickly. Unlike many comedies, the hilarious moments are the parts that stuck in my mind after the film and all the bad stuff washed away, which is something I truly appreciate.
Harold and Maude (1971)
Not as bad as I first thought.
In my first review for this film, I called it "Terrible, terrible, terrible." However, I felt this was perhaps too strong, as I have many intelligence friends that enjoy this film.
I had many discussions about the nature of the plot and the nature of the relationship between Harold and Maude. A few of my friends said they loved this film, simply, because they were were female and thought it would be cool to have an affair with a 20 year old guy when they were in their seventies. This was not a good enough answer to me, but other friends liked it for better reasons, more to do with the psychology of the characters and why they are attracted to each other.
I understand the appeal here. The suicide humor felt a little bit too much like a writer begging for a laugh, and I did feel really bad for Harold going through such an emotionally devastating experience. However, Maude's character is often hilarious, and Harold provides a lot of charisma in a "Ghost World" Enid-type way. I guess the best thing that could be said about the relationship is that it is unconventional, and therefor provides a new perspective on just what love is. My main problem with the film has always related to this as well, which is why a character as thoughtful and (secretly) good-natured would fall as Harold would fall into someone as self-serving as Maude. Perhaps I can never get over this fact, but the second viewing provided me with more amusement than the first. I think knowing how the story ended helped me "live in the moment", and enjoy the film's direction a whole lot more.
I now feel this film can at least being considered as being close to the same level as Hal Ashby's other masterpieces, such as "The Last Detail", "Coming Home", and, my favorite, "Being There". There is a lot in this film to love, even though I'm not the biggest fan of the "nature-of-true-love" story that the film contains. I will probably see this film a third time one day, and perhaps I'll change my opinion of it again. Current rating: 7/10 (or **1/2 out of 4)
The Doom Generation (1995)
So bad its good...only in an intentional way.
I saw Nowhere previously to my viewing of this film, and I felt it didn't succeed on any level. It was very messy, oddly apocalyptic, and not very funny or sensical. Watching "Nowhere" was not a pleasant, or thoughtful experience.
But, then I saw the tremendously entertaining "The Doom Generation". Never before has a film decided to make such a point of self-mocking as this film. It throws odd and idiotic plot elements, and then the characters mocks them, while the screenplay mocks the characters. It introduces three strange people, gets them on an odyssey to hell, and then doesn't stop to explain anything. Everything that happens is ridiculous in some way, and the film knows this and milks the humor from this. Basically, what happens is this: A couple find a renegade, go to a store, buy $6.66 worth of food, and then end up accidently killing people in a very awful and gruesome way. Then, they go to another store, spend $6.66, and are forced to kill someone else. This is the plotline. Yes, Gregg Araki is aware of how awful of an idea this is, and milks it for every cheap thrill and laugh he can.
I loved this film, and should truly qualify as one of the well done cult films I've found. I'm unsure of why more people I know don't know of this film, but I certainly found it a blast. It's a head trip that you can make fun of every bit as much as the film makes fun of itself. A fun movie experience.
The Others (2001)
A Shockingly Good Time...A Movie Lover's Tribute to Ghost Stories.
I have seen this film three times with a total of 9 different friends. Out of the 10 of us, only one person didn't get completely frightened out of his wits, but every other person I saw it with couldn't stop talking about the film after we saw it. We couldn't stop thinking about the film after it was over.
"The Others" is a difficult film to describe but not give away. For this reason, READ AS LITTLE OF ANY REVIEW AS POSSIBLE. I will attempt to keep this review concise and spoiler free.
Nicole Kidman plays Grace, a mother who has been left alone with her two children after a mysterious event that forced her house maintenance workers and daycare helpers away from the house. Alakina Mann and James Bentley play Nicole Kidman's children Anne and Nicholas. The brother and sister are apparently unable to leave the house due to a mysterious skin condition. This is all of the plot that is fair to give away before seeing the film.
The film is obviously a labor of love for director/writer/composer Alejandro Amenabar, and never have I remembered seeing a film that the screenwriter had such malicious fun writing. There is a great amount of mischievous glee in seeing Grace reveal the rules of the house, the other characters revealing what they know about the house's secret, and in Amenabar slowly turning the screws of terror with his masterful compositions of visual cues and sound effects. The first time seeing the film is one of the most terrifying film experiences I've had in my life. There is just so much here to get worked up over. Even as Amenabar turns up his orchestral hits, its evident he's not doing it just to get a scare out of the audience. Each scene has one character in the middle of the scares who is in absolute terror, and the music represents his/her fright at that moment.
So, the film has about a dozen little scares, about 2 or 3 real big ones, and a general undying creepiness that lasts throughout the entire film. Happily, there are also a few laughs and loving moments thrown in so it isn't a completely dark experience. There is also a strong intelligence and development of themes in the entire film, giving it a true importance, allowing for endless thought and discussion about the film. The film asks difficult and meaningful questions about conditional/unconditional love, religion, and the nature of existence. Of course, during the first viewing, none of this will go through your mind as you will be scared out of your wits. Any question you are likely to have the first time will relate to "What the @#%& is in that house?", so the other themes will likely enter your mind after the film and during subsequent viewings.
Also, the film's three lead performances rank as the best performances I've seen this year from any film. Nicole Kidman is outstanding as Grace and I would rank this as the best performance so far this year, perhaps tied with Haley Joel Osment's performance in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence". Alakina Mann and James Bentley also give exquisite performances, and, after Osment's last performance, I would say they give the best English-speaking child performances I've ever seen.
In summary, I would say that "The Others" ranks as one of the few films this year that could be deemed "unmissable". It is a eerily beautiful film that releases its nuances slowly, during the course of its plot and also over subsequent viewings. I've also never been as scared during a film as I was in "The Others", and every audience I have seen it with couldn't help but randomly scream and jump during every part of the film. The more I analyze the film, the more I am in awe of its technical wizardry. The film is so dense and complex that it is worth more thought and discussion than the typical horror film, or even the typical Hollywood drama.
While I haven't mentioned it yet, I believe that Amenabar's motive for making this film was the same reason Baz Luhrmann made "Moulin Rouge!". This film was meant to be an ode to the ghost-story film, taking every piece possible from every well known ghost film and fashioning a very thoughtful puzzle of artwork out of the pieces. The film is a movie lover's tribute to ghost stories.
This is a truly wonderful film experience. I give it **** (out of 4).
Spanking the Monkey (1994)
woah. (Spoilers as noted)
This movie disturbed me greatly. This was the third film I'd seen by David O. Russell after "Three Kings" and "Flirting With Disaster", and I had been expecting a more comedic tale than the one I had seen. I expected perhaps a pre-curser to "Flirting", with similar humor and similar themes. I perhaps should have found out more about this film before seeing it, as I came very close to just stopping it about halfway through and not continuing through it. This film made me so uncomfortable that I had to fast forward through some of the darker parts. Where "Flirting with Disaster" offered relief after some of the uncomfortable moments, this one progresses those moments to the point that they become unbearable.
The film shows the relationships of a college student returning home after his first year of college. We meet his work-obsessed father, his attention-demanding mother, his often uncaring peer group, his condescending aunt, and his perpetually confused dog that just can't seem to get the idea. All of these characters seem to dedicate their lives to making Ray Aibelli's life a living hell to as much of an extent as they possibly can. There are two characters that genuinely seem to care for Ray. There is one friend from high school that genuinely cares for him and likes hanging out with him, only he appears to be attached to his other friends that make it clear how much they do not like Ray. Apparently, hanging out with Ray without the other characters is not an option. The other character that cares for Ray is a girl from high school that finds Ray's success in college uplifting and attractive. She is attracted to Ray, at least emotionally, but is still too emotionally awkward to allow him to form a connection with her.
As a movie experience, this film worked well. It set up a theme I had seen little about in the films that had shocked me and forced me to think. However, it's purpose was not to scar, but to just examine part of human behavior that isn't discussed very often. This film was actually very amusing during certain sections as well, and created characters that were at the same time both likeable yet despicably hurtful. I personally cared for all the characters in the film, with the possible exception of the father, who seemed too detached and too self-serving to care about anyone other than himself. This film has enough good elements to allow itself to remain fresh in my mind for a while.
I'd like to talk about some of the deeper underlying themes in this film that will require SPOILERS. (1) Notice how much more of a passionate lover Ray becomes after his relationship with his mother. He becomes so much less aggressive with the girl from high school while making out that you can tell they are both genuinely enjoying it. Although his relationship with his mother is disturbing we find out that it might be beneficial, in some ways at least, although certainly not enough to make up the psychological scars that would occur from sleeping with one's mother. (2) The viewer gets the chance to witness that while the son is sexually frustrated by not having any other opportunities to relieve himself sexually, we do not see the same from his mother. The viewer witnesses the father with a nude woman that he's having an affair with, and that sets up the belief that perhaps the mother is frustrated because the father is finding sexual satisfaction somewhere else. However, he comes home and we witness that he is still very much interested in her, but that she isn't interested in him. Perhaps he began having an affair to find satisfaction somewhere, anywhere, and perhaps that's why he loves going on trips. Perhaps he began going on trips, and the mother stopped having interesting in him. This is one aspect of the film that perhaps deserves discussion. (3) Note the mother's unlacking charisma. She knows how to get exactly what she wants from just about anyone. She's very much a social animal trapped in a cage. When she gets the chance to associate with any other character who isn't her husband, such as her son, her doctor, or a psychologist from down the road, she ends up having them get perhaps way too interested and too comfortable around her. All it takes is about a 10 minute conversation with someone to get a step or two away from sleeping with them. (4) I love the line about how the psychologist says Ray is in a crisis over his sexual orientation. He denies it, of course, but we learn very quickly that he is sexually confused. It's interesting that the Psychologist here is given the opportunity to seem both all-knowing and human; it seems like the film is trying to find a firm base to analyze the film psychologically. Also, it's interesting that Ray denies there's anything wrong with him and always assumes that the problem is someone else's. Perhaps this is how he has been so successful in school. He represses everything he knows is wrong, and anything that he's done that might be wrong but isn't set in stone with firm rules wasn't his fault. There is much else to discover about this film that would be very valuable and educational.
Neither of O. Russell's other films were nearly as dark as this one, nor painted quite as much of a psychological portrait. This is a film I would have expected to come out of the hands of Neil LaBute or Todd Solondz. It perhaps paints the dark side of the psychological disfunction a little lighter than either of those other directors; he wasn't nearly as hateful to its main characters as LaBute, nor did he show as many absolute lows of the human psyche as Solondz. The story ends in hope, loves all of its characters, and tries to allow everyone figure out where they've gone wrong and what they can do to repair the damage. The film is in a way uplifting, as it shows a problem that is perhaps nearly as serious as one could possibly have, yet shows that there can still be a way out. This is a more satisfying film that anything the other mentioned auteurs have done so far (with the possible exception of "Nurse Betty", which isn't really the same type of film as this one).
I did have one problem with the film that would require a few more SPOILERS to talk about. As anyone that's read any of the other reviews should know that the main character and the mother achieve an incestuous relationship during his stay home. Well, this is believable. However, I found it believable because I didn't have much evidence from anything that the son and mother actually grew up together. I mean, from the film, we know that the son supposedly grew up in that house, but I don't see much evidence of that from how he acts. He doesn't know his friends, he talks to his mother like they've never had discussions about any of the topics before, and he doesn't even know how to deal with his dog while he's trying to perform the act mentioned in the film's title. I believe that the relationship could happen because the characters don't seem like a mother/son. The dialogue we hear is the dialogue of a couple of characters who have just met, not the dialogue of a couple of characters that have known each other for their entire lives. (speaking of which: now that I think about it, the dog did a very good job of making the audience believe he's known the other characters his entire life. Maybe he should give the other characters acting lessons...) This aspect of the film didn't ruin the experience for me, nor did it make the story unbelievable. But it did come close... (SPOILER end)
Overall, I very much would recommend this film, under the circumstance that you know what you're getting yourself into and that you are not seeing it with anyone that would create an awkward experience. That means: don't see it with mentally or morally feeble people, and especially don't see it with relatives. The film does have many entertaining moments, many memorable scenes, and creates some relationships that have a psychological value to examining. Plus, the film has one of the funniest lines I've heard in a long time. If interested, this is it:
(Nicky apologizes and witnesses Ray sprawled across the floor after attacking his mom) NICKY: Hey, what are you doing anyway? RAY: I'm choking my mother. NICKY: Well, it sounds like it's time to get out of the house then.
A total charmer
I have to say that this film plays out like a dream if you enjoy seeing Kirsten Dunst really rip into a role. It's wildly uneven, but there are so many sweet moments of confusion, with double-entendres and minor drug jokes to boot. It's a fun show to see Dunst as well as Michelle Williams wonder through the Watergate scandal, at first sheepishly and by accident, but slowly changing their motivation to the bigger issues. This is a coming of age film that functions as political satire. Dan Hedaya is also an appropriate Nixon for this film, taking on the role with enough conviction to make us forget who he is as an actor. There are many parts of the film that are classics in their own right, such as Williams' slowly falling for "Dick" and what was really deleted from the 18 1/2 minutes of tape.
The biggest weakpoint in the film is Ferrell and McCulloch as the two reporters that discover Deepthroat and the Watergate secrets. I know this isn't a very serious movie, but they ruined the suspension of belief for me by making their scenes seem about as realistic as an SNL skit from which Ferrell is so used to doing his schtick. They have some good lines, but mostly at the expense of losing some of what makes this film so charming.
Overall, this is a very cute film that is lighter than air to watch. The joy of watching Dunst and Williams going through an odyssey of the dark side of politics is something that could warrant many viewings of this film. It's not necessarily a great film, but it is one that you could watch 20 times without it losing much of it's charm. 8/10
Flirting with Disaster (1996)
Very, very funny
This movie made me realize why I thought "Meet the Parents" was so empty. Both basically have different versions of the same theme; trying not to be too embarrassed while meeting people who are about to be part of your family. This movie is just so light hearted with such colorful but realistic characters that it was impossible for me not to just absolutely enjoy. While "Meet the Parents" seemed to be more about forcing it's main character into public humiliation (which is something I don't find very amusing), this film allows a little bit of embarrassment to every character, and as a result the characters grow and understand each other. The plot twists because of how the characters would naturally react to a situation and not just for the fact of creating more laughs. There's a strong comedic balance here that makes you have actual care for the characters. I'm not sure why there aren't more films made like this, that don't rely on too many sight gags and bathroom jokes and just allow the personalities move the plot. After getting to know the people in this film, I wanted to watch the film go on for ages, just as I do all great comedies. To be fair, the ending did seem to come out of nowhere, but the ending didn't seem to happen too quickly. We are given a few quick shots afterward showing the lives of the characters after the end of the story occurs. The film also has a bit of a fate's destiny forcing the main characters together, and that, by the end, there are some firm yet awkward relationships that will repair themselves and create some larger family. Anyway, I'm just rambling.
I saw THREE KINGS not too long ago, and I'm surprised by how diverse of a writer/director David O. Russell is. He appears to take a little longer than most directors in coming out with new movies, but it's easy to understand why when the films he makes are so different from one another. He's not a director that's afraid of doing something different and challenging himself. Seeing THREE KINGS makes me respect this film so much more and vice versa. Oh, and in case you didn't know, this was one of the best reviewed films of '96. My personal rating: 9.5