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A confused little movie
While not a really bad movie, 'Babysitter' has a few issues that make me wonder if anybody making it knew what a depressing film they were making. The idea of a woman having to work to support her overpriviliged brat siblings is an interesting one, but really doesn't mesh with the way this film is promoted. And the promoted version seems a lot more fun than what turns out to be a very stupid Afterschool Special mixed with an abandoned whodunit combined with a coming-of-age story that really falls flat.
What was the original point of this film? Did anybody really think that making a film aimed at teenagers in 1991 wanted to see someone from Married with Children slowly turn into Al Bundy live on the screen? Or that changing your stoner brother was the way to live life? I can understand what the movie wants to say--that you change into adulthood in ways you never thought possible--but it does so badly. The movie works when it's about the family dealing with their own issues. It fails when it tries to be Kelly Bundy's Smarter Twin Being All Career Woman.
A quick look at the Trivia section of this fine website shows that this movie once had the loaded title 'The Real World.' Was this even supposed to be a comedy? Regardless, everybody in it does a good job. But I wonder what kind of movie they would have made if they tossed the preachy blue-collar indoctrination out the window and just had fun with it. The movie, as it stands, really seems like it's talking down to you right before it goes on about the four touchdowns it made in a single game. And it's quite sad to see what could have been.
A very touching film about love
This is possibly one of the most engrossing love films I have ever seen. I won't attempt to deny the detractors who say it's mostly about Genesis, but it is his/her story and it is a fascinating and engrossing one about the power of love, art, and how they are essentially one and the same. I call it a love film, but it really captures the feelings of connection and loss that Genesis dealt with. It's a fascinating look at two fascinating individuals who took life by the balls and yanked.
It made me smile, it made me laugh, and it made me feel how love can conquer death. The only complaint was that the behind-the-scenes footage was inserted to pump up the running time. But I can't complain because it shows Genesis as she truly is: fun-loving, full of mischief, and someone who is mourning for a loss that translates very well. It's a surprising powerful film, and I'm very glad I had the chance to see it.
The Big Year (2011)
Boooooooring and long.
The worst thing a movie can be is uninteresting and long. And this movie has that in spades. There isn't really any plot or reason to care. You want to be beaten over the head with how the characters you don't care about are 'suffering?' Welcome to it. You'll get that impression over and over and over again. And over.
The movie is over two hours long, and could have been forty-five minutes long without losing absolutely anything. Narrated by Black's character because the studio suddenly had doubts about people caring, it keeps going on and on about bird sightings. Couldn't someone cheat? Yes. Does this change anything about the movie? No, you still won't care. This is watching paint dry. I wish I were joking.
The only reason this was labeled 'dramedy' or 'drama/comedy' is because it wasn't as funny to anybody besides those getting paid to make it. Avoid like the plague. Don't even bother with a rental. A good movie will make you care about the characters, or relate to them, or at least draw you along with the story. There is absolutely no story here. You. Will. Be. Bored.
Trite and a waste of time
Ignoring M. Night's reputation for throwing subtlety out the window, the movie still fails on many levels. The writing is pathetically awful, the plot fits perfectly with the 'what a twist' that M. Night can never escape, and the acting and direction turn this into amateur hour. In the end, you don't see a movie, you see how bad writing can be masked with production value. This movie is what happens when you take a professional crew and have them make a direct-to-video movie from the '90s: it won't distract you with obvious production flaws, but the real pain comes from what they're filming.
M. Night simply does not know how to make a movie. We can safely say that his fame from 'The Sixth Sense' comes from the audience suddenly remembering they like the Twilight Zone. He could have had a better career if 'Unbreakable' was better made, but in the end we all have 'Devil' to show exactly how much of a filmmaker M. Night isn't. This movie isn't 'Beast of Yucca Flats' bad, but it shows that M. Night's fame and talent is vastly overrated. This film might make a taut episode of a horror anthology if it was fifteen minutes long. But as a real movie, it comes off as stagey, stupid, and full of horrid plotting that shows M. Night's talent is vastly, vastly overrated.
The Slammin' Salmon (2009)
Funny but uneven
I didn't expect much going into this film--mostly because it was direct to video--but I was pleasantly surprised. Broken Lizard always put on a good show and this was no different. Michael Clarke Duncan is the standout of this movie, and his confused malapropisms and general insanity is the brightest point of the film.
But the script is a bit hazy, to say the least. The script needed a few more rewrites because the plot just isn't there. It's a big jumbled and changes randomly that, while it doesn't really matter at the end of the movie, it just ends up being strange for the sake of setting up the various bits. They are funny bits, but the plot holding them together (is this really a movie about some manager finally taking a stand? Really??) is worthless. A few rewrites could resolve this with no issue, and could have helped immensely. I'm not asking for a taut plot, but I am asking for one that compliments the funny bits a little more.
But the funny bits are classic Broken Lizard. You will not be disappointed at the humor in this film. You need to watch it. Right now.
Dirty Harry (1971)
There are mountains of praise for Dirty Harry, and all of them are deserved. But one thing that gets me is the justification of freeing Scorpio for the third act that comes off as pure propaganda: would any police department really free someone in a mask who shot at them so freely? The story swerves into a bit of disbelief when Scorpio, after injuring a few police officers and is in turn injured, is suddenly let go after being shot in the leg. To add insult to injury, the whole thing is turned into a right-wing nonsensefest where Harry goes on about victim's right (a valid concern) but is shot down by the personification of a smug liberal (from Berkeley, no less!) simply to get us to the third act. Even then, it's a bit hard to take seriously since they did have something to hang Scorpio on: shooting a police officer.
This is a classic movie that deserves its fame. But the one flaw is that instead of writing a segue into the third act, they decided to go into an unrealistic rant that demonizes one half of the political spectrum for absolutely no real reason. It just seems a bit silly, but don't let this ruin the movie for you. Eastwood's always good, Siegel is at the top of his game, and maybe you can get a chuckle out of seeing their attempts to push the movie to the end by pathetic political doublethink.
Higher Learning (1995)
An interesting curio of America in the '90s right after the LA Riots.
Having over fifteen years of space away from this film, watching it again makes me realize how utterly disconnected from reality this film is. The characters are stereotypes, the college campus is nothing like reality, and the whole affair screams 'Do the Right Thing' but without any real understanding about what that really entails. Spike Lee's film had a lot of valid points and understood the nature of racism and portrayed it brilliantly. This film just takes pleasure in reducing everybody to stereotypes, tossing in an education spiel that would make Bill Cosby roll his eyes, and basically just waste the audience's time and money.
But it does have value. The movie attempts to portray America as a land seething with anxiety and bitterness over social norms breaking and bursting. But it's a childish movie in that it wants to be revolutionary without really knowing what it's trying to do. Why does rape equal becoming a lesbian? How does being dismissed by a bunch of black men immediately follow into racism? Huh? What is going on in this movie? And we'll never know. Higher Learning is a product of the '90s. If anything, it shows how we cannot judge history while we are living it. It's a bad clone of Do The Right Thing and is ultimately pointless and meaningless. If anything, it serves as a very good warning about moralizing in cinema: you better be damn sure you make something that, even if proved wrong, proves a point. If not, you're just making Sid Davis films with better stock.
Everybody's Fine (2009)
The original title was 'Death Fart of the Baby Boomers.'
Robert DeNiro IS Robert DeNiro playing Al Bundy. Seriously: right down to the brown slacks and jacket, DeNiro channels Al Bundy as he hunts down his four grown children to ask them why they didn't bother living up to high standards. In their place he finds several depressed people, several depressing situations, and a lot of acting that would be outclassed by anybody at an amateur acting troupe with far more subtlety and grace. This movie doesn't just give you the jest of the situations, it's amateurish and trite. It's a budgeted version of a student film where the professor stresses 'use the scenery to show isolation. And be overly aware of it.' A good film does things without being apparent. But this film is so overt with its themes of isolation and failure that it becomes ridiculous. It's hard to watch not only because it's depressing, slow, and odiously obvious, but because there's no real point to it. You see DeNiro becoming a parody of himself, you see Beckinsale mentally deciding to do Underworld 4, and you see a bunch of secondary characters excited to be meeting THE DeNiro and trying to be quirky so they can stand out. In short, you have a film that was made cheaply and looks it. It tries to be a slice of life and turns out to be a slice of film school. The bad slice, the slice that ends up working at a Target.
Save your time, money, and effort. If you rented it, go back to the store and tell them it won't play on your machine and get something worthwhile.
Date Night (2010)
A definite misfire
There are several ingredients in this film that should work but don't. The casting is pretty good but nothing about the movie really says 'comedy' as much as 'action comedy.' I'm not splitting hairs, but it seems this movie's main problem was its marketing.
When the movie isn't being suspenseful or dramatic (the main idea of a married couple being bored with their lives is one of the few things the movie portrays well), it then falls to comedy. A couple steals a reservation and gets caught up in a pseudo-Hitchcockian plot that defies explanation. Honestly, the plot is the MacGuffin in this movie that presumably allows Tina Fey and Steve Carell to lay down the comedy. But the true tragedy is that the outtakes are funnier than the rest of the movie, showing the film's main flaw.
This isn't really a comedy. It has the insight but none of the outright humor. The plot doesn't really exist and it's insane how this movie attempts to tie together. The movie needed a few more rewrites and a decision if it was going to be an action-comedy, an action-drama about married life, or if it was going to be an outright comedy. Something failed to click here and it's easy to see that even at its fairly short running time that the movie was too long as it was. That's a sign that you're running on fumes and need something else to make the movie go.
In short? Misfire. The movie has some serious problems that should have been ironed out before it went into production. The movie doesn't know what it is at heart and neither does the audience. To see everybody having a blast at the end of the film (spliced between a baffling make out session in the front yard of a suburban New Jersey home that really makes the audience wonder if anybody directing this film had a clue) is insult upon injury.
Honestly? It may be worth a rental, but not if you're expecting to laugh. The moral has to be 'make sure you know what kind of movie you're making.' It's a drama that works at being a comedy and almost works as a fairly decent thriller. It's nothing to anybody, and it needs more work. The only thing it ends up being is a confusing mix set pieces and improv bits. Sad.
The Fountainhead (1949)
Possibly the most hilariously stupid movie of all time
I'm sure Jack Warner was a good man, but why he let Ayn Rand have carte blanche over this film defies logic. Her writing--essentially a linear series of dialogue that supposedly makes sense when seen in order--is so hamfisted that it staggers belief. The only way to describe it is to imagine a badly-made parody of a popular film that a younger relative has made and spent time on that you're forced to watch, only with some real Hollywood actors. This isn't a movie as much as it's philosophy porn for dummies.
And it's hard to excuse Rand for this since she was handed an obscene amount of power to bring this to film. King Vidor, the actors....no, this falls at the feet of Rand. Many other reviewers here will go on about her philosophy but the only thing I see when I see this movie is how badly it is written. 'Romantic Realism?' Give me a break. Rand's writing is Harlequin posing as actual literature. Rod Serling has a lighter touch. Yes, Rod freaking Serling. Rand beats him by a clear country mile.
I wish there was something redeeming about this film but I fear the only thing I can come up with is a possible Rifftrax. Dramatically this is stilted so far that it's damn near horizontal. And the blame falls on the writer who had enough power to get her words onto the screen. Pity that a woman who pushed a philosophy of elites being held down by the mass ends up showing everybody in the world just how elite she isn't. With one horrifically bad movie, Rand could be shown to show how utterly silly her philosophy is: she may have been good in some respects that I'm unaware of, but as a screenwriter she ranks below Ed Wood. And Ed Wood was entertaining.