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The Last Airbender (2010)
Gentle humor removed
Character development? Forget it. None of the characters have any personality beyond exposition of their various traumas. No wisecracking, no kidding around, no camaraderie, just Aang wandering around looking stricken and tortured, like Elijah Wood's Frodo, and I don't mean that as a compliment. They even sucked the fun out of General Iroh and Sokka. The scenery was pretty, the bending wasn't bad - a little more realistic than the anime - but the writing was all exposition and the plotting abrupt.
Can't recommend it. Sadly, the ending revealed an obvious intention to do sequels. The climax is the battle for the Northern Water Kingdom.
The actors weren't bad considering the awful script. What there was of Appa and Momo were alright, but no character development there, either.
Seven Pounds (2008)
Simplistic plot worked to death in flashback
I'm not a big fan of revealing a story in chunks via flashback, but I trusted the filmmaker to make it all clear in time. Halfway through the film, it dawned on me that they were playing toward this big tearjerker melodramatic ending.
Okay, this may contain spoilers, because it's very difficult to discuss what's utterly wrong with the film otherwise.
"No! Surely they wouldn't be lame enough to go there? Surely they aren't going to have our hero playing God and forcing a hideous debt upon these nice people?" This is what I kept chanting all through the second half of the movie. But no ... they went there. I'm not just griping at the lack of a happy ending, but also at the hideous moral example and the thoughtless way the writer of this tripe cranked it out to get his emotional hit. People, this is not what organ donation is about.
I Am a Sex Addict (2005)
A marathon of annoying women
An unleashed, nonstop documentation of one man's thinly veiled attempt to annoy every available woman and prostitute he can find the nerve to approach. His addiction is not so much to having sex with prostitutes, but to endlessly approaching them, pricing the act, and then saying "I'll have to think about it." Lather, rinse, repeat, with every opportunity taken to confess his every thought to his current girlfriend in the supposed interests of honesty and openness.
The redeeming realism of the film crops up in a fairly straightforward reporting of the hideous effects of this behavior. Do not expect much fun from the sexual adventures - there's some fairly graphic content, but it's about as joyless as it comes.
Eight Crazy Nights (2002)
It's just a waste of good money and animation to try to make a movie of the unlikeable recurring Adam Sandler character "maladjusted, sullen, self-obsessed guy who doesn't get women at all". Adam Sandler can do brilliant funny characters and he can act, when pushed, but exploring any more of this dog-meat character just ain't worth it.
The animation's workmanlike. The other characters - the kid's a stereotypical good kid and the weird sidekicks are just sort of annoying and unrealistic. The female is perfect girl, of course. Some of the writing and jokes were fine, and the music was cool enough. You could have started with the Hanukkah song and done a much funnier and lighter spirited film.
Smart, with Heart
I had no particular opinion of Ice Cube when I first saw this film, but afterward, hey, I believe he must be one of the most talented guys out there. In a way, this film succeeds where Robert Townsend's movies tried but failed, being a fine African-American comedy with real heart. The converging plot lines of the ensemble of characters are reminiscent of House Party, but the well-written dialog keeps everything tripping along to its conclusion very smartly.
Cedric's loopy old man character is wildly fun to watch, and yes, reminds me of some loopy old men I've met out in the real world. No matter how outspoken and outrageous he is, however, his character drags all of them back to the fundamentals in a very real way. There is, basically, a lot of humanity in these flawed characters.
Comedy, larceny & romance
Very funny flick with likable thieves, wicked victims, and lots of smart silliness. A shady rich man catches a thief and the victim robs the burglar. Both men decide that the stolen ring is their own good luck charm, and a continuing vendetta brings on more robberies, cons and battles between DeVito and Lawrence.
The romantic/sexy bits are light and keep the story moving along. Martin Lawrence and Carmen Ejogo are great together, and DeVito gets to carry on multiple affairs in divine comical studliness.
The various cops, cohorts, lawyers, security consultants, psychic assistants, and the fence are all good fun, and the gay, dog-loving detective is just the cherry on top. The flavor of Donald Westlake's criminal farce comes shining through.
Frank's Place (1987)
So lovely, so real
I've got to agree, this is closer to real Louisiana folks & New Orleans than anything else you'll find, and there's a lot of heart to it. I sense that the series was a labor of love, and I wish I could have it on DVD, along with Evening Shade.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
The point is ...
A very engaging poker film (if you don't have to have every plot point driven home with an axe). Edward G. Robinson utterly convincing, Steve McQueen boyishly charming, and the sultry play of Ann Margret and Tuesday Weld truly jaw-dropping. Includes non-PC footage of a cockfight.
This musical's a mess
I got the boxed set of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, and Carousel and State Fair let me down. This one has two good songs (heck, beautiful songs) but at least the first one ('If I Loved You') seems totally out of place, as if it were written for something else and patched in. I don't mind the heavy themes so much - I expect that in an R & H musical - but the plot, "psychology" and so on here is just a big old mess.
'You'll Never Walk Alone' is the second great song, and it fits with the low point of events in the drama, but there again, it may easily have been written for another show.
The dreamy surreal jumping around from the heavens to earth and in time didn't help much. The female lead was scarcely developed at all, except that she apparently didn't mind taking a punch because she was in love. The fishermen and sailors ballet was pretty, but what the heck?
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Lovely zoomy adventure
This was a delightful showcase for George Clooney as well as a fun trip through a surrealistic South. The music alone was well worth the price of admission, but the fast patter of humor in the dialogue was a treat as well. Very well made. And now I shall R-U-N-N-O-F-T!