10 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Hugo (2011)
If you love film, you will love Hugo
1 December 2011
Though it is based on a kid's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, I have a hard time thinking of Hugo as a movie for kids. This isn't a movie that you scarf down like a Whopper or a Big Mac, it's a movie that you savor, that you relish, and much of that is due to what your eyes are witnessing. Breathtaking sets and masterful use of 3D draw you into the story, but I'm not sure that is enough to captivate children the age of the protagonist and title character, Hugo Cabret.

There's a key scene halfway through Hugo's journey where it is explained to him that there are just some things that he's too young to understand, and I can't help but wonder if that might be true of the audience at which this very mature, very visceral journey that Scorsese has painted for us is aimed. This film moves at a rather slow pace through the first half, if not 2/3rds of the tale, but the payoff is all the greater for it, assuming you're old enough to appreciate the history being portrayed. I imagine there are plenty of kids who have seen it already who were expecting something a bit faster paced and closer to what they are used to, and were disappointed. Most of them probably don't even realize that it's actually based on (loosely, but rather accurately at the same time!) the real life of Georges Méliès, who was known as the "Cinemagician" because he was, basically, the father of "special effects."

So wait, you might ask... Is this a film about a kid named Hugo, or about the early days of cinema?

It's both.

And it's wonderful. It truly is a love letter to cinemaphiles, and I'd rather not give away any more than that, because that's only slightly more than I knew going into it, and in my experience, the less I know about or expect from a movie, the more likely I am to enjoy it. Just know that you really should see it in 3D. I know people are tiring of it lately, but it really does play an integral role in this film, and if nothing else, your eyes will thank you.
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It's all about the ape's baby
8 August 2011
I went into this movie with the wrong impression. Based on the trailers, I was expecting a horror/thriller about helpless humans being attacked by crazed, savage monkeys.

Boy, was I wrong.

This is the tale of Caesar the orphaned chimp, and it is told very well. The human characters are mostly flat stereotypes with clichéd dialog (many of whom are a bit too conveniently evil/sadistic), but the acting of the CGI apes (yes, I said acting) is top-notch, and Andy Serkis certainly deserves credit for making us feel Caesar's pain. Thanks to mankind's blind allegiance to science, he's a lost soul who is neither ape nor human, but something in between, and when circumstance ultimately leads him to an unjust imprisonment, you can't help but root for him to outsmart the humans and lead a revolt.

Unlike Tim Burton's 2001 remake, fans of the original series seem to be mostly embracing this with open arms. Though it contains LOTS of easter egg nods that won't be noticed by newcomers, it's a well-made reboot along the lines of the recent Star Trek, and has little else in common with the originals outside of the basic concept.

James Franco as Caesar's savior/caretaker is less than stellar. I can't help but wonder if he was chosen simply as a nod to the actor who played the lead in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, James Franciscus. Fortunately for us, his character isn't the main focus of the film.

Without giving it away as a spoiler, I will say that there's one line in the movie that is destined to go down in film history as a classic. If you've already seen it, you probably know the line of which I speak. It's making audiences gasp, and it's a moment that still sends a chill down my spine when I think about it.

One final note: STAY FOR THE CREDITS. You don't have to stay long, but in my packed theater, many were in a rush to get out and didn't catch a crucial scene that helps complete this chapter and set us up for the next one.
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As a big fan of the show, I'm trying to erase the memory of this stinker
8 October 2009
I hadn't heard very good things, so I didn't go into it with high expectations, and still it managed to disappoint, big time.

Where was the over-dramatic "after-school special" music?

Where were Jerri's funky pets?

Why did they change Derrick, using an actor that isn't butt-ugly?

And why, for the love of God, wasn't it funny? Almost every joke felt forced, and half of them were simply recycled from the show.

God...DAMN IT!

I would much rather they just bring the show back. Probably not gonna happen, now that Colbert is such a big star that he's coining words that dictionaries take seriously. Come to think of it, whoever first said that "Strangers" would make a good movie was speaking nothing but truthiness.
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The Kids in the Hall (1988–1994)
Never put salt in your eyes.
23 September 2009
This show is exceptionally educational. I learned so much in its all-too-brief run...

Not only is God dead, but he was also very small.

When in groups of 30, women named Helen tend to develop a hive mentality.

Never fornicate with a chicken. The repercussions aren't pretty.

Axe murderers are very particular about their craft. Don't even bother suggesting a hacksaw.

Dave Foley isn't the only Dave that Bruce knows.

Dentists: they've got it ALL figured out, man.

That bad man is Hitler, and he's *beep*ing that donkey.

The difficult thing about being a mass murderer isn't the murdering part. It's the mass part. It's the pace you've gotta keep up--the sheer volume of murdering. After the first time you've killed, the second time, it's easy. The third time, you start to get cocky, so you gotta be careful. You gotta stay humble, or you make dumb mistakes.

Having the monkeys doesn't give you the power. A willingness to let them loose does.

And last, but certainly not least, I recently learned that Death is coming to town! I welcome him with open arms...
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Community (2009–2015)
If the pilot is any indication, this show is HILARIOUS!
17 September 2009
Abed (Danny Pudi) steals the show. He has Asperger's syndrome. It's a very serious disorder. It'll have you in stitches.

Chevy Chase is back from obscurity, which is awesome, because, let's face it, he's Chevy, and we're not. You can hate the man for his massive ego if you want, but you can't deny that when he's on screen, he's still a comedy legend.

Joel McHale is a fish out of soup. Soup? Yes, soup, because it's better than salt.

John Oliver plays John Oliver sans Jon Stewart (a.k.a. "The Dean"). He and Joel's character (a disbarred lawyer seeking redemption) go way back. Just not far enough, apparently.

It's about a group of semi-middle-aged community college students who form a "Breakfast Club" style study group, but that's not important. What's important is that you'll be cracking up, and most of the time, it'll be because Abed did or said something in all his Asperger's awesomeness.

RIP John Hughes (1950 – 2009)

RIP Patrick Swayze (1952 – 2009)

RIP "RIP Chevy Chase" jokes (1990 - 2009)
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Dark humor in glorious 3D
28 August 2009
The previews for this, along with my way too high expectations, kind of ruined it for me. I simply knew too much thanks to hanging out on the IMDb message boards, but the previews are also much to blame for it, as they gave away far too much, virtually eliminating the "surprise" factor.

I love FD2. It's one of my favorite movies (and I don't generally like Horror). This time, director David R. Ellis did a weird kind of copy-paste maneuver that I'm just not sure worked as well as it could have--unless, perhaps, you haven't seen his FD2. This isn't the exact same movie, but I knew the routine too well this time for it to have the kind of suspenseful impact on me that FD2 did. And the opening disaster sequence, although superior to that of FD3, just didn't blow me away like the freeway pileup in FD2 did.

The 3D is worth it, though. This kind of movie just lends itself to having crazy stuff pop out at the screen, and I can't say that the gore and 3D "wow" factor weren't pretty cool.

If you're familiar with the first three, you'll probably notice LOTS of references/homages to the previous films. Unlike 1 and 3, this film aims to be funny, and it does pay off in that regard. It has probably the single funniest scene of all four--a scene that pays direct homage to 2, by the way. But like my mom always said, Deja Vu is just God's way of
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Like a bad homemade movie
16 June 2009
I was an extra in this "film" which is the only reason I went to see its premiere. If there was a decent storyline to it, it was smothered by the stench of extremely poor technical production value. It felt like a homemade video that my friends and I might have made, only not the least bit funny, or interesting. As soon as my scene was over (I *think* I may have detected my shoulder in the shot), my friends and I walked out.

Now I have to keep writing for this review to get accepted.

Don't know what else to say.

It was *that* bad.
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Dance Flick (2009)
The trailer was much better
25 May 2009
In comedy, they say, timing is everything. This movie works great when boiled down to a 30-second promo, and I was actually pretty excited to see it, even though I've never been a big fan of the Wayans' movies (and haven't even seen most of the films that this one spoofs). Unfortunately, they managed to fit most of the big laughs into that preview, so those moments didn't strike me as hard, and some of them dragged on too long and simply weren't funny at all (like the "invade my space" scene).

I do think the current rating (2.8) is a bit harsh, though. The movie isn't that bad, it just isn't as funny as I'd hoped it would be.
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Adventureland (2009)
I Love the '80s
5 April 2009
And I loved this movie.

I grew up in the '80s, and have always had a fondness for the decade. So much so that I've always thought that if I ever manage to write a screenplay, it will probably be set in that era. Until today, I hadn't seen a movie set in the '80s that I really loved, unless it was made back then. I learned to love movies in the '80s, and this one felt like it could easily have been made back then. It isn't like other '80s retro films that hit you over the head with winks and nods to the quirks of that era. You won't see anyone trying to solve a Rubik's Cube while doing the moonwalk in a pair of parachute pants and saying "totally rad."

You also won't see a Superbad retread (people have complained that the ads are misleading). There's lots of great laughs, but it comes mostly from subtle situational moments, not in-your-face punchline dialog. This is a character driven movie, and Jesse Eisenberg really shines in a very likable performance as the geekish underdog out to win the heart of the cool and beautiful but angst-ridden Kristen Stewart.

Most of the performances are wonderful, but the writing is what truly makes this movie great. Some of the most memorable moments involve the dark side of amusement parks. The real Adventureland park, where writer/director Motolla once worked, can't be too happy with this film. I imagine they might want to sue, if only that wouldn't bring even more news and attention to the shenanigans that occur there. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but "shenanigans" is putting it kindly.

The '80s was the decade where coming-of-age dramedies blossomed with great soundtracks, and Adventureland pays off in that regard as well.

Motolla himself has warned: "I hope people who grew up in the '80s don't assume it's not for them." Those who are expecting another raunchy teen romp like Superbad may be disappointed. These "kids" are probably old enough to drink legally, though that doesn't appear to be their drug of choice. This movie has more in common with Almost Famous and Outside Providence than it does with Superbad, and not just because it's semi-autobiographical. Though the humor isn't quite as prevalent as it is in Superbad, I found the laughter that it did evoke to be far more satisfying.
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W. (I) (2008)
Thandie Newton's caricature of Rice mars a mediocre film
17 October 2008
I challenge anyone to watch this film without cringing at the nasally overacting of Newton as Condoleezza Rice. It's very distracting, and Stone must have been quite high to let such a performance stay in the final cut. The rest of the performances are quite good, and Brolin shines with his uncanny portrayal of W., which makes the Rice caricature stick out like a sore thumb.

And boy, was I hoping for more interesting material. This film does nothing but state the obvious about Bush and his legacy, while completely ignoring the most fascinating controversies surrounding him (i.e., the 2000 election, and the 9/11 Truth movement). What happened to Stone? I was hoping this would be his redemption after the uber-bland World Trade Center, but this one is only slightly more entertaining, and I certainly didn't learn anything I didn't already know, so it was quite a disappointment. The most interesting parts involved Cromwell's Bush Sr., but that element of the story wasn't nearly enough to make it all worthwhile.
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