80 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Smiley Face (2007)
Anna F owns.
30 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I was with this movie all the way to the total downer of a finale. The Magnolia type "disparate characters all connected" communist manifesto wind was absolute nonsense. Anna Faris was so likable as Jane and the movie really starts to pick up steam when she enlists the help of The Office's John Krasinski who plays against type as a mama's boy sci-fi geek. Unfortunately the movie slowly starts to fall to pieces from there, ending in a giant and unanswered question mark. It's hard to tell what the writer and/or director wanted to say or why they chose to get very serious at the end. Was the ending, which punishes the lovable pothead main character, meant also to punish the audience for siding with her? What choice did we have?
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Nim's Island (2008)
Foster's Film
27 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Somewhere in this silly mess is a great film about Jodie Foster's character an agoraphobic adventure story writer with delusional psychosis who overcomes her fears to come to the aid of an eleven year old girl alone on an island in the south pacific. Unfortunately the movie loses its way in trying to appeal to the Disney Channel movie crowd with flying lizards, cartoonish tourists and all too precocious animal friends.

The stupidity of the movie can be summed up by Nim's dialogue: "Whoa, did I do that?" (spoken when she knocks over a boulder and presumably sets off a small scale volcanic eruption) You can hear the slide whistle.
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Teeth (I) (2007)
Ho Hum
5 August 2008
Vagina teeth? Sounds like fun. Too bad the story has no trajectory. What starts as a goofy riff on promise ring abstinence never congeals, jettisoning any interesting developments to play up an endless parade of "wolves in sheeps clothing" anti-feminist monsters to be chewed up by the killer vagina. It's hard to imagine a more uninteresting path this could have gone down. Too bad. If they had just continued with the abstinence/punishment angle a bit more they might have had something.

As is, it's just a gory bore.

Kudos to the lead who, at times, has a Winona Ryder appeal going on. And um... this ten lines of text thing is really ultra stupid.
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Wildly inventive
10 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
If Billion Backs doesn't quite hit the high watermark of the series' best episodes, it certainly settles into a hilarious above average groove, spurning the shippers and embracing the series' light affable charm. While some gags (like the "superman" one) fall like lead balloons, there are so many good moments (including a bevy of fine "mourning" jokes) it's hard to fault the film its few missteps.

For those that thought Bender's Big Score gave the short shrift to the ancillary characters in favor of a Fry/Leela/Bender story, you will be glad to know that Billion Backs is more of an ensemble piece with humor coming more from the characters than the plot and does not get bogged down in the show's labyrinthine mythology nor overly obsessed with callbacks to the series -though familiarity with this universe is essential to enjoyment still.

Without spoiling the plot, which follows-up on the finale of Big Score, I need to mention how wildly inventive the A story is. What at first seems like something you've seen before in a million bad sci-fi movies gets a hugely rewarding, hugely surprising plot twist. While the trailers may have given away the gist of it, what the film does to follow up on it, is absolutely deranged. If only the Bender B-story was as fresh and interesting.

Billion Backs feels less like a fully realized film than Bender's Big Score did, and maybe that works in its favor. In spite of the epic nature of its finale, the film never really creates feelings of peril and lacks the dramatic punch of Big Score but instead delivers more shots to the funny bone.

To quote Phillip J Fry: "Woah. It kinda takes your breath away." (Oxygen System Failure)
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Fool's Gold (I) (2008)
Mildly Entertaining
31 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoy Matthew McConaughey on screen. He takes the most ludicrous scenes and slows them down to his pace until they almost feel natural. Sadly he loses the beat in the madcap Fool's Gold, even with his rock Kate Hudson to play against. Perhaps its the endless parade of cartoonish goon fodder, or perhaps its the overstuffed, over cooked cast of clowns, but they all go down with this ship of fools.

I like Hudson's acting here. It's physical. I like the way she responds to seeing Ben on deck dining with the Honeycuts. I like how she kicks her legs and pouts after tripping over a gravestone. The movie gets their chemistry right, and it doesn't play the will they won't they game the way you might expect it to be played. It's almost a foregone conclusion that they will, and the movie builds to that obvious moment by uniting the characters mostly by their love of treasure.

I also thought Donald Sutherland gave a decent showing here, and there was some unexpected heart in the scenes between him and his estranged tabloid exposed daughter.

As usual, its tempting to take this as one great chunk to digest, but between all the pretty people, and all the vomit-inducing accents, it's sort of a moment-by-moment film.
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Awake (2007)
A huge missed opportunity.
18 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The premise of a patient overhearing talk of a conspiracy against his life while under anesthetic is gangbusters, but the filmmakers absolutely miss the point.

What starts as taut thriller, ends up just sort of giving away all its secrets at once. If there had been some tiny bit of suspense leading to the finale it would have been excellent. It's a very patient film, I just wish that there had been more to it.

What should have happened: Clay should have awoken with a heart he was convinced had been rigged to fail, it should have made you guess whether it was just a fever dream or reality. The movie does not toy with you at all, it just tells you everything all at once.

Jessica Alba is as watchable as ever though.
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Waitress (2007)
Joe is right.
2 December 2007
Jenna, the titular waitress of the film doesn't know what she is --The Center of the Universe.

All pies revolve around her warm glow and in it they bake into the gamut of human emotions. What's so much fun in this unsunny portrait of people settling for various degrees of happy, is that the pretensions are gone. No one goose steps around Jenna's louse of a husband or Dawn's she-could-do-better beau. It's all out in the open like laundry hung to dry. Even the secrets they keep are less surprising than they are inevitable.

Jenna's dour disposition is just the first layer of a multi layered pie -making the final sweet bite all the more satisfying.

By the end of the movie you'll be wishing you had a friend like her -or you'll be checking your friends to see if you might already have one.
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Bender Scores Big.
28 November 2007
The first of four Futrama DVDs gets a lot of things right. First of all it remembers why people liked the show in the first place from the oddball space aliens to the shipping romance (kind of an awesome pun for a show about international delivery agents) to the geektastic sci-fi humor and low brow slapstick. It's got everything, again. Only problem is, it's just not up to the series' admittedly high standards. It certainly hits more than misses though and repeat viewings reward with humour you may have missed or not fully been prepared for the first time around.

The plot is hilariously complicated featuring Nudist Spamming Alien Invaders, Time Travel Hijinx and the convoluted relationships between stupid men and the women they love.

Though the box features Bender prominently- our favorite Bending Latino Hearthrob plays second fiddle to a Fry/Leela romance love triangle that comes to a satisfying conclusion. There are so many returning characters from the series' run that very few of them have time to get comfortable before they are whisked away and only a handful have time to actually be funny (though far too many of them bomb) Its actually the little moments that get the biggest laughs.

It's good to have the crew of Planet Express back, even if our second date wasn't quite as hot as our first one.
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Socks for Christmas
28 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Or Kissing your Cousin. Use whichever cliché best describes the final thirty minutes of this film. Some of the most deflating and frustrating minutes you will have on this earth. But let's start at the beginning so you understand why.

No Country for Old Men is Set-up as a taut, B-movie thriller with a mad man on the loose trying to track down his stolen money from a guy way in over his head. The killer Cigurgh even has a gimmicky way of getting into people's houses and a cool gun. That it aspires to so much more in its first 3/4 is a true testament to the style and wit the Coens display when they get behind a project. The problem is that the excitement and promise of a final showdown is put aside literally in order to make some points about world weariness. According to a friend who read the original book -that's how the novel ended too. Yet after watching the mind-blowingly awesome set-up, you wish the Coens would have realized what their movie needed and not what the novel demanded they do. Because it wasn't just a matter of choosing the ending, the problem lies in how it was executed and how they integrated switching narrative perspectives.

What starts as a thriller eventually becomes a campfire story about the boogeyman and the people too tired and too world weary to stop him.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. But there are far worse things to be than daring and ambitious. And nothing the movie does wrong is a deal breaker. I still recommend it.

No one but the Coens can make a candy wrapper look so menacing.
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Saw IV (2007)
Pulp Serial
26 October 2007
Let's just call it what it is. The SAW series has become a comic book serial. Each movie adds new twists to lengthen, but not necessarily deepen, the overall story. This time out, they left me hanging (pardon the pun) so to speak. The intersecting timelines that were so surprising the first time around were more confusing than shocking. Also the motivations of Jigsaw were much less righteous, if that term can be applied, than in previous games. I half expect Saw V to put a person through a test because he didn't help Little Johnny with his homework and instead watched The World Series of Poker.

As far as traps go, this was the least cringe-worthy of the bunch, even if they were brutal and inventive. More important than that was the back story, which finally built the John Kramer character from the ground up and put us in his creepy head (both literally and figuratively). By the time you've survived the latest game, you'll be left wondering if there is an end game or if all the cards have been played.

I think the serial nature of these movies is fresh, but the latest installment, stretches the premise about as far as it can go. It's a miracle it doesn't snap and fall in on itself.
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