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The Three Stooges (2012)
The Best Work of the Farrelly Brothers since "There's Something About Mary"
Peter and Bobby Farrelly, after a long, dry spell, are back in comedic form again. For many years, their target audience was with adults with sarcastic, gross senses of humor, as demonstrated in their monster 1998 hit, "There's Something About Mary" that made a big star out of Cameron Diaz. Previously, there was 1994's big hit "Dumb and Dumber," which had many silly, sometimes tasteless, sight gags, and Jim Carrey was a star on the rise.
Now the Farrelly brothers have created a kiddie flick entitled "The Three Stooges." No, this is not a biography of the three slapstick comics from way back when, but what it would be like if the three comics were transported to modern times. The Farrellys have not let go of their trademark slapstick and gross-out humor, although it has been toned down for the youngsters. However, it is not altogether a kiddie flick, where there are scenes of extreme violence, a large black rat, and model Kate Upton as a nun in a revealing swimsuit, but most of all that is harmless.
The story begins in 1934 where three small boys wrapped in a blanket are thrown to the doorstep of an Atlanta orphanage. Already, they are hitting the nuns, each other, and everyone else. The funny thing about these boys is that they look exactly like what they would become as adults. Running the orphanage are the straight-arrow Mother Superior (Jane Lynch), the warm and fuzzy Sister Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson), and the ultra-tough Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David in drag, and he hams it up with enthusiasm. In fact, David played Larry the Stooge recurrently on the 1980 comedy skit show, "Fridays.")
The boys eventually grow up into dark-haired Chris Diamontopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes with frizzy hair as Larry, and beefy Will Sasso as Curly. The plot goes as their blond good friend, Ted (Kirby Heyborne), was lovingly adopted as a child, but later on, he faces trouble, as he learns his widowed father Mr. Harter (Stephen Collins) is a shady lawyer having an affair with his alluringly conniving wife, Lydia (the sexy and curvaceous Sofia Vergara, parodying the femme fatale character). Mr. Harter, Lydia, and a goon (an oily Chris Bierko, who gets his when you look at his face near the end of the movie), are out to kill Ted for the money that his late Mom left him, and the Stooges unwittingly come to Ted's rescue. More mayhem, hits, and bruises.
Like Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber," the Stooges are dumb lads with lots of heart, which is a typical plot device in many Farrelly Brothers mothers. The Stooges, employed as maintenance men in the orphanage they grew up in, learn that the orphanage is closing down due to economic circumstances (which definitely speaks of today's times), lose their jobs, and they will do anything to save it, which inevitably it happens, but not in their own hands. I'd have to say that brothers trying to get money for a closing orphanage was the same exact plot from the 1980's "The Blues Brothers."
The Farrelly Brothers also work well with anachronisms as Moe is accidentally hired on today's reality show, "Jersey Shore," and he seems to blend well with that cast, although they seem to find him a bit strange, and they act as though they don't want him there.
If anyone thinks that "The Three Stooges" is all violent slapstick, think again. The three plots of the murder, the closing of the orphanage, and the reality show, are all juxtaposed intelligently and coexist so well that it can make an adult think. The original Three Stooges were known for cartoonish violence, but the Farrellys take them to different levels. The Farrellys let the actors run and knock each other around, and the result is a literal bang-up job. At the end of the movie, the children applauded and so did their parents.
This movie works for me on a personal level because my sister-in-law and her three children were extras whose scene was they were onlooking one of the characters about to be run over by a bus. My mother and I went to see this with very low expectations, thinking this would be one of the stupidest movies all around, but we were both pleasantly surprised by our feelings as we walked out. Yes, there was violence, but the violence was good-natured. The Farrellys and the cast seem to have had a lot of fun doing this project, and I think that the Farrellys had the best fun since "There's Something About Mary." With "The Three Stooges," the Farrelly's used their best imagination, and everything just worked.
The Artist (2011)
This Season's Best Movie
If you like something that's different in more ways than one for the holidays, where the movie has real plot and character development, and not standard cartoonish violence as in many of this season's holiday movies, then run, don't walk, to see "The Artist." The movie is headed by two international stars who should become well-known to American audiences - French actor Jean Dujardin as the hero George Valentin, and Argentinian actress Berenice Bejo as the ingenue Peppy Miller, along with the familiar faces of John Goodman as his usual cheerful self in the role of the egomaniacal studio head Al Zimmer, Penelope Ann Miller as Valentin's troubled wife, Doris, and James Cromwell as Valentin's faithful butler.
The message of "The Artist" is all about changes in our culture. Also, this movie, while maintaining its originality, pays homage to two of the greatest Hollywood movies ever made, "Singin' in the Rain," where Debbie Reynold's regular voice fit best for talkies as Jean Hagen's itty-bitty voice didn't, and fell for her co-star, Gene Kelly, and the storyline of "A Star is Born," where the heroine's celebrity rises and the hero's celebrity falls. For those who really think that "they don't make movies like the used to," then you see everything in "The Artist." It is much more than an all black and white silent movie. It is a tribute that makes the viewer think, feel, and yet enjoy its magical movie-making. It is funny, sometimes disturbing, intellectual, and the viewer leaves with good feeling and emotion. And that's what a great movie is all about.
The storyline goes that George Valentin is a hot 1920s silent movie hero who meets dancer Peppy Miller. He puts the beauty mark on her and then she is a star ingenue. However, Al Zimmer realistically announces to George that the movies are forever changing to sound, which is true in our culture, and George feels disheartened over his silent film celebrity status. Even more disheartening when Peppy's sound movie is a fit, George's last silent movie is a flop, and George's actress wife, Doris, deserts him. George moves into a small apartment with Clifton, and his Jack Russell Terrier, and still more desolation ensues. George drinks uncontrollably, attempts suicide twice, and the only people to save him are his smart and loyal dog who knows more danger signals than humans, and Peppy, who loves George unconditionally. The predictable but exhilarating ending is a real gem that not only makes the viewer feeling good, but thinking what will come next for years to come. And finally, George is back in form in the next status, which Peppy adapted to right away.
The last silent movie tribute was, well, Mel Brooks' "Silent Movie" back in 1976. Sorry, but audiences these days seem to be more interested in a thoughtful tribute than a mindless but still always hilarious and timeless parody by our spoofmeister Brooks. Thirty-five years later, we get the real treat for what the silents are all about. Call it artsy and all black and white, but "The Artist" is a thought-provoker that I would like to see nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor Dujardin, and Best Actress Bejo. I'm not the best at handicapping Oscars, but it looks so far that this movie may win for all its artistic merits.
Tower Heist (2011)
Amusing Crime Caper Ripped from the Headlines
If you know your headlines about Bernie Madoff's Ponzi schemes and how he has ripped off numerous clients investing with him, then it helps more to enjoy "Tower Heist." Alan Alda plays the Madoff-based character, Arthur Shaw, a cunning, devious financial snake who lives in a luxurious apartment modeled on Trump Tower and in the same location of Columbus Circle, New York. Mocking Trump and Madoff is quite a doozy and a daily double for Alda. Shaw has stolen millions of dollars from many of his employees, stored it in his red Ferrari once owned by Steve McQueen inside his living room, and now those employees want to rob him back.
Among the employees are Ben Stiller as Josh Kovacs, the manager of the building who organizes the revenge scam, and his accomplices are the bumbling bellhop Enrique (Michael Pena), a self-pitying evicted tenant and unemployed stockbroker named Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), the not-so-bright concierge Charlie and Josh's brother-in-law(Casey Affleck) who is about to become a father and worries about the future for his wife and upcoming child, the quick-witted housekeeper (Gabourey Sidibe, who became a major star after her Oscar nomination for "Precious," and wants to lend comedy a hand) whose father was a safecracker, and the wisecracking street hoodlum named Slide (Eddie Murphy, returning to his original smart-mouth acting form from the last 30 years) whom Josh knew as a child and is recruited by Josh and the gang.
The gang is ready to turn the tables on Shaw, and they end up finding the loot, along with a ledger inside the Ferrari. They dangle the Ferrari outside the apartment during a Thanksgiving parade, and are all arrested by the FBI. In exchange for the ledger, everyone else is set free, but Josh plea bargains and serves a two-year sentence.
The other cast members, in addition to the gang, are Tea Leoni as the pert FBI Agent Claire Denham in charge of the case who becomes Josh's apple of his eye, although the relationship is platonic, Judd Hirsch as Mr. Simon, the boss for Josh and the others who fires them after Josh admits that a retiring doorman named Lester attempted suicide after losing to Shaw right in front of Shaw, and Stephen McKinley Henderson as Lester, the would-be-suicide who has a few scenes laying in a hospital bed.
It is too bad that only get to see Eddie Murphy in the second hour of the movie, but it is refreshing to see him return to young form. Ben Stiller is less frenetic than usual, but he gets to chew scenery as he usually does. The real star of the movie is Alan Alda, who can skewer and parody Madoff mercilessly and give Madoff the due he deserves. The supporting cast is game, but the strongest performance is by Gabby Sidibe, the safecracking expert who shows she can do comedy. The self-pitying performances of Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, and Michael Pena wore thin, but Sidibe shows all her confidence in her part, which makes her the best vengeful crook.
Now this movie may not make history or have that much bit, but it is an amiable crime caper that kept me amused. Some people may find people like Stiller and Murphy repeating themselves in a "greatest hits" sort of performances. I felt that somewhat. As I said before, Alda and Sidibe had the best performances of all. And to fully understand the movie, you have to know the headlines or you can be lost. There is a lot of detail to the movie which tries to make it interesting, and some of the details are a bit too much.
"Tower Heist" is entertaining and informative in its way. It's not perfect but it's enjoyable. It's well worth your money.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
One of the Better Romantic Comedies in Recent Years
"Crazy, Stupid, Love" is a romantic comedy that is less predictable than most romantic comedies of modern days. It doesn't have the old formula of boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl break up, boy and girl run into unexpected place and reconcile at end, which we have seen numerous times that it's like we already have seen the movie. Here, we are seeing a more mature comedy with some serious undertones and plenty of surprises. Too bad there aren't too many movies like this around.
Steve Carell is most restrained and controlled here in his role as Cal. He does not overact or try hard. He acts cool all along, and when he shows his emotions, he does them more internally than externally. He is in sudden shock when his longtime wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce rather than dessert during dinner. Emily is bored and just had had an affair with her coworker, David (a sly but restrained Kevin Bacon). Cal moves out and heads into the singles scene. Ryan Gosling, a very serious and choosy actor in his generation where most men act like boys and he always acts like a man, is Jacob, a ladykiller who gets the girl every night, but has never kept one yet. At the bar, Jacob coaches Cal on how to get girls and tries to change his wardrobe in the process. Cal and Emily's children are deeply affected by the breakup of their parents, and each show their own emotions of it without resorting to overacting.
13-year-old Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is hit the hardest, and acts out more lustfully than his older sister, Hannah (the ubiquitous and reliable Emma Stone, a hot property of this generation and currently doing well this summer in "The Help" and other movies). Robbie has a secret crush on the alluring babysitter, Jessica, who takes a nude picture of herself and blackmails it to Cal. Hannah, an aspiring lawyer, already in love, has an affair with Jacob, who doesn't realize that she is Cal and Emily's daughter. Molly is underused, but like any other product of divorce, feels the pain of a broken family. Another surprise - Cal has a one-night-stand with Kate (Marisa Tomei, hilarious and heartbreaking, and shows her emotions the most externally), not realizing that she is Robbie's teacher, and gets angry when meeting with Cal and Emily, which adds fuel to the fire of the breakup.
All the secret affairs unfurl at the third act of the movie. All is restrained in comedy until the family reunion scene when everyone finds each other out. Naturally, happy endings occur. The only thing about this movie was the pacing was on the slow side at the beginning, but gets faster as the movie goes on until the third act. But thanks to a talented cast, Steve Carell, who some say is a "junk actor," doesn't get to overplay the comedy loudly. He is quieter, and he shows that side very well. If you are expecting his shtick from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Get Smart," and "Dinner With Schmucks," you will be pleasantly surprised when you see his most mature performance yet. He is playing against type and real actors, not comic virtuosos like Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell. It's not crazy, it's certainly not stupid, and you will fall in love.
The Change-Up (2011)
The Worst Body Switch Movie of All Time
Sometimes, I am dragged by a friend or a relative to a movie just because we have nothing better to do, or it just fits within our schedule. This movie was one. I had these experiences in recent years with "Stepbrothers" and "The Other Guys" in the months of August, both featuring an overacting Will Ferrell screaming his lines just to look for attention. This month, we have Ryan Reynolds doing his overgrown juvenile delinquent shtick paired with the usually reliable Jason Bateman in "The Change-Up."
Directed by David Dobkin who did the much better and funnier "Wedding Crashers" back in the summer of 2005, he's not sure how to deliver a gross joke anymore, so he has to find every way to overblow it, and he does, along with the performances. This is the gross-out version of the classic body switch and what's-it-like-be-there-and-again movie trend that began in the 1980s with "Peggy Sue Got Married," "Big," and in the last decade, "Freaky Friday," where the 40ish Jamie Lee Curtis stole the show from the then up-and-coming Lindsay Lohan. None of the gags work, and believe me, we were in a very empty, laughless theater with only three other people.
So what do Reynolds and Bateman do? They literally have to do their business outside in a magical water fountain in Atlanta. Both are bored with their lives, even if Reynolds as Mitch, a carefree, irresponsible bachelor currently making "lorno" or "light porno" movies, and Bateman, as Dave, a loving, hardworking, but uptight lawyer and family man. When all that is done, their lives are switched and they start to act like one another. Hence, Bateman loses his cool as the family man and finds himself having an affair with a young legal aide named Sabrina (Olivia Wilde). Reynolds becomes more of a control freak, but still dallies with the ladies nonetheless. Leslie Mann, the wife of Judd Apatow and often cast as the straight woman in Apatow's gross-out movies, is Jamie. She is the confused wife of Bateman wondering why he no longer wants to handle family responsibilities and if he is suddenly possessed by the body of Mitch. In disappointing casting, there is Alan Arkin in a small role as Mitch's father who has plans to remarry, and wants Mitch and Dave to attend. Arkin toils hard to keep a straight face amid this cinematic muck.
The jokes are so puerile, and more often than not,they border on the unwatchable, where Dave as Mitch carelessly handles crying babies and then the babies are in appalling danger. There is often the f-word throughout for forced laughs, and for good measure, nude breasts spurt out as turn-ons. In fact, there is more nudity here than in most of the R-rated party-boy-and-girl comedies in recent years.
This movie won't make you smile or feel good about yourself. It will just make you cringe and hope you get out of this long 105-minute movie.
The Help (2011)
Best Movie of the Year So Far
If you read the book "The Help," you will certainly not be disappointed in the movie. The movie faithfully follows the important parts of the book, and it hardly misses a beat. I'd say that both the book and the movie are equally great, and there are so many outstanding performances in the movie that are Oscarworthy for 2012. Most importantly, you will go through many emotions. You will laugh, cry, and most of all, feel intelligent. That is the basis of feel-good movies - to evoke an emotion in you.
Emma Stone is Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, the center heroine of the story who isn't looking for marriage, is dating the son of a politico, but just finished college and is looking to become a journalist. She is rejected at first in New York, but is immediately accepted as the advice giver "Miss Myrna" for a local newspaper in Mississipi. But "Miss Myrna" is not enough. She realizes that she has been raised by a loving black housekeeper named Constantine (beautiful cameo by aging actress Cicely Tyson, and has been a staple in intelligent black acting), and out of all her old college friends, she is the only one who has never taken her housekeeper for granted. All her other friends have turned evil as they hired housekeepers to raise their babies and do all the hard work for them, while they are hedonistically having fun and playing bridge. The meanest of all of them is Hilly Holbrook. Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard's lookalike daughter, viciously chews up her character of Hilly with boundless enthusiasm, and I hope that she gets an Oscar nomination for her portrayal. Emma Stone is quieter in her role as Skeeter, but I think she should get an Oscar nomination as Best Actress because she played her so honestly and faithfully.
The housekeepers are marvelously played and the actresses' performances of them are priceless. Viola Davis will touch you deeply as Abileen, the Oprah Winfrey-esque domestic, who is more loving to Katherine Leefolt's (Ahna O'Reilly) neglected daughter, and convinces her that all people are equal, and they are. Octavia Spencer is a hoot who provides comic relief as the overweight, sassy, blurting domestic Minny, who lost so many jobs, is a heck of a cook, and tells everyone what she thinks of them. She is first booted out of Hilly's house, when Hilly discovered she was using the family bathroom, and then told everyone she stole silver as a cover-up, but then she forms a wonderful relationship with the naive but troubled new girl in town, Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain, looking and acting like Marilyn Monroe, and yet bringing intelligence and complexity to the character). Unlike the book, Celia keeps Minny as Minny forms a strong bond with Celia after her miscarriage, and helps her through her intimidation of her husband Johnny's former lover, Hilly. And of course, there's those hilarious and unforgettable Minny's chocolate pie scenes, the comic relief of the movie and book.
In addition to the bright young cast, there are wonderful supporting parts by veteran southern-born actresses - Sissy Spacek plays Hilly's equally prejudiced mother who may or may not dig into the pie. Mary Steenburgen as Elaine Stein, the New York-based editor of Harper and Row who at first is reluctant to hire Skeeter, but after Skeeter's book,"The Help," is published, she accepts her. That makes Skeeter have to leave her ill mother, (Allison Janney, in an icy performance) behind. Her mother doesn't tell Skeeter about the entire truth of why Constantine, the housekeeper who raised her, disappeared, so that is where Skeeter uncovers the truth of domestics and their employers.
"The Help" is a perfect marvel that is faithful as historical fiction. It speaks the truths of the Civil Rights Era and the beliefs of blacks and whites alike. This was author Kathryn Stockett's first novel, and it is a huge blockbuster. Writer-director Tate Taylor follows the book meticulously, but dilutes it for the 2-hour and 15-minute running time for content. He delivers honest and emotional portrayals from everyone, whether the characters are touching, sensitive, funny, or cold-hearted. Hands down the best picture of the summer, and were not even into the fall, but this movie makes for an Oscar Contender, and I hope my prediction will be right. I would like the Academy to remember Emma Stone as Best Actress, Bryce Dallas Howard as Best Supporting Actress, Tate Taylor as Best Director, and "The Help" as Best Picture. I would also like to add Viola Davis for her tender performance as Abileen for an Oscar nomination as well.
Cars 2 (2011)
The First Worst Movie Pixar Has Ever Brought In
Up until now, Pixar could do no wrong. Hopefully, this will be both the first and last time with "Cars 2." Pixar has so far been the best animated studio for the last 15 years or so, and has never delivered a bad movie even once. They don't resort to pop culture references and star egos like Dreamworks has around the same time. But then, even Pixar hasn't been intact with "Cars 2." With this movie, the studio is condescending to the level of Dreamworks also with pop culture and star egos, not to mention a confusing storyline that can baffle the young ones. Still no matter how bad the reviews, and I'm agreeing with them,the movie will rake in business like any other animated movie from the 1990s on.
What is wrong with this movie? Where can I begin? Well, first of all, the story borrows and rips off the James Bond movies during the Sean Connery era. Although Michael Caine has never been James Bond, he is sure suave and reliable enough to play any British spy, animated or live action. He definitely is the perfect fit as the British secret agent car Finn McMissile. His part is good enough, but he doesn't seem to intertwine with two of the original "Cars," the hero Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) or the redneck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), who now upstages McQueen as the hero. Mater has the role as an unwitting agent and is foil to Finn McMissile and his sleek female assistant Holley Shiftwell (The British actress Emily Mortimer), and even falls for her at the end of the movie. Still nothing of interest.
Second, the story is way too confusing. It's all about greed of the oil supply. The villain is Sir Miles Axelrod (Eddie Izzard), who wants to replace all of the gas oil with synthetic oils so cars can use it in a World Grand Prix in Tokyo, Paris, Monte Carlo, and London. There are even offensive jokes about the Italian mafia, something never done in Pixar before, and Pixar usually has kind, sensitive humor. Mater, Finn McMissile, and Holley Shiftwell join forces to thwart this dastardly attempt and restore the oil to its normalcy, while Lightning McQueen races against a new Italian Rival Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro).
Third and most important of all, it is rated G, and with all the frightening gunplay and violence, and literal bathroom humor, it should be rated PG. Some people would suggest it should be PG-13. Back in the day, there were numerous G-rated cartoons that should have been rated PG, and PG-rated cartoons that should be rated R. "Cars 2" is no exception to the inaccurate ratings of animated movies.
The only good things about the movie are the colorful artwork, especially in the Tokyo sequences, and the addition of other characters besides cars, such as submarines and a smiling plane named Siddeley, McMissile's espionage partner.
I'm so glad I didn't bring any small children to this movie. There were no laughs in the audiences and the children came out of there asking their parents, "What's it all about?" Original characters come back in smaller cameos, but their scenes really had no place in the movie. The actor doing Fillmore did a lame imitation of George Carlin, who died three years ago. Luckily, Doc Hudson, played by the late great Paul Newman, wasn't replaced, he had a small tribute. If "Cars 2" had the same type of endearing storyline like let's say, "Toy Story 2," or "Toy Story 3," adults would have been fine with it. But no, it had to be like any routine animated movie from other studios. Hopefully, Pixar in the future will go back to it's usual style again because there is an adult audience for animation.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Too
Throughout the years, gross-out comedies would revolve around groups of guys ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin,", "Wedding Crashers," "The Hangover" and now "The Hangover 2," which I have no intention on seeing since I didn't like the first "Hangover," "Hot Tub Time Machine," and "Dinner for Schmucks," from more recent years) or just one girl who is the object of desire of many guys ("There's Something About Mary"). But now, there is a twist. The girls are the protagonists of gross-out.
Raunchmeister Judd Apatow is the producer. Paul Feig is the director. They treated the ladies the same way men would get treated in gross out movies. The ladies would drink, cuss, tear each other apart, and would have so much fun doing all that.
"Saturday Night Live" alum Kristen Wiig is the star of the movie. She is Annie, a young woman whose life is on the rocks when her best childhood girlfriend Lillian (fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph) asks her to be the maid of honor at her upcoming wedding. Her love life is not so lovely and she lost two jobs. She beds one man, but has the eye for a police officer who continually runs into her on the streets and everywhere else. Complications come when there are four other bridesmaids on the scene, and all of them duke it out.
Expectedly, the best work comes from heavyset actress Melissa McCarthy as the tough as nails Megan, the sister of the groom. There is always that principle where the least attractive actor/actress becomes the most attractive when they get the best and funniest lines, steals the show from everyone else, and no one else can be as funny or clever, not even the leads. Surely enough, the filmmakers are doing her a favor where beauty is only skin deep, and they are right. The other three "beautiful" bridesmaids are Rose Byrne as Helen, who becomes a fierce rival for Lillian as the matron of honor as she is the trophy wife of the groom's boss, Wendy McLendon-Covey as the tall blonde Rita, an aggressive foul-mouthed stepmother of equally foul-mouthed children, and Ellie Kemper as Becca, the most sensitive bridesmaid who is newly married and feels the sorriest for Annie because she is still single. Lesson to be learned: Never take your beauty for granted. You can be sexy because of your brain.
There are numerous gross out gags that pop up and keep you laughing out loud. But there is a lot of heart as well so we won't think it's just another rambunctious comedy. Due to Jill Clayburgh's recent death, her presence is the most bittersweet. She did have very funny lines as Annie's lustful mother, although she looked wan and weak. It was nice to have a funny comedy be her swan song for her distinguished and respectable career.
Have a great time and laugh. Bring all your friends to see "Bridemaids" and you'll be glad you did.
An amiable outing
"Rio" is not terrible like more recent Dreamworks movies where the animated movies always have to depend on star power and pop culture references for laughs, but their stories aren't as convincing as those of Pixar movies. Like most spring movies, "Rio" is fine for an outing, but it is not the kind of movie I would put in my DVD collection.
The best thing about Rio is the colors, the realistic animated backgrounds of the South American tourist city which also includes the slums as well as the beaches we love to see ourselves at, and a few good musical numbers, including the song that goes "I Want to Party, I Want to Samba," by Jamie Foxx and Will I Am, who play two birds held in captivity who entertain the other birds. Otherwise, I would say that the story is formulaic and predictable, and we've seen many of these movies before.
The story goes that Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg from the brilliant "The Social Network") a nerdy domesticated macaw dropped off in Minnesota from a truck on the streets, enjoys his companionship with his owner Linda (voiced by Leslie Mann), and has never learned to fly. A Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio (voiced by Rodrigo Santoro) comes to town and wants to bring Blu back to Brazil to mate with the other remaining macaw from the country, the independent Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway). They get down there during Carnaval season, Blu meets Jewel, but sure enough, they are kidnapped by nasty bird smugglers, but make escapes to various parts of the city. It always appears that villains steal the show in otherwise middle-of-the-road movies, and that villain is the smugglers' cockatoo pet Nigel (voiced by Jemaine Clement, who does the best work), who gets more into the action and smuggling than the humans themselves.
Linda and Blu are separated from two-thirds of the movie. She and Tulio are looking for Blu, who is now with the smugglers and Jewel. During the adventures, there are friends who aid in returning Blu to his owner, such as a funny bulldog named Luis (voiced by comedian Tracy Morgan), a wisecracking toucan named Rafael (voiced by comedian George Lopez), and two rapping birds played by Will I Am and Jamie Foxx. Recently they performed that party/samba number on "American Idol," and they did better on that show than in the movie. Then there are ugly, thieving monkeys who Nigel enlists the aid of to find Blu and Jewel in their escapes.
As stated earlier the story follows the formula of most animated movies. Couple meets cute. Couple gets into danger. Then then male bird returns to its owner, and marries the female, producing their own birds. Villains lose and get locked up. Note that Rodrigo, a poor kid, reluctantly works for the smugglers, and would rather be with Linda and Tulio, as he searches back for the macaws. He just kidnaps the macaws just for the money, but the smugglers won't let him get away with that.
In my years of seeing animated movies, I have to say that the Pixar movies are by far the best. They don't depend on clichés and formulas, like Rio. Even the first Ice Age Movie, made by the makers of "Rio" didn't depend on these elements. They don't look for star power and pop culture, like Dreamworks does all of the time in recent years. However, "Rio" goes slightly above Dreamworks, but still falls into the predictability cliché department. The backgrounds and colors make up the most for the movie, but the plot and character development is just about everything we have seen before as well. Fine for an outing, but not one of the best movies I have seen.
My Best Friend's Girl (2008)
Indescribable is What You Can Call Dane Cook
Dane Cook looks really handsome enough. Too bad his talent doesn't match his good looks. Some comedians in this day and age, like let's say, Steve Carell, can get away with being bad actors once in a while because they at least have charm and talent inside. But Dane Cook has nothing. No talent, no charm. He is just coarse, crass, cringeworthy, and foul-mouthed throughout "My Best Friend's Girl." His comedy style is an acquired taste, and I can see why.
Then there is Kate Hudson. She always had enough charm but what she really needs is a hit. She really hasn't had a hit since being nominated for an Oscar for "Almost Famous" back in 2000, which wasn't a comedy. Since then, she wants to follow the footsteps of her famous mother Goldie Hawn in romantic comedy after romantic comedy. So far, she hasn't found anything yet, and all of her subsequent movies have been flops. Hopefully, a hit will follow her soon.
I haven't seen any of the "American Pie" movies, but I realize that when you see the name Jason Biggs, you know he will pop in some raucous gross-out comedy that will satisfy the Generation X crowd.
Take these three actors, Dane Cook being the worst one of them all, and put them into "My Best Friend's Girl." There is nothing but vomit jokes and continuous swearing that is never funny. Cook plays the supercool hustler Tank, who is hired by his nerdy close friend Dustin (Biggs) to go out on a date with his coworker and ex-girlfriend, Alexis (Hudson). Tank is the kind of guy who has one night stands women from failed relationships and returns them to their exes. Predictably, Tank and Alexis fall in love. More gross-outs and fights ensue. We get to see less of Dustin, and the story concentrates mostly on Tank with Alexis in the middle. There is a cameo by Alec Baldwin as Tank's equally lecherous and foul-mouthed father. Even Baldwin doesn't help.
The movie is too long. The characters are all despicable. Someone like Kate Hudson really knows better, and audience members keep asking themselves "What's a sweet, nice gal like Kate Hudson doing in dreck like this?" Hudson is too perky and sweet to be vulgar. I believe being brought up by Goldie and Kurt, she doesn't seem the gross-out type like let's say, Cameron Diaz, whose gross-out humor from "There's Something Like Mary" was actually convincingly funny, and that's why she was the gross-out queen of the late 1990s. Everyone else acts really nasty in this movie. Dane Cook is just nasty. I don't like nasty humor. 1980s teen comedy director Howard Deutch returns to helm this haphazard train wreck sloppily. A total mess, skip this floperoo, which it was at the box office.