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76 out of 116 people found the following review useful:
NOT the 'chick' flick you might think -- thankfully!, 23 October 2009

Based solely on its trailers this movie is already getting a bad rap online, with many lambasting it as some 'chick' flick revamp of 'French Kiss'. Don't believe that hooey. This is a dark comedy worthy of Hitchcock, and it's far, far removed from Meg Ryan's past 'sweetheart' roles.

'Serious Moonlight' is a simple, character-driven story of what happens when high-powered lawyer Louise (Meg Ryan) finds out her husband Ian (Timothy Hutton) plans to leave her for his younger mistress Sara (Kristen Bell). Louise holds Ian hostage, the better to make him explain what happened to their marriage. Eventually, an unexpected visit by Todd (Justin Long) forces husband, wife, and mistress to confront their situation in an unexpected manner.

As director Cheryl Hines suggested at the Austin Film Festival Q&A before and after the movie, the film's plot really centers on Ian's character development. I have to agree, and I also think Hines was right when she said that Timothy Hutton was perfect for this role.

And while some might take Louise's decision to tie her husband up as pathetically desperate, I found it entirely believable that such drastic action would be necessary to make a man talk about his real feelings – especially when he's doing something as unoriginally asinine as finding 'real love' with a younger woman. It's no accident that Sara looks conspicuously like young Louise, I think, and much of the movie's subtext is about the difference between early passion and long-term commitment.

This movie often feels like a play in the best sense, focusing on small moments and realistic conversation. Its short length stops it from feeling stage-y, however, and the actors all convey their lines with wonderful subtlety.

Hines also described the meticulous process of reading through the script with the actors to determine what was funny and what wasn't. I think this was nothing short of genius; so many non-traditional comedies lose the distinction so you're not sure what the intent of any given scene is. Perhaps because of her strong background in comedy, Hines wisely avoids this pitfall, making the movie's laughs razor-sharp, but balancing them with genuinely tense moments.

I won't tell you how the movie ends, because there's a bit of a twist. But I will be very curious to see what happens when it's released. I suspect that there will be some controversy about the how the film treats the battle of the sexes, and I fear some men might cower in the face of Louise's character -- Ian certainly does, at least at first. But that's almost the point, and I'm glad to see a woman-authored, woman-directed view of male infidelity for once.

This darkly comic movie is definitely worth seeing, in my opinion, and given how seriously funnylady Hines takes her job as director, I sincerely hope to see more of her work soon.

The Proposal (2009/I)
3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Rom-com haters begone -- it was good!, 19 June 2009

Anyone who didn't give this movie full marks just plain doesn't like romantic comedies. You know who you are. You're the ones who would never, *ever* give a rom-com five stars because it's just a "chick flick" and couldn't possibly compete with such "serious" genres as action, drama, or broad comedy.

So if you're that type, don't go around reviewing movies you're not fit to judge. The rest of you, go see this movie.

Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds have fantastic screen chemistry. And for once, we see an older woman and a younger man – hallelujah! A playful reversal of gendered rom-com clichés! Fantastic supporting performances! Great clothes and scenery! What more does anyone want? And did I mention naked Ryan Reynolds? Not quite ten dollars' worth, but enough to leave you with a big smile on your face as you exit the theater.

And you know what? There were guys in the theater laughing their asses off, so don't tell me this is just a "chick" flick. Ryan Reynolds is sarcastic enough for everyone, and Sandra Bullock finally makes the work-obsessed woman something more than a tired cliché. Good for both of them, and really good movie.

168 out of 240 people found the following review useful:
Funny, Sad and True! (from May Nashville preview), 31 May 2009

There's really only one thing you need to ask yourself before you see this movie: are you prepared to see Jim Carrey getting it on with Ewan MacGregor? If so, you should definitely go.

The movie tells the true story—and trust me, you'll have trouble believing it's true—of Steven Russell, a gay man who just can't stop conning his way through life. He uses his extraordinary abilities to gain a variety of jobs, gets indicted for embezzlement, and wins the love of the titular Phillip Morris while the two are fellow inmates in prison.

"I Love You Phillip Morris" was written and directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa, the same writing team responsible for "Bad Santa". Like "Bad Santa", this movie effectively balances humor and with some very dark themes, though I would say the overall tone is not nearly as bleak as that of the earlier movie.

The writers told the Nashville audience that when choosing material to include from Steve McVicker's nonfiction book, they decided they primarily wanted to tell the love story. They do so very successfully. You might even call this the perfect romantic comedy for people who hate traditional romantic comedies: it's homo- rather than hetero-oriented, it's non-fiction, and it features a somewhat off-kilter con man as the romantic lead. Sounds bizarre, sure, and yet all these elements come together to make a really entertaining movie.

For the most part Jim Carrey loses himself in the character of Steven Russell, delivering an effectively non-hammy (and non-Carrey) comic performance. MacGregor's Phillip Morris is also believably innocent, Southern, and wide-eyed. Nice supporting performances, such as Leslie Mann's as Russell's ex-wife Deb, round out the movie.

Much of the romance takes place in prison, and this creates many beautifully absurd scenes. The movie also has its fair share of sad moments, and contains a pretty clear message about social justice in Texas -- as did the book-- but this is kept mercifully subtle, underlying rather than overshadowing the story.

The directors said they hoped the movie would make spectators laugh, cry and think, and the Nashville audience seemed to do all three. There were a lot of laughs but some definite sniffles at the appropriate moments. At the Q&A, there was a fair amount of interest in the real story, and Ficarra, McVicker, and Requa were happy to oblige with further information.

Come to think of it, you may not have to worry about seeing the two leads have sex. Although the love scenes were kept technically PG, the directors were expecting a fight with the MPAA because of the homosexual content. That's a real pity, but I hope they win.

0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Not As Good As Role Models, 19 March 2009

It was refreshing to see such an honest portrayal of how close the rituals of friendship and dating can be. The movie also admits that being the cool loner doesn't always work out in real life. Regardless of your gender, you can probably relate to Paul Klaven's experience, especially if you've ever moved to a new town as an adult.

There were moments of fart/vomit/balls comedy that seemed just plain out of place with the rest of the movie, which is particularly ironic in a comedy that explores a less traditional version of masculine behavior—or maybe these were supposed to show that it was an acceptably male comedy? At any rate, these moments were distracting in their gratuitousness, but few and far between.

The guys in the theater seemed to enjoy the movie quite a bit. I enjoyed it to a more limited degree. I'm sorry to say this, but Jason Segel isn't half the comic actor that Paul Rudd is, and that drags the movie down. I'm only sorry to say it because Segel can play the loser-y schlub so effectively you actually do feel sorry for him, even if he was less loser-y in this movie. But he really didn't make me laugh. Rashida Jones, too, did all right but has never struck me as a fantastic comedienne.

The non-snarky version of Paul Rudd, on the other hand, is just adorable, and that is really what carries this movie (at least for female viewers). Those pretty green eyes, that sweet smile, that alabaster skin! Seriously, at points I wasn't sure whether I was ogling him or merely admiring his skin care routine.

The supporting cast, too, is great. Andy Samburg is quite funny as Paul's gay brother Robbie, who understands men better than his straight brother. Jaime Pressley (one of my favorites) and Jon Favreau have great comic chemistry as married couple who are just plain awful. J.K. Simmons and Jane Curtain are vastly underutilized as Paul's parents.

I think men and women alike can enjoy this movie, though women might be a bit put off by touches like the utterly superficial and cliché desperate friend, Hailie, though actress Sarah Burns does her best. This movie, like most in the Apatow juggernaut, is still working its way towards making female characters equally funny and likable as male characters—but you get the sense that it's trying, at least.

Overall, this movie is a B/B-. Mostly, It was in need of editing. Comedies need to move at a pretty quick pace, and this one dragged a bit. It's definitely amusing, but not nearly as funny as "Role Models" was, at least in my opinion.