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Paramount Pictures invited me to a free screening and I got to see this
film before it opens. I wish it were something better -- but I'll take
free over nothing at all. Another needless remake. However, this one
goes things a bit further and hardly changes a thing -- nothing new to
add, most likely, because the original's plot was so simple, it's hard
to try and deliver something completely different while maintaining the
Ren McCormack (Wormald) moves to a small town where loud music, public dancing and general fun has been banned because three years earlier, a senior got into a car accident and killed himself and four of his friends. Ren moves in with his aunt and uncle because his mom died of leukemia. After being pulled over for playing his music too loud and disturbing the peace, Ren starts to get a taste of just how small a small town he is in. Coming out of church, he meets the Rev. Shaw Moore (Quaid), his wife Vi (MacDowell) and their daughter, Ariel (Hough). Glances are passed and the chase is on between the two leads. Ariel's already got a boyfriend -- Chuck (Flueger), who's just one bad boyfriend cliché wrapped in another cliché. For some reason, Ren likes to dance (no real explanation other than it helps him blow off some steam) and when he's told he can't, he starts his own grassroots campaign to get the ban overturned so the kids can all dance.
I'll just be honest here -- the movie is just plain stupid. The leads are supposed to be in High School but they look like they're in their 30's -- it's painfully obvious they don't belong. Sure, they're nice to look at (especially Hough), but would it have killed the producers and director to NOT hire professional dancers as their leads? To me, it seems all they were going for was dancing, pure and simple. Might as well have called this movie You've Been Served 3 and call it a day. Hire ACTORS, not dancers -- because of this, the performances were more soap opera and less realistic. One scene in particular takes place in the church after Ariel gets assaulted by Chuck. I felt like I was watching a big screen television serialized All My Children rather than a studio remake of a popular 80's film. The dialogue was cringe-worthy and so over-the-top, it would have made Susan Lucci bust out into a giggle fit right there on the theater floor.
No real big changes off of the original, either. Some subtle changes (the famous tractor scene is now a demolition derby with old school buses) and of course, updated for the times (cell phones, mentions of satellites, etc) but other than that, the remake has nothing to offer us. You're better off staying home and re-watching the original, because it's got better acting and yes, even better dancing. Some of the younger folk may like the remake, but I really can't see anyone over the age of 15 liking this one. It's boring, it's slow, it's pointless and nothing more than a re-hash of the original -- yes, they even use most of the original's soundtrack (from 'Let's Hear It For the Boy' to the title track, 'Footloose' -- not once, but twice).
I'm not being too hard on this movie either --- I don't mind musicals and movies that you can get behind and be all 'Yeah! That movie made me feel good!' The preview audience I was sitting with seemed to enjoy it. Did Paramount Pictures spike the theater's punch bowl? Or maybe I'm just not easily duped (they gave us free t-shirts and posters) into liking a bad movie. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Final Grade: D
This is one of those movies where you're either gonna love it... or
you're gonna hate it. I was in the former category, mostly because I
thought the movie transitioned well between comedy and drama. It's not
a full-blown goofy comedy and it's not a sad sack movie by any means.
Strong performances and an above average script is what drives this
movie for me and made it fun to watch.
T.J. (Brochu) certainly doesn't have the best life. He lives with his grandmother (Laurie) and his practically comatose, pill-popping father (Wilson). For some reason, he's pretty interested in a red car that's freshly banged up, but the man working the counter (Lynch) blows him off and makes his lackey (Hill) deal with him, which results in T.J. getting bullied at school. Angry while riding his bike to school one morning, T.J. takes some frustration out on a window of some housing that's currently being built -- smashing it into a million little pieces. Not only does it catch the attention of a security guard, it also brings out Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) -- who grabs T.J., drags him inside and informs him that he totally f**ked him. After the security guard chases after Hesher, T.J. is surprised to find him outside his school later that day -- it would appear that Hesher has returned to repay the favor in the form of some unflattering artwork and placing the evidence in T.J.'s hands. This causes T.J. to be chased down but luckily there's a cashier (Portman) outside the supermarket parking out that comes to his rescue. She gives him a ride home after seeing that his bike is rendered useless and drops him off. As he's getting his bike out of the back of her car, he notices a familiar van approaching his house. It would appear that since Hesher has no place to go, thanks to T.J. -- he figures he would further complicate T.J.'s life by insistently moving in.
Now -- there's more to the story than just that. I gave you the basics of how everything is set up. There are more relationships going on, there's still the story of why T.J. is adamant about getting the beat-up red car back, there's the story of how the dad came to be and why they're living with grandma, but above all, it's a story about how some people come into our lives, shake things up and just how meaningful (although not on the surface) those kinds of relationships can be. There's more going on here than it seems and it just may surprise you on how it takes a roundabout way to get you think about some things.
It has to be said that Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives the film's best performance. Every time he is on screen, he just completely demands your attention and it's hard to not look away for fear that you'll miss something he says or does -- even his facial expressions are priceless. I love the character, how he's introduced and how even some of the film's musical score changes when he's around or how it reacts to something his character just said. Gordon-Levitt steals the show, without a doubt and makes no apologies for it. The rest of the cast is good as well, mind you -- it's just that Gordon-Levitt's character is so much more interesting and off-the-wall, with some of this year's most insane dialogue to boot -- that it's hard to compare him to anyone else in the cast. A close second would be Brochu's brooding T.J., the kid nails the 'tween angst and frustration. Portman is nice to have here (and look at), but when it comes down to brass tacks, practically anyone could have filled the position. Wilson (in rare dramatic form) does a nice job, but ultimately you'll be wondering why he signed on to do something this instead of making a true blue comedy film.
The story is not all that strong, but the script is. Some people may balk at the idea of someone just moving into another family's home and making themselves more-than-comfortable. Some people may not like all of the offensive dialogue and some of the actions that Hesher involves little T.J. in. No, the story isn't that strong, it's pretty simple, yet somehow it worked for me -- mainly because of Gordon-Levitt's performance and the funny dialogue that accompanied it. The movie has a very nice balance between comedy and drama and it just works. I highly recommend it for those who aren't easily offended -- in fact, it was so nice, I've already watched it twice.
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Final Grade: A-
When the studio has trouble releasing a movie that's a sequel to a box
office hit, you know you're in trouble right away. Part one came to us
in 2005. It had a less impressive cast, a smaller budget and it made
more money. We're not talking Avatar dollars here -- but making $51
million domestically on a $15 million dollar endeavor is considered to
be a hit -- and that's not even including the foreign take (which
tacked on an additional $60 million, fyi). So why did this one flop so
hard? $30 million dollar budget and it did $10.1 in the U.S. and it
only managed a meager $6.8 overseas? Simple answer? It was lame. Long
answer... keep on reading...
The sequel starts us off with all of the fairy tale/woodland creatures working for the HEA agency (Happily Ever After) as they try to stop a nasty old witch (Cusack) from baking and eating two little children, Hansel (Hader) and Gretal (Poehler). Nicky Flippers (Stiers) is the boss behind the scenes, always on walkie-talkie with the key members of the group. Granny (Close) is the veteran player and she has the tough task of always trying to keep her partner, Wolf (Warburton) in check. Wolf likes to do things his own way and even devises his own plan of attack with his little yes-man, Twitchy (Edwards). Red (Panettiere, taking over duties from an absent Anne Hathaway) is nowhere to be found on the latest mission because she's far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far away getting trained by the Sisters of the Hood -- an organization that holds the ancient secret recipe for a super truffle that, if consumed, will make anyone a force to be reckoned with. When the Wolf's plans to rescue Hansel and Gretal fail (and nothing can fail worse than getting even more people kidnapped), Red is asked to come back post-haste. As it would turn out, someone has also nicked the recipe for the super truffle. It's up to Red and the Wolf to not only rescue Hansel and Gretal (and their very own HEA agent) but find out who's responsible for stealing the truffle recipe and why.
There are a few chuckles to be found in Hoodwinked Too! It's just a shame that they are far and few between. Most of the jokes miss their mark and I'm not sure if the filmmakers were trying to make this movie for the kids who had seen part one (and grew up) or for the new little wee ones. Way too many times did I see the film referencing older movies that kids today wouldn't know (the original Star Wars, Goodfellas, The Silence of the Lambs) -- yes, they're all great movies, but how many 8-year-olds today that you know who have seen them? Sure, perhaps they made the jokes for the adults in the audience -- but then.... why not make them funnier? About the only time I laughed (and this is coming from someone in their mid-30's, thank you very much) is when Wolf and Twitchy were on screen.
Panettiere was just plain awful as Red, she has some of the film's hokiest dialog and she's easily the most uninteresting character. Next in line would be Glenn Close. So incredibly sappy were the two, I almost couldn't finish it. I'm not blaming the actors here mind you -- it's more the writing and the storytelling. Sorry for misleading you to think Panettiere did a bad job, because she didn't. Her character and dialog were just plain unbearable, not her. All of the other characters in the story at least kept me entertained enough to leave it on and finish it.
The animation is nothing to ooh and ahhh over, but it's not horrendous by any means. If people are telling you that the animation is stiff and wooden and unimpressive, don't listen to them. They're obviously animation whores, they only want the very best and nothing excites them more than Pixar announcing their latest project. Animation doesn't have to be top-notch for a story to work -- South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut has already proved this. The animation is just fine in this one... it just doesn't 'pop' or have that interesting of a story to back up. Had the screenplay been tweaked, the story punched up... no one would be saying 'boo' about the animation. But because the film has a weak delivery, moviegoers minds start to wander and they start to focus on how many cels were used to create the Giant's (Garrett) nose hairs.
Overall, your kids might like it. You probably won't. It's a chore to get through but it's not entirely bad. One of the things I found annoying in the film was it's overuse of the word 'muffins'. Apparently, 'muffins' is the fairy tale equivalent of saying 'oh s**t'. Many times we are forced to hear a character in peril utter the phrase, "Oh, muffins." Funny the first time? Sure. The 15th or 20th time? No. Remember how I told you the film doesn't know what age group it really wants to pander to? How about that Starksy and Hutch-inspired ending (right down to the CB radio in a 1976 Ford Gran Torino)? Oh muffins, indeed.
Final Grade: C-
Before you get all up in arms about this being a Will Ferrell movie,
just stop right there. This is more along the lines of Stranger Than
Fiction than Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby or Step
Brothers. It's not zany, wacky or crazy in any way. It's a more
subdued, lighthearted drama with some elements of comedy sprinkled
throughout. It's highly enjoyable, funny and sad -- all at the same
The movie opens with Nick Halsey (Ferrell) losing his job. Apparently, he got drunk at one of the companies outings and may have done some inappropriate stuff with a female co-worker. So, he does what any other red-blooded American man would do: he goes to a convenient store, buys himself some beer and drives home. To make matters worse, when he arrives home, he sees that all of his possessions are strewn across the front yard of the house, which he shares with his wife. There's a note pinned to the front door, his house key will no longer work in the lock and the spare that's hidden in the flower pot is no longer present. After unsuccessfully trying to break in, he calls his wife even though her note specifically tells him not to and leaves her message after message on her voicemail. With nothing left to lose, Nick proceeds to get drunker and drunker straight into the night. His neighbor, Elliott (Root) doesn't offer much help and Nick winds up sleeping in his lounge chair on the front lawn. In the morning, he is awakened by the lawn sprinklers and realizes that he is out of beer. After helping the new neighbor, Samantha (Hall) move in across the street, he hires the local neighborhood kid, Kenny (Wallace) to watch his stuff while he goes to the store to get some more beer. Long story short, just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse for Nick -- it does -- all of his credit cards are being declined, his cell gets shut off and his company takes back the company car, along with more of his belongings inside. With practically nothing but the items on the lawn and the clothes on his back -- it's here where Nick starts to completely lose himself, so bad in fact that the neighbors call the police and he begs for them to call Frank Garcia (Peña), his sponsor and luckily enough, detective on the local police force. His buddy Frank tries to help Nick by informing him that under state law, he can only have the stuff on the front lawn for 5 days as long as he's having a yard sale, so that buys him 3 days to pick himself up, dust himself off and figure out just what he's going to do next.
Everything Must Go is a very good film. It's not overly dramatic and when the mood does turn somber, it has the sense to let go and make us smile or have a nice chuckle. It doesn't choke us with Nick's alcoholism -- we get it, he is an alcoholic and certainly does have a dependency for it, but it doesn't take it to the next level where we feel like we're watching a documentary on the evils of drinking. It also doesn't glorify it or make it look cool either. It's a very touchy subject for the film that I think gets handled very well.
The movie gets by on the characters, the actors portraying them and the dialog. The story itself isn't all that great, it's quite simple, actually -- but the dialog the characters share is more than enough to keep the film going and keep you interested in how exactly Frank is going to get himself out of this mess. Frank makes two friends while out on the front lawn -- the pregnant woman across the street and the young boy who eventually winds up helping him with the yard sale. The friendships felt real, the conversations felt real, it's easily one of the best things about the film. No one will be getting any nominations from the Academy Award people, but they still do a great job nonetheless. I would have liked to seen more of Stephen Root and Michael Peña, though. I don't think their characters were utilized all that well, but I'm not overly upset about it either.
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Final Grade: B
Ah, heist movies. Nothing hardly ever changes in them, yet I still
watch them. I figured this one to put a little comical twist on the
story, but I got more drama than humor. Not that it's a bad thing, it's
just disappointing to sit down to watch a comedy only to receive drama.
Had the story been a bit tighter, I might have enjoyed it more. As it
stands now, though, it's one of those movies that I can have playing in
the background one day without having to pay too much attention. Would
I actually sit down and watch it again? No.
Henry Torne (Reeves, in a very subdued part) is your classic nice guy. So nice, in fact, that when his friends Joe (Hoch) and Eddie (Fisher) stop by his house one morning to invite him to come play softball with them because one of their players got sick, he says yes and leaves right in the middle of the "are-we-gonna-have-kids-or-not" talk with his wife, Debbie (Greer). As it turns out, Henry's friends are not playing softball. Instead, they are robbing a bank and Henry is the patsy who is driving the getaway car (news to him). Only he doesn't get away. He gets sentenced to three years in prison. While in prison, his wife meets and falls in love with another guy. Upon hearing the news, Henry shows no emotion and is happy that she is happy. He also meets Max (Caan) while in prison. Max likes jail and doesn't plan on leaving it anytime soon because he's got it made where he's at. Released on good behavior after only a year and a half, Henry collects his things from his ex and new husband (Joe, believe it or not) and while out walking in front of the bank that he didn't rob (but got the time for), gets run over by Julie (Farmiga). She takes him to the café across the street to make sure he's okay and while he's in the bathroom, he notices an old newspaper article about how their was a tunnel underground from the café to the bank during prohibition -- straight into the bank's vault. He convinces Max to not purposely blow his parole hearing, so he can get out and help him and even goes undercover as an actor in the theater in order to have access to the dressing room where the now-covered up tunnel is. They also have to recruit Joe and things get even messier when Henry starts to fall in love with Julie.
It's not a bad movie, by any means, it's just not as good as it could have been. The problem isn't with the acting on this one. Everyone involved does a fine job -- there's no one winning any awards or anything but no one is horrid, either. I didn't have a single issue with any of the actors or their abilities. No, the problem with this one is the story and the pacing. It's not a madcap comedy or even a straight comedy, actually -- it's more of a drama with some light humor sprinkled throughout. There are times when the story almost comes to a screeching halt it moves so slow -- and it's basically due to the love story between Reeves' and Farmiga's characters. I much rather preferred the interaction between Reeves and Caan and the other misanthropes. Greer is only in three measly scenes and is successfully wasted, a cardboard cutout could have been in her place and no one would have noticed.
Ultimately, the film suffers some major third act problems. Farmiga's character flip-flops and starts to get a little loopy, some things about the final details of the heist don't particularly add up and there's no real ending to anything that was built up this entire time. I've had this discussion before about endings -- but this is one of those where I don't want to fill in my own blanks and just guess. To me, it seems like lazy screen writing and directing to end a film (such as this one, where it's 12 minutes shy of 2 hours) like they did. Give us something. If anything... watch the movie for Caan (who's always great, but again, it's nothing spectacular), the early scenes with Farmiga and Peter Stormare (who does a pretty funny commanding stage director) -- you can stay for the lackluster ending, but just remember, I told you so.
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Final Grade: C
I was really looking forward to this one. It seemed like it had an
interesting story and I'm always up for a good horror/thriller.
Unfortunately, this is not a good horror/thriller. It's excruciatingly
bad. Everyone involved with this production must have either been drunk
or high when they decided to sign on to do this shoddy piece of crap
cinema. And it's not even crappy in a good way. No tongue-in-cheek, no
slight winks, no nods to other horror films, just completely devoid of
any actual entertainment value -- I should have spent my 100 minutes
more productively -- like maybe, plucking my nose hairs with a pair of
rusty pliers or getting a root canal from an epileptic dentist. Yes,
even those sound like a better time than Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf.
The movie starts out in the past and we see two kids (brother and sister, actually) playing hide-and-seek. The little boy picks a good hiding place and watches as his sister tries to find him. She doesn't -- she finds "The Big Bad Wolf", a serial kidnapper and murderer that's in the area, instead. He watches in horror as she is taken and does nothing about it. The Wolf has taken 15 girls and each time, he leaves a message at the scene of the crime: "Are you the woodcutter?" Flash forward to years later and the little boy, Johnny Morgan (Cymek, who also wrote and directed this mess of a movie) is having nightmares -- he's also a detective with the police force. He's separated from his wife, Jamie (Kingsley, who's nice to look at, but dear God who in their right mind would let her act?), who is a doctor at Parker's Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Now, I'm not a doctor myself but... I hardly doubt it's in any way professional to wear a mini-skirt and hooker boots while doing your daily rounds... maybe it's just me, I dunno. The Wolf resurfaces with his signature phrase and m.o. and detective Johnny is called in by his partner, Elliot (Rhys-Davies, putting on the melodrama a bit thick) to the scene of the disappearance. One clue found later and we're knocking down the back door of the alleged Wolf's hideout (because who needs warrants and backup, right?). It's a trap and long story short, the Wolf (Dunham) is captured and taken to Parker's Asylum. Everyone eventually winds up at the asylum (and I mean everyone) while it has a power failure and due to some unforeseen circumstance, all of the cell doors unlock and everyone's trapped inside with all the psychos, including a little girl, Sabrina (Miller), who's grandma thought it would be a good idea to bring her so Dr. Parker (Davis) could take a look at her because she stopped speaking after her mother died.
To call this movie bad is actually praising it. It's beyond bad, it's super bad. Bad walked in the door, saw this film and in no way wanted to be associated with it. The acting in the film is utterly atrocious. It's not even so-bad-it's-good kind of acting -- not by a long shot. Cymek only has about two facial expressions (and that's being generous) and Kingsley speaks in such a low tone, sing-song voice that's better suited for diaper commercials. I suppose William B. Davis did an okay job but he wasn't given much to work against.
So much happens in the film where you will be saying to yourself, "seriously...really?" Here are just a few examples. When The Wolf is admitted to the asylum, some of the guards give Dr. Parker his file, explaining that his lawyer will be coming to visit him to make sure his living conditions are adequate (seriously?) and if that's not bad enough -- when the doctor opens the file, there's a picture of the female lawyer in there (really? lawyers now have glamor head-shots?). When Johnny Morgan and his partner are in The Wolf's hideout and they hear a noise behind them, it takes them what seems like forever to turn and look over their shoulder to investigate the noise (seriously?) and when they do draw their guns, it looks like an 1800's war musket (really? our police forces use these?). Some of the psychos in the asylum are a very big guy who gets very upset when he sees the color red (seriously?) and a serial foot fetish guy (Lawrence) who likes to run around nude (really?). When Jamie's left hand gets a knife through it and is stuck to the table by a deranged cannibal (seriously?) -- she doesn't even try to escape while the cannibal (Ross) has her back turned cooking on the stove -- nope, instead, she scrawls a message in blood to Sabrina to "find Johnny" (really? You can't just pull the knife out yourself? You'd rather send a little girl through an asylum with escaped nutjobs?) There are many, many more instances like this in the movie.
I really wish I could say something nice about this movie, but I just can't. It's so incredibly awful. I would suggest turning it into a drinking game where everyone takes a shot when someone in your audience says "seriously?" or "really?", but to be honest, I don't want to be responsible for all kinds of deaths due to alcohol poisoning because at an almost two hour running time, I can imagine you'd be going through some serious booze at your house. Better yet, get super drunk before you watch this... Lord knows the cast and crew were if they thought this was good.
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Final Grade: F
I've only recently been introduced to 'mumblecore' films. What is
'mumblecore', you ask? Fair enough question. Here's the answer: "An
American independent film movement of the early twenty-first century,
characterized by low-budget production, focus on personal relationships
between twentysomethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional
actors." Does that help? Yeah, it didn't help me much, either. If
that's the case, then count Clerks as a mumblecore film. Apparently, I
watched another mumblecore film (Cold Weather) earlier this year ---
well, then it's hit or miss with me, then because I didn't like Cold
Sam (Duplass) gets dumped by his girlfriend and kicked out, all at the same time. Not having any place to go, he calls his Aunt Sharon (Leo). She lets him crash at her place for free and it's apparent that she is having problems/troubles with her kid's father. He cancelled the big camping trip and so, she asks Sam if he'll take her son (Sam's cousin), Oliver (Loehr) and his best friend, Jake (Thompson). Reluctantly, he agrees and from there, it's a road-trip movie where everyone learns more about each other and everlasting friendships are created.
There's not too much to True Adolescents, story-wise. It's more about the characters (in true mumblecore fashion). What makes this different from the other mumblecore film I seen earlier this year is... it's actually interesting! The characters aren't boring, I was curious as to how things were going to play out once they arrived at their destination and I really wanted to know how everything was going to be wrapped up.
Sam, who really hasn't fully grown-up himself, is more or less, forced, into taking two kids into the wilderness. He's really a big kid himself and to be thrust into a situation like this, makes him start to grow up a little bit and he takes a step back and takes a good, hard look at himself and what he's let himself become.Even after the truth has set in and we realize just who we are... sometimes it's just a little too late.
The situation that happens out in the wilderness is never fully explored (or even discussed but for a few sentences) but... as an audience of a true mumblecore film, we're forced to put together the pieces and come to our own conclusions. I'm not entirely sure why it works, but it just does. Maybe because Sam's such a likable character. Sure, he's a slacker, but he's honest, funny and non-threatening. I do know I laughed several times at Sam's antics/dialog and I was genuinely interested in all of the characters involved and wanted to see how it all played out. We may not have gotten all the answers, but I did still enjoy the ride (somewhat).
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Final Grade: B-
This is the type of movie where I wish I hadn't seen the trailer before
I saw it. The trailer doesn't need to go so much into detail and tell
you some of the upcoming plot twists and surprises the film has in
store for it's audiences. Once again, Hollywood gives us too much and
doesn't let the movie play on it's own strengths (like the performances
of their cast) and they feel that they have to shock and awe us with
some twists in the trailer. If you haven't seen the trailer -- don't.
Just watch this one based on the summary and my review alone. Don't
worry, you can trust me -- the movie is totally worth it.
John Taylor (Crawford) is just your typical, everyday thief. He's running from the law, wounded and all the cops have his description and the make and model of his getaway car. So, he ditches it and decides to hang low for a little bit by pretending to be whatever he needs to be in order to get inside someone/anyone's house. After digging through some mail, he finds a postcard from Australia from Julia addressed to Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce). Jackpot. He pretends to be a friend of Julia's from Australia in order to have Warwick let him in. Once inside, some things go awry and then the tables get turned, so to speak. I can't really tell you too much about what goes on inside the house, because then that will spoil the movie. About the only thing I can tell you is that Warwick is a seemingly perfect host who kindly takes John in and caters to his needs because he has some guests arriving for a dinner party anyway, so what's one more, right? There is much to like in The Perfect Host. Standing out exceedingly is David Hyde Pierce. He gives a fantastic performance as Warwick. Yes, it may seem like his Niles character from TV's Frasier, but there's definitely more to him than meets the eye. I am not sure of too many actors who could have pulled it off as Hyde Pierce did. Crawford also does a nice job holding his own against Pierce but he's not the reason people will be buzzing about this movie.
Another thing that the film has going for it is the many twists and turns in the road until the final resolve. You think it'll be going one way and it goes the other. Your mind zigs, it zags. Your mind zags, it zigs. It's crazy busy with surprises and close calls. I enjoyed not knowing where the film would take us next and reveled in the idea that all bets were off about how it was going to end because of all the craziness that preceded.
The very subtle humor and overall quirkiness of the film caught me by surprise as well. The script is very well-written and thought out methodically in order for the pieces of the puzzle to fit together. The writer/director injected the film with some wonderful elements of humor and snappy dialog as to not let the film become too dark and extremely foreboding, I enjoyed that immensely. Kudos to him for keeping a light tone fully intact for what could have easily become just another mindless horror/thriller film.
Now let's discuss why the film isn't reaching "A" status. The initial plot is just a bit too neat, isn't it? One of the first things they teach you about writing screenplays is that audiences really hate coincidences. One, maybe.... two, three and four? Come on. It fits together too perfectly. There has to be a better reason for John Taylor to even step foot inside that house --- most criminals would hide out in the woods or find an abandoned shack somewhere, the last thing they want to be doing is coming across more people. Once inside the house, John also makes some silly character flaws that shouldn't have even been brought up in the first place...again, coincidence. I understand that if they didn't happen then we wouldn't have a movie... but... to me, it has to be better constructed than what was delivered. The film also has a few scenes that can easily be cut from the film because they don't advance the plot or give us any new details whatsoever.
However, the problems are minimal. It's still a very good watch and it'll be one that you will talk about and think about for a few days afterwards. As I am sitting here typing this, I am actually looking forward to sitting down with some friends and sharing this movie with them. It's too bad that the movie wasn't seen by a wider audience because Hyde Pierce would surely gotten some awards for his portrayal of Warwick Wilson.
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Final Grade: B+
Disney's Prom is exactly as advertised -- good, clean, wholesome fun
for the whole family. It's geared more towards High School juniors and
seniors, but tweens should get a kick out of it as well. It's highly
predictable and simply formulatic, but you don't go into a movie like
this one expecting John Hughes-style film making. It is what it is and
doesn't apologize for being paper thin, it relishes in it.
The movie follows a couple different couples and their journey to prom night. The class president, Nova (Teegarden), gives each of the prom helpers their free tickets to prom (and a plus one!) because they earned them by volunteering to help her. We get to see whom each person is taking via their wild and crazy prom proposals. Tyler (Nixon) asks out his long-standing girlfriend, Jordan (Bunbury), but he's obviously hiding something from her. I'll be honest, a lot of the faces are starting to look similar and I won't be able to match up their character names with their real names. So, an accident happens and all the prom decorations get destroyed and Nova has to work overtime to create them all again in order to get ready for prom -- the principal wants to punish a certain student named Jesse Richter (McDonell), so he forces him to help Nova or else he can't graduate. Another couple has communication issues -- he's excited about their future college life but she hasn't told him that she got accepted into another college that's way far away from his. Another storyline has two geeky best friends whose lives are about to be turned upside-down by one of them getting interested in a girl (Campbell). Another story has a guy who may or may not be lying about his prom date. And yet another story follows a guy as he tries desperately to find a date to the prom with the help of his little sister, with hilariously disastrous results.
As I said, I wasn't expecting John Hughes teenage angst because this is a Disney flick. Even knowing what was in store for me, it wound up not being too bad. Yes, it's highly cliché and I could tell you where the story was headed before I even hit the play button. It should be a very enjoyable watch for the entire family and it's not too stupid for the parents to get bored. There are some chuckles to be had (especially with the guy trying to find a date, his story line was the most enjoyable for me), so it's not a complete loss.
All of the actors and actresses involved did a good job. There's no award-winning performances in this picture, but at the same time no one does a horrible job, either. It maintains a nice even flow throughout the entire show and there wasn't a moment when I felt bored or wished it would just end already. At least no one broke into song about the prom and it didn't get too overly emotional and sappy either.
It's a nice movie with some pretty guys and gals and nothing in it is offensive or rude -- a perfect movie to sit down and enjoy with your young adults, tweens and early teenagers. Even though it's geared to the 16 and 17-year-olds, they might find it to be just a tad too corny or princess-y. All of the adults in the movie do take a backseat (and why not, it's not about them) -- but they do make them out to be pretty stupid, which is a shame because they made one of the fathers out to be a stereotype from the 50's and 60's by making him actually go to the boy and tell him to not date his daughter if he really loved her and wanted the best for her. Really? Time to update your thinking, Disney. I don't really think that happens that much these days.
More reviews at www.soveryterry.com
Final Grade: B-
When a movie like Super Hybrid comes along, it either better be
delightfully cheesy or extremely scary. Well, since it's a movie about
a killer car that apparently runs on blood and it's only rated PG-13,
we can cross off scary right away. Unfortunately, it doesn't poke fun
at itself or do anything tongue-in-cheek either, so it's a complete
stinker from the get go.
We begin the movie with the car shape-shifting (yes, you heard me and no, this is no transformer) into a hot red sports car. Two guys are tempted to steal the car and are taken for the ride of their life and perhaps turned into fuel? The movie actually begins at a car garage and the people inside that are working. They work for the city and the douche bag boss is constantly on their back to hurry up or do better. The car, of course, blends right in here -- as any vehicle that doesn't bring too much attention to itself -- and quickly finds it's first victim via it's Predator-like sensory system. You heard me, it has the cheesy infrared heat-seeking vision doohickey where it senses body outlines, that's how it tracks it's prey. When the other people can't find the person who was sent down to a certain parking level, three more people go down to check on him to see what's going on. Instead of finding him, they find a strange car that no one remembers parking. Watching it kill one of their own before their very eyes, they go to the boss and the boss quickly dismisses them as crazy -- because for some reason it's fun to make up stories like this. He gets the evidence he needs to believe their story and because the movie has to be longer than 30 minutes, he hatches a scheme to capture the car so they can sell the exclusive rights to ??? for $250,000. Don't ask -- the movie has plenty of scenes happening like that: no rhyme, no reason, no sense.
At least the acting was tolerable. I didn't really notice anyone dropping the ball or overacting or anything like that, so that's a plus. Mind you, there's nothing mind-blowing or exciting with this stinker acting-wise, there's just nothing bad in it. The weakest part of this movie is, no doubt, the story. i would have preferred a different slant on the story than what was delivered to us. I wanted more background about the car. Explain the car. Where did it came from? How did it get it's special powers? What is that thing under the hood? Is it really using human blood to fuel itself? No, instead, we're given a story about a bunch of garage-workers who have to band together to capture this freak-of-nature car. It's more of an action movie with drama between the characters -- and it's not good drama by any means. These people fight so much with each other you would think they were married.
The special effects will make you almost laugh out loud. I understand that some production companies don't have the funds to do some impressive CGI, but don't give us this. The coloring and shading is so off that it looks like it was made in the late 80's. Sure, the monster itself looks kind of cool, but when it looks like it was slapped on the final print of the film like a sticker, it loses all credibility and scariness. It's just downright bad.
It's a shame that the writer didn't take advantage of this ludicrous story. A movie about a car that kills people and not one joke about Stephen King's Christine? If the movie had some witty humor and better dialog, it might have played better. The way it is now can't even be called entertainment -- it just chugs along and doesn't deliver any thrills, chills or spills. Just disappointment.
More reviews at www.soveryterry.com
Final Grade: D
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