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Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)
Yea Funny it is ..
I pretty much knew I was going to dig JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME right from the first scene, where Jeff sits on the toilet, and waxes poetically into a tape-recorder about his undying love for the movie SIGNS. I tend to like the Duplass Brothers, who wrote and directed, so I guess this wasn't a hard sell.
At first glance, JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME seems like a bit of a minor film, with it running a scant eighty-minutes, and taking course over a single day. Heck, for ninety-percent of the movie it was a minor work, and while I liked it, it still felt like a bit of a disappointment on the heels of CYRUS, which was one of my favorite films from last year. The film works mostly due to Jason Segel, who's affecting as the eternally optimistic Jeff. In another actor's hands, Jeff could have been insufferable- but Segel brings a sweetness to the part that meshes well with the Duplass Brother's big-hearted, humanist philosophy.
Like CYRUS, this owes a lot to the Duplass Bros., mumblecore origins, with it seemingly shot on lower-grade digital, possibly hand-held cameras, just like CYRUS. Some of the dialogue also seems to be improvised, with the exchanges between Segel and Ed Helms (who seems to be playing Andy Bernard with a goatee here- no complaints) having a natural, unscripted feel. The film also has a very nice score by Michael Andrews, heavily reminiscent of his excellent soundtrack for Miranda July's ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (the release of which remains the last time I bought a physical CD).
In terms of laughs, yeah- JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME is funny, but in a genteel sort of way. You'll never double over in laughter, but the whole thing feels pleasant, and at eighty minutes, goes down pretty smooth. Now, I said that for ninety-percent of the running time, this felt minor. The last twenty minutes or so throw the audience a bit of a curve-ball, with Jeff's idea of destiny having a surprisingly dramatic payoff, that pushed the film into territory I wasn't expecting. However, this switch isn't jarring, and works to the film's advantage, give it a uniqueness I wasn't anticipating.
There's also an interesting subplot involving Jeff and Pat's mom, played by Susan Sarandon, as she interacts with an office co-worker (Rae Dawn Chong of COMMANDO!!!), and deals with a secret admirer, which pays off in a fun, heart-warming way that, again, makes the film a little different- but in a good way.
All told, JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME isn't quite as good as CYRUS, but it's a unique, pleasant comedy that once again proves that the Duplass Brothers., might be on to something with the way their films seem to simultaneously aim at the heart AND the funny bone.
21 Jump Street (2012)
'All they do is recycle s**t from the past and hope nobody notices..."
The above line is not the verdict of an embittered film critic, but delivered by a character in this fundamentally successful big screen remake of the late '80s American TV show.
21 Jump Street is film comedy in its finest form. The movie is comfortable being weird, it uses vulgarity but never as a crutch, it gives every actor a chance to shine, and it all works so well that you barely stop to consider that Schmidt's love-interest is a high-schooler (Brie Larson). The movie is good-natured but unapologetic in trying to make the audience laugh as hard as possible for as long as possible. And there's no need to apologize when you try, and then succeed, conquer, crush, stand victorious over the bodies of your enemies, and scream out their Miranda rights.
John Carter (2012)
'Worst is Yet to come'
Set on the distant red planet of Mars, the tale of the eponymous civil war soldier (Kitsch) caught up in a struggle for freedom and justice is a natural fit for producers Disney. There's the generic good-versus-evil conflict, sword-and-sorcery-style acrobatics, not to forget romance with a beautiful warrior-princess (Collins). Evidently designed to send sci-fi geeks into a tizzy, John Carter serves up an interminable yarn which fails to fully engage or excite. For all the running, leaping and fighting, the intrepid superhero's exploits are devoid of energy. The Pixar touch is evident in the precision of the visual detail and in the wit and energy of Michael Giacchino's score, but the quality control that has been exercised over this project also has a curiously undermining effect. After all those warning from ppl i had to try to understand what a $250million waste this was. This movie is there to stay on the hearts of viewers as one of the most lousiest ever with great special effects. The movie eagerly sells itself as semitrashy, almost-campy fun, but it is so lavish and fussy that you can't help thinking that it wants to be taken seriously, and therefore you laugh at, rather than with, its mock sublimity. Finally, If u are a fan of Sequel with 6 limbed toys running around in a desert. Well then this one may interest you.