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The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
A mix bag but more good than not
Nicholas 'Oz' Oseransky (Matthew Perry) is a meek dentist in Montreal. His wife Sophie (Rosanna Arquette) is a money grubber who may be looking to cash in on his life insurance. His new assistant Jill St. Claire (Amanda Peet) tells him to divorce her. Then notorious mob hit-man Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski (Bruce Willis) moves in next door. He immediately recognizes Jimmy is in danger of a contract kill from Chicago mob boss Janni Pytor Gogolak (Kevin Pollak). Sophie pushes Oz to cash in on the contract and he goes back to Chicago to appease her but not intending to contact Janni. She immediately tells Jimmy to double cross Oz. Oz is confronted by hit-man 'Frankie Figs' Figueroa (Michael Clarke Duncan) who brings him to Janni. Oz falls for femme fatale Cynthia Tudeski (Natasha Henstridge). She tells him that Janni's father Lazlo hid $10M with her before being sent to prison. It can only be accessed with three signatures from her, Janni, and Jimmy. Or else it can be accessed with their death certificates. Janni sends Frankie with Oz back to Montreal to track down and kill Jimmy. Only there are even more double crosses.
My biggest problem with this is director Jonathan Lynn. He doesn't show enough comedic skills in this. There are some good potential but it looks like a second rate movie. This should be so much funnier. It's simply not well filmed. There is also the $10M jackpot. It's way too convoluted and simply a device to give the characters a reason to do what they do. It's backwards writing. Mostly, it's awkward.
The good part is all the good actors around. Most of them are doing their best. Natasha Henstridge is a little stiff. Kevin Pollak isn't as funny as he needs to be. Matthew Perry is working hard and has good chemistry with Bruce Willis. The boys are good with Amanda Peet. Perry has less chemistry with Natasha Henstridge. There are a few laughs. I just wish it has a lot more.
The Scout (1994)
Sleazy Brooks and crazy Fraser
Al Percolo (Albert Brooks) is a scout for the Yankees. He bends the rules and lies to get the latest phenomena Tommy Lacy (Michael Rapaport). However Lacy turns out to be a complete flop and runs away. Al is punished to scout deep in Mexico. He stumbles across Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser). Yankee boss Ron Wilson (Lane Smith) fires him. He decides to bring Steve back to the States himself. The Yankees bids $55M for him to pitch but they need a psychiatrist's letter. Al picks Dr. Aaron (Dianne Wiest) out of the phone book.
Albert Brooks is annoyingly sleazy. He's really off-putting and has none of the likability of 'Broadcast News'. The movie doesn't actually need to show all the ugliness. It needs to get to Brendan Fraser much earlier. The first part is not as funny as the filmmaker thinks it is. Director Michael Ritchie made one of my favorite comedy 'The Bad News Bears', but his resume is inconsistent. If this has any hope for this movie, it's the chemistry between Brooks and Fraser but it's not funny enough. The baseball stuff is ridiculous. Brooks is like fingernails on the chalkboard. It's simply not good no matter how crazy Fraser acts.
The Pacific (2010)
Different from Band of Brothers
Ostensively, this follows 3 marines and their individual stories in the Pacific during WWII. Bob Leckie (James Badge Dale) is a small town reporter who join the marines at the start. Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) is a 90 pound weakling whose parents are reluctant to allow him to join. John Basilone (Jon Seda) comes from an Italian family who becomes a famous war hero.
Right off the bat, this must be compared to 'Band of Brothers'. While they are both WWII mini-series focused on the soldiers, they really hit on two different tones. BoB is more patriotic, more action oriented, and the story flow with a natural climax. This one still has the overwhelming action but it's muddier, grittier, and uglier. At times, this feels like a Vietnam war movie or a tough Korean movie. Unlike BoB, the last episode of this series is possibly the most emotionally tough. BoB can be an adventure thriller at times but 'The Pacific' is always a psychological grind. The only problem I have is the third episode where they spend the whole episode in Melbourne. It has some interesting stories but it's a waste to spend the whole episode there. Leckie gets a girl but they don't even stay together. For most of the Pacific, there are some great stories and impressive action. It's just a different style of war TV show.
Idle Hands (1999)
Seth Green and Elden Henson duo funny
Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa) is pot smoking teen slacker. He's so oblivious that he doesn't notice his parents had been killed on Halloween. His slacker friends Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson) tell him about the serial killer on the loose. He's in love with Molly (Jessica Alba) next door but he's too shy to talk to her. Debi LeCure (Vivica A. Fox) is on the hunt for the killer, a demonic killer. Anton discovers the bodies. His right hand seems to have a mind of its own.
Devon Sawa is not the most compelling lead. He does this pathetic slacker character well. The comedy duo of Seth Green and Henson is terrific. There's a young hot Jessica Alba. It has some funny moments. It just needs more of them. It's a junior take on the Evil Dead hand and there's nothing wrong with that.
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
In the South American banana port of Barranca, Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur) arrives to be befriended by a couple of hound dogs local pilots Les Peters and Joe Souther. It's a dangerous job and Joe dies in a crash. Geoff Carter (Cary Grant) runs the mail delivery outfit. He's a cold hard man and then his ex Judy MacPherson (Rita Hayworth) shows up with her husband Bat (Richard Barthelmess) who has a checkered past as a pilot.
There is no doubt that these are great stars. Director Howard Hawks brings a bit of humor but this suffers from the rambling romance. Jean Arthur starts as a funny bombshell and she's completely overshadowed as soon as Rita Hayworth walks in. All of a sudden, Jean is the frumpy second thought. It breaks up a nice rom-com and the movie struggles to recover the story. It also has too many things going on. There's an action thriller. There's a backstory of conflicts with the second in command. There is just too much going on.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Fascinating but lacks tension
Based on the 1951 Ray Bradbury novel, Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is a part of a book burning squad in the future. The world is a cold heartless place where the totalitarian government has banned all books. His wife Linda (Julie Christie) as well as the rest of society has been drugged and watching TV constantly. He falls for his lively neighbor Clarisse (Julie Christie) who turns out to be a book reader and he reads books that he confiscates.
It's certainly an interesting piece of art. However I'm not sure it's a great movie. There is a cold sterilized feel to the movie. The style is definitely dated. It's a sci-fi more in keeping with the earlier era with a human touch delivered by great french filmmaker François Truffaut. He gives the somewhat flawed but fascinating source material an European touch. The dystopia world should be a lot more scarier but Truffaut is set on making the audience think. The poetic ending is fascinating but still flawed. Nevertheless, it is a very cool idea.
Superhero Movie (2008)
better than most of the recent bad spoofs
This one is spoofing a lot on the Spiderman franchise as well plenty from every other superhero movie. Rick Riker (Drake Bell) is the geeky student. He is infatuated with fellow student Jill Johnson (Sara Paxton). Trey (Kevin Hart) is his best friend. They go to Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald)'s labs on a school excursion. There he is bitten by a mutant dragonfly. He lives with his uncle Albert (Leslie Nielsen) and aunt Lucille (Marion Ross) since he lost his parents.
There are a lot of bad spoof movies these days. This one is the best of a bad lot. At least it's actually following a functional superhero movie story. And the best thing may be that it has Leslie Nielsen. Nobody can tell a deadpan joke quite like him. He still hits it out of the park time and time again. Drake Bell is not necessarily a good actor and the movie suffers because of him. It comes close but it's not good enough to recommend. The classics are still unsurpassed.
Hannah Arendt (2012)
Philosophy debate vs character examination
Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) is a writer philosopher professor working in NYC. It's 1960. Nazi Adolf Eichmann has just been captured and is to stand trial in Israel. Arendt, who left Germany in 1933 and was held in a french detention camp, offers to go to cover the trial for the New Yorker. She finds Eichmann to be a nobody, and a bureaucrat. She also finds the trial to be not about Eichmann but a much more general indictment of the Third Reich. Her husband has health problems. She is being pushed by the publisher. She writes a controversial article explaining Eichmann's evil intent as simply unable to think and describes the Jewish leadership who cooperated with the Nazis one way or another. It's met with anger and even death threats. She answers her critics with a lecture to her students in which she describes the banality of evil.
It's a fascinating political debate and a slice of history. It takes this story to harsh out some ideas about the nature evil. Sukowa gives this person a powerful presence. However I don't think it digs into her personality deep enough. Where does she get her sensibilities? What was her childhood like? What was her life in Europe like? I like the philosophy debate but I want more of her personal story.
Fun with Dick and Jane (1977)
First half needs more laughs
Dick (George Segal) and Jane Harper (Jane Fonda) are living the American dream. He has a good job at Taft Aerospace but then he get laid off by his boss Charlie Blanchard (Ed McMahon). At first, they're unconcerned. Eventually it gets so bad that the landscaper even takes back the grass. He needs to cut back on spending while on unemployment and she needs to get a job. Her job isn't working out and he gets kicked off unemployment. When they get robbed at the loan place, they get an idea.
The first half is basically a spiral downwards for this upper class family. It needs more comedy. It has the potential but it doesn't take full advantage. It plays as a light comedy. The couple is materialistic. They aren't the most nicest but they are likable enough to root for. There are some edgy social commentary with Dick as unemployed dealing with the lower class problems. Then the movie turns with the Bonnie and Clyde antics. It gets funnier and more edgier. George Segal and Jane Fonda play a good bickering couple. It could have been even more outrageous if they treated their help with less than friendliness. Then they could learn something as their table gets turned. The setup could be better.
The Jerk (1979)
Ridiculous, stupid, and funny
Navin Johnson (Steve Martin) is down and out. He tells the story of his life. He grew up as a poor black boy with his black family. He's a clueless naive manic idiot who goes to the big city St. Louis. He gets a job at the gas station from Harry Hartounian (Jackie Mason). It's a random series of crazy events. He invents a way to support glasses and salesman Stan Fox (Bill Macy) goes 50-50 with him. A madman (M. Emmet Walsh) is after him for no good reason. He escapes to join the carnival as Guess Your Weight. He's taken by rough stunt bike rider Patty Bernstein (Catlin Adams) but he falls for sweet Marie (Bernadette Peters). Marie runs away and he ends up in L.A. That's where he reconnects with Stan Fox and finds out he's wildly rich.
It's ridiculous and it's even funny. Steve Martin is putting all his skills of performance and writing to work in his first feature starring role. It's like half of 'Dumb and Dumber'. That's really my only wish. I wish he had another comedian to play off of. It would be even better if he was a comedy duo. He's funniest when Bernadette Peters is with him. This is completely ridiculous and stupid. That's where most of the humor comes from.