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Runaway Bride (1999)
Despite a charming cast, the film suffers from a host of unlikable characters and a silly storyline
Julia Roberts seems to be one of the most hated celebrities on this website. I can't really understand why. I find her to be talented and charming as well as engaging and usually likable, until I saw Runaway Bride. I thought I was going to like this one but it offered some of the most unlikable characters I have ever seen in a romantic comedy. Generally, the audience should want to cheer for the two people to get together but I couldn't care less. I don't think Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) actually deserved to be in a marriage because she was selfish, immature and seemed incapable of love. I just couldn't fathom why anyone would actually be attracted to her. She has weddings like there no big deal and she probably wasted a lot of money between the four failed ones she had. She has her fiancé invest all of his time into the relationship, trying to show her that he does indeed love her only to be left at the altar. I guess the situation was supposed to be humorous and I shouldn't have taken it so seriously but it was tough to overlook all of the garbage the film was trying sell to me.
Acting wise the film was decent, which did save it a little. Julia Roberts gives an okay performance, although it's one of her worst. However, she is working with rather weak material and she's portraying a woman that is just so hard to like. Richard Gere was also decent although nothing special. The chemistry between these two was basically non-existent which made their relationship seem completely fake and unrealistic. It was hard to buy that a cynical man would fall for a woman that has no problem trampling all over a man's heart. They did have a few funny scenes together though which made the film more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the film runs for an inexplicable 116 minutes so there are a lot of dead spots.
Romantic comedies shouldn't really be loathsome movies. The characters should be likable and engaging so it's easy to get behind them and the story shouldn't be too far-fetched. Unfortunately, Runaway Bride commits the worst sin for a romantic comedy by offering unlikable characters, making it basically impossible to really get into the movie despite how talented the cast may be.
When structural engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) learns his wife is cheating on him, he concocts the perfect murder to get revenge without being caught. Assigned to the case is hotshot attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) who is ready to leave the D.A's. office to join a big money legal firm, but when he's challenged by Crawford's case, he's willing to risk everything to prove the man is guilty.
Given the talented cast, Fracture should have been more than a by-the-numbers thriller but that's exactly what it was. It features a few good performances although they are working with some unremarkable material and can't quite lift the film above mediocrity. The uninspired direction was a bit surprising given the track record of director Gregory Hoblit. He managed to keep things safe and predictable without really adding anything special to the film. I guess he was relying on the strength of his cast which only worked to an extent. The scenes with Gosling and Hopkins were interesting to watch but whenever Hopkins was absent, the film seriously dragged and Gosling's character was really unlikable so it was hard to root for him.
The screenplay was only average with some decent dialog being the highlight of it. The way the screenwriter played out the crime was very formulaic and pretty predictable. The ending was fairly obvious from the beginning and it wasn't a big twist ending that makes the viewer feel smart for figuring it out but rather it was an ending that makes the viewer wonder how these supposedly smart characters weren't able to figure it out. So save for some scenes with Gosling and Hopkins, the audience gets to watch a bland story unfold without any real sense of interest.
Luckily, the casting director did a great job and the performances were able to save the film. Anthony Hopkins was playing a familiar character yet it was still great to watch him on screen and he was the best part about the movie. Ryan Gosling was also pretty good and he managed to keep up with Hopkins. Rosamund Pike was decent, a bit dry though. I really liked Embeth Davidtz and it's such a shame that she didn't get a lot of screen time although this was expected. David Strathairn was decent although a bit wasted with an undeveloped character. Overall, Fracture features a strong cast stuck in average material and it ends up being forgettable. Rating 6/10
The Last Mimzy (2007)
It's pretty harmless yet also fairly forgettable
While vacationing at their parent's beach house, young Noah and Emma Wilder find a strange box. When they open it, they discover several bizarre objects and a child's stuffed rabbit named Mimzy. As the kids play with the objects, they discover that they do seemingly miraculous things. Even more amazing, the children themselves start gaining remarkable new powers. But where did the object come from? And what will happen when their parents, or even the government, learn about their discovery?
The Last Mimzy is a perfectly harmless and bland film. It's mildly enjoyable for kids but it doesn't really offer much for people over the age of 14. I think the film's main problem was the sluggish pacing and dull direction. The film is a little over ninety minutes long but it felt so much longer because everything happened so slowly. Director Robert Shaye shot all of the scenes without really injecting any personality into the movie. Everything felt generic and nothing really stood out; not the acting, special effects or anything. The writing was better because it at least had some creativity to it. The basic premise was intriguing and the film presented some interesting ideas so I can't say that the whole movie was a bore.
The acting was on the forgettable side, much like the actual movie. Rhiannon Leigh Wryn was pretty good as Emma. She's not the best child actor out there but at least she wasn't annoying. She had a few decent scenes and it never sounded like she was just reciting her lines. Chris O'Neil was the exact opposite. He was dull, annoying and he sounded like he was reading his lines. It's kind of sad that he got out acted by a seven year old girl. Although, they did have a realistic brother and sister relationship so he did help to do something right. Timothy Hutton was shockingly invisible. His performance here was quite similar to his performance in "Last Holiday". He showed up, did his lines and left. He didn't seem to put in much effort but of course he's an excellent actor so a simplistic role like this probably wasn't much for him. Joely Richardson was the very definition of bland and was in the same boat as Hutton. Rainn Wilson and Kathryn Hahn were both alright as was Michael Clarke Duncan although he didn't get a lot of screen time. Overall, The Last Mimzy was so harmless that it was really hard to hate. At the same time, nothing about it really stood out and it ended up being forgettable. Rating 5/10
The Number 23 (2007)
An unconvincing thriller that proves to be more ridiculous than thrilling.
"Fate" leads Walter Sparrow to come in possession of a mysterious novel that has eerie similarities and connections to his life, all based around the number 23. As the story unfolds in real life and fiction, Sparrow must figure out his connection to the book and how the story will eventually end.
The Number 23 offers an intriguing premise that is undone by a weak execution. The film just failed on many different levels which is pretty disappointing because it held so much potential. The screenplay was probably the worst part about it. It was filled with silly sequences and laughable dialog that just killed the mood of the movie. It seemed like the screenwriter had a good idea, he just didn't know how to develop it to stretch over a ninety minute running time. The second half of the film was running low on ideas, the twist was pretty obvious and the ending was awful.
Joel Schumacher is responsible for one of the worst movies ever and he did redeem himself a little with Phone Booth and a few other films but The Number 23 reminds me that he's still capable of making a stinker. He has the movie drenched in style but he just can't get a good focus. He moves the film at a clunky and slow pace. He switches from reality to what's actually happening in the book which quickly got annoying. The actual book in the film that's titled "The Number 23" is an awful detective story and the audience gets stuck listening to Carrey narrate it which just bored me to tears. When Carrey is finally done with book, we get stuck watching him run around trying to solve the mystery. At this point, the audience has lost interest and there is no real tension. We impatiently wait for the movie to reach it's horrible ending and unconvincing explanation before celebrating that film has finally finished.
The acting was mostly average and pretty forgettable. Jim Carrey was clearly just sleepwalking through his performance and he didn't even seem to be trying. He was either completely over the top in some scenes or just very wooden. His narration was a complete bore to listen to and he put no life inside his character. Virginia Madsen did the best she could with a limited role but she needs to pick better scripts. Logan Lerman was pretty bland as was Danny Huston. Overall, The Number 23 was an awful thriller that offered more laughs than suspense or thrills. Rating 3/10
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Despite featuring a few heartwarming moments and fine performances, the film was uninteresting and forgettable
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is the type of guy everyone knows and most have been at one point in their life or another - the working poor. He's smart and diligent but unable to catch a break and falling further and further behind in his responsibilities to everything except his young son (Jaden Smith) whom he'd promised to always be around for, no matter the circumstances.
The Pursuit of Happiness is heartwarming in parts but as a whole, the film wasn't very engaging or memorable. The whole thing just felt too manipulative and I think they tried way too hard to get the audience to feel sorry for the main character. For instance, the first half of the film was mostly depressing to watch because the "hero" of the movie was in a bad state so it was hard to watch him suffer. We had to see all of these unlucky scenes and moments where Chris just couldn't catch a break. It got really annoying after awhile to have the film show all of this and it just proved that it was clear pity draining.
The direction proved to be quite lame and it was a big reason to why the movie wasn't very appealing to me. The pacing was on the slow side and it was unbearable at times. This had to do with the fact that the main character himself wasn't very likable so it got tiring to watch him for nearly two hours. We were supposed to root for him which was easy to do because of his situation but I never really viewed him as an interesting person and he was actually pretty selfish. He took on a six month internship which didn't pay any money and he was surprised that his wife wasn't happy with that decision. Even though everything worked out in the end, I don't believe he should have taken that job because his family was in a bad situation already. I admire his determination to get out of the unfortunate situation but not the way he chose to do so.
The most positive thing about the film was the relationship between Will Smith and Jaden Smith. I know that they are related in real life so filming these scenes was probably an easy thing to do yet they did have an appealing relationship and watching them together made you root for Chris a little more because you want the best for the kid. However, I don't believe Will Smith deserved an Oscar nomination. He was really good but there were better performances from 2006. Thandie Newton deserved a razzie for her performance. She was ridiculously over the top and very fake. She had no control of her emotions and was just generally awful. Overall, The Pursuit of Happiness features a few heartwarming moments but for the most part, it didn't really appeal to me. Rating 5/10
Stick It (2006)
It's my favorite guilty pleasure from 2006
Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is a rebellious teen forced to attend a tough gymnastics academy after driving a motorcycle through a window. There, she gets into it with the tough coach (Jeff Bridges) and other girls, but they all have to work together if they want to win a gymnastic championship.
Stick It is a delightful comedy that features memorable dialog and fun performances. The film itself is pretty standard but it was still a lot of fun to watch. I think the screenplay played a big part in the entertainment factor. There were many great lines and scenes which was surprising since the trailer was kind of lame. However, I went in expecting a cheesy comedy and I had a good time. It was pretty corny yet director and screenwriter Jessica Bendinger had a good balance of the cheesiness so that it never became too much to bear.
There were a couple of things I didn't like about the film though. The second half was a bit more serious and therefore not as funny. As in most comedies, there's always a serious shift and it was just awkward when it happened. This had more to do with the performers rather than the director. Another thing, the message of the film was kind of stupid. I know, this is a harmless comedy and it shouldn't be taken seriously yet it was kind of lame to have all the contestants scratch because they weren't getting their way. It could have been a good idea because contestants do seem to get mad at the judges all the time but I didn't like the way they carried it out here.
The acting was pretty good with Missy Peregrym giving the best performance. Her line delivery was perfect and she had many charming scenes. Hopefully, there will be more of her in the future. Jeff Bridges was decent although he could have done this role in his sleep. Vanessa Lengies was good as a supporting player even though her character was pretty annoying. The rest of the performances were passable except for both Nikki SooHoo and Maddy Curly. They were just too wooden and just appeared awkward throughout the movie. Overall, Stick It was purely a guilty pleasure for me. It's no masterpiece but I did have fun while I was watching it. Rating 7/10
Daddy's Little Girls (2007)
Some fine performances and heartwarming moments aren't enough to make the film above average
Monty (Idris Elba) is a mechanic trying to keep his ex-wife Jennifer (Tasha Smith) from gaining custody of their three little girls since she's been involved with a powerful local drug dealer. When he convinces the smart and beautiful attorney Julia (Gabrielle Union) to assist him, sparks begin to fly.
I wish I could say that Daddy's Little Girls was a good film but it barely ranks as an average one. I blame Tyler Perry for the film's failure because he created the inconsistent direction and messy script. Instead of developing a realistic situation with relatable characters, he created everything as very improbable and the film was kind of emotionally distant. The screenplay was messy because of all the poorly written characters. All of the "bad guys" were so over the top and all of their actions were ridiculous. We never get a real reason as to why Jennifer wants her kids back. Once the character is introduced, it becomes hard to believe that the judge would even consider giving her the kids since her behavior is pretty vile. It wasn't just her but all of the characters. Perry made sure that the viewer knew who the bad guys were and who the good guys were.
Behind the camera, things weren't much better. I didn't like how Perry focused more on the relationship between Monty and Julia than on the relationship between Monty and his kids. I thought it just defeated the whole purpose of the film. Also, the kids were so rude to Julia when they first met her and for no reason either. She was trying to help and they weren't giving her a chance. It just made so sense for them to act that way. Another thing, the tone was inconsistent. In one scene, Perry would be shown having a great time with Julia and then in the next scene, the three girls were suffering while living with their mother. The ending was a bit cartoon-ish but still it was decent and a little heartwarming.
Despite the weak material, there were actually a few good performances. Gabrielle Union was pretty good as Julia. Sure, her character was pretty annoying but she still did a fine job in the role. Idris Elba also gave a pretty good performance. It was easy to feel for his character and he also had great chemistry with Union. Tasha Smith was very unconvincing and annoyingly over the top. Overall, the film wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be. There were a few heartwarming moments and fine performances but other than that, the movie didn't really do anything for me. Rating 5/10
Besides for the decent storyline and gorgeous scenery, the film is pretty weak
While on vacation in Brazil, six young travelers wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere when their bus crashes. After a night of partying on a secluded beach, they wake up in the sand, having been drugged and robbed, leading to an even darker secret about the isolated Brazilian community and their use of tourists.
Turistas offers plenty of gorgeous eye candy although not much in terms of suspense or entertainment. The main reason for the film's weak quality is due to its sluggish pacing. The first hour just stumbles along so slowly featuring characters that are so unlikable that the viewer doesn't care whether or not they survive. Unless your idea of fun is watching people partying on a beach and behaving like morons then you are in for a real treat. When the annoying tourists are finally drugged and robbed, nothing happens to them right away. For whatever reason, the bad guys use this man called Kiko to lead them through the jungle to his uncle's house so that the tourists can think they are going to receive help and be safe. When they finally arrive, the real terror begins although the film doesn't actually get a whole lot better.
First of all, I don't understand why the bad guys waited that long to use them. Why couldn't they just kidnap them after they drugged them? Why did they waste an entire day? The twist of what they do to tourists in Brazil is pretty scary but only one character is actually killed in this manner. The rest die in different ways and once the person is dead, they are useless to the Brazilians because they can't use their body parts anymore. Anyways, the last twenty minutes were fast paced but a bit repetitive because they stayed underwater for most of it.
Director John Stockwell is horrible at storytelling but he does have a nice eye for scenery which was the only true redeemable aspect of the film. They took full advantage of being in Brazil and managed to get many nice shots as well as some neat underwater scenes. While they were pretty attractive, these scenes really had nothing to do with the story so they were a bit gratuitous. The acting was pretty awful with everyone giving below average performances. Josh Duhamel was very wooden and Melissa George was just very bland. Desmond Askew gave by far the most annoying performance out of everyone while Miguel Lunardi gave the best performance although that's not much of an achievement. Overall, 2006 saw the release of many horror films and while Turistas offered something a little different than the usual, it wasn't able to function as an effective horror film. Rating 4/10
Running with Scissors (2006)
Nasty in the most unpleasant ways
Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) is caught between his feuding parents (Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin) when their crackpot therapist Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) steps in and offers to take the boy off their hands, throwing the teenager into a far more dysfunctional family setting.
Running with Scissors fails to generate any laughs or emotion due to the very annoying and fake characters. Given the cast, this film should have been a lot better but the screenplay killed any chance of that happening. First of all, there wasn't one likable person to be found nor was there one person in this mess that actually resembled someone you have a chance of meeting. To top it off, they were all mostly vile and carried some weird character habits that were supposed to be "funny" but barely even managed a chuckle. As a general rule, I always watch a film in its entirety although there were many times I was ready to give up. The characters were self obsessed and the movie didn't give me a good reason why I should care for these people.
Even though this film is an adaptation of someone's memoirs, I believe Ryan Murphy should get the blame for this. He expected the viewer to actually feel sorry for the characters but it was very hard to do that because most of the scenes ringed false. Murphy would pry in on his characters ambitions and break them down. It became disturbing to watch after awhile. Also, it seemed like Murphy was going more for shock value than anything else and the majority of the scenes were incredibly stupid.
The acting was mostly a disaster with even some talented people failing to really rise above the awful material. Annette Bening was just recycling some of her old performances. Her character was a self absorbed idiot and she quickly got annoying. It's mind boggling to think that she actually had an outside shot at being nominated for an Oscar but thankfully, she was ignored. Joseph Cross was just very awkward to watch on screen. His mannerisms suited the character slightly but as a whole I didn't really buy his performance. Gwyneth Paltrow was alright although she didn't get a lot of screen time. Evan Rachel Wood was okay at the start but then started becoming annoying. Brian Cox had a few funny scenes but his performance was mostly embarrassing to watch. Alec Baldwin probably gave the best performance although that's not an achievement of any kind. Overall, Running with Scissors was an awful film that is not worth watching. Rating 4/10
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Traditional underdog story that does little to separate itself from the pack despite featuring some decent performances
Akeelah Anderson (Keke Parker), an 11-year-old girl whose father died forcing her mother to work double shifts to keep the family afloat, has a knack for spelling. When she wins her school spelling bee, she's paired with a retired college professor (Laurence Fishburne) to help her train for the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, but first, they'll have to overcome a lot of obstacles.
I was honestly a little disappointed with this movie. The rating for the film on this site is an impressive 7.8 but I just don't agree with that. The film was way too predictable and the characters weren't engaging enough to make it anything more than mediocre. Predictability is a forgivable flaw if there is a heart to be found in the product. However, the majority of the emotional scenes just seemed fake and the film was rarely ever emotionally engaging. The screenplay was completely formulaic with more than a few cheesy speeches and the dialog was cringe worthy at times.
The lead character was actually a likable person. She did get a little annoying but I'm glad the character actually resembled a real person and not a cloying little kid in the vein of Dakota Fanning. The film makes it easy to root for Akeelah because she is a nice kid and there's very little reason not to root for her. However, since the ending could be telegraphed from the beginning, I lost interest in the film after the midway point. The first half of the movie was decent enough but the last third had me checking my watch constantly because the film was taking forever to finish. They could have easily eliminated some of the scenes and characters to save time. Also, some of the characters were just bad stereotypes and it showed how generic the writing became after awhile.
The acting was decent enough although not good enough to really raise the film above average. Keke Palmer was surprisingly good as Akeelah and she should do well in the future. She actually had a few impressive scenes. Laurence Fishburne was also good and he had a nice chemistry with Keke which was the most appealing thing about the film. Angela Bassett was good although a little wasted in her role. The other performances were adequate except for a few of the child actors although none of them were bad enough to really damage the film. Overall, Akeelah and the Bee is far from an awful film. It actually does feature a few nice performances and touching scenes just don't expect anything amazing. Rating 6/10