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Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
I listen to this movie with the same joy as I do a favorite song
I'm not entirely sure what to say about Glengarry Glen Ross without dumbing it down to blind praise. It's easily in my all time top 20 films I've ever seen, and it gets everything right. It has a dream cast and a level of intelligence that's unheard of in movies these days. Need lots of action and cheap thrills? You'll most certainly hate it. Do you enjoy high quality dialogue in your movies? Then it's like porn. Better than porn actually, seeing how you can watch Glengarry Glen Ross over and over and it will always be just as great.
This awkwardly titled classic comes from a play by David Mamet, who also wrote the script. It's a dark, profane, bitter, and cynical story about an office full of sleazy, lowlife salesmen (Pacino, Lemmon, Harris, and Arkin) who's job is to get in contact with cold potential customers (leads), and pass off what's essentially uninhabitable swampland as prime real estate. The job is naturally an exercise in futility, as most of the men are performing very below average, despite their most desperate efforts. The fact that the good leads are being held back by their boss (Spacey) until management sees some results isn't helping either. The situation is a humiliating paradox, that becomes outright desperate when a manager (Alec Baldwin) comes to the office from headquarters and announces a motivational sales contest that will mean prizes for the winners and unemployment for everyone else.
The characters are developed to perfection, and it is their words and reactions to the situation at hand that make this film such a work of genius. Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), has nothing to worry about. He's pretty much always been the top salesman at the office, treating his sales more like tangent-laced seductions, one of which we see working effortlessly. Unfortunately for everyone else, Roma's guaranteed victory narrows down the potential winners. The other guys have varying, but equally desperate reactions to this.
Shelley Levine (Jack Lemmon) is the oldest of the salesmen, and while he was once Roma's equal, he has been seriously slipping in his age and hasn't closed a sale in a very long time. He's in a desperate family situation, which is unspecified, but clearly severe enough that he can't afford to lose his job. He starts by trying to bribe their boss, Williamson (Kevin Spacey), and when that doesn't work, he tries to worm his way into the home of a family who are just as set on buying nothing as he is on selling anything. It's painful to watch, even though the character is unlikeable in many ways.
And then there's Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin). These guys have never been near the top, and now their expendability is here to haunt them. George spends the night listening passively as Moss pontificates on everything wrong with their office, which may or may not turn out to be justifying a robbery. Because the next morning, the office is found burglarized. And although Moss was the only one to verbalize his desire to do so, everyone has a reason to. The morning after the robbery, these situations all come to a head and the men are all exposed for the backstabbing scumbags they really are, particularly when Roma's customer from the night before shows up intent on canceling the sale.
The dialogue sizzles. It is some of the best dialogue Mamet ever wrote, which is saying a lot. Every actor sinks into their role, and it's hard to single out a stand-out performance aside from Alec Baldwin's ten minute appearance delivering an unforgettably cruel and venomous speech. Jack Lemmon, most well-known from classic movies like The Apartment and Some Like it Hot, is hard to forget in this movie with a character who is incredibly unlikable, yet still sympathetic. Everyone plays a shade of unlikable in this film, but as far as characters you'll love to hate goes, Kevin Spacey's Williamson takes the cake. He has the easiest job in the office, and he treats his employees like his position makes him more important to the company. He is a complete tool in every way, and when he screws over Roma, you can bet that Al Pacino will dish out the verbal assault to end all verbal assaults ("Who told you that you could work with MEN?!"). It's a completely satisfying moment, as memorable as any of Pacino's best moments from The Godfather, and it's all the better since you totally feel that Spacey's character deserves it.
I could gush over this movie scene after scene all day. It's not so much a movie that appeals to me on a personal level as it is one that plays like a great piece of music. The dialogue is as pleasurable to the ears as great music, and the movie has a stagy yet lyrical quality that sucks you in and doesn't let go. It's one of the most fast-paced films you'll ever see, with two very distinct acts. The movie is over before you know it. Even if it bores you to tears, it'll be over before you realized you were bored. Overall, give the movie a chance. It's the best compilation of writing and acting since 1976's Network.
Raging Bull (1980)
The pinnacle of the DeNiro/Scorsese collaborations.
Martin Scorsese is the epitome of the modern filmmaker. My idol if you will. The guy puts his all into everything he touches. His energy and attention to detail are rarely matched. And he consistently churns out one solid movie after another, with even his lesser works [(Gangs of New York (2002), Shutter Island (2010)] standing out above almost everything else that comes out in terms of quality. While his movies are consistently solid even if not always perfect, more than a few have stood out as timeless, essential classics that will forever go down in film history. Goodfellas (1990) and Taxi Driver (1976) are widely noted as being arguably the greatest films of their respective decades. His greatest masterpiece, Raging Bull (1984), follows in this tradition. It's the best movie of the 80's.
Scorsese brings us the life of middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta, one of the least likable protagonists in cinematic history, in a way that makes us fully sympathize with him. That alone is a testament to Scorsese's power as a director, but it's also no coincidence that Scorsese's holy trinity all star Robert DeNiro. Without DeNiro, there'd be no Raging Bull, literally and figuratively. This is a passion project between two friends that went a long way, and that passion shows in every beautifully crafted image. And Robert DeNiro's performance is the stuff of legends, easily one of the top five performances ever caught on film. If LaMotta had been played by anyone else, he most likely would have come off as a soulless thug, not worth caring about. DeNiro plays it differently.
Jake LaMotta is a born champion in the boxing ring, with a knack for fiercely annihilating his opponents. He is becoming a true star in the sport. Life should be good. But it isn't, and it never really has been. Jake LaMotta is a completely insecure and self-destructive individual with a brutal temper. His friends and family, though they care about him, are always on their toes and watching what they say around him. His emotional instability causes him to destroy his relationships with everyone close to him. He truly thinks that he loves his wife, Vickie, and she honestly wants to see the good in him. His brother Joey stands by him, isn't afraid of him, and tries to keep him in line while managing his boxing career. But when Jake begins to suspect that Joey and Vickie are having an affair, the rage that leads him to the top in the ring begins to seep into his personal life, worse so than ever before. It may even mean the last straw for the eternally patient Joey.
The story works because it explores the soul of a hopeless misanthrope without judging him. You feel like you better understand certain people after experiencing Raging Bull. Jake is as three- dimensional as characters come. Despite his inability to be a good person, his desire to do good is always clear. So is Jake a bad person? More a pathetic one. He's his own worst enemy, and that's why we can't completely fault him. This is what Scorsese and DeNiro clearly understood. The movie doesn't tell you what to think of him, and DeNiro doesn't play it any certain way. Raging Bull simply is LaMotta's life, and DeNiro is LaMotta.
Contrary to popular belief, Raging Bull isn't really a "boxing movie." The boxing scenes occupy only a few minutes of screen time, and there is no big match to determine the fate of the characters. It's a character movie, and boxing is the only thing that keeps the character going. As far as the fight scenes go however, they are as good as they've ever been done. The black and white cinematography compliments them very well. It emphasizes the splattering blood which appears as black and thick as Hershey's syrup. Also different from other boxing dramas is the lack of crowd participation in the fights. Rather than focus equally on the drama in and out of the ring, Scorsese's camera puts you right in the ring with the fighters. Every punch is felt, and as brief as they are, the scenes leave you feeling bruised. They're as raw as it gets.
I could pontificate on this movie's endless list of quality attributes for pages and pages. I'll close by saying that Raging Bull is quite possibly the greatest movie from the greatest living filmmaker. It's cinematic art at it's highest form, a tone poem, a character study, and a biography all flawlessly rolled into one majestic package. Unless you're offended by raw language and uncensored depictions of the uglier side of life, there's essentially nothing to complain about when it comes to Raging Bull. 10/10.
The Shining (1980)
Scariest film of all time, and Kubrick's most accessible work, if far from his best.
Stanley Kubrick, whose legendary, chilly style is so distinct that you can tell a Kubrick film no matter what genre he tackled. The Shining, inspired by (I won't say "based on") Stephen King's classic novel, is Stanley Kubrick's stab at straight horror. A master of making the audience uncomfortable even in his non-horror films, Kubrick fully disregards all the normal conventions of horror and films a genuinely frightening story in his own unique, deeply dark and often downright uncomfortable style. With a classic performance by Jack Nicholson that is simultaneously hilarious and bone-chilling, and a pervading sense of dread brought on by the gorgeous use of location, no movie has the power to truly, deeply disturb me every time I watch it like The Shining. It's a perfect horror film.
The story involves the dysfunctional Torrance family, Jack, Wendy, and their little son Danny. The intense Jack is a recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer who takes a job as winter caretaker at the isolated, prestigious Overlook Hotel, the disturbing past of which doesn't bother Jack in the slightest. Upon arrival, the troubled Danny discovers that he has psychic powers; he can see things from the past and future. This power is called "shining," and it seems to be in full effect in the hotel. Danny is terrified by what he sees, and rightly so. Unfortunately, he is too young to understand what he's seeing, so he can't warn his parents.
He doesn't really have to, as the hotel's demons, or perhaps simply the claustrophobia and isolation, seem to be taking a more sinister toll on Jack. Stuck with his family whom he can barely tolerate for nearly a year in a place with no alcohol, his temper gets gradually worse. When Wendy becomes scared of the hotel and suggests leaving, Jack is furious to say the least. He then meets (or does he?) the former caretaker from the hotel's sordid past who kindly suggests a harsher, more permanent way of dealing with his family issues.
The Shining is an enigmatic film. We can never tell whose point of view we are witnessing the events from, or if we even are at all. There is as much to suggest that the Overlook is simply haunted as there is to say the characters are claustrophobic and hallucinating. This consistent ambiguity results in a deeply unsettling tone where for much of the time, we aren't sure what we're afraid of. The simple idea of three people alone in a giant isolated hotel is creepy, and as the camera follows the characters around the Overlook, we sense danger around every corner.
As far as scares go, the film isn't all atmosphere. Say what you will about hidden messages and menacing camera-work, The Shining's relentlessly visceral nature alone is where its powerful immediate impact lies. There are some legendary shocks here. The elevator scene. The baseball bat/typewriter scene. The room 237 scene. Special mention should go to the two little girls for being among the only horror characters to literally keep me sleeping with the lights on. Kubrick pulls these scenes off with the most masterful sense of timing, pacing, and atmosphere. There is gore in the film, but it is used sparingly and to maximum shock effect.
The performances are odd, but looking back, I couldn't picture anyone else in any of the roles. Nicholson is basically playing himself in a lot of ways, and as over-the-top and hilarious as his performance is, it is also truly scary. Nicholson the actor seems to be really enjoying acting insane; his fun rubs off on us, and we laugh with him, and at his over-the-top nature; but his insanity is never doubted, and his sense of fun rubs off on us making us feel almost complicit in Jack's rampage. Shelly Duvall is rather annoying as his wife, although I think that was what Kubrick was going for. It's more believable that he'd want to chop her up than if she was a stronger person. For the record though, she is very good at conveying deep, helpless terror when the scene calls for it (with the help of Kubrick's intimidation). Danny Lloyd does good as Danny, which is remarkable as at such a young age, he didn't know he was making a horror movie; he's as believable as such a young actor can be, and his performance works because his innocence is the real thing. Scatman Crothers steals every scene he's in as the hotel cook who befriends Danny; he's just such a charming, likable guy who brings a little relief from the grimness of the storytelling, without taking away from it; his role proves darker than mere comic relief. I should also mention that Philip Stone's performance as "Grady" makes a more terrifying impression in two scenes than most actors do in whole movies. For such a polite gentleman, there is something so off about the mere presence of his character, that you never feel comfortable; the mere expression on his face during the bathroom scene still keeps me uneasy late at night.
The score, the cinematography, the editing, the lighting, the sound... I could never stop praising this film. It is my idea of a perfect horror film, perfectly blending claustrophobia, gore, psychological terror, ghostly imagery, and mind-bending weirdness to create a film that's as nightmare-inducing as it is brilliant. 10/10 The Shining is rated R for disturbing images and terror throughout, some violence, nudity, and language.
The Other Guys (2010)
Funniest movie of the year! What a surprise!
And I thought Will Ferrell's ship had sailed years ago. None of his movies since Anchorman have been much better than average, and his personality has since gotten quite old. I was blown away by this film on that level. Will Ferrell actually was funny. Though his usual style of humor was there, he never goes overboard with it, always staying true to his hysterical character. Even funnier is Mark Wahlberg, who actually manages to upstage Will Ferrell in the comedy department. His chemistry with Ferrell, his constant angry outbursts and thoroughly agitated personality result in some of the biggest laughs of the summer. Wahlberg might just have a career in comedy as a result of this.
The plot is rather weak in many ways. Ferrell and Wahlberg play a couple of police desk drones who live in the shadow of two badass hero cops who the city worships (two of the funniest cameos ever... I won't spoil them). When an unfortunate accident occurs, frustrated tough guy Wahlberg convinces Ferrell to join him in trying to take their place. What follows is an endless stream of gags and one-liners, as well as a convoluted and somewhat unnecessary financial thriller subplot that tends to drag the film down when it's emphasized too much. But it's hard to find fault when a film makes me laugh like this one did.
The Other Guys knows that its success relies on the quality of its jokes, and fully delivers. A running joke involves Ferrell, an effeminate dweeb, getting all the attractive women much to Wahlberg's dismay and confusion. Their take on how Hollywood portrays explosions is great, and we get a true sense of the god complex that seems to affect most movie cops (see the movie and you'll know what I mean). The jokes range fro brilliant, to not-so-brilliant but well-timed and executed, sometimes silly, sometimes downright bizarre, and sometimes lost among the laughter. It would take a second viewing to catch everything, because this is truly one film where you WILL miss lines from laughing.
The storyline is flimsy and the action sequences are poor, but that's just the film snob in me talking. I see comedies to laugh, and when it works, it works. The Other Guys is the funniest film to come out this year. 7/10.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
I really wanted to love it. But I can barely even bring myself to like it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has made me question just how well I fit in with my generation. According to other members of my generation, it is the movie to end all movies, and the best movie... I'm sorry... most EPIC movie ever. I'm partial to The Godfather myself. Scott Pilgrim is a film that I was looking forward to as Michael Cera has made me laugh numerous times in the past, and Edgar Wright is easily one of the more talented newer directors working today. Combined with the eye-popping visual effects, I couldn't see how these things could add up to anything less than a fun and entertaining film. Fun, to a point. Entertaining? Well...
Scott Pilgrim's first problem is the plot. The plot is self-conscious and repetitive, as well as overly laid back and easygoing. Scott Pilgrim has to defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil ex's. That's the whole plot, and at no point do we get the sense that anything is at stake for these characters. I know that probably shouldn't matter in an effects-driven popcorn movie, but with nothing to root for, or no suspense of any kind, I found the film to get boring after the first thirty minutes. That is approximately when the first evil ex shows up. They fight. He defeats him easily. Too easily. The fight isn't all that exciting as a result. And with six of these to go, the movie became a tedious experience before it was even halfway over.
Not to say the film doesn't have it's good points. Michael Cera, though not as witty as he can be, is still somewhat likable. And while the script lacks structure of any kind, it is jam- packed with hilariously quirky dialogue and brilliant sight gags. The filmmaking is generally good throughout, and as a director Edgar Wright hasn't lost his talent. Unfortunately, the poor storyline ultimately overshadowed these elements for me.
Maybe it's because I don't play video games. Maybe I just need to read the comics. Or maybe I'm just becoming less fun of a person as I mature. I want to like this movie and take the same joy from it that my generation does, but I simply can't. I'll stick to films with stories and social relevance and enjoy being the outcast. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World gets a generous 5/10 because I feel giving it anything lower would just make me look bitter.
Pet Sematary (1989)
A solid adaptation of one of the most horrifying novels ever written. Daring and deeply unsettling.
Few horror experiences can compare with reading Stephen King's Pet Sematary for the first time. If anybody has the art of terror flawlessly mastered, it's Stephen King. The man can make even the most hokey concept terrifying, through his mastery of word use and his deeply intricate characterizations which make the horror feel more close to home. One of the finest examples of this is Pet Sematary. On page, it's as scary as can be. Naturally, it would be quite difficult to fully capture the novel's full terror in a film, but with the help of Stephen King's faithful screenplay and competent direction and acting, Pet Sematary is as scary an adaptation as we could possibly want.
Pet Sematary is a relentlessly brutal horror story about a close, loving family whose world is gradually torn apart in the most devastating and horrible manner imaginable. King spares none of his characters the worst possible fates, even fates worse than death. I won't spoil anything for those who don't know what that entails. Suffice to say, you may want to sleep with the lights on for a few nights after this one. It's rough, bleak, unforgiving stuff.
As a fan of the book, all I can say is, well done. It's as realistically faithful to the book in all the ways it needs to be, and some of the scares translate very well to the screen. The character Zelda, for example. Terrifying in the book, just as scary in the film. And the story's most tragically horrible event is as shocking and upsetting as it was in the book. As in the book, death is dealt with in a disturbingly frank manner. Psychologically, this is as harsh as it gets.
Naturally, the film does pale in comparison to the book and isn't without its flaws. Stephen King's style isn't easy to translate to the screen as a lot of his plots are driven by what the characters are thinking, and King taps directly into their minds and tells us how they rationalize some very bad decisions. Since this isn't nearly as easy to accomplish on film, the characterization suffers. The acting makes up for it for the most part. It's nothing spectacular, but the actors are competent and as likable as they should be.
Overall, despite the flaws, I highly recommend Pet Sematary, though I'd read the book first. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who can't handle extreme grimness or a little graphic gore. 8/10
The Way of the Gun (2000)
Violent, exhilarating, and maybe too smart for it's own good. An underrated masterpiece.
Way of the Gun is one of the most underrated films I've ever seen, and is one of my personal favorites. It was ignored in theaters, and the reviews were divided between those who thought it was a masterpiece, and those who found it to be a slow, pretentious bore. I'm proudly in the former group. This film is written by the same man who wrote The Usual Suspects (who makes his directorial debut here), and though the straight-forward narrative is a big departure from that film, it is just as good. Fantastic dialogue, strong characters who are developed by the actors expressions rather than pointless exposition, and a storyline that doesn't in any way insult the viewer's intelligence. It also happens to be one hell of a good action flick.
The film follows two drifters known only as Parker (Ryan Phillipe) and Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro) who live life on the road, supporting themselves through petty crime. One day, they stumble upon an opportunity to score big money fast. A woman, Robin (Juliette Lewis) is being paid one million dollars to act as a surrogate mother for a wealthy "businessman" and his wife and is nearly due. Acting too quickly and without the necessary information about who exactly they're crossing, Parker and Longbaugh kidnap Robin in a hail of gunfire, evading her two shady bodyguards (Taye Diggs and Nicky Katt). They realize too late that the intended father of the unborn baby is a money launderer for some very bad people and can't pay the unreasonably high ransom without putting his own life at serious risk at the hands of his employers. The man dispatches his designated problem solver (James Caan) to clear up the situation as neatly as possible. However, the secret loyalties, and the hidden, often sinister motivations of everyone involved quickly sends things spinning violently out of control.
Way of the Gun opens with a bang and continues for an action-packed twenty minutes before slowing down and taking time to focus on the characters and the plot. The middle hour of the film is what lost many viewers. This section of the movie is very quiet and subtle, revealing many deep character traits in the least-contrived manner you'll see in an action film. The dialogue is incredibly realistic, and in no way dumbed down to explain things clearly. The characters know what they're talking about, and they actually communicate with other characters as opposed to the audience, which gives the film an often voyeuristic feel. The viewer absolutely must pay attention to everything said in the film or they will be completely lost as to what is happening and why. Many plot twists occur. Aside from Parker and Longbaugh, nobody is who they appear to be, and everything is far more complex than it appears on the surface.
The final, and possibly strongest act of the film is where things really speed up, and the film becomes in exercise in pure mayhem. Bullets fly in all directions, loudly and frequently and the blood flows freely. The gun battles in this section are among the biggest highlights of the film. They are loud enough that you could put the film on mute and still probably hear the shots clearly, and the choreography is fantastic. Unlike most action films, this movie doesn't over-stylize it's action sequences. There is no slow motion or MTV-style editing. The action is as realistic as any film I've seen in recent memory. Also, if you can't stand the sight of blood, DO NOT see this film. The third act is about as violent and bloody as a film can be without being slapped with an NC-17 rating. Standout scenes include a gory, wince-inducing moment involving broken glass, and a horrific field surgery sequence that takes place in the middle of the seemingly endless hails of gunfire. This isn't cool, Tarantino-style violence. The violence here is gritty, brutal, and in-your-face.
The cast does a wonderful job at bringing the script to life. Since most of the dialogue is plot-related, the characters true personalities are brought out by their subtle actions. Ryan Phillipe and Benicio Del Toro give their characters, who have little background info, flawless chemistry. They communicate with their looks more often than their words. Taye Diggs gives his character the perfect amount of coldness, and James Caan stands out as a man who emotionally speaking, secretly has more at stake than anyone else in the story and his character is probably the most interesting out of all of them.
Way of the Gun will divide viewers, and one has to pay close attention to catch everything. When people aren't getting killed left and right, the film becomes slow-paced on a level that many will find maddening. However, those looking for something that won't insult their intelligence will find everything they could possibly want in a crime picture. I found this to be a truly exhilarating experience, and one that any fan of film should check out. 10/10.
Way of the Gun is rated R for strong violence/gore, language, and some sexuality. Sex - 4/10 Violence - 10/10 Swearing - 10/10 Drugs - 3/10
The Mexican (2001)
A heavily flawed, but nonetheless fun and enjoyable journey to nowhere
I love this movie, flaws and all. It's a fun, albeit pointless story with some good funny dialogue, enough violence and gun play for the guys, romance for the girls, and entertaining, if not Oscar-worthy, performances from an excellent cast. I'll be honest, in spite of the pacing flaws and overall pointlessness, I really can't say I didn't enjoy the hell out of this movie because it delivers a little bit of everything.
The story follows Jerry (Brad Pitt), a mob errand boy who has a knack for screwing things up, resulting in him always being in the mob's debt. He is ordered to fly to Mexico to pick up a priceless, legendary pistol known as "The Mexican," and bring it back to the states. Not quite comprehending the fact that his life depends on the assignment, Jerry's overly emotional girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts) isn't happy that he's blowing off their romantic trip to Vegas for it, and breaks up with him. Shortly after retrieving the pistol, Jerry manages to royally screw up everything, and as a result, the mob sends a hit man, Leroy (James Gandolfini) to take Samantha hostage until Jerry gets the gun back. Samantha and Leroy soon become good friends, and over the course of their separate adventures, Jerry and Samantha realize they still love each other.
The first thing anybody should know about this before they watch it is that it isn't really a romantic comedy. The majority of the comedy is in the first thirty minutes, and Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts don't spend nearly as much time on screen together as the misleading ads suggested. The film is not as much of a romantic comedy as it is a messy mixture of comedy, crime/gangster thriller, romance, action, adventure, and drama, never content to settle on a single tone. One minute you're chuckling heartily at some goofy, innocent dialogue about love and romance, and the next minute, someone's being shot to death in a very bloody fashion. It isn't necessarily a dark movie, but it's by no means a lighthearted one either. The constant shifts in tone will put many people off.
The dialogue between Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini is a lot of fun to hear, and it's quite insightful on the subject of relationships. Their scenes are the heart of the movie, and provide the emotional core. The performances here are excellent. Julia Roberts is excellent and really brings her over-dramatic loudmouth character fully to life. James Gandolfini is perfect as the gay hit man with a heart of gold. He is believable as a soft-hearted gay man as well as a cold-blooded killer. Brad Pitt's journey in Mexico is the more slapstick of the two, and also the more mean-spirited and violent. Brad Pitt is very funny when he needs to be, but his performance feels rather awkward at times, and in many scenes, he talks with his hands as if he has no idea how to deliver his lines. He's still a fairly likable character.
Although they would be just fine as their own movies, these two stories manage to give the movie a little something for everyone. It would be a great date movie for patient couples. I use the word patient, because the movie is needlessly slow at times, and would have greatly benefited from an editor. This is the biggest flaw in the film. Many shots of nothing happening in certain scenes, as well as various pointless moments in general could have been easily cut. The film's 130 minutes could have become 110 or even 100 without in any way diminishing the entertainment value or effecting the story for the worst. This is some of the most lazy editing in any movie I've seen. Another problem is that the stories really don't go anywhere. Although you'll come away most likely having been entertained, you won't be able to help but wonder what the point to everything you just saw was.
The Mexican was originally intended to be an independent movie, and perhaps it would have been better-received if it had stayed independent. When a story this quirky and different attracts the two biggest stars in Hollywood, it only sets itself up for disappointment. That and the slow editing. But flaws and all, The Mexican is a fun and enjoyable journey to nowhere. It's funny, it's violent, and it's got entertaining characters, and in spite of these flaws, I really love this movie, and recommend it to anyone willing to endure a few slow stretches of an otherwise fun time. 8/10.
The Mexican is rated R for Violence and Language. Sex - 3/10 Violence - 8/10 Swearing - 10/10 Drugs - 2/10.
Ken Park (2002)
A vile, ugly, and sick movie which nobody should subject themselves to for any reason.
I was a fan of Kids and Bully, so my curiosity peaked when I learned that this similarly- themed film was banned all over, and was so controversial that it couldn't find a US distributor. I tracked down the film online and what followed was as painful a viewing experience as I can remember.
The film follows the lives of four random kids and their home lives. The kind of home lives that Jerry Springer wouldn't touch. One kid has a girlfriend who he has sex with on a regular basis, and she is completely unaware that he is cheating on her... with her mom. Another kid lives with an abusive father who constantly berates him and pushes him to become a man... until he decides sex with his son may be the best answer to that. Another young man lives with his sweet and endlessly loving grandparents. The kid is vicious and ungrateful in a way that would make him seem less than human. The fourth character, a girl, is a seemingly innocent religious girl who likes kinky sex. When her Christian fundamentalist father finds out about this, she is forced to marry him.
The film is an all-out assault of unpleasantness. The stories are presented in a cold, bleak manner that rivals Kids for chilling realism, and in this case, that isn't a good thing. The stories are completely pointless. Graphic, taboo, and shocking for no reason other than to make the viewer suicidal. Though the theme of twisted home lives may seem like perfect material for a chilling message movie, Ken Park manages to reduce the concept to nothing but shock tactics. Rather than providing a logical explanation for the disturbing events, it simply presents them in as explicit detail as possible which diminishes whatever the film was trying to say. Rather than show some development of ANY kind to what the relationship between the boy who has sex with his girlfriend's mom and his girlfriend, we are instead treated to a long, pornographic scene of the young man giving her the tongue. Instead of shedding some light on why the kid living with his grandparents truly hates his guardians so much, we instead get a hardcore scene of the kid masturbating while strangling himself. Did we really need to see every last detail of this (right down to the on-screen ejaculation)?
The film is profoundly disturbing, but due to the lack of any clear message, the film simply leaves you feeling worse about being alive rather than make you think like most disturbing movies manage to do. This is the most disturbing movie I've ever seen, made all the more upsetting by the lack of a point. The claustrophobic and chilly atmosphere this film creates would have been a positive had it been for a film with a script that had more on it's mind than shocking the audience to the point of requiring therapy.
Porn disguised as art is still porn. After seeing this film, I wanted to physically assault Larry Clark for being a disgusting pervert and for subjecting me to this ugly garbage called a film. Saying the name of this film leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, and so does writing about it. I'm writing it to warn you to stay the hell away from this film. Do NOT let your curiosity get the best of you, avoid this child porn trash like the plague. 1/10.
Ken Park is not rated, but it would be NC-17 for lengthy scenes of pornographic sex acts, endlessly lingering shots of complete nudity, hardcore grisly violence, general brutality, drugs, and language (should language even be considered a problem among everything else here?). Sex - 10/10 Violence - 8/10 Swearing - 10/10 Drugs - 9/10
Strange Wilderness (2008)
I can't for the life of me remember a less funny comedy
Even the worst comedies tend to have a moment or two that make me laugh in spite of myself. And most comedies that are REALLY bad are made entertaining on a different level. Meet the Spartans had two moments that made me smile, and one that made me chuckle, and the film was so horrendously awful that it was fascinating. Strange Wilderness was a whole new experience. It is a comedy without a single successfully funny moment, and isn't even entertaining because of it. I feel like a war vet for having sat through the whole thing.
The movie follows a the brainless crew of a failing wildlife show as they try to save the show from cancellation by embarking on a road trip to South America to find big-foot. A premise that could have been funny, considering the endless possibilities to be found in road comedies, but ultimately degenerates into one forgettable, poorly-acted skit after another that at no point comes close to even resembling a coherent story. Most bad comedies are criticized for having no plot. With this one, it's actually true.
I couldn't see a drunk person or an immature 13-year-old laughing at a single moment in this film. Every joke fails so miserably it's depressing. The talented cast displays no energy whatsoever. The jokes consist of the usual one-liners, sexual innuendo, and slapstick, none of which works for a second. They just say the one-liners like they're reading them to get it over with, and they perform the slapstick with no effort to make it funny. The film feels honestly like it had no script, and that everyone just got high and made up the plot as they went along. Characters who you didn't even notice were in the movie are abruptly killed off, and their deaths do absolutely nothing to advance whatever story the movie has. The absence of a story can be good, but Strange Wilderness is as flat and lifeless as any movie you're likely to see. It's boring.
The cast is wasted (most likely in more ways than one). Steve Zahn is generally great, but his idea of acting here mainly consists of frantic screaming and clueless mumbling of some of the lamest comic dialogue imaginable. Allen Covert does absolutely nothing. He just stands there and waits for the movie to end. Jonah Hill is particularly bad here. He uses a Southern accent so bad that if I were Southern myself, I'd develop a complex about it. And Kevin Heffernan, so funny in Super Troopers, is as boring as the rest of the film as a recovering alcoholic. If you're gonna give a character in a sketchy comedy a gimmick, make sure you include some jokes involving it. The filmmakers simply assume that the fact that he's a recovering alcoholic alone is funny. I could go on and on, so I'll stop.
I could go on and on with what makes this movie as bad as it is, but I'd just end up repeating myself using different words. As a fan of stupid comedies, including some particularly bad ones, I will say that Strange Wilderness is the single least funny, least enjoyable, and most boring, annoying, depressing, and abysmal comedy I have ever seen. Freddy Got Fingered sucked too. The difference between this film an that one is that Freddy Got Fingered had a few laughs. Don't even watch this movie just to see how bad it is. It WILL NOT entertain you for a second, and there are many better things you could do with your time. 0/10.
Strange Wilderness is rated R for non-stop language, drug use, and crude sexual humor. Sex - 7/10. Violence - 7/10. Swearing - 10/10. Drugs - 9/10.
Miami Vice (2006)
Miami Vice is a cool, stylish, and quite frequently intense thriller.
The first thing you need to know when you see Miami Vice, is that it's hardly anything like the trailers. While the insanely cool trailer makes this out to be a big, loud, mindless, shoot em' up action movie filled with car chases, explosions, and damsels in distress, the movie is actually anything but. They had to advertise the movie this way if they wanted to make money, but the fact is, if you go into this expecting what it was advertised as, you will be bored to tears, and most certainly hate the movie. I myself found the movie unbearably boring the first time I watched it. However, after a second viewing that I forced upon myself in my unwilling to be disappointed by such a cool looking film, I felt completely different about it. I was thoroughly entertained. Miami Vice is a gritty, intense, and often brutal, no- nonsense suspense drama that rewards patience and attention.
The plot is fairly simple, but the realistic way it's executed makes it feel complicated. It follows Miami cops Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell), and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx), who are given a most difficult assignment. They are assigned to go undercover and infiltrate a major drug cartel, led by the ruthless Jose Yero, and find out who killed two undercover federal agents. Crockett and Tubbs, under fabricated identities, enter a world where their badges mean nothing, danger and violence is waiting around every corner, and if they show any signs of their real intentions, they will be killed on sight. It doesn't exactly help that Crockett falls in love with one of the cartel's most important members (Gong Li).
Miami Vice is a very intense film, which maintains a consistent tone of imminent danger. Although Crockett and Tubbs (or any characters in it for that matter) are never really developed, we fear for their lives when things get too far beyond their control. The knowledge of what would happen to them if their identities were to be uncovered keeps us on the edge of our seat from the moment they begin their assignment. Employing non-stop action, which many people complain about the lack of, wouldn't make sense in this movie, because it's about characters trying to avoid anything that could set it off. There is action in the film, and whenever it occurs, it is not glamorous, or stylish. It is gritty, and often disturbingly brutal. The characters aren't in control of it, they are just as confused and terrified as any normal person would be if they were caught in a chaotic shootout.
The action scenes, as gritty as they are, are still executed in a good enough way that they get your adrenaline flowing, and the climactic shootout includes one of the single best bad guy kills I've ever seen. The most suspenseful moment in the film comes from a hostage situation/standoff in a trailer park, where the tension becomes nearly unbearable. The scene culminates in one of the most bad-ass "cop movie" moments that I've seen in a while.
The cinematography and music in the film are excellent, and any fan of cinema has to appreciate it. There is little, if any artificial lighting in the film. There are beautiful shots of Miami, lit only by the lights of the city itself, and breathtaking scenes of planes in the air, soaring through the clouds. There are times when the movie almost comes to a complete halt, just to bask in the beauty of the imagery, and while many people find these scenes boring and unnecessary, I found them to be hypnotic, and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Personally, I found the numerous sex scenes more boring and distracting than these. And the music perfectly fits the tone of every scene it's used in. The opening nightclub sequence is a great example of both of these elements, one of the single coolest moments to a film I've ever seen.
As for the acting, it isn't easy to comment on, as the actors do very little of it. Most of the time, all their roles require is for them to talk in a serious, no-nonsense voice and never smile. Gong Li really needs to work on her English, and subtitles would come in handy for her scenes. Actually, I strongly recommend that you watch the whole film with subtitles, due to the fact that the way the characters talk quite often makes it difficult to understand the dialogue.
Miami Vice lacks character development, and substitutes atmosphere, and tense dialogue for mindless action. It never dumbs down it's story for the audience's sake, and plays exactly as it would in real life. If you're looking for a good police thriller that doesn't insult your intelligence, I strongly recommend Miami Vice to you. I love this stylish, underrated film, and give it a 9/10.
Miami Vice is rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexual content.
Sex- 8/10 Violence- 8/10 Swearing- 6/10 Drugs- 7/10
License to Wed (2007)
The funniest thing about this movie is that it took three people to write it.
Comedy, romantic or not, is easily my favorite genre. With very few exceptions, nearly every comedy I watch has at least some laughs, no matter how overall bad the movie is. And even in his weaker movies, Robin Williams always promises a few good chuckles. With my wide open mind about comedy, it surprises me to say that License to Wed is a horrible comedy. Every last joke misses it's comedic mark by miles, and overall, the film doesn't have a singly funny moment in it. The theater I saw it in was packed, and over the course of the movie, the audience just sat there in cold silence, with one girl in the audience chuckling about three times.
I will describe the plot as usual with my reviews, but with movies this bad, I like to keep it short. The movie follows a soon-to-be married couple who find their relationship tested when a voyeuristic priest puts them through a series of tests to see whether or not they are worthy of being married in his church. Naturally, the couple is driven apart, and the priest (who by now you've certainly come to hate) has to help them get back together.
The film feels like someone picked up a copy of "Romantic Comedies For Dummies" and followed the formula step-by-step. The fact that it took three people to write this film baffles me, because with that much work involved, there generally has to be SOME decent comedy. The movie takes the whole "Meet the Parents" formula (complete with uncomfortable encounters with the main girl's family), and does everything completely wrong.
The romance in this film feels totally forced, and Mandy Moore and John Krazinski have zero chemistry. John Krazinski, who is hysterical in The Office (where everyone in this movie seems to come from), shows none of his talent here, and sadly is lacking any sense of comedic timing. Mandy Moore, although not a very good actress, was the only redeeming quality this movie has. Her character was likable, and she was clearly doing her best to make the role as good as possible. Robin Williams on the other hand is a tragic case here. Not only is his character not at all funny (even HIS comic timing is way off), but he's flat-out unsympathetic. His unorthodox tactics at testing this couple's worth are borderline criminal, and almost make you think he wants this couple's relationship to fail, not that we care anyway. And when the film veers off into the obligatory dramatic third act present in every single romantic comedy, it's at it's most pathetic.
As a fan of comedies, and Robin Williams, I am sorry to say that License to Wed is an abysmal comedy, that nobody, not even the most devoted fan of Robin Williams, should subject themselves to. 2/10
License to Wed is rated PG-13 for sexual humor and language. Sex- 4/10 Violence- 1/10 Swearing- 4/10 Drugs- 2/10
Hot Fuzz (2007)
If this isn't the funniest movie of the year, that means we'll have to look forward to another movie as laugh-out-loud hysterical as this one.
Comedy has always been my favorite genre. My sense of humor covers a wide variety of films, and I'll laugh at almost anything, regardless of how stupid, or silly it is. But once in a while a truly great comedy comes along, and leaves an amazing lasting effect with the laughs. While some comedies have you leave the theater saying "that was funny," and then forgetting about it the next day, Hot Fuzz always hits it's comedic mark, and when you leave the theater, you'll want to quote it endlessly, and bring your friends to see it again. It will have you laughing for days.
The plot revolves around Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), who's police work goes unrivaled in London. As a result, he is transferred to a small village in the country, Sanford, which is statistically the safest village in England. Not much for a hard-boiled cop to do there. The police station is full of cops so lazy and inept, that when people start getting killed in a variety of gruesome ways, they conclude that they were unfortunate accidents. Only Angel's clueless, action-starved partner, Danny (Nick Frost), believes that Angel may be on to something. And as in all murder mysteries, things aren't exactly what they seem...
Hot Fuzz is a flawlessly written comedy, with non-stop jokes, gags, and one-liners, delivered at such a rapid pace, there is literally no way to catch every one on the first viewing. I've seen the film four times now, and each time, I've caught some hysterical subtle gag that I missed the previous time. While many comedies don't stand up well to repeated viewings, Hot Fuzz keeps getting better each time I view it. There seems to be an unlimited amount of priceless comedy and detail in this film, and that you could watch it a hundred times and notice something you missed each time.
Now, as good as it works as a comedy, Hot Fuzz strangely works as an engaging action/mystery in it's own right. While the action and mystery is entirely satirical and played for laughs, the story actually manages to keep you guessing and wondering what's going to happen next. There is a plot twist that actually managed to effectively surprise me. I don't know what surprised me more. The twist, or the fact that the twist was actually thrilling. The third act action sequences are also quite adrenaline-pumping, and feature some of the coolest (and loudest) gunfights in a long time. It's good to have some legitimate suspense and coolness with your laughs, and this film perfectly combines them. Though the first two acts focus on the murder mystery with almost no action, the last act completely makes up for it. You'll leave the theater laughing your ass off and feeling like you've just had a perfect fix of action.
The performances are also great, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have excellent chemistry. It is clear that these guys are the best of friends in real life. And the British accents are surprisingly clear and easy to understand. And Timothy Dalton stole the show for me as Simon Skinner, a sinister business owner who has "criminal" written all over him. Every time he showed up on screen, I bust up laughing more than anyone else in the theater.
Hot Fuzz is without a doubt going to end up being the funniest movie of the year. It is comedic writing at it's finest, and is a great movie in it's own right. I couldn't recommend it more, and give it 10/10.
Hot Fuzz is rated R for violent content including some graphic images and for language. Sex- 2/10 Violence- 9/10 Swearing- 7/10 Drugs- 4/10
South Park (1997)
South Park is the greatest show on television.
The reason that I don't watch TV very often is because it's all the same. Every crime/drama is the same, and with very few exceptions (Scrubs), sitcoms and animated shows are all the same. South Park is not like other shows. It's the biggest exception of them all. It's plain and simply the funniest, most flat-out brilliant and original show on TV right now.
South Park is an animated satire that revolves around four elementary school boys, who live in the small Colorado town, South Park, where seemingly everything that's wrong with the world is abundant, and if it isn't, it usually will be eventually. The problems are usually brought on either by celebrities, aliens, ignorant parents, and/or stupid people who conform to the latest fad, or take current events/social issues way too seriously. The boys are usually the only ones left to stop these incidents.
There is Stan, the good-natured every-kid, with a confused view of the world brought on by the stupidity of everyone around him. There is the friendly, but endlessly nervous, Kyle, who's Jewish upbringing has resulted in constant ridicule, and questionable self-esteem. He remains a good-natured, and very intelligent kid. There is Kenny, who is really just a walking sight gag, who rarely talks, and is almost always killed off without adding much to the plot of the episode. Then there is Cartman (oh god, Cartman), who is a fat, racist, sexist, intolerant, evil, manipulative, sadistic, mean-spirited sociopath, who has no conscience, and hasn't a care in the world for anyone other than his cruel self.
The kids on the show are much smarter than the adults, who know nothing but stereotypes, and doing what's expected of them to the point of disaster (Kyle's mom is a perfect example of this). Whenever a major social issue like politics, or religion is brought up, their ignorance towards the matter generally results in chaotic, often supernatural incidents. A fine example of the South Park adults is Randy Marsh, Stan's dad, who falls victim to every major issue, and represents everything wrong with America. There is also a police detective who seems to do his job based on bad cop movie clichés, and hasn't the slightest sense of logic.
South Park is the greatest show on television. It has the balls to do whatever the hell it wants, and always gets away with it; if someone is offended, or has anything bad to say about it publicly, chances are, that person is going to get satirized in the next episode. Nothing is sacred in South Park. It is also as smart as TV gets, and makes points about controversial subjects that only the most ignorant person wouldn't possibly stop to think about. The sad thing is, there are many of those people, who bash South Park for being nothing more than an excuse to show little kids swearing like sailors, and nonstop poop jokes. People with that view of the show will most likely never be cured. Much of the dirty humor on the show is simply metaphorical for the subject they are skewering. The main character's favorite show is a program called Terrance and Phillip, where two guys do literally nothing but swear and fart. The show is meant to make fun of how bashers of South Park look at it, and always will look at it.
The pop culture jabs are by far the best. Politics are one thing, but sometimes, there is nothing funnier than celebrities being ruthlessly mocked and stereotyped, and South Park does it better than anyone. Celebrities always show up in South Park to cause havoc, or spread their political views, often with an evil and/or supernatural twist that represents the dumbest thing about them. Rob Reiner is portrayed as a hypocritical, fascist slob, who is always sweating, gasping, and eating some sort of fatty food. Al Gore is portrayed as a desperately lonely, and annoying loser who tries to get attention by spreading rumors of the biggest threat to our planet- ManBearPig, in an episode that perfectly sums up the satirical genius of the show. Another episode makes fun of underdog sports movies, in which the boys compete to lose the championship baseball game, but despite their best efforts, end up on a winning streak. Family Guy and The Simpsons may do it well, but South Park does movie parodies better than anyone. Speaking of Simpsons and Family Guy, South Park knows it's a better show than them, and in the two-part Cartoon Wars episode, makes the reasons totally clear. Family Guy's random, non-sensical comedy style is skewered so hard, it nearly made me question why I found it funny in the first place. And Bart Simpson shows up for a cameo, and his exchange with Cartman sums up the differences between the two shows perfectly.
South Park is a filthy show and tackles every controversial subject imaginable. Therefore it is not for everyone. But open-minded viewers will understand the groundbreaking genius of the show, and see it for the perfect satire that it is. South Park brings you into a twisted, gross, and absurdly hilarious new universe with every episode, and doesn't let you go for the next 22 minutes. Political correctness be damned, South Park rules.
South Park is rated TV-MA for nonstop crude/dark humor, graphic language, sexual content, violence, gore, and pretty much everything that could possibly be considered offensive.
Sex- 8/10 Violence- 10/10 Swearing (by TV's standards)- 10/10 Drugs- 7/10
Three Kings (1999)
A thought-provoking war movie, an exciting action film, a hysterically funny comedy, and a moving drama... what more could you ask from Hollywood?
Regardless of any backlash you may have heard, this film is a flat-out masterpiece. It's blend of action, comedy, and drama is perfect enough that any moviegoer can find ultimate satisfaction with it. The story is fun, the dialogue is hilarious, and the situations range from hilarious to shockingly emotional and intense. In fact, the film is something like watching humor and seriousness fight it out. By the end, you're exhausted.
The film's plot begins once the Persian Gulf War is over. Soldiers are celebrating, and a peace treaty between the U.S. and Iraq has been signed. Everything's cool. The morning after the celebration, three of the soldiers, Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze), and Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) come across a map in an Iraqi POW's ass. It is a map to millions of dollars worth of Kuwaiti gold, stolen by Saddam. The soldiers, not entire;y satisfied by the lack of action in the war, decide to steal the gold to make the time served worthwhile. A greedy special forces officer, Archie Gates (George Clooney) steps in, declaring himself the leader, and off they go. Shortly after they find the gold however, things quickly go wrong. Saddam's soldiers begin slaughtering Iraqi civilians, whom Bush had advised to rise up against Saddam. Putting humanity before greed, the men decide to help the civilians...
The plot moves at a fast pace, and every scene is entertaining. The dialogue is a joy to listen to, and is chock full of hilarious lines and witty insight. The comedy ranges from clever, and/or silly one-liners, and some of the most surreal situations ever filmed. A cow steps on a hidden bomb, and blows up. Mark Wahlberg's character contacts his wife while briefly imprisoned in a bunker that is stocked full of cordless phones. And don't even get me started on the ambitious reporter Adriana Cruz (Nora Dunn) and her dimwitted escort (Jamie Kennedy)... Moments like these come frequently, always hitting their comedic mark- and after the first half hour, are usually followed by stuff like a woman being shot in the head in front of her young daughter, and a torture scene that ironically brings much humanity to the Iraqi soldiers. The scenes often cancel each other out. Comedic scenes usually end in, or involve something serious, and much of the serious stuff involves, or ends in something funny ("what is the deal with Michael Jackson?). And yes, the film is quite violent, and though not nearly as gory as war films such as Black Hawk Down, and Saving Private Ryan, there are still plenty of scenes that may churn the stomachs of squeamish viewers (the demonstration of how a bullet effects the body from the inside made me kind of nauseous).
The performances are also great, and with a cast like this, I'm surprised that the movie doesn't have nearly as much recognition as it deserves. George Clooney is perfect as Archie Gates. He is sarcastic, greedy, and often rude, yet you take him seriously when his more selfless side emerges. Mark Wahlberg is funny in a strangely emotional way, as Troy Barlow. Spike Jonze is flat-out hysterical as the annoyingly lovable, poorly educated redneck, Conrad Vig. And Ice Cube, who is a great actor when given the right roles (Boyz N the Hood), is great, though he is given a bit less to do than his co-stars. After the hilarious first half-hour, his role rarely requires too much "acting".
The film is shot in a style that gives it a realistic look, and leaves you in need of air conditioning. The color appears to be on the maximum brightness level, and everything seems to have a reflection, even if all it reflects is bright light. The look gives the film a gritty and downbeat tone, which in a way makes the film even funnier, as the absurd humor almost comes as unexpected in such a real, and harsh looking film. Don't sit too close to a TV when watching this.
The film is a masterpiece, one of the greatest films ever made in my eyes. It provides more sheer entertainment and pleasure than half the movies made these days. Watch it as the entertaining action-comedy-drama that it is, and don't worry too much about the political content, which is irrelevant compared to the fun. Three Kings is on of the most exhilarating, downright brilliant movies I've ever seen, and I give it my full recommendation of 10/10.
Three Kings is rated R for Graphic War Violence, Language, and Brief Sexuality.
Sex- 5/10 Violence- 9/10 Swearing- 10/10 Drugs- 3/10
Is to Office Space what Mallrats is to Clerks.
As a big fan of Office Space, I followed the story behind this film's release for two years. I felt like I was going to die if I didn't see the movie soon. And in my anxiety to see this film, I think I set my expectations a bit high. The film is hilarious, but don't expect the quality, and pure hilarity that made Office Space what it is. However, that doesn't mean it isn't one of the funnier comedies of 2006... it is. It contains some of the biggest laughs I've had with a movie all year.
The film follows Joe Bowers, statistically the most average man in the military, who is chosen as a guinea pig for a human hibernation experiment the military is conducting. Along with a prostitute named Rita (Maya Rudolph), he is cryogenically frozen, and the two are almost instantly abandoned and forgotten when the base is shut down. Joe wakes up in the year 2505, where the world has sunk to the intelligence level of Beavis and Butt-head due to dumb people breeding far more than smart people. He is discovered by the people of the future to be the smartest man alive, and is unwillingly forced to solve all the world's problems...
This film is one of the funniest movies of 2006. After such disappointing comedies this year as You, Me, and Dupree, and The Break Up, Idiocracy was a welcome gift. Mike Judge has always made me laugh my ass off. Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill, and Office Space are all comic genius, and combined with the seemingly endless release delays, my expectations went through the roof. Ultimately, the film made me laugh harder than half the movies released this year, but had some major, actually, near-fatal flaws, that were only saved by the brilliant jokes.
First the good. Idiocracy is filled with hilarious jokes and sight gags, that will make you laugh just thinking about them. Watch for a great gag involving a Carl's Jr. vending machine and an unfit mother. Classic. The interesting thing is that the gags wouldn't be nearly as clever in any other premise. Simple dick n' fart jokes are made intelligent, as the people in the future think they're the funniest thing in the world. Also, jokes at the expense of major corporations such as Starbucks, Costco, Carl's Jr., Fuddruckers etc... are all priceless. As a social satire, the film is a masterpiece. As much as I hate to admit it, the idea that in the future, mankind will be dumbed down, is as logical an explanation as I can imagine. The film's hilarious prologue will help it make sense. And while it probably wouldn't be nearly as lighthearted as portrayed here, it's a believable scenario.
Now the bad. The film feels incomplete, and isn't well put together at all. The set designs, and special effects are all good, but the story is rushed, and feels like it was edited in a day with little to no effort put into it. The story isn't used to it's full potential (Luke Wilson's attempt to help the future's crops grow is certainly funny, but isn't enough to carry most of a movie. More issues like these would have been great), and while the narrator is pretty funny, he starts to get tiresome after the first forty minutes, and basically just fills in for what could have been interesting plot development. If you thought Office Space was underdeveloped, this will make it look complete. Also, Maya Rudolph was annoying as hell (just real whiny, and overacts like mad). In most comedies, these problems could be seen past, but with the film's brilliant premise, I expected more. Idiocracy is to Office Space what Mallrats is to Clerks. Idiocracy and Mallrats are both very funny and entertaining, but both lack a certain charm that their predecessors had.
Overall, the good outweighs the bad, and I give Idiocracy a 7/10.
It is rated R for Language and Sex-Related Humor. Sex: 5/10 Violence: 3/10 Swearing: 6/10 Drugs: 4/10
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
"Hilariously tragic" is a great way to describe this outstanding, quirky comedy.
In spite of what you may have heard, The Royal Tenenbaums is a comedy. Most people you may have heard it from were probably expecting another Meet the Parents, which I can assure you, it is not. It is among the quirkiest movies you're likely to see. What other word other than "quirky" can accurately describe a movie that finds bizarre humor in the lives of a complete failure of a family?
The plot is always fascinating, and consistently entertaining. The three Tenenbaum children, Richie (Luke Wilson), Margot (Gweneth Paltrow), and Chas (Ben Stiller), were geniuses growing up, who each accomplished more in their childhood than most people do in their entire lives. Richie became a champion tennis player by age 17, Margot wrote plays and won a Pulitzer prize in 9th grade, and Chas, a financial expert, started a real estate company in his early teens. Unfortunately, they lacked support from their obnoxious father, Royal (Gene Hackman), and when their glory ended, the family became estranged from one another, and each of the three kids became a neurotic mess of an adult, with Margot being unhappily married to a neurologist, Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray), Chas being an overprotective father to his two sons after a family tragedy, and Richie spending all his time at sea. When Royal finds out that his ex-wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston) is contemplating marrying Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), he fakes a terminal illness, hoping to find redemption and acceptance from his estranged family. Meanwhile, a family friend, Eli Cash (Owen Wilson) is struggling with a drug problem.
It's a story full of tragedy and sadness, and yet the movie manages to be hilarious. It usually seems as if the movie isn't even trying to be funny, as the tone is always kept rather dark and often gloomy. The (extremely subtle) humor is all based around sadness. Each joke ends in tragedy, and each tragedy ends in a joke. Of course, ignorant viewers won't find the film funny, and be highly disappointed. After repeated viewings, gradually becoming one of my favorite movies, this movie makes me laugh out loud frequently. But once again, despite the presence of various comedic talents (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Bill Murray), this film is NOT like most films they're famous for, and people expecting slapstick and toilet humor will hate the film. But if you appreciate it for the strange quirk fest that it is, you'll find a lot to enjoy here.
The production design is truly brilliant, and the locations are fun to look at. The props in the film are abundant, and wonderfully strange, pointless to the average moviegoer. Wes Anderson dedicates himself to making every detail of the family's weirdness fully evident, and the family's house (particularly the kid's bedrooms) is full of stuff you'd be likely to find at most European art shows, and Sky Mall magazines. Add surprisingly beautiful cinematography, and you have one of the best looking movies of our time.
The performances are all brilliant as you'd expect from a Wes Anderson movie. After the critical acclaim of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, every big name in Hollywood seems to vie for a role in one of this geniuses movies. They must really want them, as they each play their roles with dead-on brilliance, showing real emotion, and each being funny in their own subtle way. Ben Stiller, and Owen Wilson (who co-wrote the script) are great examples. While still funny in this film, they step completely out of character from their usual roles, which would have been a challenge for any other filmmaker that I can think of, or it just may be the brilliance of the script. I believe it's actually the latter. And don't even get me started with Gene Hackman... (funniest lines)...
I highly recommend this to anyone who's had enough Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider for a while, and is looking for something new and original, that they can feel smart for laughing at, and give it a 10.
It is rated R Some Language, Sexuality/Nudity, and Drug Content Sex: 7/10 Violence: 5/10 Swearing: 5/10 Drugs: 5/10
The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Will either freak you out in a strangely fun way, or leave you wanting to take the most thorough shower of your life. Chances are, it'll do both.
The Devil's Rejects is easily one of the nastiest, sickest, most downright perverted and gruesome films I have ever seen. It is a grim, smelly portrayal of society at it's lowest. It made me feel dirty after watching, and made me feel like committing myself to a mental institution for enjoying a movie that forces you to sympathize with a family of deranged, sadistic murderous maniacs. Yes, as sick as it made me, I still often get the urge to watch it, though my reaction is always the same.
This film opens at the house of the Firefly family, as a squad of heavily armed cops attacks the house, capturing Mama Firefly, as Baby and Otis escape. The latter two then take refuge at a desert motel, torturing, savagely humiliating, and killing a traveling folk band, as they await the arrival of their psychotic father, a clown who goes by Captain Spaulding. When he shows up, the evil trio hit the road, unaware that a sheriff who's brother they killed in "House of 1000 Corpses" is after them, and slowly stooping to the level of sanity, or lack thereof, of the Fireflys.
I don't know what makes this film so addictive to me. It's the kind of film that I always vow to never watch again, but am always unable to resist the urge to watch it again when the opportunity arises. It's the kind of film you hate-to-love. I guess what makes it so interesting to me, is that it's a fascinating subject that the movie tackles. This is a HORROR movie, that takes a different twist on the "homicidal hillbilly" genre, depicting the events from the point of view of the villains, rather than the innocent victims. And making it even crazier, portraying the villains as real people, who have lives outside of slaughtering random people. They have friends, and they have family values. The main characters are a family who kill people and go out for ice cream. They commit atrocities of unspeakable proportions, and yet once a law enforcement officer gets a hold of them, we end up hating the person who is essentially trying to protect people like us from the fates suffered by the people in the motel, and rooting for him to die a gory death. That's what makes this horror film scary. Of course, it has the violent death, crazy characters, and hopeless tone that makes horror, but the real fear is for yourself, and how you can sympathize with the ultimate lowlifes. It makes you feel like you lack a soul.
The dialogue and performances are also brilliant, as you've probably heard. Sid Haig, who plays Captain Spaulding, is a truly brilliant actor, displaying the ability to freak you out at one point, and at another, make you burst out with extremely nervous laughter. His character is a clown, and he is the clown you were terrified of as a kid. He is the reason to be afraid of clowns. Bill Mosely plays as Otis, who is among the most despicable characters ever created. Good acting, is, in my opinion, when a character makes you feel what you're supposed to feel for them successfully. And Mosely successfully makes us feel like bashing his character's face in with a shovel, and make him suffer. Everyone else gives great performances, and the dialogue ranges from brilliantly disturbing, and disturbingly brilliant, even as the f-word pops up for the fiftieth time in thirty seconds.
Now I must warn you again, this is not a movie everyone will share my opinions on. The word depraved perfectly describes this film. It is completely beyond my guess as to why comparatively tamer movies like Requiem For A Dream (which is in fact, the ultimate cautionary tale which should be seen by every teenager) gets slapped with an NC-17, while this movie, which wallows in bad taste, gore, and perversion, can be seen by any kid, IF he has a parent stupid enough to take him. This movie is filled to the brim with disturbing content, and I am not recommending this to everybody. If you don't mind any of what I mentioned, than you may enjoy it. But easily scared prudes beware. God have mercy on my "soul", 8/10.
This movie is incorrectly rated R for Sadistic Violence, Strong Sexual Content, Language, and Drug Use. If this isn't NC-17, the MPAA might as well retire that rating, as it is no longer of any use. Sex: 10/10 Violence: 10/10 Swearing: 10/10 Drugs: 8/10
Clerks II (2006)
A dream come true
Imagine this. Your favorite filmmaker, the creator of some of the funniest and most heartfelt movies of all time, and classic characters, announces that he's retiring everything you know and love about his work, and ends up making a piece of crap called Jersey Girl. The future looks grim for him. Then, out of the blue, he announces that he's returning to the world his fan base is built around, and making another movie that will actually satisfy his fans. Being one of those fans, I can safely say that buying the ticket to see Clerks II on opening day is one of the most exciting things I've ever done. And guess what? Clerks II is everything a fan of the filmmaker Kevin Smith could want.
Dante Hicks (Brian O Halloran), and Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson), our heroes from the first movie, are in the same place they were in the first film. That is, until the strip mall they work at burns to the ground, compliments of Randall. The two eventually re-locate to a fast food restaurant called Mooby's, where a series of hysterical misadventures will unfold over the course of the day which happens to be Dante's last day in New Jersey, before he moves to Florida with his fiancé. Over the day, as Dante struggles with a decision of moving, or staying in NJ and dating his beautiful manager, Becky (Rosario Dawson), Randall enjoys pissing off customers, tormenting the fry cook, Elias (Trevor Fehrman), and engaging in unusual sex discussions. Meanwhile, Jay (Jason Mewes), and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) also move to Mooby's, and are up to their usual antics.
If you're a Kevin Smith fan, I've got good news, this movie is everything you'd expect. Witty, insightful, profane dialogue, and characters who you really care about. Even if you're not a devoted fan of Kevin Smith, you can still enjoy this movie, and aside from the first Clerks, this is the only other Kevin Smith movie that can work as an individual movie. The film keeps the references to the first 5 movies to a minimum (not that there aren't plenty). This one probably has the highest appeal out of all of Kevin's movies.
The dialogue, as in all of Kevin Smith's movies is priceless. Kevin Smith is living proof that profanity doesn't symbolize a small vocabulary. His dialogue mainly revolves around very insightful issues, and sex, and frequently consists of words we've never heard of, and words that can't be said on TV. In this movie, the most famous dialogue are bound to be the discussion of racial slurs, and a hilarious, perspective changing argument about Lord of the Rings vs. Star Wars (Randall makes a visual interpretation about Lord of the Rings that Kevin himself made on The Tonight Show. See if you can spot it). Aside from those two conversations, the movie is one big laugh after another. Many of which are very, very vulgar. A delightful homage to The Blues Brothers was a truly wonderful moment. Also, devoted fans of the first movie may find some moments towards the end rather heart-wrenching, and in the end, be left with one of the biggest smiles they've ever had at the end of a film. I award this movie a full 10/10, for making a dream come true, and being one of the funniest movies of the year.
It is an NC-17 movie that has been rated R for Pervasive Sexual and Crude Content Including Aberrant Sexuality, Strong Language, and Some Drug Content. Sex: 10/10 Violence: 3/10 Swearing: 10/10 Drugs: 6/10
What About Bob? (1991)
Hysterical! A film that can be watched over and over.
I personally think that this irresistible film is one of the best comedies of the 90's, though with this one, I can safely say that that's just my opinion. This is a movie that is so funny, that it never loses it's ability to make you lose control of your motor functions, even after the 15th viewing.
Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) is a lovable, but deeply troubled man who has probably the biggest multi-phobic personality you could imagine. He also has a habit of getting really attached to people within the first few minutes of meeting them, and it's heavily implied that he's driven multiple therapists out of business due to his annoying dependency. And the successful therapist/best-selling author Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) is about to be the next victim. After his first interview with Dr. Marvin, Bob is immediately attached, and is worried when the doctor leaves for a month long family vacation, preparing for a promotional interview on Good Morning America. Bob cleverly tracks down Dr. Marvin at his lake house, and instantly becomes good friends with the rest of the family, while the doctor doesn't approve. Bob soon becomes a house guest who acts like a part of the family, and is 100% oblivious to Dr. Marvin's sinister hatred of him...
Totally brilliant premise, that is very well executed. I still do think the ending, while still funny, could have used some work. Bill Murray is at his absolute best here. He's such an over-the-top, yet believable character, who you just wouldn't be able to resist how friendly he is. Richard Dreyfuss is in my opinion the funnier of the two. His facial expressions just scream "repressed rage," and his loss of sanity, slowly occurring throughout the movie, is perfectly timed. You barely notice his personality change. It just happens. One minute, he seems like the ideal therapist, but before you even realize it, he's a sinister maniac, who now requires more therapy than Bob. Bob on the other hand, goes the opposite way. By driving him crazy, he unwittingly manages to become saner, and conquer many of his fears. And has absolutely no clue how much Dr. Marvin hates him, even when Dr. Marvin has extreme outbursts at him right. Dr. Marvin couldn't possibly express his annoyance more clearly, and the idea of his rage never crosses Bob's mind once.
That is where the movie gets it's humor. Even as he unwittingly humiliates someone on national TV, Bob never loses his charm. The interview scene is in my opinion, one of the all time classic comedy moments, and director Frank Oz just nails it. In the hands of any other filmmaker, the scene could have deteriorated into mindless slapstick. Bob humiliates the subject of the interview just by being Bob. And believe me, he is not someone you would want to be guest interviewing with. It's amazing how funny it can be just by watching a family grow to love someone who the man of the house hates with a passion, and getting mad when the dad acknowledges his annoyance. I highly recommend this laugh-a-minute comedy, and give it 8/10.
It is rated PG for Language, and Thematic Elements. It would easily be rated PG-13 today, even without the language.
Alferd Packer: The Musical (1993)
Absolutely brilliant, though many will not think so.
Yes, I have to say it, I am a South Park fan. I watch the show religiously, and that is the reason why I watched this brilliantly entertaining film. That's probably the only reason anyone ever watches it. This film is one that you either love or hate, and I can't imagine anything in between. It's wildly uneven, poorly paced, poorly acted, and has rather bad sound quality at times. And I love it for all those reasons. It's simply a student project that Trey Parker and his buddies put together over one spring break, and with such a small budget, and limited film-making skills, they created something brilliant, and inspirational.
Alfred Packer (Trey Parker) is a lonely miner who seems to be in love with his horse, Leanne, and has recently been put on trial for murdering his mining crew and eating them. He tells the real story to a reporter named Polly, and it goes like this. One shpadoinkle morning, he is chosen as a replacement guide for a gold mining expedition to Colorado, though he doesn't exactly know the way. With his five crew members, he sets off on the journey. Of course, when his horse runs away, he ends up leading his crew on an agonizing search in the wrong direction, which leads them into the cold, snowy mountains, becoming hopelessly lost. As they fight to survive, they soon realize that they may need to resort to eating each other...
This movie is a hysterical comedy with many big laughs, but I personally think it works better as a musical. A real challenge with this movie is to see it, and then try and get the songs out of your head. The music is so catchy, and if the film was really popular, I wouldn't have to constantly explain to the people around me what I'm whistling/humming. Sometimes, I leave my iPod playlist of the movie's songs running all night as I sleep, as they provide me comfort. Most people won't love the music that much, but you can't say the music isn't wonderfully catchy. "Shpadoinkle Day," That's All I'm Asking For," and Let's Build A Snowman" are my favorites, though I love them all. The first former and the latter would be considered classics if the film had a wide release.
Now, the main problem with the film that most people have is the pacing, which is extremely slow. The thing is, is that Trey Parker had little knowledge of making a film, and with a tiny budget, the film is of poor quality. The acting, sound, and agreeably the pacing, are all bad. But the film's bad quality is one of it's charms. Much of the humor is unintentional, due to some of the funniest, and most obvious errors ever put on film. They are easy to spot if you pay attention, and don't let the pacing get you down. By the way, if you don't like it the first time, try it again with the hilarious, and helpful directors commentary on the DVD in which Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and the rest of the main cast get drunk and watch the film. They point out many things that you probably couldn't care less about the first time, and their insight makes it really funny (not to mention, it helps the pace quite a bit
Cannibal! The Musical is one of my favorite comedies, and everyone should give it a try. It gets an 8/10 in my book.
It is rated R for Comic Gore/Violence and some Language. Sex: 3/10 Violence: 9/10 Swearing: 6/10 Drugs: 1/10
The Truman Show (1998)
Jim Carrey's best, and one of my favorites ever.
An amazing premise that constantly kept me on the edge of my seat (not in a suspense/ thriller way) was perfect to make the first dramatic Jim Carrey movie I ever saw one of the best movies of all time, and proved more enjoyable than many (if not all) of his comedies. Have an open mind while watching this. While the film is easily a drama, it is actually quite funny. Watch it expecting a comedy, and you'll hate it. Watch it expecting a thought- provoking drama, and you'll find it to be just that, and you'll often laugh out loud.
Everyone is familiar with the story somehow. Truman (Jim Carrey) is an ordinary man, living in a town, Seahaven Island, that defines the term "too perfect to be true," and he has never left it. What he doesn't realize is that the town is actually built inside a giant TV studio, and over 5000 cameras are placed within the town, broadcasting Truman's entire life as an iconic, wildly popular TV show, that plays 24/7, and is controlled by a producer known as Christof (Ed Harris). Truman has never known that he is the most famous man alive, as every telltale sign that might reveal it is cleverly covered up by the controllers, and every one of Truman's friends and "family" are just actors who probably have no true compassion for Truman. The movie follows the show up until Truman's eventual discovery of his situation, and his attempts to escape.
One fun thing to do after you watch this film is to watch Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. This is a great way to see just how talented Jim Carrey is. He was robbed at the Oscars this year, as his performance was dead on. While he plays it straight, there is the occasional glimpse of his style of comedy, especially in a rather intense scene where he gives his "wife" several hints that he knows about his fake world. His behavior in that scene will provide some relief for people who were expecting a Jim Carrey laugh-fest. One thing that makes his performance in the movie better than the rest is that Jim Carrey is the only one playing a real person. Every line said by anyone else around him (besides the controllers) is staged. Everyone besides Jim are playing actors. That isn't saying that everyone else is bad. Everyone else is terrific. Truman's wife (Laura Linney) is the second best performance. She is a brilliant actress playing a suspiciously bad actress. You have to see it to believe it.
In spite of all the drama, the movie is actually (subtly) hilarious. Sight gags (all related to the plot) are frequently visible, as is the behavior of everyone around Truman when they get suspicious that he knows his world is fake. Truman's wife constantly describes household products to Truman as if she were a rejected audition for a badly written commercial. Truman doesn't seem to notice this (yet). Travel agencies are filled with posters warning people of the deadly hazards of flying on an airplane. The fact that these type of sight gags are rarely acknowledged is one source of humor. Also, the thought of what's going through the actor's heads as Truman approaches them with travel plans are rather funny. The best sequence of the movie is a talk show interview with Christof, which gives us a behind the scenes look at the show, and answers many of the biggest questions we may have about the technical details of Truman's life.
The combination of humor with the drama of the amazing story ultimately leaves the viewer with a lifted spirit, and looking at the world a whole new way. I recommend this thought- provoking, moving, entertaining, and arguably hilarious film to everybody and give it a 10/10.
It is rated PG for Thematic Elements and Mild Language. Sex: 1/10 Violence: 4/10 Swearing: 3/10 Drugs: 1/10
I'd take this over all the Scary Movie films put together.
David Zucker + Trey Parker/Matt Stone = Hysterically funny Airplane-style comedy from the master of the genre. BASEketball is easily one of David Zucker's most underrated films. I've seen this movie many MANY times, and I still can't figure out what there isn't to like about it. My friends all loved it, and I showed it to my parents who hated it. Ironically, the adults I've watched this with all LOVE Airplane and The Naked Gun, and I have no idea what's so different. This film has the exact same kind of humor as the previously mentioned films. So why is it that they love the other films and all have the same reaction to this film: STUPID. So what if it isn't as deadpan as the others, I can't really find anything to dislike about the film.
The film's "plot" revolves around two best friends Joseph "Coop" Cooper (Trey Parker), and Doug Remer (Matt Stone), who had big dreams as kids, but for some unspecified reason, became loser , time-wasting slackers who are always late at paying bills. Anyway, when the two guys are challenged to a basketball game by a couple of jocks, they make up a game called BASEketball, which obviously is a hybrid of basketball and baseball. The game soon becomes a national pastime, and recruiting their friend/perpetual victim, Kenny "Squeak" Scolari (Dian Bachar) also known as "Little Bitch," the trio become big sports stars, and face the temptation and corruption that occurs behind the game, putting the friendships to the test.
The "plot" is merely a setup for a constant stream of jokes and gags. Almost, not all, but almost every frame in the movie has a sight gag of some kind, and any plot or logic is simply lost among them, as we spend most of our time watching the background for something randomly hilarious, which almost always shows up. Some of the best gags involve people such as news reporters, and Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries, saying words on TV that can't be said on TV. There is a gratuitous, and joyously offensive subplot about a terminally ill kid, who is a fan of the character's BASEketball team. When he comes into play, many brutal slapstick jokes ensue at his expense. The "psyche- out" rule (players can do whatever they want to make the opposing player miss their shot) was a genius addition to the script, as they allowed endless gag possibilities, which while hit- and-miss, were usually very funny. Of course, my personal favorite gags were at the expense of Squeak "Little Bitch," who was the butt of nearly a third of the jokes in the movie. These are all hits. You both feel sorry for Squeak, and yet you want to join in in endlessly ridiculing him. I nearly laughed myself into asthma attacks on more than one occasion, as did my friends who all want to buy the movie on DVD now. The film should be required viewing for (younger) fans of the earlier spoof films. I'm coming to a conclusion that this movie was made for the new generation of silly gag-a-minute comedies, and adults who were alive during the release of the older films of the genre will ultimately dislike it.
One good thing about the film, is that unlike most films of the genre, the film isn't really a spoof, and the little plot there is, is actually quite original (I'm referring to the idea of the game of course). The fact that they don't have to set up the gags around the setting from another movie gives it a fresh and free feeling. The film has no target of parody, and instead of mooching off the plot for another movie for jokes, it uses a simple, ridiculous premise for that kind of humor. And it works well.
South Park fans will be pleased to see Trey Parker and Matt Stone in starring roles, which they actually do really good in. I truly think that they should do more movies of this genre when they aren't busy with the hilarious South Park. Their line delivery is as good as I've seen it (Trey Parker gives one of the best-delivered s-words I've ever heard), and their slapstick humor is totally brilliant. The way they react to much of the situations, and their treatment of many of the best lines with dead seriousness (sometimes) is absolutely priceless. These two should really get more acting jobs. Nobody could have played their characters better than they did.
Being a fan of South Park and David Zucker, I was thoroughly satisfied with this film. I can only guess the reason why adults hate it so much is the fact that the movie practically wallows in bad taste, and features some of the most offensive (hilarious) jokes ever put to film, many of which involve young kids who are crippled and/or terminally ill. But I don't care. I highly enjoy this film, and am always sad when the end credits roll, knowing that due to the box-office failure of it, there will never be a sequel. I had a great time with the characters in the film. I recommend the film to those who are open minded or who have a sense of humor and just want something silly. In the words of a talking pineapple (don't ask) towards the end of the movie, "Isn't this game just about getting together with your friends and having a good time?" That applies to the movie perfectly. BASEketball is one of the most flat-out enjoyable comedies I've ever seen. 8/10.
BASEketball is happily rated R for Strong Language and Crude Sex-Related Humor. Sex: 6/10 Violence: 5/10 Swearing: 8/10 Drugs: 5/10
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Suspenseful, thrilling, and entertaining
This movie has so much unfair bashing, and negativity surrounding it, it makes me sick. If you're the kind of person who will automatically hate a movie because of logical errors in the plot, you should not watch this movie. That is the exact reason why mainstream critics should be completely ignored. People should also give Ashton Kutcher a chance. He CAN act, as he proves in this. Unfortunately, his presence must have also contributed to the critical failure.
The film follows Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher), who suffers a traumatic childhood alongside his friends Kayleigh (Amy Smart), her brother Tommy, and the insecure Lenny. Evan turns out better than any of them when they are adults, because at all the most horrifying moments, Evan would black out and have no idea of what just happened. This prompts him to keep journals about everything he does. When Evan is in college however, he reads his journal, and experiences a memory he lost as a kid. He discovers that by reading the journals, he can possess his childhood self, and stop such horrible things from happening. His quest to fix his present begins when a traumatized Kayleigh commits suicide. Evan starts going back to his most upsetting memories, and changes them. Unfortunately, the things he does in order to prevent the tragedies have a ripple effect over time, and when Evan returns to the future, he often discovers that his present is far worse than what he was trying to prevent.
The story is loaded with plot holes, but don't worry about it. If you have an open mind, and don't nitpick, you can highly enjoy this movie. It's a shame that Ashton Kutcher's presence doomed the film, as the performances are all brilliant. I actually cared about his character, and felt that he did well at showing emotion during the sad parts. When he tells the hooker version of Amy Smart that she was once happy with him, I nearly cried (one of the few things in a film to ever do that to me). And while I can't help but find Ashton to be rather humorous in his comedies, I think he's far better in this film than any of his comedies. Amy Smart is outstanding in this. She is not only stunningly beautiful, but she is a comforting presence in this movie, a voice of reason among all the insanity. Her character is very likable, and would definitely be worth all the sadness and pain that Ashton goes through to save her from sadness.
My only complaint with this movie, is that it feels a need to include many gratuitous, unnecessary elements of extremely harsh subject matter, only for the sake of being cool. I couldn't care less about stuff like that normally, but I felt that few shocking elements (prison rape, child porn, various sex scenes) were totally unnecessary, and just thrown in there to make people go "wow" this is a cool movie, and make teenagers enjoy it more. Ashton Kutcher endures a childhood worse than nearly any child you could imagine. Kids constantly endure life-changing tragedies but Ashton is molested, witnesses his dad get beaten to death by prison guards, sees his dog get burned alive, and even becomes an accessory to manslaughter. The rampant grimness diminishes the believability, but the entertainment value remains intact.
If you forget the plot holes, the logical errors, and random shock scenes, you'll enjoy this fun film. Plot holes don't matter, the film is a thrilling suspense ride that will keep you guessing non- stop, and will keep you glued to your seat until the credits roll. I award the film 10/10.
It is very correctly rated R for Violence, Sexual Content, Language, and Brief Drug Use. Sex: 8/10 Violence: 8/10 Swearing: 10/10 Drugs: 5/10
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
An absolute classic! One of my favorites of all time!
This was one of the first movies I ever saw, and NASA couldn't count how many times I've seen it since I was four years old. I have this movie 99% memorized, though I can't remember what it is I don't remember in this. Ironically, this movie never loses it's hilarity, and I laugh endlessly whenever I watch it for the hundredth time.
The title explains it all. Two insanely dumb buddies (you can't really tell who's dumb and who's dumber), Lloyd (Jim Carrey), and Harry (Jeff Daniels), who's lives are going nowhere for obvious reasons. One day, Lloyd drives the beautiful Mary (Lauren Holly) to the airport while working as a limo driver. Mary drops off a briefcase full of ransom money at the airport, and Lloyd, thinking she forgot it, swipes the case, and he and Harry set off on a cross country journey to return it to her in Aspen, oblivious to the fact that they have kidnappers on their trail, intending to kill them and claim the money. Of course, the two idiots have a knack for getting out of danger and/or defeating bad guys without ever knowing they were in danger, so everyone who crosses them is in for a humiliating surprise.
This is the kind of movie that you can NOT leave running while you take a bathroom break. You are bound to miss an abundant amount of classic lines. I don't know a movie that I've spent more time in my life quoting than this. The plot of the movie is nothing more than a setup for an endless stream of hysterical jokes, gags, and rampant silliness. And the talented Farrelly brothers do not waste a second. Every chance they get for a clever gag, they take it.
The movie actually runs longer than you'd expect. It could have easily been one of those crappy, 80 minute movies where the characters qualify as retarded, and every other character is just as dumb as they are. Well, let me just say that for a dumb comedy, this movie is surprisingly intelligent. The two main characters are EXTREMELY dumb, no question, but are far more realistic and convincing than any of those other retards such as the characters from Dude, Where's My Car. The movie resists any temptation to stoop to the pure stupidity of that crapfest. Instead of everyone being as dumb as the title characters, the title characters are the dumb ones, and the supporting cast, while quirky, are far more mentally stable, and are constantly affected the the ridiculous antics of Lloyd and Harry. When there isn't some riotous line being spoken, or outrageous slapstick being inflicted, the supporting cast is reacting to it.
This movie is a tradition in my family, and is still tied with There's Something About Mary the funniest of the Farrelly brothers work. I know nobody who's seen this who doesn't think the movie is great. I probably have the most sympathy for it, however. I give this movie my fullest recommendation of 10/10.
It is rated PG-13 for Sexual Content, Crude Humor, Some Violence, and Language. Sex: 5/10 Violence: 5/10 Swearing: 4/10 Drugs: 3/10