Reviews by Marc Berman
ADVENTURELAND – ****
James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) is freshly graduated from college and needs to take a summer job at a local theme park in order to make enough money to move to NYC to pursue his dreams. James becomes a games attendant amongst a merry band of local misfits that have been already working together for many summers. He falls head over heels for Emily Lewin (Kristen Stewart), whom he begins to spend every waking moment with. Not fulfilling his manly desires with Emily, he decides to go out with the park harlot, Lisa P which of course puts a damper on his relationship with Emily.
From the director that gave us the coming of age masterpiece “Superbad”, this film fulfills us in much of the same ways. It makes you feel all googly inside just like you did when you thought you were in love in the 1980’s. The supporting cast is unbelievable and adds a lot to this hilarious romp through the summer of 1987. Jesse Eisenberg has an almost identical personality to that of Michael Cera, which adds to the likability of the main character. From “Twilight” fame, Kristen Stewart plays another EMO character similar to her portrayal of Bella….but it all works, and it works well!! I highly recommend this film…please watch it immediately.
ANVIL!: THE STORY OF ANVIL – ****
Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow are best friends and formed the Heavy Metal Band Anvil when they were just 14. Back in the 80’s, they toured with the likes of Scorpions and Bon Jovi, but for some reason they just never made it after that. They blamed their lack of success on poor management and lousy record labels, yet Lips and Robb have somehow managed to stay around for over 30 years. The documentary “Anvil!: The Story of Anvil” follows the band on a failed European tour, as well as reuniting them with their old producer with the hopes of rekindling the magic they once had with him. After recording their 13th album, they are turned down by all the record labels. They finally get a call from a concert promoter in Japan, only to find out that their time slot at the Tokyo rock festival is at 11:35 am. Their dreams come alive as they play to a full house of rabid Japanese Metal heads.
Believe it or not, this film really moved me, for many reasons. The first being that it is a true story of an unbelievable friendship between Robb and Lips, they show the world that even without success they have each other, and that’s all that really matters. Although they are poor and forced to work lousy jobs, Anvil keeps them grounded and happy, they HAVE something that makes them truly happy. There is one scene when the guys are trying to raise money to record their album and they reveal that Lips’s sister was going to fund it, she says, “Because he’s my little brother, and I want him to be happy”. This was a pivotal moment, when we see how important family is to these very unlikely “Family Guys”. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time, I highly recommend it.
As far as the DVD bonus features go, there are a bunch of deleted scenes and an interview with Lars Ulrich from Metallica, nothing too exciting.
AWAY WE GO – **
Burt Farlander (John Krasinski) and Verona De Tessant (Maya Rudolph) are a couple in their thirties searching for a place to settle down and raise their baby. Due to the fact that Burt’s parents have decided to move to Belgium a month before the birth of their child, Burt & Verona realize they need to find a better place for their future family and potential parenting abilities. The film documents the couple’s trips to cities where they have relatives or close friends….including Montreal, Miami, and Madison, WI.
This is a quirky little film with a great supporting cast including Jeff Daniels, Catherine O’Hara, Jim Gaffigan, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. I think the pairing of Krasinski and Rudolph is a most unlikely couple, but after sinking deeper into the film, they really work together. Being a huge “The Office” fan I think Krasinski is totally great, and does a nice job as the even-tempered Burt; kinda hard not to like him. This is certainly not a Guys flick by any stretch of the imagination, but it is entertaining all the same.
THE BROTHERS BLOOM – ***
Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) have been brothers and a con artist team since they were little kids. Essentially, Stephen comes up with the stories of the Con and Bloom plays them out as the lead character. With the help of their Japanese silent sidekick, “Bang Bang”, they find their final mark: a billionaire Heiress from New Jersey named Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Will Bloom and Penelope fall in love and foil all the plans?
As you can see, my details of the film are kind of short cause frankly I wasn’t sure what to write about it. I Definitely enjoyed the film but as it progressed I definitely lost some interest (which seems to be the case for most films these days). Brody gives a solid performance as the ill-fated Bloom, while Ruffalo is pretty good, despite a part that’s not so meaty for some reason he is one of my favorite actors today, I’m not sure why…I think it’s because of his demeanor). Weisz really does a stand up job in this, she really captures the odd/sad qualities of this lonely character.
There are some behind the scenes clips of the film that show how they filmed in six countries in sixty days as well as a commentary from the director. A movie has to be pretty amazing for me to give a crap about the extras.
BRÜNO – **
After male model Brüno Gehard gets fired from Austrian TV show “Funkyzeit” he decides to go to America and become a superstar. With the help of his assistant Lutz, Brüno tries everything in his power to reinvent himself in order to become a celebrity.
I have to say that I am a huge Sacha Baron Cohen fan and have been since his earliest material, so naturally I enjoyed seeing the Brüno character brought into a feature film; but it definitely was not as great as I had hoped. If you saw “Borat”, then you have essentially already seen “Brüno” because it is created on an almost identical framework. Some highlights include a hunting/camping trip with some rednecks, “The Straight Dave Show”, a focus group of Brüno’s new TV show, an appearance on “The Richard Bey Show” with his African-American baby named “OJ”…of course, you probably have seen most of these bits in the trailer anyway. One cannot deny the awesome talent of Cohen and the director Larry Charles, whom I love for his work on “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”…but the film is short and mediocre at best.
The DVD is packed with extras, including alternative scenes, deleted scenes, extended scenes, an interview with Lloyd Robinson (an agent in the film), and an enhanced film commentary. As you all know, I’m not big into all these extras but I checked out some of the deleted scenes and they seem pretty funny. One in particular features LaToya Jackson, which was cut from the film because of the death of Michael and was considered in poor taste by the Producers.
Once again, I was hoping for more from this one based on how great Cohen is and the hilarity of “Borat”. If you’re bored, you will get a few laughs…if your busy and have to squeeze movies into your life, then skip it.
CHERI – *
Based on the novel by Colette, this is a story about a French Courtesan named Lea de Lonval (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is getting on in years. She is set up by her friend Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates) with her oversexed and spoiled son Cheri. Peloux wants her son to learn about the art of making love from the “Best in The Business”…and expects them to have a few romps but does not expect them to fall in love, considering their vast difference in age. When it comes time for Cheri to marry into a wealthy family, his love for Lonva gets in the way.
I’m not sure who “Colette” is or was, but I do know that if she wrote a beloved book, I am sure that she didn’t want it to be turned into this utterly boring and useless film. From beginning to end, my interest was not peaked, the characters were dry and shallow and the story was uninteresting to say the very least. The only saving grace was the elaborate costumes which were a pleasure to look at and historically accurate. I usually like period pieces, but this was not one to like.
A director like Stephen Frears, who has directed the likes of “The Queen”, “Mrs. Henderson Presents”, “High Fidelity” and “The Grifters” has made a mistake in choosing this piece…made him look really bad. Oh well, Mr. Frears, on to the next.
Didn’t even bother with the DVD features, simply not interested and won’t be either.
THE COVE – ****
This is a truly incredible documentary that exposes something that you really have to see to really believe. Ric O’Barry was once one of the greatest dolphin trainers in the world; in fact he was the trainer of the five dolphins used on the popular television show, “Flipper”. After completion of the show, the animals were sent back to the Miami Seaquarium where Ric worked. One day, his favorite dolphin named Kathy swam into his arms, took her last breath and then literally committed suicide in his arms (It is said that since dolphins breathe air, each breathe they take is literally a choice). After this incident, Ric’s life took a complete 360 and he said that he would free every last dolphin that was being held in captivity.
The film follows Ric to Taijii, Japan…everywhere you go in the Taijii, there are pictures and statues of dolphins…it really seems like it is a place that loves these animals, when in fact it is quite the opposite. Taijii is a migratory route that dolphins have been using for thousands of years. Using a fleet of boats, fisherman have long metal pipes that go into the water and they all hit the pipes with metal hammers creating a wall of sound that frightens the animals, and they are herded into a cove that has been netted off. Certain animals are chosen by Seaquariums and places that have dolphin shows (They fetch $150,000 each) and the animals that are not chosen (mostly males and babies) are tied to boats and pulled around the corner to a hidden cove where they are slaughtered and sold for meat. Every year, over 23,000 dolphins are slaughtered in Taijii, and there are no laws that make it illegal; in fact, the International Whaling Commission does protect large whales, but not small cetaceans such as dolphins and porpoises.
O’Barry invests in a plan to expose these practices to the world. Utilizing the latest in surveillance equipment as well as experts, including the world’s best deep sea free divers, they face huge obstacles trying to save these innocent animals.
“The Cove” is an incredible documentary that is disturbing to watch, but I believe that everybody should get involved so we can make this slaughter come to an end. To make a difference please go to http://bit.ly/coveltr.
CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE – **
Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) falls out of a helicopter and lives. He is immediately scooped up off the pavement by what looks to be a Chinese gang. He wakes up to find that he is in the middle of surgery where they have removed his heart and replaced it with an artificial one. Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) informs him that he needs to keep the heart charged with electricity or he will die. Chev starts his quest to get back his own heart from the evil triad henchman, Johnny Vang. Along the quest, he runs into a whole gang of unlikely heroes, including a surprisingly fun cameo from Corey Haim who plays a jealous boyfriend of Chev’s Girl Eve (Amy Smart).
I had extremely low expectations for this film…really low. Once I starting watching it, I realized that it was truly ridiculous in every possible way, I mean my mouth was literally hanging open in surprise/disgust at certain points in the story; but it was seriously entertaining and filled with literally non-stop action. If you want to watch a thought-provoking story that might make you tear up then “Crank 2” is definitely not for you. If you want a really fun 80 minutes filled with video game-style action, blood and gore, and strange humor…then this is the film for you…check it out!
I usually skip all the bonus material on DVDs, I didn’t have to skip it on this one cause there weren’t any (except for a theatrical trailer).
DUPLICITY – *
I made it about 3/4 through this film before I gave up on it, I’m actually surprised I made it that long. This is the disjointed story of two Ex-Spies (Julia Roberts and Clive Owen) who work for opposing sides of 2 major soap companies. This film is stupid and a complete waste of time in every facet. Paul Giamatti is in the film and he is usually totally incredible, but the script sucked so bad that he even was terrible.
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are pretty bad actors to begin with. When they are thrown into this TERRIBLE script it makes them seem even worse. I wish I had more to write about this piece of dreck but I simply don’t. All I can say is PLEASE don’t waste your time as I did, instead do your laundry (it’s long overdue).
EXTRACT – **1/2
Joel (Jason Bateman) is the owner of a flavoring extract factory. Things start to go wrong in his life. He struggles to get home before 8PM in an effort to catch his wife before she changes into her sweatpants (which means that he will not have sex). Wandering criminal Cindy (Mila Kunis) decides to get a job in the factory so that she can get in touch with Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who recently lost a testicle in a factory accident…she wants to get in on his settlement. Joel decides he wants to have an affair with Cindy, but he doesn’t want to feel guilty about it. His friend Dean (Ben Affleck) refers him to his Gigolo friend Brad to pose as the pool boy who is supposed to seduce her. Joel doesn’t have it in him to have the affair but his wife Susie (Kristen Wiig) has other morals… A side plot to the whole story involves the annoying neighbor Nathan (David Koechner) who is trying at all times to get Joel and Susie to go to a Rotary club dinner with them, any time they turn around Nathan is in their face.
This was a pretty funny film and when it came out in the theater I thought it was going to be another cult classic like Mike Judge’s infamous, “Office Space”. “Extract” aims to please, but falls short from being considered comic genius. The film features great performances from Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck as well as a memorable performance from David Koechner who is always hilarious. Mila Kunis, who is really poplar right now, gave a lackluster performance as the sexy criminal, I think it was maybe the fact that her character really didn’t have time to develop in this 90-minute comedy. If your looking for a fun waste of time. check out this film, it is silly and witty…not Oscar material.
The only DVD extra is a fairly short “making of” piece called, “Mike Judge’s Secret Recipe”, which was actually pretty interesting. They revealed that the movie was filmed in a working water-bottling plant…pretty cool.
Also read Joel Frost’s review of “Extract” here.
FOOD, INC. – ****
This informative documentary deals with the the food industry’s insane practices and what they are doing to the world, and the people that live in it. The director focuses on individuals that are working to create change and challenge these huge companies in order to make people safer.
Years ago, after reading the incredible book, “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser, I became fascinated by the fast food industry and what they were doing to the world. I literally started reading every book I could find about food-born illness and food production; then, after many years without thinking too much about it, my interest is once again sparked by this great documentary. The Meat and poultry industry is the way it is solely because they have to keep up with the huge demand of the Fast Food Giants. Once you see this film, it may change the way you buy groceries, or it will make you think a little bit before sucking down your next Big Mac or Whopper. Very rarely does a film come along that really inspires you to make changes in your every day habits….this film makes that happen. Watch it.
Also read Mark Tucci’s review of “Food, Inc.” here.
FUNNY PEOPLE – **1/2
This is the story of superstar comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler), who is faced with the fact that he has a very rare and untreatable blood disease. He decides to try some experimental treatment in hopes of combating the rare disorder. In order to battle the depression that he is facing with his possible looming death, he decides to perform at a local comedy club where he sees the act of fledgling comedian Ira Wright (Seth Rogen). They exchange words after the show and Simmons takes a liking to him. The following day George calls Wright and asks him if he would like to become his writer and personal assistant, which of course Ira accepts. As the film progresses, Ira and George become very close friends and George confides in Ira about his illness and also about his everlasting love for his girlfriend from 12 years ago, Laura (Leslie Mann). The film takes a bunch of witty twists and turns involving friendships, career, and love that are at times heartwarming. The film also co-stars Eric Bana, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzmann.
An unlikely film from director Judd Apatow, the same genius that brought us the hilarious “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up”. This film was certainly taken in a different direction than his film and television projects of the past. “Funny People” is essentially a dramatic film filled with comedic actors and funny bits, but in the end is sort of a serio-comedy. It was a fairly entertaining film with some really great performers, the usual crew from past Apatow films with the addition of Sandler who doesn’t really stray from his usual portrayal, but is funny all the same. The film ran for nearly 2.5 hours which was WAY too long, 90 minutes would have been sufficient for a movie like this. Otherwise, it is pretty entertaining and worth checking out. I wonder if Apatow will make a film where he doesn’t cast his wife, in fact, in this one, both his kids are in it as well.
There are the normal DVD extras like commentaries, gag reels etc….after 2.5 hours of time I could only stomach some of the gag reel which was ok…people messing up their lines…Ha, Ha, Ha.
Also read Paul Preston’s review of “Funny People” here.
GRAN TORINO – ****
Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is an old school war veteran who lives in a Detroit suburb. All of his “Caucasian” friends have either passed away or moved away from the neighborhood and have been replaced by “Hmong” immigrants. After he discovers his next door neighbor’s kid named Thao in his garage trying to steal his 1972 Gran Torino, Kowalski’s life begins to change. He begins to accept and embrace these people that once seemed so foreign to him. As payback for trying to steal his car, Thao is forced to work for Walt to make up for his wrong doing. A friendship ensues between Walt and his entire family that guides the rest of the film to an incredible conclusion.
A film rarely comes along that is as powerful and incredible as “Gran Torino”. Eastwood gives an outstanding and heart wrenching performance and the directing/writing is equally excellent. I literally loved everything about this film, towards the end I found myself balling like a schoolgirl. Do yourself a favor, take a couple of hours out of your busy lives…pull yourself away from the TV, stop watching “Family Guy” and “Dancing with the Stars” and watch “Gran Torino”…NOW.
THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD – **
John Malkovich stars in this semi biographical comedy about a has been mentalist known as the Great Buck Howard. Planning his comeback Howard is in need of a new road manager and thus hires Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) to take on the job. Gable decided to give up on Law School in his final year because he wasn’t happy and wants to find himself. Although Gable realizes that Howard is a total has-been, he grows to really like him as a person and a true performer. For some reason Howard is very popular in Akron Ohio so he decides to plan his biggest trick in nearby Cincinnati. The film features cameos by tons of greats as well as a minor roll by Tom Hanks. It is a fun yet simple film that shows how difficult it can be to be at the top and then live at the bottom.
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS – **
This movie begins, once again, with the “squirrel” named Scrat trying desperately to find his beloved acorn, at the same time coming across a female “squirrel” who is also trying to get the acorn. The main characters, Manny (Ray Romano) & Ellie (Queen Latifah), are expecting a baby. Sid becomes jealous and finds a bunch of dinosaur eggs underground, which he adopts as his own kids. Diego (Dennis Leary) is back as well and joins the familiar crew on a quest through a strange underground world of dinosaurs, led by the one-eyed Weasel named Buck (Simon Pegg).
Another “Ice Age” movie, pretty much the same as the last two films…not much new here. Lots of fantastic voice talent including the addition of Simon Pegg as the swarthy weasel. The animation is once again really good and it is a fun film to watch.
There are a bunch of animated shorts in the bonus material featuring Scrat the Squirrel….fun to watch…check them out.
I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER – *1/2
During valedictorian Denis Cooverman’s (Paul Rust) speech, he declares his love for Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere), as well as pointing out many other students shortcomings. Denis is amazed at the fact that Beth shows up to his house for a party the same night with a bunch of her girlfriends. One of the people that he pointed out during his speech was Beth’s Burly military boyfriend, who wants revenge. The characters go on an adventure of a lifetime in this coming of age comedy.
Chris Columbus (Who directed two of the “Harry Potter” films) directs this witty youth-driven comedy. This film reminded me a lot of films like “Sixteen Candles”, “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Buellers Day Off”, with a bit of “American Pie” in the mix. The character of Rich (Jack Carpenter) was the typical sidekick/best friend reminding me a lot of Stiles from the “Teen Wolf” movies. Paul Rust plays the lead perfectly with his stange looks and quirky personality. Hayden Panattiere plays the same bullshit cheerleader role she plays in everything she does…nothing new there. Certainly not a great film, but it’s a fun time waster. Didn’t even bother with the DVD extras, but I’m sure there were some.
I LOVE YOU, MAN – **
Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is a real estate agent who needs the commission from selling the home of Lou Ferrigno to pay for his wedding to his new fiance Zooey (Rashida Jones). Peter soon realizes that he really doesn’t have any friends, and certainly doesn’t have anybody to be his best man at the wedding. With that in mind, the film brings us through many man dates in Peter’s quest to find a best friend. With many unsuccessful attempts he finally meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segal) who he immediately starts spending countless hours with at his “Man Den”, a converted garage on Venice Beach. Peter and Sydney do everything together, their favorite being “pretend” jamming to the music of Rush (the band makes an appearance in the film). Eventually this friendship leads Zooey to believe that her fiance’ is crazy..etc, etc.
Overall, this film is pretty funny in the vain of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Knocked Up” but the characters are a bit overdone and the script is lacking in many departments. The supporting cast is great including SNL’s Andy Samberg as Peter’s gay brother…which could have been a totally hilarious character if given more juice in the script. The addition of Lou Ferrigno playing himself adds some nice humor to the plot.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS – ***1/2
During WWII in in the dairy countryside of Nazi occupied France, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) kills a Jewish family that was hiding in a farmhouse, the daughter named Shosanna narrowly escapes. Later, she begins a plot to take revenge on the killing of her family by having a Nazi film premiere at her Cinema and plans to burn it down, killing everyone inside. The “Basterds” (led by Lt. Aldo Raine – Brad Pitt), a group of Jewish-American soldiers who’s sole purpose is to kill Nazis, hear of the event which promises to have a large amount of Nazis together in one place (as well as all the top officials including Hitler). With two separate plots happening at the same time, the outcome is unbelievable!
So people have been telling me to see this since it first it came out in the theater and now I finally know what all the fuss is all about. Quentin Tarantino delivers an incredible piece of cinema with incredible characters and cinematography that is truly unparalleled. Brad Pitt gets the top billing but the real star of the film is Christoph Waltz who plays Hans Landa, whose performance is one of the finest that I have seen in a long time; he is nominated for a Golden Globe and I think he will surely win. The film is very slow at certain points but is made up for by some really amazing gore and action sequences. A truly great film.
I get all of my DVD’s from Netflix, often certain high demand films are hard to get right away and it can be frustrating when there is one you really want to see. So I turned to In Demand and “Basterds” wasn’t available on there either, so I finally turned to the X-box which only offered it for purchase…so I did, and here I am.
Also read Paul Preston and Joel Frost’s reviews of “Inglourious Basterds” here.
LAND OF THE LOST – **
Dr. Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) is a failed scientist who had a really bad interview with Matt Lauer and now teaches elementary school kids. Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) approaches Dr. Marshall and tells him that he is brilliant and wants to field test his “Time Travel” device. They go to the Devils Canyon Mystery Cave where they meet the owner and proprietor Will Stanton (Danny McBride) and are treated to a personal tour of the Cave; they test his device and are sucked into…the Land of the Lost!! They immediately meet Chaka who is an ape-like little man who becomes their friend and guides them through the unknown world. They are confronted by an evil T-Rex who becomes Dr. Marshall’s personal enemy when Marshall says that he has a brain the size of a walnut (this becomes a central story line throughout the film). Marshall is summoned by the evil Sleestak Enik, who tricks them into recovering their device for his own evil-doings.
Another film that I had really low expectations for, and found to be witty and enjoyable. The team of Ferrell and McBride was great in “Eastbound and Down” and is once again great in “Land of the Lost”. There were a number of scenes where the duo are tripping out on loads of Narcotic Fruits that Chaka gave them while hanging out at the “Motel Pool”…classic and freaking hilarious. I am not saying that this was a great movie, but I do recommend it for someone who likes McBride and Ferrell..in fact I think McBride steals the show in this one.
The extras on this one are really good, and really all centered around McBride. “A Day in the Life of a Big Time Movie Star” follows Danny around the set of the film as he tries to get the attention of his “bigger” co-Star Ferrell; and of course he wants nothing to do with him. A series of comic bits that make Danny look like a schlub, great stuff. “Devil’s Canyon Gift Shop Commercial and Tour” is exactly what it sounds like, the latter being a tour around Devils Canyon by McBride. There is also a commentary available from the director (Brad Silberling), but I didn’t watch it. I will say that this was in no way shape or form anything like the original TV series, it’s its own thing, with the same characters.
MANAGEMENT – ***
Mike (Steve Zahn) is an odd guy who lives and works at his parents’ motel in a place called Kingman. Sue (Jennifer Aniston) works for a company called Corporate Bliss and ends up staying at the motel. Mike decides it’s a good idea to go up to her room and offer her a complimentary bottle of wine. At first, Sue has no interest in this simple small town guy, but ends up somehow making love to him in the housekeeping room. The rest of the film is all about Mike following her wherever she is around the country. Mike goes through a bunch of wacky antics trying to profess his love to Sue. Do they end up together? Gonna have to watch it to see.
This was a really cute film with great performances from both Zahn and Aniston. It’s nice to see Aniston in something a little bit different from the usual crap that she is in and Zahn is just really likable and fun to watch. Woody Harrelson does a great job at portraying Aniston’s ex, the Ex-Punk Yogurt Guru and James Liao is great as Mike’s friend Al. All in all, this is definitely worth watching, it’s kind of obscure but the script is good and it’s pretty entertaining and heartfelt.
DVD extras include commentary by Zahn and the director Stephen Belber, as well as deleted scenes and a gag reel.
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS – **
On her wedding day, Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) gets hit by a meteorite and turns into a giant. She is immediately captured by the government and taken to a secret location where they keep the other “Monsters”….B.O.B (Seth Rogen), Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), The Missing Link (Will Arnett) and Insectosaurus. After the evil alien Gallaxar (Rainn Wilson) sends a robot probe to earth, the government decides to use the Monsters to try and save the earth. The team of misfits fight with Gallaxar and his thousands of clones in an effort to save each other, and the world.
In addition to the great voice talents that I mentioned above, there are also the following actors that lend their voices: Stephen Colbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Paul Rudd and many more. This movie was ok at best, frankly I expected a lot more from the powerhouse that is Dreamworks. Maybe the fact that in the theater this was in 3D made it loads better than watching it in 3D on my couch. I’m not saying that it totally sucked, just saying that I wasn’t blown away like I know I’m gonna be when I see “Up” next month. Anyway, the movie did have a couple of great moments and it is visually beautiful…so check it out.
Finally, a DVD with some decent extras: “Modern Monster Movie-Making” which features some great behind the scenes stuff from the creation of the film. There are also some deleted scenes, commentary, and something called “The Tech of MVA” which is all about the technical stuff concerning the 3D animation…pretty cool. There is also a “Dreamworks Animation Jukebox” which is a selection of Music Videos from various films like “Madagascar”, “Over the Hedge”, and “Kung Fu Panda”.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN – *1/2
Ben Stiller returns to the Natural History Museum only to realize that all his friends from the previous adventure are being packed up and shipped to the Smithsonian for permanent storage. After getting a call from Jedediah (Owen Wilson) that they’re in trouble, Stiller heads to DC to save them. With the help of his son on the internet, he is lead through the catacombs of the Smithsonian, and finds his friends are about to be killed by Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria). He goes through a crazy adventure through the Smithsonian with the help of General Custer (Bill Hader), Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), and Amelia Earheart (Amy Adams), along with all the characters from the previous film.
Another time-waster, but fun for my little niece and nephew who really loved it!! Not too much to say about this one, pretty similar to the first incarnation…this time with a lot of added characters, including Hank Azaria who delivers a great performance as the evil Kahmunrah. No DVD extras to talk about ’cause we watched it In Demand.
PAPER HEART – ****
Comedian/actor Charlyne Yi journeys across America to make a documentary about love and if it really exists. Without warning, she falls for Michael Cera and the film follows the growth of their relationship.
This is a really enjoyable film which combines documentary footage and real interviews with fictional relationships and situations. Charlyne Yi is an extremely endearing and sure to be up-and-coming actress, almost like the female version of Michael Cera…nerdy, cuddly, and lovable. There is a great chemistry between Cera and Yi that rivals some of the greatest cinematic romances, they are simply adorable together. A really enjoyable film, well worth the time. Yi won a screenwriting award for this film at the Sundance Film Festival.
There are some great extras on the DVD including 2 featurettes, one of which is a “Making of”. There are a couple of music videos, one of which features the two main characters performing a song together…very “Juno-esque”. The extras also include love interviews with comedians, deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer.
THE PROPOSAL – ***
When faced with being deported back to Canada, mean-hearted and nasty book editor Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) makes her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) marry her. There are many hilarious situations that go along with the fact that they have to stage a wedding to keep Margaret in the country.
This movie was surprisingly funny and enjoyable, there were moments that I thought were actually hilarious! I know it is probably embarrassing to admit I enjoyed a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy…but screw that…I loved it! There was great chemistry between the two leads that I found to be very believable and endearing, and a great supporting cast including Betty White, Craig T. Nelson, and Mary Steenburgen. Check it out, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Also read Karen Volpe’s review of “The Proposal” here.
THE SOLOIST – **
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez’s life has taken a turn for the worse. Bad relationships, a nasty bike accident, a raccoon problem, and a lack of story ideas has brought him to the brink of emotions. While sitting in the park he hears a violin concerto and realizes it is being played by a homeless and mentally ill man named Nathaniel Ayers, who turns out to be a former Julliard Cellist. Lopez writes articles about Ayers which become extremely popular among readers and critics alike. The story follows the relationship of Lopez and Ayers as well as dealing with issues of mental illness and peoples attitudes towards the homeless.
I had really high hopes for this film based solely on the incredible pairing of Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, two truly talented actors. I had trouble making it through the beginning of the film. It did pick up, but barely. I think the basic problem with the film is the script, which was poorly written and a bit of overacting by Foxx (It was kind of Rain Man X-treme). I think it is worth watching, but don’t expect a masterpiece.
STATE OF PLAY – **
Rep. Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) learns the assistant he’s been having an affair with has been killed. Reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), who happens to be Collins best friend, figures out that there is some sort of conspiracy happening. With the help of beautiful young blogger Della Frye(Rachel McAdams), he figures out the conspiracy and all the dangers that go along with it.
The film also co-stars Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, and Jeff Daniels…Bateman being my favorite. The first hour and change of this film was exciting and thought-provoking, then once again it all went downhill and I found myself fast forwarding and disinterested. Russell Crowe gives a pretty good performance as Cal, and this is the first film in many years that Affleck isn’t totally annoying and a complete douche(I’m hoping for the same in Extract). Is this film worth watching?? I would say yes, check it out for sure…just have a crossword puzzle or something to do at the same time.
SUNSHINE CLEANING – **
Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) is a single mother with a dead end job as a house cleaner. In desperate need of money to send her “eccentric” son to private school because he is always getting in trouble at the local public school, she racks her brain to come up with a solution. Her married boyfriend (Steve Zahn) hooks her up with the gig of cleaning up after crime scenes which turns out to be very lucrative. Her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) joins her “Sunshine Cleaning Crew” in order to make some extra money. Both Norah and Rose are great at cleaning but they seem to become a little bit too attached to the work and their clients. Alan Arkin plays the entrepreneurial father in this obscure indie feature.
I had such high hopes for this film, beacause of the awesome cast and the fact that it was from the same people that brought us the incredible sleeper “Little Miss Sunshine” which is one of my favorite films of all time. I found the character of Winston (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who is the one-armed owner of the local janitorial supply store to be particularly endearing. All of the portrayals were pretty good in this film…my attention starting drifting about halfway through the story as I fidgeted with my iPhone and dreamt of better movies.
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 – *
A group of hijackers, led by Ryder (John Travolta), take control of a NYC subway train and demand a huge of amount of money to ensure the safety of the passengers. The train dispatcher, Garber (Denzel Washington) has the job of negotiating with the maniacs to bring them down.
This movie sucked. I have to be totally honest and say that I only made it about halfway through before I felt like I wanted to drive sharp objects through my soft brain tissue. From what I understand, the original 1974 film was fantastic (I guess that’s whay they wanted to do a remake). Both lead characters are completely unbelievable in every way…and Tony Soprano as the NYC Mayor was, to say the list, unbelievable. The film also stars John Turtorro and Luis Guzman. Please don’t waste any precious time on the cocka-poo.
Also read Adam Witt’s review of “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” here.
In the summer of 1969, Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) offers the promoters of Woodstock the permit for the festival as well as the use of his parents’ motel as the main headquarters. The film is based on the book “Taking Woodstock” by the real life Elliot Tiber. The film is directed by the great Ang Lee.
I really enjoyed this film, it is a great character-driven piece that really brings the audience a few steps closer to experiencing the magic that was Woodstock. Demitri Martin is perfectly cast as the lead character who is a witty, business savvy, son of Russian Jewish immigrants who are owners of the DelMonico “Motel, Casino, and Bar Mitzvah Palace”. It is basically a fleabag motel in White Lake, NY that Elliot struggles to keep afloat for his parents until he meets the promoters of the Woodstock Festival. The film is filled with great performances including Eugene Levy as the infamous Max Yasger and Liev Schreiber as the cross-dressing security guard Vilma.
The DVD Extras include deleted scenes, a making-of piece called “Peace, Love, and Cinema” as well as a feature commentary with Ang Lee and writer James Shamus.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN – **
Just when the Autobots think they have seen the last of the Decepticons, they are told, “The Fallen will Rise Again”. The Fallen is one of a group of ancient descendants of Optimus Prime who hate humans and were planning on destroying he earth’s sun. In order to do so they needed something that was buried somewhere in Egypt. The Fallen’s brethren would not let him destroy the world and sacrificed themselves to protect the key that would make the device go off and destroy the sun.
Sam (Shia Labeouf) is heading to college. While packing, he finds a sliver of the energy cube (which was destroyed in the previous film). After touching it, he begins to have visions of ancient symbols going through his mind. The Decepticons are trying desperately to find Sam and Mikaela (Megan Fox), planning to probe his mind for the symbols and then destroy him.
If you are looking for a lot of CG-driven action, then watch this film. If you want something more, do not watch this film. Shia gives a solid performance as Sam once again, he is a pretty solid actor. Megan Fox is piss-poor as usual…yes she is a looker, but as far as acting goes, she is ridiculously lame in every capacity. I worked with Megan on “Hope and Faith” for a number of years and she was a lot better on a sitcom than in these multi million dollar summer blockbusters. The film was WAY to long, coming in at 150 minutes…in a world of 83-minute features, this dragged on and on. There are a number of good action sequences and unique new characters but overall notta so good.
TWO LOVERS – *
I had high hopes for this film during the first hour, then it all went downhill. Joaquin Phoenix gives a great performance as Leonard Kraditor, a bi-polar, mid-thirties Jewish man living with his Isreali parents in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Leonard lives a simple life, working for his parents dry cleaning business and spendng most of his spare time dabbling in photography. Leonard accidentally runs into Michelle Rausch (Gwyneth Paltrow) in the building hallway and it is almost love at first sight. As Leonard gets to know Michele he learns that she is dating a married man that pays for all her living expenses and that she is waiting for him to leave his family. At the same time Leonard is being courted by his father’s business partner’s daughter Sandra, played by Vinessa Shaw. The film goes on and on endlessly and becomes increasingly annoying and uninteresting. Phoenix gives a great performance (supposedly his last) but Paltrow is terrible, I mean hard to watch BAD.
TYSON – ***
When this film came to theaters I was excited to think that I would eventually be watching it when it came out on DVD. James Toback presents a rather simple documentary about the legendary heavyweight, “Iron Mike Tyson”. The majority of the film is Tyson speaking about his life while sitting on his couch with historical footage interspersed in all the correct places.
We see a man that is extremely disturbed on all levels. A Man that attempted to live a righteous life but got blinded by wealth, drugs, and women. We get a chance to see footage that portrays Tyson as an enraged caged animal (who bites) as well as a loving father and husband.
Although a simple piece of cinema, it is an intimate portrayal of the inside of Mike Tyson that the world has ever seen.
WHATEVER WORKS – ***
Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) is a brilliant thinker who is newly single in New York City. He rants and raves to everyone about how stupid they are and how pathetic and sad the world is. On his way home from one of his late night hangouts he runs into a runaway named Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood)…he allows her to stay at his apartment. She ends up falling in love with him, they are happy until her mother shows up. Her only goal is to separate Boris from his daughter.
I am a huge Larry David fan so I knew that even if this film was lousy I would still like it cause of Larry…and it didn’t hurt that it was written and directed by Woody Allen. For the most part, this whole thing felt more like a play than a movie, it seems as if Woody created a stage play with a narrator (David) and decided to turn it into a film. Overall, I found the film to be very enjoyable and there were some great cameos including Ed Begley, Jr. who is great. If you are a Larry David or a Woody Allen fan this movie is worth checking out.
This is the story of a control-freak morning show producer named Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) whose show is floundering with poor ratings. In an attempt to get better ratings, her boss hires local bad boy Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), who hosts a cable show called “The Ugly Truth” where he exposes the fact that men are only interested in sex and nothing else. Mike uses his techniques to help Abby get together with her new neighbor, Colin, who happens to be a doctor. Through his attempts to make Abby more approachable and sexy he falls head over heels in love with her.
Another film that was surprisingly better than I thought it would be. Heigl is really believable in her role and is a real pleasure to watch, she is a great actress and gives her all in this film. I was very skeptical of Gerard Butler in a romantic comedy, but he was totally great, looking forward to seeing him in more films in the future. There are tons of great moments, one in particular is when Abby receives a pair of vibrating panties as a gift from Mike and she wears them to a meeting with the network executives; the remote falls out of her purse and a kid in the restaurant uses it to make her climax at the table….hilarious!!! Total chick flick, but a good time for all.
There were a bunch of DVD extras, I checked out the gag reel, which was filled with great moments from both the leads as well as some of the supporting actors, including Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins.
Also read Justin Bowler’s review of “The Ugly Truth” here.
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE – ***
This is the story of events that happened prior to the other “X-Men” films. It explores the life of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and how he became the fiery mutant that he is today. The entire film is essentially Wolverine trying to avenge the death of his girlfriend who was killed by his evil brother, Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber).
I fully expected this film to be a huge disappointment, boy was I wrong. It was an action packed film, filled with all sorts of amazing special effects and extraordinary fight sequences. After so many people telling me how horrible this was, I had formed an idea in my head…I think that preconceived notion made it even more enjoyable for me. From the previous films, we know that Jackman was made to play Wolverine and that has not changed in this incarnation. Schreiber is incredible as the evil Victor Creed….I don’t think they could have cast it better.
Also read Adam Witt’s review of “Wolverine” here.
YEAR ONE – *
Zed (Jack Black), a Neanderthal-type early man and his best friend Oh (Michael Cera) are a couple of geeky guys that can’t get girls and are pretty much the laughing stock of their tribe. In an effort to gain more knowledge, Zed eats an apple from the forbidden tree and is banished from the village. When Zed tries to kill a cow, they are confronted by Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd). Of course, Cain Kills Abel, and in an effort not to be killed, they accept a dinner invitation in the village and eventually hit the road with Cain – only to be tricked and sold into slavery. Now enslaved in the city of Sodom, the two guys try desperately to save their hopeful girlfriends. Blah Blah Blah.
Directed by Harold Ramis of “Ghostbusters” fame, this movie started off pretty funny; then it all took a turn for the worse. In an odd blur of mixed years and times, the movie lost my interest after about 30 minutes. Jack Black and Cera are the same characters that they are in every single film they have ever done (how far can Cera’s shy boy persona take him in Hollywood?). There are a lot of good cameos throughout the film, but with such a stupid story, we don’t even care that Hank Azaria plays Abraham or Bill Hader is a Shaman Priest in full makeup. I think in this case, stick to the classic caveman movies that stink like “Clan of the Cave Bear” or “Caveman” with Ringo Starr. If you want to see a great film with a Caveman check out 1984’s “Iceman” with Timothy Hutton…..Love that film.
As far as DVD extras are concerned, unfortunately there are a bunch. The only one I checked out was the gag reel…which wasn’t funny so I shut it off.
Also read Paul Preston’s review of “Year One” here.