Archive for December 8, 2010

Get Him to the Greek

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) releases an album and an accompanying single “African Child”. The song and music video flops, is banned and called “the worst thing to happen to Africa since the apartheid” by NME. His girlfriend, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), takes custody of their son, Naples, and leaves him; as a result, the formerly straight-edge Aldous hits rock bottom by drinking and doing drugs excessively once again.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is an idealistic young college graduate who works as a low-level talent scout at Pinnacle Records. He lives with his girlfriend, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss), a doctor in her internship. Pinnacle Records has lost a lot of money, so the head of the company, Sergio Roma (Sean “Diddy” Combs), asks for ideas. Green proposes to have Aldous Snow play at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles for the tenth anniversary of a particularly famous performance there. One month later, he sends Aaron to London to retrieve Aldous. Before leaving, Aaron visits sleep-deprived Daphne at her hospital to tell her that he’ll be gone for a few days. She informs Aaron that she received a job offer at a hospital in Seattle and that they are moving there, where she will have a less hectic work schedule. Aaron doesn’t appreciate her making this decision without consulting him, which leads to an argument resulting in an implied break-up.

After retrieving Aldous from his apartment, Aaron tries desperately to control Aldous’ rambunctious behavior, which causes them to miss several flights. They bar-hop across the city for several hours, leaving a trail of women and alcohol in their wake. Daphne calls him to apologize for the fight, but Aaron already believes that they had broken up. Throughout this partying, buttons of his jacket(placed in his pocket) accidentally call his girlfriend, and his girlfriend overhears him partying with other women.

Once the two have made it to New York, they proceed to Aldous’ Welcome Back performance on Today. Aaron receives word from Sergio to keep Aldous sober for his performance, and Aaron consumes all of Aldous’ whiskey and marijuana on the way to the program. Minutes before the performance, Aldous realizes that he is unable to remember the lyrics to his favorite song, “African Child”, shortly after Aaron had admitted to “African Child” being his least favorite Infant Sorrow song. Placing resentment and blame on Aaron, he sends him on a frenzy of drunk desperation in search of the lyrics. Aaron is unable to complete this task, and after the first few bars of “African Child”, Aldous stops his band, and plays one of his older hits called “The Clap” to cheers and excitement from the audience. Aaron had also mentioned earlier that “The Clap” is his personal favorite.

While preparing to fly to Los Angeles, Aldous forces Aaron to smuggle heroin in his anus. During their travels and time in London and New York, Aaron learns that Aldous has become miserable and lonely, as he misses his son and has not seen any signs of genuine love from his own father in years. Aaron shares his relationship troubles, and Aldous encourages him to enjoy his time in Los Angeles. Giving advice to Aldous, Aaron suggests he visits Jackie Q and his father and so the two make a stop in Las Vegas the night prior to the show to see Aldous’s father. Sergio also arrives, wanting to help oversee the final proceedings. Sergio hooks up Aaron with a ditzy, sexually rambunctious girl named Destiny (Carla Gallo), who takes him to a hotel room and rapes him. During this, his phone, again, accidentally calls Daphne, and she hears an out-of-context sample of what is going on. After Aaron tells Aldous that he has been raped, the other men laugh it off, and they encourage him to smoke a “Geoffrey”, a joint which is eventually described as “a Neapolitan of drugs”. Upon being told about the extra ingredients in the Geoffrey, Aaron panics and starts believing he is having a heart attack (he is actually just having a bad trip). Aldous’ father repeatedly says that it is a heart attack, making the trip worse, whilst Aldous repeatedly attempts to calm Aaron down by telling him “to stroke the furry wall”. Aldous has a fight with his father; Sergio (who is also high on Geoffrey) jumps in the fight, and their tussle ends up setting the hotel room on fire. Aldous attempts to help Aaron with an adrenaline shot to the heart and they run out of the hotel, chased by Sergio, who is then hit by a car. Sergio somehow manages to escape unharmed.

Aldous and Aaron are driven to Los Angeles, where Aldous visits Jackie Q. She has been sleeping with Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich (playing himself) – and is apparently engaged to him, and confesses to Aldous that Naples is not actually his biological son. This depresses him even further. Meanwhile, Aaron goes to his home to apologize to Daphne. They are interrupted when Aldous comes to their house and becomes involved in the conversation. He proposes that he, Aaron, and Daphne engage in a threesome because Aaron had been with other women while partying with Aldous. During the threesome, Aaron angrily decides to kiss Aldous, breaking it up. Daphne feels horrible about the threesome, and storms out of the room. Aaron angrily tells Aldous to go, and criticizes Aldous’ overall mental state.

Instead of preparing for his show, Aldous goes to the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, and calls Aaron, threatening to jump. Aaron rushes to the hotel rooftop pool in an attempt to coax Aldous down from the roof. Aldous attempts to jump down to the pool instead of killing himself, and accidentally shatters his arm against the poolside. Aldous tells Aaron that he is lonely and feels unconnected to people. Aaron tells Aldous that he is trying too hard, and that thousands of fans love him and are waiting just to see his face. Aldous, inspired by Aaron’s words, decides to go and perform at the Greek Theatre. Aaron tries to convince him to go to the hospital, but Aldous insists on making it to his performance at the Greek. Upon his arrival, Sergio attempts to offer Aaron drugs to give to Aldous so he will not cancel the concert due to the injury. Aaron angrily refuses and quits his job on the spot. He walks stage-side with Aldous, trying to convince him one last time to go to the hospital instead. However, Aaron sees how happy Aldous is while performing and allows him to continue while he himself goes home and reconciles with Daphne. Months later in Seattle (where Aaron and Daphne have moved), Aldous, sober once again, has returned to fame with a single produced by Aaron based on events from their night in Las Vegas, performing on the VH1 Storytellers program.

REVIEW:

 Get Him to the Greek is another comedy from the genius of Judd Apatow, and is actually a spinoff of one of his earlier films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Apatow’s last film, Funny People, was a bit more on the serious side (ironically when you look at the title and consider that it was about comedians), but this was a return to form, as there was nothing but hilarity. Of course, with Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, do you really expect less?

The comedy here is a mix of physical and just plain ol’ good writing. The situation that Brand has puts Hill in make for some very uncomfortable situations, such as putting a bag of heroin up his butt, or stroking a furry wall, but that’s the kind of comedy that makes Apatow films so appealing.

This film does get a bit serious when it comes to family and relationships. Don’t worry, though, these don’t last very long, as they something happens very quickly to not bring the mood down.

The music videos are also quite amusing. I think they took notice of how hilarious videos worked in Music & Lyrics, and capitalized on the idea.

Jonah Hill makes his first foray as a lead role here and does a pretty good job here, although he is a bit upstaged by Russell Brand. In some interesting casting, Hill is playing the straight man to Brand. Usually Hill is the one that is crazy and goofy. I was impressed.

Russell Brand reprises his character of Aldous Snow from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. If you are familiar with Brand’s career, then you know that he is a bit on the flamboyant side, so this character is right up his alley and he hasn’t lost a step from the last time he played him.

Sean “Diddy” Combs (or whatever he’s calling himself these days) was actually almost a show stealer here. If not for Brand, he would have been. I heard him say in ana interview that he based this character on what people thought he was, and just made it a bit of a caricature. Well, it worked to perfection.

Elisabeth Moss and Rose Byrne make appearances as the significant others. Byrne actually has some funny video moments. After seeing Moss play the serious secretarial type on Mad Men for the past few years, it was interesting to see her in a comedic role, especially the 3-way scene.

Look for a cameo by Sarah Marshall herself, Kristen Bell.

If you’re looking for good comedy, Get Him to the Greek is the film for you. Hilarity ensues from the opening credits and lets up long enough for you to catch your breath, then picks right back up where it left off. True, there are better comedies, but this one does not suck. I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars

DuBarry Was a Lady

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , on December 8, 2010 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

A washroom attendant, Louis Blore, has won a sweepstakes, and subsequently quits his job. He is in love with the nightclub singer May Daly, but she is in love with Alex Barton. Alex is the brother of her friend Alice, who is in love with Harry Norton. Meanwhile, Alex is unhappily married to Ann. Charley, Louis’s replacement, suggests that Louis slip Alex a Mickey Finn. While trying to do so, Louis inadvertently drinks the Mickey Finn, falls asleep, and dreams he is King Louis XV of France, and that May is Madame du Barry. In his dream, Charley becomes the Dauphin (later Louis XVI) and Harry becomes the captain of the guard, with Ann as Du Barry’s lady-in-waiting, and Alex as a peasant who wrote a rude song about The King and Du Barry (the title song: Du Barry Was A Lady). Eventually after various entanglements (including the Dauphin shooting the King in the posterior with a bow and arrow), Louis wakes up and realises that Alex is the man for May. He uses the last of his winnings to pay for Alex’s divorce from Ann, and (with Charley having just quit his job) goes back to being a washroom attendant.

REVIEW:

 I love Lucy. I even stay up late at night on the weekends just so I can catch I Love Lucy. I’m also a fan of Gene Kelly and Tommy Dorsey, but I can’t say that DuBarry was a Lady will earn my fandom.

First of all, this film is supposed to be a musical. True to form, it actually starts out with some great musical numbers while they are in the nightclub, but once the first hour or so is over and they’ve left the club, it starts to drag on and not really go anywhere. Not to mention confuse the audience with the weird way in which the lottery and dream sequences were run together.

The songs in the original Broadway show were all done by Cole Porter, yet here, as with many musicals, the studio execs decided it wasn’t good enough and added some of their own. With the exception of the Tommy Dorsey tunes and the Oxford Boys medley, I didn’t really care for these new songs.

The one Cole Porter song that was included, “Friendship”, Lucy also sings with Ethel on I Love Lucy, so it was great to see her doing it here.

When you think of Gene Kelly, the first thing that comes to mind is his dancing, right? Well, he has 1 dance number in this film. On one hand, I can’t really complain about that. I mean, he could be one of those that didn’t want to be dancing in every film, but on the other hand…he’s freaking Gene Kelly!!! Dance, man, dance!

From what I’ve read, this si the film that gave Lucy her look, the red hair and lipstick. I must say, with the technicolor shots and everything, she was quite breathtakingly beautiful. No wonder Gene Kelly and Red Skelton’s characters both fell for her. I do wish that Lucy would be funny in a movie, though. It seems as if every film I see her in she’s a serious character.

Speaking of Skelton, the guy tries to carry the film on his back. He gives a valiant effort, complete with some great comedic moments.

This is not the greatest picture in the world, but it does have some moments sprinkled here and there. If you’re just a casual musical fan, then I’d say avoid it, but if you’re like me and really like them, then this is a must-see. Also, if you’re a Lucy fan, why haven’t you seen this yet? For the general viewing public, though, this is one of those that you can take chance on and make your own opinion, but don’t go out of your way.

3 out of 5 stars

Old Dogs

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Dan Rayburn (Robin Williams) and Charlie Reed (John Travolta) are best friends and co-owners of a successful sports marketing firm. Seven years prior, Dan, recently divorced, married Vicki (Kelly Preston) after being whisked away by Charlie for a tropical vacation. The wedding, however, is short lived. Seven years later, Vicki resurfaces to tell Dan that their short marriage resulted in something he never suspected: twins Zach (Conner Rayburn) and Emily (Ella Bleu Travolta).

Vicki, facing jail time for her work as an environmental activist, asks Dan to take care of the kids while she does her time. Thinking this might be his chance to get back with Vicki, Dan agrees, but only if Charlie will help him since neither have any experience taking care of kids. At the same time, the two must finalize a huge marketing deal with a Japanese company; something they’ve always dreamed of, but will take all of their talents to clinch.

Because Dan’s condo does not allow children, he has to board with Charlie. Whilst this is happening, Charlie and Dan are close to securing the biggest account in the history of their careers with a Japanese corporation. Charlie and Dan’s attempts to take care of the kids are well-intentioned, but very misguided. On a trip with the kids to an overnight camp, a hard-nosed camp instructor (Matt Dillon) becomes convinced that Dan and Charlie are homosexual partners. The trip ends with a bang after Dan accidentally sets a beloved statue of the camp’s founder on fire.

The kids then proceed to spill and replace Charlie and Dan’s prescriptions, mixing them up in the process. Dan then must play a game of golf with the Japanese executives while experiencing extreme side effects and Charlie tries to woo Amanda (Lori Loughlin) with a face frozen by the pills.

Desperate to help Dan communicate with the children despite his inexperience with children, Charlie recruits his friend Jimmy Lunchbox (Bernie Mac), a flamboyant children’s entertainer, who is famous around the world. Jimmy comes by and straps Dan and Charlie in motion control puppet suits so Charlie can help Dan make all the right moves with his daughter while having a tea party. The suits malfunction, but Dan speaks from the heart, winning over Emily but his speech makes Jimmy emotional. Everything is great with Vicki as she returns home. However, the guys have sealed their Japanese deal, sending junior associate Craig (Seth Green) to Tokyo. When Craig goes missing after arriving there, Charlie and Dan must fly to Tokyo themselves to work. Dan must leave the kids and Vicki despite his (and their) desire to be a family.

Once in Tokyo, Dan realizes that what he really wants is to be a good father. He leaves the meeting without sealing the deal, rushing with Charlie to Vermont for the kids’ birthday party. They aren’t able to get into the Burlington Zoo in time and are forced to break in with the help of Craig. However, they mistakenly wind up in the gorilla enclosure. Though Dan and Charlie escape, Craig is captured by the gorilla (which takes a strong liking to him).

Dan then steals a jet-pack from a birthday party performer, flying into the ceremony and winning his kids back over. One year later, Dan and Vicki are together, Charlie has married Amanda, and Craig has become like a new “uncle” to the kids

REVIEW:

 A while back, I watched Wild Hogs, which was another Disney film (coincidentally starring John Travolta) about aging men. Today, I took the chance and checked out Old Dogs. I guess the first thing to say is that it is slightly better than Wild Hogs, but not by much.

The basic premise of this film is that two best friends start their own business and, now in their mid 40s, are on the verge of the biggest business deal of their lives. Nothing wrong with that, right? Enter, the plot twist, or should I say children and love interest.

As expected in any Disney film, there are some cutesy kiddie moments, a climatic falling ut of all the major characters, and finally a resolution. Yes, this film is very formulaic, but it works.

Robin Williams is still the master of physical comedy, even in his advanced years, not to mention he can still command the screen with his presence as an actor.

John Travolta as a ladies’ man isn’t a far stretch, especially from what I hear about him from back in the 70s. He basically just channelled his Vinnie Barbarino character for this role, I’d imagine.

Kelly Preston and Lori Loughlin make for good female leads, though they both seemed to be absent for most of the film, which really was a shame.

The children were pretty good, as well, but nothing we haven’t seen in other Disney flicks.

Seth Green. Justin Long, and Matt Dillon make the most of their screentime, as they really ham it up for the cameras and make for some interesting characters, especially Long.

This film wasn’t horrible, and would be a good family film. It really isn’t as bad as critics would have you belive. Granted, it isn’t great, either. While the performances are enjoyable and the formulaic story works, there just seems to be something off about this flick that I just can’t put my finger on. Having said that, I would still recommend this as something to watch with the family.

3 out of 5 stars