Archive for April, 2011

Our Song

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Our Song follows three high school girls over one summer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The girls, Lanisha (Kerry Washington), Maria (Melissa Martinez), and Joycelyn (Anna Simpson) are best friends and confidants. They have different family situations, different romantic interests, different moral codes and their own unique dreams.

They are all dedicated members of the Jackie Robinson Steppers, a community marching band, that holds daily rehearsals in a local parking lot. The girls want to master the instruments they play in order to impress their conductor.

Joycelyn works at a makeup boutique, while both Marie and Lanisha work at a bakery. Sometimes they talk about what they’ll do after high school, but most of their conversations are about the difficult immediate issues that face them daily:

  • Their school is not going to reopen in the fall because there is asbestos contamination, so they each challenged with finding a new school with a good reputation, enrolling, and planning the daily commute.
  • Pregnancy and teen motherhood are serious considerations for the girls, as many of their friends have babies.

REVIEW:

Based on my interest in Drumline, this film, Our Song, was recommended. Honestly, the only similarity between the two films is that they deal with marching bands. This film, though, uses the band much in the same way football was used in The Blind Side, and that is more as a back drop rather than a focal point.

This film is shot on a sort of documentary style, which was a real turnoff for me. Heck, that’s the reason I don’t really care for The Office or Parks & Recreation, yet I love Modern Family (Sofia Vergara…need I say more?).

–ahem–

Where was I? Oh yeah, amongst all that documentary style camera shots, this picture does actually have a plot, which is the 3 girls and their problems. In other words, this is one of those coming of age films.

Does that mean its bad? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but it does seem to drag on and on and not really get anywhere. This is where the scenes involving the Jackie Robinson Steppers marching band (played by themselves) comes in.

They bring in a nice break from the monotony of watching these girls have their various issues that really aren’t that interesting. Yet, somehow, the audience is still riveted. It is like watching reality TV, I suppose. For people with common sense, its nothing but drivel, but the common audience member will somewhat enjoy.

I’ll be honest with you, there isn’t much to this film. Three girls, their relationships, some scenes with a band, heavy pregnancy drama, and an abrupt ending. Having said all that, this film was really well made. I don’t highly recommend it, but if you’re into these coming of age dramas, then it is right up your alley.

3 out of 5 stars

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2 Fast 2 Furious

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After allowing fugitive Dominic Toretto to evade arrest in the first film, former LAPD officer Brian O’Conner finds himself on the run and leaves Los Angeles for Miami to start a new life. There, he makes new friends with Tej Parker (Ludacris), an ex-street racer, and Jimmy (Jin Auyeung), a well-known car tuner as well as Suki (Devon Aoki), also a street racer. Brian is now known by his street name “Bullet” due to his driving skills and his modified silver Nissan Skyline GT-R R34. He competes with fellow street racers in high stakes races to win money using the skills he learned as a member of Toretto’s now disbanded crew.

One night after winning a race, he is caught by U.S. Customs agents after his car is disabled by the fictional grappling hook-shaped ESD (Electronic System Disabler) that is deployed by Agent Markham (James Remar). Upon his arrest, Brian is offered a deal by Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) to take part in a joint Customs/FBI operation in exchange for his criminal record being wiped clean. The operation involves his street racing background, but seeing that neither Customs nor the FBI have a convincing racer to be his partner, Brian tells Bilkins he will select a partner of his own.

Brian and Bilkins travel to Barstow, California, to watch a demolition derby. There, they meet up with local champion Roman “Rome” Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), a former friend of Brian who had served jail time and is on house arrest. Their reunion starts with a fist fight until Brian convinces Rome to join him on the mission in exchange for his crimes pardoned and his ankle monitor removed. They return to Miami, where they are briefed on their mission – which is to go undercover as street racers and participate in a money laundering run for Carter Verone, (Cole Hauser) a ruthless Argentian drug lord. They are assisted by Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), a female undercover U.S. Customs agent who liaisons as Carter’s love interest. For their mission, Brian and Rome are issued two modified cars – a yellow Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII and a purple Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS Spyder, respectively.

The duo participate in an audition race across Miami to recover a package inside an impounded Ferrari 360 Spider and deliver it to Verone, not knowing that their cars are equipped with tracking devices that give Markham’s squad their locations. Upon arriving at the site of the Ferrari and acquiring the package, they are cornered by Markham and his squad, who think they are fleeing from the mission. Rome opens fire at the squad before the duo make their escape and head for Verone’s mansion.

After being hired by Verone as his drivers, the duo is going to a Customs/FBI hideout, where Roman confronts Markham over the latter’s interference with the mission. After the situation is cooled down, Brian tells Bilkins and Markham that Verone plans to smuggle the money into his private jet and fly off, but also suspects something wrong with Monica’s role in the mission. The duo then head to Tej’s garage, where they learn about the tracking devices in their cars and that they are also being tailed by Verone’s henchmen Enrique (Mo Gallini) and Roberto (Roberto Sanchez).

That night, Brian and Rome meet up with Verone at his night club, where Verone tortures Detective Whitworth (Mark Boone, Jr.) into giving him a 15-minute window to keep the police away from their laundering run. They report this back to their superiors the next morning, but Brian suspects that this mission will go out of hand due to Markham’s hair-trigger attitude against them, along with information secretly told by Monica that the drop-off point is at a secluded airstrip and Verone is to have the duo executed after the run. As a solution to these problems, Brian and Rome come up with plans of their own.

They issue a challenge to racers Korpi (John Cenatiempo) and Darden (Eric Etebari) – two other drivers from the audition race – for pink slips in a tag-team relay race. Despite having smaller engines than Korpi’s Chevrolet Camaro Yenko S/C and Darden’s Dodge Challenger R/T, the duo manage to win the race and take possession of the two muscle cars. Afterward, they have Tej and his gang modify the muscle cars and have him get all the street racers ready for the next day.

On the day of the mission, Brian and Rome begin transporting duffel bags of Verone’s money with Enrique and Roberto riding along. Before the 15-minute window is set, Detective Whitworth decides to call in the police to move in for the arrest, resulting in a high-speed chase across the city. The duo lead the police to a warehouse, where a scramble by dozens of street racers disorient the police. Following the scramble, police manage to pull over the Evo and the Eclipse, only to find out that they were driven by Tej and Suki, respectively. In the midst of the chaos, Brian and Rome manage to lose the cops by using the muscle cars.

As Brian approaches the destination point, Enrique tells him to make a detour away from the airfield. Meanwhile, Rome gets rid of Roberto by using an improvised ejector seat powered by nitrous oxide. At the airfield, Customs agents have Verone’s plane and convoy surrounded, only to discover they are duped into a decoy maneuver while Verone is at a boat yard several miles away. As he knew Monica was an undercover agent, he gave her the wrong information on the destination point. When Brian arrives at the intended drop-off point, Enrique prepares to kill him when Roman suddenly appears, with both of them dispatching Enrique. Verone makes his escape aboard his private yacht, but Brian and Rome use the Camaro and drive off a ramp at high-speed, crashing on top of the yacht. The duo manage to apprehend Verone and save Monica.

With their crimes pardoned, Brian and Rome ponder on what to do next other than to settle in Miami when Brian mentions starting a garage. Rome asks how they would afford that and Brian reveals that he took some of the money as Rome also reveals that his pockets aren’t empty. Turns out that both of them secretly took some cash from the confiscated duffel bags.

REVIEW:

The second film in The Fast and the Furious franchise reunites the audience with (now former) LAPD Officer Brian O’Connor and these fabulous souped up cars.

2 Fast 2 Furious picks up shortly after The Fast and the Furious, where O’Connor, having let Dominic escape, is now living down in south Florida, avoiding arrest. After winning a street race, he is chased down by the cops and eventually caught. They make a deal to clear his record if he brings in Carter Verone, a criminal drug lord they’ve been after. He takes the deal, ut only if he can pick his partner, an old friend who is under house arrest. The two make their way into Verone’s operation and the film goes into typical franchise fashion afterwards.

If you like the first film, this one may or may not be a disappointment. For me, I actually saw this when it came out, but never saw the first until a couple of weeks ago, so my opinion is a little skewered, as opposed to those who saw these films in order.

Having said that, after watching the first film, and then this one, I can see how one would be not so pleased with the picture. The first film was almost non-stop action, which is beyond awesome! I love that kid of stuff. This one tried to make the action secondary, which was a big mistake if you ask me.

The thing about that, though, is that you just know the shift toward an actual plot was to please the critics, but they blasted this one even more than the previous.

I won’t go that far, but I can say that hopefully the following entries in the franchise go back to the original formula.

Speaking of the plot, it seemed as if they could have done more with it, if they were going to focus on the acting more than the action, but they didn’t, so it was a bit of a letdown. I guess I just expected there to be more sadisticness from Verone, similar to the hot pail rat scene, but that’s just me.

As far as the cast goes, there really isn’t anything special in terms of what they do. Trained monkeys could throw their poop and it could do these roles. Having said that, Devon Aoki and Eva Mendes were hot as hell and Tyrese brought in some nice comic relief, which was a nice touch.

What is the final verdict on 2 Fast 2 Furious? Well, it is step down from the original, but it is still entertaining. Should you see it? Well, if you’re like me and OCD about franchises, then yes, but as far as a stand-alone film, then no. I hear, though, this is head and shoulders above the next film in the series, so, it does have that going for it. For me, though, this was just an average film that seemed to suffer from the lack of Vin Diesel and the studious attempt to cash in on the popularity of the first film.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Yogi Bear

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake) are two brown bears who have a penchant for stealing picnic baskets from visitors to Jellystone Park, while park rangers Smith (Tom Cavanaugh) and Jones (T. J. Miller) try to prevent them from doing so. Meanwhile, Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) realizes that his city is facing a financial crisis due to profligate spending on his part. To solve it and fund his election campaign to be the next state governor, the mayor decides to “find some place losing money so he can earn it”, and he picks Jellystone, the park where the bears live. The park is selected as a logging site, and Jellystone is shut down. Now seeing that their home is in danger of being destroyed, it’s up to Yogi and Boo Boo, along with Ranger Smith and a documentary-shooter named Rachel (Anna Faris), to save the park.

To save the park from being shut down, Ranger Smith holds a Centennial festival where he hopes to make a profit selling Season Passes. To sabotage the effort, Mayor Brown plays on Ranger Jones’ ambition to be head ranger and promises him the position if the funds are not raised. Yogi had promised Smith to stay out of sight during the festival, but Jones convinces him to go ahead with a plan help. Yogi tries to please the crowd with a waterskiing performance which goes awry when he inadvertently sets his cape on fire. In the ensuing chaos, the fireworks Smith set up are knocked over and ignited prematurely, launching them into the assembled audience who flee in a panic. After Jellystone is shut down, Ranger Smith is forced to stay in Evergreen Park, a small urban enclave choked with litter and pollution, but not after he tells Yogi that Yogi is not as smart as he thinks he is. Smith, Rachel, Yogi, and Boo Boo plan to stop the sale of Jellystone. They learn that Boo Boo’s pet turtle is a rare species, which means that the Park cannot be destroyed with the turtle there. Mayor Brown finds out and orders his guards to kidnap the turtle so that he can cut down all trees of Jellystone and confesses to Yogi, Smith, Rachel, and Boo Boo, that he doesn’t care about the law and wants power more than what is best for the people and the environment.

However, Rachel had previously put a video camera in Boo Boo’s bow tie as part of the documentary which later recorded Mayor Brown’s confession. The turtle escapes Mayor Brown’s assistant by using his frog-like tongue to pull itself into the forest from the car. Yogi and Boo Boo keep the guards distracted so that Ranger Smith can upload Mayor Brown’s unintended confession to the jumbo screen. When the confession is replayed, the police arrest Mayor Brown and his Chief of Staff, who lies that there is no rare turtle when the turtle reveals himself to the people. Smith tells Yogi that he really is smart and thanks him for saving Jellystone. Jones loses the position of head ranger and Smith takes it back, but Jones still works there, giving out papers about how Jellystone has a rare type of turtle.

REVIEW:

Remember back in the day when cartoons actually came on television, and that they were hand-drawn, not computer animated? Well, that was when Yogi Bear rules the airwaves. Well, maybe not ruled, but he surely carved out a niche for himself. A big enough one that, in 2010, this live-action film was made.

In a manner similar to other cartoons that have been brought to the big screen and changed to live-action, such as Scooby-Doo, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Mr. Magoo, and to a lesser extent, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Yogi Bear does its best to maintain the spirit of the original, while making it accessible to modern (read=younger) audiences.

Does the film succeed at that task? Honestly, I think it does, but since most of the film takes place in the park, there really isn’t much that had to do with society, except for stuff involving the humans, who, with the exception of Ranger Smith, his love interest, the unnecessary Ranger Jones, and of course the villanous mayor (and his minions).

The plot here, as with every Yogi Bear, cartoon starts off with Yogi and Boo Boo attempting to pilfer a pic-a-nic basket. After some hilarious hijinks, we meet the other characters in the film, the rangers, and then the mayor and his lackey, who have discovered the city is near bankrupt. This causes them to search for ways to get some money for the city. They come up with the idea of selling off Jellystone since it doesn’t meet its operating costs.

This flick was released in 3D. A friend of mine actually wasted the money he didn’t have to see it in “glorious 3D” (note the sarcastic tone). I didn’t see anything that would warrant shelling out the cash to see this in 3D. Hell, I didn’t see anything here that would warrant seeing it in the theater.

I have to say, though, that I had low to no expectations for this film. I surely wasn’t expecting to be entertained as much as I was. Having said that, I think it did get a tad bit formulaic. A soon as they introduced Ranger Jones (don’t ask me why they felt the need to create another ranger), it was obvious he would do something boneheaded that would impact the film. Couple that with the way the film just ended up playing out, you could pretty much tell what was going to happen.

Was I expecting some kind of weird twist? No, but I did think that perhaps it would have been something not so obvious.

The casting of Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake as Yogi and Boo boo worked much better than I thought it would, especially Timberlake. Akroyd sounded exactly like theo riginal Yogi, as did Timberlake. I don’t know if any voice altering was done to get that effect, or if that is true talent, but it is impressive.

Tom Cavanagh is ok as Ranger Smith. The guy doesn’t really have to do much, though. This is a character who is secondary to Yogi, but the filmmakers did all they could to make him almost the focal point of this film, and that is what hurts. He may have been great on Ed, but as a leading man on film, he just doesn’t cut it.

Anna Faris has nothing to do here but look hot (when does she not?), and chime in with some knowledgeable insights. I would say this is a waste of her talent, but this is one of those films where the humans are secondary, so its ok.

T.J. Miller suffered from having a character that just wasn’t worth seeing. This guy was annoying, forced in the film, and really didn’t warrant any reaction from the audience.

Andrew Daly did a pretty good job as the mayor. His sarcastic tone and swagger made this evil mayor character memorable.

What is the final verdict on Yogi Bear? Well, it is surprisingly good. The action and comedy mixed together makes it really fun to watch. If you’re in the market for a good film to watch with the kids, then this is one of the films you should seriously consider. It isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worth the viewing. Who knows? You may even like it!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Love & Other Drugs

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the year 1996, Jamie (Gyllenhaal), who works at an electronics store, is fired for sleeping with his manager’s girlfriend. After his parents find out and criticize Jamie for leaving medical school, his wealthy brother Josh (Josh Gad) offers to find him a job as a medical representative. Jamie goes to work for Pfizer and tries to get doctors to prescribe Zoloft and Zithromax. He is rebuffed constantly much to the dismay of his partner Bruce (Oliver Platt), who sees Jamie as his ticket to the “big leagues” of Chicago. Bruce tells Jamie if he can get Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) to prescribe Zoloft instead of Prozac, all the other doctors will follow his lead. Jamie uses his skills as a womanizer to gain access to Dr. Knight through his female staffers.

Jamie meets one of Knight’s patients, Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), who suffers from early onset Parkinson’s disease. Jamie arranges a date with her, which lasts only minutes before they return to her apartment and have sex.

In the hospital parking lot, Jamie is beaten up by the top-selling Prozac rep Trey, also one of Maggie’s lovers, who warns Jamie to stay away from her and the doctors. That night, Jamie goes to Maggie’s apartment, and they start having sex but Jamie is unable to get an erection. Maggie teases him that he should use the new erection drug, Viagra, that his company has developed. Jamie starts selling Viagra, which becomes very popular with the doctors.

Jamie tries to convince Maggie to have a fuller relationship with him, but she refuses. The next day, Maggie is helping senior citizens onto a bus bound for Canada to get cheap prescription drugs when Jamie shows up. They argue about their relationship and she leaves. Jamie waits in the parking lot, and the next day when the bus comes back, Maggie is touched that he waited and tells him she will have a relationship with him.

Jamie asks Maggie to go to a medical conference with him in Chicago. While at the conference she is invited to a Parkinson’s convention across the street. She is moved by the people and their stories. She asks Jamie to come over and join her and he meets a man whose wife is in the final stages of the disease. Jamie asks for advice about Maggie, and the man tells him to run. This shakes Jamie. After the convention, Maggie tells him how much she loves him.

Jamie starts researching Parkinson’s and pushing Knight for information on specialists. He starts taking Maggie to a specialist and paying for her to have tests done. At one office Jamie becomes upset because their appointment was rescheduled after they had flown in to see the doctor. While Jamie is yelling at the receptionist, Maggie walks out. They fight and Maggie says there is no cure. Maggie sees that Jamie can only love her with the hope that one day there will be a cure, and so she breaks up with him.

Some time later, Jamie goes to meet Bruce for dinner and runs into Maggie, who is on a date. Bruce shows up and says that Jamie has been promoted to the Chicago office. Jamie goes home and starts to pack but realizes he wants to be with Maggie and goes to the diner where she works. Her boss tells him she has left for Canada to obtain drugs and Jamie goes off after her. Jamie flags down the bus Maggie is on. Maggie gets off and says that Jamie has five minutes to talk. He tells Maggie about how she makes him a better person, that he loves her and needs her. She starts to cry and says she will need him more. The film ends with Maggie and Jamie living together with Jamie refusing the Chicago promotion, and enrolling in medical school.

REVIEW:

I seem to be watching alot of movies based on book here lately. Perhaps this is just the warmup for the summer blockbusters that are almost all comic book films…at least the ones that I’m excited about, anyway.

So, Love & Other Drugs is another in this line of films I’ve watched that was based on a book. I’ve never read the actual book, but speculation among those who have seen this film and read the novel is that they used very little from the source material. I’m no fan of departing from the source material, but after watching the film, specifically the second half, I can live with the departure if it lightened it up a little.

The film revolves around Jamie, who comes from what appears to be a rich, or at least well-to-do family, but he hasn’t made anything of himself, yet. Whereas his siblings are doing well for themselves. For instance, his brother is some sort of internet millionaire or something. Jamie does have the “gift of gab” as someone put it, which would make him the ideal salesman, and at the suggestion of his brother, he becomes a pharmaceutical salesman. This is how he ends up in the Ohio River Valley area (it is never said exactly what city or state). Up there, as he is getting he feet wet in the sales world, he meets Maggie, a young photographer who has stage I Parkinson’s Disease. The two have lots…and i do me mean LOTS…of sexbefore Jamie suddenly gets all serious and wants a relationship. This is a romantic comedy, so you can guess that this, coupled with the Parkinson’s stuff is where the comedy stops and the drama begins.

Many who have seen this seem to be saying the same thing. It feels like two different films. The first half, which is the kind of stuff we guys like sex and jokes and such, whereas the second half is all about feelings, relationships, and all that sappy stuff that women are into.

Being a guy, I obviously preferred the first half, but the second half wasn’t bad. I think what turned me off was the sudden change in tone. I’m a big fan of films that keep the same tone throughout. If you’re going to be all serious, then do it from the get-go. If you’re going to be light-hearted and funny, then do so.

With this film, and such a heavy topic, such as a major disease like Parkinson’s, I think it would have been better served to keep it light, and not get so serious. I have no problem with some serious scenes here and there, but to change the entire tone of the film, just sort of ruined it for me.

Going back to the first half of the film, though, it was sheer brilliance. On top of being funny, there were plenty of skin shown. I heard someone say in a reve that these were some of the most realistic sex scenes done on-screen, because they didn’t cover up afterwards. Usually, women have sex, and then get all modest, whereas, here, Anne Hathaway just gets up and struts around afterwards. I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the picture.

The chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is priceless. We’re talking up there with some of the premiere cinema couples like Humphrey & Bogart, Astaire & Rogers, etc. Yes, they are that good together.

In terms of their individual performances, Gyllenhaal gives one of his best, but then again, he rarely does anything bad, even if the film isn’t that great. This character seems to have been written just for him, as he totally owns it.

For me, it was hard to see Anne Hathaway run through the first half of the film naked. Don’t get me wrong, I could watch her nude anytime…unless I had just finished watching portions of The Princess Diaries the night before. It kind of threw me for a loop. On the same token, she has really come into her own as an actress that many thought would have disappeared by now. This is truly a meaty role. She had to be not only sexy and funny, but a little bit on the damaged side, as well as portray the disease, which couldn’t have been an easy task.

There is a scene in this film that was just disturbing. Without spoiling anything, think about what it would be like if you made a sex tape and your sibling happened to see and decided to start masturbating to it. Yeah, it was quite odd. Funny…but odd. Sort of leaves the audience with that WTF?!? uncomfortable feeling.

In conclusion, Love & Other Drugs is one of those films that comes along and gives something for both men and women. Unfortunately, those things happen at opposite ends of the film, causing a bit of disconnect throughout the picture. That point aside, this actually is a really well-made film. Is it perfect? No, but it is worth watching and a definite must-see.

4 out of 5 stars

I Love You Phillip Morris

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story begins with Steven Jay Russell (Jim Carrey), on his apparent deathbed, recalling the events of his life. He begins with his early adult years in Virginia Beach as a happily married police officer. He plays the organ at church, has unenthusiastic sex with his wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann), and spends his off hours searching for his biological mother, who gave him up as a child.

After a violent car crash, Russell leaves his family and previous life behind, and goes out into the world as his true self, which is as a gay man. He moves to Miami, finds a boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro), and begins living a very expensive lifestyle. The need for money causes him to turn to a life as a con man. When his scams finally catch up with him, Russell is sent to prison, where he falls in love with gay inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

From then on, the narrative becomes a story of a forlorn lover who cannot bear to be separated from his soul-mate. Russell helps get Morris freed from prison by posing as a lawyer, then attains wealth by acquiring a position as chief financial officer of a large company, always one step ahead of the law.

Back in prison, Steven is separated from Phillip, who hears that Steven is deathly ill and becomes desperate to see him one more time. Steven is willing to go to almost any length to make that happen.

REVIEW:

First of all, Phillip Morris, in this film, is a real person and not the cigarette company. Admit it, some of you thought that, when you heard the title. I know I did.

I Love You Phillip Morris is a comedy based on book, which itself was based on a true story.  Some have compared the beginning of it to Me, Myself, & Irene. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do see where their train of thought is going.

The plot of this film revolves around Steven Jay Russell, who has a nice little life, then after a chance car accident, he decides to come out of the closet. After some time down in Florida, he realizes that being a flamboyant gay man is expensive, so he becomes a bit of a con man, which eventually results in him going to jail. In prison, he has a chance meeting with Phillip Morris, who goes on to become the love of his life, who he does what he can to be sure they can be together, including getting transferred to the same prison. Afterwards, they start they’re life together, and Russell continues his con artist ways, becoming a lawyer and ultimately a CFO, which lands him back in prison and in the leads to film’s conclusion.

The comedic parts in this film are great. They aren’t slapstick funny, but if you’ve ever seen a Jim Carrey movie, then you know he is as good at delivering funny lines as well as doing physical stuff. After watching this, I did a little bit of research on Steven Jay Russell and many of these things that happened actually happened. Having said that, it makes sense as to why they made this a comedy, as opposed to some kind of drama.

Jim Carrey is at his finest here. Not only do we get his usual slapstick comedy, he also gets the chance to flex his acting chops, especially in the final scenes where, I won’t give it away, but something happens to him that really tugs at the heartstrings. The people I was watching this with were both in tears during this, then he all of a sudden does something unexpected.

Ewan McGregor always surprises me when he does a southern accent, especially since he’s Scottish. Add to the fact that he is about as sweet as sweet can be in this role, which believe it or not, is somewhat limited and you have one of his best performances, as well.

I do have a bit of an issue with this film, though, and that is the flamboyant gay scenes after Carrey comes out. I think that they played up the stereotypical aspect of the gay lifestyle, which is fine. It even results in one of the funniest lines of the film, where Carey says “…being gay is expensive.”

On top of that, there is this scene where it seems as if Carrey is having wild sex with his wife. He’s all sweaty and everything, and they we find out he’s with some guy. That was one of those WTF?!? moments, but again, it’s a bit stereotypical, yet funny.

In the end I Love You Phillip Morris is a really good film that is actually underrated. I don’t even believe it received a full theatrical release, but it was one of the darling of one of those film festivals. As we all know, critics and the public don’t usually agree, but they actually likes this one, and so did I. Does that mean you will? Well, you have comedy, drama, and a twist, so there is a little something for almost everyone in this film. Chances are you will, but you’ll only know if you go check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

11-year-old Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is anxious to start middle school, confident he will easily become the school’s most popular kid. However, Greg worries about how his “childlike” best friend, Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), will fit in. While Rowley is a good friend who helps Greg escape his terrorizing older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), Greg worries that Rowley’s “dorky” clothes and personality will embarrass both of them.

On their first day, Greg and Rowley meet Angie Steadman (Chloë Moretz), a seventh grader who works for the school’s paper. Throughout the school year, Angie gives Greg and Rowley information about the workings of middle school, which she believes was created to store kids while they make the awkward transition between children to teenagers. Classmate Chirag Gupta (Karan Brar) tells Greg and Rowley the story behind the moldy slice of Swiss cheese laying on the school’s basketball court; upon touching the cheese, a kid named Darren Walsh (Harrison Houde) contracted the Cheese Touch; anyone who touches the cheese will create chaos as they pass on the Cheese Touch by touching someone else. The Cheese Touch eventually got taken away by a German exchange student named Dieter Müller, who moved back to Düsseldorf and took the Cheese Touch with him.

Greg is determined to be voted a “class favorite” and listed in the yearbook, but each of his attempts to do so backfire. His popularity quickly drops as he loses to Patty Farrell (Laine MacNeil), Greg’s archenemy, and Fregley (Grayson Russell), the weirdest and 201st most popular (past the bottom) kid in school, in scholastic wrestling (taught by Coach Malone, portrayed by Andrew McNee); Greg angers teenagers on Halloween night by threatening to call the cops on them after they spray him and Rowley with a fire extinguisher, and then damages their eight-generation Ford F150 pickup truck with a weed whacker; Greg joins the geeky Safety Patrol with Rowley; and breaks Rowley’s left hand during winter vacation during a game Greg invented with his Big Wheel. At school, everyone notices Rowley’s broken hand and Rowley becomes very popular, much to Greg’s dismay. Rowley’s popularity increases when he beats Greg to become the school paper’s cartoonist, despite Greg’s dismissal of his ideas.Greg found a cheese ball pizza.

Greg and Rowley’s friendship falls apart after Greg allows Rowley to take the blame for a mistake Greg made during Safety Patrol. After Greg tells Rowley the truth and tries to tell it as a joke, Rowley berates him for being a bad friend who cares about nothing but himself. When Mr. Winsky, the Safety Patrol teacher, heard what had actually happened, he told Greg that he was now relieved of his Safety Patrol duties “effective immediately”, and promotes Rowley to a captain. Rowley then leaves Greg and befriends a kid named Collin Lee (Alex Ferris). Greg tries to move on by having a sleep over with Fregley, but Fregley’s sugar-induced hyperactivity is too much for him to take. He then tries to pursue popularity without Rowley by auditioning for the school play of The Wizard of Oz, but ruins the performance by starting an apple-throwing fight with Patty when she throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the performance.

At the school mother-son dance, Greg’s mother (Rachael Harris) suggests Greg ask Rowley to go out for ice cream with them. However, Collin tells Greg that he and Rowley already have plans. Later, Greg is excited when Rowley comes up to him in school, but is disappointed when he learns Rowley only wants a game back. Greg refuses to return the game, causing them to get into an argument. Kids gather around them, wanting them to fight, but are quickly dispelled when the teenagers that Greg and Rowley had angered on Halloween drive up, looking for revenge. The kids find the Cheese and make Rowley eat it. They are about to force Greg to eat the cheese when Coach Malone arrives, leading the kids to run away.

The children return and find the partially eaten cheese. Patty begins to accuse Rowley, but Greg steps in and takes the blame. He picks up the cheese and makes a profound speech about the ridiculousness of the cheese and other middle school institutions, but Patty ruins it when she shouts out that Greg has the Cheese Touch, causing everyone to run away from Greg. Greg and Rowley make up, and Angie approaches them to compliment Greg for his bravery. Greg and Rowley make it into the class favorites list as “cutest friends”. The film ends with Greg, Rowley, and Angie laughing after Patty hugged Rowley and contracted the Cheese Touch, and Greg narrating that he still has the summer and next year ahead of him.

REVIEW:

When this film was first released, I thought it was just one of those films meant to bring in the preteen boys. It really didn’t look all that interesting to me, bt I did promise to check it out on DVD, which is what I’ve done tonight.

I still am glad that I didn’t waste the money to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid in theaters, but this was surprisingly better than I expected it to be.

The plot of this film is centered around Greg Heffley and his first year in middle school and the things he tries to do to be remembered and not a “geek” or “baby”.

Seriously, that’s all there is to the plot, except for some friction between him and his brother and the conventional battle between best friends.

This film is based on a book series of the same name, so I don’t know how much was changed, except that they added the character of Angie Steadman. Don’t ask me why they felt the need to add her in there, but they did.

While this picture exceeded my expectations, I have to say that the major character, Greg Heffley has to be one of the most unlikable stars of a film I’ve ever come across. If not for the girl bully and his big brother, dare I say he wold be the most hated person in the picture, and that is not a good sign when you’re the “wimpy kid” in a film called Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I wonder if he is this unlikable in the book, or worse, because he was such a pox on the existence of mankind in this film, I almost couldn’t watch.

On the flipside, his best friend is the typical lovable chubby sidekick, bt I think that is why his character works so well. While the audience can’t get invested in Greg, they can fall in love and feel sorry for Rowley, especially after watching the abuse he constantly gets from Greg.

There are some special effects in this flick, but they resemble the cheap kind that you would see on SyFy channel. Having said that, they really aren’t supposed to be anything earth shattering, so I can let that slide.

The little cartoons that are shown throughout the film are really the highlight of this picture as they really allow the viewer to visualise what Greg is going through, but through his eyes. It really was brilliant for the filmmaker to add those in there.

So, what is the final verdict of Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Well, it has its moments here and there. It definitely is a good family film, but if you’re above the age of 14 or 15 and you’re watching this, you may not enjoy it as much as you would think. I honestly think you’d be better served digging up some old episodes of Recess. However, as I said before, this isn’t as bad as I expected. Does that mean you should rush out and see this? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re looking for a good family flick, this should get some consideration. As far as just a generic film to watch, the unlikable, unrelatable main character kills everything that this film had going for it, and ruins its rating.

3 out of 5 stars

Silent Movie

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mel Funn, a great film director, is now recovering from a drinking problem and down on his luck. He sets out to Big Picture Studios to pitch a new script to the Chief, aided by his ever-present sidekicks Dom Bell and Marty Eggs.

His big idea: the first silent motion picture in forty years. At first the Chief, who is in danger of losing the studio to the (literally) rabid and greedy New York conglomerate Engulf & Devour, rejects the idea, but Funn convinces him that if he can get Hollywood’s biggest stars to be in the film, he could save the studio.

Funn, Eggs, and Bell proceed to recruit various people for the movie. First they attack Burt Reynolds in his shower, confront James Caan outside his trailer, impress Liza Minnelli at the commissary, and dance for Anne Bancroft at a night club. News breaks out that the Chief has had an accident and is sent to the hospital. While there, Mel phones Marcel Marceau in Paris who declines the offer, delivering the only line of dialogue in the film, in French: “Non!” When asked by the others what Marceau said, Funn explains he doesn’t understand French. Paul Newman is seen on the hospital grounds. After a chase in electric wheelchairs, he asks to be in the movie. Funn and company reply with the atypical Hollywood-esque “We’ll get back to you.”

Engulf and Devour, meanwhile, worry that Funn will save Big Picture Studios and they will be unable to buy it. They attempt to “stop Funn with sex” by sending voluptuous nightclub sensation Vilma Kaplan to seduce Funn and pretend to be in love with him.

Funn falls head over heels, but when Eggs and Bell reveal the truth to him on the day before filming begins, the director returns to drinking. He goes to pieces until discovering that Vilma has actually fallen for him. Several hundred cups of coffee sober him up.

Funn’s silent movie is filmed in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, the only copy of it is stolen from the theater by Engulf & Devour just before its big premiere.

Vilma volunteers to stall the theater’s audience with her nightclub act while Funn and his associates go out to steal back their film. They succeed, but are chased by Engulf and Devour’s executives. Ultimately cornered, they defeat their foes by using a soda machine that launches cans of Coca-Cola like grenades. They hurry the film to the theater, where it is shown for the first time. After the movie is over, the audience leaps to its feet while balloons and streamers fill the air. “They seem to like it,” Funn says.

The film ends with a title card: “This is a true story.”

REVIEW:

It has been a while since I watched a Mel Brooks film. I think the last one was either Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, or Blazing Saddles, but I can’t be sure which one.

I’m a big fan of classic cinema, though I haven’t been able to really get into silent films that way I would like to, with the exception of Nosferatu. When I found out that Mel Brooks had made a spoof on the genre, I just had to see it, which is how I ended up watching Silent Movie.

Our plot revolves around 3 friends who are trying to get a picture made by a major movie studio. It turns out that one of them was a big shot director at one time, but turned to the bottle and more or less ruined his career. The guys go in for the meeting with the head of the studio, only to find out that it is about to be bought by an evil conglomerate if they can’t produce a hit. So, our fearless heroes take their idea (for a silent movie) and set out to bring in some of the biggest names in Hollywood, at the time, to star in it. Hilarity and hijinks ensue.

It has really been quite some time since I laughed so hard at a film. What really impresses me about this picture, though, is that it is as funny as can be using only sight gags, physical comedy, and slapstick noises. Simple, bt effective. Who says you need all those bells and whistles, right?

I have but one minor complaint about this picture. The cameos by famous stars such as Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft, Paul Newman, and Marcel Marceau were all great, but it seemed as if some were fleshed outa bit more. For instance, Reynolds, Newman, and Bancroft got extensive scenes while Minnelli, Caan, and Marceau got a couple seconds on screen before they were gone and never heard from agin until the end credits. It just seemed a bit unbalanced to me, is all.

If you’re going to make a silent movie in the day and age when those great films and techniques are forgotten in favor of the technological advent of sound, then you better do something that will make people want to sit and watch a silent movie. Mel Brooks, accomplishes just that with Silent Movie but incorporating slapstick, music, great writing, and of course the irony of the one line of dialogue that is spoken in the entire picture…I’ll let you watch and see what I mean by that one. This is a great picture to watch and have a good laugh. I highly recommend it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars