Archive for April, 2012

Our Idiot Brother

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ned is a biodynamic farmer living with his girlfriend, Janet. One day, while Ned is selling at a local market, a police officer asks where he can buy cannabis. Ned, skeptical at first, is moved by the officer’s professed desperation due to having a stressful week. Feeling sympathetic, Ned gives him a rhubarb and a bag of marijuana for free. Insisting on paying, the officer coaxes Ned into charging him twenty dollars. Ned is then arrested on a charge of selling drugs.

Ned has three sisters. Miranda is a journalist for Vanity Fair trying to get her first major article published. Though she has trouble finding a man to keep her interest, she and a neighbor, Jeremy have hidden feelings for each other, but would rather be good friends (Jeremy is even willing to interrupt a sexual encounter in order to help Miranda with a maintenance problem). Natalie is a young, independent, bisexual hipster living with her girlfriend, Cindy and 5 other roommates, suggesting a very communal type apartment. Her love for Cindy conflicts with her fear of commitment, which she hides even around Cindy. Liz, the oldest, is married to Dylan, a documentary filmmaker. Their marriage is failing as Dylan shows no sexual or emotional interest in Liz. They also have strict control over their son River, which leaves him unhappy and unable to express himself.

When Ned is released from prison early due to his model behavior, he returns home to his girl and his dog (“Willie Nelson”). He finds that she is living with Billy, and no longer wishes to continue their relationship. Disappointed, Ned desires to continue working at the farm, but Janet will not let him. With nowhere else to go, he asks Billy for a ride into town – after saying goodbye to the dog (whom Janet refuses to let him keep). During the ride, Billy tells Ned that if he can scrape together $1000 (2 months rent), Janet might let him stay in the goat barn for rent on the farm. Ned makes this his goal and heads to his mother’s house for a family dinner.

At dinner, the family is happy to see Ned but not so happy to be around each other. They are barely into dinner when all the girls decide to leave, which disappoints Ned, who is excited to see everyone. Before leaving, Liz tells Ned that her door is always open to him. That night, Ned’s mom tells him she’s glad he’s home and that the next day, they will go into town together. A few days later, Ned meets with his parole officer, Omar, who tells Ned that he must report to his office every 3 weeks. When Omar asks Ned a few questions on how he is avoiding trouble, Ned struggles to come up with an answer, electing to think more on it for next time. This gives Ned the impression that he and Omar have a therapy-like relationship.

While talking to Miranda on the phone, Liz is surprised to see Ned randomly show up on her doorstep, asking if he can stay with her. He is put in River’s room and told that he must help around the house. For money, Ned will work with Dylan on his newest documentary about a Russian ballerina named Tatiana. Ned takes River to his dance lesson the next day, but sees River looking into the room of boys doing karate and sighing. That night, Ned shows River The Pink Panther movie to cheer him up. River says that he has never seen it because his parents don’t want him to be violent. Ned decides to play karate with River, but is chastised by Dylan for making noise and taking the computer in River’s room. The next day, Ned is with Dylan and talks to Tatiana, who shows him some ballet stretches. When Ned informs him that he told Tatiana that Dylan was married, Dylan starts to show signs of jealousy.

The next day, Miranda reluctantly asks Ned to chauffeur while she interviews an important client, Lady Arabella. Miranda hopes to pry into her family and recent scandalous break-up, but is dismayed to learn of an agreement with her lawyer to only ask about charity work. Miranda tries to pretend Ned isn’t there, but his friendliness charms Arabella, who takes a liking to Ned (even sitting up front and sharing a drink with him). That night, Ned goes with Natalie to a self-help meeting with Natalie’s artist friend, Christian. Christian is attracted to Natalie but is dissuaded by her lesbian relationship until Ned informs him that she is bisexual and likes guys too. When the session moves into a sauna-type room, Ned is dehydrated and sent to the hospital. Christian and Natalie take a cab home and end up having sex. The next day, Natalie realizes her mistake and is worried about Cindy.

Ned goes back to working with Dylan, but is told to watch the car while Dylan conducts a private interview with Tatiana. Hours go by and Ned is approached by a police officer. At first scared at getting in trouble (for nothing), Ned is simply informed that the car must be moved out of a tow zone. He runs upstairs to get the keys from Dylan, whom he discovered with Tatiana as they were filming an unnecessary nude scene. Dylan returns to the car and tells Ned the only reason he was naked was to make Tatiana feel more “comfortable” while being naked. Ned believes this and they head home. The next night, Ned goes with Miranda to Arabella’s benefit dinner, and stays behind to have a conversation with Arabella. Although humored by Ned’s story of his incarceration, she is touched when Ned explains that his philosophy on life is to trust people and give them the chance to rise up and do the right thing. She then explains the gossipy part of her life (that Miranda had hoped to discover) to Ned, who listens with interest.

Dylan expresses to Liz his desire to kick Ned out, but she refuses as he is family. However, Ned accidentally breaks River’s fingers by catching them in a door hinge while playing hide-and-seek a few days before River’s big interview for enrollment at a prestigious school. Despite his parents trying to guide his answers, River tells the interviewer that he enjoys martial arts, which shocks his parents. When Liz asks how he learned martial arts, River explains that Ned taught him. The interviewer asks about Ned, to which River explains that he just got out of jail for selling drugs to a policeman. Liz then kicks Ned out for ruining River’s chance at getting into the school (although the interviewer seemed delighted with how active and passionate River is). Ned apologizes, stating he was only trying to help River be himself and that little boys play by fighting. Liz gives Ned money and sends him to Miranda.

Miranda fronts Ned the remaining cash he needs to rent out the goat barn and is about to send him there when he accidentally mentions Dylan’s nude interview with Tatiana. Miranda is shocked and concludes that Dylan is having an affair and goes to call Natalie when Jeremy arrives and hits it off with Ned due to a common love for sci-fi, including the movie Dune. When Natalie answers, Ned prepares to leave and mentions a personal detail about Arabella that makes Miranda realize that Ned has the info she needs. She forces Ned to tell her the details before she goes, which Ned is ashamed to do since he was trusted. Ned returns to the farm with money but is not allowed to rent the barn. Billy apologizes for forgetting to see if it was cool first. Ned leaves again with a sad goodbye to Willie Nelson.

Ned is invited to a party at Natalie’s apartment where he asks Cindy, who is a lawyer, about ways to get custody of his dog. Cindy explains that although he has a strong case, litigation would just take time and money. She suggests as an alternative that they work together to steal the dog from Janet. At the party Ned is approached by a young couple who wish to have a group sex encounter with him. Ned begins to have sex with the girl but apologizes when the guy begins to kiss him and kisses the guy on the cheek instead. He explains it’s just a little too weird for him. At lunch the next day, Jeremy explains to Ned that he is not homophobic just because he is straight and they decide to find Ned a girl. They spot a girl who is very professional, like Miranda, to which Ned suggests that Jeremy and Miranda obviously love each other. Jeremy explains that it is platonic for him and that Miranda is too bossy for him, though admitting she is beautiful. Ned casually mentions the idea to Miranda, who also denies wanting that. Miranda is hurt to learn what Jeremy had to say about the idea and tells Ned her thoughts on Jeremy. This leads to Jeremy and Miranda, who are moving furniture into her apartment, to bicker until Ned makes things worse by skewing the exact words used by both parties. Jeremy storms out and tries to give Ned a copy of Miranda’s article, which Miranda snatches away. Ned goes to see Natalie perform stand-up that night, but is worried when Natalie runs off stage at Christian’s arrival. He finds her puking and gets her to admit that she cheated and is now pregnant. He tells her to just be honest with Cindy.

The family has dinner again a few days later, resulting in Ned and Cindy playing on a trampoline with River while the sisters stay inside talking. Liz mentions Dylan’s distantness which provokes Miranda and Natalie to tell her about the affair. Distraught, Liz blames Ned but is scolded by Miranda for doing so. Ned and Cindy decide that next week, when Janet goes to a Dixie Chicks concert, they will have the opportunity to steal Willie Nelson. Inside, Miranda and Natalie try to help Liz feel better by saying they hate Dylan and that she is better off, but it soon turns into an argument between the three about their personal lives. Natalie storms out with Cindy and Liz leaves crying. Ned’s mom is happy to have him back, explaining that the girls are too caught up on themselves. Liz confronts Dylan about the affair, and he blames her attempts at pleasing him, deciding to leave her in order to avoid divorce.

Miranda takes Ned into work the next day to vouch for the validity of his statements. Ned reads the article and is shocked to see how personal Miranda made it. He refuses to admit that it was all true (even though it was) in order to spare Arabella the embarrassment to the company’s lawyer. However, this means Miranda’s article will not get published and she is embarrassed in front of her editor. She kicks Ned out and he stays with Natalie, who lies about having told Cindy about the cheating. The next morning, Cindy drives with Ned to the farm to steal his dog back. They are shocked to see Janet and Billy are home and not at the concert. All is going well until Ned brings up Natalie’s infidelity. Cindy angrily calls Natalie from inside the house, which alerts Janet to their presence. Ned tries one last time to persuade Janet while Cindy is heard yelling at Natalie. Janet refuses and Cindy drives away, stranding Ned at the farm.

Ned goes to the parole officer the next day for his checkup. Thinking he can confess his feelings and thoughts, Ned tells Omar that the stress of his life was getting to him and he smoked marijuana with a neighbor. Omar, who has grown to like Ned, tells Ned now he must report him. Ned goes home to family dinner and gets dirty looks from all his sisters, who blame him for all the trouble in their lives. While playing charades, the girls guess their answers before River has the fun of acting them out, angering Ned, who is on edge due to potentially having to return to jail. He asks them to play fair, but they merely laugh at him. Ned finally loses his temper and yells at them for their selfishness and for bringing everyone else down. The outburst scares the girls who immediately regret their actions. Omar, visibly upset for having to arrest Ned, arrives with a uniformed officer and takes him into custody. Miranda posts Ned’s bail, but Ned refuses to sign his release form, opting to stay in prison rather than be with the girls. They devise a plan to get Willie Nelson from Janet in order to get him to leave. They drive to Janet and ask for Willie Nelson. Janet refuses, saying she loves the dog. Miranda yells and says that no one could love anything as unconditionally as Ned loves everything and that he deserves the dog. Despite her refusal, Billy comes out of the house carrying Willie Nelson, tired of Janet refusing to give Ned his dog. They take Willie Nelson to the prison where he is reunited with Ned, giving him the motivation to leave prison.

A few weeks later, Ned is out to lunch with his sisters. Natalie receives a call from Cindy, who wants to go with Natalie to her gynecologist appointments for support. Miranda has patched things up and started a relationship with Jeremy. Liz has decided to start dating again and has started letting River be himself, even enrolling him in a karate class. Ned decides it is time for him to go back to his life the way he likes it, out of the city and in a quiet area. The girls are sad to see him go, but wish him the best. Later on, Ned and Billy have opened up a small homemade candle shop together and seem to do well enough. One day Ned cannot find Willie Nelson, and begins running through town looking for him. He finds Willie playing with another dog in a park area who has also run away from her owner. The owner comes up and Ned finds he has a lot in common with the woman. When he asks her dog’s name, the owner replies “Dolly Parton” to which Ned says his dog is “Willie Nelson” and smiles.

REVIEW:

As a brother myself, I can sort of relate to the guy in Our Idiot Brother. Of course, I’m not a loser pothead sporting the Jesus look, nor do I have 3 insanely hot sisters, either!

Ok, let’s get to it, shall we? What did I like about this film?

The story. Every so often, a film will come along that has a decent enough plot that will keep even my attention.

The sisters. Not only are they not an eyesore, but each one has their own life, quirks and set of problems. To top this all off, they fight like sisters, too, especially when to comes to their beloved brother.

Paul Rudd. I’m not really a fan of Rudd. Sometimes I just downright can’t stand the guy. I don’t what it is, but there is something irksome about him to me. That being said, and aside from the Jesus-ism he’s sporting, I actually thought this was a good role for him. As it turns out, it was actually written with him in mind, so that may be the reason.

T.J. Miller. This guy’s small role may very well be the best one of the movie, what with his totally out there vibe and his pivotal role in the film’s final scenes.

It remembers it is a comedy. OMG! I was so totally expecting this to go down the route so many comedies seem to do these days, which is start off as a comedy, then about half way through, turn into a drama that would put Grey’s Anatomy to shame. Thankfully, they touch on the drama here and there, but keep the comedy at the forefront.

The bad.

Is he an idiot? Throughout most of the film, Ned is portrayed as a well-meaning, but dim guy. The man has a meeting with his therapist which he knows will lead to him being arrested again (thanks to his admitting he smoked some pot, violating his parole), so he wants to spend the one night of freedom he has left with his family. Of course, the girls are all being bitchy and drunk because they think he’s ruined their lives, when in fact, they did it to themselves. He just told them the truth. Ned has an emotional explosion about this and we see that there is a brain there. Question is, where was it before, because you obviously have to be nearly retarded to sell pot to a cop in uniform.

Kathryn Hahn. Normally, I love her in these supporting roles, but for some reason she just came off as just being there. Her character could have been more comedic, vindictive, heartbroken, or something ,but instead she was just a bitch who wants to keep the everything from Ned, which got quite weird after a while, I must say.

The sisters. The way they shuffled him around like he was a hot potato was just downright wrong and insensitive. Here is a guy who has just been released from prison and has to have a permanent residence and a job to please the parole board and all that jazz. What do these women do instead of trying to help their brother get on his feet? They make it all about them. *SIGH*

Rashida Jones. I loved her character, but what in the bloody blue hell was she thinking with those glasses. I get she was going for the whole butch lesbian look, but two things were wrong with them. First off, she’s a lawyer. It is highly unlikely she’s going to have those giant things on. Second, if you’ve ever seen United States of Tara, then you may know about Buck. It sort of seemed like she was trying to channel Buck with those things on.

All in all, though, Our Idiot Brother is a really good, surprising sleeper hit for me. I was reticent about watching it because it just didn’t seem like it would be worth the time, but it really surprised me with everything from the cast, story, pacing, etc. I highly recommend this to everyone. While it may not be a perfect film, it is sure to bring at least a smile or two to your face!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

The Fourth Kind

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Chapman University hosts a televised interview with psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler (Charlotte Milchard & Milla Jovovich). She tells a story of a close encounter incident at Nome, Alaska, in October 2000.

In August 2000, Tyler’s husband, Will Jammeson, is mysteriously murdered one night in his sleep, leaving her to raise their two children, Ashley (Mia McKenna-Bruce) and Ronnie (Raphael Coleman).

Tyler tapes hypnotherapy sessions with three different patients, all of whom have the same experience: every night they see a white owl staring at them through their windows. Tyler puts two of the three patients under hypnosis, and while under, both patients recount similar terrifying stories of creatures attempting to enter their homes. Tommy Fisher (Corey Johnson), her first patient to go under hypnosis, returns home, kills his family and commits suicide.

After hearing the similarities in the accounts of nightly occurrences, Abbey suspects these patients may have been victims of a non-human kidnapping. There is evidence that she herself may have been abducted. Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas), a psychologist from Anchorage and Tyler’s colleague, is suspicious of the claims. Later, Tyler calls upon Dr. Odusami (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), a specialist in ancient languages who was a contact of her late husband, to identify the mysterious language that is spoken during the supposed abductions. Odusami identifies the language as Sumerian.

Later, Tyler’s daughter, Ashley, is abducted and Sheriff August (Will Patton), not believing in her abduction theory, accuses her of her daughter’s disappearance. Tyler undergoes hypnosis in an attempt to make contact with these beings and reunite with her daughter. Campos and Odusami videotape the session, and once hypnotized, it is revealed that Tyler witnessed the abduction of her daughter. The camera scrambles, sounds of violence are heard in the background, and a volatile voice yells “Zimabu Eter!” which supposedly translates to “Spirit from whom you cannot be saved” in English.

The film cuts to an interview with Tyler in which she explains that all three were abducted during that hypnosis session and none have memory of what happened.

The film returns to the aftermath of Abbey’s hypnosis session. She wakes up in a hospital after breaking her neck in the abduction. There, Sheriff August reveals that Will had actually committed suicide, showing that Abbey’s belief that he was murdered was merely a delusion. Later it is shown that Abbey is paralyzed, presumably due to her neck injury.

In the film’s epilogue, it states that Abbey was cleared of all charges against her, leaves Alaska for the East Coast, but still continues to search for Ashley. Campos remains a psychologist and Odusami becomes a professor at a Canadian university. Both men, as well as Sheriff August refuse to be involved with the interview, while Abbey’s son Ronnie remains estranged from Abbey and still blames her for Ashley’s disappearance. However, Ashley is never found. The TV host then leaves the conclusions up to the viewer.

During the credits, audio recordings of people recounting UFO sightings begin to play.

REVIEW:

This is one of those films that causes you to think. Not only because of its subject matter, but also about its subject matter and what happens to them after the film ends. The Fourth Kind does this, but in a mockumentary style. Is it worth the viewing?

In a word, no.

The way this film slugs through the story does not keep the viewer interested, let alone satisfied. The performance by the cast was nothing more than an insult to all who watch.

Nome, Alaska is a great setting, except that it doesn’t look like this. There are no mountains up there!

There is a creepiness factor that does work…the first time. After awhile, though, it just gets old.

The only thing that kept me going through this flick was the mystery of what was going on and the hope that we might actually see these aliens. No such luck, though.

For me, The Fourth Kind was both bad and boring, but more so of the latter. I’m not even sure this thing had any potential. Of course, it stars Milla Jovovich, who, if you look at her track record, has not had the most critically acclaimed film career. As a matter of fact, most of her films, with a few exceptions, have been flops. I guess Liv Tyler (anyone notice how the two of them could pass for sisters?) wasn’t available. This is just one of those films you should avoid like the plague!

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Longest Yard

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Paul “Wrecking” Crewe (Adam Sandler) is a former NFL player disgraced for shaving points in a big game. He gets in an argument with his rich girlfriend, Lena (Courteney Cox), regarding his failure. He locks her in a closet, gets drunk, and goes joyriding in her Bentley Continental GT through San Diego. After completely wrecking the car and disabling several police cruisers in the process, he gets arrested and convicted for grand theft auto and driving while intoxicated, and is sentenced to three years in Allenville Penitentiary in Texas.

In prison, Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) asks Crewe to help the prison guards’ football team. Crewe, under threat of an extra five years in prison for a falsified accusation of attacking Captain Knauer (William Fichtner), decides to help him. He informs Hazen that what his team needs is a tune-up game, in which they play a team like Appalachian State in order to boost morale. Hazen decides that Crewe, with the help of a fellow inmate, Caretaker (Chris Rock), will make a team out of the inmates for them to play as their tune-up game. He starts off with a poorly organized team, before being noticed by another prisoner, former college football star Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds), who decides to help him by coaching the team.

Crewe, Nate and Caretaker find a rating system on the criminals (up to five stars, depending on how prone to violence they are). They all set out to find and recruit some five star inmates: linebacker “Battle” (Bill Goldberg); fullback Turley (Dalip Singh Rana); and at safety, Torres (Lobo Sebastian), a chain-smoking outsider. But after realizing their team is built on power and nastiness (primarily on defense) and there is no offensive threats on the team, Crewe realizes he needs more players. Caretaker suggests that it is due to their lack of “brothers”, as they only have one currently on their team: defensive lineman Switowski (Bob Sapp), a childlike and friendly, but large strongman.

Crew approaches the black inmates, but one of them, Deacon Moss (Michael Irvin), says that none of them want to play on his team because of Crewe’s point-shaving history. So Crewe challenges Deacon to a 1-on-1 basketball game where if Crewe wins, the men will join the team. They play basketball and call their own fouls, with Crewe getting physically punished during the game. Despite Crewe losing, one of the black inmates, Earl Megget (Cornell “Nelly” Haynes, Jr.), is impressed by Crewe’s resilience and joins the team, which Deacon allows with no consequence. Megget becomes the team’s running back by impressing Crewe with his running ability.

After a tip from Unger (David Patrick Kelly) that Crewe and Meggett are the only real offensive threats on the team, Captain Knauer, the guards’ quarterback, decides that the guards should try to stop Megget by trying to get him to assault one of them and sticking him in solitary confinement. Three guards, Denham (Stone Cold Steve Austin), Garner (Brian Bosworth), and Engleheart (Kevin Nash) try to provoke Megget by using racial slurs and making him pick up books they dropped on the floor repeatedly. The guards give up on this after he withstands their harassment without being provoked. Witnessing this, Moss, “Cheeseburger” Eddy (Terry Crews), and the rest of black inmates agree to join the football team. Hazen and guards go to extreme lengths to stop Crewe’s squad, even flooding their field, but the team overcomes these obstacles.

Caretaker suggests that since the guards have been playing dirty, that the inmates should start acting more like criminals, such as swapping Engleheart’s anabolic steroids for estrogen pills, examining x-rays of guards with broken bones, and acquiring tapes of the guards’ past games from Hazen’s elderly secretary Lynette (Cloris Leachman), in exchange for Crewe playing sexual games with her. To sabotage the inmates’ morale, the guards Garner, Engleheart, Holland, and Lambert have Unger plant a bomb in Crewe’s cell during the inmates last practice. Crewe, deciding to stay with the team for their post-practice hype, doesn’t notice Caretaker going to Crewe’s cell to leave him a present. Unger, waiting for Crewe to enter his cell, doesn’t notice Caretaker going into Crewe’s cell. Caretaker places an old college piture of Crewe as a present on top of his radio. Caretaker listens to the “music” that Crewe was listening to (set up by Unger to provoke Caretaker to change the station) and does change the channel, causing the bomb to explode. Unger, still not knowing it was Caretaker, closes the cell door to keep any help from arriving. Crewe and Scarborough arrive too late and watch Caretaker burn to his death. At the funeral the next day, Crewe and the football team leave presents for Caretaker including a bible from Moss, Caretaker’s stopwatch and whistle from Scarborough, and a picture of his mother from Crewe that he showed him a few nights before.

During game day, the inmates, now calling themselves “Mean Machine”, with gear provided by the late Caretaker, overcome a rough start, and Crewe has to help the team realize that winning the game is more important than personal grudges. One of the referees is also corrupt, and Crewe has to coerce him to make fair calls by giving up two downs to throw the ball in his groin. The first half ends with the score tied. The angered Hazen informs Crewe that if he does not lose he would be framed for the murder of Caretaker. Crewe acquiesces to Hazen’s threat. After the guards score touchdowns while inflicting punishment on the inmates, while Crewe fakes an injury to leave the field. Crewe returns to the field, but the other inmates, believing he has returned to his old point-shaving ways, ignore him, and allow him to get tackled twice.

After losing his helmet and still getting the first down, Crewe admits his sabotage to the other inmates, and asks for their forgiveness. United again as a team, the Mean Machine scores two touchdowns to cut the guards’ lead to 35-28, but Megget injures his knee. Scarborough comes in for one play as replacement and scores a touchdown off a trick play involving a fumble called a Fumblerooski. They decide to go for the two point conversion, and the win. As they get up to the line they seem to be confused, and Crewe and Coach start arguing in order to trick the guards. Moss gets the snap and passes it to Crewe, who scores the winning conversion. Knauer, with a newfound respect for Crewe, lets him know that he will testify that Crewe had nothing to do with Caretaker’s death.

Hazen admonishes Knauer for losing a fixed game and notices that Crewe is heading towards the exit along with the fans. Retrieving a sniper-rifle, he demands that Crewe be shot for attempting to escape. Knauer hesitates because of the numerous people near Crewe. Knauer sights up Crewe, but hesitates again, calling out Crewe’s name to get him to stop. As Crewe picks up the game football and returns back, Knauer angrily hands the rifle back to Hazen and leaves, while Crewe gives the game ball to Hazen, telling them to place it in his trophy case.

Moss and Battle pour a cooler of Gatorade on Hazen in a mockery of a typical football game celebration. Hazen angrily shouts that they will receive a week in the hotbox. Battle yells back, “Who gives a shit!”

REVIEW:

I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the original version of The Longest Yard, yet, but I will be getting to it before the end of the year…hopefully. This version, though, is a decent football comedy that seems to take a few notes from Necessary Roughness, but is a little less about football, and more about the players. Is it worth watching, though?

It is an Adam Sandler flick, but, as I’ve said in reviews of some of his more current films, he seems to have “grown up” from the man-child he was in his Saturday Night Live and early film career. Having said that, I still found myself wanting him to bring Bobby Boucher from out of nowhere. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

So, what worked for me?

Football. Here we are in the end of April. Baseball is getting ready to take over the airwaves for the next 3 1/2 months, especially after the NBA playoffs (which just started a few minutes ago) are over. I’m not one of those guys who gets into the NFL draft, so, aside from playing Madden and NCAA football on my PS3, I needed some football, and getting it and a nice little comedic film is a nice two-fer for me.

Michael Irvin. As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, it was great to see the hall of fame receiver out there. What was even better was seeing him in #88 again. If that wasn’t enough, the guy isn’t a bad actor.

Relationships. More often than not, films just throw characters out there and expect us to believe they’re suddenly friends (or enemies). This film doesn’t do that, but rather plays up the relationship amongst them, be it positive or negative.

Bob Sapp. The big guy is so lovable that its hard to not feel sorry for him, even if he does seem a little…off. Of course, the whole time I was just waiting for him to snap, which finally did sort of happen when Nelly told him something during the game.

Nelly’s library scene. I’m not a fan of Nelly, but like most of the world, I had “Hot in Here” and the rest of his stuff from around that time cranked up in my car. Like Michael Irvin, I was surprised with how good of an actor the guy seems to be (especially compared to some other rappers who make movies). This is best shown in the scene where he is in the library and getting harassed by he redneck guards. If you look on his face, you can tell he wants to reciprocate, but instead he holds it in and takes the ribbing with a smile. It is because of this that the black inmates join the team.

What didn’t work?

Wrestlers. Look, I have nothing against wrestlers. Fact is almost all of them played football before stepping into the ring. The Rock played at Miami, Goldberg actually made it on the Atlanta Falcons, etc. However, one would think that for a movie about football, they would have tried to get football players, first. Granted, they did have most of the wrestlers as guards that were described as “not making it past the college level”, which is what wrestlers are, if you think about it.

Expensive equipment. The guards practice facilities and whatnot looked like the kind of stuff you would see at some upper high school or lower college in Texas (which it probably was). That’s all fine and dandy, except that this stuff was paid for with taxpayer money. I just can’t see that going over very well.

Courtney Cox. So, Sandler is supposed to be this hotshot, washed up quarterback. Obviously, he’s going to have a hot girlfriend. This is how we get Courtney Cox. However, I think they could have done better. I may be a bit biased, though. Haven’t really thought she was that hot since Friends, but maybe to him she was the bee’s knees.

So, what is the final verdict onThe Longest Yard?It is a decent football flick that is helped by the small cameo roles that its “stars” all play. Sandler may actually be the weakest part, and yet he is the official star. Sad, but true. I still say this is a definite must-see football film, for those that are into the genre. I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars

Primitive Love

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on April 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

“Doctor” Jayne Mansfield is in Italy to show a peer her documentary about mating customs from around the world while at the same time having to deal with two bellhops who have an idea or two about mating with Jayne

REVIEW:

Jayne Mansfield is a goddess. It really is a shame that her career went down the tubes and she was relegated to film work in Italy. Many of these films were not that great.Primitive Loveis one of these subpar outings.

I’m a huge Jayne Mansfield fan, but even I had trouble finding something good about this. Even Jayne’s little strip tease at the end couldn’t make up for it. The major issue with this film, though, is that is more of a documentary with secondary plot around it. Kind of like the Disney film, Saludos Amigos.

The footage they use is ok, but you have to wonder how bad off the studio was to not be able to come up with something better than this, or an actual movie!

I will say though, Jayne looked hot as always and the comedic duo of Franco and Cicci, while annoying at times, did keep this film watchable.

I don’t know, this is another bad film of Jayne’s I’ve seen. I still hold pat to the belief that she is a better actress than Marilyn, but I can now see why she isn’t as popular. Primitive Love seems to be just something she agreed to for a paycheck without actually reading the script beforehand. I can’t recommend this to anyone, unless you’re like me, a huge Jayne Mansfield fan…and even then, I’d be hesitant. This is not a good film, but as bad as it is, it still is better than some of the horrid thing that are released these days.

2 1/3 out of 5 stars

Justice League: Doom

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film revolves around Vandal Savage’s plot to exterminate the greater part of the human population and start a new civilization. To ensure that the Justice League is unable to stop him, Savage hires Mirror Master, who hacks into the Batcomputer and steals contingency plans devised by Batman to incapacitate his League teammates should they ever go rogue. Savage assembles a group of supervillains with personal vendettas against the heroes and pays them richly to simultaneously attack the members of the League using these plans, albeit altered to be lethal.

The villains each do their part to take out the Justice League:
Batman is informed by Alfred Pennyworth that the bodies of Thomas and Martha Wayne have been exhumed and are missing. When Bruce Wayne arrives at his parents’ graves, he is ambushed by Bane. The emotional distraction is enough to grant Bane the upper hand and render his adversary unconscious. Bruce is then placed into his father’s coffin which is reburied. He wakes up to the horrifying prospect of dying of asphyxiation next to his father’s corpse.
The Martian Manhunter (in his human identity of John Jones) is celebrating his birthday with his colleagues from the police force. He receives a drink from a mysterious woman (who is actually Ma’alefa’ak in disguise). The drink is laced with magnesium carbonate, which is poisonous to Martian biology. The Manhunter’s body is capable of curing itself, but only by sweating out the magnesium which is highly flammable. Ma’alefa’ak uses a lighter to set his enemy on fire (J’onn’s only weakness), leaving him to burn alive without the possibility to extinguish the flames.
Wonder Woman is attacked by Cheetah who scratches her arm, sending nanomachines into her bloodstream. The microscopic machines attach themselves to her brain stem and begin broadcasting directly into her visual and auditory sensors. This fools Wonder Woman into thinking that everyone she sees is a duplicate of Cheetah. The illusion is designed to exploit her competitive nature, by sending her into a never-ending battle. Since she would never surrender, she will force herself to fight until her body gives out, thanks to the drugs the nanomachines were carried in, causing her to suffer an epileptic seizure or a heart attack.
The Flash is lured into a trap by Mirror Master who pretends to be robbing a train. The villain then uses a hologram of an elderly woman to create the illusion that he had a hostage. The whole scenario is only intended to trick the Flash into placing his arm into a booby trap that attaches a bomb to his wrist. The bomb will explode and kill everyone within three miles if the hero tries to remove it or if he does nothing. The only way to prevent the explosion is to run and never decelerate, but even the Flash cannot run forever.
Green Lantern is called upon by the FBI to deal with a group of terrorists who have taken hostages into a salt mine. However the truth is that both the terrorists and the hostages are sophisticated androids. The entire setting is part of a complex deception that fools Green Lantern into thinking that innocent lives are lost due to his overconfidence. The hero is also exposed to a synthesized version of the Scarecrow’s fear gas that undermines his will. Finally, Star Sapphire shows up and exploits his fears convincing him that he does not deserve the power he wields. Green Lantern renounces his ring without which he cannot escape from the collapsed salt mine. The weakened hero resigns to his fate.
Superman is lured to the roof of the Daily Planet by a disillusioned former employee named Henry Ackerson, who aims to commit suicide by either jumping off or shooting himself. Superman tries to talk him out of it, and appears to have succeeded, when Ackerson unexpectedly shoots the hero instead. It is then revealed that the suicide ploy was meant to trick Superman into lowering his guard, that the former employee was being impersonated by Metallo, and that the bullet was made of Kryptonite, the only material that can harm Kryptonians. A fatally wounded Superman falls from the top of the building.

Batman comes close to accepting his fate but, motivated by the memory of his father’s murder, is able to dig his way out of the grave. He soon realizes that the League has been attacked using his own contingency plans. With help from Cyborg, he saves his teammates one by one.

The Justice League retreats to the Watchtower, where Batman reveals that he was the real mastermind behind the attacks, having studied the others for physical and psychological weaknesses. However, he also had a contingency in place should the Batcomputer ever be hacked: a tracing algorithm hidden in his files. This enables the League to track down the Legion of Doom.

The villains are subdued, but the heroes fail to prevent Savage’s scheme to orchestrate an apocalyptic cataclysm with a powerful solar flare. Using information obtained by Cyborg, Batman devises a last minute plan and the League barely manages to save the Earth. The World Court sentences the immortal Vandal Savage to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

In the aftermath of their victory, the Justice League votes to add Cyborg to their roster. Superman calls for a vote on Batman’s continued membership in the team, following the revelation of the latter’s breach of trust. However, Batman defends his plans and expresses no regret over his actions, resigning himself before the vote can be held.

In the final scene, Superman entrusts Batman with the Kryptonite bullet, agreeing with the concept of having safeguards in place should the League members ever fall to villainy or mind control – but not without first questioning him about Bane’s attack. It is revealed that exhuming the bodies of Thomas and Martha Wayne was entirely Savage’s idea. Superman asks Batman why he wouldn’t create a contingency plan for the event that he himself might go rogue. Batman replies he did; saying “It’s called the Justice League”.

REVIEW:

Before all the talk of The Avengers kicks into high gear next weekend, I figured this would be the perfect time to check out their DC counterpart, the Justice League by watching their newest release Justice League: Doom. Hate to disappoint some of you, but don’t hold your breath for a live action Justice League film anytime soon, for numerous reasons I won’t bother mentioning, other than saying Christopher Nolan has said his Batman “doesn’t play well with others”.

Putting that thought aside, this film has almost everything you would want from your Justice League films. What worked?

Voice acting. As someone who is a big fan of the DC Animated universe, I always love it when they bring in the best known voices such as Tim Daly as Superman, Bruce Conroy as Batman and newer voices that have made names for themselves such as Nathan Filion as Green Lantern. There is something to be said about continuity. Such a shame these people can’t always reprise these roles. Some of the people who follow them aren’t close to stacking up.

The story. This comes from a story arc in the comics that I’m not too familiar with, but they seem to do a goof job condensing what was no doubt a lengthy series into a full length animated feature. Sure, I can imagine that things were left out, but it doesn’t seem to make for a less entertaining tale.

Cyborg. Sure, we all know about the big characters, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and The Flash (no clue where Aquaman and Hawkman were, though), but it is good to bring in some new blood. Most people are familiar with him from Teen Titans, but just as Robin is a different character in Young Justice than the one in that show, the same goes for Cyborg. Take your pick of which you prefer, but they are both great. Unfortunately, I kind of get the feeling they stuck him in there to be the “token black guy” (although, it appears that Martian Manhunterfills that role in his human form).

The villains. These aren’t exactly the arch-enemies, but they are pretty high up on each hero’s villain board. Having said that, it is good to get a break from the likes of Lex Luthor, the Joker, Sinestro, and their ilk.

What didn’t work.

Character design. For some reason, every character seemed to look alike. Bruce Wayne looked exactly like Superman, for instance, and they both had that Young Justice design that I don’t really have a problem with, but just didn’t seem to work here. Also, Wonder Woman’s headband thingy seemed to come down a bit far on her forehead. That just irked me.

Pacing. The pacing is fine, but in the last 10-15 minutes, there seems to that feeling of we need to hurry and wrap this up. Such a shame since things were moving along at such a nice steady tempo. I actually think they could have taken a few more minutes to develop the final conflict(s) a bit better.

Justice League: Doom definitely goes down as one of the best DC Animated films. There is very little that is wrong with this picture. If there are studios plotting to unleash a live action Justice League film on us, then they should get some ideas from this. I highly recommend this to all the superhero lovers out there. It is a must see!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

This is the Army

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In World War I, the musical Yip Yip Yaphank is a rousing success. During the show, it is learned that the troop has received its orders to ship off to France, and thus the end number is changed so that the soldiers march through the theater with their rifles and gear and out into the waiting convoy of trucks. Jones kisses his new bride on the way down the aisle.

In the war, several of the soldiers in the production are killed. Jerry Jones is wounded in France, by shrapnel during a German artillery barrage. He loses the full use of one of his legs, ending his career as a dancer and must walk with a cane. Nevertheless he is resolved to find something useful to do. Sgt. McGee and Pvt. Eddie Dibble,the bugler also survive.

Twenty-five years later, with World War II raging in Europe, Jones’ son Johnny enlists in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor is attacked. He tells his sweetheart that they cannot marry until he returns, since he doesn’t want to make her a widow. He grudgingly accepts the order to stage another musical, just as his father did. The show goes on tour around the United States and eventually plays in front of President Roosevelt (Jack Young) in Washington, D.C.. During the show, it is announced that the Washington, D.C. performance will be the last night, and that afterwards the soldiers in the production will be ordered back to their combat units.

Johnny’s erstwhile fiancée, who has since joined the Red Cross auxiliary, appears at the show. During a break in the show, she brings a minister and convinces them that they should marry – which they do, in the alley behind the theater, with their fathers as witnesses.

REVIEW:

During WWI and WWII, it was very common for studios to forgo conventional films in favor of military propaganda type flicks and package features. This is the Army is somewhat of a mixture of those two sub-genres.

There isn’t much to be said about this film, really. There is a plot, but it is not even worth mentioning. The star of the film is the music of Irving Berlin and his love for the men and women who were serving overseas.

I believe I read that this film was his idea. Of  course, there is also the little matter than this is a mixture of two of his musicals.

While still on the topic of Berlin, he makes an appearance at the film’s end singing a haunting tune, “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning”. Sometimes it is great to see the composer perform his own work.

Something else that should be noted is that a young Ronald Regan, who was actually in the Army at the time has a small role in this film.

I do have an issue with the way this film presents itself. At first, it seems like your usual musical, military film, but as it goes on, the plot thickens into some odd drama that takes away from the great music of Berlin, and just ruins the picture for me.

This is the Army isn’t something to go out of your way to see, but it is decent enough. No, I don’t recommend it, but that isn’t because of it being a bad film, but rather because today’s audiences won’t relate or enjoy something like this. Yes, it is a shame, but there you go.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!):

Conan is the son of Corin (Ron Perlman), chief of a barbarian tribe. The youth (Leo Howard) is a skilled but violent warrior, who his father believes is not ready to wield his own sword. One day, their village is attacked by the forces of Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), a warlord who wishes to reunite the pieces of the Mask of Acheron in order to revive his dead wife and conquer Hyborea. Thousands of years ago, the Mask, crafted by a group of sorcerers and used to subjugate the world, was broken into many pieces, which were scattered among the barbarian tribes. After locating Corin’s piece of the mask, and murdering the entire village, Zym leaves. Conan is the only survivor, and swears revenge.

Years later, Conan (Jason Momoa) has become a pirate, but still seeks revenge. In the city of Messantia, he encounters Ela-Shan (Saïd Taghmaoui), a thief being chased by a man whom Conan recognizes as Lucius (Steven O’Donnell), one of Zym’s soldiers from years before. He allows himself to be captured alongside Ela-Shan. Conan escapes imprisonment and confronts Lucius, forcing him to reveal that Zym seeks the pure-blood descendant of the sorcerers of Acheron; sacrificing the descendant will unleash the mask’s power. Conan helps the rest of the prisoners to escape, and, in gratitude, Ela-Shan tells Conan that, if he ever needs him, Conan will find him at the City of Thieves, Argalon.

Zym and his daughter, the sorceress Marique (Rose McGowan) attack a monastery where they hope to find the pure-blood descendant. Sensing something is wrong, Fassir (Raad Rawi), an elderly monk, tells one of his students, Tamara (Rachel Nichols), to run away and return to her birthplace. Tamara’s carriage is chased by Zym’s men, but Conan rescues her, and also captures one of Zym’s men, Remo (Milton Welsh). After forcing him to reveal Tamara’s importance as the pure-blood, Conan catapults Remo into Zym’s nearby camp.

Zym and Marique confront Conan, who pretends to be interested in exchanging Tamara for gold. Conan attacks Zym, but Marique saves her father by invoking soldiers made of sand and then poisoning Conan with a poison-laced boomerang sword. Tamara rescues him and they return to Conan’s ship, stationed nearby, where his friend Artus (Nonso Anozie) helps Conan recover. The boat is attacked by Zym’s men, and, although they kill several of Conan’s men, they are defeated. Conan orders Artus to return to Messantia with Tamara and departs to confront Zym in his kingdom. Artus tells Tamara that Conan left a map behind and she follows him, meeting with him in a cave, where they make love. The next day, as she is returning to the boat, Zym’s men and daughter capture her.

Conan learns of Tamara’s capture and departs to Argalon, where he asks Ela-Shan to help him break into Zym’s castle unnoticed. Zym prepares to drain Tamara’s blood, mending the mask. After confronting an octopus-like monster that guards the dungeons, Conan infiltrates Zym’s followers and watches as Zym puts on the empowered mask. Conan releases Tamara, and she escapes as he battles Zym with the castle falling around them. Marique attacks Tamara, but Conan hears Tamara’s scream and defeats Marique, cutting off her hand. Tamara kicks her into a pit, where she is impaled on a large spike. Zym comes and, finding his daughter’s corpse, he swears revenge upon Conan.

Conan and Tamara become trapped on an unstable bridge as Zym attacks them. He uses the mask’s power to call forth the spirit of his dead wife, Maliva, a powerful sorceress who was executed by the monks from Tamara’s monastery for attempting to unleash occult forces to destroy Hyborea, and Maliva’s spirit begins to possess Tamara. She begs Conan to let her fall, but he refuses, and instead stabs the bridge before jumping to safety with Tamara. The bridge collapses, taking Zym along. The power-hungry ruler falls to the lava below the immense precipice screaming the name of his wife, implying his demise.

Conan and Tamara escape and he returns her to her birthplace, telling her that they’ll meet again. He then returns to Corin’s village and tells the memory of his father that he has avenged his death and recovered the sword Zym stole from him, restoring his honor

REVIEW:

I have made it no secret that I am no fan of remakes. I even made it quite the point to dissuade people from seeing this film, and yet here I am actually watching it. So, has it changed my initial stance? No, but it wasn’t a total loss.

What worked?

Well, in the original Conan the Barbarian, Arnold Schwarzenegger brought Conan to life with his larger than life physique, yet his acting left something to be desired, partially because it was his first English-speaking film. Jason Momoa brings the same kind of presence, though he isn’t as big and can actually speak English.

Action. This is the kind of film that is made to showcase action. If you don’t get lots of that, then why even bother making it, right?

Blood and gore. Now, this isn’t horror film level blood and gore, but there is plenty to go around. Picture if we actually had a God of War movie (something someone needs to consider).

Stephen Lang. If you’re not aware of who this guy is, there is a chance you know who he is, just not his name. I think his biggest role is as the power mad general in Avatar that leads the attack on the Navii. Believe it or not, this role, as evil as he is, can be considered a bit of a step down (in terms of evilness), from him. However, he is still an evil s.o.b.

The stuff that didn’t work.

Story. All props for trying to come up with a decent story that gives nods to the original, but is different, but this is not exactly easy to understand. Too many times it seems to be going somewhere, then jumps to something else.

Rose McGowan. I love this woman, make no mistake about that, but the way they had her in that weird almost alien make up this just didn’t sit right, especially since her younger self and her father didn’t have it. Something didn’t quite make sense about her look.

Rachel Nichols. I’m tempted to give her a pass because she’s mainly a model, then I remember this is not her first rodeo. She had a fairly major role in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. For some inexplicable reason, she just comes off cold and aloof here, even when she’s supposedly being the caring damsel in distress wanting to sacrifice herself for the good of the people, or whatever. I just didn’t buy it.

Tone. Dark film are not up my alley. For me, this felt a little too dark for what it was supposed to be. If they would have lightened it up a bit, maybe they could have darkened it up (or is it down) for the sequel(s).

Everyone I know that has seen this has hated it. No, I didn’t hate it, but I won’t be making any attempts to see it again. If I want to see Conan, I’ll watch the original, or even better, tune it to TBS weeknights and watch his talk show! I cannot recommend this to anyone, but I will say that, for all the faults it has, there is potential here…wasted potential.

3 out of 5 stars