Archive for Justin Timberlake

Trolls

Posted in Movie Reviews, Animation, Family with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Inspired by the beloved troll dolls that have entertained kids for decades, this animated tale follows the always-happy Princess Poppy and her grouchy survivalist companion Branch as they embark on a journey that takes them into an unfamiliar world.

What people are saying:

“combines the barely-there characterization and irritating cutesiness of The Smurfs and Jelly Jamm with the hideous character design and awful pop covers of Strange Magic” 3 stars

“”Trolls” combines dreadful kindergarten humor (one troll poops cupcakes) with a feeble plot, much padded with high-fructose-corn-syrup versions of pop and R&B classics.” 1 1/2 stars

“Cute and colorful with some great voice work from an all-star cast and some of the dialogue is definitely geared towards the adults in the audience. The synthesized music gets a bit cloying after a while and the nod to Cinderella is…well…what it is. As it goes it’s decent family entertainment” 3 1/2 stars

“What a perfect example of this stupid generation I’m apart of. All the millionnials who don’t know how to do anything useful and they think as long as their happy life is good when there’s so much more to it than that.
Reminds me of all the people I hate.” 1 1/2 stars

“Wow, I was not expecting this to be this good. It’s bright, colorful, vivid, trippy, and the songs chosen for the musical numbers (That’s right, this is a musical featuring mostly 20th-21st century pop hits plus some original songs as well.) are fantastic. The story is pretty simple, and the whole thing kind of reminds me of a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon updated for the modern day. Anna Kendrick was my favorite voice actor here, and is bubbly, cute and adorable. Trolls is a painless, enjoyable film” 3 stars

In Time

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on March 4, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

By 2161, genetic alteration has allowed humanity to stop aging at 25 but people are required to earn more time after turning 25 or die within a year. ‘Living time’, which can be transferred among individuals, has replaced money and its availability is displayed on an implant on people’s lower arm. When that clock reaches zero, one dies instantly. Society is divided by social class living in specialized towns called ‘Time Zones’. The poor live in the ghettos of Dayton, where youth predominates, and must work each day to earn a few more hours of life, which they must also use to pay for everyday necessities. The rich live in the luxurious city-like town called New Greenwich, in which the middle-aged and elderly predominate. They drive fast electric cars, and can live for centuries.

28-year-old factory worker Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) lives with his mother Rachel Salas (Olivia Wilde) in the ghettos. One day, Will saves rich 105-year-old Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) from suffering a time-robbery assault in a bar where he flaunts his time around buying people drinks. Hamilton is attacked by Fortis (Alex Pettyfer), the elderly British mobster boss of a middle-aged gang called the Minutemen. Will leads Hamilton to safety, where Hamilton says to Will, “For few to be immortal, many must die”, as there is essentially enough time for everyone to live a full life, but it is stockpiled for the rich to become immortal. An upset Will argues that no one should die before their time naturally ends so that others may live, upon which Hamilton describes how he no longer even desires life, in saying “your mind is worn out, even though your body may not be. We want, we need, to die.”

Later that night, Hamilton transfers 116 years to the sleeping Will, keeping only five minutes for himself, which he uses to go and sit on a ledge on a bridge. As his time expires, Hamilton falls into the river below. Will arrives too late to save him, realizes he has been filmed by a nearby surveillance camera, and flees the area. Resident police force, the Timekeepers, have various theories as to his death. A young timekeeper, Timekeeper Jaeger (Collins Pennie), correctly assumes Hamilton had “timed out”, a.k.a. killed himself, but a middle-aged veteran Timekeeper, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), is convinced he was murdered by a Dayton resident.

Will waits for his mother at a bus station, only to discover that she didn’t have enough time to pay for her usual bus ride after the price suddenly increased. He rushes down the street to find her. They encounter each other on foot, and as she runs and leaps into his arms, her time expires before her son can help her and she dies in his arms. Remembering what Hamilton told him about the inequity of the time system, Will decides to seek revenge, and leaves for New Greenwich, with over a century on his clock. Upon arrival, he enters a casino, where he meets an old millionaire, time-loaning businessman Philippe Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) and his daughter Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Sylvia becomes interested in Will after a tense gambling table showdown where Will beats her father in poker with only one second to spare on his clock, winning 1,100 years in the process. She invites Will to a party at her father’s mansion.

At the mansion, Will is apprehended by Leon, who confiscates all of his time, spare two hours. Will then escapes taking Sylvia hostage. Returning to the ghetto with her, he drives into an ambush of Fortis, who, in disappointment to find that the unconscious Will was in possession of Hamilton’s time but lost it, steals most of Sylvia’s, only failing to take the last half hour as the approach of the Timekeepers forces him to leave the scene. Will returns to consciousness and gives Sylvia some of his remaining time so they can return to his old neighborhood. They first visit Borel to retrieve some time Will gave him earlier, only to find out from Borel’s grief-stricken wife, Greta (Yaya DaCosta), that he drunk himself to death with 9 years on his clock. Sylvia pawns her jewelry for the meager price of 2 days. Finding themselves a shelter, Will calls Weis demanding a 1,000 years’ ransom for Sylvia, to be distributed to the people of the ghetto. Leon traces Will’s location from his phone call, and heads to Dayton in pursuit.

The following day, as Will prepares to release Sylvia, he discovers that Weis did not pay the ransom, but Will decides to let Sylvia go regardless. Leon appears and almost kills Will, but is shot in the shoulder by Sylvia. Will then transfers four hours of time to the disarmed Leon so that he is able to walk out of Dayton before he “times out”. Will and Sylvia escape in Leon’s car. Later, Will tells her that she still has a chance to walk away from the situation, but she decides to remain by his side, saying there is no purpose to the life she once had in New Greenwich. They begin a series of Time Bank robberies, stealing the Time Capsules which store time equivalents and distributing them to the poor, getting a bounty of 10 years on their heads. Fortis eventually tracks down Will and Sylvia a second time, and challenges Will to a Time Fight. Will dominates the fight by using the technique he learned from his late father, then shoots the remaining Minutemen while Fortis dies in the time fight, his time transferred to Will.

Will and Sylvia realize their previous efforts were futile, as the rich have the power to simply increase the cost of living in the ghettos to maintain the status quo. They succeed in stealing a million years from Weis’ private headquarters in a Time Capsule, escaping all resistance on their way out and reaching Dayton. Upon arrival, Leon crashes his car into Will’s, but Will is able to hand the Time Capsule to a young girl who then distributes the time among the people. Leon eventually catches up with Will and Sylvia outside the city, holding them at gunpoint. Will jokingly asks Leon to return some of the time he previously loaned him so that they can survive til their executions, but Leon realizes that he had neglected to replenish his own time before going after them, and dies. Will and Sylvia are left with seconds to live. Will runs to Leon’s car and takes his allotted time. In a scene mirroring his mother’s death, Will transfers the time to Sylvia seconds before she is about to die.

Will and Sylvia continue robbing banks as part of their efforts to crash the system, now with a bounty of 100 years on their heads, while the rich attempt to cope with the sudden surge of people who now have enough time to change zones arriving from the ghettos. A news broadcast shows the factories, in which Will once worked, are no longer in action. Factory workers, now rich with Time, cross Time Zones while the Time Keepers become observers instead of enforcers.

The last scene reveals that Will and Sylvia are going to rob an obscenely huge Time Bank in order to keep disrupting the system

REVIEW:

The phrase “time is money” takes a bit of a literal meaning in In Time, a film that centers around the central theme of time ticking down and that time is the currency of this dystopian society. One of the best things about this flick is that it is a breath of fresh being something that isn’t a remake, sequel, or based on some sort of comic book or other literary work. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is an original idea out of Hollywood…*GASP*

I must apologize that this is going to be a bit of a short review, as I’m in a bit of a rush, so let’s get to the good.

The original idea. In this day and age when we are forced to endure remake upon remake upon endless remake, some, if not all are in horrid 3D, it is great that someone still had an original idea and was able to get it released into major cinema markets, and that this was also a financial success, Maybe the powers that be need to take notice.

The effects weren’t too bad, though, I do wonder how it/was that people evolved to the point that they stop aging at 25 and have clocks embedded in their skin like that.

The casting actually worked. No one was over the top or felt out of place, which is something else that is rare in this day and age.

The bad…

Pacing was horrible. From the get go this film, which should have been a non stop slobber knocker, seemed to drag on, and the last 30 minutes or so were the worst part.

Olivia Wilde was a bit of a waste, as she dies early on. Why would you cast (and pay her outrageous fee) for nothing more than a glorified cameo? Wouldn’t have been better than to hire some up and coming hot chick? Even better, why not give someone their big break, or bring someone down on their luck for this? Don’t get me wrong, for the 3 or 4 scenes she does have, she’s great, but I just thought there could have been more of her, or that they should have used someone else, other than to waste her time (pardon the pun).

I would have liked a little more information on what is going on with the time thing. That is to say, is this a different world, or the same one, just in the future?

The time I spent watching In Time was not a waste, but I think I would liked to have a bit of a better film. That is not to say that this was not a bad flick, I just wanted it to be better, or at the very least more action packed. I highly recommend it, though. It is a good watch!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Friends with Benefits

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jamie (Mila Kunis) is an Executive Recruiter for a leading job agency in New York City and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) works as an art director for a small internet company in Los Angeles. Jamie has the task of trying to recruit Dylan to interview for a job with GQ magazine and begin working in New York City. Dylan comes to New York and after interviewing for the position learns from Jamie that he has been given an offer to work for GQ. At first Dylan is hesitant to accept and move from Los Angeles to New York, but in an effort to get Dylan to accept the job Jamie spends the evening taking him around the city trying to sell him on the opportunity and the city.

After a fun night together exploring the city Dylan agrees to take the job. The next day Jamie presents Dylan with the contract to sign so she can land her commission for recruiting him. Not knowing anyone else in the city he and Jamie quickly develop a friendship. One night, while hanging out at Jamie’s apartment watching a romantic comedy, they get on the topic of sex and relationships. They come to the conclusion that sex should not come with so many emotional attachments. Both feeling the need for a physical connection they agree to have sex without emotion or commitment involved. After several trysts together Jamie comes to the realization that this isn’t really what she wants, and she would like to start dating again and informs Dylan that they need to stop.

Jamie meets Parker (Bryan Greenberg) and they begin dating. After five dates they consummate their relationship but the next morning Parker leaves and informs Jamie he really wasn’t looking for anything more. Furious, Jamie tells Parker off, assuring the end of their relationship. Trying to be sympathetic and to help Jamie get over the pain of the situation Dylan suggests she come with him to California over the July 4th weekend while he visits his family. Jamie is very hesitant, but agrees after much persistence from Dylan. They fly to California where Jamie meets his sister Annie (Jenna Elfman) and father (Richard Jenkins). While in California emotional feelings for each other begin to form and they share a passionate kiss, which leads to a night of close intimacy unlike any they had shared before. However the next day Jamie overhears a conversation between Annie and Dylan indicating he has no real feelings for her. Hurt, she flies back to New York. A few days later Dylan returns to New York trying to reconcile his friendship with Jamie and find out why she has been ignoring him. He finally finds Jamie and she informs him she overheard everything he said and has no interest in maintaining any kind of a friendship with him.

Soon after this Jamie discovers that Dylan may be leaving the GQ position for another job, which would affect her commission. She confronts Dylan about this which leads to another argument. Both begin to do some soul searching trying to come to terms with their feelings about their relationship. Jamie spends time with her mother (Patricia Clarkson), while Dylan discusses it with his sister over the phone. His sister informs him that their father, who suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, will be flying to New York and he needs to be picked up at the airport. While eating at the airport with his father, his father, in a moment of Alzheimer’s-induced confusion, incorrectly recognizes a passerby as a woman from his past. Dylan asks him about this woman, and his father, upon regaining his lucidity, says that she was a woman he met in the Navy, that she was the love of his life, and regrets decisions he made in his youth to let her go.

Dylan realizes how he feels about Jamie and after a talk with his friend and coworker, Tommy (Woody Harrelson), decides to go after her. He calls Jamie’s mother to set up an excuse to get Jamie to go to Grand Central Station thinking she will be picking her mother up and arranges to have a flash mob scene set up to surprise Jamie at Grand Central. When the moment comes he catches up with Jamie and tells her how he really feels. Surprised and happy by this turn of events Jamie tells him to kiss her. After sharing a kiss Dylan suggests it is time they go on their first real date. They go to the café across the street, and although they attempt to keep the date casual and relaxed, the film ends with them in a sensual embrace and passionate kiss

REVIEW:

Back in college, I had a couple of exes who became “friends with benefits”, but the emotional baggage that apparently comes with that never reared its ugly head. Probably because it had done that during out time in a relationship, I would wager.

Friends with Benefits takes us back to the world of meaningless sex with no strings that another film, No Strings Attached, brought us to. Please note, that while these films have similarities, most notably the premise and starring one of the leads from Black Swan and two of main characters from That 70’s Show, they are totally different.

We start with out two leads experiencing the end of their respective relationships. Fast forward a little bit and they meet in NYC where Mila Kunis’ character, Jamie, is trying to get Justin Timberlake’s character, Dylan, to sign on as layout designer (or something along those lines) for GQ magazine.

To help him with his decision, she decides to show him the “non-tourist” version of New York (which somehow still  shows all the typical tourist sites, such as Central Park.) They end up at a party at her place, and after everyone is gone, they watch her favorite romantic comedy. While watching, they realize how cheesy and cliche’ it is.

Somehow, they get into a discussion about sex and how it ruins things, which leads to them having sex after agreeing to not get attached. For most of the film, they manage to keep this going without getting all tied up in emotions and whatnot, then the ill-fated trip to his parents’ happens and by accident Jamie overhears a conversation Dylan has with his sister. This leads to the film’s downfall, as everything it had worked so hard to overcome is suddenly rendered null and void, as it becomes nothing more than a generic romantic comedy from that point on.

A review I was listening to the other day, about this film, said that Kunis and Timberlake has no chemistry. I’m not so sure I agree with that, but I was sort of uncomfortable watching them together. I can’t put my finger on it, but something was weird. Perhaps they actually did have sex at one time (lucky bastard!!!), and this just made it weird?

Keeping on the topic of our leads, Timberlake is still trying to find that one picture that can launch him into leading man material. This just isn’t it. Sure, he does a good job, but let’s face it, no one is watching this for him, save for his die-hard female fans. The guy is very talented, especially in terms of comedy, but this isn’t the stepping stone he needs to get to the next level, in my opinion.

Kunis, has done better with roles such as this. I don’t know, at times it seems as if she wasn’t really there, and then others she seemed like she was giving it everything she had. I may be alone is seeing that, which is fine, but that’s how I saw it and my belief is that she could have given more of a steady performance here. It may have even helped out in the end.

Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman make nice appearances, but neither is really much to speak of, save for knowing that Elfman is still alive and Harrelson is playing a gay man (who is a sports editor, btw).

Romantic comedies are not my favorite genre, but I don’t hate them the way most guys do. The thing about this film, though, is that it started out to not be part of that genre. I was loving the direction is was headed, and all the sex really sold the premise (even if they did everything they could to not show a naked Mila Kunis). However, the last 30 minutes or so, as I said before, ruined it for me. That being said, in comparison to No Strings Attached, I think I would pick this one, based solely on the fact that it doesn’t get all whiny and overemotional 10 minutes in like that did. Do I recommend it? Yes, but it is with trepidation that I do so. You may or may not like this, depending on your preference and attitude toward romantic comedies and such.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Social Network

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2003, Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend Erica Albright. He returns to his dorm drunk and writes a scathing blog entry about her. This inspires him to create an on-campus website called Facemash which allows users to rate the attractiveness of female students using photographs pilfered from various university systems. Mark receives six months of academic probation after traffic to the site crashes parts of Harvard’s network. Facemash’s popularity and the fact that Mark created it in one night while drunk brings him to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their business partner Divya Narendra. The Winklevoss twins invite Mark to their final club, where Mark accepts a job as programmer for a proposed dating website they call Harvard Connection which will be exclusive to Harvard alums.

Mark approaches his friend Eduardo Saverin and tells him of his idea for what he calls “Thefacebook”, an online social networking website exclusive to Harvard University students. He explains that this would mimic the popularity of FaceMash but since signing up would be consensual it would avoid the ethical problems of the earlier site. Eduardo agrees to help Mark, providing $1,000 to help start the site. They distribute the link to Eduardo’s connections at the Phoenix S-K final club, and it becomes popular throughout the student body. When they learn of Thefacebook, the Winklevoss twins and Narendra believe Zuckerberg has stolen their idea while stalling on their website. Tyler and Divya want to sue Mark for intellectual property theft, but Cameron convinces them to settle the matter as “gentlemen of Harvard”.

During a visiting lecture by Bill Gates, fellow Harvard University student Christy Lee introduces herself and her friend Alice to Eduardo and Mark and asks the boys to “Facebook me”. Christy’s use of this phrase impresses both of them. Christy invites them to a bar, where Mark runs into Erica, who is not aware of Thefacebook because she is not a Harvard student. Mark decides to expand the site to Yale University, Columbia University and Stanford University as Thefacebook grows in popularity, while the Winklevoss twins and Narendra watch “their idea” advance without them. Cameron refuses to sue them, instead accusing Mark of violating the Harvard student Code of Conduct. Through their father’s connections they meet with Harvard President Larry Summers, who is dismissive towards the twins and sees no potential value in either a disciplinary action or in Thefacebook website itself.

Through Christy, now Eduardo’s girlfriend, Eduardo and Mark arrange a meeting with Napster co-founder Sean Parker. Eduardo becomes skeptical, noting Sean’s problematic personal and professional history. Sean presents a vision for Facebook very similar to that of Mark, which earns Mark’s instant admiration. In a parting comment, Sean suggests they drop the “The” from Thefacebook.

At Sean’s suggestion, Mark moves the company to Palo Alto while Eduardo remains in New York seeking advertising support. Sean advises Mark to keep hold of his ownership of Facebook to ensure that Mark does not lose control of a potentially lucrative business venture, using Victoria’s Secret founder Roy Raymond as an example. After Sean promises to expand Facebook to two continents, Mark invites Sean to live at the house he is using as the company headquarters.

While competing in the Henley Royal Regatta for Harvard, the Winklevoss twins discover Facebook has expanded to a number of English universities and footage of their lost finals match against the Hollandia Roeiclub is posted on it. Cameron relents and they decide to sue. When Eduardo visits from New York, he is angered to find Sean living in their house and making business decisions for Facebook. Eduardo argues with Mark, with Mark making a demeaning remark regarding Eduardo’s failed attempts to find advertisers. Eduardo freezes the company’s bank account and returns to New York.

Christy argues with Eduardo about his Facebook profile, which lists him as “single”. Christy does not believe Eduardo when he reluctantly explains that he does not know how to change his profile. She accuses him of cheating on her and sets fire to a scarf he gave to her. While Eduardo extinguishes the fire she caused, Mark reveals on the phone that although he was upset that Eduardo almost jeopardized Facebook by freezing the bank account, they have secured $500,000 from angel investor Peter Thiel. As a result of Christy’s odd behavior, Eduardo ends his relationship with her.

While visiting the new headquarters for a meeting, Eduardo discovers the deal he signed with Sean’s investors has allowed them to dilute his share of the company from 34 percent to 0.03 percent, while maintaining the ownership percentage of all other parties. He confronts Mark and announces his intention to sue him. During a party celebrating Facebook’s one millionth member, Sean and a number of underage Facebook interns are arrested for possession of cocaine. Sean tries deceiving Mark into believing that he had nothing to do with the incident and that Eduardo stashed the cocaine, but Mark does not believe him and tells him to “go home”.

The story is intercut with scenes from depositions taken in lawsuits against Mark and Facebook—one filed by the Winklevoss twins, the other by Eduardo. The Winklevoss twins claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea, while Saverin claims his shares of Facebook were diluted when the company was incorporated. At the end, Marylin Delpy, a junior lawyer for the defense, informs Mark they will be settling with Eduardo, since the sordid details of Facebook’s founding and Mark’s callous attitude will make a jury highly unsympathetic. After everyone leaves, Mark sends a friend request to Erica Albright on Facebook, and refreshes the page every few seconds waiting for a response.

In the film’s epilogue, it reveals that Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss received a settlement of $65 million dollars and signed a non-disclosure agreement. They also rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and placed sixth. Eduardo Saverin also received a settlement but the payment is unknown. The epilogue also reveals that Saverin’s name has been restored to the Facebook masthead as the Co-founder of Facebook and that the website has over 500 million members in 207 countries and is currently valued at 25 billion dollars. The epilogue finally states that Mark Zuckerberg is the world’s youngest billionaire

REVIEW:

Chances are, if you use the internet, then you use Facebook. Well, The Social Network is nothing more than the origin of said site that we are all addicted too. Hell, even as I was watching this, I was playing Words With Friends and Gardens of Time on there. Isn’t that special?

So, last awards season, this was one of the darlings, but got beaten down by Black Swan and The King’s Speech for most of the awards. Was it worth it?

Most of the time, when a historical film is released, it is usually after something has come and gone, not while it is at or around the peak of its popularity, as Facebook is right now (until something else comes around). This makes the release of this film a bit of a head scratcher, but, when you think about the status of our society and our lack of an attention span, it makes sense.

The story here is told in flashback form, as the principal players are at some sort of deposition regarding various lawsuits. Why they are all happening on the same day is curious, but that may have been done just for the film’s purpose.

For the most part, I liked how the film moved along. There wasn’t any real lull that puts the audience to sleep, but at the same time, I think the film took itself a little seriously. A little comic relief (that wasn’t those twins or the psychotic girlfriend) would have been nice, at least for my taste.

I have said over and over again that I am no fan of Jesse Eisenberg. Nothing is going to change that, but I can say that this is hands down his best performance, not to mention the least annoying he’s been on-screen. Shame he followed it up by returning to his annoying ways in Rio, though.

Andrew Garfield apparently used this as a springboard to bigger things such as this summer’s forthcoming (unnecessary) reboot The Amazing Spider-Man. As an actor, he is very competent, and may very well have been the best thespian in the film. However, his character….well, I’m not sure if he was unlikable or wishy-washy, or what, but something about him rubbed me the wrong way and I just don’t know what it was.

Armie Hammer, who I recognized for his brief stint on Reaper played the Winklevoss twins. Yes, he played them both. I think they had a body double for some scenes, but he still played them both. For some reason, I couldn’t help but wonder why they couldn’t find a couple of twins or at least just let the guy that was the body double just play the other brother? Having said that, if you watch old shows like I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, then you’re aware that they often time would have the same person play two separate characters that look exactly alike. Wishful thinking has me assuming this was a nod to that, but I know better.

Justin Timberlake was perfectly cast as Sean Parker. Well, at least in terms of how much they look-alike. I don’t know if he got the demeanor and everything down, but Timberlake was a nice addition to this cast, and may very well have been how this film was greenlit when you consider that the rest of the cast are mostly unknown, save for a small role for Rashida Jones, and even she isn’t a household name. Just mild speculation on my part, though.

Learning the history of a site that has blown up over the past few years and that almost everyone spends the majority of their internet time on was quite intriguing. Some of the facts that were presented and made you really think. After watching this, I got to thinking why not make a similar film about the rise and subsequent “fall” of Myspace?

I just saw a commercial showing the real Winklevoss twins and it appears that tonight’s episode of The Simpsons is a parody of this film. Can we say perfect timing?

So, what is the final verdict on The Social Network? Well, it is mostly worth all the praise it has been lauded with, but it isn’t the best thing since sliced bread, contrary to what some people have been saying about. While I found this to be a really well crafted film, I am not in love with it. It didn’t exactly leave me wanting to rush out and see it again. That being said, it is a worthwhile viewing and I do recommend it, so give it a chance, even if you are one of the handful of people left in the world without a Facebook account.

4 out of 5 stars

Bad Teacher

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a golddigging Chicago middle school teacher at the fictional John Adams Middle School who curses at her students, consumes lots of alcohol, smokes marijuana, and only shows movies while she sleeps through class. She plans to quit teaching and marry her wealthy fiancé, but when he dumps her, she must resume her job as a teacher. She tries to win over substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), who is also wealthy. Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), a dedicated teacher and colleague of Elizabeth, also pursues Scott while the school’s gym teacher, Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), makes advances on Elizabeth which she rejects.

Elizabeth plans to get surgery to enlarge her breasts, believing she is being overlooked for women with larger chests. However, she cannot afford the $10,000 procedure. To make matters worse, Scott admits that he has a crush on Amy, only viewing Elizabeth as a friend. Elizabeth attempts to raise money for the surgery by participating in her 7th grade class car wash in provocative clothing and by manipulating parents to give her money for more school supplies and tutoring, but her efforts are not enough. Amy, acting on the growing resentment between them due to her pursuit of Scott and ignoring of school rules, attempts to warn the principal about Elizabeth’s embezzlement scheme, but he dismisses her claims as groundless.

Elizabeth later learns that the teacher of the class with the highest state test scores will receive a $5,700 bonus. With this knowledge, Elizabeth decides to change her style of teaching, forcing the class to study intensely for the upcoming test. However, the change is not enough and the students have low scores on their quizzes, frustrating her even more. Meanwhile, she befriends Russell the gym teacher as Amy and Scott start dating. Elizabeth steals the state test answers by impersonating a journalist and seducing Carl Halabi (Thomas Lennon), who is in charge of the exam. Elizabeth drugs Carl in his office, and steals the test. A month later, Elizabeth wins the bonus and pays for the appointment to get her breasts enlarged.

When Elizabeth learns that Amy and Scott are chaperoning an upcoming field trip, she taints an apple with poison ivy and leaves it for Amy. Amy ends up with blisters covering her face and backs out of the trip. On the trip, Elizabeth seduces Scott. They engage in non-penetrative sex, and Elizabeth secretly calls Amy to ensure she knows. However, Scott’s peculiar behavior starts annoying Elizabeth. Elizabeth later gives advice to one of her students (Matthew J. Evans) who has an unrequited crush on a superficial girl in class, which causes her to reflect on how she has been superficial as well.

After hearing Elizabeth and Scott having sex, Amy switches Elizabeth’s desk with her own to trick the janitor into unlocking Elizabeth’s sealed drawer. The evidence Amy finds leads her to suspect Elizabeth cheated on the state exam. Amy informs the principal and gets Carl to testify against her. However, Elizabeth took embarrassing photos of Carl while he was drugged and uses them to blackmail him to say she is innocent. Having noticed her desk was switched, Elizabeth informs the principal that some teachers in the school are doing drugs. When the police bring a sniffer dog to search the school, they find drugs in Amy’s classroom, in Elizabeth’s desk. Amy is moved to another school by the superintendent. Scott asks Elizabeth to start over, but Elizabeth rejects him in favor of a relationship with Russell.

When the new school year starts, Elizabeth is kinder to her co-workers, has started a relationship with Russell, and did not get the breast enlargement because she feels that she looks fine the way she is. Elizabeth also has a new position in the school as the new guidance counselor.

REVIEW:

Some of you may remember in the not-so-distant past that Cameron Diaz was hot as hell. Somewhere along the way, she maintained her hotness, but just became another hot blonde actress. Then, along comes this film, Bad Teacher, which shows us once again that Cameron is one hot chica!

The premise of this film is Diaz is a teacher at the end of the school year. She is all set to get married to her fiancee and more or less tell the other teachers and whatnot to kiss her ____. Unfortunately for her, the finacee (and his mother) decide that she’s in it for nothing more than the money, which she is.

Fast forward a few months, and she’s back at school, but totally miserable, unfocused, and uncaring. Instead of actually teaching, she shows movies to the students, and pretty much does everything that “a teacher is not supposed to do”. While she is doing this, she tries to garner the attention of young substitute teacher, who has money, and ignoring the advances of a P.E. teacher who is vying for her affections. I think we can all see where this is going, right?

While that story doesn’t sound like much, it is the comedic performances of the cast that really makes it worth watching, especially that of Diaz and an over the top Lucy Punch.

Strangely enough, and maybe I missed it, there was no specific reason that Punch’s character was so hateful of Diaz. Then again, women will be women, I suppose.

That really is my only grip with this film. I really did enjoy it, but I’m not going to go out and buy the DVD. Still, it is worth watching, so why not give it a shot. You never know, you might just like it!

4 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

Black Snake Moan

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film centers around two main characters: Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson), a deeply religious farmer and former blues guitarist, and Rae (Christina Ricci), a young nymphomaniac. Lazarus’s wife has left him for his brother, which has left him a bitter and angry man. Rae’s boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves for deployment with the 1960th Field Artillery Brigade, Tennessee National Guard, and in his absence she has bouts of promiscuity and drug use. During one of Rae’s binges, Ronnie’s friend Gill (Michael Raymond-James) tries to take advantage of her. She laughs at his advances, comparing him unfavorably with another man, and he severely beats her. Believing she’s dead, Gill dumps Rae by the side of the road and drives away.

Lazarus discovers Rae in the road the next morning and brings her home to nurse her back to health. Over the course of several days, Rae, delirious with fever, occasionally wakes up and tries to flee from Lazarus. He ties her to the radiator with a heavy chain to keep her from running away. After Rae regains her wits, Lazarus announces that it is his spiritual duty to heal her of her sinful ways and refuses to release her until he does so. Rae makes several attempts to escape, but eventually comes to tolerate her position. Lazarus buys her a proper dress to wear, plays guitar for her, and feeds her home-cooked meals. Lazarus’s pastor and close friend, R.L. (John Cothran Jr.), visits Lazarus at his house and discovers that Lazarus is imprisoning Rae. The pastor tries to reason with Lazarus and the group shares a meal.

Meanwhile, Ronnie returns to town after being discharged from the National Guard due to his severe anxiety disorder. While searching for Rae, who has disappeared, he meets Gill, who informs him that Rae cheats on him whenever he is out of town. Ronnie attacks Gill, steals his truck, and continues searching for Rae.

In the morning, Lazarus frees Rae, having decided that he has no authority to pass judgment on her. Rae chooses to stay with Lazarus of her own will. Later, Rae and Lazarus take a trip into town, where Rae confronts her mother (Kim Richards) about the sexual abuse  she suffered at the hands of her mother’s partner. Meanwhile, Lazarus has formed a budding romance with the local pharmacist, Angela (S. Epatha Merkerson). He plays a blues concert at a local bar, which Rae attends. Ronnie spots Rae and follows her to Lazarus’s house. He confronts the pair with a pistol, but Lazarus talks him down and summons the pastor. Ronnie and Rae decide that they are stronger together than apart and get married. While driving away, Ronnie suffers a panic attack and Rae begins to break down, but together they overcome their afflictions.

REVIEW:

With a title like Black Snake Moan and soundtrack filled with the blues, the tone for this film is set for some superb acting, if executed well.

This film is apparently based on a book of the same name. One of these days, I may go to the library and check it out.

Samuel L. Jackson is what you would expect from him, although he is a bit subdued…for him. He obviously has some pain from things that happened to him, which we find out in song form later in the film, that leads to him being the grumpy old man. Somehow, it works for him, but I have to wonder…what was up with the hair?

Christina Ricci looks hotter than ever in this role. Of course, that could be because she’s running around little to no clothing on for a good 95% of the picture. The way she writhes around is quite impressive. It takes talent to act like you’re more or less possessed and in pain, not to mention the emotional depth her character requires. Ricci has come a long way since being Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, not to mention she has become a lot more comfortable with taking her clothes off on camera since Prozac Nation. There is one scene here where she just rips her top off and throws herself at a guy.

Justin Timberlake, having conquered the music world by bring sexy back a few years ago and giving us all a “Dick in a box”, tries his hand at acting. With many singers, they flop, especially if they try drama, but Timberlake does a pretty nice job. I think he has a future on the big screen, especially if he keep picking up roles of this caliber.

A couple of TV stars pop up here. S. Epatha Merkson is here as a pharmacist that is sweet on Lazarus, played by Samuel L. Jackson. You may know her better as Reba , the mail lady from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Also in the cast is Michael Raymond-James. Like Merkson, he’s not a household name, but you may know him as the murderous Rene from the first season of True Blood. His accent still leaves a lot to be desired, however.

I won’t lie to you, the main reason I watched this was to see Christina Ricci run around next to naked for most of the film, but after watching it, I must say that it was actually the story that kept me captivated more than her tight body. Dramas aren’t my first choice of film, so for me to recommend this film so highly is out of the ordinary, but it blew me away. There are a few things that could have been better, but that goes for any and every film. Black Snake Moan is a must see for any film fan.

4 out of 5 stars