Archive for Thomas Haden Church

Killer Joe

Posted in Independent, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Finding himself in considerable debt, with loan sharks threatening to kill him, 21-year-old Texan drug dealer Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) decides the only solution is to murder his mother, Adele, to collect the $50,000 of insurance money. He has been told by his mother’s boyfriend Rex that the sole beneficiary will be his younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple). Assuming Dottie would share any money she gets with them, Chris tries to rope his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), into a conspiracy to kill Adele – who is Ansel’s ex-wife – to get the money. Chris tells his dad that he has heard of a guy who can help them — Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a police detective who has a side career as a contract killer. Ansel eventually agrees, planning to split the money four ways between themselves, Dottie, and Ansel’s new wife Sharla (Gina Gershon). Dottie hears the plan as they are talking, and agrees that it’s a good idea.

The plan almost fails when Chris is unable to front Joe’s fee. However, Joe met the odd, childlike Dottie when he came to the trailer to discuss the details, and offers to take her as a “retainer” until the insurance comes through. Through Dottie’s interaction with Joe, we learn that Adele (her mother) tried to kill her once when she was a baby.

Joe “dates” Dottie and then appears to be staying over at the trailer and having sex with her regularly. Chris has a change of heart and asks him to call it off, unaware that the killing has already happened. But, he finds out quickly enough when Joe calmly enlists his help to move the body and torch the car they put it in.

After Adele’s death is discovered, the family learns that the insurance claim actually pays to Adele’s boyfriend Rex, not to Dottie. Ansel and Sharla confront Chris about this and he admits he originally heard the details about the policy from Rex, who also originally told him about Joe. The family all realize that Chris has been duped into hiring someone to commit this murder. Immediately afterwards, Chris tries to talk his sister into running away with him to escape the loan sharks. Dottie says she will go with him, but she must see Joe again first.

Ansel and Sharla go back to their trailer after the funeral. Joe is already there with Dottie. He comes out of her room and begins asking seemingly casual questions of Sharla. They become more and more pointed until ultimately they force her to admit that she knew the policy was really $100,000 (accidental death is double). Joe also has retrieved some nude photos of Rex which Sharla had taken which Joe uses to prove her affair to Ansel. Joe also shows them a check he has obviously taken from Rex, payable to Rex for $100,000. Angered, Ansel declines to protect Sharla when Joe punches her and forces her to simulate oral sex on a piece of fried chicken.

Joe knows Chris is coming to take Dottie away and makes Sharla put dinner on the table. After Chris arrives and they are all seated, Joe announces that he and Dottie will be married. Chris refuses to let them, ordering Dottie to leave with him, as Joe tells her to stay where she is. For a moment she sits there; then she gets up and turns and while the men yell out at her. Chris threatens Joe with a gun, and the two struggle. In the subsequent confusion, Dottie recovers the gun and shoots Chris, killing him. She shoots a few more times and wounds Ansel. Dottie turns the gun on Joe, telling him that she is pregnant. Joe appears overjoyed as he inches closer to Dottie. The film ends just as Dottie moves her finger back on the trigger.

REVIEW:

One of the best films, according to critics and their ilk, of the year that most people did not see was Killer Joe. I wouldn’t know about it either, if not for a friend that happened to catch it at SXSW and insisted that I see it ASAP (why he couldn’t just let come to SXSW, I don’t know). I’m always reticent when it comes to independent films, but this one seemed to have something different that really intrigued me.

What is this about?

Dimwitted drug dealer Chris hires Killer Joe to ice his mother for her insurance. But Chris is broke, so Joe demands his sister Dottie as collateral. Dottie’s not about to be treated as chattel, and Killer Joe soon wishes he’d never taken the job.

What did I like?

Hirsch-y. I guess Speed Racer didn’t kill this guy’s career, contrary to popular belief. He had a decent part in Savages and now he’s starring in this, giving perhaps the performance of his career. From what I’ve seen of Hirsch’s career, he’s always been the clean-cut, nice guy, but these last two films, especially this one, he’s really gotten down and dirty, and it works for him. If he keeps this up, his reinvention could be on par with that of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Slimy, yet satisfying. McConaughey steals the show as this creepy, yet eerily calm cop that seems like he could snap at any minute, which he does in the tense final act. It is the tone of the whole film, though, that I’m referring to. Not only do you get a weird vibe throughout the picture that makes you immediately want to go take 10 showers, but it intensifies as things progress. Did I mention that this was rated NC-17?

What you don’t see. Joe is a killer, but the one thing we don’t ever see him do is kill his target. The first, and only, look we get of her is when she is seen in the trunk. This little bit of artistic decision, for lack of a better term, is genius on the director’s part, because later on when Joe gets violent about his money, it makes that more effective. I cannot really tell you why, but there is just something about a guy who doesn’t seem to get riled up over stuff suddenly snapping that is very yin and yang. Joe’s dark side is what makes him such a fascinating character, coupled with his obsession with the young daughter.

What didn’t I like?

Church. There was a time, long ago it seems, that this guy was the funny janitor on a little sitcom called Wings. He has come a long way since then, but this is not one of his better performances in my opinion. That isn’t to say it isn’t good, but it seems to be the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from him. With Hirsch and, to an extent, McConaughey stepping out of their normal comfort zones, I felt that it would have nice to see Church follow suit.

Texas pride. This is a small thing, but I have to bring it up. Why in the bloody blue hell was this filmed in Louisiana, instead of Texas?!? As a native Texas living in Louisiana, I can tell you that it was obvious they were far off from making this authentic, no matter how much they tried. I imagine it all had something to do with tax breaks and all that mess. I understand that, but there comes a point when you just have ti bite the bullet and go for it. You don’t see films set in New York being filmed down here!

Insurance and gangsters. After the target is killed, there is this whole discussion about insurance that just seemed to come out of nowhere. A little before that, we see Hirsch get a beat down by some guys to which he owes money. What happens after that? Nothing, really. There are a couple of mentions of them, but that’s it. As far as the insurance, well, that just seemed like it should have set up or defined better/earlier, rather than waiting until after the woman is dead to bring it up and then use it as the (weak) plot for the second half of the film.

Killer Joe is a disturbing, violet, dark comedy that is only for those that can take it. I would not recommend this to anyone unless you’re the kind that can handle a little violence and/or other controversial subjects. Does that mean this is a good or bad film? Yes, it is very good, but I think it stop just short of being great. I enjoyed the film, but I’m not going to rush out and buy the DVD. If you’re up for a good indie overlooked and underappreciated flick, this is one you should check out!

4 out of 5 stars

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Sideways

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is an unsuccessful writer, a wine-aficionado, and a depressed middle school English teacher living in San Diego, who takes his soon-to-be-married actor friend and college roommate, Jack Cole (Thomas Haden Church), on a road trip through Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Miles wants to relax and live well. However, Jack wants one last sexual fling.

In the wine country, the men encounter Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress at Miles’s favorite restaurant, The Hitching Post, and her friend, Stephanie (Sandra Oh), an employee at a local winery. They arrange a double date without revealing that Jack is to be married. Jack has an affair with Stephanie while Miles and Maya connect. Miles accidentally tells Maya that Jack is to be married. Enraged by the dishonesty, Maya dumps Miles and tells Stephanie, who breaks Jack’s nose.

Upon finding out his manuscript has been rejected again, Miles makes a scene and gets drunk at a wine tasting room, and Jack links up with another woman. To explain the broken nose to his fiancée, Jack runs Miles’s car into a tree. At the wedding, Miles faces the fact that his ex-wife will never return to him. Alone, he drinks his prized wine, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc from a disposable coffee cup at a roadside diner. Later, he receives a message from Maya, who says she enjoyed his manuscript and invites him to visit. The last scene in the movie shows Miles back in Santa Ynez, knocking on Maya’s door.

REVIEW:

The first independent film that I can remember seeing was Sideways. A small film that critics loved and single-handedly revived the wine industry, except for Merlot, of course. It had been quite awhile since I last watched this, so a return viewing was in order. Such a shame I don’t drink wine. I have a feeling this is a flick that should be enjoyed with a little sip now and then.

What is this about?

Two guys embark on a road trip through wine valley as a last hurrah before one of them gets married. Whereas one of them sees it just as some quality time between the two, the other sees it as the last time he can get some before going down the aisle. This difference in philosophy causes a rift between then, but not before they meet a couple of extremely attractive women their age and start relationships with them. What will happen with these relationships? What about the wedding? How about the strained friendship?

What did I like?

Wine. For those that are into wine and all that stuff, this the film for you, much in the same way all those sports movies are for those obsessed with their respective sports. Not only do they go into some of the history of various wines, but also their tastes. There is even a scene where Paul Giamatti’s character basically insults Merlot!

Simplicity. This is obviously an independent film. That much is obvious by the few cast members they have, as well as some other things that can be attributed to small budgets. Just a couple of guys going on a road trip through wine valley is a simple plot and the reason this film works so well.

Talent. The four leads actually know how to act, and that is apparent. Often times, you will read on this blog how much I loathe today’s films for not having actors that can actually pull off the material, but rather just stand there in front of a green screen. These four are obvious exceptions to that statement. It is good to know that there is some real talent left in Hollywood.

What didn’t I like?

Fight the power. For all his trying, it is obvious that Giamitti’s character is fighting the urge to do anything but have a good time with his friend before his wedding. All the while he is worrying about the novel that he apparently has written, but hasn’t heard anything about. What is my issue with all of this? He just came off too much of a whiny little bitch.

Sandra Oh. Some can argue that she’s the best actor in this film. I’m sure there are those that won’t argue. One thing that can’t be ignored is that she is underused, with the exception of the last time we see here, when she is beating the hell out of Thomas Haden Church with her motorcycle helmet.

Waitress. As the film is drawing near its end and the guys are headed back home, they meet a waitress. Thomas Haden Church’s character flashes a smile at her and tells her that he is her favorite soap opera actor. Next thine we know, he is running back to Giamatti saying that her husband beat her. Ok, so all this is fine, except that he goes back to het Church’s wallet and we see her and her husband having sex. I could care less about them not being the kind of folks you see naked on film most of the time. My qualm is that these are random ancillary characters that are being shown getting it on. WTF?!?

Sideways is a really good film. Is it any wonder that this is one of those critics’ darling pictures? The even mixture of comedy and drama as well as a nice little buddy film. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a break from all the heavy drama, dark films, oversaturated CGI, and superhero flicks out there. It is well worth the viewing.

4 out of 5 stars

George of the Jungle

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with an animated introduction showing a plane crash in which George, then an infant, is lost in a jungle in “the Heart of Africa” (more specifically, a region called “Bukuvu”). Over 25 years later, George (Brendan Fraser) is a Tarzan-like man, the “King of the Jungle”. His friends include a sophisticated talking gorilla named Ape (voiced by John Cleese), along with a toucan named Tookie, a small capuchin monkey (played by Crystal), and an African elephant named Shep, whom he calls his “dog” (all voiced by Frank Welker).

The live action begins as heiress Ursula Stanhope (Leslie Mann) explores the jungle near George’s home with the help of her guide, Mr. Kwame (Richard Roundtree) and some native porters. She has traveled to Africa alone, but she is joined by her wealthy fiancé, Lyle Van De Groot (Thomas Haden Church), who has found her with the help of two poachers (Greg Cruttwell and Abraham Benrubi) who are posing as trackers. That evening, Mr. Kwame recounts the legend of the White Ape, said to be a huge, super-strong primate who rules the surrounding jungle.

The next day, Lyle almost causes the death of one of the porters, and he abandons Ursula when he and she are attacked by a lion. George saves Ursula and takes her to his treehouse home, and Lyle returns to the camp, claiming to have been attacked by the White Ape. While the exploration party searches for Ursula, George entertains her and teaches her to swing on vines. He also falls in love with her, so Ape advises him to woo her by making faces and beating his chest, as gorillas do. This fails to impress Ursula, but George wins her over with his charm, and they enjoy an evening of dancing around a campfire.

On the third day, the explorers discover George’s treehouse, and Lyle shoots George as George tries to prevent the poachers from shooting Ape with a tranquilizer gun. While Lyle is jailed for the shooting, Ursula flies George to her home in San Francisco for medical treatment and buys clothes for him, and George explores the city and saves a paraglider’s life. With George’s help, Ursula finds the courage to tell her parents that she no longer wants to marry Lyle, but her mother (Holland Taylor), who is intent on marrying her to a man of wealth and prestige, threatens George with castration unless he gives Ursula up.

Meanwhile, the poachers have captured Ape, and Ape has sent Tookie to San Francisco to ask George for help. When Tookie finds George, George returns to Africa, and, after realizing she loves George, Ursula follows. George finds the poachers at the treehouse, with Ape in a cage, and he defeats them after an extended battle, with help from Ursula and his animal family. However, Lyle appears, having escaped from prison and joined a cult, and kidnaps Ursula with help from several mercenaries. Having been made a minister by his cult, Lyle intends to marry himself to Ursula immediately. After escaping the mercenaries with help from his gorilla friends, George chases Lyle and Ursula as they float into some river rapids on a raft, then saves Ursula while Lyle enters a dark tunnel. After performing his wedding ceremony and exiting the tunnel, Lyle discovers that he has just married a gorilla.

After admitting their love for each other, George and Ursula are married in a jungle ceremony, and they eventually have a son, whom George holds at the top of a rock outcropping in a scene derived from The Lion King. The film ends in Las Vegas, where Ape performs a song-and-dance act using the poachers as stage props.

REVIEW:

Yes, it is kind of funny that a few days ago I reviewed  Tarzan and here I am today doing George of the Jungle. No, I don’t have a thing for half-naked jungle men, they just happened to come in from Netflix around the same time.

Following in the footsteps of previous cartoons-turned-live-action films such as Dudley Do-Right, Inspector Gadget, The Flintstones, etc., this film makes an attempt to bring the cartoon to life on the big screen.

It really is a shame that so many people are jaded and cynical these days and want everything to be so dark and brooding, because the filmmakers really did a good job of capturing the spirit of the show with this film.

So, what is this whole thing about? Well, basically, George has to keep poachers from poaching his ape/monkey friends, save Ursala, and stop swinging into trees. Honestly, there isn’t much else to it than that.

However, the comedic scenes involving this cast, who actually look as if they are enjoying themselves are what make this sch a delight to watch. Sure, it may be cheesy, bt it works for the tone of the film. If you don’t like it, then don’t watch, it’s as simple as that.

The casting left a bit to be desired, though. Sure, Brendan Fraser is made for these roles. Why else would he have done this and Dudley Do-Right. Leslie Mann was ok, but the villains didn’t really work.

Thomas Haden Church is a good villain, but this role was all wrong for him. Maybe if he wold have been some yuppie in New York sitting behind a desk. He just has that kind of look about him.

The poachers also didn’t work for me. Not really sure why, bt they seemed all wrong. Maybe it was the British accent?

The sets in this film are very reminiscent of what you wold see in a film of yesteryear. Now, for me, this is no big deal. I actually prefer that fake look sometimes, plus it fits the tone and spirit of the picture, but I know there are some out there who hated it and insist that they should have filmed this in the real jungle.

Final verdict on George of the Jungle? Well, this a great, funny, family film. It isn’t the best flick in terms of how its made and all that other stuff critics usually harp on, honestly. That being said, don’t us real people watch movies for sheer entertainment value, and not for the point of criticizing every little thing? I highly recommend this to any and everyone. A good time will be had by all!

4 out of 5 stars

Tombstone

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), a retired peace officer with a notable reputation, reunites with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) in Tucson, Arizona, where they venture on towards Tombstone, a small mining town, to settle down. There they encounter Wyatt’s long-time friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), a Southern gambler and expert gunslinger, who seeks relief from his worsening tuberculosis. Also newly arrived in Tombstone with a traveling theater troupe are Josephine Marcus (Dana Delany) and Mr. Fabian (Billy Zane). Meanwhile, Wyatt’s wife, Mattie Blaylock (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), is becoming dependent on a potent narcotic. Just as Wyatt and his brothers begin to profit from a stake in a gambling emporium and saloon, they have their first encounter with a band of outlaws called the Cowboys. Led by “Curly Bill” Brocious (Powers Boothe), the Cowboys are identifiable by the red sashes worn around their waists.

Wyatt, though no longer a lawman, is pressured to help rid the town of the Cowboys as tensions rise. Shooting aimlessly after a visit to an opium house, Curly Bill is approached by Marshal Fred White (Harry Carey, Jr.) to relinquish his firearms. Curly Bill instead shoots the marshal dead and is forcibly taken into custody by Wyatt. The arrest infuriates Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang) and the other Cowboys. Curly Bill stands trial, but is found not guilty due to a lack of witnesses. Virgil, unable to tolerate lawlessness, becomes the new marshal and imposes a weapons ban within the city limits. This leads to the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in which Billy Clanton (Thomas Haden Church) and other Cowboys are killed. Virgil and Morgan are wounded, and the allegiance of county sheriff Johnny Behan (Jon Tenney) with the Cowboys is made clear. As retribution for the Cowboy deaths, Wyatt’s brothers are ambushed; Morgan is killed, while Virgil is left handicapped. A despondent Wyatt and his family leave Tombstone and board a train, with Clanton and Frank Stilwell close behind, preparing to ambush them. Wyatt sees that his family leaves safely, and then surprises the assassins; he kills Stilwell, but lets Clanton return to send a message. Wyatt announces that he is a U.S. marshal, and that he intends to kill any man he sees wearing a red sash. Wyatt, Doc, a reformed Cowboy named Sherman McMasters (Michael Rooker), along with their allies Texas Jack Vermillion (Peter Sherayko) and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson (Buck Taylor), join forces to administer justice.

Wyatt and his posse are ambushed in a riverside forest by the Cowboys. Hopelessly surrounded, Wyatt seeks out Curly Bill and kills him in a fast draw gunfight. Curly Bill’s second-in-command, Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), becomes the new head of the Cowboys. When Doc’s health worsens, the group are accommodated by Henry Hooker (Charlton Heston) at his ranch. Ringo sends a messenger (dragging McMasters’ corpse) to Hooker’s property telling Wyatt that he wants a showdown to end the hostilities; Wyatt agrees. Wyatt sets off for the showdown, not knowing that Doc had already arrived at the scene. Doc confronts a surprised Ringo and kills him in a duel. Wyatt runs when he hears the gunshot only to encounter Doc. They then press on to complete their task of eliminating the Cowboys, although Clanton escapes their vengeance. Doc is sent to a sanatorium in Colorado where he later dies of his illness. At Doc’s urging, Wyatt pursues Josephine to begin a new life. The film ends with a narration of an account of their long marriage, ending with Wyatt’s death in Los Angeles in 1929.

REVIEW:

 I’ve seen quite a few westerns in my time…some good and some not so much. By the time Tombstone was released in 1993, the western genre had been long forgotten. Watching this film this afternoon, I applaud them for the attempt, but there is something about this film that just doesn’t stack up the those westerns of the genres heyday.

The film’s plot revolves around the later life of Wyatt Earp, after his retirement from being a peace officer. Along with Earp, notable western characters such as Doc Holliday and Earp’s 2 brothers, are present, as is the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Also present is the Earp vendetta and the sad death of Doc Holliday.

I love westerns that have lots of shootouts. The thing about this film is that you have to sit through a good hour or so of talking, character development, and other boring things before we finally get the big payoff. I realize this had to be done in order to get he audience behind or against all the characters and all, but good grief did it seem to drag on…and on…and on…and on….and on.

The infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral lasted all of maybe 2 minutes. Granted, this is Tombstone and not Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but it just seemed that they rushed through something that should have been a major focal point of the film. 

They did spend some time on the Earp vendetta ride, which I thought was a bit of a trade-off, especially since it wasn’t as popular as said gunfight.

Kurt Russell does an ok job with his role as Wyatt Earp, but for some reason he just seemed cold and aloof to me.

Sam Elliott fit perfectly in this role, even if it was a small one. We’ve all seen this guy in films before. He is just built to be a wild west gunman, and this is proof.

Val Kilmer is the highlight of the cast, of that there is no question. However, I have issue with how he portrayed Doc Holliday. I don’t ever recall reading anywhere that Doc was this flamboyant or that he resembled Guy Fawkes (the guy who face V wears in V for Vendetta). At times, I thought Holliday was homosexual. Kilmer may have done some of his best acting here, but at what cost to the legacy of Doc Holliday?

Bill Paxton and Dana Delaney are also good in their supporting roles, yet nothing memorable.

See if you can spot Jason Priestly and Billy Bob Thornton in the cast. Here’s a hint, Billy Bob is not the near skeleton he is today.

I’m not really into drama, for the most part, and that was a good chunk of this film, so I really couldn’t get too involved in Tombstone as much as I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that these filmmakers just don’t possess the skills to make a great western the way people were once able to pull off. Would I recommend this to anyone? Sure, while this film isn’t the most exciting western in the world, it is far from the worst. Still, if you’ve never seen a western, don’t judge the genre by this subpar entry into the genre.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Easy A

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Olive Penderghast lies to her best friend Rhiannon about going on a date in order to get out of camping with her and her hippie parents. Instead, she hangs around the house all weekend, listening to “Pocketful of Sunshine”. The following Monday, pressed by Rhiannon, Olive lies about losing her virginity to a college guy. Marianne, a girl at their school who is a zealous Christian, overhears her telling the lie and soon it spreads like wildfire.

The school has a conservative church group run by Marianne who decides Olive will be their next project. The group’s harassment, disguised as concern, comes to head at an English class taught by Mr. Griffith. The class is reading The Scarlet Letter, a novel about adultery and shame. When one of the girls from the church group makes a snide comment to Olive suggesting Olive wear a red A as well, Olive shoots back and Mr. Griffith sends her to the principal’s office. During her detention she tells her friend Brandon the truth, and he explains how others bully him because he’s gay.

Brandon comes over later and asks Olive to pretend to sleep with him so that he will be accepted by everyone else at school. Brandon convinces Olive and they pretend to have sex at a party. Afterwards she bumps into Todd, whom she almost kissed years ago during seven minutes in heaven but instead agreed to lie about it when he said he was not ready.

After having a fight with Rhiannon over her (Olive’s) new identity as a “dirty skank”, Olive decides to counteract the harassment by embracing her new image as the school tramp. She begins to wear more provocative clothing and stitches a red ‘A’ (a la Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter) to everything she wears. Boys who usually have had no luck with girls in the past begin to give her gift cards and money to say they have had sex with her in order to increase their own popularity, which in turn increases her reputation.

Olive comes to short-lived understanding with Marianne, but it is ruined when Marianne’s boyfriend Micah gets chlamydia and lies that Olive gave it to him. Olive sees Mrs. Griffith, the guidance counselor and her teacher’s wife, who tearfully confesses that she slept with Micah. Olive promises to take the blame to save Mrs. Griffith’s job and marriage. Rhiannon, partly jealous of the attention Olive is getting, joins the church group and starts harassing her former best friend.

Olive soon realizes that, though everyone thinks she is sleeping around, no one was actually attempting to sleep with her. This changes when Anson comes up to her and asks her out. The date goes sour when Olive sees Rhiannon at the restaurant and remembers she has a crush on Anson. In the parking lot, Anson attempts to pay her off; Olive asks what they will say happened but Anson thinks he will actually get sex and tries to kiss her. She resists and he drives off. Todd, who works at the restaurant, sees her and offers to drive her home.

Todd tells her that he does not believe the rumor mill, he remembers when she lied for him because he wasn’t ready for his first kiss and thinks she is actually great. He says he wishes she actually was his first kiss, and not Rhi. Todd then asks for permission to kiss Olive but she says no, wanting to wait until she sorts out her life.

Olive goes to the boys that propositioned her and demands they admit that the rumors are all lies but they refuse (and Brandon even ran off, leaving behind a note telling his parents he’s gay). When she goes to Mrs. Griffith to make her come clean, she refuses and implies that no one would believe Olive over her. Olive runs to Mr. Griffith and tells him the truth but immediately regrets it, realizing she just destroyed a marriage.

To get everything finally in the open, she does a song and dance number at a pep rally and pretends she will be doing a sex show via web cam with Todd. In actuality she confesses what she has done. She also makes up with Rhi, apologizing for lying. When she is finishing up, Todd comes by riding a lawnmower, holding a boombox and tells her to come out. She closes her web cam confession saying she really likes Todd and maybe she will lose her virginity to him in the future but at the end of the day it is no one’s business but her own. She leaves the house to kiss him and they ride off from the neighborhood on the lawnmower.

REVIEW:

 This is one of those films that people were raving about last year. I wanted to see it when it came out, but low fundage and scheduling pu a hindrance to that plan.

I was able to watch it afternoon and I have to say that you can believe the hype with this. The best way I can think to describe this is to combine the tone of any John Hughes film with the basic theme of The Scarlet Letter and throw them into today’s high school society.

If you think I’m just trying to make a bad comparisons, I assure you I’m not. As a matter of fact, the main character even mentions (and shows clips) from many John Hughes films, as well as clips from the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter, as well as the old black and white version. Of corse, she is quick to point out that the black and white version is better(who would want to see Demi Moore bathing?), but you should still read the book.

So, what is the actual plot of this film? Well, Olive, is one of those unknown girls a this high school. After a weekend of avoiding a camping trip with her best friend because she made up a blind date with some guy, she lies to her again and says she has sex with him, thus giving her the reputation of being a slut (don’t you just love high school?).

This leads to an agreement with a gay friend to tell the school he got lucky to keep him from being bullied, which ends up fueling the rest of the film as guys come out of the woodwork for her to the same for them, making her an even bigger slut, until she can’t take it anymore.

I actually liked the way this film told and moved the story along at a steady enough pace without getting all preachy, dramatic, or boring. The comedy that is present during each of these scenes is what really drives it home.

Mix that with the suspension of disbelief. Seriously, are you going to tell me that no high school boy would ask out the seriously hot, yet attainable, Emma Stone?!? I find that hard to swallow.

On that same token, I find it hard to believe that the mascot (token single hot guy) was single, as well. Then again, he was the mascot.

I wish I’d had parents like these. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have uber-strict parents, but who wouldn’t want a set of parental units that all but look the other way and go along with whatever you ask them to?

This film does have a little bit of a negative, though. The lagging middle section that almost all films have.  In this case, it really seems to almost bring the film to a grinding halt, because it is such a departure from the way the film was going. It is like the C section of a poem that goes ABABABCAB, for example. It is just random.

This cast is truly remarkable. Emma Stone owns this film, much the same way she commands your attention in everything she’s in. It must be the red hair and the husky voice.

Amanda Bynes is cute and funny in this, just as she always is. I found it funny that this character would work perfect as the daughter of her mother from Hairspray. Not bad for someone who was retired, huh?

For once Stanley Tucci is not playing a gay man, though he does mention he’s experimented. He and Patricia Clarkson are great in their small roles as Olive’s parents.

Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow are great in their roles. Much like the parents, I wish we cold have gotten a bit more, but there is sch a thing as too much of agood thing, right?

Penn Badgely, as I mentioned before, is nothing more than the token hot guy. He isn’t really that great of an actor, but in a role like this where all he has to do is swoop in and save the day, it seems to work for him.

Aly Michalka, of Aly & AJ fame, surprised me. I didn’t know she could actually act (if you can call it that). She does what she has to, though, which is appear to be the hot best friend. Although, the only thing she has on Emma Stone is a bigger bra size (implants, methinks).

How often does a film come along that both audiences and critics agree on? Easy A is one of those films. If you don’t know who Emma Stone is, you will by the end of this flick, trust me. The one thing that sticks out the most to me about this flick is how it appears to have been made by someone who was a fan of those John Hughes films of the 80s and wanted to make one for today’s audiences. I think they did a good job of doing so, but you’ll have to find out for yourself.

5 out of 5 stars

Aliens in the Attic

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

It all starts as a meteor shower rockets across the dark galaxy. Four glowing pods sparkle and crackle while hiding behind the meteor show. A mysterious force makes the meteor shower turn a hard right towards a bright blue ball in the distance – planet Earth.

In a comfortable suburban house in Michigan, Stuart Pearson (Kevin Nealon) and his wife Nina (Gillian Vigman) head a family that includes adorable seven-year-old Hannah (Ashley Boettcher); 15-year-old Tom (Carter Jenkins), a techno-geek whose grades have gone south; and older sister Bethany (Ashley Tisdale), who’s just returned from a secret outing with boyfriend Ricky Dillman (Robert Hoffman).

Deciding the family needs some good old-fashioned togetherness, Stuart packs up the clan and heads to a three-story holiday house in the middle of nowhere. Joining them is Uncle Nate (Andy Richter), Nate’s son Jake (Butler), Nana Rose (Doris Roberts), and identical 11-year-old twins Art (Henri Young) and Lee (Regan Young). An unexpected arrival is Bethany’s beau Ricky, who wrangles an overnight visit with the extended family.

As day turns to night, dark storm clouds start swirling around the house. Suddenly, four glowing objects shoot toward the roof. The alien crew inside the objects is made up of Skip, the tough commander, Tazer, a muscle-bound dude armed to the teeth, Razor, a lethal female alien soldier; and Sparks a four-armed techie, who is the only non-threatening alien intruder.

Ricky and Tom are sent to fix the satellite for the TV because the aliens crashed into it. Ricky then reveals to Tom that he lied about everything he said to his family, like his car broke down, his parents own a beach house, he’s 18. Ricky is actually in college, and he’s at least 5 years older than Bethany. Ricky is placed under the control of the aliens, courtesy of a high-tech mind-control device and plug implanted into the base of his skull; Ricky’s mind and actions now belong to the alien crew. The alien “Zirkonians,” via Ricky, lay claim to the planet (when asked why they didn’t just say it themselves Skip responds, “This way is more fun.”) Like a puppet/robot/zombie, Ricky moves towards the boys – but Tom and Jake break free.

It isn’t long before all five kids see the strange new arrivals. Tom takes charge and the kids come to realize the alien mind control device only works on grownups, giving them a fighting chance against the invaders — and the responsibility to protect the adults by keeping the aliens’ existence a secret. Left to their own devices, the kids unleash their imaginations, creating makeshift weapons, like piping ingeniously rigged as a home made potato spud gun. They even learn to use the mind controller. Their first order of business is to take control of Ricky and turn his actions against himself and the aliens.

The adults remain oblivious to the alien presence, and insist that the youngsters partake in a fishing expedition. Meanwhile, a friendship is struck between Hannah and Sparks, the friendly alien with four arms and hands. Unlike his alien cohorts, Sparks has no stomach for battle; he just wants to return home to his Zirkonian family. Nana Rose comes under the control of the alien mind control device, which gives her super-human strength and agility. Under the control of the kids, she comes to their rescue and has to fight off Ricky, who is again under alien control. Nana gives Ricky a huge jolt causing the alien plug to dislodge and Ricky breaks up with Bethany because in his opinion she talks about feelings and family all the time. The kids reveal to Bethany what’s going on, and Sparks helps by making weapons so the kids can fight on. Sparks reveals that what the aliens want from their planet is a device under the basement which makes them giant sized. The kids destroy Skip, Tazer & Razor. Sparks calls off the invasion and returns home. The rest of the vacation goes back to normal, except the kids grew closer to each other during their adventure. When they get home, Ricky starts visiting his old girlfriend, but Bethany and Tom take advantage of him using the mind control device. His ex throws him out of the house, leaving him wondering what happened in those last 5 minutes.

REVIEW:

When I saw the trailers for this film last year, it immediately brought to mind that film from a while back, Small Soldiers. Admittedly, I actually thought this was some kind of remake. I was mistaken…to an extent.

Aliens in the Attic is a lighter film than Small Soldiers, with the exception of the subplot of the issues between the father and son. That was a bit too much for a light family film for my taste.

The aliens here are diminutive and deranged. As with most alien races, they seem to be hellbent on destroying the human race for some unknown reason. The exception is the one voice of reason in their crew, Sparks.

The kids seem to be your typical rebellious type that are trapped with their parents on vacation. The thing about them is that they aren’t that great actors.

A surprise for me was Ashley Tisdale. I honestly thought all she could do was Disney stuff like High School Musical and Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

A highlight of this flick was seeing Doris Roberts doing kung fu. Otherwise, she was a bit wasted. Why would you cast such a comedic icon as her to only waddle around on a cane? Seems to me they could have given her more.

The aliens themselves are kind of…I dunno…odd looking, and not in a good way. They look as if someone took some clay, started to make something, then stopped. I didn’t care for their look.

I guess if you have kids, they’ll like this. For those of you expecting a good alien flick, this isn’t for you. There are so many much better alien flicks out there. Still, I’m not going to condemn this picture. It has its good points, and I would watch it again, so sure, check it out.

3 out of 5 stars

All About Steve

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) is a crossword puzzle writer for the Sacramento Herald. As brilliant as her puzzles are, having an encyclopedic mind also makes her socially awkward. On a blind date set up by her parents, Mary meets Steve Muller (Bradley Cooper), a cameraman for a cable news channel. Steve turns out to be handsome and charming, and Mary is immediately smitten even after a not-so-romantic first date. Mary’s infatuation is not reciprocated by Steve, but she is egged on by newscaster Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church), who enjoys seeing his cameraman Steve suffer. After being fired from her job for creating a crossword titled, “All About Steve”, Mary decides to follow Steve around the country. Mary meets and is driven around the country by protesters Elizabeth (Katy Mixon) and Howard (DJ Qualls). While following Steve, the group experiences a tornado, but survives. Eventually Mary falls into a mine shaft while following Steve, causing her and Steve to become a story themselves. Mary is trapped in the mine with a deaf girl. Mary discovers a way that they can escape, and is then joined by Hartman, who failed at being a hero but still helps her. Mary realizes that she does not need Steve to be happy — she has friends. She then states, “If you need to stalk a guy, he probably isn’t right for you in the first place.”

REVIEW:

When there is talk about America’s sweetheart, not enough mention is given to the woman that truly epitomizes that title. All About Steve demonstrate how much of a sweetheart Bullock really is.

To my knowledge, I haven’t had any stalkers, so I can’t relate to Bradley Cooper’s character here. That is one of he problems with this film. Cooper is one of te stars of the film, yet his character is very…gee, I dunno…wooden. Emotion is shown, mostly in the form of paranoia and care and concern after the film’s denouma.

Sandra Bullock really sells this character. It is quite obvious that she got into this role. It is really a shame that everyone bashes this film and says that it is her worst performance. I don’t understand why. I’ve seem worse from her. The part that did get on my nerves, though, was how she couldn’t seem to pick up on the signals from DJ Qualls’ character. Even I could see that this guy was in love with her!

DJ Qualls and Katy Nixon make a couple of good secondary characters, although both are tragically underused. I had just wrapped my mind around the fact that they just weren’t going to get much airtime when the cave-in scene stuff  happened. That just seemed like the perfect place for them to open up and shine through while our main character is down a hole.

Thomas Haden Church seem to really relish and shine in these roles that allow his to play the not-so-bad bad guy. That is the guy who you think is cool when you first meet him, only to find out his true intentions.

The sign of a good romantic comedy is does it make you laugh as well as feel for the lead character (typically a female). All About Steve does just that, all while being accused of ruining Sandra Bullock’s career. I don’t understand the hate towards this picture, other than it is being compare to her Oscar-winning follow-up The Blind Side. The comparisons are really unnecessary, as people don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the two roles are as opposite sides of the spectrum as possible.

Having said all that, I did come away from this film with a feeling of warmth. This is just a feel-good movie that is totally getting a bum rap. Please take the time to watch and see for yourself.

4 out of 5 stars