Tuesday, June 30, 2009
A fumbling hunter and an awkward gatherer are cast from their village after breaking their tribes most sacred law. But once out on their own, they discover their relegation may well be their chance at greatness.
Do you remember my review for The Hangover? I used an entry archetype called "Two Cents in Two Sentences." I did this because I feared that giving a full review to a movie that was so purposefully boiled down to pure fun and slapstick might be me missing the point. I have to say I regret that choice now.
Not because my motives were off, but because to use that archetype again so soon would feel like a cop out. Which means I have no choice but to try and find a way to review Year One. If I was gonna do a "Two Cents in Two Sentences" review for Year One, here's what it would be: Save your money. Save your time.
To be honest I was curious but not seriously interested in seeing this movie at first. Then, when I found out that Harold Ramis co-wrote and directed it- my hopes were elevated. For anyone who's unaware Harold Ramis is a writer who has been sprinkling our culture with comedy gems for decades, but he is most well known for his literary coupling with Dan Aykroyd which blessed the world and all upon it with the Ghost busters movies. And I'm glad that those two delectable films will be his career's legacy, and not mundane drivel like this.
Year One's efforts at hilarity are matched in intensity only by it's failures at the same. It is another one of those unfortunate situations where you watch the preview, chuckle out loud, and think that the movie could really be funny- only to hit the stadium seating find out that you have already watched all the funny parts in the preview. It's a damn shame too because once I realized that the plot of this movie is really two morons stumbling through infamous biblical events- it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Ramis' subtle satire. Instead I got 97 minutes of dick and fart jokes.
Dick and fart jokes delivered, might I add, by one of the poorest performances I have ever seen out of Jack Black. As a closet Tenacious D. fan and a man who enjoys many of his other films, I am certainly not a Jack Black hater. But his brand of humor falls so flat in this movie that you wouldn't even know it was there if you were looking at it from ground level. And Michael Cera doesn't do much to help with his usually entertaining "straight man" schtick.
Actually, speaking of Michael Cera, let me qualify those dick and fart comments. I think dick and fart jokes have a valid place in comedy. I've seen more than one movie that knocked me dead with them. But if their all middle school quality, then the only audience they'll ever really find is in a middle school; and if you were as miserable in middle school as I was, you know that there's nothing in this world worth going back for.
Year One is made up of an all star cast, which is probably supposed to be one of the big draws. The whole movie is full of faces and names that I've seen be so completely hilarious I was left short of breath- but not one of them manages to pull off more than a chuckle this time out. I guess in the end it just proves Harold Ramis' genius: He put how many stars this movie should get in the title.
Reel Deal Recommends:
Ghost Busters: for Harold Ramis at his best.
Shallow Hal: Jack Black leads in a movie as hilarious as it is oddly touching.
Superbad: For dick and fart jokes done right, and Michael Cera at his straight man best.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It has been two years after the climactic battle in Mission City. The Autobots, with no reason to return to their now lost home, have chosen to remain on earth- collaborating with the military to police any further Decepticon activity. Sam Witwickey, meanwhile, longs for a simpler life away from the Autobots. But when his first day of college sees him slowly unraveling with a mind full of alien data- Sam must come to terms with the thought that maybe the battle is just beginning.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
A subway train controller is drawn into negotiating with a hijacker who's taken one of his trains hostage. But, during their talks it very quickly becomes clear that neither man's story is as simple as it seems.
The thing that really stands out about this movie, is that there really isn't much that stands out about this movie.
Here's Denzel Washington (Fallen) playing one of his three main character archetypes: The flawed every-man, with a heart of gold. Now of course it's Denzel Washington, so he does it extremely well, but the fact remains... And on the flip side of the plot you have John Travolta (Basic), playing more or less the same (enjoyable) villian he played in Face/Off and Broken Arrow. John Turturro gives his patented "some thing's not quite right with this guy" performance, and Luis Guzman plays the guy with the Puerto Rican accent. Now, are all these performances enjoyable? Absolutely! But they're the same enjoyable we've already had and, well, enjoyed.
Alone what I've pointed out wouldn't be enough to kill a movie. Unfortunately the story follows suit. For the most part it goes right where you think it's going to. And then when it gets there, it does what you were hoping it wouldn't do. Not because doing it would make for a bad ending, but because doing it would make for the same ending you've seen a thousand times.
Many of the few outside the box moments in Pelham take the form of some strange cinematography choices. The more sensitive movie-goer may wanna drop a couple Dramamine before showtime, otherwise some overly shaky camera shots may put your popcorn bucket to some unintended use.
Take all that, mix it together and you have a 9 or 10 on the fun-o-meter and a ho-hum on the innovation scale. Not even the entertaining exchanges between James Gandolfini (The Last Castle) as the Mayor and John Benjamin Hickey (Law and Order) as the deputy Mayor can save what feels way to much like a re-run, though I guess technically it is one.
Now if your a Denzel Washington fan like me, there's really no talking you out of going to the theater to check Pelham out- in fact you probably already have since there was a bit of a delay with this review. But, honestly I can't say I feel like I really got my money's worth of movie. Sorry Denzel, it's nothing personal.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Look, it's not that I have anything against Sean William Scott (Southland Tales)- it's just that his character Wheeler's sex antics weren't all that funny to me, not to mention they seemed a little out of place in this movie. And as for the character Ronnie- he was just badly written, it's not Bobb'e J. Thompson's (?) fault. They had a couple of funny moments on their own, but mostly flop.
This movie only really gets somewhere when Paul Rudd (I Love You Man) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, you know him as McLovin) are getting screen time. Rudd and Scott don't seem to have much chemistry, but he and Mintz-Plasse definitely do. To be completely honest the whole Scott-Thompson side of the story felt tacked on in my opinion. An opinion which is only reinforced by the fact that the entire climax of the movie is based off the Rudd - Mintz-Plasse storyline.
Queue it, or Don't do it?
It's hard to give a "Queue it" to a movie that quite literally is only half good, but add to that a hilarious finale and it might just be worth your time. Queue it, but don't expect gold.
I went into episode five wishing I could break my own code, and came out not so sure I was ready to leave. From there it just kept rising, and by the end of the season I knew I was going to watch season two.
I know your wondering so here it is: as far as the vampires go, TB takes a few interesting stand points, but really has nothing overtly original to offer anyone who's spent anytime on their lore. I've never read the series of books the characters of TB are taken from, but if you've ever read an Anita Blake novel this take on the undead may be old hat. But it's OK, cause it's a hat you know and probably love so you won't mind wearing it again.
One thing I did enjoy Vamp-wise was the fact that most of the night-walkers in the series ENJOY being vampires. I cannot tell you how annoying it is to watch fanged character after character lament their humanity. Yes I understand it's a valid story point- but it gets a bit old and ham-handed after a while.
Beyond the vampire's, there are still some very original moments in the series. And as far as the writing, I found myself connecting with even my most hated characters by the end.
Watcher X says: "I don't like the way Bill says "Sookie", but I like Sookie's hair."
So, Queue it or Don't do it?
Queue it. If your a vampire fan, you'll queue it 'cause you have to know, and overall I don't think you'll be disappointed. If your not a fan but your looking for something a little outside the lines, True Blood should quench your thirst...
Oh come on, you know I had to...
Monday, June 1, 2009
You know what, we get it. You think you make great movies. Are you happy now, I said it. But oh wait, there's an operative word there, think. 'Cause guess what, I got news for you Pixar, you don't!