Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

"Actually, the trick totrying to stay awake falling asleep is ."

Two friends looking for something interesting accidently stumble into a supernatural freak show, and brewing vampire civil war.

In my review of Pandorum I said that I had trouble writing it because the movie left me unsure how I felt about it. With The Vampire's Assistant, it's not that I'm not sure how to feel-it's that I don't feel anything at all. I cannot remember another time- though I'm sure one exists- that I had such a ho-hum movie theater experience. When it comes to my thoughts, my mental word processor is almost always set to bold. Whatever I'm feeling be it love, hate, or even confusion, I feel it through and through. With this movie I felt complete indifference.
Performances in the Vampire's Assistant all run Luke warm. They have their peaks and valleys but maintain a pretty even keel. John C. Reilly leads his humdrum army with not a roar, but a passive-aggressive growl. In some moments -particularly when Larten Crepsley is being a bit of a jerk- he is believable at best, but in most he squeezes just barely into the role like a pair of pants one size too small.
The story also adheres strictly to this law of averages. For every interesting thought thrown out (a seer who can't hear her own predictions) there is another that is so done to death that it smells funny in the theater when the characters mention it (there are two vampire sects: The fluffy human friendly ones, and the kill loving mean ones). The only thing this movie really did to surprise me was find a way to somehow make a giant spider adorable- which may not sound like much to you but realize that it's being said by an admitted arachnophobe. It's not much, but it's something.
And then there's the pacing. By no means is a movie required to go slow. To the contrary, too much down time can be a death sentence to certain films. But that said, I could have used a breath in the middle of this one. The Vampire's Assistant races along like it's got something really important to show you, but unless that something is the credits- it's just racing to race. Maybe it's just really excited to show us it's cliffhanger ending! I mean, why bother just making a movie when you can start a trilogy right?
I've heard fans of the books express fears that their beloved series will be lost in the vampire (ahem) revival that pop culture has going right now, or in the undead whirlwind that the Twilight series has kicked up. Well, I'm here to put those fears to rest. Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant will not be lost in the shuffle because of Twilight. It will be lost in the shuffle because there's absolutely nothing that makes it stand out.

Watcher X says: "On the movie tickets the title is abreiviated as 'The Vampire's Ass'. Foreshadowing anyone?"

Reel Deal Recommends:
Anything else John C. Reilly has been in, even Talladega Nights.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ode to a Genre: The Homemade Mocumentary
"...They may take our lives, but they can never take- OUR SPOILERS!"

I hated The Blair Witch Project. Aside from a fairly clever ending, it left me with nothing but memories of all my friends telling me how much I should see it, and anger at myself for believing them. It serves as perfect example of a creed I've lived by for years now: Just because it's new or ground breaking, doesn't mean it's good. The first (while it should always be acknowledged) is rarely the best. In fact often times it's only celebration worthy attribute is that it lays a foundation that, if built upon, can lead to some truly amazing constructions.
For this genre construction has been booming, and in no way limited to it's trailblazer's topics. From zombies in the questionable Quarantine, to the Godzilla homage that was the spectacular Cloverfield, to the newest (and creepy) installment Paranormal Activity. All of these movies share a very basic feature that is the main descriptor of the Homemade Mocumentary: They are all filmed in a way that purposefully gives the appearance of a single camera being operated by a character from within the plot. This means that the entire story must be told with images and audio captured before that one cameras lens and with that one cameras microphone.
This is a genre truly born of our times. We live in an age where most people not only have the means to digitally record events in their homes, a lot have the means in their pockets- and editing technology isn't far behind. This is what makes a site like YouTube less of a global phenomenon and more of an everyday thing. It was only a matter of time before art imitated life.
But I think it goes a bit deeper. I know, I know, we're all sick of the words "Reality T.V." but like I always say: "Cliches only become cliched when their true". In 1990 most of us would have dismissed the term as oxymoronic and gone on with our day- now it's a household term. Why? Because it permeated our culture and took root. And in the same vein, it seems that now more than ever we are seeing the words "Based on a true story" below movie titles. We all know that these movies are as much fiction as anything else, but in their wake are coming more and more works of pure fiction trying to pass themselves off as something more.
Which brings me to another point. Many, though not all, of the movies in this genre come preceded by claims of authenticity. Which is to say that they all claim their true. Of course, it's marketing, but I also think it's yet another another by product of our times. In a world where virtually anyone has the ability to make and distribute a video, we are now that much more jaded. We are a culture of skeptics. I think part of the reason they can make these claims is that most of us won't believe them. In 1938 a radio broadcast set off a case of mass hysteria that is still studied in 2009- I truly do not believe that sort of thing could happen casually today. Yes, I'm sure there are high schoolers out there telling their friends it's real, but in the end we come home from the theater and don't look back.
Not long ago the game-show and the drama laid down together, and from their union was born Relaity T.V. I think we have seen the same thing here: the documentary courted fiction, and eventually she succumb to his charms. And thus, with all the cultural elements in place, the Homemade Mocumentary was born. Some may call it a gimmick, but I call it an inevitable stop on the road this industry has been travelling. Movie makers, in the name of art, blurred the lines between fiction and non-fiction- and raised a crop of movie makers who weren't afraid to just flat out cross them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paranormal Activity

"I don't suppose she lives on the ground floor?"

A young man buys a camera in hopes of documenting the strange nocturnal occurrences going on in he and his girlfriends house.

Seeing Paranormal activity was a bit of an accident. Originally the plan was to see The Invention of Lying, but when lunch ran long I convinced Watcher X to see this instead. My knowing when the next showing was playing was no coincidence however, as I had had my eye on this movie for a while now after I'd heard about it's long journey to the screen after sitting in a vault for years. Now it's setting records for profitability, a box office smash- even out selling the the newest installment of the apparently never ending Saw series.
I'm usually unimpressed by spook fests as often the story is left emaciated to better serve the scares. However, this one has earned itself a place in my good graces for striking a much better balance. As opposed to the usual sacrifices, the two main characters in Paranormal Activity (scenes where the acting takes a bit of a cigarette break aside) endear themselves to us. Micca and Katie feel very natural, and very honest. You more than not get the sense that you're baring witness to their daily lives. And I think anyone who's ever lived with a significant other would agree that this movies portrayal is, often hilariously, spot on.
And there in lays the real secret to this movies success in my opinion. Because the characters feel real enough to warrant caring about, the scares strike deeper. Half of the spook of this movie is in our main characters reactions. And let me assure you: there may be moments where the acting might fall a bit flat, but these scenes are never phoned in. And though these "scare" sequences are almost always filmed from the same angle- they never get old.
Paranormal Activity is light on computer generation. It's scenes are simply done, but in no way lacking. In truth it keeps the movie from ever feeling like it's trying to hard, and this is another place that it sets itself apart from the usual. It keeps it simple, and is never afraid to set aside scaring you to concentrate on just plain creeping you out.
Any fan of jumping in their seat will go home happy from this one. But I think fans of chills and mind tricks will feel unusually happy as well. Paranormal Activity may not have been on my "See It" list, but guess what? I'm in that "fans of chills etc." group I named earlier. It's a sleeper hit, and now that I've seen it I understand why. It also serves as a perfect example of the Bob Ross theory: There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.
Five!!: Movies That Defied Their Series
!!Avast Matey, thar be spoilers ahead!!

Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time in America
From romance to sci-fi, The Dollars Trilogy to The Lord of the Rings, episodic storytelling has been an indelible tool of the movie maker since long before my time. And so there are a whole lot of movies that might make it into a topic thus far reaching (indeed once I'd thought of it I was flooded with ideas). But the more I considered it, the more I realized there was a narrow type to the movies I was looking for. For me to succeed, I would have to get specific.

Chapter 2: The Rules of Engagement
So specific I got. First, said property would have to have at least three installments to count as a series- nowhere in the definition of "series" is the word "pair". Second, in order to be defied the series in question must otherwise have a cohesive sense of self and quality. In other words, good or bad, the other movies in the series have to match one another. And third, a movie defying it's series has to in some way oppose the status quot set forth by the afore mentioned sense of self. One changed actor doesn't count.

Chapter 3: GO!
With the foundation laid my job became much harder- but I believed it to be ready now to yield a much better result. I gave it some thought, and put finger to key. Here's what I came up with...

Episode: Spider-Man 3
Defying: Spider-Man 1&2
We'll start it off nice and simple, with something on which most people can agree- even Sam Raimi. The First two Spider-Man movies were trailblazers in a lot of ways. At the time the first hit the big screen it was an easy contender for the title of best comic adaptation. It wasn't perfect, but with so many years worth of material to bring to the screen (and so many plans to please) it never could have been. It was however, a strong representation of it's title character- and a hint at what comic book movies could be. Then Spider-Man 2 came along. Enthralling, emotional, and stronger in character and story, Spider-Man 2 left me sure that I was witnessing the birth of a new favorite trilogy.
So what went wrong? You'll hear critics go back and forth on everything from the odd emo dance sequence to Topher Grace, but one thing they all agree on is that there were just too many villains. One of which no one could figure out why he was even there. As a result, everything in the movie suffered a loss of screen time. The entire movie was too full, and nobody could seem to find a good movie under all that clutter.

Episode: Alien3
Defying: Alien, Aliens (I consider Resurrection a failed reboot attempt)
Ridely Scott gave us brilliant production value, a hero to love, and a monster to fear. James Cameron gave us more: more beautiful production, more characters and development, more emotion, more aliens. Then David Fincher took it all back. He took genius production and gave us grey or orange corridors. He killed our characters and gave us nameless penal fodder. He pulled us back from witnessing the entire, fascinating, life-cycle, and gave us a single drone- again.

Episode: The Matrix
Defying: Matrix: Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions
The Matrix is on this list for a bit of a different reason than the others: because it was the only one in it's series that was good. It took one of the oldest cards in the sci-fi deck and looked at it from a new angle, which is no easy task. It was fully devoted to telling a story (albeit an action friendly one), even filming the scenes that took place inside the matrix through a green filter to make them feel unreal. Then the other episodes came. A few choice words to describe them: self important, pseudo-philosophical stunt shows. They were so busy trying to seem deep that they forgot to actually have depth. As a completest I had to finish them, but I was rather unimpressed.
Even with Keanu Reeves as the lead, The Matrix was an impressive outing, thus proving that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Episode: Look Who's Talking Now
Defying: Look Who's Talking, Look Who's Talking Too
I think a lot of people have forgotten about these movies, but personally I remember them fondly. They held a lot of very cleverly delivered insight into the ways men and women (and later brothers and sisters) interact. It also spoke volumes on the things we do for our children, no matter how stupid those things may seem or make us look. If your my age (26 as of last week) you were a little to young to have seen what I'm talking about. I suggest you go back like I did, and try them again. You'll catch a lot of things you missed before- especially now that you've lived through some of the things they're talking about.
Then there was the third installment, I'm still not sure what that was about... other than trying to make money... which it didn't...

Episode: Mission: Impossible II
Defying: Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible III
The first and the last entries into the cinema trilogy remake of the 1966 television series Mission: Impossible had a two very important things in common: 1.) They had a pronounced sense of intrigue. 2.) They were spectacular! But the second movie made the horrible mistake of trying to make Ethan into a John Woo Style action hero (insert dove joke here). Though it possessed a great cast, it lacked pretty much everything else that made the others so enjoyable, and in being utterly ridiculous it defied it's series.
*Honorable mention goes to the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which fought off the censors as best i could and dared to have a dark edge, and relevant story.*
So that's another Five!! down. As always, let me know your additions! Thanks to jaimeescalante for his video. I own know rights to anything- ever.
Look at that, two Sergio Leone references in one Five!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

"At exactly what point- did we lose control here?"

A seemingly average man reveals himself as much more when his family is murdered, and the District Attorney's office cuts a deal that sets one of the guilty men free.

What's the only thing worse than an awful movie?
Cinema Factoid: Between the years 1990 and 2000 Samuel L. Jackson appeared in more movies than any other American actor. I bring this up because apparently Gerard Butler has similar goals set for the 2011-2020 decade, and if he keeps up this pace he just might do it. This movie is his third feature film release this year (fourth overall) and in terms of his performance, he saved the best for last.
About a half hour into Law Abiding Citizen I found myself thinking of David Fincher's Se7en, which is one of the best compliments I could ever give to a fellow psychological thriller. But where Kevin Spacey's John Doe is an unpalatable monster- Butler's Clyde is an interesting breed between a villain and an antihero. In what is simply the best dramatic performance I've seen from him yet, Butler has the audience rooting for him if only between bouts of complete disgust.
From Jamie Fox we see a simpler character made almost as interesting, which is still a compliment. Add all this to the movies straight off the line intensity, and the fact that both Colm Meany and Bruce McGill are in a movie together (which pretty much made my day) and you have what I had thus far been convinced was a recipe for a great movie. I leaned back into my seat and allowed myself to be taken for the remainder of my ride with no doubt that I would be pleased...
So, what's the only thing worse than an awful movie? A terrific movie- with an awful ending.
It was like a train wreck: I didn't even know there was a problem until we were already careening across the country side, track nowhere to be seen. Law Abiding Citizens ending flies in the face of everything the movie seemed to be building toward: motives are completely over turned, characters act and are treated completely against the boundaries they'd been established to have, and a decently mental experience is concluded with big booms and clever one-liners. The over all conflict of the film isn't even addressed, let alone resolved. And what was shaping up to be a interestingly dynamic character is all of a sudden revealed to be completely static- there by negating any point to the movie at all.
To me it screams of bad test audience response, an eleventh hour re-write- which would be fitting since even the cast was rearranged at the last minute (originally Butler and Foxx were set to play each others roles) It would also explain the movies one hour and forty-eight minute run time, which leaves the ending where the story feels like it should just be beginning to climax. And this is where that voice in my head pipes up, arguing that maybe the ambiguity of the ending was the whole point, that the fact that the main problem could never be solved (or even cared about apparently) was what Law Abiding Citizen was there to sell all along. Put simply if it was, I'm not buying it.

Reel Deal Recommends:
Colateral: For an under appreciated thrill with Jamie Foxx
RocknRolla: Gerard Butler, Guy Ritchie, Great Movie.
Cinderella Man: Bruce McGill's and every other performance in this movie soars.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: I'm sorry, but in my heart Colm Meaney will always be Chief O'Brien.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Informant!

"I just want to get from my car to the office without being confronted by the decay of western Society- plus I'm cheap!"

A man turns whistle blower on the company he's dedicated his life to- but as the F.B.I. investigates they soon find that things don't quite ad up with his story.

So, as you may have already guessed, the confounding "free pass" situation ended with the clean slate option. I just couldn't bring myself to sit through the horrible first half of "Couples Retreat" again- just so I could be sure the second half was bad. And so it fell to The Informant! To bat clean up, and for the most part I would say it came through.
I can't resist opening with the observation that Scott Bakula plays a large role in this movie. In a cast full of faces you know but maybe can't place- he is an old friend you never forgot. It is always nice to see him again, his understated performances are always a pleasure, and The informant! Is no exception (although enterprise is).
This movie is packed with comedy which spawns from the quietly telling Chuck Palahniuk-esque factoids on everything from corn to polar bears, and the complete oddity that is the true story it is inspired by. Speaking of which I did a little research, and from what I've read this movie is pretty accurate as far as the overall story goes. I say this only because of the amount of fiction that usually gets put into "based on a true story" movies, Remember the Titans I'm looking in your direction...
I've always said that there is a difference between something action less and something boring. The Informant! Is never boring. From it's Charlie and the chocolate factory invoking opening to the inevitable text epilogue, I felt engaged and interested. At no point does this movie lay flat- in fact it's painted as a sort of pseudo-mystery, which keeps the watcher guessing as to whats really going on until the very end.Matt Damon shines brightly at the reins of this cast in terms of performance. In a welcome change, he steps a bit away from his usual to craft an intriguingly non-Damon character. The performance is nearly flawless, and I say nearly because at the very en of the film there are a couple scenes where he sheds the guise and brings back that same-old-Damon character. These scenes however are in the minority, serving more to prove how good the rest of the performance was.
In the end, The Informant! just didn't have the star power to compete with the debuts around. Personally I think this is a shame because it was a nice bit of storytelling. I don't think it's going to make it onto anyone's "Best Movies of all Time" list, but that doesn't mean it's a waste of your time- indeed I can't think of a Soderbergh film that is... ok well Ocean's Twelve, but that's the only one... I think...

Watcher X says: "It was decent... but I still hate Matt Damon."

Reel Deal Reccomends:
Talented Mr. Ripley: For brilliant performance from Matt Damon.
Quantum Leap: Because I felt dirty when I tried to write anything else here.
Solaris: For a Steve Soderbergh film that gave me chills over and over.

The Reel Deal + Birthday = Slacker

And for that I apologize. Not only was it my birthday this week, but it was Watcher X's last week, so squeezing in time between all the celebrating (and being sick as a dog) was hard to pull off. However, even when I'm not reviewing- you better believe I'm still seeing movies! And I've already got three all queued up and waiting for their Reel Deal premier, plus another Five!! chomping at the bit. I'm going to try and get them all up this weekend so if you could bare with me until I'm all caught up I would be oh so grateful! Also, you might notice a small change with our interface. Just a minor addition to let you all know what's coming, and help me stay on task. Thank you again for your patience and expect to hear from me soon!

With Great Blogs Come Great Responsibility,
The Reel Deal

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Adventures in bargain basement cinema!

A couple blocks from our apartment there is a little "mom and pop" theater. And now that I think about it I should really have plugged them by now, but I think in this particular article might not be the right place. This theater has first run movies for second run prices- which makes it a sort of mecca for Watcher X and I. Not Mecca in the sense that we get on our knees and pray in it's direction twice a day, but Mecca in the sense that we often make a pilgrimage to it's doors.
On the whole, a full service trip to this theater (Tickets, popcorn, pop, and a Nerds Rope- don't ask) runs around $16 dollars, that's $8 bucks a person- which is the price per ticket at the nearest chain theater. But, like all things good, it's a double edged sword and the "rub" comes in three forms. 1.) There are only four theaters, and though they'll often switch out a movie that been playing since it's opening weekend for something that's in it's second or third week out, this still makes for a bit of a limited selection. And to see certain movies you'll just have bite the bullet and hit the bigger theaters. 2.) It never gets any of the more independent movies, which isn't really their fault. And 3.) Showings sometimes fall victim to "technical difficulties" though usually their small scale.
This past Friday, Watcher X chose Couples Retreat for that evenings visit and we settled into our seats hoping for, but in my case highly doubting I would get, a comedy explosion. I'll save the details for the full review but for now I'll share that it seems, from what I saw, that my doubts were well placed. I say from what I saw, because we didn't finish the movie. This is an hour and forty-seven minute long movie, and around the 80 minute mark the audio died. The projector was still running, but there was no sound. I waited the obligatory couple of minutes for the problem to be righted and then went and informed the nearest employee. A few other patrons followed suit as the problem persisted, but eventually it came down to this: Some where around eight or ten people, spaced out across the theater, sitting in the dark, staring at a movie with no audio.
And then a funny thing happened. That seen with the overly friendly yoga instructor started to play (there's no spoiler here as we've all been bombarded with it in the previews and T.V. spots). Couples Retreat had been good for some chuckles until the sound had died, but all in all it hadn't gotten much out of us. Now, as physical comedy played out on screen, one by one we all started to laugh. The joke itself was funny, but what was really cracking me up as time went on was the irony. Our theater, which had been relatively unmoved by a fully functional film, was now in uproar at a mute screen.
Nobody stayed very long after that. Once that scene ended, the usher (who had been too busy laughing before hand to say so) announced that he would be handing out free passes and we grabbed ours and left, audio never having come back. We are still debating whether or not to finish the movie. On the one hand I'm a completest. If I start a movie, I want the full experience. But on the other, as Watcher X put so well: "Free passes- their like a clean slate!" Either way, I'm certainly not angry with our little theater. That is by far the worst "technical difficulty" I've ever experienced there. And after all, it's these kind of things that make for great stories. We may not have gotten a funny movie but we got a hilarious movie experience, and the movie sacrificed was of no major interest to either of us- no harm, no foul. If anything it endeared the theater to me. Why have quality when you can have character?

Saturday, October 10, 2009


"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are coming to see me today and they're not bringing flowers which just makes it real difficult to get organized."

Four strangers are thrown together as they all go about their buisness amidst a zombie apocalypse.

I have heard it said that when it comes to movies I suffer from a lack fun. An alleged inability to appreciate movies that are suppose to be fun, and little else. To these people (who obviously don't know me very well) I now have the perfect argument: Zombieland.
It's a difficult task to craft a story that's meant to just be a good time. Your characters have to have enough heart that the viewer form some kind of connection, yet be ridiculous enough to blend in with the environment. If they're too interesting then you risk the audiences disappointment that their story wasn't more serious. Not interesting enough, and who cares. Zombieland straddles these lines perfectly. We care about what happens to the characters, but not enough to care how important or dramatic it is- leaving us free to enjoy the ridiculous situations.
It's four characters (played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone of recent Five!! fame) gel in an intentionally awkward way. Really it's their off beat chemistry that makes the movie work- which I guess is fitting seeing as they're 80% of the non-zombie cast. Eisenberg plays a beautiful straight man as the main character and narrator. I find myself imagining a celebrity death match battle between him and Michael Cera. Seriously though, they must constantly be vying for the same roles, I fear what would happen were this overlap in type castings to come to blows.
This is the second feature film from director Ruben Fleischer, and I will definitely have an eye on his next project- if only out of thanks. More exciting is this movie as proof that the writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are good for quality feature films, since they're writers being considered for the Venom spin-off marvel is pondering- but I digress. There is no part of Zombieland that is worth missing, especially a story arc I dare not spoil for those who haven't seen it. Not since Shaun of the Dead have I laughed so hard at a monster comedy. And believe me, any movie I'm willing to mention in the same breath as Shaun of the Dead must be worth it.
Reel Deal Recommends:
Cursed: Another tongue in cheek monster movie with Jesse Eisenberg
Kingpin: How could I mention Woody Harrelson and not mention Kingpin?
Definitely, Maybe: For an underseen movie and Abigail Breslin doing what she does best.
Superbad: Because I laughed, was ashamed and then laughed again. And because it put Emma Stone on the map.

Friday, October 9, 2009


"A phone call from God... if it had been collect it would have been daring."
A crew man awakes aboard his spaceship disoriented and with barely any memory of himself or his mission. He sets out to discover what's gone wrong with the ship- and to regain his missing memories.

I found myself having a lot of trouble writing this review. I pondered the blinking cursor, typed and then erased, got up and came back- but nothing seemed to clear the barrier. Then it dawned on me: My loss word for the review was really an accurate review in itself. My feelings on Pandorum are so mixed I'm not really sure whether I liked it or not.
This I can say for certain: Pandorum starts strong. The first image the audience is shown
is enthralling, and straight off we are put into the shoes of our protagonist, who can't even remember his own name. It is not any sort of spoiler to say to that Pandorum is a noun and the explanation of what exactly it is is done so well and with such intensity that I had to take a breath when it was over. If this movie had ended with the first act, I would be screaming it's praises from a mountain top.
But it doesn't, and despite yet another beautiful performance from Ben Foster- it's in the
second and third acts that the story gets a bit convoluted. It looses the momentum the first act had built up as a very mental mystery story, and introduces a very unnecessary physical aspect. It then uses it's new found sense action to build and execute the climax. Now the truth is the climax is decent. The story wraps up well. But by then I was sitting heartbroken waiting for the sense of dark mystery to return- which it never did. This is where my confliction lays, not in whether it was well done, but whether it could have been done better using the sense of suspense it had originally introduced itself with. Sort of like meeting a girl and going on date after date, only to find out her hair was a wig and she'd been lying about the little details of her life. Sure this other girl may be very like able, but she's not who she claimed to be when you met.
Even with it's strange change of pace, Pandorum is still an enjoyable movie. A few of
it's ideas are truly intriguing, though some of it's big reveals are horribly predictable. Ben Foster really makes movies worth watching in my opinion, because he crafts himself into characters so well. I hope that this is the beginning of more work for him as a leading man, albeit not the brightest one.

Reel Deal Recommends:
3:10 to Yuma: For a chilling performance from the gorgeous Ben Foster.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Five!!: Beautiful "Ugly" Girls
!!Spoiler Warning!!

It was Amanda Seyfried's latest role as Needy in Jennifer's Body that inspired this five, and it was (fittingly) the writers of Not Another Teen Movie that explained it best: "Agh, not Janey. She's got a ponytail, and glasses. She's got paint on her overalls!"
It's the way of showbiz I suppose. The story calls for the nerdy/rebellious/loser girl- a "non-conventional" girl. But it's still Hollywood right? So they cast a 21 year old model to play a high school sophomore and give her, sometimes literally, glasses and a ponytail. Don't forget to make her brunette! There now she's awkward and unapproachable. It would take hell freezing over to make her prom queen... Right?
This of course sets up for the makeover later in the movie, which really just consists of restoring her to the way she looked when she showed up to audition. It's all just metaphors and business I know, but from the outside you have to admit it's pretty funny.

Rachel Leigh Cook- She's All That
One of the most obvious picks I know, but things are only cliche when they work. It's this role that inspired much of Not Another Teen Movies Janey in the first place. One of the reasons I felt this one had to be on the list was the movie poster. For more than half the movie she looks like she does above, but check the movie poster- she's all contacts and halter tops.
Sissy Spacek- Carrie
I suppose times were simpler in 1976. If you wanted an outcast then there was no need for bleach. All
you had to do was keep her pale and spare her the curling iron. Follow these simple steps and she's bound
to be on the outskirts. It was hard to watch her tortured by her peers just because her mom was a bit- strict... Though I don't think any one's feeling any sympathy for her at this point.

Jennifer Garner- Pearl Harbor
Unstoppable double agent, ninja, fashion goddess magazine editor- for Jen Garner it's all of the above. But slap a pair of glasses on her, and put that commercial hair up in a frazzled bun and you've got Nurse Sandra: The flighty nurse who weeps openly for half the movie and spends the other half as wing-man bait.

Emma Stone- The House Bunny
Yes, I've seen The House Bunny...

Mandy Moore- A Walk to Remember
I'll give you a moment to wipe away the tears... I know, two places at once. Returning- they took a bit of the Carrie approach on this one, pale equals who could love her? Well that's a bit of the an understatement- they gave her baggy clothes too.

Another Five!! from the Reel Deal but we both know there are so many more! Let me know if you think of any.