Monday, June 28, 2010

Crush: Movie Review


A beautiful portryal of love for middle-aged women.
The tag line for "Crush" is "Three female friends behaving badly". I beg to differ. It's more like three middle-aged women complaining about men. This won't be enjoyable for many men.

But now on to the good things. It's dramatic, it's sad, it's funny and it combines all those elements with beauty.

Directed by: John McKay

Screenplay by: John McKay

Starring: Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Love and Other Disasters: Movie Review

A romantic comedy screenwriting gem.

"Love and Other Disasters" is just as the title says. It's about love and love-like disasters mistaken as love. It's not your typical romantic comedy because it's better than that. There's quite a few lines that are making fun of the genre but paying a sort of homage to it as well.

The late Brittany Murphy stars as Emily Jackson, 'Jacks', who takes her cues in life and style from Holly Golightly. The filmmakers as well have taken their inspiration for the look, feel and tone from "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

The best character in the film is Peter played by Matthew Rhys. In romantic-comedy-speak, he's the gay best friend, but again, he's better than that. He's very funny and in a much more realistic way than the other characters are, and his musings on love probably mirror those of the audience more than the other characters.

The film is very fast-paced, with witty dialogue, and a light-hearted manner. I recommend "Love and Other Disasters" for: fans of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"; fans of the dialogue of "Gilmore Girls"; fans of Matthew Rhys; and definitely aspiring-screenwriters - the filmmakers have made a number of inferences to the craft of screen writing that I think it becomes a must see.

Run, Fatboy, Run: Movie Review

The comedy just keeps on coming.

"Run, Fatboy, Run" is a comedy, sure there is a romantic subplot, but it's a comedy, and it's funny!

The humour isn't highbrow, and there's a lot of sexual innuendo jokes, but the laughs keep coming. Simon Pegg (yes, that is the guy from "Shaun of the Dead") plays our hero, Dennis. Dennis makes a lot of really bad decisions, but don't we all? We are easily able to laugh at him and cheer him on.

As his best friend says to Dennis, "You left her at the altar when she was pregnant."
Dennis: "But that was ages ago."
Gordon: "Women tend to remember that stuff."
We do. It's comedy though when it happens to somebody else. The always funny Hank Azaria plays Libby's new beau, Whit. Azaria is the type of great actor that when we need to root for Dennis, he makes it okay for us to hate Whit.

This is a fairly typical comedic romance - not a romantic comedy since its comedy first and slightly more male-oriented. You will know exactly how the movie is going to play out, but it's so funny that the jokes distract you from the fairly lame plot.

For those turned off by the title, the writers do know that Simon Pegg isn't exactly fat. As Dennis says, "I'm not fat, I'm just unfit". "Run, Unfit-boy, Run" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

"Run, Fatboy, Run" is a good comedy, and it really is appropriate for most ages (a PG-13 rating in most countries).

From Paris with Love: Movie Review

Only action and nothing else, except for blood, violence, and guns.

"From Paris with Love" is an action movie. Only action, nothing else.

This movie has us confused from the very beginning with no explanations, and they apparently think we don't need any. There is no plot. No scene makes any sense. Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character is incongruous. I reluctantly suppose that is to be expected in an action movie.

The action in this movie is done in the matrix-style, sometimes, and only rarely when they actually complete fluid motions of action. Because there is no plot, we generally don't know the reason for most of the violence. Oh and is there violence. It's rated PG-13, but it's machine gun firing with dead bodies flying and blood squirting. Just what I want today's 13 year-olds to be watching.

The one good thing is John Travolta. This is the skillfully-funny, ultra bad-ass Travolta who is at his all-time best for action. If you are forced to watch this movie, you at least get to look forward to Travolta's analysis of the grammatical variations on the use of a swear word.

People often say for bad movies to watch them only if you're fans of the stars. In the case of "From Paris with Love", watch it only if you are a fan of Travolta. For fans of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, avoid it because you will only be disgusted with the current trajectory of his career.

The Oh! in Ohio: Movie Review

(2006, directed by: Billy Kent, written by: Adam Wierzbianski, Billy Kent and Sarah Bird, starring: Paul Rudd and Parker Posey)
(Available now on DVD)

A dramatic sex comedy just doesn't work.

I would have assumed that "The Oh! in Ohio" was trying to be the Judd Apatow sex comedies for females, but this was released in 2006 just before the Apatow craze began. So now I'm not sure what they were trying to go for.

It's marketed as a comedy but it's more of a drama. The plot line is that Priscilla Chase (Parker Posey) and her husband (Paul Rudd) are in an unhappy marriage because she isn't able to climax. Along with "50 million other women who suffer from orgasmic dysfunction" as the film tells us.

The film moves forward with Posey trying to have an orgasm. I'm assuming these scenes were supposed to provide us laughs but they weren't very funny. The other half of the movie is Rudd living his depressed life as a biology teacher. Finally the film industry has figured out that occasionally there are teachers for subjects other than English, but unfortunately it's in this movie just so we can have him spout the names of some sex organ muscles. Paul Rudd is one of my favourite actors, but the story for his character is extremely poorly done. The humour is so low-key, that I view it more as a drama, so there is no pay-off for his poor character. I might even have to blame this film for Rudd being relegated to buddy comedies now.

There is a lot to not like in this film, but Posey does shine, and some of the "50 million women who suffer from orgasmic dysfunction" might enjoy "The Oh! in Ohio" but probably not many other people will.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Guardian: Movie Review

The Coast Guard on display.

"The Guardian" stars Ashton Kutcher as a top swimmer training for the Coast Guard and Kevin Costner as an experienced, veteran rescue swimmer as the trainer. Costner and Kutcher are great together; it's the type of role you expect to see Costner in, and the type of role you want to see Kutcher in.

I loved seeing the Coast Guard on display and although I don't know exactly what it's like, this film is probably a little dramatized but realistic enough to accept it. It's a cross between an action and a drama. The many action scenes are mixed in with dramatic character development scenes. Since it's a blend of the two, you will need to like both your standard action and standard drama movies. You will also need to like the standard characters that these types of movies have, although they are good characters, there are no surprises.

My main complaint is that it's too long. It attempts to bring in too many characters, and they don't all work. They probably also spend a bit too long on some of the action sequences (unless of course you love the action). The length is especially highlighted when watching it on TV, the 3 and a half hours of action/drama is a bit much even for the biggest fans.

All in all, "The Guardian" is a pretty good movie, standard characters, and no divergence from the expected path, but its done well. I especially recommend it for young swimmers - the Coast Guard could be a very rewarding career, and I wish I had seen this movie when I was younger.

Funny People: Movie Review

The dramatic side of funny people.

"Funny People" is not a comedy about people being funny, but rather a drama about people who think they are funny, trying to be funny, and are funny. And you can also replace the word 'funny' with 'a comedian'.

Mostly it's a character drama about George Simmons (Adam Sandler). Many have commented on Adam Sandler having moved away from his slapstick comedy roles and his stand-up roots, and that's exactly the case of his character in this film. It's the perfect fit for Sandler.

Not only do we have a dramatic Sandler here, we also have a much more mature and subdued Judd Apatow. This is not the laugh-out-loud, verging-on-crass pure comedy that we have come to expect from Apatow. This is a drama, with some funny moments, and more than enough penis jokes. The funniest lines and scenes in the film come from the group of aspiring stand-up comedians and comedy writers, and they are all played by well-established comic actors in the industry, so they had their timing and delivery perfect. I'm also assuming Apatow knows these types of characters very well.

At times the serious tones weighed down the film too much and it felt like it was dragging. I'm afraid that I did notice the two and a half hour runtime. That aside, its a pretty good dramatic comedy, and a good film to watch, if you know that this is the dramatic side of Apatow and Sandler.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Youth in Revolt: Movie Review

These are not real teenagers, just Juno's offcasts.

"Youth in Revolt" really is just "Juno" (2007) for those of the male persuasion, albeit with a little more intelligence and less emotion. I make that comparison with disdain for this type of pseudo-intellectual, 'hip', attempt at quirky independence. Unfortunately, I think I'm in the minority.

If you like Michael Cera playing his usual smarter-than-his-peers but still a virgin in the awkward teenager phase, then you will like "Youth in Revolt". This film may actually be able to grab a higher audience share, because here we also add a cool Cera who's a moderate bad-ass alter-ego. And even I can find something enjoyable in this advanced Cera.

"Youth in Revolt" doesn't live up to the expectations that were set for it, and although it's lacking a bit from the quick-witted "Juno", it shares the same low-key humour and unrealistic characters, that some people are able to relate to and love. I am just not one of those people. Writer Gustin Nash's first interpretation of teenagers, "Charlie Bartlett" (2007), was much better. I would also recommend "The Trotsky" (2009) instead - an actual independent movie with a quirky but interesting and funny main character.

Recommended: The Trotsky

Dan in Real Life: Movie Review

Dan is a good character, but he chose a horrible real life for himself.

"Dan in Real Life" is a movie that I would normally like. It's drama, comedy, romance, with adults and supposedly real characters.

Steve Carell stars as Dan, a widower, father of three daughters, newspaper writer, and as implied by widower - he's single. I really liked Carell's performance as Dan, he is genuinely funny, and all-around a good character.

The problem is Dan falls in love with Marie (Juliette Binoche). This is a major problem for two reasons. The first, in the theatrical sense of needing to build a conflict, Marie is the girlfriend of Dan's brother. The usual awkwardness and brotherly conflicts ensue. The second problem is that they don't show the audience that Marie has any likable qualities. I found Marie to be a liar, not nearly as smart as Dan, fake, insincere and unattractive (although that is of course in the eye of the beholder). And she is somehow able to get the brothers to fall for her. They were trying to tell me that Dan felt a connection with Marie but they never showed me how.

I found every scene with Marie (which is most of the movie) to be in hell, not in real life. I happen to prefer real life over hell, and if you do as well, skip "Dan in Real Life".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TiMER: Movie Review

A romantic comedy that is actually well written, good, romantic and funny.

Finally our clocks have counted down and we have "TiMER" in a our lives; a fantastic romantic comedy has been brought into the world. Sure, all romantic comedies follow the same trend, cute girl wants to meet her soul mate. The poor ones do it with horrible main characters and ridiculously unfunny contrived situations. The somewhat better ones, which we have been forced to accept as good, add comedy and likable characters. But now, we have "TiMER".   2009

Directed by: Jac Schaeffer

Screenplay by: Jac Schaeffer

Starring: Emma Caulfield, Scott Holroyd

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Good Guy: Movie Review

"The Good Guy" surprises with its drama.

"The Good Guy" is a relationship drama. You would be forgiven if you assumed it was yet another twenty-something girl trying to sort out her love life and career in a romantic comedy. You would be forgiven for thinking that, but you would also be wrong. It's actually better than that. The film is driven by three characters, all of them completely fleshed-out and three-dimensional. Not one of them is central, but all of them individually and triangularly.   2009

Directed by: Julio DePietro

Screenplay by: Julio DePietro

Starring: Alexis Bledel, Bryan Greenberg and Scott Porter

Waitress: Movie Review

(2007, written and directed by: Adrienne Shelly, starring: Keri Russell)

Perfectly walks the line between drama and comedy.

"Waitress" is one of my favourite types of films, a dramatic dark story told through comedy. It's hard to get it right, but here it's done perfectly. It's the story about Jenna (Keri Russell) a small-town waitress who gets pregnant by her abusive husband, and all she wants is to win a pie baking contest and run away.

I'm not very similar to the character of Jenna, and yet it's as if she was written for me. I love how strong her character is, both in terms of the writing and in her ability to survive her current circumstances to get to a better life. But don't forget her talent for creating pies in her head based on what she's feeling and thinking. I also predict that the starring role by Keri Russell and the supporting performance by Andy Griffith will go down as the most underrated.

The film deals with some very dark story lines - an abusive husband, an unwanted pregnancy, and some inappropriate indiscretions, and I laughed most of the way through (spare a few tears). It's a tough line to walk, but the film does it with heart. Take this as a warning if it might offend you.

"Waitress" touched me in a way that no other film has. Every time I watch it, it inspires me to find exactly what I want and to strive for a better life. It really is that good to me.

Kissing Jessica Stein: Movie Review


"Kissing Jessica Stein" is the best kind of romantic comedy.

At the beginning of "Kissing Jessica Stein" we meet Jessica (Jennifer Westfeldt) sitting in synagogue between her mother and grandmother discussing the lack of Jessica's love life. Jessica interrupts and says "Shut up mother, I'm atoning." This sums up and sets the tone for the greatness of this film - Jessica is authentic and very funny. 2001

Directed by: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

Screenplay by: Heather Juergensen, Jessica Westfeldt

Starring: Jessica Westfeldt

Monday, June 21, 2010

Serious Moonlight: Movie Review

Like a romantic comedy, except completely different.

"Serious Moonlight" deserves to be seen for a number of reasons.

First, it is written by the late Adrienne Shelly (best known for "Waitress" (2007)). After her death, her husband set up the Adrienne Shelly Foundation to help women pursue their film-making dreams. Money earned from her films goes towards this foundation.

Directed by: Cheryl Hines

Screenplay by: Adrienne Shelly

Starring: Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Die Welle: Movie Review


Dramatic events and the changing dynamics of the teacher-student relationship.

"Die Welle" (in English known as "The Wave") is a rare, truly dramatic film that makes you sit back and think. This is probably because it's based on a true story. I'm not familiar with the real life events, but I'm assuming it's accurate with maybe a few details changed to allow for the shift in location from California to Germany. 2008

Directed by: Dennis Gansel

Screenplay by: Dennis Gansel

Starring: J├╝rgen Vogel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When in Rome: Movie Review

(2010, directed by: Mark Steven Johnson, written by: David Diamond and David Weissman, starring: Josh Duhamel and Kristen Bell)

"When in Rome" lowers romantic comedy standard.

"When in Rome" at first glance appears to be your standard romantic comedy, but it's actually worse than that.

I like romantic comedies which have a real-factor to it - that there's a chance that this could happen. But this film is completely ridiculous, and not in a funny way.

They appeared to be going for the laughs more than the romance. The "real" relationship wasn't built up at all so we didn't get to feel any of the love. On top of that, the comedy wasn't even done well. The timing was off, so even half-decent jokes weren't funny. It seemed that all the jokes were written in just to cover up sloppy writing. All of the so-called "twists" and "turns" were lame and seemed to be added at the last minute to overcome a bad plot idea.

I usually find romantic comedies to be harmless fun, but "When in Rome" actually angered me it was so poorly written. It gives the genre a bad name.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Coach: Movie Review


"Coach" is just the same old formula.
"Coach" has the formulaic kids-teach-coach-how-to-succeed-in-life same old drivel written all over it. And it never rises above. Hugh Dancy plays Coach, built from the same mold as Hugh Grant in "About A Boy". I like Hugh Dancy but even he isn't able to make this film very likable. 2010

Directed by: Will Frears

Screenplay by: Will Frears, Jason Pugatch

Starring: Hugh Dancy, Liane Balaban

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wake: Movie Review

"Wake" criss-crosses genres but shines with originality.

"Wake" is a weird type of movie, completely unique and original, and because it's so off-kilter, you're left thinking about it after it ends. It is marketed as a quirky romantic comedy. It isn't, but that is how it begins. Bijou Phillips stars as Carys Reitman, an emotionally-stunted pretty girl who is searching for a life connection. Not a guy, but emotion, to be able to feel the same way inside as others do.   2009

Directed by: Ellie Kanner

Screenplay by: Lennox Wisely

Starring: Bijou Phillips, Ian Somerhalder

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Killers: Movie Review

(2010, directed by: Robert Luketic, written by: Bob deRosa and Ted Griffin, starring: Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher)
(Available now on DVD and Blu-ray)

Takes awhile to get its act together.

"Killers" is a romantic comedy action film, but starts out by failing on all accounts.

Katherine Heigl plays the romantic comedy lead, she got the sexy part and at least tried on the funny part, but she was a very disjointed character that at times was really hard to care for or relate to. Ashton Kutcher played the action lead, and he got the sexy part but was very awkward when he tried to play the romantic comedy lead.

The film then spent around an hour showing us their boring suburban life. Boring being the key word.

When we finally got to the action, the film started clicking. The romantic leads developed some chemistry, and the many known comedic actors appeared to be there for a reason. The film then flew by with a pretty good medley of comedy and action, and a healthy dose of reminders that this is for fun not serious.

Beware if you're looking for a romantic comedy or a quick action flick. Watch it only if you are willing to stand an hour of nothing to finally get to a fun, ridiculous, sexy, and funny light-weight action film.