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Showing posts from April, 2010

A Disappointment on Your Street

Movie Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Spoilers: none

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This respectably constructed remake of the 1980s A Nightmare on Elm Street is worth a nod or two...or three. The teen characters are less clueless and more believable, as are their screams, and they're not as stupid as you would expect. They spend way less or no time kiddishly jamming out to non-conformist tunes and squabbling in petty love (lust) triangles, sparing the more intelligent percentage of the audience much frustration.

And while the vibe of this Freddy Krueger is not as sensational as in the 1984 film, his appearance is far more hideous and disturbing than you would have expected it to be, which seems to add something to yet another needless remake. They only got it wrong in terms of his voice quality, as it sounds too embellished to be maximally creepy.

The 2010 film gets high marks for a film with no originality or creativity. And it may add nothing new to the crimson/gore-ish glory of the oldies, but it …

The Living Wake

Movie Title: The Living Wake (2007/2010, limited release)
Spoilers: none

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Mike O'Connell, Jim Gaffigan, and Jesse Eisenberg star in The Living Wake, a dark but daring comedy that focuses on the life and last day of one self-proclaimed genius, K. Roth Binew (O'Connell) and his “best friend, authorized biographer, and poet extraordinaire,” Mills (Eisenberg). Comedian Jim Gaffigan is Lampert Binew, Binew's late father.

Whether it repels or attracts them, it is the complex personality of K. Roth Binew that will amaze viewers with his didactically delusional and dynamic determination to leave his mark on history through his works of art and literature. Having been on his quest since early childhood, he is now more desperate than ever once he finds that he has only a few hours left to live due to an unknown (but somehow still known to be punctually fatal) condition.

Binew is seeking “a brief, but powerful monologue” of which his revered father spoke when he was a child. His life&…

Dad, a Dolphin, and Being Tough

I sat in the parent/teacher's meeting. The meeting was because of me. It wasn't funny at this point. All eyes were on me. "I don't know how you teach a class with him in there," said one of the substitutes to my teacher, Mrs. Livengood. It wasn't a pretty moment, not now. I always thought it was cool to get in trouble, but you can only go down that road so far until the good graces of your authority figures runs out. My lying and carrying on and causing scenes was finally catching up with me.

Like Gigli, Only Nastier

Movie Review: The Back-up Plan (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Not since Gigli has a JLo romance been such a god-awful failure, a shameless and sucking excuse for a date movie, with a runtime of 104 minutes that feels like double that.

As for seeing JLo perform, with her customarily innocent and helpless-looking puppy dog disposition, she is still not hard on the eyes (though she has been known to cause hardening in certain other body parts), and she is first and foremost a singer. But JLo and her performance isn't the problem to be had, neither is her work with chemistry-connected co-star, Alex O'Loughlin.

Lopez and O'Loughlin are Zoe and Stan, two New York strangers who meet coincidentally when they both get into the same cab. From there, it's the old recipe of one trying to mentally own the other until several dates end in a fiery-but-fractured romance.

Though it has some of the earmarks, The Back-up Plan should not be considered a chick-flick. In a …

Funerals Really Do Suck

Movie Review: Death at a Funeral (2010)
Spoilers: none

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This remake of the English 2007 version of Death at a Funeral stars Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, and Martin Lawrence in Death at a Funeral, a love-it-or-hate-it, so-so comedy that Americanizes and black-ifies the original British version.

The film loses the majority of points at the beginning, with hammy appeals to black audiences, with references to fried chicken recipes from a slave named Jubilie, an attitude-y old uncle (Danny Glover) with a dirty mouth, and a guy who starts tripping on what was thought to be Valium: “Don't let him spend too much time talking to any one person...or bush.”

After a long set-up and some extensively stilted moments of not funny, things do get moving and head towards outrageously funny, but only after having to sit through: “Little Martina is in 12th grade, but that ass is in grad school!” “My father's dead! Put some panties on.”

As frustrating and repulsively stupid as it is funn…

Maybe Not Kick-Ass, but Not Kicked Either

Movie Title: Kick-Ass (2010)
Spoilers: none

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At some point in our lives, we each want to be a superhero. That is the (undeniably true) premise behind the movie about an unlikely and highly inept superhero that almost was. Aaron Johnson is “Dave Lizewski,” or as he later becomes known “Kick-Ass,” an ordinary kid with a high sex drive and nothing distinguishing him from a normal guy, perhaps except for a strong interest in comics and an imagination amped up a few notches.

If he were real, you might think Dave has some mental problems. I wouldn't stop you from making that assumption since I'm no psychologist. It's one thing to want to be a superhero; it's another to dress up like one and carry around batons in broad daylight...some screws have got to be loose. Openly carrying around weapons can get you in plenty of legal trouble. He nearly leaps to a certain death very early on in his enfeebled crime-fighting career, and he can't even stop two daylight car thieves arm…

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Movie Title: Date Night (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Steve Carell and Tina Fey star in Date Night, a mostly adult-oriented romantic comedy with a few laughs to go along with the piling loads of sarcasm, slapstick, and dry humor that comes your way.

How many movies will begin with playful children walking into parents' bedrooms and waking them up? Another question is, how much respect should one have for those who leave SNL to pursue full-on acting careers? Their success is like that of the typical Hollywood marriage. But maybe things are different with Fey. She has that...sexy, smart woman, quiet bookworm, vegetarian, bra-burning bitch...look to her. What's not to like??

Carell and Fey are Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple burdened down with three kids and more cares than they can remember to keep up with. Lacking sleep and a zesty love-life, they want something more...something more than meeting with friends to read books about the stress of a girl having her first period un…

How to Train Your Dragon

Movie Title: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Spoilers: none

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How to Train Your Dragon - despite having a title that is more fit for a reviewer's review of it than the movie - is an awesome film for a plentitude of reasons, not the least of which being that it involves Vikings. Vikings are cool for their horned helmets alone, not to mention their facial hair, fighting, or berserker’s rages, or their sheer sizable presences. The way they carry their mugs can be a status symbol by itself.

To connect with the coolness of the Viking theme, you needn’t know about Erik the Red or his son Leif and their journeys establishing the first Nordic settlement. If you fail to connect with the aforementioned, try learning about a Viking named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel). 

On the small, dragon-infested island of Berk, the seafaring, land-conquering Vikings have their hands full as they strive to fight off hungry, fire-breathing dragons. The story of their plight is made all the more…

Clash of the Eyeliner

Movie Title: Clash of the Titans (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Greek mythology has again become popular in movies while Christianity seems to be falling out ever so slightly. I can only imagine that when your gods are not the people's gods, you can play them as more villainous, warmongering, and openly hateful than the god of the Bible really is and get away with it. But make nothing of that.

All begins with the telling of the old myth, with Perseus and his mother Danae being cast into the sea at the bidding of a jealous King Acrisius. All the gods, including Zeus, are shameless adulterers. Even Jesus was conceived when God got busy with Mary as a betrothed (engaged) woman (Luke 1:26-35). No matter. The sacred three have worship flung at them. Can't criticize the pagan gods in that regard. Should be no big deal to the viewer, religious or non.

But worship is a big deal to the gods. “I created them, and they reward my love with defiance?” These are the words of an angry Zeus, wroth bu…

Scanning Your Organs While Groping Your Lover…Please Don't

Movie Title: Repo Men (2010)
Spoilers: none

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In Repo Men, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are bounty hunter-style repossession agents, not of cars or of houses, but of human replacement organs. This action-packed lesson in unlikelihood suffers from a badly deficient plot due to a story that never gives the viewer any level of satisfaction whatsoever.

“Can’t pay for your house? The bank takes it. Can’t pay for your car? The bank takes it. Can’t pay for your liver? Well, that’s where I come in.”

Jude Law is Remy, a once proud recovery agent, a husband and father who now wants to change lines of work and spend more time at home at the urgent pleadings of his wife (Carice van Houten). Forest Whitaker is Jake, Remy's partner in what should be a crime, but it's not.

The world of Repo Men is what really raises the eyebrows. No one seems to object to the practice of repo-ing organs by taking them out of bodies right where they stand, these organs being what keeps the people alive. Where are…

“It Must Be Some Kind of...Hot Tub Time Machine”

Movie Title: Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Hot Tub Time Machine was one of the funniest, profanely entertaining, nostalgically satisfying movies I have ever watched. To put it any differently would be to do an injustice to this house-rocking film that both parodies and appreciates that decade of unrelenting showy coolness known as the 1980s.

Sure, the cars were square and the hair was everywhere, but the music alone would go on to define the decade, neverminding deductions for things like crimped hair, leg-warmers, and that abominable TV character, ALF. But forgive me for mentally cavorting in my own memories of a revere-worthy time of keyboards and minor chords.

John Cusack is Adam. Adam hasn't made it big in life. He's an insurance salesman, and his love life is way worse off than his career, which at best is only average. Life has done a number, not just on Adam, but on his best friends whom he has become detached from over the years. They are former potential…

No One Needs This Much Stress, but You Want it Anyway

Movie Title: Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
Spoilers: none

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I was not in a worked-up frenzy to see Tyler Perry's latest creation, starring Louis Gossett Jr., Janet Jackson, and Cicely Tyson in Why Did I Get Married Too? I held out no real hope for what started out as a play and became a movie about bad marriages. My expectations were defied.

Beautiful oceanfront property...black upscale couples making you laugh and share in the heated drama of their well-off lives, as they hang out and “one-up” each other in the (sometimes) funniest of ways...I had no idea I would be so thoroughly entertained.

No one sets out to watch a movie about bad marriages anymore than they plan to go through them...or is that true? It's been a long time since The Brady Bunch era, and the “Honey, I'm Home!” family was a myth even back then. That marriage isn't rosy is no revelation, but an ethnic take on the struggles of cohabitation can provide us with another perspective. In that ve…