Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Collector (2009) - Movie Marathon Drive-Thru Review: Film #19

On the Menu:

Ingredients: Josh Stewart, Andrea Roth, Michael Reilly Burke, Madeline Zima, Juan Fernández and Karley Scott Collins. Directed by Marcus Dunstan. Run time: 90 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: Sinister booby traps galore when a handyman attempts to steal a rare jewel from his latest employer's home. Goosebumps. Obviously, not a remake of the 1965 Terence Stamp flick, which is what I originally thought it was upon hearing the title.

Tough to Swallow: Jill's shirt disappears and reappears in her make-out scene.

Arkin apparently smokes Camels, but gets them out of a Marlboro pack. Interesting.

The Additional Photography section in the closing credits is misspelled as Addittional Photography.

Something to Chew On: Clu Gulager's son, Tom, appears as Officer Gulager.

Fernández, who plays The Collector, is better known for playing Miguel in CROCODILE DUNDEE II. Well, at least to me he is.

There was a Thank You credit for "That guy who kept taping his face," and Special No Thanks to "The guy who tried to blow up Joe's Bar and Whoever stole Karlak's watch."

A short scene appears after the credits.

Aftertaste: Wasn't hard to pick out the bad guy from the start, but still trying to figure out how he had the time to set up all those booby traps. Didn't necessarily like the end, but can't say that I didn't see it coming. Maybe the SAW peeps will turn to THE COLLECTOR for a new Halloween franchise.

The first sequel THE COLLECTION is said to be released in 2011, but there's no specific date yet. Stewart will reprise his role as Arkin, but, sadly, Fernández has apparently been replaced as the antagonist.

The creep factor is high. The gore factor is high. I like the soundtrack. The acting is so-so, but it is nice to see Andrea Roth again. I remember seeing CROSSWORLDS (1997) in high school and thinking she was going to be hot stuff. Aside from the Statham movie WAR, her biggest roles to date have been on "Rescue Me" and "Blue Bloods."

I digress.

You'll enjoy this if you like SAW or its successors. 


Charlie St. Cloud (2010) - Movie Marathon Drive-Thru Review: Film #18

On the Menu:

Ingredients: Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew, Donal Logue, Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta, Dave Franco and Augustus Prew. Directed by Burr Steers. Run time: 99 minutes. Rated: PG-13. 

At First Bite: It's FIELD OF DREAMS (Shoeless Joe included) and THE INVISIBLE, but with a love story.

Tough to Swallow: Pretty sure defibrillation, if done correctly, doesn't leave burns/scars.

Charlie takes the first familial reunion a little too well. There should have been some sort of freak out.
Basinger has about 1 minute and 5 seconds of actual screen time.

The credit for Animal Wrangler is misspelled as Animal Wranger.
Something to Chew On: The film is based on novel entitled "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood.

Efron dropped out of the FOOTLOOSE remake and signed onto this film shortly after.

This is the third feature film directed by Steers. The others were IGBY GOES DOWN and 17 AGAIN (also starring Efron).

Aftertaste: Having never seen HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL or its sequels, my knowledge of Efron's acting ability comes from the aforementioned 17 AGAIN and this film. He definitely shows some range as Charlie and is easily the best thing the movie has going for it.

The love story is mediocre, and a little too much foreshadowing ruins the twist. Can't say I was a big fan of the younger brother either. The movie revolves around Charlie and Sam's brotherly bond, but Sam verges on mildly annoying most of the time. And, why did the mom just up and leave? Weird.

My favorite scene has to be the fight at the bar. Great "punch" line from Charlie.

I'll be interested to see what Efron does next.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Other Guys (2010) - Movie Marathon Short & Sweet Review: Film #17

On the Menu:

Ingredients: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans, Jr., Steve Coogan, Derek Jeter, Zak Orth, Rob Huebel and narrated by Ice-T. Directed by Adam McKay. Run time: 107 minutes (theatrical edition). Rated: PG-13. 

At First Bite: When the top dogs go down, the two most incompetent cops on the force must step up. No way McKay screws the pooch with a buddy cop flick.

Tough to Swallow: In the closing credits animation, there are three minor typographical errors (technically, 5 errors):
1) the second reference to T.A.R.P. doesn't have a period after the P (personally, I wouldn't use periods for TARP)
2) Goldman Sachs is hyphenated in its first reference (twice)
3) in that same graphic, "tax rate" appears as one word (twice)

I noticed about four continuity errors, but there's a longer list on IMDb -- too many to list here.

Something to Chew On: Tracy Morgan, Rosie Perez and Brooke Shields have cameos; they all appear at the basketball game seated beside Allen (Ferrell) and Terry (Wahlberg).

McKay appears as Dirty Mike. Dirty Mike's boys are portrayed by one of the producers, the cinematographer and the property master.

Anne Heche and Ice-T are both uncredited despite having pretty big roles.

Michael Chiklis turned down the role given to Jackson.

Lindsay Sloane, who plays Terry's ex, Francine, was Big Red in BRING IT ON.

At one point, Terry is wearing a Bayside Tigers shirt. Nice "Saved by the Bell" reference. He also has a COBRA poster in his apartment.

There's an outtake after the credits.

Aftertaste: Perhaps the funniest Will Ferrell movie in a while, and it actually has a storyline. Wahlberg definitely helps bring the crazy. The running gag with Keaton made me laugh out loud. It's tragic that it's been 14 years since MULTIPLICITY and the best comedic options he's had since have been doing voices for CARS and TOY STORY 3. As funny as he is in this movie, he is vastly underused.

The scene with Jackson and Johnson, about 15 minutes into the movie, is priceless.

The story is so-so, but I could care less because I was always laughing. 


Machete (2010) - Movie Marathon Short & Sweet Review: Film #16

On the Menu:
MACHETE (2010) 

Ingredients: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, Daryl Sabara and Lindsay Lohan. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis. Run time: 105 minutes. Rated: R. 

At First Bite: Trejo is an ex-Federale hellbent on revenge after being set up in an assassination plot. It just screams crazy action.

Tough to Swallow: Seeing Trejo and Alba kiss. 

Something to Chew On: The movie, of course, is based on one of the fake trailers shown during GRINDHOUSE.

Rodriguez wrote the script back in 1993.

Johnson's billing in the opening credits is "and introducing Don Johnson."

Trejo's character in the SPY KIDS films is also named Machete Cortez. Although, Machete is his nickname for those movies; his first name is actually Isador.

Alba's clothes were digitally removed for her nude scenes since she has a no-nudity clause.

Chris Cooper turned down the role of the senator calling it absurd.

Titles for two sequels appear in the end credits.

Rose McGowan's scene was cut. Her character was Boots McCoy. 

Aftertaste: Gory, cynical and full of crazy action. Throw in some social commentary on illegal immigration and you've got one heckuva Mexploitation flick. Just like GRINDHOUSE, the film is made to look grainy and damaged. I loved the MACHETE trailer in GRINDHOUSE, and I have to say it lived up to my expectations.

Although, I'm very interested in the director's cut DVD that's on its way.

The next fake trailer to hit the big screens as a real movie: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. Hopefully, THANKSGIVING will soon follow. 


Salt (2010) - Movie Marathon Short & Sweet Review: Film #15

On the Menu:
SALT (2010)

Ingredients: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejoifor, Daniel Olbrychski and Andre Braugher. Directed by Phillip Noyce. Run time: 100 minutes (theatrical edition). Rated: PG-13. 

At First Bite: The idea of Jolie as a CIA agent who could also be a Russian spy seemed watchable enough.

Tough to Swallow: Andre Braugher has ONE line in the whole movie, but his billing is pretty high in the credits. His talents are totally wasted here. Maybe his character has more to do in the extended deluxe edition DVD.

When Peabody is reading Salt's records on his phone, there is a misspelling in the recommendations category -- "Recieved the Intelligence Commendation Medal..."

Something to Chew On: Originally scripted with a male lead, the film almost starred Tom Cruise. He backed out, and the script was rewritten with a female lead.

Aftertaste: SALT was definitely better than I had expected it to be. I mean, the action and plot are ridiculous, but it's fun to watch. And, I wasn't expecting the twist, which is always nice.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frenemy (2009) - Movie Marathon Drive-Thru Review: Film #14

On the Menu:
FRENEMY (2009)
Ingredients: Matthew Modine, Callum Blue, Adam Baldwin, Paul Adelstein and Zach Galifianakis. Directed by Gregory Dark. Run time: 80 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: Picked this up because Galifianakis was on the cover.

Tough to Swallow: The movie is 80 minutes long and, despite being the prominent figure on the front and back on the DVD, Galifianakis is only in the first 25 minutes (and just 13 of those).

The summary on the back of the DVD has nothing to do with this movie:

After a group of friends witness a horrifying crime, they wonder how they were lucky enough to escape, unharmed, while one friend did not. Through this self-discovery they start to understand the meaning of their own hilarious yet twisted fate. As their time starts to run out, the chance at redemption isn't too far behind.

There is no group of friends. There's no hilarity. How is this listed as a comedy?

Modine's laugh and accent are ridiculous.

There's a scene where Mr. Jack (Modine) and Sweet Stephen (Blue) are walking down the sidewalk, and the cameraman goes to pan too early for the end of the scene. I didn't understand why they just didn't reshoot that.

The credit for Steadicam Operator is misspelled as Stedicam Operator.

There are a couple spacing issues in the final bit of the credits starting with "The charactersand events portrayed..." The missing space between "characters" and "and" is one of the mistakes. The other is "... laws,and is strictly prohibited." There should be a space after the comma.

Something to Chew On: It was shown in film festivals under the title LITTLE FISH, STRANGE POND.

Ron Jeremy has a cameo.

Modine is also one of the film's executive producers.

Gregory Dark's other directorial adventures were mostly adult films in the '80s, then soft core skin flicks in the mid-'90s. His most recent mainstream film was SEE NO EVIL with WWE star Kane.

Somehow, 36 people gave this movie a rating of 10 on

Aftertaste: The characters spout pretentious lines about evil, fate and intuition throughout. I'm not sure what point they're actually trying to make. The movie lacks cohesion even though Mr. Jack tries to explain how all the events are connected because "evil begets evil."

There were two things I liked about this movie: 1) Stephen's rant in the movie theater where he confronts the couple who are talking during the movie, and 2)  Stephen's line "I wish my life were more like a Burt Reynolds movie."

Those two things aside, this movie is 80 minutes of blah.

Another line from the movie seems to point out why I am one of the fewer than 200 people who have seen this piece of crap: "You were more curious than the others."

I guess it was fate that I had to suffer through FRENEMY.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Peacock (2010) - Movie Marathon Drive-Thru Review: Film #13

On the Menu:
PEACOCK (2010)

Ingredients: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas, Bill Pullman and Keith Carradine. Directed by Michael Lander. Run time: 90 minutes. Rated: PG-13.

At First Bite: I knew nothing of PEACOCK going in, but knew it had Ellen Page. That's all I really needed to know. But, then I read the back cover of the DVD and found that Murphy was going to be in a Norman Bates-type role. Intriguing, right?

Tough to Swallow: This movie did not receive a theatrical release. 

Something to Chew On: Murphy really did shave off his eyebrows. It took nine weeks for them to grow back.

Aftertaste: What if Norman Bates lived in a town surrounded by people, but his alter-ego was more interested in having a family than killing people? That's PEACOCK in a nutshell.

I would have mentioned in the "Tough to Swallow" section that Murphy in drag looks like Murphy in drag, not really a woman. However, the movie looks to be set in the 1950s or around that time. So, it's easy to assume that people back then don't really think, "Hey, that's John dressed as a woman!" Worse-case scenario they'd think John and Emma are related.

The audience discovers the truth about Emma very early in the film. To me, what makes this movie a thriller is the suspense of when someone is going to figure out that secret. The movie is full of great actors, but, really, this is all Murphy. John and Emma have significantly different personalities. I guess that's another reason the townspeople can't put two and two together. It's crazy how independent Emma is compared to John. I don't think he could have survived had he not created her. But, he was always able to control her because he kept to a strict routine. When the routine is disturbed by the train wreck, Emma takes the spotlight and doesn't want to relinquish it. PEACOCK is a surprisingly good psychological thriller. Had the film gotten a theatrical release, Murphy might have received some accolades for his performance(s). 


Up in the Air (2009) - Movie Marathon Drive-Thru Review: Film #12

On the Menu:
UP IN THE AIR (2009)

Ingredients: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Sam Elliott, Danny McBride, Amy Morton, Melanie Lynskey and Zach Galifianakis. Directed by Jason Reitman. Run time: 109 minutes. Rated: R. 

At First Bite: In 2008, I was rooting for Jason Reitman to win the Oscar for JUNO, but he lost to the Coens. Two years later, he got nominated again for this one, but had the misfortune of going up against the juggernaut that was THE HURT LOCKER and Kathryn Bigelow. I didn't get to see this before Oscar time last year, so I made sure to watch it before this year's. 

Tough to Swallow: I don't think the family bits fit that well into the movie. 

A lyric for "Time After Time" is incorrect on the karaoke monitor as Natalie sings.

The name of the company Ryan works for is CTC. On his secretary's desk, the plate reads Career Transition Corporation. On the letterhead of a recommendation letter seen later, CTC stands for Career Transition Counseling. 

Something to Chew On: The voices of Coors and Budweiser have a moment together when Ryan reaches 10,000,000 miles.

The movie is based on a novel by Walter Kirn, who has a cameo. During Natalie's introduction, Kirn is sitting to the left of Ryan. 

Most of the people laid off in the film are not actors, but people who had recently lost their jobs.

Emily Blunt and Ellen Page were considered for the role of Natalie, but Reitman wrote the role with Kendrick in mind. 

This film received 6 Oscar nominations. 

Aftertaste: Reitman's only directed three movies. Three! THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, JUNO and UP IN THE AIR. All great. 

I think this movie struck a chord because it came at a time when a lot of America was dealing with a recession and massive layoffs.

Clooney is his charming self as Ryan Bingham, a guy who flies around the world firing people. What a horrible job to have, right? This might be Clooney's best performance since O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

I'm very interested in seeing more of Kendrick. Loved her in this, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD and ROCKET SCIENCE. I will not watch the Twilight movies. Sorry, Miss Kendrick.

So, I enjoyed the acting and dialogue. Well, the screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, too.

The romance and banter between Clooney and Farmiga is very reminiscent of watching a Cary Grant flick. But, the conversations between Clooney and Kendrick are just as fun to watch. The scene with all three might be my favorite part of the movie. That and the appearance of Young MC.

If you watch the DVD with the commentary, Reitman, the DP and the 1st Assistant Director mention how they wanted to mimic Ryan's composure with their shooting style, e.g., hand-held in the second half. They also said they wanted the look to go from "perfect" to real. You definitely pick up on all of it watching a second time. 

Needless to say, this is Reitman's most grounded film (ha), and I am anxiously awaiting his next one.