Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friends with Benefits (2011) - February Filmathon Film #11


Ingredients: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Nolan Gould, Shaun White, Andy Samberg and Emma Stone. Directed by Will Gluck. Run time: 109 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: I've had the DVD sitting by the television, but been putting off watching it in favor of non-romantic comedies and action flicks. However, it was the wife's pick out of the stack.

Corporate headhunter Jamie (Kunis) recruits well-known blogger Dylan (Timberlake) to work for GQ. Both have recently gotten out of relationships and end up spending lots of time together. They become good friends and decide to take it to the next level, but without any attachment.

Does that ever really work?

Tough to Swallow: Jamie's phone has the date 8/24/2010 on it when it's supposed to be July 4th. It's very brief.

Something to Chew On: Kunis used a butt double for nude scenes.

Jason Segel and Rashida Jones appear uncredited as stars of the movie within the movie.

Masi Oka ("Heroes") has a cameo as a passenger on a plane. His character's name is Darin Arturo Morena, but I don't recall hearing or reading his name anywhere.

Catherine Reitman, daughter of director Ivan Reitman, plays a female co-worker. Six months before this film hit theaters, Reitman's NO STRINGS ATTACHED, another bed buddies flick, was released.

Gluck previously directed EASY A starring Stone and Clarkson.

The sign Jamie uses to flag down Dylan at the airport originally read "O. Penderghast." Olive Penderghast was Stone's character in EASY A.

Gluck's daughters appear on the plane in front of Jamie and Dylan when the friends are going to visit Justin's family.

In the scene where Dylan hits on the Belgian girl, the saxophone player is playing Biz Markie's "Just a Friend."

Susan Sarandon is the only person from SNL's "Motherlover" Digital Short not to appear in this movie.

After the end credits, there are fake outtakes from the movie within the movie.

Aftertaste: For me, this is the third Justin Timberlake movie of the month following BAD TEACHER and IN TIME. And, surprisingly, I have to say I enjoyed this one the most.

Timberlake and Kunis have great chemistry together, and are both very attractive. The dialogue is witty and quick, and the supporting cast shines. Clarkson, Jenkins and Harrelson are scene stealers.

I like how the characters break down rom-coms. It's a self-aware movie, but still follows the same clichés. So, it's predictable, yet still funny and entertaining.

Oh, the beginning of the closing credits is pretty cool. A pair of hands works the credits like a smartphone.

All of those things make this the f*ck buddies movie you should watch, not NO STRINGS ATTACHED. I love Natalie Portman, but Ashton Kutcher is horrible.

For Gluck, it's a couple notches below EASY A (4.5 stars). Maybe an easy B.

Around the Table:
"I liked this movie and not just because we get to see Justin Timberlake’s ass. I enjoyed the love story part of it and find some of it to be true to life, especially the part where Justin’s character is making excuses to his sister of why it wouldn’t work with Mila’s character." -- My wife


In Time (2011) - February Filmathon Film #10

On the Menu: IN TIME (2011)

Ingredients: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Johnny Galecki, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Vincent Kartheister. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Run time: 109 minutes. Rated: PG-13.

At First Bite: Looked like a fun sci-fi thriller from the trailer.

Will Salas (Timberlake) lives in a world where everyone stops aging at 25 years old. When that year is up the person dies unless they acquire more time. See, time is also the currency. You work to get time and that time keeps you alive.

Society is split up into Time Zones. The poor joes living hour-by-hour populate the lower zones. The rich, and elderly despite their looks, dwell in the fancy cities of the higher zones.

Will happens upon a butt-load of time, but only wants to bring the system to its knees.

Tough to Swallow: Will's mom (Wilde) celebrates her 50th birthday. Will comments that she'll be celebrating her 25th birthday for the 25th time. It would actually be the 26th celebration.

I wish Leon (Murphy) would have had more character development. He was the most interesting character in the film, to me.

Something to Chew On: Some characters have names of real-life watchmakers: Fortis, Kolber, Girard, Rado, Oris, Breitling, Nomos, Jaeger, Bell, Citizen, Ulysse and Hamilton.

Timberlake, Seyfried, Wilde and Kartheiser also starred together in ALPHA DOG.

Niccol also wrote and produced the film. GATTACA (4 stars), S1M0NE (3.5 stars) and LORD OF WAR (4 stars) are the other films he's both written and directed. 

Aftertaste: The plot is like something out of a Philip K. Dick story, but the film is more on the level of IMPOSTOR or NEXT rather than MINORITY REPORT or BLADE RUNNER. Niccol's film reminds me of LOGAN'S RUN mixed with ROBIN HOOD and a little BONNIE & CLYDE thrown in for good measure.

The concept of time as money is interesting, as is the feeling of immortality based on how "rich" a person is. The class warfare storyline will likely touch a chord with those who follow politics and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Unfortunately, a movie can't succeed on concept alone. The movie is rife with plot holes. I don't quite understand why your "life savings" would be visible to everyone at all times (unless you wear a long-sleeve shirt). Or why it's so easy to just take someone else's life by grabbing his wrist. Or why we need to know about Will's dad. Or why there are so few police. Or why someone's personal security guards don't know one another. Or why rich people with lots of time think they're immortal when someone could simply kill them via gunshot.

It feels like Niccol didn't really know how to flesh out the story. He essentially took his wonderful idea and turned it into a chase movie with little to no resolution.

I like the cleverness of naming characters after watchmakers when your movie revolves around time.

It's an okay movie that could have been much, much better. The relevance of the social commentary is reason enough to take a chance on it.

Tick-tock though. Soon everyone will forget about wealth inequality and be focused on more important issues like birth control and abortion. *rolls eyes*


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bridesmaids (2011) - February Filmathon Film #9

On the Menu: BRIDESMAIDS (2011)

Ingredients: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jill Clayburgh, Jon Hamm, Chris O'Dowd, Rebel Wilson, Matt Lucas, Michael Hitchcock, Ben Falcone, Terry Crews and Richard Riehle. Directed by Paul Feig. Run time: 125 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: This movie got a lot of hype. It was called the female version of THE HANGOVER. I held off on seeing it until the DVD release because almost every comedy deemed the next HANGOVER has disappointed.

Lillian (Rudolph) is getting married and has picked her life-long best friend, Annie (Wiig), to be her maid of honor. Annie feels threatened by Lillian's newest, and richest, friend, Helen (Byrne), who tries to plan everything from the engagement party to the wedding.

Annie is also dealing with a crappy "boyfriend," ridiculous roommates and recently saw her bakery go out of business.

Tough to Swallow: During the bridal shower, Megan has a brace on her right wrist. It's on her left wrist every other time we see her.

In the subtitles and credits, Air Marshal Jon is misspelled as 'Air Marshall Jon."

I never quite understood why Annie got the blame for the airplane incident.

Something to Chew On: This was Clayburgh's final film. Six months before the movie hit theaters, she lost her 21-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. She was 66.

Hamm is uncredited as Ted.

Feig has an uncredited cameo as a wedding guest.

Co-writer Annie Mumolo has a small role as the nervous woman on the plane.

Judd Apatow is one of the film's producers. Wiig and Mumolo are also credited as co-producers.

SNL alumni Nancy Carell (formerly Walls) and Melanie Hutsell are Helen and Annie's tennis partners.

McCarthy and Falcone, who played Air Marshal Jon, are married to each other in real life.

Nominated for a 2011 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (Wiig and Mumolo).

McCarthy received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

There are two funny references to "The Brady Bunch" and "The Twilight Zone." Well, funny to me.

The wedding scene/song plays out a little longer over the credits, and there's a homemade tape featuring Megan and Air Marshal Jon.

Aftertaste: Even though my wife loves toilet humor, I find it interesting a comedy written by women contains so much of it. Those parts of the movie, plus McCarthy's Galifianakis-like antics, were funny, but I laughed more at Wiig's performance, especially her scenes with Rudolph. I think my favorite joke was early in the movie at the coffee shop when Lillian talks about how Ted wanted Annie to get dental work.

My favorite scene was definitely Annie losing it on the airplane. What kind of name is Stove? It might be the only time Wiig went over-the-top and was still funny.

The engagement party speech scene was slightly uncomfortable to watch at first. Redemption was found in having it drag out, plus seeing Lillian's reaction.

The appearance of my second favorite musical group of all-time (#1 being Huey Lewis & The News) was cool, and had me singing the song for the rest of the next two days.

I think Matt Lucas is a funny guy. I loved him in "Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire," a show that wasn't given a fair shake by Comedy Central. However, Lucas and Wilson, as the bumbling brother-sister roommates, bring nothing of substance to this movie. The run time could easily be 10-15 minutes shorter.

I'd say BRIDESMAIDS is the female equivalent of THE HANGOVER. Although, I'm still not sure it warranted two Oscar nominations. But, the Academy loves when women take on something that makes them look worse than they really are, e.g., Kathy Bates, Hilary Swank, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Renée Zellweger, Mo'Nique, etc.

Hopefully, Annie didn't catch the bouquet because THE HANGOVER PART II was disappointing.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Colombiana (2011) - February Filmathon Film #8

On the Menu: COLOMBIANA (2011)

Ingredients: Zoë Saldana, Cliff Curtis, Jordi Mollà, Lennie James, Michael Vartan, Callum Blue, Beto Benites, Graham McTavish and Amandla Stenberg. Directed by Olivier Megaton. Run time: 111 minutes. Rated: Unrated.

At First Bite: I needed an action movie to watch and Saldana is gorgeous. If the screenplay is written by Luc Besson (LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, LA FEMME NIKITA), you could probably guess the story: a young woman's parents have been killed and she's going to seek revenge.

Well, if you guessed that plotline, then you'd be correct.

Tough to Swallow: Manhole covers must be pretty lightweight in Colombia.

Do the police not get a mugshot of everyone they arrest?

If you've successfully hidden in your mansion's safe room, why would you leave knowing who is in your house?

Not sure you can train a dog to eat raw steaks and get the result COLOMBIANA achieved.

Young Cataleya (Stenberg) reads a Xena: Warrior Princess comic and says she wants to be like Xena. The film is set in 1992. Xena wasn't around until three years later.

The word personal is misspelled as 'personnal' in two credits for Saldana's make up artist and hair stylist.

The word prosthetics is misspelled as 'prostetics' in the credit for Prosthetics Artists.

In the France Unit section of the credits, there's a credit for Location Manager Assistants, but lists only one person. Also in this section, the word assistants is misspelled as 'assitants' in the credit for Video Assistants.

In the Additional Footages credits, licensing is misspelled as 'licencing' for Universal Studios.

Something to Chew On: Besson wrote the screenplay and has a producer credit.

Director Olivier Megaton's birth name is Olivier Fontana. He was born on the 20th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, which is where he came up with the Megaton surname.

Aftertaste: Man, there are so many ridiculous moments in this movie (some listed above). Cataleya is supposedly an intelligent assassin with nearly 15 years of experience. Why chance losing the rest of your family while killing nobodies in an attempt to draw the attention of your real target? She's really careless.

And, the police are no better. The Tag Killer can't be a woman? Okay, if you say so. Ugh, and Callum Blue is just as bad an actor here as he was in FRENEMY. His CIA agent is a poorly written character anyway.

Some of the action is okay. I'd say the best part of the movie is when we see Young Cataleya. She jumps from building to building in parkour fashion. But, even the bad guys try to ruin this sequence. The head baddie tells his goons to kill her, then yells at one guy for shooting at her because "we need her alive." Then, he and all his goons end up shooting at the last place they saw her.

You'll definitely be scratching your head a lot... or laughing.

It might keep your interest if you're unfamiliar with Besson's previous works. The oftentimes scantily clad Saldana couldn't even keep me from forgetting the plot holes.

He should have skipped on this and written the sequel to LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL. Please bring back Natalie Portman for MATHILDA.

Sort of ironic the director named himself for a bomb, isn't it.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) - February Filmathon Film #7

On the Menu: KUNG FUN PANDA 2 (2011)

Ingredients: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber and Lauren Tom. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Run time: 91 minutes. Rated: PG.

At First Bite: Personally, I find Jack Black to be annoying. But, it is much easier to watch one of his movies if he's just a voice actor.

In the first film, Po (Black) was matched up against Tai Lung, who really had a beef with Master Oogway. Here, the story pits Po against someone from his past, Lord Shen, who is bent on killing off Kung Fu altogether and taking over China.

Tough to Swallow: I wish I would have seen this in 3D.

Something to Chew On: This is the feature directorial debut of Yuh Nelson.

To date, KUNG FU PANDA 2 is the highest-grossing film with a female director.

Shen was actually a character for the first movie, but was written out before production.

Guillermo del Toro is credited as a Creative Consultant.

Charlie Kaufman did some uncredited script touch-ups.

2012 Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature.

Aftertaste: Po is still a fanboy of the Furious Five, but he's toned down from the original. And, only one skadoosh. This time Po is more vulnerable. He's haunted by flashes from his past, but he's not sure what they mean.

Darker than the first film. Of course, when you have a villain hellbent on killing all the pandas, it's going to be dark. Who hates pandas? I will say Shen doesn't look the part of a bad guy, but having Gary Oldman's voice definitely helps.

I love the use of different animating styles. The movie starts and ends with 2D shadow puppetry. The bulk of the movie is 3D CGI, and Po's memories are 2D anime.

The dragon sequence and the ensuing chase are my favorite scenes. The final battle is pretty sweet as well though (by that point the movie is sooooo red). There are some really funny moments. I think the one I laughed at most was when Po is flipped by the prison door and turned around by Tigress (Jolie). There are also some tug-at-your-heart ones, especially with Mr. Ping (Hong).

I'd say Mr. Ping and the Soothsayer (Yeoh) steal their scenes.

Better than the original. Pure awesomeness.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Moneyball (2011) - February Filmathon Film #6

On the Menu: MONEYBALL (2011)

Ingredients: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Reed Diamond and Brent Jennings. Directed by Bennett Miller. Run time: 133 minutes. Rated: PG-13.

At First Bite: Well, after watching a mediocre sports film, I had to go with one I knew would be much better. I love movies about baseball: THE NATURAL, SANDLOT, BULL DURHAM, THE BAD NEWS BEARS, FIELD OF DREAMS, EIGHT MEN OUT, MAJOR LEAGUE, FOR LOVE OF THE GAME, SOUL OF THE GAME and A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.

Growing up, I played baseball for 10 years. I didn't hit for power, but I got on base, hustled on every play and had a better-than-average glove. I was a Moneyball guy. I'm still that kind of player when rec league softball comes around each year.

MONEYBALL is the story of how Billy Beane (Pitt) tried to re-invent the game of baseball in 2002 with a salary of just around $40 million, which was almost 3 times less than the New York Yankees.

Tough to Swallow: The film begins at the end of the 2001 season. Billy and Pete (Hill) pick Jeremy Giambi and Chad Bradford as two of the guys to sign for the 2002 season. In reality, both players were already on the roster (since 2000).

Standings, as of May 23, 2002, are shown on screen. The A's record is 20-26. However, the next home game they lose in the film is to the Baltimore Orioles (when Billy confronts a dancing Giambi). In fact, the May 23rd game was the last time the A's played the O's at home that season.

In the film, Carlos Peña is traded before the 20-game winning streak. Yet, during footage of the 14th win he's shown running in from 1st base to celebrate.

Game Five of the 2002 ALDS was a day game, not a night game.

Although the film shows Tim Hudson a couple of times, there's no mention of the Big 3 as a factor in the team's success. Hudson went 15-9 with a 2.98 ERA. Mark Mulder went 19-7 with a 3.47 ERA, and Barry Zito went 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA.

I'm not sure anyone would believe Kerris Dorsey is the daughter of Brad Pitt and Robin Wright.

The scenes of the young Billy Beane have him playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1985 as a New York Met. Beane played 8 games as a Met that year, none against the Dodgers. In fact, Beane never faced the Dodgers in his career.

The Boston Red Sox 2004 and 2007 championship banners are visible when Billy goes to Fenway Park about a job offer (at the conclusion of the 2002 season).

Something to Chew On: The project began in 2009 with Steven Soderbergh at the helm. Pitt and Demetri Martin were the leads, and numerous former players/coaches were set to play themselves.

This is Miller's second feature film. He previously directed CAPOTE in 2005.

The character of Peter Brand is based on Paul DePodesta.

Spike Jonze appears uncredited as Alán, Billy's ex-wife's new husband.

Beane had remarried, but scenes shot with the new wife were cut.

Former major leaguer Royce Clayton plays Miguel Tejada.

Former major leaguer Chad Kreuter plays A's pitching coach Rick Peterson.

Stephen Bishop, who plays David Justice, is a former Atlanta Braves minor leaguer. His nickname was Young Justice.

Derrin Ebert, who plays Mike Magnante, was a reliever for the Braves in 1999.

Glenn Morshower (Aaron Pierce on "24"), mostly known for his roles as military personnel, law enforcement officers and government agents, plays A's scout Ron Hopkins.

Pitt is also credited as a producer.

The film received 6 Oscar nominations: Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture.

Aftertaste: It's a baseball movie, but it's more about the business of the game than the game itself. The movie focuses on Beane and Brand and their new approach to finding players, Moneyball. Makes sense. When you have the second-lowest payroll in Major League Baseball, how do fill the gaps made by losing three of your best players? Sabermetrics. Google it.

That's not all the movie is about though. Otherwise, it's a 133-minute long movie about how certain stats are more important when it comes to evaluating players. The movie is also about the man, Billy Beane, and his struggles. I think Pitt's performance is what will appeal to non-sports fans. He shows the frustration and pain on his face even when he seems like he might have it all together. And, Hill was great is his first serious role.

I wouldn't be surprised if Aaron Sorkin doesn't take home the screenplay Oscar again this year. He had help from Steven Zaillian this time though.

It's a compelling drama with some baseball tossed in for good measure.

Maybe not a homerun, since, even with the help of MLB, the filmmakers got their facts wrong in some instances.

Perhaps, a stand-up triple.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Division III: Football's Finest (2011) - February Filmathon Film #5

On the Menu:

Ingredients: Andy Dick, Marshall Cook, Alison Haislip, Mo Collins, Michael Jace, Bryan Callen, Paul Henderson, Greg Fitzsimmons, Kevin Covais, Adam Carolla, Will Sasso, Debra Wilson and Sally Kirkland. Directed by Marshall Cook. Run time: 98 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: In honor of the Super Bowl, I wanted to watch a football-related movie. BIG FAN would have been perfect had I not already seen it.

DIVISION III is about a crappy football program at Pulham University, a liberal arts college. The previous coach suffered a heart attack, and the school president brings in Coach Rick Vice (Dick) for publicity. If he can't coach PU to a winning season, then the program will be cut.

So, it's a familiar underdog story... with Andy Dick.
Tough to Swallow: The school's name is Pulham University, but if you watch the movie with subtitles, it's Pullham University.

IMDb categorizes this as a romance?
Something to Chew On: Cook starred in, directed, produced, co-wrote and edited the movie. It is his feature debut.

Dick and Henderson are the other co-writers. Dick is also credited as an executive producer.

This movie is based on Cook's short film DIVISION III (2006), which also starred Dick.

Cook graduated from Occidental College, a Division III school, where he also played quarterback for 2 years.

Collins, Callen, Sasso and Wilson are all "MADtv" alumni. You know, back when "MADtv" was funny and the cast didn't go out and make EPIC MOVIE, DATE MOVIE and crap like that.

Covais was a finalist on Season Five of "American Idol." Remember Chicken Little?

Sasso played a commentator, the voice of Boo Venals and also did the voiceover in the beginning of the film.

Cook's mom has a cameo as the librarian.

Coach Vice wears a brace on his left leg. When he and Roy race down the sidelines, it starts to break. Roy yells, "Run, Forrest, Run!" Michael Jace was a Black Panther in FORREST GUMP.

The teabag scene really happened. Apparently, there were multiple takes done.

In the credits, one of the sponsors listed in the thank yous is Adult Chocolate Milk. I thought maybe it was a band, but it is in fact a drink.

There are outtakes during the closing credits.
Aftertaste: I've been disappointed with bigger comedies so far this month. BAD TEACHER and 30 MINUTES OR LESS didn't live up to expectations, considering the A-to-B-list casts. This movie, however, stars Andy Dick, so you don't expect anything more than offensive humor. Well, good news. DIVISION III has offensive humor in spades.

The team mascot is the Blue Cock. The rival mascot is the Cougar (there's also a team named the Beavers). There are lots of balls. And, the coach is borderline racist and slightly insane. Imagine the fun.

My favorite moments include the first pregame speech and prayer, and the food fight.

The story is old: Loser coach takes over a losing team and tries to turn things around. But, really, this movie isn't about the game. There aren't a lot of in-the-game scenes. The movie is more about the characters and the jokes. To me, even the final game takes a backseat to the commentary by Carolla and Sasso.

This movie was also my introduction to the lovely Alison Haislip (former correspondent on "Attack of the Show!" on G4).

I think just the fact that Andy Dick is a lead will turn people away from watching this movie. I don't necessarily like his antics, but I didn't find him that off-putting here. Heck, I even watched it a second time with the audio commentary (provided by Cook and Dick).

Get some. As Coach Vice would say.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

30 Minutes Or Less (2011) - February Filmathon Film #4

On the Menu: 30 MINUTES OR LESS (2011)

Ingredients: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Fred Ward, Michael Peña, Dilshad Vadsaria and Bianca Kajlich. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Run time: 83 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite:
I worked as a pizza delivery guy for three and a half years. I remember the story of Brian Douglas Wells, the delivery guy with a bomb strapped to his chest who robbed a bank.

Basically, if you remember the story behind that botched 2003 robbery, then you know the plot of 30 MINUTES OR LESS.

Dwayne (McBride) can't wait for his dad to die. He figures the inheritance would be rather large. A stripper suggests he hire a hitman. In order to pay for the hit, Dwayne and his buddy Travis (Swardson) kidnap an unsuspecting pizza boy named Nick (Eisenberg) and force him to rob a bank wearing a bomb.

Tough to Swallow:
The Major interrupts Dwayne and Travis while they're watching FRIDAY THE 13TH (3D). Dwayne says there's 45 minutes left, but it's the final scene of the movie.

The outtakes on the DVD aren't funny.

Something to Chew On:
Ben Stiller was one of the film's producers.

This is Fleischer's second feature film. He previously directed ZOMBIELAND, also starring Eisenberg.

In the beginning of the movie, Nick rents the first two LETHAL WEAPON films. Later, Dwayne is talking to Travis about his tanning salon idea. He calls one of the tanning options the Tanny Glover.

Following the credits, there's a commercial for Dwayne's tanning salon

There are a few funny moments. Not a lot, but a few. And, they come from the Eisenberg/Ansari tandem instead of McBride and Swardson, which was a surprise. I love Swardson, but McBride seems to play the same guy in every movie (essentially Kenny Powers). He's like the Tommy Lee Jones of comedy.

I can't complain about this movie too much. Even though it's not as funny as I wanted it to be, it's only 83 minutes long. So, I didn't feel like I suffered through it. Especially, since it's peppered with scenes featuring the lovely Dilshad Vadsaria ("Greek").

As a follow-up to ZOMBIELAND though, Fleischer dropped the ball. Maybe he should stick to original ideas. Or at least have more of a script and not rely on ad-libbing.

Heavy on the cheese, light on the sauce.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Bad Teacher (2011) - February Filmathon Film #3

On the Menu: BAD TEACHER (2011)
Ingredients: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch, John Michael Higgins, Eric Stonestreet, Thomas Lennon, Phyllis Smith, Kaitlyn Dever, Noah Munck, David Paymer, Molly Shannon, Matt Besser and Rick Overton. Directed by Jake Kasdan. Run time: 97 minutes. Rated: Unrated.
At First Bite: When the trailer for this one came out, it did not appeal to me at all. It didn't look very funny, and I'm not a big fan of Cameron Diaz. So, seeing it in the theater wasn't going to happen.

DVD is another story though.

Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is an apathetic teacher who is just skating by while planning her wedding to some rich doofus. After her last day at work, her fia
ncé dumps her. So, she ends up back at school trying to seduce a wealthy substitute, Mr. Delacorte (Timberlake).
Tough to Swallow: Jem Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird is referred to as a 'she.' And, in a different scene, Scout is referred to as 'he.'

Drug sniffing dogs wouldn't miss a false bottom in a drawer.

The 'sex' scene is beyond retarded.

A pull quote on the back of the DVD from Yahoo's Denise Parkinson reads "Totally hillarious." Yes, two L's. Where's my red pen?
Something to Chew On: The film won 3 Teen Choice Awards, including Best Comedy. I imagine it got the most votes because it featured more kids. The movie beat out BRIDESMAIDS (R), THE OTHER GUYS (PG-13), DUE DATE (R) and LITTLE FOCKERS (PG-13).

Paul Feig, director of BRIDESMAIDS, has a cameo as a parent at the car wash.

Paul Bates (COMING TO AMERICA) plays the superintendent.

Dever, like Stonestreet ("Modern Family"), stars in an ABC comedy ("Last Man Standing").
Aftertaste: The movie has its funny moments, but none really involve Diaz or Timberlake, whose character is just awkward overall. Segel, Punch and Smith have the best characters and lines. Higgins is wasted.

Also, the chemistry is never there between Ms. Halsey and Mr. Delacorte. However, it's not like you're really given a reason to root for them since neither character is really likable. I mean, Halsey is a gold digger whose life goal is getting a boob job. The later romance is simply forced on us.

I think the writing was the problem. The story had potential, but got lost somewhere. Teacher movies work because the teacher finds a way to transform the children. Here the children aren't really given a chance to do much of anything aside from answering questions about Atticus Finch. I'm not sure they even took the test at the end.

I will say if were a teacher, I would also show movies in class and grade papers by writing "Stupid" and "Is this f***ing English?" on them.

BAD TEACHER doesn't quite make the grade.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Attack the Block (2011) - February Filmathon Film #2

On the Menu: ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)

Ingredients: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway and Nick Frost. Directed by Joe Cornish. Run time: 88 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: On the back cover of the DVD a reviewer called it "THE GOONIES meets GREMLINS." That's all the reason I needed to watch.

A street gang full of young teens runs rampant in South London. That is, until aliens land in their housing project.

Tough to Swallow: The kids are basically pricks in the beginning, so it's difficult to root for them over the nasty alien creatures.

The British accents might be tough for some to understand, and the street slang (trust, bruv, fam, bare, etc.) won't help. I watched with subtitles, so it wasn't as bad.

A plot point is discovered in the weed room later in the film, but wasn't apparent earlier under the same conditions.

Something to Chew On: Places in the film are named after British sci-fi writers.

The aliens are mostly done with practical effects.

Cornish grew up and lives in South London.

Drameh, who plays Dennis, almost got the lead as Moses. He was also the only member of the gang who had already debuted in film (HEREAFTER, 2010).

Aftertaste: I can't say my expectations were high since I hadn't heard of it until seeing the DVD on the shelf at Blockbuster. The pull quote referencing my favorite film, THE GOONIES, and GREMLINS gave me some hope.

The protagonists aren't as lovable and funny as Mikey, Data, Mouth and Chunk. The creatures are more similar to CRITTERS than GREMLINS. And, the drug use, nasty deaths and language make this flick more suited for adult audiences.

ATTACK THE BLOCK excelled where SUPER 8 failed: creature effects. Practical over CGI is definitely the way to go.

The film is also categorized as a comedy, but doesn't really strive for laughs outside of Frost. Although, the youngest characters, Probs and Mayhem, were funnier.

Overall, I wasn't disappointed. It's an enjoyable sci-fi horror film, bruv.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bunraku (2010) - February Filmathon Film #1

On the Menu: BUNRAKU (2010)

Ingredients: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Kevin McKidd, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore and Gackt. Directed by Guy Moshe. Run time: 124 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite:
I passed on this one at last year's ActionFest in favor of BELLFLOWER and A LONELY PLACE TO DIE. In all honesty, I cannot stand to look at Josh Hartnett.

In a world where guns have been outlawed, a cowboy/drifter (Hartnett) who plays cards, a samurai (Gackt) with no sword and a bartender (Harrelson) who makes pop-up books team up to take on a major crime boss (Perlman) and his 9 assassins.

Sounds fun, right?

Tough to Swallow: This movie is way too long and there was really no need for Demi Moore's character.

Aside from Harrelson, I found the acting to be pretty stale.

I wasn't too impressed with the martial arts sequences.

As odd as this movie is, the video game sound effects used in the prison fight seemed hokey.

Something to Chew On: Bunraku is a 400-year-old form of Japanese puppet theater.

The Bartender has a Yang tattoo under his right ear. Alexandra has Yin.

Mike Patton, the lead singer of Faith No More, is the narrator. His "Happy birthday, fucker" line preceding the prison fight is from his song "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies."

Aftertaste: Style points galore. The movie opens up with some bunraku and eases its way into a CGI backstory made to look like origami. Cityscapes and the final scene unfold as though from a pop-up book like that of the bartender. Settings have a strong graphic novel appearance, as do the subtitles for Yoshi and his family. The film is splashed full of bright colors, mostly reds and blues.

I was often reminded of DICK TRACY, THE WARRIOR'S WAY, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, SIN CITY and musicals. There's no singing, but were times when I felt the gangs might bust out in song. I mean, some of the fight choreography was on the verge of dancing already. And, McKidd's Killer #2 has hints of Gene Kelly.

As visually stunning as BUNRAKU is at times, the story and acting just didn't do it for me. Well, in a world made to look like paper, why wouldn't the characters be paper-thin, right?

It might have been easier to take had it been 30 minutes shorter... and with puppets.