Friday, December 28, 2007

Juno: The Cheese to your Macaroni


Release: 12/25/2007
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 32 minutes


Ellen Page (Hard Candy) stars as Juno MacGuff, a quirky sixteen-year-old student at Dancing Elk High School. Juno has always endeavored to set herself apart from the high school drones and, thanks to an afternoon with her best friend Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera (Superbad), she is more different than ever from her classmates. Juno never planned to get pregnant, but since there’s never a DeLorean around when you need it, she has to decide what will be best for the two of them.

“Juno”, written by newcomer Diablo Cody, is as atypical as the story’s title character. Juno’s dialogue and that of her supporting cast is steeped in the parlance of our times, adding an air of truthiness to this modern fairytale. No coward to colloquialism, director Jason Reitman (of cleverly written “Thank You for Smoking” fame) creates a film that is funny, involving and endearing.

Cody and Reitman don’t deserve all the credit; surprisingly, all the actors do. I should rephrase; I never fretted that Page would be a dud having witnessed her skills in 2005’s “Hard Candy,” nor did I waver in my adoration of Michael Cera’s humorously matter-of-fact delivery and the continually unexpected talents of Jason Bateman (Smokin’ Aces). Heck, I even knew Allison Janney (Hairspray) and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) rarely come to a set without packing the acting heat. But seeing Jennifer Garner give a tolerable performance demands kudos all around (granted, I am basing my opinion of her film skills on the likes of “Elektra” and “Catch and Release”). In all honesty, I thought the hype about the award-deserving performances was just that, with the exception of Page, but having seen “Juno” I stand corrected.

Dirty Undies
Let’s talk about legs. One of the early scenes shows off Page’s and Cera’s gams. But time and time again, the director revisits Cera’s smooth appendages. Don’t believe how attractive they are? Here’s a testimonial:

Despite having obvious sexual situations, “Juno” isn’t overly sexual, graphic, brutal, or harsh on the lobes. It’s really a film worth watching for its merit…and Cera’s thighs.

The Money Shot
Witty, eccentric, amusing; these are just a few words to describe “Juno.” Ellen Page will have you laughing and quoting dialogue for months. A lot happens in “Juno” and aficionados may not be satisfied with its conclusion, but if you and enough friends go see it, then you will have someone to talk about it with while you quote those great lines.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, December 21, 2007

Good Tidings to you, Stargazers!

Before we all slip away from our PCs to spend time with loved ones, I want to wish everyone a very joyous holiday, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc. In honor of the season, I’d like to tell the tale of three men who come bearing gifts. The gifts are blood, music, and weapons, and those men, of course, are Sweeney Todd, Dewey Cox and Charlie Wilson, the focal characters of the three reviews I have scrawled below. Sally forth and enjoy reading about these movies that may give you a release from the more stressful aspects of the upcoming holidays.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Let's Give War a Chance

Charlie Wilson’s War

Release: 12/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 37 minutes


One of the shortest (and shortest-titled) films opening this holiday season is this inspired-by-a-true-story flick. Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) plays the title character, a six-term Texas Congressman in the late eighties who used his charisma and connections to influence various committees into covertly backing the Afghanistan people in their war against the Soviet Union.

Writer Aaron Sorkin (*The American President) adapted the George Crile book based on these true events and director Mike Nichols (*Primary Colors) molded the story into a mesh of memorable scenes and historical footage. These scenes center on Hanks who seems to vie for the title of Scene Chewer Numero Uno against Philip Seymour Hoffman (Punch-Drunk Love). Julia Roberts (Closer) is good, as always, but her role as the highly influential Joanna Herring is little more than a glorified cameo. The frank discourse between Hanks and Hoffman is chock full of great lines, and the matter-of-fact honesty in their dialogue reinforces the emotion and inspiration behind this covert war.

Nichols keeps “War” moving along, delivering a tightly packed and quickly paced film. Nichols focuses on the screen-filling presence of the great actors with their witty quips and strays away from them only to show the contrast with the Afghanistan plight or let the audience gander at Charlie’s knack for attracting beautiful women.

Dirty Undies

Speaking of, not in a while have I wanted to see a woman get buck-ass naked more than when I saw Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada) parading about in her unmentionables. I always heard the hype surrounding her sexiness, and now I get it. It is a disappointment that she doesn’t bare all, but there are some other topless females and we get a nice butt shot from what I assume to be Hanks’ body double. Sadly, the finest of the ladies; Roberts, Amy Adams (Enchanted) and all of Charlie’s Angels are provocative, but not gratifying in that nude sort of way.

Hoffman talks as sleazy as he looks with the expletives barely slowing as they tumble from beneath his bushy upper lip. Even Hanks tosses about the occasional F-bomb, but he can’t compete in a battle of vulgarities against the Hoff.

This film is surprisingly graphic in its depiction of the destruction and slaughter of the Afghanistan people. It’s not as detailed as torture porn or even a run-of-the-mill action movie, but the violence was more than I had expected to see.

The Money Shot

“Charlie Wilson’s War” offers up a nice perspective on how we (as in the US) got here in terms of our current embroilment. It establishes this perspective amid jokes, beautiful women, and great acting in a way that makes you forget the seriousness of the subject matter. Besides, it has been a rare occurrence of late to discover a dud Hanks film (“The DaVinci Code” not withstanding), so why wouldn’t you give this film a whirl?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reilly Takes the Hard Walk

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Release: 12/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 38 minutes

Second Run Seats ($$)

Two years ago we had “Ray.” Last year we were treated to “Walk the Line.” Now comes the story of musical legend Dewey Cox. Told in much the same way as the Johnny Cash biopic, the story of Dewey Cox begins before a pivotal concert, and then leads into remembrances of his humble beginnings on the farm, his rise to stardom through his infectious songs, his descent into drug abuse and the constant struggle with his inner demons. This is but a glimpse into the life of Dewey Cox.

This parody of the singer-biopic genre was co-written by Hollywood’s golden boy, Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), and director Jake Kasdan (Orange County). Members of Dewey’s band and the women in his life are portrayed by a slew of Saturday Night Live alums, including Tim Meadows (The Ladies Man), Chris Parnell (Hot Rod), and Kristen Wiig (Knocked Up), just to name a few. “Walk Hard” also includes tons of cameos by a wide range of singers and actors, and even a few Apatow favs like Jane Lynch (A Mighty Wind), Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters) and the incomparable Paul Rudd (The OH in Ohio). However, it is one of my personal unsung heroes, John C. Reilly (Chicago), who plays Dewey Cox.

Reilly gives his all for an earnest portrayal of the pseudo-legendary singer Cox, and the performances by the supporting cast are commendable. It’s the source material that cannot sustain the potential of the titular character’s life. Some truly side-splitting moments are spread between long spans of the story trying too hard to be funny. There’s always a fine line between quirkiness and inanity in Apatow’s films, and this one falls too far into the latter. Because it’s a parody the writers were able to draw many obvious parallels to movies like “Ray” and “Walk the Line,” and even make a few more obscure references to movies like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “La Bamba.” The problem is that the parallels barely added to the humor.

On the plus side, the music is phenomenal. Reilly performs all his own songs and that in itself is a delight. I see myself buying this soundtrack, if for no other reason than not having to sit through the many unfunny and non-musical moments of “Walk Hard” again. I don’t mean to sound so harsh because when this is funny it’s funny, but it’s not nearly as funny as the commercials made it out to be. Maybe that’s because a majority of scenes shown from the trailers are strangely absent…

Dirty Undies
Dewey Cox delivers more than wild drug-induced antics. An orgy aftermath, complete with a room full of pert chesticles and a flaccid cock (thankfully not Cox’s) is on display to be devoured by audience eyes. Jenna Fischer (*Blades of Glory) plays Dewey’s love interest, Darlene, as a lovely and demure southern belle, but the way she works her ice cream and the words coming from her mouth will have your loins yearning for her ring of fire.

The Money Shot
John C. Reilly sings the songs, fights the demons, and walks the hard walk. His performance is one of the best comedic roles of the year in a film that falls well short of audience expectations. With word-of-mouth like it is, Mr. Reilly may need to journey a little longer before finding the vehicle that’ll make him the theatrical juggernaut I know he can be.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Gushing with the Burton Family Holiday Cheer

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Release: 12/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 56 minutes


Open on an optimistic young sailor putting into port in London. Enter the dark passenger Sweeney Todd, portrayed by Johnny Depp (*Sleepy Hollow), who quickly extols the true virtues of the big city through a musical rendition of his tragic past. He finds refuge with a Ms. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter (Big Fish), above her meat pie shop, who tells him what has happened to his beloved family during his long absence. Filled with wrath, he sets about seeking revenge on the man who destroyed his life and love, Judge Turpin, played by Alan Rickman (Die Hard).

In a season of bright lights and colorful decorations, it’s nice to know there’s a guy like Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) around; a director ready to darken the mood and remind us why we should be thankful. “Sweeney Todd” reeks of Burton’s familiar visual style; he has a way of utilizing black and gray tones to an almost vibrant effect (the zigzag stripes and occasional splashes of color help).

I am not familiar with the Stephen Sondheim musical so I’m unclear what influence, if any, writer John Logan (Gladiator) had in establishing this story. The tale of the Demon Barber is told almost entirely through verse, with only a scant amount of non-musical dialogue. The lyrics are clever and cheerfully twisted. The actors’ songs are easy on the ears though I don’t foresee any Grammy nominations for their renditions. Singing aside, Depp is absolutely devoid of redeeming qualities and perverse in the satisfaction attained from his trade. However, its Carter’s twisted portrayal that will leave audiences truly disturbed.

Dirty Undies
Watching the first twenty minutes of Sweeney Todd, it’s obvious to see Burton’s love for Carter lies within the depths of her bosom. Admittedly, she has a certain look about her that makes me want to believe that necrophilia is acceptable, at least in the Burton household. Seriously, you’ve got to admit Helena Bonham Carter and the Living Dead Dolls line were separated at birth:

Aside from Carter’s cleavage, the big draw of “Sweeney Todd” is the reunion of Todd to his beloved friends, the razors. Watching his blades connect with victim after victim, jets of bright red juice spewing from jugulars, heightened by the pulsing score, is thrilling. For an added touch of sweet brutality audiences get the bone-crunching thud of the barber chair ejections with each fatality.

The Money Shot
This holiday season, Burton and the Warner Brothers shield deliver a darkly fun, visually stimulating film that’s also a musical, and it’s drenched in blood. It is a big three-for-three for me to see it, but you will have to decide if the Demon Barber offers up the right trimmings for your holiday spirit.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Repeat Bidness: The Simpsons Movie

Release: 07/27/2007
DVD Release: 12/18/2007
1 hour, 27 minutes
Rated PG-13


Would it be too obvious to give a resounding “woo hoo!” or “exxxcellent?” How about I just say, “everything’s coming up Milhouse!”

After being a television mainstay for nearly two decades and having nearly every promotional item ever created bearing their image--from key chains to calendars to action figures to bedroom slippers--creator Matt Groening and company decided that the Simpsons were ready for the big screen.

With “The Simpsons Movie” out on DVD today, fans, both casual and devoted, are dying to know:

  • What is it all about?
  • Does everyone in Springfield make an appearance?
  • Which celebs make cameos?
  • Is it true Bart shows his dangle?
  • Is it as funny and random as the show tends to be?
  • Is it more vulgar than the show?
  • Does everything that appears in the commercial really happen in the movie?
  • Do any characters die?

And the list of questions goes on and on. Having the answers to all these burning questions, I would like to say (in my best impersonation of the disturbingly anorexic Brittany Murphy), “I’ll never tell!!!”

That’s right. Being an avid lover of Homer and the crew, you may be expecting me to gush over “The Simpsons Movie,”, but I’m not going to. Did I enjoy it? Heck yeah I did! That’s all you need to know. Trying to summarize the plot would just ruin some of the truly inspired moments from the film, and providing Dirty Undies would only spoil any rude and blasphemous comments that the characters make.

After enjoying over four hundred episodes--some inarguably great, some painfully bad (and usually starring Lisa)-- isn’t it worth your money to see the iconic American family on the big screen? If you don’t think it’s worth the price of admission, I’ll be praying to Jebus for your soul.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, December 14, 2007

Insert Sarcastically "Perfect" Quip Here

The Perfect Holiday

Release: 12/12/2007
Rated PG
1 hour, 36 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$)

Released under Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment production plaque, “The Perfect Holiday” also features Latifah (Hairspray) as a narrator, and, evidently, Mrs. Christmas, according to the credits. Mrs. Christmas relates the story of Benjamin, played by Morris Chestnut (Breakin’ All the Rules), a struggling singer-songwriter who works part-time as a mall Santa. After hours of gimme-gimme-gimme pleas from children, his ears prick up when a young girl asks him to send a nice man to give her mommy, Nancy, a compliment. After Benjamin takes one look at Nancy, played by Gabrielle Union (Two Can Play That Game), he is smitten and makes the child’s wish come true with a quickness. But that one small act of kindness leads Benjamin to his perfect life while his many white lies threaten to destroy it all.

It’s hard to know where to begin with “Perfect Holiday.” I could have done without the director’s too-close-for-comfort close-ups of Latifah. For that matter, I could have done without her narrator character altogether. Granted, that would have eliminated Terrence Howard (Pride) and his glorified cameo as her nemesis, Bah Humbug, but trust me; it’s no big loss. The story’s entire premise of Benjamin weaving a tangled web of lies and deceit to uphold his mall Santa-child confidentiality made my head want to explode, and made for a lot of clunky, unnecessary clean up during the final resolution. Maybe this is my social outrage, but couldn’t a family-friendly movie like this have had a few more positive role models than rap moguls, single moms, and broke-ass aspiring songwriters? Let me close my Grinchy commentary by saying the child actors were struggling and in desperate need of some coaching.

All that said, “Holiday” is a movie meant to spread holiday cheer, and it does accomplish that. With their great timing and delivery Faizon Love (*Elf), Charlie Murphy (Roll Bounce), and Katt Williams (TV: The Boondocks) will keep you laughing with their ridiculous and blunt dialogue. While the overall premise is cliché, the interactions between the kids, friends, and budding lovers are earnest and the too-good-to-be-true overtones will ultimately lift your spirits.

Dirty Undies
It’s hard not to see a film that has two of Hollywood’s hottest stars in it. While Union is old enough to have three kids, looking at her makes the setup implausible, especially when she’s clad in that revealing skintight black dress. I believe my idea of a perfect holiday would be waking up to Miss Union wrapped in only a big red ribbon underneath my Christmas tree. If that were to happen, I can tell you the results would make a far more entertaining (though far from PG) Christmas story!

Surprisingly, Murphy and Williams keep the vulgarities under wraps and deliver a bounty of clean jokes for general audiences. The only remotely risqué moment in the film is watching the boy playing Miss Union’s younger son call her “bootylicious” – that was just wrong on so many levels.

The Money Shot
For a film that doesn’t have much substance, I’ve probably squeezed what’s left of it out. All you need to know is that it’s Christmas and “Perfect Holiday” fits the feel-good film bill for the season. With a pinch of good-looking people, a spoonful of comedy and a cup of good intentions you can enjoy this movie…if taken with a grain of salt, or salty popcorn at least.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, December 7, 2007

Trailer Trash: The December Gang Bang

Another month has passed and the time has come to grab a bucket of ice and participate in the gang bang. The month of December has far fewer and more obscure participants than last month for many reasons. One is that people are feeling the holiday spirit a little too much to enjoy too many outings to the theater. Second, it's the push for gripping award winning drama, i.e. excruciatingly long and thoughtful films, that take over the silver screen.

According to IMDB's December Now Playing List at the time of this posting there are twenty-six films to be released in December and only twelve of those are slated to be wide releases. The majority of the films will be limited releases that will receive wider release during January, assuming audiences find them interesting enough. So, assuming all these films will come to my town (though realizing half of these won't surface here until damn near February) I now present the December Gang Bang.

Moist with Antici...Pation!
The Walker (12/7 ltd.) Woody Harrelson has been making a comeback in recent years and working with a strong supporting cast of Ya-Ya also-rans holds promise. If that doesn't pull you in the character and ambiance of the preview is enough to warrant consideration.
Grace Is Gone (12/7 ltd.) Oh my, our young Cusack is all growed up. He's tackling the heavy roles and looking especially dowdy in his windshield sized specs. He looks all torn up in this film and I have the feeling there will not be a dry eye in the house by the time the credits roll.
Juno (12/14 ltd.) Mention the names Michael Cera or Jason Bateman to me and I'll be first in line to buy a ticket. Throw in the fact that this looks to be an equally funny (if not funnier), less drug-impaired version of "Knocked Up" and why would you not add this to your must-see list?
Charlie Wilson's War (12/21) Yeah yeah yeah, folks are sick of watching films about Afghanistan and war. On the plus side, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman make the idea of sitting through another war story tolerable, maybe even enjoyable.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (12/21) Judd Apatow has been known to have his missteps and this may be yet another one. But I'm willing to take that risk for a film that headlines John C. Reilly - truly, the man is due his props and my hope is that it begins here.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (12/21 ltd.) When dreamy Johnny Depp teams up with creepy Tim Burton it is always quite the spectacle. While I do find it odd that the trailers seem to avoid the musical aspect of this story, I have no fear that this dark tale will inspire thrills and chills...Burton's bizarre arm candy, Helena Bonham Carter, alone will see to that.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (12/25) Remember last year when you were at the movies and you couldn't believe the three people walking into "Black Christmas" while you were going to see "Deck the Halls?" Yeah, well I was one of those people and while "BC" sucked massive donkey balls, I have come to respect this franchise born of a video game born of two disparate film franchises. Now, let's go watch shit get raw.
The Orphanage (12/25 ltd.) If you haven't noticed, I do love me a good slasher film but I do appreciate a quality scary film on the rare occasion one presents itself. "El Orfanato" or "The Orphange" looks like it will terrify the Jeebus out of its audience.
There Will Be Blood (12/26 ltd.) Awesome doesn't even begin to describe Daniel Day-Lewis. Nor does it describe Paul Thomas Anderson and his work behind a camera. Find this trailer, watch this trailer, and get ready to be pissed to have to wait for the movie to be released.

It's Friday, I don't want to be alone.
The Golden Compass (12/7) Finally, this movie will be released. I was not dying to see it mind you, but if I had to sit through another month of trailers, I'd slit my wrists. This looked promising when promotions started a year ago, now I just want to put a bullet through the armored head of every polar bear I see.
Revolver (12/7 ltd.) Jason Statham and Ray Liotta in a Guy Ritchie film that doesn't also star Madonna?! I should be sporting wood over this film but, sadly, I'm not. Maybe I'm turned off by seeing Statham with hair longer and greasier than my fingers at a KFC buffet.
The Amateurs (12/7 ltd.) I don't know what's weirder, the idea that a small town could produce it's own amatuer porn or that anyone in a small town would let someone like Jeff Bridges convince them to do it. I can feel safe knowing that this huge ensemble cast is probably worth blowing my load over.
The Kite Runner (12/14 ltd.) The second tale featuring Afghanistan has the distinction of being adapted from a best-selling novel. Knowing this will be a sure-fire Oscar contender is probably the only thing that will put me in the theater for this...does that say a lot about me or about this lackluster trailer?
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (12/21) I look at this trailer and can't help but think, why? Because the first was a success or because Nicolas Cage's best performance in the past year was in the fake trailer "Werewolf Women of the SS" in "Grindhouse" and he's scrapping for a hit? I mean I'll see this regardless but I have my wagging finger at the ready.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (12/25) Granted, the "Millions" kid is as cute as a button and watching a canine being pestered by CGI is adorable, but I've got to draw the line here. Walden Media is determined to mar the reputation of any half-decent kid's book within its reach. I can't decide whether to stop the madness or just have myself committed.
The Great Debaters (12/25) It's impossible to escape December without at least one biopic, and this one stars not only the brilliant Forest Whitaker but also has the dazzling Denzel Washington (both behind and in front of the camera). If you have to endure at least one big screen made-for-TV movie, why not let it be this one?
The Bucket List (12/25 ltd.) Back in October 2006, Rob Reiner must have thought that the NBC show "Twenty Good Years" was on to something. Taking the concept no one cared about, he tacked on the two all-time scene chewers Nicholson and Freeman and he's prime to rake in the coinage. Damn his soul!
Cassandra's Dream (12/25 ltd.) Sparkly man candy Ewan McGregor shares the screen with skeazy man candy Colin Farrell. Woody Allen seems to have been on a winning streak with his last few movies so why do I get the feeling that his luck is about to run out? Maybe excellent acting by the pretty boys and Tom Wilkinson will keep him afloat a little longer.

Exercise the Right to Cinematic Celibacy.
Atonement (12/7) Movie makers love to shove Keira Knightley into some period pieces and out of period attire whenever possible, but I think James McAvoy will emit the sex appeal in this film. Otherwise this just looks like a British "Cold Mountain" and I don't know if I can sit still for that tale once more.
The Perfect Holiday (12/12) Damned if it ain't Terrence Howard in yet another 2007 movie! But he's not the draw here. Apparently, they're trying to see if the sound of crickets can drown out the audience's response. I mean who in their ever-lovin' mind would hire Charlie Murphy, scratch that, Charlie Murphy and Katt Williams for a friggin' PG movie?!
Alvin and the Chipmunks (12/12) Thanks to the overexposure and saturation of Justin Timberlake throughout 2007, a CGI-version of these nasally-voiced rodents was inevitable. I must admit to chuckling at a couple of moments of this trailer (with great shame) but it'll be Jason Lee who'll be trying to wash the stinkpalm effect of this film off his resume for years to come.
I Am Legend (12/14) Am I the only person who thinks this film looks dull as dirt? "Legend" a remake of the Heston classic "The Omega Man," has all the markings of a sleeper more so than a sleeper hit.
Youth Without Youth (12/14 ltd.) Hmm, Francis Ford Coppola's in the director's chair once again. I watched all the trailers and I still don't get what the hell this story is supposed to be about. This may be a time when having a fast-forward button is a blessing.
P.S. I Love You (12/21) You can say I'm a Grinch when it comes to romantic comedies, but the idea that a dead man plans out his wife's grief recovery and sets her up with a creepily similar new love is more sick than endearing. P.P.S. Only way I'll be in the theater for this one is if Swank is there giving out free handjobs.

December Releases not included:
Flakes (12/19 ltd.) Though no trailer was available for this film, Zooey Deschanel is a nice bit of eccentric eye candy and in the hands of the director of the "Hudson Hawk" who knows what heights (or depths) this story could reach.
Persepolis (12/25 ltd.) I've watched the trailers several times and I don't think I have the proper frame of reference to judge this. If we even get this film in my neck of the woods, I gotta check it out if only to see if the whole film will make me understand it better.

I think that's about all the celluloid one person can take. Was it good for you?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hitman's Good For Killin' Time

Hey Hey Stargazers!

I know many of you have been anxiously anticipating a review of a theatrical release and not a DVD release. Maybe it's the chill of the winter winds nipping my brainflow, or maybe I ingested a toxic amount of tryptophan over the Thanksgiving holiday that's just now wearing off. Heck, it could be the mounting depression (stemming from the ongoing writers’ strike) of knowing that I will only be able to staunch my film addiction at the loving hands of Netflix in 2008. All I know is my slackness is a mystery all its own. But no one cares about that; you just wanna hear about the movie!!

The Hitman

Release: 11/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 40 minues

Matinee ($$$)

Everyone's favorite skeevy Pete, a.k.a. Timothy Olyphant (The Girl Next Door), cleans himself up (somewhat) to portray an assassin known only as 47 in this adaptation of the popular video game bearing the same name. If you've never seen an assassin action film, there's pretty much two basic plots; either the assassin is embroiled in a deadly têtê-a-têtê with a younger colleague out to make a name for himself, or the assassin is pursued relentlessly after finishing a job because his paranoid client wants him killed to sever their implication in the dirty deed. "The Hitman" falls into the latter category.

Agent 47 is running for his life after being stiffed on the job. He latches onto a young escort, Nika, portrayed by Olga Kurylenko, who is the only link to the client now trying to kill him.

Olyphant does a commendable job playing the callous, calculating hitman. His expressions, the glint in his eye and pursing of the lips remind me of Eastwood except without all that, you know, commanding presence. But slap a few polished guns in his hands and strap a half-naked Ukrainian babe by his side and you’d almost never know the difference.

The Hitman says little and kills a lot all for the sake of evading his pursuers. One bloodhound is an obnoxious, headstrong Interpol agent who’s always this close to capturing 47 - adeptly played by Dougray Scott (Enigma). Another is Russian secret service agent Yuri Marklov, played by Robert Knepper (Hostage), who wants to keep Interpol out of his city and his business. Of course there are the innumerable villains with their shiny guns and knives who all do an excellent job of falling and screaming on cue.

Dirty Undies
Let me continue on a bit about the guns and knives. What would an assassin movie be without a substantial amount of killing? “Hitman” passes muster with flying colors. There is nary a room that 47 enters, a corner that he turns that does not unfold into rivers of bloodshed and deafening gunfire and explosions.

And let me not forget sexy and lithe Kurylenko whose piercings, tattoos, and blatant disrespect for wearing concealing attire is all too welcome. Her hotness overshadows Olyphant’s steamy glare. Kurylenko makes me rethink my position on mail-order Ukrainian brides (though I think my wife’s position still remains firm).

The Money Shot
“The Hitman” is a fast-paced excuse for a body-count. It delivers a decent enough story with solid direction and it keeps the characters’ lines to a minimum to avoid any undue suffering. In a time of year when heart-wrenching dramas reign supreme, it’s comforting to know audiences can find refuge amid a hail of heart-bursting gunfire.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Hot Fuzz

Release: 04/20/2007
DVD Release: 07/31 & 11/27/2007

2 hours, 1 minute
Rated R


Man, that's off the fucking chain!

The combined creative genius behind “Shaun of the Dead,” Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost reunite to wreak havoc and hilarity on the action genre. Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a stellar police officer in the London Metropolitan Police Service. Angel is so good, in fact, that he is promoted to sergeant and then quickly reassigned to the rural village of Sandford. Angel finds his hard-nosed interpretation of the law to be at odds with the sleepy little town’s philosophy. Inspector Butterman, played by Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge!), repeatedly chides Angel to mellow out and stop trying to picture big-city crime in the little burb. Unable to switch off his internal police officer, Angel struggles to determine if he is indeed making mountains out of mole hills or if the town houses a deadly secret only he can see.

“Hot Fuzz” is a great homage to the myriad of police and vigilante action films produced by Hollywood over the last few decades. The story starts off somewhat slowly as it develops the straight-laced character of Angel, which Pegg plays to a T. Nick Frost portrays his bumbling partner, Danny Butterman, with great timing and on-point delivery. Once the two characters warm up to one another, a trusted relationship develops that is akin to some of the best buddy cop flicks. As they say, the beauty is in the details, and it is the minor aspects of Angel and Danny that will resonate with action fans and generate a wealth of humorous moments for all audiences. Both the “law breakers” and “villains” of Sandford are boisterous, brazen and hysterically appropriate.

Though it drags at first, the story of Angel and Danny picks up quickly and ends in a fevered frenzy of hilarity and carnage. The dialogue is quick and witty, though audiences less comfortable with English accents may need a second viewing to catch all the jokes. Heck, most folks will want a second viewing simply because it’s one of the few films well-written and well-executed enough to warrant audiences shilling for multiple screenings.

Dirty Undies
I expected a silly story with tons of flying bullets, car chases, explosions and the like.
“Hot Fuzz” does not disappoint in the least. “Fuzz” actually excels in the gore and violence quotient. Gallons of blood, bruises on top of bruises, and just plain gruesome incidents will have even the strongest stomachs turn a bit squeamish. No good cop flick can survive without a healthy dose of foul language and “Fuzz’ doesn’t disappoint. Nor does it disappoint with cameos. A couple of uncredited cameos that went right over my head but for those very, very observant, maybe you can pick up on them.

The Money Shot
In all honesty, “Hot Fuzz” is a film you really can’t get into too many details about without ruining a thoroughly enjoyable film for audiences. Silly, witty, graphic, action-packed, and flat-out hilarious are just a few of the words that describe “Hot Fuzz.” So before I lose my composure and start spewing the details, go see why the “Fuzz” is getting all the buzz.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, November 26, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Hot Rod

Release: 08/03/2007
DVD Release: 11/27/2007
1 hour, 28 minutes
Rated PG-13

Matinee ($$$)

"I can't stop thinking about this movie!"

SNL producer Lorne Michaels decided to go out on a limb and produce a film for one of his stars before they leave the show. Andy Samberg stars as Rod Kimble, stuntman extraordinaire. Rod still lives at home with his mom Marie, played by Sissy Spacek (Blast from the Past), and his stepdad Frank, played by Ian McShane (Scoop). Rod has a strained relationship with his stepdad, continually trying to beat him in combat so he can acclaim the title of real man. When Rod learns that Frank will die without a $50,000 heart transplant, he decides to raise the money by jumping fifteen buses so his stepdad can live…and Rod can finally beat his ass.

This was the most whacked-out, bizarre shit I have seen in recent memory. Samberg is joined by fellow members of the Lonely Island comedy team: Akiva Schaffer who directs; Jorma Taccone who plays Kevin; and Chester Tam who you will not soon forget. Much like an episode of SNL, the film sways from really funny to random and weak.

Also like SNL, “Hot Rod” winds up being extremely hilarious in its final half hour, though its early shortcomings may alienate the audience. The early moments of “Hot Rod” come off like a mean-spirited “Napoleon Dynamite.” Luckily, it sheds this vibe as the story progresses, coming into its own to rest its laurels alongside other out-there comedies like “Dude, Where’s my car?” and “Pootie Tang.”

"Hot Rod” also features a side romance between Rod and his neighbor Denise, played by Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), which is laughably weak. The movie’s continuity is sloppy, and most of the acting is exceptionally poor and over-the-top. Will Arnett (Blades of Glory) comes off particularly bad. The ladies, Sissy Spacek and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), are easily the most believable performers, which in itself is sad. Despite all these low marks, “Hot Rod” soars like the spirit totem eagle to the top. The film’s shortcomings pale in comparison to the combination of boyish good intentions and sheer randomness “Hot Rod” embraces.

Dirty Undies
Andy Samberg is one ugly looking dude! At least he’s funny as hell and at least Isla Fisher is a cutie. If that doesn’t do it for you, there’s always some very, very excessive pelvic thrusting that may suit your sexual funny bone. The stunts are friggin’ brutal! There is very little that Rod won’t do to spare his stepdad from death. And watching the foul-mouthed Frank slap Rod senseless is a joy in and of itself.

The Money Shot
Oh, did I mention that also like SNL, “Hot Rod” features several musical interludes? While not reaching the caliber of guest performers on the show, the cast’s interpretive sequences are yet one more reason that this film should not be missed, especially if you’re a fan of the band Europe. Granted, I’d steer clear if odd and funny aren’t your thing, but if you go, you may see me there a third time.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, November 19, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Live Free or Die Hard

Release: 06/27/2007
DVD Release: 11/20/2007
2 hours, 20 minutes
Rated PG-13 (DVD:PG-13/UR)


"Bruno returns to shake up the game."

“Bruised” Willis reprises the role that made him a star (and gave him the aforementioned nickname). That role, of course, is New York police detective John McClane. This time McClane receives a call from his chief asking him to pick up a computer hacker for questioning at the bequest of the FBI. McClane arrives at the door of Matt Farrell, played by Justin Long (Accepted), only to find the young man is being targeted by a terrorist group and gunfights, explosions and mayhem quickly ensue. McClane delivers Matt to the FBI headquarters in Washington DC just as the terrorists take control of the nation's technological infrastructure. With Matt being the only link to how and what the terrorists are planning, McClane takes it upon himself to hunt them down and save the country from bedlam.

Once Willis appears onscreen, fans know that he is playing a seasoned veteran, a veteran at making entertaining, engaging action films chock full of substance. The first half hour of the film establishes the plot and the supporting characters, but it is Willis's charisma that simply emanates from the screen, drawing viewers into the cowboy style that has made him an action icon. By delivering such a convincing performance, Willis makes it easy for the rest of the actors. Justin Long makes a great reluctant sidekick, providing tons of wise-cracking and the occasional helping hand. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Grindhouse) plays his chip-off-the-old-block, hard-headed daughter Lucy Gennero McClane as if she grew up watching all of Willis's finer moments (and she probably did). Rounding out the supporting roles is Timothy Olyphant (TV: Deadwood) who portrays the villainous Thomas Gabriel. Olyphant balances smug superiority with increasing annoyance as he watches his perfect plan be continually picked apart by the venerable McClane.

The writing for this installment in the franchise takes as much care and attention to detail as the original "Die Hard" did back in 1988. Each character is solidly developed, the elaborate plot is presented in detail, albeit with much techno-jargon, and each action sequence leaves McClane and the bad guys with a few more bruises and bloodstains. The film relies a little more heavily on special effects at times, but the action sequences are edge-of-your-seat intense. Granted, I would have left one particularly ludicrous stunt sequence on the editing room floor, but given the amount of money that was probably spent on the scene I can see why producers kept it. This particular scene is out of character for the blue collar hero that Willis plays so well and, thankfully, he is given plenty of other hair-raising sequences to exude his tough-cop appeal. McClane talks to himself, spits biting remarks at the good and bad guys alike, and kicks ass whenever it’s necessary just like we remember.

Dirty Undies
Bruised Willis stays true to his name by adding a new cut, bullet wound, bruise, or bloodstain every few minutes. The fight scenes are intense and action sequences blindingly violent but, surprisingly, not as gruesome as you'd think. Their is a lot of "bitches" and "shit" thrown around but given the level of pressure Farrell and McClane are enduring it is easily acceptable. Maggie Q (*Mission Impossible III) looks and sounds kinda hot playing Gabriel's henchwoman, Mai. She delivers lots of violence and foul language in her tight-fitting yet securely buttoned shirt. Unlike the previous "Die Hard" films, audiences were not treated to any gratuitous desktop sex or naked-villain Tai Chi; just good 'ol ass-whupping.

The Money Shot
As many people know and I freely admit, I am a huge Willis fan. Admiration aside, Willis proves in "Live Free or Die Hard" why he deserves respect. Great actors delivering well-written dialogue with a competent director behind the camera yields what is easily the best action film served up in the summer of 2007. With special-effects laden behemoths littering the theater every other week it is exciting and refreshing to see the action genre rising to and defeating the competition before it. One last point to mention: many fans are curious if Willis utters his famous line, and while mum's the word, I can tell you after seeing this on the big screen I was shouting "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!"

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Spank Bank: The Grand Opening

I’ve been toying with the notion of adding this feature, and given this week’s news, decided to start now. This new (occasional) addition for the Reel Whore is intended to help you see some of my favorite actors and actresses through my tinted lens. Let's put those hands together for my first deposit:

The People’s Sexiest Man Alive

The man once best known as the heterosexual lifemate to Ben Affleck is now being touted as a bankable Hollywood commodity, but some of us recognized his value before 2007. I can’t attest to having seen every inch of reel emblazoned with his image, but of his forty IMDB listed TV and film projects released to date, I can claim to have consumed two dozen of them. Join me as I walk down memory lane.

The First Time My Eyes Met:Good Will Hunting” (I’d say it was “Mystic Pizza”, but I’d have to admit to watching that film, and I don’t know if I’m ready to take that step. I've said too much already.)

He had me at ‘Hello’: As Loki in “Dogma” Damon projected a healthy mix of blasphemy, brutality, and hilarity. I knew the boy was destined for greatness.

“Whose house? Run's house! I said, whose house? Run's house!”

Sexiest Movie Moment: The cougar hunt in "Ocean’s Thirteen." The nose plays.

Let’s Never Speak of This Again:The Brothers Grimm” Neither Damon and all his charms, nor the Damon-Belluci combo was sufficient to make me see this again.

It Brings a Smile to My Face: His cameo as Donny in “Eurotrip.” Totally unexpected, yet surprisingly sexy. After all what Scotty doesn't know!

My Biggest Regret: Having still not seen Damon opposite Ed Norton in "Rounders." I need a good rainy day to stretch out with this one.

His Winning Feature: There’s that big grin, his genuine happy nature, and nice bod…let’s just say I like the cut of his jib.

If I could walk in her shoes: I’d take the place of Franka Potente in “Bourne Identity.” Just the thought of Damon showing up to ride my scooter…

Most Anticipated Upcoming Project: The upcoming Clint Eastwood project “The Human Factor.” The pairing of these great men will be a sight to behold.

My Dream of Working with Big D: I can see it now, the two of us seated at a huge oak desk pouring over line after line of dialogue of our latest soon-to-be-award-winning screenplay. We joke, we laugh, but the spark never ignites because Affleck’s constant dick ridin’ kills the mood.

(For the “Boondocks”-impaired, dick ridin’ refers to one person doing some hardcore sucking up to another)

I think it’s time we leave Damon to bask in his Sexiest Man Alive title now. He’s come a long way…

A long way indeed.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Shrek the Third

Release: 05/18/2007
DVD Release: 11/13/2007
Rated PG
1 hour, 32 minutes

Second Run Seats ($$)

"Mildly Inspired, Mostly Tired"

The laundry list of talent returns to their cash cow to voice the characters audiences have been flocking to since 2001. This time around Shrek and Fiona learn that Shrek is to be heir to the throne of Far, Far Away. Shrek, ironically uncomfortable with being a leader, learns that Fiona has a cousin, Arthur, voiced by Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog), who is also eligible for the duties of king. Shrek, with his traveling companions Donkey and Puss In Boots, sets sail to bring back Arthur and spare himself from a lifetime of tight fitting wardrobes and responsibility. Meanwhile, the defeated Prince Charming has a plan to rally the villains of Far, Far Away to take over the kingdom and anoint themselves as rulers.

What is left to say about the characters of Shrek? These stories and the characters have become old hat for Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy. Antonio Banderas continues to shine as Puss In Boots. The wolf, the three pigs, Pinocchio, and the Gingerbread Man (everyone’s favorite supporting characters) return to inspire giggles and laughter when Shrek and Donkey often fall short. Minor players Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Beauty, and even Doris appear in this installment, and are voiced by Amy Sedaris (*Elf), Amy Poehler (The Ex), Maya Rudolph (Idiocracy), Cheri Oteri (Scary Movie), and Larry King. Timberlake appropriately fits the bill as whiny, bitter teenaged Arthur. So when all these enjoyable characters are assembled onscreen and you find yourself yawning instead of holding your sides, something must be wrong.

What’s wrong is that the story is weak. At this point, the hurdles in Shrek’s life are more like speed bumps. Audiences can’t become overly invested in seeing a sub-par resolution. Granted, the villainous onslaught by Charming and company is exciting and far better accomplished than in this year’s Shrek wannabe “Happily N’Ever After,” but it ends too abruptly and the wealth of hilarity must have been left on the drawing boards. Seeing the ladies of the fairy tales kick butt and take names was stirring, but again the story returns to mediocrity far too quickly to hold your attention.

Dirty Undies
Though all three films have had a PG rating, the first two definitely pushed some adult envelopes with such gimmicks as Pinocchio in a thong. This time around, the writers barely bother with putting anything adult in the film, leaving nothing for parents to worry about having their kids pick up on.

The Money Shot
The bad thing about the “Shrek” franchise is that the original film broke the animated fairy-tale mold by ribbing and jibing the classic tales of old. It was new and fresh, but this is the third time around and the franchise’s ingenious formula, which its creators continue to use, has now become the by-the-numbers schtick they used to ridicule. One would wish that a fresh and exciting idea is right around the corner, but with another sequel and a spin-off film in the works, you can either hope for improvement or distance yourself from the series while you have the chance.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, November 9, 2007

On the LAMB!

You heard it right Stargazers! Reel Whore has become the proverbial monkey, as it were, on the LAMB.

I guess I should clarify. Reel Whore has been invited to mount the prestigious LAMB, or Large Association of Movie Blogs which is, obviously, a directory of movie blogs. It's a one-stop shop for readers and bloggers to find out about the numerous movie blogs out on the internets. No more scouring the MyFace to search for alternate opinions to my reviews, you can just hop on the LAMB.

As for me being a monkey, those who know me know it to be all too true. Go West Young Readers - click, browse, and enjoy my fellow movie bloggers. Just remember the Reel Whore can be jealous and possessive so come back home lest you want to be pelted with feces!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Prodding the Sheeple

Lions for Lambs

Release: 11/09/2007
1 hour, 28 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

If you're like most of the populace, you've been intrigued by the trailers for this weekend's releases and you find yourself asking, "How hard up for cash was Vince Vaughn to make this crap?!" Sorry, wrong movie. “Lions for Lambs,” the much touted political "thriller," stars Meryl Streep, playing journalist Janine Roth, who interviews Tom Cruise portraying Jasper Irving, a U.S. senator with a bold new direction for the war on terror. While they converse in D.C., in California Professor Stephen Malley, played by Robert Redford, conferences with an aloof poli-sci student. Halfway across the world two American soldiers, played by Derek Luke (Pieces of April) and Michael Peňa (Babel), fight to survive on the frigid slopes of the Afghan mountains. The stage is set, audience anticipation builds, and the

That’s right, the cinematic juggernauts, Redford (The Last Castle), Streep (The Manchurian Candidate) and Cruise (The Firm) deliver up an hour and a half long lecture on the state of American affairs. Through succinct and poignant exposition the three capture our attention in a quick-paced flurry of words, arguments and questions that are, or at least, should be on the very hearts and minds of every American. Funny thing is I don’t recall the intense music and dramatic cuts of the trailer alluding to any of this.

The trailer hypes an edge-of-your-seat thriller, not an extended lecture on moral obligation and indignant outrage. “Lions” lures audiences with the promise of spellbinding moments with clever twists and bloodshed…and in a way it delivers. The problem is who is listening to this cleverly disguised Sermon on the Mount? I ask this because while “Lions” was created with noble intentions, and is obviously meant for the twenty to forty-something crowd, but did anyone bother to tell us? How would the apathetic and entertainment-hungry masses know to rush out to a film starring the King of Crazy, the Ice Queen from that Prada movie, and that leathery old guy that mom thinks is really hot? The aloof university student is a nobody, and hell, I didn’t even know Derek Luke was in this until he showed up on screen. The only possible draw to us is the promised intrigue, but many moviegoers will leave feeling slighted and deceived.

Dirty Undies
It’s almost not worth mentioning but there are some too-quick-to-really-be-noticed gory moments with our valiant soldiers that occur parallel to some gruff profanity by our conversationalists.

The Money Shot
Ironically, the marketing of “Lions for Lambs” misleads the public in the same way as the orchestrators of the mishandled war that is at its subject. The real question is will the suckered audiences find themselves sitting in the drive-thru of Starbucks, cent after cent of overpriced fuel vapors rising into the air, reflecting on this film, or will they instead be tuned in to the latest outcome in the Spears-Federline custody hearings?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reunited, and It Feels So Good

American Gangster

Release: 11/02/2007
2 hours, 37 minutes


Long before most Americans were aware of his brilliant acting abilities, Russell Crowe starred alongside Denzel Washington in the little-remembered movie “Virtuosity.” Crowe played a serial killer and Denzel was the cop hot on his trail. After a dozen years and countless awards for both of them, Washington and Crowe reunite with roles reversed in “American Gangster.” Crowe portrays Richie Roberts, an honest cop amid a sea of dirty cops hired to head up a narcotics task force to make arrests of major drug lords. Washington plays one of those drug lords, Frank Lucas. The story follows the two men’s rise through their respective endeavors.

Reunions abound behind camera as helmer Ridley Scott and writer Steve Zaillian collabo for the first time since “Hannibal.” This creative duo have crafted a film that will have audiences’ rapt attention for the entire two and a half hour runtime. Washington and Crowe’s performances create an unshakable foundation in the telling of an otherwise formulaic narrative of drug lord versus the narc. Keep in mind that a true story like that of Frank Lucas is where all those clichéd ‘80’s and ‘90’s drug war flicks got their basis.

In addition to the megastars, the film features a slew of accomplished supporting actors. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Inside Man), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), Carla Gugino (Sin City), Josh Brolin (Grindhouse) and Ruby Dee (Do the Right Thing), to name more than a few, give performances as memorable as those of the big dogs. If all that doesn’t do it for you, it has one of the grooving-est soundtracks of the year and even features a live performance by Anthony Hamilton.

Dirty Undies

One thing you’ve gotta love about those drug-war flicks is the obligatory drug cutting and packaging rooms full of gratuitous, half-naked and buck-ass naked women. “Gangster” doesn’t disappoint, providing an in depth look into Frank’s operation, though the movie is nearly devoid of sex. Graphic depiction of drug use, gun violence, and sheer brutality could be unnerving for some, but is a legitimate and necessary element to this tale.

The Money Shot
The story of Frank Lucas makes my North Carolina home even more prominent in entertainment news than the recent rise to fame of Jaime “Kinston Represent” Pressly. All joking aside, I could continue gushing about the music, acting, and enormous sense of gratification I felt after seeing this film, but I’d just be wasting valuable minutes you could be using to get to the theater to find out for yourself.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Martian Child Weighed Down by Earthly Lameness

Martian Child

Release: 11/02/2007
1 hour, 48 minutes

Second Run Seats ($$)

Remember the John Cusack of the 80’s--the somewhat eccentric, disarmingly witty though not-so-stunning looking high school kid that is so nice that he only deserves to be with the most popular and beautiful girl? Well, it’s a new millennium, and Cusack’s all growed up. Now, his mildly bizarre but still sincere characters have shared that perfect life with that beautiful and equally sincere woman, a woman who is now dead (or has left him because their child has died), and he must battle the tears to continue a meaningful existence. The one thing that hasn’t changed from the ‘80’s is the occasional gig big sis Joan gets in these flicks.

The most recent bone thrown Joan’s way is to play the neurotic older sister (a stretch I know) to a widowed sci-fi writer by the name of David Gordon. David is debating whether to adopt a delusional child; a potential foster-care lifer named Dennis, portrayed by Bobby Coleman. Once Dennis moves in, David realizes his out-of-this-world imagination may not be enough to handle the boy who thinks he’s from Mars.

“Martian Child” is an adaptation of a novel by David Gerrold, creator of the infamous “Star Trek” creatures known as Tribbles. Gerrold reportedly had producers sloughing through several iterations of this script before settling on a version capable of harnessing the Cusack power. The final product is a story that as inoffensive and uplifting as imaginable, to the point it forsakes being interesting. Cusack does a commendable job and the snaggle-toothed child is cute (albeit weird), but that just isn’t enough. The only real threats to this match-made-in-fiction are a seemingly callous and lonely social worker, played by Richard Schiff (I am Sam), and David’s own work stress. Not only does “Martian Child” suffer from a weak conflict-resolution structure, the director’s off-kilter timing leaves audiences squirming through the passing minutes.

Dirty Undies

PG fare is always insufferable for its complete lack of Dirty Undies and this is no exception. Sure, we have the bright-eyed, toothy face of Amanda Peet (Identity) to gaze upon, but the grown-woman-with-ponytails-and-overalls fantasy can only take you so far. At least we have cameos from Howard Hesseman and Anjelica Huston to distract us.

The Money Shot

While “Martian Child” suffers from a severe case of predictability and dullness, Cusack fans should enjoy watching the wunderkind master the next phase of his acting career. Let’s just hope that this film, along with the recent “1408,” does not signal the beginning of the end because I’m curious to see the evolution of Lloyd Dobler well into his golden years.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Repeat Bidness: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Release: 07/20/2007
DVD Release: 11/06/2007

Rated PG-13
1 hour, 55 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

"I'm not saying they're gay, but they've held one."

Adam Sandler and Kevin James star as Chuck Levine and Larry Valentine, best friends and Brooklyn firefighters. After a harrowing day on the job, Larry saves Chuck’s life. In return, Larry asks Chuck to save his kids’ lives by agreeing to become his domestic partner so he can maintain his medical benefits. Thinking this will be an easy fix, Larry is surprised when the city investigators begin snooping about. Larry has to persuade Chuck to cease his womanizing ways during the ruse and they hire a lawyer, Alex McDonough, played by Jessica Biel (Stealth), to protect their “gay marriage” rights.

By commingling the cohorts from the “King of Queens” and the Happy Madison shingle, the producers were able to release a surprisingly funny film. Both James and Sandler prove that comedians make decent dramatic actors as they temper this premise with tender emotion. Granted, Meryl Streep or William Hurt won’t be in jeopardy anytime soon, but having believable performances helps an outlandish premise. What also helps is having a director with great comedic pacing like Dennis Dugan (*Happy Gilmore) in charge of two genuinely funny actors.

Sandler and James also get a big hand from some side-splitting cameos and minor roles, and no, I am not talking about Sandler’s charity case Rob Schneider (see any other Sandler film). SNL alums such as Rachel Dratch, David Spade (*Grandma’s Boy), and Dan Aykroyd (Loser) give some of their funniest performances in ages. Ving Rhames brings a hilariously lighter side to his tough-guy appeal that’s reminiscent of his “Holiday Heart” role. One of my personal favorites, Nick Swardson (*Blades of Glory), enlivens the scenery as Biel’s brother Kevin “Butterfly” McDonough. Of course Sandler has his list of usual suspects accompanying him: Peter Dante, Allen Covert, Blake Clark and Jonathan Loughran – names you probably don’t know but whose faces are familiar. “C&L” tops everything off with cameos by Dave Matthews, among others, but you’ll have to see the film to enjoy them all.

Dirty Undies

I thought the best reason to see “Chuck and Larry” would be to see Jessica Biel flouncing around in panties and a latex catsuit. Surprisingly, Biel couldn’t hold a candle to Ving Rhames’ scene- stealing moments. Aside from Biel and Rhames eye candy, there are a slew of scantily clad Hooters Girls prancing around for Chuck and a lot of naked firemen washing off after a long day of throwing hose.

The Money Shot

“C&L” proves to be a heartfelt Sandler romp akin to “Mr. Deeds” only, you know, funny. The story as a whole, like most Sandler films, takes a bit of a leap to reach resolution, but if you wanted a gripping story you’d go sleep through “Evening” or “A Mighty Heart.” Those looking for not-so-PC laughs who have seen “Knocked Up” three of four times already will appreciate having this quality comedy to enjoy.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trailer Trash: The November Gang Bang

In the past, one of my readers has asked me to do an extensive Trailer Trash segment for a whole month. Well folks, I present to you the November 2007 Gang Bang. This is a list of all the films competing to slip their probing members into your warm wallets and steal your cash cherry. I've corralled the studs by anticipated enjoyment and listed them by release date within each of the three stables. Enjoy.

Moist With Antici...Pation!
American Gangster (11/02) Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and Ridley Scott – let’s just call it a Cinematic Trifecta.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (11/02 ltd.) Why would anyone not wanna see a Philip Seymour Hoffman flick? If we’re lucky, maybe Lumet figured a way to work ‘sharted’ into the script for the Mattress Man.
No Country for Old Men (11/09 ltd.) Heads: It’s a Coen Brothers Film. Tails: Tommy Lee Jones stars. Either way the coin lands, you win. Call it, Friendo.
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (11/16) This may prove to be the first Walden Media film worth seeing (Yeah, I said it, Narnia fans!) The incomparable Hoffman, the funny Bateman, and the badass Ms. Portman trumps any issues I may have with Walden.
Love in the Time of Cholera (11/16) I think this is some kinda love-story-for-the-ages I should've read in high school. All I know is the soundtrack is by Shakira, and that is enough for me.
Southland Tales (11/16 ltd.) An ensemble cast wielded by “Donnie Darko” creator Richard Kelly. Looks like a cross between “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the “Matrix.” It may wind up being incomprehensible but I bet it'll still look really cool.
Enchanted (11/21) Sure, it looks nauseatingly cute and Patrick Dempsey’s a douche, but Amy Adams and James Marsden look like they’re giving it their all to make it paradoxically amusing.
I'm Not There (11/21 ltd.) This is an awesome concept look into the life of Bob Dylan. Plus, Cate Blanchett looks to be the best Bob of the bunch. Watching it is the only one way to know for sure!
(11/23) This video-game adaptation looks like an opera of blood and gun violence and the buzz says likewise. I’ve heard Fox bitched out and tried to do some re-edits to tone it down, but let’s hope their effort got shot down.
The Savages
(11/28 ltd.) Again, why would you not go see a Philip Seymour Hoffman flick?! Add Laura Linney and a quirky script and we’ve got another winner!

It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.
Martian Child (11/02) The way I figure it I somewhat enjoyed “I am Sam” and “K-Pax” so this can’t prove much worse or better than either of those.
Darfur Now
(11/02 ltd.) The cause is inarguably noble, but this looks a bit slapped-together for the purpose of exploiting people’s holiday charity through guilt.
Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
(11/02 ltd.) For the Clash fans of the world comes a documentary into the life of front man Joe Strummer. Musicians and actors weigh in on the icon in what will become an overplayed VH1 Classic Rock Doc by early 2008.
Lions for Lambs (11/09) With Redford and Streep chewing up the dialogue, I can ignore Suri’s “daddy” being in this. But Cruise’s presence aside, this looks even preachier than “Darfur Now.”
P2 (11/09) Looks like a little bit of the torture porn genre has survived past Halloween for those of us depraved enough to care.
Margot at the Wedding (11/16 ltd.) I loved Baumbach’s “Squid and the Whale” and while I fully support Jennifer Jason Leigh getting more roles, I’m not sure how Kidman and Black will fare in this dysfunctional tale.
August Rush (11/21) Keri Russell has earned much love from me with “Waitress” and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is just mad hot. Sadly, this endearing family tale has the stink of Robin Williams as a Bono-esque street performer wafting from it.
This Christmas (11/21) I despise Chris Brown with a passion. But mainstays such as Loretta Devine, Regina King and Delroy Lindo make me think this predictable holiday tale will be worth checking out.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (11/30 ltd.) This devastatingly inspiring French film is based on the true story of a paralyzed man who dictates his memoir by blinking. I’m depressed just thinking about it.

Exercise the Right to Cinematic Celibacy
Bee Movie (11/02) Oh my fucking head! Who would’ve thought Seinfeld is kid-worthy material?! I hope audiences find themselves to be as allergic to this film as I am.
Fred Claus (11/09) This film looks like crap-on-a-stick even with a yummy Elizabeth Banks in hot holiday wear. Vince Vaughn should be banned from film-making for a full year after this. And WTF is up with Ludacris as a big-headed elf?!
Beowulf (11/16) Once upon a time, I was super-excited about this film. After watching many trailers, I think I’d rather play a video game of Beowulf since that’s all this looks like. Though the animated Angelina Joie justifies the validity of hentai appeal.
Stephen King's The Mist
(11/21) Isaac, Carrie, It, Jack, and Cujo this menace is not. This menace is a friggin’ mist, a mist with big-A bugs and lots of annoying people trapped in a store. I sat through two Fogs; I think I’ve suffered enough.
Awake (11/30) Hey look it’s Terrence Howard in his 75th film appearance this year! This nauseating, scatterbrained trailer shows Jessica Alba in, like, her 37th movie still trying to prove she is legit, though this will be another argument for her to quit.

November Releases Not Included:
Saawariya (11/09 ltd.)
Om Shanti Om (11/09) These two films were not added because I have never seen a Bollywood production and did not want to skew your opinion.
After Dark Horrorfest (11/09) This one week horror series features 8 Films to Die For and is worthy of a separate column, if readers are interested.
Teeth (11/30 ltd.) No trailer was available at the time of posting but the premise of this film almost guarantees it to be a must-see!

If you'll excuse me I need to go find some ice.

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