Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ode to Fish Wrap

State of Play

Release: 04.17.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 57 minutes

Full Price

Veteran Washington Globe reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe, The Insider) is dragging his feet on a drug-related homicide story when news of the suicide of Representative Stephen Collins's aide comes over the wire. Collins (Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland) and McAffrey are old college roommates, which cub reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams, Married Life) tries to exploit for her latest blog post. When McAffrey uncovers a link between his homicide and the aide's death, he and Frye begin investigating the larger corporate conspiracy surrounding the prominent Congressman.

Since Michael Clayton, it seems you can't throw a rock at a thriller without hitting a Tony Gilroy writing credit. Gilroy teams with Matthew Michael Carnahan (Lions for Lambs) and Billy Ray (Breach) to flush out the political conspiracy pedigree for this adaptation of Paul Abbott's British television series. Helmed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), it's safe to say that State of Play isn't deficient in story execution. The only thing that kept my attention from being completely rapt by this nail biter is its cast.

I don't mean that in a bad way...mostly. In the plus category, State is chock full of 'that guy' goodness. Playing the homicide detective is Harry Lennix (Ray). Josh Mostel (Big Daddy), Michael Weston (Garden State) and Barry Shabaka Henley (Miami Vice) roam the Globe's bullpen. Brief appearances by Jeff Daniels (Traitor) and Helen Mirren (The Queen) are exceptional, but the scene stealer is Jason Bateman (Smokin' Aces). Bateman's making a career of playing characters that are sleazy or sophisticated, or in this case, both.

My main problem with State is the casting of Affleck. To his favor, he gives a solid performance and is believable as the young, hot shit on the Hill. My issue is that he, wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn (Moll Flanders), and McAffrey are supposedly old college buds. Really!? Last I checked, Crowe and Penn have nearly a decade on Affleck. Minute after minute, my mind scrambled for various scenarios that would make this timeline possible, but given the respective histories of the characters, nothing really fit. I'm glad Affleck is giving legitimacy another go, but if he has to play older at least give him some crow's feet or grey at the temples.

Dirty Undies
There's a lot of talk of dirty deeds done, but the only thing caught on film are a couple of dark alley shootings. Even the Congressman's sordid affair is given lip service when some sexy flashbacks of Affleck and Maria Thayer (Accepted) engaging in inappropriate acts would have been saucy. The nastiest State of Play gets is when McAffrey gets a boo-boo on his hand while being chased by a story.

The Money Shot
An underlying theme in State of Play is its obvious critique of the waning influence of reporting to revenue in the newspaper industry. Newspapers are heading the way of the buffalo, overrun by the callous bloggers gobbling up information without facts. Without this venerable animal, truth and justice could never be served, nor this tightly packed thriller solved.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, April 27, 2009

FYC: Don't Get it Twisted!

Hey stargazers and fellow bloggers. It's time for a little shameless promoting to win me a LAMMY. That's a LAMMY, the blogging award bestowed by the LAMB, not to be confused with the Lamia, the demonic monster giving my girl Allison Lohman beef in the upcoming Drag Me to Hell.

But I digress. I want to be so inundated with LAMMYs that I gotta add a second sidebar solely to list all the winning banners. I even created this spanky little advert to help out the voters:

Blog buddy Fletch did point out that I totally forgot to list Best Theme as an eligible category. I guess my whorish tendencies are more of a lifestyle than a theme, but it's another category so add it to the list.

To help with your voting, I'd like to point you to a few specifics:

Best Running Feature: It has been recommended by many that my Trailer Trash - Gang Bang series be nominated. I would also suggest Who's That Lady? or even People I Want to Punch in the Face as other worthy features.

Best Review: I know it can be tough sifting through so many reviews. Here's a few for your consideration (These should also help with the Funniest Writer and Most Likely to Get Paid for Blogging categories):

Lakeview Terrace

Best Random LAMB Banner: I've been tinkering with a new banner, but it has yet to be unveiled. The current banner won me this award last year. How about we make it a two-time winner?

Let me know what your faves are in the comments. Now those LAMBs who can vote, get out there and do so. I'd hate to sick the Lamia on you for not getting me my LAMMY!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, April 24, 2009

MMM: We're Going Streaking!

I've been focusing on funny tunes for the Monday Mood Music selection these past two weeks, why not make it three? I was reminded of this group while watching the trailer for the strange, but funny looking summer flick, The Hangover. Hangover is about four men who do a bachelor party up big in Vegas only to wake up one member short without any memory of the night's events. It's no Old School, but it has potential.

I mention Old School since it was the last hilarious film I saw by Hangover's director Todd Phillips. Old School had everything going for it; including several great musical numbers. There's the choreographed gymnastics number, a cameo by Snoop Dogg, and who can forget Will Ferrell's touching rendition of Kansas's Dust in the Wind. However, the hands-down funniest musical number was the cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart by the Dan Band.

The Dan Band was formed by comedian Dan Finnerty. They're known for covering songs originally performed by female artists, enhancing the tunes with obscenities and whatnot. Thanks to Dan Finnerty and the Dan Band, I can no longer sit idle when Bonnie Tyler's hit plays. I immediately commence singing along at the top of my lungs. I yell the words so loudly in order to insert the required 'fucking' or 'shit' whenever necessary. Now knowing their version, it makes me wonder how the song ever became a hit without the cussing. Here, in its entirety for your listening enjoyment is:

The Dan Band - Total Eclipse of the Heart

The disturbed looks on the faces of the happy couple during Old School's reception scene is priceless. I can't wait to see what craziness the Dan Band pulls off in The Hangover.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shock! Watch the Monkey Get Hurt

Crank: High Voltage

Release: 04.17.09
Rated R
1 hour, 36 minutes

Full Price

In 2006, audiences watched as Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) plummeted out of a helicopter thousands of feet above the ground. This poisoned bloke who had run amok on hours of borrowed time bounced off a car like a basketball, coming to an abrupt stop on the pavement. The insane adventures of Chelios had ended...and then he fucking blinked! Picking up from that moment, High Voltage scrapes the battered Chev off the streets because the Chinese mafia want to harvest his superman heart and other vital organs. With a plastic pump pinch-hitting for his strawberry tart (a.k.a. heart), Chelios revs up the mayhem in order to hunt down his stolen ticker before the battery dies and he along with it.

If you saw Crank and thought it was off the fucking chain, then there's no acceptable excuse for not seeing High Voltage yet. Maybe, just maybe, if you've had your heart stolen by crazed mobsters, Chelios might give you a pass. Otherwise, he could give a fuck less about your excuses, you wanker.

riter-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor not only bring back Chev Chelios for another tumble, but they also bring back the rest of the original cast, even some of the dead ones. Efran Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite) returns, though now he portrays Venus, the twin out to avenge his brother Kaylo's death. High Voltage also introduces some new blood; there's Ria (Ling Bai, The Crow) who's Chinese-accented Engrish requires subtitles, and El Huron (Clifton Collins, Jr., Capote), who's straight out of a Robert Rodriguez wet dream. I almost forgot; High Voltage is also a must-see for anyone waiting for Ginger Spice to make her triumphant return to film.

Neveldine and Taylor really crank up the insanity in High Voltage (pun intended). Crank was an adrenaline-infused rush of madness that didn't always make the most logical sense. Where the first film was dialed up to eleven, the sequel has the dial damn near splintering as it bears down on fifteen! They maintain the same intensity and urgency using their same corn syrup and cocaine-influenced style. Even with the logical half of my brain shut down, High Voltage had my monkey brain screaming bullshit from time to time.

Dirty Undies
I've dreamed of doing steamy, nasty things to Amy Smart, allowing she'd give me the opportunity. Neveldine and Taylor are mind-readers cuz Chelios gets through at least a third of my naughty list. In a nightmarish twist, they have her dating a mulleted Corey Haim (Lost Boys)...shudder. If for some strange reason watching Amy Smart gyrate wearing only electrical tape and hot pink hot pants doesn't do it for you, High Voltage has more random tits and ass than a Girls Gone Wild DVD. They even toss in a gaggle of porn stars, Ron Jeremy included, just because they can. I swear there is a time when the directors flash up a pair of breasts just to segue from a bloody shootout to a brutal beatdown. Speaking of, for a man laid up three months in the hospital, Chelios fucks up some people's shit! Running, shooting, fighting and fucking, all with a battery-powered plastic heart; I'd hate to see Chelios operating at full power.

The Money Shot
Crank is that rare breed of gratuitous, absurd excess that works. With High Voltage, the crew hoped to once again capture lightning in a bottle. We all know lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but they left behind a second patch of scorched earth within the same block of the asylum.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It Burns So Good!

Observe and Report
Release: 04.10.09
Rated R
1 hour, 26 minutes


Head of Forest Ridge Mall security, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen, Pineapple Express) has it all: a devoted, trustworthy crew, the attention of the most beautiful woman in the mall, the wherewithal to become a police officer, and the delusions of grandeur to believe any of this is remotely true. With pressure mounting to catch a flasher and a thief, both of whom keep hitting the mall on his watch, Ronnie's life reaches a crossroads where his dreams and his bipolar disorder collide.

Ronnie's first obstacle is Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta, Slow Burn), the lead investigator in both the mall's cases. Harrison calms Ronnie's would-be lover, Brandy (Anna Faris, Just Friends), after her run-in with the flasher, leaving Ronnie to stew in the inadequacy of his station. Ronnie assists Harrison as he questions various mall employees, aggravating the detective during the process. Ronnie ascertains that the only way justice will be served is if he and his deputies focus on canvasing the mall for the pervert before he strikes again.

Surprisingly, Rogen proves he can portray someone other than Seth Rogen. As Ronnie, Rogen is always just left of normal. He's kinda douchey, but honest. The phrase 'that boy ain't right' springs to mind with frequency during O&R. Having played the streetwise cop many times before, Liotta's portrayal of Harrison is dead-on, sparing us the ham and cheese he sometimes serves. He's kinda douchey, too, but in a more dickish, adult way than Ronnie. Then there's Faris's Brandy; Queen Fuckin' Douche of the mall! Faris coats her usual ditsy persona with a layer of Grade 'A' bitch that makes a character that's to die for.

Writer-director Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) draws a surprising amount of humor out of wholly unlikable characters. His supporting cast delivers ten times over. As Ronnie's main deputy, Dennis, Michael Peña (Shooter) nails a goofy, high-pitched voice that would seem stupid if his delivery weren't so deadpan. Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder) has a hilarious cameo playing the shocking loud-mouth, big-balled dickhead he's does so well. My favorite character has to be Saddam (Aziz Ansari, TV: Parks and Recreation). Jody Hill could make a hit film based on the brief, but tear-inducing exchanges between he and Ronnie.

Dirty Undies
I'm putting all 2009 films on notice: Rogen and Faris deliver a scene that is the top contender for this year's Most Memorable Moment. Ronnie has a penchant for excessive force, making O&R more violent than I ever could have hoped. Jody Hill adds just the right dash of brutality into the blows dealt by and to Ronnie that it'll make you flinch. I thought the language, violence, nudity (i.e.jiggly man-flesh) and depravity of Observe and Report would be hard to top this year, but then I saw the jaw-dropping insanity that is Crank: High Voltage.

The Money Shot
Observe and Report relies on shock value to deliver the funny, and it works amazingly well. I worried that O&R was destined to repeat the uneven keel of The Foot Fist Way. It has the same type of delusional and disturbing characters, but it all fits very smoothly against the shopping mall backdrop. Maybe it's too soon to label it the Jody-verse, but Hill's cadre of the deluded are carving out their niche in the film world.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, April 20, 2009

MMM: Cause My Knots Don't Fit!

I'm always in the mood for something funny. Last Monday's mood music selection reminded me of that fact. I've decided to keep the laughs coming. I've been told that if I were to watch this duo's HBO series in its entirety, I wouldn't be as impressed. Since I don't have HBO, I rely heavily on the internets and their CD to get my jollies from the show's cream.

Hailing from New Zealand, Jemaine Clement and Brent McKenzie, a.k.a. Flight of the Conchords are the comedic duo behind the series, Flight of the Conchords. The premise is fairly self-explanatory, but their wacky musical performances are the must-see moments.

One such musical number I caught last week at the in-laws. In the episode, the duo were short on cash and trying to decide which should become a prostitute to make ends meet. That explained, I now present to you:

Flight of the Conchords - Sugarlumps

I don't know which I enjoyed more; the backup dancers or the Lazy Susan. I wish their tour would swing through North Carolina. Jemaine and Brent should know that NC has some of the most beautiful girls in the whole wide room.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Who's That Lady? - It's Parker Posey!

Drumroll! Today marks the end of this week's Who's That Lady? extravaganza inspired by my recent Best in Show post. I reviewed the 2000 film as part of Film for the Soul's series, Counting Down the Zeroes. Ibetolis's ambitious project chronicles a decade's worth of cinema: the noughties.

As always, I must give credit to
Blog Cabins's post Familiar Faces - Unknown Names, where Fletch catalogs the careers of That Guys. My series, Who's That Lady?, spins the gender, focusing on those That Gals we love to watch even if we don't always know them by name.

If you've seen Best in Show, you may have found yourself asking:

Who's That Lady?
Parker Posey

Parker Posey was born in Baltimore, Maryland but grew up in Laurel, Mississippi. One thing I've always found interesting, and I'm not sure why, is that her father owned a car dealership. After attending the State University of New York at Purchase, she went on to a role on the soap opera As the World Turns. Eventually Time magazine dubbed Ms. Posey the "Queen of the Indies" based on her extensive work in independent fillms. She's closing in on seventy film and television credits. Here are some of my personal favorites.

3 Unforgettable Roles
The House of Yes - Parker Posey portrays a young woman, 'Jackie-O' Pascal, who's obsessed with all things Jackie Kennedy! That may not sound so crazy, but add in her bizarre love for her brother and it doesn't get much more unbalanced. Strange as it is, Parker keeps you riveted to the screen.

Josie and the Pussycats - The film where I fell in love with Ms. Posey. As Fiona, the evil, corporate mastermind behind all the latest and greatest trends in music, she's dastardly and fragile and just plain goofy all wrapped up into one. A very underrated film, and one I'll be pulling off my shelf to enjoy for the umpteenth time.

The Oh in Ohio - We all know how I love Paul Rudd, but Parker Posey's Priscilla Chase is the show stopper here. She's never ever had an orgasm, not even by her hubbie. Then she discovers the joys of mechanical stimulation...I'll just leave the rest for you to see on your own.

Honorable Mentions: As Danica Talos in Blade:Trinity, Parker cranked up the bad-ass bitch factor to eleven! I particularly loved her expert stilletto use. Parker's Meg Swan is hilariously neurotic in Best in Show, her maniacal search for the Busy Bee is easily the best sequence.
I was excited to see her star in her own sitcom, FOX's The Return of Jezebel James. I stuck by it for her, though the show came and went faster than a microwave burrito.

Saw it, but even I don't remember her in it!
I can't believe she had worked in over two dozen projects before I ever saw her! I don't know when she came up on your radar, but you may be surprised to see some of her projects.

Films: Coneheads, Dazed and Confused, Waiting for Guffman, Scream 3, You've Got Mail, The Eye, The Sweetest Thing, Superman Returns

Whether Parker Posey plays ditsy dames, crazy chicas, goofy girls, melancholy madames or a combination of all of the above, she never disappoints. You never have to worry if she'll bring it; if she's cast, it's already been broughten! If you want to know more about her career, be sure to check out her IMDB and Wikipedia

She has no in-production credits currently, but her films Happy Tears and Spring Breakdown are slated to release in 2009.The latter has an amazing comedic cast, but with Rip Torn appearing in the former I doubt I'll pass up either film if it comes to my neck of the woods.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who's That Lady? - It's Catherine O'Hara!

Two down, two to go! If you're just joining me, Who's That Lady? is currently all about the women of Best in Show, which I recently reviewed as part of Film for the Soul's series, Counting Down the Zeroes. Ibetolis's ambitious project chronicles a decade's worth of cinema: the noughties.

If you've never read my series, it is based on
Blog Cabins's post Familiar Faces - Unknown Names where Fletch catalogs the careers of That Guys. Who's That Lady? spins the gender, focusing on those That Gals we love to watch, even if we don't always remember their name.

If you've seen Best in Show, you may have found yourself asking:

Who's That Lady?
Catherine O'Hara

Catherine O'Hara was born in Toronto, Canada. It's also where she became a member of The Second City comedy troupe, the company responsible for the popular Second City TV or SCTV. She was almost a cast member on SNL, but she ultimately quit and returned to SCTV. She's credited with over seventy film and television projects on IMDB. She hasn't been as visible in the last couple years, but her "in production" credits look to remedy her absence very soon.

3 Unforgettable Roles
Beetle Juice -
My earliest memory of Ms. O'Hara had to be her performance as the heavily-medicated, suffering artist Delia Deetz. Her crazy outfits and even crazier sculptures were actually quite tame in comparison to her wild-eyed neuroticism.

A Mighty Wind - She was the better half of the faux folk legends Mitch and Mickey. Catherine and co-star Eugene Levy brought their bitterly touching history to life. She also impressed me with her mad autoharp skills.

Home Alone - Who could forget Kevin's mom, Kate McCallister? Her condescending retort to Kevin's wish to be family-less jump-started the comedic premise that set theater box offices ablaze in 1990.

Honorable Mentions: It was a hoot watching her play the once hot-to-trot Cookie Fleck in Best in Show. She donned her dysfunctional mother's cap once again in Orange County to keep Colin Hanks and Jack Black in line.

Saw it, but even I don't remember her in it!
With over thirty years of television, film and voice work on her resume, there's no way I could have seen and remembered her in everything! Here's a few places where you may not have recognized her.

Films: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Dick Tracy, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Over the Hedge, Penelope

If you haven't noticed, Catherine O'Hara finds herself in the role of mother on more than a few occasions. I adore her when she's playing the more off-kilter characters that Christopher Guest creates in his mockumentaries. If you want to know more about her career, be sure to check out her IMDB and Wikipedia

Catherine O'Hara is coming off her hiatus with seven, count 'em, seven upcoming productions. For one reason or another they all sound great, but if I had to choose three must-sees they'd be: Good Behavior, Away We Go and, most exciting of all, hearing her voice Judith in Where the Wild Things Are.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who's That Lady? - It's Jane Lynch!

And the beat goes on! Yesterday I featured Jennifer Coolidge as my latest Who's That Lady? inductee. Like I mentioned then, Blog Cabins's post Familiar Faces - Unknown Names, where Fletch catalogs the careers of That Guys, is the older brother to my little baby. Who's That Lady? spins the gender, focusing on those That Gals we love whenever they appear onscreen.

Now it's on to the second lady from the film Best in Show, which I recently reviewed as part of Film for the Soul's series, Counting Down the Zeroes. Ibetolis's ambitious project chronicles a decade's worth of cinema: the noughties.

If you've seen Best in Show, you may have found yourself asking:

Who's That Lady?
Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch was born south of Chicago in Dolton, Illinois. She has a master's degree in theater from Cornell University and used her education as member of The Second City comedy troupe. She's also an award-winning playwright, having penned the play Oh Sister, My Sister. Who knew, right? She also has over one hundred and twenty credits over at IMDB! You've got to wonder if this lady ever slows down, but I don't know if we could survive without her wacky characters.

3 Unforgettable Roles
Best in Show -
The role of dog handler Christy Cummings helped Lynch break into the mainstream. She's so garishly overconfident as to be annoying, but you still can't help but love her.

The 40 Year Old Virgin - As Paula, the manager of Smart Tech, Jane left me in tears (of laughter). Her shameless advances towards Carell's Andy are priceless, especially the nonsensical Spanish serenade. If you have the DVD, you gotta watch her outtakes!

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - As Ricky's momma Lucy, she gives a surprisingly serious turn; well, as serious as one can expect in a Will Ferrell film. Lucy snatches a knot in her grandkids, her son and deadbeat husband while still managing to put dinner on the table!

Honorable Mentions: As Gayle Sweeney, Ms. Lynch had Danny and Wheeler walking the chalk line like they were lines of coke as they worked off their community service in Role Models. Her brief appearance as the reporter in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was one of the more enjoyable moments of that flick. I don't even have the space to begin discussing all the great television appearances she has had over the years.

Saw it, but even I don't remember her in it!
It's hard to believe she was appearing in television and film for nearly twelve years before she really stepped out of the shadows! Let's review a few of those credits where she may have escaped notice.

Films: The Fugitive, Collateral Damage, TV: Arrested Development, TV: Veronica Mars, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Smiley Face

Jane Lynch is at her best when she plays a quarter-turn away from being completely unhinged. Even so, she can totally flip the script and play unflichingly serious with equal ease. A good comparison would be to watch her in Role Models with a chaser of A Mighty Wind. If you want to know more about her career, be sure to check out her IMDB and Wikipedia

She has four upcoming productions, but I can hardly wait to see which hat she's wearing in Julie & Julia. Now that I found out she'll be in the new show Glee, I may have to give that show a fighting chance that it otherwise wouldn't have in my house.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who's That Lady? - It's Jennifer Coolidge!

It's been a couple of months since I posted an installment of Who's That Lady?. Blog Cabins post Familiar Faces - Unknown Names, where Fletch catalogs the careers of That Guys, is the older brother to my little baby. My series spins the gender, focusing on those women we love when they appear in a film.

This week I will remedy my delinquent attention to this series by spotlighting four unsung women. All four ladies appear in the film Best in Show, which I recently reviewed as part of Film for the Soul's series, Counting Down the Zeroes. Ibetolis's ambitious project chronicles a decade's worth of cinema: the noughties.

If you've seen Best in Show, you may have found yourself asking:

Who's That Lady?
Jennifer Coolidge

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Jennifer Coolidge started her career working in New York with the Gotham City improv group and continued in LA as a member of The Groundlings comedy troupe. She's credited with over seventy projects, with five releasing this year! You will usually see Ms. Coolidge portraying a petty gold-digger, an unscrupulous mother, or a sultry cougar. You may not remember the movie, but you won't soon forget her role in it.

3 Unforgettable Roles
American Pie -
"Dude, that chick's a MILF!" Even if you never knew her real name, everyone recognizes Stifler's mom. She brought the term MILF, or Mom I'd Like to Fuck, into the mainstream vocabulary. Even though her total screentime in the first three American Pie films was limited to less than five minutes, her popularity is boundless.

A Mighty Wind - Ms. Coolidge is equally adept at portraying female characters that make you wonder how they survived to adulthood. One such mature airhead is Amber Cole in this Christopher Guest mockumentary. Her knowledge of the locomotive industry is astounding.

A Night at the Roxbury -Her role as the Hottie Cop is an obscure one to most, but it's the first time I saw and remembered her. If she's good enough to float Steve Butabi's boat, then she's good enough for me.

Honorable Mentions: Jennifer kept Elle Woods looking her best as stylist Paulette in the Legally Blonde franchise. In Best in Show, Down to Earth and Pootie Tang, she put many a money-grubbing floozy to shame. A more recent appearance was as the voracious band-aid to Bernie Mac in Soul Men.

Saw it, but even I don't remember her in it!
With so many credits, it's possible even I've forgotten Jennifer's appearances! Her are a few flicks I'd sit through again just to watch her work.

Films: Click, Date Movie, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, For Your Consideration, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Zoolander

Sassy, sultry and just plain silly; Jennifer Coolidge brings more to the role than just voluptuous curves. Those who have seen her know exactly what I mean. If you want to know more about her career, be sure to check out her IMDB and Wikipedia

Of her five upcoming productions, I don't know if I'm more curious to see her work in the Jared Hess film Gentleman Broncos or to see her star alongside Gary Cole in Say Hello to Stan Talmadge. Those movies may not amount to much, but I'm sure she won't disappoint.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Counting Down the Zeroes: I Love This Flick Like It's Made Outta Ham!

Best in Show

Release: 09.29.00
DVD Release: 05.15.01
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 30 minutes

See It, Take a Friend, Buy the DVD!

This post is part of COUNTING DOWN THE ZEROES, brought to you by IBETOLIS of FILM FOR THE SOUL.

Thinking back to the year 2000, I'm fairly certain I never saw Best in Show in theaters. Maybe it never released in my limited little area of the world or if it did, I didn't care to spend that kind of cash on a ticket. However, if I were a gambling man, I'd bet it did play locally, but there was little to pique my interest at the time of its release.

At the time, I had never seen the much-touted hit film This Is Spinal Tap, so the comedic writing of Christopher Guest was unknown to me. I believe I scooped up Best in Show at the rental store due partly to Eugene Levy's stellar performance as Jim's dad in the non-noughtie film American Pie. I'd attribute the rest to Parker Posey after seeing her hilarious turn as Fiona in Josie and the Pussycats, which coincidentally released in theaters only a month prior to the DVD release of Best in Show. Thanks to the comedic chops of Levy and Posey, I now understand the greatness that is the Guest mockumentary.

Down in Florida, Cookie Fleck (Catherine O'Hara, Beetlejuice) and her husband Gerry (Eugene Levy) have packed up the van and headed to Philadelphia with their competition hopeful Winky. Meanwhile, life partners Scott Donlan (John Michael Higgins, The Break-Up) and Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean, True Crime) are preparing to leave Tribeca to escort Miss Agnes to victory. Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest, Waiting for Guffman) is the owner of a tackle shop in my home state of North Carolina. He thinks his bloodhound, Hubert, will be the young pup to bring home the glory. Meg (Parker Posey) and Hamilton Swan (Michael Hitchcock, Happy, Texas) are obsessed over Beatrice's stress level prior to the show...or they could be experiencing the lingering effects of Starbucks coffee. These four must all contend against Rhapsody in White, a two-time Best in Show winner. Rhapsody's owner, Sherri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge, American Pie), and trainer Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch, Role Models) have no doubt that the poodle will win her third straight championship without much of a challenge.

Guest and Levy not only star in Best in Show, they are the creative minds behind the film's premise. Following this broad cross-section of America as they prepare for competition is the perfect platform for hilarity. While some jokes are obvious, the more subtle comments and reactions by the characters are the comedic gold. For instance, watching good-natured Gerry silently seethe, biting his tongue betwixt his buck teeth whenever one of Cookie's former lovers step on his two left feet to drool over his wife, is a funny, and all too frequent, recurring joke. Watching Sherri Ann Cabot's eyes dart side to side after she realizes she's just given an inappropriate answer to the interviewer is just awesome. From Christy's tepid confidence to Scott's unabashed flamboyance, all the actors are so convincing in their roles you could easily mistake this for a real documentary.

What also helps the authenticity of Best in Show is the inclusion of professional show dogs and their handlers. Seeing Winky's tiny legs scurry across the carpet alongside Cookie works because Winky was born to perform, just like the actors. In my end-of-year awards, I honor memorable animal performances. If I had been publishing my reviews in 2000, Beatrice the Weimaraner would have placed #1 for her phenomenal performance. In fact, this entire canine cast would have dominated my Memorable Animal category.

Best in Show excels because of its simplicity. Under his director's cap, Guest keeps a simple hand-held perspective trained on all his characters. The setting is a stringent competition where everyone's goal is simply to win. It's far from a simple task for a cast and crew to create a film that appears effortless.

I've always felt comedians have a stronger grasp on the dramatic than they are given credit. Best in Show, like the other Guest projects, proves this to be true. In the noughties, reality-based television has dominated the airwaves. If you were to stumble across Best in Show one lazy Sunday afternoon and didn't recognize the actors, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish it from the truth. And that's why Best in Show deserves the blue ribbon.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, April 13, 2009

MMM: I'm So Lonely

Over the holiday weekend, my cousin was excited to tell me about this new song he had heard. I believe his exact words were, "It's this song with jizz." It took me a sec, then with a grin I replied, "Oh, The Lonely Island!" He hadn't discovered them or their debut single until recently. Not surprisingly, he's a good deal younger than I and it's becoming a well-documented fact that my wife and I are in the minority of folks who actually still watch Saturday Night Live.

His excitement over Jizz in my Pants had me asking if he had heard other songs from the SNL Digital Shorts like Dick in a Box, I'm on a Boat and most importantly Natalie's Rap. Sadly he, like everyone else, only knew Dick in a Box. I told him all about the greatness and glory of The Lonely Island's collabos with T-Pain and Natalie Portman on the remaining two songs. However, to fully appreciate the songs I encouraged him (and you!) to see the accompanying videos.

While I'd love to post all these video today, I thought I'd just choose one from The Lonely Island's album Incredibad. I went with Jizz in My Pants because it is performed solely by The Lonely Island sans collabo. The video does feature a few cameos, but the performance rests completely on the shoulders of group members Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. It's a great video. It ends too quickly, but that's only appropriate.

The Lonely Island - Jizz in My Pants

The musical Digital Shorts are frequently the highlight of any given SNL episode. You should give Incredibad a listen if you haven't already.

No pressure fellas, but keep up the great work!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fun For the Select Family


Release: 04.03.09
1 hour, 47 minutes
Rated R

Second Run Seats

After graduating college, James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg, The Squid and the Whale) learns that his summer in Europe has been downsized much like his father's job. To scrimp and save for his graduate education at Columbia University, James gets hired to work games at Adventureland. He'd prefer to run the rides, but the owner Bobby (Bill Hader, Hot Rod) is certain James looks very gamey. James makes fast friends with fellow gamers Joel (Martin Starr, Knocked Up) and Em (Kristen Stewart, The Messengers). James's heart soars in Em's presence, but her affection may be harder to win than a giant-ass panda.

What better day to review Adventureland than on the 19th birthday of its lead actress, Kristen Stewart! Happy Birthday Kristen. I've only seen Ms. Stewart in a few films but she really knocked her Adventureland performance out of the park. In my opinion, its by and far her best role to date no matter what you Twilighters might think. Both her and Eisenberg do an excellent job conveying the awkwardness and misery of their circumstances. Ryan Reynolds (Waiting...) gives a surprisingly subdued performance as the park's older, cooler maintenance guy. It's also a shock to see Kristen Wiig (Semi-Pro) really rein in her over-the-top wackiness to portray Bobby's simple, silly wife Paulette.

For all the trailers touting Adventureland's hilarity, the laughs are spaced few and far between in this introspective tale of being trapped in Pittsburgh in the eighties. The obviously autobiographical tale by writer-director Greg Mottola (Superbad) both excels and stumbles in it's thoughtfulness. James, Joel and Em have this sophisticated air in contrast to the Philistines that run the rides; in particular Frigo (Matt Bush) and the lovely Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva). By the way I'm not saying this ain't true, but if I were writing my wonder years, I'd have the hottest chick around fawn all over me, too. But I digress. Many times the trio talk and behave so superior to the other characters that it alienates Adventureland from mass audience appeal. There is also considerable underdevelopment of supporting details like James's homelife, which stands out in a film where so much care is given to craft perfectly disdainful retorts and observations.

Dirty Undies
Even in the most retina-searing fashions of the eighties, Lisa P. is smokin' hot! Watching her and BFF Kelly (Kimisha Renee Davis) get their choreographed groove on to jams like Rock Me Amadeus is just too cool for school! Disappointingly, the young Ameircans engage in more sex talk than actual sex. Mostly the gang hangs around drinking booze and smoking James's stash of weed.

The Money Shot
Despite talking over his audience's head a lot, Mottola's Adventureland has some worthy merits. The eighties style and music are spot on. James's atypical honesty and Em's emotional turmoil give this romance a refreshing twist. But if you purchase a ticket to Adventureland searching for a rollercoaster of fun, you'll be in for a swift punch to the nads.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Horrific Truth Behind this True Story

The Haunting in Connecticut

Release: 03.27.09
1 hour, 42 minutes
Rated PG-13

Group Rental

In the same way her son Matt (Kyle Gallner, TV: Veronica Mars) can barely stomach his cancer treatments, Sarah Campbell (Virginia Madsen, Number 23) cannot bear to watch him suffer on their long road trips back to suburban Connecticut. Sarah and husband Peter (Martin Donovan, The Quiet) decide to rent a house near the treatment facility to ease everyone's stress. Sarah finds the perfect house for cheap; perfect and cheap if you don't mind living in an old funeral home. No one minds, except for the wayward souls that keep lurking around the Campbell's dying son.

Haunting, based on true events, tries to strike a balance between Matt's battle with cancer and the recurring appearance of ghosts in his basement digs. At times, Matt sees through the eyes of a young spirit, Jonah, who appears to Matt as an extra crispy version of his former self. The KFC spectre mainly just stares at Matt and lurches over him while he sleeps. Startling moments of here-one-second, gone-the-next are the extent of the film's overused scare tactics. I was more frightened by how often mommie dearest inexplicably left her children alone for large spans of time.

The whole damn film is one huge exercise in tedium. Like most lame-ass, teen-friendly horror flicks, jittery flashbacks tease audiences with the house's dark side. Whenever the KFC spectre goes on break, Matt splits his time between entertaining his siblings and cousin Wendy (Amanda Crew, Sex Drive), and by calling fellow cancer patient, Reverend Popescu (Elias Koteas, Zodiac), to talk death and ghosts. Judging by the Reverend's baggy attire, I assume John Goodman backed out of production and the budget didn't allow for a refitting for Koteas. Regardless, Koteas gives it his all.

Haunting cuts a lot of corners. Scenes are notably grainy. At first it seemed to set a mood, but when conversation sequences shift continually between poorly-shot and strikingly clear, it's friggin' annoying. The script works the same. When Matt's visits by the KFC spectre are confirmed, Encylopedia Wendy is on the case and in an afternoon uncovers the entire history of the hell house. The religious faith of Sarah and the Reverend are treated as taboo, almost as if the spirits themselves didn't allow more to be written into the story. I could stomach all these weaknesses if I wasn't being spoon-fed every other frivolous detail of the Campbells' life.

Dirty Undies
Gentle scares are mildly unnerving at best. The children seem to be in peril, but aside from treating Matt like an Etch-A-Sketch, the ghosts do very little besides stand around. Also, the shockingly horrific reveal doesn't make a lick of sense! A sure-fire indication a horror flick sucks is when the explanation creates more questions than it answers.

The Money Shot
The Haunting in Connecticut was so dull, I felt my brain shut off about ten minutes into it. As the climax approached and I snapped to attention, I realized I didn't know anything about Matt, his family, the KFC spectre or the other spirits I'd been watching for over an hour. The worst part? It didn't fucking matter. When it was all said and done, The Haunting in Connecticut amounted to nothing more than boredom in the theater.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, April 6, 2009

MMM: Baby, Baby Do

Apparently my wife and I were in the minority of people who chose to spend their money on Adventureland in lieu of throwing it away on Vin Diesel's Fast & Furious. While Adventureland wasn't a life changing film, it had a ton of music popular in the eighties. It belittled one song in particular; a personal favorite.

I was ten going on eleven when first exposed to this particular song. Back in those days, I didn't have the benefit of the internets to discover new music. Hell, I didn' t even have cable television for music video watching! But from the tinny speakers of my bud's boombox, Falco rocked me with Rock Me Amadeus. It rocked me so much, I had to have my own cassette of the album Falco 3.

I'm certain Rock Me Amadeus is responsible for my affection towards techno music. You can then imagine how wounded I was when the characters of Adventureland talked smack about my jam. I'll get into more details about the movie later this week, but for now let's just soak up some eighties goodness:

Falco - Rock Me Amadeus

I wished that video contained the "baby baby do" breakdown in the middle. I may have to blow the dust off my shoebox of cassettes to give the full song a listen...maybe I'll just download it instead.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, April 3, 2009

Trailer Trash: The April-09 Gang Bang

I committed to watching all eleven of the major releases I trashed back in March. Out of those eleven, one was bumped into April, leaving ten. Of those ten, I saw six. I would've seen more, but I went temporarily blind from viewing Miss March and have just recently recovered.

April brings twelve major releases but judging from what the trailers have shown, I will make no such commitments to see them all. This month's selections are a mish-mash of ripped-0ff ideas. That's why I've taken the liberty to rename every release Reel Whore style.

I present to you IMDB's April releases, ranked from worst to best for your reading enjoyment:

Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.

Obsessed (04.24) Sasha Fierce has realized the only way she'll keep her non-acting ass in movies is to produce them. The only way to keep audiences in theaters is to produce good films. Since Bey's acting and good film are rarely one and the same, I'll pass.
Reel's Title: Dreamgirls 2: The Hand that Bribes the Academy

"This weave is like fiya!"

Earth (04.22) James Earl Jones narrates this documentary focusing on three animal families in peril. Recycling is chic, but rebranding a portion of the Planet Earth television series for the big screen for bigger bucks has left Gaia weeping.
Reel's Title: Earth: This Shit is Free on TV!

Hannah Montana: The Movie (04.10) Ever notice how much Miley Cyrus has grown to resemble her father Billy Ray? That's not a compliment. Nothing against the teen queen, but I can't help but hum "girl, you'll be a man soon" every time I see this trailer.
Reel's Title: Best of Both Worlds 2: She's the Man!

Fast & Furious (04.03) I never caught the VD fever. I've lost count of how many of his films land on the DVD rack, never seeing a theater reel. This clunker should have tread a similar path. Only way I'd enjoy this is if M-Rod rode me like a muscle car while this played in the background.
Reel's Title: Fast & Furious 4: Boosting Our "Car"eers

It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.

17 Again (04.17) 1988 really squeezed every last ounce of blood from this plot turnip. Still, casting Thomas Lennon, Leslie Mann and Michelle "The Trach" Trachtenberg gives me an inkling of hope this won't entirely suck.
Reel's Title: Big 2: The UnBiggening

Dragonball: Evolution (04.10) I really want this to be awesome, but some weird wirework scenes and an uncharacteristically douchey Goku give me pause. I'll still check it out, if only to support James Marsters... and to drool over Reaper's Eriko.
Reel's Title: Dragonball: Devolution

Fighting (04.24) Terrence Howard is no Harrison Page, but he's got the street-wise hustler shtick down. Would it have been too difficult to get JCVD to make a cameo in this? It's the least the writers could do since they blatantly plagiarize his original idea. Now, watching him beat their asses? I'd pay to see that.
Reel's Title: Lionheart 2: The Heart of a Lion Ultimate Fighting Edition

Observe and Report
(04.10) There was a time when you'd say "Oh, Ray Liotta is in this!" Nowadays it's more like, "Oh, Ray Liotta is in this..." But Anna Faris is also in this, which makes this mandatory viewing. With Rogen on board, maybe the trio will churn out something amusing.
Reel's Title: Paul Blart 2: The Foot-Fist Segway

Moist With Antici...Pation!

State of Play (04.17) Feels a lot like a TV procedural (a la Castle or Law & Order) and rightfully so, it being based on a UK series and all. Don't let the Ben Affleck appearance fool you, this has the advantage of Tony Gilroy's award-winning writing performed by many top-shelf actors; incuding Helen Mirren and Russell Crowe.
Reel's Title: Mr. Grisham Goes to Washington

The Soloist
(04.24) Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. have rarely gone astray in my eyes. Jamie even had the good sense to get killed early on in Stealth. This based-in-truth tale has a great pedigree all around, including supporting stars Catherine Keener and Stephen Root.
Reel's Title: Reign Over My August Rush

Adventureland (04.03) There's a good chance this will be about as much fun as going to the run-down Adventureland, but the supporting cast keeps me exceptionally optimistic. Just so you know, I base my belief firmly in the way, way better redband trailer.
Reel's Title: Caddyshack: Sex under Six Flags

Crank: High Voltage (04.17) Crank creators are hoping lightning will strike twice by revisiting the seemingly-abbreviated life of Chev Chelios. How appropriate that High Voltage's premise mocks that attempt. With a battery-fueled Jason Statham saddled by a gyrating Amy Smart, I've already bought my ticket.
Reel's Title: Crank: Blinked, My Ass!


There's nothing I can say that'll top that poster. See you at the movies!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ass Chrimm

Miss March

Release: 03.13.09
Rated R
1 hour, 30 minutes

Read a MuFu'n Book!

A month ago I said I would rather clean the debris from an elephant's rectal thermometer than go see Miss March. Turns out, you need specific skills to do that sort of job so with that task marked from my to-do list, a hole opened up to view this flick.

Straight-laced, pro-abstinence Eugene (Zach Cregger) makes a pact with his girlfriend of two and a half years, Cindi (Raquel Alessi, Ghost Rider), to pop her cherry on prom night. His crass, horndog buddy, Tucker Cleigh (Trevor Moore), couldn't be happier for his best bud and they toss back a few drinks to christen Eugene's journey to manhood. Instead, Eugene journeys to the bottom of the stairs and into a coma, waking four years later to discover Cindi is a Playboy centerfold. Tucker hauls Eugene across country to reunite with his old flame at the Playboy mansion's big bash.

Remember in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me when Austin unknowingly drinks a stool sample, thinking it's coffee? It's gross but surprisingly funny, mainly because Austin doesn't know it's shit that he's about to consume. Had Austin known it was actually colonic coffee and drank it anyway, that'd just be stupid and sick. The same is true here. Going into Miss March, the film reeked of shit, looked like shit and most likely would be shit. Still, I drank it in. I still can't get the taste out of my mouth. I paid a $1.50 for my ticket and I was fucking robbed!

Stars Moore and Cregger also wore the writer and director's hats on this project; apparently, all at the same time. Scenes felt cobbled together in the moment. The direction didn't accentuate the story or even revel in the inanity of the scene. The casting was horrible. Fellow classmate Candace (Molly Stanton) looked 35 in high school, 25 when all growed up, but in reality she turned 29 the same day this was released. This career killer is one helluva birthday gift to receive to someone who didn't deserve it. Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) plays another classmate-turned-rapper, Horsedick.MPEG. Yes, you heard me; Horsedick DOT MPEG! Being helpful, he gives the dudes a ride on his bus, but don't get this confused with his mildly amusing appearance as Havana Bob on the Helpful Bus:

That four-minute clip is funnier than the entirety of Miss March. When Hugh Hefner's (The House Bunny) acting is worth mentioning, you know it's a bad film.

Dirty Undies
Speaking of Playboy, what's with the nudity? There's a total of four, maybe five uncovered breasts but the direction never showed them the proper respect. Likewise, the film's most intelligent joke, a recurring poo prank, is never adequately captured. If you're going for the gross and crass, at least do it right.

The Money Shot
Badly shot, badly told and badly acted. I didn't expect Academy-level precision from Moore and Cregger, but a basic level of competency in any of the three areas would have been appreciated. I took the time to show up to your film; you should have had the courtesy to do the same.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Triple Team'd: A Very, Very UN-Review toYou!

Last week I had the pleasure of getting triple teamed by Rhona Mitra, Elizabeth Banks and Odette Yustman... in the purely cinematical sense. I went to the theater not once, not twice, but three times to gaze upon these ladies in their latest offerings. My satisfaction, however, was not guaranteed.

The Unborn

Release: 01.09.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 27 minutes

Group Rental

Stop me if you've heard this one; a creepy old lady, a freaky kid, and a rabbi walk into a bar in Chicago to meet Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman, Cloverfield). They all seek to live in peace but the boat across the river will only carry two at a time. You can't leave the rabbi with the old lady because...well, you get the point. How will Casey resolve this problem while furthering her budding career?

The answer: She can't. Try as she might, all Yustman can hope for is that someone noticed how yummy she looked in every single scene of The Unborn. The story, penned and directed by David S. Goyer (Blade), didn't pop. It was nifty that the tale had a historical tilt, using Nazi experimentation as the basis for unleashing this supernatural curse. But the atmosphere of the story rarely inspired fear or dread. Sure, there was a spanky scene when the conservative Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman, Hannibal) flipped his yarmulke when confronted by evil spirits, but those moments were drastically outnumbered by meandering exposition.

Dirty Undies
Three words may convince some to see this: Odette. Yustman. Cameltoe. It's the best to hope for in this teen-friendly flick. Yustman also shares screentime with Meagan Good (Brick) and Carla Gugino (Watchmen), in her third film of 2009, makes a brief appearance as Casey's late, tore-up mother. The climax erupts into a violent flurry, but being mesmerized by Yustman's cuteness may not ferry you through the agony leading to that point.

The Money Shot
Goyer had a good idea on his hands and assembled some capable talent so I'm not quite sure where it all fell apart. The devil's in the details, and the tedious attention to every facet delivered a stillborn film.

Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans

Release: 01.23.09
Rated R
1 hour, 32 minutes


In the third installment of the Underworld series, what was legend now becomes truth. Lucian (Michael Sheen, The Queen), the first in a lineage of evolved werewollves, is favorite slave to head vampire Viktor (Bill Nighy, Hot Fuzz). He's also a favorite of Viktor's daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra, Doomsday). Lucian fathers a line of werewolf slaves, toils every day as a blacksmith, and spends his nights with Sonja "fixing her cable." A man can be stretched only so far before he snaps.

Rise of the Lycans is full of forbidden love, betrayal and violence. If you've seen the prior two films there are some nice character connections across the stories. However, having seen the first two films makes Rise feel rather dull. Knowing the story foretold, I found myself waiting for certain moments to occur and grew increasingly impatient when little was happening. Luckily, watching Nighy portray Viktor as King Douche kept my antsiness in check. Nighy was a blast in every scene; every ounce a grade-A dick.

Dirty Undies
It's hard to believe Sheen is the same wimpy guy from all those other films considering he's pretty hunky as the inspiring Lucian. He steals the show from Mitra who is essentially a minor character by comparison. They both get into some good tussles, ripping their opponents to shreds and splattering blood for miles. The film is full of the satisfying crunch and thud of sword and arrows against flesh and bone.

The Money Shot
Lucian has some great transformations, but I wish the primitive werewolf effects didn't look so weak. In retrospect, they should have told the trilogy in order. Then again, maybe it's better to end on a high note.

The Uninvited

Release: 01.30.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 27 minutes


Anna (Emily Browning, Ghost Ship) is released from the mental institution and returns home to her father Steven (David Strathairn, Blue Car), her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel, Grudge 2) and her new stepmother Rachael (Elizabeth Banks, Role Models). Oh yeah, her dead mom's ghost is still lurking around their coastal home, nudging at forgotten memories of the night she died and how then-nurse Rachael was a party to the incident. Anna, with help from her sister, slowly begins to piece together that fateful night's events.

I admit, due to a showtime snafu, I missed the first five minutes of The Uninvited, but unless they pulled a Lester Burnham on me, I doubt I missed anything crucial. That said, what I did see was a solid piece of filmmaking. It helps that it is an Americanized version of the great Korean horror flick, A Tale of Two Sisters. I'd still recommend watching the original work, but if you're not big on subtitles The Uninvited does a respectable job. The story is kept tight and tense. The runtime is significantly less than the original but the film doesn't feel rushed.

Dirty Undies
Elizabeth Banks finds herself in some sexual situations, but nothing as graphic as Zack and Miri territory. The mom ghost and some other apparitions are pretty creepy. There's also gallons of blood, though it lacks the sickening punch of watching wounds being inflicted.

The Money Shot
I didn't really understand why pops came off so distant towards Anna. Maybe he was just worn out from entertaining his young mistress until the wee hours of the morning, maybe not. I invite you to go check this out and explain it to me.

Large Association of Movie Blogs