Thursday, July 29, 2010

Triple Team'd: Baru-chel-Shocked!

This feature is normally known as Double Team'd, but when preparing to review my recent barrage of Jay Baruchel vehicles, I realized I'd never written a review for She's Out of My League. Thus, Triple Team'd was born. Let's see which of the geeky-guy-gets-the-blonde films was most worth watching.

She's Out of My League

Release: 03.12.10
DVD Release: 06.22.10
Rated R
1 hour, 44 minutes

Second Run Seats

Goofy, awkward Kirk (Jay Baruchel, Knocked Up) goes through the daily grind as a TSA agent while pining away for his ex, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane, Over Her Dead Body). A cellular ringtone jars him from his rut when the phone's owner, a breathtaking traveler, Molly (Alice Eve, Sex & the City 2), asks him to keep her phone safe. Being a nice guy, Kirk delivers the cell and Molly repays his kindness with a date. While sparks seem to fly, Kirk's self-doubt and his pessimistic friends and family may jeopardize the best thing that's ever happened to him.

The story does a decent job of establishing Kirk as an all-around great guy who's hesitant to stand up for himself. Kirk's more likable than his obnoxious buddy, Stainer (T.J. Miller, Get Him to the Greek), but not nearly as memorable as his silly pal Devon (Nate Torrence, Get Smart). There's a third buddy (Mike Vogel, Cloverfield), but he's underutilized and unnecessary. The quartet's banter, scribed by Sex Drive writers John Morris and Sean Anders, is funny in parts, but largely fills space until audiences can ogle Alice Eve once again.

Eve has her own foul buddy, Patty (Krysten Ritter, 27 Dresses), though her talent's somewhat wasted. TV fans will be disappointed that Fringe's Jasika Nicole and That 70's Show's Debra Jo Rupp also have little to do. Most of the supporting cast take a back seat to Baruchel's fidgety gesturing and nasally hemming and hawing.

Dirty Undies
Alice Eve in lingerie is reason enough to see this, but catching a glimpse of Baruchel's bony ass (or his double's) may (or may not) sweeten the pot for you. Stainer and Patty are sputtering fountains of vulgarity, but unfortunately there's nothing overly explicit to write home about.

The Money Shot
She's Out of My League attempts to be offensive and edgy, but its sugary sweet center makes it more of a sappy romance than a raunchy comedy. One isn't necessarily better than the other, but in this case, mixing the two waters down the whole.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Release: 07.14.10
Rated PG
1 hour, 51 minutes

Second Run Seats

Goofy, awkward Dave (Jay Baruchel, She's Out of My League) goes through the daily grind as a grad student of physics, though he wasn't always this way. When he was younger, he encountered the sorcerer Balthazar (Nicolas Cage, Con Air) on a field trip. Dave was meant to be Balthazar's apprentice, but Dave accidentally released the evil Horvath (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2) which led to significant emotional scarring. Ten years later, Balthazar and Horvath have returned; one to start a mystical apocalypse, the other to train the timid geek to prevent it.

Director John Turtletaub (National Treasure) spins an entertaining, though wholly predictable yarn with just enough explosions to make Jerry Bruckheimer give his nod of approval. Molina out chews Cage in most scenes; something I thought impossible. The displays of magical prowess are sparkly and nifty, which goes a long way to masking the uninspired writing the small battalion of writers cranked out.

Baruchel balances his time between weakly cracking wise on Cage's tutelage and wooing the dream girl from his embarrassing childhood. Lost infatuation Becky (Teresa Palmer, The Grudge 2) re-enters his life as student in need of physics tutoring. Becky's there to simply accept the magical side of Dave's life (though it's invisible to her eyes and should sound completely crazy). She also shows that Dave isn't a complete loser.

Dirty Undies
Another utterly wasted female role is Balthazar's lost love, Veronica, played by the lovely Monica Belluci (Brothers Grimm). While we're talking about underwritten and underused women, let's not forget Alice Krige (Reign of Fire) who played villainess Morgana la Fey. The women were added to be seen, and by the scant amount of lines given, rarely heard.

The Money Shot
In the end, I couldn't help but think how much more I preferred young Dave (Jake Cherry, Night at the Museum) to the poofy-haired, nasally hemming and hawing of adult Dave. The Sorcerer's Apprentice was nothing more than a cheap magician's trick; a lot of smoke and mirrors that felt entertaining at the time, but makes you feel cheated once you walk away.

How to Train Your Dragon

Release: 03.26.10
DVD Release: 10.22.10
Rated PG
1 hour, 38 minutes


Goofy, awkward Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel (Fanboys) goes through the daily grind as the apprentice to the blacksmith, Gobber (Craig Ferguson), while pining to be the best dragon hunter of his village. Unfortunately, his inventive methods cause more problems for his Viking kin than they help. His father Stoick (Gerard Butler, Reign of Fire) finally allows Hiccup to train, but only after he has befriended the most fearsome of dragons, a Night Fury he names Toothless.

Hiccup's friendship with Toothless gives him privileged insight into dragon mastery. It makes him the envy of his classmates, except for the star pupil, Astrid (America Ferrera, Our Family Wedding). The fantasy tale is fairly engaging and I doubt the target audience cares that the voices of the Viking village make them seem a bigger melting pot than New York City. Americans, Canadians, Brits and Scots make for an odd mix of natives, but if no one else cares, should I?

The computer animation is mediocre by today's measure. I wasn't too fond of Toothless's salamander-esque stylings, but it made for an inoffensive friend for young Hiccup.

Dirty Undies
Being a kid's movie, there shouldn't have been anything offensive, but something about hearing Gerard Butler's brutish brogue made me feel like he and Craig Ferguson were sitting around buck-ass naked in the recording booth, having a wank. There's a good bit of action, and it's a little more violent than you'd expect for kiddie fare with some surprisingly heavy outcomes.

The Money Shot
While the animation didn't portray it well, Baruchel's nasally hemming and hawing made Hiccup seem all the more helpless. It's altogether fun and easy to follow, assuming you don't get tripped up by the accents.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I didn't fall for it nearly as much as some, but I'm a bit surprised by the "Second Run" rating for Dragon - it was good fun, well-made, with more than a dash of humor and some gorgeous CGInematography (I think I just coined that term - woohoo!).

    Vaguely interested to see Apprentice just to see Cage ham it up, and I must admit that the effects look pretty cool.

    No real interest in League outside of the aforementioned lingerie...

    Loved the line about Ferguson and Butler in the recording studio.

  2. Sir, it's brilliant write-ups like this that make this website awesome. Agreed on all accounts regarding SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE and SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, but I don't necessarily think the CG was 'mediocre'. If any 2010 animated film gets that mantle, it sure as hell better be SHREK, the encapsulation of mediocre.

  3. @Fletch: I was a bit harsh on Dragon. I think after writing all three, I was just so done with Baruchel. Dragon is the best of the bunch and came closest to a matinee rating. I may change it once I return from vacation. :-)

    Nice new word there, Fletch.

    Yes! I was worried no one would ever sift through this to get to that Butler/Ferguson line! I can sleep happy now.

    @Fletch & Andy: I was a bit too hard on the CG, too. I didn't mean mediocre as much as quality by today's standards, not ground-breaking, but solid. I had a rmabling way of saying that in my original draft, but then switched it to "mediocre". I chose poorly.

    @Andy: Thanks! Ugh, Shrek. Why won't that franchise die already?

  4. Out of the 3, How to Train Your Dragon.

  5. @film-book: Definitely the best of the 3.

    @Everyone: FYI, I re-evaluated my ranking for Dragon and bumped it up a few notches. It now brings up the rear of my Matinee rankings instead of being a mid-range Second Run Seats.

  6. Nice reviews! I did see "She's Out of my League" - it was a decent movie and entertaining. I've been thinking about "Sorcerer's Apprentice" and have not seen "How to Train Your Dragon" yet. I enjoyed reading the write-ups, thanks for sharing!

  7. @Film Gurl: Thanks! You should definitely check out How to Train Your Dragon. Apprentice is worth killing time by the TV one lazy afternoon.

  8. Just saw this in your quarterly review section. I am a big fan of 'How to Train Your Dragon' and thought it was Pixar-esque in it's ability to be funny and lighhearted yet still evoke true emotion through its extremely well done characters and CGI. It was a welcome surprise after non-Pixar dreck like Shrek 4 and stuff like Robots. It's worth a revisit if you ask me.

  9. @Jeff: My wife never saw it so I'm sure I'll watch Dragon again. I haven't seen Shrek 4, but there's a ton of animated films better than Robots.