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A very pleasant surprise!
Take it from me. This is not the type of film I usually flock to see. For one thing, it's animated. I'm not one of these adults who likes to flaunt about being a kid at heart. Call me close-minded, but I prefer seeing REAL people with REAL facial expressions. Second of all, "fantasy" is not exactly my favorite genre. I'm a big advocate of realism in movies. I'd much rather watch an indie film where characters sit in cafes and bars, and just ramble on about the mundane details of life than watch the next special effects spectacular. Until this day, I haven't seen one "Lord of the Rings" film. Normally, the minute I see anything too out of ordinary in a film, my mind starts to wander and I become disconnected from it.
Therefore, I'm pleading with people--please, please, please go see this film! I don't normally go on and on about a film's special effects. To me, what's the use of effects when...they look like effects? Watching "Matrix Reloaded" is the equivalent of watching two coats of paint dry in my opinion. "Beowulf," on the other hand, is one of the few films I can think of that uses special effects for GOOD! The animation is absolutely incredible. There are moments in the film where I forget I'm watching a piece of animation, because the characters are soooo lifelike. I know I complained previously about animated characters not showing a range of facial expressions. Not in this case. It's incredible how the emotions of the real actors were able to get converted into animation. It's so complex that I wouldn't be surprised if Anthony Hopkins gets an Oscar nomination for his performance in this film.
I will preface that I saw this film in 3D. I'm sure the regular version will be enjoyable as well, but Robert Zemeckis took full advantage of the 3D technology, truly making you feel like you're part of this world. This is not like back in the days when occasionally you'd see some creature's arms stretch towards you, and that would be the extent of the 3D. There's a moment where Beowulf is about to get his crotch impaled, and I found myself almost gasping (I'm a guy, of course). It doesn't hurt that we get to see a very lifelike replication of Angelina Jolie strutting around almost naked during her every scene.
Now, for all you parents out there, DO NOT take your young ones. I find it funny that the movie is virtually being promoted as a kiddie flick. If this were R-rated, I would classify it as a hard R. I can't come up with any sort of explanation as to why this gory, gruesome film was awarded a PG-13 rating, other than....it's animated. I guess you can get away with a lot more with animated violence. Don't quote me on that, though. We're treated to such images as a monster getting stabbed in the eye and a heart getting torn out. Yet a movie with 10 uses of the F-word gets an R-rating. The MPAA is on crack. It's official.
If I have to make any mild criticism, it's that Robin Wright Penn's character looks a bit too cartoonish and flat. Ray Winstone has a great and powerful voice, and lends it well to the main character. I just find it funny that his character was the only one that had no resemblance to him. His character is tall, muscular, and handsome--the exact opposite of the real life Winstone. I liked the performances for the most part. Some have said that John Malkovich was pretty awful. I disagree. I thought he played a great heavy, as he always does. I suggest everyone checks this movie out in theaters, though. As big of a cinephile as I am, I don't usually urge people to see films on the big screen. To me, if a film is truly great, you can watch on your laptop or your I-Pod and still enjoy it just as much. "Beowulf" NEEDS to be seen on the big screen. It is not just a movie. It is an experience!
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
The worst of the series
I think I enjoyed this movie when I first saw it, but now looking back at it I find it quite mediocre. I still enjoy the other three "Lethal Weapon" movies. I even enjoyed Part 3 (most people seem to feel that the franchise began to decline at that particular sequel). To me, the previous three films had a good balance of action and comedy. The fourth installment is a good example of what happens when too much improvisation is allowed on set. There are times when the script seems virtually non-existent, as the actors play out these lame gags that go on way too long and truly take away from the story. Surely, the addition of Chris Rock to the cast helped ruin the film. I enjoy Rock as a comedian. His stand-up is incredible. In recent years, he's sharpened his acting skills a bit, knowing when to be Chris Rock the Comedian and Chris Rock the actor. That wasn't the case back when this movie came out. I didn't find him even partially convincing as a police detective, and found him to be much more annoying than funny. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover still had the great chemistry, but they seemed more concerned with being an Abbott-and-Costello-type comedy team than being Riggs and Murtaugh. There weren't really any poignant moments between the two characters, like in the previous three films. All in all, this movie is worth buying only if you hope to complete your "Lethal Weapon" collection. Otherwise, it's all pretty forgettable.
A creepy, solid horror flick
I admit, I'm usually rough on many horror movies that come out nowadays, because...well...they suck. "P2," on the other hand, has many exciting moments and I was engaged the whole way through. The acting is solid. The actress who plays the lead does a great job at conveying real terror. I also like that she wasn't the typical big-breasted female lead who seems ripped from the pages of Maxim magazine. She is attractive, yes, but not your traditional Hollywood beauty, who's cast simply so she can have a scene where she's taking a shower and has to flee from the villain naked, with her gargantuan boobs bouncing in close-up. I loved Wes Bentley in "American Beauty," and was quite disappointed to find out that he fell off the radar after delivering that great performance as Ricky Fits. He would only pop up occasionally in braindead slasher flicks like "Soul Survivors." In "P2" he was given a chance to redeem himself, and that he did. He is a perfectly creepy villain, especially with those dark, piercing eyes. The movie is not without flaws. It has some of the expected fake scare moments and, without giving anything away, let's just say that I'm SURE it would take less than 20 minutes for the cops to show up after you make a 9-1-1 call. The filmmakers do a great job at setting up a creepy tone, starting off the film by playing "Santa Baby" over the opening credit sequence. That's ten times creepier than, say, playing a standard horror movie score. If you're sick and tired of many of the braindead teen slasher flicks that have been hitting theaters lately, this should come as a refreshing surprise. I think this film is sadly underrated.
The Brave One (2007)
An extremely powerful, thought-provoking film that will keep you riveted
Sean Penn once said something along the lines of "A great movie is more than just entertainment. It's an experience." Well, I can honestly classify "The Brave One" as an experience. I recall barely touching my popcorn throughout the course of this film, because I was so immersed in its world. First of all, the film is anchored by a pitch-perfect performance by Jodie Foster. I really felt her character's vulnerability every waking second. I don't think any actress could've pulled off this type of complex role the way she did. Recently, I saw an identical film about vigilante justice called "Death Sentence." Though I liked that film very much, after watching "The Brave One" I can genuinely say that "DS" pales in comparison. The movie has almost everything that a film should have. The characters are so richly developed. "DS" was more along the lines of action-thriller entertainment. Neil Jordan doesn't simply try to grab the audience's attention with gratuitous violence. Yes, the film is extremely violent and the R-rating is more than well-deserved. But the violence felt much more organic than your typical action-thriller. Not only is Foster's character richly developed, but so is Terence Howard's. He plays a sympathetic detective with some personal demons of his own. I think Howard solidifies his status as one of our best new actors with his performance. If I had to list a minor flaw, it's Nicky Katt as Howard's partner. Katt does a fine job of acting, but he's given the role of the typical smart-aleck partner who's always ready to blurt out a witty one-liner. I understand that his character was inserted to give some comic relief to an otherwise tragic film, but sometimes his humor took away from the drama of the piece. It's not that rare that I classify a film as adequate or good, but it is rare that I classify a film as magnificent. "The Brave One" falls into that category. It's one of the best films I've seen this year so far. For all you aspiring screenwriters, like myself, who are seeking a film that will give you feedback on what makes a solid screenplay, please please go see this movie! This is what GREAT films are made of!
Mr. Woodcock (2007)
One of the WORST comedies in recent years!
This so-called comedy is horrendous on all levels, and worst of all--it's boring! It's forgettable! This doesn't even fall into the so-bad-it's good category. About the only positive thing I can say about "Mr. Woodcock" is that it's only a little under 80 minutes long. I was looking forward to seeing the flick, since I am a pretty big Billy Bob Thornton fan. Unfortunately, with this movie, he has officially completed the trifecta of duds. First there was "School for Scoundrels," which was mediocre. Then there was "The Astronaut Farmer," which was also mediocre. Now we have "Mr. Woodcock," which is downright awful. There are many actors who I admire and even adore, who have done a fair share of bad movies, but for some reason (before these three movies) I can't think of any less-than-satisfying ones that Billy Bob has done, except for maybe "Waking Up in Reno." It seems like he has reached the I'm-just-here-to-pick-up-my-paycheck phase of his career.
The movie has an interesting premise. We all have had crappy gym teachers in the past. Unfortunately, the plot goes nowhere and flings us into one implausible, sitcom-level situation after another. My main problem with the plot is that we're supposed to believe that Mr. Woodcock is a gem to everyone, except Seann William Scott's character. Susan Sarandon's character supposedly finds this man charming, when in all actuality he doesn't show even an ounce of charm throughout the flick. Maybe it would've been funny if he were really mean towards Scott, yet he acts like the nicest guy towards everybody else. We're even supposed to believe that all the townsfolk in this sleepy Midwestern town think he's a great person.
My second problem with the plot? Seann William Scott transforms from a calm, mild-mannered motivational speaker to an insane wreck...within a matter of 10 minutes! What kind of character arc is that? First of all, Scott is sadly miscast in his role. Personally, I don't think he possesses much range as an actor. He's Stiffler...that's that! Any role that doesn't require him to be a rude, foul-mouthed weasel takes him out of his element. I was never convinced that Scott was a well-meaning motivational speaker with worldwide acclaim. Amy Poehler, of "SNL" infamy, tries to steal the show with her snappy one-liners. Unfortunately, she's just as talentless as the rest of "SNL's" current cast, and does nothing to breathe life into this comatose flick.
The gags are absolutely predictable and brainless. As if this would surprise anyone, this is another one of those comedies where all the good jokes are given away in the trailer. There's one gag involving a video camera accidentally being left running while Ethan Suplee's character gabs on and on about how hot Scott's mother is. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to discover that there's going to be a later scene, where Susan Sarandon walks in as the video is playing on a TV screen. Not to mention each gag is delivered with all the gusto of a student filmmaker.
This movie is such a waste of two brilliant actors. Billy Bob sleeps through his role, keeping the same sneering expression every minute he's on screen. I can't blame him. Like I said before, he probably just did the film to collect a paycheck. Susan Sarandon is forced to play an utterly brainless character, who falls for Woodcock's charm, despite the fact that he has none! I can't recall a worse film she's ever done. I hope her paycheck was pretty huge as well.
Plain and simple, this is another lamebrain comedy you should skip. I wouldn't even recommend this on DVD. If you happen to catch it on cable, please change the channel. I can think of a lot of bad comedies that have come out in recent years, but few as merit-less as this one.
I Think I Love My Wife (2007)
Better than Chris Rock's usual fare....but still not that good
Though I like Rock as a stand-up comedian, he hasn't proved to be very successful in the film world with such lackluster films as "Head of State" and "Down to Earth." "I Think I Love My Wife" is a surprisingly mature romantic comedy that shows Rock has potential as a writer/director, but it doesn't quite hit the mark. Why? Simply because it's not that funny. The comedy genre works two ways: Either it's funny or it's not. It doesn't matter how fleshed out the characters are, how well drawn-out the plot is--if I'm not laughing, it doesn't work. I recall chuckling now and then throughout this film, but got no real laughs. Rock has also proved that he can act. Don't think I'm jumping the gun and saying that he has the potential to be another Jamie Foxx. I don't envision him ever giving an Oscar-winning performance, he shows that he has range. Even in "Nurse Betty," a film that I liked, I felt that Chris Rock was pretty much playing Chris Rock. In this film, he's much more subdued than usual and shows that he can hold his own in the more dramatic moments. Like I said, this is not Rock's usual fare. Other than a gag involving him taking a Viagra that gives him a permanent erection, there are no goofy scenes that look straight out of one of his other lame comedies. Steve Buscemi has a supporting role, and provides some of the film's more entertaining moments. The relationship between Rock and his wife, as well as the one between him and his mistress (played by the gorgeous Kerry Washington), is quite believable. This is not one of those romantic comedies where you think to yourself, Why didn't he just leave her in the first place? You understand his ongoing love for his wife, despite some of her obnoxious habits, and you understand his willingness to be with his more free-spirited mistress. Nothing feels tacked on. But as I said before, the movie's just not that funny and often quite dull. I still hope that Rock writes and directs another movie, though. This is not a good film, but he has shown vast improvement.
Shoot 'Em Up (2007)
A fun-filled, action-packed extravaganza
If you're looking for a deep, character-driven drama--then what you are doing watching "Shoot 'Em Up"? You can't sue the film for false advertising. You get what you pay for! It's a popcorn flick, and a damn good one! If you're like me and you miss the early 90's action flicks with stars like Van Damme and Steven Seagal, and loathe a lot of the recent CGI-filled action duds like "Charlie's Angels," you're going to have to a ball. The only difference is unlike Van Damme and Seagal, Clive Owen CAN act. The plot is very thin and altogether forgettable, but the action sequences are not. As you can imagine, there's nonstop action from start to finish, even containing a scene that combines sex and violence. The action sequences are so breathtaking, I kept wanting to break into applause. If you're one of those wholesome moviegoers, go see a Pixar flick and leave the rest of us alone. Let's face it, sometimes you go to the movies to be enlightened and moved and captivated, and sometimes you just want to have a good time. This is an example of the latter. I had a great time! The movie contains every action movie stereotype in the book, but never tries to hide that fact. The soundtrack is full of rock music from bands like "Motley Crue" and "AC/DC." I loved all of Clive's sly one-liners. Having watched this film, it's confirmed that he would've made a great James Bond. He's a suave, multi-faceted actor with great screen presence. Of course, I was mostly looking forward to seeing Paul Giamatti play against type as the film's villain, which he seems to have a lot of fun with. As long as you know what you're getting yourself in for, you should have a hell of a time at "Shoot 'Em Up." I shouldn't have to give this warning, but the movie is extremely violent. If you're an advocate for non-violence, your head will probably explode within the first 20 minutes of the film, if not the first 10. And of course, don't take the kids. After all, the movie is Rated R! Don't act like you weren't given fair warning.
Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007)
Funny and delightful
If you were somewhat disappointed with "Bean" (as I was), don't let that scare you off. I was pleasantly surprised with this hilarious and delightful installment. Of course, I was a big fan of the TV show and I think this movie did a much better job at adapting the lovable character to the big screen. Bean goes through his usual witty antics, and to add to the fun the film actually has a decent plot. I truly cared for all the characters, and found myself totally engaged throughout this wild adventure. I don't want to give too much away, but the plot involves a French boy, who accidentally gets left behind by his father. Bean helps him on his quest to meet back up with his father in Cannes. I felt total sympathy for the kid and desperately wanted him to find his father. Not only is the film very funny, but it also has plenty of heart. Rowan Atkinson hasn't missed a beat, considering he did the show so long ago. When I found out Willem Dafoe was in the film, I figured he'd just be in a tiny cameo. But he plays a pretty significant role as a pretentious director/actor, and does a great job at poking fun at these snobby filmmakers who are totally full of themselves. Unlike "Bean," this film doesn't have too much crude humor, so you can feel free to watch this with the whole family. It's a perfect feel-good comedy!
Delta Farce (2007)
This is the kind of movie that's worth watching if you happen to catch it on cable on a Saturday afternoon. It's definitely not worth seeking out, though. Larry the Cable Guy himself enjoys bashing his first film, "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector," but you know what? I enjoyed that a lot more. It was a much better comedy vehicle for the talented comedian. In "Delta Farce" he's not given nearly as many opportunities to showcase his brand of humor. If anything, I think this is a better vehicle for his Blue Collar buddy, Bill Engvall, who is quite good in the film. The movie is far from awful, but it never made me roar with laughter. Most of the jokes are predictable. How many times have we seen the gag where an out-of-shape man is doing chin-ups, and it's later revealed that someone is lifting him over the bar? There are also many gags where we're forced to believe the characters have no intelligence at all. I know they aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, but how could anyone possibly confuse Iraq with Mexico? Speaking of no intelligence D.J. Qualls (who was good in "Road Trip" and "The New Guy") is wasted in a crappy role as the dumbest of the three guys. Danny Trejo, who's given a bigger part than he normal, is also wasted. This is another one of those comedies where all the good jokes were given away in the previews. Even if you're a fan of Larry, like me, you'll probably be disappointed by the film.
Rush Hour 3 (2007)
OK, enough already
This is officially the worst film out of the "Rush Hour" series, and I was sorely disappointed. I understand that these movies are not meant to be monumental in quality. That didn't stop me from enjoying "Rush Hour 1 and 2." But in this third installment, the jokes have all run dry. This sequel best showcases Chris Tucker's weaknesses as a comic actor. He is undoubtedly a very funny stand-up comic, but unfortunately even the funniest stand-up comics don't always make smooth transitions to film. The problem with putting stand-up comics in movies is they have the tendency to improvise whenever possible. The problem is that they have to improvise within the parameters of each scene. They don't possess the same freedom and imagination they have when using their material on stage. It doesn't help that a lot of Tucker's material was recycled from the previous two films. The film opens with Tucker dancing like Michael Jackson in the middle of a busy L.A. street. Why is he doing that? Because people thought it was funny when he did it in the previous two films. There's no valid reason for his character to be listening to his I-Pod, singing and dancing along, when he should be directing traffic.
Both Tucker and Jackie Chan seem to be going through the motions this time around. The chemistry is only barely there. Besides, the novelty has worn off by now. We get it. One's an Asian, by-the-numbers cop who doesn't speak much English and the other's a goofy LAPD detective who can't shut up. You can't expect to keep milking jokes out of that one premise.
There are some spectacular action sequences, but as a comedy the film doesn't quite click. The jokes in the other "Rush Hour" flicks were pretty cheap, but in this one it didn't even feel like the filmmakers and actors were trying. The plot involves the unlikely duo going to France, so naturally we're bombarded by every French stereotype imaginable. Stereotypes can definitely be funny. As I've said in previous reviews, political correctness is the enemy of comedy. But when you recycle the same tired old stereotypes we've seen billions upon billions of times, how am I supposed to laugh? When the characters get to France, they hop into a cab with a French cab driver who hates Americans....because he's French. With movies like these, why shouldn't the French hate us Americans? And of course, we're bombarded by more tired Asian stereotypes. In one incredibly lame scene, there's a Chinese character named "You" and another named "Me." Hahaha, how friggin' original! So we're treated to another tired rendition of the classic "Who's on the First" act, with Tucker asking the character, "Who are you?" "You." "What's your name?" "You." I don't think I need to go on. It was bad enough when Morris Day and Jerome tried to re-create it in "Purple Rain." We don't need to suffer through it again. I hope Abbott and Costello rise from the grave and punch Brett Ratner in the face.
On a happy note, the film did end with the song "War, What Is It Good For?" with Chan and Tucker dancing into the moonlight. That was one callback to the previous flicks that I can never get tired of.
Yes, it's really that bad
I was so damn curious about this movie that I was willing to cough up 10 bucks to download it onto my I-Pod. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret spending the 10 bucks. I had to eventually see it, because strangely enough, I'm more fascinated about checking out the films regarded as notoriously bad than, say, the Oscar-winning AFI films. Well, I could totally understand why the movie swept the Razzies and was so bad that the director himself took an Alan Smithee credit (Mind you, in a film that's already titled "Alan Smitheee's Burn Hollywood Burn"). My question is why did they even bother releasing it? On the most basic level, "Burn Hollywood Burn" is a talking head film. What's worse is that it's a talking head film with boring dialogue. It's supposed to be satirizing Hollywood, when it really just regurgitates facts that everyone already knows. Every time an agent or producer comes on screen, we see a title referring to him as "scum" or "a liar." Ooooh, you mean agents and producers are not honest, wholesome people? I'm not getting any sleep tonight! This brings me to another point. The movie uses titles in the same way most bad movies use narration. Whenever a new character appears on screen, a series of adjectives appear on screen, describing him or her. Unfortunately, these adjectives are totally unnecessary and not even funny in an ironic way.
The film has cameos by such big celebrities as Jackie Chan, Whoopi Goldberg and Sylvester Stallone. But to give you all a warning, they're only cameos! Ryan O'Neal, Eric Idle and Richard Jeni play the main roles. They each deliver decent performances. But decent performances can't transcend a lackluster script (that is, if this film even had a script).
The movie focuses on the making of an ultra-budget action piece starring Chan, Stallone and Goldberg. Now, I understand Hollywood still continues to release overblown trash, but I don't think even Hollywood would release a film nearly this trashy. OK....maybe if this were the early 90's in the days of Steven Seagal and Van Damme, but nowadays a crackhead action flick like this would probably go straight to video and star....Steven Seagal or Van Damme.
All in all, "Burn Hollywood Burn" is a satire without any truth and without any laughs. The editing is Godawful, and screws up the timing of some of the (so-called) comic moments. OK, so there's a few hot-looking women and mild chuckles--which is why I'm voting this as a 2, instead of a 1. This is one clunker that's not even worth enjoying on a "so bad it's good" level.
10 Items or Less (2006)
Not a memorable film, but a decent one nonetheless
I'm a big advocate of independent film, and "10 Items or Less" is surely one that scores. If you're a Morgan Freeman fan (and who isn't?), you should enjoy yourself. He's great at anything he does, but in this particular film his performance seems much more natural. This may have something to do with the fact that he's portraying an extension of himself. For some reason, it seems like the lesser the budget, the better performances you get out of actors. There's not a moment in the film where Freeman doesn't seem to be having a blast with his role. Paz Vega gives a decent performance, but her incredibly thick accent makes a lot of the dialogue hard to understand. She learned English phonetically for this movie (not having learned English when doing "Spanglish"), and unfortunately it shows. For now, I think she should stick to doing movies in her native language. Anyway, if you're looking for a harmless independent film with good characters and good dialogue, I would recommend this film. It's surely not a gem, but it's worth watching.
Pep Squad (1998)
Low-budget....and it shows
Think of an extremely low-rent version of "Heathers," and you've got "Pep Squad." That sums up the flick in a nutshell. I must give credit where credit's due, though. The film has a nice visual appeal to it. I liked the cinematography, I liked the wild color schemes, I liked the costume designs. But without good acting, a film has no redeeming value. I'd rather watch a film with little visual appeal, with good actors and sharp dialogue (i.e.: "The Brothers McMullen" or any Edward Burns film). The actors either recite their dialogue in monotones or scream it out like they're in a bad soap opera. This is why I don't badmouth most mainstream actors. Let's face it, most actors who are mainstream are mainstream for a reason. If they're not "great" actors, they're at least competent. People badmouth Leo DiCaprio, but when was the last time you saw a movie where he recites the dialogue as if he's reading it off the page? It's a shame, because the director seems like he knows his stuff when it comes to mis en scene (sp). At the same time I can't totally praise Steve Balderson (the director). He did write the screenplay, which contains some horrible dialogue. He might be slightly racist too, since there's a black principal in the movie, who inhabits a culmination of African-American stereotypes.
License to Wed (2007)
Another mediocre Robin Williams vehicle
Robin Williams is certainly a very gifted comedian. It would be a sin to classify him as untalented. But somebody needs to send this guy some decent scripts. I think the problem is people feel that all you need to do is cast Robin as the lead, and viola! You've got yourself a hilarious comic romp! Weak writing is weak writing. End of story. The film is not without laughs. I certainly did laugh several times, but as you would expect, most of the good jokes are given away in the trailer. Altogether, "License to Wed" is a predictable romantic comedy filled with lots of sitcom-level humor. It's worth checking out on cable. Like I said, there are some laughs, and watching the gorgeous Mandy Moore certainly doesn't hurt either. But this is one of those comedies you'll probably forget soon after you've seen it.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
The franchise is slowly dying
Despite the PG-13 rating, I was still pretty excited to see the movie. Overall, it's a decent action flick, but it pales in comparison to the other three films. Yes, the PG-13 rating contributes to this sequel's downfall. While the other "Die Hard" flicks were edgy, violent, and full of swearing, "Live Free or Die Hard" is like the airline version of those three movies. Am I saying that a film requires excessive violence to make it good? Of course not. But this is not "Gandhi." This is "Die Hard." I expect to see blood and guts. I expect to hear John McClane swear like a sailor. Don't get me wrong. The film does have some spectacular action sequences, including a nail-biting fight sequence inside an elevator shaft. No, it's not a rip-off of the sequence from the original. It's a totally different action sequence, and it works. The same goes for the climactic scene on the highway, as well as the scene where McClane destroys a helicopter with a car, resulting in the great wisecrack you've seen in all the trailers. "You shot down that helicopter with a car!" "I ran out of bullets." Regarding Bruce Willis's performance, he seems to be on autopilot, almost bored with the role of McClane. He flashes his trademark smirk whenever possible, and seems to play almost a caricature of himself. I felt he brought out more dimension to his character in the other three films. Plus, the dialogue isn't nearly as witty, resulting in not as many of those sharp McClane wisecracks we've grown to love. I kept waiting and waiting for him to deliver the brilliant "Yippie-Ki-Yay" line. He finally does towards the end of the flick, but the F-word is muted by a gunshot. Justin Long plays Willis's unfunny sidekick. We go from the great Samuel L. Jackson to a young twerp who as much as wit as Seth Green. I was reading the trivia section, and found out that Jessica Simpson and Justin Timberlake were each considered for roles in the movie. Thank God the filmmakers came to their senses! Hopefully, after watching "Live Free or Die Hard," Hollywood will finally learn that some movies are not meant to be PG-13! Think of it this way: One of the incentives of shelling out the big bucks to see the movie on the big screen is to see things you can't see on network TV or even basic cable. If you want to condense a Matthew McCoughnahey romantic comedy or "Lord of the Rings" flick down to a PG-13--that's fine! But not action movies! Not horror movies! We're living in such a PC society that pretty soon porn flicks will be released as PG-13.
All in all, this is a slightly above average movie, but if you take my advice, dust off your "Die Hard" DVDs or VHS tapes and watch them all back to back. You may as well wait until this fourth installment hits the DVD shelves. It's not worth coughing up your 10 or 11 bucks. However, I will give the filmmakers props for using the great CCR tune "Fortunate Son" over the end credits.
In Living Color (1990)
One of the best sketch comedy shows of all time
If you ask me, I think the show was underrated. "SNL" gets all the credit for being a great sketch comedy show, yet there are certain seasons (like the current one) where the writers seemed to have conjured up the sketches in their sleep. In the case of "In Living Color," the writing was always sharp. There are certain sketches that I don't find funny, like Jim Carrey as the female bodybuilder, but it's hard to make a show where "every" sketch is funny. I remember Tommy Davidson said the reason why the show turned out to be so great was because plain and simple, they worked so damn hard on it. Well, it absolutely shows. Throughout each season, the actors always seemed to give it their all, even if the sketches were weak. In a horribly PC society, it's refreshing to watch a show like this (luckily, I have Seasons 1-5 on DVD). A show like this couldn't be successful nowadays, because we live in a society where you can't say anything about anybody. Doesn't anybody know that political correctness is the enemy of comedy? What made the show so great was the writers' and actors' willingness to break boundaries and make fun of all these ethnic stereotypes, and do it in an intelligent and witty fashion. Though it wasn't one of the more popular sketches, one of my favorites was "The Dysfunctional Home Show" where Jim Carrey would play a drunken father. If you ask me, Carrey was the funniest when he was on this show. As far as his movies go, sometimes he's funny and sometimes he's just plain obnoxious (I can't, for the life of me, sit through either one of the "Ace Ventura" movies). In a sketch comedy show, his in-your-face comic style works. I also loved Damon Wayans as the homeless guy. I crack up so much every time I see that sketch. Of course, everyone on the show was great. I can't think of a weak link in the chain. I think one of the cool things about "ILC" was that despite its predominantly black cast, it was able to reach a universal audience. This isn't like some UPN sitcom. People of all races seem to enjoy it. I think that proves that there's no color when it comes to good comedy.
Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
I hated "Ocean's 11," I hated "Ocean's 12"....
...but I loved this movie. So take it from me. Being that I wasn't a fan of the previous two movies, I was mainly wanted to see it because Al Pacino's in the cast. Well, as usual, Al gives a fine performance, but that wasn't the main reason I liked it. I don't know what this film has that the other films lacked, but it just clicked for me. The story was tight, the gags worked, I loved the fast-paced, quick-witted dialogue (the characters speak like those out of a 1950's movie), and there were only a few dull moments. This time I actually found myself cheering for the guys to pull off the heist. Everyone in the cast gave it their all, never upstaging one another. Maybe part of what worked was the absence of dull subplots. I didn't care much for the relationship between George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the original film. This film mainly focuses on the big score. So go see the film! It's a great popcorn flick that never drags. It's all you can ask out of a summer blockbuster.
New Best Friend (2002)
Please keep in my mind that I'm not classifying this as an artistically brilliant film. I'm not even classifying it as an artistically competent film. The film has "amateur" written all over it. From the dialogue to the plotting to...hell, the blocking of the actors. "New Best Friend" doesn't contain anything you wouldn't see in your average direct-to-video flick. I'm pretty sure the film went direct to video. I remember seeing the preview for the movie years ago, and for some reason it still stuck in my mind. I thought to myself, This looks like a direct-to-video flick, but...wait a minute, Taye Diggs is in it. I have no idea why Taye decided to take part in the flick. The film was released several years after he hit it big with "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." As you can imagine, he's probably the best actor in the film. The rest of the actors aren't bad either. Some of the acting is slightly hammy, but for the most part the performances didn't really take me out of the film. I haven't seen Mia Kirshner in many movies, but I liked her a lot in "Exotica." Not to mention I find her quite sexy. She's not what Hollywood would consider a "classic beauty," but I find her to be very gorgeous. It was cool to see Meredith Monroe play a bad girl. She played a much more innocent character on "Dawson's Creek." The plot is predictable and not much different than one you'd see in an average teeny-bopper soap opera. But what can I say? I was intrigued. It's good, trashy entertainment. Mia Kirshner's character goes through one of those only-in-the-movies transformations. She starts out a frumpy law student, who wears little makeup and has no fashion sense. All it takes is one wild party and one makeover from her new girlfriends, and viola! She's a drug-addicted slut! But what would a trashy teen melodrama be without implausible moments like that? The ending, to my surprise, doesn't contain a single twist. The writer/director didn't even attempt to make this film unpredictable.
If you're looking to watch a deep, thought-provoking flick...this is NOT the film to see. But if you're simply looking to kill an hour and 30 minutes with good ol' trashy melodrama, "New Best Friend" is the film to see. Hey, let's face it. Every once in a while, you just need to kick back, check your brain at the door, and watch trashy flicks like these. It's fun after a hard day's work. The fact that almost all the actresses in the flick are hotties doesn't hurt either.
Live Nude Girls (1995)
Funny and original
I don't have much to say about the film, but I guess that's mainly because I was too engaged throughout most of it to really think about it aesthetically. I always feel that good acting, writing and characters are the three most essential elements to a good film. "Live Nude Girls" has all three of those elements. I'm usually not hesitant to watch "chick flicks." I'm not saying this so that women reading this comment won't want to slap me in the face. I'm just a film buff in general, and I don't have much of a bias when I watch films. A good movie is a good movie. But during the first 20 minutes or so, even I was thinking, Hmmmm...this might be too much of a chick flick for me. Let's face it, there are certain things that women find amusing that men don't. If some woman made a joke involving a white sale at Bloomingdale's, I probably won't get it. But as the film progressed, I almost fell in love with these characters, and found certain elements that relate to my own situations with my friends. I did find it funny how the writer/director had the female characters talking candidly about sex and getting drunk, while the male characters were just playing pool and engaging in innocent, mundane conversations. I doubt a group of men would really throw such a dull bachelor party with no strippers, but it was funny nonetheless. And like with the show "Sex and the City" this film shows that men are not the only ones who can talk on and on about sex. True, we talk and think about it more, but that doesn't mean women don't talk about it at all. Being a heterosexual man, I can't help but admit that I found the copious female nudity and sex scenes between two women pretty damn stimulating. And I've had the hots for Dana Delaney ever since I saw her in "Exit to Eden." The film has plenty of funny moments, though there are some broad jokes that seemed a little out of place. Man or woman, you should check this film out. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised.
An amusing guilty pleasure.....Just don't think too much about it
I'm just going to lay everything out on the table. "Disturbia" is not original, nor is it very intelligent. The film contains plenty of clichés, and I'm sure any film scholar would have a field day pointing them out. But what can I say? I was entertained the whole way through. Whether I was laughing with the film or at the film, I was entertained. I wish I can give away the movie's copious clichés without spoiling it, but I can't. So if you're eager to check out the film, please don't read ahead. Cliché #1: Why is it that in movies, whenever a character is in extreme horror...their friends feel the need to toy with them? If I were these people, I'd get a new set of friends. In one scene, the main character Kale (Shia LeBuff, or however the hell you spell his name) asks his friend to invade his neighbor's (David Morse) house and bring a video camera with him to record any evidence of him hiding any corpses. From what Kale sees on camera, it appears that his friend has been captured by the neighbor and possibly killed, and the camera suddenly shuts off. We later find out that the friend is hiding in Kale's closet, and that it was all a joke. If my friend did something like that, I'd kill him myself! Only in the friggin' movies. Cliché # 2: In another scene, the neighbor comes into contact with Kale's love interest, who was stalking him in a hardware store. The filmmakers make it look like he's going to kill her, but does he? Of course not. We don't need to eliminate any characters who are substantial to the plot. Aside from those two clichés, there are plenty of false alarms and moments where the villain miraculously comes back to life. Of course there's plenty of scenes where the villain comes into contact with cops or Kale's parents, where the villain proves he's the nicest guy and they all fall for it. The film is predictable. There are very few surprises. In the film's pivotal scene, Morse appears to be killing someone and blood splatters all over his window. I knew right away that it would be found out later on that he was cutting up an animal. And I was absolutely right! I haven't seen Shia Lebuff in many movies, but judging from this movie he's not exactly an actor I'm dying to see in many future projects. Maybe it's just me. He has a certain smugness to him that I find slightly irritating. The female lead in the film is very sexy, and might be the reason why I enjoyed it overall...lol. So from a heterosexual man's perspective, let's just say you probably will keep your eyes open throughout the film....even if you're not terribly interested. And when does David Morse ever fail to play a magnificent villain? Even Carrie-Ann Moss steals the show in the few scenes she's in. It also makes me think, I might admire her more if I didn't always have to see her play dopey sci-fi characters. OK, if you read my review you probably find no reason to see the film. I don't blame you. Like I said, it's a guilty pleasure. It has every cliché in the book, but it makes a decent popcorn flick. I'm not saying the film will go down in history. God forbid it does.
The Groomsmen (2006)
Burns scores again!
I'm sure Edward Burns gets plenty of complaints about his films, and I'm probably part of the minority that has enjoyed every single film he's done so far (at least out of the films he's written and directed). I can sort of understand why. Film is meant to be a visual medium, and as much as I enjoy his work, Burns is not exactly a director whose prime concern is the visuals. But I don't care! I'm one of the few film buffs who has never checked out any of the "Lord of the Rings" flicks. Why is that? Because I don't give a damn about special effects or CGI or elaborate sets or elaborate costumes. I care about interesting characters and interesting dialogue, and Burns always delivers in those two departments. I can relate to many of the characters in his films. I can't relate to Hobbits or whatever creatures you see in those "LOTR" flicks. Having watched the film's previews, I thought this might be Burns' attempt at making a more mainstream feature. But it wasn't. It was a typical Burns flick with typical Burns characters, who all have troubled love lives and swig Heineken like no tomorrow. "The Groomsmen" has a few flaws. Some of the NY accents sounded fake and came and went. Jay Mohr is from Jersey, so he really didn't have to try so hard to fake a NY accent when his real accent sounds close enough anyway. Also, hearing John Leguizamo sing was an example of "Don't quit your day job." He sounds almost as bad as I do when I sing karaoke, and I'm pretty sure even a garage band would have a better singer than him. His voice crackles whenever he hits the high notes. Being a baritone, I know what that's like. That's why I don't sing in a band. Plus, the "faking" of the guitar playing wasn't always convincing, even to someone who's never played guitar. And finally, the payoff to the subplot involving Leguizamo's character could've been a lot stronger. I'm not going to give away the twist involving his character, even though someone else on IMDb probably will. Other than those minor flaws, I really enjoyed the film. The cast is solid, though I'm sure Brittany Murphy was put in the movie simply to add star power. I don't hate Brittany as an actress, but a better, lesser-known actress could've played the role instead. The music is great as well. Thanks to Burns, I have two of the film's songs stuck in my head...but that's a good thing. He chose to use good songs from the 70's and 80's that weren't necessarily hits. If you're not a fan of Burns' work, this film probably won't change your mind. If you are a fan like me...enjoy the show.
Blades of Glory (2007)
Funny idea......not so well-executed
Will Ferrell's movies almost never fail to make me laugh out loud, so naturally I was eager to check out this flick. After seeing "Old School," "Anchorman" and "Talledega Nights"--how can I go wrong? Though I wouldn't totally blame Ferrell for this film's shortcomings, I was pretty disappointed. The premise is great. Many funny ideas can derive from the sometimes-ridiculous sport of figure skating. I think the filmmakers figured, "We have a movie about a two-male figure skating team starring Will Ferrell. What else do we need?" What we're left with is a bit of a one-joke comedy, with only a few laugh-out-loud moments. Maybe if Ferrell co-wrote the film, like he did with "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights," the gags would've been sharper. I can tell some of the sight gags probably sounded funnier on paper, and of course some of the sight gags are simply repetitive and go on way too long (i.e.: a scene involving Will Arnett chasing after Ferrell, both wearing ice skates).
As I mentioned in my review for "School for Scoundrels," I'm convinced that Jon Heder is only good at playing Napoleon Dynamite. Let's face it, the character he played in that movie was very broad and doesn't require as much real acting chops as is needed in the roles he's been taking lately. He has minimal acting skills and doesn't have great comic timing. When he's not portraying an over-the-top character like Napoleon, he's simply bland. On the bright side, the gorgeous Jenna Fischer has a supporting role in the film. I've always thought she was pretty when watching her on "The Office," but after seeing her in skimpy lingerie....I'm practically in love with her. My God, there is not a more beautiful sight than Jenna Fischer in skimpy lingerie! If there is a compliment I can give to the film, it's that the two main characters were not written as homosexuals. I'm sure some writers would've taken the safe route and had them play flamboyant homosexual figure skaters, since it's the stereotype that almost all male skaters are gay (though I'm sure a substantial number of them are). So if you're a Will Ferrell fan like me, you might be disappointed. I wasn't looking for a biting, satirical, intellectual comedy. I was just looking to laugh my head off, and in that regard, the film falls flat.
Jason Statham is practically the sole reason to watch this film
I don't have much to say about this film, other than Jason was great in it. The film basically revolves around the ups and downs of the relationship between the two main characters, played by Jessica Biel and Chris Evans. The relationship plot is pretty standard, and I felt the flashbacks of the two of them together kind of slows the film down. The more interesting scenes take place in the bathroom between Chris Evans and Jason Statham, who plays a random guy he met in a bar. Jason happens to have some coke on him, and Chris happens to be headed to a going-away party for his ex-girlfriend. So there are plenty of scenes where the two characters are just doing coke and chatting it up in the bathroom. But I enjoyed those scenes! Especially when they both get to know each other better and expose deep, dark secrets from their love lives. Evans and Biel are both fairly good actors, but they don't command the screen in the way that Statham does. So all in all, Statham steals the show! I think many people first discovered him in "The Transporter" movies. Though both films were good, he didn't get a chance to show off his acting chops. I personally liked him ever since I saw him in "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," though the movie itself didn't appeal to me much. "London" is not a bad indie flick, but it's uneven, with too many dull moments for me to regard it as anything more than slightly above average. And in case you're wondering, Jessica Biel doesn't get naked...lol. I know...sucks.
Art School Confidential (2006)
Good, solid comedy
Leave it to Terry Zwigoff to make another intelligent, witty comedy. Those are two words I don't often use to describe comedies nowadays. Is this one of the funniest comedies to come out in recent years? Far from it. But it was just refreshing getting to see a film like this after watching all these dopey, brainless comedies that have been polluting our movie screens in recent years. Zwigoff also directed "Ghost World" and "Bad Santa," so I think he has officially proved that he has quite a bit of expertise in the genre of black comedy. I have a dark sense of humor myself, so I guess that's why his films tend to appeal to me. Just like "Ghost World," this is a film about young people, but not catered towards young people. It's always refreshing to see a film that portrays young people as intelligent, rather than simple weasels who only chat about sex. Several people have criticized the ending of the film. I have to admit, the plot twist did feel a little tacked on. But that didn't totally ruin the film for me. I loved the way the film poked fun at the pretentiousness at both the students and professors at these swanky art schools. Being a very straightforward, literal-minded individual, I can't keep a straight face while listening to these artsy types blabber on about some abstract piece of art. Sometimes I want to wring their necks and scream out, "Get a friggin' life!" John Malkovich gives a pitch-perfect performance as a talentless, pretentious art professor. The rest of the cast is great as well. I was impressed to find out that the two lead actors, Max Minghella and Sophia Myles, are both English. No wonder I haven't seen them before. They both hide their English accents perfectly. And Sophia is one stunningly hot woman. Jim Broadbent plays a very interesting, offbeat character. Seeing him play all these upper-classmen in movies, it was fun watching him essentially play a bum. And who could say no to a film with a hilarious cameo by Steve Buscemi? So there you have it. A sharp and funny script, a talented cast of actors, sharp directing. I'd say the film is definitely worth seeing.
Doesn't always work, but it's edgy and often funny
I've seen Sarah Silverman in plenty of films and TV appearances, but this is my first time seeing her stand-up act in its entirety. Altogether, I enjoyed the film. I'm sure this won't appeal to all tastes, especially if you're easily offended. I wouldn't say Sarah is nearly as good as George Carlin or Richard Pryor or other classic envelope-pushing comedians, but she is good and definitely has a unique comic style (not something I say about many comedians nowadays). I like the way she delivers her profane, offensive humor in such a mundane fashion. I think it makes the jokes even funnier. The flaw in her comedy, in my opinion, is that despite her significant intelligence and wit, Sarah does have a silly, absurd side. Some of the musical numbers definitely bordered on the silly side. Altogether, the film is hit-or-miss, thankfully with more hits. And of course, Sarah is quite easy on the eyes, which is part of the fun of seeing her in a starring role.