Tag Archives: movie reviews

Ya gotta laugh

Not finding much to your liking at the movie theater this weekend?  Might I recommend an unexpected comedy delight?

Criminal-001

My friend Char and I took Criminal on face value. Big name cast. Thriller premise. Should be okay at the very least, right?

In hindsight, I’m glad we didn’t read the lackluster reviews, or we might have missed the comedy event of the season!  Criminal is such an over-the-top ridiculous movie, with scenes of action and violence that build and morph into such grandiose gore, you can’t help but laugh aloud.

I mean, I kept a bored, straight face for the first 45 minutes. But once I allowed myself to laugh at the craziness on screen, the movie got better and better. And the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it more, too.

If the producers had marketed the movie as a comedy, I think the reviews would have been better, too. And it might have explained why Kevin Costner’s character growled like an ape the entire film.

We’re talking whackadoodle, my friends.

Fun rerun

edge of tomorrow I didn’t see Edge of Tomorrow when it was in theaters.

I thought the ‘Groundhog Day meets Aliens’ premise sounded interesting — and goodness knows its reviews on RottenTomatoes.com were very fresh — but I just never saw it.

(Based on its box office numbers, several people had the same attack of inertia.)

But now it’s OnDemand, so I finally watched it today.  And it’s good.

The Groundhog Day conceit is handled with a lot of humor, and it doesn’t feel repetitious.  Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt also do a bit of role reversal in this film, with Emily occupying the skilled warrior role and Tom the clueless PR mouthpiece.

It’s nice that Tom can make fun of this action hero self.

Not that he isn’t a pretty fast learner…

Seeing white

Much was made of the movie Bridesmaids last year.  Finally a film led by a cast of women that was both funny and financially successful.

Now, here comes Bachelorette.

It also has a strong female cast.  And the story centers on a wedding, specifically on a bachelorette party that — for a variety of reasons — really doesn’t happen.  And it’s funny….very funny.

But this movie gets a lot of its funny from its complete role reversal.  The women are strong, coarse ball-busters.  The men in their lives are warm, emotional and supportive.

Not your typical rom-com.

It makes me wonder if this movie was originally written for male leads and then re-cast after Bridesmaids was such a huge hit.

A copycat idea?  I know it’s hard to imagine coming from Hollywood, but yeah…

I think I’ve seen that white dress before.

Not again

Making movies cost the big bucks, it’s true.

So perhaps we shouldn’t judge producers too harshly when they remake blockbusters from years past to ensure box office success…like The Great Gatsby or Footloose.

This may also explain ‘sequel-itis’…although quality seems to figure less in that equation.

Case in point:  New Year’s Eve from director Garry Marshall.

New Year’s Eve is the sequel to last year’s horrible Valentine’s Day, a romantic comedy jam-packed with stars, cliched story lines and performances that were shallow to say the most.

(Sorry; it was that bad.) 

I’m not surprised actors are drawn to the sequel; it’s the easiest money they’ll ever make.  And Garry Marshall probably just used the Valentine’s Day shooting script and changed the California locations to New York City.

But why do it at all?

Critics skewered the first film, and audience reviews were only slightly warmer.  And while Valentine’s Day did break $100 million at the box office, there were a lot of celebrity salaries to pay.

Well, after seeing the trailer, I think I’ve figured it out.

Garry has directed a train wreck of a film…and we all know how hard it is not to look at one of those.

Cha-ching!

Fight club

In yesterday’s Egg, I mentioned I was looking for a fight.

Today, I found one.

I am going to defend — almost a year after it hit theatres — the critical and audience pounding of the action film Knight and Day, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

It’s available on HBO OnDemand right now.  (I assume that means it’s available on Netflix as well.)

I saw it in the theatre last summer and really liked it.  I remember being surprised that the reviews were so lackluster.  A quick visit to RottenTomatoes.com confirmed the movie was 53 percent fresh — not awful, but not great.

What was even more surprising was that the audience felt the same, judging the movie 52 percent fresh.

I’ve already watched it twice OnDemand, and I respectfully disagree.

Tom Cruise is at his action star best in this film, but the action is purposefully over-the-top, making it one of his best comedic performances.  Snaps to Tom for being willing to make fun of a genre that has been his bread and butter.

Cameron Diaz is the perfect foil for Cruise, too.  She has the energy and the presence to match him shot for shot.  Even when she is in damsel in distress mode, she is his equal on-screen.

The movie uses a lot of CGI to make the impossible possible.  Again, I found that as funny as the rest of the comedy in this film.  Maybe 48 percent of the audience members didn’t get the joke.

But you will.  I know it.

And if you don’t…we can just fight about it some more.

Funny man

The hubbub over Steve Carell leaving The Office this season has in many ways belittled the talent of the actors that remain.

Last night I was reminded of this in a big way.

I saw the movie Something Borrowed starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski and Colin Egglesfield.

I didn’t have huge expectations going in.  The critics had pretty much slammed the film, but the trailer looked cute and word-of-mouth was pretty good.  (Critics can be so grouchy when it comes to romantic comedies, am I right?)

The one positive note in most of the otherwise ‘grouchy’ reviews was praise for John Krasinski.

Boy, did they get that right.

We are used to seeing John as Jim in The Office — the everyman, playing jokes on Dwight, outsmarting Michael, making takes to the camera.  He almost seems like a part of the audience.

Which makes it easy to take what he does for granted.

Then you see him outside of that world — in a movie like Something Borrowed or in 2009’s  It’s Complicated  — and you realize just how good a comedic actor he really is.

Admittedly, his character is, once again, the smartest person in the room.  But there are no takes to the audience…just solid character work and ‘real’ reactions that are both believable and hilarious.

Now unlike the critics, I liked the film.  While I think they took their sweet time getting to a conclusion that we all saw coming, I still enjoyed the ride.

Oh, and John?  Thanks for driving.

Star quality

“Charlie St. Cloud,” Zac Efron’s new movie — and his latest attempt to distance himself from his “High School Musical” persona — hasn’t gotten much love from the critics.  The reviews on rottentomatoes.com were 75% rotten, finding it ‘shallow and cloying.’

Bummer.

I guess it’s not that surprising.  The promo had “tearjerker” written all over it.  But I am curious to see Zac’s performance…because those same reviews were much more generous to him.

“The vehicle may get a little jacked up along the way, but its passenger arrives in style:  The kid’s a star.”

“It could be a one-note characterization, but Efron finds competing emotions in Charlie, and he conveys all of them to us.”

“Zac Efron can act and has a very large emotional arc.”

Personally, I’ve been a fan since I saw the hilarious “17 Again” starring Efron, Leslie Mann and Matthew Perry.  Using a very familiar switcheroo story, “17 Again” was funny because Zac was funny.  He carried that movie with his comedic timing and knock-out charm.

And the boy can take a slap with the best of  ’em.

Yep, that kid’s a star.

Play it again

When my group of very good friends — now scattered across the country — has the opportunity to get together, it’s not uncommon to hear, “Tell the one about…”

We each have our “greatest hits,” stories that we’ve told again and again, and we all love to hear them.  It’s one of the things that bonds us together.

For me, this habit started in childhood.  If I liked a book, I read it over and over…to savor the ‘best’ parts of the plot, my favorite lines.

If a movie captured my imagination, I went back to see it.  (Of course, they were a lot cheaper then.)  I can remember seeing “Witness” seven times at the theater and “Princess Bride” so many times, my friends almost scheduled an intervention.

But according to the reviews for “Inception” — which opened this weekend (and I haven’t seen yet, so don’t ruin it for me) — repeated viewings are necessary to grasp what’s going on….and even then, you probably won’t ever get it.

Well, that’s just annoying.

I want to watch a movie again and again to appreciate the finer details.  To marvel at how they visually accomplished a scene.  To enjoy dialogue that I might have missed the first time around.

Not to sit with a note pad — or with my iPad, to be trendy and 2010 — and try to figure out the parts of the plot that made no sense the first four times I watched it.

I appreciate director Christopher Nolan making an intelligent film  — “The Dark Knight” was also amazing — but if he really went this far off the charts to just play with our brains for the fun of it, well, that wasn’t very nice.

I had to work this weekend, so “Inception” wasn’t in the cards.  I’ll be there this week though, Mr. Nolan, to check your work.

And if I end up going back…

…it better just be for the fun of it.

A critical difference

Poor film critics.  Where’s all that popcorn-fueled power today?

Pretty much every one of you trashed “Sex and the City 2” — the plot, the puns, the performances, even the Patricia Field ensembles — and that garment bag of a movie still looks to rake in the big bucks.  Deadline Hollywood reports “SATC2” took in $17 million in its first day alone and predicts a $75 million haul for the holiday weekend.

That’s with only a 16% ‘fresh’ score on rottentomatoes.com and some of the most ridiculous looking trailers ever.

What were they thinking taking “SATC” out of New York City?  Manhattan is the fifth major character in the franchise; setting a majority of the movie elsewhere is like leaving Samantha to dry hump the West Coast.

And why the deserts of Morocco?  Did they see “Ishtar?”  (If they didn’t, here’s a hint:  sucked.)

No, “SATC2” will prevail, critics be damned…for the very reason that films like “Twilight”  set box office records after being dismissed as the lowest form of dime store drivel.  “SATC2” comes with a ready made fan base from the TV series  just as “Twilight” had its base of teenybop readers.

Even if the girls trip and skewer themselves on their stilettos in “SATC2,” their fans wanna watch.  Hell, I’m not even a fan, and I wanna watch….maybe even more so.

Don’t worry.  You can ruin some really good film’s chances one day very soon.

Wiiging out

Kristen Wiig is on the talk show circuit.

She’s promoting the MaGruber movie, which opens in theaters May 21st.  Critics say it’s the funniest movie to come out of “Saturday Night Live,” and the trailers I’ve seen so far support that.

It’s great to see Kristen doing more film work.  She’s one of — if not the — funniest women on television today, and has managed to steal scenes with the small roles she’s had to date in movies like Knocked Up and Ghost Town.

So, I was excited when she told Jimmy Fallon last night that she is shooting a movie this summer that she co-wrote.  I could only imagine the hilariously creative starring role that Kristen would write for herself.

Get this — it’s a wedding movie.  Circa Bride Wars.  But she’s not the bride.  She’s the friend of the bride, fighting to plan the wedding for her bride friend.

Wow.  That’s amazingly original.  It’s so original, I used a recent, poorly rated and received movie to describe it.

Don’t get me wrong — I want it to be amazing.  With Kristen and Maya Rudolph as her co-star, it has tremendous talent and potential.

I just hope the movie can transcend its very tired stereotype.