Friday, August 29, 2008

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

I'm not sure that I can write an unbias review of this movie. The one thing that stands out in my mind just trumps the rest of the movie. But I'll give it the old college try. Let me know how I do.

This is the sequel to the Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle movie that came out in 2004. If I remember this correctly, this is actually the next day, or maybe several days later, despite the 4 year difference. The White Castle movie was very funny and recommended to me by several people. I was not disappointed. However, several subsequent Kal Penn movies sucked gopher balls (Epic Movie, The Rise of Taj).

In this sequel Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo, H and K are going to Amsterdam, mostly to get high and seek out hookers. Kumar is a budding financial person and Harold, well, his father wants him to be a doctor. I think he just wants to get high and seek out hookers. On the flight over the Atlantic, a hysterical woman believes them to be terrorists, a thought which is solidified when she sees him stumble out of the bathroom with something suspicious. Air Marshalls apprehend both of them and they are sent to Guantanamo.

After some antics, they escape and make their way to a friend's house in Miami. This is where the bias sets in. This dude was rebelling against the topless party trend and going with a bottomless party. And they were bottomless. Lots of hinies. Lots of landings strips. Too much for the average male to maintain his composure.

After that there was some more movie, some old girlfriend, her jerk fiance', and a rekindling of Kumar's love for her. No, she did not participate in the party.

There is some comedic value to this movie, but not nearly as much as the first one. The movie is rated R for crude humor, language, "graphic nudity" (it looked real to me!), and drug use. H&K is an hour and 20 minutes long.

I gave this movie 3 stars. The party itself brought the star rating up from a potential 2-star. I wouldn't recommend watching this with your girlfriend. Watch Just Like Heaven with her.

The Hammer

Adam Carolla is one of the funniest people I know. First from his days of Love Line on the radio while I was in grad school. Then it was Love Line on MTV. Finally, the Man Show. This guy is the genius of blue-collar humor. Who else can intertwine construction humor into a comedy routine?

The Hammer, ironically, is about a construction worker, Jerry Ferro, who just turned 40, got fired from his job, and dumped by his girlfriend. He does, however, have a side job as a boxing instructor at the local gym where he starts to build a relationship with Heather (Lindsay Pratt).

While sparring for practice, a top-tier boxing coach spots him and offers him a position with his organization to train for the Olympics. With a little coaxing from his newfound love, he decides to go for it.

Jerry ends up training with 2 other boxers, 1 of which does not get along with him. In fact, they are both in the same weight class. Adam is a southpaw, while the other is a righty.

Unbeknownst to Jerry, the trainer who spotted him has other plans in mind. They plan on going to regionals, then finals to see if they make the team. Will Jerry honestly make the team? Will he learn of the fiendish plot?

This movie is hysterical, especially if you subscribe to Adam's style of humor. The debate in the cashier line at the hardware store is typical Carolla and very funny. Who else can make humor about J-bolts?

The movie is rated R for brief language and some violence. Image a boxing movie with some violence. Additionally, The Hammer is only an hour and a half long. I dig this movie, so I give it 4 stars.

Just Like Heaven

Yes, I'm the guy that's a sucker for a decent chick-flick. And why not? There's not a chick-flick that doesn't contain a good looking girl. Isn't that why it's called a chick-flick?

So anyway, Just Like Heaven stars Reese Witherspoon, my favorite sub 5'2" actress, along with Mark Ruffalo. Reese plays Dr. Elizabeth, an aspiring and caring young doctor who has just been given a position at the hospital, much to the dismay of heartless Dr. Brett who thinks the position belongs to him. Will this heartless doctor come back to haunt her? Hmmmm.....foreshadowing. On her way to her sister's house for a blind date she is involved in a car accident.

The scene switches over to Mark Ruffalo (David) who is moving into the area after his wife passed away and is looking for an apartment. After some comical apartment showcases with his overbearing real estate agent ("My stars! Look at this cute place!"), David finally settles on Elizabeth's old apartment. At this point we assume something must have happened to her.

However, at different points Elizabeth starts showing up and yelling at David to get out of her apartment, but then abruptly disappears. This goes on for a couple of weeks and David begins to think that he's lost his mind. He decides to figure out who this is so that he can deal with this ghost. But strangely over time, they start to become attracted to each other.

Will David find out who she really is and is she really a ghost or is she real? Of course this movie has a happy ending. The funny thing is that my wife kept insisting that I've seen this movie. "Don't you remember the scene in the garden?" "No." Over and over again. None of the movie seemed familiar. Perhaps it's the Alzheimer's.

Just Like Heaven is rated PG-13 for some sexual situations and some potty language. The movie is 95 minutes long. I give this 'chick-flick' 4 stars. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Netflix Again

I turned in my movie on Friday, so they got it early Monday morning. There was only one decent movie releasing on Tuesday, What Happens In Vegas. Anticipating that EVERYONE would want that movie I also moved The Man in the Moon right behind it. It said it's availability was "Now".

All day it just sat there. "We expect to ship your next movie today." Finally around 3pm it says that we are getting The Hammer with Adam Corolla. This was like 4th on my list. Whatever. I then get this email:

If the movie was not available, then why are they sending it to me? So now I'm back to getting 1 movie this week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Star Wars - The Clone Wars

The much anticipated Clone Wars was released in theaters on Friday August 15th. It just so happened that I was on vacation during that week and it also just so happened that my 6 year-old son is a huge Star Wars fan. He begged me to take him and I quickly complied.

Clone Wars in an animated movie with the support of George Lucas that depicts the wars fought between the Republic and the Trade Federation prior to Anakin succumbing to the dark side of the force and creating the evil Russian Empire.

For those that do not know, The Clone Wars is Japanimation. Think Speed Racer and Pokemon meet Star Wars. Movements are accelerated and unrealistic, facial features are exaggerated, and sounds are magnified.

In this movie, Annakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi are busy fighting off an invasion of the battle droids on some planet. Meanwhile, Jabba the Hut's larvae son has been kidnapped. The Jedi suspect Count Dooku is involved, but they must get Kenobi back to help. Meanwhile, Padma Amadala gets wind of the plot and decides to help.

Anakin learns during the battle that he has a Padawan named Ahsoka Tano, which he must teach. However, like himself, she is overly confident and ambitious. Their relationship is a constant struggle throughout the movie.

Things I liked about the movie - the integration of the characters and plot lines that existed in the original 6 Star Wars movies and the fact that my kids and my nephew were glued to the screen for the entire movie.

Things I disliked about the movie - the Japanimation, the fact that they gave the battle droids personalities, and unintelligent personalities at that, the characters' ability to jump upward for 10 stories, and down onto moving objects without falling or missing a step - much like the Chinese in gymnastics (that's another story). And many of the circumstances were way too convenient.

Finally, as you would remember from The Attack of the Clones, the Storm Troopers are clones of Jango Fett. Therefore, they should all look and sound the same, right? Well, Rex, the head Storm Trooper, is clearly from Australia, which is think is on Tatooine, and has a thick accent that the other troopers do not have.

However, I must keep in mind that this movie is more intended for kids and fat single guys who have no life, whereas the original movies are intended for nerds like myself (and fat single guys who have no life).

The movie is rated PG for animated violence, some language, smoking (I think that was Jabba), and some other activities that may contribute to global warming. Clone Wars is 98 minutes long, which for you Baltimore City School students is an hour and a half.

Overall, I thought this movie was not that great. I would probably give it 2 1/2 stars. However, since I was not the intended audience, I let my son rate it. He gives it 5 stars and says that it was the best of all the Star Wars movies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The FBI Story

Not a very well known movie, but one that I found on the shelf at the library. And I'm a sucker for old movies.

The FBI Story stars Jimmy Stewart as Michael "Chip" Hardesty who joins the FBI just prior to J. Edgar Hoover's reign. The movie then unfolds through his years in the FBI and how it affects his family. His wife Lucy, played by Vera Miles, is torn with his career and her fear of losing him and the constant hopping from one town to another and her desire for a stable happy family.

Stewart is giving a lecture to a new class of recruits and tells his story, which is a narrative of his life. He has run-ins with the Chicago mafia, Nazi's in South America, oil busters in Oklahoma, and bank fraud.

In one interesting scene, indicative of the time, he is chasing the communists. These communists were being un-American, trying to unionize workers to help increase living standards and wages and stand up against the exploitative big businesses. In the 1950's, this was a communist activity. Today, we call this collective bargaining. So it appears that even Jimmy Stewart was anti-working man back in the day.

The movie is a bit long at 2 1/2 hours, but for the time, many movies were that long. (think Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur.) The movie is not rated because it's older than the MPAA and their stupid little rating system, but I would suspect that it would get a PG or PG-13 rating. Jimmy Stewart was caught saying, "Shucks", "Gosh", and the ever explicit "Darn" several times. And there is some gun violence, but no blood, but the victims grasping themselves as they are shot and falling to the ground could be disturbing to some mild-mannered church ladies.

I give this movie 4 stars, because despite the things that I mentioned, it does tell a good story and the story for the most part is accurate. And it's classic Jimmy Stewart. I don't think movie critics are allowed to give Jimmy Stewart movies a rating of less than 4 stars.
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