Wednesday, December 30, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Any boy who grew up in the 1980's looked forward to the release of this movie. Others who can't stand to go to the movie theater looked forward to its later release on DVD.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra follows the evil scientist who creates the Cobra organization and his creation of Destro. In this presumably introduction to a series of movies, Cobra gets a hold of Nano weapons that destroy everything in their path the way you'd expect termites to destroy an old house - but really fast. Much of the action takes place in Paris and all of our favorite landmarks fall prey to this destructive weapon. It's up to the top secret Joe organization to seek out the members of Cobra and bring them down.

The movie has a star-studded cast including Dennis Quaid as General Hawk, Channing Tatum as Duke, Marlon Wayans (brother of the many other Wayans), Rachel Nichols (though without her traveling pants), Brendan Frasier, and Sienna Miller.

Now with such a heavy-weight cast, you would think that this would be one awesome movie. However, most of the movie focuses on computer-generated special effects that at times get a bit ridiculous. There's a ton of chase scenes and shooting scenes, though I probably should expect a lot of shooting scenes.

Directed by Stephen Sommers (which explains the appearance of Brendan Frasier - he's directed several of his movies) The Rise of Cobra is 2 hours long and is rated PG-13 for thousands of sequences of computer-animated violence, and as Netflix put it: strong sequences of violence and mayhem. I think that's about right.

I thought it quite humorous that the ladies in the movie were allowed to wear non-standard issue military suits that had zippers that only came up to their cleavage. And they also had on a good amount of makeup and long hair - characteristics of most of the women in our military.

I was not at all impressed with the movie and honestly do not look forward to the sequels. The plot was all over the place and it did not even resemble anything realistic. I was easily distracted during the movie by shiny things and was glad when it ended. I will have to say that I had a promotion code from Red Box allowing for a free rental, so I don't feel too bad. It didn't cost me anything. I give G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2 stars.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Goods, Live Hard, Sell Hard

When times get tough in this economy for a car dealership, they call on Don Ready (Jeremy Piven), who's a fast-talking closer who gets the job done. He brings his team of crack commandos with the intention of clearing the lot over the 4th of July weekend.

Ready has his plans in order and everything goes well until he is blindsided by love. Unfortunately, his love interest, Ivy Selleck (Jordana Spiro) is engaged to competing car dealer super dork Paxton Harding (Ed Helms) who is out to destroy the dealership, which is owned by patriarch Ben Selleck (James Brolin).

Don Ready's crew consists of Brent Gage (David Koenchner), Babs Merrick (Kathryn Hahn), and Jibby Newsome (Ving Rhames). Fortunately for Ready, he also has the spirit of McDermott to help guide him in his troubled times. McDermott is a former team member who died in a plane stunt. In the grain of Ron Burgandy, the movie has its totally goofy parts and potty humor.

Also staring in the movie is Alan Thicke as Paxton Harding's father, and Will Ferrell as McDermott. I think you'll get a good kick out of the two of them.

The Goods, Live Hard, Sell Hard is Rated R for sexual situations, language, violence, and nudity, though the nudity, be forwarned, consists of them watching porn on television. The movie is 90 minutes long.

Overall, I had several good laughs, but thought the plot a bit thin and drawn out. If Redbox doesn't have any new releases available, this one's not too bad. I give it 3 stars.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Love You, Beth Cooper

When the super-nerd valedictorian Dennis Cooverman (Paul Rust) speaks at a high school graduation he encourages everyone to say the things they've always wanted to say, and he leads by example by telling cheerleader and uber-popular blond Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) that he loves her (hence, I Love You, Beth Cooper).

In addition to telling Beth that he loved her, he also said that some should admit they are dumb, that they have eating disorders, and that they are gay. No one is identified by name, but everyone seems to know who he is talking about.

Dennis' post-graduation life takes a huge turn when Beth Cooper accepts his invitation and shows up at his house for his graduation party with 2 of her popular friends. Unfortunately for Dennis and his friend (or perhaps fortunately), Beth's ultra-lunatic military boyfriend decides to hunt him down after his little graduation stunt and teach him a lesson. The 5 then jump in the car for an adventure of their life.

Here's the quiz - this movie is a romantic comedy. One character is a super nerd and never gets the girl. The girl, on the other hand, is very popular, but is now confronted with spending a lot of time with the guy that has loved her since seventh grade. What happens in the end?

Being a quasi-nerd myself (shut-up!) I can totally relate to Dennis, though I hope that I am a lot better looking. Wasn't there that girl in school that you so admired but didn't have the balls to talk to? Oh, yeah. That was me.

I Love You, Beth Cooper was directed by Chris Columbus (not the 15th century explorer, but rather the director of several Harry Potter movies in addition to Adventures in Babysitting and Mrs. Doubtfire). The movie is 102 minutes long, slightly longer than the standard 90 minutes for a romantic comedy. It is rated PG-13 for violence, continuous sexual references, drinking, drugs, and a split-second view of Beth's left breast as seen from behind, though no nipple.

Also staring in the movie is Alan Ruck, better known as Cameron Frye in the Ferris Bueller's Day Off movie, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London, Lauren Storm, and Shaun Roberts.

I Love You, Beth Cooper is a decent laugh. I was able to watch the entire movie without distraction or losing interest, so that helps the rating. The plot was a bit thin, but then again it's a teenage romantic comedy. We can't confuse those teenagers with complicated plot-twists and existentialism.

I give this movie 3 stars.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Taking Woodstock

When a young and up-and-coming man in a local no-name town convinces the town council to have a bigger summer concert, he suddenly becomes overwhelmed by the response. A son of Jewish immigrants who operate a run-down motel just outside of town, Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), serves on the town council and with a little left-hand behind the back transaction uses the permit to schedule some of the biggest names in music.

After making arrangements with local dairy farm operator Max Yasgur (played by American Pie father Eugene Levy), the organize the festival to use his farm and plans start rolling fast. Jake spends the next couple of weeks getting the hotel and field ready, but as the day approaches, the town soon becomes overwhelmed by hippies and the locals are not happy. Originally scheduled to be a concert requiring tickets, common-sense led them to change it to a free concert. There was no way they were going to be able to control the mass of people that showed up. The festival finally arrives and Jake experiences life at Woodstock and learns more than he ever learned at college.

Also staring in this movie are Imelda Staunton as Jake's mother, Henry Goodman as Jake's father, Live Schreiber as a transvestite (yes, you read that correctly), Dan Fogler as a head of a local theater troupe, and Emile Hirsch as Jake's friend who recently returned from Vietnam.

I'm no historian on the Woodstock event, but this is totally how I pictured events as they played out. Thousands of hippies. Dozens of naked people. Acid. Camping. Rock music. And more naked people.

Directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Taking Woodstock is Rated R for nudity, drugs, and yet more nudity. And the movie comes in right at 2 hours.

I liked Taking Woodstock for the seemingly obvious reasons. Not only is it funny (Jake's mother is hysterical), but there's also that good quirky small-town dialog. Not an Academy-Award winning nominee, but not too bad. I give Taking Woodstock 3 stars.

Some interesting facts - the concert was actually in the town of Bethel, New York, about 43 miles from the actual town of Woodstock, NY. Performers at the festival included Ravi Shankar, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, John Sebastian (Welcome Back Kotter), Canned Heat (Goin' to the Country), Mountain, Grateful Dead. Creedance Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, Ten Years After, The Band, Blood Sweat & Tears, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Sha-Na-Na, and Jimi Hendrix. Can you imagine that concert today? It wouldn't happen. Too many stuck-up greedy bands. This was quintessential 1960's.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bonnie & Clyde

I saw this movie for the first time a few weeks ago and it quickly rose to the top of my list of favorite movies. Made in 1967, this classic film stars a young Warren Beatty, possibly before his horse Naturally won, in addition to a very attractive 26 year old Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder in his first movie, and Denver Pyle as Sheriff Frank Hamer. You'll remember Denver as Uncle Jessie from the Dukes of Hazzard.

You probably know of the story of Bonnie and Clyde. It's a true story. You can read about it on Wikipedia. If you're so dumb that you don't know, it's about an outlaw named Clyde who likes to rob people, he befriends a young damsel named Bonnie and they storm across the South raising hell. In the end - they die. Sorry to give away the ending. But come on. If you didn't know that then you need to go back to middle school.

I loved Bonnie and Clyde. The action was hot, the dialog was great, and the acting was superb. Knowing the ending I was getting anxious as the movie rolled along wondering if it was getting ready to happen.

Directed by Arthur Penn, this hour and 50 minutes movie is Rated R for violence and some sexuality, but no nudity. Additionally, the movie received 2 Academy Awards - Estelle Parsons received a Best Supporting Actress Award and Burnette Guffrey received Best Cinematography and Bonnie and Clyde was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry.

Without a doubt, Bonnie and Clyde is a 5 star movie!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inglorious Basterds

I add movies to my movie queue through several methods. My friend Kim is also a member of Netflix, so when I see that she adds a movie, I'll check it out. She likes the artsy stuff, so I have to be careful. Another obvious method is when I see a trailer on TV that is interesting, I'll add it to my Netflix queue. Finally, I'll click on my favorite actors and actresses on IMDB or Netflix and add their new movies.

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I added Inglorious Basterds to my queue. I'm not implying early in the review that it was a bad movie. On the contrary. I thought it was a comedy. That it was not.

Inglorious Basterds stars Brad Pitt, Christopher Waltz, BJ Novak (of The Office), and a bunch of other foreign actors. Mélanie Laurent, a 26 year old French actress, plays the Jewish theater owner. She's easy on the eyes. And speaking of eyes, as is appropriate for her role, her eyes gave off a sense of deep pain. Also in the eye-candy department is Diane Kruger, a German actress.

Three minutes into the movie and I was quite certain that this was no comedy. All the people being shot with a machine gun gave that away. The movie flows like any good historical movie. Until the part where the David Bowie song starts playing. And the hand-written name tags pop on the screen.

The premise of the movie is focused around a German SS officer (Christopher Waltz) who hunts down Jews. One of the Jews in his early hunts escapes and makes her way to Paris where she takes over her deceased aunt and uncle's theater. One day she meets a soldier who turns out to be sort of a war phenom who was cast as himself in a propaganda movie. He tries to proposition her, she is then forced to host a showing of his movie, which gives her an idea.

Meanwhile, Brad Pitt is the horribly quaint Lt. Aldo Raine from Tennessee. I sound more like Carly Shay than Brad Pitt sounds like a southerner. Though I think that is by design. Lt. Raine is leading a crack commando group through France to raise hell. And hell they raise.

The movie is a bit gory and includes all of the expected violence and profanity that you would expect from a Quentin Tarantino movie. Inglorious Basterds is rated R for said violence and profanity, in addition to some sexuality and an incorrectly spelled word in the title.

I found myself drawn to this movie despite its length (2 1/2 hours) and was anxious nearly the entire time. Oh, my gosh! What's going to happen now? Additionally, if Christopher Waltz does not win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Hollywood needs to be burnt to the ground. Then again, that might not be a bad idea anyway.

Nonetheless, I think this was a great movie and freely and under no duress give this movie 4 stars.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Four Christmases

This movie is over a year old, but like any good Christmas movie it is released in the theater one year and onto DVD the following year. And best of all, Four Christmases stars Reese Witherspoon, but not her fork, and Vince Vaughn.

Like a lot of couples in America, Brad and Kate are delaying marriage (if getting married at all) and choosing to live in sin instead. And like many American families, both parents are divorced. Rather than having Christmas with their multiple families, Brad and Kate have ventured off to foreign lands each year instead. However, this Christmas, circumstances have changed and they are forced to spend their Christmas with each of their parents - thus they will be having four Christmases. Get it?

Of course, each of their families is crazy, each being situated on the opposite sides of a four-pointed spectrum (if there is such a thing). However, while spending time with each of their families brings out uncomfortable comedy, it also reveals facts that Brad and Kate didn't know about each other, which may threaten their relationship.

Four Christmases also stars a well-known supporting case, including Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, Dwight Yoakam, in addition to Jon Favreau as Denver and Tim McGraw as Dallas.

The movie is rated PG-13 because it's a romantic comedy and PG-13 is the required rating for generating box office receipts. Additionally, the movie has adult language (though commonly used by Baltimore city children), violence, and sexual humor. Furthermore, the movie is 88 minutes long.

Four Christmases was directed by Seth Gordon, also known for the hysterical comedy King of Kong and the funny TV show Parks and Recreation.

I was a bit disappointed with Four Christmases. I did find it comical that the 9 foot Vince was paired up with the 5 foot Reese. However, as far as the plot was concerned I was actually starting to feel bad for the families. The comedy was a bit over the top and a bit more slap-stick than what I like. Therefore, unfortunately, I am forced to give this Reese Witherspoon movie only 2 stars.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paper Heart

I tend to not like artsy movies (read: I lose interest several minutes into the film). However, many Indie (independent) movies are very entertaining. Napoleon Dynamite being the most notable. How can I separate independent movies from artsy movies? My dilemma.

Paper Hearts, as I soon learned, is an artsy movie. And it was no Napoleon Dynamite. The movie stars Charlyne Yi in her quest to make a documentary about finding love. She's a skeptic of love having never been in love.

Along comes Michael Cera, who plays young awkward actor named Michael Cera. The two strike up conversation at a party and soon develop a quasi-friendship/relationship. I think Yi tries to avoid the relationship because she's annoying and she doesn't want to put Michael through the pain of dating someone who's timidly obnoxious.

Hark. They develop that relationship anyway. The movie is shot as a movie about making a documentary, so it seems difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is acting. Of course it's all acting, but it's supposed to be real. Confused?

Paper Hearts also stars Seth Rogen, Dimitri Martin (never heard of him), Paul Rust (who's also in Inglorious Basterds and I Love You, Beth Cooper, two movies I hope to see soon), and Martin Starr.

Directed by Nicholas Jasenovec, Paper Hearts is 88 minutes LONG and is rated PG-13 for language, though I didn't notice - probably because I wasn't paying attention to the movie after I lost interest about 35 seconds into it.

Labeled as a Romantic Comedy and a Romance movie, I found little comedy in it. I guess it was romantic because it's about two young people being awkward trying to hook up. If you have a choice between doing laundry and watching this movie, make sure you don't mix the colors with the whites. You want to avoid color bleeding as much as possible. And don't forget to use fabric softener.

I give this movie an inglorious 2 stars. Not for me. However, I'm probably not a big fan of movies that win the prestigous Grand Jury Prize awarded at the Sundance Film Festival.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Funny People

Sometimes you can't tell whether a movie was intended to be a comedy or a drama. Or maybe it's just a funny drama. Is that possible? I think Funny People falls into that undefined category.

Funny People stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan, in addition to a plethora of cameos of real stars. You'll see what I mean. In a plot that seems to cross from fiction over into reality, Sandler is a successful comedian named George Simmons who still does some stand-up, but has recently learned that he has a form of cancer and is beyond the point where normal medicines can work, so he begins an experimental treatment. Of course this leads him to become depressed and unable to write comedy for himself.

This is when he discovers struggling stand-up comedian Ira Wright whom he finds very funny. He makes Ira an offer than he can't refuse and Ira begins to write jokes for him. As the two spend time together, Ira learns what a jerk Simmons is, but how hollow and empty his life is.

Simmons begins to go through the phases of grief (anger, anger, depression) and finds himself reflecting upon his life and making amends, including with ex-girlfriend Laura (Leslie Mann).

As Ira and George spend time together, they build that special bond, but will George's arrogance get the best of them?

Directed by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin), Funny People also stars Australian actor Eric Bana, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman, in addition to cameos by James Taylor, Andy Dick, Charles Fleischer, Paul Reiser, Geroge Wallace, Dave Attell, Norm MacDonald, Sarah Silverman, Eminiem, and Ray Romano.

Funny People is Rated R, though I watched the unrated version. The movie has a lot of adult language, violence, strong sexual situations, and some nudity. The movie is an hour and 45 minutes long.

I enjoyed this movie. I laughed a lot, though the serious parts were very sad and humbling. I give this movie 4 stars.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Night at the Museum 2 - Battle of the Smithsonian

My kids totally enjoyed Night at the Museum. Totally. So, of course, they would totally love Night at the Musuem 2 - Battle of the Smithsonian.

For this installment of the movie, we have Ben Stiller returning as Larry, along with Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Steve Coogan, and new to the series, Amy Adams. Isn't she cute?

In this sequel, Larry has started a new company focusing on his desire to invent and it has become incredibly successful. Larry in now independently wealthy and no longer has to get by as a night watchman at the museum.

However, upon a trip back to the museum he finds that all of this statue friends are crated up in boxes and heading out. They are slated for storage in the Smithsonian Institution's archives - presumably to be lost forever. Larry has decided he must do something about it!

Also in the shipment to Washington, D.C. is the magical tablet that brings everyone to life. And guess what? Everything comes to life! And this includes Amelia Erhardt. Hubba-Hubba!

By the way, I did a Google search on Amelia. Amy Adams makes a much more attractive Amelia Erhardt than Amelia Erhardt. And have I mentioned that Amy Adams is cute? You'll really like her skin-tight flying pants. I did.

Anyway, Larry finds himself in a predicament as one of the statues that came to life knows about the tablet and its powers and is bent on getting a hold of it and using its powers to control the world. Fortunately, he has the backing of all of his New York museum friends and some new ones, like the very attractive Amy Adams as Amelia Erhardt, in addition to George Custer and Abraham Lincoln.

Night at the Museum 2 is rated PG because Amy Adams' pants are so tight. However, my kids laughed hysterically throughout the movie and their laughter was highly contagious.

The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long and was directed by Shawn Levy, who directed the first Night at the Museum, in addition to the remake of Cheaper by the Dozen.

From an adult perspective, I give this movie a solid 3 stars. However, my kids give it 4 1/2 stars. And that's what is important. In addition to Amy Adams being cute.
My Zimbio