Sunday, March 28, 2010

Up In the Air

One of my friends has a man-crush on George Clooney. He doesn't really. But the story is funny. One time at lunch with our boss we were talking about some movie that starred Angelina Jolie. My friend mentioned that he understand what what all the hype was about her. Um, duh. She's hot! My boss then said, "What? Do you prefer George Clooney?" And so the joke started.

Up In the Air does star George Clooney. And, of course, I mentioned to my friend that I was going to watch the movie and I knew he would be jealous.

Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a consultant who is hired to go to companies and fire people. The job requires him to be on the road a lot, so he's 'up in the air', so to speak - a lot. His goal in life is to rack up 10,000,000 miles on his frequent flier card. As he is nearing his goal a new-hire at his company, where his boss is Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman), the new hire, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) has a great idea: instead of flying to all of these companies to lay off people, they will do it via a new online video-conferencing program.

While on the road, Bingham picked up a love interest in Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), also a consultant always on the road. And I'm not sure if it was a butt-double or if Vera really showed us that nice shot of her back-side, but I honestly don't care. I'll take it for what it is - a nice rump.

Meanwhile, Natalie has been assigned to work with Ryan and learn the business and determine how to train new consultants the techniques needed to be able to fire people online. However, she learns that the business is not as easy as creating a process and following it. There's more of an art to it.

Up in the Air, despite being a movie about firing people, is actually a very inspiring movie. It sets the tone for cutting the ties to something you don't like and being free to pursue your dreams, a theme that arises throughout the movie.

Rated R for booty and language, Up In the Air was directed by Jason Reitman, who also directed Juno and Thank You for Smoking. The movie is an hour and 49 minutes long. Also staring in the movie are Sam Elliott, Amy Morton, and Danny R. McBride.

Additionally, Up In the Air was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director, though it didn't win any of them.

I like Clooney myself, though I don't have a man-crush on him. And as I've mentioned before, I've seen a lot of Jason Bateman movies, and I don't think I have a man-crush on him either. But I can comfortably say that I like Vera Farminga. And her butt. Or whomever's butt that was.

I give Up In the Air 4 stars.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a movie based on a novel of the same name by Rebecca Miller. In the movie, we go back and forth between the current and the past as Pippa struggles with life.

The older Pippa is played by Robin Wright Penn, who you may remember as Forrest Gump's girlfriend, who later went on to marry liberal extremist Hollywood lunatic Sean Penn. The younger Pippa is played by the lovely Blake Lively who was the blond in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

The young Pippa grew up with a mother that was going through some serious problems, including being addicted to amphetamines. Her father, on the other hand, was a preacher who looked the other way, driving Pippa to run away from home and live with her lesbian aunt. She then falls into what every runaway experiences - lots of sex and drugs.

Pippa eventually hooks up with Herb (Alan Arkin), who decides to leave his wife for her, which should be a sign of things to come. Significantly older than Pippa, he begins to resent the way she treats him like he's an old man, despite the fact that he's an old man. She then begins to think about her life and her relationship with her mother and the relationship she now has with her own daughter and realizes that they are very similar.

Pippa soon runs into Chris (Keenu Reeves - who doesn't say 'dude' through the entire movie), a 35 year-old neighbor who's lost his way in life, but she quickly befriends him. However, things quickly unravel in her life, only to come back together in a quasi-acceptable manner.

It's difficult to say too much about this movie without giving it away. The characters are intriguing and kept my interest. In addition to those already mentioned, the movie also stars Julianne Moore as Kat, her aunt, Maria Bello as Suky, her sister (I think), Winona Ryder as Sandra Dulles, and Monica Bellucci as Gigi.

Directed and written by Rebecca Miller, Pippa Lee was produced by Brad Pitt, of all people. The movie is rated R for nudity, sexuality, language, drug use, and implied violence and is 97 minutes long.

I liked the movie, though it was somewhat depressing. But there's always something about an attractive crazy woman with a lost soul. It doesn't hurt that Robin Wright Penn, Blake Lively, Monica Bellucci, and Maria Bello are all very attractive. And Alan Arkin is one of my favorite old people actors. He's the perfect curmudgeon with the perfect voice.

For these reasons I will give Pippa Lee 3 3/4 stars. How's that for unconventional?

Monday, March 15, 2010


Jason Bateman seems to be everywhere lately. We all remember him as the brother of Justine Bateman, the hot girl from Family Ties who disappeared from the face of the Earth. He made a name for himself on the show Valerie, which was then renamed Valerie's Family, then subsequently renamed The Hogan Family. But that's a different story.

Jason Bateman didn't really hit it big again until Arrested Development, one of the funniest shows ever and set the tone for his movie characters to follow. Since 2007 he has been in the following movies that I have seen:

The Kingdom
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
State of Play
The Invention of Lying
Up in the Air
Couple's Retreat

This time, he stars as Joel the owner and manager of a company that makes extract, you know - like vanilla-flavored extract used in baking. His company is doing really well, but his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) sucks and won't have sex, his employees are disgruntled and think they should be paid millions of dollars, and his best friend Dean (Ben Affleck) is a crazy bartender who's a little free willy with dolling out the drugs. Meanwhile, Joel is about as straight-laced as you can get.

There is hilarious interaction between him and his obnoxious neighbor Nathan (David Koechner) and the lawyer (Gene Simmons) who represents Step (Clifton Collins Jr) who is injured at work. And then there is the gigilo that he hires for his wife so that he can get a divorce.

Joel thinks he may have found something special when he runs into Cindy (Mila Kunis) who joins the company and takes an active interest in him. However, things start going amok at the factory and Joel is about ready to throw in the towel.

Having worked at a factory, I can totally relate to this movie. There is one line by one of the factory workers that I have heard no less than 3.721 million times - "Everyone knows that I'm the hardest working employee here!" I couldn't stop laughing. I even rewound the movie to hear that again.

Extract was directed by Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill. The movie is 92 minutes long and is Rated R for language, sexual references, and drug use. Mila Kunis is totally hot, so look for her in some future movies.

The movie also stars J.K. Simmons, no relation to Gene Simmons, the lead singer of Kiss. You'll remember J.K. as J. Jonah Jameson, the chief of the Daily Bugle from the Spiderman Movies.

I really liked Extract for its quirky dry humor. Jason Bateman is becoming one of my favorite actors and this movie was perfect for him. I give Extract 4 stars.

Couples Retreat

With their marriage on the line due to their fertility problems, Jason (Jason Bateman) and Ronnie (Malin Ackerman) decide that they might get divorced, but they decide to try to save their marriage at a couples' retreat, but need their friends to attend to get the discounted rate. With the promise to only go to the tropical paradise and to not have to participate in the marriage counseling, their friends half-heartedly agree to go.

Once on the island, not everyone gets what they bargained for. What was once considered a decent relationship, Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) find themselves questioning their marriage. Meanwhile, Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) sort of find out what they've always known - they don't care for each other too much. Finally, Shane (Faizon Love) is there with his girlfriend of 2 weeks - Trudy (Kali Hawk), because his wife left him and he wasn't going alone.

Directed by Messy Marvin (Peter Billingsley - best friend of Vince Vaughn), the movie also stars Carlos Ponce as Salvadore, the irresistible islander in a banana hammock, Peter Serafinowicz as Sctanley as the pompous director of the program, and Jean Reno as Marcel, the therapist.

Couples Retreat is about 90 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for some sexual innuendo and language.

There are definitely some funny parts, but there are way more awkward situations that just made me uncomfortable. This seems to be the new standard for Vince Vaughn movies (see Four Christmases). I had higher hopes for the movie, but it seems like the funniest parts of the movie were shown on the previews. I can give Couples Retreat 3 stars, but I'm leaning more toward 2 1/2.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Accidental Husband

Another romantic comedy from Netflix staring a woman that I totally cannot understand why men are attracted to her. I mean, Uma Thurman is okay, but I certainly wouldn't go out and buy a poster of her from Wal-Mart to tape onto the back of my door. And I like thin ladies, but seriously, what does Uma weigh, about 75 pounds?

The Accidental Husband stars Uma as Emma, a so-to-be bride who is a radio therapist who has convinced a young woman to leave her fiance', Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a NYC fireman, because she has determined that he's not right for her. Patrick hears the whole radio conversation and he vows revenge, so a neighbor kid hacks the city department of records and alters Emma's file to indicate that she's married to Patrick.

When Emma goes to get her marriage license with Richard (Colin Firth), she learns that she is already married. In order to get her license she must now get Patrick to sign annulment papers, which turns out to be more difficult than she realized (since Patrick is there to string her along). However, when she spends time with Patrick (as a result of his shenanigans) she sees his relaxed charm, learns a little about him, a little about herself, and wonders if she is making the right decision.

Directed by Griffin Dunn, The Accidental Husband also stars Sam Shepard as Emma's father, Lindsay Sloane, and Justina Machado as Patrick's ex-fiance'. Rated PG-13 because it's a romantic comedy, it contains some sexual content and some language.

Netflix only allows you to give whole star ratings. However, this is my blog and I'm am breaking with that. This movie was so predictable and awkward and I also thought it could have ended an hour earlier than it did, so 90 minutes was way too long. I can only give The Accidental Husband 2 1/2 stars.

Friday, March 5, 2010

17 Again

If I'm not mistaken, this movie was released in August of 2009. I had it in my Netflix queue for a while, but as newer movies kept getting released and this movie seemed to be stuck with the "Super Long Wait" status, I decided to take it out and wait for the library to deliver it for me. I had put 17 Again in my library queue soon after it came out, but I was in like 85th position. It's still in my library queue and I think I'm 17th on the list now, but I happened to find a copy of it on the DVD shelf, so I grabbed it. I'm leaving it in my library queue because I want to see how long it takes to get it that way. Sort of an experiment.

17 Again stars former Friends star Matthew Perry as Mike O'Donnell, the dad who had a chance do make it big as a basketball player, but life chose a different path for him. Now 18 years later, his wife is divorsing him and he hates his job and he has fallen into total despair - until he meets that mysterious man that can change him back to a teenager again.

Nope - he doesn't change into Jennifer Garner (13 Going on 30) or Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday), but 22 year old teen sensation Zac Efron. And it's the same year. Now Mike needs to figure out the purpose of this transformation. And he determines that it's about him going back to high school to become a basketball star. However, when he returns, he learns things about his kids who are in high school and realizes that this journey isn't about him.

In addition to learning more about his own kids while pretending to be the son of Uncle Ned, he comes to see another side of his soon-to-be ex-wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann) and suddenly realizes that he still loves her. Can he somehow alter the future and save his kids and his marriage? Or is there another purpose to his mission?

A subplot of the movie is pretty darn funny, too. Mike ends up living with fantasy movie fanatic Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon), who gets a crush on high school Principal Jane Masterson (Melora Harden) after he enrolls Mike back in school. This plays out quite well.

The movie also stars the lovely Michelle Trachtenberg (Ice Princess), Sterling Knight, Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho, and the older brother of Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, most famous to me as the voice of The Flying Dutchman on Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Directed by Burr Steers, 17 Again is a buck-40 in length and is Rated PG-13 in order to get more money at the box office, but Netflix claims it was for language, some sexual material, and teen partying, all very minimal in my opinion.

I had low expectations of 17 Again, so when I found myself laughing through most of the movie and curious to see how it ended, I realized that it beat the odds and was a decent movie. Now, had I high expectations of the movie, I probably would have been disappointed. But since the movie delivered, I'll give it 4 stars.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I watched this movie a week ago courtesy of Netflix. Actually, I paid for it, so it's not really a courtesy, is it?

Zombieland is a mild-humored horror about zombies. Some time in the future, a disease breaks out and Metallica plays great music and many people become zombies. Now living on his own in fear of zombies, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) narrates the movie and gives us tips for living with zombies. Tips such as 'don't forget the double-pump'.

Suspicious of everyone, Columbus (who uses this name because that's where he's from) runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee has a fetish for Twinkees and a no-nonsense way of dealing with zombies - and this means fire power.

On their journey they run into 2 girls, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) who initially pretend to be sisters, but con the guys and steal their truck. After conning each other a couple of times, they eventually conclude that they need to work together and head to an amusement park where it is rumored there are no zombies.

Zombieland is gory-funny. It's not scary at all. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Zombieland is 88 minutes long, which I thought was too short, and is Rated R for continuous violence, gore, and language.

I got a good laugh out of this movie. And with a cameo from Bill Murray, this movie my kind of horror movie. Nothing made me jump. And that's good. Additionally, there is awesome music throughout. And Emma Stone is pretty hot. For these reasons, I give Zombieland 4 stars.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying was my latest Netflix movie. It stars Ricky Gervais, the quirky pudgy British actor, as Mark who is living in another dimension of our world where no one tells a lie. Everyone tells everyone the truth, not matter how much it hurts. People even volunteer information when it's not requested. This makes for some really funny scenes.

However, this all changes when Mark meets Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells him that she's not interested in him and she tells him exactly why. But suddenly he gets an idea to tell things that aren't true. Others cannot comprehend this new ability, but Mark decides to use it to his advantage.

Unfortunately, his ability to lie leaves him in a position where he uses untruths as a tool for compassion. His use of lies as a tool for compassion force him down a road that he was not ready to take, and now he must decide what is right and what is wrong.

The Invention of Lying also stars pretty boy Rob Lowe as Anna McDoogles' convenient love interest, Tina Fey as Shelley, Mark's assistant, in addition to cameos by Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill, Christopher Guest, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, The Invention of Lying is 99 minutes long and rated PG-13 for language, sexual situations, and a drug reference.

I thought the movie was fairly funny. The strength of the movie is that everyone tells the absolute truth and Mark can lie absolutely - and it's funny. However, near the end of the movie they get into an uncomfortable area where they start making fun of religion. That's not exactly where I want to see my comedy. For this I can only give The Invention of Lying 3 stars.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Whiteout - a movie I picked up at the library. I like Kate Beckinsale. She's cute. You can't deny that. So whenever she's in a movie, I try to make sure I see it.

Whiteout stars Beckinsale as Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshal stationed at a research base in Antarctica. She is nearing the end of her stay as winter closes in, but someone turns up dead. It's up to her to investigate the crime. Her friend Dr. John Fury (Tom Skerritt) tells her to send the body home and worry about it later. However, there are only 3 days left until Antarctica's 6 months of darkness begins and everyone wants to leave, but the killer is amongst them. If she cannot solve the case, she may get stuck there for those 6 months.

While investigating the crime with the help of pilot Delfy (Columbus Short), she stumbles upon U.N. operative Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht) who's doing his own investigation. Having a dark past, she now trusts no one and wonders what his real motive is.

Tension heats up when the masked killer shows up attacking and slashing people with an ice ax. However, while Carrie is investigating, she turns up more murders and more clues. It reads like a classic Scooby-Doo movie.

The cover of the DVD indicates that it's a murder mystery and the murder occurs fairly early in the movie, so the whole time my natural inclination is to figure our who did it. And this one is not that difficult to figure out. And one thing that I don't like is an easy mystery.

Directed by Dominic Sena, Whiteout is 96 minutes long and Rated R for violence, some mushed up dead people, language, and a frosted glass view of Kate naked, but too frosted to get excited about it.

I was not too impressed with Whiteout. It's not terrible, but it's way too predictable and convenient. And when people get injured, you can't expect them to get back up again and start running. It's just not realistic. And so for the fakeness, I can give Whiteout no better than 2 stars.

Monday, March 1, 2010

L.A. Confidential

On the list of movies I need to get around to seeing, I finally got around to seeing L.A. Confidential. Based on the book of the same name by James Elloy, L.A. Confidential is set in, surprisingly enough, Los Angeles.

Set in the 1950's, Los Angeles is competing with Chicago and Washington, D.C. to be the most crooked city in America. Not only is their a lot of organized crime, but organized crime within the police department. But then Guy Pearce (Edmund Exley) is promoted to Detective Lt. He has it set in his mind that he's going to do his job the right way and without corrupting influences, much to the chagrin of Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell).

When a disgraced former cop ends up dead, Exley wants to solve the case, but is butting heads with Detect Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) and Officer But White (Russell Crowe). But in this case of cops versus cops, Exley's investigation is turning up more than he bargained for. And he better be careful, because people close to the case start ending up dead.

L.A. Confidential has an all-star cast. In addition to those previously mentioned, Danny DeVito stars as Sid Hudgens, the magazine insider who works with the police for inside tips on hot stories, Kim Basinger, as Lynn Bracken, the love interest of many a man, and David Strathairn as Pierce Patchett, the local pimp lord.

Directed by Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential is Rated R for violence, language, violence, sexuality, and violence. The movie is about 2 1/2 hours long, so if you've never seen it make sure you block out a good chunk of time to watch it because you'll be glued to the screen.

I LOVED this movie and would easily watch it again. I'm actually disappointed that I never saw this movie earlier than I did. The movie was nominated for 9 Academy awards, including Best Picture. Kim Basinger won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Additional nominations were Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Director, Best Art Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.

For the above reasons, I give L.A. Confidential the sparsely distributed 5 Stars.
My Zimbio