Monday, February 28, 2011

Despicable Me

Despicable Me is the latest movie from Netflix that I got for my kids. I usually allow for one per month, though it looks like they will also be getting Megamind this month. Well, actually, I think Despicable Me counts as February and Megamind will count as March. So we're good.

Despicable Me is a animated movie (read cartoon) made by Universal Pictures. It stars Steve Carell as Villanious Gru, the evil mad scientist who is plotting to steal world-wide monuments. For his latest swipe he needs the incredible shrinking machine, but younger evil mad scientist Victor "Vector" Perkins (Jason Segal) has swiped it first. Now Gru's only chance of getting the shrinking ray gun is by exploiting the 3 young female orphans: Margo (Miranda Cosgrove, duh - Carly Shay from iCarly!), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and having them swipe it. And how in the world did 3 young girls in today's society end up with old lady names like Margo, Edith, and Agnes?

Despicable Me also stars the voices of Julie Andrews as Gru's mother, Russell Brand as Gru's older scientist mentor, Will Arnett as the evil bank administrator, Danny McBride as Gru's neighbor, and Kristen Wiig as Miss Hatie, the mistress of the orphanage.

Rated PG for crude humor and mild action (sounds like something else I know), Despicable Me is 95 minutes long.

My kids loved this movie. It made all of them laugh - the 11 year old, the 9 year old, even my 3 year old. This movie is great for them. I thought it was okay, too. They all lived the little yellow working guys.

Together, we give Despicable Me 4 stars.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wild Target

This movie was in my Netflix queue, but as always I requested it from the library, as well. It's always a guessing game as to which will be able to deliver first. Usually it's Netflix. This time it was the library. This time, Netflix isn't even releasing it until March 8th. Win - library.

Wild Target is a British comedy staring Bill Nighy as Victor Maynard, a hired assassin. After deceiving the wrong person in an art deal switch, Rose (Emily Blunt) has a hit put on her by Ferguson (Rupert Everett), the would-be recipient of the art. Maynard is then hired to carry out the hit, but as he's about to carry out the hit, things go wrong and Rose thinks that Maynard was actually trying to save her.

The silly British shenanigans begin. Rose hires Maynard (the man hired to kill her) to protect her and Tony (Rupert Grint), the passer-by who assisted in saving her, who then tags along and decides he wants to be a private detective.

Not to be deceived twice, Ferguson hires a new assassin to kill Rose and Maynard. Now they are on the run. In addition to dealing with his duplicitous relationship with Ferguson, Maynard must also deal with his overbearing assassin-training mother who is disappointed with her son and his inability to fulfill her expectations of him.

Wild Target was directed by Jonathan Lynn who is known for other big hits such as Clue, My Cousin Vinny, and The Whole Nine Yards.

Also starring in the movie are Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz), Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood, What A Girl Wants & Cold Mountain), and Gregor Fisher. Wild Target rated PG-13 for violence, language, and some sexual situations.

I was moderately amused by this movie. It is full of irony and cerebral humor, qualities that the average movie viewer does not understand nor appreciate. Wild Target was good enough for me to earn 3.5 stars.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Karate Kid

Karate Kid. No, not the one from the 80's with Ralph Machio and Pat Morita and Elizabeth Shue. This is the remake - no, sequel - no, movie with the same name with different characters in a different city 25 years later? Yep. That's it.

In this "version" of Karate Kid, Dre Parker (the kid) is played by Will Smith's son Jaden Smith. Mr. Miagi is now Mr. Han and he's played by Jackie Chan.

In this 2010 version, Dre and his mother leave Detroit and head to China. Not speaking Chinese well at all, Dre has trouble fitting in. However, he befriends Meiying (Wenwen Han), the cute Chinese girl at his private school. The problem is - there's a bully who doesn't want him around and he doesn't want him to talk to her.

After being beat up a few times, Dre falls under the tutelage of Mr. Han to learn true Kung Fu. And Mr. Han vows to have him fight the bad kids in a tournament. And the bad kids are taught by an instructor who wants his kids to play dirty. Does this sound familiar? It should. Nearly the entire storyline from the original movie is sub-planted in China and reshot using modern high definition film.

If you've never seen the original Karate Kid from 1984 then you're in luck. This 2010 version can stand on its own. I'm not saying it's better. Nor am I saying its worse. It's okay. For those of you stuck in the 80's you probably won't like it because you'll be comparing the two movies the entire time. But don't do that. It's not worth your energy.

Karate Kid has an all-star cast with such headliners as Rongguang Yu, Zhensu Wu, Zhiheng Wang, Zhenwei Wang, and Yi Zhao.

Karate Kid 2010 is 2 hours and 20 minutes in length, so it's a bit long. It is rated PG for martial arts violence, some mild language and bullying. Bullying? Seriously? Yes, it appears that is now one of the attributes used to rate movies.

My kids enjoyed Karate Kid. It was okay for me, too. I will give Karate Kid 3 stars.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Social Network

I wasn't going to put The Social Network in my Netflix queue. It just really didn't seem that interesting to me. But my friend, Charm City Kim, recommended that I add it. She liked it. So I added it. Then a few days later I was at the library and low and behold - guess what's sitting on the shelf? The Social Network. Grab movie, remove from queue!

The movie is a true drama (with some artistic interpretation added I'm sure) about Mark Zuckerberg, the inventor of the wildly popular social networking website Facebook.

There's really no spoiler here. Unless you don't read the newspapers and the gossip columns. Mark Zuckerberg was hired by a couple of meat heads from Harvard where Zuckerberg attended college and they asked him to create a webpage for Harvard that could connect the students. He created the site, but then decided to make something bigger to connect students at other colleges across the country.

His adventure had him cross paths with Sean Parker, the kid who invented Napster. Eventually, people decided to start suing him for stealing their ideas, probably when they realized how successful The Facebook was going to be and how much money everyone was going to make.

The Social Network stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerman. You'll remember him from Zombieland and Adventureland, two decent movies. Justin Timberlake stars as Sean Parker. If you're under 30 you'll remember him from one of those boy bands from the 90's. (for the record - I was listening to Stone Templ Pilots and 2Unlimited in the 90's.)

Also staring in the movie are Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara, Rashida Jones, Brenda Song (London Tiptop from Disney's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody), Malese Jow, and Joseph Mazzello.

The Social Network is considered a 'cerebral' movie and was directed by David Fincher, who's directed other cerebral movies such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Zodiac.

The movie is Rated R for language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use. It is just under 2 hours long.

My wife was not a big fan of the movie and she actually wanted to see this one, which is rare. I, however, really liked the movie. I wish I was that smart. But I think I am smart enough to give this movie 4 stars.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Other Guys

My wife is a big fan of Will Ferrell. And who didn't like Will Ferrell back when he was funny?

The Other Guys is his latest exploit of a bumbling character who is obsessive and\or compulsive. In this movie, the top cop positions are held by P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Officer Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson - The Rock). However, opportunity presents itself for lowly desk job cops Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) to move into the top cop position.

Commanded by Captain Gene Mauch (Michael Keaton), officers Gamble and Hoitz seem to go to extremes to prove that they'll never be the top cops.

Also staring in this zany comedy are Eve Mendez as Dr. Sheila Gamble, Allen's beautiful wife, Steve Coogan as (crook\victim), Damon Wayans, Jr. as Officer Fosse, and Rob Riggle.

The Other Guys is directed by Adam McKay who has done other Will Ferrell movies such as Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers.

The movie is rated PG-13 for language that includes sexually explicit conversation, some violence, fire arms, and drug use (actual or implied).

I thought the movie was fairly funny. It's certainly no Anchorman, but I got a few good laughs out of it. I would give The Other Guys 3.6 stars.

The Romantics

Note to self - I'm not enjoying the latest string of romantic dramas. Especially the Indie ones.

As you can already guess, I'm not a big fan of The Romantics. I can't even remember why I put it in my Netflix queue. Was it because Katie Holmes was in it? Or Anna Paquin? Or Malin Akerman? It was probably one of those. Who knows.

The movie is about some rich egotistical misguided young adults who have trudged through treachory, deception, and sexual escapades with each other for a while. I know this because they are staying in a big waterfront house in New England.

The Romantics is actually being sold as a movie about a young couple getting married and their friends and family coming together to celebrate. The only problem is that the bride Lila (Anna Paquin) is marrying Tom (Josh Duhamel), but Tom is actually the ex-lover boyfriend of Lila's sister Laura (Katie Holmes). Now there's some drama.

What's up with films about failing relationships right at the wedding? Remember the other wedding drama meltdown movie - Margot at the Wedding? Three Weddings an a Funeral? Runaway Bride? The Wedding Singer? Are disaster weddings like car accidents? Do we love to see people suffer?

Anyway, The Romantics is full of drama, maybe a little bit of romance, a lot of drinking, some pretty funny toasts, and many awkward moments. One thing that I really did like was the background music played during the wedding. I laughed out loud at that.

The Romantics is rated PG-13 for some brief nudity (a butt in the dark!), language, drinking, some naughty girls in their underwear, and some kissing of people who shouldn't be kissing.

Directed by Grant Niederhoffer, The Romantics also stars Elijah Wood (of Lord of the Rings), Jeremy Strong, Candice Bergen, Adam Brody, Dianne Argon, and Rebecca Lawrence, most of whom I never heard.

So all in all, this hour and 30 minute movie is way long and slow and filled with too much angst for me. I can only give it 2.2 stars. Blah!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is the sequal to the original Wall Street movie staring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. This time, more than 20 years later, Gordon Gekko is out of prison and he's ready to make right with his life. Or is he?

Gekko's daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) is dating Wall Street trader Jake (Shia LeBouf - who I swear is not interested in the daughters of former money makes; or any daughters for that matter, but I digress). In basically what is a replay of the original movie, some big firm goes down and everyone is left with their hat in hand wondering what to do next.

Wanting his girlfriend to make-up with her just released from prison father, Jake meets with Gekko to talk business. Soon thereafter, Jake is working for Gekko's arch-rival Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

Things don't go as smoothly as you would have expected in the reunification attempt for a convicted white-collar criminal who ruined his family and made a spectacle of everything. But as they say, what goes around comes around.

This movie deals mostly with the credit and real estate bubbles of this decade. It runs like an economics and financial documentary for much of the movie. It's full of back-stabbing and much of the same from the original movie.

For comical entertainment, Charlie Sheen makes a cameo appearance that is absolutely pathetic. To me it appeared to be a plug for the original movie. Are they pushing DVD sales? And if you hadn't seen the original movie it would not have been relevant to you.

But all's well in the end, right?

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is directed by fear-mongering conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone. Also staring in the movie are liberal titan Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, John Bedford Lloyd, and Oliver Stone. There are also cameos by Wall Street media moguls Jim Cramer, Maria Bartaromo, and David Faber from NBC's business channel CNBC.

The movie is rated PG-13 for some language, one scene of implied violence, deceit, and cerebral economic discussions.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is more of a sentimental movie for people who love the 80's. There is not much cinematic value to this movie. I mean - is it realistic that some 22 year old kid is some power broker? He really leaped over the 40 year olds who have been working the street for 20 years??? I fully expect there to be another Stone movie about the next economic bubble with accusations against the greedy corporate money whores.

The movie isn't terrible. It's got it's witty one-liners, but it's

I give Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps 2.9 stars.


Machete is an action comedy that shows the conflicting and often hypocritical interests in dealing with the millions of illegal aliens that cross in from Mexico every year.

When Mexican Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) is double-crossed, attacked, and left for dead, he is forced to flee May-hi-co and remain in the underground.

Several years later, superstar border agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) comes across him while monitoring action of the taco truck run by underground leader Luz (Michelle Rodriguez). In South Texas, tensions are high with the keeping out illegal aliens. Texas Senator John McLaughlin is running for reelection on the platform of killin' 'em and closing the borders.

Meanwhile, Machete is finding his way around Texas. He is found fighting handsomely in the streets and is recruited by Von Jackson (Don Johnson) to assassinate the Senator. Meanwhile, the Mexican Mafia is led by Torrez (Steven Seagal) who is giving orders from south of the border .

The movie sports an all-star cast that also includes Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan (who is entirely naked throughout most of the movie), and Jeff Fahey.

Machete is Rated R for lots of nudity (boobies and buttocks - including Jessica Alba), violence (including decapitations and torso thrashings), and language. The violence in many scenes would almost be considered cartoonish. Just tons of blood. Everywhere. And severed limbs.

This movie is ridiculous. As an example, there is one scene where there is an entire courtyard brawl with guns and swords and machetes. Someone pulls out a machine gun and shoots all of the swords and guns and machetes and no one is hurt. Nearly everyone in the movie gets killed. Several people are gored entirely through their torso, but are able to continue their conversation for several more minutes before they die.

I read a couple of reviews and it said that the movie dealt with the conflicts of illegal immigration. I get that many businesses want the illegal immigration for its artificial low wages. But others want to close the borders because they are stealing jobs from Americans. To me, this movie was just an opportunity to make Americans look like a bunch of uneducated racist rednecks, thus making it easier to stomach killing them.

One positive was it was interesting to see Robert DeNiro not be a New York gangster. The other positive - lots of naked girls. If it weren't for all of the skin in the movie, I would have given this 1 star. But because of that bias, I'll go as high as 2.2.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Expendables

Action. Screaming. Blood. Tough guys. Gore. Shooting. Explosions. Grunting. Fire. Smoke. If this is your idea of a movie, shout out "BINGO" because I found a winner.

If you want a movie with tough guys from the 80's trying to recapture a little of their glory, The Expendables was made with you in mind.

In what would have been considered an all-star cast in 1984, The Expendables has true grit. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jason Stratham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Steve Austin. The only ones we're missing are Jean Claude van Damme and Steven Seagal.

What's the plot? Not sure. I think they're sent on a mission to blow stuff up, but they get shot at and have to leave, but only to decide that they need to return to save the girl and blow up some more stuff. And kill the bad guys.

The Expendables is Rated R for language, some sequences of graphic violence (those sequences last throughout the entire movie), and a face by Sylvester Stallone that will make you cringe.

I got through The Expendables only because it was so ridiculous that it was funny. These guys should not be making action movies any more. They were just silly. I can hardly bring myself to give this movie 2 stars.
My Zimbio