August 31, 2012

Magic Mike (2012)

Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey



After my previous comments about Channing Tatum's lack of acting ability, I thought perhaps I had been a bit harsh. So in the interest of fairness, I decided to judge him on his own terms - male stripping. After all, he should be good at this, right?

And so I journeyed to the movie theater for the first time in awhile. I paid my $3.50 at the one-screen discount theater and settled into my old-school short-backed chair that felt like it might collapse under my weight at any moment. I was worried about my view possibly being blocked, since this theater clearly had not been renovated since the invention of tiered seating, but only about fifteen people showed for the movie, so I was in luck. Then...

I started laughing the moment the movie started. Literally, from the first line (which, by the way, is Matthew McConaughey saying the whole "I see a lotta lawbreakers up in here" line from the previews). I continued to laugh throughout the rest of the movie, bordering on hysterics at points. This may have been the most unintentionally hilarious movie I've ever seen. At one point, Matthew McConaughey (who apparently causes the majority of the laughs in this movie) is wearing an honest-to-God crop top and spandex daisy dukes while gyrating behind another guy in the mirror, teaching him to "dance." I cried a little. I really did. It's brilliant, really. They manage to appeal to the ladies with the whole stripper theme, but throw in enough homoeroticism to attract the gay viewers too!

What surprised me the most was the appearance of other semi-famous people in this movie! Two of the other strippers included this guy from CSI Miami and this guy from White Collar on USA. So maybe not A-List, but at least recognizable. And now, even more recognizable apart from their faces. (eh-oh!) Even Olivia Munn got naked for the movie! Who knew people were clamoring to be a part of this cinematic masterpiece?

The downside? Plot. Not the actual storyline, since I wasn't expecting much on that front, but the fact that they kept trying to work so much actual plot in! People don't go to watch this movie for the acting! The other major bummer was the main girl. She was like a white version of Michelle Rodriguez, right down to the tough girl frown she sports throughout the entire movie, thereby making it hard to believe anyone would be into her. (p.s. am I the only person who can't help but say the word "girlfight" in the annoying Lil' John/Big Boi voice every time I see Michelle Rodriguez??)

Final word: Do you really want to be the only person NOT able to make fun of this movie?

August 27, 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)

Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill



Whoever came up with the idea for Magic Mike is a genius. Why? Because the only reason women go watch a Channing Tatum movie is to see him take his clothes off (ahem, The Vow). And yet, he keeps popping up in other movies, as though he were a real actor. Weird.

And while we're at it, Jonah Hill's recent weight loss and Oscar nomination (wtf?) aren't fooling anyone - he'll forever be known as that fat kid from Superbad. But at least he is believable as a nerd who looks like a high school kid. So score one for the casting director.

And that's pretty much where the good news ends. I never saw the original, so maybe the plot is exactly the same (and thereby as stupid), but I felt as thought I actually lost brain cells watching this. Like, a 'before' and 'after' picture could have been taken of my brain the way they do with heavy drinkers and drug users. This movie was obviously targeted toward immature high school/slacker college guys, with their jokes about sex and poop. Yes, drugs shaped like poop. That you eat. Hilarious.

I sort of wish I could make more comments about this movie, but my brain wisely forgot most of the "plot" immediately after watching it (in self-preservation, no doubt). It reminded me a bit of the movie The Other Guys, except that movie was actually funnier than expected (though still dumb) and this one was less so. When your movie is worse than a Will Ferrell movie, that is saying something.

Final word: The three people I watched this with fell asleep. I envy them.

August 24, 2012

In Time (2011)

Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried



I received my first reader recommendation, who promised me this movie was "awesome." If his definition of "awesome" is "lame," then yes, this movie is "awesome." I suppose thanks are in order since this movie provided me with endless snarky remarks.

Let's start with the plot. You know I don't like to give away the plot lines, since it can inadvertently spoil some surprises, but I feel the need to comment on one theme in the movie - that of the long-departed father. Generally, things become a cliche because they are so good that people can't help but use them again and again. But the story of a guy aspiring to grow up to be like his father that he never/barely knew, only to run into someone (generally the antagonist) who previously knew his father and dangles the information like bait is so played out. 

The idea for the movie is interesting enough - time is the new currency. But it takes more than a glowing green clock running on people's arms to make a movie sci-fi, folks. It's really more of a rail against the man (yep, I said it) a la V for Vendetta and I think we all know how weird and propaganda-ish that movie was. I don't like to debate politics, but if you're going to run socio-political themes throughout a movie, try not to make it as obvious as The Matrix was with its Biblical themes. 

The positives of the movie? I have two:
1. Amanda Seyfried's hair is cute. I like the bob. She's one of those people who I always want to be cuter than she actually is and this bob really downplays her bug-eyed-ness. (coincidentally, it also reminds me of V for Vendetta and the fact that Natalie Portman shaving her head for the role was utterly pointless)
2. Whoops, I guess I only had one. How about that.

Final word: If you've been stood up on a date last minute, thereby ruining your night and preventing any other possible plans for the evening and this movie is showing for free on HBO, go for it.

August 22, 2012

What's Your Number (2011)

Anna Faris, Chris Evans



First, a little story about Anna Faris. My sister was so convinced that Faris was hilarious, she insisted I watch Just Friends just for her small part. She even sat through it with me, just to make sure I watched the whole thing. Does my sister have issues? Clearly. But Anna Faris was really funny as a whack-job starlet in it. Still, I was unconvinced of her ability to carry a movie (not helped by watching The House Bunny).

I watched this movie anyway. Call it my inability to let a lame romantic comedy go unwatched. It had a lot of the usual clich├ęs - a girl unlucky in love, a guy you know she's going to end up with, even if she doesn't realize it, and a guy you know is all wrong for her, accompanied by a couple of bitchy friends. (If you feel like I'm ruining the plot, then you obviously haven't watched enough romantic comedies because they all contain these three key items.)

BUT, Anna Faris does carry the movie. I mean, romantic comedies are always a bit light on plot, so it really comes down to the lead actress (take note, Katherine Heigel, Kristen Bell, and whomever else Hollywood keeps pushing as the new "it" girl). I won't spoil anything, but I need to say that I actually laughed out loud during her British accent segment. And the more modern theme of "partner counting" is amusing and relatable to a number of people, I'm sure.

I should probably stop reviewing romantic comedies because there isn't really anything new to ever say about them, and that they are usually about what you'd expect. Yes, it's cheesy, and yes, it's predictable. But I liked Anna Faris and having Captain America as co-star doesn't hurt (although on slight glances, he looks a little too much like Freddie Prinze Jr. to me. And he completely lacks an upper lip).

Final word: There are worse romantic comedies. At least you won't hate anyone in this one.

August 17, 2012

The Muppets (2011)

Kermit, Miss Piggy, et al + Jason Segel and Amy Adams


Let's start with how much I hate Jason Segel. Now, you may think I'm using the word "hate" too liberally here. Let me assure you, I am not. And it's not just my bias against all non-sports related programming on CBS (although that doesn't help). Not only is he unbelievably unattractive (literally - I cannot believe any woman on screen would actually be attracted to him), he can't act. Did you see Forgetting Sarah Marshall? He made Kristen Bell (not a future Oscar winner here either) look like Meryl Streep. And yet, he keeps getting paired on screen with women he would have NO HOPE of landing in real life! (e.g. Mila Kunis, Emily Blunt, Cameron Diaz, to name just a few)

But as much as I hate Jason Segel, I love the Muppets. Their 3-D movie at Disney World is easily one of my favorite attractions. I can even imitate Kermie's voice (just ask my sister, who I sneak up on and squawk it in her ear to freak her out). I love the bi-racial, animal kingdom-crossing love affair that is Kermie and Miss Piggy. I love Sam the Eagle's patriotism without the slightest hint of irony. I even love  the Asian-looking scientist and Beaker (but probably because I am biased toward Asians, who are under-represented in popular media).

So imagine my disappointment that this is the movie I chose to watch after my [much needed] break from the Great Movie Challenge. There are funny points, to be sure, and it goes through a lot of nostalgic Muppet moments over the years, so you sort of have to be an avid Muppet fan to really appreciate some of the humor. And I'm not sure I really know another 'avid Muppet fan.'

And the singing. Oh God, the singing. It goes on for so long. I know it's a musical, but the only thing worse than watching Jason Segel act is listening to Jason Segel sing. It's such a relief when Miss Piggy finally sings! Yes, a fake pig puppet singing is a relief to watching Jason Segel.

I really want to give this movie a break because I had such high expectations of it going in, but...I'll just say that had the movie been a short (aka 30 minutes short, really), it probably would have been better served. The ideas were there, they just...dragged. Oh Kermie!

Final word: Unless you have kids who will make you watch this movie, your time is better served elsewhere. (And if your kids are making you do anything, perhaps we should have a talk about who is charge of the family. Just a thought.)