August 30, 2013

Identity Thief (2013)

Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy



There are certain actors in Hollywood who seem to play the same part over and over again. I have recently stated that Denzel Washington and Paul Rudd are two such actors. While some may disagree with my assessment of those two, the fact that Jason Bateman is one of those actors is not debatable. I mean, I get it. With a face like that, and a haircut like that, it's sort of inevitable that he plays some version of a boring, Type-A accountant in every movie. He's so believable in the part I'm starting to think that's what he's like in real life. (Kinda how I think Jennifer Aniston must be really whiny and high maintenance real life, which would explain all those Us Weekly covers that used to say things like 'Why Jen Can't Keep a Man.')

So, moving onto the plot of the movie - it's stupid. I really don't know how else to delicately phrase it. It's also not funny, which is kind of a must for a comedy. Of course, I didn't like A Fish Called Wanda, I didn't like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and I didn't like Meet the Parents, so I guess it's not surprising that I didn't like this movie either. I just don't find it funny when everything goes wrong for someone who doesn't deserve it. Oh, your life is being ruined? And it just keeps getting worse? Ha...ha?

At the end of the day, this movie is predictable, cliché, and tries to generate a fair portion of its jokes from making Melissa McCarthy look like a gross fat person. Apparently Hollywood hasn't learned from Shallow Hal that just making fun of fat people isn't really a movie plot. At least Jack Black isn't in this.


Final word: I laughed exactly once. In 111 minutes.

Don't believe me? Go ahead, waste your money...
Identity Thief (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)

August 22, 2013

Wanderlust (2012)

Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Alan Alda, Malin Ackerman, Justin Theroux



Some years ago, I heard a comedian say there were three actors in Hollywood who never aged: Rob Lowe, Peter Gallagher, and Dick Clark (this was obviously before his stroke). Though it might be a bit early to predict, I think I would add Paul Rudd to that list. Think about it - has he changed at all since his big screen debut as flannel-wearing step-brother Josh in Clueless? As if!

[Side note: did no one else think it was really creepy that Cher and Josh hooked up in the end? I realize they were never related by blood, and their parents had divorced, but I think any time you need a technicality to explain the ok-ness of your relationship, it just means it's creepy to everyone else. (e.g. "but second cousins are allowed to marry so it's totally ok!")]

Anyway, since then, he's played a string of awkward but lovable characters who are all pretty much the same. I guess you can't blame a guy for sticking with what gets him paid (though I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if they stopped dressing him like he stepped out of a J.Crew catalogue). Jennifer Aniston has slightly more variation in her roles (if you count her "critically acclaimed" turn in Friends With Money, which was awful, by the way), but frequently winds up in movies you wish you could un-watch (Along Came Polly, Love Happens, The Bounty Hunter).

Here, they combine their mediocre acting forces for a mediocre movie. There's nothing surprising about the movie, the plot, or even the jokes. The only standout is the performance by Ken Marino, who does such an excellent job as Paul Rudd's obnoxious older brother, you just wish something bad would happen to him. Like death. Seriously. Everything else is extremely mild, especially given the intention, no doubt, of injecting some spice into the movie by having some characters be nudists. Maybe it's just from living in San Francisco, but there is really nothing shocking to me about nudists anymore. Especially after seeing Magic Mike. Just kidding.

Final word: I can confidently say this is an enjoyable movie, provided I am stuck on an airplane or trapped elsewhere for hours with no other form of entertainment.

August 16, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch



It's no secret that I'm a Disney superfan. This extends beyond their movies to Disneyland, Disney World, and even Disney flatware. (I have Disney kitchen utensils. They're wildly overpriced.) One of my favorite things about Disney is their attention to detail. As one example, when you walk through the Animal Kingdom at Disney World, you notice how there are leaf prints in the paths, as though they have been imprinted in the mud as they fell. Except that the path is concrete, not mud, and the leaf prints have been planted there (pun not intended). Or the fact that Disney makes sure to carefully coordinate the character's appearances in the parks so that a guest never runs across more than one of the same character, thereby keeping the magic alive for kids who believe these characters are real. It truly is the happiest place on earth and I mean that with all seriousness.

That geeked out feeling I get while walking through Disney World is the same I felt while watching this movie. The details were incredible! Everything, from the way the old video game characters move (the herky-jerky, everything at 90-degree angles movement) to the set design in the Sugarland game (like Candyland on steroids) made me feel as though Disney had literally thought of everything. I cannot say enough good things about it, really.

But even without the amazing details (which take it from a good movie to a great one), the concept itself is wildly creative. A video game character who's sick of being a villain and having no friends? Hilarious. A little sad at times sad, too, but also hilarious. And the sadness is on the light side - just enough to make the movie complex without making you depressed like Bambi or The Lion King (which really has some disturbing stuff if you think about it). It's this type of creativity of plot that kept Monsters University from being a great movie. Wreck-It Ralph is not just a great kid's movie - it is a great movie, period. Go Ralph.

Final word: This movie was so great, even Sarah Silverman's voice couldn't ruin it. 

August 8, 2013

Inhale (2010)

Dermot Mulroney, Diane Kruger, Jordi Molla


When watching a movie, I ask myself a number of questions, which basically boil down to this: Was it interesting? Was it enjoyable to watch? Would I watch it again? Is there a positive x-factor in terms of creativity, plot twists, set design, etc. that sets it apart from other movies? Boiling it all down to a letter grade or a number on a scale seems too arbitrary and not wholly accurate, since a movie can be interesting but not enjoyable, vice versa, or both interesting and enjoyable, but not something I'd ever sit through again.

This movie? Interesting, mostly enjoyable to watch, but not re-watchable. And its x-factor? Social consciousness. Seriously. Netflix categorized it as a "social issues thriller." Seriously. There is an entire category of movies that can be classified as "social issues thrillers?" What else exists here? John Q? That certainly says something about the category.

And therein lies the problem. Is the organ donation process a problem in this country? Yes. Is it the stuff of great movie entertainment? Riiiiiight.

So other than, you know, the main crux of the plot, there are other troublesome spots. For one, I really don't care about the little girl who needs the lung transplant. I know this sounds callous, but I really don't. Sure, it's sad she's sick and all, but a couple of shots here and there of her coughing isn't really enough to make an audience emotionally connect with her plight. Yes, you want her to get new lungs, but at what cost? Which, of course, is the exact point the movie is trying to make. It's predictable and not nearly as "thrilling" as the movie description will have you believe, but mildly thought provoking anyway.

And speaking of predictability...it's good to see Jordi Molla as another morally shady head honcho in a Latin American country...

Final word: It's basically an edgy after-school special without the usual low-budget graphics and outdated outfits.

August 2, 2013

Pitch Perfect (2012)

Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson



I know Glee is a hit show. I also know that its fans call themselves "gleeks," as if combining the words "geek" and "glee" somehow make it cool to coin a term to describe fans of a a friggin' television show. (Newsflash: it doesn't work to make "trekkies" sound cooler and and it doesn't work here either.) I've wracked my brain and the only explanation I can come up with for why this movie was made was for these so-called "gleeks."

So, I watched it. I desperately wish I hadn't, but I did. I watched the first season of Glee and was maybe [overly] optimistically hoping this movie could at least echo some of the same entertainment value. Instead, this movie made me hate Glee for the simple fact that its popularity allowed a movie like this to be made. This movie had no edgy character like Sue Sylvester. It had no amazing singer like Rachel Berry. And it had no designated hot people like Puck and Santana. Yet it seemed to copy Glee in every other respect - a band of misfits come together to sing. Oh, they're good! They fight, but come to realize how much they need each other. They're even equally as racially diverse, with a token Asian and a big black girl. There's even a gay person! All they needed was the guy in the wheelchair and the writers could claim as much creativity in writing this movie as James Cameron did for Avatar!

Don't even get me started on the movie poster. And the movie tagline: "Get pitch slapped." *facepalm*

I've ranted previously about Rebel Wilson being the new Zach Galifianakis (aka in everything and playing the exact same part over and over again), but I'll say it again - she is in everything and playing the exact same part over and over again. Oh, I said that already? Well, that's how annoyed I am about it.

The only positive takeaway from all this is the song Cups, which is apparently Anna Kendrick's song in real life. She has a nice voice. That's it.

Final word: This movie was so lame, I actually started to wonder if it was supposed to be a spoof of something.