September 30, 2013

Parental Guidance (2012)

Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott

Since it appears the creators of this movie just mailed in a half-assed effort, I will match their level of exertion in writing my review of it. Instead of composing a complete, thorough piece, I'm going to just list a whole bunch of snarky comments about the entire experience.

  • How did they land actors of such high profile for this? What was the budget on this movie? Were they blackmailed into doing this in some way?
  • I'm offended this movie was marketed to me - a parent. Just because I had kids doesn't mean I lost the cognitive ability to discern funny from idiotic.
  • I'm sort of offended this movie was made at all.
  • And that it sold over $77 million worth of tickets.
  • Even the word "cliché" is not cliché enough to describe the plot of this movie.
  • Ditto for the word "predictable."
  • I don't enjoy watching old people struggle with technology and slang for two hours. I see this all the time with my own parents and mostly just feel annoyed.
  • I thought this would be at least on par with mediocre kids/family movies of my childhood, like Blank Check or even Angels in the Outfield. When a movie makes me pine for Danny Glover, you know things are bad.
  • If you're really interested in a hilarious view of touchy-feely modern parenting, go watch Maggie Gyllenhaal in Away We Go.
  • I never thought I'd see the day when Bette Midler is the least annoying person in a movie.
  • Who f*ck came up with naming the kid Barker?

And there you have it. I've spent exactly the same amount of time writing this review as the writers of the movie spent on the script.

Final word: Much like a bad relationship or some other painful experience I elected to put myself through, I found myself trying desperately trying to pull positives out of the movie. I'll let you know when I think of one.

September 25, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg

But seriously, is it hard for anyone else to see Sylar (I mean, Zachary Quinto) as anything but a creepy serial killer who can split people's heads open with his mind? Granted, Spock is plenty weird as a character, but he's not meant to be serial killer, which is what I keep imaging every time he comes on screen. Maybe that's just a personal problem.

To the dismay of all you nerds out there, I am into neither Star Trek nor Star Wars. I'm decidedly anti-Chris Pine (which makes my endorsement for his movie, This Means War, all the more impressive) and have been ever since I first saw him in Just My Luck with Lindsay Lohan. And seeing as I'm probably the only person left in the world still rooting for Lindsay to make a comeback, it's safe to say it wasn't her that ruined that movie for me. He's just not attractive enough for the number of close-ups given to him in each of his movies. Although I must say his skin improved vastly from the first movie. Maybe he, too, has 50 friends on facebook who sell Rodan + Fields facial products.

The movie just started so slowly. I had all the makings of a cliché action movie - the hero is some sort of rebel without a cause, a mentor that "believes in him" because the hero reminds the mentor of himself, and my personal favorite, shots of the hero drinking solo at a bar wearing a leather jacket to show depth of emotion or something. However, the movie did hold some pleasant plot surprises and decent action once it got started, and Simon Pegg's Scottish accent is more than a little impressive. I'm a sucker for an authentic sounding accent.

Granted, I don't remember a lot about the first movie (other than I remember I thought it was lame), and I didn't watch the "originals," but this sequel was way better than I expected. Although maybe I just didn't expect much. Or maybe it's because it's about the only thing right now that doesn't have William Shatner in it.

Final word: Throw some more attractive people in this movie and it might be a winner in my book.

September 15, 2013

[Tyler Perry's] Why Did I Get Married? (2007)

Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Sharon Leal, Jill Scott, Tasha Smith, et al

It's taken a rather conscious effort, but I've never watched anything of Tyler Perry's before. None of his movies, none of his 50 shows on TBS, and definitely nothing with Madea. Why? A host of reasons, really.
  1. I can't get over the fact that he slaps in name in front of absolutely everything he does. Think about how narcissistic someone like James Cameron is. Can you imagine if he started naming every movie like, "James Cameron's Titanic?" And yet, no one even batted an eye when Tyler Perry extended this trend to his TV shows! (Yes, shows. Plural. Sigh.) There are really only so many prominent black directors in Hollywood - couldn't he just trust the viewing public to know these productions are his? I don't think anyone is going to mix up his movies with Spike Lee's.
  2. I just don't get the humor in cross-dressing men. The Birdcage, Mrs. Doubtfire, Big Momma's House - they all base their premise on a man dressing as a woman. Forgetting the political implications of that kind of humor and the fact that it's completely debasing an entire population of people, it's just simply not funny to watch a guy pretend to be a woman. Oh, he's struggling with pantyhose - haha! (What woman even wears pantyhose these days??) But Madea takes it a step further - Tyler Perry is just a woman in these movies. Why? Is he really so narcissistic that he doesn't trust any other actress to portray his character correctly, so he does it himself? Which really takes us back to point #1...
  3. His stuff just looks stupid. I've sat through a lot of horrible commercials in my lifetime, but I visibly wince every time a [Tyler Perry's] House of Payne or [Tyler Perry's] Meet the Browns ad comes on, followed by that horrible "TBS. Very funny." tag line that seems a touch ironic when you consider some of the syndicated reruns shown on that channel... (By the way, it also doesn't help that both shows appear to be interchangeable, though maybe Tyler Perry feels if Seth McFarlane can make a bajillion dollars off doing the same stupid sh*t, he can too?)
Anyway... after holding out for a number of years, it's becoming clear that Tyler Perry isn't going anywhere. And with people out there continuing to give him their money, I figured I'd see what all the fuss was about. So I asked a friend and Tyler Perry fan (I really had to search to find one) to recommend the "best" Tyler Perry movie. This is the one she picked. Sigh.

This movie simply reinforced my theory that Tyler Perry is an inflated-ego control freak. Because like everything else of his, he has the sole credit for writing, directing, and producing the movie. The problem with this is that the movie has 8 main characters. So when only one person is responsible for developing all these characters, they often become one-dimensional, which the 8 people in this movie are. Ensemble casts are difficult enough to pull off without the added pressure of making each person relatable in their own right.

Besides the lack of depth in character development, there was also a lack of depth in casting. Some of the actors (like Tyler Perry himself), do a convincing job. Others, like fake Kerry Washington (aka Sharon Leal), do little more than exist on screen. And while some singers and other non-actors have successfully made the leap to the big screen, I would not count Jill Scott as one of them. She was supposed to be the most sympathetic character of the movie, but I was so distracted by her bad acting I didn't really care. And from the movie description for [Tyler Perry'sWhy Did I Get Married Too (which I saved on my DVR in case I liked this movie), the entire sequel seems to center on her. Needless to say, I will not be making it a priority to watch it.

All in all, the movie reminded me strongly of a chick-lit novel I read recently. It had a lot of the same individual story lines, a predictable ending, and an easy watchability/readability to it. Do I believe Tyler Perry is talented? Absolutely. But more in the way that Lady Gaga is talented in making herself stay relevant and popular despite having only marginal talent in singing and songwriting. 

Final word: This is an excerpt from an article I recently read: "If someone comes in and asks for a recommendation and you ask for the name of a book that they liked and they can't think of one, the person is not really a reader.  Recommend Nicholas Sparks." Now substitute "movie" for "book" and "Tyler Perry" for "Nicholas Sparks."

September 6, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman

Let me walk you through a running dialogue of my thoughts as I watched this movie:

Hmm...this movie seems to just have a voice over reading of the book itself. Was the screenplay writer not creative enough to adapt some of this stuff to dialogue or action? [Ten minutes later] Finally, the omnipresent voice is gone. Hey, what is the guy who plays Bilbo Baggins from? I think it's the guy in Love Actually who does the weird porn scenes. I always wondered why that storyline needed to be included in that movie. Wow, I wish this movie would get going. I don't remember anything from reading this book back in 7th grade. I remember thinking the book was more interesting than what's happening right now, though. OMG, did the dwarves just break into song? Please tell me this isn't a musical.

[A solid 25 minutes later] Ok, this isn't so bad. Finally some action. Ooh, great, the elves. I remember thinking the elves were pretty badass in The Lord of the Rings movies. In fact, the long hair and archery skills might explain why it's the only movie I can stand to watch that has Orlando Bloom in it. I do wish they hadn't made the elves looks like Trekkies with those headbands and the pointy ears. Hey, maybe I spent too many years in Bible school, but is it just me or does the whole 'dwarves wandering without a homeland' story make anyone else think of Israelites in the desert for 40 years? Is The Lord of the Rings trilogy secretly a metaphor for religion like the C.S. Lewis books?

!!!Holy s*&^ Gollum is creepy!!! And WTF is he saying? Can I get some closed captioning? Hm, Gollum also sort of looks like Willem Dafoe. I always thought there was something off about him...

[Some time later...] Wow, this movie has rounded the bases of two hours and shows no sign of ending soon. Does Peter Jackson think he won the Oscar for Best Picture for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King because of its length?? I swear, I thought the book was pretty short. I mean, 12 year-olds don't exactly have a huge attention span. Sigh. I really wish this movie would end.

WTF?!? This movie has a sequel? How the f*$% does a prequel have a sequel?? I just sat through 2 hours and 40 minutes of a movie and I don't even know how it ends?? F%^& you, Peter Jackson.

[After the movie ended I went online and discovered that the 320 page book has actually been split into three (yes THREE) movies. I now know why people hate America.]

Final word: I cannot begin to tell you how much this did not need to be split into multiple movies.

Do yourself a favor and just read the book.