Archive | July, 2010

Eternal Optometrist

29 Jul

The good news is that the titular gathering in Dinner for Schmucks lives up to its billing and is a very funny scene — perhaps the best in the entire movie.

The bad news, however, is that the scene is not longer, and it takes almost an hour and a half to get to it.

Until then, this film — about a guy (Paul Rudd) who must bring a loser (Steve Carell) to a dinner party in order to win a promotion — is only mildly amusing.

Carell’s character is weird, but I didn’t find him to be the absurdly over-the-top weird, awkward loser that he’s supposed to be. Continue reading

It Really Is a Small, Small World

28 Jul

Anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for nostalgia.

Reconnecting with old friends is, for me, one of the most fun aspects of Facebook, for example. And I’ve already told you about how I’m reliving my high school days by re-reading the journals I kept during those four years.

So you can only imagine how much I enjoy reconnecting with people in the most random of places, far from the computer. Continue reading

Jack Rebney Still Has a Lot to Say

27 Jul

In 1989, a man named Jack Rebney shot an industrial film meant to promote Winnebago motor homes. Shooting in intense heat and being pestered by flies caused Rebney to lose his cool many times, and all his expletive-laden outbursts were captured on film … and then edited together into a legendary outtakes reel that eventually made its way onto YouTube, where it has achieved cult status.

But whatever happened to Rebney? We know he was fired from his job a month after shooting, but that’s the last anyone had heard from him. And thus we have the inspiration for the new documentary Winnebago Man, in which filmmaker Ben Steinbauer goes in search of a man once dubbed the angriest in the world. Continue reading

Family Matters

26 Jul

In the film The Kids Are All Right, a married couple is shaken up when their teenage children decide to seek out the sperm donor who fathered them. That the married couple is a lesbian couple adds another layer to the plot, but one of the standout features of this film is how matter-of-factly this is treated. And as played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, gracefully and naturally, this couple is one of the most normal, down-to-earth, relatable couples on screen in a long time — flaws and all.

The Kids Are All Right is that kind of movie; what might seem on its surface to be a “message movie” about how even lesbians can successfully raise children is just at its heart a movie about a family — any family — dealing with an unexpected circumstance. And heart is the key word here, since writer/director Lisa Cholodenko has imbued the film with plenty of it (Stuart Blumberg co-wrote the screenplay). Rounding out the cast are Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska (much better here than in Alice in Wonderland), and Josh Hutcherson, all of whom are wonderful.

In a summer full of bombast, The Kids Are All Right is notable not just because it’s a well-made movie, but because it’s the rare film that without gimmick, mockery, or heavy-handedness shows how important family is, and trusts that audiences will get that message no matter what type of family it is. I’m giving The Kids Are All Right an A–.

Not So Flavorful

22 Jul

I have to be honest: I’m not the world’s biggest Angelina Jolie fan. I find her cold and severe looking, too rail-thin, and just not as hot as some other men do. (TMI, perhaps?) Her new film Salt doesn’t exactly turn the tide for me. Here, Jolie plays a CIA agent who may or may not be a Russian spy. For the first half of the movie, I really didn’t care which side she was on. Her character didn’t engender much sympathy. And then, predictably, there’s a twist, but it doesn’t exactly make her more sympathetic — even though it’s probably supposed to. Salt has some decent stunts, a good chase scene or two, and Andre Braugher in a really random blink-and-you’ll-miss-him supporting role (seriously, what was the point of that??), but it’s just an average summer flick that thinks it’s more but really is just alright. You’ll have forgotten it by the next morning. I’m giving Salt a B–.

I “Like” This

20 Jul

I’m a believer that the quality and quantity of the trailers shown before a film can adversely or positively affect the moviegoing experience, no matter how good the movie itself is.

So suffice it to say, on Saturday, when I saw the awesome Inception, having the new trailer for The Social Network (i.e., the Facebook movie) playing before the film made the experience even better. Continue reading

Life Could Be a Dream

19 Jul

We’re not in Kansas anymore, kids.


Picking up where The Matrix left off, Christopher Nolan’s new film, Inception, presents a reality that’s not quite what it seems.

And then Nolan layers it with twists and turns that only generate more questions and more questions.

The film’s like a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream.

Or is it?

Just how much of the action in Inception is real, and how much is a dream? That all depends on whether you want to swallow the red pill or the blue one. Continue reading

Despicable Movie

13 Jul

I’ll admit it: I have a weak spot for most animated films. Whether that’s because I’m still a kid at heart, because animated films tend to be better than many live action ones, or some other reason is debatable, but chances are good that if a film is animated, I’ll walk out of the theater raving about it. I won’t be doing that with Despicable Me, however. This one is just not as much fun as its trailers promised it would be, and I’m surprised and disappointed to say I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.

Despicable Me features Steve Carell as the voice of Gru, the world’s second-most-feared super villain. Gru is determined to steal the moon, but first he’s got to beat his brand-new nemesis, Vector (Jason Segel), and he’s got to avoid falling for the three young girls he adopts (for less-than-pure purposes, of course). Yes, that means this one’s a cute heartwarmer. So instead of being wacky and whimsical, and showing these two villains doing battle to one-up each other, we see Gru’s heart melting for the girls. Don’t go to this movie expecting lots of laughs.

If you go to Despicable Me, you can probably also save yourself a few bucks and not see it in 3D. Other than a cool scene on a roller-coaster, there’s not much notable about the effect. In fact, save this one for the DVD, and let the kids enjoy it. Unlike, say, Toy Story 3 there’s not as much to charm adults, and if you’re like me, you’ll be checking your watch a couple times, waiting for it to be over. I’m giving Despicable Me a B–.

Tasty Treat

8 Jul

One of the problems with the cupcake scene in the Boston area — other than the fact that there’s no Crumbs within the state lines — is that most of the places just don’t live up to their names, or the hype.

Kickass Cupcakes don’t.

Sweet’s are not.

Shot Cakes, while tasty and worth the trip, don’t include alcohol shots. (Okay, fine. Maybe that one’s a stretch.)

And so on.

Now there’s Treat in Needham Center, and, well, finally the name fits.

I went in on day two this past weekend (it opened on July 4), had a cupcake called the Plain Jane, and fell in love. Continue reading

Seriously, Don’t F**k My Mom

7 Jul

Alright, so maybe Norman Bates, who once claimed that “A boy’s best friend is his mother,” is the creepiest on-screen mama’s boy.

But the title character of the film Cyrus runs a close second.

In the film, Cyrus (Jonah Hill) does everything he can to interfere with the budding relationship between his mother, Molly (Marisa Tomei), and John (John C. Reilly), a lonely and depressed guy who thinks he’s finally found the right woman, until he meets her son and sees the creepy, truly dysfunctional relationship they have.

John and Cyrus engage in some serious psychological warfare, some of which is quite funny, and Molly clearly doesn’t see or understand what’s wrong with the relationship.

Reilly and Tomei are both good, and Hill gives a decidedly more low-key performance than I’ve seen him give.

As noted, the film has some good laughs, and it’s generally pretty engaging.

Does it drag a little bit? Yeah.

Is some of the humor a little broad? Yes.

But overall, Cyrus is a decent movie with a memorable line of dialogue that I’ll be quoting — and maybe even wearing— for some time, and I’d say see it.

I’m giving the film a B.

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