Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Little Giant

What was YOUR first experience with a "Little Giant?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Failure to Make Any Sense At All

Ah...long weekends, how I love thee. I've decided that for my next review of a film I have not seen, I'll be looking at Failure to Launch, the new Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker film. Though I managed to see one of the 3 + versions of the trailer during nearly every commercial break of every show I watched this weekend, I still decided I needed to re-watch it one more time before writing my review. As a result, I hereby give you one of the most annoying and crappy movie websites ever. It is an incredible study in mixed metaphors. Seriously, the "partners" (aka predictable product placements) page alone makes me want to kill myself.

In the film, Sarah Jessica Parker plays a "Professional Motivator" who is hired by Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw to trick their 35 year old son, Matthew McConaughey, into moving out of the family abode. So let's see...this film stars SJP (usually good), Kathy Bates (usually awesome) and...hey wait, who the hell put Terry Bradshaw in this movie?!

Anyway, SJP has some sort of patented 12 step "get your lazy-ass son out of the house" program. It seems to be a one-two punch of dating Matthew (aka Tripp) and getting Kathy Bates to come down on him in front of his friends for not cleaning the bathroom. According to the bit of pop psychology you get in the trailer, Tripp is lacking in self-esteem...self-esteem which is usually fostered through dating. She will therefore be "simulating" a romantic relationship with him that will entice him to move out quickly and painlessly. Make sense? Yeah, me neither. On a side note, I'd love to create a business in which I call myself a "Professional Motivator," but actually get paid to date Matthew McConaughey.

Tripp and SJP enjoy romantic dinners together. She fakes having a sick dog so that they can "bond emotionally." All goes according to plan until she starts falling for him. At some point they go sailing and laugh...oh, the laughter. He pulls away, she freaks out. Then he realizes that he really DOES have feelings for her that are worth moving out of his parents home for and they get married and buy a condo and everyone lives happily ever after. The end. Romantic comedies are so predictable.

I do have to say that I'm incredibly confused about the premise of this movie, however. How exactly does one "simulate" a romantic relationship? Are we to believe that the original plan is to date him UNTIL he moves out, then somehow dump him in a way that does not make him run home to Mommy? Although Tripp clearly has committment issues, he doesn't seem to run from sex regardless of the fact that Terry Fuckin' Bradshaw might bust in at any minute. So additionally we're to believe that this a sexless fake relationship that is so awesome it convinces him to move out. If I were Kathy Bates, I'd have asked for some references before buying into this "program." And since when does dating foster self-esteem? In my limited experience, it seems to do precisely the opposite. Yes, it seems to crush it unceremoniously, like a discarded flower left on the sidewalk to be tramp...sorry.

My last issue with this film is the fact that somewhere at the end, it's going to be revealed to Tripp that not only did his parents hire someone to get his ass to move out, but they basically hired someone to date him, too. SJP's going to have to fess up to that as well, so my guess is that a lot of the romantic comedy tension at the end is going to be a re-tread of the old teen movie "I dated you as a joke but now I really love you, don't hate me" schtick.

I'll be honest, I don't usually like RC's. In fact, most of the time they totally suck. SJP and Matthew McConaughey are pretty likeable though, and I hope they make some sense of this flick. I also have to admit that after watching the trailer, Terry Bradshaw does not make me want to poke my eyes out, and that's saying something.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

No One Cares About This Movie, But I Was Entertained...

I know that if I want anyone to continue reading this blog, I'll need to pick and choose my horror reviews wisely, therefore I will be brief. I was pleased to watch Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings on cable the other day and let me tell you, that movie contains some unexpectedly awesome cast members. First, Roger Clinton plays the mayor of the bumpkin town in which the movie takes place. He's in full mullet regalia throughout, and they manage to work his guitar playing into the film. I believe he claims to have a gig somewhere. It's very awkward and very funny.

Secondly, it stars a pre-boob job Soleil Moon Frye. She's a teenager who realizes a little too late that burning down an old witch's house (with the witch inside) and using her spells to bring back the dead probably isn't a great idea. The original Pumpkinhead is a classic...this is not. Then again, the original doesn't have the President's brother in it, either.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Time to Get Quizzin'

In preparation for my game show debut, I've been pondering this question: How does one define "pop culture?"

I define it as such: "Pop culture" consists of popular movies, books, television shows, celebrities and infamous happenings from 1970 to the present.

Does this seem like a fair definition?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Eight Below - Turn on the Waterworks

I need to preface this review with a statement: I am not a "cryer." Sure, I'll tear up at the end of Schindler's List and movies like Steel Magnolias (even though I sort of despise movies like Steel Magnolias). Admittedly, I even got a little watery at the end of Titanic, much as I hate to admit it. But despite my usual stoic movie-going persona, I cannot make it through THE TRAILER for Eight Below without coming seriously close to full-on sobbing. Oh Walt Disney, how your cryogenically frozen creative genius still tugs at my heart strings!

Eight Below stars Paul Walker and eight big, fluffy bad-ass sled dogs. On an expedition to some part of Antarctica that sounds like "Melbourne," Paul Walker's human traveling companion (a doctor) falls down a ravine and through ice into the frozen depths below. One of the dogs heroically saves him, and they race back to base camp to get the good doctor airlifted out of Dodge. Unfortunately, the dogs have to be left behind. Paul Walker lovingly kisses them goodbye and promises to come back for them. Oh hot Paul Walker, if only it were that simple!

Then cinema's newest, most overused cliche rolls in - the STORM OF THE CENTURY - and they can't go back right away for the dogs. If the producers are smart, at this point the movie will shift away from focusing on it's human actors and will allow the dog-actors to take over entirely. They definitely catch fish and birds to stay alive, and from the trailer it appears that they discover some kind of dinosaur that tries to eat them. My biggest fear about seeing this movie is that Old Jack, the "Grandfather of the Group" will die doing something heroic and I'll subsequently die in the theater from dehydration after crying myself retarded.

It also appears that Paul Walker (he of the Keanu Reeves school of dramatic interpretation) actually does a fine job here too. Let's be honest though, I'd claim he did a "fine job" if all he did was stand there in a parka for 90 minutes. Anyway, even though I'm pretty sure I can predict the ending to this film now (give or take a few dogs), I really like tales of "survival against all odds" and this one looks as though it will deliver.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Useless Information is my Specialty

It's official, my newly-formed pop culture trivia team, "A Team About Nothing," has landed an audition for a new game show. We're off to NYC the weekend of April 1st for a battery of tests and interviews to determine whether or not we are "TV-worthy." My greatest hope is that we make the cut solely for the fact that I believe the show is planning to shoot "human interest" pieces on each contestant. My friends are already planning ways to make it the world's most inappropriate personal profile. Something tells me I should not have listed my fondness for karaoke and my mad bowling skillz on the application.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Update! The Constant Gardener Has Been Watched

Just a quick update on The Constant Gardener. Now that I've seen it, I can report that my review was not too far off. There are only three main points I would like address:

A) The wife isn't killed while preggers. She has the baby, it dies, THEN she's killed.
B) America doesn't actually figure into the government/pharmaceutical company conspiracy...but it does get a nice shout-out early in the film for the Iraq debacle.
C) There absolutely ARE African warlords in this film.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Why I Want to Blow Up the Entire Family Stone and Their Picturesque New England Home

I realize that this movie is old and that anyone that wanted to go see it in the theater has probably already done only hope is that I can influence at least one person to save their Netflicks pick, $3.99 at Blockbuster or $1.00 at the budget theater by encouraging them NOT to see The Family Stone under any circumstances.

Sarah Jessica Parker plays an annoying, stuffed-shirt hyper-exec and the wardrobe people working on this film chose to show this in the most exaggerated and obvious way possible. I'd guess that the creative meeting went something like this:

[Creative fuckwit #1] SJP is going to be the character we have a hard time with at first, but we need an easy, pedantic way to show her "loosening up" as the movie goes on...
[Creative fuckwit #2] I've got it! Let's dress her in nothing but grey suits for the first 2/3rds of the movie...regardless of the setting, the weather or how obviously inappropriate it would be, then get her drunk and make her wear her shirt in a disheveled manner.
[Creative fuckwit #1] OOOH...we can put her hair in a bun the whole time too! At the end, we'll make sure everyone understands the enormous emotional journey she has undertaken by putting her in a purple sweater and jeans...with her hair down. We're fucking geniuses.

So maybe the conversation didn't go like that, but that's certainly how they showed character growth in this craptacular movie. SJP goes to New England to meet her boyfriend's family at Christmas. No pressure there. He wants to marry her and plans on asking for dead Grandma's ring to make it official. The Stone Family hates her, so she tries harder. They hate her more, so she tries even harder. Then she makes some very, very un-smooth comments at Christmas dinner along the lines of "No one hopes for a gay son...I'm sure everyone just wants their kids to be normal." I haven't mentioned yet that the Stone brood includes a gay son, a deaf son, a son in an interracial relationship and one in the process of adopting a baby. How could any family so deftly hit upon so many societal touchpoints? Easy...make one character that is gay, deaf, in an interracial relationship AND in the process of adopting a baby. God I hate this movie.

So after managing to enrage everyone in the family, she calls her sister to come and console her. The boyfriend is still dead-set on marrying SJP regardless of what a bad idea that is. The other brother (Luke Wilson) takes her out to your prototypical dive bar to get her drunk and "loosen her up." The sister (Claire Danes) shows up and hits it off with the boyfriend/wannabe fiance...who then tries to hump her, which she denies. There are plenty of touching walks in the snow while the characters contemplate their miserable existences, then yet another touching moment at a bus the snow. Will Claire Danes return the love her sister's almost-fiance has just expressed, or will she bolt? I'll save you the suspense...she gets the fuck outta town, y'all.

Of course, she doesn't stay away and ultimately the sisters and brothers in this movie pull a big love switcheroo, all in the span of about 3 days. Did I tell you that there's a wacky slapstick chase around the house set to the same exact music every holiday movie ever has used to illustrate a wacky slapstick chase? I also forgot to mention that the Mom has cancer. That's right...this movie, which was billed as a lighthearted family romp about acceptance and finding your true path in life also has the "dying of cancer" angle. These producers had it ALL covered. To top off this terrible, terrible waste of celluloid the hard-assed sister (Rachel McAdams) you've grown to despise over the course of the movie is redeemed at the end of the film by a gift... a snowglobe. Seriously, the chick goes weak in the knees for the most cliched movie gift of all time. What a fucking amateur.

Though I was begging for the movie to end there, it didn't. Viewers are instead treated to a flash forward to next Christmas, from which we are to believe that the love switcheroo of 2005 was actually successful and not at all awkward. Right. We also learn that Mom has now died of cancer. They try to sledgehammer home the point that good ol' Mom was (and still is) the glue keeping this wacky ensemble together, but honestly she was a pretty miserable human being throughout the film so you don't really care that she's dead. Overall, the movie is uneven and can't make up it's mind whether it's a drama or a comedy. It also relies on tired cliches and preposterous plot devices to make it's points. If you are me, you leave the film sincerely hoping faulty Christmas lights incinerate the entire Stone family in their sleep.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Note to Bruce: I didn't actually see "The Constant Gardener"...

Yeah! I get to answer my first piece of reader mail:

Bruce Milton wrote:
...I've gotta admit, I thought you stopped abruptly on Constant Gardner. I felt like I was missing more you wrote and either it got erased or you had to quit writing and use the bathroom or something. I didn't feel it wrapped up. Should I see the movie? Do I have to be politically inclined to "get it?"

Bruce, you missed the part of the review in which I explained that I haven't actually seen The Constant Gardener, but I will still answer your questions about it: Yes, you should see it and no, you won't "get it," since you are not "politically inclined." The film's points about globalization and the long arm of American business/politics shall simply wash over you like a gentle rain.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Constant Farmer...Gardener. Whatev.

My dear friend Erin has requested a review of The Constant Gardener. This is one of those movies I'd really, really be dying to see if I were a better person. But let's be honest...I just saw Munich and I'd still like to see Syriana, and that's about all the social justice/awareness and earnest concern for the state of the world that this girl's got in her for a month of movie viewing. The triple whammy would likely send me running for the nearest copy of Dodgeball pronto.

Anyway, The Constant Gardener stars Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz (both names I managed to spell correctly without looking up on IMDB first. Go me). Ralph Fiennes is some sort of political attache and his wife is a doctor who helps save dying kids in Africa. I would assume that she has more to do with preventing everyday afflictions like polio and rickets and less to do with exotic diseases like ebola and the hanta virus, since this movie doesn't look like Outbreak 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Anyhoo, she gets pregnant, but is killed before she has the kid, thereby denying Ralph his wife and his first born in a cruel twist of fate. He then proceeds to figure out who killed her and why. From what I can tell, she is killed because of some wide-reaching conspiracy between pharmaceutical companies and the US government. Warlords may also be involved...I'm not sure. But then again, where would a good conspiracy theory movie set in Africa be without a fair measure of warlords?

Overall, it appears that the movie makes a thoughtful (if obligatory) point about how intertwined American business, politics and the fate of the known world really are (see also: Syriana; the nightly news). The title probably refers to America's constant "gardening" or select cultivation of and tending to discontent in other parts of the world for its own benefit. That, or Ralph Fiennes has time to grow some mean tomato plants in the midst of unravelling an international conspiracy of the highest order. inspiration, my first post

In an effort to appease my friends, I have begun a blog. In my circle of friends (the DCVC if you will), I am known as something of a cinephile (thanks, Bill Shannon). I love movies and love reading about movies, but unfortunately I don't always go to them as often or as promptly as I'd like. Sometimes I'm asked what my opinion is about a movie well before ever actually seeing the film.

Unlike others however, the fact that I may not have seen a film does not stop me from reviewing it. I offer "reviews" of such films to the glee of my friends who usually proceed to see the film in question and then regale me with all of the ways in which my review was innaccurate/ridiculous. They must miss the beginnings of my reviews, which usually start with "So, I haven't seen it but I hear it's about this guy..."

My other tendency is to take points away from films that are not at all the intention of the directors, producers or actors starring in said films. And it is with this caveat that I kick off my first review....Munich.

I'll start by letting everyone know that I did in fact see Munich. Overall, I feel that the film was very well done...almost antiseptically so. Not that it wasn't gritty...there was plenty of blood and sex and guts and explosions...but they were somehow picturesque or overly glossy in this film, which to me was strange. Spielberg has a way of making a building explode operatically. Secondly, the film is about the endless circle of violence in the Middle East, and in chronicalling such a bleak lose/lose proposition the movie isn't particularly uplifting. You sort of figure that out at the very beginning of your 2 1/2 hour journey though, which makes the film feel long. Lastly, the movie IS damn long...certainly longer than it needs to be, although the length does help to build the paranoia that the second half of the movie relies upon for forward momentum.

Now that I've regaled you with a relatively serious, movie-nerd review of Munich, I'll tell you what really stuck with me about the film...Eric Bana is hot. Way hotter than he has any right to be in a movie about being a patsy/assassin for the Israeli government. In fact, I definitely held back the urge to giggle like a schoolgirl at a couple of Bana ass close-ups which were liberally sprinkled throughout the movie. I realized that this is what I got out of the movie...the part that will really stick with me in the long run...after seeing the lovely Eric on the cover of my roommate's copy of Men's Health.

The other thing I took away from the film: the 70's were way cool for men's fashion. Not because all the styles were, well...stylish. No, the 70's were way cool because men then were not afraid of loud prints, the color orange, tight pants, sideburns, or gi-normous sunglasses...all of which I hold near and dear to my heart, if only for the sake of irony. There was a "devil-may-care" attitude in the world of men's fashion then that I appreciate and wish would return. I spent a critical part of the movie admiring the main terrorist's sense of style. Check him out in the London street scenes (in which he has people to hold his umbrella for him) if you're not feeling me on this one. Additionally, Daniel Craig (the new Bond) is one of the main perpetrators of 70's style in the film, making me A) like him a lot more than I did pre-Munich and B) wish that there could be a wacky 70's flashback Bond film in the offing.

So that's it. Eric Bana is hot, and I wish my male friends would embrace diagonal stripes, long hair and bellbottoms if only for my amusement.