Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I have a soft spot for people that branch out and try new things. People that aspire to be more than they are and refuse to be pigeonholed into being a specific person or thing. This is especially true for comedic actors. It's EXTREMELY HARD for them to ever get past the slap stick of their past work and move on to more serious subject matter. Movies like The Majestic, which was a good movie, FAILED because people wanted to see Jim Carrey talk out of his butt and make stupid faces. He has moved on to some more serious roles, but that first outing slapped him in the face pretty hard. Unfortunately that is the same thing that happened to Will Ferrell in this movie. It was a fine enough movie, but I don't think that people gave it enough credit because they were expecting him to break out into a Spartan Cheer.

Nick (Ferrell) gets fired from his job one day, comes home, and finds that he has also been fired from his marriage. All of his stuff is on the front lawn, his wife is gone, and the doors are locked. He calmly goes to get beer and decides to wait this out on the front lawn in his chair. The problem with him drinking beer is that he is an alcoholic that is in the 12 step program. When his sponsor, and also a cop, comes to tell him that he has to get his stuff off the lawn or he will get arrested, they find a loophole that says a yard sale can legally be held for 3 consecutive days. So, with the help of a neighborhood kid, and his next door neighbor, he has to find a way to piece his life back together in 3 days. But friends are fickle and sometimes that can lead to betrayal...even from those that we least expect it from.

This movie was actually pretty interesting. Seeing Ferrell do a movie like this was like watching a baby deer being born. You know that it is not going to jump up and sprint like a buck can, but that doesn't stop it from popping up as quickly as possible and giving it a shot. Ferrell CAN evolve into a more serious actor if his fans will let him...the only question is if that will ever happen. Until it does, I will always have a fever...and the only cure for that fever is more cow bell. Check it out if you are looking for a more dry comedy and seeing someone expand their range a bit. If you are looking for slapstick and "zingers"...pass.

NOTE: Am I the only person in the world that thinks Ferrell would be a perfect actor to play a serial killer?


Paul Giamatti is the cinnamon of the acting world. Like with cooking, every time someone says "This is good. What's in it?" the chef will almost always say "Cinnamon". Same thing with movies. If there is a really good movie that sticks out to you and you have to call on the one thing that made it great for you...Paul Giamatti is your best bet.

Plot: Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty (Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures 

This movie has lots of heart and turns out to be a film that I really enjoyed. Giamatti is, as always, great. Bobby Cannavale (Will and Grace) and Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) are fantastic as assistant coaches/friends. In the end, the movie works well and is a great indie film for the weekend. Rent it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

(MOVIE REVIEW) Real Steel packs a hell of a punch

I asked my lovely wife to pick up dinner one night. She comes home with frozen pizza. We cook it, anxiously awaiting its saucy goodness, and then something wonderful happens. Cheese oozes out of the crust. That’s right folks. Ol' Stephanie surprised me with a stuffed crust. It was a good night in the Jenkins household. That is what this movie is like...stuffed crust pizza. Go in expecting something "ordinary" and end up with a little something extra.

Plot: When down on his luck ex-boxer, Charlie (Jackman), hits rock bottom, he feels like he is completely lost with no chance of finding his way. When he is approached and told that he has a son that he must now care for, Max (Goyo), he sees his opportunity to get out of the rut and get caught up with all of the people that he owes. So, being a scumbag, he tells the boy's uncle that he will let them adopt Max for $100K, and that he will keep him during the summer to allow them to prepare. When the deal is made, Charlie takes the boy and they hit the road to make money on the robot boxing circuit. When Charlie and Max raid a scrap yard for parts to build a new robot, Max finds a whole robot named Atom that was built to spar, but they modify to fight. With Atom in tow, the two set out to conquer the world. But "the world" is not so easily conquered and fights back in ways that Charlie and Max were never ready for. In the end, Charlie has to make a decision....roll over and take it, or fight back.

I REALLY expected this movie to be a one dimensional glorified Rock Em Sock Em Robots rip off. But there are moments in the movie that are REALLY good. Jackman is great, Goyo is awesome as Charlie's son, Max, and Atom actually makes you somewhat care for a Robot that is just a bucket of bolts with no chance of ever being anything more than just that. All in all, a really solid movie.

Worth the admission? Does Atom dance his way to the ring? For those that read this before you watch it, yes, he does. The movie is good. Great job by all involved. Not going to win an Oscar or anything, but very fun and touching movie.

(MOVIE REVIEW) Paranormal Activity 3 delivers on the scares, but fails on story

Have you ever gone to a new restaurant and ended up having a really good dinner that just hit the spot? So, the natural reaction is to want to go back for seconds. So you come back again and, as if by some miracle, it somehow turns out better the second time. Then you are hooked. So, when someone recommends that you go back a third time you, without question, jump at the idea of going. You sit down, you await the main course, and then you are completely and utterly disappointed. That is how I felt by the end credits of this movie.

Plot: As a prequel to the previous two films, this movie tells the story of how Katie and Kristi (the female stars of the first two films) first came into contact with a paranormal presence.  When young Kristi begins to talk about her imaginary friend, "Toby", their mother Julie (Bittner) and mother's boyfriend Dennis (Smith) begin to wonder what is really going on with the child. When Dennis decides to set up multiple cameras to try to capture the disturbances, the young family sees more than what they bargain for. As the people and the specter play "cat and mouse", the family tries to find a way to survive the chaos. They must be careful, because some people are not always what they seem….and that can be deadly.

I love movies like this. You have a scary movie that is pretty popular, so you end up with a packed theater full of people that are sitting in a state of heightened anticipation. Every time something bumps, everyone reacts…and THAT is what makes everyone in the room jump. This movie is pretty heavy on the scares. I had a big indention in my hand from where my wife was squeezing it so hard. The thing that bothers me is that a few parts of the movie that seem to contradict the original films and paints a much different picture than what I expected. The second installment to the franchise was a masterpiece compared to this. Where the second film helped to build the story of the first movie, this film seems to contradict the original. In one of the first films, Katie mentions that things from their childhood almost “drove her mother crazy” yet in this film we see that there is no way they could come to this conclusion AFTER the events of this movie. My concern is that they have gone the route of SAW. Crank out as many as you can and forget the story line. That is a shame.

Worth the admission? Yes (lower case "y"). It’s a good scare, but I deduct points for sloppy writing, lack of story cohesion and, to be honest, a pretty poor ending.

NOTE: Another thing that REALLY makes me mad, is that you can tell that they were going to incorporate "Bloody Mary" into the story as something else that the kids contacted, but it looks like it was edited out and changed. On that same note, HALF of the previews that you have seen include footage that is not even in the movie.

Friday, October 21, 2011

(DVD REVIEW) Nothing in the world can tame a Crazy Heart

Plot: Fizzling country music singer, Bad Blake, has seen too much of the road. He is a honky tonk playing alcoholic that has spent half his life on tour and spent more than half his life drunk. When a young lady interviews him, he falls in love...and so does she. But when his "outlaw" way get the better of him, and the reality of what and who he is becomes too real, the couple must figure out if the relationship can stand it...our if it even SHOULD.

I really liked this movie. I'm a sucker for "country singer" films and this was a good one. Something about that lifestyle has always appealed to me. Being free, being on the road, going from one town to the next. It's inspiring to imagine anyone being that free, even when they are not free from their vices. Bridges is one of those actors that I have underestimated in the past. I shouldn't. I know. But I never think of him as one of the "greats" but I absolutely fell in love with his character in this movie and it was ALL because of the way he played the part. Very cool movie. Rent it if you get a chance.

George Lucas could learn a thing or two about prequels from The Thing (2011)

Usually I rant about prequels and remakes. Why? Because they are PROOF that Hollywood has given up. No more originality. No more innovation. Just regurgitated stories and twists that we have already seen but with a new cast in the roles. That, my loving readers, makes me sick. I can tolerate the Star Wars Prequels just fine, because I was never a huge Star Wars fan, but the thought that special effects and innovation are the same is when Lucas drops the ball with the franchise. Luckily, Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. knows how to pick up the prequel “dropped ball” and run with it. The way he delicately handles the new material while weaving in set ups for the original film is something that most Hollywood “visionaries” should take note of.
Plot: When archeologist Kate Lloyd (Winstead) is hired to go to a site to help with an excavation, she is thrilled to take on the adventure. When that adventure turns out to be that an alien spacecraft has been discovered and the thing (get it? The THING?) that she is in charge of excavating is the frozen remains of the ships inhabitant, her position quickly changes from that of thrilled to that of cautious. After the remains are successfully removed, another scientist insist on taking a sample from the creature-sicle (TM pending) and confirming that it is, in fact, alien. The only problem is that this somehow brings the being out of its state of hibernation and it breaks free. After it is realized that this creature can replicate the cells of anything that it consumes, Kate’s position changes once again….to paranoia. Kate is convinced that this creature has replicated a person in the camp. When her fears are confirmed Kate must find a way to survive the horror that she has found herself surrounded by.
Worth the admission? It really is. Like I said above, I am overly cautious of movies that play off of original material, but when I realized that this was a prequel and not a remake, I was all on board. The prequel sets a few things in place that can actually be seen in the original film (such as an axe that is left in this film that is visible in the wall in the original) as well as using a lot of the same lighting techniques (making flashlights cause the same “blue flare” when the shine on the camera). All in all, one of the better prequels that you could hope to see.
If you picked up on anything else that joins the two movies together, like the ending scene from this film and the opening scene from the original, let me know at .
Note: Again. Do not let the fact that this movie and the original share the same name bother you. It is not a remake. Now go watch it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

(TV REVIEW) Zooey Deschanel proves that it’s not always a bad thing to be the New Girl

The Deschanel sisters. Not quite as cute as the Olsen sisters once were and not quite as famous as the Hilton sisters. But give them time. They are a force to be reckoned with. With Emily slaying her Fox time slot with Bones (co staring David Boreanaz) and Zooey having one of the best rated new shows of the 2011 lineup, they prove that there is nothing that they can’t conquer. But is too much Deschanel a good thing or bad?
Plot: Young and in love Jess (Deschanel) comes home early one day to surprise her boyfriend with a naughty surprise. When the real naughty surprise turns out to be that she catches her boyfriend cheating with another woman and she is left devastated. After answering an ad for 3 people that are looking for a roommate, she finds herself spilling her guts about her issues to her new would-be male roommates. They are reluctant to accept her as a roommate at first, but once she lets it slip that her friends are of model quality…they jump. It’s no time at all before the roommates all become friends and accept Jess into the fold as one of their own. However, each roommate is just quirky enough to cause a bit of conflict at all times with the other roommates. And with Jess being Queen Quirky, the 4 new friends are in a constant state of hilarious conflict.
Worth a watch? Absolutely. This show was slow in the first episode but really had me by episode number two. Deschanel is falsely identified by some critics as awkward, but I see her and her character portrayal as more “quirky” than anything. Awkward is when the characters try to make people laugh by making them uncomfortable, like when I challenge random people to staring contest for no reason at all. Quirky comedy is when they go to extreme measures to show how much of an individual a character is by showing the many things that set them apart from the flock while also making them likeable and funny. This is what the character of Jess is all about…and Zooey plays it perfectly.
Other characters on the show consist of a potential love interest for Jess in the form of heartbroken Nick (Johnson), player want to be, Schmidt (Greenfield), and ex-athlete Winston (Morris). All the characters/actors have great chemistry and produce some truly funny moments (example of this is Schmidt punching someone and saying “you got some Schmidt on your face”). Do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it!
One thing that I didn’t like was the replacement of Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) with Winston (Morris) in the second episode. Not because of the character of Winston being unlikeable, more because Coach was just a perfect fit in the dynamic and Wayans played him perfectly. Let me know if you agree

(MOVIE REVIEW) Don’t let the misleading trailer fool you. Dream House is worth a watch.

Trailers. They can make or break a movie. They are also tornado magnets when assembled into a “trailer lot”, but that is another type of trailer. In regards to movies you would think that the geniuses in Hollywood would have figured out at some point that a good trailer means a better opening weekend, better word of mouth, and things like that. So, why would you make a movie look like something that it is not? This technique that they used actually almost made me NOT watch this movie, but I decided to give it a try. Turns out there is a lot more to this movie than what the trailer would suggest.
Plot: Will Atenton (Daniel Craig) is getting out of the grind. After years of being a well respected editor he is leaving his job to have more time with his wife and kids. They have purchased a new house that they intend to fix up in their spare time while Will writes his book. The night of celebration, after he tells his wife about his quitting, is cut short when one of his daughters claims to have seen someone outside of the window. Will dismisses this at first but becomes concerned when more and more incidents begin to happen. When the family discovers that a previous family died in that house, Will begins to dig deeper into the past. He finds that a brutal murder had taken place and he begins looking for information on the sole survivor of this gruesome murder, a man named Peter Ward. When his sleuthing leads him to a mental institution he is shown video footage of Peter Ward….and it appears to be Will in the video. When his world is turned upside down, Will must find a way to make sense of the madness, find out who is stalking his family, and find out what really happened in the Peter Ward Slaughter House.
If the above plot sounds a little confusing, don’t worry. It is. But it is confusing in a really good way. My earlier gripe was that the trailer tried to paint this movie as some overly supernatural thriller. That is not what it is at all. This movie is equal parts A Beautiful Mind and Memento. A great psychological thriller with more turns than a doorknob. It’s smart, well directed and well acted.
Worth the admission? YES. Forget what the trailer showed you and go watch this. Daniel Craig is great, Rachel Weisz is great, and the movie is shot beautifully.
Note: The only thing that I don’t agree with, and you will understand after seeing it, is that Craig is still in James Bond shape. They try to convince you that someone is a highly stressed editor with little/no time to see his family….but he has time to stop at Bally’s? Let me know if you agree