Monday, November 28, 2011

It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet movie tonight.

Nostalgia. There is something so nostalgic about nostalgia. Joking, of course, but there is something very comforting about revisiting a fond memory. It’s like when you go back to your old high school or college and walk the halls. At first you feel a little out of place because it is slightly different than you remember it being. Then, by memory, you are taken from one fond event to the next about that special place where so many wonderful things impacted you and the person that you would one day grow to be. That is exactly how I felt while watching The Muppets.

Plot: Walter and Gary (Segel) are two brothers that have always been best friends. They are very much alike in every way. Well, in almost every way. Walter is a Muppet. Since Walter was a child he has idolized Kermit and the rest of The Muppets that he watched faithfully on his TV. When Gary, now an adult, tells Walter that he taking him to Los Angeles to meet The Muppets, Walter realizes that his dreams are coming true. Those dreams are quickly shattered when they find out that The Muppets Theater has been abandoned for years, and that the majority of the old gang hasn’t spoken in a very long time. When Walter overhears a business deal that is going to take the Theater away from Kermit he enlists the help of Gary, Mary (Gary’s girlfriend played by Amy Adams), and Kermit to go on a search for all of the missing band members….before it is too late.

Worth the admission? Is Fozzie Bear the funniest bear in the world? Of course! This movie, in my opinion, in one of the best revitalizing/relaunches of an old franchise that I have seen since Doctor Who was brought back in 2005. It is not just some movie that is being made to cash in on the memories of the past series. This is a great stand alone comedy that would have been funny even if you had never heard of The Muppets before today. Not only is a funny, but it has a lot of heart and a great story.
One thing that I really liked about it was that they broke the fourth wall a few times. For those that are not familiar with this term “breaking the fourth wall” is a term used when a character interacts with the audience in one way or another. It comes from the idea that in any given shot/scene there are three walls visible (both sides and the back) with the fourth being the end of the stage or the TV/Movie screen. This makes The Muppets seem more personal than just a normal movie.
Kudos to Jason Segel for not only his acting on this project, but his writing as well (he wrote the screenplay). If you like it as much as I did, or didn’t and want to tell me why, let me know!

(DVD REVIEW) Exporting Raymond

This is less of a review and more of notes on this rental. This is a documentary based on the experiences of Phil Rosenthal trying to adapt Everybody Loves Raymond into a Russian-language version of the show. More so than that, it is a great look into how differently we view tv compared to other parts of the world. A basic concept like "family sitcom" is looked at by most of the US as a way to relate to the characters. Because of that, it is best to keep the characters grounded in reality. That is what sells here. That is what we like. In places like Russia, where some US shows are already adapted, they seem to prefer to tailor the shows to be more about fashion and glamour, not about reality. So, obviously, there are obstacles to overcome.

In the end, this movie is not some big blockbuster, or even a movie that you will buy and display proudly on your mantel, but it IS a nice window into the rest of the world from the perspective of a US tv producer that had a unique experience while trying to explain the concept of U.S values in comparison to Russian values. For that oddness alone, this is worth a watch.

(DVD REVIEW) The Roommate

I HATE to watch a movie that makes me question people in this world. See, I like to live in a bubble. In my bubble I choose to think that people are good. Not just some time, or every once in a while, but all the time. That people do not do wrong by others. That is just the way that I am. This movie, however, kind of made me realize that I am very naive in that belief and that not all people are good. Some don't even realize what they are doing is wrong. I kind of hate this movie for making me see that.....oh, and I kind of hate it because it wasn't that good either.

Plot: Sara (Kelly) is excited. Why? Because she is about to start an important chapter in her life. College. She is ready to meet new people, grow as a person, and make new friends. One of those new friends is usually the new roommate. In this case, the roommate is Rebecca (Meester). Rebecca seems sweet and very eager to make friends with Sara, but when Rebecca starts to become a little too overbearing, Sara gets concerned. Those concerns are soon compounded with a string of incidents that Sara seems to be related to. Rebecca claims that it is all just coincidences, but when the walls of reality start to crumble around her, she may loose grip with it....and others may loose their lives.

Thoughts? Meh. It's not HORRIBLE, but it's not great either. The movie is a cookie cutter teen-slasher movie. The Roommate, Sorority Row and a bazillion others offer the same thing...creepy movie, a few "bump" scares, and most of the big stuff is guessed way before it happens. I say that if you have a BOGO at Redbox or can stream it free, then check it out. If you have to pay more than a dollar for it. Skip it.

Note:  I will say this. Leighton Meester does a great job of a scary and disturbed roommate, my only problem is that I wished that her character would have killed EVERYONE in the movie.

(DVD REVIEW) Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior

Mel Gibson has made some mistakes in his life. We all have. Most of us have not made the kind of mistakes that he has, but one is perfect. Out of all of his mistakes, one thing that can NEVER be added to that list is the Mad Max series. After re-watching Mad Max 2 this weekend, I can remember why I grew to love this talented, and flawed, actor.

Plot: In a post apocalyptic society, the world has gone the way of "kill or be killed". No one is safe. The world, after being dependant on oil for so long, has now shifted into a fuel crisis that has caused many to become ruthless shells of what humanity once was. Max, a former cop who lost his family due to these gangs of outlaws, is a man looking for revenge. Revenge against the gangs, against the world, and against fate. His journey finds him intersecting with a group of people that have an oil refinery in the dessert. When they come under attack, Max finds them asking for his help. He reluctantly agrees to help them but soon realizes that this may be more than he bargained for.

Thoughts? This is a movie that you could do some post production reworking and re-release it in theaters today. It holds up REALLY well. Mel plays this part like he was born to play it. While I don't agree with much of his personal life, his acting has always been something that I enjoyed. Even at this young stage in his career where he was more of a prop than an actor. A cool movie that is still relevant. Check it out.


I always liked to mash my food up as a kid. Mashed Potatoes mixed with Mac’n’Cheese are the best. Throw some Lima Beans in there too and mmmm mmmm….that is a good meal. So, when I say that this movie is like a spy/action/super hero/awesome movie all rolled in to one, you know that I liked it.
Plot: Hanna (Ronan) and her father Erik (Bana) live in the forest. They hunt. They train. They survive. Hanna has been taught everything that she knows from her father. Everything that she knows about the world was from books that her father read to her and stories that he has told her. The one thing that she knows that she has been born and trained to do? Kill Marissa (Blanchett). Marissa is a high ranking government official that Erik claims was responsible for the death of Hanna’s mother and that Marissa will stop at nothing to kill Erik and Hanna. So the only option is to take the fight to her. But when Hanna is faced with surviving in a new world and being all alone, she finds out who she really is.
Thoughts? This was a pretty cool movie. Kind of like Rambo meets Alice (from Resident Evil). The part of Hanna is played beautifully and Ronan truly looks as if she is seeing the world for the first time in every scene. I really enjoyed it and hope you check it out.

Monday, November 21, 2011

(Movie Review) Breaking Dawn (part 1) is the equivalent of a root canal by a supermodel. Excruciatingly painful but pretty to look at.

A very wise person, most likely in the Marketing field, once said the truest and most universally accepted thing ever muttered. Sex sells. It’s not a bad thing. Car companies and cosmetic companies have been using this for years. Film has too. So I’m not shocked that Breaking Dawn, along with the other films in the franchise, was successful in tricking people into thinking that these characters are actually sexy (they are not)…what I AM shocked at is that people mistake “pretty” people for good storytelling.
Plot: The big day is here. Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattinson) are to be wed. As in their agreement, this is also to be the time when Edward is to finally “turn” Bella and to make them eternally bound to one another. Once the knot has been officially tied, and the two are off on their honeymoon, Bella decides to wait until after their blissful getaway to go through with becoming an immortal. But when they give in to their desires, and Bella soon finds herself with a rapidly growing child inside of her, some dangerous choices must be made. Bella is carrying a child that the werewolf pack fears, and they see it as their job to destroy it and the mother. The Cullen clan, along with Jacob (Lautner) and some of the werewolves, must protect Bella from the rest of the wolves at all costs.
BOOOOOOORING. Really. An extremely boring movie. I can forgive a movie that has bad acting, I can even forgive a movie that only sells the illusion of a good story, but I can NOT forgive a movie that is this boring. Honestly, there is more action involved with me trying to pick the right pair of underwear in the morning than there was in this whole movie. There is ONE fight, and the lighting was so poor in that scene that you can barely tell what is going on. Also, I understand the need to sometime have an “agenda” included in the story. Seth Macfarlane uses each episode of Family Guy as a way to bash everyone that doesn’t believe as he does, so I am accustomed to this. But using a fantasy vampire movie to argue the topic of abortion is stupid. We even get a “fetus” vs. “baby” argument. Seriously? Why is this in a VAMPIRE movie? Lestat would have killed them all for sparkling in the first place, let alone arguing about babies and abortions. This movie is an abomination to vampire movie genre.
Worth the admission? NO! I know that this is not going to sway any of the people that have already mistaken the first three films as “good movies”, but for those that are on the cusp of making that decision…save your money. Half of the movie looks like a director’s cut for a Summer’s Eve commercial (full of beautiful people, beaches, and curtains gently blowing in the wind) and the other half is a pro life vs. pro choice argument. Oh, and ONE action sequence. PLEASE skip it. Maybe it will force Hollywood to wake up and make good movie, like Harold and Kumar’s 3D Christmas (which was awesome and you should see).
Twi-hards. Please tell me why I’m wrong. Would LOVE to debate this with a few of the fans.

(DVD REVIEW) The Thing (1982)

1982. What a wonderful year. Why? Two fantastic things came from 1982. One, the birth of yours truly. That's right folks. In January of 1982, God blessed you all with a late Christmas gift. Me. The second is actually a LONG list of great movies that came out that year. I mean, really, some classics. Rocky 3, E.T., Blade Runner, Conan the Barbarian, The Thing, and many others. Unfortunately it also brought us The Beastmaster and Grease it is not without its downside.

Plot: When a dog is chased, by a helicopter, to a nearby American Scientific Expedition outpost, the team at the outpost has questions. Unfortunately the person pursuing the dog begins to fire shots at the animal and into the camp. When the leader of the expedition team shoots the man, they assume that the chaos is over. What they don't know is that the "dog" is carrying a deadly secret that could kill them all...and spread to the rest of the world. When you are faced with a killer that can look like anyone and anything, who do you trust?

Thoughts? I watched this movie many years ago. I liked it then, but never really appreciated it. After watching again I realized that this movie has a lot going for it. It has some great suspense, FANTASTIC special effects (for the time and for them to be man made, not CGI) and Kurt Russell is rocking an awesome beard. I say go rent this if you ever have the chance.


I have always thought that I was destined for greatness. That something in my life would "click" and I would be happy and successful doing it. That I would just stumble across it and it would consume me in a way that nothing in my life previously had or probably ever would in the future. So far, with the exception of voting for my favorite American Idol, it has not happened. But, when watching this movie, it reminded me of why I am longing for that event so bad.

Bliss Cavendar (Page) is in a rut in her life. She doesn't feel like she is going anywhere and is always looking for something more. Her mother continues to guilt her into beauty pageants, she works at a dead end job, and she has little/no life outside of hanging out with her best friend Pash (Shawkat). One day, while shopping with her mom, she picks up a brochure for Roller Derby. After checking out a local bout she decides to try out for the team. Her world quickly changes and she finds herself with a new boyfriend, a new sense of self worth, and something to be passionate about. But when her perfect world begins to crumble, and a series or lies begins to catch up to her, she has to find a way to keep it all together OR go back to life the way it was.

Thoughts? I liked it. It was a very encouraging movie about finding something that you are passionate about and "going for it", regardless of what "it" is. The movie is about watching someone transition from just "going through the motions" to finding something that changes their life...and fighting for it. You can't ask for a better message than that in a film. Check it out.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is what everyone should ask Santa for this year

I, like most people, have a favorite article of clothing. Mine is a hideous t-shirt that a family member bought for me while visiting a neighboring state. It’s not “classy” in any way. To be honest, it is slightly crude. But there is something about that t-shirt that just fits so well. No matter what I am in the mood to do, I enjoy it more when I where this shirt. Lawn work, bike ride, sitting on the couch…you name it, this is my “go to” shirt. Yet I am completely embarrassed to be seen in it by anyone (outside of a select few) and have no desire to even mention it to most people, let alone mention that I like it enough to call it my favorite. That shirt is the cotton equivalent to the Harold and Kumar franchise. You don’t want to admit that you love them, but you know that you do!
Plot: After years of not seeing each other, yet another extraordinary event puts once best friends back in each other’s lives. When Harold (Cho) tries to impress his father in-law with the perfect Christmas his former best friend, Kumar (Penn), brings the whole event to a screeching halt by ruining the tree. This sets them off on a mad dash to find a perfect replacement. This simple adventure quickly spins out of control and sends the duo on a crash-course that intersects with Neil Patrick Harris, a Russian mob boss, and Santa Clause himself. Drugs, shoot outs, a Christmas Story inspired incident with an icy aluminum pole and a waffle-bot are just some of the things that are standing in the way of their perfect Christmas. Sounds easy enough, right?
Worth the admission? Does the Waffle-bot HATE pancakes? Absolutely. This may be my favorite film of the H&K franchise. Not only is it funny (and I mean laugh out loud funny in some places), but it has some of the best use of 3D that you will see. It is making a point about the overuse of 3D in films and does so by overusing the 3D in their own. The difference? They use it for the gimmicks as well as to show depth in some very well shot scenes (such as the shot of them steeling the tree from the Midnight Mass).
I dare ANYONE to prove that a movie that has Neil Patrick Harris, Claymation, AND Santa Claus in it is not one of the greatest movies of the year. All in all, this is a must see film that is well worth the extra money to see in 3D. If you agree, let me know.
NOTE: This is a film for adults only. Lots of language, drug references and some nudity. Please be responsible and not let children see this film. To anyone over 18, enjoy the funniest Christmas movie since National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (or maybe Elf).

Monday, November 14, 2011

(DVD REVIEW) Boondock Saints

I know. Shame be heaped upon me! I have sinned. This movie, which I have wanted to watch forever, has sat on the shelves since 1999 and I have never watched it. I dont deserve the title of imaginary movie reviewer! But, since I have finally watched it, I would like to share my thoughts on it with you fine folks first.

Plot: When brothers, Connor (Flanery) and Murphy (Reedus), are caught in the middle of a turf war with local mob bosses and a bar owner (the mob wants the bar), they end up killing two of the mob soldiers. When the local police rule that this was in self defence, the brothers decide to stay at the jail to avoid unwanted media attention. In the middle of the night, when a local ministers sermon begins to weigh on the men, they both awaken with the notion that they have been chosen to serve as the hammers of God and to strike down the wicked. They are willing servants in this "holy crusade" but they soon realize that their is a lot more danger involved than they ever hoped for. With the FBI hot on their trail and a mafia berserker trying to take them down, they will find not only their faith...but also their backbones to be tested in their fight on corruption.

Thoughts? Awesome movie. Funny, full of action, full of blood, bullets everywhere, good chemistry with the stars. An all around awesome film.


Remember that time in your life when you were kind of unsure what to do next. That year/summer/day/hour when you didn't know if you should turn left or right and didn't know what would happen when/if you did turn at all? That confusing time between doing what you have always done, with the people that you have always known, and taking taking the next step in your life? Between high school and college? Part time and full time work? Well, imagine someone followed you around with a camera and made a movie about it.

PLOT: Ritchie (Fernandez) is at the end of his high school days. He is finishing school, his job is coming to an end due to the business being sold, and his relationships with some of his friends/family are starting to change. In other words, Ritchie is growing up. The problem with growing up is that you have to take responsibility for your actions. When those actions include problems at home (because of a broken marriage), problems with friends, (because of local "thugs" that are at odds with an old friend of his) or problems with girls (when longtime friendships become more than "just friends") Ritchie finds that taking the next step is a lot harder than he would like for it to be. So he holds on to the summer....tries to freeze it in time. But when events in his life force him to take the next step, he must do his best to ensure that it is not his last.

Thoughts? The movie is pretty good. Not, in my opinion, worth all of the praise that it got on the indie circuit. But easily worth a look-see on Netflix. I say watch it, but don't break your neck to make time to do so.

Friday, November 11, 2011

(MOVIE REVIEW) Timberlake turns out a solid performance with In Time

In the real world originality means something. It might not mean everything, but it means something. If you question that notion, I would recommend that you try to print your own money or reprint a check, try to spend it, and see how well it works out. That alone should show that being original holds value. That brings me to In Time. Is this movie going to win an Oscar? No. Is this movie going to change the world? No. But it is UNIQUE. And in a world of reprinted money, this is a dollar that you can exchange for four quarters any day of the week.
Plot: In a future dystopian society, people no longer die of old age. At least not in the way that we do now. The aging gene has been isolated and people stop physically aging at 25, yet after their 25th birthday, all forms are currency are exchanged in the form of "time". Coffee costs minutes, rent is worth hours, and if your counter runs out, you die. When Will Salas, (Timberlake) helps a stranger out of a sticky situation, he is gifted one hundred years. Unfortunately, that puts a giant target on his back from thugs and the Time Keepers/Police (as they assume he stole this time). When he suffers a loss, and blames ”the system” for that loss, he takes it upon himself to bring down the system one "minute" at a time.
Worth the admission? Yes! I loved it. Some people are giving it poor reviews, and I realize the message might be a little "heavy handed", but this movie gets a LOT of good points in its favor (in my book) because it is different. It's not some cookie cutter movie that you can easily fit into a specific mold/box. It's unique. Original. That, in and of itself, makes this movie worth the time and money to see it. All in all, I would recommend that you check this movie out.
Note: Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men/Angel) plays a 100+ character, trapped in the body of a 25 year old, and does so effortlessly. His eyes, mannerisms, and tone reflect that of someone whose age far exceeds their youthful exterior would let on. He turns in a great performance and I hope that he finally gets the recognition that he deserves as an actor.
If you, like me, loved the fact that they take old cars and retrofit them with new aged gadgetry (as symbolism of old things looking very some of the people) then let me know.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Kevin Smith is one of those folks that you love him if you like his work, you hate him if you don’t and others have no clue who he even is. Their loss. Silent Bob is awesome and Mallrats will forever be on my short list of favorite 90's movies (in part because of the Joey Lauren Adams changing room scene). So, when I heard that the opinionated and comedy driven Smith was doing a political/religious movie...I was hesitant. But halfway into the movie those fears were dispelled and I watched what would turn out to be one of my favorite Smith films to date.
Plot: When the ultraconservative religious cult, Four Points Church, begins to make a name for itself as a no-nonsense political/religious group, the state begins to take notice. When they become the center of a media storm that involves the whereabouts or deaths of missing homosexuals and "sexual deviants" it attracts the attention of the DEA. When their worst fears are confirmed, and the group is confirmed to have guns, ammo, hostages, and the notion that they are doing the work of God....they become a huge threat. This all ends in a bloody standoff, but to what end?
Thoughts? The movie handles some serious subject matter and gives a glimpse into the world of fanatical groups. It maintains that "Smith-ism" that many have come to love, but offers a different side that nonfans should also enjoy. I say check it out.