Friday, March 22, 2013

(Movie Review) The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The most incredible thing about Burt Wonderstone is how few people went to see it

Steve! What are you doing to me Steve? I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I am a pretty solid fan of Steve Carell. I loved him in The Office, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Get Smart, and pretty much anything else he has put his name on. His most recognizable role as Andy in The 40 Year Old Virgin seems like a thing of the past these days. I seem to remember him more for movies like Dan in Real Life, Evan Almighty, and Dinner with Schmucks than anything else lately. While this movie isn’t as bad as some of those mentioned above, it’s not much better either.

Storyline: Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Buscemi) have been best friends since they were young . They grew up to be famous magicians that headlined their own Vegas show for years. But with new acts like Steven Gray (Carey) taking their audience, Burt becomes hard to work with and drives Anton away…which leads to the cancelation of their show. Burt now finds himself with no friends, no money, and no career. If he is to ever become the great magician that he once was he must find a way to fall in love with magic again before his last chance passes him by.

I feel that it would be dishonest to say that I didn’t laugh at some of this movie. It was ok at times. Funny even. But the overall product was somewhat of a letdown. There were times that I thought that the story was going to go to a really funny place, especially after Wonderstone hit “rock bottom”, but it turns into this gooey montage of ways that Burt is trying to improve himself. Sure, it was needed, but it takes up too much of the movie. And even with it taking up a lot of screen time it still somehow feels like a rushed turnaround when it finally happens.

Worth the admission? It pains me to say it, but no. It falls short on a bunch of levels. While it had the potential to be a huge hit for Carell it ultimately turns out to be a humdrum comedy that lays on a thick layer of a self improvement message. Was it terrible? No. Will I watch it again? No.

If you are looking for a few good Steven Carell movies, rent Crazy, Stupid, Love, (2011) or, and many will disagree with me, Seeking a Friend for the End of the Wold (2012). I enjoyed both of them much more than The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and I bet you will too.

PS. Who in the world thought Steve Buscemi was a good casting choice. He looks like an Albino Bush Baby (look it up) and added very little to the movie.  

(Movie Review) Oz The Great and Powerful

The Yellow Brick Road turns out to be made of gold, as OZ rakes in the cash on opening weekend

In yet another assault on my masculinity, I have to admit to you fine folks that I am a huge fan of Oz. The Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz, The Wiz, Wicked and Tin Man are amazing little pieces of fiction in my opinion. But with the exception of the original Wizard of Oz film, most of the other Oz related titles have been made for TV movies, musicals or miniseries. So the question I have always wondered was “would Hollywood make a film that rivals the original and ACTUALLY make it profitable”? While the question is still out on this film ultimately being profitable, I don’t think that it completely measures up to the original…but it is a heck of a good movie regardless.

Storyline: Carnival conman Oz (Franco) is tired of the carnival world. He wants more out of life. He doesn’t want to settle for being a good man, he wants to be a great man. When a tornado whisks him away to the Land of Oz he is quickly greeted by Theodora (Kunis) and she tells him that he must be the powerful wizard that the prophecies had promised them. Theodora introduces Oz to her sister, Evanora (Weisz), who quickly sends Oz to kill the “Wicked Witch” Glinda (Williams) before he can become king and inherit all of the gold of Oz. With new companions met along the way, and finding Glinda to be a kind and gentle witch, Oz must work with her to find out who the real evil witch is and how to bring her down.

Worth the admission? Without a doubt! This movie was really fun and the performance from Michelle Williams as Glinda was great. And Zach Braff as the voice for a flying monkey named Finely was adorable. Was it a perfect movie? No. There are a few things that I really didn’t like. One, James Franco makes a fine enough Oz, but the way that the character is played makes him so unlikeable. That is the fault of the writers, obviously, but it is not until very late in the movie that you actually begin to like the character some.

Another thing that I didn’t really like was the fact that The Wizard of Oz (1939) gave you an option at the end. You could either pick to believe that Dorothy had a very beautiful and lucid dream OR that she went to a magical new world. This movie confirms that the events in The Wizard of Oz were real, which kiiiind of makes the choice to have actors play dual roles (in both films) seem pointless.

Lastly, if the Wicked Witch is pained by water, and there is a scene in this film where tears cause her pain, wouldn’t she just burn up from the inside? Her body is, what, 75% water?

All in all, good movie. Very fun and very beautiful. Try to see it in 3D!

(Movie Review) A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

John McClane continues his assault on all things breakable in A Good Day To Die Hard…and wins

People really make me mad. I mean, like, furious. Do you know why? Because they are NEVER happy! When movies like, Bullet to the Head (2013), The Expendables 2 (2012) & The Last Stand (2013) came out, people cried into their popcorn and said “ This is so lame. A bunch of 60 & 70 year olds blowing stuff up and shuffling around. There needs to be more action.” Then you have a movie like A Good Day To Die Hard that comes out and people continue to cry into their popcorn saying “this is so unrealistic. A guy in his 50s could never survive that”. It’s maddening.

Storyline: Detective John McClane (Willis) has been looking for information on his son Jack/John Jr. (Courtney) as he has been out of contact with John for years. When John finally receives information that Jack is in Russia, John hops on the first plane in an attempt to see his son. When he arrives in Russia he finds that Jack is part of the CIA and is currently in charge of a Prisoner of the State that might be able to take down those responsible for the Chernobyl disaster that took place in 1986. The only problem is getting this man out of Russia alive. Jack and John must team up to protect Mr. Komarov (Koch) and get him to safety.

So, as you can tell from what I said in the beginning, I think that this movie is getting a lot of hate for no reason. People are complaining about how “over the top” some of the action is? How can they think back to 1988 and watch John McClane get shot, run barefoot through glass, and get blown up and say “this is completely realistic” but when 2013 John McClane gets thrown through a glass window while hanging on to the tail of a helicopter they say “rubbish! This could never be!” I have some sobering news for people (and the critics that gave this movie such bad reviews), most of the stuff that happens in ANY movie can’t really happen. There are no Terminators, there is no magic mail box at a lake house that acts as a time warp, there are no clowns in the sewer, Godzilla is not real, and John McClane would have died in the very first movie if he was a real NYC Detective. So stop complaining about it, sit back, and watch Bruce Willis whisper his lines and blow up Russia!
Worth the admission? As a huge fan of all of the franchise, I am going to say yes. It was fun. Mindless action and things going “boom”. Sometimes movies can just be fun. They don’t have to challenge you or make you think. They can just be a good time. So check it out!