Thursday, November 10, 2011

Horrible Bosses

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kill your psycho, slave-driving, horrible tool of a boss who treats you like dirt?" That, my friends, is the question that this movie dares to ask.
"Horrible Bosses" is a comedy that not only tackles this potentially dark subject-matter creatively and humorously, but also generates the knee-slapping, ROFL-inducing yuk-fests that I've missed so much in the movies I've been seeing lately.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Today, my goal will be to prove to you that the following "movie-math" equation is true:

Woody Allen.

A movie-making force of nature: for over 60 years he's been writing, directing, and starring in dozens and dozens of different films, some of which have been hailed as the greatest films of all time ("Annie Hall", "Radio Days", and "Zelig" being some of my favorites).
Paris, France.

One of the largest culture, fashion, cuisine, and artistic hubs of Europe, Paris is well-known by all who don't live under a rock as one of the most magnificent, beautiful cities in the world, whether you pronounce it par-ee or rhyme it with heiress.

"Midnight in Paris"
What I love most about this movie is that every part seems to have been made with great care and attention. It features gorgeous footage of the city of Paris and captures the things that make it great: people, landmarks, streets, shops, all the things that make it such a special place. It pulls you in right away.
Then you've got the main character: the protagonist is played by Owen Wilson, who is a fine example of a Woody Allen stereotype: slightly neurotic, pseudo-intellectual, yet at the same time likable with a dorky charm.
The story is fantastic: without giving away too many spoilers, it involves the main character meeting some of his greatest heroes by way of some magic time-travel plot that doesn't have to make sense to be enjoyed.
The background music, ahhhhhh. 2 words my friends:
Accordians. Rule.

One of the reasons I love to watch great movies is that by the time the movie is over, I'm left feeling smarter than when I came in. Great movies teach me something, or remind me of something I forgot, or show me something I never thought possible.
When I left the theater after watching "Midnight in Paris", I felt great. A good sign that this movie just might be remembered for being one of the modern-classics. In my humble opinion at least.

Even if you've never seen a Woody Allen movie or been to Paris, France before, I highly, highly recommend "Midnight in Paris". Happy viewing!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crazy Stupid Love

This movie was absolutely hilarious. No beating around the bush about it, this was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen in my (relatively) short life. It is also one of the most romantic movies that I've seen in 2011 so far (I haven't seen "Friends with Benefits" yet, which incidentally was playing at the same time as this movie did at the theater I went to).

What makes this movie so laugh-out-loud worthy, and simultaneously so painfully sweet, cringing-ly realistic (yet obviously fictional), and unthinkably sexy? Is it the stellar acting performances? Yes. The polished, crackling dialogue? For sure. The story of heartbreak, discovery and rediscovery, and yes, love, that even the most diverse audience can relate to? Absolutely.

I mean yeah, it's got divorce, it's got way too much alcohol, and the plot seemed pretty contrived at times, which are usual turn-offs for me when it comes to movie-going, but what kept me figuratively glued to my seat was the desperate desire to find out how every single plot-thread ties itself up in the end.

The laughs that this movie got, I have to say, were well-earned and timed perfectly. There was this one scene where all the characters in the movie get together, and because of all the complex relationships that were present (Steve Carell & Ryan Gosling, Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone, Jonah Bobo & Analeigh Tipton, Analeigh Tipton & Steve Carell, Julianne Moore & Kevin Bacon), the plot comes to a high-boil and the guys are all at each other's throats while the women are all, "What the heck is going on here?"
Hands-down, the best part of the entire movie. You have to watch everything that came before in order to really get it, though.

In the end, you've got real character development, resolved issues, and a strong finish that ties up the whole movie in a big, beautiful bow.

An extra thing that I really admired about "Crazy Stupid Love" was the high production value. The sweeping panning shots, the thoughtful framing of each scene, the subtle yet distinctive background music that gave extra flavor and punch (trivia fact: one of the guys who wrote the music did "Little Miss Sunshine" and the other guy did "The Hangover" and "Date Night"), and again the abundance of talent from the main cast.

Oh my god, I haven't even mentioned Marisa Tomei! What a bombshell! Her part in this movie is so freaking hilarious I even had trouble breathing from laughing so hard! 5 words folks: Funniest, Parent-Teacher-Conference, Ever.

Check this movie out. You'd have to be "crazy" to pass it up. ^_^

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie Review: "Zookeeper"

This review comes to you by request from my friend A. You know who you are. ^_^

What did I think of this movie? Well...
There were a few things that really, really bugged me, and kept me from enjoying this movie. In this post, I will give you my reasons for not liking "Zookeeper", and then I will list the few redeeming values that this movie has. Please take my review with a grain of salt, my opinions are my own and nobody has the obligation to share them.

First of all, I came into the theater with the expectation that it couldn't possibly be as lousy as the trailer made it out to be. It's happened to me before that a movie that had horrible trailers actually turned out to be a film I highly enjoyed, like "Arthur", the remake with Russel Brand. Also I'd read on the blog of Leonard Maltin (famous movie historian and reviewer) that he thought "Zookeeper" was pretty good. (To see what I mean, click on this link: Leonard Maltin's "Zookeeper" review.)

Anyway, when my family went to the theater to see it, we were unfortunately a little late, so we missed the opening scene and came in at a part where Kevin James is putting his hand up a lioness's mouth in order to reach a lodged Red-Bull can stuck in her throat.
Lovely; the audience gets gross-out humor and product placement.

Basically the premise of this movie is a romantic plot we've heard somewhere before, "mild-mannered guy tries getting ex-girlfriend back by becoming something he's not, only to realize that being himself is what makes him happy and he falls in love with his best friend", with the "hilarious twist" of talking zoo-animals. They try and give Kevin James' character advice on how to win back the girl, and incredibly, even though the things they tell him to do are totally ridiculous, they seem to work.

One of the things that really, really bugged me was the casting choices for the animals' voices (hey, a rhyme ^_^). When I see talking animals, I expect voices that match the animals themselves somewhat, not just a bunch of celebrities thrown at a microphone. I'll admit, some voices were good, like Nick Nolte's silver-back gorilla and Cher's lovely lioness, but other voices just grated on my ears, like Adam Sandler's wise-cracking Capuchin monkey, and Judd Apatow's nervous and neurotic elephant.

Another thing that kept me from giving the movie a thumbs-up was the fact that my suspension of disbelief was constantly being betrayed. When I go to movies like this, sure I expect there to be some crazy stuff, but there has to be good reason for it. Take for instance the fact that the animals keep their talking abilities a secret at first, because humans would freak out if they ever found out. But then in the very next scene after this is revealed, the lion flat out breaks the rule and starts talking to Kevin James, who then proceeds to have a "freaking-out montage". What the hey, movie?! Didn't you just tell us that animal-human communications was a big no-no?

One last minor detail I had against this film was the indecisive background music. This is a matter of personal taste, but I like soundtracks to be more-or-less consistent throughout the movie, not just have random contemporary popular songs with a few manipulative orchestral movements that tried to make me feel sorry for Kevin James' character here, and then happy for him there.

Despite it all, I can still see why people enjoyed this movie. Here are some bullet-points of "Zookeeper"s redeeming values:

  • It's full of slap-stick, which means easy, uninhibited laughs.

  • Kevin James is a pretty likable actor and his character goes through some real development.

  • The kids in the audience seemed to get a real kick out of the talking animals.

  • The running time is only an hour and a half, so you don't have to wait too long for it to be over.

All in all, I would say if you can help it, don't go to see this movie, unless you have some kids watching with you. Sorry Kevin James. I love ya, but I don't like "Zookeeper".

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Jaws" Movie Review

Duuh-dun, Duuh-dun.

And so begins the iconic 1975 summer blockbuster that is "Jaws". Today was the first time I've ever seen the movie, which was so incredibly awesome that I'm only sorry I haven't given it a chance sooner! Oh well, better now than never.

Not only was I altogether impressed with how thrilling "Jaws" was, I also loved the musical score by John Williams (same guy who composed the themes for "Star Wars", "Indiana Jones", "Jurassic Park", and "E.T." among others), the acting from the 3 main guys on the poster as well as the countless extras, and the amazing cinematography. (Trivia Fact: director of photography was Bill Butler, who also was cinematographer for the movies "Grease", "Rocky 2", "3" and 4", and "Hot Shots!")

The suspense was incredible. I was little more than Silly-Putty in the movie's "hands" whenever it was even hinted that Jaws would make an imminent appearance. For instance, there's a scene where first it shows the undersides of swimming children. I thought, "No, not the kids!" Then when the camera held for a few seconds on an old couple floating together, I thought, "No, not the old couple!" Then when the dog runs into the water to fetch a stick, I thought, "O.K., the bet is on. Who can guess the next victim?"

There were so many great parts in this movie that if you asked me what my favorite part was, I wouldn't be able to decide whether it was when Roy Scheider said the famous line, "We're going to need a bigger boat", or when Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw are comparing battle-scars, or when I found myself yelling at the crazy tourists to "GET OUT OF THE WATER!" only to find out it was a false alarm afterwards.

I've heard rumours that seeing this movie will make you never want to go swimming in the ocean again, but take my word for it: you can enjoy the movie and go to bed without having nightmares if you just remember that the shark is faker than Monopoly play-money, and the red color in the water is not real blood. That's what got me through the film anyway.

Also, thanks to this movie, I've decided to come out of hiding and return to blogging. "Jaws" was just that good. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Megamind" Movie Review

Megamind is a mega-hit!
Megamind, self-proclaimed "incredibly handsome criminal genius and master of all villainy" is Dreamworks Animation Studios' latest, and greatest (imho/in my humble opinion) original main character yet! This blue-skinned wonder has captured my imagination, put it in a cage, locked it up and threw away the key. Why is he so irresistible to fan-girls such as myself? Is it his gravity-defying always-taunting raised eyebrows? Is it his giant black capes, his skin-tight leather costume, his foot-loose dancing? Is it the fact that his voice is played by Will Ferrel? Or is it the fact that he's my favorite primary color? The answer is "all of the above and more". The movie of the same name has it all: action, comedy, romance, aliens, robots, supermen in supertights, a contemporary 80's/90's soundtrack, and an all-star cast that deserves 4 out of 4 stars!

Take it from me, this animated film has got some good laughs, a lot of heartwarming moments, and the greatest animated facial expressions I've ever seen in my life!
Do yourself and me a huge favor and go see this movie. 
You won't regret it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The King's Speech" Movie Review

Last night my family and I went out to see the Golden-Globe/Oscar-winning film, "The King's Speech", with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.

I was absolutely blown away, and yet glued to my seat all in the same moment. The acting was, in a word, powerful. The story, compelling and truly inspirational. The film as a whole, well, it was a splendid piece of work that I predict will stand the test of time.

Rather than giving a scene-by-scene retelling of the story in my own words, as I more often do in these sort of posts, I'd like to point out a few things that I noticed, admired, and enjoyed during the movie:
  1. The Rule of Thirds: As someone who appreciates the visual arts and from time to time practices photography and graphic design, I realized that the "rule of thirds" played a substantial part in establishing the tone and style for the movie. Almost as if when watching it, the audience feels trapped in the same fears and constrictions that keep Colin Firth's character, King George the sixth, from overcoming his stammer. On the other hand, it also gives the film a great deal of balance, an air of being regal, civilized and traditional through and through.
  2. The Time Period: I love it whenever a movie takes me someplace I've never been before, and "The King's Speech" has definitely done that. If/when you, the reader, watch this movie, notice the big, black, lovably bulky cars; the costumes and fashions of the royal and the countrymen alike; the antiquated technology (radios, typewriters, the like) that was all that was available at the time; and perhaps most of all, the language and vocabulary of England in the 1930s.
  3. The Cinematic Experience: By this, I mean the atmosphere and mood of the audience in the theater where my family and I were sitting in. I can't speak for the rest of the audience that night, but I felt that most everyone was really enjoying themselves. After the scene where Colin Firth delivers the titular speech (while Geoffrey Rush silently coaches him through the whole thing beautifully), there's a triumphant shot where King George, his wife Queen Elizabeth the first (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and his two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth II and Margaret, are triumphantly waving from the balcony to the adoring, cheering public below. It looked like so much fun to wave just like royalty, so some of my family and I started waving like the characters were. Then I noticed a couple more people in the theater audience waving too, and it just made me smile. That little gesture, one that you might miss if you blinked at the wrong second, was a clincher for me that "The King's Speech" had earned it's awards and accolades. Positive audience participation is a huge bonus!
Thank you for reading this review, and sorry for the long wait in between blog posts. I've just been working a lot, and going to sleep late. I'll try to blog more often though, so keep an eye open for upcoming reviews and opinions soon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Double Movie Review: Life of of Brian + Scott Pilgrim

Today, rather than reviewing one movie at a time, I will do a comparison of two comedies that I watched recently: one that I really like, and one that really bugs me.

First off, let me write a little about the movie I saw first, "Monty Python's: Life of Brian". For many years I've been a big fan of the TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus", but it's only recently that I've developed a taste for their movies as well. "Life of Brian" is a story mainly revolving around a man named Brian (obviously), who just happened to be born at the same time as Jesus.

What I liked about watching this movie was that it had so many funny parts that my siblings and I hit rewind to see them over again, and the story was a good one too. Also, I liked seeing the 6 core actors, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam, play many different parts throughout the movie, with the exception of Graham Chapman who only played Brian.
The jokes were clever and made me laugh a lot, and the sets + costumes used in "Life of Brian" were so good that it made me believe I was taking a look at what life was like in ancient Judea back in the 1st century AD. Back in the day when this movie was first released, it stirred up some major controversy in religious circles, causing it to be banned in many cities in America and Europe, even those that didn't even have movie theaters within their boundaries (oddly enough :P). I believe that it was because of this that the movie became so popular, and today it's still seen as one of the best British comedies of all time.

Next, my review for the 2010 Action/Comedy, "Scott Pilgrim VS. The World". Before going on, you should know that I've never read the graphic-novel series (by Bryan Lee O'Malley) that the movie is based on, so I'm only judging the movie for it's own merits and not whether it's true to it's original source or not.
Besides the fact that it stars Michael Cera, who's usually in pretty good movies, and that the tone of the film was bright and creative, and seemed to have a video-game theme to it, I did not like this film as much as "Life of Brian".

The story goes that Scott Pilgrim falls in love with the girl of his dreams (literally, he dreamed about her before they met), and in order to keep being her boyfriend, he must defeat her seven evil exes who have all joined up to try and kill him. Pretty original, I'll admit. Still, the parts where Scott is fighting the ex-boyfriends (and 1 ex-girlfriend even) were more exaggerated than realistic, and the strange part is that nobody in the crowds during the fights pay any attention or make a big deal out of them. Add to the fact that Scott Pilgrim is just your average nerd/rock-star wannabe with questionable martial arts skills, and you've got yourself a pretty unbelievable plot.

For me, it was distracting to see most of the sound-effects accompanied by comic-book-esque onomatopoeia (words that mean the sounds they make), whenever a phone rang or a punch was thrown, but hey, that just reinforces the fact that the world within the movie is not our own. What reinforces it even more are the characters' personalities and actions. Scott Pilgrim just seems so nerdy and socially-challenged, and he doesn't seem to have many redeemable qualities like kindness or interest in other people besides himself, so I feel less inclined to "root" for his character.

Also the girl that he falls in love with, Ramona, is so mysterious and aloof that I don't see what the big attraction is, besides the fact that he dreamed about her before they met and the fact that she changes her hair-color every week and 1/2.

Still, I feel that if I bash this movie too much I might forget what I actually liked about it. I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack of the movie (Scott Pilgrim's band is called "Sex Bob-omb", which I thought was pretty creative) and I appreciated the filmography and artistic-style of the film. The attempt to integrate video-game elements into the story was an earnest one, but I think if I liked the story a bit more, I would've been more into it.

In short, "Life of Brian" 1, "Scott Pilgrim" 0. If you have an opinion you'd like to share about either of these movies, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Movie Review: "Man on the Moon"

Directed by: Milos Forman
Year Released: 1999
Running Time: 118 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Annette's Star Rating: **** (4 out of 5)'s Quick Summary:
A film about the life and career of the eccentric avant-garde comedian, Andy Kaufman.
Years ago, it must've been, I remember seeing this movie before, but I don't believe I saw the whole thing from beginning to end the first time around. If I did before, then I didn't understand the story as well as I do now, since I've grown in years and matured in my tastes.

To make a long story short, I liked watching this movie. To make a short story a little longer, I liked watching this movie because it's a different sort of comedy from the obvious parody that was "Johnny Dangerously" (see my recent review of it at this link). Since the story is actually based on the life of a real person, the humor has more of an empathic flavor to it. I feel like what I'm watching might've actually happened to a guy named Andy Kaufman.

However, from the opening scene of "Man on the Moon", the audience gets a big dose of meta-humor: Andy (played by the incomparable Jim Carrey) says in his funny voice that the movie-makers have taken the events of his life and rearranged and rewrote them for dramatic purposes, and that he thinks the movie is a load of baloney. With that, he starts rolling the ending credits for the movie and he wonders why the audience is not leaving the theater.

**Because we paid good money for these seats and we're going to get our money's worth!**
(Not that we really paid to see "Man on the Moon", we just borrowed the DVD from our local library.)

Anyway, after the "end-credits" are done rolling, there's dead, black air for about 10 seconds, and Andy Kaufman comes back on in a normal-sounding voice explaining that the prank he just pulled was just so he could get everyone who wouldn't understand him or his work out of the theater and because he knew that the really curious ones would stay and be patient enough to see the rest of the real movie.

That is the first big joke, and I can't believe I never saw it the first time around. If I did, I would've remembered what a funny and creative stunt it was. If after reading this blog-post you decide to go watch this movie for yourself, now you'll be prepared to sit through the silly prologue and get to the really juicy parts.

All in all, the story is fascinating and well-written, the main characters are memorable and played by fine actors (Jim Carrey, Danny Devito, and Paul Giamatti among many others), and there are even some celebrity appearances by David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, and pro-wrestler Jerry Lawler all playing as themselves and re-enacting the roles they played in Andy Kaufman's life.

Plus, check out the amazing resemblance between Jim Carrey and the real Andy Kaufman! To me, it's almost eerie how much they look alike. Also, I found out that they both have the exact same birthday: January 17th! 0_0 (You can see for yourself; check out both their bios on Wikipedia or some other information website.)

The movie is rated "R" due to a brief scene of nudity involving Andy and a couple of prostitutes, but other than that, most of the movie is clean and free of offensive material. Sure there are a few swears here and there, but nothing flat-out crude.

Except there is this one character, Tony Clifton, a lounge singer/insult-comic persona of Andy Kaufman's, who generally abuses the audience and acts like a jerk mostly for the heck of it, and he may get some viewers of this movie riled up, but just remember that it's only Andy or his friend Bob Zmuda (played by Paul Giamatti) in makeup and costume and you'll be fine.

As a biographical film, "Man on the Moon" might not be a 100% accurate account of Andy Kaufmans life, but as a dramatic story, it works quite well in giving me a good 2 hours of entertainment.

This is the end of my review, so see you later, and enjoy the rest of your time on your computer or other internet-viewing device.
"Thank you very much!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Movie Review: "Johnny Dangerously"

Directed by: Amy Heckerling
Year Released: 1984
Running Time: 90 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Annette's Star Rating: **** (4 out of 5)'s Quick Summary:
"Set in the 1930's, an honest, goodhearted man is forced to turn to a life of crime to finance his neurotic mother's skyrocketing medical bills."
Funny story how I found out about this movie: A few days, maybe a week ago, I was going through a sort of "Weird" Al Yankovic phase, looking for music videos on YouTube and telling my sibs about how funny his songs are. Anyway, one day, I find a music video called "This is the Life", which I later found out is a song that plays during the opening credits of a movie I've never heard about called "Johnny Dangerously".
Here's the music video I saw:
After watching this music video, I immediately put "Johnny Dangerously" on my "to-watch" list, and now that I've seen it, I can write my review for it. So here it goes...

First of all, let me start by saying I really, really enjoyed watching this movie. There are so many different kinds of jokes scattered throughout the story that it's a little like going on an Easter egg hunt. You never know where you'll run into a subtle visual gag, or a well-placed pratfall, or a sly gangster-movie reference, or just those moments that make you go, "Wait a minute, what just happened?" There were some parts where my brother, sister and I had to rewind the movie just to get another laugh at a funny part. Whenever this happens, I know that we've got a new favorite film.

The movie starts off with Michael Keaton's character, Johnny Kelly (a.k.a. Johnny Dangerously), a pet-shop keeper who prevents a young boy from stealing a kitten and proceeds to tell him his entire life-story. Cue the ripple-y memory-lane effect and harp-strumming that comes when one reminisces. The boy goes, "Hey, what's going on?" and Johnny says, "Oh don't worry, it always goes like that when I start thinking about the past."

The rest of the film is pretty much a flash-back of Johnny Dangerously's life as the boss of a big gangster-mob, but that doesn't stop the jokes from coming, no sir. The writing in this movie is clever and fast-paced; the one-liners are well set up and hilariously delivered, and the actors looked like they were having a great time being in this movie. The tone for the movie is light and irreverent, in the same sort of vein as films like "Airplane", "Mafia", and the "Naked Gun" movies. Like the films I've just described, "Johnny Dangerously" is fueled mainly by running gags, visual gags, and jokes that rely more on the setting than the story. One running gag is a line from a character called Danny Vermin, which goes something like, "You shouldn't [kick me/hang me on a hook/kick me in the balls] like that. My [insert family member] did that to me once. Once..." The line is so funny that it has the potential to become a new in-joke to bug people with. "Oh yeah, I did something like that once. Once..."

Another running gag that I liked was whenever this character, a rival mob-boss named Roman Moronie, found occasion to use curse-words: instead of using conventional dirty swears, he uses replacements like "icehole", "cork-soaker", and "fargin som-an-a-batch". Thinly disguised? Yes. Is it funny? Oh yeah. Oddly enough, other characters in the movie use real swear-words, so it's just this Moronie character who uses curses in this way.

Anyway, this movie is great. It might be a bit cliche at times, but other times it turns cliches on their heads and shows you something you never see coming. For example, in the beginning of the movie, after the opening credits are done, you see a busy street and the year appears: 1935.

After a few moments, a car crashes right into 1935 and the year crumbles into pieces! As if it was just a sign made of wood that was just there in the middle of the road!

I feel bad giving some of the best gags in the movie away, but don't worry, there's plenty more where that came from that I haven't even mentioned yet. I recommend this movie to everyone, especially those people who love parody films.

Have a great day now!