Archive for March, 2011
The Other Guys
Posted by christopher on March 21, 2011
Runtime: 107 minutes
Plot: Allen and Terry, they’re not the gunslinging, drug-busting, ball-breaking, veterans in the police force. No, they’re the other guys, the paper pushers who stumble onto a big case and they’re big break.
The Other Guys is a buddy cop comedy staring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as NYPD detectives Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz. Allen is a practical man; a healthy breakfast, a witty quip on NPR, saving money and the environment with his hybrid vehicle. Terry is by all accounts bi-polar; he’s also driven to succeed, to be the best, and subsequently he’s a bit of a bully. Allen and Terry are partners; an unlikely couple who are exact opposites. Finally, The Other Guys is directed and written in part by Adam McKay, a long time Ferrell partner who’s written and/or directed many of his prior films. With that, and with a long list of high profile names as supporting case, we’ve got a pretty good recipe for a funny movie.
I was cautiously interested in The Other Guys. I was quite looking forward to seeing Wahlberg in a more prominent comedic role. He’s a solid actor who knows a good movie or tv show when he sees one. Ferrell is, well, Ferrell who is capable of making a funny movie, but his goofiness has in many cases been lost in me and the wider audience. But I decided to pull the trigger and give The Other Guys a go.
The best way to describe the movie is that almost every scene is individually entertaining, either being funny or displaying some quite thrilling action (which often are also funny given the over-the-top nature of the shots), however together there lacks a cohesion of each part and so we have a somewhat jumbled mess. It’s like a big ball of snickers, jelly beans, skittles, m&m’s, almond joy, and sour patch kids stuck inside of a red velvet cake with a cream cheese icing with a side of sherbet ice cream; individually all of those sweets are brilliant but together not so much. I was drawn into the movie from the beginning and I laughed throughout, it is just unfortunate that each piece couldn’t be better glued together.
The underlying story itself was a social commentary on the recent market fallout, bailout of banks, and fat cat executive schemes. I commend the film for attempting to provide some transparency to the issue (the credits are paired with rather interesting facts and infographics) while making light of it (something worthwhile itself to help us all just move on). However, again, there were many tangential scenes which really just didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but may have just been too good to leave on the cutting room floor or only provide in extras that will likely be missed by most people. One scene, a brilliant long shot of singular, still images when Allen and Terry go out to drown their sorrows in alcohol, was, well, brilliant but didn’t really add anything beyond itself to the story or characters.
While I don’t think The Other Guys will make it into the mainstream like an Anchorman did, it does provide some similarly funny one-liners that will undoubtedly make me laugh while reminiscing. And like the candy-cake and sherbet, The Other Guys is worth a try at least once because there’s some tasty morsels embedded within.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
Posted by will on March 16, 2011
Runtime: 85 minutes
Plot: Police Squad’s own granite-jawed, rock-brained cop, Frank Drebin, bumbles across a mind-control scheme to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Detective Nordberg, Jane Spencer, a stuffed beaver, two baseball teams an odd assortment of others joining the wacko goings-on.
It’s hard to believe that Leslie Nielson was once a serious dramatic actor at the dawn of his career. Yet, with his role of Dr. Rumack in 1980′s satire hit, Airplane!, Mr. Nielson came across a watershed moment. From there on out, he became the undisputed King of Comedic Deadpan. Whether he was the Lord Dracula in Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It, the titular Mr. Magoo, Dick Steele in the James Bond and action movie spoof Spy Hard, however awful the movie actually was, Mr. Nielson always kept it together with his expressionless poker-face.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is not only Mr. Nielson at his sharpest, the movie as a whole, with its word play, non sequiturs, and visual gags, is actually a very solid comedy.
Mr. Nielson plays Lt. Frank Drebin, a loose cannon cop within the ranks of Police Squad who, while well respected, has a brick for a brain (he once killed 5 actors during a Shakespeare-in-the-Park presentation of Julius Caesar – ’Well, when I see 5 weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That’s my policy.”). With his partner Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) the victim of a drug bust gone awry and his heart in shambles from being recently dumped, Drebin is in the midst of foiling the assassination of the visiting Queen of England. His suspect only happens to be one of the most wealthy and well-respected men in Los Angeles, Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbán). When Frank bumbles his way from lead to the other, namely, burning Ludwig’s offices to the ground and putting the Queen in a compromising position (literally), Drebin is removed from the ranks of Police Squad and must prove his theories alone.
The pace of the jokes and gags are rapid-fire. In fact, it feels like every time I watch this movie, there’s another nuance to the comedy that is uncovered.
The writing and directing is simply brilliant. It’s what you might call “comedy gold”. The lines are sharply crafted and the timing is spot on. Yet, the best part, through all the mayhem and dimwitted antics, the characters remain oblivious to what the audience is certainly howling over.
Suffice to say, this movie, even with its one-liners, outrageous and memorable spoofs, and surprise guest appearances still stands tall after all of these years, proving to be watchable over and over (and over) again.
Posted by christopher on March 7, 2011
Runtime: 99 minutes
Plot: Chris Pratt meets an unfortunate encounter, derailing his seemingly perfect life. He has an opportunity to gain power, prove he’s capable as he once was, impress his father, and win the girl.
I cannot remember how I heard about The Lookout. Because of this, I literally had no background on what this movie about, which was captivating and enlightening. Going into a movie blind leaves one open to what the film plans to explore and where it will or should end. With that, I will continue that point of view throughout this review to hopefully keep you, keep others fresh entering the story. I will, however, note that the title is in fact somewhat telling though is merely a means to an end.
The Lookout starts slow and start emotionally, evoking a nearly instant compassion for the main character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (from such fame as “Third Rock from the Sun,” “G.I. Joe,” and most recently “Inception”). He is placed in a position that made me question my own resolve, my daily activities, my direction in life. This, however, can only carry on for so long without disruption; a focused, real antithesis to visualize the challenge that he must overcome.
Enter Matthew Goode (from such fame as “Leap Year”…that was a joke btw). Goode’s character presents both challenge and opportunity. He is the means to the end in this story. And while he and the plot line his character brings along were interesting at times and encompassed at least half of the movie, it really, in hindsight, is a sidebar to the overarching story. Which is the brunt of my issue with the movie–it’s many things without doing anything particularly well or seeing something through to its conclusion. A wonderful example of this is the love interest for Levitt’s character, the uniquely names ‘Luvlee’ played by Isla Fisher. Luvlee has a fairly prominent part however her introduction, background (or lack thereof), and exit are all too brief without being flushed out, which leaves me to question why she was involved in the first place. I have my thoughts as I’m sure others do, but I am left wanting more, wanting affirmation of her existence. This is true of many scenes and sub-stories in the movie which are introduced and fade away as the writer/director moves to the next piece. Truly this movie would have been solid as a 20-25 minute short film. That is to say, there is something good here, just not in need of a full length feature.
As I mentioned before the movie is emotional: I laughed, I was embarrassed, I was saddened, I was filled with ambition. It’s decent but far from outstanding.
Posted by benjamin on March 3, 2011
Runtime: 105 minutes
Plot: After being betrayed by the organization who hired him, an ex-Federale launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss. — IMDb
Machete is the latest in the seemingly long list of grindhouse films brought to us by Robert Rodriguez. You know him. This is the same guy that brought us Sin City, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and…Spy Kids 1, 2 & 3D. For those unfamiliar with the term grindhouse, Wikipedia defines it as “an American term for a theater that mainly shows exploitation films”. In the modern realm of Planet Terror, Death Proof, and now Machete, this means to make a B style movie that is over the top with language, blood and violence. Not typically a formula for enjoyment of most audiences including me.
However, I actually found myself enjoying this movie not just for its ability to be supremely over the top but also in what several of the actors were able to bring to their flat roles. Sure you have a character role staple in the lead of Danny Trejo as Machete, but there’s also Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, and Lindsay Lohan. Now I’d love to sit here and state that De Niro stood out above his cast mates, but I just can’t do that.
Actually my award for why one should see this is Don Johnson. Yes, we are talking about the same Don Johnson from Miami Vice and Nash Bridges. As Von Jackson, Johnson turns an almost too much villain role into something simply dark and hated. I found myself many times just wanting his character on screen rather than anyone else’s. After Johnson, the weight of the picture falls on Trejo who does what he does best and plays the same character role. It works here as the movie is built around that simple story: villain kills family, man kills everyone for revenge.
With all of that said, I know easily and strongly that this movie is not for everyone or even a somewhat majority of the movie going population. You just need to find yourself in that “I need a pointless action movie that will make me laugh for being ridiculous” mood. Well, I was there when I watched Machete and I’m quite glad that I was.