Posted by The Amateur Critics Guild on July 11, 2011
It is a busy season of life for everyone here at the Guild. So, we are taking the rest of the summer off to relax, refresh, and take in tons of awful summer “blockbusters”.
See you in a few months.
Get Him to the Greek
Posted by The Amateur Critics Guild on October 28, 2010
Plot: Must get rocker to the show, rocker doesn’t want to go.
The venerable Aldous Snow is back! Done with Sarah Marshall and on to bigger and better things in his rockstar lifestyle, or at least it seems…
Aaron Green, played by Jonah Hill, who’s played in such notable and conflicting roles as ‘Matthew the Waiter’ in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” is a spry, young lad with a twinkle in his eye and a good head on his shoulders. He’s got a steady girlfriend (Elizabeth Moss aka Peggy Olson from AMC’s “Mad Men”), a sweet pair of wheels, and a rising star at a record company. In a stroke of under-pressure genius, Green suggests long-time rock idol Snow perform in concert at LA’s Greek Theater to reignite his career and bring in boat loads of cash for boss Sergio Roma played by Sean ‘Puff Daddy P. Diddy’ Combs. Calamity and hilarity ensue…
“Get Him to the Greek” is funny. It invokes many short “haha’s” with a speckling of truly deep belly laughs. Snow’s rocker attitude and off-the-deep end lifestyle force Green to mediate and intervene, keeping him at a moderate level of sanity–not up here, not down here, but right here. As a greenhorn, he rarely succeeds in reining Snow’s alcohol, drug, sexual, and general partying desires often resulting in some level of barfing from Green himself–Snow is a pro.
Where “Greek” truly succeeds is in its extension of “Sarah Marshall” but not as a true sequel. The film suggests through subtle songs and quips it’s and Snow’s history, but is able to take the arguably most interesting character from the original and dive into his psychosis making for an interesting story arc. Yes, you see Snow as he was originally portrayed, but you also get a glimpse into his past and personal struggles which balance the comedic wrapper. It’s kind of like a chocolate covered pretzel. The saltiness makes the sweetness that much more pleasurable, and vice versa.
The other success of this film is with Diddy himself. A crazed boss that can’t help but stick his dick in your mind, he’s either red hot or calm as a cucumber. His rage causes Green stress pulled the other way by Snow’s inability to be normal, putting him in ‘uncomfortable’ positions ultimately entertaining you the viewer. One can’t help but believe this is how he and all record studio executives actually are.
“Get Him to the Greek” is an enjoyable watch that was one of the better films and comedies of 2010. If you haven’t seen it yet, it deserves a definite spot on the Netflix queue.
An aside brought to you by Christopher: It was brought to my attention by this very film that select movie studios are no releasing “rental” versions of their films, restricting the viewer to the theatrical release and no more…you’ll see what bonus features are available, you’ll see that there’s an extended/unrated version of the film, however you will not be able to access these features since you only paid to rent the video instead of buying it. Well you know what, the movie studios can go f*ck themselves in the a$% with a big rubber dildo. I don’t give a damn about the bonus features. I’m already paying for the right to watch the movie. As a legitimate customer and consumer, restricting my value is not a way to suck more money out of my wallet. If you as a studio don’t like piracy, then stop being a douche and treat your customers with some respect.
Ah yes, the next installment of the Judd Apatow world with many of his favorite cast members. Now this is not a Judd Apatow directed movie, but it is produced by his company and therefore can be considered a part of the Apatow universe.
Get Him To The Greek follows the return of cinema’s resident rock star, Aldous Snow, who you will remember from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. However, Jonah Hill’s character is not the same from FSM. And no matter what you hear about this movie being this summer’s The Hangover…..well, they are mostly right. I found myself, much like The Hangover, crying with laughter. If it wasn’t the vast array of celebrities that continued to appear, it was Hill, Brand, or Sean Combs (a.k.a. Puffy, P. Diddy).
At this point, I’m almost certain that Aldous Snow is Russell Brand and not the other way around. He perfectly portrays every stereotype possible for a rock star but it doesn’t seem copied but unique. There was never a point where I thought character was broken or I was seeing anything other than Aldous Snow one of the greatest rockers ever.
Jonah Hill provides the quick wit that he always does, but Sean Combs is the real king of the screen here as he continued to steal the show whenever he was shown. Maybe he was making fun of himself or any other record mogul he has met, but it worked and worked well. He was over the top but it made perfect sense each time for the character and situation. Whatever you might have seen in the trailer for the movie, pales to what is shown on screen. I mean, he can even eat his own head.
Overall, I might have enjoyed The Hangover more, but I believe that GHTTG had the funnier single scene. The large “battle” in the Vegas hotel was hysterical from start to finish. Each time you thought it was going to end, a new bit is presented that cranks up the laughter even harder.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Posted by The Amateur Critics Guild on October 4, 2010
Runtime: 118 minutes
Plot: An elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as G.I. Joe, operating out of The Pit, takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer.
I have a confession. As a strapping young lad, I was not allowed to watch G.I. Joe. I don’t know if it was the violence, the disregard for puppies, or the public service announcements, but mother put her foot down when it came to “Real American Heroes” (but not to Vader Time or genetically accelerated mutated reptiles).
Or maybe momma was saving me from the inevitable letdown of finally seeing a live-action variant of a childhood memory.
So, obviously, I have a skewed assessment from your average G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra viewer (minimal background).
I think the word I keep coming back to, after watching this flick, is “unoriginal”. Or maybe it’s two words, “schmaltzy clichés”.
If there were a playbook for your average action / adventure / romance then this movie hit them all in stride (Christopher Nolan, you broke the mold).
The acting was stale, rigid, and at times cartoonish (intentionally or not, it was hard to watch). I think Channing Tatum could have been replaced with a cardboard cutout and been just as effective. Apparently Marlon Wayans was cast to be serious and funny (he was seriously not funny). Let’s just say the duo of Tatum and Wayans will not be going down in history as one of the best tandems in cinematic history. While it’s easy to take potshots at our two stars, the whole cast was at times, a little underwhelming. Okay, a lot underwhelming.
The story was so over the top it wasn’t even a surprise every time Stephen Sommers guided us through his twists and turns (we’re talking on a ex-lover goes rogue, becomes mortal enemy, but wait, she was under mind control by her dead brother level, here).
Overall, I was really bored with this movie and don’t expect to be watching in inevitable sequel(s).
Like my colleague from above, I was not a G.I. Joe generational kid. I too was caught up in more mutated turtles than real American heroes. Why did I choose to watch this movie then? Well I needed something to watch that I could start at midnight and finish whenever. Maybe next time I’ll choose more wisely.
This movie was cheesy beyond a scale that I have never seen. If they can be that cheesy on the screen, then I’ll make certain that so is my review. Therefore, I will egg this movie on further dislike. If I were lactose intolerant, then I’d be dead by now. Ok. No more cliches or cheesy jokes.
Seriously though, this movie was bad. The only reason I finished it was so that I could finish it and not have it hovering over me as an unfinished product. Stephen Sommers is a poor man’s Michael Bay and that makes it worse. Tatum and Wayans are the worst buddy tandem on film as it really seemed that neither character cared about the other or had real emotion for the other. Of course, it didn’t seem that any character in the film showed any emotion at all. I take that back actually. One showed real emotion and I guess that’s because I consider him a legitimate contender in this movie and my only real reason for giving my rating below. Yes, I’m talking to you Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If it weren’t for you I would have stated this film was more of failure than I am already giving it. If there is a sequel and I need another late late night waste of my time, you might actually gain my attention.
And in a final note, the film had the potential for a great showdown between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Two ninjas with a real grudge against the other. Two ninjas! This is begging for a pointless, yet needed action fight. If you were thinking of seeing this movie just for the fight, go ahead and call ahead for your money back now. I’m so disappointed.
Please Vote for Me
Posted by The Amateur Critics Guild on February 14, 2010
Director: Weijun Chen
Language: Mandarin (English Subtitles)
Runtime: 58 minutes
Plot: Democracy in China exists, that is, in a primary school in Wahun where a grade 3 class can vote who they want as class monitor.
Disclaimer: The following might read as a bunch of yapping nonsense but we promise we are going to get better. I mean, holy thumbs, give us a break. — ACG
I believe that Please Vote for Me has some great qualities and some poor qualities. Before I go any further, though, I would like to say that I would recommend this movie to anyone. The subject matter (the high point) is extremely interesting, even if the style of the movie leaves room for improvement. I believe that the director had a very clear vision of the message that he wanted to present while making this movie.
The film showed us three levels of participation in the democratic process: the candidates, their campaign teams (in this case, their parents), and the constituents (the candidate’s fellow classmates). Even in such a meaningless vote (for class monitor), we see these outrageous characters and stereotypes which we, here in the United States are accustomed to seeing on every level (local, state, federal). To me, it was eye-opening to see the same tired stereotypes unearthed. To be frank, it was a little bit disturbing.
The message is never unclear, and the documentary never waivers from the theme. I believe that is this movie’s strong point, and is the reason that I would recommend it. The children clearly have very little concept of democracy, and the adults even seem unable to explain it beyond a high level “It means that you have a voice” statements, and this is where the message shines. The children have never experienced democracy in action, but they all fall right into the actions that we would recognize as “politics.” I believe that Weijun Chen did an excellent job of saying what he wanted to say, and doing it in just under an hour.
But doesn’t the subject warrant exploration for longer than just 30 minutes?
I don’t think so. I think a longer inspection would have either lost the viewer’s attention or it might have suffered from coming off self-righteous.
I think it would depend on how it was approached. Judging from the style of the rest of the film, I think that the director and editor were right to make it the length that it is. I don’t know that the style would have held the audience’s attention for any greater amount of time.
On the technical side of things, this documentary is not bad. To this untrained eye, the shots work, and I had a good feeling of space inside the school. It would have been nice to have a few more shots that showed the surrounding areas so that viewers could get more of an idea of the layout and size of the city in which the children live, Wahun, but I realize that the focus was not the city, but the children.
I completely agree that the kids’ entire environment is what influences them and their ideals. These ideals are the foundation of how they choose to run his/her campaign.
However, I’m not impressed with other elements of the documentary genre. We don’t really get a viewpoint or voice from the other side (parents, administrators, etc.). Yes the movie is about the kids, but those kids have been placed into this situation by those around them and understanding why these kids or why make this change in the selection process. A documentary should give me the theme and all sides to it.
It was nice to see the homes of the children, and see how they dress and act at home with their parents (whitey tighties!), because you get the kind of insight into who they are that you would not get from the interactions with their peers.
It would have been a huge flaw if we did not see the candidates’ parents. These interactions really showed what kind of clout external powers can have on the campaign’s centerpiece and it also shows what are possibly the motivations of the contenders.
The parents help to make the children who they are in a huge way, too, but this leads me to one of my gripes about the film.
This problem is inherent to most documentaries, but I just cannot help but bring it up for this movie. It is the old problem of observation changing the subject’s behavior. I cannot help but think about how differently the adults in the movie would have acted without a camera watching. My question is, did the parents act the way that they did for the camera hoping that they would not look foolish or look like bad parents?
The three students’ personalities stand out from one another very well in the movie. Children seem to give a purer view of reality in front of the camera than adults, and these children are no exception.
That statement right there just hits the nail on the head so hard it hurts.
Overall, I was not very impressed with this film as a documentary because it did not take me any where I had not already been at the start of the film. The film started with a goal of high expectations and didn’t seem to follow through as well as the subject would have allowed.
I, on the other hand, thought the movie accomplished what it set out to do. Again, as I said before, this movie really gives you an unsettling viewpoint of the democratic process.
A follow-up at the end of the film to learn the students’ thoughts as well as those of the teacher and parents would have added more depth to a film that was pursuing a “revolutionary” idea. Truly the best element of the film was, as William pointed out, the natural progression of the characters in becoming stereotypes and following practices that most people who generally participate in democracy dislike (bribes, name calling, spreading rumors, etc.).
I agree with both of you. From a technical and plot standpoint, I believe that the movie is lacking. The cinematography is just ok, only showing us what we need to see, but in no interesting way.
Yeah give me something more than just standard viewpoint.
The characters are wonderful, in my opinion, but the story surrounding them does not seem to go as far as it needs to. I do believe that some kind of short interview with the kids at the end would have furthered the theme. But who knows, maybe they did the interviews and they did not fit with the rest of the documentary.
I did get a lot out of the film. The director really kept the theme of the movie on track and hammered home what he wanted to say. The cheating, bribing, and manipulation are very familiar, and, as you put it, Will, “disturbing.”