Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's the Best Way to Spend a Week?

Pineapple Express
Definitely the funniest of the summer comedies. It's nice to see that a guy who looks like me opening a hit picture. Judd Aptow is the King Midas of comedy's newest generation. Even if stoner comedies aren't your usual go-to genre, this one's a lot more than a "pot movie." This is one damn funny buddy movie. Damn funny.

Rogen and Franco are hilarious and the supporting cast are just as good. Even Rosie Perez is good. Rumor has it that she asked David Gordon Green to cut a lot of her dialogue. Seems like a good choice to me (and I LIKE Rosie Perez), haha. Gary Cole plays an awesome villain and his cohorts could have their own movie. Craig Robinson (The Office) and Kevin Corrigan (Grounded for Life) play hitmen who've been working together for way too long. When Robinson says "I look like the Hamburglar," I had one of those embarrassing way-too-loud laughs.

The last 35-45 minutes does seem to go on forever but I was laughing during each one of them. So was the rest of the audience. Unfortunately, the there was only one scene with a David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls) feel to it. Can you guess which one? Yeah, it was the "in the woods" montage with that little folk song playing over it. It would have been interesting to see a feature more representative of Green's minimalist style. I wouldn't doubt that most people assume Aptow directed Pineapple Express which is too bad because Green is one of the most talented directors working today.

One last note, "You just got killed by a Daewoo Lanos, motherfucker!"

Tropic Thunder
Luckily, I watched this right before Pineapple Express. Had I seen PE first, Tropic Thumder wouldn't have played nearly as well. Granted, I was laughing throughout, the 100 million dollar budget just shows a bit much. It feels like a 100 million dollar movie. The characters are all types and lack the depth that Green's film featured.

The fake trailers at the beginning were hilarious through. Great cameo from the MTV Movie Award Best Kiss Winner. Nice jab at Eddie Murphy too. Anyone else notice how Jack Black looked like a missing cast member from El Chavo del Ocho?

Got to point out how Danny R. McBride is blowing up. I loved him in All the Real Girls and Hot Rod. Now he's co-starring in the two biggest summer comedies. That's awesome! Next up, the Will Ferrell Land of the Lost project. Kick ass.

One last note, "I'm a lead farmer, motherfucker!"

Nothing in Common
As you can see, the soundtrack will rock you to your core. A cheesy 80s flick about an advertising executive who gets thrown back into his family life when his parents split up. Coming to the table without the heart of Big or the body count of Saving Private Ryan, this one's worth watching but not over and over again. A pretty generic Garry Marshall movie which marks the last film appearance of Jackie "POW! Right in the kisser" Gleason.

The Great Debaters
Denzel Washington's second directorial project (the first was 2002's Antwone Fisher) can't seem to decide what movie it wants to be. The Great Debaters is like a Disney film that also features lynchings and inflamed corpses. The film has a Greatest Game Ever Played feel to it that zaps out all the real emotion which could have been attached. Sure, you're invested in the characters. You hope they beat Harvard. It's just that this one could have been much more impressive and it just comes off as lacking some important element that leaves the final product as little more than forgettable.

Better than 90% of the family dramas released in the last couple years, Penelope is the Christina Ricci with a Pig Nose movie. For some reason, the theatrical release was pretty limited, playing mostly in art houses or second run theaters. James McAvoy co-stars which you'd think would help the film's chances.

Released two years after production ended, Penelope, in my opinion, could have done really well theatrically with a couple bucks thrown towards promotion. As far as family movies go, this one works on all the desired levels. It's sweet, smart, pretty original, etc. etc. etc. It's just too bad that shit films like College Road Trip get shoved down our throats while having to search for the quality product.

Grace is Gone
John Cusack plays a man whose wife is killed in Iraq. Struggling to find a way to tell his two young daughters, he opts to take them on a road trip, hoping to preserve their happiness for just a little longer. Let me tell you the best part about Grace is Gone: no flashbacks. The director never chooses to scream "THEY USED TO BE HAPPY!" at the viewer. He allows Cusack's performance let us in on all the important details. In the hands of another director, this film definitely would have been taken in the wrong direction. Stop-Loss comes to mind.

American Teen
As it turns out, I have a gigantic crush on Hannah Bailey. Not only does she dream about becoming a filmmaker, she made plans to do so at my alma mater! She loads up her car and leaves Indiana for California's best city, San Francisco. Wanna fight about it? She wears Boy Scout uniforms, plays in a band, dislikes the popular kids. She would have been the girl I would have admired from afar in high school, terrified to actually ask her out -- too cool.

Burstein's documentary certainly has its problems, the animated sequences and the number of well, that seems pretty staged scenes, especially. The marketing sells Teen as a real-life Breakfast Club. That description works when describing the film's model, but not the film's final product. It's too Laguna Beach and not enough High School (1968).

Henry Poole is Here
If you love Jesus, faith, stucco jobs, Luke Wilson, talk of miracles, thick glasses, the idea of George Lopez playing a priest, or Radha Mitchell, then this movie might appeal to you. A small film, much different than Mark Pellington's other work (Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies) this is the sort of movie to recommend to your church-going aunt who often complains about the amount of state of the world these days. My mom loved it...

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
It's better than the original. Imagine that. My brain has an on-going love affair with America Ferrera and the inclusion of three additional pretty girls doesn't hurt either. I'm not going to lie, I enjoy chick flicks. I'm man enough to admit that. I've been known to watch Bloodsport and Notting Hill back-to-back. Nothing wrong with that.

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Pretty damn charming indie flick starring Jeff Garlin, Sarah Silverman, and Bonnie Hunt. The title alone speaks to my heart (and its clogged arteries). If you're in the mood for a sweet movie that doesn't feel overproduced in the least, this might be up your alley. Overall, the movie works alright, but there are some standout scenes that are worth an upward move on your Netflix queue.

Tell No One
Vertigo meets The Fugitive.
Watch this movie.

Without giving anything away, here's a quick plot description. A man and his wife are attacked after spending a romantic evening out on the lake. His wife is killed and he is put into a coma. Eight years later, he gets an e-mail from a stranger. The link inside the e-mail takes him to a live camera feed at an unknown location. Then his wife walks in front of the camera. Who sent him the link? Was that really his wife? Is she still alive? The lead character, the winner of the Dustin Hoffman look-alike contest, sets out to find some answers.

This was by-far the best made movie of the week. You keep struggling to keep up as the movie progresses and just when you think you've caught up, they throw you for another loop. Even after the movie was over, I wasn't quite sure what had a good way. Hours after leaving the theater, all my brain could think about was about how every little piece of the film links together. Needless to say, a second viewing is in order.

So, that's what I did during my trip back home this week.
What did you see this week?


whitney said...

Oh you know...a little of this...a little of that...Planet of the Apes.

Fletch said...

Wow - someone's been busy. Nice see Man on Wire.

Rachel said...

I just watched Penelope last night and must agree with your assessment. Thought it was really sweet.

Daniel G. said...

Impressive week! I love this rundown. I didn't like PE nearly as much as you (I pledge allegiance to TT), but we can both agree McBride is blowing up. Did you see The Foot Fist Way? You'd probably like it.