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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'Everything Must Go' Review

I'm the guy who has seen everything Will Ferrell has ever done; and I mean everything. I watched him on Saturday Night Live, cracking up his co-stars; I have seen him on the big screen, cracking up everyone, but not once did I think that Will Ferrell was capable of being in a film like this. He can't be serious, can he?

C'mon, right? This is a guy who ran around a race track in his underpants to get cheap laughs, who screamed at his mother when she wouldn't bring him meatloaf in a timely manner; this is not the type of person capable of carrying a dramatic role. He is yet another comedian unafraid of his limitations, or maybe ignorant of them, who considers himself an actor and not a comedian.

After seeing this film, in the historic E Street Theater in the District of Columbia, I can be sure of only one thing: Will Ferrell is an actor.

Everything Must Go has a simple premise. Man seeks redemption. Nick (Ferrell) is fired from his corporate job for, lets say, convoluted reasons. When he gets home he finds that his wife has left him and has taken the time to move all of his things out onto the front lawn. Due to lack of friends and money Nick is pretty much forced into living in his yard, and actually begins to enjoy a side of life that he had never seen before. Namely, the people around him, his neighbors.

Nick's most important relationship is with a 14 year old boy named Kenny (played by Chris Wallace- Notorious B.I.G.'s son). It is Kenny's lack of knowledge about the world and constant questions that allows Nick to start questioning things himself just to keep up with Kenny's search for knowledge. His neighbor from across the street, Samantha (Rebecca Hall), also helps him see the proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel' for his particular situation. They are so similar, their lives are, that Nick sees her and her husband as a past version of him and his wife. He knows how they are going to end but it is her courage to actually confront her situation that inspires Nick to do the same.
If a picture says a thousand words
what does this say?

If that last paragraph was choppy and hard to follow, well, there is a reason for that. The film is the same way. Everything Must Go is, to me, is more of a collection of scenes than a full out narrative tale. And it doesn't offer the same type of emotional effect that it should, because, well, the audience misses too much. It feels as if expositional scenes have been cut for the sake of brevity, something that doesn't allow the audience to fully understand character motivations. Without these motivations the story has no significance. It doesn't matter that Nick sold all of his belongings in a yard sale (a symbol that shows he is trying to start over and redeem himself) we need to know why this is happening. If it's missing I don't care.

I wanted to like this movie so much more than I did. I tried to make excuses as to why someone should go to see this but I just couldn't find any. It is just such a plain, vanilla, piece of work that I found positives hard to find. One was definitely watching Will Ferrell. He isn't a great actor but I can only think of a small group of actors who I would want to star in a film that I wrote. Ferrell is definitely in there. It is so obvious that he could have done much more with the subject material but was restrained by the fear that this would become another Ferrell ham-fest. It's his comedic talents that make this infinitely more watchable than it should have been but even his best Ron Burgandy impression wouldn't have saved this one.

5/10 -- Seen Better, Seen Worse

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Summer Movie Preview

Well its official, the summer movie season starts this Friday. And to be honest I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing- it's just an unavoidable thing. With the influx of so many high budget films only one thing is an absolute certainty: some of these films are going to stink. Like, big time stink. But there is a flip side to that coin, some films, they could be good. As with all films there is no black and white (fresh or rotten), the level of film quality varies from person to person, critic to critic. I have come up with a 5 tier system that grades these new summer releases based on how I project these films to turn out, critically, when they are released. The Preview begins:


 CERTIFIED FRESH

Bridesmaids (May 13)-- In many ways this is a landmark film. An all woman comedy flick? Preposterous. Unless you cast the businesses best female comedians (or 2-3 of them). Let Judd Apatow produce and then all bets are off. Look at the plot summary for this film and one will see that it is essentially the feminine version of The Hangover, raunchy and over-the-top, it promises to be one of the funniest films of the summer- and fingers crossed that they don't make a Part II in 2 years...

Everything Must Go (May 13)-- I'm not entirely sure how well Will Ferrell's agency took the news that he wanted to do another serious film. You want to spend 7 weeks shooting an indie when you should be running around with you shirt off, being funny and earning me commissions?! Well, if I was Will Ferrell's manager I would be pissed too, there's no money in indie's. But luckily for movie aficionados, we don't care about the money, we care about the product. This is going to be a good product. It also promises to be funny- Will Ferrell living on the lawn outside of his house? Classic.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 26)-- For whatever reason sequels of animated films are usually better in quality than their live acting counterparts (unless we get to a 4-5 sequel). This is the film that is most likely to not live up to its potential. The excellent core voice cast returns with the addition of Gary Oldman so its likely to be just as charming. If I could see one animated film this summer, it would be this one. I can't say exactly why, but you'll just have to trust me that I know what I'm talking about.

The Tree of Life (May 27)-- This could either be fantastic, or it could suck. It's the perfect summer film in that way. Terence Malik has a tremendous pedigree, especially when it comes to winning Oscars, so the fact that this film comes out in May and not in November could throw up some red flags. Plus Malick's films are generally so dense and complex that their message is generally ill received. He doesn't make summer films, he makes art-house films, one's that actually require a pretty advance level of thinking. To me the casting of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn make what is destined to be a deep psychoanalytic film more commercially viable. Did I mention that this film is coming out in the Weekend of Death? One week after Pirates 4 and the same weekend with Hangover 2 and Panda 2. I think it will be good, but its going to loose a shit ton of money.

The Trip (June 10)-- This film was already seen by the handful of people who went to the Tribeca Film Festival (okay, so there were more than a handful) but the consensus is that this film was laugh-out-loud hysterical. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this one, it reminds me, strangely, of Sideways, one of my favorite films ever, in the way it promises so much from very little. It's clear that there will be less than a handful of major characters, however, as long as they are quality characters it doesn't matter. The movie will be hilarious. If you can find this film at a theater, I say watch.

Green Lantern (June 17)-- Wow, I hate Ryan Reynolds. Every time I see him a movie it is so clear that it is Ryan Reynolds not the character he is playing, and it just makes me upset. Not like crying upset but like a father is upset when his kid is on great sports team but it is clear that he is the worst player. But Hollywood doesn't agree with me, it likes Ryan Reynolds and put him in movies that are worth millions and millions of dollars. The new trailer for this film makes the special effects for this look fantastic, worth shelling out 16 bucks to go see. Off all the super hero films coming out this summer, Green Lantern is the one I trust the most. The director has a track record with big budget films, Blake Lively looks like she is a summer damsel in distress and Ryan Reynolds, well, he can be good.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (July 29)-- I don't usually like romantic comedies because, usually, romantic comedies are bad. Its a fact of nature, much like summer coming after spring or Nic Cage being in terrible movies. However, this one screams quality. Steve Carell may be able to play only two characters convincingly (that of the innocently ignorant moron or the nice guy who always looses) but its irrelevant because he plays it well. Here is more of the same but the cast just makes you want to pay money to see it. Ryan Gosling, Julliane Moore, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon- the film just has to be good or else I've lost faith in humanity. Come on Hollywood, don't let me down!

30 Minutes or Less (August 12)-- The trailer for this actually came out a day after I had decided to put it in my first tier. And it help to justify my position. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg from his first post Mark Zuckerberg role, Aziz Anzari (who, if you don't know about him go look up his stand up performances on youtube right now... go do it!), Danny McBride, Nick Swardson and Michael Pena. Essentially Eisenberg plays a pizza delivery boy who is forced to rob a bank after he is strapped with a bomb. Watch the trailer and you'll know what i'm talking about. This is destined to be yet another sleeper hit for Eisenberg.


FAN BOY FRESH

Thor (May 6)-- I had to power through writing this blog before Thor was released in the United States because I wanted to try and predict its potential (obviously this is going out right at the last possible minute...) I don't know what to say about Thor, I'm not super excited for it to come out and still haven't decided whether or not I will even go and see it. Part of me wants to be excited for it, because Natalie Portman is in it, but the other part of me wonders who Chris Hemsworth is. I realize that he looks like Thor but carrying a tentpole movie franchise is much different than looking the part (See: Nic Cage Ghost Rider). This film benefits from being the first comic book adaptation released this summer, while movie going audiences are still excited for the genre, not necessarily because it will be a good film. It will be good, don't get me wrong, but if this comes out mid-July no one gives it the time of day.

Hobo With a Shotgun (May 6)-- This is basically Machete with shotguns. Read that again. Doesn't this seem awesome? Yes, it does, it was a rhetorical question. Why second tier then? Because its a B movie, it calls itself a B movie; its pretty much like the pot calling itself black (see what I did there? Phantasm). If it doesn't take itself seriously, then I won't take it seriously. I'll go and see it, and I will probably enjoy it, but its a second tier entry. Sorry.

Super 8 (June 10)-- What do we know about this movie? Not much, other than that it might be about aliens, but it might not. J.J. Abrams wrote and directed this film which has draw comparisons to E.T. and all of the other alien films that producer Steven Speilberg has ever done. I watched J.J. Abrams give a presentation at a local arena once, he spent the entire time talking about his 'mystery box' and how he liked to keep certain points away from the audience until he was ready to tell them. Whatever. Abrams is best known for writing for television and directing huge blockbusters (coincidentally neither category applies to Super 8). What tampers my excitement is the difference between writing for film and writing for television, they are really two completely different entities. Not many of you read my last blog so you are just going to have to trust me, writers who transfer well to the screen from the couch are few and far between. And the jury is still out on Abrams so...

Cars 2 (June 24)-- Widely considered the worst of the Pixars (which I have just made a noun), albeit one of my favorites, the original Cars was the biggest animated disappointment of the past decade. So the fact that Pixar has come out with a sequel has to mean that it is of some quality right? Right? Or maybe it was just a filler project between TS3 and their next original idea. It was fine that Pixar made Toy Story into a series, there was a story to be told there. I'm not so sure there is a story to be told here. It's going to have to be completely different than the original and to me that is not what a sequel should be, it should be a continuation of a central story that was too big to fit into one film (see: Star Wars or The Bourne Trilogy). Looking at the sentance "Pixar's Cars 2 opening this June makes me want to put this into the first tier, but thinking about it forces me to keep it here.

Larry Crowne (July 1)-- Tom Hanks wrote and directed this, and although it features some fantastic A list talent, it just doesn't seem like something that I am excited to pay money to see. The story just seems overly melodramatic for me to get excited about seeing this. I don't know what exactly the genre of this film is? Is it comedy? Is it drama? Will it try to be 'dramedy'? The vain of my existence. I don't know, and that doesn't make me happy. I want to know what I am paying for, whether its more Tom Hanks Oscar magic or its two painstaking hours of garbage that ruins my perception of Tom Hanks. There is only one way to find out, and it intrigues me.

Horrible Bosses (July 8)-- You have to look at the actors in this film; Jason Bateman, Charlie Day (hilarious on 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'), Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey. Wow, just fitting all of those ego's into one movie set must have been a difficult, let alone filming a movie. The collection of actors just intrigues me so that I have to put this film up this high. It will probably be terrible. Scratch that, it will definitely be terrible, but I think that the comedic abilities of these features players will outweigh the asinine script.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (July 15)-- Quite honestly this should be in the top tier, all of the novels action sequences are going to be in Part II and this film should be a non stop thrill ride. However, I was not a fan of what was done with the 6th film (namely that the entire issue of horcruxes was only mentioned for less than 10 minutes of screen time. Look it up if you think I'm kidding). If you don't think that this is going to be a mindless action film then you are crazy; but I can say with supreme confidence that I am excited for this, as disappointed as I will be with the unwanted fondling of the books positives.

The Help (August 12)-- Since Emma Stone has not been in many films it is difficult to determine what her success rate is (obviously right now it is incredible high- one might go so far as to call her butter. Because she's on a roll!) I just know that the film deals with race and community and some other Southern themes, and this interests me. Emma Stone is on the verge of taking a major career leap to a bona fide starlet so I think that this film, while not something I would have considered in Stone's wheelhouse, could be a great success.

One Day (August 19)-- So in college two kiddies do the nasty and start up a strange relationship. They see each other one day every year. How is that a relationship? How can this work. I don't know but what I do know is that Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are usually in good roles and the director, Lone Scherfig (An Education), is a boss. It just sounds cool, and if it can work it should be good.


Wait, What?

The Beaver (May 6)-- Mel Gibson talks to a beaver puppet. Read that sentence one more time. Someone threw money at this project? Seriously? Gibson used to be a huge star, back in something called the 80's? But now he is a past his prime movie star subjected to stupid film roles with absolutely zero audience/ earning potential. This could be good, but my friends will laugh at me for seeing it. So I better leave it alone. Peer pressure is a cold beyotch.

Hesher (May 13)-- This just looks crazy as shit (sorry, I try not to curse but no other word worked here). It's an indie drama, I guess, that just screams individuality. No way another movie comes along that looks anything like Hesher. This is a film that just turns me off. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the Brando of romantic comedies and for him to take a film like this just makes me wonder what kind of project it will be. I don't know much of anything about the plot, but this character looks insane and it is the kind of creative film that makes me happy to be a film fan.

X-Men: First Class (June 3)-- So the number of X-Men films will no longer fit onto one hand. And this is depressing. Did we (as a planet) really need this many X-Men films? We're they really that good that we needed a new one every other summer (on average) since 2000? No we did not. It has gotten to the point where the franchise now has prequels and spinoffs. Someone needs to kill this plague before it gets out of hand and we get a spin off for Ryan Reynolds character. (Wait, its too late!)

Jude Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer (June 10)-- Look at the title. It could have easily been in tier 5. I chose to put it here. Pretty exciting stuff...

Zookeeper (July 8)-- So a live action Kevin James will talk to animated zoo animals. This should be good... was Nic Cage not available?

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5)-- 2011 minus 1968 equals 43. Its been 43 years since the original film messed with our minds and, really, changed the face of movies as we know them. Is it time to reboot this franchise that has already seen more prequels and sequels and TV shows based upon it than the Star Wars franchise? Only if James Franco is on board and we can get that chick from Slumdog Millionaire. How convenient. I would rather see a convoluted film that is the male equivalent to Freaky Friday.


The Change-Up (August 5)-- Shit, did I say that last sentence out loud?

Conan the Barbarian (August 19)-- If the star of this film is not staring in a comic book adaptation by next summer I will have lost faith in the Hollywood system. This film is going to make a killing even though it is a re-imaging of a Governator film. Watch the trailer for this film and tell yourself that this movie will make 100 million dollars easy. Wait, don't jump! You have so much to live for! There is hope on the horizon!

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (August 26)-- Guillermo del Toro helped write this and produced it. That doesn't mean anything to me, even if it is a horror flick (del Toro's wheelhouse) because of the talent associated with it. Guy Pearce and the corpse of Katie Holmes career (that's weird, why is Tom Cruise's publicist calling me at 8 in the morning?) and a first time director. If Katie Holmes isn't unemployable by the end of the summer and a full time house mom I am going on a 2 week hunger strike. Seriously.


Classic Disappointments

Priest 3D (May 13)-- Quite frankly, this film is going to be entirely too religious for everyone's liking. Paul Bettany may be a good actor in some pretty 'meh' films but this one has to be his most shocking. A big budget film that calls into question the church? Are you serious? You do realize that you have alienated like half the country don't you? This is going to be one of the biggest bombs ever. Read my lips: Run, buddy run!

Midnight in Paris (May 20)-- Hey, do you remember when Woody Allen made good films? No? Me either. Maybe it is because I wasn't able to ride a bike when he made his last good movie. (I didn't like VCB so don't pull that card out on me right now). This is going to have all sorts of hype because "its Woody Allen he made awesome movies in the 80's when Mel Gibson could get people to watch him on screen." He is very Shyamalan-ian in that respect: "He made The Sixth Sense so I guess Ill watch The Last Airbender in 3D for 15 dollars" (guilty as charged). Its the same type of Allen movie that people have been paying to see for 30 years and soon everyone will come to realize that its true. Make it stop, can someone please make it stop!?

Hangover Part II (May 26)-- Have I ever cried thinking about The Hangover Part II coming out? More than once. It personifies everything that is wrong with the movie business today, how money rules everything. You know that movie isn't going to be any good- the exec's made the same movie and, for shits and giggles, are releasing it as a test to see just how stupid American's are. That being said, you don't want to be that person who didn't go and see this. It's a viscous catch-22.

Bad Teacher (June 24)-- This looks so incredibly stupid that it hurts for me to look at. Justin Timberlake finally established himself as a decent actor and by summers end we, as the movie going public, will have forgotten completely about it. Actually I said the same things about Kristen Bell and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, so I'm not 100% on these things.
  
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1)-- Before I completely write this film off let me first mention that Shia Labeouf said that this film was going to be good. Or, better than the last. Or, not a total piece of shit. Or, that Megan Fox wasn't in it but the new girl is pretty cute and he might make a run at her. I forget which of those is true. What bothers me is that I went to the D.C. shooting and I had to wait for 4 hours before anything happened. It was cold that day, I refuse to see this movie.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)-- For those of you who won't be comic booked out by July 22, Marvel offers you Captain America. 2 things, whoever decided that this shouldn't be opened on July 4th (or that weekend) needs to be fired. And it is a shame that this didn't come out this weekend instead of Thor when everyone is super duper patriotic. Tisk, tisk.

Friends with Benefits (July 22)-- Pretty sure I saw this movie like 5 months ago. There was the girl from Black Swan and Ashton Kutcher not a former boy band singer. Yes I used to buy bottled water when I could just drink from the sink but I've learned from my mistakes and won't be doing stupid stuff like than anymore.

Cowboys & Aliens (July 29)-- This is 3 different genres into 1. Comedy (apparently), western and sci-fi. This is like mixing finger painting colors hoping to get rainbow only to realize its going to be a nasty brown/ black color. Pass.

Monte Carlo (August 12)-- Anything to take the spotlight off the Twilight franchise. I probably won't go watch this one (obviously I don't know if I will be abducted by an angry Tom Cruise who forces me to watch bad movies to I can't me 100% confident) but I'm happy that young women will have something to watch when I'll be at the beach hoping to tan my translucent boy chest.


SPEND YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE

Something Borrowed (May 6)-- I know the answer. Money and my life back. Something Borrowed that I will never have again.

Jumping the Broom (May 6)-- At least this isn't a Tyler Perry movie. And that's about it...

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20)-- Whenever Johnny Depp is contractually obligated for 6 Pirates movies you have to make them, right?

Mr. Popper's Penguins (June 17)-- It stars Jim Carrey as a man who looks after a group of penguins. My eyeballs are starting to bleed.

Winnie the Pooh (July 15)-- Let's take a kids book from 30-40 years ago and turn it into a movie and hope people will watch it and think about their youth.

The Smurfs (July 29)-- Winnie the Pooh with blue mushroom people. Katy Perry is going to be in this. You make the call.

Final Destination 5 (August 12)-- How many 'final destinations' can they make before it becomes hypocritical?

Fright Night (August 19)-- Colin Farrell in a fat suit. Doesn't sound very scary to me. At least its about vampires so I can stop talking about Twilight (even though I love to talk about Twilight!)

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (August 19)-- Jessica Alba has been in the business for 12 years now and she still has no idea what a good movie looks like. This is the equivalent of jumping on a played out money express franchise that reached its zeneth years ago. So kinda like her taking a part in Little Fockers? Exactly.

And there you have it, after hours of hastily trying to get my opinions down in ink before the season officially starts, I have officially completed my summer movie review. If your reading this far, I applaud your stamina and I hope it was worth you time. I still haven't decided if it was worth mine.