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This Means War (2012) review
02/17/12 at 07:36 PM by EvilButters
McG hasn't really been seen in the director's chair since Terminator Salvation hit theaters back in 2009. Audiences were split as to whether they actually enjoyed Salvation or not as critics hated it and the movie failed to make back its budget in its domestic gross. So what's the logical next step after doing a movie about the nuclear holocaust and the ongoing war between humans and humanoid machines? You could probably guess the action bit, but the romantic comedy part would probably throw you off.

This Means War is the story of FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) two CIA agents who are two of the best agents in their field. FDR and Tuck are partners and best friends, but come to a gentleman's agreement when they both start dating the same woman named Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). Both FDR and Tuck begin falling for Lauren and not only begin breaking the rules that they set for one another, but use whatever means necessary to keep Lauren in their good graces.

This Means War throws you right into one of FDR and Tuck's missions right from the start. The main issue becomes how dizzying the camera work is. The action hits extremely hard and is incredibly fast paced, but you have a difficult time actually following just what is transpiring in these quick cuts let alone trying to keep your wits about you. This is kind of odd since I wasn't a fan of Terminator Salvation, but felt like one of its strongest qualities was how the camera always seemed to be in the right place during the action. Maybe McG decided to regress back to his Charlie's Angels mindset for This Means War.

The action heavy romantic comedy is dragged down by annoying girl talk. Lauren and her friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) do nothing but whine and complain about their lives the entire movie while also revealing they're basically the most promiscuous girls around. This Means War paints this picture of women that they all date multiple guys at once and will put out just to try and make a decision. It's pretty demeaning to women in general. Between Lauren and Trish's talks of the size of a man's private parts or a lightning round involving sex, every inch of dialogue between them is unbearable right from the start. Meanwhile, FDR and Tuck have quite a bit of immature bickering between one another as well. It becomes borderline homophobic at times and just feels very third grade for nearly half of the film. The second half becomes a little easier to digest and the highlight comes when FDR mocks Tuck's British accent.

The storyline is very imbecilic, as well. Using the gadgets, technology, and basically every ounce of intelligence of the CIA to try and win over a woman is just asinine. The actual mission, which is certainly more interesting than the love triangle you're forced to endure, isn't even second fiddle. It's more like the third or fourth subplot of the movie. The FDR/Tuck/Lauren love triangle being the primary, FDR/Tuck's friendship falling apart being the secondary, Lauren trying to mull things over with Trish being the third, and Tuck trying to be a stand up family man the fourth. So that would make the actual mission the fifth subplot of the movie. How lame is that?

This Means War does get a little less irritating as it progresses. The jokes get slightly less offensive and Tom Hardy still manages to be the best part of the movie. While Reese Witherspoon has to make it a point to try and jiggle around while wearing horrible clothes and singing off key and Chris Pine attempts to be the biggest womanizer he possibly can, they still manage to squeeze in Tom Hardy being a complete bad ass. The paintball scene is one of the highlights, but the most original aspect of the movie comes in one of the first (of many) dates Tuck has with Lauren. He takes her to a carnival and at the end of it takes her on the trapeze. It's actually really cool and would be a really fun first date for anyone.

This Means War is a frustrating and awful excuse for entertainment. Its humor is lame and offensive in the way that it insults all of mankind by how stupid and immature it is, its plot is horrible and insulting, and Reese Witherspoon will test every last ounce of patience you possibly have. This Means War gives you the impression that women are easy and that if you've got enough game then everything works out for the best. While it does have a few moments that try to make up for how terrible it really is, This Means War still can't shake the fact that its spewed excrement into your face for over an hour and a half.

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Tags: This Means War, review, comedy, action, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy
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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) review
02/09/12 at 11:02 AM by EvilButters
*This does contain some minor spoilers*

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth; you know that movie with Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem, and director Eric Brevig all of which didn't return for the sequel. Fraser didn't want to return unless Brevig was back in the director's chair, but Brevig had his hands full with Yogi Bear when Warner Bros was ready to go for the sequel. So Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore director Brad Peyton stepped in and we have an entirely new cast other than Josh Hutcherson, which includes the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Luis Guzmán, and Vanessa Hudgens. The result is a visual effects heavy amalgamation of corny dialogue and forced feel-good moments.

Journey 2 was actually preceded by a new 3D computer animated Looney Tunes short entitled "Daffy's Rhapsody." A quick trivia note is that they actually dug through the archives and resurrected a Mel Blanc audio track to be featured in the short. So the legendary voice actor is back as Daffy Duck and Billy West steps in as Elmer Fudd. The short itself was very well done since it was brilliantly animated and made full use of the 3D technology. As a Looney Tunes fan, it was a welcome change of pace to see Daffy actually being Daffy again. I'm a huge Daffy Duck fan and while his run-ins with Bugs Bunny are hilarious Daffy eventually became second fiddle to Bugs and evolved into this greedy goofball. In earlier shorts, he was flat out crazy and that personality fit him best. It's almost as if the character is returning to his roots here. Also, when is the last time you saw Elmer Fudd hunt solely Daffy Duck without Bugs being involved at all? I was very pleased with Daffy's Rhapsody over all, especially in comparison to the recent 3D Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner shorts.

Returning to Journey 2 though, the movie immediately lost me in the opening credits as the score seemed to disrespectfully rip-off the famous theme to Jurassic Park. It doesn't take long for the corny dialogue to slap you in the face either. The phrase, "Here we go," should never be uttered in the face of danger or at all really. From the HDTV line to pretty much everything Gabby (Luis Guzmán) says throughout their endless string of adventures, Journey 2 will have you rolling your eyes and facepalming yourself more often than you can count. Characters seem to repeat words over and over again, as well. Dwayne Johnson is the guiltiest of this as his dialogue is pretty painful at times. Shall we bring up "thundercookie" or the "popping the pecs" scene that was only thrown in there for a cheap 3D effect?

Maybe it's because a Looney Tunes short was attached to the movie, but Journey 2 certainly borrowed from classic Looney Tunes shorts on more than one occasion. When they first arrive on the island, Gabby thinks he's been cut in half but it turns out the lower half of his body is just buried beneath the sand. This sequence is awfully reminiscent of a scene in "Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid" and this scene in particular. Gabby also discovers a rock made of pure gold and essentially has almost an identical reaction as Bugs Bunny in "Barbary Coast Bunny." Even the camera placement is similar, so it had to be done on purpose. It honestly felt more like blasphemy than homage though.

I guess the hip thing to do with movies anymore is to make the majority of the cast as intolerable as possible, especially when it comes to family features. Nearly every male in the Anderson family is a snarky, smart aleck, prick; Michael Caine and Josh Hutcherson being the sole offenders. Alexander (Caine) already looks to have raided Indiana Jones' wardrobe and even uses that familiar sounding Jurassic Park-like theme when he first shows up. He spends the entire movie ripping on Hank (Dwayne Johnson). Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) is the same way though in the way she gives Sean (Hutcherson) the cold shoulder, so maybe the aim was to write everyone like a seventeen year old girl. Meanwhile, Dwayne Johnson tries to cram as much of his The Rock personality into a PG persona as he can and even sings a little number that is actually pretty darn good.

Journey 2 relies on slow-mo to drive all of its biggest moments home and thanks to movies like 300 has made it all the more obvious in the movies that have followed suit. Even though the entire adventure is basically a race against time, it's like the characters always make time to try and be witty or funny or clever. It just rubs you the wrong way. "Quit standing around in the dark trying to amuse yourself and get out of that damn cave before it collapses on your scrawny butt," you'll say to yourself before throwing the nearest toddler at the screen in frustration. If that isn't the case, they manage to cram these family, touchy-feely moments in at the most inopportune time. "I know you're about to wrestle a giant electric eel, but I just want you to know that me being a hard headed douchebag towards you this entire time was my way of saying I love you." There's more than one comment about being killed after they die, as well. "If we die out there, mom is going to kill us." "If we get ripped to shreds, I'm going to kill you." But you'll already be dead, so who cares? And apparently, being in the Navy means you automatically become "MacGyver." If that's the case, send me a brochure.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island wasn't quite as terrible as I expected it to be. A few of the jokes are mildly amusing and some of the special effects sequences are actually pretty entertaining. In the long run though, it still can't pass as a good film. Its lame humor gets on your last nerve, its feel-good moments make you want to gag, you can tell that everything was done in front of a green screen, and the writing is downright terrible the majority of the time (“THE LIQUEFICATION RATE TRIPLED OVERNIGHT!”). Why did Sean know so much about the island to begin with? Did he read the books over and over again throughout his childhood? Did he watch a lot of National Geographic and the Discovery Channel? Imagine taking a few of the halfway entertaining sequences from the original National Treasure and combining them with the absolute worst moments from the Land of the Lost film starring Will Ferrell and you have a pretty good idea of what you're in for. In the next movie, I only hope that Brendan Fraser returns and challenges The Rock to a wrestling match...IN SPACE!

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Tags: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, review, movies, action, adventure, comedy
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Carnage (2011) review
01/17/12 at 10:49 AM by EvilButters
I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Roman Polanski films. Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist are all patiently biding their time in my Netflix queue waiting on me to get around to them and watch them for the first time. The Polanski films I have seen had the potential to be great, but kind of let everything they had going for it slip through the cracks as the film went on. I remember being fascinated by The Ninth Gate, but was extremely disappointed once the ending rolled around. There was also quite a bit of praise being thrown around for The Ghost Writer last year and it just didn't affect me the way any of that praise did for other critics. So while Carnage has gotten many accolades as one of the funniest movies of last year, I took it with a grain of salt. People seem to generally love Polanski and that's fine. His films are genuinely a pleasure to look at as the cinematography is always fantastic, but it certainly seems as though he may not be as great as everyone makes him out to be.

Carnage is basically a 74-minute discussion between two couples whose eleven and twelve year old sons got into a fight. Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet's (John C. Reilly) son Ethan was struck in the face with a stick by Zachary, the son of Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz). The parents get together to try and find a way for Zachary and Ethan to talk things out, but everything eventually falls apart and the two couples are eventually at each other's throats.

This was not the hilarious movie it was made out to be. While the other people in the theater seemed to be howling at everything on screen, it mostly just felt slightly snicker worthy at times. John C. Reilly is pretty funny. His views, the things that come out of his mouth, his character, and his performance are probably the closest thing to hilarious Carnage has to offer. "Is cobbler cake or pie?", the flush mechanisms conversation, "You certainly perked up after...", the hamster story, the doodle nickname being ridiculous, and "YOU'RE BLOWING THIS OUT OF PROPORTION!" are all mostly entertaining thanks to John C. Reilly’s over the top performance. Michael Longstreet is probably the closest you'll come to relating to one of the on-screen characters, as well. The film is mostly a competition between four egomaniacal individuals competing for the spotlight though. Christoph Waltz's "god of carnage" speech is pretty amazing as is the "disfigured his schoolmate" conversation, but you want to slap the hell out of Alan Cowan the minute you realize he cherishes his phone more than anything else in the world. Kate Winslet is mostly nauseous and drunk the entire film and you probably won't walk away from this without thinking of Jodie Foster's bulbous, veiny, pulsating neck. Seriously, that thing will probably haunt your dreams the night after seeing this.

Carnage is very short. It feels like it ends as soon as it begins. It's like Cloverfield length. It also has one of the worst endings ever. How many films can you name that stop with a phone call? Nothing is resolved. Everything just stops. Despite a wonderful cast and a few chuckle worthy moments, Carnage mostly falls flat. It comes off as more of a contest between two married couples that become more interested in pointing out the flaws of their marriage rather than the task at hand. Maybe it's because I work in retail and I witness these kinds of conversations on a daily basis, but it just wasn't very entertaining at all. Carnage stumbles on the thin line between being extremely annoying and being mildly amusing.

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Tags: Carnage, review, movies, comedy, drama, Roman Polanski, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly,
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Young Adult (2011) review
12/16/11 at 11:11 AM by EvilButters
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have been kind of hit or miss for me or at least that's what I like to think. I didn't enjoy Juno nearly as much as everyone else seemed to while Jennifer's Body, while not great, may have been better received on my end than what most give it credit for mostly because I have such a soft spot for horror. On the other hand though, Up in the Air was fairly fantastic all around. With that said, the main thing attracting me to Young Adult was the fact that Patton Oswalt had a rather big supporting role. Despite the fact that Charlize Theron has done so many things since and has won an Oscar, films like The Astronaut's Wife and The Devil's Advocate only come to mind whenever she's featured in anything which isn't flattering at all. So there was kind of this sense of dread going into Young Adult, but was it justified? The short answer is no, but it doesn't completely blow you away either.

There was an Entertainment Weekly article a few weeks ago where Theron said she aimed to not only be a mean-spirited individual, but also easily relatable as well. That's the trickiest part with a character like this. Anyone can be cold or act black hearted, but doing that while also displaying qualities that make you feel sorry for them and/or feel like something you went through in your life is something special. Imagining anyone else in this role is practically impossible, as well. The entire premise seems to be built around Theron. She seems to be playing herself or at least a slightly exaggerated version of how she is in real life. That more than likely contributes to the movie working as well as it does.

One of the other great things about the movie is that it's mostly unexpected. Young adult fiction writer Mavis Gary (Theron) currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota but decides to return to her small hometown of Mercury after receiving an email from her high school boyfriend Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) welcoming his first child into the world. Mavis somehow thinks that her and Buddy are meant to be together and despite Buddy being happily married and having a daughter that he loves dearly, Mavis thinks they can work past that to make things right between them. The outcome of the events is probably pretty predictable, but the relationships in between unfold in a way that you probably don't see coming. I'm mostly referring to Mavis and Matt Freehauf's (Patton Oswalt) friendship as it goes in a direction that feels far too human for such a superficial individual like Mavis. Oswalt also seems to be playing an exaggerated version of himself as well as he makes full use of his geekiness. The Pixies shirt was also a nice touch. But Young Adult is mostly entertaining due to the way it feels genuine despite revolving around somebody who is as harsh and selfish as Mavis Gray is.

Young Adult is very dark and downright bleak at times, but that's one of its most distinguishing traits. You'll more than likely find something to relate to in Mavis Gray whether it was you who was the popular kid in school, are just as depressed as she is, think you may be an alcoholic, or you're a writer, Mavis isn't really in the right frame of mind and maybe that's the most relatable part of her character. Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt share a kind of twisted chemistry that involves some fairly witty dialogue at times, but is mostly them dragging the other one through the mud with their words, which strangely only illustrates how miserable and similar their two characters are. Young Adult is a very fascinating dark comedy that is laugh out loud funny at times due to its cruelness, but shines thanks to its authenticity.

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Tags: Young Adult, comedy, drama, movie review, Houston, Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt
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Blu-ray review: Rushmore (1999)
11/21/11 at 01:23 PM by EvilButters
Rushmore is a fantastic film for many reasons. As someone who lives in Houston, it's still amazing to think that a big portion of Rushmore was shot here. This little independent gem was more than likely your introduction to both director and Houston native Wes Anderson and actor Jason Schwartzman and what an introduction it would turn out to be. Anderson would go on to continue giving us quirky yet extremely heartwarming films while Schwartzman evolved into a very talented actor and worked with Anderson on several other occasions. Once you hear Bill Murray say, "Yeah, I was in the @#$%," you know you're in for something special. Rushmore is just what every comedy, independent or otherwise, should be.

The love triangle between Max Fischer (Schwartzman), Herman Blume (Murray), and Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) is one of the things that makes Rushmore so good. Each character brings out the best in the others while their flaws only seem to strengthen the performances of those around them. Max is devoted to so many activities and clubs around Rushmore Academy that he finds himself on the verge of expulsion from failing grades, Ms. Cross is still grieving her husband who only passed a year ago, and Mr. Blume is one of the richest guys around, finds himself in a failing marriage, doesn't know how to act around people, and has a drinking problem. The rivalry that develops between Max and Herman is just extraordinary. Nearly any scene featuring Bill Murray is incredible anyway, especially the hospital scene where he shows up with flowers and rides with Max in the elevator. The restaurant scene where Max is drinking and confesses his love to Ms. Cross is really exceptional, as well. Mostly because all three of the of the main cast have the chance to shine.

There's this sense of quirkiness to a Wes Anderson film that you can't find anywhere else and that's its charm. Anderson also has a knack for picking some pretty memorable soundtracks and knows how to make a scene look better than it should, but his writing is what stands out the most. Flawed people and unusual dialogue and situations; that's a Wes Anderson film at its core. Maybe that's why his movies are so easy to relate to since nobody is perfect and everyone finds themselves slipping up from time to time.

There's just something about Rushmore that speaks to you whether you relate to one of the characters, love Bill Murray, or have a thing for independent film. It's awkward and touching when things get heavy and hilarious and lighthearted when things are more laid back. It's well-written, you actually care about these eccentric characters, and the performances are top notch all around. Rushmore is one of those films you just have to see; you HAVE to. It's the type of film that latches onto you and never lets go while you're more than willing to let it stay as long as it's willing to stick around.

Rushmore isn't loaded with special features, but there is some really great stuff in what is included. The Making of featurette and MTV Movie Awards Shorts are the must see features. The Making of "Rushmore" is the lengthiest (around seventeen minutes) and is mostly just a brief behind the scenes documentary shot by Eric Chase Anderson, Wes Anderson's brother that includes interviews and a rundown of the cast. The EPK (Electronic Press Kit) was shot for something like five months, when most films shoot them in a matter of days. When you consider that bit of information, it's kind of surprising that the footage they shot wasn't used to make a full-length documentary. The MTV Movie Awards Shorts are brief (three segments, each about a minute long, and a thirty second introduction), but are just fantastic. The shorts are theatrical adaptations of films from 1999 including The Truman Show, Armageddon, and Out of Sight. If you liked Max's plays in the film, you'll enjoy these.

Other special features include cast auditions, a film to storyboard comparison, storyboards, an episode of The Charlie Rose Show Featuring Wes Anderson and Bill Murray, the theatrical trailer, an image gallery, and audio commentary by Anderson, co-writer Owen Wilson, and actor Jason Schwartzman (which was recorded in 1999). There's this pretty incredible collectible poster included inside the case and an essay by film critic Dave Kehr included in the liner notes, as well.

Criterion Collection, as you've come to expect by now, has made Rushmore look and sound better than it ever has before. The Blu-ray is a digital transfer of the director's cut, which was supervised by director Wes Anderson with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 5.1 surround sound and is approximately 93 minutes long. The Rushmore Criterion Collection Blu-ray will be released in stores and in most online retail outlets on Tuesday, November 22nd.

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Tags: Rushmore, Blu-ray, movie review, comedy, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wes Anderson
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The Artist (2011) review
11/14/11 at 10:09 PM by EvilButters
The Artist had quite the reputation going for it before it debuted at the Cinema Arts Festival in Houston, Texas. Early reviews were already very positive and many Houston critics were talking about how much they were anticipating getting the chance to see it. I purposely went in blind and only found out just moments before I entered the theater that it was a silent film and was not only shot in but would be presented in the now practically ancient 1.33:1 aspect ratio. A black and white silent feature film made in modern times; what's not to like about that? Truth be told, nothing can really prepare you for how extraordinary The Artist really is.

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the king of silent movies in Hollywood in 1927. Audiences just adore everything George is a part of. Along comes Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who you just know is going to be a huge star some day. George and Peppy work together on one film as George not only takes her under his wing, but an undeniable spark develops between the two. Over the course of the next few years, silent movies fade into obscurity as talking pictures or "talkies" explode onto the scene. George finds himself struggling for not only work, but a purpose to live as Peppy becomes the next big thing overnight.

The Artist is funny and charming right out the gate. Jean Dujardin really plays to the crowd and appears to love nothing more than catering to the people who come to see his films. George's dog Jack might be the biggest form of comic relief in the film. The way he plays dead and covers his head with his paws are always both presented in a way that is fresh and laugh out loud funny each and every time they're utilized. Once Bérénice Bejo enters the picture, the film begins to evolve into a type of romance. It's odd though because to my recollection George and Peppy never kiss. Peppy seems to steal the spotlight in the same way George does as soon as you see her dance for the first time. The laughs are there, the charms are there, The Artist has a firm grip on your heart and your attention and never really lets go.

The film eventually begins to get a bit darker though as silent movies wither away and talking pictures take their spot. George's downward spiral is really fantastic to watch. It's mostly due to not only Dujardin's superb performance, but also the way many of these scenes are filmed. There's a scene where George is sitting down at a mirror table drinking whiskey. You see nothing but George, his reflection, and the alcohol. He pours the booze on the tabletop as the look of disgust becomes more chiseled on his brow. That scene is so beyond amazing. The brilliant music used in the film also just captures the time period perfectly. There's also this dream that George has right before he's let go from his contract where he can't speak, but everything around him has sound. That sequence is really spectacular, as well.

The Artist can get a little dark at times, but for the most part is extremely lighthearted and feel-good at its core. Never have I wanted a movie to end on a happy note so badly in my life. Through the highs and the lows of George Valentin and the depressing outcome of his career along with the heartwarming sensation you get from nearly everything in between, the entire experience just feels so real; so genuine. The Artist is just pure perfection, a masterpiece, and an instant classic.

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Tags: The Artist, movie review, comedy, romance, drama, Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo
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Tower Heist (2011) review
11/04/11 at 01:45 PM by EvilButters
Brett Ratner isn't exactly a director people love these days. After the below par Rush Hour 3 fell well below expectations and X-Men: The Last Stand genuinely pissed off comic book and movie fans alike, it's difficult to really get excited about anything he's a part of now. So along comes Tower Heist where Ratner teams with Eddie Murphy, another example of someone in Hollywood people have grown sour on, to assemble a movie that seems to have thrown together a wide assortment of middle class actors that hope to capture the same magic the Ocean's Eleven movies did. Sometimes you can predict a movie at face value and what you see in promos is what you get with Tower Heist.

Tower Heist did seem to finally get going in the middle of the movie; it showed signs of heart, jokes actually felt a bit more on point, and the story was progressing nicely. Unfortunately, it's sandwiched between an extremely lame opening half hour or so featuring what feels like nothing but rectum and feces jokes and a really stupid final half hour that is just too over the top to believe or actually pull off. Peña and Murphy seem to be in a competition with one another on who can say the most ignorant things that come to mind while Broderick falls victim to the same character flaw despite showing signs of intelligence in more difficult areas. Casey Affleck doesn't do a whole lot other than worry about his pregnant wife while Ben Stiller puts in one of the tamest performances of his career. Nearly all of the characters felt flat and underdeveloped. Despite having their own quirks and brief background stories, they all seemed to go in the same direction which was blurting ridiculous one-liners to try and make the audience laugh rather than try and move the story along.

There is some good buried in the middle of the movie though. The entire Lester (Stephen Henderson) subplot is the closest Tower Heist gets to developing any sort of heart even though it feels like it drops the ball as soon as it tries to pick it up. The conversations the team has before the actual heist take place are easily the funniest segments of the film; the lesbian conversation and Lego layout scene with the "Webster" line specifically. Gabourey Sidibe is used pretty sparingly in the movie, but seems to do the most with what screen time she does get. She's genuinely pretty funny nearly every time she shows up. Téa Leoni probably gives the strongest performance though. Special Agent Claire Denham is an FBI agent that does everything by the book and puts her job before anything else, but it's obvious she develops a soft spot for Josh Kovacs (Stiller). The scene where she and Stiller get drunk is charming in this awkward sort of way.

Tower Heist would actually be pretty decent if it wasn't for how everything is resolved at the end. What the team ends up stealing, how they get it out of the hotel, where it ends up, and what they do with it just ruins anything you may have liked up until that point. Nearly every actor that's part of the main cast at least has one line that will make you smile or laugh out loud, so everyone gets their moment to shine. It doesn't save a shoddy movie that can't find its footing in the story department though. With more downs than ups and one of the most unfulfilling conclusions to a movie in recent memory, Tower Heist comes off as nothing more than a generically ghetto version of Ocean's Eleven.

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Tags: Tower Heist, movie review, action, comedy, crime, Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy
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Blu-ray review: The Last Circus (2011)
10/15/11 at 08:21 AM by EvilButters
When you sit down to watch The Last Circus, you should go in not knowing what to expect. That mindset is your best bet at enjoying this film to the fullest. In fact, I encourage you to jump to the last paragraph of this review and then read the rest after your first viewing. It has quite a reputation going for it; a reputation that is mostly positive. Avoiding trailers and only having a vague knowledge of a movie is so rare these days and with a film like this it just pays off so well. Álex de la Iglesia is a name I wasn't familiar with until now and while The Last Circus did seem to fizzle out a bit near its finale, it's still very absorbing, gloriously disturbing, and a solid effort from Iglesia.

The Last Circus tells a love story that is centered on revenge; it's demented and rather on the gruesome side but love is the central theme along with elements of revenge, horror, and dark comedy. The film's rich visuals will suck you in right away. It has this unique look to it; color seems to be completely drained from the film the majority of the time yet things like blood, makeup, and rather intricate costumes seem to leap off the screen in exquisite color. It's all very surreal and seems to be on the verge of becoming a nightmare at all times, so when it does finally venture into a dream sequence with nightmarish tendencies it's rather extraordinary.

The score is also pretty spectacular. The triumphant music that plays over the opening credits seems to give you the sensation that you're marching toward your death while the pounding keys of the piano during the tunnel sequence practically rattles your bones. It's kind of intriguing how similar Sergio (Antonio de la Torre) and Javier (Carlos Areces) turn out to be and it’s all thanks to Natalia (Carolina Bang). Javier is so unsure of himself at first, is kind of pathetic, and a complete coward at his core but that changes once he meets Natalia. Sergio is short-tempered, an alcoholic, and his violent outbursts usually cause one or more to end up in the hospital when things don't go his way. Sergio's story becomes really interesting since it seems to borrow heavily from both The Phantom of the Opera and Frankenstein. Natalia on the other hand just doesn't seem to know what she wants. She loves the way Sergio makes love to her, but feels safe with Javier. She's truly torn between the two monsters she inadvertently creats.

Keep an eye out for a trumpet and an iron as they both become nearly as iconic as the hammer was in Oldboy. The Last Circus has a way of putting its viewer on edge with a sense of discomfort and uneasiness never being far away. The restaurant scene is a prime example, which also shows how messed up Sergio really is and eventually leads to one of the most awkward and off-putting sex scenes in recent memory. Some of the computer generated effects got a little overboard in the latter half and seemed to slightly sour my opinion of the film. However after watching the special features, it's truly amazing how much of the film was created with digital effects.

The Last Circus is like a one-sided coin featuring tragedy on both sides and the final scene seems to illustrate this point perfectly. Its surreal visuals make the film a real treat to look at and the haunting score is both memorable and beautiful in a sinister kind of way. With its nearly seamless use of practical and computer generated effects and the way the entire film seems to be covered in a veil of unpredictability, The Last Circus is a unique vision into circus life that's mostly calamitous yet visually stimulating.

Special features are pretty slim, but still interesting. Making of The Last Circus is a fifteen minute featurette that takes you behind the scenes of the film. It's here that you begin to realize how much of the film was filmed in front of the green screen as the cast comments on what it's like to work with Álex de la Iglesia. Behind the Scenes Segments is more of the same type of footage presented as a seven and a half minute montage. Visual Effects is really cool. It's ten minutes long and compares the final version of the film to what was shot in front of the green screen. It literally takes you through step by step of the digital effects. It also informs you that there were 47 digital artists and post-production took two months. The U.S. Trailer, International Trailer, and International Teaser round out the special features.

The film looks completely stunning in 1080P High Definition presented in a 16x9 (2.35:1) aspect ratio and sounds fantastic in its Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Its colors are really brought to life in HD as blood splatters, animal cries, maniacal outbursts, and the amazing score probably couldn't sound any better than they do here. The Last Circus is rated R for brutal and bloody violence throughout, some strong sexual content, nudity and language. The film's duration is approximately 101 minutes and will be available in retail stores and most online retailers this Tuesday, October 18th.

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Tags: The Last Circus, movie review, Blu-ray review, romance, revenge, horror, black comedy
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50/50 (2011) review
09/30/11 at 07:57 PM by EvilButters
There are times when you leave the movie theater not only completely content with what you just saw, but also satisfied in nearly every way. Maybe your expectations were set to a certain standard and this film just managed to go above and beyond each and every one of them. You want to soak it in and live in that moment for as long as you possibly can because you don't get to feel this sensation very often. On the ride home, you don't talk and you don't listen to any music. You sit there with a half-smile on your face in complete silence reflecting on this incredible piece of cinema; eager at the chance to tell your friends to go see something special. Once the credits end and you start that long stroll back to your car, this is what 50/50 leaves you with.

50/50 tells the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); a 27 year old who doesn't drink, smoke, drive, or even own a driver's license. He has a best friend named Kyle (Seth Rogen) and a girlfriend named Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). Adam is a fairly healthy guy who exercises and eats properly. He lives a relatively normal life. He goes to the doctor one day for back pain where they find a malignant tumor on his spine. Adam is diagnosed with cancer on the spot. After some research on the internet, Adam has a 50/50 chance of beating this thing. The story that unfolds not only tells of how cancer can affect the person diagnosed with the disease, but those around them as well.

50/50 is basically a slow build to acceptance for Adam. He starts off convincing himself that he feels fine and is fine, but his defense slowly comes crumbling down. The chemo begins to get to Adam both physically and mentally. He learns to rely on not only his best friend, but his parents and new therapist named Katie (Anna Kendrick) as well. Meanwhile, the diagnosis has affected everyone in Adam's life in ways he couldn't possibly imagine. Kyle tries to get Adam to use the disease to get women into bed while also appearing to be in denial about it while Rachael begins to get more and more distant from Adam as the weeks drudge by. It's a fascinating story that offers its fair share of laughs while simultaneously giving you the urge to burst into tears because you really feel for Adam during his journey.

This dramatic comedy is really solid all around. The story plays out in a way that feels genuine, the dialogue seems natural, and the camera work is straight and to the point but helps tell the story perfectly. As usual though, the cast is what really brings it together. Anjelica Huston easily slides into the role of the worried mother while Bryce Dallas Howard makes you simultaneously relate to Rachael's decisions and hate her for them during the time Adam needs her most. Anna Kendrick displays this awkward charm that results in you really liking Katie while Seth Rogen offers a bit of comedic relief that only he can. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is truly astounding though. I've been following the Californian actor's career since "3rd Rock From the Sun" pretty closely while catching nearly all of his films in the process. Just when I think he can't be any more impressive as an actor, he ups his game. His portrayal of Adam is flawless and only gets more and more mesmerizing as the film rolls on.

50/50 takes aim at the emotions you rely on most to let you know how powerful it really is. It makes you laugh just as much as it tears at your heartstrings. The writing is exceptional and the cast is incredible. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at the absolute top of his game. 50/50 is both hilarious and heartwrenching. It's one of the most satisfying, emotionally powerful, and performance driven films of the year.

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Tags: 50/50, movie review, drama, comedy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick
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Blu-ray review: Win Win (2011)
09/06/11 at 09:13 AM by EvilButters
I had heard so much about Win Win all year long. I skipped screenings for it early on in the year mostly because I'd never heard of it, but also because on the surface it's not exactly something I'd want to actively hunt down and see. But it gained such a reputation for being a fantastic film and is even considered to be a contender for film of the year by several fellow movie critics. So thanks to word of mouth, this found its way into my Blu-ray player. Win Win manages to make good on its reputation.

Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is one of the best lawyers in town. Unfortunately, being the best doesn't always mean you make the most money. Mike is facing a lot of financial hardship at the moment and it looks like his elder law firm may go out of business. Mike talks his way into becoming the guardian for Leo Poplar (Burt Young), one of his clients on the verge of dementia which he plants in a retirement home in order to get an extra $1500 a month. So things are looking up until Leo's grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) shows up to live with his grandfather. Kyle is a troubled teenager, but an incredible wrestler. So of course Mike has Kyle move in with him. With the extra money and Kyle on the verge of going to state, everything seems to be falling into place for Mike. That is until Kyle's Mom, Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) comes to town and ruins the bright future that was right within Kyle's grasp.

Paul Giamatti has always been fairly compelling in whatever film he's decided to be a part of. Even if the project isn't very good, Giamatti is usually still memorable thanks to his performance. He's outstanding in Win Win. He seems to be making all the decisions he thinks are right to keep his family afloat. It's incredibly easy to picture yourself in Mike's shoes and making the same decisions that he did. Alex Shaffer is also great, but for different reasons. Kyle is mostly a young man who doesn't speak much. His appearance makes him come off as if he's a punk, but he's actually a fairly goodhearted individual with a really messy past. That past gets in the way of the one thing that could possibly push Kyle forward in life and he carries that weight throughout the movie. It's only a matter of time before he snaps. Bobby Cannavale and Amy Ryan deserve a mention, as well. Terry Delfino has a lot going on in his life right now and being an assistant coach is basically a distraction from what his ex-wife is currently putting him through. His laid back attitude and ability to be a bit more outspoken than he should is half the character's charm. Meanwhile, Jackie Flaherty just wants to do what's best for her family and begins to care for Kyle. She has some pretty funny dialogue throughout the film, especially her JBJ story.

One of Win Win's strongest attributes is the fact that the dialogue feels very natural. Nothing feels forced or sounds cheesy. It all sounds like things real people would say if they were thrown into the life of the Flahertys. The film also delivers an incredible message, which is something other films like this that have been released this year have either lacked or haven't fully followed through on. Win Win wears its heart on its sleeve and capitalizes on that in the best of ways.

Win Win is a special kind of movie. The excellent cast compliments the already superb writing in the film while characters and their decisions are easily relatable. It packs a powerful punch, especially in its last act as the message it gives is both strong and meaningful. Win Win is easily one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) R-rated comedies of the year with little to no flaws to keep note of.

Special features are very minimal. There are two deleted scenes totaling a little less than two minutes. Nothing of great importance; one of Mike handling a client who doesn't want to identify her son to Mike while he's sitting in the same room and the other of the family and Leo driving to the courthouse. Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni Discuss Win Win runs approximately six and a half minutes. McCarthy is the main writer and director of the film while Tiboni is the other writer. They talk about their inspirations for the film, why they chose to do a movie about wrestling, how Paul Giamatti came on board, and the combining of elder law and wrestling in one film. David Thompson at Sundance 2011 is around two and a half minutes. This is basically the actor who played Stemler goofing off and complaining about it being cold at Sundance. In Conversation With Tom McCarthy and Paul Giamatti at Sundance 2011 is another two and a half minute feature that covers a lot of the same ground the featurette with Joe Tiboni did. Family, the last two and a half minute feature, takes a look at the importance of family and talks about how the majority of the cast becomes a family by the end of the film. To wrap up the special features, we've got the "Think You Can Wait" music video by The National and the theatrical trailer.

Win Win is rated R for language. It's available in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital with optional English or Spanish subtitles. It's presented in widescreen with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is approximately 106 minutes long. Win Win is available in both retail stores and most online retailers now.

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Tags: Win Win, movie review, Blu-ray review, comedy, drama, Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan
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DVD review: Trollhunter (2011)
08/23/11 at 12:56 PM by EvilButters
Mockumentaries seem to have worn out their welcome just as much as unnecessary remakes have in recent years. There have been countless fake documentaries out there that chronicle "real" events or try to come off as feeling more authentic by using this technique. The Blair Witch Project, REC, Borat, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, I'm Still Here, and Paranormal Activity are just a few examples that come to mind. It's become a really monotonous concept as of late since all of the films that decide to go this route all seem to follow the same formula. Trollhunter is a bit different though. It at least feels like its pushing the boundaries of what mockumentaries are truly capable of.

Three college students are sent to investigate some rather unorthodox bear killings, but eventually come to realize they've bitten off more than they can chew. Their investigation leads them to Hans (Otto Jespersen), who is believed to be a poacher trying to capitalize on the success of all the bear hunters in Norway. The students are adamant about getting an interview with Hans and follow the mysterious man as he comes and goes at odd hours of the day and stays out all night. While trailing him one night, Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud); one of the students, is bitten by something as we finally get a glimpse of what Hans really hunts; trolls. Hans eventually caves and allows the students to tag along with him as he shows us a world the government is going to elaborate lengths to cover up.

Trollhunter has gone to great lengths to at least appear like a lot of thought went into how these trolls exist in the real world. Whether a lot of time went into that or not, the parts of the film where that information is given to us is easily the most intriguing aspect of the film. Everything from how UV rays affect them, whether they'll explode or turn to stone, the various different types of trolls, why some have multiple heads, and what power lines are really put up for are all things touched upon in the film. It is probably a bit unrealistic on one hand, but if you grew up reading Grimm's Fairy Tales or are a fan of fantasy in general, then it's something you'll easily find yourself getting absorbed into.

While the film does a good job of latching onto your interest, Trollhunter does kind of feel like it rushes in the troll department a bit. We see several different types of trolls; a Tosserlad, Ringlefinch, Mountain Kings, and the Jotnar. But you're left wanting more of these adventures of close encounters with these enormous fantastical creatures, which is probably better than wanting less of them. Everything we see relating to the trolls is incredible, but it seems like none of those scenes last anywhere near as long as anything building up to them. At one point in the film, Thomas mentions something about them currently standing where many troll battles take place. Mountain trolls and woodland trolls apparently come to blows there, throw rocks at each other, and basically just have an all out war. That would've been amazing to actually see.

With that said, the troll scenes are still very impressive. The real gems are the Tosserlad and the Jotnar since they are the ones with the most screen time. The night vision camera along with the chase in the woods and how Hans subdues the creature are what make the Tosserlad experience so exciting. The Jotnar is almost overwhelming due to its size and it manages to deliver some of the most astounding scenes in the film. The main one being Hans trying to get in front of the Jotnar by driving right underneath its feet while it's walking only to be struck by its massive right hand. That scene makes the whole mockumentary technique payoff.

Trollhunter is not meant to be terrifying and it more than likely won't make you cry from laughing too hard. It is, however, a thought provoking and fascinating dark fantasy film. Whether the appearance of the trolls appeals to you or not is entirely up to you, but they are presented fairly realistically on film. The amount of detail that goes into what they eat, how they act, and why they're being hunted is what keeps you intrigued in-between the brief, although rather spectacular, altercations between the human characters and the trolls. Trollhunter puts a unique spin on what was otherwise thought to be a worn out concept and leaves you wanting more by the time it's all over, which is all any film should really aspire to do.

Special features on the DVD are a bit misleading. Mostly because it looks like there’s a ton, but most of them fall in between being only thirty seconds to three minutes in length. There are five Deleted Scenes that last about three and a half minutes total and aren’t really all that important or interesting. Improv and Bloopers is two minutes in length and has three scenes. Extended Scenes is where it starts to get interesting. Nearly eight minutes in length, three scenes from the film are a bit longer and contain some fascinating tidbits here and there. Visual Effects is really cool. Three featurettes show how most of the trolls and other CG animated creatures (sheep, Hans in his sample extracting suit) are built from the ground up. This is all about six minutes in length. Behind the Scenes is probably the most vital special feature to watch. You get a good look at how much of the film was computer generated and how much was actually built on set. It’s incredible how actors are able to react to things that aren’t physically there with them to this extent. Behind the Scenes is spread out amongst seven featurettes and is about twenty three minutes long. Photo Galleries is mostly a look at troll sketches and they’re habitats while HDNet: A Look at Trollhunter is mainly the cast talking about the film in between clips of the film itself. These features are around six minutes and four minutes respectively. So you get a total of about fifty three minutes of bonus features.

Trollhunter is rated PG-13 for some sequences of creature terror, is available in both English and Norwegian 5.1 Dolby Digital with English or Spanish subtitles, and presented in a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It is approximately 103 minutes long. Trollhunter was released today on both DVD and Blu-ray in both retail stores and most online retailers.

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Tags: Trollhunter, movie review, DVD review, adventure, comedy, fantasy, mockumentary
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30 Minutes or Less (2011) review
08/12/11 at 06:47 PM by EvilButters

Ruben Fleischer's first directorial effort, Zombieland, was met with both critic acclaim and fan appraisal. There seem to be far fewer people who disliked Zombieland compared to those who enjoyed it. Zombieland was quite entertaining though; its cast was incredibly well-rounded, it offered a new spin on a story we've seen dozens of times before, and most of all it offered humor and sharp wit during what is otherwise the end of the world; a time when you least expected it. Zombieland was something special. However, 30 Minutes or Less seems like a completely different type of comedy. The trailers lead you to believe it could go either way; one way being extremely hilarious and the other ending with you kicking yourself because you didn't just wait to rent it. Even after seeing the movie, 30 Minutes or Less still manages to fall somewhere in the middle of that generalization.

30 Minutes or Less starts off pretty strong. The dialogue is really funny, you can feel the chemistry between the actors, and the storyline is progressing at a steady pace. It seems like it's on track to be this fantastically amusing R-rated comedy that's one of the funniest films of the year, but it begins to lose steam after the bank robbery. It's like the humor begins to lose its wit and becomes more about bickering between the duos Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and Chet (Aziz Ansari) and Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). By the end of the movie, you'll wonder how a pizza deliveryman who does nothing but smoke pot, drink, play video games, and watch action movies who's never amounted to anything his entire life can rob a bank, get away with it, and be as smart as he is about the entire situation. Is it years of untapped potential finally bubbling to the surface or a giant plot hole? You'll have to be the judge of that.

There seems to be a plethora of plot devices added in the second half of the movie that hurts it overall. A pen gun, a hired gun getting his own side story, a romance, the potential tan salon Dwayne and Travis won't stop talking about, police chases, the leverage changing hands several times, and flamethrowers all entering the picture, it all becomes too much to process. Trying to juggle that many scenes only results in a movie like this stumbling in its attempted execution.

The cast is 30 Minutes or Less finest asset. The writing certainly has its moments, but the actors are what make the movie as entertaining as it is. Jesse Eisenberg portrays that same sharp wit you've come to expect from the actor. Meanwhile Danny McBride gives one of his best performances. McBride tends to be utilized so well as a supporting character. All of his qualities seem to shine brightest when he's not the main character. It's one of the reasons Your Highness didn't work out. Nick Swardson plays up the bomb expert/second fiddle to Dwayne role incredibly well. He's more intelligent than he lets on and the scene where he's unleashing his kicks in front of a tied up and bomb straddled Nick is probably his funniest in the movie. Last but not least, there's Michael Peña who's the one character in the movie who can get laughs just by the way he talks alone. His "pimp" scene in the mirror is quite amusing. You may have noticed I left out Aziz Ansari and that's mostly because it felt like he wasn't very funny at all. He had a few one-liners that are snicker-worthy, but seemed to ruin it by running it into the ground and just overdoing it in general.

The other disheartening thing about 30 Minutes or Less is the way it ends. It doesn't feel like a conclusion since everything just kind of stops. The movie ends with a laugh and has a pretty ridiculous scene after the credits, but it leaves so many unanswered questions. It was probably left open for a possible sequel, which would probably just completely ruin what limited appeal this comedy has.

30 Minutes or Less is fast paced, action packed, and even downright hilarious at times. Unfortunately, it doesn't keep up the momentum it first starts off with. The humor becomes stale, the actors tend to get caught up in being silly rather than moving the story along, and action takes a front seat in the second half while the comedy takes a hit, but 30 Minutes or Less is still fairly amusing and at least worth a rental in the long run.

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Tags: 30 Minutes or Less, movie review, action, adventure, comedy, Jesse Eisenberg
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The Change-Up (2011) review
08/06/11 at 10:55 AM by EvilButters
You've seen this movie on countless occasions; Freaky Friday, Face/Off, Freaky Friday again, The Skeleton Key, and Freaky Friday a third time amongst a half a dozen other movies I'm probably overlooking. Body swapping isn't exactly a new concept. Truth be told though, while the idea has been used in an R-rated film before it may be something new to the R-rated comedy genre. Maybe that's why we're taking this rather redundant feeling trip once again or maybe it's only to capitalize on Ryan Reynolds blossoming popularity and have long time fans of his reminisce about their first time watching Van Wilder. The Change-Up is coming whether you like it or not and while it isn't the funniest film of the year or even the most original, it isn't quite as bad as you might be expecting.

Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) has been working hard his whole life. He thrived to make work the most important thing in his life and that shows as he's one of the best lawyers in town. Meanwhile Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) has barely worked a day in his life and tends to quit anything when it shows the first signs of difficulty. Dave never seems to have time for anything while Mitch just wants someone to come home to and feel appreciated. So after a night at the bar and a conversation while urinating in a public fountain the two accidentally switch bodies.

Raunchiness rears its ugly head not even five minutes into the movie. The Change-Up is probably the most obscene and easily the most vulgar movie of the year, at least thus far. The things that come out of Mitch Planko's mouth, whether he's in the body of Ryan Reynolds or Jason Bateman, walks a thin line between being profane and being downright offensive. It's so unbelievable that you can't help but laugh at times. The really bizarre thing is that I couldn't help but somewhat relate to the Mitch character. Not so much the sleeping around with countless women part, but his sense of humor, use of vulgarity, and dislike for children. That's basically me in a nutshell.

Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds do a pretty flawless job of swapping each other's roles. The roles they both start off with are pretty much the roles we've always seen the two actors play, so seeing them switch it up a bit was kind of interesting. Jason Bateman will always bring a little bit of Michael Bluth with him wherever he goes while Reynolds will probably always be seen as Van Wilder first. That's part of their charm and part of the appeal for the fans that have been following them longer than a year or two. Bateman playing the douchebag is actually a lot of fun though and Reynolds is kind of charming in the nice guy role in an awkward and goofy kind of way. Their chemistry is really the thing that makes the comedy work as well as it does. Leslie Mann also has her moments, which usually come once her husband starts acting like his best friend. This is probably Olivia Wilde's best movie performance in the past few years though. She was so boring in both TRON: Legacy and Cowboys & Aliens. At least in this she gets to show that she's both professional and has a kinkier side while portraying much more emotion than in those two films.

The movie progressively snowballs further and further into ridiculous territory as it drudges on though. The scene in the kitchen where Mitch is trying to figure out how to feed Dave's children just about ruined the entire thing for me and the whole Tatiana thing is really stretching it. Each character gets to coach the other while in the other's respective body and those scenes might have honestly been the best in the movie. They were concise and had all the strongest points of the movie in those segments. It's a shame the entire movie couldn't quite hold onto that throughout its duration. With all the fecal matter going into people's mouths, ball cupping, genital shaving, and women being shown on the toilet at inopportune moments, the toilet humor got to be a bit much at times and that's coming from a guy who's a fan of that type of humor.

The Change-Up is slightly above the mediocre line for R-rated comedies this year. It's slightly similar to Hall Pass with a little bit of Bridesmaids and Your Highness thrown in for good measure. While it is fairly humorous at times, its outrageousness is its own downfall as certain bits are too ridiculous for its own good. However, The Change-Up was still a crowd pleaser and is sure to at least make a modest profit at the box office.

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Tags: The Change-Up, movie review, comedy, Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde
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The Smurfs (2011) review
07/31/11 at 09:03 AM by EvilButters
Sometimes despite your best efforts a movie you just know is going to be an awful experience is somehow worse than you imagined even though you tried to talk yourself into thinking it might not be so bad. "Oh, this actor and/or actress is in it. Hopefully I'll still be able to enjoy their role in this monstrosity," is what you say to yourself. It turns out to be all for nothing and even though that person you admire is in it, you're just left wondering why they're a part of something so horrendous to begin with. The Smurfs is such a movie and I can almost guarantee you that you haven't seen anything as bad as this all year.

The smurfs live in Smurf Village in another universe where magic actually exists. These little blue creatures are about seven inches tall that can sing, dance, talk, live in mushrooms, and are massively annoying all day long. The evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is obsessed with capturing the smurfs in order to obtain their essence to become the most powerful wizard in the universe. During the festival of the blue moon, Clumsy (voiced by Anton Yelchin) accidentally leads Gargamel to Smurf Village. Amongst the confusion while they're fleeing Gargamel's onslaught, they accidentally stumble onto a portal to our universe as Gargamel follows in hot pursuit. Unfortunately for them, our moon never turns blue so they must rely on the assistance of Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays); a couple who's expecting their first child and who are going through some troubles of their own.

If you weren't a fan of the original Smurfs cartoon, then you probably won't have any reason to actually sit through this thing. Speaking as someone who isn't a fan of anything Hanna-Barbera related, taking one for the team or biting the bullet doesn't even begin to describe the unfortunate displeasure I experienced throughout this cinematic miscarriage. The Smurfs does nothing but make a repetitive, never-ending effort to rub its audience nose in the fact that it's trying to be cute. It can't just show something cute and move on. It's basically shoving cuteness down your throat without asking in a rather obnoxious and extremely forceful fashion.

As if purely tolerating these tiny, blue kumquats wasn't enough, the movie makes it a point to rub salt in the wound before dousing it with lemon and plunging your exposed injury into a bucket of bleach. There's a Rock Band scene where Neil Patrick Harris plays the game with The Smurfs and they decide to add their own lyrics to Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Imagine the song with all the lyrics replaced with stuff about sunshine, kilts, intelligence, being angry, blue skin, and "smurf" every three words or so. I recommend not getting nachos before seeing this. You'll want to pour the hot, scolding nacho cheese into your eye sockets just to make the torture on-screen be a little less painful.

Looking at the movie from a critic's perspective doesn't even help matters. It shows you all the main plot points in a vision Papa Smurf has at the beginning of the movie, so you basically know what's going to happen long before you even get there. You probably already have a solid idea of what the movie is just by seeing the TV spots alone. There's also another scene where Gargamel is in prison in our universe. He has a conversation with a moth. He doesn't use magic as he doesn't even have anything on him at the time other than an orange jumpsuit. He talks to this moth and convinces it to break him out of prison. How, you might ask? With about a million flies. Flies break Gargamel out of prison. All family movies have to include some sort of bodily fluid in them anymore. Crude humor is apparently the only way you can reach a younger audience these days. So I hope you like cat vomit and a grown man digging through a vomitous pile for a few strands of hair.

Is there anything actually decent about this movie? If you've read this far, you're probably thinking that. There is, actually. The 3D effect is actually utilized really well. Smurfs are constantly jumping in your face and when they're not random objects are flying at you thanks to Gargamel's magic. There's a scene at the very beginning of the movie where two smurfs are riding birds. That scene is pulled off incredibly well as the birds twist and turn in the air. The perspective, positioning of the camera, and the way we seem to follow their every move makes that thirty second sequence work really well. Neil Patrick Harris is probably the least offensive part of the movie, but that isn't saying a whole lot. There's actually some really talented people buried in the cast. Unfortunately they're so smothered in smurfberries that you probably won't even notice them.

The Smurfs is the first movie I've ever actually physically ran out of as soon as it was over. It is downright offensive with how cute and corny it is. With an overly predictable storyline, ridiculous plot points, and some of the lamest material to ever hit the big screen, anything remotely good in the film is immediately erased by the overwhelming wave of forcefed cutesy garbage. It's like having an entire jar of Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme crammed down your throat. If you suddenly have the urge to see this movie, stay home and drink a bottle of Drano instead. I promise you'll have a better time.

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Tags: The Smurfs, movie review, animation, comedy, family, Neil Patrick Harris
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