Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's a gigantic pain in the ass...but it has its moments.

My son is really into just about everything right now. It seems like he has skipped beyond toddler stuff and become a full-on boy, running in circles, jumping off _____________ and even occasionally lightsabering our dog, Dodger. I bought him the lightsaber, so yeah, my bad on that one. Another mistake I made was securing a copy of Men in Black for him on blu ray, which came with a free pass to Men in Black III.

Now, I haven't shown him the original, but judging by the third one, these films are too violent and have waaay too much cursing (Tommy Lee Jones actually calls someone a piece of shit) for someone as young as my kid. I know, I feel like a real a-hole for coming at the Men in Black films for being too hardcore. In fact, I remember not liking the first flick (and hating the shit out of the second) for being too family friendly. But, dear friends, I was a seventeen year old d-bag in 1997. Now, I'm a thirty two year old father of one. Or rather, a different kind of d-bag. Times change.

What hasn't changed (at all) is Will Smith. This likeable bastard might be an alien as I don't think he's aged a day since 1997. Now, I'm not the biggest Smith fan, but I definitely don't hate the guy like some of you. In fact, I think his performance in I Am Legend was incredible. Now, my knock against Smith is he doesn't seem to mix it up enough. Way too many sequels (if imdb is even remotely trustworthy, we've got more Bad Boys, I, Robot and Hancock on the way) for the Prince of Freshness.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why do you love me? Because I kill people?

When I was I kid I really loved The Jetsons. I was enamored with the glimpse into the future that the cartoon provided my burgeoning adolescent mind. Flying cars? Entire meals in pill form? Automated assembly line style showers? Sign me up. I imagined that when I reached George Jetson's age, that's how it was going to be. You know, the fuuuuuture. Granted, it wasn't all perfect. Rosie was a real mechanical bitch.

What's slightly more entertaining than a look into the future, is to look back at the past's version of the future that has already occurred. Read it again if you must, but that sentence makes sense. I think. Anyway, my rambling leads me to my late-night viewing of 1975's Death Race 2000. Now, I was in college in 2000, and really didn't pay attention to national affairs, but I'm fairly certain things didn't turn out like this Roger Corman production.

Yeah, it turns out in the year 2000 America has become morally bankrupt and led by an evil dictator, Mr. P. This dude gives us we want, which is apparently televised vehicular manslaughter, of all things. For a three-day period, five ridiculous racers speed across the country running over anybody foolishly outside during the event. Women are worth 10 points, teens 40, and toddlers rack up a solid 70. Oh, and don't forget grandpa, as his old ass is worth 100.

So, for 80 minutes, we ride. Fast. David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone are the main competitors, with two chicks providing the fodder. There's another guy too, and I swear he is the douchey sensei from Karate Kid. Fear does not exist in this dojo! Yes, sensei. I mean, yes, Nero the Hero.

Friday, May 25, 2012

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.

Full disclosure: Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite movies of all time. That might give my credibility a shot in the junk for some of you more cynical types, but as a senior in high school at the time, the movie captivated me. Renee Zellweger's character, Dorothy, tells Jerry, I just want to be inspired. As a seventeen year old, I couldn't have agreed more. Sure, there's dozens of other scenes and characters (the Rod Tidwell) I can ramble on about for hours, but that's about as succinctly as I could put it. Why mention this? Well, this past Tuesday my wife and I completed another Cameron Crowe film, We Bought a Zoo. Or as my wife put it, Jerry Maguire with Animals.

That's not a knock, at least it isn't for me. We Bought a Zoo was a very enjoyable movie, but not quite the family flick it was packaged as (the Blu ray had an Ice Age short in front of it?). It's innocent and downright whimsical at times, and of course the animal footage has a lot of awwwww shots, but there's some serious stuff going on here. At times, I was kind of a wreck. Okay, I just had something in my eye. Well, both of my eyes. Fine, I cried. A lot.

So what brought the waterworks? Well, turns out I don't really enjoy watching a dad deal with his family after he has lost his wife to a sudden illness. Yeah, the Dead Mommy genre isn't my cup of tea. Repeatedly, I imagined myself trying to keep my own family together after the loss of my wife, and it destroyed me. Now, I'm not as dreamy as Matt Damon and my son is much younger than his pair, but that didn't make it any easier to swallow. And to think I got suckered in with frickin' Scrat. I haven't been this devastated in a family film since Marley & Me. Whoever suggested that was a family movie needs to beaten to death with a dead dog. F--ker.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What kind of sorcery is this?

If you couldn't tell by the poorly written sentences, the juvenile sense of humor or the constant self-deprecation, I'm a middle school English teacher. Wait, an inner-city middle school English teacher. I spend my professional life trying to convince 7th graders that reading and writing actually means something. Their responses and performances have led me to one single truth: I am not easily offended.

Sacha Baron Cohen has made a career crafting comedies filled with characters who routinely say and do very offensive things. The Dictator continues this trend, but sheds the faux-documentary angle in favor of a more traditional comedy. Don't worry, the hallmarks are still here. Clueless/racially insensitive main character? Check. A journey of an improbable nature? Oh yes. Lots of politically incorrect gags? 10-4. We going to need a dick shot, too, right? Right.

Male nudity is one of Cohen's calling cards, and though it isn't seared into my memory like the fat, naked guy from Borat, or the talking pecker from Bruno, he certainly puts the dick in Dictator. Honestly, this didn't offend me at all. The fact that there weren't any boobs bothered me a hell of a lot more. And no, the milking scene doesn't count. Okay, maybe it does a little bit.

I guess while I'm talking about dicks, I should mention that our main character Admiral General Aladeen is a huge one. In his home country he is a vicious overlord who has people killed for the slightest of offenses. When he gets to America, he unsurprisingly, does not change his ways. To his credit, Cohen again crafts a character we should hate, but it's impossible to. His recklessness and insensitivity actually make him more likeable. Man, if only I could pull that off...

I caught this one on Friday afternoon, so here are the Yays and Boos, the make-the-nuke-pointy style.

Was the Seacrest incident more memorable than the flick?
Yaaaaaaaay!
  • The Aladeen news? You're HIV Aladeen.
  • Though it was in the preview, the helicopter scene was inspired lunacy.
  • The best reason ever to have someone executed? That annoying little dance that occurs when two people try to politely walk around each other yet keep choosing to go the same way.
  • The torture scene with John C. Reilly! Nice.
  • Osama Bin Laden is real shitty houseguest. 
  • The patsy version of Aladeen was pretty funny. 
  • The weird soundtrack was actually quite amusing. Everybody Hurts never sounded so....um, Aladeen.
  • This is cheap, but the Anchorman teaser was solid.
He refers to her as a lesbian Hobbit.
 Booooo!
  • Turns out I don't enjoy scenes that take place inside someone. Especially pregnant someones. Goodness.
  •  It's short, 83-minutes short, but it still feels a bit long.
  • Anna Farris. Am I tired of you? I think I am. Though feel free to do the Yoda voice anytime...
  • Ed Norton's cameo? I am Jack's crushing disappointment.
  • Honestly, this one seemed like it was played too safe at times. There's some bite to it, but it's rather innocent at times. Innocent by Cohen's standards anyway...
As is rather commonplace for summertime flicks, I had a free pass, so there was no money on the line for me. And like my sister has pointed out, I usually don't hate anything anyway. Overall, I think  it was funny enough to warrant seeing, but I'd have your back if you just went and saw The Avengers again.

It certainly wouldn't offend me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Well, it's just that I'm sick and tired of being a one-of-a-kind freak, that's all.

Lightning McQueen? Dead. Shrek, too. Oh, and scattered in the distance, are the shriveled bodies of Alvin, Simon and Theodore. The list of deceased fictional characters grows weekly around my house. The killer? Here's a shocker: Kermit the Frog. Ever since we showed my son The Muppets [review], he has been clamoring for all things Muppets. After watching the latest flick for what feels like the 900th time, my wife and son broke me down and demanded that we watch 1999's Muppets from Space. I had been holding out, as I wanted to watch it before my son did.

No, that's not good parental instincts taking over and pre-screening a film for objectionable material. Not at all. That's simply me being a selfish a-hole, and wanting to watch a movie that I'd never seen in peace and quiet. Shameful, right? Yeah, pretty much.

That said, we all sat down and watched this as a family. Let me tell you, Little Man is getting much better at watching movies. That may not seem like an admirable trait, but as a teacher, you'd be surprised at how many kids can't watch a movie. Seriously. Turns out that's a skill.

Speaking of useless skills, this flick came out during my sophomore year of college. Ugh. I only mention this because I recall some horrible let's-be-ironic-jerkoffs-and-go-see-The-Muppets conversation that thankfully never amounted to anything. Not to say the movie wasn't good, I'm just glad that's one less time I wasn't co-captain of Group of College Pricks. 'Cause now that I have a son and am in my thirties, I hate those f--kers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

There is no right cookie.

So it's come to this. Last Saturday, my wife and I had a...ugh...date night. I don't know what it is about the term, but I can't bring myself to say it out loud. It sounds like something very bored sweater-wearing couples do after they drop off Tristan and Madison at a vegan tumble class. Or something. For my wife and I, it was a rare evening among adults, meaning, well, us. So after a way too expensive dinner downtown (aka the hood) we hauled ass to the local cineplex, i.e. The Dirt Mall, where we caught The Five-Year Engagement. This would mark our fourth movie together since our son was born.

Being that our 100-months-pregnant server couldn't make her way back to us quickly to drop the check, we were late, actually missing the beginning of the movie. I only mention this because time is the only real drawback in this flick. Yes, time and timing are crucial to the story and the relationship of the two main characters, but I'm also talking about actual time, as in runtime. This f--ker is epic. It never felt like it was really dragging or anything, but we both started to get the feeling that the movie would never end. It's the romantic comedy equivalent of Return of the King.

So, if I have to spend two plus hours in a rom-com, I can think of no pair better than Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. Segel is kind of an honorary member of the family, with The Muppets [review] in perpetual rotation around these parts. Segel is a very charming guy,and despite being super talented, still pulls off the everyman bit as good as anyone. Oh, and bonus points to him for being, what, nine feet tall? Dude's huge.

Also huge, is my love for Emily Blunt. It's great to see her not being a huge bitch for once. Maybe I haven't seen enough of her (and I know I haven't), but I felt like this role was a departure for her. Her character, Violet, might creep up near the top of fictional girls worth killing an actual man for. Okay, that might be overselling it, but she's so damn intriguing and appealing here it's ridiculous. Throw in a knit cap and an British accent? I'm done.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

They f--king forgot my birthday.

My, how time flies. A year ago this evening, I started this silly little movie blog. I didn't tell anyone about it, I just let it kind of sit there. Slowly, I started watching movies and trying to come up with something to say. I wanted to do something different, which led me to thinking of my then one and half year old son. I imagined him reading this when he's older (much older) and I wanted to let him know about his dad through my love of movies. See, there are many bloggers out there writing much better reviews than I ever could, so I wisely opted out of that niche. I decided to try to relate to the film, and to share some ridiculous idea or story that (possibly/hopefully) relates. Sometimes it has worked, most times...well, not so much.

I really want to keep this blog to movie reviews (only), but tonight I want to celebrate a full year of blogging ridiculousness. If you're a regular, I want to tell you that I appreciate you very much (though you could comment more, you tight-lipped bastard). If you've stumbled on this post by mistake, I apologize there's no hardcore pornography here. Well, not yet. I'm talking to the guy who searched for 'vagina beauty.' And the dude looking for 'banana in the anus porn.' Sorry to let the team down.

Okay, to keep it moving, some quick stats. For the year, I've watched and wrote up posts for 133 movies. I wrote up everything I saw in its entirety except for I Am Number Four. That was a flick I showed in school so I watched it four times in one day. I honestly couldn't stomach writing about it. I've also watched almost all of Soul Surfer and The American, but without seeing the endings, I didn't think I had enough to let it fly. Maybe I'll revisit those soon. One of the arbitrary rules that I've established, is that I'm only going to watch (and review) movies I haven't seen before, so that's made me hate my blu ray collection. Why buy them if I'm never going watch them again? Though, I did watch 50/50 again - but that was because the wife wanted to.

I hate lists, because I'm probably the most wishy-washy prick alive, but I decided to make a Top and Bottom 10 list of what I saw this past year. It (currently, anyway) looks something like this:

Top 10
  1. Drive - So good, I'm actually afraid to watch it again. 
  2. The Fighter - It's sad, but these people are my family.
  3. Midnight In Paris - A very sweet film. I loved Wilson in this.
  4. The Raid: Redemption - Wow. Wow. Wow.
  5. The Descendants - Made me homesick.
  6. 50/50 - This one, unfortunately, means a lot to me.
  7. Bellflower - I didn't know what I was getting into. Still don't.
  8. The Ides of March - Such a tightly-wound thriller.
  9. Super 8 - People I love hated it. They're stupid and ugly.
  10. Tangled - My wife and sister loved it. Damn it...I did, too.
Honorable Mention: Monsters, The Brothers Bloom and Like Crazy. Three small films that I enjoyed immensely. 

Bottom 10
  1. Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star - Almost impressively bad.
  2. Transformers 3 - Wasted money. Ours. Theirs.
  3. 2012 - I was rooting against humanity.
  4. Cars 2 - I never thought I would hate a Pixar film.
  5. Ghost Rider II - If only my skull would've burst into flames.
  6. Jonah Hex - I knew it was bad, but it was actually worse.
  7. Legion - If Lifetime made a 'horror' movie, this would be it.
  8. The Darkest Hour - More like the darkest 89 minutes.
  9. No Strings Attached - No Fun Attached.
  10. Velvet Goldmine - Not for me. Or anyone. Well, one guy.
Dishonorable Mention: The awfulness of Zookeeper, and the underwhelming Drag Me to Hell. Indeed.

WITH LOVE: Special thanks to my family. Kim, for putting up with this for a full calendar year (though would it kill her to read it every now and then? Wait, it actually might). My sister, who, when near, always is down for whatever, be it horror, drama or weirdly experimental French flicks. Co-workers! Flem! An avid reader (who never comments - jerkface) who's smart as shit, always a good thing! HW! Our editor in chief! Thanks for all your help, on and offline! Dunph, VW and Bundy - appreciate the visits. Mr. Joe, maybe one day I'll let you know whether the movie is good or not...even though I'm never really sure. Bloggers! M. Hufstader - You have routinely inspired me. Thank you very much for that! Dan the Man - You were one of the first bloggers reading this nonsense. Thank you for the kind words. Sati - I'm in awe of your site. Prometheus better be good. Shout outs to Ty @ Comeuppance Reviews, Patrick @ bananafeed, Joe @ Multiplex Slut and anyone else I've forgot to mention.You guys rule.

- m.brown

Seeing. Still working on believing.

I was 12 years old in the summer of 1992. I remember being consumed with one idea: The Dream Team. All of my favorite basketball players were coming together to form the most legendary team ever assembled. They were going to crush the competition. They all had had separate moments of glory, and there was talk that there were too many egos to pull it off. Somehow, it worked, and I reveled in the excitement and drama of seeing these legends on the court at the same time. Twenty years later, it happened again.

Doc... I think now is the perfect time for you to get angry.
The Avengers is probably the closest thing comic book fans will get to utter cinematic perfection. I don't think the movie is flawless, however, but the fact that it actually happened and is damn near excellent is truly remarkable. The last half an hour of this film is an orgy of super hero mayhem. This would have been a page turner on paper, but put to film? Insanity.

Before I ramble on about the awesomeness, I just want to mention my only real problem with the flick: the beginning. I legitimately enjoy all the actors and in theory could listen to them talk about whatever for hours. This theory seemed to actually be tested as this movie seems to have a rather slow buildup to the chaotic climax. It was not a dealbreaker by any means, but I found myself growing impatient waiting for the ass-kicking to begin. Yes, there are some minor skirmishes sprinkled here and there, but none long enough to satiate my bloodlust.

Sorry, but I had to. Let me get right to the breakdown. Here are the Yays and Boos, Larry-Bird-is-pretty-much-Captain-America style. Oh, and watch out for some spoilage.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sometimes in order to heal... a few people have to get hurt.

I think it was when I did my taxes for the first time. At least that's what I told myself. Maybe it was in college, when one of my best friends died in a tragic accident - though I definitely didn't take the time to consider it then. Most likely, however, it was the day my son was born - that might be the ultimate welcome to the club moment. But then there's this blog. And well, it's basically thousands of words saying, let's not get ahead of ourselves, a-hole.

So, when did you officially become an adult? Better question might be, have you? When you're a kid, it's easy to identify grown-ups, they're the old people. What about when you're twenty? It's everyone who's thirty, right? But now that I'm in my thirties, I have no frickin' clue anymore. I'm an adult, but I certainly don't feel like one.

These questions are more eloquently addressed in last year's Young Adult. Charlize Theron stars as Mavis Gary (she has to be the hottest Mavis ever put to film), a ghost writer for a fading YA series. Mavis' life is a controlled mess, but she's a small scale big shot. After receiving a seemingly innocent e-mail, Mavis heads home to break up/destroy the happy marriage of her old high school boyfriend, played by Patrick Wilson. If you're into self-destruction and love painfully awkward conversations and confrontations, friend, have I got a film for you.

Obviously, this is the Charlize Theron show. Maybe it's just me, but she manages to pull off an impressive feat in this flick. She is the ultimate bitch, but she's frustratingly likeable, too. You want to hate her, you need to hate her. In fact, if you don't at least once want to actually punch the real Charlize Theron in the face at some point, consider me impressed. Mavis has not grown up, she has not moved on since high school, where apparently, she was the shit.She talks like a kid, she dresses like a kid, hell, she even eats like a kid.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

There is a calamity coming. And it effects us all.

When I was kid, it happened while watching Arachnophobia. In my early twenties, it happened again with Daredevil. Tonight at 32 years old, it happened yet again: I was in the theater alone. I remember being scared as a kid, mostly because I thought there were spiders in the theater. For Daredevil, I remember being pissed that the projector was all messed up, showing the image far below the screen. Being the only warm body in the theater, you don't have That Guy who gets up and alerts the staff of the problem. That burden was on me. Tonight, there were no issues (mentally or logistically), just peace and quiet. And after taking a slew of middleschoolers to a baseball game earlier today, that was more than welcome. If only the movie didn't suck.

Clash of the Titans wasn't good. But for some reason, I had a good time with it. Check out the review here. Wrath of the Titans probably isn't worse, but it definitely isn't better. So where's the carryover goodwill? Well, I had read something about everybody involved atoning for the sins of the first one. Sam Worthington essentially said, 'Yeah, the first one sucked.' Well Sam, you might be two for two, mate. For the first flick, I was years late to the party - so my expectations were at rock bottom. But for number two (see what I did there), I'm merely weeks late. Expectations weren't off the charts, but I was expecting, I don't know...progress?

Not that I think you care, but here's the plot, boiled down: Perseus must again save the world from a gigantic force of evil. The fate of mankind is in his hands. It's not the Kraken that will be unleashed, it's Kronos, a giant lava monster. A small group of men will travel to various locations acquiring people, information, or information about the locations of people. It moves quickly, and is INCREDIBLY LOUD and colorful. There are a few cool moments along the way, but most are cut short or sloppily edited. The Raid, this ain't.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This is the first time in my life I've identified with a tire.

I needed you tonight. Really, I did. Wherever you are, hell, whoever you are, if you're reading these words - I needed you. I just watched something that I shouldn't have seen by myself. Not at all. I needed someone with me. Uh, aren't you married? Well, yes, and thank God she didn't join me on this one. The best case scenario would have been immediate divorce. Worst case? We'd watch the flick again.

Someone's tricked the audience!
Okay, I didn't really hate Rubber as much as I'm letting on, but it's the biggest pile of what the f--k? ever put to film. Honestly, I've seen some random shit in my days, but this one might just set some kind of record.

The story, though I prefer the term dare, is about a psychotic tire (stay with me) drifting through the desert and destroying everything in its path. Now you might assume that this tire is running over bitches left and right, um, right? Wrong. It actually uses some kind of mind powers to make heads explode. Huh? That doesn't make any sense. If an actual logical thought crosses your mind while reading this review, you're disqualified from enjoying this flick. Keep it moving, Einstein.

Anyway, the reason I needed you with me so badly, isn't just your good looks and luxurious hair. No, I needed you because there were at least ninety-eight times that I would have looked you dead in the eyes and said either a) did that just happen? or b) what the f--k is going on? I might have even went with c) Which one of us is imaging this from our deathbed?

You know what? There's some really clever stuff in this movie - really clever. Sure, you might not last long enough to get there, but still. Or if you do make it, you might be so angry/confused/high that when you get to it you couldn't give a damn if you wanted to. But I did, and I actually laughed a couple of times. Mostly, it's the fourth wall stuff that cracked me up, but some of the pure randomness got me, too. They repeatedly make the point to say that things happen in movies (and life) for no reason, but I'm sure that everything on screen is symbolic of something. That, or the entire film is just the biggest f--k you to every film professor and movie-snob walking the planet. Well, see, the reason the tire enjoys watching aerobic workout videos actually represents man's need to...when it's really just a case of Dude, a tire is watching TV! Awesome. I started a quest for higher truth, but gave up when the tire stopped to drink out of a puddle.