Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do you think I enjoy this?

When I was little, I was obsessed with ancient Ancient Greece. Obsessed. And that was before my dad took me to Athens. As I got older, I shirked such scholarly endeavors and became enamored with action movies - the more violent the better. That's all I wanted to watch. Then, as my voice got marginally deeper, and when my bloodlust was (momentarily) quenched, women became all I thought about. Beautiful, mysterious (and um, let's be honest - buxom) creatures that captured my attention and imagination to such a degree, it negated all my other interests entirely. Well, except for movies.

Because, with the cinema, I could have all three. At the same time. 

300: Rise of an Empire isn't a great movie by any stretch, but damned if it isn't a good time. While that good time comes mainly in the form of buckets full of red blood and cups full of Green Eva, I had a solid time with this unnecessary sequel. The original 300 may be a better film, but this one excels in its simplicity. From start to finish, it's one thing, and one thing only: f--king chaotic.

I don't really recall the first flick all that well, as the last time I saw it (all the way through) was eight years ago. Luckily, Rise provides enough explanation of the events to get everyone up to speed.

Apparently, Leonidas' death at the end of 300 has given the Persians the belief that they can take Athens now, too. Turns out, that whole conflict was started by a Greek hombre named Themistocles (some dude named Sullivan Stapleton), who just happened to kill the Persian king. Now, ten years later, the king's son is back and seeking further vengeance. The son is Xerxes, the prettiest man alive (and villain of the first flick), who already decimated the Spartans and is coming for Themistocles and his band of merry men. Did you get all that? Me neither.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Making bad decisions is nothing new to me.

Communication Arts. That's what the adults call the class I've spent my career teaching (I'm sure the kids have another way of putting it). For me, it's simply a class about words. Carefully chosen words, at that. And while it feels like I spend the majority of my time and effort on poorly chosen ones instead, there's a time of year where students genuinely make make me happy, no - ecstatic, halcyonic or perhaps even cock-a-hoop to be a teacher: The National Spelling Bee. While it doesn't hurt that the Bee is in the last two weeks of the school year (ah, the glory of late-May), what I really love is the fact that for a few days out of the year smart kids are celebrated. 

I almost wish I could join in.

Bad Words, the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, tells the story of a 40 year-old man doing just that - competing in the National Spelling Bee. While my adoration of the Bee comes from smart kids doing smart things (the exception in these parts), Bateman's Guy Trilby is motivated by something far less noble. He wants to f--king win it. F--k kids. All of them.

While the blunt, obscenity-laden tirades provide much of the comedy early on, this aspect of the film seems a little derivative, honestly. It's not to say that it doesn't work (I might have shed a tear or two laughing), it just felt like Bateman was more often than not channeling his inner Melissa McCarthy (his co-star from the vastly inferior Identity Thief [review]).And judging by how her last film fared, mentioning her shtick may be quite the deal-breaker.

Fear not, as any missteps in the naughty bits are completely forgivable due to the relationship Guy develops with one his competitors, Bee-favorite Chaitanya Chopra (played by the adorably badass Rohan Chand). The chemistry between the free-wheeling a-hole Guy and the infinitely curious kid, was easily my favorite part of the film.Guy, by being the worst adult on the planet, ends up teaching the kid there's more to life than studying and doing what Dad says (part of this lesson involves a big-tittied hooker, naturally). And in return, Chaitanya shows Guy that being a rotten f--ker isn't his only option. Wait, what?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You and I are like rain-proofing on a wooden deck. Finished.

I don't know if love is the right word anymore, but I really, really like Saturday Night Live. Maybe even, you know, more than a friend. The nineties were when it really started for me, as Sandler, Farley, Myers, Hartman and the rest solidified my long-term commitment to the show, for better or worse, till death do us part. And if you've watched as much SNL as I have, you know that something happens at about the forty-minute mark (maybe after Weekend Update) of the show. Things generally get pretty f--king weird.

They Came Together, starring SNL alum Amy Poehler and show-regular Paul Rudd, is the film embodiment of that stretch where SNL transitions from somewhat straightforward comedy to batshit absurdity. Being that this one comes to us from director David Wain that may not surprise you, but it also may not interest you, either.

From the outset, They Came Together looks to take the piss out of the entire romantic comedy genre. Loosely based on You've Got Mail, this flick tells the familiar tale of two seemingly opposite New Yorkers (of course), who, despite their overwhelming (-ly cliched) differences, end up falling in love. Aww. While that setup would be a kick in the sack of originality in any other movie, here it's the perfect setup for satire. Very bizarre satire.

If you often find that an endless amount of thoroughly random jokes (delivered by an endless amount of thoroughly random actors) is your cup of tea, trust me, you'll have a blast with this one. But if you're looking for something a little more straightforward to watch with your better half, best to keep it moving.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This one shows spirit.

I'm sure you've heard what they've been saying now that it's over: it was a huge gamble! It shouldn't have worked out as well as it did. And while they were talking about the movie we saw, in fact, they might as well have been talking about my wife and I seeing it. Together. Because, let me tell you, for the first fifteen minutes? I thought I made a terrible, terrible decision.

My wife loathes sci-fi, and isn't even borderline interested in the Marvel Universe, but she loved Guardians of the Galaxy. And even though I'm three weeks out from having seen it (new job = imminent death of Two Dollar Cinema), I still consider it one of the most entertaining movies of 2014, and (tiny, adorable raccoon) hands down the best movie of the summer. There isn't a doubt in my mind.

Back in the begnining of August, I thought the early word/fanboy boners would steer me wrong, or at least make it impossible for Marvel's latest to live up to the hype, but that word (and those um, boners) was/were spot on. While the easy answer to Guardians success is to say that everything just works, I think what I loved most about it was the fact that it didn't take itself too seriously. And by that I mean that it's f--king hysterical. 

Most of the laughs come from the brilliantly-cast Chris Pratt as Starlord/Peter, but Riley Cooper's work as Rocket Raccoon consistently killed me. Rocket is such a dick in the best possible way that it still makes me smile. His insistence on various body parts being essential to the plan still cracks me up. I need his prosthetic leg.