Monday, February 25, 2013

This is where happiness goes to die.

Of all the days in my life, there are few that I can recall every minute of. On that short list, perhaps even at the top, is the day my son was born. Now heading into that day, I thought I was ready. Not ready ready, but movie ready. According to Hollywood, this is how the day was going to go:
  1. My wife's water was going to break in a very public place. She would scream, and I would drop everything (literally, 'cause my hands were full of items).
  2. The day-of plan, which we would have meticulously planned and rehearsed, would go to shit in fantastic fashion.
  3. I would drive like a maniac, almost getting in seventeen accidents. I wouldn't hit anyone, but numerous cars would have to swerve out of the way and lean on their horns. Likely, someone would yell Asshole! To which I would have one of two replies, Sorry! or (while pointing at wife's stomach) She's having a baby!
  4. When parking at the hospital, I would hit something small, like a sign or a tree. I might even just miss an old person using a walker. Phew. Close one.
  5. Upon entering the hospital, I would scream at the black lady at the desk, interrupting her phone call. She would make a face that I wouldn't notice or care about.
  6. The doctor we had planned on delivering our perfect baby? That guy is nowhere to be found. Instead, we get a real screwball! He's either weird, foreign, scary or nineteen and a half. If we're incredibly unfortunate, he's some combination of the four.
  7. Instantly, my wife would be in the throes of labor, screaming and cursing at me, the bumbling doofus. And while I meekly tell her to breathe, breeeeeeathe, she would grab me and shout You did this to me! She might even land a punch. That would be the funniest form of domestic violence ever. Oh, and this is the moment she demands drugs.
  8. The labor would be intense, but it would last only about three to five minutes. Assuming they gave us the right baby, it would be a beautiful 3 month-old, spotless giant. With a perfectly shaped head, too.
  9. We would cry together. We would say that he's perfect. We would then kiss, not even realizing the odd truth that every person in the room immediately went on break.
  10. Despite being the most chaotic day in our lives, everything would turn out just fine.
Turns out the last one was true. Everything else? Well, let's just say it wasn't what I expected.

What to Expect When You're Expecting is awful, almost impressively so. Coming from the school of let's put a lot of famous people in a movie and have the terrible stories barely connect that has somehow been deemed acceptable, this flick is a disaster from start to finish. Terribly cast, woefully uneven and utterly stupid, add this flick to the list of things that pregnant women should avoid (along with tanning beds and roller coasters).

Don't think I was expecting much going in, because trust me, I wasn't. As my pregnant wife and I fired this up, I was literally hoping for not terrible. But as each ridiculous character was introduced, and their subsequent groan-inducing story unfolded, I knew we were both doomed. Suddenly, I wished we'd opted for something a little less terrifying. Something like Rosemary's Baby, perhaps?

The six stories try to cover each possible angle an expectant family could face. Unfortunately, as I've um, belabored, they're all painful to sit through. Maybe one of these could have been fleshed out into something watchable, but instead are mashed together in an orgy of misguided whimsy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gary, turn off your brain and hang on.

Our kids, probably whether we'd like them to or not, will likely grown up to be just like us. And as half of you reading this just thought Screw that, I'm not like my mom or dad at all, it's safe to say that there's a certain inevitability about it. Try as we might, we're helpless against it. If you have ever read this blog (and you haven't, I know), it's painfully clear that while absolutely loving movies and everything about them, I'm a sarcastic jerk, consistently going for the cheapest laugh possible. And despite being on this planet for a little over three years, my son is shaping up to be the same way. Let the following sentence, whispered to my wife during our recent trip to the movies, be my son's first movie review.

Mom, you said there would be more funny parts.

And while the delivery was rather deadpan, the implication that my wife said the movie would be better is quietly hysterical (she made no such claim). That said, my son nailed it. Escape from Planet Earth isn't funny. It also isn't exciting, inspired or special in any way. It's a family movie smartly released to fill the vacancy that has existed in theaters since Rise of the Guardians [review] moved out over a month ago. Relatively good news for them, awfully bad news for everyone else.

The story, not that you care at all, is all kinds of derivative. Primarily, the plot concerns a rescue mission. Rescue mission, you say? Intriguing. Not so fast, Italics Guy. You remember when Woody had to go get Buzz out of Sid's house in the first Toy Story? Yeah? Well, so did everyone who worked on the script for Escape from Planet Earth. And you remember those yellow-suited dudes from Monsters, Inc.? Might as well steal borrow them, too. But probably the biggest theft of them all, would be shoplifting the idea of creatures being held captive on Earth, as seen in the lackluster/superior Dreamworks flick, Monsters vs. Aliens. If you like Escape, they're tributes, but for a bored dad like me, you're thinking this is a ripoff, in more ways than one.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

That's kind of a stupid analogy.

As I write this, the NBA All-Star Game is on in the background. As a kid, I absolutely loved the All-Star Game. It was a collection of big stars from my favorite sport putting on an impossibly entertaining show. Even if the game was silly and ultimately meaningless, it was so much fun to watch. No strategy, no defense, just the biggest and best players making shot after shot. And as I look back on those days fondly, now unsurprisingly, it's a different story. Now, I think, this shit is almost unwatchable. There's nothing on the line, no drama at all. Unless you're a pretty hardcore basketball fan, you shouldn't even bother.

After seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback flick a few weeks ago [review], I thought it was only fitting that I check in on my man Sylvester Stallone as well. And while I'll go on record saying that I enjoyed Bullet to the Head more, I think that's faint praise, at best.

Despite the basketball analogy suggesting otherwise, there is some fun to be had with this flick. First, Stallone is still a f--king monster. This guy is sixty-six years old for f--k's sake. Sixty. Six. And when he's not growling at someone, he's beating the shit out of them. Subtlety, thank God, is out the window. Next, we've got a pretty solid villain in New Conan, Jason Momoa. He's a big f--k as well, and has no problem shooting a bitch in the head. And finally, you've got a seriously hot chick (for all of you less-refined gents out there), the beautifully dirty Sarah Shahi. This trio, while you may not care about them, they'll at least hold your interest. Everything else? Well, not so much.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

You're ridiculous. This place is ridiculous.

My wife and I have been together since 2001. In the dozen years that have passed, there's never been any wavering or separation. Basically, we've been a package deal forever. Despite rarely attending any parties or get-togethers, I'm fairly sure that we're not the annoying couple. In fact, we generally keep to ourselves and have an extremely small group of friends.

Shit. Maybe we are the annoying couple.

Very late Saturday night, my wife and I sat down to watch Celeste and Jesse Forever. And by that I mean I sat and watched, as wifey slipped into a pregnancy-induced coma minutes before the opening frame. There were a couple of other flicks on the table, but she wanted to see something nice. And as she began making sounds like a wounded Yeti, I sat back begrudgingly and thought, yeah, real nice...

I only mention the proceedings because it might help to explain my overall indifference/dislike of the movie. I've enjoyed the work of Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones in the past, but here, it simply didn't jive for me. While Samberg's Jesse is basically a large boy (though, to be fair, most guys are), the real problem is Celeste, as played by Jones.

Celeste is smart, successful and attractive, but she also comes across as consistently bitter and unhappy. It's hard to root for someone to find love, when you don't really like them in the first place. Even if it's just a mild dislike. And, given the glimpses we get of them together (on whatever level), their cutesy bullshit will either make you smile and sigh, or shake your head and quietly want to punch something. You can guess how I felt. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Monday, February 11, 2013

You ever think about retirement?

I don't care what anyone says, there are such things as stupid questions. Stupid answers, too.

When I was a kid, I remember learning that Nolan Ryan could throw the ball over a hundred miles an hour. That fact warped my fragile little mind. I instantly wondered what it would be like to get beaned by his fastball. I gathered my closest friends together and took an informal poll. If you had to get drilled by a hundred mile-per-hour fastball, where would you want to get hit? One of my friends said his shoulder, another one said his foot. Fair enough, I thought, but I knew the best place.

I'd take it, get this, right in the ass.

Also getting, um, drilled, is anyone unlucky enough to expect a decent time with the horrendous Trouble with the Curve. I had read a better-written review over at cinematic corner warning of its shortcomings, but still I persisted. Worse? I brought the wife along for the ride, too. At this point, I'm batting well below the Mendoza line.

After reading that intro, it's clear that choosing the right word has never been my strong suit. I always thought I could choose the right movie, though. Here, it looked like a no-brainer. Clint Eastwood? Awesome. Amy Adams? Yes, please. Timberlake? Sure, why not? Throw in a preview that almost made me cry every time I saw it, and I'm thinking home run. Hell, I might've even called my shot beforehand.

Unfortunately though, minutes in, everything starts to crumble. We open with Clint trying to take a piss, and it's pretty much straight down the shitter. Cliche after cliche, dialogue lacking any bit of subtlety, and a final twenty minutes that made me root against humanity, Trouble with the Curve is a mess. Outside of a moment or two, I hated just about everything in it. And for a movie about baseball that also has John Goodman in it? Well, that's borderline' blasphemous.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

You can't solve all the world's problems with a shotgun.

Putting my son to sleep the other night, he asked me if I was going to bed, too. I told him that I was going to stay up and watch a movie. He asked, is it that movie we've seen the preview for on T.V.? For whatever reason, he's insistent that I not go see A Good Day to Die Hard. No, it's not that one, it's something else, I told him. What's it called, Dad? Hmm...about that.

I didn't want to tell him, because two of the words in the title were going to require clarification, that I wasn't interested in, well, clarifying. He persisted, is it called Rainbow, Dad? No, it's not called Rainbow, kiddo. Not even close.

Hobo with a Shotgun is actually the direct opposite of a rainbow. Instead of being beautiful, serene and of-the-moment, this flick is an ugly, chaotic punch to the dick/loving nod to a long gone era of cinema. In fact, it's one of the ugliest things I have ever seen, film or otherwise. But, it's oddly beautiful, too.

Perhaps surprisingly, I didn't really enjoy the tale of a homeless man cleaning up the streets with a shotgun, despite being a fan of hyper-stylized, cartoonish violence. It simply didn't work for me, outside of a couple of inspired scenes and characters. Despite that, it's very clear that this film was lovingly created, as every frame is drenched in the depravity of the grindhouse flicks that obviously inspired it. Visually, it's striking. And relentless. But it's also kind of pointless, too.

Story qualms aside, let me just say that Rutger Hauer is the f--king man in this one. If he's not killing bitches, he's protecting them, all while chewing on, then spitting out every syllable of dialogue. It's a pretty epic performance for such a trashy flick. Looking over his filmography, it's clear he's kept himself busy, but the only thing I really knew him from was Blind Fury, which for some reason, I've seen a million times. Here, he's got working eyes and instead of a sword, a pump-action shotgun. He's a good dude, dealt a bad hand. And if no one else is going to do it, he's going to right some wrongs. And by right I mean shoot, And by wrongs, well obviously, I mean faces.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Organized nerd singing?

Might as well just say it. I was in glee club.

I know, I come off so incredibly badass it's shocking, but it's unfortunately true, too. See, when I was in middle school, it was required of all the seventh and eighth graders to participate. I don't know if I could sing or not, but I do know they divided the room by gender and made me and one other dork sit on the girls' side. As lame as the whole endeavor was, I do recall we could rock the shit out of a Christmas carol or two. And growing up in Hawai'i, nothing says Christmas like a bunch of haole (read: white) kids singing Mele Kalikimaka on a winter night where the temperature dips just below seventy two.

Fourth from the left. What a wonderful set of personalities on her.
In episode 2 of Making My Wife Happy, I decided to fire up last year's Pitch Perfect. I won't bullshit you at all, I wanted to see it too, but only because I can find nothing wrong with staring at Anna Kendrick for 100 minutes. Also, maybe something in my checkered past makes me a fan of a bunch of hot chicks singing pop songs. Whatever. If my wife and I can spend some time together watching something that doesn't make the other secretly wonder how much a divorce really costs? then it's pretty much a victory all around.

If you don't know how the story of a ragtag group of misfits against the world ends, then let me be the first to congratulate you on actually being able to turn on a phone or computer. The plot is incredibly predictable, if not altogether inconsequential. But you don't Redbox a movie starring Fat Amy hoping to see a masterpiece. You Redbox something like this, because at a dollar fifty, it's a pretty safe bet you'll get your money's worth. And did I mention it has Anna Kendrick? 

When I first saw the preview, I was thinking it was a total Glee ripoff, and despite a thinly-veiled attempt to literally tell you otherwise, it basically is. Attractive adults (playing attractive kids), singing medley's of songs (you may or not be able to tolerate) competitively is about the extent of it. Add incredibly self-aware dialogue and a vibe that says we're not taking this shit seriously, neither should you and sure enough, you have an average episode of Glee Pitch Perfect. I'd say use your love of the television show as your personal barometer, but I'm not sure anybody still watches it. Well, outside of my ladyfriend, anyway.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bitches, man.

Many years ago, on a flight from Honolulu to Boston, I started to outline an idea for a movie. The idea was to create the most violent film ever, but not only in sheer amount of gore, but in that many of the deaths would be funny and memorable. And since real people being splattered all over the screen isn't that funny, clearly we were going to need zombies. Lots of them. The gag was that there was this fully-functioning town in the desert where zombies were living out their lives, as far as they knew, normally. My friend even came up with the title The Peaceful Dead. The, um, hero, was to come in and absolutely slaughter this town in a blood-soaked rage, only to find that there was a simple cure to turn them back. And while I never figured out how to change 'em (the best I could do was water, you know, because it's the desert), I know there was one thing that never crossed my mind: Love.

When I told a friend of mine that I was really excited to see Warm Bodies he said that he was totally zombied out. And while I can't even recall the last zombie movie I've seen, the last good one was likely Shaun of the Dead. And that was almost ten years ago. Ten years, man. Ten! And while I agree that certain trends seem to get played out by Hollywood (see also: pirates, torture, vampires, end of the world, to name a few), for me, the walking dead haven't. Well, except for The Walking Dead, I suppose, but I've never seen a minute of it.

But Warm Bodies isn't a zombie movie, it's a love story. And you'd be hard pressed to find anyone, my man child friend included, that doesn't like a love story. Especially a very good one.

There are many things that this flick does right, namely the cast and the setting, but what I found myself most drawn to was the relationship between zombie guy R (played with infinite sweetness by Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (an intriguing Teresa Palmer). Sure, the trailers gave a lot of it away, but their relationship develops in such a natural way, it was hard not to smile throughout. R, despite being a brain-eating corpse, reminds me of every guy I've ever seen try to court a girl (myself included). It's simple, but it's also very clever and charming.

Friday, February 1, 2013

We have to talk, George.

In my illustrious career as a temporary worker, I would routinely get called for horribly random jobs. I worked in such enchanting places such as a Nationwide claims center, a windowless medical records room, and even a copier parts warehouse (which was formerly an adult DVD warehouse). Once, I was offered a one day gig as a mascot. A mascot. I was told I wouldn't even have to say anything, just kind of dance around and make obvious gestures. As a recent college graduate (read: broke jerk) who needed money, something inside of me said this is beneath you, don't do it. I told the woman that I wasn't interested, though I couldn't quite explain why.

Years later, the answer is obvious.

George Valentin isn't a worthless post-collegiate slacker. No, the protagonist of last year's The Artist, is actually a very successful movie star. Check that, silent movie star. One evening, in the middle of yet another shining moment for the dashing leading man, a young woman inadvertently stumbles into his limelight. George, being the relentlessly charming guy he is, welcomes her with a huge smile. She gives him a seemingly harmless kiss on the cheek, and then disappears back into obscurity. Well, for a couple hours anyway.

This woman, Peppy Miller, is absolutely stunning. Oh, and driven, too. After landing on the front page smooching Valentin, suddenly there's a national interest in her. With some of the sweetest dance moves not involving Hammer pants, Peppy lands a bit part as a dancer in the latest - surprise! - Valentin flick. Oh, no she didn't.

She did, and she does. All the way to the top. Peppy, with a touch of help from Valentin, instantly becomes a major Hollywood star. Valentin on the other hand, sees his fade just as quickly. Peppy embraces this new rage in Tinseltown, a little thing called sound. Valentin, the biggest silent star around thinks this too, shall pass. When prompted to consider this new found aural direction, Valentin hisses if that's the future, you can have it. Damn handsome pride.