epI've watched several movies in the last few weeks, and haven't really had a chance to review them for you guys. They say the most powerful writing is sometimes the most precise, so as an exercise in precision, I present the following 55-word (or thereabouts) reviews of recent videos I've watched. Apologies for those of you who enjoy the longer-form reviews. Hope you dig it anyway.
Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?"
A parental recommendation. Darker than expected, with fewer laughs than cringes. Plot: four couples whose vacation together unearths a lot of secrets. Some marriages survive, but not all. Not a horrible film, but I'm certainly not putting it in my favorites list. Perhaps married people appreciate it more. If you like Perry's films, rent it.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Liked parts, but overal too uneven. (Chuck hated it; I disagree about Kat's looks.) Cera and Dennings were fine, though the plot warranted older characters. Not enough magic, and too much low humor. Had higher expectations, but was disappointed. Instead, rent Garden State or Juno (both had some crude material but neither felt cheap/shallow).
An hour-long anime film, set to the music of Daft Punk. The "story" is told through images and music; no dialogue. An interstellar rock band is kidnapped, brainwashed, and mass-marketed by a mogul with evil motives. Surprisingly moving, with great music and emotive artistic design. It's in my Amazon wish-list. Rent it now.
Appaloosa (Updated after further consideration)
Western that suffers greatly in comparison with modern classics like "Tombstone." Ed Harris writes, directs, stars. Viggo Mortenson, Renee Zellweger, Jeremy Irons also star. Usual tropes: brave lawman, evil rancher, power struggle, railroad showdown. Add a frustrating and unsympathetic female opportunist. Stir, then end abruptly. Some good cinematography, decent performances. Nonsensical characterization left me cold.
An American Carol
I laughed twice.
(...What, you want more?)
Should have been MUCH better. Set "right-wing" satire back by a millenia. If I had seen it before the election, I would have voted for Nader out of sheer protest. Nothing more to add.
A refreshingly funny romantic comedy that follows and subverts the formula. It's an "I see dead people" comedy with a good heart and clever script. Ricky Gervais is golden. The trailer made it look horrible; ignore the trailer. Best rom-com I've seen in years. Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear do nicely. Rent it for Valentine's Day.
I love Josh Peck's Nickelodeon sit-com "Drake and Josh." I kinda hated this film, though I admit he did well. Story of a high-schooler who deals drugs for college money, gets his heart broken. Bleak, depressing, frustrating. A better child-star's-gritty-breakout-movie is "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" staring Shia LeBouf.
If Matthew Broderick were still 18, it'd be his picture. Combination romantic teen comedy and light satire of adolescent over-medication. I enjoyed this much more than i expected to, but it's not without problems. Robert Downey Jr. makes a mediocre vice-principal role interesting and empathetic. Fans of teen dramedies and after-school specials will appreciate this.
Unexpectedly-involving Ryan-Reynolds movie that starts out silly before sucker-punching you with human drama. Story of a cautious man who contemplates living recklessly and embracing "chaos." Themes include lies, consequences, and commitment. This one made me groan "oh, dude" more than once. Guess that makes this a recommendation. Watch out for some "content," but consider it.
Son of Rambow
Interesting British film about friendship between two schoolboys who bond over the love of filmmaking. They decide to make an action movie sequel to Rambo, and things go awry. Cute film, some fun sequences. The "oppressive religion" themes were eventually tiresome. Not quite as charming as I hoped, but not a waste of two hours, either.
and in case i haven't discussed it before...
Wristcutters: A Love Story
Bizarre but thoroughly enjoyable fable about love beyond death. In a bleak post-industrial limbo inhabited by "successful" suicides, three acquaintances go on a road trip to find lost love and answers to questions about their fate. Great cast, darkly funny script. Best Patrick Fugit performance since "Almost Famous." Plus, Gogol Bordello in the soundtrack.