Tuesday, March 5, 2013

12 '12 Reviews

1. Rock of Ages 
Director - Adam Shankman

This was a fun watch, a musical with all '80s songs. Being someone who was born in the '80s, it is in my nature to love the music from that decade. Most of the songs are great and '80s classics. I say "most" because I really hated the song, "I Wanna Rock", because those are the only words sung, more likely, screamed, during the song. But for the most part they had great songs: "Don't Stop Believing" (of course!), "Sister Christian", "Any Way You Want It" (Loved Mary J. Blige sining that - I would totally buy an album if she ever covered '80s songs...actually, I would just listen to them on Spotify for free!), "We're Not Going to Take It," and "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" to name just a few. "Paradise City" by Guns n Roses is the first song played and I must say the best rendition of that song in a movie is still from Can't Hardly Wait.  Tom Cruise was totally sleazy as Stacie Jaxx, the aging rock star. The reveal of Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand telling each other they had feelings for each other reminded me of that scene in Love, Actually with Bill Nighy and the rotund guy.

2. The Avengers 
Director - Joss Whedon

Oscar nominations:
Best Visual Effects (lost to Life of Pi)

I think I'm the only person in the world who didn't see this movie in the theaters. Of course, I'm also probably the only person who didn't see all the movies that led up to this one. I did see both Iron Man films before and I saw Captain America....after I saw The Avengers! I haven't seen Thor or Hulk. Of course, you have to keep in mind that for the longest time, I thought the character of Thor was invented for Adventure in Baby-Sitting. Wouldn't that be awesome if that were the case? I'm sure I would have seen this movie eventually, regardless, but I was super excited that Joss Whedon directed it because he's just about the coolest person on the earth. I mean, he created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my favorite TV shows. The Avengers is a very fun and enjoyable movie, but I don't know if I would call it the best comic book movie ever...but it's probably the most fun.

3. Flight (viewed in theaters November 12, 2012)
Director - Robert Zmeckis

Oscar nominations:
Best Actor - Denzel Washington (lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln)
Best Original Screenplay - John Gatins (lost to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained)

 This was one of the movies where I didn't really like it as I was watching it, but after thinking about it for a couple days, realized I did like it. It just got a little long-winded sometimes, but I would watch this movie again before I ever saw Les Miz or The Dark Knight Rises again. Denzel Washington's Best Actor Oscar nomination was very well-deserved. This is one of those movies where the acting is better than the movie. Denzel plays Whit Whitaker, an airline pilot who is also an alcoholic and a drug user. On a flight from Orlando to Atlanta, something terrible happens and the plane will crash if he doesn't do something. He turns the plane - a 747 - upside down and when he lands, only a few people are killed...if he hadn't done what he had done, most likely everyone would have died, so he is hailed a hero. Now I'm pretty sure it's near impossible to turn a giant airplane upside down, but those were some pretty spectacular visual effects! The NTSB is looking into the cause of the crash and Whitaker's attorney, played by Don Cheadle, tells him to get rid of all his alcohol and not do anything stupid, like drink while in public. There's a romance between Whit and a recovering female addict, but that just felt like filler to me. I won't spoil anything for those who haven't seen the movie, but there's a great, intense scene that involves a hotel room and a mini bar stocked with small bottles of whiskey, gin, and vodka and you're wondering if he's going to give in to temptation or not. You think the ending might go one way, but then they throw you a curveball and it goes into another way, unless you were already expecting it! This movie was directed by Robert Zmeckis of Forrest Gump and Back to the Future fame.

4. Pitch Perfect
Director - Jason Moore

 This movie reminded me a lot of Bring It On, just replace Anna Kendrick with Kirsten Dunst and acapella singing with cheerleading. Anna Kedrick plays Becca, a new student at Bardem college. She wants to be a DJ, but her Dad disapproves and wants her to have a college eduction so she'll at least have other choices in her life. He tells her to join one school club and if she hates the experience after her first year at college, he'll pay for her to move to L.A. so she can peruse her DJ dream. She joins the Bardem Bellas, the female acapella singing group who have a rivalry with the male acapella group, The Treblemakers. They perform at the finals where Elizabeth Bank is a judge who used to be an acapella singer in her prime and was in a group called The Minstrel Cycles. Rebel Wilson steals the movie as "Fat Amy" (whose real name is Patricia!) For some reason, I assumed she was American and they had made her character Australian because it would be funny (Australians are funny!), but I learned she is actually an Aussie. So that makes her even cooler because Aussies are cool too! Some of the characters are very cartoonish, like this one girl who talked so softly you could barely hear her and when she did speak, she would say the creepiest/weirdest things like, "You guys wanna see a dead body?" and "I ate my twin in the womb." The latter made me laugh so hard and go "WTF??!?!?" The group leader is this really bitch girl who always insists on the group singing the same song - The Ace of Base classic, "The Sign" and gets angry at Becca when she suggests the group do mash-ups of more modern songs. There's a really cool mash up of Bruno Mar's "Just the Way You Are" and Nelly's "Just a Dream" which was my favorite song in the movie. Oh, and there's this whole thing where Becca's potential love interest is trying to make her watch The Breakfast Club (apparently she doesn't like movies...what kind of crazyness is that?) and it reminded me of how there was a Breakfast Club connection in Easy A, too. The only thing I didn't like about Pitch Perfect was that it got too cartoonish. It's fine to be silly. Bring It On was silly, but never got overly cartoonish like this movie did at times. Let's just say there's a scene involving vomit that in no way could ever be realistic in any world; it was just way too over the top. It did involve a really gross, but hilarious moment as a result of it, though. This movie is probably tied with Stand By Me for most disgusting vomit scene!

5.  The Guilt Trip (viewed in theaters January 6, 2013)
Director - Anne Fletcher

Slight spoilers

I saw this with my friend Cameron. This was the first movie (in the theater) we had seen of the New Year and we both realized we saw the first movie of last year together as well. (New Year's Eve...yes, we saw New Year's Eve on New Year's Day!) Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogan are a mother/son duo who go on a road trip together. Andy, the son, lives in L.A. and has flown to New York where Joyce, his mother, lives because he's trying to sell this cleaning product and has a trip scheduled with stops on the way of where he has meeting with clients. After he learns a revealing fact about his mother - before she met her husband, she was madly in love with with another guy, in fact she named her son after him. Deciding his mother would be happier if she had someone in her life (instead of always calling him and harping on him), he invites her to come on his roadtrip with him, without telling her the reason why. The movie is very formulaic and predictable (for instance, I knew Joyce was not going to end up with her ex-sweetheart, but instead with a Texan gentleman she meets on the roadtrip), but Streisand and Rogan have a nice chemistry as mother and son and are very charming together. There's one scene where they're at a restaurant in Texas and Joyce decides to see if she can eat this huge meal in an hour. If she does, they get their meal free. If not, she will have to pay $100. The meal consists of a four-ounce steak, a potato, a salad, a roll, and a shrimp cocktail. There's no way in hell anyone could have done that, especially a woman (not being sexist, but let's face it, guys can shovel in food better than girls!), but somehow she manages to do it!

6. Looper (viewed in theaters September 29, 2012)
Director - Rian Johnson

I love anything that has to do with time travel, so I was very interested in seeing this movie. Plus it doesn't hurt that the director has directed a couple episodes of my favorite TV show ever, Breaking Bad! This movie takes place about sixty years in the future and time travel has been discovered thirty years ago. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the same character, Joe. He works for a  mob-like group of killers who are called loopers. They kill people who are sent from the future. (It makes more sense how it's explained in the movie!) The catch is, there's a contract that the younger self must kill his older self at a certain age. Things get a little tricky when the older Joe,  is sent back to be killed by his younger self, but he tricks his younger self and escapes death and now there are two of the same person running around. The second act of the movie goes in a direction I was not expecting at all that includes Emily Blunt (who I did not recognize at all and was shocked when I found out she was in it!) and a creepy kid that has some kind of weird power. They are both connected to the time travel plotline, but it's best not to spoil anything about the movie. To make Joseph Gordon-Levitt look more like Bruce Willis, they changed his eyes and it was REALLY distracting. He just looks weird with Bruce Willis eyes!

7. Magic Mike
Director - Steven Soderbergh

I bet when Steven Soderbegh was making this movie, he was thinking, "KA-CHING!" You know he was thinking how much money he was going to make from all the ladies and gay men who would see this movie and buy the DVDs! Soderbergh came up with this movie with Channing Tatum, the star, who used to be a male stripper. He plays Mike, a male stripper, whose stage name is "Magic Mike". He is the star because he is by far the best dancer. That guy can dance like nobody's business! He does these sideways aerial somersaults/twists. What he does looks looks like it should defy gravity, but yet, somehow he manages to do it. Between this and 21 Jump Street, I must say I am becoming a fan of Channing Tatum. Matthew McConaughey runs the club and it's like if his character from Dazed and Confused grew up to run a strip club because he says "alright, alright" a lot in his Matthew McConaughey-ish way. Mike meets a young guy who gets involved in the show and Mike becomes like a mentor for him, but "The Kid" as Mike dubs him, keeps getting into trouble and is doing a lot of stupid stuff. There's a romantic plotline with Mike and The Kid's sister and the girl who plays her is just awful. She only has one look on her face throughout the movie and doesn't know how to emote. Supposedly Lindsay Lohan was suppose to have a role as a drug dealer, but never showed up and Soderberg didn't want to deal with her and got someone else for the part. It was always funny when the guys were dancing/stripping and the women in the audience would scream and go wild. Hee! Their first act is all the guys going out in trench coats and umbrellas and doing a dance to possibly the gayest song ever, It's Raining Men. I know a woman sings it but it really is, literally, the gayest song ever. There's a scene where Matthew McConaughey is wearing biker shorts and a tight yellow jersey and it's like, no, McConaughey, no. Just no.

8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director - John Madden

Spoilers ahoy!

Have you ever noticed that when there's a movie with a bunch of old British people, Maggie Smith is sure to be in the cast? It's true with this movie and it's true with a new movie I saw a preview for about a bunch of old British people in a home and they play violins. And let's not forget Gosford Park! Besides Maggie Smith, the for this movie also includes Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy. Judi Dench's Evelyn is the film's narrator and main character. A group of 7 British senior citizens fly to India to stay at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the elderly and the beautiful) run by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire himself). Evelyn's husband has died recently and she gets a job at a call center where she gives the staff helpful hints on how to talk to the elderly when they call them. Muriel (Smith) is going to India to get a hip replacement because it will be cheaper and she can get one sooner than if she stayed in England. Muriel is a little bit on the racist side, but soon comes to change her tune. Graham (Wilkinson) used to live in India for quite a long time when he was younger and wants to reconnect with a man he had a relationship with. He finds the man who is now married (to a woman) and they embrace for a long time and that made me shed a tear or two! Graham has a heart condition and dies while in India which was inevitable with so many old people in one movie! Douglas (Nighy) and his wife Jean are having marital problems. Jean hates India and becomes a nagging, bitter woman. She flies back to England alone and Douglas goes back to Evelyn who he's started having feelings for. The hotel is not in the best shape when they arrive, but by the end with a little help from Muriel, it starts to thrive again. This was a cute, charming movie, but not overly saccharine.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man
Director - Marc Webb

Even though the first installment of the previous Spider-Man films was only ten (and a half) years ago,  a reboot came out last summer. Instead of Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spier-Man, it's Andrew Garfield who's best known in The Social Network. Sally Field and Martin Sheen play Aunt May and Uncle Ben and when I first saw Martin Sheen (I did not know he was in the movie), I shouted, "It's Bartlett!" (Luckily, I was watching the movie alone.) Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy, his crush turned sort-of-girlfriend turned girl-he-can't-be-with-so-she-doesn't-become-in-harm's-way. Want to hear something crazy? In the previous Spider-Man movies, Bryce Dallas Howard plays Gwen Stacy and she and Emma Stone were both in The Help. I'm sure this has been pointed out repeatedly already, but I think it's humorous. I wished they had done something, like in a class, have the teacher ask a question, then we'd see a redheaded girl answer and the teacher say, "That's right, Mary Jane." You know, it would be cool if they gave a nod to the previous installment. Even though Gwen is only 17, somehow she works at some fancy science lab - not as an intern or anything, but she seems to be one of the best scientists as she's wearing a fancy white lab coat and giving a tour. At first I thought she was pulling a Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed and was actually a 25 year old posing as a high school student. How the hell does a 17 year old get a job like that?  It's been awhile since I've seen those Spider-Man movies, so I really can't say which one is better. I'd say there about the same. They're not the best movies ever, but they're not terrible. They're both fun, popcorn Friday night kinda movies. Out of the main super heroes (including Superman and Batman), Spiderman is my favorite because I like how he just swings through the city with his web and it's pretty cool how he can scale buildings. Can Superman and Batman do that? I don't think so! The Big Bad in this movie is some guy who turns himself into a lizard. There's a scene where he enters the high school and Peter has to fight him off and Gwen helps him. It reminded me of when the troll charges into Hogwarts in the first Harry Potter movie and Harry, Ron, and Hermione fight him. Then there's another scene where the Lizard Guy is chasing Gwen in the  science building and it's basically a ripoff of that one scene in Jurassic Park because not only does Lizard Guy kinda sound like a velociraptor, but Gwen scurries to hide in a tiny compartment like Lex did. Some things are a little different like Lizard Guy doesn't come charging after her when he sees her, but instead surprises her. It was an entertaining movie. I have no desire to see the next one on the big screen, but I will rent it.

10. Moonrise Kingdom
Director - Wes Anderson

Oscar nominations:
Best Original Screenplay - Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (lost)

This film is set on a small New England island called New Penzance that is 16 miles wide and has no roads. (A narrator tells us various facts about the picturesque island). The movie revolves around two 12 year olds named Sam and Suzy and takes place in 1965. Sam reminded me of a younger Jason Schartzman from Rushmore and Suzy reminded me of a younger Gwyneth Paltrow from The Royal Tennebaums, both which also happen to be Wes Anderson movies! I don't think that's a coincidence! Sam belongs to the Khacki Scouts (like the Boy Scouts) and is spending the summer camping with them. Suzy is the privileged  oldest child and only girl of four kids and her parents (Bill Murray and Frances MacDormand) are lawyers and her mom is having an affair with the town's sherriff (Bruce Willis). Suzy and Sam met two years ago when his Scout troop saw her performing in a local play about Noah's Ark and he went backstage to talk to her. The two start exchanging letters which results in a cute little montage of them inwardly reading excerpts of the other's letters. Both of them are misunderstood and disliked by their peers and have no need for anybody else in the world except for themselves, so Sam devises a plan for the two of them to run away together after two years of corresponding with letters. It's pretty humorous seeing the contrast between the two of them: Sam in his Khacki Scout uniform and who has packed essential camping gear and then Suzy in her pink sweater and skirt and "Church shoes" (saddle shoes) who has brought her suitcases filled with books, a record player and records, her kitten, and a bunch of cans of cat food. The movie turns their relationship into a romantic one and I thought it would have been better if they were just friends. Watching twelve year olds make out and fondle each other is really creepy. If they had kissed in a My Girl style, that would have been fine and more believable. I could see Sam and Suzy being friends because they both have a lot in common, but I couldn't see where all of a sudden they're "in love" and want to get married. I'm going to sound very shallow for a moment, so please excuse me. I can understand Sam having a crush on Suzy because she is a pretty girl, but there is no way a pretty and rich girl like Suzy would ever like Sam more than a friend. He's not that cute and he's kind of an a-hole (as is she!), so I can see why the rest of his fellow troop members don't like him.  This movie gets pretty dark sometimes, especially with what happens with the dog and Sam piercing Suzy's ears with a fish hook as she screams bloody murder. The whole town is out searching for them and that's basically the premise of the movie.

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Director - Stephen Chbowsky

This movie is based on a young adult never that written by Stephen Chbowsky and he wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. I can't think of any other movie adapted from a book that was directed by its author. God, can you imagine if Stephenie Meyer directed the Twilight series? :::shudders:::: This is the only movie I've seen with one of the main Harry Potter kids being in a movie outside of Harry Potter. Emma Watson and her short haircut are in this and her American accent is fairly solid. At first all I could think was that it was Hermione with an American accent (and a short haircut), but her character, Sam, is very different from Hermione, so it was easy to quickly forget about her Harry Potter background. The main character, Charlie, is about to start high school. He's a quiet kid with no friends who likes to read and write. In fact, for awhile his only friend is his English teacher (played by Paul Rudd) who can sees he's a bright kid but is too afraid to raise his hand in class because he doesn't want the other kids to think he's the teacher's pet. Teacher Rudd gives him a bunch of books to read, so he kinda does turn into the teacher's pet, but it's just not as obvious to the other students. He becomes friends with Sam and Patrick, both seniors, who Charlie thinks are dating, but are actually stepsiblings. Charlie develops a crush on Sam but doesn't get the nerve to ask her out because he thinks she only likes him as a friend and she already has a boyfriend. He becomes a part of their circle of friends and starts dating a girl (played by Mae Whitman - she will always be the little girl from Independence Day to me). She asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance and after that she assumed they were boyfriend/girlfriend just because they went to one dance together (huh?!) and he was too scared to tell her he didn't like her that way, so whenever she called him on the phone (everyday!), he would leave the phone off the receiver because she would talk nonstop and if he did try to cut in, she would say, "Charlie, don't interrupt me!" There is a big awkward moment when their group of friends is playing Truth or Dare and Patrick dares Charlie to kiss the prettiest girl in the room and he kisses Sam. Ouch. Needless to say, that was the end of that relationship! I should mention that this movie takes place in the '80s. They don't ever mention it and I kinda figured it was from the clothes and hairstyles, but by the time Charlie's sister gets a mixed tape (A MIXED TAPE!) from her boyfriend, I knew it was the '80s. Plus they listen to a lot of '80s songs. Charlie is played by Logan Lerman who I didn't know at first so when I checked out his IMDb page, I found out he plays Mel Gibson's youngest son, William in The Patriot. You probably wouldn't remember him because while the other six children have some sort of significance, (even if it's only being in the movie for half an hour to be killed by the protagonist, who let's not forget is played by Jason Isaacs who played Lucius in the Harry Potter films, so this kid has worked with both Mr. Malfoy and Hermione!), he's just there.

12. Ted
Director - Seth Macfarlane

Oscar nominations:
Best Original Song - "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" (lost to "Skyfall" from Skyfall)

There are some laughs in this movie, but for the most part it's your typical stupid Seth Macfarlane humor. (The kind of humor where you spout 100 jokes and out of those 100, only one is funny). I have to say one of the funniest things about the movie to me was the narrator at the very beginning and end of the film. The movie starts in 1985 with an 8-year-old friendless boy named John who gets a teddy bear for Christmas. The bear has a voicebox and can say, "I love you!" John wishes the bear could talk for real and his wish comes true. Since the movie takes place in Boston, Ted has a Bostonian accent. (And I should mention that Seth Macfarlane voices him). There's a pretty funny scene where John's parents see Ted move and talk for the first time and they freak out...which is what I would have done too. Soon, Ted becomes a national celebrity, appearing on Johnny Carson (I would love to know how they did that scene...movie magic, I guess) and how everybody has accepted that a talking, moving teddy bear lives among them. The narrator has a hilarious line about how his fame became obscure. Adult John is played by Mark Walberg (Marky Mark!) and he and Ted are still best buds. Ted is now a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear and what's more shocking than that? Foul-mouthed children and foul-mouthed grandmas have already been done, so what's next? A teddy bear of course. Mila Kunis plays John's girlfriend and Giovani Ribisi plays the creepy guy who wants to buy Ted to give to his son. He ends up kidnapping Ted which resulted in one of the funniest moments when John calls the police and tells them, "My teddy bear has been stolen" and then you hear a dial tone. Ha! There's an ongoing gag that John and Ted are big Flash Gordon fans (have no idea who or won that is, but I know the Queen song) and John ditches a fancy party he's at with his girlfriend so he can go to a party at Ted's because the guy who played Flash Gordon is there. This results in a big party scene where Ted sings "I Only Wanna Be With You" in karaoke fashion. John and Ted have a huge fight at a motel room that I'm pretty sure will be nominated for Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards. This was nominated for Best Song, but I don't remember a song in this movie .

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