Knocked Up

New review from The Movie Snob

Knocked Up (C). I can’t give this movie the lavish praise that my co-reviewer The Bleacher Bum did, but it’s not entirely a waste of time either. The premise is not very novel: thanks to a lot of alcohol, a successful and gorgeous TV personality (Katherine Heigl, TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) has a one-night stand with a flabby slacker (Seth Rogen, The 40-Year Old Virgin). She ends up in the family way and decides to keep the baby and see if she can make it work with the slacker, and we are off to the races in another “can the love of a good woman redeem an unworthy man?” tale. Personally, I did not find the comic bits all that funny, and the movie as a whole was more serious and less crude than I was expecting. In fact, the serious parts were more effective than the comic ones, and I found myself more interested in the subplot about the marital difficulties suffered by the TV star’s high-strung sister (Leslie Mann, The 40-Year Old Virgin) and her more laid-back husband (Paul Rudd, The 40-Year Old Virgin). But the subplot disappears from view as the movie drags on for over two hours, which is just too long. Tolerable, but there are better options out there.

Shooter

New review from Nick at Nite

Shooter

This movie is more my speed. It should be cheesy and not very good. Lots of car chases, people getting shot, bombs, murder, mayhem, explosions, a cute girl, and the good guys winning. This is a good movie (and it does not have one original moment in it). Mark Wahlberg (I Heart Huckabees) plays a Marine sharpshooter who does some bad things, and his friend gets killed while he is trying to do a little too much on a mission (The Sniper). Wahlberg’s character is set up as the shooter in an assassination attempt against the President (The Day of the Jackal). Wahlberg then must spend the rest of the movie on the run in an attempt to prove that he did not commit the crime (The Fugitive). If this sounds like you have seen it before, you probably have. Still, it is a good popcorn film. I give it “B.”

Breach

From Nick at Nite

Breach

You may have noticed from some of my reviews that I watch a lot of bad movies. I actually enjoy them. The more improbable and cheesy the movie is, the more I am likely to enjoy it. After some ribbing from my friend The Movie Snob, I decided to step out and watch a movie that had some redeeming value. This was that movie. Breach is a fascinating story based on the true story of the FBI capturing the worst double agent in the history of the CIA. Chris Cooper (The Town) gives an eerie, cold, believable portrayal of Robert Hanssen. Cooper makes Hanssen’s paranoia palpable. Ryan Phillippe (Crash) is underwhelming as Ed O’Neill, the undercover agent that assists in Hanssen’s capture. Underwhelming is not intended as an insult. Phillippe actually plays O’Neill as he would have to be if he was going to gain Hanssen’s trust. O’Neill had to be obedient to Hanssen and defer to him on all things. The movie was more drama than suspense. That may well be because we all know how it ends. In fact, the movie starts at the end. This is worth seeing so you can see Cooper turn in another fine performance. As an aside, if you have not seen him in Lone Star, then stop what you are doing right now, go to your car, go to Blockbuster, and rent Lone Star. I give Breach a “B+.”

Dancing With the Stars — Live!

Review by The Movie Snob

The touring Dancing With the Stars show came to Dallas last night, and your humble Snob was there. It was quite a spectacle. A huge stage and dance floor took up a fair amount of the floor of the American Airlines Center, and there were tables and chairs around the dance floor just like on TV. (I was up in the stands, first tier.) The stars of the show were four past competitors — Joey Lawrence, Joey McIntyre, Joey Fatone, and Drew Lachey — and four of the professional dancers — Cheryl Burke, Julianne Hough, Kym Johnson, and Edyta Sliwinska. But they were supported by a large cast of additional professional dancers, and all the music was live. It was a fun, energetic show. In fact, I would say, the professional dancers have to be some of the hardest-working people in show biz. The evening slowed down for a little while when four local couples got were summoned to the dance floor for their own little mini-competitions, but then it picked back up once the pros got back to business. A good time was had by all, or at least by my cousin Diane, my friend The Borg Queen, and me.

300

Movie review from Nick at Nite.

300. Wow. A visually stunning masterpiece. Saw this last night at the dollar movie. Tuesday is fifty cent night. It is like they are paying you to go to the movie, which almost makes up for the three troublemakers that talked throughout the movie in the row behind me. Very impressive on the big screen. Battle carnage is just not the same on the small television in your house. 300, based on a comic book, tells the story of 300 Spartans who defended Sparta and Greece from the evil Persian empire. It is a very violent, sometimes cheesy, and always over-the-top film. It is not kid friendly. Some nudity, a rape, and tons of killing. It is also painfully clear from the portrayal of the valiant Spartans and the roguish, marauding Persians, why many in the Middle East are irate with the film. I give 300 an “A.”

The Fountain

DVD review from Nick at Nite

The Fountain. I guess the fact that Brad Pitt abandoned this project should be a sign of something. It could be just a sign that he had to focus on all of those kids that Angelina Jolie is adopting, but it is more likely to be a sign that the movie had some problems. I honestly do not know how to explain it. I rented it because it is suppose to be a science-fiction-type movie. It was, but it was so much so that I have no idea what was happening. It appears to be a love story about a man who loves that same woman or spirit over many, many years. Honestly, it is a little confusing. Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) moves from being a Spanish explorer, to a modern day doctor, to a 2001 Space Odyssey yoga master, back to being a Spanish explorer, and on, and on, and on. There is a mystical tree that is suppose to hold the elixir to long life or good health. Like I said I was very confused. I give it an “F.”

Apocalypto

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Apocalypto? More like Apocalypse Now. This Mel Gibson tribute to himself is an unoriginal hodgepodge of most of the action movies of the last twenty years, with special emphasis placed on stealing themes and actions sequences from Rambo, The Fugitive, Tarzan, and the Jungle Book. I will give Gibson credit for three things. First, he resurrected a dead language and made a mass marketed movie with subtitles. Second, the costumes and sets were very realistic. Third, he can depict torture and decapitation better than most. Certainly, as good as Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino in the Hostel movies (should Mel be proud of that?). The story is simple enough. A group of savages attack, kill, rape, maim, and capture villagers living in the jungle. The savages take those that they capture to the city for sale as slaves or sacrifice to the gods. Our hero escapes, kills the savages, and rescues his family whom he hid near the village during the attack on the villagers. I give it a solid “C.”

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

From The Movie Snob

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (D). Maybe I would’ve liked this movie better if I had seen the first one. Nah. The Fantastic Four are four normal humans endowed with superhuman abilities for some reason–cosmic radiation I think. Two of them are engaged to be married, superscientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd, Amazing Grace) and superbabe Susan Storm (Jessica Alba, Sin City). But love must wait when the arrival of the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones, Pan’s Labyrinth) means that the Earth will be destroyed by Galactus, a sort of interstellar tornado, in eight days. Plus Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon, um, Fantastic Four), who was pretty much destined to be a supervillain with a name like that, is hanging around to cause trouble. But what really caught my attention were Jessica Alba’s freaky blue contact lenses, which made her eyes look like they were about to pop right out of her head.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (B). I was not excited about going to see this movie. I thought the first installment was okay, but part two, Dead Man’s Chest, was a big confusing mess. I had no idea who was trying to do what, or why they were trying to do it. So I rather dreaded seeing At World’s End, especially since it clocks in at 2:45.

But, perhaps because my expectations were so low, I actually rather enjoyed it. I figured out that Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, Troy) was trying to rescue his father from his fate as a member of the crew of The Flying Dutchman, captained by Davy Jones (Bill Nighy, Shaun of the Dead). I’m reasonably sure that Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands) was trying to find Davy Jones so that he could take his place and become immortal. What Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, King Arthur) was trying to do, I still have no idea, but she looked very fetching doing it. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech) chewed the scenery nicely. The movie could have been shorter, but I didn’t even mind the ridiculously long running time. Will there be a sequel? The ending certainly does not rule it out….

P.S. I did not stay through the end of the closing credits, but I just read that there is something to see after they finish rolling. I don’t know what it is, so whether it’s worth another 10 minutes of sitting I cannot say.

Ubik (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob

Four Novels of the 1960s, by Philip K. Dick. You may never have heard of science-fiction author Philip K. Dick (1928 – 1982), but chances are you have encountered his work. His trippy novels and short stories have been the basis for lots of movies, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. I read and liked several of his novels during my teen years, but I was quite surprised when I read that the prestigious Library of America was publishing this handsome edition of four of his novels (including the one that Blade Runner was based on, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).

The other three novels in the collection are The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and Ubik, and the only one of the four that I have read is Ubik. (It’s also the only one I read back in my sci-fi heyday.) It is just as weird as I remembered. In the world of Ubik, psychics are real, and you can hire telepaths to find out what your competitors (or enemies) are thinking, or precogs so you can get a glimpse of the future. Or if you think that psychics are being used against you, you can hire “inertials,” or anti-psychics, who can block their powers. The other weird thing about the Ubik world is the phenomenon of half-life: if you’re wealthy enough, you can have your recently deceased loved ones frozen and hooked up to electronic devices, and then communicate with them through their brains’ residual electrical activity for quite some time after they’re dead, until their brains finally give out for good. If you can accept these premises, you might just enjoy the bizarre series of events that befalls a band of inertials who are just trying to do their jobs. I don’t think it’s great writing, but it’s fun if you have a taste for the unusual.

Knocked Up

New review from The Bleacher Bum

Knocked Up is an instant comedy classic. It is the type of cult comedy that usually only becomes popular after the DVD release. See Van Wilder. The movie stars Katherine Heigl (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy), Seth Rogen (The 40-Year Old Virgin), Leslie Mann (Big Daddy-she was the witness in the classic cross-examination scene), and Paul Rudd (yes-Virgin). Knocked Up is about a drunken hook-up and the resulting pregnancy between Heigl (professional and career-driven) and Rogen (classic slacker). The majority of the movie centers on the relationship between the expectant mother and father and preparing for the baby. Anyone that has had a child or a one-night stand can surely relate. The movie provides a lot of laughs and a good time. Except for Dan Quayle, I can’t see anyone not truly enjoying this flick.

Bleacher Bum Movie Scale
Homerun
Triple
Double
Single
Strikeout

Knocked Up: Triple

Shrek the Third

New review from Nick at Nite

Shrek the Third. Why, oh, why did they not stop at Shrek 2? In fairness to the creators, writers, and producers of Shrek 3, they actually did stop trying after Shrek 2. Honestly, a huge disappointment. The sharp writing and comedic moments of the first two films has turned into a tired, formulaic Saturday Night Live skit. In the third installment, Shrek and Fiona must find someone else to be King after the King dies leaving an unwanting Shrek as the next in line for the throne. Enter, Justin Timberlake (The Social Network). Timberlake, sans N-Sync and Janet Jackson, goes through much teen angst as he decides whether he wants to actually be King. I was bored. My son was bored. You will be bored. Rent one of the first two movies and you will be happy. Play outside and you will be happy. Just stay away from this one. I give it a “C-.”

Stagecoach

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Stagecoach (B). Some John Wayne movies are coming out on DVD now, and you can get them at Sam’s Wholesale dirt cheap. That is how I came to watch this, my very first John Wayne movie. Considering that it was released in 1939, it holds up remarkably well. Several people are traveling west on a stagecoach. As they approach Apache country, they learn that they are losing their Army escort, and they decide to proceed without it even though Geromino is reportedly on the warpath. One of the company is The Ringo Kid (Wayne), who intends to get revenge on the murderous Plummer gang if the stagecoach reaches its destination. A good film, and it features a remarkable stunt in which a stuntman falls under the team of horses and gets passed over by the stagecoach itself. (There’s an homage to that stunt in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I believe).

Chalk

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Chalk (B-). This independent flick is a faux documentary along the lines of This Is Spinal Tap or, more recently, The Office. The subject is a single school year in a generic public high school, with a focus on three teachers and one teacher recently promoted to assistant principal. There are some chuckles as we observe the three teachers. First, there’s the brand-new history teacher who switched over from some sort of computer-related job because two aptitude tests indicated that he should be a teacher. He has no idea how to teach or control his classroom, with painful results. Then there’s Coach Webb, a female P.E. instructor who worries that her short hairdo might make people think that she’s a lesbian. And finally there’s another history teacher whose main concerns are trying win the teacher-of-the-year award and trying to keep his brighter students from showing him up in class. Although there are a few laughs, the film mostly left me feeling sad and exhausted for the teachers and assistant principals who take on their thankless jobs.

The Valet

A new review from The Movie Snob

The Valet (B+). This French farce delivers laughs like a well-oiled machine. The set-up is expertly executed in the first few minutes of the movie — Francois Pignon (Gad Elmaleh, Priceless) is a lowly car parker at a Paris restaurant with a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower. A philandering billionaire is squabbling in public with his supermodel mistress, Elena. A paparazzo snaps a picture of the two quarrelers just as Francois happens to walk by. To keep his wife from divorcing and ruining him, the billionaire lies that Elena is with Francois, not with him, and to back his story up he arranges for Elena to move in with and pretend to be dating the bewildered Francois. After that, I’ll say only that things spiral out of control in a delightfully comical fashion. Get over your aversion to subtitles and see this breezy, 85-minute comedy.