Tropic Thunder

New from The Movie Snob

Tropic Thunder (B). I laughed out loud a few times during this movie, but I can see that it would not run to all tastes. A director is trying to film a Vietnam war movie in Vietnam, but his star-studded cast is giving him fits. The grizzled Vietnam vet who wrote the book the movie is based on (Nick Nolte, Another 48 Hours) proposes to take the pampered stars down a few pegs by dropping them deep into the jungle and making them rough it for a while. Unfortunately, they get dropped near a Burmese heroin-processing plant, and it takes the actors a while to realize they aren’t making a movie any more. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) is particularly funny as an multi-Oscar winning actor who utterly immerses himself in every role, including this one as a black army sergeant. His interaction with a black rapper who’s also in the cast is very entertaining. Ben Stiller (Meet the Parents), whom I usually don’t like, is decent (and directed the movie too!). Jack Black (School of Rock) doesn’t have much to do. As I say, not everyone will be amused. I thought one of the funniest scenes involves somebody getting blown up by a landmine, and Stiller’s character thinking it’s all special effects, but it is undoubtedly a little ghoulish too.

The Dark Knight

New review from The Movie Snob

The Dark Knight (B). As they say, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Sure there are exceptions for stuff like love, a baby’s smile, or Nicole Kidman. But most good things pall if you get too much of them, and this movie falls into that category. To be sure, Heath Ledger (Monster’s Ball) is riveting as The Joker. Christian Bale (American Hustle) is fine as the caped crusader. The action sequences are terrific, and some characters meet surprising fates. But at 152 minutes, it is just too much. For the last 20 or 30 minutes, I started wondering just where The Joker could possibly get that much dynamite and that many hired goons. My friend, CBG, once opined that the increasing length of action movies can be traced to The Return of the King, but it seems to go back much further to me. From that first Batman with Michael Keaton (Birdman), it seems to me that the trend has been more of everything–more villains, more explosions, and more minutes. The Dark Knight is like two very good action movies, played back-to-back and only slightly compressed. I emerged from the theater feeling good and pummeled. Less would have been more.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Book review from The Movie Snob

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (published by Library of America in Four Novels of the 1960s, 2007). I believe I have previously reviewed the other three novels in this collection elsewhere on this blog. The movie Blade Runner was based on this short novel, and although I have never seen Blade Runner all the way through (for shame!), I am pretty sure it is a lot different from and more straightforward than the book. But the basic gist is probably still the same–the protagonist is Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter whose job is “retiring” androids that have killed their human masters and are trying to pass as human beings. Now six androids of the latest and most advanced model are on the loose on the West Coast, and when one of them puts Deckard’s boss in the hospital, it’s up to him to stop them–if he can. Good story, although I’m not sure it all entirely made sense.

MGD 64

The Bleacher Bum contributes our first ever beer review. (That Guy Named David hangs his head in shame.)

The ultra light beer market is getting really competitive. Michelob Ultra has been the frontrunner, but other beer companies are getting into the mix. I tried Budweiser Select a few weeks ago, while watching the Texas Longhorns dismantle the Florida Atlantic Owls. I was pleasantly surprised. It was very smooth, tasted like beer, and had no aftertaste. It wasn’t great though. Last night, I thought I would try MGD 64. In high school, Miller Genuine Draft was my favorite beer. It is what my uncle and older brother drank. So, it is what I stole from them and drank in my parents’ garage.

MGD 64 was awful from the first sip to the last bitter end. It tasted and smelled terrible. It tasted like stale 7-UP mixed with sour lemonade with a shot of cologne. I drank one and put the rest in the refrigerator. I will finish the six-pack (I don’t throw away beer no matter what.), but I doubt I will enjoy it. Avoid at all costs….unless it is free.

Michael Clayton

Review from The Bleacher Bum

Michael Clayton (Pay Per View) – This movie eluded me for some time because I could never find another soul that wanted to see it. I finally had to go at it alone. I am glad that I did. The movie is about a “fixer” (George Clooney, The American) at a mega-law firm in New York. He is a lawyer that circumvents the law instead of practices it. He does the shady deals, buys off the politicians or judges, gets things, and loses evidence to win cases. The firm greatly needs his services when its lead litigator (Tom Wilkinson – excellent) suffers from a mental breakdown in the middle of the firm’s biggest case. The case is a class action lawsuit where 460 people were stricken with cancer because of a weed killer. (Erin Brockovich with a touch of A Civil Action.) Clooney is extraordinary. He is heroic, lost, cunning, and downtrodden all at the same time. The movie partially loses its way because the background story is boring and underdeveloped. Also, the antagonists of the movie are less than dynamic. However, it is a movie that will be enjoyed by lawyers, business executives, and people that work in public relations. It deals with several issues that arise in corporate America.

Bleacher Bum Movie Scale:

Michael Clayton: Double

Sixty Six

New review from Movie Man Mike

Sixty Six (B+). This is a fun film about a Jewish boy preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. All of his life, Bernie Rubens felt overlooked by his family and overshadowed by his older brother. So when he realizes that on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, the world will revolve around him for that one day, he begins to plan for the biggest celebration ever conceived. Unfortunately, Bernie’s father seems to have the worst luck of any person on the planet, all of which works to Bernie’s disadvantage, and which provides for some good comical relief. I don’t want to give away the ending, but there are some wonderful performances including that by Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), as Bernie’s mother, and Richard Katz (Enigma), as a blind rabbi. My only wish was that Catherine Tate (Gulliver’s Travels), who plays Bernie’s aunt, could have had a different role that would have better showcased her comical acting talents. This movie is well worth the price of admission, and if you don’t see it in the theaters, it will make a great rental.

The Women

Movie review from The Movie Snob

The Women (D). OK, here’s what happened. I was all set to go catch a matinee of Tropic Thunder, which apparently has a lot of shooting and explosions and stuff. Then my cousin Diane calls, to see if I want to go see a movie. Well, small wonder, Tropic Thunder is not high on her list. After 45 minutes of negotiations, we finally settle on this. I knew the reviews had been tepid at best, but still, you can’t deny it has a high-caliber cast–even a cameo from Carrie Fisher (Star Wars Episode VI: The One with the Ewoks)! Alas, it was terrible. Not witty enough to be a comedy, not involving enough to succeed as a drama, the movie just lies there on the screen, inert. And didn’t Meg Ryan (Joe Versus the Volcano) get some terrible plastic surgery on her lips a while back? They look like they’ve pretty much returned to normal now. I wonder if the 1939 version with Joan Crawford (Grand Hotel) is any better.