The Croods

Nick at Nite sends in this review.

The Croods

Not sure what to say here.  I have a four year old and an eight year old.  If it is a cartoon and it is released to a movie theater, we must go see it.  The best compliment I can give this movie is that it was not terrible.  My children loved it.  I kid you not.  My daughter cried at one point during the movie because she was so moved by the cataclysmic events occurring to this cave dwelling group of Neanderthals, and she cheered as all ended up happily ever after.  The plot – the Croods have survived a nasty, brutish world by living in a cave, but they are forced to venture out as the world around them starts to change – not too complicated.  It has some humor.  It is a little long (the kids did not notice or care).  I give a “B.”  It could have been worse.

Parental Guidance

Another review from Nick at Nite.

Parental Guidance

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I think Billy Crystal is funny. His SNL schtick was great. His Oscar songs are almost always tolerable. I am down with it all. This was not his best work. Billy and Bette Midler play inept grandparents that must watch their grandkids for a long weekend while the parents are away. I am sure you have guessed, things go badly and then get better. This movie cannot figure out what it is . . . slapstick, after-school special, Hallmark movie, or updated Parenthood (which is funnier and more meaningful). Marisa Tomei, why are you in this movie? I give it a C.

Iron Sky

Nick at Nite delivers this DVD review.

Iron Sky

Four words: Nazis on the moon. Yep, they could not win the war, but they could create a secret moon base from which they could plot a return to earth. I am thrilled this was available on Netflix. I thoroughly enjoyed the Palin-like President that must confront the threat. Also, the combination of ancient technology with the space feel gave it a real filmed-in-Yugoslavia quality. Like Springtime for Hitler this bizarre movie will make you giggle. I give it a C.

Drive

A DVD review from Nick at Nite.

Drive

I loved this movie. Two words: Ryan Gosling. Two more words: Techno Beat. Combine them and you have a pulsating, action-minded getaway film that will leave you wanting more. Gosling stars as the quiet, methodical driver – he will get you out as long as you are on time, no questions asked. Things get difficult when he falls for the ex-con’s girl next door. He has to help the ex-con with a job that runs afoul of the Jewish mob bosses played by Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks. Should have gotten more Oscar buzz than it did. See it. Go. Now. You will not be disappointed.

Moneyball

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Moneyball

Not the best baseball movie I have ever seen.  The best is either Bull Durham or The Natural.  I’d watch either repeatedly.  Moneyball not so much.  I’ve read the book.  It was engrossing.  Every baseball fan should read the book.  The movie – well – I got bored.  The book is an interesting blue print for making the Oakland A’s, the Red Sox, the Rangers, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays so successful (the A’s have fallen on hard times again).  I digress.  Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are an interesting odd couple.  The muscled (Pitt) and the out of shape (Hill prior to whatever brilliant diet he is on) trying to piece together a baseball lineup after the departure of the roided up Giambi and his mates.  They have little money so they must ignore their baseball scouts and put together a team based on what the statistics tell them.  It is a movie for nerds.  Baseball nerds.  I give it a “B.”  I do not give it a Golden Globe or an Oscar.

Hall Pass

DVD review from Nick at Nite–two reviews, in fact

Hall Pass

Saw this movie twice.  Once on DVD, once with the spouse.  I thought it was funny the first time I saw it.  When I saw it with the spouse it was not so funny.  Like Jamie Foxx, “I blame on it on the alcohol.”  The premise of this film is that married men will not “shop” for a better deal if they are given the opportunity to hook up with someone else by their spouse – as the “shopping” experience will teach the married men how wonderful they actually have it with their spouse.  In the real world, this scenario results in a divorce or an appearance on Jerry Springer.  In the movie world, everything ends up okay for everyone.  Here is the problem with the movie, once you get past the multiple lapses in judgment by all of the characters – it is just not that funny.  First viewing I give it an “A.”  You must drink a minimum of three to four beers or two and half glasses of wine to get to this level.  Second viewing a “C.”

Contagion

Nick at Nite reviews a fairly recent release.

Contagion

I have thing for doom and gloom.  It is a little unhealthy.  I am all for any movie that has as its main premise the end of the world, the breakdown of society, and tall buildings lying in ruin.  From critically acclaimed fare, The Road, Night of the Comet, and Blindness, to critically panned fare, Waterworld, The Postman, and 2012 – I have seen them all.  I thought Contagion would fall into this category.  It does not.  However, it is a very good movie.  It is suspenseful.  It is interesting.  It is well acted.  The movie follows the progression of a deadly virus that strains the ability of the doctors, scientists, and government agencies to confront it.  Moral dilemmas abound at every corner.  No famous member of the cast is safe from a harrowing death.  The movie is not too graphic (one autopsy, images of sick people, and images of dead bodies in body bags).  It is a little scary.  I say check it out.  I give it a solid “B.”

Hop

A new review from Nick at Nite

Hop

Wow. Santa should sue. He should bring a class action on behalf of all of the parents of the world that were forced to sit through this awful, mind numbing movie. The plot finds the Easter Bunny trying to pass off his title to his son, the son doesn’t want the job, and so he runs off to America. Here, young “EB,” finds an unemployed lout to be buddies and together they lean the value of hard work (from David Hasselhoff). I guess it is not all bad. I did learn a few things. For example, the Easter Bunny lives on Easter Island, the Easter Bunny and his progeny poop jelly beans, and bunnies live with Hugh Hefner (yep, this kids movie has not one, but two scenes filmed near the playboy mansion). I give this movie an “F.” It was that bad.  [Rated PG for “mild rude humor.”]

Battle: Los Angeles

A new review from Nick at Nite

Battle: Los Angeles

It has been years since I went to a movie on opening night. My life has conspired to keep me away from the theater. So it was a little miracle that I was able to go on opening night to see Battle: Los Angeles. I was only a little disappointed. Likely because I was looking forward to it a little too much. This is a fine popcorn film. It is not too original. It is not particularly clever. It is a little clichéd. It is fun. Stuff blows up. A city is destroyed. The good guys win. Basically, a bunch of mean, nasty, water-based aliens start attacking us (see Independence Day, SkyLine, E.T., Bees, etc …) and a group of hardened U.S. Marines must come to our rescue (Aliens, Predator, Heartbreak Ridge, Wall Street, etc …). Do not get too attached to any character. Do buy popcorn. Do feel a little nauseated by the herky, jerky camera work (Cloverfield).

I give it an “A.”

Sanctum

A new review from Nick at Nite

Sanctum

The director of this movie was allowed to borrow the cameras used by James Cameron in Avatar, too bad it wasn’t written by Cameron. It is not a terrible movie. It is just not original. The movie is a copy of Descent 1 and 2 and some other movie I cannot recall by name (no monster here). The cool thing about this movie is the use of 3D. I saw it because of it. Too many movies are coming out with 3D as an afterthought. 3D was the first thought on this movie.

Oddly, I say see it at the theater or skip it. The 3D experience is worth it. The 2D not so sure.

The Tourist

Nick at Nite goes sightseeing with The Tourist

The Tourist.

Sadly, this movie is not receiving a fair shake. Everyone wants to complain – Jolie and Depp have no chemistry, it is not an action film, it is not a romantic comedy, it doesn’t know what it is – well those complainers should come down from their ivory towers and give this film a chance. The Tourist is not the best movie ever made, but it is entertaining and worth the price of the ticket to a first run feature. It reminds me of some of the better 70s or 80s thrillers (not meant to be ironic). Think Three Days of the Condor and Robert Redford. The movie has some action, a plot, some twists, a few laughs, and a ton of scenery to chew on. Jolie plays the girlfriend of a financial thief. Depp is the hapless tourist that is thrust into Jolie’s intrigue. The co-star of this movie is Venice. Wow, I want to go there. I give this move an “A.” Ignore the other reviews. Go see it.

The Walking Dead (season one)

New review from zombiemaster Nick at Nite

The Walking Dead

The problem with a television show is that it is hard to sustain momentum. Unless each and every episode can stand alone – Law & Order, MacGyver, Jersey Shore – your show must convince the viewer to return week after week (or at least to hit the record season button on their DVR). The Walking Dead succeeds where The Event, Flashforward, and Silver Spoons have failed. I confess. I love Zombie movies. Like teenagers to Twilight, I dart from one Zombie movie to the next with bated breath. The Walking Dead gets it right. Compelling stories, scary Zombies, creepy scenery, and a more than passable cast. This is a longer, chewier 28 Days Later. In fact, when I watched the premiere I had the impression that it was just a rip off of 28 Days Later. Seriously, a guy wakes up in a hospital and the world is overrun by Zombies? I was mistaken. It is an original story and any similarities are only minor. The Walking Dead is based on a comic book series that was developed independently from 28 Days Later. My only disappointment is that the season is already over. Here is the good news. The complete season is already available for sale at Amazon. If you did not see it, go buy it. I give the series an A+.

Splice

Another new review from Nick at Nite

Splice.

Rented this from the ATT on-demand service. I wish I could demand that ATT give me back two hours of my life. I think I was supposed to be horrified about the merger of human and animal DNA in this creepy little film. I was horrified by it when I saw it in The Fly and The Fly II. Adrien Brody (wasn’t he supposed to be a good actor?) and Sarah Polley (ahh, Zombies) head up this film and the science lab. Obviously, their science experiment goes too far (it grows, is smart, has wings, a wicked tail, and wants to reproduce). This movie specializes in the lowest common denominator — what would it be like if a human and animal hybrid had sex with a guy, and then what would it be like if the human and animal hybrid changed sexes and then raped a woman. Wow. What a bad idea. I am sad to do it, but I give it an “F.”

Red

New review from Nick at Nite

Red

True Lies for the year 2010. Perhaps the praise is too high, but this movie reminds me of True Lies – action packed, some humor, impossible stunts, and an original take on a rehashed story. A group of older spies must come out of retirement to stop the folks that are trying to kill them one by one. Mayhem ensues as the older spies prove they still know a thing or two about a thing or two. I give it a “B.”

Control

New review from Nick at Nite

Control

Suicide is not painless. It is final. It is tragic. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. This biopic is a cautionary tale of talent, success, adultery, and depression. It follows the late, great Ian Curtis and his cutting edge, post-punk band Joy Division from their start to their too soon demise. In short, Ian, the lead singer for Joy Division, struggles with his marriage to his childhood sweetheart and falls another woman while his band is touring Europe. During the tour he suffers several seizures during concerts. He is depressed over his medical condition and his affair. Just before the band is set to leave for its first American tour – he takes his life. The movie is shot in black and white. It feels like the late 70s or early 80s. It is grimy – just like England was during that time period. The movie shows why … “Love will tear us apart.” I give it an “A.”

(500) Days of Summer

DVD review from Nick at Nite

(500) Days of Summer

500 Days of I am a Little Sad and Bored. I really wanted to see this movie, so much so that I put it off for nearly a year. Reason. None. I think it was destiny. Like our protagonist, I was “destined” to see this movie – well after it had been released to the theaters, on DVD, pay per view, and your local cable provider. Here is my beef. I like quirky. I am even known to tolerate a romantic comedy. However, I am usually not too happy to invest an hour and a half in a movie that is not some sort of an escape. This movie was quirky. It was not romantic comedy. Perhaps it is the inner teen in me lashing out over failed relationships, but I really do not need to see another one on the screen. It is just too true. This is why I hated The War of the Roses and What About Bob? (I know What About Bob? is not a romantic comedy – it still makes me angry). If I want to see something serious, I’ll watch a biopic or catch shark week. If I want to watch people fall out of love, I’ll follow couples to the mall. It is faster and less painful. I give (500) Days a Summer a “B” for bummer.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Nick at Nite sounds off on a recent release.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Okay, this movie sounds stupid. It is not hard to figure out. There is a hot tub. It is a time machine. Obviously, people are going to time travel. If they travel to the 1980s, hilarity is sure to ensue. The plot? Not too important. I laughed and laughed during this movie. I laughed because they traveled to the 1980s. It could have been the ale and the allergy medication, but I laughed almost as much as I did during Tropic Thunder–and that movie is damn funny. But I digress. Here is the rundown by the numbers: Kid-n-Play references = 4, pairs of legwarmers = 20, Polo golf shirts with collars up = 2, Rubik’s Cube = 1, specific references to Red Dawn = 1, nonspecific references to Red Dawn = 6, references to “The Drive” = 1, Motley Crue songs = 1, and Poison songs = 1. There is cussing. There is sex. This is not a movie for the little ones. I suggest a six-pack of beer and a group of friends. I give this movie an “A.”

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

Nick at Nite’s latest review

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Youth is wasted on the young. This is not the greatest movie ever made – it is not even Michael Cera’s best work – but it is a quirky, sometimes funny, often charming tale of young love. Nick and Norah – who are both in or just out of bad relationships – are pushed together by fate – the search for a drunk friend and an underground concert. Their trip through New York City in a beaten up yellow Yugo is an entertaining ride. This movie made me want to be 18 again. I give it an “A.”

Eagle Eye

Nick at Nick pulls no punches

Eagle Eye

Does anyone really care what Shia LaBeouf is doing if he is not wrecking a car, breaking into a pharmacy, or appearing in a Transformers movie? This movie is bad. LaBeouf is set up as a terrorist by some Orwellian computer that is trying to function as an all encompassing “Homeland Security” program for America. Of course, the computer goes all Hal on us and LaBeouf must race to save us all. I was bored and confused. Skip this movie. I give it an “F.”

Outlander

Nick at Nite takes us back in time

Outlander

A few months ago I considered going to the dollar movie to see this film. I should have – I would have saved the extra three bucks it cost me to see the movie in the comfort of my own home. Here is the premise. A spaceship – carrying what looks like a human – crashes to Earth during the reign of the Vikings. Our intrepid spaceman, played by Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ), must help his new Norse friends kill an alien-dragon this that he has chased across the solar system to Earth. This movie would have played much faster if the spaceman had not dropped his laser cannon in the water in the first ten minutes of the movie. I give it a “D.”

Last Chance Harvey

New review from Nick at Nite

Last Chance Harvey

I took a long flight to New York recently. The diversion on the plane was this film. The film features Dustin Hoffman (Barney’s Version) and Emma Thompson (Men in Black 3) in a unlikely romance. Hoffman, the boorish American, stars as a somewhat pathetic and distance father who is about to lose his job as a jingle writer. He bumps into and then spends the day with Thompson, a lonely and proper Brit, in London. Hoffman is in London for his daughter’s wedding. After several awkward exchanges, Hoffman leaves his daughter’s wedding early, misses his plane home, is fired from his job, and starts to court Thompson in an airport restaurant. I recommend this movie if you are stuck on an airplane. I give it a “smelly food, screaming child, and captain has fastened his seatbelt.”

Twilight

Nick at Nite favors us with a DVD review

Twilight

Ordinarily, I am drawn towards all things Vampire, Zombie, etc … As such, one would expect that I would devour Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. That said, I have not read the books, and I did not camp out to see the movies. Frankly, I am just not that interested in reading a book or seeing a movie based on any teenage love story – even if it involves Vampires (isn’t this every episode of an afterschool special with a little horror mixed in?). So, I will admit that I was shocked when my wife rented this movie and it turned out to be good. My wife loved it. Of course, she had read the book. As a non-believer (in the movie, not Vampires), I was ultimately swayed by a new twist on an old tale. These Vampires – all impossibly young – are vegetarians. They only eat animal flesh. Mostly, I appreciate the complicated back story that my wife was explaining to me during the movie. I give Meyer credit for her creativity, and I say check it out. Also, I was surprised to learn that sunlight does not kill Vampires and that they don’t sleep in coffins.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Movie review from Nick at Nite

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

I cannot believe I went to see this movie. My son sabotaged me. He wanted to go. It was the weekend. It seemed like a good idea. It was not. I take that back. He loved it. So, it was probably worth it. How far has Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies) fallen? Piper Perabo (Cheaper by the Dozen)? Why? I guess they needed a check. Ms. Curtis’s dog gets lost in Mexico. Ms. Perabo was supposed to be watching the dog. Ms. Perabo, the gardener, and the gardener’s dog travel to Mexico to save Ms. Curtis’s dog. Hilarity ensues. I don’t know if I am being too sensitive – it is a movie with talking dogs – but this movie seems to embrace some negative cultural stereotypes too much for my taste. I give it a “D.” For dog and dumb.

Wanted

A new review from Nick at Nite

Wanted

This movie surprised me. I was surprised it was watchable at all. I got the impression from the reviews I read that Wanted was the bastard love child of Alien v. Predator II and Grindhouse or as I like to refer to them – the two worst movies ever made. Here is the main issue. Critics need to relax, take a smoke break, and grab a beer. If you go to see a movie about a group of assassins – who are actually seamstresses – who have been killing people based on names that are spit out of a magic loom, you cannot complain that the movie is not realistic. This movie is not supposed to be realistic. It is escapist fare. It is for eating popcorn and enjoying. Our intrepid hero is working a boring desk job when he finds out that his father who has just been killed is a member of a group of assassins. He is recruited to join the group to avenge his father’s death. It has two or three plot twists. It is pretty violent. It is action packed. It also had Angelina Jolie (Maleficent) – wow. I give it an “A.”