The Pirates! Band of Misfits

New from The Movie Snob

The Pirates!  Band of Misfits  (C-).  This animated (claymation, actually) feature just didn’t do it for me.  Maybe you have to be British?  Our hero is a fellow with a luxuriant beard who is known only as The Pirate Captain (voice of Hugh Grant, About a Boy).  TPC is singularly bad at plundering, and his gentle crew is more excited by ham night than by the prospect of danger, but he nevertheless dreams of winning the Pirate of the Year award.  Then they run across Charles Darwin, who recognizes that the crew’s “parrot” Polly is actually the last surviving dodo, and he promises everyone untold enriches if they will just take Polly to London for the Scientist of the Year awards.  Meanwhile, Queen Victoria absolutely HATES pirates.  The visuals were nice, but the story was nothing special, and it just wasn’t very funny.  But maybe it’s just me; the film has a metascore of 73 over on Metacritic.

Two Weeks Notice

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Two Weeks Notice (D). Maybe I would not have loathed this movie so much if I had been able to slog through it all in one sitting. But as it happened, the first DVD I watched had a flaw in it that made it shut down at about the one-hour mark. Fortunately (?), the Borg Queen had a copy, so I finished watching it a few days after my initial attempt. Ugh. This movie is terrible. Sandra Bullock (Speed) plays a liberal do-gooder lawyer who goes to work for an immature, philandering real-estate magnate played by Hugh Grant (About a Boy). The title comes from the uninteresting fact that she eventually gets sick of it and gives him her two weeks’ notice. She’s not even an interesting liberal — saving some old community center on Coney Island from the wrecking ball is her main cause. There’s lots of embarrassingly bad dialogue, although I think Hugh’s character had a few decent one-liners in the early going. Learn from my mistake and avoid this movie.

Music and Lyrics

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Music and Lyrics (C+). This is a perfectly adequate little romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant (About a Boy) and Drew Barrymore (Whip It). Hugh plays a washed up 80’s pop star who supports himself by performing in tiny venues for middle-aged women. But his box office is falling off, and he gets a desperately needed shot at rejuvenating his career when a Britny-esque starlet called Cora (Haley Bennett, Marley & Me) invites him to write a song for her. Hugh only writes music, so he needs a lyricist. No sooner can you say “deus ex machina” than it turns out the gal who’s watering the plants in his apartment (played by Drew) is a born lyricist. So they have to spend a lot of time together writing the song, and things go in typical romantic-comedy fashion. Of course, it’s kind of icky since Hugh is 15 years older than Drew is, but whatever.

American Dreamz

The Movie Snob sounds off.

American Dreamz (D). I wanted to see this movie because it got a good review in the Dallas newspaper and because I enjoyed director Paul Weitz’s last two efforts — In Good Company and especially About a Boy. (I never saw his earlier masterpiece American Pie.) This movie has some laughs, but the humor curdles when Weitz also weaves in a tasteless plotline about a suicide-homicide bombing. I have never seen American Idol, but the unifying element in this movie is a clone of that show called American Dreamz, hosted by the unctious and self-loathing Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant, Love Actually). In one strand of the plot, Mandy Moore (Tangled) plays a ruthless, white-trash Britney wanna-be who will do anything to win the contest, including play with the affections of her hapless dope of a boyfriend (a solider who is injured on his first day in Iraq). In another, Dennis Quaid (Soul Surfer) plays a clone of our current President, complete with a doting wife (Marcia Gay Harden, Whip It) and a Machiavellian Cheney/Rove figure played by Willem Dafoe (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). And finally, the most unlikely figure of all is Omer, a nice, show-tune-loving guy from the Middle East who wants to be a terrorist because his mother was killed by an American bomb. He washes out of terrorist training camp in the opening scenes, and he is sent to America to await further orders — which would never come except that he becomes a contestant on American Dreamz at the same time the President agrees to appear on the show as a guest judge. The terrorism stuff makes the film way too dark, and at 1:45 it is also at least 15 minutes too long. Skip it.

Love Actually; The Quiet American; and several more

The triumphant return of Movie Queen Maggie:

Love Actually (A-) I loved it—loved all the actors—enjoy all their films, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Notting Hill…who can complain about Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in the same movie??!! It was the ultimate girl movie because there were about 7 love stories all going on at once and it had the added bonus of being well-written, well-acted and really funny! I think it is a must-see for all. Boys, take notes and pay special attention to the whole note card at the door thing—girls loved it and will now expect something like it (David, are you paying attention??)!

The Quiet American (A) Great film with Michael Caine (no surprise) and Brendan Frasier (big surprise) about Saigon during the Vietnam war. It was an interesting story with beautiful cinematography and very strong acting. Michael was nominated for an Oscar for his role and deserves it. It is definitely worth the rental fee.

Legally Blonde II (F) Quite possibly the worst movie ever made. I can sum up what I thought of it in one sentence…I had to really consider whether or not I would rank it below the wonderful cinematic genius of Wet, Hot American Summer. YUCK! Bob Newhart—what were you thinking??!!

Terminator III (B) I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I groaned when my husband brought it home from the video store and wondered, again, why I ever let him go there alone. But, I actually enjoyed it. The special effects were great and the lead, Ben Stahl (I think that is his name), who is now starring in the HBO original series, Carnival, gave a very solid performance. So, all of that plus you get to hear Arnold, now Governor Ahh-nold, say really cool lines like, “I am unable to comply.” I mean, what more could you want from an evening of entertainment??

Daddy Daycare (D) Even though I loved the kid humor, I mean who can resist adorable kids being goofy, this was a very poor flick. Eddie Murphy had his funny moments—but the story was so tired and predictable it just couldn’t be overcome by the presence of cute kids and Eddie. It can certainly be missed.

Bruce Almighty (C) I liked the idea of the story, God giving someone his powers, but it was quite simply a poor movie. Jim Carrey was, well, Jim Carrey and no one else in the movie did anything they should be proud of (Morgan Freeman, sir, you seriously took a step down for this one). It had some funny scenes, most of which you have already seen if you saw the previews, and there were some relatively neat special effects. Other than that, it was forgettable and certainly skippable.

Love Actually

From the Movie Snob:

Love Actually. (B-) This is roughly 12 different movies about love, mostly of the romantic variety, crammed into a little more than two hours. Most of the dozen different plots intersect the others only tangentially (e.g., Laura Linney works in the same office as Alan Rickman, who is married to Emma Thompson, who is the sister of Prime Minister Hugh Grant . . . .). Inevitably, all of the individual stories are short-changed, and I really wished the director had chopped out some of the less interesting (and even unpleasant) story-lines and focused on the best two or three. Then the director could have explored some of the more interesting issues about love: the tension between romantic and familial love, the effects of infidelity and the temptation to infidelity, love across class and cultural lines, loss of a loved one, etc. But these issues have to compete with too much silliness and too much emphasis on the sexual aspect of love, so what’s left is a long, inconsistent romantic comedy with, admittedly, quite a few laughs along the way. And what’s with this song by Dido that seems to show up on so many soundtracks? I think it’s called “Here With Me,” and it was the theme song for the WB television show Roswell, then it was on the soundtrack for the movie Bounce, and now it crops up in this movie too. I like the song, but come on.

The Adventures of Robin Hood; Swimming Pool; About a Boy

From the desk of the Movie Snob:

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). (B) A newly restored print was recently shown at a local art house theater for a couple of weeks. It’s pretty corny by today’s standards, but a lot of swashbuckling fun nevertheless. The packed theater broke out into applause at the end. Robin and Marian give a couple of speeches about the glories of a united England that are oddly anachronistic but surely reflect the concerns of the film-maker’s day, when the shadow of Nazism was already advancing across the Continent.

Swimming Pool. (B-) Sarah Morton is an older British woman, a writer of popular mystery novels, and a soul badly in need of a holiday to recharge her batteries. Her publisher lends her his French villa for a vacation, and it is as sunny and beautiful as London is cold and rainy. But soon after she arrives at the villa, an unexpected houseguest also moves in – her publisher’s beautiful and troubled teenaged daughter, Julie. Sarah gradually moves past her irritation and into curiosity about Julie’s mysterious past and present, and she switches from the book she had been writing to one about her housemate. Some decent suspense and atmosphere, but overall the movie doesn’t really add up to much.

And off the shelf . . . I’ve picked up a lot of DVDs on sale lately, and this long Labor Day weekend actually sat down and watched a couple. I find that the Hugh Grant flick About a Boy stands up to repeated watching very well, with Hugh turning in a fine performance as a shallow, womanizing, trust-fund baby who slowly opens himself up to the idea of caring about other people through a chance friendship with an odd and friendless 12-year-old boy named Marcus. Well worth your time.