We’re the Millers

Mom Under Cover indulges in a guilty pleasure.

We’re the Millers – B+.  If you missed this one in the theater, it’s worth a rent.  Definitely NOT family friendly (explicit language and themes) but several laugh-out-loud moments. All four main characters hold their own as a group of misfits on a road trip to bring back a load of pot and get a small-time drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis) off the hook.  Jennifer Aniston plays the same character she always plays but has good chemistry with Sudeikis. Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric Roberts) and Will Poulter are terrific as the teenagers. Be sure to watch the out takes at the end.

For The Movie Snob’s rather different take on the movie, click here.

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We’re the Millers

From The Movie Snob.

We’re the Millers  (D).  Alas, my alleged snobbery did not save me from seeing this piece of cinematic trash down at the old dollar theater.  It’s a “comedy” about a small-time Denver drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis, who is somehow the boyfriend of Olivia Wilde (Drinking Buddies), if I’m not mistaken) who owes his boss a ton of money he can’t repay.  So to avoid getting beaten up or worse, he agrees to drive an RV into Mexico in order to smuggle some marijuana back into the USA, thereby repaying his debt.  Reasoning that he will probably have less trouble at the border if he appears to be a family man, the drug dealer recruits three virtual strangers to pose as his family: a stripper (Jennifer Aniston, Management), a homeless girl (Emma Roberts, Hotel for Dogs), and a dorky teenaged boy who lives in his apartment building (Will Poulter, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader).  Mishaps ensue, accompanied by vast quantities of profanity and vulgarity of all kinds.  It was terrible.  I think I laughed maybe once during the movie, and it’s almost 2 hours long.  Sadly, the outtakes they showed before the closing credits were much funnier than anything in the movie itself.  Please do not see this movie and encourage Hollywood to make more dreck like this.  I regret giving the filmmakers my dollar.

For an interesting and entertaining cultural analysis of the movie, click here.

Wanderlust

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Wanderlust (B-).  Paul Rudd (The Shape of Things) and Jennifer Aniston (Leprechaun) star as a married New York City couple in this fish-out-of-water comedy.  When George loses his job in NYC, the couple has to downsize, and on their way to stay with George’s brother in Atlanta they spend one night in a Georgia bed-and-breakfast that actually turns out to be a hippie commune called Elysian Fields or something like that.  George’s brother being an unbearable jerk, the couple quickly decides to return to Elysium and give the hippie life a try.  I have to give it an above-average grade, because I did laugh out loud a few times at the outrageous goings-on at the commune, and especially the antics of their leader/guru Seth (Justin Theroux, Megamind).  Also, I have to give a shout-out to Linda Lavin of TV’s Alice, who is quite funny in a small role as the couple’s real-estate agent in NYC.  But the film gets plenty of demerits for its unrelenting vulgarity.  A few scenes in particular go way over the top in their cartoonish coarseness, and I have to disagree with the director’s apparent belief that these dumpster dives are the height of hilarity.  I can’t really recommend it, but if you can stand the gutter talk you might get some laughs out of it like I did.

Just Go With It

New review from The Movie Snob

Just Go With It (C-). If I understand correctly, the original source material for this weak effort is a French farce that has already been made into a movie once, 1969’s Cactus Flower, starring Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman, of all people. Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer) plays Danny, a well-to-do plastic surgeon who hits on women by pretending to be unhappily married and pouring his soul out to them. Supposedly this works so well that he is able to basically defraud tons of beautiful women into having one-night stands with him. So our protagonist is, in my humble opinion, a creep from the get-go. Life throws him a curve when he falls in love with a 23-year-old schoolteacher named Palmer who looks like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model — which the “actress” who plays Palmer, Brooklyn Decker, actually is. Danny’s got 20 years on Palmer, but she’s still digging him until she finds the wedding band he uses to pick up chicks. Because the truth would make him look like an odious jerk, he comes up with a quick lie–he’s in the process of divorcing–and he cajoles his attractive office manager and good pal Katherine (Jennifer Aniston, The Switch) to play his soon-to-be ex-wife when Palmer insists on meeting her. And it gets a lot more complicated from there as the lies pile up. There were a few humorous moments, but on the whole, not very good. I would’ve liked it better if Danny had gotten a big comeuppance for his early caddish behavior. Oh, Nicole Kidman (Dead Calm) has a small role as Katherine’s frenemy from her sorority days; she doesn’t have much to do, but she overacts it with great exuberance.

The Switch

DVD review from The Movie Snob

The Switch (B-). I didn’t see great reviews for this 2010 release, so I skipped it. But then I recently saw a column somewhere that gave it a few compliments, so I picked it up from the local Redbox. Jennifer Aniston (Management) gets top billing as Cassie, a 40-year-old New Yorker who decides to quit waiting for Mr. Right and to have a baby with the help of a sperm donor whom she will personally select. But the top billing rightfully belongs to Jason Bateman (Paul), who plays Wally, Cassie best friend, who has never been able to admit his feelings for her because they are buried so deeply under layers of Woody-Allen-style neurosis. Anyhoo, Cassie passes him over when it’s time to pick the baby daddy. After Cassie has her baby, she moves back to Minnesota for several years, but then she moves back to NYC with her son Sebastian, who sort of resembles Wally, oddly enough. It’s not bad flick. But is Jennifer Aniston ever going to get the movie she needs to really break out? And how long have we been asking that question now?

Love Happens

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Love Happens (D). This is what happens when you rely on The Borg Queen’s Netflix subscription, people! I like Jennifer Aniston (Management) as much as the rest of America, but dang she has made some bad movies. This recent bomb stars Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking) as self-help guru Burke Ryan, whose specialty is grief counseling. His own wife died in a car crash three years earlier, and now he is on the motivational-speaking circuit touting his book, entitled A-OK. But Ryan is plainly not okay as he blows into Seattle (where his wife died) for one of his gigs. He meets Eloise (Aniston), a local flower-shop owner fresh from a break-up, and tentatively goes after her. The movie is all over the place tonally — the tentative romance gets no more screen time than Ryan’s grief-therapy encounters with a seminar-goer named Walter, and on top of that Ryan has to deal some with his deceased wife’s father (Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now). Painful stuff.

The Movie Snob’s 2009 Year in Review!

Happy New Year, and welcome to my annual movie round-up. If I saw a movie in the theater in 2009, I consider it fair game for this column, even if it was technically a 2008 release. I saw 62 movies in the theater last year, and these are the most worthy of your attention.

Movie of the Year: My pick is The Hurt Locker, a taut thriller about the Iraq War that has a strong documentary feel to it. The actor who carries the movie, Jeremy Renner, does a heck of a job as a bomb-defusing expert. I think the movie recently came out on DVD, so check it out.

Runner Up: The number 2 spot goes to a 2008 release, The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke. He should have won the Oscar for his moving portrayal of a washed-up professional wrestler. The scenes in which he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood, are especially moving, but the whole movie is excellent.

Best Action/Adventure Flick: And my pick for the 3d best movie I saw this year would be District 9, the out-of-nowhere sci-fi movie about a shantytown of extraterrestrials living outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, and the clueless bureaucrat whose job is to push all the aliens into an even more remote concentration camp. I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel to this one! Honorable mention goes to J.J. Abrams’s reboot of the Star Trek franchise, even if he rewrote Trek history in the process.

Best Animated Feature: With the caveat that I haven’t seen The Princess and the Frog yet, I’ll go with the obvious choice of Up, in which a grumpy old man ties enough helium balloons to his house to fly all the way to South America. But except for the awesome opening montage that tells the whole story of the man’s life in just a few minutes, I didn’t think Up was really all that great.

Best Comedy: I’ll stretch this category a teensy bit and pick My One and Only, a winsome little movie that is supposedly based on episodes in the life of George Hamilton during his teen years. The redoubtable Renee Zellweger plays George’s mother, a hapless Southern belle searching for love in all the wrong places. I’m probably exaggerating its merits, but I really liked it at the time. Same goes for Management, a romantic comedy starring Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston. It involves a totally impossible romance, but the leads are so likable I just had to like the movie. In the category of crude yet funny, I liked I Love You, Man.

Best Documentary: Let’s go with the obvious choice and pick Disney’s Earth. Who doesn’t love a good nature documentary? I love ’em, and I’ll go ahead and mention Under the Sea 3D as being worthwhile too.

Best Drama: Or maybe it belongs in the comedy category, but either way I really enjoyed Up in the Air starring George Clooney and directed by Jason Reitman. It’s still in the theaters, so get out there and see it! Another movie that straddles the dramedy line is the quirky (500) Days of Summer, starring the quirky yet adorable Zooey Deschanel. While you’re at it, check out the CD she sings on, under the name She & Him. I was also grabbed by the 2008 release The Reader, although I still don’t know quite how I feel about that movie. It’s a strange one.

Best Foreign Film: I don’t think I saw too many foreign films this year, but I liked A Woman in Berlin, about the Russian conquest of Berlin in 1945 as seen through the eyes of one German woman. It was brutal without ever feeling exploitative. I also recommend the book, which I think is still listed as authored by “Anonymous” even though the woman’s identity is known. Another good one was The Class, or Entre les murs, about a French teacher trying to deal with a very fractious and multicultural classroom. Also, Summer Hours, a French movie that’s just a simple little family drama, well-told.

Honorable Mentions: I have a bunch of them. There’s Wendy and Lucy, a little movie about a sad, down-on-her-luck young woman played by Michelle Williams, and her beloved dog. Adventureland is a good little coming-of-age story starring Jesse Eisenberg of Zombieland fame. Moon is a thought-provoking little sci-fi movie. In the Loop is a funny look at the run-up to a fictitious (?) war as seen through the eyes of low-to-mid-level American and British government staffers. The Informant! is a straight movie about a bizarre guy; you just can’t help asking, “Is this really based on a true story? No, really?” Ellen Page scores again in the roller derby movie Whip It. The Coen brothers ask unanswerable questions in A Serious Man. And finally I will mention, based solely on the strength of their visual effects, Disney’s A Christmas Carol and Avatar. See them in 3D, I insist!

First seen on video this year: I haven’t done this before, but I’ll go ahead and recommend a few movies I saw on video this year. The animated feature Bolt is a cute one, about a dog who thinks he has super powers — kind of like a canine Buzz Lightyear. The original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still is still surprisingly good, and the 1963 version of The Haunting is still surprisingly scary. I also enjoyed the little-seen Luke Wilson movie Henry Poole Is Here, the classic Western The Gunfighter starring Gregory Peck, and the classics From Here to Eternity and To Have and Have Not.

So that’s my 2009 in a nutshell. Please post your comments and voice your own opinions!