Disney’s A Christmas Carol

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (B). This is Robert Zemeckis’s latest foray into the new-fangled motion-capture animation that also went into Beowulf and The Polar Express. I saw the 3D version, and I recommend it because the visuals of this movie are easily its strongest point. Indeed, the ghost of Jacob Marley, the black steeds pulling the carriage of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, and the disintegration of the Ghost of Christmas Present are all sufficiently intense and frightening that this movie is not really appropriate for little kids. And I gather that the movie is more faithful to Dickens’s story than some other adaptations have been, which is probably a good thing. And yet . . . the weird CGIness of the movie really kept me at arm’s length throughout, and I didn’t leave the theater with any warm Christmasy feelings–just a vague admiration for the technological proficiency behind the movie.

I will add that The Borg Queen started out watching the movie with me but left halfway through. She was getting motion sick from the swooping camera work (although personally I think the $5 package of Twizzlers she had before the movie also contributed to her ill health). And she generally disliked the movie as well, commenting, as many people have, on the unsettlingly dead appearance of the CGI characters. That flaw was really true of The Polar Express, in my opinion, and it is true of many of the characters in this movie too, especially Scrooge’s nephew Fred and his employee Bob Cratchit. The Scrooge character (voiced by Jim Carrey, The Truman Show) is much more lifelike, but the unreal quality of the other characters definitely dampened my enthusiasm for the film.

Under the Sea 3D (IMAX)

New review from The Movie Snob

Under the Sea 3D (B). I have weakness for IMAX documentaries, and this one is yet another beautifully filmed journal of encounters with remarkable critters like cuttlefish, sea snakes, leafy sea dragons, stonefish, sea lions, and even a great white shark. The movie was shot in Indonesian and Australian waters, and Jim Carrey (Disney’s A Christmas Carol) provides narration that is only slightly more lively than Daryl Hannah (Splash) gave us in Dolphins and Whales. Although the movie is good, it is also exactly what you expect, Maybe it’s time to give the oceans a rest, boys.

Yes Man

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Yes Man (C). I am not the biggest Jim Carrey (Disney’s A Christmas Carol) fan in the world, but I went ahead and saw this movie — even paid full price! As I gathered from the previews, Carrey plays some ordinary, middle-aged schmoe who says “no” to everything until something happens that makes him do a 180° on that policy. Personally, I’m an ordinary, middle-aged schmoe who says “no” to pretty much everything, so I thought I should see what I’m missing. The movie unfolds pretty predictably — almost as predictably as if Carrey had continued to say “no” to everything, in fact. A bright spot is Zooey Deschanel (Elf), not because she turns in a particularly great performance, but just because I think she’s as cute as a button. But she’s also like 20 years younger than Jim Carrey, so that’s kind of hard to believe, maybe even a little creepy. Anyhoo, nothing special about this one, and some crude humor that should make parents take the PG-13 rating seriously. (Fionnula Flanagan of The Others should be ashamed of herself!)

The Number 23, The Pathfinder

DVD reviews from Nick at Nite

The Number 23

I miss Ace Ventura Pet Detective. Not the sequel. The original. “Finkelstein is Einhorn, Einhorn is Finkelstein” — that was funny. The Number 23 is not funny. It is a quirky film with a strange little story about a book, its author, and the obsession it brings out in some readers. Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty) plays an everyman who becomes obsessed with the book after his wife buys it for him on a whim. As Carrey grows more and more obsessed with the book he starts to lose his mind, endanger his family, and must confront his own murky past. The movie has a significant twist. See if you can guess it. This is worth a rental if you can’t find the other new release you wanted. I give it a “B.”

The Pathfinder

This is more my speed. Did you know that the Vikings first came to this country 600 years before anyone else? Did you know that one of their great warriors and his men were stranded leaving only a single child as a survivor? Did you know that this child would be rescued by Native Americans and eventually grow up to fight a different group of Vikings that threatened his adoptive Native American tribe? Well, now you know. Lots of action including sword play, archery, blood, bear fights, and other excitement. Story is told in a very odd way. The Vikings speak whatever language it is Vikings speak and everything they say is subtitled. Meanwhile the Native Americans speak English with no subtitles. I did not realize that before the English settled on this continent the native inhabitants already knew how to speak English. Perhaps Martians are to blame. Honestly, if you are going to go to the trouble to have some of the guys speak a strange and different language, why not have them all do it. I give it a “B.”

DVD reviews from CBG

CBG reviews DVDs:

Fun with Dick and Jane

Remake of an allegedly funnier 1977 version staring George Segal and Jane Fonda. Maybe I should have seen the original because several people told me it was better. In this 2005 release, Jim Carrey (Yes Man) and Téa Leoni (Spanglish) play the upwardly mobile couple who are forced to turn to a life of crime after his company collapses from fraud. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood, but it wasn’t that funny. Fraud, armed robbery, petty theft and vandalism don’t usually make me laugh. Even when Jim Carrey is the perpetrator. Even when the victims deserve it (and only a few in this movie do). Carrey is a great physical comedian and although he works it here – his pratfalls aren’t enough to carry the film. Likewise, as charming as Ms. Leoni may be, she doesn’t hold my interest for 90 minutes. Even as social satire, it falls short of the mark. My advice? If you didn’t see it when it first came out, don’t bother now.

Judgment: C

Find Me Guilty

Vin Diesel (The Fate of the Furious) plays Jackie DiNoscio, a mobster who defended himself in connection with a massive RICO case against the mob – apparently, the longest mafia trial in history. Billed as a courtroom drama, based on the actual trial, I had high hopes for this film. What’s not to like? The Mob? Courtroom drama (as if you see a lot of that in real life)? So what’s not to like? Vin Diesel for one – he apes his way through this with some pseudo-Italian accent (?) and mannerisms. How about a flat story story line to follow it up with. Ultimately, what disappointed me about this film is what it said about us and pop culture generally. Why do we root for the mobster? He’s a CRIMINAL, engaged in drug dealing and other illegal activity? Why do we sympathize with the mob? Again, they’re CRIMINALS. Why is the government so incompetent? Who thought a 2 year trial was a good idea? How does a pro se litigant get the better hand on a federal prosecutor? Too many questions – I know, it’s only a movie. But this one is based (loosely) on a true story. If it was me, I’d add the holy trinity of cinematography (sex, violence and special effects) those are things that work for Vin (Check out XXX). Instead, this film is guilty – of being predictable, furthering stereotypes and well, starring Vin Diesel (without the trinity). Maybe I should have watched The Chronicles of Riddick.

Judgment: C+

Swept Away (Italian with Subtitles)

*** spoiler alert *** spoiler alert *** spoiler alert ***

The original title in Italian is “Travolti da un insolito nell’ azzurro mare d’agosto” which I’ll bet translates to more than just “Swept Away.” (I think it’s something like “Overwhelmed by the Destiny of the Unusual August Blue Sea.” Okay, we’ll stick to Swept Away.) The plot is simple: Uptight, abusive rich lady (Raffaella) on a private Mediterranean cruise gets stranded on a deserted island with a lowly ignorant crew member (Gennarino) after she insists on going out against his advice. Now the tables are turned. After hurling insults and attacking each other, they fall in love and well, attack each other. Made in 1974, the film still holds up, particularly if you know anything about Italian culture. This film works the dialectic: male v female; rich v poor; north (Raffaella is from Milano, Gennarino is Sicilian); communists v capitalists. Since it wasn’t made in Hollywood, you’ll be unhappy with the ending if you like everything to work out at the end. If you’re into Italian cinema, there’s a lot out there to see before this. Even so, worth the rental. Certainly see this version instead of the remake (starring Madonna) – advice I should have followed with Dick and Jane (see above).

Judgment: B

Fun (?) With Dick and Jane

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Fun with Dick and Jane

They should have called this movie Bored with Dick and Jane or Saddened with Dick and Jane, certainly not Fun with Dick and Jane, Enjoying Dick and Jane, or Pleased with Dick and Jane. I am finding it increasingly difficult to find a good comedic release. This could have been it. It had Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty) and Téa Leoni (Spanglish), decent actors in their own right, and was based on a remake of a moderately funny movie. Honestly, I thought Jim Carrey was very funny in some of his past roles. I laugh every time I think about Ace Venture realizing that … “Einhorn is Finkelstein, Finkelstein is Einhorn … (cue theme music from The Crying Game).” Téa Leoni, she is as cute as a button. So I thought, why not this movie? I’ll tell you why not. Armed robbery is not funny (a central plot point). Armed robbery is scary. If it is not in Raising Arizona and you are not stealing diapers, it is not funny. The misfortune of all of the employees of Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, etc … also not funny. Save your money and time on this one. Go for a walk, read a book, or just watch a rerun of TV. You’ll have more fun.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

A new review from Movie Man Mike:

A Series of Unfortunate Events. (B-) To begin with, the most unfortunate event was that I went to see this movie at the theater. It will be more enjoyable if you don’t pay full price for it. J.K. Rowling has nothing to fear from this little upstart of a film series. The cast of this movie was promising, with Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, and an actor who looks suspiciously like John Cleese, but who is not credited as John Cleese. With the exception of Jude Law, who narrates, each of these actors plays intriguing and humorous characters. The story seemed to drag a little, which was surprising since it appears that the producers tried to fit 3 of the books into one movie. One thing missing from this film were some of the laughs. Most of the humor was mildly amusing. This movie might appeal more to children, but I personally would not recommend it for children because it’s a little dark given that it begins with the children learning that their parents were killed in a horrible fire. The rest of the film involves attempts to place the children with various relatives and the scheming of one relative, Count Olaf, to acquire the children’s inheritance even if it involves the killing of other relatives. The whole time I kept worrying about the impact of this film on my impressionable nieces and nephews. Leave the kids at home, and if you rent it, watch it after the kids have gone to bed.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

DVD review from That Guy Named David:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (B+)

After watching this movie for about 20 minutes, I was tempted to turn it off. I thought that the cast (and specifically, Jim Carrey) was trying way too hard to make the movie into some weird, “look at me, I can act very odd and keep plodding through with no plot” kind of movie. It reminded me a little of Mulholland Drive, without the scenes that make Mulholland Drive worth watching. Well, I think my problem was that I had read nothing about the movie and once I got an idea of what was going on, I realized that I should be patient and give the movie a chance to develop. In retrospect, I’m glad that I did. Once it all clicked (which for my dense brain, occurred about 30 minutes into the movie), I thought the movie was extremely well-done and the acting was superb. Even the ending was a nice touch, which I was a little worried about once I began to enjoy the movie. Anyway, it’s a definite renter. I may even buy it eventually. I’m becoming a big fan of those “Focus Features” (Lost in Translation, The Pianist, Being John Malkovich, Wet Hot American Summer, etc.).

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (B-). I just can’t give this movie the big bear hug that View From Mars did. It was written by Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote the screenplays for Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, so some weirdness was to be expected. And I did like the premise: Jim Carrey, in deep angst over losing girlfriend Kate Winslet, discovers that bonny Kate has gone to this strange clinic called Lacuna, Inc. and availed herself of a procedure to completely erase him from his memory. So he decides to have her scrubbed out of his brain too. And that’s when things start to get really weird…. I think my biggest problem with the movie was the ending, which did not ring at all true to me. But it was an interesting ride getting there, with good performances by the whole cast. Maybe it’s more of a straight B. If you like movies that are a little twisted, it’s worth a look.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

**** SPOILER ALERT **** SPOILER ALERT ****

A guest review from a friend of That Guy Named David, who files this review under the sobriquet “View from Mars”:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (A-). I read this script about a year ago as everything Kaufman interests me. What I got from the script is more or less reinforced in the movie version, being that it is a unique and original relationship story with a twist. The mere mention of Charlie Kaufman being attached to anything pretty much goes without saying. The “unique and original” relationship is that between Joel and Clementine played perfectly by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. These two characters meet, they fall in love and experience the humanistic nature that every relationship endures…good times and bad times. The “twist” aspect to this plot comes in the form of a corporation that can erase bad memories from your mind i.e. deaths, broken and painful relationships, etc… Soon enough, we find Carrey’s Joel applying and later going through the mind erasure procedure. The majority of the movie then plays out in Joel’s head as his memories become nonexistent and we come to explore and understand Joel and Clementine’s relationship through a series of flashbacks, until Joel realizes he wants out. Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson round out the supporting cast who each play an important part in the ensuing story. It’s hard to figure out how this movie will play out commercially and you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of Kaufman’s work to enjoy it. The acting by the two leads is perfect (although I do know some people who have a problem with Carrey as an actor if he’s not doing his usual screwball, slap-sticky comedy). That being said, the movie worked on various levels (acting, plot, the mind erasure gimmicks) and upon leaving the theatre I couldn’t help but recall that age-old quote “Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat 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.

Bruce Almighty

From The Movie Snob:

Bruce Almighty. (C+) No one will be surprised to learn that The Movie Snob is not a Jim Carrey fan. But this movie’s premise sounded promising. Carrey plays an average guy who complains loudly and often about how God is running the world when things aren’t going his way. Soon enough, God responds to the complaints by letting Carrey run things for a while. But the Hollywood sausage-grinder generally reduces this interesting concept to a series of sight gags and cliched epiphanies. Parts were amusing enough, but overall this flick was nothing special. Maybe Carrey had only one The Truman Show in him.  Also features Jennifer Aniston.