Neighbors

The Movie Snob is sorely disappointed.

Neighbors (D). I knew this was a vulgar, raunchy comedy in the modern vein, but it seemed to be getting good enough reviews to justify a look. Not so! Seth Rogen (This Is the End) and the ubiquitous Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class) star as a married couple with a new baby who get all discombobulated when the Delta Psi fraternity buys the house next door to theirs. After a reasonably amicable meet-and-greet with the fraternity leader (Zac Efron, The Paperboy), things quickly deteriorate into all-out war between the fraternity and the squares. (Well, except these squares don’t mind drinking, and at least one of them enjoys marijuana. But still, they’re in a war with frat boys, so by definition they must be squares. I mean, they have a baby for crying out loud.) It is, as promised, vulgar from beginning to end, and I laughed very seldom. But I can’t deny that I did laugh once or twice, so it gets a D instead of an F. Take that, Delta Psi!

The Internship

Mom Under Cover sends us this movie review.

The Internship – B

This buddy movie proves that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have a certain chemistry on-screen that was not a fluke (Wedding Crashers).  Billy and Nick (Vaughn and Wilson) are forty-something salesmen out of a job because no one wears wrist watches anymore a la Willy Loman.  They enroll in the University of Phoenix to qualify as “students” for an internship at Google (which is portrayed as Nirvana). Despite their hilarious interview via Skype, Billy and Nick secure spots as Nooglers.  The movie is predictable — the youngsters eschew Billy and Nick, but in the end, the old geezers have something to share with their younger counterparts and are not obsolete after all; the team comes together–Kum-bay-ya.  For those of a certain age, Billy and Nick’s ’80s cultural references that fly over the heads of the co-eds are pretty funny.  Rose Byrne plays Wilson’s alluring love interest.  Will Farrell has a cameo as a mattress salesman that is uncharacteristically flat.  Go with low expectations and you will enjoy it.

X-Men: First Class

The Movie Snob declines to be assimilated

X-Men: First Class  (B).  The Borg Queen panned this movie a few weeks ago (see her review here), but I have to disagree.  As everyone knows, this is a prequel about the origins of the mutants and Charles Xavier’s school for same.  First, we get a quick look at the childhoods of two of the first mutants, the telepath Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, Becoming Jane) and the metal-manipulating Erik Lensherr a/k/a Magneto (Michael Fassbender, Centurion).  Flash forward to the early 1960s, when the CIA becomes aware that sinister forces seem to be driving both the United States and the Soviet Union towards a nuclear confrontation.  The ubiquitous Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) plays the savvy CIA agent who discovers that those sinister forces are evil mutants, and she seeks the aid of Xavier (at first not knowing he is a mutant himself).  I was surprised to see that Mystique (played here by Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone) is roughly the same age as Xavier, since she looks much younger than he in the later movies.  Anyhoo, I thought the movie was generally a good ride.  The X-Men movies in general seem to try harder to get at the humanity beneath the awesome superpowers.  The movie has its shortcomings–it’s too long, some of the characters seem to switch sides with little or no motivation, and the Borg Queen is right that there is a gratuitous scene of a bunch of half-naked women.  Also, I was annoyed when I sat through all the closing credits to see the usual final scene, only to discover that there wasn’t one.  But on the whole the movie was definitely worth watching.

Bridesmaids

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Bridesmaids  (B).  The Bleacher Bum gave this comedy a B+ a few weeks ago, and I generally concur in his judgment.  There is something sweet and vulnerable about Kristen Wiig (Paul) as she plays Annie, a failed bakery owner and unsuccessful romantic who reacts like a cornered animal when her position as the best friend of the newly engaged Lillian (Maya Rudolph, A Prairie Home Companion) is threatened by the wealthy and gorgeous Helen (Rose Byrne, I Capture the Castle).  Jon Hamm (The Town) is hilariously loathsome as Annie’s pseudo-boyfriend, as is Melissa McCarthy (Pumpkin) as the overweight, let-it-all-hang-out sister of Lillian’s fiance.  There is one gross-out scene that you shouldn’t watch if you have a phobia about vomiting, and125 minutes got a little long, but on the whole I enjoyed it.

Get Him to the Greek

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Get Him to the Greek (D). I know, I should have listened to That Guy Named David and skipped this movie. But I saw a decent review. Then I read that it features Rose Byrne (I Capture the Castle) as a pop diva, and I kind of like her. So I gave it a shot. To be sure, I did laugh a few times. But the film is wildly uneven in tone. The comic side involves the trials and travails of a nerdy record-company employee (Jonah Hill, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) as he tries to escort a washed-up British rock star (Russell Brand, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) from London to L.A. within 72 hours (in time for a big comeback concert). But there is a lot of somber, dark stuff about drug addiction and romantic betrayal too, which makes you not want to laugh when the movie tries to turn funny again. Also, like most or all of these Judd Apatow productions, this movie is stuffed to the gills with vulgar language and sexual perversions of various kinds, so probably no one really ought to watch it. Unlike That Guy Named David, though, I did like Sean Combs as the over-the-top record-company president or whatever he was. I take it Mr. Combs is a person of some note in the music industry in real life?

Troy

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Troy (B). I saw this movie once back when in was in the theaters, and I bought the DVD not too long after it came out, but I only recently got around to watching it. Clocking in at 2 hours and 43 minutes, it’s barely shorter than the Trojan War itself! (Especially as portrayed in the movie, in which the War seems to take about two weeks after the Greeks arrive on the shores of windy Ilion.) I like the movie, despite its many obvious departures from the Iliad. Brad Pitt (Babel) makes a brooding Achilles, Eric Bana (Star Trek) is an admirable Hector, and Peter O’Toole (Stardust) is pitiable as aging King Priam, ever-trusting that the gods will reward him for his piety. Chief among the film’s demerits is the goofy love story between Achilles and the captured Trojan priestess Briseis (Rose Byrne, I Capture the Castle). But if you like swords-and-sandals epics, I don’t see how you could fail to like Troy.

Sunshine (two views)

Nick at Nite and The Movie Snob sound off on Sunshine.

Nick at Nite: If you are not a science fiction fan or a particularly ardent supporter of Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), you may want to stay away from this one. However, if you can get past the repeated blinding shots of the sun – the shots that make you feel like you are inside a microwave oven looking out the glass into the kitchen – and set aside your “that doesn’t pass the smell test” attitude, you are likely to enjoy this movie. Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, brings us this science fiction disaster flick that is part 2001: A Space Odyssey (art house) and part Deep Impact/Armageddon (popcorn movie). The movie is set fifty years in the future, when our sun is dying and the planet is freezing. A spaceship is sent to the sun to deliver a payload intended to recharge it (I think it is a big bomb). Things run amok for the crew of the spaceship when it receives a distress signal from another spaceship that was assumed lost after failing to complete an identical mission seven years earlier. There are a series of interesting plot twists and some really cool special effects. This is the critical point – DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE IF – when you leave a movie like Superman, Star Wars, or The Princess Diaries and say to yourself “there is no way that could ever happen” and as a result you don’t like it. It is a SCIENCE FICTION film. If you want to see SCIENCE REALITY, go see March of the Penguins or one of Al Gore’s power point presentations. I give this an “A-.”

Movie Snob: I could not suspend disbelief at the end of the movie, so I did not like Sunshine nearly as well as Nick did. That said, the first two-thirds of the movie are an effective blend of 2001 and Armageddon, with hints of Alien and Solaris thrown in for good measure. The special effects are pretty darned good, with lots of impressive shots of this massive heat shield being pushed straight into the sun by a long spindly spaceship that looks sort of like the one from 2001. The acting isn’t bad, with a crew of astronauts getting pushed to its limits by the strain of a long, desperate voyage that is likely a suicide mission to boot. And it’s always nice to see Rose Byrne (I Capture the Castle, Troy) working, even if she is not at all dolled up for the part. I give it a C.

Shrek 2; Troy

From That Guy Named David:

Shrek 2 (B+)

If you liked the first Shrek, you’ll enjoy the sequel. The movie starts off with a new song by San Francisco’s 2nd finest band, the Counting Crows (the Grateful Dead is still the Bay Area’s best). After this beginning musical scene (reminiscent of that great “I Love L.A.” scene in The Naked Gun), you are introduced to more of the same from the first Shrek. In this one, Shrek’s new bride is summoned back to see her parents (the King and Queen of Far, Far Away) and introduce her new husband to them. Of course, they think that she is coming back with Prince Charming, who was dispatched to save her from the castle in which they stuck her as a child when they realized she was a freak. You see, Prince Charming was supposed to kiss her and end the horrible curse that had turned her into a freak. Anyway, without going into any more painstaking detail, you can imagine how the plot evolves. I’ll admit that I thought the plot dragged at times (nothing like Master and Commander, but still relatively boring on occasion); however, the introduction of Puss in Boots (played by Antonio Banderas’s voice) really added a new spark to the movie that made it enjoyable throughout. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) was as entertaining as in the first, and there were multiple jokes relating back to various aspects of popular culture that made me laugh out of recognition at what was being spoofed. Good, light, summer movie that I’m sure will make a killing at the theaters.

And The Movie Snob adds his two cents’ worth on Troy.

I really liked this flick, maybe because it brought back fond memories of my college days when we were all reading The Iliad for freshman literature class. Sure, the director took some liberties. I sure don’t remember any romantic subplots in Homer’s original, which is all about wrath and honor and the quest for immortality through glory won in combat. But there’s plenty of that in the movie, as well as some close-up looks at the dirty, agonizing reality of war. The battle and combat sequences were all very good, and Eric Bana and Peter O’Toole as Trojans Prince Hector and King Priam actually give fine performances amid all the swordplay. (Although Bana should have bulked up a bit more to be a suitable opponent for Brad Pitt’s Achilles.) A few other comments–Diane Kruger, who played Helen, was very pretty, but did she really have “the face that launched a thousand ships”? I’m thinking Nicole Kidman might have been a better choice. Also, did they give Rose Byrne (from the excellent 2003 film I Capture the Castle) hazard pay for her performance as the captured Trojan priestess Briseis? She had to be black and blue after that shoot. Anyway, on the whole, I had a great time. I give Troy a strong B+, maybe even an A-.

I Capture the Castle

From The Movie Snob:

I Capture the Castle. (B+) Movie Man Mike aptly reviewed this movie a few days ago, so I will content myself with posting my grade and recommending this movie to anyone who likes romantic, coming-of-age type movies. The lead performance by Romola Garai is especially enjoyable, but Rose Byrne did a nice job too. The performances by the two leading men, unfortunately, were weak and wooden. Even Henry Thomas, of E.T., couldn’t seem to turn on his heartlight.

I Capture the Castle

A fresh review from Movie Man Mike:

I Capture the Castle

This is a wonderful film about love. Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai) and her sister Rose (Rose Byrne) are two adolescents who are part of a very eccentric and comical family living in England. Rose is determined to marry into wealth and escape the poverty in which her family lives. Cassandra is determined to help Rose realize her dream. Cassandra, however, has also pledged that she herself will never fall in love. When Rose and Cassandra meet two brothers who have been reunited and enriched by the death of their father, Rose and Cassandra hatch a plan to help Rose realize her dream. The events that follow are quite entertaining. The story and its characters provide a refreshing and touching look at the effects love can have on people and their relationships. Filmed on the Isle of Man in Wales, the scenery is captivating. The costumes for this 1930’s setting are also worthy of mention and, at times, whimsical. If you like independent films, you should see this one. (A-)