Most of the labor was getting through this movie.
Normally as I leave the theater (and sometimes before the film even starts) I have thought of a funny or clever intro sequence to my review (funny or clever in my mind. For all I know I sound like a pretentious idiot. My massive ego will not allow me to believe that, however). In spite of having almost 24 hours to reflect on it this film it has not inspired any kind of wit or cleverness. I guess that is the best way to describe it: not inspired. Flat, predictably, hard to believe, and inconclusive. I’m sure there is some kind of connection to the characters but that connection is lost under a pile of lovey pap and mediocre coming of age crap.
In checking out some other reviewers most of them seem to be shocked that this was done by Jason Reitman, the man behind Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air. However, as a relatively newer reviewer I note that the last movie he did prior to this was Young Adult, a film that I gave the very mediocre score of two stars and one that I think is on par with this one. My best friend says all great directors have only three really good films in them and should retire after the third one (I’m still waiting for Lucas to do his third). Looks like Jason missed the memo.
However I think most of the reviewers out there are actually judging this film more harshly due to the fact that is is Jason Reitman. I mean, it’s not like the film is really dysfunctional. It has a few good moments and if you were feeling lonely and a little drunk you would probably enjoy it by yourself or with the Real Doll of your choice (mine is named Becky). It could even function as a date movie as long as your date doesn’t mind being pandered and condescended to.
One thing I did like a lot was a supporting character played by James Van Der Beek. I have never seen an episode of Dawsons Creek in my life and will happily do a belly flop into a pool full of used syringes and rusty razor blades before watching one, but I got to like him a lot when he played himself in The Bitch In Apartment 23. I love any actor who is so self aware that he can play himself as an egotistical jackass. Either that or he is SO self obsessed that he didn’t realize that he was making fun of himself. In either case I got to like him a lot. That show is actually really great, and for the record I would dive headfirst into the aforementioned swimming pool for the chance to go on a date with show star Krysten Ritter. Kysten, I love you.
Also James has the coolest last name in Hollowood. Van Der Beek. It’s like the first two syllables are this really sophisticated, ostentatious upper class name and then it ends with Beek. How awesome is that? It’s like if the Queen of the Netherlands married Beeker from the Muppets.
The uninspirational nature of this film I find de-motivating so I will get on with it. Plus I need to see Nut Job in two hours so here is the story (the Nuts image I found in our novelty t shirt category. I expect to use something similar when I get around to writing up the Nut Job review). Adele (Kate Winslet-Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Revolutionary Road) is a single mother with a strong case of agoraphobia. Her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith-Changeling, Green Lantern, Couples Retreat) is 13 and tries to be the man of the house, doing things like going into the bank for his mom.
While shopping for supplies Henry runs into Frank (Josh Broslin-Oldboy, No Country for Old Men, Gangster Squad), who sort of compels Adele to give him a ride. He asks to go to her house where they find out he is an escaped convict.
Honestly if I were feeling lazy I could wrap up this recap with the sentence He fixes a few things and he and Adele fall in love. That’s pretty much the rest of the movie. He is hiding out and like I said, starts fixing a few things. He was apparently convicted of killing his wife and child under somewhat murky circumstances but Adele doesn’t know that. In spite of all that he manages to make her fall in love with him and bonds with Henry by teaching him baseball.
After knowing Frank for three days Adele agrees to flee with him to Canada. They all pack up their stuff but their escape is hampered by about 800 things that all could have screwed it up, including my favorite Officer Van Der Beek. Meanwhile there is a fairly pointless sub plot involving Henry meeting a girl his age named Rachel (Elena Kampouris-Jinxed, not much else) whom the makeup people decided would be best if she looked like the girl voted Most Likely to Become a Meth Head. He has a a sort of awkward teen romance that goes no where and does nothing for the story.
Also there is this really annoying series of double flashbacks that tells the stories of how Adele got divorced and Frank killed his wife. Oh, yeah, Henry’s father (Clark Gregg-Thor, Iron Man, Avengers) dorks it up too. SPOILER ALERT In the end Frank gets caught and sent back to prison for 25 more years. Henry grows up and becomes Tobey MaGuire (a fate worse than death. Oh yeah Spider Man, Spider Man, and the Great Gatsby) and a pie man. Adele turns into a reclusive cat lady sans cats. The whole last 20 minutes of the film kind of sputters to a flat ending like a leaky balloon. Frank gets out of prison and is reunited with an aged Adele for a storybook ending I guess.
I thought all the actors did a decent job. I do like Josh Brolin. He plays the bad ass really well. One star. I’ll give a bonus star for the kid not being super annoying like most child characters. He can actually act. One star. James Van Der Beek. One star. The film accurately captured what living in 1987 felt like without making the mistake of glorifying or making a caricature of it. There were no Members Only jackets. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes.
There was some kind of weird tonal failure going on that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s like the film was an eggshell and inside the egg struggling to get out was a better movie. Reitman does ironic, not romantic. Under that shell I think there was a fledgling ironic film that got smothered. One black hole. Pacing of a garden slug. 111 minutes and you will feel the film was 100 minutes too long. One black hole. In spite of the pacing the story seemed rushed. Who falls in love with a criminal in three days? Some attempt was made to give Adele the semblance of motivation to do so but that part bounced off the wall without sticking. One star. The flashbacks, the teenage love subplot, and pretty much everything having to do with the father really dragged the film down. The flashbacks were borderline surreal and jarring, the love story felt fake, and you wanted to punch the real dad in spite of him secretly being Agent Coulson. One black hole. Another film I suspect I am really going to have to reread this review in order to remember for my 2014 recap. Very forgettable. One black hole. Total: five black holes.
So one black hole total. On the down side of mediocre. I don’t know. If you want romantic pap and don’t want to have to think too hard go for it. Otherwise bail. See it at home if you can. Date movie? On paper it looks like it would work but I kind of suspect that if you took a girl to this film she would suspect you are trying too hard (she would be right. Girls tend to be smarter than you think on stuff like this). This film is definitely not superior to buying her dinner and then spending a few hours talking with her at the coffee house. Bathroom break? Hmm. The Henry/Rachel romance contributes next to nothing and there is a long scene where they go on a walk together towards the end that is very missable.
Thanks for reading. Like I said I’m seeing Nut Job tonight. I want to get it under my belt before the Lego Movie comes out (I am really looking forward to that one. It looks hilarious). Look for that review some time tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have a comment on this film or my review feel free to post it here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and have a great night.
I guess my number is 2 (black holes).
First off, let me curse Regal Jack London Theater to the very bowels of Hell for being sold out on Dream House, forcing me to watch this chick flick.
Anyway, this movie is yet another female-centric R rated comedies that wants to make women talking about their vaginas a subject of humor. Unfortunately, Bridesmaids already did that this year and, more importantly, did it competently. I say female-centric because it features a female protagonist who says a lot of raunchy things, but in all honesty if I were a woman I would be pissed off at such a passive doormat being a main character in this film She takes no action or charge without help from her friends, gets regularly treated horribly by the men in her life and never speaks out against them, and can’t even accomplish her stupid goal without enlisting the aid of the man across the hall.
The movie starts off with Ally Darling (Anna Faris-Scary Movie 2 and 4, Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs, something called House Bunny) getting dumped by her lame vegetarian bike guy boyfriend, who leaves her with a line that any self respecting woman would have punched him in the balls for but in another womens lib inhibiting move she takes with a smile (Vegetarian image from the novelty t shirt category). She gets fired later that morning and on the train ride home discovers in a women’s magazine that the national average number of sex partners for women is 10.5, and any woman who sleeps with more than 20 is not likely to ever get married (fortunately, if I were a woman I would still have quite a cushion, if you know what I mean). She does some math and discovers that she has just been dumped by number 19. She sets a resolution to not sleep with number 20 until she is sure he is the one, and then proceeds to get drunk off her ass and sleep with the boss who just fired her.
So, with her second virginity plan shot down, she now comes up with the completely ridiculous plan of trying to hook up with one of her ex boyfriends, due to the fact that her sister is getting married to her ex (there is an extensive sub plot surrounding her sisters upcoming wedding. It is actually pretty integral to the story, so I won’t black hole it). In order to track down (stalk) her ex’s she recruits her across the hall neighbor Colin Shea (Chris Evans – Captain America, Fantastic Four. Actually quite a good filmography from a nerd perspective), who is a sleazy womanizer who seduces a different girl each night and then needs Ally’s help trying to get rid of her, or at least Ally’s apartment to hide out in until they figure out how they have just been used and leave. Anyway, unfunny romantic comedy hijinks ensues. Colin manages to track down a series of men who are all, for one reason or another, inappropriate. Naturally romance ensues between the woman who has sworn celibacy and the man who plans to sleep with every woman in the greater Boston area. The romance has all the chemistry of mixing green food coloring into beer to make St. Paddy’s Day beverages. The plot plods towards the painfully predictable and totally expected ending.
The stars. Acting was decent. You do tend to believe the characters. One star. Anna Faris is cute if you are into blondes, and whoever they got to be her body double in the extremely brief and non-revealing nude (nud-ish) scenes was pretty hot. One star. Decent supporting characters, including her mother (Blythe Danner), sister (Ari Graynor), the bridesmaids, and the assorted men. One star. Dialog was decent. One star. A few funny moments. One star. It’s nice to see a movie shot in Boston, as opposed to LA or NYC. One star. Total: six stars.
The black holes. Predictable with a capital P. I’ve had more surprising endings from kids singing the A-B-C song. One black hole. The two main characters, Ally and Colin, are both in their own way so unlikeable that by the end of the movie I hated not only them but everyone in the city of Boston (sorry if you live there. Nothing personal). She’s a whiny passive aggressive loser and he’s a sleazy aggressive loser. One black hole. Anna Faris may be funny, but she has a voice that could cut glass. If you loaded 6-9 cats into a cement mixer and turned it on you might approximate the sound. One black hole. Shockingly few funny moments in a so-called comedy, and most of them were one the basest level. One black hole. Ally’s father was the only supporting character that felt fake and out of place. One black hole. I’m going to put this out as bluntly as I can: if you are going to have a Rated R movie and it’s not for violence, for the love of all that is good include a couple decent nude scenes. The ones in this movie were fleeting and mostly covered. One black hole. The romance felt forced and lacked chemistry. One black hole. Total: eight black holes.
So a total of 2 black holes, and hence the subtitle for this movie (my real number is not two. Not a ton more than that, but not two). Meh. If you are looking for something cute that you won’t have to use your brain a lot for, go for it. I can actually recommend this as a date movie, in that if she starts thinking about her number she might have to decide you are the one. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet slept with your date this may well backfire on you when she decides you aren’t worth adding to her score, so tread carefully.
Short review, but honestly not a lot of meat for me to chew on here. Thanks for reading. Still more to see this week, but I might just do another Star Trek retrospective tomorrow, or maybe think of something new. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Talk to you all soon.
Here’s where we get into the actual meat of the phone call. Here there is only one rule: the K.I.S.S rule. That is Keep It Simple, Stupid! Seriously, your message or conversation should be brief and to the point. We’ll take each type of communication in kind.
This post will be voice mail. Voice mail is great, as you can use it as a more true barometer of how much she actually likes you. In other words, if she is interested she will actually call you back. If she doesn’t, you get to leave one more VM (remember the Two Message rule) and are then free to work on the next girl. I love voice mail. The other great thing about voice mail is you don’t have to have anything specific in mind to do with her.
Do not ramble. Do not beg. Short and to the point. Remember, every word you say is another chance for her to decide you are lame, so keep them to a minimum. Here is what a typical first voice mail might sound like from me:
“Hi (girl’s name). This is (your name) from (whatever event you met her at) the other day. I had a good time talking to you and wanted to give you a quick call. We should hang out sometime soon. Call me at (your number here). Talk to you soon.”
That’s it. Don’t go into a long description of who you were (“the guy wearing the Darth Maul costume” etc) or the exact details of how you started talking to her (“I was the guy who hit his head walking into a phone pole while updating my Facebook on my iPhone”). Honestly, if she liked you she remember. If, by some weird set of circumstances (black out drunk) she doesn’t remember giving you her number that will only help, as she will have to assume there was something about you that intrigued her.
Trust me, she is not going to be wearing this shirt, so don’t do it (shirt image courtesy of the novelty t shirt category).
Next post, email or Facebook.
I’m kind of conflicted about these classic “adult” movie t shirts I ordered. None of them have anything actually pornographic, but still some people could be offended. On the other hand, the cheesy kitsch value is huge. I think I will put them in the novelty t shirts section rather than movies. Still, it’s disconcerting. If any of you have an opinion let me know. I could always just bring them to conventions.
The shirts are all movie posters, and the three movies are Debbie Does Dallas, the Devil in Miss Jones, and the Italian Stallion (yes, with Sylvester Stallone pre-legitimate career). They are all hilarious.
It’s funny how the Puritan elements of our society creep into my mentality. I have no trouble telling everyone how much I think Superman sucks when compared to Batman (or any number of other comic book heroes. Growing up in Smallville with the Kents is NOT a tragic beginning) yet am worried about t shirts with PG images on from the adult industry. A hard core Superman fan could potentially be really offended and is more likely to be looking at my site than people who would be offended by these shirts.
I think I will put these up, but this is the limit. A lot of my vendors recommend some more “adult themed” shirts but really, I personally find them pretty childish (this from a guy who a few weeks ago posted a Care Bears t shirt and wrote an essay on it) and potentially very offensive. I don’t think I want to go in that direction. I am about nerds, and I don’t think that stuff fits in well.