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The Other Guys
Ever the old fall-back of comedy writers looking to push their budgets a little higher, the mismatched buddy-cop routine has had a steady stream of releases over the last 40 years. Most recently, Kevin Smith's 'Cop Out' proved to be exactly that, reminding audiences that wit, words and set-up still rule in the land of a thousand one-liners. Given that truth, director Adam McKay ('Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy', 'Step Brothers') has assembled a scenario ripe for laughs – and some thinly-veiled social commentary for good measure.
Essentially an underdog story – always a formula for riling up arm-pumping audiences, McKay's 'The Other Guys' traces the titular other guys in New York's Finest – the men behind the scenes, filing paperwork for the action-hero detectives who steal the headlines and drive muscle cars. Rather than turning the clichés and conventions inside out, 'The Other Guys' steps back and presents a fairly straight-forward anti-action movie. It builds on classic action sequences we've all seen before – cars ploughing through buses, high speed chases and so on – but does so from the perspective of two characters least likely to be involved.
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The Virginity Hit
The idea of a bunch of high school teens trying to get laid was a surprisingly refreshing convention when American Pie reused it back in 1999. The film updated the classic teen sex comedy formula and offered a delicate balance of raunchy and sweet, caring not only about our male leads, but their female lovers – whose needs were just as important (if not more so) as the men.
Now, more than 10 years later, things have most certainly changed. The teen sex comedy feels drained once more – worn out and often just filled with mindless sex, nudity, drug use and crass behavior. Some of it is funny, but most films fail to deliver anything of note. The only filmmaking team that really seems to find success in the genre is the Apatow gang, but even they've branched off from the genre, focusing less on films like Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and sinking deeper into more mature films. Director Greg Mottola (who also directed Superbad) had some fascinating and poignant observations in Adventureland, but that film failed to garner much interest.
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No, it's not an adaptation of the classic videogame in which King Kong, Godzilla and a giant werewolf lay waste to an American city centre, but rather director Uwe Boll's latest mindless attack on our cinematic senses.
"Morally reprehensible" is probably the best phrase to describe Dr. Boll's latest foray into film, which is a shame, as technically it may just be his most accomplished work yet.
Brendan Fletcher plays Bill, a slacker twenty-something who has clearly had enough of the human race. We know this because he listens to inflammatory news broadcasts while weight-training, looking intense and throwing darts at pictures of the human form.
When the Sci-Fi Channel announced a campaign to re-brand itself as Syfy even non-fans scoffed at the silly name change. When a representative for the network was asked on Twitter why the change was made and how it would impact programming, the official answer was, “Syfy is about catching up to where our programming mix is, not about changing it.”
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Although his books seem particularly difficult to adapt, several filmmakers have done fine work turning Brett Easton Ellis' stuff into feature films. As a matter of fact, I'd go as far as to say that ALL of the films based on Ellis' books are actually better than the source material. Certainly American Psycho, and maybe to a slightly lesser degree on Less Than Zero and The Rules of Attraction. But with the arrival of Gregor Jordan's nearly unwatchable The Informers, Ellis finally got the adaptation we haven't been waiting for.
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When a movie is made based on a book that millions of people have read, the first question asked often pertains to the faithfulness of the resultant cinematic product to its written inspiration. In the case of The Kite Runner, director Marc Forster and screenwriter David Benioff have taken pains to provide the best screen representation possible of Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel. Time constraints have forced some changes and contractions but, on the whole, it's hard to imagine a more effective and affecting adaptation. The Kite Runner touches the heart and the mind - something increasingly rare in any movie not made with the express intention of winning Oscars. (The Kite Runner, it should be mentioned, will be in the running in several categories.)
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Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Bridget Jones' Diary was an unexpected delight: a witty, enjoyable trifle that touched the heart while tickling the funny bone. Sadly, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason isn't anywhere close to being that good. This has the feel of a movie that exists exclusively because its predecessor was a financial success. On those rare occasions when The Edge of Reason isn't regurgitating material from Bridget Jones' Diary, it is taking ill-advised excursions into unfunny slapstick and sappy melodrama. Bridget Jones in a Thai prison? Who thought up that bit of absurdity?
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Despite the allusion in the title, Guess Who is not a remake of the classic Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. In fact, other than borrowing the underlying premise (girl brings home boyfriend of a different race to meet her family), there are few similarities between the films. To start with, the 1967 feature was primarily a message melodrama that doubled as an examination of race relations at the time. Kevin Rodney Sullivan's (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) 2005 movie is an overt comedy that, while not ignoring the race issues altogether, uses them more frequently for humor than to illustrate serious points. And society has changed in the last 40 years. What was controversial and daring in 1967 (interracial relationships) is no longer so today. Although it would be unfair to characterize Guess Who as vapid, it bears a closer resemblance to a fusion of Meet the Parents and The Odd Couple than to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
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My Sister's Keeper
Death is as natural a part of life as is birth; every existence ends in the former as it begins in the latter. Human beings, however, have a natural aversion to addressing death in an open and honest manner. It's as unsuitable for polite conversation as sex and drugs. Movies too often veer into unbearable melodrama when the subject matter encroaches upon the Grim Reaper's territory. Call it the Terms of Endearment syndrome - heap on the manipulation until the audience is drowning in tears. It is refreshing, therefore, to find a film that chronicles the process of accepting death without wallowing in sentimentality. With My Sister's Keeper, director Nick Cassavetes exhibits a degree of restraint that is laudable. The film retains an emotional impact while maintaining a low-key style. It pushes buttons but not to the point of overkill. It is, in short, a rich experience that leaves the viewer in a contemplative mood without feeling used by a director eager to boost Kleenex sales.
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Revolver had its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, some 27 months before finding its way into a small number of U.S. multiplexes. If that says nothing else, it's that distributors shied away from the film, fearing its complete lack of commercial potential. Considering that the director is the hip and violent Guy Ritchie, the man behind Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, this might seem surprising - until one sees this disastrous mess that is masquerading as a motion picture. Often, if you ask me about something I saw at a film festival more than two years ago, I'll draw a blank. But I recall Revolver with surprising clarity - for all the wrong reasons. Before this, Swept Away was universally viewed as Ritchie's worst effort. Revolver is supposed to be his comeback - a return to the genre in which his success was born. With this movie, we are supposed to believe that the remake of the Lina Wertmuller film was an aberration. But, surprise of surprises, Revolver turns out to be worse than Swept Away - and not just by a little bit.
Time and time again throughout Terry Gilliam's career, the director has been forced to endure studio interference. According to executives at some of the companies that have distributed the former Monty Python animator's films, his creative vision was often at odds with what could earn a movie mainstream acceptance. Unlike Brazil (which remains the poster child for studio meddling) and the critically-reviled The Brothers Grimm, Gilliam had total creative control with Tideland. So there was every reason for viewers to expect a "return to form." What we get, sadly, is easily the worst production Gilliam has ever been involved in, either behind the camera or in front of it. Tideland is, by turns, a complete bore and a creepy experience. And I don't mean "creepy" in a positive sense.
It's lighter, brighter, funnier, faster-paced, and a whole lot more colorful than before. There's a new actor underneath the cape, a new girlfriend on his arm, and a new partner by his side. The director is different and the composer has changed. The villains -- Jim Carrey decked out in a neon question-mark jacket and Tommy Lee Jones with a face out of The Elephant Man -- are making their debuts. Yet somehow, perhaps because of the costume, it still feels like the same Batman we've gotten to know in two previous films. The same, yet different -- and much better.
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I happened to catch a trailer for the straight-to-video Snow Buddies tacked on to the end of another Disney DVD. I had heard of Air Bud, but honestly had no idea that these doggie "Buddy" movies were a whole franchise into themselves. Without the baggage of having sat through the half-dozen other pup movies in the series, I still found myself slack-jawed and smiling at the trailer for this live-action sled-dog puppy adventure, even though the dogs moved their lips and talked like children.
Yes, super-creepy, I'll admit. The only CGI-lipped talking-animal movies that have ever worked in my book are Babe and its sequel Pig in the City. And in Snow Buddies, when they start talking, especially with horrid affected lingos (like the hip-hop spewin' B-Dawg, a new-agey pup named Bud-Dha that says "namaste", etc.) it is THIS close to intolerable.
Then you kinda get used to it.
Then you don't notice it.
It's Disney magic!
Snow Buddies takes a pack of golden retriever puppies from their comfortable home in Fernfield, Washington (yay! Washington State!) and drops them (literally) in Ferntiuktuk, Alaska via an ice cream delivery. There is much fun to be had with the discovery of snow (which doesn't taste like ice cream), the fun of sleeping in a snow cave, and the excitement of meeting a wise old sled dog named Talon (voiced by Kris Kristofferson!).
The human hero in the story is a cute, floppy-haired boy named Adam (Dominic Scott Kay) who desperately wants a sled-dog team, but his father had covered the sled permanently with a tarp since The Accident. Adam prays for five dogs to join his husky pup Shasta so he can have a real team and enter the famous sled-dog race in town. When Shasta (voiced by Dylan Sprouse) brings home the golden retriever pups, his prayers have been answered! But first, Adam has to discreetly train his new team, enter the race in secret, and then ultimately face-off against the evil French-Canadian musher Jean George (John Kapelos—Holy crap! It's Carl the Janitor from The Breakfast Club!) and a handful of international teams (including a Russian with a hammer and sickle logo on his sleeve... um, what year is this?).
Though the parents are as bland as models on a Bounty commercial, and the dog-lips are genuinely creepy, Snow Buddies is actually pretty harmless and cute entertainment for younger kids. It is nowhere near as wretched as Snow Dogs, and doesn't contain any of the emotional trauma of Eight Below (sob!). And heck, even I'll admit I laughed out loud to hear Jean George's evil lead sled-dogs speak in exaggerated French accents (one of them voiced by Lothaire Bluteau of Jesus of Montreal!). With the support of surprisingly recognizable actors doing the critter voices, from Jim Belushi to Whoopi Goldberg to Molly Shannon, Snow Buddies is actually more enjoyable, in a completely benign way, than I ever expected.
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Lost Boys: The Tribe
The orphan and former surfer Chris Emerson and his sister Nicole Emerson move to Luna Bay expecting to initiate a new life without housing expenses with their Aunt Jillian, but she charges rent to the siblings for a wrecked house, and Chris seeks a job working as board shaper to raise money for the unforeseeable expenses. While in town, he meets his acquaintance and also former surfer Shane Powers that invites Chris for a surf parting at night. Then the siblings unsuccessfully seek out the board shaper and vampire hunter Edgar Frog in his trailer trying to find a job and Chris leaves a message for him. They go to Shanes party and Nicole stays with Shane and drinks booze offered by him. Later she becomes a half-vampire and Edgar advises that she drank vampires blood and can only be saved if the head-vampire is killed. Chris and Edgar search the hiding place of Shane and his tribe to save Nicole.
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A grouchy couple give birth to a very sweet girl they name Matilda. Unlike her bratty brother mean parents, Matilda becomes a very sweet extremely intelligent girl who is very anxious to go to school read books. After a while, her parents send her to a school with the worst principal in the world, a very sweet teacher, good friends. While trying to put up with her parents principals cruelty, she starts to unwittingly unleash telekinetic powers that destroy a television make a reptile fly on the principal. With enough practice, Matilda starts to learn to control her telekinetic powers soon using them on her principal so she can drive her away from the school.
My Girl 2
Vada Sultenfuss has a holiday coming up, and an assignment to do and essay on someone she admires and has never met. She decides she wants to do an assignment on her mother, but quickly realises she knows very little about her. She manages to get her father to agree to let her go to LA to stay with her Uncle Phil and do some research on her mother. Once in LA, she finds herself under the protection of Nick, the son of Phils girlfriend, who at first is very annoyed at losing his holidays to escort a hick girl around town. However, he soon becomes more involved in the difficult search.
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