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Groundhog Day (1993)
Clever, funny masterpiece
Comedies that can also convey sentiment are hard to find. Good ones, that is. This is a very funny movie. I have watched it several times and appreciate something new with each viewing. Basically, it's about a guy named Phil (played by Billy Murray) reliving the same day over and over again. His romantic interest, played by Andie McDowell, represents a brick wall he keeps smashing himself against until figuring out that he has to be happy with himself and what he has instead of what he wants. I usually can't stand "feel good" movies, but this movie is touching. A man nobody likes ends up epitomizing all the things that make a person good.
Many people feel like they are living the same day over and over again, and in relating to Phil's self-inflicted plight, they laugh out loud at his frustrations and misery. In truth, many people are living the same day over and over again because, like the main character, they make the same mistakes over and over again.
What makes it so interesting is how it exposes the problems-and hilarity of such problems- that a lot of men have. Phil learns to appreciate what IS. He learns that if another person can be "conquered" that they weren't worth conquering to begin with; that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. True happiness comes from within. Blah, blah, blah and so forth.
I can't imagine the film with anyone other than Murray. With miraculous insight, he exploits the introspective, narcissistic humor of the story. The two work brilliantly together, exposing an ironic, self deprecating charm before it's over.
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Very well done...and chalk full of jackasses to boot!
When I review a movie, I must first consider what the movie is intended to be and represented to be. Some can take a Titanic sized budget, Hollywood names, and a best selling screen writer and make a mediocre movie at best. For me, a movie like that gets a 2/10 stars. The same movie made with a mediocre budget, fairly unknown performers, and an unknown writer...and I'll give it a 5/10 stars.
This movie is exactly what it presents itself as. Hence, its clever title. It is chalk full of dangerous, disgusting, and bizarre stunts. I nearly vomited three times during the movie. I laughed my jackass off. I repeatedly exclaimed "oh my god" like an idiotic teenage girl.
A great film. My mom even liked it. My favorite scene (which I feel sums up the whole spirit of Jackass) was when one of the performers flung himself into a ceiling fan. It's a collage of the spontaneous and indiotic things some of us ocassionally consider doing, but never do. This film is an inspiration to jackasses all over the world.
I give 8/10 stars. Had it been a whole new idea, not based on a show, and not marketed solely towards teen-aged asswipes, I might have given it 10/10. But there it is.
Old School (2003)
Just not funny
With the cast and material, I expected this movie to have at least a few good laughs. It had one or two chuckles, at best. Really disappointing. This is supposed to be a comedy? It failed miserably. It was boring and the attempts at a plot were just annoying. I started to tune out and do other things about 20 minutes into the film. 2/10 stars.
Trading Spaces (2000)
Watch it if you have time to waste.
This show is pretty mediocre. Actually, what makes it worth watching are its poorer points, because they make the show funny. First of all, I can't think of a more annoying host than Page Davis. She is just so totally phoney and slappable. Then we have a team of about 8 designers who apparently come on the show in some sort of rotation (or they keep getting fired) and just about all of them are incredibly uptight and socially inept. It is truly funny watching guests react to the obnoxious enthusiasm of the "cast" from this show.
I particularly enjoy it when one of the designers intentionally go way over the top with a room as a form of revenge at whomever's p**sed them off at the time (I recall one episode where one of the gay,leather-wearing designers has a tiff with the guests and they end up decorating pistacio green, orange, and brown).
Then of course, my favorite is watching people open their eyes to their newwly redecorated room and pretending to be flattered at what is obviously an utterly horrible job. The wide eyes and repeated useage of the word "cool", all the while repeatedly glancing over at their teammate to see if they're equally horrified is just a riot. Page does a great job of playing up the tension by over acting and dramatizing just how wonderful and tra la la la fun it has all been!
What makes this show annoying is how they once in a while have a cool new idea, but fail to adequately explain how to reproduce the idea for yourself.
Summary: Pretty much a waste of time if you have the time to waste.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Jake Gyllenhaal. Wow. Not just for his acting, but for his provocative appeal and natural screen presence. This is somebody I hope to see a lot more of. Maggie Gyllenhaal gave a strong performance and I am not surprised to discover the two are siblings as the onscreen chemistry was excellent between them. Beth Grant, who played Kitty Farmer (The neurotic dance team's coach) was also excellent. Noah Wylie is always fun to watch. Though I was totally unconvinced by Drew Barrymore's short cameo, I was impressed that she co-produced the film.
Based upon the stupid evil bunny ad and lame title, I would never have rented it if it weren't so well ranked on IMDB. When I rented Donnie Darko, I had no idea what kind of genre the movie was in.
The opening scene of Donnie Darko didn't really help either, but I knew this was going to be a good movie when the first song of the score played. I thought the choice in songs was excelllent (though overplayed at times) and added to the underlying sense of melancholic anxiety and euphoria of the film; a rare talent in filmmakers, save a very select few (as in David Lynch per Angelo Badallamenti).
I don't think the direction of the film was meant to actually go a specific place. What makes the film good is how it leaves interpretation up to the viewer. I think any good psychological thriller leaves plenty to the imagination (er, psyche).
There was, of course, some very obvious foreshadowing and explicit symbolism. When Donnie Darko had a talk with Prof. Monnitoff (Noah Wyle), they had to stop talking when fate and god became the topic. This movie, on a more obvious level, was about Donnie CHOOSING to accept his fate and follow the path of god.
I gave 8/10 stars. I am very hard to please. I would watch the movie again. I thought the use of Echo and the Bunnymen was particularly silly and clever and have to go buy their record now.
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)
If you've got an ass, I'll kick it!
spoilers. The opening scene of KP was so unfunny that I would have turned it off if I hadn't been so incredibly bored. It involved the character development of the main Character, Chosen One. Poor Chosen One lost his parents at the hand of Master Pain when he was just an infant. The first action scene involves a small digitally created infant performing acrobatic stunts and ass-kicking moves for several minutes. Sounds bad, right? It gets worse. Chosen One grows into a man and discovers he has a talking tongue (done with really cheesy digital effects) that likes to say "yippeee!". It was not funny.
But then, a miracle happened. Instead of trying to be funny, the movie got even stupider and, well, REALLY funny. A good many scenes fell flat (reca ll the cow scene), but the scenes that were funny were unforgettable. I saw this movie over a year ago and still find myself laughing out loud at some of the parodies. What actually adds to the movie's authenticity as a classic comedy is the fact that the entire cast was just dubbed over with Steve Oedekerk's incredibly poor voice impersonations (MST3K). This is a movie to watch at home with friends. You'll feel like Steve Oedekerk (the man behind it all) is sitting right there in your living room do the whole thing improv.
I just have to rewatch the movie in my review, it is so funny... My favorite parts: Ling's rival suitor in squeaky shoes; Betty's magical powers ("Your shirt is red!"); Betty's talks with Evil Counsel; whenever Ling would go into hysterics over Chosen One's detemination to get his revenge "peeeooo weeeooo!...Chosen? Is that you?"; and my favorite stupid scene was the one where Steve Oedekerk clearly had time to kill and made Betty become highly fascinated with animal pictures. Steve Oedekerk did an incredibly good and funny job on all the voices.
Just one problem; I kept accidentaly calling this movie "Kung Pow: Enter the Chicken" whenever I'd ask people if they watched it yet. Perhaps that was Steve Oedekerk's intention?
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Should have been an MTV reality show...
*Spoiler ahead* Though, personally, I consider it a saver.
This film was so close to brilliance that it's failure made it immensely disappointing, the least grievous offense of all being its predictability.
If you are going to do a tradgedy flick about drug use, box office trends dictate that all main characters must have high cheekbones and decorate everything as if in a 70's flashback. Throw in a few extra body mutilations and you've got yourself a classic dark comedy. Sadly, I think the world just isn't quite ready for the culture comedy yet and I have to appreicate the director's <selling> sensibility </out>.
Requiem for a Dream is a superbly overrated film. This was somebody's attempt to make a movie out of a drug awareness poster. Boy does drugs. Boy is mean to mom. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl do drugs. Mom does drugs. Everybody does drugs. People start losing limbs, getting electrocuted, or ending up putting unspeakable objects into their orifices; all in the name of... ©Art. Oh, so dark and daring.
I felt like I was watching some MTV reality show, made even more "real" with trendy editing and sound bites. Uh huh. Really on the edge, deep material we're talking about. Had there been one shred of entertainment value, perhaps I could forgive just a little. In the end, I was most offended by the film's one and only intended success: I came away mildy depressed.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
Ashamed at myself for laughing, I laughed some more.
100% stupid, offensive, funny, and mindless. All at the same time. And, in some ways, brilliant. This movie is funny because of how unfunny it is. That is a rare achievement and I believe was the actual intention to begin with.
This is the strangest movie I have ever seen, yet what made it so strange was the fact that no movie I have ever seen before it has ever been so successful in its ability to cross the line, then come back around and cross it again. This is a movie for people who know how to not take anything seriously. Everyone else is sure to be offended. This movie was obviously not intended to be taken as serious humor, yet some people seem oblivious to this. It was my early understanding of this fact that led me to watch it a second time with some very uptight friends. The humor of the movie had long since worn off for me, but I could sit and watch their expression, causing me to fall out laughing all over again. I found myself laughing and simultaneously ashamed at myself, which made me laugh even harder. You begin laughing out of shock at some of the scenes. Did I actually just see him get out of his car on the side of the road to give a horse a hand job? Should I keep watching this? The movie was not funny. The REACTION to it is what's so funny.
Not unlike most people, I want to smack Tom Green, yet I can't help laughing. I must confess that he has my dream job: getting paid to act like a complete idiot.
My favorite scene (no, I don't recall their character's names), though indescribable, involved Tom stringing up sausages to the ceiling, tying the string to his fingers, eating the sausage, while trying to play the keyboard, while singing "Daddy would you like some sausage?". Absolutely freaking stupid. I am sure many humorless people trying to be funny have thought up similarly stale and bizarre stunts, but how rare to see one actually act them out with such wild abandon.
Spoiler: Another part I was especially fond of was when Tom spends the last of his million dollars to relocate his father's house to Pakistan (all in one piece), drug him during the relocation, so that his dad finally wakes up, unaware of the relocation until he opens the front door to a desert full of roaming camel jockeys.
If you don't laugh at stupid jokes because of how stupid they are, you are not going to like this movie very much. If you feel it is worth your time to actually analyze what made this movie bad, you are not going to like this movie (and probably need to do something more productive).
Coyote Ugly (2000)
Something to pick your nose to...
If you like movies like Maid In Manhattan and Charlie's Angels, you'll LOVE this little gem. If you're over the age of 15, have above room temperature IQ, and are mentally stable, my advice is to not waste your time on this offensively trite piece of trash.
The Scorpion King (2002)
The movie is predictable, cheesy, and boring. It has some very funny parts, though. My husband and I had to bite our tongues so we wouldn't laugh out loud in the theatre during the manlier parts of the film. This gives testosterone a bad name. The Rock is hot, though, so I was able to sit through it.
Hollow Man (2000)
The only thing this film had to offer was a few special effects. Beyond that, it's one of the most unethical and tasteless pieces of crap I've ever seen. Take it from somebody who thought Apocolypse Now was great (me, incidentally): all this film does is glorify violence, rape, and poor taste. Awful!!!!! I see a lot of movies with violence, but none done so tastelessly and casually as to outright offend me. I might add that everything else about the movie was just terrible also. I am saying this film is so bad I will never watch another Kevin Bacon or Paul Verhoeven movie again.
Don't bother watching unless you read the book.
There are two reasons to not watch this movie unless you have read the book: one is that it will bore the heck out of you, and the other is that you might really like it but have spoiled the read, not becoming acquainted with the full storyline by reading the book first. Personally, I read the book (er,trilogy) first. For many Tolkien fans, all this movie had to do was not suck. Tolkien fans have been robbed of a good cinematic interpretation of the book for so long that giving the TLOR in film was like giving a starving man a cracker.
I waited until my 24th birthday to go and see this film and would get upset at my friends if any of them tried to tell me their opinion of the movie before I had seen it. It was very important to me that I have NO expectations. I did not want to be disappointed. Well, I wasn't. From the opening narrative I was enthralled. I now believe this film was executed towards one primary purpose: to make the Tolkien fans happy. Every detail and scene was inspired by original illustrations of the many artists who have painted or drawn scenes from TLOR over the decades. Rivendell was so perfectly portrayed it actually brought tears to my eyes (and I'm no crybaby). I was actually overcome with emotion at really seeing what my mind's eye had seen for so long. I think many viewers, myself included, had the feeling that this film BELONGED to them. This film was cast,scored and directed long before Jackson ever put his hands on it. This was MY film. Jackson did a good job of not getting in the way of MY film too much.
Obviously I am making an argument for the emotional reasons that many enjoyed this film. On the other side, I completely understand how somebody who never read the book would find it boring. It has been long enough since I went to see the film that I can be objective and look at the flaws.
In fact, there were a few flaws I found while watching it, and I'll mention those first. Elijah Wood, in my opinion, was not hobbitish at all. I never thought of hobbits as boyish and undeveloped-even if they are young in age as Frodo was. Dudley Moore is really the only hobbit-type who comes to mind right now. I admit Sean Austin did have that perfect affability a hobbit should have, but he too was not quite right. I don't recall who played Bilbo, but he was MUCH better (and provocative I might add). The main gripe I have about the hobbits was their makeup. It is obvious that they were made to look much more human than they actually were written to be. Hobbits are not dainty and hairless! Capturing the look of a hobbit was missed in the film, and unfortunately, was a major flaw. The original book WAS titled The Hobbit, after all.
My next gripe is about the battle scenes. While some have commented on how good they were, I found them tiresome due to the weird camera angles and overdone graphics. The only battle scene I appreciated was the unoriginal, though wonderfully epic, battle in which what's-his-name chops the hand off of the big bad ugly dude.
This leads me on to my next point: none of the monsters seemed that scary and were almost all way overdone. I felt at times that I was being catapulted back into an early 80's flashback of Iron Maiden and other cheese heavy metal bands album covers. Or was it a WWF lineup for Halloween? The music was also a bit obvious. I am sure we all like our Enya when we take our bubblebaths, but I thought the artist's familiarity detracted from the originality of the rest of the film. I like Enya, but this song was weak and went nowhere. Whatever happened to the Led Zeppelin or even the Jethro Tull era of music-the time when TLOR was at the height of its popularity? Enya seemed the Celine Dion of fantasy cinema, and I don't mean in a good way (I pray I'm safe here in assuming any self-respecting Tolkien fan steers clear of Celine). Her music and even the original score were just a wee bit overdone, me thinks. There were certain scenes when I wondered if the music could get any louder.
On to my favorite scenes in the film. Hobbiton was executed with perfection. I'm only sorry there wasn't more film time for it, but hopefully in the sequel. The only qualm I had was the Bilbo's hobbit hole was not quite as lavish as described in the book, and I would have enjoyed the eye candy (that is, after all, what this film essentially was about). The guy who played Gandalf was superp, and I know others will hate me for bringing Hollywood names into it, but I'd have really liked to see Sean Connery as Sauron and Anthony Hopkins as Gandalf. Still, they were both played wonderfully and my favorite scene was when they first met in Sauron's castle. I thought Rivendell was fabulous, but again, the elves also looked too human! The flight scene with Arwen was good and Liv Tyler was well-cast, and the languages of the elves was absolutely perfect. I have actually studied the languages and could see they did have to improvise since it was never really a complete language to begin with, and it was done beautifully.
Objectively, I can see how somebody who has not read the book would find the movie a total bore. In fact I know I would have not made it through three hours. But having read the book, I was wishing the movie was 30 hours long! I liked the movie for emotional reasons, and though that doesn't make me a fair critic, I hope the movie's success will continue to encourage people to go and read the trilogy to understand what everyone was talking about.
Despite the film's obvious flaws and lack of appeal to newbies, I still have to give this film 9 out of 10 stars due to it's visual and fan-pleasing integrity-which is practically unheard of with books-turned-movie. I might buy a larger television just to watch it when it comes out on DVD.