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Human Giant (2007)
Quite Possibly the Greatest Sketch Comedy Show OF ALL TIME
Kick back, load up the bong and laugh until it hurts. There is very little dead air on this show. The timing is impeccable, and even the minor jokes in between the bigger jokes are memorable and well-executed. I am a longtime fan of shows like this, such as "Kids in the Hall" and "The State." "Human Giant" is MUCH funnier than other modern sketch comedy like "The Whitest Kids You Know" and has awesome celebrity guest stars. Fans of Adult Swim shows like "Tim and Eric: Awesome Show Great Job" will love it for its similarly off-kilter humor. This show could have gotten huge if given the right opportunity. Hopefully it will be resurrected at some point, because there will probably not be anything for quite some time that matches its brilliance.
The Truth About Average Guys (2009)
Judd Apatow's Indie Cousin
As long as you are not easily offended (and if you are, you are likely missing out on a ton of great comedy), this movie will definitely tickle your funny bone. It's like a super-amateur production of a Judd Apatow type movie. The best part is, the miniscule budget very rarely hurts the movie because the script is filled with hilarious interplay and dialog, so even shoddy acting, lighting and cinematography can't bring it down! It's not just "good for it's budget," it's just good. It's squarely aimed at guys in their mid twenties, and it makes the most of its one-joke premise by not making the faux-retardation scheme the actual focal point of the movie. Rather, the main character's relatable group of friends, combined with awkward interplay between male and female, and a playful, almost surreal tone, is where the movie really succeeds. While it is most definitely a stupid movie with a stupid title, "The Truth About Average Guys" is an absolute treat and if it had bigger names and a bigger budget, it would have been a hit that could sit comfortably in cineplexes alongside such movies as "Knocked Up" and "The 40 Year Old Virgin."
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
No Movie Will Out-Funny This Movie in 2010
To those going into the film "Hot Tub Time Machine" knowing what to expect, it is basically impossible to over-hype this movie. It is exactly what you expect - ridiculous, hilarious, bawdy, obnoxious, balls to the wall fun from start to finish. It is crammed with so many great lines that you will forget most of them and have to re-watch it (this is a great quality in a comedy). The physical comedy is great too, and every one of the leads gives a stand-out performance. You can only imagine how much fun they must have had making this. Craig Robinson can deliver ANY line with a straight, even intensely serious face. This is truly a gift from comedy heaven. Rob Corddry is terrific as Lou, the guy in every group of friends who everyone knows is an ass, but they stand by him anyway because they know that deep down he's just pathetic and feels sorry for himself. Clark Duke is basically the same character he was in the movie "Sex Drive" but that's not a bad thing at all. He is super-sarcastic and cynical yet has an innocent quality that makes him immensely likable. Kudos to Mr. Cusack for giving a low-key yet sympathetic performance, letting this movie be more of a breakout vehicle for his costars than a starring vehicle for himself. There is so much greatness in this movie that to point out my favorite parts or characters or homages to 80s movies is basically a moot point. The dialog is what really carries this movie, but if you are not easily offended by gross-out humor of say, the South Park variety, the gross-out gags here are also top notch. I hope this will usher in a new era for the movie comedy; an era where not everything has to be wrapped up in some pretty sentimental bow, where a stupid movie can exist just to be stupid and make you laugh, where a ridiculous one-joke premise can be stretched to awesomely mythic proportions. "Hot Tub Time Machine" is the movie that every funny guy or group of funny guys wishes they wrote themselves. It will be played in the background at parties for the next 20 years, replacing classics like "Animal House" and "Caddyshack" for any and every comedy fan with a DVD player and a liquor cabinet or bong. I for one will be buying the DVD the day it comes out.
Falls Somewhere Between The Sixth Day (Junk) and iRobot (Tolerable Junk)
Taken for what it is, this is cable TV late night drank two beers smoked two joints kind of sci-fi at its best. It fits snugly among the ranks of The Sixth Day, iRobot, maybe to a lesser extent even The Fifth Element, not in plot but in camp seriousness and general tone and pacing. What it is not, and not to say that it aspires to be, is among the ranks of sci-fi (non- space-opera) classics like Bladerunner or The Terminator (which in hindsight was not actually revolutionary in its genre, and was really a success because it melded time travel, robots and a good old fashioned chase plot and all the pieces fell together just right), or even Minority Report. The setting is a world in which our daily activities preformed in the outside world are done by surrogate cyborg versions of ourselves. This would be interesting maybe fifteen years ago but is now dated and overly familiar in the sci-fi genre thanks to its similarities to The Matrix trilogy. Another problem is that, because Surrogates takes place in the real world, and the people are not slaves or drones of any kind yet they still prefer to live life as a simulated experience, its premise requires an over exorbitant amount of suspension of disbelief. In fact, its implausibility is rather unforgivable, as throughout the film, the many reasons why we could never actually function as a society in such a world are laid on very thick, or at least I felt they were. Beyond the setting, the story is not fresh, even in light of its relevance to our modern way of life - the theme of avoiding reality and relying on technology to shield us from it - can only get it so many brownie points. The plot is streamlined and overly-simplified. I saw the ending coming within the opening two minutes, so as a mystery it fails, in addition to its failure to add anything new to the sci-fi genre. In sum, when it comes to the script, Surrogates is too little, too late. So it fails in its most crucial element, the script. And to be honest, it doesn't really shine elsewhere - acting, directing, action choreography, set design, special effects - they are all serviceable but do not go above and beyond what a modern sci-fi/action/suspense audience expects. So why the 6 out of 10 and not a 1 or a 2, if I have no praises to give? Because in spite of its mediocrity, it did manage to be entertaining for its brief running time. I think it goes without saying this is cinematic junk food, but especially in its genre I can think of a lot worse, so its score is relative. If every sci-fi movie was as good as Bladerunner, how would we even know just how good Bladerunner really is?
I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009)
What Did Critics Expect?
Come on, this is a high school comedy the way they used to do them back in the '80s! This is not John Hughes territory, as you might be led to believe upon seeing "Home Alone" director Chris Columbus at the helm. No, this is another breed of '80s comedy. This is more "Three O'Clock High" than "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your taste. The humor here is broad and unsophisticated, for the most part, but fits with the brisk pacing and sunny tone of the film. This movie invites you to have a good time along with the cast. It throws you in the middle of a heightened reality/unlikely scenario (most geeks do not suddenly grow a pair and profess their love for the hottest girl in school during their valedictorian speech) and beckons you to simply enjoy the ride. While the films of John Hughes endeavor to depict a realistic panoramic view into the teenage mind, taking stereotypes and turning them inside out, this film, and its grandaddy "Three O'Clock High" do not carry such aspirations. They are fantasy, pure and true, and are all about having a good time. If the characters are two dimensional, so what? If the plot is threadbare, so what? Character development and story arc are not reasons to see a movie like "I Love You Beth Cooper." This is just a classic homespun yarn, taking place in Anywhere, USA, about a geek who outsmarts a bully and gets the girl. If you expected more, you're going to be disappointed. This is the kind of movie that could work just as well as a cartoon. It's a zippy, predictable ride from point A to point B, but the journey is not lacking in entertainment value. If you, like me, are a fan of "Three O'Clock High" and on many-a-day would watch it over "Bueller," then you're in for a treat because this is practically a remake albeit with the addition of a love interest.
The Rocker (2008)
We Want More Rainn Wilson! Rock On!!
As a metal/rock musician with a desk job myself, I could really appreciate this simple inspirational story as well as the many laughs it dished out. One line plot summary: Washed up former drummer turned office drone joins nephew's band, gets his mojo back and gets the chance to show the former band, an obvious AC/DC parody/homage, who betrayed him, that he can make it to the top without them. OK so that was a bit of a run-on sentence but anyhoo, with a great setup like that, plus choice casting of Rainn Wilson in the lead, the comedy pretty much writes itself. The story reminds me a little bit of the Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) / Metallica rivalry/hatred what with Mustaine kicked out of the band for his wild antics only to make it on his own without ever selling out. There are several cameos from familiar faces, the casting is perfect. The younger kids in the band are believable characters, not totally reckless and sensationalized like The OC but not given the wuss WWJD treatment of other TV fair like 7th Heaven. There is some underage drinking and pot references, but nobody becomes an alcoholic or a drug addict, just kids experiencing the time of their lives and living their dream as rock stars. The movie never takes itself too seriously but it has plenty of heart and is more than just a vehicle for Wilson's brilliant penchant for playing strangely aloof, yet obsessive characters. One of the comic bits I really liked was where The Rocker is humoring the singer of his Nephew's band, telling him how sweet his mopey, whiny ass lyrics are in this sort of underhandedly sarcastic tone. The movie is not afraid to poke fun at the frivolousness of modern youth's current popular music. That's not to say the songs are no good, but they are definitely a tad emo and gay for this rocker's taste, and I think Rain Wilson's character secretly agrees, but is too excited at the chance to play again to voice his opinion. On the whole, I felt it delivered more laughs than School of Rock with Wilson giving an equally energetic performance to that of Jack Black in said flick. I would recommend one if you like the other for sure. If I have one complaint about this movie it's this oddly treated subplot of the chick in the band getting knocked up, presumably by the singer. It is sort of brought up and never really dealt with or resolved. Not that I care about whether or not they had a baby or whatever, just saying why put drama in a movie just for drama's sake and then not take it anywhere? Should have just left that out it was kinda irking me I think they threw that in there because they realized hey the movie's halfway over and nothing remotely serious has happened. The first ten minutes or so of this movie are yispecially hilarious, excellent opening. I would easily rank the chase scene in the top ten funniest movie moments of 2008. "Dude...he can't be killed...He can't be killed dude! Drive! Drive!"
Philly Guy's Opinion
Yeah that's right I've got street cred. Any questions? Come see me. Here's the lowdown: This show could probably just as easily be set in New York or any city on the northern East Coast. It's not really about Philly. However, it is taped here and it is evident in the scenery chosen that the writers know the territory. I was worried about this show when I first heard about it. How is it going to depict my city? I thought. I figured there'd be a lot of discrepancies like, oh I don't know, having their dive bar be right in the middle of Old City, where there are no dives and precious few underage drinkers. I thought they might pull a "Real World" and try to make us out to be the East Coast's answer to San Francisco. Tonight I saw this show for the first time and none of my fears were realized. The characters are not exactly intricate but they will grow over time if the show is given a chance. The humor works the majority of the time, I do not feel insulted as a Philadelphian even though a few names of places on the show are fake (I understand this is probably some sort of legal issue) and the only way I could see myself making a conscious decision not to watch it is if it gets way too popular (a la Napoleon Dynamite) here in Philthy and everybody thinks they need to quote it every five minutes just because it's pretty funny and it might 'put us on the map.' Overall, if you liked "Friends" you'll like this.
P.S. why are so many Philadelphians always talking about how great it is when we are 'put on the map.' I mean look at Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod. Great places. You know why? They're not afraid to tell commercialism and tourism to f*%k off! We must keep Philly unmarred by the mark of 'approval' that is the unrelenting, inflation-inducing tourism industry. Most people don't want to visit us, and I for one like it that way. You think I want to see you and your fanny pack and overpriced gift-shop binoculars strutting around when I'm busy struggling with my love/hate relationship with my hometown? No way, mister. This place is confusing enough.
Along Came Polly (2004)
no reason to hate on this movie
Sure, this is just fodder for those who miss the glory days of Ben Stiller (only about four-six years ago), but I don't think it deserved the critical onslaught it received. It's light-fare, easy to digest (save for Reuben's IBS - you have to see the movie to get my crappy joke), and inoffensive. There are even one or two memorable scenes, and Phil Sy Hoff is a welcome stand-in for Jack Black/Owen Wilson as Stiller's wingman. In fact, I'd like to see them together again. Oh, and Alec Baldwin shows up for all of five minutes and nearly steals the show. If you like his guest-work on SNL, you'll love him here.
Bad Santa (2003)
give it ten years
A movie like this is all about shelf-life. There aren't too many
movies you could really compare it to - you could only loosely
juxtapose it with more family-friendly fare like Home Alone or The
Ref, but that's just not doing it justice. I walked out on it after 15
minutes in the movie theater, thinking to myself that a guy cursing
and drinking in a Santa suit does not make a movie funny. I saw it
again on DVD and realized what I had missed out on the first time.
You just have to ride the bad taste. It's only as deep as the surface
of the film. There is real social subtext here - it's about American
life and the consumer ideology. All the raunchiness is in there to
keep the low-brow enthusiasts watching. See if it holds its own in
ten years. It may or may not be a classic. For now, and this is
amenable, I'm giving it a 7/10.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Figures a movie like this would find its audience in a country like
the U.S. The screenwriters clearly thought that they had cleverly
guised their lame exploitation flick as a genre-bender in the vein of
Donnie Darko, and some people actually fell for it. The cheese
quotient here is about as high as a Fox TV special, and it feels like
every time the writers get bored of Kutcher living one life, they just
abandon it and give him a new one. Sorry, but you just can't
sympathize with a character whose entire world changes and
whose problems all disappear every time things don't go as he
planned. Overall, I'd say this movie is about as satisfying as
fat-free ranch dressing. 0.5/10, .5 because Tara Reid is hot.
Red Dragon (2002)
7.4? More like 4.7, and that's generous
Granted, the movie biz has been cutthroat for quite some time now, but this movie is just FREAKING PATHETIC. Whatever happened to standards and integrity in Hollywood? Sure, "Red Dragon" has an all-star cast, but there's just one problem - everybody is completely typecast. Wanna see Ed Norton do another fast-talking, yuppie-professional type role (only this time he gets to carry a badge or whatever)? Check. Wanna see Anthony Hopkins in his most desperate career move (he blatantly never even read the crappy script before signing on), as a walking caricature of himself? You've got it. Any interest in a breathy, monotoned Ralph Feinnes, who also seems like he spent about as much time rehearsing as he did cashing his paycheck? The only performer to be found in this bitter, insipid block of Hollywood-processed cheese that seems at least vaguely earnest is Emily Watson, and forgive me if this sounds a little insensitive, but she comes off like she's trying to prove herself as a legitimate actress by taking advantage of the fact that her character in the movie is disabled and playing off of the whole 'i'm vulnerable, gimme some sympathy' note (see Sean Penn, 'I am Sam'). I dunno what demographic this movie is supposed to appeal to, but even the nearly-irreproachable Phillip Seymour Hoffman (by the way, could we all just start calling him 'Phil Sy Hoff' - not because I'm a fratboy and think its sounds cool, but because each of his names are two syllables and I think we should officially abbreviate them) couldn't save this wretched monstrosity if you ask me. You know what, forget the 4.7/10. I'm starting to get ticked off, the more I think about it. This movie gets a 2 out of ten, and that's ONLY because somebody managed to get all of these big names to show up.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
spike lee is one of the greatest directors out there
And not just one of the greatest black directors. I mean directors -
period. This wild, messy mosaic urban-opus perfectly captures the
tension, division and unity in America's city streets. You don't have
to be a black New Yorker to love this move. I'm a white guy from
Philly and I would venture to say that 'Do the Right Thing' is just
about perfect in every single way. It's full of dynamic performances
by all, great cinematography, complexly drawn characters and a
commanding and vivified script, with a satisfying conclusion that
stops JUST SHORT of spelling out the message for you - just
short enough to make it entirely ambiguous and open-text. Go see
it. It's one of the most important movie of the LATTER HALF of the
twentieth century, and I mean that whole-heartedly.
Something's Gotta Give (2003)
great movie slightly hindered by weak third act
It's a crowd-pleaser to be sure, but it drags on for the last half hour or so. We have all the necessary elements of a good romantic comedy. Likable-but-flawed protagonists learn to love themselves and then each other with plenty of embarrassing scenes wherein vulnerabilities and insecurities are exposed. I laughed plenty, sometimes not because I actually thought it was funny but merely because it wins you over with charm. But the movie didn't know when to end. There were plenty of opportunities for solid and resolute endings, but the writer decided to incorporate this stupid stage play (Diane Keaton's character is a playwright) based on the romance that took place in the film, then some crap about Nicholson's character following Keaton's to Paris to apologize and yadda-yadda-yadda and it just becomes trite to the point where you just barely remember how bright, refreshing and original the movie was before all this crap! But overall, very witty and entertaining, just a little overlong...
Yôjû sensen: Adventure Kid (1993)
decadent fun that could only have come from Japan
Fans of "Ninja Scroll" and other exploitation anime will love this, though it really pays most homage to the Canadian anime "Heavy Metal." "Adventure Kid" has an intriguing, if nonsensical, storyline and is evenly paced so as to explain things that need explanation. Of course, as always with these kinds of movies, "Kid" will beseech you to abandon cognitive reason and suspend belief. It's a sci-fi story about a kid named Nori who finds a supercomputer from WW2 in buried in his backyard. Implementing his skills as a computer genius, Nori figures out how to turn the computer on. It shocks him and he becomes trapped (much like Neo in "Matrix Revolutions, the crappiest movie ever) in a computer simulation that is actually-this is really bizarre-controlled by the GHOST of a WW2 era scientist who became evil after he witnessed his wife's rape (which she enjoyed-Noooooo!) by evil scientists who tried to steal his inventions. Eventually, Nori is joined by his friends in the simulation, and they all go to a virtual 'hell,' where there are all kinds of freaky demons and monsters who want to nail Nori's girlfriend. I don't want to give anything else away because the ending is actually pretty clever and justifies the wackiness that precedes it. All in all, a lot of fun for anime geeks and there's plenty of nudity and sex and even female masturbation. But if you're going to see it, see it for the story because it really is pretty decent.
Donnie Darko (2001)
this movie has it all
Never has a movie captured the eighties more effectively. I'm only
19, but I remember 1988, the year in which Donnie Darko takes
place, and let me tell you it is eerie how accurately depicted the
post-reganomics world is. The film is really ambitious, and I could
tell that it was Richard Kelly's brainchild, probably from the time he
was a teenager, within the first fifteen minutes. I am currently a film
major at Temple University, and although I would never attempt to
tackle the metaphysical and supernatural themes that Donnie
Darko deals with, I must say I greatly admire Kelly's convictions as
a filmmaker. More movies like this one, please.
Almost Heroes (1998)
TASTELESS AND UNRELENTING IN ITS STUPIDITY, BUT HILARIOUS
Almost Heroes is a deliberately idiotic movie, and much of its
humor relies on the audience being aware of this. If you don't buy
that the movie is SUPPOSED to be ridiculous and nonsensical,
then you're not going to like it. Otherwise, it is a great Chris
Farley/Christopher Guest vehicle with abundant laughs, often at
the absurd crudity of its humor. There are scenes and dialogue
that come off as cheap attempts at lowbrow humor, when in fact
the real punchline is that you, the viewer, even acknowleged the
humor when it is so utterly tasteless. I, for one, laughed my @$$
off and got overdue fees at my video store because I couldn't stop
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
I'm sorry. This movie was terrible.
What was P.T. Anderson endeavoring to accomplish with this
muddled mess of a movie? The editing is frenetic, the dialogue is
so stupid it seems extemporaneous, Sandler tries too hard,
Watson is annoying as usual and the cinematography strives for
an unattainable scope, or at least a scope that this retarded movie
does not deserve.
Igby Goes Down (2002)
inspired but uninspiring
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** this movie meanders around just like the protagonist, and is every bit as aimless. it also blatantly borrows from "Catcher in the Rye." it is a movie about a spoiled and defiant, freeloading rich kid with no direction who lives, like a parasite, off of his wealthy adulterous godfather after getting expelled from several schools. it is downright depressing and the stupid kid is given every opportunity and he merely screws it all up for himself. he is not likeable, and i only found myself getting frustrated with the conundrums and obstacles that he created by being a stubborn little brat. and what's worse? he finds no resolve in the end-AND he and his brother kill their dying mother (at her request). the dialogue that was supposed to be clever and quoteable comes off as unconvincing and contrived. people don't converse the way in which they do in this movie. see it if you like movies about spoiled brats, like "Dutch." just don't expect anything spectacular. it is mostly frivolous and misguided, like its title character.
Aside from some adeptly crafted action sequences, which we've come to expect from John Woo, nothing really separates this from a run-of-the-mill action movie. It has no message, really, about the horrors of war or anything like that. The dialogue, acting are mediocre. Many of the non-action scenes seem rushed. Overall, lame and crappy. Good music score, though.
Waking Life (2001)
Fodder for Pseudo-Intellectual Types, but Still Amazing
Nobody can deny the brilliance of this movie. Sure, it's pretentious and loquacious, and somewhat devoid of direction or focus. Sure it doesn't even work within its own twisted-alternate-reality logic, but come on-if any movie deserves a break, it's this one. Richard Linklater, in more ways than one, has attempted what seemed almost unfeasible prior to the completion of this film. It is both a technical feat in that it was all done using rotoscopic animation, and an aesthetic feat in surrealist filmmaking. I think that the film's main thematic component is sketched for us in the opening sequence, in which a little girl, reading from a handmade (from construction paper) 'fortune-telling device' profoundly states "Dream is destiny." With this film, Linklater is basically reminding us not to take life too seriously (hence the use of children, construction paper in this scene), because we know nothing more of it than that which we can understand of our own inscrutable dreams.