Movie Pre-Judgments (2008)
by Rusty W. Spell

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26 Dec 2008

Bedtime Stories -- About as unimaginative as the bedtime stories that children themselves make up.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- David Fincher makes a Tim Burtonish movie about a guy who ages backward (wrinkled old baby turns into smooth-skinned old man) so that somewhere in the middle he's handsome Brad Pitt (with a bad southern accent).  Kind of stupid, but oddly captivating while it's on.

Last Chance Harvey -- A completely banal story that's made almost charming by Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.

Marley & Me -- This must have been what prompted Owen Wilson's suicide attempt.  (You know, one shouldn't write such things.  What if one day I meet Owen Wilson?  What if he reads this?  What if the creators of Marley & Me, only wanting to make a cute kiddie movie, take this seriously and it makes them want to kill themselves?  One shouldn't write such things.)

Revolutionary Road -- Sam Mendes combines two of his other movies -- Road To Perdition (period piece with the word road in the title) and American Beauty (I hate the suburbs infatuation) -- to make this piece of crap that's almost as pointless as Jarhead.  Calling the suburbs vacant was already a few decades out of date when he first gave us American Beauty, and now it's just downright ridiculous.  The entire movie amounts to two attractive people yelling and screaming and crying at each other because they have comfortable lives.  Boo hoo, you cock.

The Spirit -- I'm not sure if I can use the word theft in this situation, but it looks like Frank Miller stole Robert Rodriguez's directing tricks from Sin City to make this movie.  The problem is, he left out the huge element of fun and tried to make something serious (always a no-no when you're doing a comic book, no matter how much you prefer the no-really-I'm-a-grown-up term graphic novel).  It's still the best thing at the theaters to watch on Christmas (if that's your tradition), and Scarlett Johansson gets to be sexy (a vice of hers).

Valkyrie -- Brian Singer gives us a good mix of "serious movie" and "popcorn movie" (including the mix of actors and acting level) that makes the film pretty exciting throughout.  I've seen the movie, but you'll have to see it for yourself to know: do they assassinate Hitler???  The movie also will rid the world of the idea that, if you have a time machine, you can simply go back and easily kill Hitler.

Waltz with Bashir -- Kinda boring Flash-style animation paired with a boring story.  Still better to take the kids to than Delgo.

19 Dec 2008

Nothing But the Truth -- This is something that might have been interesting four or five years ago, but now it feels like an old movie before its time.  Give it another ten years and maybe it will become retro.

Seven Pounds -- Well, it's better than Hancock (and The Pursuit of Happyness for that matter).  You'll be bored, then slightly interested, then bored again.

The Tale of Despereaux -- I'll give it this: it doesn't have nearly as many fart jokes as its competitors.  And it has a bit of the warmish atmosphere found in some of the more classic movies for children.  The designs are still generic as well as the voice actors (why is Matthew Broderick a voice actor?), but no pop culture references goes a long way for me in these kinds of things.  I'll let it slide as not being another abomination, but it's still not something I'd recommend.

The Wrestler -- Darren Aronofsky trades in his usual flash and jazz for a warm, sweet picture that's so realistic it feels like a documentary sometimes.  It's not exactly exciting, but it's cuddly.

Yes Man -- The sequel to Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, and Click, though not quite as Christian as those.

12 Dec 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still -- Turns out, the 1950s version needed more explosions.  This isn't horrible as far as movies go, and it's typical (that is: nearly pointless) as far as remakes go.

Delgo -- Retarded computer game style animation that combines typical kingdom politics, new Star Wars style effects, and fart / taking it in the nuts jokes.

Doubt -- John Patrick Shanley, primarily known as a stage and screenwriter, hasn't directed a movie since his first, the grossly underappreciated Joe Versus the Volcano.  That one was a quirky symbolic comedic fantasy, so I can understand why everyone gave it a hard time, but this one looks like the good kind of Oscar winner (probably for screenplay instead of direction, which is fine since he wrote this too--based on his stage play).  Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman are entertaining, realistic, and over-the-top at the same time: the perfect kind of acting.  The title of the movie is appropriate as well, and it plays on the concept of doubt in a line-walking way: neither revealing too much to make us lose doubt nor revealing too little to make us lose interest.  It's the rich kind of doubt we find in real life.

Gran Torino -- Cranky old man Clint Eastwood directs himself as a cranky old man who wishes he were still Dirty Harry or The Man With No Name.  Not as annoying as some of his earlier projects, but not worth watching.

Nothing Like the Holidays -- If I've learned one thing from movies, it's that families are dysfunctional and the dinner table at any holiday is a big mess.

The Reader -- The kind of good acting and too-perfect cinematography that puts this reviewer to sleep.

Wendy and Lucy -- One of those movies to watch while you're sick.  You'll enjoy it and you'll be too sick to be bored.  Michelle Williams does a good job of looking like the indie movie version of a real girl.

What Doesn't Kill You -- Those who say "my life could be made into a movie" are usually wrong, especially those who think they can write and direct it themselves.

5 Dec 2008

Cadillac Records -- Ray and Walk the Line and all that shit.  Beyonce is ridiculous as Etta James.  If you want her to sing in your movie, fine--just let a real actor lip-synch to her.  The only good thing about the movie is Mos Def as Chuck Berry, but maybe they should have just saved him for a good Chuck Berry biopic (not that there could ever be such a thing in the current movie climate).  Just watch Dewey Cox again instead.

Frost/Nixon -- Peter Morgan and ultra-charming Michael Sheen (writer of and Tony Blair of The Queen) team up for another historical drama.  They should have just got Stephen Frears to direct, but Ron Howard does okay.  Frank Langella's Nixon, unfortunately, sounds more like McGruff the Crime Dog.  Average-to-good, it will make you want to pick up the real Frost/Nixon interviews.

Nobel Son -- This is one of those movies where you get all excited during the credits because the cast is so good, then shut it off about 25 minutes in.

Punisher: War Zone -- I'm amazed at how boring these comic action movies have become.

Timecrimes -- Like most time travel movies, it has a ridiculous premise, but it's entertaining enough if you just go with it (in a boring way).

28 Nov 2008

Australia -- Here's the premise.  An Australian director gets an Australian male and female actor to do a movie about Australia.  Two thumbs down under!

Four Christmases -- Vince Vaughn has gotten on my nerves.

Milk -- Fact: in 1978, all men were homosexual.  (Check the moustaches if you don't believe me.)  So it's a sure sign of denial that Harvey Milk was eventually assassinated.  Today moustaches have been replaced by orange polo shirts.  Swarms of orange-poloed men recently passed Proposition 8.  Some things never change.  (BTW, pretty okay movie as far as cheesy bio-pics go.)

Transporter 3 -- Has a similar gimmick to Speed.  Has a kind of interesting-looking love interest.

21 Nov 2008

Bolt -- Animators, please read John K's blog before making any more movies.  This is my new default review for every 3D animated children's movie.  (My old one was "Another stupid kid's movie.)  I'm serious: this guy has the answers.  My question: does Disney really think that something like things belongs in the same canon as Fantasia and Bambi?

Special -- A different movie!  A different movie!  Alert!  Alert!  Michael Rapaport stars as a guy who takes an anti-depressant that convinces him that he has superpowers--which we get to see on screen, so there's a strong element of superhero movie here beyond just watching some guy go nuts.  But it's also not really a superhero movie, since it's mostly about the guy's depression and the depression of the world surrounding him.  Satisfying on several levels.  Give it a try.

Twilight -- There are so many vampire movies that it will take something radically different for me to pay attention to it.  This one is the same ol' stuff.  Luckily for the movie, I'm not the audience.  Teenage girls are.  All the bad boy romance stuff (and what's badder than a vampire?) will work as predicted.

14 Nov 2008

Christmas Tale -- The villain from the James Bond movie is also in this, a French Christmas story that's pretty much like an American Christmas story with all the goof stripped from it and a layer of triste dumped on top.

Quantum of Solace -- For fans of the more realistic James Bond.  Definitely has a sequel feel to it.

Slumdog Millionaire -- Danny Boyle goes back to his Millions side, both in the title and the sentiment.

7 Nov 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas -- Another "fox and the hound" type story, this time about a boy whose dad is a Nazi who befriends another boy in the father's concentration camp.  Borders on being a little on the silly side, but never quite crosses that boundary.  Never quite becomes too sweet either.  It's watchable, and a slightly new take on the overdone WWII.

House -- You know how Christian music takes genres like pop, rap, and metal, waters them down, and inserts the word "Jesus"?  That's what's being done here for horror movies.  Completely unoriginal, it's a combination of all the bad horror movies you've seen in the past seven (a holy number) years, watered down, with a message added.  Skip this night if your youth group asks you to go.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa -- Animators, please read John K's blog before making any more movies.

Repo! The Genetic Opera -- Don't be fooled into watching this just because Giles is in it (and does a good job).  It's just bad rock music in a movie even sloppier than Saw V.

Role Models -- David Wain creates two absurd comic masterpieces (Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten) and then decides he wants some money instead, so creates this charming but average heart-warming comedy with Paul Rudd and McLovin.

Soul Men -- Nothing new here.

31 Oct 2008

The Haunting of Molly Hartley -- For a horror movie, this is pretty good.  There are at least two or three horror elements combined, and those are combined with at least two or three typical movie elements.  The combinations make it work.  Also, the lead is a cute girl (cute in a realistic way; she could be in your class) in a schoolgirl uniform.

The Other End of the Line -- A formulaic but cute romantic comedy about a guy who falls in love with the Indian phone support girl.

Splinter -- Preys on our fear of wood shards.  Average.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno -- Wow, Seth Rogan manages to save a Kevin Smith movie and make it actually funny--not just preachy, male-fantasy laden, Star Wars-obsessed,  pointlessly swear-filled, and childish (though it's all of those things too).  For the most part, it's just a decent amount of fun.

24 Oct 2008

Changeling -- You'd think we'd have had enough of people yelling for their sons (or daughters) by now.  Apparently not.

Fears of the Dark -- Some of the animation in this anthology movie (from different directors) is good, but most is too stylized to even be scary (which is what this is supposed to be).

High School Musical 3 -- Clean-cut goofiness, even more outrageous on the big screen.  Kids, wait for DVD.  Don't make your parents pay so much money for movies in this current depression.  It's the least you can do.

I've Loved You So Long -- A French movie that I'm so uninterested in that I can't even finish th

Let the Right One In -- Vampire stories can be useful as mythology or commentary, but often aren't.  This one is.  It's one of the more interesting in a while.  Swedish.

Passengers -- Another crappy movie, the crap only compounded by the presence of Anne Hathaway.  It's like a dumb version of Lost meets Heroes.

Pride and Glory -- Edward Norton continues to work below his talent.

Saw V -- Ug.

Synecdoche, New York -- I hate Charlie Kaufmann.  He sucks.  This doesn't seem to suck as much (though it does suck), mostly because of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

17 Oct 2008

Max Payne -- An action movie for goth kids, featuring the gothiest actors around... Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis?  Nothing much wrong with it if you like guns and Valkyries.

Morning Light -- A normal but well done documentary.  Odd appearance by Roy Disney in the role of the celebrity in the reality show who talks to the young people and scolds/encourages them.

The Secret Life of Bees -- Once you settle into the stereotypes, it becomes a sweet enough little movie, especially for young girls.

Sex Drive -- I thought I had all but dismissed teen comedies, but this one's got somethin', fella.  It's actually funny, and it doesn't go for excessive heart or excessive fart like so many others.

W. -- Avoid all the liberal anti-Bush documentaries and watch this bad boy instead.  Oliver Stone tells the life story of George W. Bush.  It's in the same league as Nixon, a not-that-controversial telling of a life story that actually allows plenty of room for sympathy (more than the real Bush allows).  It's not extremely political, more of a political backdrop to a family story.  It's fun to watch all the actors playing these people we know so well, and it's to their credit that none of them are doing Dana Carvey or Jon Stewart impressions.  Most are just using their regular voices, maybe southernified a bit.  Give it a rent!

What Just Happened? -- There's nothing folks like more when going to see a movie than to see what it's like to make a movie!  The best house I ever lived in was one where the walls had etchings that showed what it was like to build it.

10 Oct 2008

Body of Lies -- Russell Crowe is fun to watch until you get bored of him, and then the movie just sort of disappears into a cloud of nothing.

City of Ember -- Dear Walden Media, not every movie you make needs to have a golden sepia look.  This is an interesting-enough movie, a kind of cross between MYST and our current energy crisis (with the exception that we don't have anyplace to escape to).  Somewhere between a movie for deep-thinking kids and a a movie for adults with a night to kill.

Happy-Go-Lucky -- Crappy-So-Sucky. <-- movie criticism at its finest

Nights and Weekends -- The indie movie version of "real life," which usually means boring interspersed with something interesting.

Quarantine -- Kind of like Cloverfield, except that you see the monster more often and there's a distinct lack of Hud.  This one stars Dexter's sister, the refrigerated truck girl.

RocknRolla -- Guy Ritchie tries to have all the fun he can since he knows he's lost all his relevance and it might take a few months for anyone to notice.

3 Oct 2008

An American Carol -- I would love a good satire on left-wing politics.  I think a smart one could be funny.  But this, directed by David Zucker (whose years of making parodies have apparently made him go insane and align himself with the likes of Bill O'Reilly), is almost as stupid as his ______ Movie imitators.  (You know, it goes for the Gary Coleman joke or whatever.)  The premise is that Michael Moore ("Michael Malone" is the fictional version) makes movies about how he hates America (which means, I guess, that Zucker hasn't seen a Michael Moore movie) and needs to be visited by three ghosts (Washington, Patton, and Kennedy--as well as the Spirit of Christmas Future played by Trace Adkins) to change his mind about America and his desire to ban the Fourth of July holiday.  Holy crap!  The insanity of Zucker's vision alone would make me recommend it to you, but the movie is simply too stupid to bear.  Zucker's original choice for the Michael Moore character was Larry the Cable Guy, if that gives you an idea.  He's gone a long way down since Airplane! and The Naked Gun.  By the way, Zucker's biggest problem with liberals?  That they prefer to negotiate rather than just blowing the crap out of countries.  Apparently we were meant to take it seriously when Lt. Frank Drebin found all of the terrorists and dictators in their secret hideout and beat them senseless.  Maybe Frank's reckless violence wasn't meant as a joke after all.

Ballast -- The best movie coming out this week.  It will probably be overlooked for a long time, so try your best to remember the forgettable name of the film so you can get it when it comes out on DVD.  It's like a Harmony Korine movie except without all the annoying bits and with a ton of extra heart and emotion, and lots more quiet and gripping.  The director has found little pockets of the world that no one sees and shot them so that they appear more profound than if you'd stumbled upon them yourself.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua -- Raja Gosnell -- director of Home Alone 3, Big Momma's House, and both Scooby Doo movies -- answers the question: "Can you suck any more?"  Yes!  Yes, I can!

The Express -- For one of those inspirational football movies with a message, it's not too bad.

Flash of Genius -- For those who have always wanted to watch a movie about that guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper.

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People -- Funny Simon Pegg in an unfunny movie.  It's another one of those small dog potentially flies out of window movies.

Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist -- Michael Cera's charm wasn't enough for me to really enjoy this, but if you're seventeen to twenty-two, this will be your favorite movie.

Rachel Getting Married -- For those who haven't decided whether you hate Anne Hathaway or not yet, watch this.  You do.

Religulous -- Bill Maher is one of my favorite guys, comedically and politically, but this movie -- though it's worth seeing -- has a lot of problems.  The main problem is that Bill Maher just seems like an asshole here most of the time, and sometimes this is paired with his simplistic and illogical views on religion.  Even if his end results are correct, the way he arrives at them are faulty.  For example, he thinks it's funny when someone believes in God but not Santa Claus.  It's not funny.  We know for a fact that Santa doesn't exist, and there's no reason to believe in Santa "on faith," so they're two different things.  So I admire his atheism as much as I admire the next guy's atheism, but not when it amounts to him smirking at people he believes are dumber than he is.  However, it is Bill Maher, and he is funny (though not the best on-the-street interviewer, which is what most of this movie is), and there are some true documentary bits that make this interesting (though there are also bits that make it look like every other documentary since Fahrenheit 911).  I'd definitely watch it, but wash it down with one of his stand-up specials or HBO's Real Time.

26 Sep 2008

Choke -- Don't expect Fight Club 2 -- Clark Gregg's a bit too tame for that -- but this is a fun-enough movie that is not be the usual crap.

Eagle Eye -- This is one of those movies where someone on the other end of the phone line is seeing everything you do and telling you to do things or you'll die (or your kid will or you get the picture).  The key difference is that the speaker on the other end is a woman this time.  Still, if you're going to watch one of those, this is one of the better ones.

Forever Strong -- You might take this seriously if you are eight years old and live in 1986.  The only thing contemporary about this movie is use of the phrase "Let's do this."

The Lucky Ones -- A kind of sweet movie, one of those that people try to do all the time but do it unsuccessfully: strangers forming a bond.  This one works.

Miracle at St. Anna -- Spike Lee gives us a different war movie with different actors and a different story.  Good for him!  Worth seeing.

Nights in Rodanthe -- Congrats, Nicholas Sparks.  You are your own genre now.  A shitty one, but a genre.

19 Sep 2008

Appaloosa -- An average western.

Blindness -- From the director of the most overrated movie in recent years, City of God, comes another movie that looks like it will get hoorahs when really it's just another epidemic, Lord of the Flies style thing.

Ghost Town -- I liked this movie the first time, when it was called... oh, wait, I didn't like that one either.

Hounddog -- A cross between southern fiction tripe, racial/southern stereotypes, Christian messages, and... brilliance?  Something about this movie, in spite of its many flaws, makes it really interesting and different.  Dakota Fanning will finally not annoy you, and you may learn that Elvis Presley was a rapist.

Igor -- Lots of famous actors with not-so-great cartoon voices team up to make a not-so-great cartoon.

My Best Friend's Girl -- I sat here agonizing over what to say about this one, then realized it wasn't worth it.

The Duchess -- As Carrie Spell says, "Keira Knightley is a sieve."  I wish this were a movie version of the Fergie album instead (though that's spelled with a "T").

Lakeview Terrace -- Neil LaBute will make you think he has something up his sleeve (as the movie seems to be about race, power, the American dream, and more), but in the end this just becomes a really good thriller that happens to take the same structure as a neighbor vs. neighbor comedy.  Okay, I guess he does have something up his sleeve after all.

12 Sep 2008

Burn After Reading -- The Coen are back to their sideline of cheese movies.  This one isn't quite Intolerable Cruelty or The Ladykillers, but it falls closer to those than a comedy like Raising Arizona.  Proceed with caution.

The Family That Preys -- Tyler Perry's best movie, which means it's tolerable.  If he keeps going in this direction, maybe seeing "Tyler Perry's" in front of a movie title won't make me dismiss it immediately.

Flow -- There are just too many "here's how the world is going to end" documentaries being made these days to panic over them all.  This one's about water.

Towelhead -- Aw, man, Alan Ball, you almost walked the balance beam here, but you kept falling off the side.  Better luck next time.

The Women -- If Sex in the City were funnier, sexier, smarter, had better looking women, had better actors, and didn't cause you to want to kill yourself (but still isn't quite my cup of hot tea), that's about what this is.  Like the 1939 version this is remade from, the cast is entirely women (this time also being directed by) and it makes for an interesting point of view (as the male involvement -- and there is lots of it -- is all "off stage").  Recommended, but with expected caveats.

5 Sep 2008

Bangkok Dangerous -- It's making movies like these that cause people to hate Nicholas Cage.

Everybody Wants To Be Italian -- Romantic comedy that at least doesn't go for cheapy-cheap formula crap.

29 Aug 2008

Babylon A.D. -- If you still enjoy explosions and slow-motion bullets.

Ballet Shoes -- Cute for girls (or for boys who want to look at now-legal Emma Watson).

College -- As generic as the title implies.

Disaster Movie -- Stop.

Sukiyaki Western Django -- Supposed to be a comedy, but it's hard to tell the difference these days.  Tarantino plays his part over-the-top while everyone else just looks like they're in yet another Japanese western.  (That's right: I said "yet another Japanese western.")

Traitor -- You'll be bored the first 20-45 minutes, then you'll get into it.  When it's over, you'll feel like you want to watch it again.

22 Aug 2008

Death Race -- Made for those who have never heard of the original Death Race and for those for whom this will be the first time to hear the cliché: "The rules are there are no rules."

Hamlet 2 -- A very plain and lame movie that thinks it's actually edgy (I suppose because of dumb songs like "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus"--shocking!).  This may as well be High School Musical 4 minus the teen porn quality.

The House Bunny -- Harmlessly dumb.  You'll think this is a rip-off of Legally Blonde until you realize that it was written by the same people.

I.O.U.S.A. -- The newest in the series of documentaries that features George W. Bush somewhere in there being evil.  Yet another "wake up call" that makes us realize a problem and then say to ourselves "well, now I know" and then not be able to do anything about it.  It's actually pretty good as a movie, but I'm still struggling with this concept of "national crisis as entertainment."

I Served the King of England -- The Czechoslovakian version of a Roberto Benigni movie.

The Longshots -- A girl playing football????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The Rocker -- They probably wanted Jack Black but settled for that guy from The Office.

15 Aug 2008

A Girl Cut in Two -- One of those movies that you expect will get good any second, since it seems that the director and screenwriter are capable.  Unfortunately, either because they are trying to play it too subtle or they simply don't have the goods, it only stays slightly above average the entire time.  Ludivine Sagnier is totes hot, though.

Fly Me to the Moon -- Another dumb kids movie.

Henry Poole Is Here -- They somehow got Luke Wilson to do a weird Christian movie.  It's not quite as good as any of Kirk Cameron's latest.

Mirrors -- Every horror movie you've seen in the last fifteen years, with a focus on the mirror parts.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars -- You'd think that the only thing less interesting than finding out what Darth Vader was like as a teenager would be finding out what happened just before he was introduced to us as the biggest douche in the universe (no offense, John Edward).  However, this movie has a laid-back charm.  It doesn't have to prove or be anything; it's just a little adventure that you get as a bonus.  If you saw the 2-D animated TV minisodes, you'll know that those were better than they needed to be, and this is the same (and in 3-D).  And for a bonus, Anakin isn't played by Hayden Christensen.

Tropic Thunder -- Hot Fuzz taught us that you could have a great action movie while doing a parody of an action movie.  This one is similar, featuring a gritty and dark style by director Ben Stiller, who isn't afraid to get all Cable Guy and textured on us again.  Jack Black is giving us the Jables love, but he's also throwing in some new acting into the mix.  Robert Downey, Jr. (as he tends to do these days) goes completely nuts and is barely himself (in more ways than one).  The only one phoning it in is Stiller himself, who's still doing his Reality Bites character.  Another pairing (if you're interested in double features) with this movie could be Team America: World Police.  I recommend this one.

Vicky Christina Barcelona -- Woody Allen did well by making movies in England, so now he's going full-blown Spanish.  His fantasy girl Scarlett Johansson gets extra fantasy-fied when she makes out with Penelope Cruz.  Not a fantastic movie, but it will be hard not to watch.

8 Aug 2008

Bottle Shock -- One of those movies that's not bad enough to actually shut off, but that you sort of wander around the house during while leaving it on.

Elegy -- Further proof that Penelope Cruz is pretty.

Hell Ride -- The fact that Tarantino presents this movie (directed by Larry Bishop) is kind of embarrassing.  It's like producing your own tribute album.  Like many Tarantino copycat movies, it's all of his stuff stitched together by someone who isn't actually artistic.

Pineapple Express -- A (slightly) new kind of comedy: goofball + pot-headed aimlessness + Tarantino-esque blood.  I liked it and recommend it most highly.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2 -- This is the Godfather II of travelling pants movies.

1 Aug 2008

Frozen River -- All the glam of a typical thriller is stripped away, leaving you with a movie that's interesting for that reason for the first hour and fifteen minutes or so.  For the rest of it, you miss the glam.

In Search of a Midnight Kiss -- Recalls early Richard Linklater with just a dab of early Kevin Smith without being nearly as annoying as either.  Cute.

The Midnight Meat Train -- For those not tired of serial killers / butchers.

The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor -- Lord of the Rings + House of Flying Daggers = x.  Let x = shit.

Swing Vote -- A ridiculous premise, but somehow the movie ends up charming everyone.  Something sweet to watch with your mom.

25 Jul 2008

American Teen -- Perpetuating the myth of high school (that people can be defined by their social circle, The Breakfast Club, etc.), this time in documentary form--which makes people buy into the myth even more.  If these things are actually true about high school, it's only because of some role that someone is playing.  Anyway, the movie is stupid and not at all charming.

Boy A -- This movie was only made so that someone could write a review entitled "About Boy A."

Brideshead Revisited -- A decent adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel.  Hayley Atwell is the most fun to watch.

Man on Wire -- Documentary about an admittedly charming Frenchman who walks a tight rope between the twin towers in NYC in the 1970s.  If you let your reason drop, you'll buy into the emotional crap that the movie (and the Frenchman) tries to feed you, but you're smarter than that, I hope.

Step Brothers -- Ricky Bobby and Dewey Cox team up for a comedy that's as funny as you hope it is.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe -- I think this is the one where we find out who killed Laura Palmer.  But seriously, folks.  This is a movie worth seeing, whether you're an X-Files fan or just a fan of thrillers.

18 Jul 2008

The Dark Knight -- As dark and serious as Batman tries to be, it is ultimately about a man dressed in a bat suit fighting a man dressed as a playing card.  However, Christopher Nolan continues to do the best job of making us take these characters somewhat seriously.  My review of the previous film was that I enjoyed the genesis story but grew bored with the more traditional superhero story of the latter half.  This one's more like the latter half, but if you preferred that (and many did), then you'll like this fine.

Mamma Mia! -- First, I love ABBA.  I'm not just a greatest hits guy either; I have every one of their albums.  And I'm not gay, so that gives me even more bonus ABBA points.  Mamma Mia! the musical, however, is just a just a forcing of a mediocre storyline over ABBA songs and they are sung in a cheesy Broadway style, causing most of the magic of the original songs to disappear in a puff.  It's pretty much like Across the Universe, minus the occasional flare of Julie Taymor's direction (and this one has a better story, dumb as it is).  ABBA fans, steer clear.  Romantic comedy fans, go for it.  Then wash it down with a copy of the album Voulez-Vous.

Space Chimps -- I suppose there are children watching this who haven't heard the "That's gotta hurt" joke yet, but it wasn't funny the first time I heard it, and it will just be the first time in an (apparently) infinite string of hearing it over and over the rest of their (and our) lives.

Transsiberian -- Woody Harrelson plays a slightly different role in a pretty decent thriller.

11 Jul 2008

August -- Someone watched and decided to make a teen throb movie around it.

Garden Party -- There's never been a good movie with the word garden in the title.

Harold -- A movie created by people who really wanted to make another 1980s teen comedy but were also enamored by "funny" things like fighting guys in bear suits in the woods.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army -- Del Toro gets even more Pan's Labyrinth-y with this one.  But also more blockbuster-y.

Journey to the Center of the Earth -- Actually not a bad bit of family entertainment.  The action is nice, the jokes are cute, and the characters are likeable (especially as a family unit).  This is the best of the Brendan Fraser adventure/goofball films (The Mummy, George of the Jungle, etc.).

Meet Dave -- This Eddie Murphy movie isn't funny, but it's compelling.  Interesting to watch.  There aren't too many gross-out jokes (at least compared to Norbit, etc.) and they've managed to make comedy/sci-fi that's both wacky and believable within the context of the movie.  Color me impressed and surprised.

4 Jul 2008

Diminished Capacity -- Even if Alan Alda had been born in the south, he wouldn't have a southern accent.  It's the equivalent of Dick Van Dyke's English accent in Mary Poppins, pretty much: it's done well but sounds phony.  This movie is very close to being enjoyable.  Very close.

Hancock -- Will Smith plays a "gritty" (in a fun way, of course) superhero who does awesome stuff while only wearing street clothes.  It's one of the better blockbusters this summer.  It's good.

Kabluey -- In the same way that I've decided to write "children's movie" to say all I need to say about all the sucky kids' movies out there, I'll start now with a new shorthand: "precious indie comedy."

The Wackness -- The Suckness.

27 Jun 2008

Finding Amanda -- No more movies about prostitutes and porn stars, please.  Especially comedies.  Especially ones with Matthew Broderick as the prostitute's uncle trying to save her.  My reasons would require an entire article, so take my word for it.

Gunnin' for that #1 Spot -- Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys directs a documentary about NYC basketball that's so messy and unfocused you'll barely know what it's about until 45 minutes it.  Then you'll get bored.

WALL-E -- One of the better Pixar movies, primarily as a result of the film being largely pantomime rather than talky-talk (which, in computer animation, is always "whazzup!" etc.).  Several annoying moments, but has a surprising amount of charm.  This one will be loved for years.

Wanted -- Someone watched all the movies he thought was "hella cool" and fused them into this one, producing a movie that he wouldn't have considered hella cool if he hadn't written it.  It's got stuff like, you know, people "curving bullets" by flinging their wrists while shooting guns.  (Let's see how many assholes try this in real life.)  I'm mostly making fun here, but it isn't as bad as The Matrix or V for Vendetta (two of the "hella cool" movies this was spawned from).  Side note: Angelina Jolie is beginning to look like an aging porn star.  In a few years she'll have to soften her sexy look in order to look less old.  Another side note: If you do want to see this movie at the theater, carefully pronounce the title or you'll end up seeing WALL-E.

20 Jun 2008

Brick Lane -- Oh, arranged marriages... what forbidden romance can't you bring about?

Get Smart -- Another waste of a good idea.  This is like The Pink Panther all over again.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl -- Like Nancy Drew, I recommend this as a good movie for girls (and the girls-at-heart).

The Love Guru -- Mike Myers searches old Austin Powers scripts for jokes that weren't funny enough to make the cut and uses them here, while repeating others that weren't funny enough to make the cut but made it anyway.  I'm afraid that Mike Meyers won't be able to make a good movie in this century.  The funniest person in this one is Justin Timberlake.

13 Jun 2008

The Happening -- M. Night Shyamalan has the answer for why our bees are disappearing.  Hoorah.  (By the way, doesn't that remind you of the dolphins disappearing in the Hitchhiker's series?)  I don't want to spoil what "the happening" is for anyone, but I think it's safe enough to tell you that it has something to do with Shyamalan being insane on a Mel Gibson level which bases itself around the concept that God is a puzzle master that only this director has figured out.  Be prepared to be preached at in even more inexplicable ways.  In twenty years, we'll find Shyamalan locked in an insane asylum, screaming at the top of his lungs, "Don't you get it, people?! Isn't it obvious to you?  Watch my movies!  The answer was there all along!  God lives in me and you're not letting him out!  Let me touch you!  I will save you!  I will put myself inside you and work through you as only I can!"  This is what I gather from watching this movie, at any rate.

The Incredible Hulk -- And the summer blockbusters just keep on comin'.  Apparently I was the only one who enjoyed the crouching tiger style of the Hulk that Ang Lee brought us, flying around beautifully in the desert, so with this one we're back to more traditional (less aesthetic, more messy) action and muscles.  The good news is that the acting is good, featuring Edward Norton as David Banner and Tim Roth as the bad guy.  (There's even an appearance from Robert Downey, Jr. as his character from that other movie.)  It's on a similar level with the new wave of Batman movies: smarter than usual but not perfect.

Quid Pro Quo -- This is like a David Cronenberg movie: it pretends to explore some deep part of human nature, when really it's just exploring the writer/director's naïveté based on what he imagines human to really be like when in fact they're lots more normal.  Anyway, it's stupid (though not actually as bad as a Cronenberg movie).

7 Jun 2008

Kung-Fu Panda -- More computer animated stupidity.  "Sha-doosh."

Mongol -- Unfortunately, this isn't a movie about Corky from Life Goes On.

The Promotion -- This movie couldn't decide if it wanted to be a goofy comedy or a mannered indie film, so it just sucked instead (in spite of its inclusion of John C. Reilly).

When Did You Last See Your Father? -- Anand Tucker makes a pretty movie, but they also tend to get on my nerves in one way or another.  Anyone but me might like this fine.

You Don't Mess with the Zohan -- Funnier than The Wedding Singer, less funny than Anger Management.

30 May 2008

Bigger, Stronger, Faster* -- Steroidzzzzz.  A Michael Moore type movie (some of his pals produced it) that tells us what we already know about steroids and connects it metaphorically with America's dirty not-so-secret secrets.

The Foot Fist Way -- A pretty funny little movie in the style of Will Ferrell movies but without all the glitz (yes, I consider Will Ferrell movies glitzy).  Once these guys get a little famous, they'll make a glitzy movie too and it won't be as funny.

Savage Grace -- Over the top in a fun-yet-serious (almost Kubrickian) way.  Your enjoyment of the movie will go up and down in waves.

Sex and the City -- The life of women as envisioned by offensive gay men, now on the big screen.

Strangers -- A shittier version of Funny Games, with masks, but still slightly above average as far as these types of horror movies go.

23 May 2008

The Children of Huang Shi -- Who else is sick of well-lit movies?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- In case you're wondering: they got it right.

Postal -- Didn't this already come out in September of last year?

War, Inc. -- A kinda funny satire on the war, commercialism, and popular culture headed by a very charming cast... but the joke wears thin after about forty-five minutes.

16 May 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian -- Prince Caspian, the book, unlike the first one, is not exactly movie-ready.  Half of it is the kids mulling around in the forest or whatever, getting from point A to point B.  This is why, in the BBC versions, they simply combined this with the next (and better) book as Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  The solution found in this movie is to focus on the battles (and to add a few that didn't exist in the book) and teenage hunky dreaminess of Caspian himself.  Though, once again, the sublime magic of C.S. Lewis's world isn't fully realized here (in the way that Tolkien was almost fully realized in that other series), it's still a great movie.  Go see it in the theater.

How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer -- How?  Boring me and disappointing someone who'd rather be watching Prince Caspian.

Reprise -- Has a similar feeling to a Lars Von Trier movie (this one is directed by Joachim Trier--no relation), but also a little bit of a young boy whiner asshole tinge.

Sangre di mi Sangre -- I watched this whole movie and I still don't know Spanish.

9 May 2008

Frontier(s) -- Another violent horror movie, this time in French.

Speed Racer -- Not quite as ridiculous as The Matrix Trilogy, but close.  The Wachowski brothers manage to make a movie that looks sillier than the cartoon it was based on.  (If you're wondering: it does have a monkey.)

What Happens In Vegas... -- We can certainly stop the Vegas obsession now, especially the obsession with their slogan.  This is, of course, a typical romantic comedy, but for what it is, it's not that horrible.  I wouldn't make fun of anyone for liking it.

2 May 2008

Iron Man -- This is on par with Spider-Man and Batman Begins in terms of superhero movies, and it's certainly got a better sense of humor.  Robert Downey Jr., directed by John Favreau, is allowed to be himself.  He's not bad when he's in the suit either (meaning that the computer guys did okay, playing down the cartooniness).  It has all the typical crap like any superhero movie, and it's got the middle east thing, which is annoying, but it's a good Black Sabbath romp and you should see it.

Made of Honor -- The pun in the title makes no sense.  Why "made"?  This isn't a mafia movie.  He's created out of honor?  Anyway, the premise tries to milk out some comedy, but it doesn't work for me: maybe because I was a bridesmaid once and I had female groomsmen in my wedding (and my wife had a male maid of honor, and we didn't spell it "made").  Beyond these problems, it's just another romantic comedy where the woman is about the marry the wrong guy (poor guy), leaves him at the altar (poor guy), and all that stuff we're supposed to fall for one more time.

Mister Lonely -- Harmony Korine writes and directs this movie about impersonators (of Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, etc.).  It's surreal, sure, but it's a lot more mainstream than Gummo and Donkey-Boy.  In fact, some of the dialogue is so hokey that you wonder if he wrote it specifically so he could have "trailer moments."  Like all Korine movies, this one is okay if you're in the right mood.  Once again, Werner Herzog steals the show.  (Too bad he's not in a lot of scenes.)

Redbelt -- One both likes and dislikes this movie, in that David Mamet way.

Son of Rambow -- This isn't necessarily a kids' movie, but that's probably the best audience for it.  Too much of the average-ness leaks through otherwise.  If you're a kid, it's pretty great.

25 Apr 2008

Baby Mama -- If you spend the entire movie looking at Tina Fey's cleavage (and you are provided ample opportunity), you might not notice how lame the film is.  Tina Fey's glasses are like subtitles in foreign movies: they trick people who want to be smart into thinking they're actually watching something smart.

Deal -- A movie about poker, which means -- through flawless logic -- that the movie How To Deal was about how to play poker.  This is the usual shit: some old dude teaching some young dude how to find a person's "tell" at the poker table, etc.  Some love interest with a teenage hooker.  With nowhere near the goodness of Hard Eight or even Rounders.

Deception -- See Michelle Williams in interesting makeup.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay -- Sue me, but I think these movies aren't too bad as average comedies go.  The two dudes are still funny (and more nuanced than, say, Bill and Ted) and the situations hit the right amount of goofy fun.

Rogue -- For that one guy out there who still likes giant alligator movies: this is for you!

Roman de Gare -- Well, it is what is says it is.

Standard Operating Procedure -- Seeing those Abu Ghraib pictures one more time (this time as manipulated by Errol Morris in his grand style) doesn't seem like something you'd want to sit through (though in twenty years, this aspect will be fine), but sit through it you should.  Morris has gone beyond the simpler techniques of Fog of War and into the more cinematic approach he took in The Thin Blue Line.  If it becomes to harsh for you, wash it down with the sister movie of the week from Harold and Kumar.

Then She Found Me -- Unfortunately, a Chex mix of family-and-romance-based circumstances doesn't exactly equal a good movie.  (Helen Hunt's mother dies and she wants to have a baby at thirty-nine and does so with her ex-husband while having a new romance with a new guy and then her biological mother shows up and she's Bette Midler.)  Too delicate and "indie" (the vibe it's going for) for my tastes, though I won't begrudge you if you like it since it seems okay.

18 Apr 2008

88 Minutes -- With the exception of the annoying serial killer phone calls ("You have 88 minutes to live.  Tick-tock," etc.), it's not a bad little thriller type.

The Forbidden Kingdom -- Perfectly ignorable.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- When all the Apatows are tallied at the end of time, this will be known as one of the "lesser Apatows."  It's funny enough for a rental if you're not looking for anything super-duper.

The Life Before Her Eyes -- An Uma Thurman movie so vague and whiffy that you will become transparent while watching it.

Pathology -- I liked this better the first time, when it was called Dexter--and I didn't like that much either.

Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden? -- Morgan Spurlock seems about 6% less douchy in this one.  That's the best I can say.

11 Apr 2008

Chaos Theory -- The movie begins so horribly (over-scheduled guy who keeps lists, obsesses about time, etc.) that you won't make it past the first twenty minutes.  But if you stick around past that twenty minutes, it actually becomes almost good.  So watch thirty minutes and then decide for yourself.

Prom Night -- This isn't a remake of the original; it simply uses the name of the original, which is somehow even more offensive.  Killer at a prom: that's all.  If you're seven to twelve, rent it; it'll give you a false sense of what the prom is like (which we all need!) and it might scare you.  Otherwise, don't.

Smart People -- Annoying people.  The screenwriter remembers back to college to figure out what smart people are like.  "Let's see, being a professor helps.  Professors have trouble remembering students' names because they're caught up in themselves: that's a good detail.  Um, something about William Carlos Williams.  Should probably have a precocious teen that rebels.  How to rebel smartly?  Young Republicans?  Right, just like Family Ties--it's perfect!"  And who plays the precocious teen?  Juno.  No, not Ellen Page: Juno, since it's the same character, minus the belly.  Thomas Hayden Church rounds out the story playing a slobby-slob-slob.

Street Kings -- Another typical L.A. gang cop shootout kind of Keanu piece of crap throw in Forrest Whitaker for cred kind of stupid crap deal.

The Visitor -- In which we learn that white people can maybe sort of play a drum.  In spite of the mediocre script, Richard Jenkins does a great job; it's almost worth watching for him, and I'm happy he's able to play a lead role.

Young@Heart -- Let me get this out in the open.  Old people are not funny; they are not cute; they simply have been alive longer.  Stop fucking making fun of them.  That goes for John McCain jokes.  He's old: so what?  Would you rather him be dead and save himself the embarrassment?  What is your problem really?  Are you Pete Townshend back when he was a jerk?  "Rusty, are you saying old people deserve our respect?"  No, that's another lame thing to say.  They probably do, simply because they have experience on their side and have seen several generations come and go.  There's something to be said for that.  But some old people are assholes, like you are.  Just treat them like anyone else.  What is so hilarious about an eighty-year-old singing a song by The Clash or The Ramones?  (That's the premise of this movie.)  I feel that the idea of older people singing punk songs is fine, but the movie uses it for (a) comedic effect, (b) cutesy effect, or (c) sentimental effect.  A more straight version of this documentary might have been okay.

4 Apr 2008

Leatherheads -- Kind of like a Coen Brothers genre comedy (The Hudsucker Proxy or O Brother Where Art Thou? especially) minus the cleverness and goodness.  It's nicely average, though.

My Blueberry Nights -- Now you have your choice.  Do you watch Norah Jones crappily act, or do you listen to her dumb music?

Nim's Island -- Walden media gets its brown tones on again to present another realistic fantasy: Terabithia style, where everything's in the head.  This time, it's mostly in the head of an agoraphobic adult writer stereotype, but go see it anyway if you're a kid.  I approve.

The Ruins -- It's got a Blair Witch / Lost feel to it, and it's not completely horrible as far as average horror goes.

Shine a Light -- A Martin Scorsese documentary covering the Rolling Stones on tour.  The good news is that this is more or less a film about itself (in a good way), so it's not just yet another Rolling Stones show.  It's practically a Woody Allen comedy.

28 Mar 2008

Flawless -- Not a bad heist movie, thanks to Michael Caine and Demi Moore being pretty good together.

Run, Fat Boy, Run -- Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran pair up to bring their version of new Brit humor to what is essentially a dumb American comedy.  It's somewhere below Hot Fuzz and above Semi-Pro.

Stop Loss -- A movie about an important issue (guys who have to go back to Iraq after they're supposed to be getting out); unfortunately, it's done MTV-style and blended with cliché after cliché.

Superhero Movie -- The only reason this one isn't as annoying as the others in the _________ Movie series is because this one tells the stories more straight and doesn't bother with the jokes as much.  So, essentially, you're watching remade scenes.  The reason this is better is because these guys don't know how to make jokes.  Anyway, avoid it.

21 -- Average-to-good movie that goes exactly where you expect it to, but in a fun enough way.  The movie never gets too heavy and just allows you to enjoy the mild tension.

21 Mar 2008

Drillbit Taylor -- Don't let the John Hughes / Judd Apatow associations fool you.  Do, however, pay attention to the Steven Brill name, since he was the director for some of the lesser Sandler pictures.  This is lesser than those even.  It doesn't have enough laughs to warrant the overabundance of clichés and rip-offs found throughout.  (Wow, the teacher he has a crush on is the English teacher?  I'd have never guessed.)

The Hammer -- Adam Carolla (hold on! hold on!) stars in this quiet (sometimes painfully quiet) movie that you seriously don't want to like (and don't, on the whole), but find yourself laughing at some extremely astute observations coming out of Carolla's mouth from time to time.

Meet the Browns -- You know those white kids who want to be black?  This and other Tyler Perry movies make them want to be white again.

Shutter -- My wife and I spent our honeymoon in one of the most haunted towns in America, ghost-chasing, trying to get some "spirit photography," and now there's a movie about a couple who's complaining that their pictures all have ghosts in them?  Trade ya!  (Anyway, this is just another Japanese-type horror movie about stupid ghost shit.)

Under the Same Moon -- There is a good Lambchop song that has this title.  I wish this were that song, but instead it's a stinky movie.

14 Mar 2008

Doomsday -- Apparently no one can think past Mad Max style punk rockers when imagining the post-apocalypse.  The only reason to watch this movie is for the underused Rhona Mitra (the real Laura Croft).

Funny Games -- Michael Haneke is making a career out of movies about families who get terrorized by psychotics, and this (an American remake of his own 1997 movie) might be his best.  It's got a Kubrickian flare, and the layer of comedy helps.

Horton Hears a Who! -- Step one: find a beloved children's classic.  Step two: Get Jim Carrey and Steve Carell on the horn.  Step three: Make them put words in beloved characters' mouths that degrade them and us both; you know, like accounting jokes or current buzz phrases.  Step four: Whenever you decide to keep a classic line from the book, immediately deflate it with one of the above jokes or buzzes.  I am not exaggerating when I say this: if you wrote this, your soul is made of diarrhea.

Never Back Down -- We start off with a collection of the usual things that people are supposed to like, but that people with brains don't (annoying parties, huge ugly houses, vacant heavy metal, girls with bikinis up their oiled cracks, etc.), then throw in some kickboxing, Amber Heard (the prettiest little down-syndrome girl ever), and "magic black" Dijimon Honsou for America's newest high school formula film.  It sux! LOL!

Sleepwalking -- They probably shouldn't put the words sleep or walking in the title, since you'll be doing one of those two things if you go to see this at the theater.

7 Mar 2008

The Bank Job -- Jason Statham (who still manages to be charming, though his shtick is threatening to get old) stars in this 1970s-style film.  It'll do for a night of entertainment.

CJ7 -- This is basically Stephen Chow's (Shaolin Soccer) version of Mac and Me (not, by the way, his version of E.T.) mixed with Flubber and other family comedies.  For that reason, not nearly as funny as his previous movies.

College Road Trip -- It's not as horrible as a movie starring Martin Lawrence and Donny Osmond could be.  (And for the Googlers: Raven Symoné has big boobs.)

Married Life -- Every twenty minutes the movie does something really smart to keep you watching.  The rest of the time, it's fair to middlin'.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day -- Silly comedy starring Frances McDormand mugging to the camera and Amy Adams annoying the shit out of me.

Paranoid Park -- Now in his mid-fifties, Gus Van Sant seems to really want to be considered cool by sixteen-year-olds.  He went so far as to use MySpace to cast this movie.  The movie itself, of course, is about skateboarders and stuff.  There's a regular plot to sort of hook you in, but mostly you're watching the director live vicariously through what he believes are the lives of young people.  (Young people, by the way, apparently want nothing more than to ride in boxcars.)

Snow Angels -- This is the kind of movie that most indie films try to be.  Instead, they end up simply being boring.  This one's not boring (though it's not edge-of-your-seat either).  It's complicated in a good way: there's no one thing going on or one point it's trying to make.  I recommend it for a quiet night.

10,000 B.C. -- Pick a joke: 1. Wait, I thought the earth was only 6,000 years old!  2. Hey, you've offended me by writing B.C. (Before Christ) instead of BCE (Before the Common Era)!  3. I prefer Dr. Who's "100,000 B.C."  But seriously, folks... The wooly mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, and landscapes make the movie look cool.  Unfortunately, the "cave men" aren't that well developed, and the story is just another war thing.  Tons of boring human things piled on top of an interesting, pretty backdrop that looks like some kind of prehistoric HDTV channel.

29 Feb 2008

Bonneville -- This is what menopause feels like.

Chicago 10 -- The same ol' Austin TX animation that you're bored of now is used to talk about the 60s some more--which you're also bored of.

City of Men -- The only thing shittier than City of God.

The Other Boleyn Girl -- Yet another reminder of the old importance of the male heir, with nothing much new to add.  One thing's for sure: the movie stays focused.  A hammering, hammering focus.

Penelope -- An okay fairy tale about Christina Ricci with a pig nose.

Semi-Pro -- If you're not sick of Will Ferrell sports comedies yet, this is the the point when you will be.  For that reason, don't watch it until about fifteen years from now.  They'll be doing 90s retro movies by that time, so a 00s movie doing 70s retro will seem refreshing.

22 Feb 2008

Be Kind Rewind -- Michel Gondry's only good film so far has been Dave Chappelle's Block Party and it was because he just let Chappelle do this thing and didn't infect the movie with his stupid ideas.  This one (with the exception of the whole magnetized brain idea) has that going for it as well.  If you have Jack Black in a movie, just let him go.  Richard Linklater wisely figured that out.  So did Stephen Frears.  Mos Def provides the right amount of counterpoint.  The movie is a cute idea with many funny moments, even if it gets a bit tired after a while, and even if Gondry can't help but suck the life out of some of it with arty-fart bits.

Charlie Bartlett -- This begins with the typical idea of a rich prep school guy having to go to public school (you know: yuck! and with black people!), where he doesn't fit in.  Then it settles into a groove in which Charlie uses his own psychiatry sessions to help the kids at school and become popular.  And then that groove gets old.  And then it goes on another forty minutes.  Then there's a swell of music.  Then it's over.

The Signal -- We've seen lots of "fear of television, fear of technology" movies that don't make any sense lately.  This one doesn't either, but it works a lot better than most.

Vantage Point -- A pretty decent, fast-paced thriller that doesn't get too annoying with its central premise (of five vantage points on the assassination of a president's stand-in).

Witless Protection -- One day we'll find out that Larry the Cable Guy is a homosexual and I can say "I called it."  In the meantime, we can try to figure out why Peter Stormare is in this movie.  Oh, what about the movie itself?  You know, it's Larry the Cable Guy.

15 Feb 2008

Definitely, Maybe -- I'm not saying this will happen to you.... but, as a warning, after I saw this movie, my penis squirted strawberry jelly for a week.  And not in a good way.

Diary of the Dead -- I hate to say it, but George A. Romero broke his perfect streak of "dead" movies with this one.  Apparently, he hasn't watched The Blair Witch Project, Madonna's Truth or Dare, or any number of other movies ten or more years old that deal with the obsession of documenting bad things on film.  He's finally showing his age.  It's not a complete waste, however.  It's still a zombie movie, and the preoccupations with those darn kids and their video cameras doesn't completely render it unwatchable.

Jumper -- Apparently Doug Liman can take potentially-stupid movies like The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and make them entertaining, as if by magic.  In this one, young Annakin Skywalker is able to teleport around the world while Samuel Jackson (fresh from rolling his hair around in beach sand) chases him... and it's not bad.  So: props to Doug.

The Spiderwick Chronicles -- If you're not bored of children's fantasy yet, this one isn't too bad.

Step Up 2 the Street -- I think you can figure this one out yourself from the title.

The Year My Parents Went On Vacation -- If you've just woken up, or are otherwise in a spacey mood where you don't feel like paying attention much, this will work for you.

8 Feb 2008

The Band's Visit -- The movie could be fine if it weren't filmed with all the preciously-framed shots found in Napoleon Dynamite and Wes Anderson movies.

In Bruges -- It tells you over and over that it's funny until you almost believe it.

Fool's Gold -- Elements of a dumb treasure-hunting movie mixed with elements of a dumber romantic comedy, and more stupid than the sum of its parts.

The Hottie and the Nottie -- If you want to make one of those movies where the guy is after the girl he finds traditionally beautiful, while ignoring the girl who doesn't look as good but has a better personality, then fine.  But -- to make the ugly girl ugly -- don't go this fucking overboard.  They've given Christine Lakin (a true hottie, of course) blacked joke teeth, enormous hairy moles on her face and back, decayed toenails, etc.  Even small children will not suspend their disbelief long enough for this faux-pas in an otherwise semi-realistic romantic comedy.  Of course, I realize you have to make a hot girl look pretty darn ugly if the one who's supposed to be attractive one is (gag) Paris Hilton.

Spiral -- A collection of everything you've seen before in movies about creepy, reclusive artists.

Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights--Hollywood to the Heartland -- Vince presents a handful of his comedian pals and chronicles it documentary-style.  The focus is on the male-ness of the performers and the road trip element.  Sweaty underwear and that kind of thing.  Interesting enough for what it is.

Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins -- You know those movies that make you ashamed of humanity?

1 Feb 2008

Caramel -- It's like Chocolat... but caramel!  Not quite as good as the time Tom Green put a caramel on a girl's back and then got a little white dog to eat it.

The Eye -- Well, for a movie about how an eye transplant causes Jessica Alba to see dead people, it's not too bad.  It's okay-average, and Parker Posey gives it some class.

Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Words Concert Tour -- America's most famous person who can barely talk over her teeth has a movie.  Your pre-teen daughter is masturbating to it right now.

Over Her Dead Body -- For about four minutes during this movie, you think you like it.  Then you decide you don't.

Strange Wilderness -- Not as funny as it could be (thanks to it trying too hard to be like other recent comedies), but it's got some good moments of raunch that will make you laugh.

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie -- This movie tries to trick you into thinking there are actual jokes made.  Don't be fooled.

25 Jan 2008

The Air I Breathe -- Feels like one of those inspirational self-help books.  The casting will make it lots easier to play that Kevin Bacon game.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days -- You know it's serious... because it's about abortion!

How She Move -- Formula.

Meet the Spartans -- 300 was funnier.  The turkey in my refrigerator will last longer than the references in this movie.

Rambo -- Follow this titling logic: First Blood, then First Blood Part II: Rambo... so far, so good.  But then... Rambo III?  And now, simply, Rambo.  The next one should be called Fifth Blood.  Anyway, this is kind of like taking stuff that was cool in the 1980s (like, for example, cobra snakes) and putting them in a contemporary movie with some technical polish.  I don't know who would want to see this, but I do think that many will watch it every time it's on television.

Shoot Down -- Kind of interesting, kind of not.

Untraceable -- Well, I like the metaphor: for every person who visits a particular website, it causes the webmaster's victim to die more quickly.  The more you say "don't go," the more you promote it.  Ya see?  And the movie isn't horrible either, as far as these psycho killer / fear-of-technology movies go.  Lots better than One Missed Call, for example.  (Someone with a sense of humor designed the poster and someone without a sense of humor accepted it.)

18 Jan 2008

Cassandra's Dream -- Woody Allen makes another British film to tone down his now-predictable voice; it works maybe even a little better than Match Point.

Cloverfield -- The best disaster/monster movie in a while.  Rent it.  Turn it up.

Mad Money -- This isn't as bad as Hanging Up or other recent Diane Keaton movies, but neither is it anything anyone should watch.

Taxi to the Dark Side -- You gotta hand it to George W. Bush: he's launched the career of many a documentary filmmaker.  This one by Alex Gibney doesn't tell you anything you don't know or guess about American torture, but it's a solid picture.

Teeth -- You'd hope that a horror drama about the vagina dentate would be good.  The lead is pretty good for what she's required to do, but everything else (including the script, direction, and acting) sucks around her.  If the movie were any good, it would actually be called Vagina Dentate (rather than the abysmal Teeth) and it would have more creative input from actual females.  At best, it's not as offensive as you might expect.

27 Dresses -- Always a bridesmaid, never a good movie.

11 Jan 2008

First Sunday -- Katt Williams has some funny moments.  Everything else is disposable.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale -- Hey, remember when you had that weird dream where you were watching The Lord of the Rings except it starred Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, and Matthew Lillard?

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie -- If you see only one Christian animated vegetable movie this year, this is the one to see.

4 Jan 2008

The Killing of John Lennon -- Not as horrible as you might think.  Hey, you know what this movie helps you realize (if you haven't already)?  That people who read The Catcher in the Rye and then start using the word "phony" are assholes.

One Missed Call -- The Ring... tone.

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You may email Rusty W. Spell.