Knocked Up

Movie Numero Dos in the Sunday AMC marathon had me moving from the world of con men to the world of unexpected party gifts for one-night stands.

Spaldy is always telling me that I must watch certain things and, stubbornly, I refuse. One such refusal was Freaks and Geeks, a short-lived TV show that was followed by Undeclared, another short-lived TV show. Judd Apatow followed these by teaming up with Will Ferrell to make Anchorman and Talladega Nights. With a little money in the bank, Apatow was able to focus on The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which became a big hit for him and Steve Carrell. One of the funnier sidekicks in that film, Seth Rogen, got promoted to headliner in this latest offering.

Rogen plays a slacker hanging out with four other guys, doing all sorts of activities. It is here that you see Apatow rely on his favorites of Jason Segel, Leslie Mann, and Paul Rudd. They add to the fun here as we see Katherine Heigel and Rogen deal with the unexpected pregnancy that results from their one-night stand (not a spoiler given the title).

What I was impressed with was the honesty shown onscreen of two people very scared about the aspect of being parents combined with doing the courtship in reverse. I was laughing my butt off for most of the movie, with a great cameo from Katherine Wiig of SNL. One of my favorite parts was watching Ryan Seacrest have a rant on celebrities that made me almost hope that it was ad-libbed.

My advice: full-price — a fun time to be had, but not a date flick unless you do not care about language or do not worry about what it may do for your chances for after-movie activities…

Ocean’s 13

A lazy Sunday afternoon found me going to the AMC for a marathon of movies, 3 in all.  I started off with Ocean’s 13.

Now, if you remember my previous reviews, I spoke of the curse of the “3″ and how this summer seemed to be the glut of sequels.  I still can not believe how many movies we have this year that are the third in a series.  I was just hoping that Ocean’s would not be yet another disappointment.

And maybe that is what helped me in this movie — I went in with no expectations because I had not heard about it until about a month ago.  With no hype-built expectations, I was able to enjoy a popcorn movie for what it was, fluff.

To add perspective, I love watching the original Ocean’s 11 with Sinatra and the Rat Pack.  Nice, fun flick that looked like fun for the guys doing it.  Then Clooney came out with his remake and I was mildly surprised; it was one of a handful of remakes that I actually liked.  Ocean’s 12 came out and I thought they jumped the shark, but it was forgivable given the amount of fun they had on-screen.  While I do not doubt that they had fun, it did not seem as much fun as the other two to make.

Everybody except Julia Roberts returns, and maybe it is her playfulness in the “boys’ club” that made the first two fun.  Al Pacino was brought in to play the target this time around and he is having fun, as if Michael Corleone decided to ham it up a bit.  One of my favorite lines was from Elliot Gould doing a paraphrase of a line from “The Godfather” — the sad thing is that only 2 other people out of a mostly-sold theater got it as we were the only three to laugh.

Overall, a decent movie that reminds you of the allure of Vegas and why we love it.

My advice: matinee to full price — you won’t feel cheated if you do pay full price…

2007 MTV Movie Awards

The start of summer brings many things: some good and some bad.  One event that can never decide which it will be is the annual movies awards show put on by MTV.  One of the annoying things to me is that it has always been aired pre-taped.  I mean, really, can it being live be any worse than the live steaming piles they have graced us with over the years from some of the Video Awards shows they have aired?

Be careful of what you wish for — Karma is always listening…

For 2007, MTV decided to air it live — GREAT!!!!

For 2007, MTV got Sarah Silverman to host — AWWWWW, CRAP!!!!

My good pal, Spaldy, and I have never  understood the fascination that people seem to have for Sarah Silverman (SS for the rest of this review).  She is hardly ever funny and probably owes a good bit of her career to the fact that she has been sleeping with Jimmy Kimmel.

Of course, for the first live movie awards show, I do what many others did: DVR’ed it.

See, I was at a convention all week and would not see it.  “But, Matt, just watch one of the 10,000 repeats that MTV will air until September…”  I would, except MTV sometimes edits the live broadcasts after they air, so I always go for the first showing.

The show opens with an odd filmed piece of SS’s dog turning into a jet fighter and her flying beside Johnny Knoxville to do a penile joke.  Then cut to the stage andher live jokes are even wors.  At one point, she told the audience to Google the reference to then get her joke.  UGH…

First Award is for Best Villain and it went to Jack Nicholson for “The Departed”.  Great movie and great choice, but I think Jack may have started celebrating early.  After rambling some, he leaves and we move on…

At this point, SS introduces a naked fat guy (who makes me look anorexic) that will chase off those who speak too long.  Brilliant part of the show:  The fat guy then chases SS off of the stage — Good fat guy — go eat more pizza….

Bruce Willis and Mac Guy show up to give out Best Fight scene, which goes to Gerard Butler for 300.  300 was a good movie built totally on fights — as much as I would have loved to see Will and Jon win for Blades of Glory, 300 was the right choice.

Can the overall suckitude of this show get any greater? Karma says ask and I shall deliver.  Cut to Dane Cook who will be introducing the movie spoofs of the night.  First up is “Quentin Tarantino’s Little Miss Squirtgun” — very entertaining.

Posh Spice and Chris Tucker show up to intro the first musical guest: Rianna and Jay-Z.  Time to hit triple fast-forward on the DVR.

For Best Kiss, why not bring up the people who will probably win next year: the cast of “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry”?  MTV does and they call out Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen as the winners for Talladega Nights.  The kiss is then recreated for 5 minutes, even rolling on the ground.

Dane Cook shows up again (Why does he have a career?) to introduce spoof #2: “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Rehab” — not good at all, much like if Dane and SS made a movie together.

The Breakthrough award goes to Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s son.  Video acceptance was “ehh” and overdone by Will…

Dane again!  WHY?!?!? What did I do this week to deserve this? He intros the final spoof: “United 300″  Entertaining…

The Orbit Gum girl shows up to give the Dirtiest Mouth award to Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith for Clerks II.  Was this really news to anyone who has seen a View Askew movie?

Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, and John Krasinski come out to present the Best Comedic Performance.  Proving again that the world of comedy is very broad, it goes to Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat, a character I can not stand.  Oh well, MTV once thought Pauly Shore was funny….

To follow that award with the PSA about Boratits was the highlight of the show for me — well played, MTV, well played…

Cameron Diaz then walks out fresh from bed, based on her (lack of) dress — Lord knows I woke up at this point.  She is out presenting the Generations award to Mike Myers.  This is tough because he does good characters for a movie or two and then kills them by going one movie too far.  It was nice seeing clips form “So I Married An Axe Murderer”.

For Best Spoof, Samuel L. Jackson comes out and tells the winner that he/she better cast him in a movie.  Gotta love Sam.  The award goes to  “United 300″ — not a bad choice.

Bruce Willis comes back out to intro the other musical guest: Amy Whinehouse.  After 30 seconds, I hit triple fast-forward again.

Eva Mendes and Seth Rogen come out to give the Best Summer Movie That Hasn’t Been Seen Yet — out of the choices, are we surprised to hear “Transformers”?  Particularly after all of the subliminal stuff MTV has been doing all night?

The Transformers cast stays out to award the Best Performance to Johnny Depp for Pirates 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Finally, we reach the end of the show with one award left: Best Movie — the cast from Hairspray gives it to Pirates 2.  Not a bad choice, but not my first choice.

So, the show ends and I am left wondering if, like the Video Awards, the Movie Awards have become irrelevant in today’s MTV market?  Neither show can shock us anymore and both are showing their ages.  Or maybe it is simply another sign that I have long outgrown MTV…

Spiderman 3

There are three types of movies that had an effect on me early in life:

  • Star Wars — Seen during its first run in the theaters with my father. That Star Destroyer filling the screen had me hooked.
  • James Bond — Again a bonding (no pun intended) moment with my father at age 9 with Moonraker.

And then there is the third type: anything to do with superheroes.

My mother is to blame for this genre. She let me watch the Adam-West Batman series on afternoon TV, which led to watching The Superfriends on Saturday mornings. She also took me to my first superhero movie — the Adam-West Batman movie that the local public library was showing for free.

Since that time, I have tried to see every superhero movie I could. Even Batman and Robin…

Combine this love of the movie genre with the fact that my three favorite heroes growing up were Batman, Spiderman, and Green Lantern. So imagine back a few years ago when they first announced a new Spiderman franchise — I was excited.

Then the first one came out and it was tremendous.

Then the second one came out and I was just as pleased.

It’s at this point that I was lulled into delusion that maybe Spidey could avoid the “3″ curse.

What is the “3″ curse, you ask? Well, true believer, it is something I made up but is grounded in fact, as shown below:

  • Superman and Superman II were well-received; Superman III signified the ending of that chapter of the franchise.
  • Batman and Batman Returns did well enough; Batman Forever helped bring an end to Burton’s vision.
  • X-Men and X-Men 2 were also well-received; do you even remember watching X-Men 3?

So my delusional self did what it does for any big movie: I bought tickets for the midnight showing at AMC Altamonte so that I could be one of the first ones to see it in wide-release. My co-workers laughed at me doing that and my boss gave me one of those looks that said “You better not be late or call in because I know what you are up to.” The first warning bell should have gone off about the movie since I was able to get my ticket that afternoon — the other two had been sold-out for weeks.

I got to AMC at 10:30 and my Spidey-Sense was tingling. Where were all of the people? Oh, AMC let them into the theater early. I got my favorite seat and settled down. Since nothing was on the screen, I watched clips of the Muppet show on my Windows-Mobile device until the battery died. Luckily the First Look reel started, so I was ok.

At this point, you are probably wondering where my review is. Well, I wanted the buildup of the review to be in proportion to the hype of this movie.

I have tried to like this installment as much as the other two, but I can’t. For all of its budget, it seems as if the story-writing line item got left on the cutting room floor. I have joked with friends that Three’s Company seemed to have stronger plot-lines than Spidey 3 — while I did enjoy Three’s Company, it was only 22 minutes. A lot of emphasis was put into the fight scenes, showing that Sam Raimi had followed George Lucas’s recipe for Episodes I-III of Star Wars.

So, bullet-points of why I was disappointed:

  • The Superman III vibe — Battling his “bad” self to reclaim the good side, but let’s do some bad things first to get the public against him.
  • Repeating of Spidey 2 — the whole “Saturday Night Fever” sequence was a direct repeat of the “Raindrops” sequence.
  • Too many villains/Poor villain choice — There was no need for cramming in two villains that had no set-up from the other movies. Why not keep the B-story part of Harry and make Doc Connors/The Lizard the A-story? We had been setting that up for two films and I feel that is a promise unfulfilled from Raimi.
  • Gwen Stacy/Venom — Gwen and Venom felt forced. The way they are treated in the film, it is as if Raimi included them to make Spidey people happy since this would be his last Spidey film.
  • Unfulfilled plot points — why make a big deal of the suit if you are not going to explore how it is more powerful?

Overall, I walked away disappointed. Am I going to end up getting it on DVD? Yes, because I still love the genre, even if it disappoints me.

My advice: see it during AMCinema ($5) or at matinee price — it is still worth seeing in a decent theater on the big screen, just not full price…

Hot Fuzz

I hate zombie movies.

Huh? What does this have to do with a movie about police?

Well, for the past couple of years, my movie-watching pal, Spaldy, has tried to get me to watch Shaun of the Dead. I refused each time since I am not big fan of the horror genre. The conversation usually ends with her (in a playful way) mocking me about my choice.

Hot Fuzz is a new movie from the people who did Shaun of the Dead.

I got to see it at AMC Altamonte on Moviewatcher Wednesday. For those unfamiliar with Moviewatcher Wednesday, that means FREE POPCORN!!!!!

As I settle into my seat, I text-message Spaldy (now living in LA) about me getting ready to see it. The trailers start and this is the first time that every trailer shown is a movie I really want to see: Knocked Up; SuperBad; Death at a Funeral; Run, Fatboy, Run. This really makes me feel good about the movie choice I have made for the evening.

As the movie starts, I see the Studio Canal and Working Title logos. For those that do not know, I have enjoyed a majority of their films over the past 10 years, so again I am optimistic for the film.

Overall, I got exactly what I wanted out of Hot Fuzz — a fun movie that makes you forget about the world for 2 hours. Was it predictable at times? Yes. Did it matter? Not really. Our hero was a perfect straight man to the absurdity swirling around him. More importantly, the story was kept simple. From improv, I have learned that the audience wants a clear, simple story — they want to know who to root for and they want a happy ending. Does this drive paid movie critics insane? I am sure it does because it means that the same stories get released from Hollywood each year. The audience just wants to go and have fun.

Hot Fuzz delivers the fun.

My rating: it is worth full price at AMC or Regal. Light enough to take a date, with enough explosions to satisfy the action guys…

My thoughts on the world of movies…