Posts Tagged comedy

Toy Story 3

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I cringed when I saw the first trailers for this one. I thought it stank of desperate money-grubbing, and that far too much time had passed since the first two films for the franchise to be relevant. I could not have been more wrong!!

Not only is this movie great, just as awesome as Toy Story and Toy Story 2, but what impressed me the most was the way all three movies fit together. Tone, characters, pacing, and design are all completely consistent. I don’t think the same can be said for any set of sequential movies. Think about that for a minute…it’s remarkable. Even sets where I like all 2 or 3 or 4 films, which is rare in the first place, those movies will vary wildly individually.  Aliens is very different from Alien; Back To The Future 3 is fully distinct from the original. Pixar seems to have lightning in a bottle, and good for them.

So, basically, if you loved the first Toy Story, you have got it made! If you disliked Toy Story, well, may your God have mercy on your shriveled, blackened soul.

Also, I can’t believe they got the real Andy. There are a lot of weepy moments in this, as Pixar’s favorite thing is to make me cry (yet I somehow don’t resent them for it).

A Serious Man

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The Coen brothers have this special hand with black comedy that is absolute perfection. I’m not going to say that they’re infallible; I genuinely thought their ship had sailed 10 years ago. The Man Who Wasn’t There was well-made but soul-crushing, Burn After Reading wasn’t nearly as adorable as it thought it was (except for the unexpectedly delightful Brad Pitt), and I was apparently the only person in the Western Hemisphere who actively disliked No Country For Old Men, *ptooie*.

But this movie…this movie is a gem. The story is fairly simple, a basic re-telling of Job. One by one, every part of Larry Gopnik’s nice little life goes to shit, and it is hilarious. You also feel just terrible for Larry, and that somehow makes it okay that you are delighting in his misery. Poor, poor Larry.  A different actor from Michael Stuhlbarg would have made Larry grating, or a loser, or made the whole thing too depressing. But Stuhlbarg’s big blue eyes, full of hope and disbelief make you reluctant to believe that it won’t all work out. He tries so hard to be rational, to do the right and compassionate thing at all times, seeking advice from all corners – surely it has to come right in the end?

Visually, this film is gorgeous and delightful. The cinematography is achingly beautiful in some spots, and set the rapidly-changing moods so perfectly.  The set design and costumes are so much fun! All the actors are enchanting, with this way of seamlessly flowing from a caricature to a deep, real character. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s because the majority of them are plucked from theater, not LA, and this is so what the talking pictures need nowadays.

I think there is a special meditation in this movie on the role of suffering, individually and collectively, in the Jewish community. Obviously, I miss a lot of the significance by not being Jewish, but conversely I also think this movie is trying to illustrate it for us non-Jews. The Coens leave a lot of doors open, spots for you to try to figure out what they meant and what might have happened next, and why. There’s a lot of why in this movie.

And if you’re familiar with the old joke about Job, you know both God’s answer to Job’s “why?” as well as the Coens’ answer: “Fuck if I know!”

Hot Tub Time Machine

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Much like Snakes On A Plane, a movie that spells its premise out in the title is helping its audience to be prepared. This movie is exactly what it purports to be: funny, a bit crude, slightly dumb, and lots of fun. It’s actually much sweeter and less raunchy than you might expect – sort of a 40-Year-Old Virgin Lite.

Glovershock!! I had no idea Crispin Glover was going to be in this, and he did not disappoint. All is forgiven for Alice In Wonderland, Crispy; you can come back home. Rob Corddry is clearly a genius, but until now I’ve not been that into him because his characters are usually really unpleasant (although hilarious). He’s usually on-screen for maybe 5 minutes at a pop, but having a full movie to shine really works for him and he develops a subtle warmth and depth to his character. Corddry has all the best jokes, and there are so very many. He is totally my boyfriend now. John Cusack plays a soulless douchebag, which doesn’t seem like a stretch. Also, the actor who represents Young Cusack looks just like he did in the 80s – freaky. Clark Duke, fresh off small parts in Superbad and Kick-Ass, is beautifully snarky and has replaced Michael Cera as my Sarcastic Awkward Nerd Boy Du Jour – his timing is perfection. Craig Robinson, just as adorable as on The Office. All the female roles are throwaways, but who thought this was going to be a feminist movie?

Oh, all the 80s fashion and pop music! It’s not the greatest movie ever made, I certainly don’t suggest you pay full price to see it, but it’s cute and fun if you like that sort of thing (and I do).

One more thing! There is a pleasantly and surprisingly decent bit of CGI towards the end – totally unexpected!

Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto)

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Adorable! Trying to summarize this movie makes it sound contrived and cutesy, but I swear it’s the opposite. Lonely, mildly alcoholic, cash-strapped middle-aged Italian dude caring for his elderly dramatic mother gets roped into hosting a passel of extra elderly, dramatic Italian ladies and throwing a dinner party for them – wacky antics ensue! It’s not slapstick, it’s not cloying, but neither is it heavy or manipulative. It’s just sweet, real, very funny, and man, do I love watching Italian people going about their Italian business. I would religiously watch this if it was a weekly television show.


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I don’t actually like Ben Stiller very much, just in general. I usually find him creepy and angry and strangely square-headed. Apparently, I’m supposed to find him charming and adorable and hilariously funny, so sometimes I don’t enjoy his movies because their premise rests on the audience assuming that he is charming, adorable, and hilarious.

In Greenberg, I am meant to think he’s creepy and angry (he’s gotten very skinny, so his head isn’t so square, so replace “square-headed” with “jutting-collarboned”). So although I don’t necessarily like him better, at least there is no cognitive dissonance to contend with. I do need to make the point that Ben Stiller playing a dude struggling with mental illness/emotional problems isn’t really any different  from Ben Stiller in, say, Meet The Fockers, and that shit is way less funny if you imagine your hilarious protagonist as needing serious in-patient treatment. But I digress…

This is probably a bit of an L.A. movie, in that everyone is pretty dull and detached, and no one really likes anybody else; they’d all be assholes if they could be bothered to try harder. What the fuck is it with that? Is everybody in L.A. autistic or have some kind of pragmatic language disorder? Or do those sorts of people gather together around filmmakers like fruit flies on bananas, so that’s what makes it onscreen? I’ve been wondering this since L.A. Story. Fictional people in New York all seem to have coherent thoughts and look other people in the eye, even while flipping them off and punching strangers in the face. But I digress again…

The girl in this, Greta Gerwig is undeniably adorable, although so dissociative and dense that I started to think she had some kind of  intellectual disability. Rhys Ifans, scruffy and cuddly as ever, seemed to be the only person who could focus his eyes. The tertiary cast is carefully selected from the best of Showtime’s series.

So anyway, this movie is fairly aimless and awkward, but clearly intentionally so, and watching Greenberg alternately try to succeed and try to fail at personal relationships is oddly compelling, even though you’re not really sure where it’s going. There are vaguely humorous moments, but it’s not meant to be funny-funny.

The ending, however, is unexpectedly light and undramatic yet cathartic.  I felt actually pretty positive about Greenberg and his struggles at the end, like he didn’t waste my time or his. But ultimately, I’d suggest re-watching Garden State instead.

There is an ailing dog in this movie, and just as a PSA I want you to know that nothing bad happens to him (because I personally worried the whole movie long).

Up In The Air

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I admit to being really put off by Hollywood hype; it’s really best if I get to the movie ahead of the hype, or else wait several months until nobody gives a care anymore. So I did go see this movie somewhat reluctantly. I did enjoy it, did find it a meaningful and exceptionally well-done film, and do feel considerably more positive about every single person associated with it (especially Jason Reitman and the cinematographer).

What I did not do was feel very involved or emotionally invested in the movie or its characters – ultimately, that’s a testament to the filmmaker’s prowess, because as our protagonist lives his life at a affectionate remove from other people, so I experienced his story at that same affectionate remove. Excellent movie that did not impact or stay with me at all.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

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I was curious how Wes Anderson would make an animated children’s movie, and the answer is very clear: exactly the way he makes all his movies. If you don’t like his movies, if you find them painfully awkward and self-consciously weird, you probably will not like this because, first and foremost, it’s a Wes Anderson flick. If you are fond of his films in all their geeky hipster glory, you will clap your hands like giddy schoolgirl at this one.

The stop-motion animation is a bit choppy and strange, and I say that as a devotee of the art form. It’s something about the knees that just isn’t right, but the urge to reach out and touch the animals surely means something is being done well. The dialog is snappy and adorably quirky, and the whole thing is just a super fun time. Where does George Clooney get off being charming and attractive when he isn’t even on the screen?!


A Town Called Panic

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this stop-motion animated Belgian…experience…is so deliciously loony and fun i can hardly stand it. i literally never knew what was happening next, but it all made an insane kind of sense and was logical within its framework of children’s fantasy logic. SO MUCH FUN!!!

it has a subtle adult sensibility about it, such that like classic Muppet Show episodes, there are hilarious implications that would fly unnoticed over the heads of the kids but warm the dark hearts of their parents.

The Big Lebowski

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behold: perfection.

Young Frankenstein

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