Archive for May, 2010

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.

Iron Man 2

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If you sandwich together the first Iron Man and Iron Man 2, I think you would find them like a night out at the club with Lindsay Lohan. In the beginning, she’s the life of the party – telling jokes, exuding charm, people are excited to meet her and wanting autographs. Several hours later, her jokes are mean and no one laughs but you, she might have thrown up a little in the bathroom after heaving a bottle at the bouncer’s head but GODDAMN IT WE ARE HAVING FUN STOP CRYING.

The joy of the first movie is just gone, but Favreau forces it rather than tell a different story. There’s a faint whiff there that suggests he wanted to go a bit Dark Knight with it, but either failed miserably or the studio forced him to try to clone the mood of the first movie.  Too many long takes stretch the narrative to the breaking point – this is an ADHD movie franchise, pal; you need to hit it and quit it. The effects are good, of course, but frankly all the robots looked too similar and when every other scene consists of blurry hunks of metal flying through the air at each other, I get really annoyed trying to keep straight which hunk of a metal is which. It just got boring. Oh, and John Favreau? You’re not Tarantino, and even he is annoying with his constant onscreen cameos.

Mickey Rourke is pretty great when he’s alone in a scene, and I have to give him props for dressing like Keith Richards but being an extremely believable physicist,  yet his total inability to connect with any other actor does not seem like a character choice. Sam Rockwell and Don Cheadle are miserably underused and don’t shine like they usually do. RDJ and Gwyneth Paltrow are very good, they both seem to have a rock-solid grip on their characters.

I haven’t been on the Scarlett Johansson boat for a long time, but I liked her quite well here. She looks great but manages to carry off her role as though she weren’t just a set of tits in a jumpsuit. She does well with her fight scenes, but makes me miss Eliza Dushku. Scarlett just doesn’t follow through on her moves in a realistic way, although she’s clearly very agile and fast. I’d buy her as a ninja, but she’s not kicking anyone’s ass.

So, overall disappointing but not unwatchable. Worth renting so that you’re prepared for Iron Man 3, and for the Silver Fox cameo,  but…meh.