I’ve been tearing through movies lately with some good and not-so-good results. As always, they are linked to their Rotten Tomatoes pages if you are looking for other (and usually better) opinions:
Ratatouille: I don’t know what it is about Disney and Pixar cartoons — I just can’t get into them. Every time a new one comes out, the reviews pretty much goad me into seeing it, even though I know I’m not going to like it. I hear all my friends tell me, “Hey, there are a lot of jokes for adults, not just kids!” I fall for it every time time. I didn’t like Toy Story — which featured one of my favorite actors, Tom Hanks, and one of my favorite writers, Joss Whedon, so why would I like any of the other movies? Even my admitted man-crush Dave Foley couldn’t get me to like A Bug’s Life. So guess what I thought of Ratatouille (a clear wife pick)? Yeah, not much. I guess it was kinda funny and I cna see how kids would eat this stuff up, because no Pixar movie yet has pandered to kids. No Pixar movie breaks it down and talks to kids in baby talk they all hate. But for adults, well, maybe some will like it. Or maybe they’re just used to feeling like they get bored at kids movies and they finally have something that isn’t that bad. But not that is bad is still not good. As a kid’s movie: A-. As a movie for me: C-.
Superbad: I was scared. After truly hating Knocked Up, I thought this would follow the same downward Judd Aptow spiral he seemed doomed to be on. But from the get-go, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I think it needs another viewing because I somehow think I was in a giggly mood, but I estimated at least 50 decent laughs and 20 belly laughs — and almost every belly laugh had something to do with McLovin, maybe my favorite character of the year. I thought we had seen it all in the trailers from McLovin, but boy was I wrong. For some reason, everything that came out of the kid’s mouth to me was a riot. I’m had been considering changing my basketball fantasy teams names to McLovin until Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock gave us the genius “handbags and hand grenades” last week. Jonah Hill grates a little, but every guy has a friend like this guy, so at least it’s relatable. Easily my funniest movie of the year, I hadn’t laughed that hard at a movie since Wedding Crashers. But I’ll give you the warning that it is probably a guy movie, I’m not quite sure women would find it as funny as we do. And the middle scenes without McLovin — and even some with him — bring the movie to a near-standstill. Still, too funny to pass up. A-
Eastern Promises: Am I the only one who hears “Viggo” and thinks about the demi-god from “Ghostbusters II?” Yes? Shoot. Well, that’s always distracting to me in a Viggo Mortensen movie. But I was over it in 10 minutes on this one, because Viggo is something else in this. I’ve never been a huge fan of his — I always said Angel could kick Eragon’s butt — but never hated him. And I think director David Cronenberg is a hack among hacks, I haven’t ever liked anything of his. But finally, Eastern Promises becomes my first Cronenberg favorite. Former Pocono Record photographer Mark Genito saw this in September in the theater and called to see if I had seen it. He said he really liked it, but as usual, Cronenberg didn’t finish the movie. I disagree. I think this may be the best and easiest Cronenberg ending to decipher. And unlike other Cronenberg efforts — and dozens of other movies this year — it runs at a tantalizing and easy 100 minutes. Perfect. It will be fighting for a spot on my top 10. A-
Wind That Shakes the Barley: This came out last February in the theaters and in August on DVD, but I just got around to watching it. It’s Cillian Murphy as a somewhat reluctant IRA recruit in the early 1920s, who turns out to be a zealot by the end of the movie, pitted against his brother, who recruited him, but decided to join the establishment once the Brits were kicked out of Ireland. I liked it OK, but I just didn’t get the tension from the brothers that I thought I was supposed to. Or the love. Or any discernable relationship. So while my wife was bawling, I was wondering what I missed. You can’t just make a movie and think the most important relationship is going to be impactful just because it’s there — it needs development and true emotion. I never saw it. And I didn’t like the random crack at the Catholic Church with 10 minutes left to go in the movie. If anyone is gonna denounce the Church, it’s gonna be me. But all in all, not too shabby. I like the sweeping history, and apparently much of this was filmed in the area my great-grandparents are from, so that was interesting. B-
Tomorrow I should have finally watched the first two episodes of Sarah Connor Chronicles and I’ll drop in two cents about the returns of Prison Break and nip/tuck.