Movie Catch-Up of 2010, Part 2

Big news!

It’s been a couple months since we did one because the interest was starting to die off, but there will be a PopRox live chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday to talk about the Oscar nominations. The ceremony to announce the awards is 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. So watch the ceremony or read about it, digest all the information, then I’ll come around at 11 to talk snubs, favorites and all things Oscar. It will be at poconorecord.com/chat. I’m working on making sure it’s not behind the paywall, but I can’t promise anything.

The Oscars are only the suggested topic — any and all pop culture topics are up for discussion as always. See you then!

Some lingering thoughts for four movies I really wanted to see when they came out on DVD in the last few weeks/months — but I’m regretting seeing some of them:

if you're with this girl, you must smile. it's a new rule, i just made it up.

if you're with this girl, you must smile. it's a new rule, i just made it up.

THE AMERICAN: I feel like I’m being a bit of a hypocrite. I’ve nearly stuck a plastic bag over my head a hundred times complaining that Hollywood’s biggest actors don’t take chances, they just play themselves and collect a paycheck dozens of times in a row. But two of the biggest people who stepped out of their comfort zones and took major chances on interesting, decidedly different roles in 2010 — Ben Stiller in Greenbergand George Clooney in The American — I’ve hated. Not so much Clooney as Stiller, but still, Clooney isn’t likable, hate-able, redeemable, help-able or relatable in The American. Shouldn’t he be one of those things to make me feel something for him? I guess I need my favorite actors to do something — ANYTHING— for me to be interested. But in The American, Clooney says about as many words as Jimmy Chitwoodand has exactly one facial expression — serious. No smiles, no sadness, no anger — just serious. Which is actually the point, since he’s built up as an emotionless freak of an assassin that doesn’t mind shooting his girlfriend in the back on the off chance she might have dimed him out. OK, I get it. But when he’s having emotionless sex with a gorgeous prostitute, can’t he at least show a tooth of a smile? No guy can understand that, and it turns off every woman watching. GRADE: C

THE OTHER GUYS: Let’s go-ahead and place broad Will Ferrell comedies into two categories — before 2008 and 2008 and after. Before 2008, he was lazily going from role to role, prudently cashing in as the Hot Comedic Actor of the Moment with any script that landed at his doorstep There were some exceptions — mostly just Old School — but for the most part, his comedies were weak and starred Will Ferrell as Will Ferrell. Yeah, that includes Anchorman, Elf and Talladega Nights, none of which are nearly as funny as people want to believe they are. Then there are the out-and-out abominations like Kicking and Screaming, Bewtiched and Blades of Glory that shouldn’t be viewed by anyone, anytime. Then comes 2008, and things start looking up. The criminally underrated Semi-Pro, Step Brothers and, now, The Other Guys, have saved Ferrell from turning into another lame Adam Sandler clone and turned him instead into a rare Hollywood comedian — one that makes movies that are actually funny. There are still misfires (*cough* Land of the Lost *cough* *cough*) — but for the most part, Ferrell has been the funniest guy in Hollywood for the last three years. Wait, did you notice that? I just mentioned 11 Will Ferrell comedies off the top of my head. Four good ones (Old School, Semi-Pro, Step Brothers and The Other Guys) and seven poopcicles (Anchorman, Elf, Talladega Nights, Kicking and Screaming, Bewitched, Blades of Glory and Land of the Lost). See any links? The four good ones are decidedly adult, the seven bad ones are pretty close to family films. OK, not Anchorman, Blades of Glory or Talladega Nights so much, but they’re certainly suitable for 14-year-old teen viewing. I wouldn’t let a 14-year-old watch the trailer for Step Brothers. The lesson? Will Ferrell should be hooked up to a machine that electroshocks him every time he considers making a movie even remotely associated with Disney. Other Guys was hysterical, even if the story was lazy, silly and treated as if it didn’t even belong in the movie. It’s almost like they had this treasure trove of great jokes, but couldn’t figure out a way to put them all together. So they wrote down the 60 or so great jokes first, then splattered in the rest of the plot later and hoped that you didn’t notice. Well, I noticed — I just didn’t care as much as I should have because the jokes really were that funny. Throw in the resurrection of Michael Keaton’s comedy career, and I’m willing to look past the total lack of an interesting, plausible or even comprehensible plot. And the seemingly one-note joke of how a dull Will Ferrell could score Eva Mendes as a wife? It didn’t get old either. GRADE: B.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD: Good for Michael Cera, he finally graduated movie high school! Seemed like it would take forever. He’s been really close — a couple senior years in Juno and Superbad — but he could never really break through that high school barrier. So what does he do with the first of his major movies where he’s not just out of high school, but out of college? He dates a high school girl! It only lasts for about 15 minutes, but I just couldn’t get over that. It clouded my opinion of the rest of the movie. Then there is the Mary Elizabeth Winstead character of Ramona Flowers, who obviously isn’t attracted to Cera’s Scott Pilgrim and blows him off at every turn of his courtship. It’s pretty obvious she finds him unattractive and undateable. Trust me, girls have given me that look on a pretty consistent basis. That look sure ain’t one that gives off any inclination of relationship hope. Which is fine, there are hundreds of movies based on that very premise, where the girl comes around and realizes what a great guy he is, blah blah blah. But all of those movies have a “click” moment where the girl realizes what’s been in front of her — Scott Pilgrim vs. the World doesn’t have one of click moments. She goes through the entire movie feeling nothing more than slight apathy for this guy who’s making a complete ass of himself throwing himself at her. On top of that, he gets the the snot beat out of him for her — and she never really says, “OK, so that’s your fourth broken rib in these fights with my exes, I give up, let’s go steady.” You need the click moment! If that wasn’t bad enough, then they jack the final five minutes of Something About Mary sans the laughs of George Michael getting randomly shot. That’s right, I said George Michael! Not the singer George Michael, but George Michael Bluth. Maybe more people are getting in touch with Arrested Development now that IFC is playing it pretty consistently. Whatever. But whenever Cera makes a crappy movie, I’ll be calling him George Michael. George Michael, George Michael, George Michael!!! GRADE: C-. And as long as we’re making fun of Cera, might as well make fun of him for what George Michael was always made fun of for on AD …

it's the movie that's just all right

it's the movie that's just all right

KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: I’m calling this the Brokeback Mountain of 2010 movies — and not because it’s about a lesbian couple vs. Brokeback’s gay couple. It’s because the more I think about it, the more I’m cheering against it at awards shows and am getting increasingly sick of all the flawless reviews that were thrown at it last summer. Just like my Brokeback Mountain experience, I watched Kids Are All Right and immediately liked it a good deal. But two days later, I started wondering, “Wait, why did I like it?” I liked Annette Bening, liked Julianne Moore better, thought the script was clean and thought the scene where (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Bening found out about Moore’s indiscretions was intensely well-done. (OK COME BACK.) But  just like Brokeback, it’s the equivalent of an afternoon Lifetime movie with better actors. Apparently no one sent this memo out, so maybe I have to — just because a character is gay, that doesn’t make them interesting. Straight characters aren’t interesting just because they’re straight either. They need some kind of ethos or spirit that makes us want to submerge ourselves into their lives. I’d like to think the gay movement has gotten far enough that seeing a lesbian couple with a son and daughter in a movie isn’t very shocking anymore. So what you’re left with is a family going through a spat of infidelity and not much more. Basically, Kids Are All Right isn’t that much different from … Match Point? Fatal Attraction? Isn’t something like Indecent Proposal a more interesting premise of marital infidelity than tracking down a sperm donor? And isn’t Kids Are All Right kinda the same thing as Made In America? Well, not the same movie, but the same premise, in the same way that Tropic Thunder is a copy off of The Three Amigos. KAAR is worth watching because it’s mildly entertaining, but it’s certainly not funny and it’s not nearly as uplifting as it’s advertised to be. GRADE: B-

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