[Movie Review] Ted (2012)

Ted is the relatively simple tale of boy and toy, seen through the sometimes perverse, but often hilarious eyes of Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad). MacFarlane, who directs and provides the voice of the title character (a teddy bear brought to life through a young boy’s Christmas wish), gives us a comedy that stands out not only because it’s MacFarlane’s first live action directed feature, but because it also ironically takes what would seem to be the plot of a G-rated movie and converts it into R-rated glory packed with MacFarlane’s signature brand of pop culture laden crude humor. Ted is exactly what you’d expect– funny and simple– but with a surprising ability to blend its fantastical premise with some genuine emotion.

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[Movie Review] The Town (2010)

The Town is Ben Affleck’s directorial follow-up to his impressive debut Gone Baby Gone. Where his previous film was perhaps a bit grimier and grittier, The Town boasts all the obvious step-ups in production value. The chases are slicker, and explosions are more grand, and it’s yet another Bostonian Crime film that holds your emotions in the palm of its hand for the entire two hours.

Ben Affleck gets a pretty bad rep from a lot of people who claim that his acting is hollow or wooden. Those folks made the mistake of thinking movies like The Sum of All Fears or Paycheck were going to be anything more than big-budget, special effects-laden popcorn flicks. Affleck never proved to be the weak link in his weaker films, and since turning his focus behind the camera he has shown a real great sense of telling a compelling and engaging story. In all honesty, Ben Affleck directs the movies Clint Eastwood would direct with an extra shot of adrenaline, a pair of testicles, and minimal sentimentality. With The Town, we are presented with an area (The Charlestown area of Boston) where it immediately becomes obvious that crime is the only real career choice for work.

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[Movie Review] She’s Out of My League (2010)

She’s Out of My League stars Jay Baruchel as Kirk, a nerdy guy who works in an airport who works with all of his best friends. He finds a lost iPhone that happens to belong to a hot “perfect 10” named Molly. When he returns it to her they hit it off and begin a relationship, despite the obvious difference in their public statuses.

The movie fails to highlight the genuine attraction that Molly would have for Kirk at first, and only later begins to explain that she’s looking for a guy who isn’t going to hurt her in a long term relationship. Of course, Kirk is more than happy to reap the benefits by dating a girl obviously out of his league.

The chemistry between Baruchel and Molly (Alice Eve) is decent, but the problem lies with Baruchel’s inability to carry a movie by himself. I’m not a huge fan of his usually, and he provides little here to believe he can ever be anything more than a peripheral character in a comedy. He doesn’t play the awkward guy as well as some might think, and it’s somewhat annoying at points here. Still, Kirk is a decently honest guy who realizes his great luck, and he’s not terrible.

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[Movie Review] I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (2010)

One of my first reviews for this site was a book review on Tucker Max’s autobiographical recounting of several stories of varying debauchery. The first time through, the book is a raucous, sleazy, often hilarious journey through this guy’s life as basically a championship asshole. The book doesn’t hold up as well as I’d anticipated on subsequent readings once  the initial shock and hilarity wears off, but that first go around is fantastic.

And then I heard they were optioning it into a film, and I got worried. Were my fears justified? Unfortunately, they were.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell isn’t a completely terrible movie by any means, it’s just a majorly frustrating one. The book works on the strength of the series of stories Max has to tell, and the differences between them. They’re short, they flow well, and are entertaining as hell. The film decides to structure itself into one long narrative focusing on Tucker’s friend Dan’s Bachelor Party and subsequent wedding, while throwing in pieces of stories from the book that I didn’t recognize as being connected, mainly because they aren’t. Everything in the film is based on a true Max story, but the overall narrative of the movie is tailored to connect the dots of stories that aren’t exactly connected. I hate that approach, and it seems lazy and blatantly disrespectful of its intended audience (i.e., people who read the book).

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[Movie Review] Survival of the Dead (2010)

George A. Romero is and will always be the Godfather of the Dead. He basically single handedly invented and popularized the modern zombie through films like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead, and while there have been countless takes on the zombie genre ever since Romero found massive success, no one has even come close to creating a film as entertaining or memorable as Romero’s earlier works.

Time and time again Romero has proven himself the king of the zombie film, constantly providing undead lovers like myself with the most entertaining, gory and thought-provoking zombie movies there are. In 2009, he released Diary of the Dead, a film that was definitely my least favorite of Romero’s works. It was a good film, but sadly it strayed too far from what made his earlier works, including 2005’s Land of the Dead, so fantastic. It was like when a band comes out with an “experimental” album. So when I saw early trailers for Survival, boasting a glorious return to form for the visionary director, I got very excited.

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[Movie Review] Deadgirl (2008)

Zombie movies are for many, myself included, their very own genre of film. You’ve got horror films, thrillers, suspense, and many different variations of the scary movie. Separated from all of them by category is the Zombie movie. It’s something that’s had many different takes by many different writers and directors, lead in quality and execution by the legendary George A. Romero, director and screenwriter of the “of the Dead” series of films — Night, Dawn, Day, Land, Diary and Survival — all of which serve as the basic building blocks for any Zombie movie that hopes to reach anything higher than garbage.

And still, despite being around since the premier of White Zombie in 1932 and popularized to peak heights with the release of Night of the Living Dead in 1968, some directors are finding new and unique takes on the zombie movie genre. Case in point – Deadgirl. It is certainly a zombie film, but unlike any I’ve ever seen. No hoards of living dead, very little flesh consumption, no head shots, and no apocalypse. What does Deadgirl offer instead? Zombie sex. And lots of it.

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[Movie Review] Toy Story 3

Fifteen years between the first  film of a trilogy and the culminating final installment is quite a long piece of time within the Hollywood machine. But somehow, Toy Story, not only manages to succeed in the face of a sure demise, they actually manage to craft a film that elevates the entire franchise from “Much Loved” to “Greatest of All-Time”.

Go ahead and try to come up with a true film franchise with at least two movies that matches the overall success and originality of Toy Story. Seriously, go ahead and try. I’ll wait.





Come up with anything?

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[Movie Review] Splice (2010)

Splice is a tricky, tricky film. While some advertisements would lead you to believe it’s a horror movie that focuses on the simple scares of stuff popping out from the darkness accompanied by loud, almost verbose music, those advertisements are deceptive, as Splice is actually a very well crafted film that is thought provoking and even somewhat topical.

I would imagine most people who are very interested in this film are because of the way it was marketed. It’s not a slasher movie, it’s not a monster movie. It’s a science fiction horror film, and it wears those hats very blatantly once the movie begins. The tone of the film is never to scare you by simply startling you, it’s one that requires a bit of thinking to go along with its ride.

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[Movie Review] Kick-Ass

kick ass movie

Dave Lisewski is  the traditional high-school ghost. He exists only to his friends, fantasizes about his English teacher, has a crush on a hot girl, hangs out at a comic book store, and so on. Dave starts to wonder out loud why nobody ever tries to be a super hero. So he buys a scuba suit, starts a MySpace account, and begins trying to do it.

Only it goes terribly wrong right out of the gate because he has no power, no training, and no real skills. As Kick-Ass, he usually ends up getting his ass kicked (as Big Daddy loves to point out), and he contemplates quitting numerous times. But it’s the desire to do good that compels him to continue down his chosen path of masked vigilante. He meets some other avengers along the way, and ends up involved in a very personal battle with Frank D’Amico, the father of one of his classmates and criminal mastermind. Continue reading

[Movie Review] Couples Retreat

couples retreat reviewSometimes I like to punish myself by laboring through movies I have no interest in, just to see what the general movie going populous seems to enjoy. I feel it’s a valuable trait in a reviewer to not only review stuff you are expecting to enjoy, but to review stuff you might not be as excited about. However, these usually seem to be self-fulfilling prophecies when it comes to movies because Couples Retreat is freaking terrible.

The premise is as paper thin as paper thin it gets. A group of friends go to an island resort to investigate their relationships. There is the couple on the verge of divorce, the couple that is happy on the surface, the high school sweethearts who now loathe each other, and the recent divorcee and his young girlfriend. Stereotypical relationships to be sure, but with good writing those stereotypes would at the least be  humorous (which I’m guessing was the intent). Continue reading