The House Bunny

“The House Bunny,” directed by Fred Wolf and starring Anna Faris, isn’t much of a movie. It’s funny and sweet with a thoroughly predictable ending, but despite its somewhat lackluster premise, it’s got two things going for it: Faris and the women.

Faris just shines in her role as Shelley, a Playboy bunny who’s kicked out of the mansion on the morning of her 27th birthday for being too old. Suddenly homeless, and completely unable to function like a grown-up, she ends up at Zeta House, a sorority run by college campus misfits who are on the verge of losing their house.

Continue reading

In Good Company

“In Good Company,” the 2004 flick from writer/director Paul Weitz, is the definition of a mixed bag. What Weitz gets right is pretty good; what he gets wrong shows the missed opportunities that could have made the film better.

Dan (Dennis Quaid) is an old-school ad salesman for a sports magazine. In a shockingly prescient story, his parent company is not doing so well and is bought out by a mega-conglomerate. That’s not all of his worries; his oldest daughter, Alex (Scarlet Johansson), gets accepted to NYU and he promises her she can go not long after he finds out he and his wife are expecting another kid.

Continue reading

Courage and stupidity in “Year One”

Finally, the fates rewarded me with both time and funds and I was able to see “Star Trek” over my weekend. We’ve all heard the good things about it and the endless heaps of praise, yada yada yada.

Here’s my review in six words: It really is that frakkin’ good.

But, before I found that out, I was treated to a series of trailers, the most promising one being “Year One,” a comedy starring Jack Black and Michael Cera that premieres this summer.

As we all discovered last year, a good comedy is hard to come by. I’ve found that while most dramas can elicit some emotion, be it tears or anger (or anything in between), laughter is so much harder to evoke, probably because everyone will feel sad at a father’s death, but not everyone will laugh at a rake-to-the-face.

In my cynical movie-going heart, I know not to expect much from “Year One.” It looks that stupid, but there’s a part of me, that part that always seeks a way to bond with those fellow theatergoes, that wants the movie to be so ridiculously stupid that it becomes art.

A good example of the crazy, daring kind of stupid is “From Dusk Till Dawn.” It starts as a low-budget crime spree flick, and ends as a gory, showdown with vampires flick. Yes, it’s that stupid, but “From Dusk Till Dawn” had the courage to be that stupid, to just embrace the ridiculous nature of the plot and go forward.

It’s a tricky line to walk; done right, you get “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” Done wrong, you get “Napoleon Dynamite.” Or “Repo Man.” Trust me, we don’t need any more of that.

I’ll have to decide at the time, but hopefully “Year One” can be good stupid, absurd stupid, and not plain ol’ stupid stupid. Nobody laughs at that clown.

The Big Lebowski

It’s been a great year for the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan); earlier this year, their film “No Country for Old Men” took home five Oscars, bringing some industry legitimacy to the quirky duo.

And it’s been an even better year for their fans; with “No Country” a critical (if not box office) success, the brothers decided to stick to their roots and made “Burn After Reading,” a comedy filled with mainstream stars and greeted with generally positive reviews.

But Coen Brothers, this has not been a good year for you and me. In fact, I think this will be the year where I decide that we just have to go our separate ways.

Joel, Ethan, I’ve tried to like your films. I even own one (“O Brother, Where Art Thou), although I haven’t watched it since I bought it. I’ve approached them, good and bad, with a generally open mind and the whimsical spirit required, but it’s just not working out.
Continue reading

Tropic Thunder

So, yeah, I’ve been neglecting my blog for a little while now; my other project, The Dead Protagonists Society e-zine, just launched its second issue (shameless plug moment: send me an e-mail at deadprotagonists@gmail.com if you’d like a copy), and I spent most of November working on that. Add in a holiday trip to visit my family, and it’s been a very busy month.

But, it’s a brand new day (and my one-year anniversary, whoo-hoo!), so I’m back. Let’s get started.

Continue reading

The Triumph of Love

Well dear readers, my obsession with “Battlestar Galactica” is still going strong, but I made the effort over my weekend to watch a movie so I could post a legitimate review; so here we are at Clare Peploe’s “The Triumph of Love” (2001).

Here’s a story right out of Shakespeare; the Princess (Mira Sorvino) is the daughter of a usurping king, now deceased; when her father was in power, he kicked out the real king, imprisoned him and his pregnant queen and left them to die there. But things never go according to plan in these things; the baby was smuggled out and left with an intellectual hermit, Hermocrates (Ben Kingsley), and his sister Leontine (Fiona Shaw), to wait for the day when the rightful heir can take back the throne.

Continue reading

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Folks, I’m going to cop to a new level of geekery here; since I was a kid, I have loved “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the game, the text-based adventure game. Thanks to my dad, and his impromptu Christmas gift of an Infocom boxed set of games to my sister and me, I played that game for years. In fact, it took my 10 years to figure out how to get off the Heart of Gold, and I’ve loved that game ever since. (On a side note, I’ve read the books, but I didn’t find them as joyous as the game.)

So a few years ago, when I heard my game was coming to the big screen, I was pretty stoked, until I read some lukewarm reviews and saw some lackluster commercials and talked myself out of seeing it.

But three years later, I decided to give the movie a chance, and well, it’s a shame that the film is only half as much fun as the game.

Continue reading

Ghost World revisted

I have a confession to make.  I hated “Ghost World” when I first saw it, which was not too long after it came to DVD in 2001/2002.

At the time, I fully expected to like the movie; a tale of about high school’s outcasts post-graduation has ME written all over it. And seriously, what’s not to like here? It’s both funny and sad in real-life terms, and the acting, directing, writing are all top notch.

Continue reading