The Nasty Girl

First up, let’s address the unfortunate translation of “Das schreckliche Mdchen,” Michael Verhoeven’s 1990 film. The ‘nasty’ in the title is closer in meaning to something like mean or rude rather than any sexual meaning.

If that’s what you were thinking when you clicked on that link, sorry. You won’t find what you’re looking for here.

In case you decided to stick around, “The Nasty Girl” is about Sonja (Lena Stolze), a bright young German girl in the 1970s. She enters a Europe-wide essay contest while she’s in high school and wins the first prize for Germany. She gets a trip to Paris, a medal from the mayor and the admiration of friends and family alike.

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Year One

A while back, I wrote about the hope I held for “Year One,” that the film would be a good kind of stupid that’s fun to watch and not something that needs to be endured.

For the most part, I think the film delivered.

“Year One” starts off with our two cavemen heroes, Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera), trying to get two cavewomen babes, Eema (Juno Temple) and Maya (June Diane Raphael) to notice them. After an unfortunate series of events (Zed eats the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge), our heroes are kicked out of the village and must fend for themselves in the unknown world beyond.

They wander about, running into various Biblical characters (David Cross as Cain is a real treat), but once they discover that their loves have been sold into slavery in Sodom, they bravely (and foolishly) venture into the fortified city to save them.

For about an hour, this film really had me in its corner. It’s nothing special or extraordinary, but Black and Cera have comic stylings that I didn’t expect to work together but do. A lot of the Judd Apatow players show up and you can tell that they are all having a good time of this little distraction.

But that’s only the first hour of the movie. As my movie buddy pointed out (hi Jim!), the movie really slowed down once the plot kicked in.

Not too many movies will earn that criticism, but “Year One” would have been much better if it had stuck to its sketch-comedy roots and left the dumb (although at times funny) political-machinations plot to another movie.

Not unlike last week’s “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” more is less here; the last 30 minutes aren’t as painful as that movie’s third act, but I’m sure there was a better way to wrap the film up.

Better luck next time guys.

Want a different take? Check out Jim’s review.

“Year One”

Directed by Harold Ramis

Written by Harold Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg  

Starring: Michael Cera (Ooh)

Jack Black (Zed)

David Cross (Cain)

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

Readers, I have a confession to make; for about ten years, I’ve had a deep affection for Adam Sandler movies.

I once watched “The Waterboy” on a particularly awful day, and it made me feel better, and ever since then, I’ve never looked down on the guy. He’s funny, and while he does make crap movies, they are funny when done right (“Happy Gilmore” and “The Waterboy” being two stupid-fun highlights).

So, when I wanted a movie that was funny and stupid (and “Year One” wasn’t available), I turned to “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”

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Phoebe in Wonderland

Go see “Phoebe in Wonderland.”

I understand if you’re a little turned off by the cutesy premise of a little girl who imagines herself a modern-day Alice in Wonderland after getting the lead in her school play. But if you promise to keep reading, I’ll let you in on a secret.

Still with me? That’s not what the movie is really about.

I know, a trailer lied to us! Shocker.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

One month after its release, I finally got to see “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Yeah!!!!!!!!!!

For an HP super-fan, that was quite the wait. And while I’m still thrilled to pieces that David Yates has taken the reins of the series (and will direct the last two movies), HBP wasn’t as good as “Order of the Phoenix.”

Lots to love here though.

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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.

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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.

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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.

W.

I’m going to start this review with a bit of geek rant; feel free to skip ahead if you can’t stomach it. I won’t judge you.

I’ve said before in this blog and elsewhere that Laura Roslin is my favorite character on the reimagined “Battlestar Galactica.” A lot of that comes down to the fact that I’ve been a Mary McDonnell fan for years, so it wasn’t a big leap for me.

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Osama

While watching Siddiq Barmak’s “Osama” (2003), I kept getting thinking about Ursula K. Le Guin’s seminal ’60s novel “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

The novel takes place on a planet named Winter where gender doesn’t exist. All of the natives are essentially hermaphrodites; they appear masculine for the majority of the time, but during kemmer (think a menstrual cycle or heat), two people mate and by luck of the draw, one will be a female and one will be male (in a curious side note, if the two reproduce, parental rights and lineage go to the mother).

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