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The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
Raunchy, Funny And Entertaining
Although not perfect, this raunchy comic re-visiting of the 1972 Elaine May film goes a long way towards restoring the edgy reputation that writers/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly cultivated with their earlier work, particularly "There's Something About Mary" and "Kingpin" (before Judd Apatow stepped in and claimed the mantle with "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up"). It's definitely not for all tastes and some may find it a tad too cynical and bitter, especially in its twist ending (which I won't reveal here, but will definitely divide viewers...for the record, I loved it). But the film delivers some honest-to-goodness belly laughs along the way, along with a few scenes guaranteed to gross-out and/or shock any thin-skinned audience member who may wander in unaware of the directors' reputation.
One observation...I find it curious that it seems a lot of critics are NOW referring to the 1972 film as something of a "comedy classic" in the wake of this remake. I can't recall very many of them mentioning that film when the subject (or even the occasional critics poll, unofficial or not) of "classic comedies" pops up. To be fair, I haven't seen the 1972 film, but I do understand that they differ substantially aside from the basic premise. That said, I believe they both should be judged separately and on each others' merits.
Club Dread (2004)
Good Slasher Spoof
A pretty entertaining spoof of 80s-style slasher flicks that captures the cheesy look and feel of the genre while poking savage fun at the clichés simultaneously. Like Broken Lizard's previous film, the unexpected cult hit "Super Troopers," the overall style is crude and slapdash, almost as if the guys were making it all up as they went along. Jay Chandrasekahr's "direction" tends to lack momentum, making for a few slow spots here and there, but the crazy cast of characters and a fair amount of unpredictability more than compensate. It also doesn't stint on the blood and gore, making for a few effective shock sequences. If you're a fan of the genre, you'll definitely want to give it a look.
Effective Time Killer
"Paparazzi" is the cinematic equivalent of junk food. It's all fairly contrived and manipulative, but slick, fast-paced and entertaining enough to satisfy. Tom Sizemore chews ACRES of scenery as the chief baddie and Cole Hauser displays great charisma, reminiscent of a young Paul Newman. It's not as sleazy as it COULD have been (which, depending on your own personal viewpoint, is either good or bad) but some scenes do seem to have more than a little ring of truth to them. Tightly directed and edited (it's over and done in less than 90 minutes), "Paparazzi" is a minor film, to be sure, but there are way worse ways to spend your time. Look for Cole Hauser to move on to bigger and better scripts.
The Missing (2003)
Surprisingly tough and violent coming from director Ron Howard (although he DOES have "Ransom" to his credit also), this hybrid of occult thriller/western will remind many buffs somewhat of John Wayne's classic "The Searchers." "The Missing" isn't really in that category, but it still is a remarkably gripping drama with more than it's share of surprises. A little more judicious editing might have helped pare down the few slow spots (the movie feels about 15 or 20 minutes too long)but the performances, wonderful photography and riveting action scenes make up for the flaws. *** [3 stars]
Hollow Man (2000)
First-rate science fiction-horror with Kevin Bacon at his cocky/smarmy/creepy best as a brilliant scientist with something of a God complex, who discovers the secret of invisibility but is ultimately driven homicidally mad when he can't find a way to reverse the process. Plenty of psychological insight into his character, along with some truly eye-dazzling special effects, a dollop of dark humor and strong, typically over-the-top direction from Paul Verhoeven make this a tremendously entertaining yarn. The script might have been even better if the writers had taken Sebastian Caine out of the laboratory setting just a time or two more, but this a small quibble.
Lowbrow humor to spare in this low-budget knock-off of "The Last Detail." Undemanding fun...Hopper's direction is loose and raunchy (he also scores in a brief role as a horny traveling lingerie salesman) and Tom Berenger is great as a gruff, crusty military man stuck performing a transport detail with a scheming, wet-behind-the-ears private in tow. Don't expect a classic and you might be pleasantly surprised. Hardly a classic for the ages, but still quite enjoyable if you enter with lowered expectations. Plenty of clichés, but a few memorably funny sequences and some funny lines make it worth watching. Eleniak's considerable physical charms on full display don't hurt either.
There Goes My Baby (1994)
A fair-to-middling period piece, "There Goes My Baby" was written and directed by Floyd Mutrux roughly 14 years after he wrote/directed the cult comedy classic "The Hollywood Knights." Basically, "There Goes My Baby" is the same story as "Hollywood Knights," minus the humor; it's more serious-minded but also a bit bland and unmemorable by comparison It IS interesting for film buffs to watch the two films back to back and see just how similar they are.
Not bad, but if you're looking for pure entertainment, choose "Hollywood Knights."
Scott's Directorial Debut
George C Scott stars and makes his directorial debut in this tense but ultimately pointless drama about a peaceful rancher who goes on a rampage of revenge after a botched military nerve-gas experiment conducted over his land leads to the death of his young son. You can feel Scott's character's frustration as he's lied to and stone-walled from every angle by the military bureaucrats who want to cover up the incident. Scott knows how to keep things moving and shows some stylish touches in the director's chair, but he can't keep the ending from being disappointing and unsatisfying. Still, all said, it's a fairly absorbing ride while it lasts. It's a movie that will likely stay with you long after the end credits roll.
The premise (although nothing really new) had potential, but this movie was just dull, tedious, uninvolving and UNSCARY!! William Malone's directorial style seemed pretty neat and inventive in his last film ("The House On Haunted Hill" remake) but grew pretty annoying here....WHY does every scene have to be filmed in near-darkness??? It's hard to care about the characters and what's happening to them when you can't even see them half the time!!! Don't waste YOUR time....skip this turkey. My rating: * star.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Flashy production design and visual effects aside, "Pluto Nash" is a largely inconsequential movie. There are a few funny throwaway moments in the script by Neil Cuthbert ("Mystery Men"), but the plot, which tries to combine whiz-bang sci-fi action, comedy and gangster elements is rather blah and forgettable. Why Eddie Murphy chose this script is a mystery, because he's not really given any opportunities to unleash his unique brand of wise-cracking comic pizzazz. Most of the funniest bits belong to Randy Quaid, playing Murphy's automatonic bodyguard. Director Ron Underwood does what he can to keep the mindless proceedings moving swiftly and efficiently Not terrible; kids may go for it and it may play better on TV, but it's definitely mediocre at best. It's not hard to see why Warner Bros. let it sit on the shelf for better than a year. The powers-that-be clearly saw that "Pluto Nash" would be scant competition against other Summer blockbusters. My rating: ** stars
The Master of Disguise (2002)
Master Of Disguise
Dana Carvey is capable of comic genius, and his many impersonations in this movie provide a few laughs, but the movie itself is rather disappointing. The script is threadbare and not near as inventive as the many disguises Carvey inhabits. The whole movie feels suspiciously stitched-together and it's a good bet that a lot of material hit the cutting-room floor (a suspicion further enhanced by the short running time; it clocks in at just over 80 minutes, with a good 10 of those stretched out over the end credits with various outtakes and bloopers). There are moments of inspired lunacy here and Carvey is to be commended for attempting to make the movie suitable for all age groups, but if he'd spent just a bit more time on his script, he might have found himself with a lucrative franchise ala his former SNL and "Wayne's World" buddy Mike Myers. Hopefully next time out he will connect with a script worthy of his considerable talents. "TURTLE TURTLE!!" My rating: ** stars
A Bona-Fied TV Classic!
This show definitely has re-written the book on intelligent and credible suspense on TV. Extremely well acted, written and directed. Truly gripping, heart-stopping suspense from one hour to the next. The show is so well done that you can easily forgive the very few plot devices that seem a little weak. When a show gets 99% of everything right, it's very hard to quibble. Keifer Sutherland has never been better as the flawed hero. "24" deserves to be a model on which all future TV suspense thrillers can be compared to. A+++
Teenage Caveman (2002)
Just Plain BAD!
What could have (and SHOULD have) been a minor "guilty pleasure" turns out to be a pointless, pretentious, heavy-handed mixture of violence, soft-core sex, pseudo-religious symbolism and end-of-civilization cliches that turns excrutiatingly boring before the movie even hits the halfway point. Director Larry Clark has courted his share of controversy in the past with the in-your-face cinema-verite of "Kids" and "Bully," which were not perfect, but WERE often so raw and uncompromising, you couldn't stop watching them. "Teenage Caveman" is just a plotless, directionless mess with nothing to offer anybody. My rating: * star.
Earth vs. the Spider (2001)
Mediocre At Best
It took four writers to come up with the story, which turns out to be a cheap, stupid ripoff of "Spiderman" and "The Fly." Nothing much in the plot is interesting or makes much sense. The special effects are pretty cheesy (maybe deliberately so), and there's little in the way of quality acting...Dan Ackroyd and Teresa Russell are wasted in such shallowly written roles. Watch David Cronenberg's "The Fly" or wait until the new Sam Raimi-directed "Spiderman" movie hits theatres to see how this material should REALLY be handled! My rating * 1/2 stars.
Joe Somebody (2001)
"Joe Somebody" is a movie nearly as unassuming as it's protagonist. The premise was certainly ripe for a feel-good family comedy...perhaps a more grown-up version of "My Bodyguard?" But the script by John Scott Sheppard is rather dull and unimaginative. Thinly written, with no memorable dialogue at all and totally predictable, the film squeaks by on a few scattered laughs and a little bit of charm. Director John Pasquin can't seem to do much to juice up the overly familiar story or give it any momentum. The whole thing is frustrating as it plods along and ultimately fails to build to any satisfying climax. You'll feel pretty much short-changed at the end. And Tim Allen seems out of place playing a shy, insecure schlub. As he's shown in the past, on TV's "Home Improvements" and in other films such as "The Santa Clause" and the (much superior) "Galaxy Quest," he's much better as the snarky, smart-alecky, slightly foolhardy macho man that's closer to the persona he exudes in his stand-up routine. The movie's real comic secret weapon is Jim Belushi, who appears to be the only cast member to make the most of the situation and milk maximum laughs out of the bland and blah script. Despite my carpings, this movie is not exactly terrible, and it's certainly fit for family viewing, but it IS disappointing and mostly forgettable. It looks and plays like a standard TV movie and might play better there. I don't imagine many repeat viewings, however. My rating: ** stars
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Mindless, Vulgar Fun...No More, No Less!!
Just like "Scary Movie" and its sequel, "Not Another Teen Movie" isn't so much a real movie with a plot as it is a string of verbal and visual gags and puns, pop culture references and raw, juvenile, gleefully vulgar humor. Most of the gags here are obvious and even lazy (it took more than 6 writers to concoct the script!) and the subject matter will definitely not be everyone's cup of tea. The scatter-shot nature of movies like these assures that the quality will always be wildly uneven, but if you're a fan of the movies being spoofed here (examples/targets which span over more than 20 years), you're sure to get at least a few hearty laughs from among the whole mad lot. Just check your brain at the door...this is a guilty pleasure if there EVER was one! ** 1/2 stars
A Campy, Kitschy Relic Of The Disco Age
It's a shame this movie never made it to video. Hell, you never even see it on cable! I remember seeing it at a drive-in in the summer of '79 and thinking it was great cheesy fun. If they released it on video today, it would be seen as a lost campy relic of the disco/drive-in age. It's hampered somewhat by an extremely low budget (check out those groovy cartoon transformation effects) and a few dry stretches here and there, but there's plenty of gratuitous nudity and sex (Nai Bonet may not be a great actress but she is NOT shy about showing off her terrific body!) and the script is occasionally inspired, with some great one-liners. John Carradine as an aging Dracula is a particular hoot! Worthy of cult status.
Domestic Disturbance (2001)
Travolta and Vaughn are very good in this familiar but fast-paced thriller that, while never providing any REALLY overpowering suspense, manages to be a fairly diverting 90 minutes. Director Harold Becker does his best with a thin script that, with a bit of judicious editing, would look right at home as a made-for-TV movie. It's variation on the "little boy who cried wolf" story and it has it's share of contrivances, but Travolta is predictably compelling as the nice-guy dad (SO nice that it provides one of the movie's most nagging questions: WHY did his wife see fit to divorce him?)and Vaughn is appropriately creepy as the new husband and stepdad with a shady past and sinister present.
Not a classic, but given the talent involved, not bad either. My rating: **1/2 stars.
Hard To Swallow
Okay, I'll admit that this type of movie is really not my cup of tea, BUT I have enjoyed other "fluffy" romantic comedies in recent years. This one I just found dumb, dull and largely inconsequential. The main characters act so illogically that I quickly became totally exasperated with them. WHY would two people meet, TOTALLY enjoy each other's company and then decide to play some game of "letting fate decide whether they will find each other again?" There's not enough magic or chemistry between the two stars that would have allowed me to suspend that much belief to think that would happen. And there are just so many eye-rolling coincidences that one should have to swallow in a movie. John Corbett provides some good laughs as a bohemian/musician but that's about the only thing I enjoyed about this flick. My rating: ** stars
High Fidelity (2000)
I can't really see why this movie has earned such rave reviews. I haven't read the book on which it's based, but I can only guess that what worked on the page didn't fully translate to the screen. The film is very slow-moving and while there are occasional laughs (much of them supplied by Jack Black as an irascible record store employee)and I do appreciate the movie's obvious love and reverence to music, it's all fairly forgettable. John Cusack's character is a mopey, whiny drag throughout the whole thing...NOT a good move to make him the main focus of the story. It should have been more of an ensemble piece, ala "Singles." Maybe Cameron Crowe should have directed this one as well, then it might have been more lively and interesting. My rating: ** stars.
The Evil (1978)
A good cast and some interesting, stylish direction help move this standard haunted-house yarn out of the low-budget gutter. The segment near the end, with Richard Crenna encountering Victor Buono as the devil gives the movie added camp value. Sporadically entertaining, but ultimately rather silly and tame, "The Evil" may not frighten you, but it offers mild amusement if you don't take it as seriously as the film seems to take itself.
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Jeepers Creepers (Possible Spoiler)
This movie had potential. I certainly had high hopes, after seeing the previews and reading some surprisingly favorable reviews. I will say that there is three-quarters of a great horror flick here. Writer/director Victor Salva creates an impressive mood and atmosphere of foreboding, beginning his story beautifully, building and sustaining suspense before deteriorating into a standard-issue monster movie in the last 20 minutes, with an ending that I found very unsatisfying and leaving things unexplained that might have fleshed out the happenings up until then. Some found the ending to be daring and surprising, but it left things feeling incomplete to me. I have nothing against unconventional, even unhappy endings. It just didn't work in this case for me.
The Omega Man (1971)
Still Holds Up
This movie scared the utter CRAP out of me when I first saw it at age 12. The mutants haunted my dreams for months afterward. Extremely creepy stuff! After all these years, "The Omega Man" still holds up as a thoughtful and chilling cautionary tale. Admittedly, it's now more campy and dated and has some unintentionally funny scenes, but that tends to simply add another dimension to the entertainment value. Great period detail and Charlton Heston in fine form.
There have been rumors of a remake/revision of the film (actually of the source novel, "I Am Legend," by Richard Matheson). May I suggest John Carpenter as a possible director?
Bubble Boy (2001)
Not Too Good
I can see why some people are offended by this film. But it must be said that the movie doesn't actually exploit the immuno-deficiency disorder itself for laughs. It TRIES to poke fun at the environment and characters that surround the Bubble Boy. When it comes right down to it, the most offensive thing about the film is that it's just not very funny. It's full of dull, generic slapstick gags that fly fast but usually fall flat,despite the considerable energy expended by a more than capable cast. Gyllenhaal, in particular, looks like he could be Rob Schneider's kid brother, only more innocent and less smarmy.
Has its heart in the right place, but really misses the mark. My rating: *1/2 stars.
Skin Deep (1989)
Although this movie is wildly uneven (as were most of Blake Edwards' later films), it's still an enjoyable piece of fluff, with many funny moments. The scene involving the glow-in-the-dark condoms is particularly uproarious. It would make a very good double-bill with Edwards' other bawdy classic, "10." It's probably one of the best film roles John Ritter's ever had since leaving "Three's Company.," and if every director had taken advantage of Ritter's likability and considerable gift for physical comedy like Edwards did here, he'd probably be a bigger movie star today.