Monthly Archives: September 2012

Casa de mi Padre


Will Ferrell stars as a Spanish-speaking cowboy in this comedy about a Mexican clan trying to rescue their ranch from greedy creditors. When his brother can’t save the day, the simple but noble ranch hand takes on a powerful drug lord.

Matt
Rating: 5 out of 10

In theory, I should love this film: Will Farrell stars in a Spanish-language film that lampoons old Mexican movies in a campy romp. In reality, it just kind of fell flat for me.

There were a couple really funny moments where I laughed hard. There’s a very amusing love scene with some uncomfortable close-ups of Farrell’s posterior. It had me cracking up. But a lot of this movie just didn’t go anywhere, or meandered. There weren’t enough jokes.

This movie does succeed in where Farrell is great as a comedic actor, and that’s character development. In Anchor Man, his character Ron Burgundy has layers of character, and the title roles in this film are given that same treatment. But in the end, the execution fell far short of the premise.

Thin Ice


Midwest insurance salesman Mickey Prohaska (Greg Kinnear) hatches a get-rich-quick scheme that depends on him gaining possession of a rare and precious violin, but his planned score results in wild and unexpected consequences. Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup and Lea Thompson co-star in this meditation on lying and its consequences, written by sisters Jill and Karen Sprecher (Thirteen Conversations About One Thing).

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

The only reason I watched this movie is because it popped out of the Red Box by mistake. I literally knew nothing about this movie when I started watching. But the Red Box machine’s mistake became my surprise fortune. Now that’s good movie karma!

Greg Kinnear leads an excellent cast as a truly unlikable human being. He swindles people in business, cheats on his wife, doesn’t take care of his finances or family, and when pushed to his limits, will cover up a murder. This is one of those movies where there’s no good guy to root for. It’s definitely not filmed like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but the script has the feel of it. Kudos to the Sprecher sisters for writing an intriguing script that unfolds very nicely, keeps the intensity at a great level, and inspires great performances by Alan Arkin, Billy Crudup, David Harbour and Lea Thompson.

This is a movie where nothing goes right, there are no heroes, and no possibility of a positive outcome. Sounds bleak, right? Well, it works very well with the balance of some humor. Bad deeds lead to more bad deeds, and they keep piling up. As the audience, we feel the tension build. the danger grow, and the risks get higher. It’s an entertaining movie, for sure.

The Adjustment Bureau

A congressman (Matt Damon) who’s a rising star on the political scene finds himself entranced by a beautiful ballerina (Emily Blunt), but mysterious circumstances ensure that their love affair is predestined to be a non-starter. Screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this romantic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s classic sci-fi short story “Adjustment Team.”

Matt
Rating: 8 out of 10

I have to say that on the surface, I thought this was just another government conspiracy movie. While it’s still a conspiracy flick, it’s a darn good one.

Not unlike “The Matrix,” where they contrived a believable world out of unbelievable circumstances, this film succeeds. The world is completely controlled, well mostly. It sort of takes away the whole free will theory for most people, or at least important people. The entire concept that drives the movie is an adjustment bureau that can control your life. They have a person assigned to you who can guide your thoughts and actions by influencing you with experiences. The love story at the center of this movie, which really compels the film, was such a controlled circumstance. They meet, hit it off, and fall for each other instantly. But the bureau has other plans, despite Damon’s characters pursuit of his lost love.

The movie takes some really interesting twists and turns, with a climactic ending that is satisfying and entertaining. Definitely a solid sci-fi film with a compelling love story, good performances, and a nice pace and tone. It’s patient enough to develop characters while throwing in some intrigue and mystery that propels the film with action and drama.

The Kid

Considered one of Charlie Chaplin’s best films, The Kid also made a star of little Jackie Coogan, who plays a boy cared for by The Tramp when he’s abandoned by his mother, Edna (Edna Purviance). Later, Edna has a change of heart and aches to be reunited with her son. When she finds him and wrests him from The Tramp, it makes for what turns out be one of the most heart-wrenching scenes ever included in a comedy. Chaplin also directs.

Matt
Rating: 10 out of 10

This charming and endearing film made our list of Greatest Movies Ever Made, and for very good reason.

This is nothing short of a masterpiece, and while some argue it’s not Chaplin’s best film, it’s still a brilliant piece of film making. And this isn’t a film snob talking. I think anyone would appreciate this motion picture, even after it first showed in theaters more than 90 years  ago.

Chaplin wove a charming story of The Tramp and a small boy for whom he cares. They’re little grifters who steal and cheat to get by in a very impoverished world. The two obviously care a great deal for one another, and though no words are ever spoken out loud, the performances are phenomenal.

Chaplin was a once-in-a-generation talent, and “The Kid” is a wonderful example of his gift for storytelling and acting.

Puss in Boots

Voiced by Antonio Banderas, the dauntless feline of legend goes on an animated adventure to purloin a priceless golden-egg-laying goose. To help him on his mission, Puss brings along his friends Humpty Dumpty and the super-stealthy Kitty Softpaws.

Matt
Rating: 9 out of 10

This is by far smarter, funnier, more clever, witty, and fun than any of the Shrek films. Each of its unneeded sequels got dumber and dumber, which is why I ignored this spin-off completely. That was a huge mistake.

There were moments where I genuinely laughed out out loud. I delighted in the equisite detail of the animation and the backgrounds that drip with color in a Spanish-inspired fairy tale world. And I adored the theft of classic cowboy and Spanish films that no doubt inspired director Chris Miller (Shrek the Third). There is so much love poured into this film, and it’s obvious in all the detail that layers this movie over and over again.

And the performances are great, from the self-afacing Antonio Benderas, who is lampooning himself in the title role, to Salma Hayek, Zach Galifanakis and Billy Bob Thornton. It’s an awesome cast with a compelling storyline wrapped in a wonderfully crafted film. It’s one of the best animated films I’ve seen in years.

Due Date

High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time.

Matt
Rating: 6 out of 10

There are some genuinely funny moments and excellent acting by both Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. And then there are moments where the I.Q. of this movie drops to a stupefying level.

The performances are always strong. Galifianakis delivers his usual witty, charming wackiness. He’s a really fantastic character actor, not to be outdone by Downey. Downey is the straight man, but a very unlikable, cold one. He’s a flat-out jerk in this role, but not in the funny way, like Bill Murray accomplishes so successfully. He’s just a jerk, and Galifianakis is the ying to his yang as an overly bubbly man child who has absolutely no boundaries or social graces. They play off each other very well in this disastrous road trip flick.

However, the movie takes some desperate swipes at humor in moments where it felt like they ran out of good ideas three quarters of the way through filming. It’s unfortunate, because it starts so promisingly and becomes so boring and moronic.

No Retreat, No Surrender

Jason Stillwell, a Bruce Lee fan, is beaten numerous times and trains from the ghost of Lee. Jason then must use his newly acquired skills to save Seattle from a crime syndicate, whose top martial artist is the deadly Ivan

Matt
Rating: 2 out of 10

Sometimes it’s hard to tell where terrible movie begins, and movie camp ends. Such is the case with “No Retreat, No Surrender.”

This is truly a laughably bad movie. A boy’s father has his dojo taken from him, they split town to Seattle, only to find he runs into trouble with local kids. Stop me if you’ve heard this one… cough… Karate Kid… cough. So he takes up karate lessons with the ghost of Bruce Lee after visiting his grave and begging him for guidance. Yup, couldn’t make this up.

Throw in terrible acting, unfocused directing, and a love story wedged in with a montage of corny cliches, and you have a mess of a movie. No bad movie would be complete without a stereotypical, token black best friend who raps and break dances, a fat bully who shovels down burgers and cake, along with a Russian bad guy played by Jean Claud Van Dam who he fights in an anti-climactic ending. It’s the perfect a wretched movie that jumps the boundaries of skill and storytelling into a place where there is a complete lack of imagination and narrative.

There are moments that are really funny because of how bad they are, especially when the token black friend busts some cheesy-ass rhymes while the scene cuts to break-dancing sequences that obviously use a dance double. This is the poor man’s “Karate Kid,” without any endearing qualities. I with  I could give “No Retreat, No Surrender” a roundhouse kick to the face.