Archive for category Comedy

ted

Rating: Worth at least a rent                                      

In all honesty, I went into this movie with low expectations.  I saw the red band trailer and figured it was going to be a raunchy, over the top movie looking to shock for laughter.  The trailer led to it, and I figured that Seth McFarlane finally had the freedom to do things he can’t get away with on TV.  Don’t get me wrong, I think McFarlane is hilarious, but for some reason I figured even with the ridiculous MPAA breathing down his back he would try to push the envelope as much as possible.  I couldn’t have been farther off.  Was it a bit raunchy at times? Sure, but not more than any other R rated comedy that comes out.  And on top of it, McFarlane managed to come up with one of the better written stories of the summer.

If you don’t already know, the movie is about John Bennet (Mark Wahlberg) and his best friend Ted.  Ted just happens to be his talking Teddy Bear.  When John was a kid he didn’t have many friends so he wished for his Teddy bear to be able to talk.  The wish came true, and Ted was a national phenomenon.  But like any other fad in our country Ted quickly became old news, and he and John grew up.  They still live together though; I mean they are thunder buddies for life after all.  The difference now is that Ted is no longer a cute, cuddly friend, but an adult, pot smoking, inappropriate bear.  John is also dating Lori Collins (Mila Kunis) and she is a tad over the immaturity that John gets from hanging out with Ted.  The main focus of the movie is John trying to maintain his friendship with Ted, while not losing Lori.  Also there is this really creepy guy and his child who want to own Ted like a toy.  When I say creepy I mean it, this guy played the creepy part really well…a bit too well.  They play a major part in the second half of the movie, but I won’t say too much to spoil anything major.  There was ridiculousness throughout with Ted being inappropriate, John’s fascination with Flash Gordon, cocaine use, and Joel McHale as Lori’s douchey boss.  Despite the ridiculousness the story really came together.  Surprisingly well.  It even had some genuinely touching moments between many of the characters.

I thought that both Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis did a great job playing their parts.  They were funny when needed and convincingly serious when needed.  Joel McHale was good as a jerk, (you really wont like him) and as I said before Giovanni Ribisi was genuinely creepy as Donny.  McFarlane is no stranger to voice acting so playing Ted was no issue for him.  At times it sounded like his own voice (think Family Guy’s Brian) and at times a bit more like Peter Griffen.  Either way, an inappropriate talking teddy bear is pretty funny.  It also led to one of my favorite fight scenes in a long time.

Overall I thought the movie was solid.  I’ve seen better movies, but I’ve also seen way worse.  With not much coming out before July 20th (I heard there is supposed to be some big movie coming out that Friday?) I would say it’s worth heading to the theater for.  If you want to save your money it is worth at least a rent.

Have fun with it.

-Gish

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Moonrise Kingdom

Rating: See it in theaters                                                    

Let me start by saying I love Wes Anderson movies.  Whenever I watch one of his movies I find myself laughing or chuckling harder than anyone else watching it with me.  His dry humor just gets me.  That being said, I really enjoyed this movie.

This movie had adventure, explosions, daring rescues, lightning, and precariously placed tree houses (all done in Wes Anderson style obviously), but at its heart it was a fun, quirky romance.  The movie takes place on the New England island of New Penzance in the 60’s.  The island is home to miles of walking trails, a small camp which houses the Khaki Scouts, several rivers, a small town, and not much else.  It serves as the perfect setting for this movie’s melancholy, humor, and story of childhood.  Think back to when you were a child and the world was still fascinating yet confusing.  Some kids were weird just because, and you had a crush on that one special member of the opposite sex.  Everything seemed way more complex than it was, and each day your adventures were only curbed by the limits of your imagination.  Anderson managed to capture all of these elements of childlike wonder into one terrific story.

The story begins with an inspection on the Khaki Scout grounds, lead by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton).  The inspection goes fairly well but for one big problem.  Sam Shakusky has flown the coup.  The other campers don’t seem too worried about him because he is not very well liked, and is considered emotionally unstable.  Across the island, the Bishop family realizes that their oldest child, Suzy has gone missing.  It probably doesn’t take a genius to realize the two are together.  We find out they met a year earlier, are in love, and running away together.  The rest of the movie follows these two as they adventure through the island, learn more about each other, and try to escape from literally every other character in the movie.  Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward do a fantastic job as the twelve year old fugitives, and genuinely make you believe they care for each other (as much as a twelve year old can).  By the end of the movie I was truly rooting for them.

The supporting case in this movie was phenomenal.  Mainly because of Andersons genius ability to take huge name stars, have them work well together, and not let them steal the show.  They all do a fantastic job playing their parts, while allowing their younger counterparts to steal the show.  As stated before Ed Norton plays the scout master/math teacher Ward.  He is loyal to his scouts almost to a fault, and is one of the few adults who you actually root for in the movie.  The other main protagonist adult is Captain Sharp, played by Bruce Willis.  He is the police officer trying to track the children down.  He is kind, caring, and even a bit dopey at times.  The cast is rounded out by Bill Murray (more on him later) and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s parents, Tilda Swinton as Social Services, and even Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel show up.  They are all great.

I said I would come back to Bill Murray.  There are some duos on Hollywood whom I feel need to take a break from working together.  These guys for instance.  This is Bill Murray’s sixth movie working with Wes Anderson, and I don’t think the friendship should ever stop.  Their comedy styles just click, and are hilarious every time.  Its subtle, dry, dark humor and I love it.  This movie is no different.  Bill Murray is not in the movie a ton but when he is it is great.

Overall this movie will take you on a great, loving adventure back to childhood.  Wes Anderson’s ever unique style is present, and adds to the fantastically filmed movie.  The actors are great, the story is great, the style/look is great.  I think just about anyone will enjoy this movie.

-Gish

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Men In Black 3

Rating: See it in theaters.                                              

Most prequels come within a few years of their predecessors, have high anticipations, and even higher expectations.  With ten years since the last Men in Black movie, MIB3 is more of a welcome and pleasant surprise.  Quick quiz; what year did the first Men in Black come out?…Answer; 1997.  Feel old yet?  The original movie was quirky, fresh, creative, and something new.  Fifteen years later the second sequel doesn’t feel as fresh and new, but it was still quirky, creative, and all around fun.

If you never saw the second Men in Black, don’t worry, you don’t need it.  (It wasn’t great anyway).  This third movie starts off with the infamous Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escaping from an alien prison, and swearing revenge on Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones).  It turns out that in the late 60’s K put Boris, a Boglodite hit man, in prison and implemented a shield to forever keep Bogladites away from Earth, eventually leading to their extinction.  Because of this, Boris travels back in time to kill K before he can put Boris away and implement the shield.  Agent K then disappears in present time (because he was killed in the past) and a Bogladitian? invasion of Earth commences.  That probably sounds like a lot of spoilers but I swear it is all in the exposition.  Somehow Agent J (Will Smith) is the only person who remembers the original reality (where K didn’t die) and realizes he must travel even farther back in time than Boris to erase the alternate past and return it to the original one.  That all happens in about twenty minutes; the rest of the movie is about J trying to fix the past, and it is quite entertaining.

Two things that have always been a staple in the MIB world are the cool looking aliens and gadgets.  The threequel doesn’t disappoint in either of these offerings.   The single wheel cycles are cool looking but I also couldn’t help but think about Mr. Garrisons “It” the entire time they were on screen.  It was also interesting how they portrayed “modern” technology, such as jet packs, that the MIB Corporation had from the 60’s.  There didn’t seem to be as many crazy looking aliens but the ones that were on screen were pretty interesting and done well.

All of the acting was solid, but Josh Brolin stole the show.  His portrayal of a young K was phenomenal.  I literally forgot that it wasn’t Tommy Lee Jones on screen at points.  The voice, the quirks, the whole demeanor, it was flawless.  Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Emma Thompson (Agent O) all played their roles well, and kept my interest the whole time.  Jemaine Clement did a good job being the goofy yet intimidating Boris, but one my favorite character was Griffin played by Michael Stuhlbarg.  He was an alien who was strangely calm and cheery, but had a really interesting ability.  He was able to perceive alternate realities in the 5th dimension.  As a physics teacher, I was extremely intrigued by this.  Quick physics lesson…As humans we are able to perceive four dimensions based on current physics theories.  String theory needs eleven dimensions to work (don’t ask…I don’t get it either).  The dimensions we perceive are height, width, length, and the fourth being time.  The fifth dimension is alternate realities in time based on the decisions we make every day.  For example if you decided to stay in bed for an extra minute this morning your day and possibly life would be completely different because of it.  Griffin can see all of the possible outcomes/realities based on the decisions that people around him make each and every moment.  It was really interesting and integral to the plot later on.

All in all MIB3 was solid.  The movie is just a steady, good movie for an hour and a half and then finishes great.  The ending was actually quite touching.  If you enjoyed the original movie (or original two) you will really like the way they wrapped up the trilogy (I’m assuming there are no plans for a fourth but who knows).  The story, effects, and solid performances make this a fun movie for everyone.  I definitely recommend.

-Gish

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The Dictator

Rating: Worth a rent sometime.                                               

The Dictator felt like a few outrageously hilarious ideas that Sacha Baron Cohen had, and then built an 85 minute movie around.  It was quite funny, but I felt that there could have been more.  If you know anything about Cohen, you expect this movie to be inappropriate in every sense of the word.  It is.  Racist, sexist, classist, crude, and actually fairly funny.  The movie gets away with pulling inappropriate punches because nobody is left out.

The first half of the movie, in my opinion, was slow.  It starts off with the tyrant Alladeen in his home country of Waadeya.  He has been the dictator in this country since birth and is, unsurprisingly, an idiot.  The jokes through the first half hour seemed obvious, and didn’t get much beyond a chuckle out of me.  From paying celebrities to have sex with him, to having people executed because they seem smarter than him, none of it was all that original.

Fortunately, Alladeen decides to come to America after being summoned by the UN to explain his nuclear program.  Once in America he is replaced with an imposter and spends the rest of the movie trying to get back into power.  This is when the movie starts to get better.  He meets a progressive thinking, naturalist, who doesn’t shave her armpits, owns a natural market, and looks like a fourteen year old boy.  Oh, also, she is played by Anna Faris.  Neither of the two really understands the other but their interactions are fairly funny as they become closer during the story.  Eventually Alladeen meets with an old friend from back home and they put into action a plan to get Alladeen back in charge of his country.

There were definitely some hilarious moments.  Alladeen and an Arab friend speaking in Arabic while riding in a helicopter with two unsuspecting travelers, and a scene where Alladeen first learns how to pleasure himself (yes you read that correctly) were two of the  funniest/most uncomfortable moments of the movie.  I laughed hardest at these points.  Overall the movie was funny but it felt mostly predictable.  I do feel Cohen is a hilarious comedian, who will unfortunately have a hard time meeting the expectations of his first outing, Borat.  That being said, this movie is definitely worth seeing, even if you wait to rent it.

-Gish

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Tower Heist

Rating: Rent it sometime.                                     

Eddie Murphey is funny again!!  When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I got excited that maybe, just maybe we would be getting some old school Eddie Murphey.  You see, a terrible thing happened around the year 2000, shortly after Bowfinger was made.  Eddie Murphey realized he didn’t have to be funny or make good movies in order to make lots of money.  Tower Heist is finally the resurgence of a comedian whose true genius was in hiding for a decade or so.  While Murphey was definitely funny, he didn’t steal the show, and did well to share the screen with several other talents.

The movie takes place in “The Tower”, a New York high rise that is home to the richest of the rich.  They are paying for the nice homes, and views, but also for Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) and his staff.  The staff keeps the tower secure, while catering to every whim of its inhabitants.  Josh is exceptionally good at his job managing the tower, along with Odessa the maid (Gabourey Sidibe), Charlie the concierge (Casey Affleck), Lester the doorman (Stephen Henderson), and Enrique the new hire (Michael Pena).  The richest resident of the tower is Mr. Shaw (Alan Alda), a man that Josh Kovacs has become quite close with.  They even play chess together online.

As it turns out a few years ago Josh invested the retirement funds of his crew with Mr. Shaw.  Unfortunately Mr. Shaw was just discovered to be fraudulently investing money, and their funds are gone.  Josh ends up getting himself fired after taking anger out on Shaw, and with no money, no job, and no life (due to the crazy hours he worked at the tower) he decides it is time to exact revenge.  He, along with Odessa, Charlie, Enrique, and former tower resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) decide their only option is to break into Mr. Shaw’s apartment and steal his safety net of money.  Only problem, none of them are criminals.  Enter Slide (Eddie Murphey).  He is a petty criminal that Josh passes on the street on his way to work every day, but he agrees to take on the heist with hopes of earning a portion of $20 million.  From the scenes where Slide is training the others to be criminals, to the actual climactic heist, the movie keeps your attention and offers several laughs.  There are a few twists and turns as the protagonists realize it will not be as simple as walking into a room and cracking a safe.

As mentioned before, Eddie Murphey is pretty hilarious.  He is not the only source of laughs though.  Matthew Broderick is funny as the down on his luck genius accountant, and Casey Affleck is hilarious as the somewhat eccentric Charlie.  Last but not least is Michael Pena.  He is truly funny in this movie, stealing some of the best delivered lines.

Overall I enjoyed the movie.  It is nothing entirely original, as comedy heists have been done before.  If anything, Eddie Murphey finally being Eddie Murphey is reason enough to go see it.  That being said, a slightly better than decent plot, and slightly better than decent comedic performances lead to a slightly better than decent movie.  It is at least worth a rent sometime.

-Gish

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50/50

Rating:  SEE IT NOW!                                                                 

What can I say, this movie was utterly fantastic.  Director Jonathan Levine managed to do something we don’t see very often and made a movie that is believable, funny, sad, happy, emotional, and moving all at the same time.  I loved it.

Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the everyman character Adam.  Adam follows the rules, even when nobody is looking.  He seems to genuinely enjoy his job of writing radio programs (no the movie is not set in the 30’s), and he has a “safe” relationship with his girlfriend Katherine (Anna Kendrick).  Everything seems to be going well for Adam.  Then he gets cancer.  After heading to the doctor with back pains he is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, and told he has a 50% chance of survival.

From this point on the film follows Adam dealing with his diagnosis and his relationship with a few of the people closest to him.  He gives his girlfriend, Katherine, a chance to get out of the relationship if she wants, but she decides to stick by his side.  A decision that proves to be more difficult than she imagined.  He has a hard time telling his mom (Anjelica Huston) about the cancer and when he finally does her response is overbearing.  He also is assigned a therapist (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is younger than him and has only seen a few patients.  Their interactions are fairly light hearted while dealing with such a serious issue.  The highlight of the movie, though, is his relationship with his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogan).  It is clear that the two care about each other and each has a hard time dealing with Adam’s health.  While struggling, they are there for each other and create some of the more memorable moments in the film.

The acting in this movie was spot on all around.  Joseph Gordon Levitt made you root for him to overcome his cancer, while feeling sorry for his situation at the same time.  Seth Rogan was absolutely hilarious.  I typically find Rogan funny, but I also feel he is always trying just a bit too hard.  Here the comedy seemed more natural than any other performance I have seen him give.  Even though he plays the main comedic relief, Rogan still does a fantastic job dealing with the serious scenes.  Anjelica Huston is great as the mom, Anna Kendrick does a good job as the girlfriend, and Bryce Dallas Howard is delightful (yes I just described her as delightful) as the young therapist.

Along with the acting, the sound track was solid, the writing was strong, the tone of the movie kept your attention throughout.  I really cant say anything bad about this movie.  Go see it.

-Gish


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Our Idiot Brother

Rating – See it now                                               

A comedy with both Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel?..sign me up!  I love Deschanel and Paul Rudd is probably my favorite comedic actor.  I couldn’t really gather much about this movie from the trailers beyond the fact that Paul Rudd was the star, and played an idiot.  The latter actually turned out to be false.  Ned (Rudd’s character) could be described as naïve, childlike, honest (even when it works against him) and trusting to a fault, but an idiot?  No.  In fact, I don’t feel like the term “idiot” belongs anywhere with this movie.  It wasn’t idiotic.  It was actually quite smart, with some very subtle humor that will, unfortunately, be missed by much of America.

The movie begins with Ned selling drugs to a police officer.  And no, the cop was not undercover.  He was in uniform.  “But wait!” you might be yelling at your computer screen, “I thought you said he wasn’t an idiot?!”  See the movie and you will realize he is just genuinely trusting, and kind.  In fact he might be one of the most likable and nice characters put to the big screen in a while.  But I digress…after he gets out of prison, his hippie girlfriend will not take him back, so he is forced to move in with one of his sisters, before moving in with a second sister, and finally moving in with yet another sister.  The whole time this is going on Ned is trying to get Willie Nelson back from his ex girlfriend.  Oh yeah…Willie Nelson is his dog.

The first visit takes him into the home of sister Liz (Emily Mortimer), and her tool bag of a husband (Steve Coogan).  They are the overbearing parents of Ned’s nephew River, who is allowed to eat one cupcake every week, and take dance classes, while his friends take karate one room over.  Ned starts to bond with River but after some unfortunate events is forced to move in with sister number two, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks looking a lot like Parker Posey).  Miranda is way too into her job, and stringing along her neighbor Jeremy (Adam Scott) who is clearly into her.  Ned starts to become friends with Jeremy, but again is forced to move on.  This time to live with sister number three, Natalie (Zooey Deschanel).  Natalie is dating Cindy (Rashida Jones).  Yes you read that last sentence correctly.  Natalie is bisexual, and a little different.  She’s really into art, modeling nude for a friend at times, and has a group of six Ukrainian friends living in her guest room.  As the story progresses we find Ned bonding with just about everyone he comes in contact with, and those people each learn something about themselves in the process.  He’s not always a genius, but he cares a lot about his family.

To me, that all sounds like the makings of a pretty crazy, laugh out loud comedy.  Like it or not, this film will not have you laughing hysterically.  It was definitely funny, but as stated before, the humor was subtle, and much less in your face that most of America has grown accustomed to.  I found myself to be the only person chuckling in my theater at several moments.  Besides the subtle humor, the movie had a solid, somewhat touching story.  It focused on the importance of family, which I am always a sucker for.   I cared about the characters and was concerned for what happened to them, and I really wanted to know if Ned would get Willie Nelson back.  Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschenel, Adam Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Emily Mortimer, and Steve Coogan (I don’t think I missed anyone) all come together and give fantastic performances.  I don’t know that this film would have worked so well without such genuine performances by the actors involved.

Overall I really liked it.  Was it predictable? Yes.  Was it outrageously funny? No.   Is it worth seeing? Absolutely.  It was melancholy, and sweet, and very funny at points.  Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people will like it quite as much as I did, and my guess is it will perform average at best in the box office, but I would still recommend it to anyone.

-Gish

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