Monday, September 30, 2013

Stuck In Love (2012)

Bill (Greg Kinnear) is a moderately famous writer who has been divorced for a couple years. His ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) married another man and their family isn't functioning quite as they planned. The romantic story between these two is pretty standard, well actually it's pretty much all standard but it covers a few bases as it follows three different stereotypical romance story lines. Man and wife, break up, man waits, gets back together with wife. Boy falls for troubled girl to try to straighten her out....actually that one just comes up twice in this movie. Oops....I guess *spoilers*? It doesn't matter it's a romantic film you know what's going to happen.

As much as Stuck In Love has a derivative plot, the characters are pretty likable and so you just want to keep watching. Greg Kinnear plays the middle-aged bachelor and you can't not love him. Kristen Bell has a small and nicely rounded role as Bill's.....special friend. Jennifer Connelly is sad and pathetic just like her character is supposed to be. Relative newcomer Nat Wolff (I've only seen him in Admission, which was not a good movie) does a good job as Bill's son Rusty but he needs to sharpen his skills which will come in time. Liana Liberato is the troubled Kate that wins Rusty's heart. Nothing too special there. Logan Lerman really won me over in this one. I haven't liked him much up to this point but in The Perks of Being a Wallflower he started to sway me and now I'm definitely a fan. He is pretty damn smooth playing Lou opposite the incandescent Lily Collins, as Bill's confused and promiscuous cynic of a daughter, Samantha. It was my favourite romantic pairing of the movie. Something about Lily Collins just gets me. It's kind of like the fascination everyone has with Emma Watson, same effect. 

In any case this is a combination of basic formulaic rom-com plots and pairings with a great cast. Not all stars which makes for good chemistry. It just makes me smile when I find another one of these I can add to a list of movies I like to watch on a particularly gloomy day to cheer me up. So ultimately nothing special but worth watching.

Did you notice that I told you virtually no details about the movie? It's what I do, I've gotten very lazy with these and I'll have to shake things up a bit....but that will come later.  

You can find the movie here

Notes:
- Poster image obtained from www.impawards.com
- I didn't even recognize Spencer Breslin as Rusty's friend Jason, he's definitely grown up since his younger roles but sadly he hasn't done too much.
- If you don't know by now, Lily Collins is daughter of former-Genesis drummer (amongst many other things) Phil Collins.
- Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of Ahnuld) plays Kate's jackass ex-boyfriend Glen
- Stephen King's voice only part was voiced by the actual Stephen King. I mean there's no point in not getting him so it pretty inconsequential and barely even note worthy.....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Don Jon (2013)


Unrealistic expectations are the downfall of too many relationships. Men tend to always look at how women have fantasies created from romantic films that seem to put unwanted pressure on them. How can men possibly be a Prince Charming? What we don't seem to get is that we put the same sort of pressure on women when media helps us form an image of what we think is the "perfect" woman. Unfortunately for Don Jon, his expectations connect more with the women he sees in pornography. 

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a little bit obsessive compulsive with his routine and a little bit addicted to porn. From his mouth, the only things important in life are his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, and his porn. Sprinkled amongst the smut and clips out of pornographic films (cleverly edited of course to avoid that same label) there are a few scenes where you see Jon's mild OCD-like tendencies. For example, he cleans a mirror and immediately redoes because it's not good enough. He does the same with his covers when making his bed. Of course that is a side note to all the porn. He is insanely promiscuous and has copious amounts of sex but still masturbates constantly. He can't seem to connect with real women like he does when he gets himself off to porn. When he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) it starts him thinking a little differently. She is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen and he wants to do things right. He treats her well, goes back to night school for her, waits for sex for her, and even gives up his porn.....well he at least tried to. Porn is the one constant in his life but it's warped his expectations so far to be severely unrealistic for any woman to live up to and that is why things are still not quite right with Barbara. In his night class he meets Esther (Julianne Moore) an older woman who teaches him a thing or two about what he thinks relationships are all about. The story follows how Barbara and Jon's fantasies clash and the trials and tribulations of that journey affect how Jon's life.

Scarlett Johansson wasn't particularly brilliant because her character didn't evolve throughout the film unlike Jon who became a much more complete person by the film's conclusion. Julianne Moore does a wonderful job as usual in a role that I didn't quite expect from the get go. I think it's better if you don't read too much into the movie before seeing it, as it goes with just about every movie, but it's better if it surprises you. Jon's family is really fun to watch. Glenne Headly and Tony Danza play his parents and Tony is great to watch on screen again. Brie Larson portrays his sister and she literally only has one meaningful line in the movie but it's a good one. The rest of the time she has her head cocked to one side engrossed in the screen of her cell phone.

Obviously I'm a big Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan, huge man crush. He's a talented dude. He wrote, starred in, and directed this film and that is only one of the reasons he's one of the biggest stars in Hollywood these days. Don Jon is a great film, not family friendly and may offend the faint of heart but it has a good message. Love and relationships aren't about being selfish, it's a two-way thing, you have to give as well as take. A great point was brought up in an interview between Jake Hamilton (an underrated interviewer) and Gordon-Levitt. Jake made the apt observation that the film was a sort of indirect companion to (500) Days of Summer. Both Jon and Tom are very selfish characters, albeit in very different ways, but they see the error of their flawed perception of love and change for the better.

Now I didn't read this post over and I wrote it all out of order so if it doesn't make a lot of sense here is the gist of it. This is not a family friendly movie. If you don't like what porn looks like, even the....non-penetrative parts...then this movie is also not for you. If you like to laugh, even at the Jersey accent that I'm pretty sure they may be mocking, go watch it. Not trying to offend, just lending my humble opinion, but the Jersey accent....not so hot. If you want to see an interesting story with a good moral this is for you.

For you deluded dreamers out there men and women, after seeing this movie take a good long look at how you view love and the opposite sex and check to see that you have everything in perspective. If you don't, you had better do something about it. Go check it out.  

Notes:
- Poster image obtained from www.impawards.com
- The fake movies that Jon and Barbara are choosing between in the theater are an action movie and a romantic film. The romantic film stars Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum and there is a great montage of the movie that is summarized in the film; a movie within a movie. A nice nod to Inception which was a big step into bigger budget roles for JGL.
The action movie stars Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, although we never see any part of that movie.
- Emily is credited as Kelley Vallette, a production assistant and John is credited as Bruce Blackstone a driver, both working on the film.
- The interview between Jake and Joe can be seen here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Drinking Buddies (2013)


Drinking Buddies is a drama that happens to be comedic based on the characters more so than their situations. Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde), are two friends who work together in a brewery together that have amazing chemistry. Yes it would be cliché that they eventually see the other in a different light and it all comes out hunky dory and they live happily ever after in the end. Thankfully this is not that kind of movie, even if it might seem that way. It doesn't really throw any twists though so you won't be shocked by any part of the story but its still a good watch. 

I love Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde playing off each other. It seems like that sort of friendship could actually happen with those two people in real life. Obviously they wouldn't be movie stars and thus would be far uglier. It is a nice small cast so we can get more screen time with each. Ron Livingston plays Chris, Kate's boyfriend and Anna Kendrick plays Jill, Luke's girlfriend. Ron brings a profound awkwardness that is sometimes off putting to sit through but is exactly what his character is about. He doesn't get a large chunk of screen time but he does well with what he gets. I do like Anna but her performance and how the character was written didn't wow me. Her character lacked any real....well...character. We basically just saw an emotionally fragile girl who wants to get married and is nudging Luke towards it because she is too afraid to make any sort of disruption. I guess Anna could only do so much with such a character.   

I really enjoyed the movie. It was simple, low budget, and it didn't have too many cliché moments. Yes they do go through some romantic struggles wherein they may learn to see the other differently but it's definitely not what you think. Not to spoil anything but it's called Drinking "Buddies" for a reason. It paces a little slow so despite only being 90 minutes it seems like a much longer movie. That being said I really liked it. It was good to see this kind of story told. I'm glad writers are still able to find ways to creatively avoid a generic rom-com of a story. 

I especially enjoyed what was said in the very last scene of the movie. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get there.

Notes:
- Poster image obtained from www.impawards.com
- Jason Sudeikis who plays Gene, who I assume to be some sort of manager, is engaged to star Olivia Wilde
- Although the image above shows Jake Johnson clean shaven, at no point in the movie is that true. Must have been an old poster.

Monday, September 23, 2013

People Like Us (2012)


Sam Harper is struggling with the debt in his life until his estranged father passes away. He leaves Sam $150,000 that he must give to the son of the half-sister he never knew he had. Sam has to work through his inner issues and find a way to tell his sister exactly who he is. 

People Like Us gives us their fair share of very sincere touching moments mixed with a few that fall flat trying to pull at your heartstrings. They try a little too hard with the dramatic lighting or the cheesy climactic songs and crescendos. Sometimes we see a strange romantic vibe in some of the scenes. Whenever the lead actor and actress are thrust into situations like hanging at a laundromat, going out to lunch, and going for a drive around the countryside, things get a little ambiguous. I think the set up just gravitates naturally to what we normally see in romantic movies. Basically what I'm saying is that you could take this nearly two hour movie about a brother and a sister, cut out about 30 minutes, and someone could mistake it for a romantic film....which is weird.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde do respectably but nothing too notable. I definitely watched this movie for the story and the chemistry between Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. It really seems like they would be friends in real life, although there were a few missteps that seemed a little off throughout the movie. I'd pinpoint them for you but that would spoil things and I just don't want to.

Michael Hall D'Addario is a cool little kid and some people will say he can't succeed in the business because he looks a little funny but hey look at Steve Buscemi. However, I do have one tip, cut your hair man. I know you're a tween or something and long hair is apparently cool (again?) but when you and your friends look like girls from behind you should just cut it, even just a trim. Besides short hair is easy to maintain, it's awesome. Enough on that tangent.

Ultimately, a decent enough movie, nothing super special but a nice story that makes you feel good watching. Something you can watch with your family, or just to pass the time. 

The movie is available here, and it's totally legal.....

Notes:
- Poster image obtained from www.impawards.com
- Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are young writers/producers (and now directors with Kurtzman's debut with this film) who have broken onto the scene working on movies such as Star Trek, Transformers, Mission: Impossible III
- Mark Duplass and Jon Favreau are in bit parts but don't add much
- Inspired by true events is flashed over the opening credits. Basically Kurtzman met his half-sister when he was 30 and Orci's father-in-law is a prominent songwriter in the business and all of the memorabilia in Jerry's 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Wedding Singer (1998)


I am going to try to get back into the swing of things with this post. Recently this blog has been sorely lacking any sort of....you know.....content. I've just been procrastinating so no real excuse. I'm still watching movies, although a lack of new releases because you know me, super cheap. I have a schedule in mind for these posts and we'll see if I can stick to it. Yes it is in part because I like to share what I like with others and want others to see it but also it does help me keep my time managed well. Without further ado, I bring you to our feature presentation.

The 80s. A simpler time with the cutting edge invention of the CD player and cellular phones. The fashion consisted of leather jackets, bad hair, leg warmers, and oh so much more. There is something hilariously nostalgic about the 80s culture. I think as much as we all look back on that era and laugh (whether we were a part of it or not) there is definitely something lovable about it.

No The Wedding Singer does not feature great acting or top of the line visuals but does give us a cliche romantic story and atrocious costuming, simply put the best of both worlds. There is just something about the Jerry Seinfeld-esque hairdo Adam Sandler sports and the innocent young Drew Barrymore (that we all know is a complete farce and we wouldn't have it any other way) that always draws me back to this movie. 

The stable of supporting characters is pretty great. Alexis ArquetteChristine Taylor, Allen Covert, and Ellen Albertini Dow create an atmosphere that is just enough weird and bit parts from Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz, and Billy Idol as himself, are just awesome. 

The Wedding Singer just gives me a ridiculous and only slightly exaggerated summary of the 80s and adds a love story along the way. Something to put on after a long day for some cheap laughs that make you think of simpler times. 

Notes: 
- Poster image obtained from www.impawards.com
- Ellen Albertini Dow who plays Rosie, often portrays the old lady role in movies and for good reason. This November she will celebrate her 100th birthday.