Sunday, May 4, 2008

Iron Man

Finally! A summer popcorn movie with substance, action, intelligent dialogue, and rounded characters. Somebody pinch me! Not since Shawna and I started SisterCritics in the late 90's have I looked forward to the summer movie schedule. Iron Man does a great job of Zamboni-ing the ice for the rest of the summer films to follow. The film takes its time to build Stark's character and set the tone for the rest of the film. Usually we open with Batman taking down a bad guy and then into the lair, but here, we see Clark Kent in his element until forced to find a phone booth. Favreau treated the script like a screenplay and not like an interpretation of a comic book. This is a film that happens to be about a superhero, not a superhero movie.

As a Robert Downey Jr. fan, I was sure he was going to be able to pull of the Stark portion of his dual personality - a womanizing, alcoholic, sarcastic, wealthy public figure, ahem, who finds himself needing a reality check and a change of priorities. Robert did a convincing job at both angles and, granted, he was hiding behind layers of CGI and plastic molding for a majority of the butt kickings, but he was still able to pull of a pathos necessary in the super hero. There's only two movies I can tolerate Gwyneth Paltrow in - SEVEN and ROYAL TENENBAUMS, but I'll give credit where it's due and say she did a good enough job with the Pepper Potts role that I didn't notice or hate her. Praise indeed to be sure.

However, the true heroes and the best part of the film were Stark's robots in the lab. I could have watched hours of him chastising and praising the Laurel and Hardy pals (hence the reason SHORT CIRCUIT was ever successful and why WALL-E will be a hit). The biggest laugh in the Cinerama dome Saturday night was based off of a fire extinguisher gag - simple but perfectly hilarious. I don't know about you, but it was nearly impossible to watch the Islamic terrorists speak and not hear South Park-ease in my head. I dare you to watch the scene where they find the Iron Man mask in the sand and NOT hear "durka durka jihad kerblakablah".

Looking at the Box Office from the past weekend, you've probably already seen Iron Man 10 times. If not, grab some popcorn and just sit back for a funny action packed movie with a little Suicidal Tenancies thrown in. (The band not a reaction you would have viewing the film I hope)

Monday, April 7, 2008


Booker Brooks, lest we forget.

I had all but prepared for the consistent Clooney head tilt/tick and the squinty Zellweger optical issue, even allowing Clooney a pass under the "promising Director" category for his fine work on CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND. Unfortunately, my preparations were frivolous and naive as 5 minutes into LEATHERHEADS, I was overcome with the feeling of uncomfortable fidgeting and the feeble attempt to remain interested. (Sidenote: I just watched JOHN ADAMS pt. 5 and am noticing my grammar is in it's utmost and proper English form tonight - bear with me). It seems Clooney was inspired by Howard Hawks ability to direct the rapid fire screwball comedy HIS GIRL FRIDAY and decided the public's endearing, "this generation's Cary Grant" title was reason enough for such an undertaking. Well public, I have a bone to pick with you. There is no actor who can compare with Grant's charm, acting chops, physicality, sense of humor, timing, let alone, his attractiveness whether young (HOLIDAY) or old (see FATHER GOOSE and try to tell me otherwise). So let's not be so quick to toss someone when his hair is parted just right and slicked back with the appropriate amount of product, somewhat resembles the debonair Grant, into the same league. He will always be "that guy who played Booker on ROSEANNE" to me.

Now. That being said, I would never suggest that Clooney hasn't found his sea legs and performed pitch perfect in OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? and MICHAEL CLAYTON. He's in his element in both films surrounded by writer/directors who are able to balance the fine art of their prose with some nifty camera angles. Clooney is his best when he is an actor or a director, but after seeing his latest opus, never should he bother to overburden himself with both heady tasks.

Whoever decided to insert grainy sepia toned still shots into the intro, I'd like to pick your brain and hear how you believed such a stutter step type device was helping to keep up with the fast paced consistency of the manly football game. Every "snapshot" gave us the audience, I'm averaging, about 2 minutes to properly stare at the image while listening to the hokey 1920's music in order for us to completely be indoctrinated into this time period. OR ELSE. The torturous intro aside, we were quickly shoved into the newspaper setting where we were asked to completely ignore Zellweger's inability to match Rosalind Russell's timing and good natured ribbing and just stare at that funny hat she had on. It's got a feather! See? That's comedy! Sigh.

Bear in mind, we're merely 10 minutes into the film by now. I'll do you the favor and not bore you with the next 40 minutes of detail, but just know that the set up is based on Zellweger's character getting the real dirt on Krasinski's wartime hero all American character, but at the same time, Clooney's character has devised a plan to enlist Krasinski into pro football in hopes to turn around the laughable league. Oh no! Two people depending on opposing outcomes! Never fear, we'll forget that completely tangible and understandable plot point and just make it about a love triangle. Zellweger falls for the adorable Krasinski while making googly eyes at Clooney who'd like to snag the snarky news gal for himself. Yadablahetc...

The movie is boring. It's not really about the rise of the pro football league. It's not really about war heroes and the tawdry efforts of the press to ruin everyone. It's not really about college students taking a risk on their livelihoods to join the pros. I think, albeit a hack attempt, it's about the importance of change, and the wisdom, and sometimes fear, that older men have about becoming extinct. It's about giving a nod to American troops, yet suggesting "the truth is out there". The edits are excruciatingly slow and the Commissioner scene was directed and cut with importance, as if we were watching the Constitution of the United States being signed. I'll leave it for you to decide if Clooney actually resorted to an obvious head nod in a train scene to direct an actor when to stand up. Don't worry, that sounds covert, but as evidenced by B.O grosses, you'll be renting this and have plenty of time to catch the obvious cue.

Sports fans, watch ESPN Classic. Screwball comedy fans, watch TCM. Romantic comedy fans, watch WE. There's better judgement and levity in an hour long episode of LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD than there was in this fumbletastic film.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Drillbit Taylor

I tried very hard to watch this movie with the mindset of my pre-teen's - every sarcastic comeback is probably hilarious that I'd be using by week's end, and every scene with the adults was no doubt boring, but slightly entertaining. This worked for the most part, but even at 13 I would have noticed the eerily similar plot structure and tone that DRILLBIT TAYLOR has in common with SCHOOL OF ROCK. Let me share the similarities:

In School of Rock, Jack Black pretends to be a substitute teacher.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen Wilson pretends to be a substitute teacher.
In School of Rock, Jack is using the kids for his own rockstar purposes.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen is using the kids for his own financial purposes.
In School of Rock, Jack teaches the kids how to play instruments and be a rock band.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen teaches the kids how to stand up for themselves and self defence.
In School of Rock, Jack uses the quirky false name (albeit his roommate's) of Ned Schneebly.
In Drillbit Taylor, Owen uses the quirky false name of Dr. Ill Bit (I kid you not).
In both films, the kids turn their back on their mentors only to turn around and use their new found knowledge to overcome an obstacle, and eventually forgive their false hero's.

I could go on and on, but I think it's obvious that the framework had been set for DRILLBIT TAYLOR, Owen just had to show up and do his BOTTLE ROCKET/Dupree character again and keep it PG-13. But hey, if it ain't broke...

The kids, on the other hand, were actually funny and genuine - I especially loved the various musical theater t-shirts that Emmet modeled. They felt a bit naive and sweet, which in today's world, is refreshing as the younger generation is always shown as advanced beyond their years and angry.

I'm positive that Apatow and his Rogan disciples have completely no clue about writing strong, realistic female characters. The KNOCKED UP controversy (SHE would never date HIM) can now take a back seat to the hacky placement of Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann, in a decidedly idiotic teacher role. Her entire relationship with Drillbit is based off of her seeing him steal items from the teachers lounge and then immediate chemistry and the unbelievable allowance that she would buy the obviously made up Dr. Ill Bit name. Slapstick aside, perhaps we'd suspend disbelief that this wacked out teacher would like him, let alone, stay with him through a prison sentence were we given ANY sort of introduction to her character beforehand. All the guys are given a proper set up - heck even Danny McBride (who's hillarious) has a bigger character arc than Leslie Mann's character (who's name I can't remember and am not sure they even gave).

A netflix rental for those morbid people who want to see the pre-incident Owen Wilson and try to dissect if this movie had anything to do with said incident. Also a rental for anyone looking for a few cheap laughs and I'm positive a ton of extras that showcase the obviously cut for time material throughout. They did an edit hack job on the third act that I'm not sure even Steve Brill could recognize the remains. As for the theater, go if you're 13, stay home if you're 30.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


An open letter to Will Ferrell

Dear Will,

This is not an easy letter for me to write. You know how much I love you. I heart your brand of wacky humor more than I love a Venti Latte. And that's a lot. But now, I think you are hurting yourself. Now, I don't have a problem per se' with you tackling one high concept character after another, surrounding yourself with other comedic geniuses and tossing in meager story, just for kicks. But your new film, "Semi-Pro" takes this to a whole new level, and I'm not sure you even bothered with the story this time.

You play Jackie Moon, a strange entrepreneur with a bizarre "hit" single "Love Sexy" (which gets played no less than 5 times in the course of the film). Jackie buys a lesser team of the ABA, the Flint Tropics and becomes the owner/coach/promoter/announcer/player he always dreamed of. If this movie had been about you and your journey, a la "Anchorman" or "Talladega Nights" I don't think I'd have a problem. But, this story isn't about Jackie Moon.

It's about Monix.

Monix -- played by Woody Harrelson, is a washed up bench rider from the NBA, who has a championship ring he never earned, and has a lot to prove. Of course, I got no real introduction to the character...let me rephrase, I got an introduction. Jackie Moon introduces Monix to this Tropics team and basically tells me, the audience "hi, this is a new character, and you don't know this but he's actually the main character, even though you thought it was me. Enjoy the veal."

You can imagine my confusion and consternation when the story suddenly shifted and I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be following.

Will, you are funny. You deserve to be the main character in a movie like this. But in this movie...well, the story was either a distraction from you, or you were a distraction from the story.

I know what you're thinking right now. You want to say "relax, sugar-mammaries, it's just a goofy comedy!" It is a goofy comedy, you're right about that! And there are some high-larious moments, moments as good, and a few even better, than some in previously mentioned films in your oeuvre. The card-playing scene. Bear wrestling. Ridiculous costumed choreography. All fine comedic moments.

But the big question, the one I always ask myself at the end of every film, 'Will I want to watch this over and over again?' I can watch 'Anchorman' a lot. Talladega Nights has some good rewatchability to it. This film...I'm just not sure.

So, while I think you are funny and the film is funny in places, as a's not so good. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind someday. I certainly have before -- a movie grows on a person sometimes, just like kudzu. But for now, I think you and I need a break from each other. It's not you, Will. No tears, my cuddly bear toy. I'll never forget the times we've had. The Ron Burgundy, Frank the Tank, Ricky Bobby fun of it all. And maybe someday, I'll even revisit Jackie Moon, and think fondly on all this, grateful that I gave us another chance.

Until then, stay strong. And classy, San Diego.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Oscarzzzzzz

Get it!?! I added "z's" instead of an "s" cause it's like trying to tell you that the show was boring and I made me sleepy, like when I had a cartoon bubble filled with zzzzzzzzzzz's above my head! It's funny! Just like The OsBores! I could have went with Osbores, so you're welcome!! meh.

I just wanted to voice my extreme happiness that Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress award for her AMAZING portrayal of Edith (in French pronounced strangely Eeedit) Piaf. Even though we here at SisterCritics are tough on the films we see, I'm all for giving credit where it's due, and she deserved that award plus all of Angelina Joile's roles in the future.

Also I wanted to voice my disappointment in seeing American troops showboated in a live feed to announce the anti-war nominated documentaries. Did anyone else feel slimy after that? Heck, even the winners of the award gave the stinkeye to the "fierce" soldier (don't ask don't tell) who announced them. Pro-war or Anti-war, supporting the troops is wholly American and a given, so the haughty Hollywood norm of polite applause was disgusting and disappointing.

As for the low viewership, perhaps that could be fixed by simply NOT showing us hours of clips of old Oscar footage. It only makes us pine for the days Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne were genuinely touched to get an award and the women dressed to impress, not to make the Blackwell list. I'm adamant that younger audiences SHOULD see every old movie possible, but here's a hint Gil Cates - Miley Cyrus alone does not the 13-18 demographic make.

Finally, enough of John Stewart hosting the awards. He's boring, he makes faces instead of jokes, and used to host Short Attention Span Theater on Comedy Central back in the day (reason enough). Ryan Seacrest would do a more sufficient job of keeping the show going. Did anyone see the Indie Spirit Awards? Rainn Wilson killed on that mock Oscars show, why not get him? I'd even prefer Ellen again before having to endure John Stewart's Wii playing filler again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for the Oscars telecast having watched it every year I can remember. This year Shawna and I even had a party and made up little snacks like "Humble Apple Pie" for Atonement, Milkshakes for There Will Be Blood, and Burgers for the hamburger phone in Juno (a stretch but we needed sustenance). So as long as Hollywood is ready to pat itself on the back, I'll do my due diligence to to show up on my couch with snax and sweatpants dreaming of the day I can be there thanking my parents for not putting me in a mental institution for wanting to be in this crazy industry.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Rambo stars two of my favorite leads - Muscles and Bullets. The death count is somewhere around 236 kills for the short one hour 33 minutes. That's somewhere around 3 deaths per minute - Muscles and Bullets were probably very underpaid for the amount of work produced.

Some people are whinning that there's no story in this Rambo - WHAT? Did no one see the AFRICAN QUEEN? In homage fashion, Rambo, like Humphrey Bogart, is a loner who scoffs at the religious blonde missionary, but is convinced to take her and her crew downriver on his rickety boat. In true Bogart fashion, Rambo isn't about to let the woman down and saves her butt at every given moment even with the other Aryan skinny missionary men give him the stink eye. Rambo doesn't take threats well, but still manages to save the world and probably stop a war (like the vigilante Hepburn and Bogart) and save all their hinders in the end. So, erm, last I checked, helping blonde missionaries and killing bad guys was PLENTY of story, thankyouverymuch.

Ramafrican Queen aside, there's a great deal of rambling "Nothing changes" speeches, exploding heads, I'm guessing mosquitos, and rain. So something for the whole family pretty much. Kudos to Stallone who showed the real horrors of Burma. I seriously don't do well in those humid climates and I'm guessing, language aside, there's not much I have in common with the Burmese people other than that wicker rattan papasan chair I bought at Pier One. So in order to show my solidarity with stopping genicide in Burma, I boycot anything Burma and will only go visit if Stallone promises to carry me piggyback the whole time. Fair?

Obviously, not for kids or anyone who barfs at the sight of blood and people's throats being ripped out - BY RAMBO HAND! Do see it if you want to feel superior to a third world country and can enjoy a great, and simple, 80's style action flick.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


So this one time, I was late to a lunch and I felt soooo sorry, and I just kept apologizing over and over again, but the person I was meeting was so irate, they were like, "whatever, just be on time next time, ok?" I took that to mean I was forgiven, but I sooo wasn't.

So then, like, the *next* time I was late, the person was like, "seriously, do you own a watch?" Clearly I was not forgiven. Sheesh.

Of course, all of this is minutae compared to the humongous error made by a kid in "Atonement" which leads to prison, war, marriage, death...I mean, who knew? Fortunately for me, none of my transgressions of tardiness led to anyone going to jail or being in a war. Then again, I also haven't had the opportunity to indulge in a 5 minute tracking shot of Dunkirk. My life was a little empty until I saw that.

Keira Knightley needs to eat some pie. In fact, I'm thinking of going down to Marie Callender's right now and ordering her one of everything. The girl is a stick figure! At least when she was in "Bend it Like Beckham" she had muscle tone. Now she looks like she could break in half if she were standing in the way of her former soccer (sorry, football) playing self from a few years ago. I will say though, she's got pouty expressions down to a science.

And who knew Mr. Tumnus would be so hot? Actually, several people I know were like, "duh, James McAvoy is the hottest thing ever!" so it was apparently just me who didn't know the utter hotness of Hottie McHotterson.

And clearly Saoirse Ronan, the aforementioned kid with bad eyesight is awesomely good. If she wasn't the film would suck, but she's actually a good child actress, so yay for Saoirse.

I didn't read the book (Books bad! Movies good!) so I have no opinion on how this treats the source material, but I didn't hear too much whining as we left the theater, so it must have been okay.

The movie is very beautiful and it's nominated for lots of awards, so that means it must be good. Because I believe everything I read from other people.

Well, I liked it...I wouldn't say it's a laugh a minute -- it's a drama. You get what you pay for.

Oh and I don't care if you don't like this review. I'm not apologizing for it.