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A Movie-Hopping Failure starring One for the Money and They Grey

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on February 7, 2012 by sdoob


Like Timmy’s experience with Contraband, mine was similar with One for the Money.  I was so excited after seeing the trailer, I invited friends to go see an afternoon matinee.  It was a failure.  I really want to dig into One for the Money but there’s not much to say.  It is not only not good, it is clear from the start director Julie Anne Anderson cannot make it happen on any level.  In short, we left.  When we were seated in the adjacent theater, my friend said, “That may have been the flattest movie I’ve ever seen.” 

A month and a half ago, I realized my Xmas spirit was lacking as usual.  So I took out Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich from the library.  A book on tape, ready by Lorelei King.  It was an Xmas story and it introduced me to all the characters of the world of Stephanie Plum, who is the narrator and protagonist of many Evanovich novels.  Lorelei King, the reader of the book, was completely over the top and hilarious.  She did a much better job with Evanovich’s style and zany characters than the millions of dollars and hundreds of people who were involved in the feature film.  Heigl, by the way, was one of the executive producers of One for the Money.

And one other thing about the movie: the voiceover.  The only explanation I can come up with is they were trying to be so faithful to Evanovich the screenwriters wrote in all the non-dialogue parts from the book as voiceover for Heigl.  But it’s a movie.  We don’t need to hear visual descriptions.  It is no longer necessary for the author to help us visualize the scene.  Apparently when I left to get more popcorn, Stephanie Plum told the audience more than once that an onscreen car was yellow.

Before we move on to The Grey, let’s talk about previews, because I feel like a fool for getting so excited about movies that are obviously going to be bad.  Who are these genius editors?  They construct preview after preview that are almost always better than their longer counterparts.  Why aren’t they editing features?  Or directing them?  Or starring in them?  Can they function – and function is a giant understatement – only in the two and a half minute trailer medium?  Because so many movies – One for the Money and Contraband most definitely included – are worse than their previews.  In both aforementioned titles, the one liners land better, the sexual tension exists, and the movie stars’ smiles and mannerisms are magic – except that only exists in the preview, not in the actual movie.  But what am I going to rely on if not the previews?  Movie reviews?  No.  That was a joke.


So The Grey.  Let’s see.  Well first of all, it seemed like a masterpiece after thirty minutes of One for the Money.  But anything would have. Continue reading

Catch-Up: Hopscotch (1980)

Posted in Catch-up, Review, Samuel C. Doob with tags , , on January 16, 2012 by sdoob

There is a pattern in movies that disappoints me every time, something I’m still trying to get used to: the bad second half.

Hopscotch is a good example.  I had never heard of this movie: directed by Ronald Neame, released in 1980.  My friend bought it for me because of the cover: Walter Matthau at a typewriter, looking disheveled with a cup of coffee.  

It turned out to be a spy movie.  Now I’ve always had problems with James Bond.  Mostly because I don’t identify with the man.  Does he have B.M.s?  Probably, but they look and smell like ice cubes.  Does he have emotions?  Sort of, sometimes he does.  Does he drink beer with a straw?  Definitely not, what a stupid question.  James Bond’s just not my type of man then.  But a spy like James Bond played by Walter Matthau?  Amazing. 

I was so excited at the beginning of the movie.  Matthau’s Miles Kendig is irresistible; he is in love with a beautiful Austrian woman with a dry sense of humor (Glenda Jackson); he never carries a gun; and he is very, very smart.  After Kendig loses his position as an international spy, he decides to write a memoir, a tell-all, mostly to torment his old boss (Ned Beatty).  Kendig sends it, chapter by chapter, to all the people all over the world who should not be reading it.  So, as a result, he’s on the lam. 

At every turn for the first half of the movie, I was charmed, surprised, and laughing out loud.  Then came the second half: predictable, unending, spotted with scenes that flat-out didn’t work. 

Why does this happen so often?  Continue reading

Horses! Horses! Horses!

Posted in Review, Samuel C. Doob with tags , , on January 10, 2012 by sdoob

Basically, it’s a mess that’s never boring, but the director is Steven Spielberg and he gets to do whatever he wants like have WWI stop and both sides ignore their differences to save the war horse and then the owner of the horse – temporarily blind – does his special hand whistle to get the horse to come to him, and guess what? the British army parts like the red sea to let the horse come back to his man.  A little bit later an old man who has lost everything – including all his money – shows up with a unexplained shit load of money; he’s traveled to England from Germany, and he buys the war horse in an auction because it meant everything to his deceased granddaughter.  But then he gives it to the blind homo-erotic guy because, why not? it’s only all his money and the horse that his dead granddaughter loved.  And that’s going to be the end of the movie, wait almost, there’s going to be a long shot of the horse with a pink sunset behind him.  That’s not even good Spielberg.  That’s bullshit. 
Oh and it’s one of those movies that the whole time it felt like a book.  It was adapted into a play, which my mother thought was magic.  I told her, “Don’t see the movie.”

Adam Sandler, Method Actor

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 7, 2012 by sdoob

Okay.  I liked this movie.  Is that such a crime?  Is my opinion no longer valid?  Maybe.  Maybe you liked The Descendants.  A lot of people did.  Including the founder of this website.  And now I’m basically telling you I liked Jack and Jill

“Which one is Jack and Jill?”

“Oh, it’s the one where Adam Sandler has a twin sister and she’s played by Adam Sandler?”

“You saw that?”

“Yeah.  On a date.”

You know why I liked this movie?  I’ll tell you.  Because Adam Sandler played Jill, the twin sister, so well, so thoroughly, I thought of her as a woman.  I was not taken out of scenes because I was thinking it was Adam Sandler in a dress and a wig.  Even in scenes featuring her muscular thighs: I believed the character, full on.  And I believed in her, too.  I liked her, and I would have liked to talk to her.  My friend (who despises the movie though he has never seen it) said it was supposed to be mean spirited towards Jill.  I didn’t feel that way.  I thought it was an affectionate and, more importantly, an honest portrayal of a funny, lonely, adorable woman from the nice part of the Bronx.  

By the way, everything else in the movie – the male Adam Sandler character, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, other side characters – is bad and not worth talking about. 

Finally, the movie begins and ends with supposed real twins talking about what it’s like being twins.  This did not sit well because a) all those couples in When Harry Met Sally… are actors, and b) because we know the whole movie is using green screens constantly, so how do we know it’s not one person multiplied?

The Descendants

Posted in Review on December 9, 2011 by sdoob

This movie blows.  I mean it had its moments and everything.  But it was just bad.  Director Alexander Payne seems to be moving further away from the kinetic editing of Election, and limiting himself to the very basics of feature filmmaking.  In theory, this approach should not distract from the story and the characters whatsoever, but for me, it was the opposite.  It’s the style of a dead serious fourteen year old boy making his first drama.  Plain shots – nothing self-indulgent – and bare naked performances with no flashy editing to hide what we normally don’t see when we pay ten dollars to see a movie: actors not making it happen. 

When I suggested the idea of going to my friend, she said, “Is it one of those Middle-Aged Man Pain movies?”

“Yeah, it is,” I said.  “It really is, actually.”

“Those movies are so boring!”

I hadn’t considered it.  I like middle aged men who are in pain, unless they drive sports cars.  Regardless, this is very much a middle-aged-man-that-stares-into-space-a-lot-and-he’s-got-a-complicated-relationship-with-his-kids-and-he-has-to-try-to-fix-everything-and-he’s-such-a-mess movie.  So if that’s what you like – like if you liked A Serious Man or Alexander Payne’s 2002 failure, About SchmidtThe Descendants might do it for you.  It got a lot of good reviews.

Okay.  Positive things: the second half is better than the first half.  When can you say that about a movie?  The story sometimes gets better and it distracts from the stilted acting and clunky cinematography.  Also, the thesis, at least early on, is George Clooney cares on an emotional level more that his wife was cheating on him than that she’s dying.  But yeah, that’s it.  The movie blows.

Spirit Animals: Happy Feet 2

Posted in Review with tags , , on December 9, 2011 by sdoob

A joy. I don’t know if it will stand the test of time.  I don’t know really why I’m saying that.  There is a plot.  But frankly, it’s a little tedious.  The movie relies on good characters, a strong message, jokes, and stunning visuals.  Story fits in there but it’s the weak link.  That’s I guess why I wonder about the standing the test of time thing.  Maybe, too, it’s because it’s a sequel.  A sequel is not a classy thing.  It’s almost always about money.  Not that movies aren’t a business, but I think you know what I mean.  Except for Bad Boys II and probably some others I can’t think of, people don’t usually talk about sequels years after they come out.  But now it occurs to me, Babe: Pig In The City  and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior are both sequels directed by George Miller (director of Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two) so I’m probably completely wrong.    If you love chemistry between animated penguins, heart-wrenching opera sung by a baby penguin, or Matt Damon voicing a vulnerable krill – with Brad Pitt as the more confident krill on a life quest.  Let’s talk about that for a second.  I thought it was a little distracting, more than the other celebrity voices, to imagine Brad Pitt in a sound booth.  And I’ll tell you why: because I don’t really like Cormac McCarthy that much, or rather, I can’t pay attention to him for the life of me.  And one time I was doing a two day drive by myself and I went to the library beforehand to get some books on tape.  And there was All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and my thinking was This will be easier to get into, rather than reading the book.  So the next day, I put the tape in – after The Brothers Karamazov was not happening – but I hadn’t read the fine print in the library and when it started, it said, “All The Pretty Horses, read by Brad Pitt.”  And first of all, the man doesn’t enunciate – nor do I; that’s why I can spot it – so I couldn’t understand anything, but more distracting still was imagining Brad Pitt in a sound booth with the music stand and the photocopied Cormac McCarthy manuscript.  But anyway, Brad Pitt wasn’t as bad in Happy Feet Two because of the mind-blowing visuals.    I don’t know why this movie got bad reviews.  It’s so much fun; it almost made me cry four times – and I can’t cry so that’s basically like making me cry.  Happy Feet Two is another reason to not look at Rotten Tomatoes.  Rotten Tomatoes gave The Descendents a high number.    I recommend seeing Happy Feet Two in the theater, probably in 3D.  If you can stomach the price.

The Proper Way to Undress: Footloose (2011)

Posted in Review, Samuel C. Doob with tags , , on October 22, 2011 by sdoob

I’m broke.  Really broke.  I don’t need to be going to see Footloose, alone, on a Thursday night.  But all that was forgotten by the time the previews began and the MSG from the popcorn was coursing through my veins.  I was in a state of such giddiness, I laughed uncontrollably during the Adam Sandler preview and I was so excited about the new Katherine Heigl action-comedy, I couldn’t concentrate on the first three minutes of Footloose.  What I’m saying is I was in a heightened emotional state when I saw Footloose, so my opinion might be skewed.  Continue reading


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