So this is part II of my quite crazy summer catch up. for me and I haven’t written a ton of reviews. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been seeing movies though, and this is going to serve as a catch up of sorts. I am going to just throw out some quick thoughts on anything I didn’t review in the order they came out this summer. Here is Part I, and without further ado, Part II:
Transformers: The Dark of the Moon – Better than Revenge of the Fallen, the effects are the best they have been yet in the series (and some of ILM’s best), and the 3D was the best live of the summer. The film’s final hour is what you have heard the most about this film but I am not going to lie I walked away disappointed. This might have been because I was really tired but the action is so disjointed and has no flow with little sense to the mayhem. Character’s are fighting one minute and captured the next, the marines are trying to sneak across the Chicago River, where no one can apparently get to, but when they get there another squad of guys is just waiting for them somehow, and fucking Optimus Prime is stuck hanging from a building for half the time. Hanging from cables, with a giant fucking sword and a rocket pack, and he can’t get out. This guy can chop countless Decepticons’ heads off can’t cut a couple cables; please. It all looks great but I wish it made more sense.
I really enjoyed the film up until the end though and though the NASA mash-up that the film uses to tie in history was a nice touch, even if X-Men beat them too it this summer. The film streamlines things quite a bit and just hits the ground running. The film still has a couple of ridiculous plot twists and diversions, but they blend much better into the narrative then Revenge of the Fallen did; which I don’t think was nearly as bad as people made it out to be. Still not enough Bumblebee though; damn shame.
Transformers: The Dark of the Moon is a C
Larry Crowne – Tom Hanks’ directs and stars in this light and fun film that just kind of does its own thing. Very timely and relevant to our financial times, Hanks makes a film that everyone should be able to connect with but a lot of people reviled for some reason. The film doesn’t follow the clichéd narrative of the rom-com and plays out as this fun character study of a guy that has to deal with tough times. Filling the film with likable characters and no real villains, Hanks creates such a friendly environment that is easy to just sit back and enjoy.
Julia Roberts gets to play against type here and she and Hanks provide a middle aged look at the pains of having to straighten their lives out when you are supposed to be set for life, based off the American Dream. The mo-ped gang is a great imagery and Hanks’ relationship with Roxana Ortega, the gang leader, is one of the highlights of the film. Ortega is sweet and sexy but Hanks’ never takes the movie to where you would expect it to go there. Instead he just mines it for some great bits of awkward humor. The classroom elements of the film work quite well on top of it all and they find the perfect balance to not over expose this element of the film. The film’s ability to just flow from character to character, giving us just the right little look into their world makes Hanks’ film easy to watch and enjoy.
Larry Crowne is a B-
Monte Carlo – The only reason I saw this movie was because it featured a score from Michael Giacchino, and in that aspect it was worth the trip. The score is sort of a Ratatouille follow up in spirit, great to listen too. The film itself is tween fare and while it looks gorgeous and is an alright movie, now one over the age of 15 would probably enjoy this movie. Its so bubble gum and fantasy for little girls I imagine they ate it up, but the fantasy that the film sells is kind of disturbing in that girls are growing up thinking this life is attainable for just anyone. But that is why we go to the movies right?
The girls in the film, Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester, all do fine work, get their boys, fall ass backwards into an extravagant vacation, and finally even save the day in the end in this perfect little film that only needs a bow on top to make it the perfect wrap up. If this sounds like your cup of tea it does that well, I just don’t think that is something we should be selling to our youth. Looks and sounds great though
Monte Carlo is an F
Bad Teacher – One of a plethora of R rated comedies this summer, this one was another average entry for the genre. Cameron Diaz is fun as the crazy awful person that she is in the film but she certainly could have gone farther. Lucy Punch is equally as good as the slowly devolving goody two shoes and she actually goes a bit further than Diaz to our enjoyment. The men in the film, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake, are both regulated to the background and have both done better work as well. Each manage to squeeze out a few good laughs, but the ladies do most of the heavy lifting. In fact, Segel’s lack of face time in the movie just makes it feel like he was working on the show once a week or so.
The film is all in all rather forgettable; I did enjoy it while watching it though. Seeing it on opening weekend with a big crowd probably lent itself to that but I definitely feel like this isn’t going to grow on future viewings; which I don’t plan on really having intentionally. The film does kind of have a bit twisted ending in who comes out victorious, but the film covertly plays it out instead of signaling how messed up the ending really is; especially since there isn’t really a good person in this film. That was interesting though they didn’t run with it.
Bad Teacher is a D+
Friends With Benefits – Will Gluck has now pumped out back to back solid comedies with this and Easy A, the latter being the better of the two, and I think he is a comedy director to watch. This is the better version of this movie this year, No Strings Attached being the other competitor, and it does so by its lead having far better chemistry. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis work well off one another and the dialogue comes fast and furious as they go at each other. The supporting cast also rocks, as it did in Easy A, with Patricia Clarkson and Woody Harrelson leading the way. Harrelson in particular lights up the screen and I wish we got more of him (Though they continued to perpetuate that he can dunk here). Richard Jenkins is good as usual here as well, but his part is very manipulative and an easy emotional hook for the audience; they pay it off well though.
The movies biggest short coming is that it tries to have it both ways with its opinion on classic romantic comedy tropes. The film bashes those motifs continually and then succumbs to it in the end. It is so over the top it could still be part of the joke, but I think that they also are hoping the moment wins over the suckers looking for those big fake movie moments. The film does do a fine job of staying away from that most of the time, though they do keep the sex rather tame for an R rated movie. I have never seen a sheet so magically hide persons’ privates so well. Fans of Easy A should sign up in a heartbeat, this seems to have a similar vibe and voice, and Kunis and Timberlake continue to prove they are a pair of good actors; Kunis especially.
Friends with Benefits is a B
Horrible Bosses – The great cast lifts Seth Gordon’s second feature effort above his abysmal first, Four Christmases, but the talent involved feels like it should have delivered more. I mean, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, how is the movie not great; or even pretty good. The story is simplistic and very little actually happens over the course of the film. The banter is humorous throughout but rarely laugh out loud funny and they also complete under utilize all off the stars in the film beyond the lead three. I mean, Farrell and Foxx are barely in the movie and they are arguably the funniest parts of the movie. It is very nice to see Aniston having a good time and doing something different here but I wanted more.
It was nice to see Charlie Day show a bit of range here and not just screaming the whole time, even as much as I like that, and Sudeikis might have put in his best work of the year. Bateman is Bateman here and we have had better Bateman. The film is just ok from start to finish but Seth Gordon can’t be run through the ringer yet because he made The King of Kong, but I was certainly let down and expecting more from this one. Oh well, at least it wasn’t as horrible as Four Christmases.
Horrible Bosses is a D+