Posts Tagged ‘2011 movies’


Headhunters (2011)

May 10, 2015

Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnove McCody Lund, Nikolaj Colste-Waldau
Director: Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Bottom Line: My parents have been hassling me to watch Headhunters for months, bringing it up every time I see them and posting on my Facebook page, so I was going to have to raise hell if it wasn’t any good. They’ve been known to put some staunch praise on questionable films (see: August Rush) so it’s not like Headhunters was a lock to be awesome.

I am happy to report that it is – very awesome. It’s a 2011 film that hails from Norway and is directed by Morten Tyldum, whose The Imitation Game was recently nominated for Best Picture. Aksel Hennie, who looks like a Norwegian cross between Billy Crystal and Christopher Walken, stars as Roger, a short man that works as a headhunter – someone that recruits suitable candidates for open positions at various corporations – and steals valuable paintings in his spare time. I say he is short because the whole film seems to revolve around this insecurity. He states at the beginning of the film that he “overcompensates in other ways,” and uses the extra income he gets from stealing paintings to project a lavish lifestyle he otherwise could not afford. It all helps make him feel worthy of his trophy wife played by Lund. It’s a system that seems to work for Roger until he steals a highly valuable painting from Jamie Lannister (of Game Of Thrones), who quickly turns Roger’s world upside down by having an affair with his wife and trying to kill him.

From there, Headhunters quickly becomes a game of cat and mouse (and dog), with Roger on the run for his life. And it gets absurd – fantastically absurd. Part of the reason Headhunters works so well is because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s listed as a crime thriller, but comedy could easily be added to its genre specifications. As awful as the situation was at times, I couldn’t help but laugh at Roger’s elusive tactics. There’s a scene that involves an outhouse that makes the one in Schindler’s List seem tame by comparison.

Headhunters is smart, funny, and plenty entertaining. The acting is good in general, but Hennie is particularly amusing as Roger, although he probably wouldn’t make the best poker player. For someone with so many secrets, he wears his displeasure plainly on his face whenever he is unhappy about something – such as running into a law enforcement agent who is tracking art thieves. I’m not surprised that this film propelled Tyldum to Hollywood success. It’s an enjoyable ride and somewhere in this crazy movie there’s a message about being yourself, but it’s difficult to take away anything serious from such a fun film.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Must See/Excellent)


A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011)

January 19, 2012

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb, Nick Kroll, Tyler Labine
Director: Alex Gregory, Peter Huyck

Quick Thoughts: Thought this might be one of those under-the-radar solid comedies but A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is a real snooze fest. No seriously; I fell asleep no less than three times while I was watching it. As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, the worst kind of movie is the comedy that isn’t funny and this film’s humor is completely MIA. And the story is absurd. A group of 30-something losers decide to throw a Labor Day orgy when the house they’ve been partying in for years is being put up for sale. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I always get Jason Sudeikis and Ed Helms (from The Office and The Hangover) confused and then I remember how to tell the difference: Ed Helms is actually funny. For real, I wanted to turn this movie off and send it back numerous times while watching it. The best you’re going to get out of this film is a few chuckles. Don’t waste your time watching it.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Ew.
Sequel Potential: Naw.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: Quite a bit. Nothing good though.
Grade: 2.5/10 (Horrible/Skip It)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 35% Audience: 44%
IMDB Rating: 6/10
Recommendation: I couldn’t possibly recommend this to anyone. But my roommate said he liked it, so there’s an audience out there for it somewhere. I say stay away.


The Change-Up (2011)

December 19, 2011

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann
Director: David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers)

Quick Thoughts: The Change-Up is really just a rehash of things Freaky Friday, Trading Places, and, to some extent, Big have all already done more successfully. In the film, family man Jason Bateman and womanizing, weed smoking, and soft-core porn star Ryan Reynolds switch bodies after urinating in a magical fountain together and wishing they had the life of the other. After the film opened with Bateman’s character getting a mouthful of diarrhea while changing diapers, I was fully expecting to hate this movie, but wound up finding it moderately endearing and somewhat watchable. We’re not breaking new ground here and the level of comedy doesn’t make up for that, but the film isn’t the train wreck I was anticipating. The best aspect of the movie is being able to see Bateman play against type when his body is possessed by Reynolds’ foul-mouthed, free living persona. The film has some funny and charming moments, and while it’s nothing I’d really recommend, it’s not a total waste of time either.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Questionably worth one viewing.
Sequel Potential: Shouldn’t have any.
Nudity: Leslie Mann gets naked. Oliva Wilde does not. Bad beat.
Grade: 3.5/10 (Skip It/Netflix It)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 24% Audience: 52%
IMDB Rating: 6.4/10
Recommendation: A decent comedy that is a little better than expected, but probably still not worth your time.


Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest (2011)

December 19, 2011

Starring: A Tribe Called Quest and associates
Director: Michael Rapaport

Quick Thoughts: This documentary serves as an homage to the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Director Michael Rapaport spends the duration of the film telling the personal stories of the group and then tensions that broke them apart with the voice of a long time fan hoping to reunite one of his favorite rap ensembles. Whether or not you’re a fan of the musical genre should matter little; while this film is certainly a testament to Tribe’s accomplishments, it’s ultimately a story about friendship and how instant fame and success can hinder the relationships of people. Beats, Rhymes, & Life is the perfect hip-hop film, highlighting one of rap’s best all-time groups and rekindling my own love for their music, while telling a story of how two best friends can become silent enemies due to creative differences.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: A must own for any credible hip-hop fan worthy of multiple viewings.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: None Audience: None
IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
Recommendation: One of my favorite films of the year and a no-brainer for hip-hop junkies.


Bad Teacher (2011)

October 27, 2011

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segal, Lucy Punch
Director: Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Orange County)

Quick Thoughts: Bad Teacher is a predictable, raunchy comedy that features a decent performance from Cameron Diaz and a miserable one from Justin Timberlake. JT is an underrated actor, but his character in this movie is tediously bizarre and makes you wonder why he decided to take the roll. The story is about a gold digger that works a day job as a teacher while she tries to secure a man that can take care of all her needs financially. She’s superficial, selfish, and completely uninterested in her profession. She smokes pot in the school parking lot, has no regard for her students, and plays movies in class. All day. Every day. The movie made me chuckle a few times, particularly when Diaz decides to screen the movie Scream for her class. After a series of films that center around teachers and school (like Stand & Deliver and Dangerous Minds), it’s pretty amusing that she thinks Scream fits the theme simply because Sidney and Co. are high school students and a principal gets murdered. Not to mention that film is rated a hard R. That said, the story is predictable and the character development is really shoddy. By the end of the film, you still don’t really believe this woman is a good person.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Nothing more than a one-time viewing for me.
Sequel Potential: Zero potential.
Nudity: Diaz’s character has her eyes set on breast implants, so we get some good looks at some doctored tig oles.
Grade: 4.5/10 (Netflix It/Worth A Watch)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 45% Audience: 39%
IMDB Rating: 5.8/10
Recommendation: A moderately funny film with a predictable plot. Not a big deal if you skip, but not a complete waste of time if you watch it.


A Few Movie Reviews

September 7, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve done some movie review updates and the list of movies I need to talk about has been stockpiling, so I’m just going to get it all out at once.

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011) – This movie is straight grimy. It has the production value of a B-movie and is as gruesome as anything I’ve seen in years. There’s not a lot of story here, but you could tell that much by watching a trailer. If you like ultra-violence and tons of gore, you will be pleased. 6/10 (Recommended)

Source Code (2011) – This film had enough solid word of mouth during its theatrical run that it has been my most highly anticipated DVD release for quite some time… and it did not disappoint. With the unique premise of being able to relive the last 8 minutes of someone’s life in order to extract crucial information (in this case, the identity of a serial terrorist to prevent a future attack), Source Code is immediately engaging and keeps a quick pace throughout its short run time. Jake Gyllenhaal is great as Colonel Stevens. I enjoyed his swagger in this film. One of the more enjoyable films I’ve seen in 2011 with enough replay value to make me want to buy it. 8/10 (Excellent)

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) – Matthew McConaughey stars as the title lawyer, a cocky defense attorney that finds himself representing a manipulative–and very guilty–client played by Ryan Phillipe. Surprising, thrilling, and entertaining, The Lincoln Lawyer is a solid court drama with McConaughey’s best performance since Frailty in 2001. 6.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)

Trollhunter (2010) – A Norwegian documentary/hoax in the vein of The Blair Witch Project focusing on Norway’s little known troll problem. A group of film students start investigating a bear hunter they soon learn has his targets set on much bigger game. Unlike Blair Witch, Trollhunter doesn’t leave anything to the imagination… the suspense level isn’t quite the same, but I must admit, the trolls are visually impressive creatures. For what looks and feels like a low budget fauxumentary, no expense was spared on this film’s monsters. They look great. And real. Are they? 6/10 (Recommended)

I Am Number Four (2011) – Yawn. I’m a little offended by how many people have told me they wish I could be more like James Frey. Between the controversy surrounding the authenticity of his A Million Little Pieces and this uninteresting Superman rip-off written under a pseudonym, I can think of plenty of writers I’d rather to aspire to be like. Obviously I wasn’t a big fan of the story here, but the film adaptation only makes things worse. Alex Pettyfer might have potential as a leading man, but let’s not start his career with a franchise like this. Dianna Agron, great on the Fox TV show “Glee”, is incredibly disappointing here, playing her character like a piece of stale bread and making me wonder if Quinn Fabray is the extent of her acting skills. The whole film has the feel of an MTV movie or an overblown (and bad) “Smallville” episode. Fuck I Am Number Four and fuck James Frey. 2.5/10 (Horrible/Skip It)

Blue Valentine (2010) – A bleak, depressing, and honest look at the evolution of modern courtship and marriage. Blue Valentine focuses on a young couple, Cindy and Dean, interweaving its story between the blissful days of their “honeymoon stage” and years later when they merely try to co-exist with each other. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are both fantastic in the lead roles, with Williams’ performance being particularly fascinating since it comes fresh on the heels of the death of her own husband, Heath Ledger. Whatever it’s goal, the film is a stark reminder that love doesn’t always have a happy ending and many young people jump into a legal connection without much thought. Not exactly a fun film, but definitely a necessary one. 7/10 (Must See)


Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011)

July 11, 2011

Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro
Director: Michael Bay (Transformers, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Bad Boys, The Rock)

Quick Thoughts: It’s no surprise what you’re getting with a Michael Bay movie: explosions, big action sequences, hot women, and a weak script. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is more of the same. If you liked the first two movies–and I found them enjoyable–you’ll like this one too. The absence of Megan Fox stings a bit (and is weakly explained), but Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is pretty hot herself. The acting in these movies has always been suspect and the story isn’t any more interesting than it has been in the past. I can barely remember it now. The first landing on the moon also brings about the discovery of the first Transformer robot, a machine that is later resurrected in present time and wreaks havoc on Earth. Okay…

Obviously the action sequences in this movie are superb and the finale is pretty damn climactic. But there’s really no need for a Transformers movie (or any Michael Bay film for that matter) to be pushing 3 hours in length. Just like the second installment, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon suffers from some pretty miserable pacing and a third of the film could have easily been left on the cutting room floor without sacrificing what adds up to a rather weak plot anyways.

One shouldn’t be disappointed with this movie, however. Michael Bay isn’t going to suddenly become a stellar director, so there’s no reason for big expectations. Not quite as good as the original, but not as forgettable as the second movie, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon runs way too long, but is certainly worth seeing on the big screen, although the 3D aspect doesn’t add much to the experience.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Any movie I struggle through the first time doesn’t get much replay value from me.
Sequel Potential: The franchise is a cash cow… why stop now?
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 5.5/10 (Worth Watching/Recommended)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 36% Audience: 90%
IMDB Rating:6.7/10
Recommendation: The Transformers movies are ones you have to see in a movie theater, and as long as you don’t go with unreasonable expectations, you should be satisfied with this installment.