Posts Tagged ‘2011 movies’

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The Hangover Part II (2011)

June 1, 2011

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong
Director: Todd Phillips (Due Date, The Hangover, Old School)

Quick Thoughts: I feel like I’ve seen this movie. Wait… I think it was called The Hangover and it came out in 2009. Sorry Todd Phillips, but no one roofied my Mountain Dew at the theater and I actually remember already seeing this same story. That’s essentially what The Hangover Part II is: a remake of a film that came out two years ago featuring the exact same actors. Sure, the setting is different–we’re in Bangkok this time–but the antics are only slight variations of what worked the first time around. Unfortunately, what made the original so good was how surprisingly funny the script was and the solid comedic performances from a breakthrough cast. Well, the element of surprise is gone for the sequel, giving the film a very bland flavor and a sense of “been there, done that.” Honestly, this film is such a rehash of the original that ninety minutes into it, I was shocked they hadn’t found a way to work Mike Tyson into the script yet… and then he “shocks” us by making an appearance at Stu’s wedding. Yawn.

Zack Galifianakis is still pretty funny as the sociopath Alan and Ken Jeong’s character is inexplicably written into a bigger role, but Bradley Cooper is stale and Ed Helms is basically reduced to jumping around like an idiot, although the film’s best sequence does involve Helms’ encounter with Thai hookers. I have to give credit to Jeong for his willingness to showcase what is possibly the smallest adult penis on the planet. That takes balls, and judging from his tiny package there’s not much physical evidence that he has any. Mason Lee plays Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy, a 16 year academic prodigy that immediately becomes Alan’s enemy and a potential source of constant laughs, but he becomes this film’s Doug when he’s lost after the blackout and The Wolfpack spends the majority of the movie trying to locate him, wasting the film’s biggest opportunity for fresh humor.

If The Hangover was a laugh riot, its sequel is a mere chuckle fest. The first act drags quite a bit and the last two acts aren’t particular funny either. By a long shot, the funniest part of the movie is the end credits, when we again get to see the night in question play out through the various pictures taken. Phillips and co. struck pay dirt with The Hangover, but its sequel brings nothing new to the table.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Not much.
Sequel Potential: In 5 days, the film already surpassed the $100 million mark, but won’t benefit from the same great word-of-mouth that the original had so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it fall short of that film’s total gross. Regardless, it’s going to do well enough to warrant another sequel, which will probably be even more ridiculous and unoriginal than this one was.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: Tons… both female and male.
Grade: 4.5/10 (Netflix It/Worth Watching)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 35% Audience: 94%
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
Recommendation: There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. Guys looking for a good “bro” comedy are probably still better off going to see Bridesmaids, a film that has gotten the same unavoidable awesome word-of-mouth that the original Hangover received. Don’t take my word for it though, most people I’ve talked to loved this movie and the general public has rated it very favorably, so if you’re in the mood for a completely unimaginative and mindless comedy, this is probably right up your alley.

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Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011)

May 30, 2011

Starring: Justin Bieber
Director: Jon M. Chu (Step Up 3D, Step Up 2: The Streets)

Quick Thoughts: I can’t say I own Justin Bieber’s album, but I can admit I admire his talent and success. This film basically documents his shockingly rapid rise to fame and culminates with his sold out concert at the world famous Madison Square Gardens. It’s marvelously edited, interweaving home videos from Bieber’s childhood with more recent footage of the young prodigy embracing his newfound fame. Never Say Never is presented as an underdog story, but that’s a tough pill to swallow as we can see that the star possessed immense confidence and talent from a very young age. Granted, selling out MSG at age 16 is remarkable, but one gets the feeling while watching Justin’s story unfold that future success was inevitable. Bieber is not only profoundly talented, he’s also blessed with pop star good looks and natural charisma. I’m not going to knock on the kid’s work ethic, but it’s not like he grew up in the Detroit projects and had to fight against all odds like Eminem did. The right person happened to watch his YouTube videos and happened to have some solid connections in the music business. Case closed. Never Say Never works as a documentary that celebrates Bieber’s rise to fame, but as an underdog story, I’ll take 8 Mile any day.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Not much unless you’re a fanatic.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 64% Audience: 67%
IMDB Rating: 1.3/10 (WTF…)
Recommendation: Obviously a must own for Bieber fanatics, but I also think it’s worth seeing for any fan of music in general, especially those that aren’t familiar with Bieber’s story. It’s easy to dismiss JB as the latest teeny-bopper and pop fad, but this documentary gives a deeper glimpse into the world of someone that’s clearly a lasting talent. I won’t go as far as to call him the next Michael Jackson, but there’s a lot of potential here for future greatness.

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Scream 4 (2011)

April 25, 2011


Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Alison Brie
Director: Wes Craven (A Nightmare On Elm Street, the Scream franchise, New Nightmare)

Quick Thoughts: After a refreshing, original film that changed the landscape of slasher films in the mid-90s the Scream franchise retired in quiet fashion after 2000’s disappointing Scream 3. 11 years later, it’s a new decade and slasher films have taken on a new trend of torture horror led by Eli Roth and the Saw franchise giving the Scream creators something new to talk about. Along with fresh material to reference, the advances in technology in the past decade are utilized heavily in the new film, with the killer taking things to the next level by filming the murders.

For a series that was legitimately intense and chilling when it first started, it doesn’t take long for Scream 4 to establish its tongue-in-cheek tone with back-to-back false openings. By the time you get to the real opening, you half expect the writers to pull the rug out from under you again and this feeling never left me throughout the film, which ultimately made it a lot less scary than it could have been.

Scream has always been noteworthy for its characters’ clever banter about horror films and that trait is still in tact. From Kristen Bell and Anna Paquing talking Saw at the beginning or Sidney Prescott’s cousin Jill and her friends discussing movies, there are enough references to the genre to make any horror fanatic happy.

Ultimately, despite a new decade of movies to reference, technological advances, and ten years of time off to come up with fresh material, Scream 4 feels like more of the same. You can systematically eliminate potential killers: the more likely someone is to be a suspect, the easier it is to cross them off the list. For instance, Jill’s ex-boyfriend, Trevor, is only on screen to point fingers at. There’s never any character development for him outside of being a potential suspect. The characters of Dewey and Sidney are mostly tired. For someone that has been the target of three mass murder sprees, Sidney Prescott seems ridiculously unprepared. Survivor or not, at some point, you’d think it’d be smart to carry a gun at all times. Like all Scream films, there’s a surprise ending where the killer is revealed and this film is no different. I saw a glimmer of hope that the writers were going to grow some balls and go a different, more interesting, risk-taking route, but once again, I found myself slightly disappointed, like I was with most of the movie.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: I think the film’s faults will be more forgivable over multiple viewings. I’m guessing once you get past the initial disappointment, Scream 4 is a pretty decent slasher flick.
Sequel Potential: Rumors of a 5th and 6th installment are already out there.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: Never in a Scream unfortunately.
Grade: 5.5/10 (Worth A Watch/Recommended)
Recommendation: I was expecting director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson to bring their A-games and we didn’t get that, so I wound up being mostly disappointed. Still, the acting and dialogue in this movie are quality and Scream 4 is still a fun watch even if it’s not really bringing much new to the table. Fans of the previous films, or the genre in general, should definitely check it out.

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Sucker Punch (2011)

April 3, 2011


Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung
Director: Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300, Dawn Of The Dead)

Quick Thoughts: Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch follows in the visual footsteps of his previous films 300 and Watchmen, but fails to capture the endearing qualities of either of those films. The action sequences pale in comparison to those of 300 and the story lacks the substance and depth of the script in Watchmen. I didn’t walk away from Sucker Punch thinking I just saw a terrible film, it’s just extremely underwhelming. The story isn’t interesting, the characters are mostly bland, and the acting is mediocre at best. I like Jena Malone in general, but no one else really brought anything special to the table and lead actress Emily Browning as Baby Doll was particularly lifeless. If I’m supposed to find her performance sexually appealing or empowering, mission failed. Sucker Punch started out promising enough but I was over it within the first thirty minutes and ready to move on to other things. Even with mild expectations, I found this movie to be a pretty big disappointment. As a huge Superman fan, I’m definitely scared of what Snyder is going to do to that franchise.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: 2-3 viewings.
Sequel Potential: It’s tough to see where the story goes from here, but if it does well in the box office, a sequel is probably likely…
Oscar Potential: Maybe a visual effects nod, but probably not.
Nudity: Rated PG-13… by far the worst aspect of the film. Five hot chicks starring and no nudity? Do these people not know how to make money?
Grade: 4/10 (Netflix It)
Recommendation: Sucker Punch is a high octane action film that relies heavily on impressive visuals and it practically bored me to death. I say skip it.

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Limitless (2011)

March 26, 2011


Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish
Director: Neil Burger (The Illusionist)

Quick Thoughts: Limitless asks the question: what if we could use the full power of our brains? Unfortunately, the film’s answer isn’t all that exciting: kill the stock market, get a haircut, and win your ex back. Yes, because if I had superhuman intelligence, I’d use it to keep banging the same ordinary chick I’ve been with for years. OK, Bradley Cooper’s character does write a supposedly fantastic novel in an absurdly short amount of time, but who knows what’s so special about the book, because we’re never told anything about it, nor does its success have any bearing on the film’s story whatsoever. I like the concept in Limitless, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. As expected, our hero becomes addicted to the success his new drug of choice continually brings into his life… but his bottom is quick and the consequences are not very severe. If this was a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug abuse, the lesson seems to be: snort everything and life will work out just fine. This movie sort of reminded me of The Butterfly Effect, but way less cool. Limitless was mildly entertaining, but I can assure you, you won’t need NZT to grasp the full scope of this film.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Two viewings tops.
Sequel Potential: Doubtful.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: None? WTF.
Grade: 5/10 (Worth Watching)
Recommendation: Limitless is fun, but it’s kind of stupid and hardly lives up to its name… the experimental drug, NZT, appears to give you access to 30% of your brain, at best.

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Hall Pass (2011)

March 8, 2011

Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate
Director: Bobby & Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Stuck On You, Kingpin, Shallow Hal)

Quick Thoughts: A solid comedy that kind of loses its mind in the final act of the film. The premise of married men being allowed a week off from their marriages to do whatever they wish obviously provides plenty of laughs, but it’s the banter between Rick (Wilson) and Fred (Sudeikis) when they think no one is listening that are the film’s funniest moments. Being a Farrelly Brothers production, Hall Pass does cross into gross out territory, pushing the envelop a bit with its toilet humor, a sub-genre of comedy I never find particularly funny. The third act essentially ruins the film… transforming it from a quality comedy into something I’ll probably never watch again.

Grade: 5/10 (Worth Watching)
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Comedies always have the potential to get better over time. Not good enough to buy, but I’d maybe watch it again with a group of friends.
Sequel Potential: Seems like a stretch. Not only would it be tough to find a plausible way to continue this story, it’s not looking like a box office smash either.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: Nicky Whelan gets naked and looks ridiculous.

Recommendation: Hall Pass is an okay comedy. If you’re a fan of the Farrelly Bros. past work this probably won’t disappoint you too much, but the last third of the movie is pretty brutal. It just gets out of control and stops being funny. I feel like they had a good concept for a comedy here with lots of ideas for funny scenes but had no idea how to end their film. If the ending didn’t suck so bad, I’d happily recommend this to most people, but as it is, seems like a rental to me.

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The Green Hornet (2011)

February 21, 2011


Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Be Kind Please Rewind, Human Nature)
Quick Thoughts: When Seth Rogen was starring in “Undeclared” a decade ago, I didn’t really envision him becoming an A-list movie star and I certainly didn’t expect him to star in a superhero film. Boy how times have changed. It’s still hard to accept Rogen as a superhero, but The Green Hornet isn’t really one of the most beloved comic book icons. Surprisingly enough, Rogen makes it work, both as a writer and an actor. Rogen penned the script with good pal Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express) and turn The Green Hornet’s story into something worth watching. Rogen plays Britt Reid, the spoiled, unambitious son of a billionaire newspaper mogul. He spends his days sleeping in until the afternoon, waking up with girls he doesn’t recognize and slouching around after another night of hard partying. His world is shaken up when his father dies suddenly and he finds himself at the head of the family business. Reid ends up befriending one of his father’s employees, Kato, a young man with an amazing skill set that includes martial arts mastery and ridiculous engineering abilities. Inspired by Kato’s prowess, Reid takes up the identity of The Green Hornet and together they set out to take on the city’s underworld.

The Green Hornet is a perfect mesh of comedy and action. Kudos to the production team for turning a film about a C-List superhero and it something that’s consistently funny, fast-paced, and entertaining. In a lot of ways, The Green Hornet asks the question: What if Kick-Ass had Bruce Wayne’s resources and a Tony Stark/Bruce Lee hybrid for a sidekick? Rogen is perfectly cast as Britt Reid, playing our inexperienced hero with naivety and a sense of wonder about what he’s doing. Wanting so desperately for a rush in his life that he’s willing to ignore just how easily he could be killed. Jay Chou makes for a good sidekick and does solid work throughout the film, putting his martial arts skills on display. He does Bruce Lee’s former roll justice. Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar for his role in Inglorious Basterds last year, doesn’t have quite as much to work with this time around, but manages to give a cold-blooded killer a believable sense of humor. James Franco has an awesome cameo at the beginning of the movie that is straight up hilarious. The special effects in this movie are a little cheesy at times, but don’t take away too much from the film. I enjoyed The Green Hornet. It’s not The Dark Knight, but it’s much better than I ever thought it would be and is at least better than any of the superhero movies that came out last year.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Might actually improve with multiple viewings. Comedies tend to do that.
Sequel Potential: I’m down.
Oscar Potential: January movies don’t tend to get much Oscar buzz.
Nudity: None
Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)
Recommendation: A surprisingly solid and funny action flick about a superhero no one really cares about.