Friday, June 3, 2011
Relativity Media/Universal Pictures
Directed by Paul Feig
Produced by Judd Apatow
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, and Jon Hamm
Running Time: 125 minutes
MIKE-O- METER: AND HILARITY ENSUES!!!! Absolute Perfect Fun!
Walking down the aisle on the silver screen can often be described as formulaic, trite, generic, or like yet another Mandy Moore film- sugary, sweet dribble. (Yes, I went there and shhh..don't tell anyone! Whispers-"I'm secretly a fan"). Watching a chick flick can also be another formulaic, trite, generic, fluffy, or again, like viewing a "Mandy Moore film". (Well, I'm officially kicked out of the fan club now!) Thankfully, director Paul Feig's (most notably directed several episodes of The Office as well as Arrested Development) BRIDESMAIDS is neither a complete chick flick or typically clichéd wedding movie. BRIDESMAIDS is best described as "the female Hangover", but I say it's something new, something borrowed (Wedding Crashers meets The Sweetest Thing meets The Hangover), and something lavender (come on, BRIDESMAIDS dresses). BRIDESMAIDS is also the perfect star vehicle for Kristen Wiig (MacGruber and a member of the current Saturday Night Live alumni) to shine as a comedic actress proving she has star quality flare. It can also be noted that Kristen Wiig brought her best comedic chops as she also helped pen the script alongside friend and voice over actress Annie Mumolo (Disney's Handy Mandy) .
In BRIDESMAIDS, Kristen stars as Annie whose best friend Lillian (played by the fantastic real life friend of Kristen Wiig and once SNL member, Maya Rudolph) asks her to be her Maid of Honor. Annie uncomfortably accepts the title as her life is currently in the gutter with her dream bakery business now closed, her romantic life is in the crapper(check out the hilarious opening scene with the dashing Jon Hamm of AMC's Mad Men), her current roommate situation is chaos, and her job is less than satisfying. Enter Lillian's bridal party! The other bridesmaids include a female comic lineup made out of celluloid heaven with Rose Byrne (FX Damages) as the snobby and jealously rich Helen, The Office's Ellie Kemper as the shy, reserved Becca, RENO 911's Wendi McLendon-Covey as trashy housewife Rita and finally, the woman who steals the show... Meliisa McCarthy (CBS's chubby hit Mike and Molly) as Megan. Trust me, there are no words to describe her! Annie must make friends with other the girls as she dabbles in the bridal routines of Lillian's wedding, battles Helen who desperately wants to be Maid of Honor, flirts with a dreamy police officer, and plans the perfect bridal shower, all while maintaining (or hilariously losing) her dignity. I know what you are thinking, BRIDESMAIDS does not sound any different from any other wedding film. I'm keeping it as simple as possible to not spoil the best punchlines but trust me, this film is anything but sugary sweet. Look for the dress fitting scene, the airplane sequence, and Lillian's engagement party to put a little raunchy laugh in your throat. Also, stay for the credits as there is a surprise scene that will make you never want to look at your Subway sandwich the same. Great, now I've spoiled the joke!
BRIDESMAIDS delivers on laughs (just as funny as The Hangover) and is already the early surprise hit of Summer 2011. Word of mouth is carrying the modestly budgeted picture (produced for $32 million) far greater than Relatively Media/Universal Pictures had hoped for in terms of a female driven R rated comedy. It doesn't hurt that BRIDESMAIDS is a Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin) production and audiences are more than familiar with his brand of humor. I was knocked off of my socks by Melissa McCarthy. She is one to watch out for in the future (she's a female Kevin James) as well as Kristen Wiig who has certainly proved she is no second rate Tina Fey. I was a little hesitant because I was not sure is Kristen could carry the movie but during her character's conversation with Lillian in the beginning of the film, I was certain she had the right chemistry to pull of this sort of comedy. This is certainly not a chick flick and ladies feel free to bring your guy as there is plenty for everyone to enjoy. He will certainly enjoy this more than Adam Sandler's latest disaster. And there's good news for Kristen Wigg fans as "Best remembered as SNL's Gilly" will no longer be the permanent print on her tombstone.
MOST MEMORABLE LINE: (Too many to list so I'll leave you with this) Annie's Mom "I'm sure she meets him in the evening, beaver first." (played by the late great Academy Award nominated actress Jill Clayburgh, who lost her battle with lukemia shortly after production wrapped.)
I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to go see a "Fun Comedy" with a talented cast and are willing to risk soda spewing out their nose in an outburst of laughter. It may or may not have happened to me, just saying.
Warning: Do not label this film as "The Funniest Movie Ever" when suggesting to others as that title is often hard to live up to. Just say "Surprisingly fun!"
In honor of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides smashing worldwide records in just 2 weeks (currently at #43) with over 700 million, I bring you comic rap trio The Lonely Island (SNL's Andy Samburg) featuring Michael Bolton with Captain Jack Sparrow. Trust me, It's hilarious and pays homage to other movies as well. Enjoy!
CLICK LINK BELOW TO START QUIZ. GOOD LUCK!!!
MIke's Super Stumper Summer Blockbuster Movie Quiz
Thursday, June 2, 2011
"Welcome to Mutant High....."
It has been 11 years since X-MEN unleashed its muscle on the silver screen and fans of the massive series have been taken on a bumpy ride as its sequels have either hit the mark or mutated into a jumbled mess. The first X-MEN debuted with a stellar 157.3 million (splendid storytelling in terms of introduction, a fun, high profile cast, and dazzling special effects) which lead to the equally impressive X-MEN UNITED (214.9 million). Then came, the cluttered X-MEN : THE LAST STAND (234.4 million)and the mediocre WOLVERINE, which came shy of a $180 million. Although those tallies sound impressive, THE LAST STAND cost $210 million to produce and domestically was a disappointment. Although it made $459 million worldwide, it barely made back its production and advertising costs. (A film has to double but often triple (include advertising) its production cost to be considered a financial success to the studio. Of course, box office isn't everything. Critically and commercially, the first two films were adored but the latter two had too much going on or in the case of WOLVERINE, alienated its fan-base.
So naturally, the only way to revive the franchise was to give the series a reboot. Reboots generally tend to work as Batman, Star Trek, and in terms of financially, Friday the 13th have demonstrated. Reboots give a studio a new, fresh way to tell a familiar story with beloved characters that connects with audiences as well as hopefully "cashes in" with new fans. Reboots differ from remakes as often, with the exception of Friday the 13th, they tend to be prequels, showing the origins of our cherished characters and breathe new life into a franchise. I have to admit, the first three X-MEN (even THE LAST STAND had its moments) tickled my "Fanboy" bones but Wolverine made me want to throw all my old Marvel comics at Hugh Jackman. I just felt Wolverine left little to be desired as far as a summer blockbusters go and I hated the way they depicted DeadPool, Ryan Reynolds .
That being said, 20th Century Fox's X-MEN FIRST CLASS (directed by Matthew Vaughn who brought us the masterful KICKASS and underrated yet highly recommended STARDUST)looks to be a step in the right direction. FIRST CLASS is set in 1960s and tells the beginnings of Professor Xavier (played by Jemes McAvoy WANTED) and Magneto (played by Hollywood's new "IT" man Michael Fassbender, most notably seen in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards). Look for Louisville's own Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) as a young Mystique and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw, who has the ability to absorb energy. Many of the mutants, audiences will not be able to recognize (with the exception of Beast)and this could be both a pro and con for the film. Most people attribute X-Men with Wolverine (although Hugh Jackman is rumored to make a cameo)but on the other hand, fresh blood and new mutants might be just the ticket fans are craving for. Only the box office will tell!
Reviews have been fantastic (like IRON MAN stellar), the trailers look amazing, and I have to say I am X-Cited to see this! Predictions for the film range from the 50's to 80 million. I predict a 50 to 56 million (probably 54 million) start for the prequel (naturally, it will knock the Hangover 2 from the top spot) and word of mouth will continue to generate buzz. After all, WOLVERINE and THE LAST STAND disappointed and FIRST CLASS has to prove it has what it takes to make the grade. I will keep you posted on the final tally over the weekend.
Watch the trailer below and stay tuned for my review of Hangover 2 and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sick of vampires yet? I have to say I am not a big fan of remakes or vampire flicks these days but I am excited for Fright Night, a retelling of Tom Hollard's 1985 surprise hit horror comedy starring Roddy McDowall and Amanda Bearse (the annoying neighbor from Married with Children and real life lesbian). Fright Night tells the tale of a horror fan who realizes his neighbor is a vampire. This remake stars Anton Yelchin (Chekov in Star Trek relaunch), Colin Farrell as the vampire, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Mclovin' from SuperBad), and David "Freakin" Tennant (Doctor Who). I have to say the casting of David Tennant sells it for me. The trailer looks creepy and director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl and the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)gives the new version a slicker, edgier look. This is is first picture to be released through Dreamworks under Touchstone Pictures for distribution, Disney and Dreamworks inked a 30 picture deal some time ago. All I can say, is please don't "SUCK!" Literally. Fright Night opens nationwide August 19 2011. Check out the trailer here. What are your thoughts?
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Phase 4 Entertainment
Directed by Jed Weintrob
Cast: Angela Bettis, Christopher Titus
Running Time: Too LONG!
My momma always said, "I'm like a catfish, one good tug on the hook and you could reel me in to believe anything." I guess that is why I fell for director Jed Weintrob's marketing ploy for Scar 3D, notably the first film to be completely filmed in HD 3D and the first film to be 3D on Video on Demand. In 2007, there were rumors and buzz swirling around an independent film that was so grotesque it caused a woman to faint and a man to projectile (fill verb in here)during a test screening. The film was delayed in the US, although opening #1 in several other countries (according to Wikipedia...perhaps another marketing ploy?). Finally, after much wait, the film was released on Blu-Ray with the old time 3D glasses and I drooled over what was supposed to be this "grotesque, fun masterpiece". After all the buzz, it had to be too graphic to release to nationwide distribution, right? This film is no more grotesque than Babe: Pig in the City. In fact, that film scared me more! The acting is on par with Baywatch Nights, the color is out of focus, the dialogue alone is repelling,and my god, the dialogue! Perhaps, I am being too harsh. This is a horror film after all. This is the problem when you over hype a product, what would be a "supposed" fun B horror movie becomes a vessel for my rage with Hollywood, or in this case underground Hollywood.
That being said, Scar 3D is not without its merits.
1) Angela Bettis- Indie scream queen who most of mainstream America remember as the anorexic girl from Girl Interrupted. Horror fans will know her from Lucky Mcgee's dark horror triumph May, his Masters of Horror "Sick Girl", and that made for TV miniseries remake of Carrie. I really wish she could find a vehicle for her talent. She is the Parker Posey of the horror genre.
2) The gore- It is okay. Why did people faint? Im not sure (again, the dialogue?) Example: "Did you get the shit? That skunk scared the hell out of me!" or "Alter Boy, I do not want to graduate with my virginity!" Honestly, Hostel had more gore (or at least the nauseating effect) than Scar. But I will say, for the budget...I have seen far worse.
3) You can thankfully turn your Blu-Ray player off.
I was so deceived by the hype, I have been ranting and have yet to explain the plot.
Joan Burrows (Angela Bettis) returns to Ovid, Colorado to visit her brother, the local sheriff (Christopher Titus) after a traumatic event occurred many years ago, the death of her best friend by a a crazed killer who (here is where the title comes in) scarred her. Joan begins recalling the event through flashbacks as her niece, Olympia, and her friends fall prey to a copy cat killer and Joan will once again have to face her fears. It is pretty standard for a horror plot and there is supposed to be a surprise but of course, you see it coming a mile away!
Back to the rant...
The 3D was very rich in parts and for an independent film, impressed me at times. Again, marketing ploy! I am such a horror fan boy like Admiral Ackbar says, "It's a trap!" The HD really distorted the color so the gore looked cheaper than it actually was. It did however give some of the "slicing" scenes a scabbed over effect. In other words, this is direct to DVD dribble. I never would have rented it, or in this case bought, had the buzz not seduced my morbid ear. Curse you IMDB message boards!!!
MIKE-O METER: Avoid!!!
KUNG-FU PANDA 2
Voices: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Angelina Jolie
Running Time: 1 hr 31 minutes
"Bear in mind" (pun intended) Kung-Fu Panda 2 is a kids movie and while packaged for the whole family, the film falls short of the original in humor, originality, and heart. I am not going to lie, I was super stoked to see this (I being a 30 years old male wearing a G.I. Joe shirt) and while the film made me smile; it never brought out a vocal laugh from my generally "easy to please" lungs.
KFP2, for those who love anagrams, begins where the first film left off. PO (voiced by the often annoying but pleasantly tolerable as a voice actor here, Jack Black)is continuing his journey as a Dragon Warrior, alongside the Furious Five (including Angelina Jolie as Tigress, Jackie Chan as Monkey, and Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu). Po begins to question where he came from and being a Panda, it is a wonder he never questioned the fact his father was a goose before. I guess, he was too busy consuming all those noodles! Po's father tells him he is adopted but there is little that he knows, only he found him in a crate of radishes. PO is ever so hungry for the truth, among other things, and alongside side the Furious Five sets off on a quest for the truth.
Meanwhile, a ruthless peacock (Yeah...pretty scary) Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) is invading villages in search of pieces to put together a disastrous cannon to rule all of China. Of course, Lord Shen is about to meet the bumbling wrath of Po and the Furious Five. But does Po and Shen share a common bond? Will Po learn the truth about his parents? Will the Furious Five defeat Lord Shen and his Hench "animals"? Will Po eat a bounty of noodles, fall, and crack semi-amusing lines such as "My fist hungers for Justice!"? You will have to wait and see!
The animation is splendid as it weaves from standard, dazzling CG to 3D cut outs to paying homage to the martial arts through bright color and dark lighting. The sweeping score from the original film reprises as a backdrop for yet another fun kung-fu adventure. The voice actors are on top of their game and give their characters life (mainly Black and Oldman). The film starts off promising with Po's habitual clumsy antics but without a powerful villain and zany laughs, the movie begins to stall. The film still registers as cuddly cute, teetering on generic if you are not under the age of ten, but wears on the older crowd until the touching last reel. There is a valuable lesson for kids as "knowing who you are and staying true to your own heart...you can overcome anything." (Cue shooting star: The More You Know!) Seriously, little ones should eat KFP2 up like a bowl full of noodles but unlike the first Kung-Fu Panda, Shrek, and the beautiful How to Train Your Dragon; there is little humor for adults. Favorite line: "Tell those villains to start playing action music, because it is on!"
Overall, I am trying not to be too critical as Kung-Fu Panda 2 does its job on the scale of cute but is nowhere near as entertaining as last years Tangled, Despicable Me, or Toy Story 3.
Stayed tuned later on in the week for my "adult" review of Hangover 2 and Scar 3D!!!