A total cliche/rip-off, I know! But I've seen some movies lately and now I want to talk about them. Which always reminds me of one of Jim Gaffigan's old jokes about seeing a movie years after everyone else watched it and being excited to talk about it and everyone is all 'oh yeah, I saw that four years ago' but you're like I wanna talk about it now.
Anyway. Over the "holiday season" Ryan and I took advantage of one of our local treasures: a second-run movie house. We lovingly call it the Dollar Theater, even though they've raised prices and now a matinee is $1.50 and evening movies are $2. But still! $2 is a good deal to see a movie on a big screen. Refreshments have "standard pricing" except hot dogs, which are $1. I bet they'd sell 100 more bags of popcorn a day if they had a cheapie $1 bag, but hey... they know what they're doing and I appreciate it. I love a $2 movie!
My 2 cents, er $2 (contains no spoilers):
The previews made this look fun and I had intended to see it in a 'regular' ($10) theater, but just never made it. Luckily, the zombies lived on and made it to the Dollar Theater. This was a REALLY fun movie! I was glad to see that there were a couple winks at horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead, but it wasn't at all the same type of story. And the female protagonists weren't weak ninnies looking for boys to save them (although this was a wee bit heavy handed sometimes), so that was a nice change. Woody Harrelson was great and Jesse Eisenberg was fantastic (I hadn't realized that it was going to be the same guy from Adventureland, so that was kinda funny). I think Emma Stone hasn't been cast right yet. She was very good in this movie, which makes me think that she's not a bad actress, but maybe hasn't met the right director yet. She was solid in this movie, but there were some glimmers of... I don't know what... just not "great" and I don't know if that was a director thing or what. Clearly, she has skills. I just wish someone would put her in something that was written and directed well, then she could really get far (otherwise she's going to be doomed as the "kinda hot but approachable chick" in a few more movies and then disappear). ANYWAY: the story was fun and the Big Celebrity Cameo (if you haven't seen it, don't spoil it! You'll thank me later.) was awesome. I nearly died from laughing. Ryan had claw marks on his arm from where I was squeezing it too hard to keep from falling out of my seat.
The premise of the movie is that there is a zombie virus outbreak and the nation has been infected so these folks are kind of roadtripping across the US toward a theme park, where they hope there aren't any zombies. Towns have been deserted and it's semi-post apocalyptic. It's such a fun principle that I'd love to have seen it played out more. If you're cruising the country, why not sleep at Graceland? Or live in a chocolate factory? There are so many opportunties for comedy, that I didn't like to see it limited. Although, realistically, they had to. Maybe a Zombieland series?
2 cents: super fun, not very scary, good action, so-so drama, and EXCELLENT cameo
Where the Wild Things Are
I should admit up front that this wasn't one of my favorite childhood books. I liked it, loved the art, but that was kinda it. I was very skeptical of how they'd create a movie-length version of a very short (and mostly pictures) kid's book (which is a dubious story in my opinion, but that's a whole other Oprah). Visually, the movie is stunning. The blend of costumes, puppetry, and CGI make the characters very "real" and I really got taken in to the story and believed that the characters were there. Which is all very good. The voice acting was great by some, kind of ok by others. James Gandolfini voiced Carol, the main monster, and it was a good match-up for personality but Gandolfini's heavy nostril breathing makes my skin crawl. So... that was a bit much for me. Catherine O'Hara was great, as always, but her character (Judith) was an unlikeable borderline racist example of Jewish stereotyping. The stereotyping was kind of heavy-handed. It's probably supposed to "teach us a lesson" or something, but it was irksome.
For my taste, it was long and drawn out. The boy's pouting and the tantrums-cum-games with the monsters were a bit too much. Overall, I couldn't figure out who the movie was "for" - the kids who were learning these (heavy handed) lessons about not always getting what you want and that adults can't make the world perfect or safe, or the adults who were supposed to get an insight into the kinds of trust and care that their kids need? And I especially disliked, like the book, that the movie ended on a whimper. [not a spoiler if you've read the book:] The mother acquiesces to the son and there are no repercussions for either of them. That bugged me a lot, especially since the rest of the (lengthy) movie was about learning lessons and owning up to your mistakes and shortcomings.
2 cents: everyone will like it, visually stunning, but very hyperactive and kinetic and not entirely my cup of tea.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Admission: I had ZERO expectations for this movie and we went to see it on a 'what the heck' impulse. This was another book that I was aware of as a kid, but didn't remember the story. So how true it is to the book, I couldn't say. However, this was a FANTASTIC movie! So many animated movies these days forget their audience and/or focus on adults and hope that kids will like them simply because they're cartoons. OR they're complete fluff and in it just for the franchising. This one was, to its benefit, made for kids. The story is easy-to-follow and jam-packed with funny quips and jokes. The characters are all likeable, and the best part: there's no scary part! I mean, sure there's the moments of watered down intensity (it's raining giant meatballs! Who can stop it?!) but it was never anxious. In that regard, I applaud the creative team. They made a movie for kids that can actually be tolerated by kids! There was no "villian" per se (the "bad guy" was the malfunctioning machine and there was some drama with the narcissistic mayor, but he was always laughable and not scary) which was a welcome change for me. I don't like the drawn-out bad guy parts of kids' movies, not because I'm scared myself, but because they're not scary enough to actually be menacing, but they're frightening enough to bother kids. So then it's too watered down for adults and too terrifying for kids: who's the audience?
Meatballs was silly and funny and I can honestly report that (seeing it twice!) I laughed start to finish. The jokes are great and on several levels, so it's not just a knowing wink to the adults with double entendres, but genuinely funny gags.
2 cents: fun for everyone and will probably make an excellent rental (I saw it available at Blockbuster), but if it's in your local bargain theater, drop $2 and enjoy it on a big screen.
We kept skipping this on our Blockbuster by mail list for a while, but after we saw Brothers Bloom (same director) we got anxious to see it. Interesting high school/detective noir-ish drama. A gangster crime boss drug dealer... in 12th grade. I loved the comical juxtaposition of the hijinx and tough talk and then sitting for dinner with the folks. It kind of stuck in my brain a bit and I ended up mulling it over for a while. Ryan declared instant love.
2 cents: If you like whodunnits and old timey gangster flicks (they even conjure up a little Capone in their teen vernacular), you'll probably like this.
Anvil: the Story of Anvil
2009's most talked about documentary? Probably. It was fun and interesting - plus, I love me a documentary! - although there were several times where I just wanted to slap the guys and tell them to get a real life already! It was heartbreaking that this band who, rightfully, should have gone on to megasuccess (they were bigger than Black Sabbath, Megadeath, Metallica, et al who actually rode their coattails and then surpassed them to stardom) not only failed to catch on, but that none of the guys in the band ever thought "hmm, maybe I should do something else." Instead, they're all these 50+ year old guys living on couches and in basements, working transient sort of jobs so that they can split in an instant when they get their Big Breakthrough. Which, I guess, has that romantic admirability to it, but jeez louise! You couldn't work a 9-5 desk job somewhere and then quit when your band goes multiplatinum? Instead, these guys are inching into their golden years without 2 nickels to rub together -- and what are their future prospects?
There were some great and funny moments in this documentary and a lot of it was really, genuinely sad.
2 cents: interesting documentary, recommend it to everyone you know who doesn't want to get a 'real job' in case their dream comes true.