"American Dreamz" (that's dreams with a "z") is a largely disappointing movie that fails to really be about much at all. The tagline says "Imagine a country in which more people vote for a pop idol than their next president." Isn't that our country? I had good expectations for this movie considering the writers, cast, and premise. The idea of satirizing current political events using a parody of the dreadful "American Idol" seems appealing, but the movie sadly manages to do nothing with it.
Good satire must be smart satire. Generally, one must be somewhat smart to get and enjoy satire. This movie is not very smart, and it is not very good. The political figures are simplistic spoofs of the current administration which are nowhere near as good as what one can see for free on "Saturday Night Live." The movie shows a lot of "crazy" situations, but it never manages to say anything about what it satirizes. It never makes the situations meaningful. This combined with the really shoddy looking production values (as Jason elaborated well on in his review) made the movie look and feel like a mediocre SNL sketch that just doesn't know when to end (as they so often do).
The cast is good. Hugh Grant seems not to be trying, but the others put forth good effort. I was happy to see Shohreh Aghdashloo (who is becoming one of my favorite actresses) and the underappreciated Judy Greer as I did not realize either of them were in the movie.
"American Dreamz" does have its moments. I really liked the montage featuring the various contestants and the spoofs of different music genres (Mama, please don't drink me to sleep tonight). I especially liked the Hasidic contestant (played by Buffy baddie Adam Busch). The first half of the movie was quite boring, but this sequence had me rolling. The movie does pick up in the second half, but it is still largely unmoving. This movie is definitely worth a rental, but that's about it.
"Thank You For Smoking" is the best comedy I have seen in several years. It is the feature length directorial debut of Jason Reitman, son of Ivan (who directed one of my favorite movies ever, "Ghostbusters"). The film is about a hotshot lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart) for the tobacco industry. While the film appears to be a simply a satire about big tobacco (and it is, although that is not the point of the movie), it is really about a man who is great at his job realizing that he's not so great at everything (such as being a parent).
Reitman has a very controlled style that belies his inexperience. Like "Batman Begins," the movie features an impressive cast with the exception of Katie Holmes. (Actually, Holmes isn't terrible. She's not exactly good either. It's just that any actor who is constantly paraded around in the media just makes me not be able to get behind their work. I just see them as famewhores, not actors. That being said, like "Batman Begins," Holmes seems to benefit from being surrounded by great actors. However, it also accentuates her lack of real talent. For this Katie Holmes rant, I feel I should apologize to Josh, who loves her).
This movie is hilarious. I waited a bit too long to write this review. The movie is no longer fresh in my mind, and I am having trouble remembering things I wanted to discuss. But that is really for the better, because comedy is always best experienced fresh. Talking about comedy is pointless unless both people have heard the joke. So, go see this movie.
"Lucky Number Slevin" is the latest entry into the crime caper subgenre which is one that I enjoy quote a bit. This movie is a fun movie to watch, but it is never able to become a really good movie. It's not that it doesn't try. It's that it tries too hard. The movie is far too self-aware. And not in the good way like "Kill Bill" was. It's self-aware in an annoying, pretentious way. It thinks it's smarter than the audience. Rather than let us simply be Keyser Soze-d, the movie tells from the start that it is going to Keyser Soze us. This spoils the fun of it!
Not that we don't expect a twist in a movie like this. In the past decade or so, the twist ending has become a bit hackneyed especially in this kind of movie. This, along with the foreknowledge that a "Kansas City Shuffle" is taking place, caused me to be unable to become fully immersed in this movie. Whereas I would normally sit back and enjoy being taken for a ride, I spent this movie preoccupied with trying to figure out who was the Keyser Soze.
The movie also overindulges in "interesting" shots and angles. Some work (like the really cool shot of Hartnett and Willis walking towards the camera after the "job") and some are just bad (like the chess scene). Overall, I did like the look of the movie. The sets are highly stylized (as Patricia said "The wallpaper in this movie is a bit too much") and reflect the outlandish situations the movie portrays.
The best thing about this movie is the performances. A A-list cast raises a mediocre movie to a pretty decent one. Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley are both funny as opposing crime lords The Boss and The Rabbi (Why do they call him the Rabbi?). Bruce Willis is good as usual in a surprisingly small role. Josh Hartnett is an actor that sometimes surprises me when he's not doing crap. His role here as Slevin is one of those surprises. The biggest surprise for me was Lucy Liu as Lindsey. She has been a few hits, more misses actress to me. I loved her as O-ren Ishii, and she was good in the X-Files episode "Hell Money." Other than that, most of her stuff has been pretty unwatchable. Here, however, I loved her. I quickly developed a bit of a crush on her character.
The other thing I liked about this movie was the dialogue. It is very rapid-fire and highly humorous. The actors manage to pull off some things that could have easily come across as awkward or cheesy (such as the James Bond conversation). They all deliver it in a way that makes me smile.
Good movies of this sort (like "The Usual Suspects" for example) always benefit from repeated viewings. Repeats help me understand all of the twists and the cons, and I see how it all holds up plot and story wise. This movie will probably not hold up on repeated viewings. It is definitely worth watching once though. However, it does get a bit convoluted at times, and I fear that repeat viewings would further expose potential plot holes. Best to sit through it once. Try not to think too much about it and just enjoy the ride.
ok, I don't like scary movies and I most certainly did not like this one. I did like Shawn of the Dead but this was not at all sufficient sequel for these directors/ writers. The graphic were dreadful - though I suspect that they were supposed to be that way...I did not find any humor in the lack of CGI quality.
I do grant that the non-monster scenes were well acted and fairly well written. While my dear counterpart did laugh often I found nothing funny even in the non-monster bits.
The end of the movie seemingly digressed into un-dead people meandering purposefully toward that chick (whatever her name is). Ummm, that seems a bit familiar. Oh, yes, that movie "Shawn of the Dead". There was really nothing new about this movie except for the way the un-dead became un-dead.
"Slither" joins the ranks of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Gremlins" as being one of the few horror-comedies to successfully deliver both laughs and creeps. Air Supply's "You're Every Woman in the World" has never been as funny or creepy as it is in this movie. It's not unusual to laugh out loud during supposedly scary movies, but unlike many of them, "Slither" is in on the joke.
Director James Gunn knows better than to try to take this stuff seriously at all. The special effects never even try to look realistic. But he knows how to make a very fun movie. Nathan Fillion (our beloved Captain Mal) stars as small-town sheriff Bill Pardy who must lead a small group of citizens against the rest of the town who has been taken over by aliens and turned into zombies.
The movie also seems to make fun of the amount of gratuitous sex in most horror movies by making all of the alien attack scenes look bizarrely like sex scenes. And the aliens themselves look rather like parts of the human anatomy that would earn a NC-17 rating.
The cast are all capable at mocking the acting found in oldschool B-movie creature features. Fillion is great as usual. I highly recommend this movie for people who enjoy fun horror movies an but are fed up with all of the recent crap coming out lately that just takes itself way too seriously, thus failing to be fun or scery (see my review of "Stay Alive"). It's great fun, and the credits include a hilarious song .
This movie does earn slight kudos simply for not being a remake of a horror movie. However, the idea behind it (a video game where if you die in the game you die in real life) is ripped off from the "First Person Shooter" episode of The X-Files.
The movie is filled with the ominous sound of a RumblePak and chilling image of Anna from "The OC's" ribs (seriously, girl needs to eat a sandwich). It opens with Jess from "Gilmore Girls" meeting his end at the hands of a yet-to-be-released video game called "Stay Alive." Then his friend, Ben from "life as we know it," gets hold of it and plays it with his friends who include Anna from "The OC," Malcolm from "Malcolm in the Middle," Brooke from "One Tree Hill," and Chris from "24: Day 2." We see most of them die in typical "Dead Teenager Movie" (term borrowed from Roger Ebert) fashion and a few stay alive of course because we wouldn't want the title to be a lie now would we (and we need victims for the obligatory sequel)?
This movie was quite bad. I was more entertained watching other people in the theater actually be scared of it. A more appropriate title would have been "I Know What Teen TV Actors Did Last Summer." Or "Stay Awake" which was the challenge for me.