Friday, December 16, 2011

Snap Judgments - a Quick Review of 5 Movies

Friends with Benefits

It begins superbly as Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis bounce dialogue off each other like a modern, vulgar His Girl Friday. Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson provide excellent, hilarious support as her mom and his best friend. But then director Will Gluck (Easy A) tries to get the film to mean something and drags in Alzheimer's disease. And the film becomes exactly what it claims to detest during the cheesy singin' and dancin' finale where Timberlake woos her back. Still, can't wait to watch the first half again. B

A Better Life
An illegal Mexican immigrant (Demian Bichir) gets his truck and equipment stolen and goes looking for it with his son. That's the entire 98 minutes. Despite the good performance by Bichir, (especially great in a late, tearful farewell scene), the movie doesn't address any of the issues readily available to it. It comes closest when the son asks what's the point of so many poor people having children. But the father (hence the writer) won't or can't answer. I need another liberal guilt message movie like I need another mortgage. C+

30 Minutes or Less

Danny McBride and Nick Swardson strap a bomb to pizza delivery guy Jesse Eisenberg's chest to force him to rob a bank. He enlists his best friend (Aziz Ansari) to help him. Eisenberg is horribly miscast and seems to be in a different movie than everyone else. Lots of stupid people do stupid, mean-spirited, unfunny things. And the script leaves enough loose ends to hang itself 10 times. Cruel, misogynist crap. And sorta racist. It would be an F but it's only 83 minutes. D

Kill the Irishman
In 1970s Cleveland, a mob war has Danny Greene (Ray Steveson) smack dab in the middle - and he proves very difficult to kill. Despite the interesting true story, writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh can't elevate the material past cheap Goodfellas knock-off (which he seems to acknowledge when Paul Sorvino shows up toward the end). It's nice to see great actors like Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Bob Gunton get tough-guy parts, but the film just sits there and you're left thinking how great they were in prior films. The amateurish special effects don't help matters. C

Your Highness

Danny McBride and James Franco are brothers who team up to save a maiden (Zooey Deschanel) from an evil wizard in the Middle Ages. Your overall take on the film will depend on how much you enjoy McBride's incessant vulgarity. His anachronistic one-liners are actually funnier than in modern era films - but occasional restraint and subtlety would be nice. The special effects and bathroom humor are embarrassing. And the gore is way overdone. C-

1 comment:

Lawyer said...

I didn't like A Better Life. It might be interesting to someone not from a border state, but the film was just a boring depiction of what most of us realize is happening.