Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Standard issue poster, nothing exciting here.

Standard issue poster, nothing exciting here.

Directed by: Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon (between the two of them, they are responsible for some truly atrocious films, so this is easily their best one)

Written by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger wrote the screenplay based off of Letterman and Vernon’s story.

Starring: the vocal talents of Reese Witherspoon, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Paul Rudd, Kiefer Sutherland and Stephen Colbert among many others.

What it’s about: a group of monsters are released by the American government to combat an alien invasion

B-Movie Alternate Title: It IS a B-Movie title

Movie Mash Up: The Monster Squad + oh I dunno, any Alien movie minus all the disturbing imagery

What I liked: For the most part I love the vocal cast, I mean look at them all!  There’s a huge “Office” presence, the former awesome real-life couple of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen and I guess Reese Witherspoon can be okay sometimes.  The monsters are wonderful, particularly the moronic B.O.B.  Paul Rudd gets to play an asshole for once, and while the role isn’t great, it is decent comedy.  Honestly speaking, I would rather this entire cast were reunited for an R-rated animated version of this exact film.

What I disliked: Well, I didn’t even realise it until the beginning of the film, but with the Russian meteor event of the past week, the entire meteorite sequence at the building was totally unrealistic.  And yes, that is only because of all those Russian YouTube videos that I knew that.  It put me off for the whole film.  I thought it was decent, but it wasn’t on a Pixar level by any means.  Enjoyable, but unless you’re a kid, repeat viewings will probably make it less enjoyable each time around.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is not an offensively stupid animated film, and it is decently entertaining for both kids and adults.

Rating: 3 / 5

Probably the most entertaining bit of animation in the entire movie.

Probably the most entertaining bit of animation in the entire movie.

The Lorax (2012)

In case you haven’t been able to tell by my month-long sabbaticals, I have grown somewhat weary of watching movies.  A lot of my reviews are basically re-posts from years ago, about movies that I have recently re-watched and had nothing new to say about.  When I do watch a new movie, I find myself putting off writing about them for days because unless they were great, it kind of gets me down that they were made in this day and age.  So sometimes, my reviews are going to be short and to the point, and not going every little thing that I hated or loved.

I did not like The Lorax.  In 2012, when a company with the pedigree of Pixar exists (completely ignoring the Cars movies), animated movies should be doing their best to emulate the masters of the craft.  I don’t mean copying their ideas (Shark Tale, etc.) and completely missing the point of them, but just figure out the heart of your movie and make it Feel.  Or make others Feel watching it, and make sure it isn’t condescending to kids or adults.

I didn’t feel anything watching The Lorax, other than a slightly creeping revulsion of the whole thing.  It was gorgeously animated, yeah, but the songs were absolutely horrible to listen to, and the voice cast were good, but the crap they had to read was crap!  I do not recommend The Lorax to anyone, not even five year old kids.

1.5 / 5

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

True confession time, first time I reviewed Walk Hard, I completely didn’t get it and only gave it a 3.  Truthfully, at the time I was going through a stubborn, stuck-up movie critic phase and didn’t fully realise what it was I saw.  I’ve watched it a few times since then, and each viewing gives me a deeper appreciation of the creativity that went into creating this character, this legendary rock star that lived an epic life.  Now, I’ve absorbed a lot of pop culture information since the first time I walked hard, so that depth of awareness certainly helps when it comes to appreciating the brilliance of Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan’s story.

At this point, I wish I were a better writer so I could go into great detail about how wonderful this movie is.  Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to why you love something, which makes it doubly frustrating when you see something you hate and just rant on and on about it.  Walk Hard is a completely over the top biopic of a fictional rock star named Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly), and it borrows from the life stories of many a legendary musician biopic.  There are so many “name” actors in this movie that I think I’ve set a new personal record for tags.  They might just show up for less than a minute, but there is so much to enjoy about every minute of this movie, and it is still laugh out loud funny for me, five years after first seeing it.

Trust me, this is a truly great, under-appreciated gem of a movie, one whose songs are such spot on homages to the time periods they come from that it is unbelievable that they weren’t Oscar-nominated..

4.5 / 5

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012)

The last Mark Duplass-directed movie I watched was the average and awkward Humpday and that didn’t really set my world on fire.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know that this film was a Duplass joint, and was just attracted to it by the actors starring in it.  Jason Segel seems to have a knack for picking quality projects to get involved with (completely ignoring the horrible Gulliver’s Travels here), and if it weren’t for the existence of one Paul Rudd, Segel would probably be my most watchable actor.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home, well from the title alone you definitely get the feeling that it’s going to be a quirky, indie-comedy film, possibly about Feelings and Family.  And it delivers exactly that!  Jeff (Segel) does indeed live at home, and he’s a guy who has been inspired by the works of M. Night Shyamalan, specifically the movie Signs, and as such, he searches for meaning in the most mundane things.  After receiving a phone call that was not meant for him (or was it?!? Intrigue~), Jeff sets out to accomplish the one task his mother (Susan Sarandon) gave him for the day.  The task eventually ends up being pushed aside as events befall Jeff, and I can’t really reveal too much about the story without ruining the fun of it.

Okay, it’s clearly a slightly flawed film, as you just know something has to happen to Jeff because of the “everything happens for a reason” conceit, but the fun part is in the journey.  The acting is good, the events that take place are – for the most part – believable within the context of the film’s world, and the characters are interesting, in that you want to know what is going to happen to them.  This review feels so bland and generic, I’m sorry.  It’s hard to get all specific about something when the joy is in finding it out.

I liked the movie, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at about 80 minutes.  Recommended!

4 / 5

The Hangover: Part II (2011)

The first Hangover movie was an entertaining, laugh-filled ride through Crazytown with enjoyable characters and a bit of heart to it.  The sequel is a dark, depressing, tumultuous trip through Bangkok with mean-spirited characters and a ridiculous result.  Sometimes director and co-writer Todd Phillips has some method to his madness (Old School is essentially Fight Club and it MAKES SENSE THAT WAY), but unless he gives us the cipher, I’m not going to know if I’ll ever know or care what his thought process going into filming this movie was.  Unless Warner Brothers just said they’d drive a dump truck full of money up to his house.  That would make sense.

So almost the entire plot from the first film is simply exchanged from Las Vegas to Bangkok, since Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married and his wife-to-be, Lauren (Jamie Chung), wants to please her father (Nirut Sirijanya) with letting him host the wedding.  Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) want to celebrate with him in Thailand as part of the wedding and also, the plot device from the first film, fuck-up Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wants to come along too.  Also, Ken Jeong is in it again.  And there’s an adorable monkey too.  Shit goes down and then they try to piece together the second night of their lives that they can’t remember.

I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, but I didn’t.  For me, it was kind of summing up everything that’s wrong with Hollywood these days.  It took the premise of the first film and essentially turned it into The Hangover: Bangkok.  I like continuity and call-backs as much as any guy, but it just seemed so joyless this time.  It was an easy paycheque and a no-brainer for the studio to put money into.  It’s cookie-cutter cinema, and it depressed me a bit, not gonna lie.

Also, I wish they’d have gone for a stylistic reduction of the title, like T2 or the inexplicable ID4.  They could have called it H2: WHOA.  Stupid marketing departments.  I mean look at that poster up there!  There’s like three sight gag reveals just GIVEN AWAY for free!

2.5 / 5