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.

Lucky (2011)

Back when I worked at Blockbuster, just about every week there would be a straight-to-DVD movie starring some former name actor that seems quirky and zany and sadly Tarantino-esque.  When I saw the poster for this movie, I knew pretty much that Lucky was going to be exactly that.  Then I read the plot synopsis and it pretty much confirmed it for me.  Why did I decide to go through and watch it anyways?  Well, mostly because I found it fascinating that Colin Hanks was playing a serial killer in a movie right before his guest stint on “Dexter” as a serial killer this season.

That’s not a good reason to watch a movie though, let me tell you.  Hanks stars as Ben, a sorta loser guy who is madly in love with his childhood friend Lucy (Ari Graynor).  Lucy’s life starts going to hell, just as Ben wins the lottery, so she decides to cash in on the easy money and get together with Ben.  Turns out quirky Ben is also a serial killer, and Lucy eventually finds out about it and then it sort of becomes a black comedy.

It’s a very schizophrenic movie, and the moronic choices that the music supervisor made doesn’t help that out at all.  There’s an interesting movie idea in Lucky, but unfortunately the movie doesn’t back up that idea, nor the wonderfully manic performance of Ari Graynor.

2.5 / 5

Flypaper (2011)

I went into this movie not knowing a damn thing about it, just who the cast members were and after watching it, I don’t really feel like I gained or lost anything at all in the process.  At times it appears to try too hard to be clever and quirky, and other times it’s just rote clichés about bank robbery movies.  This is actually one of those rare movies where I don’t have much to say about it, which means SPOILER ALERT (but not really) I think it’s just an average movie.

There’s nothing about it that fills me with rage, nothing that bored me or offended me, nothing to write about.  It’s about a bank robbery that all the tagged actors (and more) are involved in.  It’s a comedy.  Jeffrey Tambor is in it, and if I had to suggest a movie that is a spiritual cousin to it, a movie Tambor acted in previously, Operation: Endgame, would be the one that I mentioned.  That last sentence was terribly awkward.  I’m sorry.

2.5 / 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

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)

Preposterous.  Poppycock.  Predictable.  I get that it is an adaptation of a children’s book, and – as some movies prove and Where the Wild Things Are defies – a minimal amount of prose needs a lot of puffing up to become a full length feature film.  YES, there will be a plethora of p words presented in this entry.  Perhaps because it was a theme oft repeated throughout the movie and I’m working it out of my system so I don’t become more emotionally crippled than I already am.  PERHAPS.

Apparently a grown man letting six penguins live with him in the metro New York City area is not complete madness, or at least this movie would lead you to believe such a thing.  Popper (Jim Carrey) and his precocious family completely accept and propagate that premise, while the supporting cast are all essentially villains because OF COURSE penguins in NYC are perfectly plausible and possible.  Also, it seems like no one in this movie ever watched March of the Penguins.

Anyways, it might be a perfectly fine movie to watch with your kids, I don’t know, because I don’t have any.  But if I did, I wouldn’t perpetrate a punishable offence by allowing them to watch this movie.  It’s pretty standard fare, but I don’t know what demographic it is shooting for as a lot of the subject matter would only resonate with adults and the kid’s stuff is pretty banal for an adult to sit through.  I guess I’ll give it a passing grade, as it isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, but far from pleasant anyways.

2.5 / 5

Win Win (2011)

Until about five minutes ago I had no idea who Thomas McCarthy was, and now it blows my mind.  He was the writer and director of some excellent movies like The Station Agent and The Visitor and he also has a writing credit for Up.  What a pedigree!  Except to most audiences he might get a second take as Dr. Bob from the Fockers movies.  And now he’s crafted another feel-good as a human being movie in Win Win.

It should go without saying that Paul Giamatti delivers a standout noteworthy performance that only didn’t get noticed because he’s dependable like that.  Same with Amy Ryan, we’ve just come to expect high quality from them.  Solid supporting cast too, can never go wrong with Jeffrey Tambor or Bobby Cannavale.  It’s a very good movie, and I don’t know what else to tell you about it.  Giamatti is a lawyer and high school wrestling coach and his practice is failing so he does what might be the only shady thing he has ever done in his life, putting himself into the titular situation.

Highly recommended for the solid performances and writing.

4 / 5