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.

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Away We Go (2009)

Throughout this summer of unemployment, I have been re-watching a lot of my TV box sets in between movies and playing Sleeping Dogs.  Lately I’ve been re-watching the US version of “The Office”, so going into watching this movie again, I thought it might be difficult to see John Krasinski as anyone but Jim Halpert.  However, Krasinski is such an affable sort of guy, that it doesn’t matter what movie I see him in, he’s doing the same act, and it’s charming and “everyman”-ish and I enjoy the guy, so if the worst thing I can say is that he just acted like Jim in this movie, well that’s a type of compliment.

Anyways, this film isn’t your usual “heavy” Sam Mendes fare.  It’s more of a smaller movie, not in ambition, but in scope.  It’s basically about a loving couple, Burt (Krasinki) and Verona (Maya Rudolph), trying to find their grown up lives, so to speak.  Verona is expecting their first child, and adamant that she never wants to get married, despite how desperately Burt wants to marry her.  When Burt’s parents (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara) announce they’re going to be moving to Antwerp for two years, Burt and Verona decide to find a new place to live since the only reason they were living there was so Burt’s parents could help with the baby sometimes.  And Away We er, they Go.

Look, I’ve read some other reviews where it was suggested that Burt and Verona are “self-righteous people that think they’re super special and different than all us other idiots” or something like that.  I can see that point of view, since it seems that every place that they visit in hopes of moving to is populated by buffoonish people in one way or another.  Or sadness.  Or idiocy.  Until they find the right place of course.  I don’t agree with that feeling, I think Burt and Verona are a lovely couple and felt fairly real, not a rom-com couple or anything.

I enjoyed the film, might be a bit slow-paced and navel-gazing for some audiences, but it plays well for me.

3.5 / 5

The Muppets (2011)

Back in December, I reviewed The Muppets Christmas Carol and found it to be somewhat… lacking.  I realised that my post-Jim Henson’s death Muppets-related experiences have mostly been in watching his version of The Muppets (and their awesome job at hosting Monday Night Raw on Hallowe’en 2011).  I don’t recall ever watching any of the Muppets movies in the ’90s or 2000s, and I used to own the first three seasons of “The Muppet Show” on DVD.  Watching that Christmas Carol made me wonder if I only loved the Jim Henson vision version of The Muppets.

Thankfully, Jason Segel (whose puppet love was explored deeply in Forgetting Sarah Marshall) co-wrote a screenplay that would see the resurrection of The Muppets we all know and love… except for Frank Oz apparently.  It’s a very meta and modern-feeling movie, with the abandoned Muppets Studio in danger of being bulldozed so the wonderfully evilly-named Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) can drill for oil underneath it.  This evil plan is uncovered when Smalltown residents Gary (Segel), Mary (Amy Adams) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) go on vacation to Los Angeles.  Apparently this is the same world that “Greg the Bunny” exists in, as Walter being a fabricated American is not really remarked upon.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s the greatest Muppet thing ever, because in my books THIS is pretty fantastic.  However, I think it honours the characters, Jim Henson’s vision and makes The Muppets relevant again for one of the first times in their Disney-owned history.  Yeah, a lot of the jokes are cheesy and slapsticky, but that’s part of the wonderful charm.  You can tell that Segel and director James Bobin (of “Flight of the Conchords” fame) truly love The Muppets and didn’t want to just churn out another straight-to-DVD installment.  There’s loads of celebrity cameos to enjoy, and Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie won an Oscar for one of the songs featured in the movie.  It’s solid entertainment, and one that I may actually grow to love upon re-watchings.

4 / 5

Something Borrowed (2011)

There were so many levels of frustration going on with me while watching Something Borrowed.  At first I really wanted to hate it, then I kinda fell for some of the characters while actively hating others.  Then there were plot twists and switches and it was maddening!  Definitely not what I was expecting of this movie, having never read the novel by Emily Giffin upon which it was adapted.

Let me set the record straight right off the bat: it’s not a great movie, hell most people don’t think it’s a good movie.  I’m in the very small minority there, and I put my own credibility as a somewhat reliable film critic on the line with that.  I like it, but that liking it comes with greatly identifying with the story and one of the characters in particular.  Even though I think my own belief in romance is dead, I still believe in hopeless romance and, well anything else I say on the subject is going to be a spoiler, so that’ll be the last paragraph.

I found the acting to be fairly above the standard of which I’m accustomed to getting in a romantic comedy.  John Krasinski and Ginnifer Goodwin were quite good in my books, while Kate Hudson played her role perfectly, because she kinda made you hate her, and (I think) that’s what they were going for.  Same thing with the rest of the supporting cast, they all played their roles great, which doesn’t necessarily mean it was great acting, but they did what was required of their characters.

SPOILER ALERTS I haven’t read the book, so I’m not sure if the movie was a departure from it, but I strongly doubt it.  The ending was a major cop out, and had no balls whatsoever.  Goodwin’s character got together with Colin Egglesfield’s character who was cheating on Hudson’s character, and Hudson and Goodwin were childhood friends and earlier Krasinski’s character professed his love for Goodwin and so on and it was stupid.  I hated Egglesfield through the entire movie, because he cheated on his fiance, never mind that it was with Goodwin who he really loved, but because he didn’t break up with Hudson when he realised how he felt, and there are reasons for that but whatever.  It was so frustrating to me, and Krasinki’s character deserved a better fate than the one he ended up with, but he’s such a good guy he’d never complain.

3.5 / 5

For Your Consideration (2006)

I was a fan of the “mockumentary” genre of films that Christopher Guest made, though I don’t hold Waiting For Guffman in as high regard as I do Best In Show and to a lesser degree, A Mighty Wind.  I say “was” because, well with all the viral marketing and such nowadays, the whole “making things feel real” deal is kinda played out, much like indie films in the mid ’90s were just an excuse for lazy screenwriters to reference semi-obscure pop culture trash from their childhoods and call it “Tarantino-esque”.  GET OFF MY LAWN.

This Guest-directed and co-written by Eugene Levy movie is about the making of a movie.  Those always do well.  Oh and the buzz that surrounds lead actress Marilyn Hack’s (Catherine O’Hara) performance in the film-within-the-film leading industry insiders to suggest she would be in line for an Oscar nomination.  Pretty much all of the usual Guest crew show up for this movie, along with some new faces in Ricky Gervais, Sandra Oh and John Krasinski (essentially very bit parts).

It’s alright, that’s about all I felt about it.  Of all the Guest films that I’ve seen since 1996 (only missing Almost Heroes and there’s a very good reason for that), I’d rank this one last in terms of enjoyability, quality, entertainment, y’know, the key ingredients you want in a movie-watching experience.  Merely average.  And another thing, it never really seems to lose the “mockumentary” feel, even though there’s no mention of it being filmed by a crew or anything.  It just feels off.

2.5 / 5