Bolt (2008)

Stupid cat.

Stupid cat.

Directed by: Chris Williams and Byron Howard (Howard also directed Tangled which I didn’t think much of)

Written by: Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams

Starring: the vocal cast of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell, Randy Savage, Nick Swardson, Diedrich Bader, Chloë Grace Moretz, James Lipton, Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio, and Jenny Lewis

What it’s about: a dog raised on a TV show finds out that he has no super powers at all

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Dog Who Didn’t Know

Movie Mash Up: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey animated

What I liked: The animation is gorgeous – especially on Bolt – and some of the scenes that don’t involve any of the characters in the movie look like real life.  Well, the movies version of real life, I guess.  I absolutely love Jenny Lewis, and honestly, there’s no reason (except that the Oscars are bullshit political garbage) that her song wasn’t nominated in the Best Original Song category.  Really, TWO songs from Slumdog Millionaire were nominated?  Idiots.  Her song still brings a bit of the old glassy-eyed reaction out in me.  The characters were fun as well.

What I disliked: For some reason, the more times I re-watch this, the less impressed I am by it.  I still think it is a decent movie, but my enthusiasm for it has dulled since I originally watched it.  Personally, I would have rather had Chloë Grace Moretz as the lead voice like they originally recorded, rather than Miley Cyrus’ fucked up nasally cigarette-infused voice.  The movie just doesn’t impact me as much anymore, but I still want a dog.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, there’s nothing offensive about the movie at all, just an enjoyable easy-to-watch romp.

Rating: 3 / 5

That is pretty adorable right there

That is pretty adorable right there

Get Shorty (1995)


Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld (I assure you, this is the best thing he has ever directed)

Written by: Scott Frank wrote the screenplay based on Elmore Leonard’s excellent book

Starring: John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini, Jon Gries, and David Paymer are the principles, but there are notable cameo or bit roles starring Bette Midler, Martin Ferrero, Miguel Sandoval, Jack Conley, Alex Rocco, Penny Marshall and Harvey Keitel.

What it’s about: a Miami shylock decides to get into the Los Angeles movie business

B-Movie Alternate Title: How I Got Into Hollywood!

Movie Mash Up: The Player + this – whatever ad plays at the beginning of that clip

What I liked: This may be the most perfect John Travolta role ever, if you don’t count Pulp Fiction.  He embodies Chili Palmer perfectly, there is no other way to describe it.  The rest of the casting is pretty great as well, to the point where you read the book and you cannot visualize Elmore Leonard’s descriptions of the characters because Russo, Hackman, etc. are the exact actors/actresses to play the parts.  It is a mostly faithful adaptation of the book.  So many great actors playing little parts in the movie, it’s like a time capsule of professionals before they caught their big break or some sort.  The nearly faithful adaptation cribs some of the best lines of the book, and the delivery of those lines, those scenes, they’re just electric.

What I disliked: The movie comes off as borderline satire, and yeah, Hollywood was in that sort of self-mockery stage back in 1995, but the book didn’t really have that vibe to it.  The fucking US3-inspired score is pretty terrible, 17 years later, much like how I imagine many people will feel when they hear the dubstep score in Total Recall 20 years down the line.  Some of the non-faithful-to-the-book scenes/characters don’t always work.  For example, Bette Midler’s character, the whole Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) getting beaten up part, some timeline switches.  There was also some sort of .. I dunno, “dumbification” of Chili’s character at parts, or that’s just how Sonnenfeld told Travolta to play it, I dunno.   Those parts kinda grate on me.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is an enjoyable flick with some great scenes and lines.

Rating: 4 / 5

Maybe don't Google Image Search "get shorty gif" because porn

Maybe don’t Google Image Search “get shorty gif” because porn

Old Dogs (2009)

A lot of people point at Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight and how deep he lost himself in the role as one of the mitigating factors in his untimely death.  It’s quite possible that acting in Old Dogs killed Bernie Mac.  It is offensively terrible, at times racist, ageist, homophobic and just all around shittacular.  It is without hyperbole that I say it is probably one of the worst big budget movies ever made, especially with the amount of name actors that “act” in it.  It is so bad that is the film equivalent of kicking a dog: pure evil.

It is a film so viciously manipulative that it uses the death of a dog to stir up emotions.  Robin Williams must have been thinking “I shaved my chest for this?” and yes he clearly did to show off one of the movie’s terribly unfunny sight gags.  There’s also a good chance that Williams wasn’t thinking at all.  I would love to pour more venom and bile into this review but at the end of the day, it just isn’t worth it.

Do not watch, under penalty of pain.  Heed my words, people, these are the end times!

0 / 5

Carrie (1976)

If anything, watching older Brian De Palma movies is giving me a new-found appreciation for Nancy Allen, so there’s that.  Since I watched Blow Out the other day, I’ve decided to revisit older De Palma movies that I had not seen and had reputations of being classics.  I’ll also be watching The Black Dahlia.  This is the original 1976 version of Carrie, not the 1999 sequel, nor the 2002 TV movie version that was designed to set up a TV series.

If I’m learning anything from watching older De Palma movies, it’s that he doesn’t have a gift for making movies timeless.  Yes, I can sit here and say that it’s a great movie, but a teenager nowadays, in 2011, is most likely going to find it laughable.  It’s not just technology and clothes, it’s atmosphere, it’s execution.  Perhaps if Bernard Herrmann hadn’t died before the film was completed, the score wouldn’t be so jarringly bad (in my opinion).  It’s the acting too, and this movie does have great acting – Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were deservedly nominated for Oscars – but there’s also just jaw-droppingly bad acting throughout.  AND WHAT THE HELL WAS WITH THAT VOMIT-INDUCING PROM DANCE SPINNING SHIT.  Horrible!

It’s certainly a good movie, but there are a load of flaws throughout and SPOILER ALERT why was the killing of two of the biggest assholes in movie history, John Travolta and Nancy Allen’s characters, so goddamn anti-climatic and emotionless.  Carrie (Spacek) was fucking PISSED and all she did was spin their car out and turn it into a fireball.  I don’t even know if she knew who was in the car at the time.  I’m not sure if the ending to the movie has been highly praised or what, but De Palma knows shit about ending his movies in a satisfactory fashion.

3.5 / 5

Blow Out (1981)

When it comes to Brian De Palma movies and me, well they’re kind of hit and miss.  He’s made some excellent films, and he’s also shoveled some shit out.  And he’s made films that for one reason or another, don’t age very well.  Blow Out is a very good film, but it would not play for today’s audiences.  Come to think of it, it was a box office failure at the time of its release as well so I guess it just wasn’t meant to be accepted by a mainstream audience.

Blow Out is a movie very much made for and about its time period.  With the advancements in technology and filming techniques, pretty much everything displayed as part of Jack Terry’s (John Travolta) job is obsolete.  Hell, we can record and upload YouTube videos of your stupid friends doing stupid stunts in a fraction of the time it would take Jack to piece together his sound effects into the laughably shitty slasher film he’s working on at the start of the film.  That’s not to say that we should dismiss Blow Out entirely, because it is very much a very good movie, just short of greatness.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.  It’s frequently listed as one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite films, and whatever your opinions on QT, he generally has great taste in movies.  John Lithgow gives a chilling performance that I now see replicated in his “Dexter” Season 4 arc.  However, SPOILER ALERTISH I will warn you that the incredibly bleak ending is what turned the word of mouth about the film back in 1981 to poison.  And the horrible make-up effect on Nancy Allen is terrible, even for 1981’s standards.

4 / 5