Django Unchained (2012)

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films.  Argue about that.

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films. Argue about that.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (we could argue over what his “best” movie is, but the safe bet will most likely always be Pulp Fiction)

Written by: Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar, Kerry Washington, Laura Cayouette, Walton Goggins and Samuel L. Jackson.  Also, check the tags for many actors that basically filmed cameo roles.

What it’s about: in 1858, a former slave becomes a bounty hunter and searches for his wife

B-Movie Alternate Title: It’s a pretty B-Movie title already

Movie Mash Up: Inglourious BasterdsTombstone + probably hundreds of blaxpoitation movies that Tarantino has watched

What I liked: I have to admit, Jamie Foxx ruled in this movie, and I hate having to say that.  Tarantino wrote such a great character in Django, and knew exactly how he wanted the character to appear and succeeded on all levels.  I would argue that Christoph Waltz deserves to be nominated in the Best Actor category, rather than the Supporting Actor category for his performance in this movie, but whatever.  It is a fun movie, dealing with some super serious themes, and it may be Tarantino’s funniest movie yet.  Argue some more about that too, if you want.  The movie looks gorgeous, and flows fairly well (see below), so well that at points it doesn’t exactly feel like a near three hour-long movie.  DiCaprio was amazing in it as well, particularly the scene in which he actually accidentally cuts open his own hand, bleeding profusely all over himself, and continues acting.  Don’t know how Kerry Washington felt about having his blood smeared all over her face, though.

What I disliked: The running time of nearly three hours is fairly daunting, Tarantino movie or not.  You could make arguments about trimming the fat and lessening the homages to whatever obscure movie Tarantino was referring to with whatever camera angle or sound cue, but you don’t have the same movie then.  I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable movie fan, but I probably don’t know half of the references Tarantino is making, even in regards to certain actors and actresses he ends up casting for whatever reason.  There were some scenes throughout that I thought were misplaced or came from some wacky sitcom script (the Jonah Hill cameo scene springs to mind), and while they weren’t terrible, they did put me off a little.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: While it is pretty great, the exceedingly long running time and excessive (but totally in context) usage of the word “nigger”, probably means it isn’t for everyone.  Tarantino fans will eagerly lap it up, though.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I am surprised this .gif hasn't been Hasslehoff'd.

I am surprised this .gif hasn’t been Hasslehoff’d.

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Knocked Up (2007)

I actually like the other poster a lot better.

I actually like the other poster a lot better.

Directed by: Judd Apatow (his best movie is probably The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but I love a lot of his movies)

Written by: also Judd Apatow (again, 40-Year-Old Virgin was probably his greatest movie, but I also have a tonne of love for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story)

Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Iris and Maude Apatow, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, Ken Jeong, Loudon Wainwright III, and so many other little cameo performances.  Probably my most tagged movie so far.

What it’s about: a schlubby loser guy gets a hot successful woman pregnant

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Fertilized Egg

Movie Mash Up: The 40-Year-Old VirginI Love You, Man + Juno

What I liked: I’m a huge fan of Apatow’s writing, directing, and friendly manner.  The last part is the most important because he tends to be able to use a lot of the same actors over and over in smaller parts because they just want to work with him again.  He is basically a much more talented Kevin Smith before I outgrew him and he became a kinda sad douchebag.  Apatow also gets so much funny stuff out of his actors because he seems to let them freely improvise.  It is a genuinely funny movie that feels real and has so much heart.  When I first watched it, I wanted to see a whole movie out of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters, and now that This is 40 has been released, my wish has come true!  I love seeing Paul Rudd in anything, you know.  Also, loved Loudon Wainwright III’s score and soundtrack, some truly great songs on there.

What I disliked: The running time, and Judd’s somewhat self-indulgent filmmaking style.  I mean, his wife and two daughters are in the movie, and yeah, they fit their parts perfectly, but there are beats throughout that I think were kept in because of his love of them, not the love of making an excellent movie.  Also, despite it feeling “real” there were still aspects that didn’t seem too real, like the sex scenes between Rogen and Heigl.  I’m sorry, but if your boobs are that big and – presumably – tremendous, well you’ll most likely end up topless.  I realise that comment seems somewhat sexist, but it is the movies, and come on Katherine Heigl, if the movie really was sexist, your tits would have been out.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes, it is a delightful movie, and were it not for the prevalence of fuck words and adult activity, I would suggest that it could even be a family film.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I just want to watch Paul Rudd riff on everything.

I just want to watch Paul Rudd riff on everything.

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

21 Jump Street (2012)

Like many of my critical brethren, I’m sick of retreads, remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, etc.  You put a re in front of whatever you want to label the movie as, chances are good that I’m not going to be interested in your … well, if I was a politically incorrect person, I’d say “retarded movie” but I’m not so I’ll say “creatively disabled” instead.  I like Jonah Hill though, and I thought at the very least it would be good for some humour.  I never watched the original “21 Jump Street” TV show much, but from what I remember of it, it was on the air because Johnny Depp was a heartthrob and that’s about it.  I vaguely recall the ethnic variety that was displayed at all times in the casting, and that it seemed to be pretty boring.  Also, I remember Peter DeLuise making himself throw up in a toilet once.

Hill co-wrote the story with Michael Bacall (who has a co-writing credit on one of my favourite movies of all time, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World which I just found out so that’s cool too), and it was intended as a Bad Boys-esque John Hughes movie and that is a pretty spot on representation of the movie.  It’s got the touchy-feely parts, and it’s got the insane action, mixed in with a bit of Superbad style comedic timing.  The entire premise is lifted directly from the original TV show, with new police recruits Morton Schmidt (Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) basically screwing up their first arrest attempt and getting busted down to the high school undercover project because they look young.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, as it was clearly intended to be an R-rated action pic, with tonnes of filthy language and situations.  I’m sure at some point, the studio wanted the movie to be PG-13 and much more marketable, but that would have essentially been castrating the creativity of the film.  There are numerous talented actors and actresses throughout the whole movie, and some vaguely surprising cameo performances, and everyone has fun with what little screen time they might have.  I would easily plunk down money for a movie based on Nick Offerman’s character busting the balls of everyone that comes into his office.

Solidly enjoyable, completely surprising to me.  I even enjoyed Channing Tatum… but I’ll probably never ever see Magic Mike.

4 / 5

The Sitter (2011)

I generally like Jonah Hill, but I have no idea what he was thinking making this movie.  Seriously, there’s at least two other babysitting movies out there (off the top of my head) that pretty much set the standard for what this movie is all about.  Oh, a babysitter (Jonah Hill) has wacky crazy misadventures when looking after three kids.  Yeah, I already saw that movie, 25 goddamn years ago, and it was great.  Adventures in Babysitting starring the amazing Elisabeth Shue.  Find that, watch that instead, it’s much more entertaining than this R-rated version of it.

2 / 5

Superbad (2007)

I could sit here like a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters and never come up with a review that accurately sums up exactly how much I love this movie.  Sure, it’s not in my Top 20 of All Time, but it’s in my Top 50.  Unless my list changes.  Five years hasn’t changed my opinion on it enough to warrant writing up a new review that says the same thing, so here’s my old one:

This is another in a long line of hard-to-write reviews. Not that it’s too difficult for me to type or anything, have no fear. It’s just one of those movies that I enjoyed so immensely that I want to sit down and just type 5 / 5 in a huge font and let the review sit like that. But then I second guess myself a bit, wonder if people will question my credibility as a reviewer if I’m giving Superbad a perfect score, stuff like that. But then I decided, fuck that noise, the movie was a laugh riot and the story was great and when it comes out on DVD I’m going to buy it the first day it’s available (note: I totally did) and that anyone that has such a high opinion of themselves that they’ll judge a movie based on what they’ve seen in commercials and refuse to watch it because… I’ve lost my train of thought.

Directed by a friend of Judd Apatow, Greg Mottola, and co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Superbad is about one day in the life of Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera), two somewhat geeky high school students that trying to “get with” a couple of girls before they head off to college. Seth and Evan have been best friends since childhood, and the events that take place during this one day threaten to tear apart their friendship, all because of women. Oh, I guess booze, the police and bullies might also be factors, but mostly women.

A lot of people might be reluctant to plunk down their hard-earned money to go see Superbad just because it looks like a “dumb comedy”. Kind of like how I won’t be rushing out to see Hot Rod before it leaves theatres, or how I won’t go out of my way to see Blades of Glory or Talladega Nights. Superbad, however, has the Judd Apatow / Seth Rogen seal of awesomeness on it, and based on their impressive pedigree, I will always plunk down money to see one of their movies.

A lot of that blind devotion of mine goes to the casting of these movies, as well as the wonderfully colourful and realistic-feeling dialogue that soaks every scene. Michael Cera is pretty much an acting veteran by now, and the awkward deliveries he gives – while reminscent of his character on “Arrested Development” – are so dead-on to how many high school geeks act in real life that I fear he’ll always be asked to play this character. Because he’s so good at it! Match up that solid perfection with the chemistry the entire cast shares and you’ve got yourself one hilarious and entertaining movie. I don’t want to say too much here because I’m worried about spoiling all the awesome lines. I literally took 20 minutes to choose the quote for my cut because I was afraid of ruining an awesome laugh.

Usually when a movie is over – even if it’s a great one – I’ll be happy because it was an all-around decent package or whatever. When the credits started to roll on Superbad, I was saddened, and I stuck around for a bit just hoping that somehow there’d be more thrown into the mix. I haven’t seen a tonne of movies from this year so far, but aside from Hot Fuzz and Knocked Up, there hasn’t been a movie I truly loved that has hit theatres. Until now.

5 / 5

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

I was going to start this post with admonishing the world for the relatively small $100 million or so worldwide gross for this movie, but honestly, what’s the point of that?  Audiences for the most part don’t want movies that will 1) make them think 2) make them feel anything but good and c) involve dangling male genitalia.  Fucking prudes.  Anyways, Jason Segel wrote this semi-autobiographical screenplay about the very real pain that some people go through during a relationship break-up.  And I don’t mean stupid like The Break-Up, I mean genuine, real fucking heartache pain.  I’m sorry for all the fucking swears, but for how ridiculous and outlandish some of the scenes and people are in this movie, the most terrifying thing is that they’re fairly close to reality.

I’d also like to say that Mila Kunis may be one of the most perfect women ever created.  Scientists should spend years studying her, giving up, pricking her with a needle and just saying “fuck your ethical whining, we’re going to clone her and every guy will be happy forever”.  You can see why Segel’s character would be so attracted to her, not just because she’s stunningly gorgeous, but she seems genuinely awesome at everything, and I’m just going to stop this paragraph now.

Segel brings not just his hilarious break-up stories (sorry, dude) to the script, but also his unabashed Muppet love.  He also spends almost the entirety of the movie getting drunk and wallowing and that’s a character I can identify with.  This review is just a gushing love letter basically, but how could it be anything but when it has so many talented people in it (Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Kristen Bell, Segel, Jonah Hill, Kunis, KRISTEN WIIG) and also Russell Brand.  It’s a specific, Judd Apatow brand of humour, less self-indulgent than an actual Apatow-directed movie, but admittedly not for everyone.

4.5 / 5