Rock of Ages (2012)

Directed by: Adam Shankman (I saw Bringing Down the House once)

Written by: Chris D’Arienzo, Allan Loeb and inexplicably Justin Theroux, based off of D’Arienzo’s musical of the same name

Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, Malin Åkerman and Tom Cruise, with a number of cameo appearances as well.

What it’s about: a small town girl moves to Los Angeles to become a famous singer or some shit

B-Movie Alternate Title: ugh I can’t even sum up the creative juices to come up with one for this horrid piece of garbage.

Movie Mash Up: Empire RecordsFootlooseChicagoDetroit Rock City churned in a “Glee” blender

What I liked: Absolutely nothing.  Literally five minutes into it I Tweeted that it was already horrible.

What I disliked: EVERYTHING.  It is a terrible movie, not just because it’s a musical (I am not prejudiced against musicals) but because it is one of the worst-written, cheesily-acted movies that has come out in a long time.  I was embarrassed for actors like Giamatti and Bryan Cranston being in this film.  I have no idea what the target demographic for this film was, because everyone that enjoyed Cruise’s extended cameo performance in Tropic Thunder were not going to be interested in seeing him as an aging rock god.  It might have been extremely faithful to the source material but I don’t give a damn because sometimes musicals are impossible to adapt to the screen without seeming terrible.  Like Phantom of the Opera in 2004, it was a painful exercise in futility.  Movies like this make me wish I could get black-out drunk and forget I ever saw it.  Horrible.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Did you read what I just wrote?  No one deserves the pain of sitting through this.  Terrible, atrocious movie with crap performances and lines that would embarrass a 5-year-old to have to deliver.

Rating: 0 / 5


Wanderlust (2012)

Now I’m sure you’re all sick and tired of reading me write about how much I love Paul Rudd in anything, so I’ll try to keep that to a minimum for OH I CAN’T.  I forgive a lot in movies that he stars in just because he’s one of the greatest guys in the history of guys.  Come on, you have to admit to yourself that it’s true.  He could tell me that I have five minutes to live and I’d be like “Can you just riff on that for those five minutes?  Like tell me all the ways I’m going to die.  It’s fine, it’s inevitable, I just want to go out happy.”  And then I would die, happy.

Anyways, Wanderlust is a movie brought to us by the fine folks that gave us the wonderful Role Models.  David Wain directed the picture, having co-written it with Ken Marino, and the cast is populated by numerous actors that have together with Wain in the past.  At first I was worried that Wanderlust was going to be like Wet Hot American Summer and I would feel bad because I didn’t “get it”.  Thankfully, while the subject matter is a bit similar, it’s a far more accessible film than Summer was, even though Jennifer Aniston is one of the stars.  Nah, I give her a lot of shit, but she’s alright in this.

In fact, everyone is alright in this.  They all know their roles, and they deliver because they believe in the project and it is funny.  It’s not traditionally stupid funny or whatever is palpable for mainstream hilarity, it’s riffing, improv, chemistry-based funny.  Everyone bounces off one another and it is highly enjoyable to me.  It’s a movie that I’d definitely make time to re-watch and recommend to friends.  I am being so vague in this review, not even telling you it’s about a couple (Rudd and Aniston) that is having a financial crisis and end up living in a hippie commune for a bit and then Things Happen.  A solid Wain movie, at least on par with Role Models if not slightly better.

4 / 5

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Generally speaking, movies about the inner workings of Hollywood and how fake the industry is usually don’t too well at the box office.  Sure, they’ll be critically acclaimed and such, but for the most part it seems that audiences don’t care about how movies are made, they just like the movies.  And most audiences like terrible movies.  How else can you explain a painfully average and boring film like Avatar becoming the #1 grossing movie of all time?  The championing of mediocrity and the higher cost of 3D movie tickets I guess would also be completely plausible reasons, but in my opinion it was just catering to the marketplace, and the market loves unchallenging shit.  Anyways, rant over, let’s talk about Tropic Thunder.

Directed and co-written by star Ben Stiller, it’s a sorta spoof of the movie industry that touches on numerous topics.  Endorsement deals, revenue streams, awards baiting, method acting, contract riders, all those and numerous other topics are touched upon, in some cases almost too spot on.  Robert Downey, Jr. actually scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who performs in blackface for almost the entirety of the film.  There was no way Downey was going to win, as this was the same year that Heath Ledger’s phenomenal Joker performance in The Dark Knight was released.  Still, props to the Academy for legitimizing that role of Downey’s.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the plot of the movie, because you’ve probably heard about it by now, and it just comes across as preposterous.  The strength of the movie is in the performances, and actors knowing their role and playing to it.  Stiller’s character of Tugg Speedman is probably the most on-the-nose role in the movie, and if he wasn’t surrounded by an able supporting cast, honestly, the movie wouldn’t be as good as it is.

As it stands, it’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it is highly enjoyable and one that certainly lends itself to multiple viewings (do yourself a favour and watch it with Downey’s commentary at least once, the man is a national treasure).

3.5 / 5

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Alright, so I did a whole nice write-up yesterday for the first Iron Man movie, and well, this one is more of the same.  It’s not The Dark Knight sequel to Batman Begins, it’s more like what Batman Forever was to Batman, if that makes sense.  It probably doesn’t since I just casually omitted Batman Returns, but Forever had sooo much Batcrap shoved into it that the movie actually shat out a sequel.

I just wanna sit back and appreciate that thing that I just wrote.  Man, I hope I didn’t subconsciously steal it from someone, because it is such a perfect description of Batman & Robin.  You can LIKE this review or G+ it or RT it or whatever.  I don’t even want to write anymore.

Alright, fine.  So Iron Man 2 brings back almost the exact same cast and creative team as the original movie, minus the unlikable Terrence Howard (replaced with the awesome Don Cheadle) and bringing in Justin Theroux as the screenplay writer.  At this point The Avengers movie release date was (I think) set in stone and there were preparations and things shoved into the story that seemed to be less about just Iron Man, and more about pumping up the Avengers plotline.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it gives the whole movie more of an episodic feel.  Like, you can’t have “The Body” episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” without “I Was Made to Love You” which I had to research (and I actually dug that episode too) to remember it took place directly before “The Body”.

I feel like I’m getting all Pitchfork-y with this review, making allusions to other things that seem quite brilliant in my head and maybe seems assholeish when someone else reads it.  Anyways, the film also brings in Mickey Rourke as the main villain Whiplash, Sam Rockwell as Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) main business rival, Justin Hammer, and Scarlett Johansson as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent – and future Avenger- Natalya Romanov or y’know, Black Widow.  There’s also a lovely little appearance by John Slattery as Tony’s dad in archival footage, and the whole Stark family thing reminds me so much of “The Venture Bros.”

So there are parts I like about Iron Man 2 because they remind me of other things, and it’s a competently enough made movie, but not nearly as great as the first movie.

3.5 / 5

Your Highness (2011)

A long time ago, on a different blog hosting site far, far away (Russia now), I wrote a review for Howl’s Moving Castle in which I made mention that it contained Billy Crystal’s best performance ever because the dialogue he provided was limited by the animation for the American dub.  He wasn’t around to riff constantly, ad-libbing and so forth (granted, any competent editor or director would find the best deliveries for the movie in theory).  Danny McBride and everyone involved in Your Highness need to figure out why they script movies.

I cannot imagine what the pitch for Your Highness had to be to win over the studio.  “The guy from ‘Eastbound & Down’ came up with this medieval movie idea!  He has an outline written down, and he swears he’s working on the rest of the script and it’ll be ready by the time we’re ready to shoot!” “Can we put James Franco in it?”  “Uh, sure, his reps have already expressed an interest in it!”  “We also need a hot, young, talented actress to strip down to her thong for this one scene.”  “That’s exactly what Natalie Portman said she wanted to do after losing herself in Black Swan!”  “LET’S MAKE IT *throws money*”  “HURRAH!”

The thing is, I don’t know if a written script would have actually helped the movie or not.  There’s just so much wrong with it.  For every time I laughed during the movie, there were nine other scenes when I seriously debated just turning it off.  But I held out for Natalie Portman’s ass, and in doing so was rewarded with even more tits!  I know these actors are all talented, but this was just a colossal fuckstorm of shit.

1 / 5

There, now you don’t have to watch the movie.