ParaNorman (2012)

Nice throwback-style poster.

Nice throwback-style poster.

Directed by: Sam Fell and Chris Butler (haven’t seen any of their other movies, though I am interested in Fell’s Flushed Away)

Written by: Chris Butler wrote screenplay based upon Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone’s story

Starring: the vocal talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman and others.

What it’s about: a young boy who can speak to the dead needs to save the townspeople from the spirit of a recently awakened witch

Movie Mash Up: The Sixth SenseThe GooniesScooby-Doo

What I liked: It is not often that I will actually hail the message of a film, but in this case the anti-bullying stance and accepting everyone for who they are is one that needs to be championed.  The film is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope to see more stop-motion animation movies in the future.  Now that 3D printers have been invented, it certainly streamlines the process.  The movie is dark, but fun.  The vocal cast is great throughout, and there are numerous little fun scenes throughout which showed off the sense of humour of the filmmakers.

What I disliked: Nothing in general, though I wasn’t really a fan of the big gay reveal at the end.  It really didn’t add anything to the character, and people trumpeting it as the “first openly gay character in a children’s animated movie”, well, there were absolutely no indications of him being gay until he said that he was.  It wasn’t a plot point, it was used as a cheap shock joke.  True, before that he was just another character in the movie, treated the same as everyone else which is in line with the film’s message.  I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the character or the movie at all.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a fun movie for people of all ages, though I would avoid showing it to younger children.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Rankings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. ParaNorman 3. Brave

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

This Is 40 (2012)

Kids seem kinda gross. Stop having them everyone.

Directed by: Judd Apatow (I still think The 40-Year-Old Virgin is his best movie)

Written by: Apatow again

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, and featuring many more actors in smaller roles.

What it’s about: just like the poster says, a sort-of sequel to Knocked Up, about a married couple finding out what being 40-years-old (and not a virgin) is like

B-Movie Alternate Title: The 40-Year-Old Non-Virgins

Movie Mash Up: Pretty much a mix of all three of Apatow’s movies, 40-Year-Old VirginKnocked Up and Funny People

What I liked: Paul Rudd is in nearly every scene and that is fun and great and wonderful and everyone should love that because Paul Rudd that is why.  I am a huge fan of Leslie Mann’s line deliveries, her whole acting, just the total package.  She’s also a foxy lady.  Speaking of foxy ladies, Megan Fox does what we hope she does in every movie (see the .gif at the end of the review), and less clothing on her is better, as well as less of her acting abilities.  She was used the perfect amount.  Great supporting cast with great roles.  I wish Apatow would have picked a hockey team to use in the movie other than the Philadelphia Flyers, but at least it wasn’t the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I disliked: As with any fairly personal movie, the running time tends to trend a bit long.  Apatow does love his stuff, and there could be a few trimmings made to make it a better overall movie.  I don’t know if I really disliked Iris Apatow’s performance, as it felt “real” and not fake Hollywood, but it wasn’t great in the traditional sense.  The movie tends to meander at times.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sort of.  I thought it was great, but there are some audiences that it won’t play well for.

Rating: 4 /5

Did you just scroll down to this?  How long have you been watching it? Is it tomorrow yet?

Did you just scroll down to this? How long have you been watching it? Is it tomorrow yet?

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.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

This is another one of those movies that I’ve re-watched and found that absolutely nothing has changed in my feelings toward it.  Sure, there are different things I noticed, and certain actors that I hadn’t realised were in this movie before, etc. but I loved this movie as much this time as I did back when I first saw it.  So here’s my old still valid review:

Have you ever sat down and watched one of those Christopher Guest “mockumentaries” and thought to yourself “You know, this movie would be better if they didn’t hold back?” 40 Year-Old is the creaming achievement in quality R-rated pictures. The fact that movies like this can still be made nowadays makes me gleeful beyond all description. Sadly, it will mean that in about 20 years or so, some idiot will try and remake it for no good reason. But that’s neither here nor there, for that is the future and we shall not speak of it.

I’ve finally mustered up enough of my depleted creative juices to write up an underwhelming review for the film that I viewed as the 3rd Best Movie of 2005. Since I first watched this film, I’ve literally gone over every second of DVD footage available, and I still want more. Judd Apatow has crafted a remarkably funny and touching adult comedy that isn’t entirely framed around bathroom humour. What makes the movie supremely awesome though, is that Apatow has taken the skeleton of an idea and filled it with life thanks to the strength of his cast.

If you take a look at the cast list up there (and you’re an Apatow fan), you’ll probably see a lot of familiar names. There are a few former “Undeclared” cast members (Bednob, Gallo, Wainwright, Hart), Apatow’s wife (the always luminous Leslie Mann), Anchorman cast members (Rudd, Koechner) and the underrated Seth Rogen, who’s pretty much been with Apatow since the excellent “Freaks and Geeks”. Add in some talented and quick-witted comedians in Carell and the fantastic Jane Lynch, as well as the surprising Romany Malco, and this isn’t even mentioning Oscar-nominated actress Catherine Keener (not nominated for this movie though). Hell, there’s even a former Nitro girl in the Diamond Doll herself, Kimberly Page as a prospective Speed Dater for Andy (Carell).

If you don’t know the premise of the film, well, where have you been? Somehow Andy Stitzer has managed to make it to the age of 40 without knowing the carnal touch of a woman. It’s not that he’s an unattractive prospect or anything, just that there was a time when it mattered and he missed a few opportunities and then it stopped meaning something. In fact, it doesn’t really mean anything to Andy himself, until at a late night poker game with his co-workers (Rudd, Rogen and Malco) his secret is revealed and the boys decide to get Andy laid.

Granted, some of the situations that transpire with Andy and the various women are completely ricockulous, they’re somewhat within the realm of possibility. His co-workers aren’t exactly the most normal bunch of guys, so anything’s possible. Each of the actors in the cast brings so much to their individual parts, while also pumping up the rest of the ensemble, it’s just a fascinating work of art to experience. What I find most remarkable is how little of the movie was actually scripted. At some points Apatow would just give the players an outline of the scene, how he wanted it played, and then have enough confidence in his actors to convey exactly what he wanted.

I really can’t rave about this movie enough, nor do I have the talent to be able to sufficiently describe just how excellent it truly is. It’s just amazingly, jaw-droppingly great, and the unrated DVD edition is just a shade over two hours long. Quality all the way.

5 / 5

The Change-Up (2011)

I’m a big Jason Bateman fan (as previously mentioned in my Horrible Bosses review) and I’ll pretty much watch anything Ryan Reynolds is in as well.  In fact, if I’m attempting to romanticize a lady, well I’ll often put in Definitely, Maybe because that’s just a wonderful movie and I don’t care who knows.  However, after seeing the commercials for The Change-Up, I was not filled with excitement at the idea of yet another body swap movie.  I mean, could this movie have anything more to say than Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, Like Father Like Son, Freaky Friday (again and again), 17 Again, Switch, and holy hell, there are a lot of movies that explore this premise.  I don’t think Face/Off counts because they didn’t really switch bodies, just faces.

So yes, this is well-trod territory here.  Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (of The Hangover fame) and directed by David Dobkin (famous for The Wedding Crashers which doesn’t hold up to repeat viewings in my estimation), it stars Bateman and Reynolds as Dave and Mitch, two childhood friends who went different ways in their lives.  Dave (Bateman) went the safe, reliable, hard-working way and has three kids and the gorgeous Jamie (Leslie Mann) as his wife.  Mitch (Reynolds) is kind of a man-child, not really a success at anything except nailing many women.

These two characters are so vastly different but so similar in age that it sort of has a different take on the genre, I guess.  I’m heavily biased here, no lie, as I enjoy Bateman, Reynolds, Mann and also the impossibly gorgeous Olivia Wilde is in it to boot.  The beginning third of the film was a bit uneven, but once it hit its stride, I enjoyed it a lot.  There’s a scene near the end that brought out actual emotion in me, and while it isn’t a perfect comedy, it’s entertaining.  I like this new breed of comedy where they actually shoot for an R-rating, littered with plenty of well-placed and emphasized f-bombs.

3.5 / 5