The Notebook (2004)

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling's beard is removed.

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling’s beard is removed.

Directed by: Nick Cassavettes (I’d have to say his best movie is either this one or She’s So Lovely, but I haven’t seen the latter film in over a decade so that would require a re-watch)

Written by: Jeremy Leven and Jan Sardi adapted Nicholas Sparks’ novel to the screen

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Joan Allen, Sam Shepard, Kevin Connolly, David Thornton and James Marsden

What it’s about: a man reads from a book to attempt to revive a woman’s memory

What I liked: First of all, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is off-the-charts explosive.  I mean, explosive in a good way.  You truly get the sense that these characters loved each other passionately.  The story is fairly by-the-numbers, and without Gosling and McAdams starring, it would probably have been a forgettable film, no matter what director Nick Cassavettes did.  The movie looks gorgeous, and the acting throughout is decent.  The characters feel real, in particular the poor James Marsden character, who reacts in a fairly realistic manner to life-changing news.  Plus, he’s charming!

What I disliked: Well, with any romantic drama (romama? dramantic?) there is an inherent quantity of cheesiness, and that is not absent throughout the entire movie.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Certainly.  No, wait.  Some people will think it is just a “chick flick” (a designation I detest), and they will be pre-disposed to hate it, no matter how good it is.  I’d recommend it to people that like good movies.

Rating: 4 / 5

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

The Hangover: Part II (2011)

The first Hangover movie was an entertaining, laugh-filled ride through Crazytown with enjoyable characters and a bit of heart to it.  The sequel is a dark, depressing, tumultuous trip through Bangkok with mean-spirited characters and a ridiculous result.  Sometimes director and co-writer Todd Phillips has some method to his madness (Old School is essentially Fight Club and it MAKES SENSE THAT WAY), but unless he gives us the cipher, I’m not going to know if I’ll ever know or care what his thought process going into filming this movie was.  Unless Warner Brothers just said they’d drive a dump truck full of money up to his house.  That would make sense.

So almost the entire plot from the first film is simply exchanged from Las Vegas to Bangkok, since Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married and his wife-to-be, Lauren (Jamie Chung), wants to please her father (Nirut Sirijanya) with letting him host the wedding.  Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) want to celebrate with him in Thailand as part of the wedding and also, the plot device from the first film, fuck-up Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wants to come along too.  Also, Ken Jeong is in it again.  And there’s an adorable monkey too.  Shit goes down and then they try to piece together the second night of their lives that they can’t remember.

I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, but I didn’t.  For me, it was kind of summing up everything that’s wrong with Hollywood these days.  It took the premise of the first film and essentially turned it into The Hangover: Bangkok.  I like continuity and call-backs as much as any guy, but it just seemed so joyless this time.  It was an easy paycheque and a no-brainer for the studio to put money into.  It’s cookie-cutter cinema, and it depressed me a bit, not gonna lie.

Also, I wish they’d have gone for a stylistic reduction of the title, like T2 or the inexplicable ID4.  They could have called it H2: WHOA.  Stupid marketing departments.  I mean look at that poster up there!  There’s like three sight gag reveals just GIVEN AWAY for free!

2.5 / 5