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

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The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

Look at that title.  The Men Who Stare at Goats.  What the hell do you expect when a movie is titled that?  There better be goddamned men staring at goats and some reason for it.  Thankfully, those men are there and there are plenty of reasons for it.  Much like most of George Clooney’s filmography, it’s a deeply quirky movie with great performances that tell an unconventional tale.  Clooney may be part of a small group of A-list actors that can continuously act in near-unmarketable movies and still maintain his star status.

Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is a reporter based in Ann Arbor, who goes on a journey of self-discovery after his wife (Rebecca Mader) divorces him.  Through an interview with a local “crazy person” (Stephen Root), he is exposed to a side of the military that involves psychic warfare, which in turn leads to Bob meeting Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a retired soldier from that very same military branch.  Through the adventures the two end up enduring, Bob ends up questioning all that he ever believes in.

This is not a very accessible movie for everyone, and I’m totally cool with that.  I’m also fine with sneering at those that don’t think it’s a good movie, as the performances are brilliant, most notably the very Dude-like Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey stealing scenes as only Spacey can do.  Nick Offerman is also in it!  I liked the movie, and Clooney’s complete acceptance of being able to act in a part that comes across as a dignified buffoon is a big plus.  I can’t think of anything else to say about the movie, mildly recommended for those that are open minded.

3.5 / 5

All Good Things (2010)

Some of these recent “biopics” or “based on true events” movies that have come out recently bother me with their disingenuous approach.  The first such incident occurred after I watched The Fourth Kind and then researched it only to discover LIES LIES LIES.  There have probably been others in the ensuing time period between then and now, as I just watched All Good Things which is sorta kinda based on Robert Durst, and if you haven’t heard of him, join the club or just Wiki him.  This isn’t a character assassination piece on par with Citizen Kane, but it’s a fairly decent movie.

Ryan Gosling stars as David Marks, heir to a powerful New York City real estate mogul (Frank Langella), and Gosling acts pretty much like he has in almost every touchy-feely-romantic movie he’s made since The Notebook, which is to say, a little tortured.  Except in this movie he seems to have a little Jared Leto to him, which sounds like the title of a Fall Out Boy song and I’m sorry, okay?  Kirsten Dunst co-stars as Katie Marks, the woman David meets, marries and possibly murders.  It’s hard to say, and the movie doesn’t really answer that, just presents the recalled events of David’s testimony twenty years after Katie’s disappearance.

The movie lets you make up your own mind about what really happened, while also strongly nudging you in the direction of the possible culprit.  There are some decent performances in here, and let me warn you that Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation”) is in the movie so that when you first see him without a mustache you don’t curl into a ball and weep and eagerly await his next appearance on your screen.  That’s just distracting.

3.5 / 5