Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Standard issue poster, nothing exciting here.

Standard issue poster, nothing exciting here.

Directed by: Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon (between the two of them, they are responsible for some truly atrocious films, so this is easily their best one)

Written by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger wrote the screenplay based off of Letterman and Vernon’s story.

Starring: the vocal talents of Reese Witherspoon, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Paul Rudd, Kiefer Sutherland and Stephen Colbert among many others.

What it’s about: a group of monsters are released by the American government to combat an alien invasion

B-Movie Alternate Title: It IS a B-Movie title

Movie Mash Up: The Monster Squad + oh I dunno, any Alien movie minus all the disturbing imagery

What I liked: For the most part I love the vocal cast, I mean look at them all!  There’s a huge “Office” presence, the former awesome real-life couple of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen and I guess Reese Witherspoon can be okay sometimes.  The monsters are wonderful, particularly the moronic B.O.B.  Paul Rudd gets to play an asshole for once, and while the role isn’t great, it is decent comedy.  Honestly speaking, I would rather this entire cast were reunited for an R-rated animated version of this exact film.

What I disliked: Well, I didn’t even realise it until the beginning of the film, but with the Russian meteor event of the past week, the entire meteorite sequence at the building was totally unrealistic.  And yes, that is only because of all those Russian YouTube videos that I knew that.  It put me off for the whole film.  I thought it was decent, but it wasn’t on a Pixar level by any means.  Enjoyable, but unless you’re a kid, repeat viewings will probably make it less enjoyable each time around.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is not an offensively stupid animated film, and it is decently entertaining for both kids and adults.

Rating: 3 / 5

Probably the most entertaining bit of animation in the entire movie.

Probably the most entertaining bit of animation in the entire movie.

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.

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

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

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

Role Models (2008)

I really can’t get enough of Paul Rudd.  It’s probably reaching disturbing proportions now, but come on.  Girls want to be with him and this dude would love to be him.  He’s one of the few actors that I would happily pay money to watch onscreen in pretty much anything.  I mean, I still haven’t watched Over Her Dead Body before because well, the inclusion of Eva Longoria doesn’t really make me interested in it at all.  Role Models is a reunion of sorts, with Rudd teaming up with many of his Wet Hot American Summer co-stars and getting director David Wain to helm the project.

Basically, Danny (Rudd) has a breakdown of sorts which leads to him impulsively proposing to his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks), getting rejected and then implicating his co-worker Wheeler (Seann William Scott) in vehicular hilarity.  Since Beth is a lawyer, she strikes a deal with the judge to avoid Danny and Wheeler going to jail: 150 hours of community service with Sturdy Wings, a big brother and sister type charity.  Wheeler’s “Little” is Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed youngster obsessed with boobies (can anyone blame him?), while Danny gets Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a somewhat introverted teen highly involved in LARPing.

You can tell that all these actors got along well during the movie, and it helps that most of them are highly skilled in the improvisational form of comedy.  They riff off of one another so perfectly that you can’t really tell where the script begins and ends.  It’s not a perfect movie, but if you like humour that doesn’t censor itself for a PG13 rating, then you’ll enjoy this one.

4 / 5

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

Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Look, I don’t care what anyone says about this movie.  It is a rollicking good time, and actually had me laughing out loud at parts, which is not a regular occurrence when watching movies, TV shows.  Although, show me a wicked cat falling down video, and tears come from my eyes.  Anyways, back when I worked at Blockbuster, customers complained that Steve Carell’s character was annoying, and all I wanted to do was throttle them and say “YES THAT WAS THE POINT YOU SPOONFED IDIOT!”  Several months later my store was closed, and a few months after that the entire company was out of business.  WHO’S WRONG NOW ASSHATS.

Anyways, the dreamy Paul Rudd stars as Tim Conrad, a stockbroker or something who finally gets his big break at work.  However, to fully get in with the bosses at work, he has to bring an “idiot” to a dinner that his boss (Bruce Greenwood) hosts every month.  Tim’s girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), is against the idea, and so begins a somewhat sitcom-like premise of mis-communication and misunderstandings and lies and such.  Tim runs into – literally – Barry (Carell) and basically finds his idiot, who unwittingly sets about screwing up Tim’s life for the next two days.

There’s a lot to be said about the heart that Carell puts into his performance, and a lot of that thanks should also go to director Jay Roach.  Oh and of course Rudd, because yeah, he is an asshole character, but c’mon it’s Rudd!  There’s a lot of funny characters and scenes throughout the movie, and if you can’t let go and enjoy yourself to this movie, I don’t know what to tell you.  You’re missing out on some good funny.  Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords is in it!  COME ON.

3.5 / 5

I Love You, Man (2009)

One of the things that I truly love about the so-called Frat Pack or Apatow’s Army or whatever the hell label you want to put on them, is that the large group of actors work with each on project after project and give little throwaway parts to their friends and the entire cast feels like an enormous ball of fame.  I mean, there’s a ridiculous amount of tagged actors for this movie.  Granted, I go a bit crazy with the tagging, and a few of them weren’t really well-known (or known even) back in 2009, but here we are in 2012 and I’d say that the massive audience that watches “Big Bang Theory” weekly knows who Melissa Rauch is.  Anyways, enough about my attempts to get more hits.

I totally have a man crush on Paul Rudd.  I probably write that in every Paul Rudd review that I write (okay, I only have one for Our Idiot Brother so far, well now two I guess), so you’re going to have to get used to it because I think I might go on a Rudd streak here.  Dude’s been in so many good movies, and movies that have been made better just by the sheer presence of him.  Anyways, he plays Peter Klaven, a somewhat introverted wonderfully lovable guy who proposes to his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones) almost directly after the opening credits.  However, it comes to light that Peter doesn’t really have any close guy friends, leading to the premise of the movie: find Peter a guy friend!  Soon he meets the blunt and charmingly honest Sidney Fife (Jason Segel), and they totally hit it off and Peter’s life undergoes radical changes.

No matter my predilection towards Rudd, I will still be honest and tell you if a movie he’s in sucks or not.  I totally disliked Wet Hot American Summer when I first saw it, but now I’m wondering if I missed something there.  May have to revisit that one sometime.  Anyways, this is a charming and awkward comedy, with Rudd and Segel bouncing off one another wonderfully.  Lots of funny moments from the rest of the massive ensemble-ish cast and it’s a feel-good movie in my books, though I will say that some audiences might just not fall in love with the characters the way I did.  They all know their roles and play their parts to perfection though, no matter if they have to look like a huge asshole doing it, right Jon Favreau?

3.5 / 5