Despicable Me (2010)

I dislike movie posters that inadvertently give away Things.

I dislike movie posters that inadvertently give away Things.

Directed by: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud (Renaud was responsible for the terrible Lorax movie)

Written by: Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (they wrote the underrated Bubble Boy)

Starring: the vocal cast of Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Kate Fisher, Jemaine Clement, Jack McBrayer, Danny McBride, Mindy Kaling, Rob Huebel and Ken Jeong.

What it’s about: a super-villain discovers there may be more to life than evil plans

B-Movie Alternate Title: I Stole the Moon!

What I liked: This is one of those animated films that actually manages to tug at the heartstrings, which is almost unheard of in nowadays non-Pixar animated movies.  Steve Carrell does some fantastic vocal work with the character of Gru.  The Minions are of course adorable and hilarious, and credit for that mostly goes to the animators who definitely had fun with the characters.  There’s some decent writing going on here as well.  I appreciate certain amounts of zaniness, and this movie certainly was overflowing with it.

What I disliked: Knowing that Russell Brand was one of the voices in the movie, and was somewhat enjoyable.  Jason Segel’s character was annoying far past the point of “he’s doing a good job BECAUSE he is annoying”.  As an adult, I disliked some of the set pieces that involved stupid physical violence for no reason than to get a laugh out of little kids, but that’s just a minor quibble on my part.  Also, I bought this Blu-Ray at my Blockbuster, previously viewed, and somehow an asshole customer managed to scratch an unscratchable disc.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Certainly, it is fun for people of all ages.

Rating: 4 / 5

So fluffy that I could die.

So fluffy that I could die.

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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.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Directed by: Lorene Scafaria (I did enjoy her writing of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist)

Written by: Scafaria

Starring: Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley are pretty much together onscreen for about two thirds of the movie, with brief appearances by Nancy Carrell, Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton, Melanie Lynskey, Rob Huebel, Mark Moses, Adam Brody, Amy Schumer, T.J. Miller, Gillian Jacobs, Jim O’Heir, Derek Luke, William Petersen, Bob Stephenson, and Martin Sheen.

What it’s about: after humanity’s last ditch attempt to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth fails, the population of the planet come to grips with their oncoming extinction

B-Movie Alternate Title: Soon! An Asteroid!

Movie Mash Up: Last NightDan in Real LifeNick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

What I liked: The human race reacting in many different ways to their upcoming end, sometimes in hilarious fashion, sometimes heart-wrenching.  Lots of great actors making appearances that are little more than cameos.  The fact that the movie delivers and there is no miracle savior of the planet.  A nice, bittersweet road movie.

What I disliked: I wasn’t a big fan of the coupling of Steve Carell and Knightley, though it was pretty much telegraphed from the start.  The entire movie seemed a bit too spot on, in my opinion.  Still enjoyable enough, though more of an independant hipster movie more than anything.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, but I’d clearly explain the premise right off the bat so they don’t go in thinking it’s fucking Armageddon or something.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

I wrote this awhile back for another site, but here it is now with a few notes and improvements.

Just when you think that the world can’t become worse than the capitalistic cesspool of consumerism it’s become, that’s when it happens. When you finally don’t know where to turn, what to do, the world still finds a way to surprise you, to give you that tiny ray of yes, sunshine. When you think you’ve finally reached your breaking point, that you’re just going to break down into anguished sobs, you get glassy-eyed by the simplistic beauty of a wonderful movie. Am I being a tad bit overdramatic in the impact that Little Miss Sunshine had on me? Perhaps, but working retail at this time of year (or being currently unemployed) will have you clutching at any piece of wonderful.

Little Miss Sunshine was probably the best reviewed movie of 2006, and there’s absolutely nothing I can think of to say that hasn’t been written already. It’s a wonderfully touching exploration of a family that on the surface seems deeply dysfunctional but at the heart is just like yours and mine. I’d love nothing more than to sit down with my family and watch this movie, but they’d hate it because they have terrible taste in movies.

Written by Michael Arndt and directed by the husband and wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Sunshine starts by introducing the cast in a fairly unflinchingly open and honest fashion. Olive (Abigail Breslin) is a precocious little butterball of a child, Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a failing self-help seminar creator, Sheryl (Toni Collette) is Richard’s harried wife, Dwayne (Paul Dano) seems to be nothing more than a sulking emo kid, Grandpa (Alan Arkin) is a heroin sniffing loudmouth, and Frank (Steve Carell)… well Frank’s in the hospital because he just failed at killing himself. This family takes to the road in an effort to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine Pagent in Redondo Beach, California.

As is usually expected of a road trip movie, the scenery and filming of the movie is gorgeous, capturing desert vistas and shockingly blue skies under (over?) concrete freeways in such a fashion that you don’t want to turn your eyes away for a second. The score is wonderful, building throughout the introductions of all the characters and hitting all the right notes at all the right times. Then there’s the cast. Wow. If this were a Disney movie, you’d probably have been driven mad by the desire to punch Olive in the face, but thankfully Dayton and Faris reign in the cute and let Breslin just be real. Kinnear plays a convincing asshole and still brings you around to feel for his character later on. Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Paul Dano all deliver wonderful performances, but for the most part it’s the Steve Carell and Abigail Breslin Show. Carell is so understated in his performance that if it weren’t for little nuances of his that I picked up on while watching “The Office”, I’d say there’s no way that man could ever play an ass like Michael Scott.

The acting is tremendous but not overblown, the storyline engaging and fun, and the entire cast deserve award nominations for their work here (it was nominated for four Oscars, winning two). Not to mention the great choices the directors made while making the movie and the execution of the whole thing. It’s a touching movie, one that made me feel something again at a time where I am feeling super bleak about my future.

5 / 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

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Normally in a movie such as Crazy, Stupid, Love. there is one character or set of characters that are clearly defined as the bad guys, the jerks, the assholes, what have you.  There has to be a reason for people acting the way they do to one another, and usually it’s because they are missing characteristics that one would normally attribute to a “good” person.  In CSL though, that reason is clearly stated in the title, it’s just love, man.

Basic premise of the movie is that Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have been married for a long time, when all of a sudden Emily blurts out that she wants a divorce.  It turns out that she slept with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) for whatever reason and that starts this whole movie off.  Cal goes into a little depressing spiral, until one night, ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) broaches the idea of tutoring Cal on how to become a ladykiller.  And if the movie was just that, well we’ve all seen that movie before and it’s not that interesting or funny anymore.  Thankfully, there are two more plotlines with other characters that all end up dovetailing into one of the most brilliantly written romantic comedy movies in awhile.

It’s not a “sexy” rom-com though, it’s got a lot of heart and realness to it that helps it stand above your run-of-the-mill rom-coms.  Carrell and Gosling are great, Emma Stone is as charming and amazing as I’ve always thought she was (seriously, if you haven’t seen Easy A yet, WATCH IT, it is excellent).  The point is, that none of these characters are cartoonish assholes.  They’re all real people with real emotions and even Bacon’s character, the one that you should hate most of all, well he’s a regular guy too.

Great movie, highly recommended.

4 / 5