Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"You Again" - in theaters

I think Betty White can get away with just about anything these days. For one, she's the last Golden Girl left, and two, she's funny as hell.

Unfortunately, she wasn't used to her full potential in "You Again", quite the generic wedding/revenge movie.

The main character is Marni (played by Kristen Bell), an ugly duckling in high school (mostly because she had bangs, braces, glasses, and acne, because you know, that equates to ugliness), who morphed into a PR goddess after college. She was tortured in high school by J.J. (Odette Yustman), the head cheerleader, prom queen, popular girl, and perhaps the nastiest girl in school. Marni's older brother Will (Jimmy Wolk) did his best to protect her, but was oblivious to this torment.

Cut to 8 years later and surprise, surprise, Will is getting married to Joanna, who is none other than J.J. When Marni finds out, she is upset, but determined not to be bothered. That all goes out the window when she gets to her parent's house, finds out that Joanna has basically replaced her as a daughter, and claims that she doesn't remember Marni at all from high school. Tough times.

And then, Aunt Mona (Sigourney Weaver) comes into the picture. She's the only family that Joanna has, and wouldn't you know it, but she and Marni's mom Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) used to be best friends until Gail went to the senior prom with Mona's crush.

From there, you can basically guess how it all goes down. Both sets of women try to outdo her nemesis, and in the end, each makes a mistake that hurts other people.

Kristen Bell is pretty charming, but I thought she was trying a little too hard. Odette Yustman really plays a bitch well, so kudos to her. Again, Betty White should have been utilized so much more, but the comedic responsibilities fell to Curtis and Weaver, who do a fair job at attempting to upstage the other. Jamie Lee Curtis also made the mistake of trying to hard, which makes Sigourney Weaver's character all the more believable.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 6. It wasn't really anything to write home about, but it was a decent chick flick. I laughed quite a bit, which is always a plus, but it's not like I didn't know what was going to happen in the end.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Easy A" - in theaters

This movie rocked. Hardcore.

It was funny, touching, sarcastic, romantic, and overall, extraordinarily sex-positive.

The story revolves around Olive Pendergast (Emma Stone), your average high school virgin. That all changes when she accidentally starts a rumor about herself losing her V-card. It spreads around the school like wildfire, and before she knows it, she goes from being invisible to being labeled a slut. It is because of this that her friend Brandon (Dan Byrd) pays her to pretend that they had sex. You see, Brandon's gay and is positively tormented at school, so an imaginary fling would do him good.

And before she knows it, Olive is open for business. Nerds from all corners of the school pay her with gift cards just to say that she fooled around with them. Unfortunately, the Christian group at the school (headed by Amanda Bynes) has decided to ostracize Olive, calling her all sorts of names, and comparing her to Hester Prynn, the heroine of "The Scarlet Letter". So Olive decides to live up to the part. She buys about 2 dozen bustiers and embroiders the letter A onto all of them.

Meanwhile, her best friend Rhi (Aly Michalka) sort of turns on her because she thinks Olive is lying and that she's really having all of this sex. There's also Todd (Penn Badgely) the guy who Olive genuinely cares for and whose affections he returns. Todd is the guy that every girl wants, but actually doesn't really exist. I'm sorry, but NO ONE in high school is that sincere and unconcerned with what other people think.

The best part of this movie are Olive's parents, played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. They have a fantastic relationship with their children, including their daughter, who actually speaks to them about important matters (a rare occurrence nowadays). They're also very funny, and you find yourself thinking that if you were in high school, you wouldn't mind having parents like them.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 9. I know it's advertised as a teen comedy, but frankly, I think everyone would find something to like about this movie. The acting is sharp and the dialogue witty. Plus you get to see Thomas Hayden Church rap. Total bonus.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"The Town" - in theaters

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), I found that I really enjoyed Ben Affleck's first foray into direction, "Gone Baby Gone". I thought it was gritty and suspenseful and very wonderfully acted. So I was eager to see his latest effort, "The Town", and was pleasantly surprised when my roommate decided that we should go on opening night.

"The Town" revolves around a group of bank robbers in the neighborhood of Charlestown in Boston. This group includes both Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner, who grew up together in the neighborhood and have pulled off many heists.

The opening scene is taut and intense, as it starts off with a bank robbery where the four guys wear Skeletor masks and hold AK-47s to the poor bank employees' heads. The bank manager, played by Rebecca Hall, is forced at gunpoint to open the safe, and then is taken as a hostage. They blindfold her and leave her at the edge of the ocean, physically unharmed, but psychologically damaged.

The story revolves around the fear that this bank manager saw something that she shouldn't have. So Ben Affleck's job is to check to make sure. Instead, he ends up falling in love and starting a relationship with this woman, while at the same time, still robbing banks but desperate to get out of Boston.

And did I mention that the FBI is on their tail? Jon Hamm, who really plays a giant prick for the most part, is the head of the FBI task force responsible for bringing these criminals to justice. And he'll do it by any means necessary.

You find yourself really rooting for Affleck here. I mean, I really didn't want him to get caught, because I felt like he's trapped in this situation that's out of his hands and he just wants to take control of his life. And he can only do that by NOT getting arrested and leaving Boston.

The performances here were fantastic. Affleck was great, putting on his native Boston accent and playing someone reminiscent of his "Good Will Hunting" character. Jeremy Renner was terrifying and at points, really funny. Just the way that he looks at you makes you feel as if he's going to explode at any second and blow your head off. Blake Lively was also great as Renner's younger sister and Affleck's ex, who's so high on coke and Oxycontin for most of the movie that she can't really tell what's going on. Rebecca Hall was solid as the new girlfriend, and was great at conveying a little bit of uneasiness around law enforcement, almost as if she was rooting for the robbers. But clearly, she wasn't. The performance was just THAT complex.

It's just so good.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 9. It's full of action, blood, f-bombs, and a little romance as well. I think that Affleck has really proven himself both behind the camera and in front of it, so much so that we're all asking ourselves, "'Gigli' who?"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Machete" - in theaters

I don't know if anyone who reads this blog saw the double-header film "Grindhouse", but if you did, then you should already be somewhat familiar with the title character of the current film. "Machete" was a fake trailer before the first film, "Planet Terror", and it was centered around an ex-Federale who was framed for trying to assassinate a U.S. Senator. The gist was that Machete, the character, was deadly to his enemies, irresistible to women, and focused on his mission.

The new film "Machete" takes the trailer, and basically expands upon it. You see some scenes from the trailer right in the film, which I always appreciate (because sometimes stuff is in the trailer that isn't in the film, and I find it really annoying), not to mention a whole lot more gratuitous violence and nudity.

Machete, played by Danny Trejo, moves around the screen with concentrated purpose. His scarred face never breaks into a smile, even when he's hooking up with hot chicks like Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba. Rodriguez plays a woman running a taco truck and also an underground organization called "The Network" which helps illegal immigrants get settled into the U.S. Alba plays an Immigration agent investigating the Network, and somehow gets caught up in what Machete is doing.

Machete himself is picked up by Jeff Fahey one day, expecting to do some gardening work, when actually Fahey wants to hire him to kill a Senator (played by Robert DeNiro). When Machete goes to do the deed, there's another shooter, intent on putting a bullet into the Senator's leg and into Machete's head. A picture of Machete ends up on the news, and thus, the fox hunt begins.

The film has some political undercurrents with regards to illegal immigration, but the concept is so blown out of proportion that it doesn't feel preachy. But at the same time, I also felt that the ideology presented wasn't too far-fetched, and that's frightening.

This film also made me wonder whether or not Machete was the same character from the "Spy Kids" movies. Not only does he have the same name, he's also played by the same actor. He was a bit more friendly in the "Spy Kids" films, but he still had the same history. I guess I'll never know.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 7.5. Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It could have had more laughs, but it was still ridiculous violence at its best. Bonus points go to Lindsay Lohan for rocking a nun's habit, and to Michelle Rodriguez for doing the same with an eye patch. I can only hope that I could do so well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Takers" - in theaters

I swear that I've seen this movie advertised for over a year. I think it was supposed to come out last winter, but since one of the stars was accused of beating up his girlfriend, I understand the studio's hesitation.

"Takers" revolves around a group of bank robbers who are very good at what they do. Each has their own specialty, much like the gang from the "Italian Job" (which they reference), and each has his own "Come what may" attitude.

That all changes when one of their old friends gets out of prison. Ghost, played by T.I. (at his sleazy best), took the fall for the group a few years back, and didn't turn them in. And now that he's out he wants to pull a multi-million dollar heist in the span of a few days. The rest of the crew is hesitant, seeing as how Ghost is so eager. They're also wary seeing as how Ghost could still send them up the river if he felt like it.

Michael Ealy's character, Jake, is now engaged to Ghost's ex-girlfriend Rachel (Zoe Saldana). He has a day job of running an old-school, 20's gangster-like nightclub, and mostly uses his bank money to support that. His kid brother, Jesse (played by the infamous Chris Brown), is following in his brother's footsteps, and his character isn't developed much beyond that.

For once, I found myself actually liking a character that Idris Elba plays. His story arc involves taking care of his sister who is in rehab for drug addiction. It was very redeeming, the idea of a bank robber with a conscience.

I'm not entirely sure what Paul Walker's character's role was, but he walked around in expensive suits and talked on his Bluetooth to the crew, so I have to assume he was important. Mostly, he's just pretty to look at.

A lot of people hate on Hayden Christensen, but I gotta say, his character was somewhat awesome for a few simple reasons: 1) he didn't whine, 2) he was covered in tatooes and tended to wear tight white tanktops, 3) he kicked ass, and 4) he played the piano. You can also tell that he had a lot of fun making this movie which in turn helped his performance.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 6.5. While individually I enjoyed most of the characters, as a group there wasn't much of a spark. If more of the actors had loosened up, I think that this could've been a really fun, really enjoyable heist movie. But oh well. After all, hindsight is 20/20.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"The Switch" - in theaters

I kind of feel bad for Jennifer Aniston, because she tries so hard to make fun romantic comedies, and most of them kind of fall flat.

While I would like to say that "The Switch" is the exception to that rule, I can't. While it had it's funny and touching moments, for the most part, I kept wondering when the film was actually going to be getting started. Based on the previews I knew that the story revolved around the friendship between Aniston's character, Kassie, and Jason Bateman's character, Wally, and how Wally switched out some sperm from Roland (Patrick Wilson) at Kassie's insemination party (because, oh yeah, people apparently have those in real life). But for some reason, I thought that there would be more to the plot then what was depicted. I was sorely mistaken.

I enjoy Jason Bateman quite a bit, but found his character in this movie to be somewhat annoying, and it amazed me that Kassie would've fallen in love with him. For the most part, he just seemed to annoy her and/or make any situation in which they were involved in worse.

The best character was the little boy, Sebastian, played by Thomas and Bryce Robinson, who was so eccentric that it was adorable. He walked around half the time worrying if he had some outlandish disease, and had no qualms about telling someone that he hated him/her. I found it charming and refreshing.

Jeff Goldblum plays Wally's co-worker, Leonard, and I also found him to be enjoyable. I think that Goldblum, while he enunciates most of his lines the same way for pretty much every role, has some comedic talent, and he and Bateman played well off of each other.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 5. I was glad that I only payed 5 bucks for it, but I got my money's worth when it came to the supporting cast. I only wish that Bateman and Aniston had stepped up their game a little.