Thursday, June 11, 2009

Catching Up

It’s not easy for a slacker like me to update my blog very often. It takes things called work and effort and these are strange concepts for me. Here is a list of some of the movies I’ve seen since the last entry along with a quick recommendation or wave-off.

“New in Town”
Despite being set in New Ulm, a town rife with comic potential, “New in Town” was just an ordinary fish-out-of-water flick. Skip it unless your standards are low or your alcohol level is high.

By all rights, this movie should have sucked but it didn’t. The charismatic Liam Neeson played one of those off-the-shelf invincible ex-spy hero types that saves the day. It should have been trite and predictable but it worked. Even the scrumptious 25-year-old uber-hottie Maggie Grace playing a 17-year-old teenybopper worked. Good mojo with this flick.

I’m not going to say anything about “Inkheart” other than to tell you to skip it. Leave it gathering dust in the video store. Please.

“Bride Wars”
What do you get when you get when you put Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson in a wedding disaster movie? You get a great looking mess. “Bride Wars” is about average for the wedding movie genre but hardly anything to seek out.

Think of “Push” as “Heroes” on steroids. The characters are all people with special abilities. There’s blood and explosions, intrigue and double-dealing. It’s not great but it’s worth a look if you like that kind of movie.

“Confessions of a Shopaholic”
Another one to leave gathering dust. It’s about a woman who, no surprise, spends a lot of money she doesn’t have. Over the course of the movie, she learns her lessons and lands a millionaire. Isla Fischer plays the shopaholic and she’s just not up to playing a lead role yet. She was great as a supporting player in “Definitely, Maybe,” but not here.

“He's Just Not That Into You”
A somewhat smaller, slightly less comic American version of “Love, Actually.”

“The International”
I so wanted to like “The International” but it sucked. The commercials make it look like Feds being squeezed by a big international conspiracy but it’s just about Feds going after an arms dealer. Yawn. It especially lost me when there was a 10-minute shoot ‘em up sequence in the Guggenheim museum in New York. In a good movie that would be genius. In this movie, it’s sacrilege.

“Race to Witch Mountain”
Guilty pleasure.

This one deserves a longer post sometime. I was expecting a sci-fi thriller but it was really a sci-fi ponderer, in the best tradition of “The Twilight Zone.” It’s a great movie but I was so disappointed that it wasn’t the thriller from the commercials that I didn’t enjoy myself until it was over and I realized I just witnessed greatness. But I really wanted a thriller that day.

“Monsters vs Aliens”
A perfectly good light-hearted romp, exactly what was promised by the commercials.

I so wanted to hate this movie because I can’t stand Julia Roberts but I really liked it. It’s a twisty-turny long con flick with a great story and good performances. Most importantly, given what I’m sure was the temptation to make the movie end with a classic Julia Roberts 100-watt smile moment, the ending was true to the movie and wonderful it was. Oh, you ask, why go to a movie I wanted to hate? I’m a man of sometimes perverse contradictions. Go with it. Which brings us to…

“Hannah Montana”
Another guilty pleasure. It’s not all that good but it reveled in its not goodness and that made it fun.

A Disneyfied Discovery Channel nature show on the big screen narrated by James Earl Jones. All the hype; none of the depth.

It had its moments but overall was a disappointment. The backstory of Wolverine wasn’t exactly demanding to be told. Worse yet, the most interesting characters were the mercenary mutants introduced at the beginning and we didn’t see them again after the first 15 minutes (Ryan Reynolds in full wisecracking mode with a supersonic sword. Heaven). Plus, if I never again see Wolverine unleash the claws and flex, it’ll be too soon.

“Star Trek”
Saw it twice; I think two’s my limit. I liked young Spock more and young Kirk less the second time around. It’s a decent yarn but the more I think about it, the less I like them messing with my 36-year history with the Star Trek universe.

“State of Play”
A pretty good political thriller but it ran out of steam near the end.

“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”
A modern take on “A Christmas Carol” with an inveterate womanizer as Scrooge? How could this movie be any good? Well, it was. A little campy but entertaining throughout.

“17 Again”
A perfectly serviceable variation on the “Big” formula.

“Angels and Demons”
A movie that didn’t need to be made, at least not with someone the caliber of Tom Hanks in the lead and Brian Grazer producing. The story was weak, the characters were bland and it just made no sense. Please skip it.

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”
As with many sequels, I was prepared for this one to suck but it didn’t. They jettisoned elements we didn’t need, like the son, ex-wife and many of the characters from the original, then threw us into a new adventure at a new museum. And who could resist former Chanhassen resident Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart?

“The Hangover”
A little raunchy but a lot funny.

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