Dr. Seuss stories are always really bonkers and have some sort of message, but The Lorax, which is about a boy from a polluted world who finds out how much better things used to be when an orange monster shaped like a peanut protected the trees, is probably the most message-driven. It’s cute, there are original songs, Zac Efron is in it, and there’s also a lot of clever satire aimed at commercialism to entertain the parents, so this is a movie you can watch with your whole family. Check out my full review to hear more.
Robert Pattinson is working hard to not be typecast as a sparkly vampire. He’s been an elephant tamer (Water for Elephants), a mobster (Cosmopolis), a crazy painter (Little Ashes), and now a slutty period soldier who bones everything that moves in order to move up in Paris society (gee, any guesses as to how that’s going to turn out?) So it’s kind of like Dorian Gray, but without the magic painting. His woodenness (if you’ll forgive the pun) in this one doesn’t do much for the film he’s carrying, so I’d recommend you only rent it if you’re a big fan of the Twilight movies.
Famous musicians have no end of biographies, official and otherwise, made about their lives, but this one bills itself as the “definitive” story of Bob Marley. They can say this because he’s dead (and therefore not going to do anything else) and because they have access to his family and his old interview footage. But they spend so much time talking to people who are not Bob Marley about how they were affected by Bob Marley that it almost would have been more accurate to call it The Bob Marley Legacy or something. Check it out if you’re a fan though.
While I’m glad to see anything loved by under-10s that is not Justin Bieber, you should know that this documentary was out of date by the time it was released – these pop things usually are unless the subjects are dead. It’ll be even more out of date when their fifteen minutes of fame are over and they’ve disappeared back into obscurity. Perhaps they’ll make another documentary about that process called The Only Way is Down. For now, though, get this for your tween daughter if you want to buy a brief moment where she acknowledges and appreciates you.
Like most people, I enjoy fun things. In fact, I might even go so far as to say I seek out things that are fun. Rock music is fun (though I couldn’t play any to save my life). Movies are fun too. So put them together into Rock of Ages and it seems like the most fun ever! The movie is based on a Broadway musical (which I haven’t seen) with slight tweaks in the plot (because it’s not on a stage) and sex (because the MPAA is stuffy) departments:
A young singer moves to LA to start a career and gets a job at one of the most popular clubs on the strip when she falls for a young rocker.
There’s more to it than that of course, but the plot is not important. The important thing is whether or not it’s fun. And it totally is! The dialogue is hilarious, the songs will make you nostalgic for the 80s (music is the only thing that could make a person nostalgic for the 80s) and you’ll be happier when you leave then when you arrived.
Oh yes, I think so. This is going to be awesome! I totally used to steal all these albums (on cassette tapes!) from my mom and listen to them on the walkman I stole from my dad while drawing fighter planes (how’s that for bad ass?) So I am totally on board with them being incorporated into a musical, because wouldn’t you know it – I also love musicals! If said musical is a little vague on story in its trailer, well, that’s okay. Catherine Zeta-Jones is trying to shut down their theater and they’re using Stacee Jax, who is actually a sad person (?) to boost their image? Is that how it goes? I don’t know. I’ll find out. I had no idea Tom Cruise could sing (CAN he sing? Is that him singing in this? Because it still sounds an awful lot like Bon Jovi) but he’s batsh** crazy enough to pull off the role of a rockstar, that’s for sure.
THAT’S MY BOY
Is it just me, or does Adam Sandler have the world’s most irritating voice? It’s all high and whiney and nasally. Even when he’s not actively trying to sound annoying it makes me want to poke nails into my ears… or into his voicebox. I think by now you realize that I’m going to say this movie looks like a pile of vomit left in the sun for three days but maybe that’s just because I have a hate on for Adam Sandler. Maybe you’d like it. I don’t know. But I don’t think teachers perving on their students, child neglect, and douchenozzles spreading their douchery around so that everyone around them turns into a douche too is funny. So I’m going to avoid this movie like the plague that it is.
I know a few really big Wes Anderson fans that will probably jump into their cars and drive across the province to be first in line to see this movie (it’s a limited release) but I can take or leave his movies. I liked The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox but I really hated Rushmore and I didn’t like The Darjeeling Limited either. It’s hard to tell, but this one looks like it could be in the “like” category, as it’s totally and completely bonkers and it’s got a Scout camp (which is similar to Guide camp, which I can relate to) and some quirky yet cute kids in it. I’ll see it. Just not this week. This week Rock of Ages and I have a date.
Ugh, Jack Black is another one of the doofus comedians I can’t stand. He’s not so doofusey here though (okay, he is, but in a less in-your-face way, which makes all the difference). He’s closer to how he was in The Holiday, which is one of the few movies of his that I actually like. I was all ready to say I wouldn’t mind seeing this one until they got to the part where he murdered his wife/girlfriend/whatever and it’s apparently it’s okay with everyone because she was such a bitch and I guess it just didn’t occur to him to leave her instead. It kind of seems like a hate on women, so I lost interest. Sorry Jack Black, you tried, but it’s a pass for me.
388 ARLETTA AVENUE
Found footage again? Are we not over that yet? At least this time it doesn’t look like a pile of crap, like they filmed a computer screen with a cell phone camera and then played it back on an old TV with bad reception. The main character (hello Nick Stahl, who annoyed me in Terminator 3) seems pretty dumb though. His wife or girlfriend or live in maid or whatever gets kidnapped and he gets a phone call from a mysterious psycho and his response is to say “something’s going on!” Well bravo, genius. Have a cookie for being so smart. And let me guess? The cops don’t believe you or they’re all corrupt or something so you have to find your beloved plot device (I mean wife) on your own. Thanks, but no thanks.
It’s a strange holiday-centric movie that doesn’t come out on DVD or in the theaters on the actual holiday it’s representing, but that’s New Year’s Eve for you. It’s an ensemble romantic comedy about a variety of vaguely connected couples getting what they want on the aforementioned holiday. There are too many characters, so even though it’s loaded with cute famous people (Zac Efron, Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Halle Berry) it’s hard to get caught up in their struggles. It is half decently funny, but 200 Cigarettes does it better. Check out the full review for details.
I can occasionally be convinced to enjoy a musical or music related movie if I’m in the right mood, so I saw this one in theaters. Plot wise it’s not that interesting. The rebellious grandson and the stifled daughter of warring choir directors strike up a relationship which implodes and then repairs the leadership of the choir on the eve of a big competition. What made me like it was the comedy. Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton are funny on their own, but together they’re hysterical. The music’s not bad either if you can ignore the Godness – it’s energetic and catchy. So give it a try.
If you haven’t yet had your fill of action movies where governments turn on their top operatives (I sure have) then here comes yet another one to add to your watch list. This one pits MMA fighter Gina Carano against Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, and Ewan McGregor, so there’s plenty of eye candy. Unfortunately there’s no amount of shirtlessness and throat punching that can disguise the tiredness and illogic of the idea of a government would pour money into training a super agent only to turn around and assume they could kill it easily at the first sign of trouble. Skip it.
This movie was written and directed by Madonna and has a rating of 4.6 out of 10 on IMDB. That news has probably sent most of you running in the other direction, but you really should turn around and come back, because it’s actually quite a good historical drama about an interesting period in English history – when King Edward the 8th fell in love with a divorced American woman and gave up the crown to his brother (whom you all know from The King’s Speech). If you liked The King’s Speech, give it a try and see the story from another perspective.
I’ve seen both the Swedish and American adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s novel about a disgraced journalist and a reclusive hacker who team up to solve a decades old disappearance and I’m not sure which I like better. By necessity, each leaves out some subplots and scenes, but not the same ones. This one, the American one, is a little more stylized and plays up the brutality (there’s rape) a little more, but that’s Americans for you. Both are good movies. You should rent them (unless you’re squeamish or a child) but with this one you don’t have to read subtitles.
As a rule, nostalgia movies do not work. Shows we liked as kids adapted into new movies always end up retroactively ruining our childhoods and confusing our kids. But with every rule there must be exceptions, and The Muppets is one of them. In the story, it’s been years since the Muppets broke up and a trio of human fans (including Jason Segel and Amy Adams) bring them back together to save their old theater from an oil tycoon. Loaded with songs and kid/adult friendly humor, it’s one of those rare movies that actually is fun for the whole family. Do rent it. Wokka wokka!
While The Muppets was in theaters just a few months ago, it’s been a whole year since Hop. I know they’re timing the theatrical and DVD releases with Easter, but a year is enough time to forget this movie even existed. Hop was made by the people who did Despicable Me but it’s got a standard plot (son of mythical holiday creature runs away to be something else – in this case a drummer) and it’s that eternally annoying blend of live action and animation. Flop might have been a better name for it, but it’s still good enough to entertain your kids for a few hours.
If you’re looking to be bored out of your skull during this upcoming long weekend, look no further than Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s more tedious and uninteresting than any movie about a Cold War spy uncovering a Soviet mole has any right to be. Don’t let its Oscar nominations fool you. Only critics like this movie. Normal people will want to drill into their own brains to escape it. Rent this movie only if you need to read the John Le Carre novel for school and you’d rather torture yourself for two hours than the two weeks it will take to slog through the book.
As a kid, I loved to watch the Tintin cartoon show. It was so funny and full of adventure. If you remember the show, watching this movie will make you feel like a kid again. This time, Tintin the intrepid reporter and his faithful pals Snowy the dog and Captain Haddock are rendered in eerily realistic motion capture animation as they search for a ship full of sunken treasure. This movie is a great way to get your jaded kids to indulge you in your nostalgia-fest, but I wouldn’t show it to really young kids, as it deals with alcoholism. You can read my full review here.
If Tintin is an example of a movie that is really good at being both actiony and funny, Three Musketeers is an example of one that’s very bad at it. It’s an irreverent period retelling of the classic story about a young man who joins an elite trio of swordsmen who work for the French king, but it’s so loaded with cliches, plot holes, ridiculously impossible feats, and ripoffs of other movies that it’s really irritating to watch. Plus, Logan Lerman’s smarmy attitude will make you want to slap his face. Avoid it, if at all possible. You can read my full review here.
If you just can’t get enough dancing penguins, this is the movie you want to rent. It’s a sequel that focuses on the son of the main character from Happy Feet, who is like his dad in that he just doesn’t fit in with the other penguins. They sing and dance, he wants to fly. It’s a little bit like Chicken Run, but more convoluted and not as funny. And, obviously, more dancing and singing. The dancing and singing will keep young kids entertained, but older ones will probably be annoyed, because it’s not as good as the first one or indeed most CGI movies these days.
If you’re working your way through the Oscar winners, this one is probably next on your list. If it is, I don’t envy you. It may have won Best Adapted Screenplay, but it’s still the same boring family drama we see over and over. There’s a dad, he works too much, his wife suddenly knocks herself out of the picture, he has to reconnect with his kids, everyone’s upset, blah blah fighting heartbreak and hugging. As a George Clooney unfan, I have to admit I’m biased, but that’s not going to stop me from advising you to rent something else. Preferably something without George Clooney in it.
Game of Thrones is the latest HBO sex-and-violence fest, but although I like True Blood and Deadwood, Game of Thrones just isn’t up my street. I don’t like the George R.R. Martin books, which are an incomplete chronicle of a political chess game set in a medieval fantasy world where multiple players are scheming for a throne. Interpersonally it’s as complicated as a soap opera and there are more characters to keep track of than there were in the Lord of the Rings, but if you can commit to never missing an episode, you might want to try it. It’s been picked up for season 2.
If you liked Clash of the Titans and are looking forward to Wrath of the Titans, this movie may tide you over until then. It’s about Theseus, a son of Zeus who has to save the world from the maniac King Hyperion, who wants to let loose the evil Titans on Greece and its gods. Theseus, of course, does his heroics in a skirt. With a sword. It’s like every other old timey fighting movie, lots of monsters and blood and CGI armies. It’s not my thing, but there are plenty of other people out there (mostly guys and fans of Henry Cavill not wearing pants) who might like it.
If you were alive in the 80s, you already know all about Footloose. It’s about a bunch of whiny teenagers getting up to some tame dancing rebellion after their moron parents decide to ban dancing from the town after some teens are killed in a car accident on the way home from a dance. (I agree – a more sensible response would be to ban teenage driving). Anyway, this is the same thing, except the teens are whinier, the music is newer (read: more irritating) and there are explosions, because apparently our attention spans are now much shorter. Rent the old one.
Hey, remember that movie from a few years ago, where Dwayne Johnson played a hockey player who was magically transformed into the tooth fairy? Remember how it was lame and stupid? Do you spend all your days wishing it was even lamer and stupider? (me either) Well now it is! They’ve remade it starring Larry the Cable Guy and called it Tooth Fairy 2! Doesn’t that just make you want to rush out and buy it (read: kill yourself)? This is the last gasp bottom of the barrel rent for parents who are desperate for an hour off from their kids. Get it only if they’re out of Space Buddies.
I remember reading The Lorax in the dentist’s office when I was little. All of Dr. Seuss’ books have some sort of message in them, but none are so obvious as The Lorax. There’s a creature called the Lorax whose sole purpose is to make you feel guilty for cutting down trees. The end. It’s a message we’ve only now decided to take to heart (the book was published in 1971) so this classic story was the logical choice for adaptation as a big budget animated movie:
A young boy braves the wastes outside his perfect plastic city to get a real tree for his girlfriend from the Once-ler, whose factory wrecked forest.
However timely the message, The Lorax was still only a picture book, which means there’s only about 20 minutes of material in there at most. I wondered: what would they fill up the extra time with? The answer is: some original songs, a few clichés, and quite a bit of really apt satire. It’s not unlike Wall-E, but bonkers and aimed at a younger audience.
Um… hasn’t this movie been made before? Hasn’t it been made before with Mark Wahlberg in it? Or perhaps I’m just thinking of the thousands of films, TV episodes, and novels that have also had nothing new to say about crime. Oh! He’s a reformed criminal forced to go back to being a criminal for his FAMILY! How original! Oh no! He leaves his family and they’re kidnapped! THAT never happens in movies!! This movie seems so over the top at times it could almost be a comedy. I mean, wrapping bricks of money around your chest with pantyhose to smuggle it? Is that the best idea you had? Isn’t someone going to get a little suspicious about your squareular paunch? And OH MY GOD the duct tape balaclava? You know that’s going to rip all your skin off, right? Sigh. This movie is far too stupid to warrant any further attention.
Again with the tired premise. Oh! We’re poor! But we like to sing/dance/choreograph squads of chickens in cheerleading. If only we had enough money to get to the big concert/competition/chicken chearleading rally so we can win big and earn our money/pride/chicken cheerleading badges. Add in the requisite puppy love subplot and you’ve got a successful Disney franchise. Having said that, however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie pit Dolly Parton against Queen Latifah. That one scene where they’re fighting in the diner is very funny. I think that just might be enough to tip the scales from “ho hum, seen it” to “I don’t care that it’s a retread because I’m laughing so hard a Junior Mint flew out my nose.” If I have to see something this week (and I do) I’d rather give this a try then Contraband.
THE IRON LADY
I really want to see this movie. What a tough lady! I’ve only ever heard of Margaret Thatcher in movies in a context where she’s messing up some coal miners’ lives or almost causing a nuclear war or something. It’d be so cool to see the other side of things, because of course no one sets out to be the most hated Prime Minister ever. I’m surprised they asked Meryl Streep (who is not British) to play Thatcher. Sure, she does look a bit like her, but surely there was a British actress they wanted? Maybe they all hated Thatcher so much that no one would do it. Anyway, it’s a limited release, so guess whose theater isn’t getting it? That’s right! Mine! And yours too, if you’ve decided you want to see it. Those of you who aren’t interested – you’ll be the ones who get it. That’s just how these things go.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D
I looooove Beauty and the Beast. I kept the VHS tape far longer than I even kept my VCR. I don’t care that re-releasing it in 3D is just a gimmick to get more money and that the 3D is going to be that awful post-production diorama stuff. I’m just happy that I get to see Beauty and the Beast again. Beastly just did not cut it. And there was no singing. Or cute little teacup children. I’d go this week when it opens, but we’re taking our Girl Guides to it next week and I don’t want to ruin it on myself. Besides – how can you review a movie everyone has already seen? What good would that do?
A DANGEROUS METHOD
Call me crazy (hur hur, get it?) but I’ve never seen psychiatry as a particularly dangerous profession. Unless they’re psychoanalyzing serial murderers. Then all bets are off. The doctors in this movie, however, are not psychoanalyzing serial killers. They’re psychoanalyzing one lady – a crazy lady – but one whom they can simply not sleep with if they want. Being a) married and b) in a position of trust over a person who is damaged, not sleeping with the patient is a good idea. So at least one of them does it (sigh… men). And everything falls apart. Quelle suprise. It seems to be that the only dangerous thing is how stupid these guys are.
The trailer doesn’t give much of a hint as to what the movie’s about, so I’ll tell you what I learned from the theater website: these are two sets of parents who get together to work things out after their kids get in a fight. I can’t decide if it would be hilarious or annoying to watch. It would definitely be hilarious as a short film. These kind of oversensitive, postmodern parents annoy the crap out of me. Seeing someone make fun of them would be immensely satisfying. However, watching them bicker for two hours? Gah.
WARNING: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opens Tuesday night! However, I won’t be posting a trailer review until Wednesday evening. Just thought you should know.
I don’t normally like fighting movies, but I loved this one. It stars Joel Edgarton and Tom Hardy as two estranged brothers who end up fighting each other for an MMA title because they both need the money for really good reasons. Tom Hardy’s character was a little too obviously evil, but Joel Edgarton’s obviously good/adorable character more than made up for it. A good movie for guy’s night, and it has enough shirtless men in it to catch the attention of the ladies as well. You can read my full review of Warrior here.
You might be looking for a nice family movie that you can put on when the relatives come calling this holiday season. If so, then I urge you rent something other than Dolphin Tale. At first glance it seems like a moving drama about a boy bonding with a crippled dolphin, but it quickly drowns in triteness and sap and overlooks the disability and the dolphin in favor of finding person friends for the young boy character, who was shoehorned into a true story. Rent Free Willy instead. You can read my full review of Dolphin Tale here.
Remember that throat-chopping action-stravaganza Taken? Well, swap Liam Neeson for Zoe Saldana, the kidnapped daughter for a dead dad, and the sex trafficking ring for drug dealers and you’ve got Columbiana. Not surprisingly, it was written by the same people. It’s just as dumb as Taken, but if you’ve got someone on your gift list who loves throat punching, and tight/no clothes on Zoe Saldana, this is a great gift idea. DO NOT RENT THIS WHEN YOUR IN LAWS VISIT unless you want them to think you’re a psycho.
There are lots of movies coming out this week to take advantage of the last-minute Christmas gift buying glut. Midnight in Paris. Margin Call. The Tempest. The Straw Dogs remake. But the one I’m going to talk about is the Glee concert movie. Why? Because millions of people love Glee, and the friends and relatives of these people should know that there’s a Glee movie out there that they can buy as a Christmas gift. The whole movie is just the Glee characters getting ready for a concert, but that’s more than enough for Glee fans.