This week, I chose Jason Reitman over Zac Efron. The trailer for Labor Day looked good, but I hadn’t read the Joyce Maynard novel it was based on, so I couldn’t tell whether it would have a (relatively) happy ending like Juno or a depressing ending like Up in the Air. I was really hoping for happy. I mean, who wants to depress themselves on purpose?
A thirteen year old boy recounts the story of how his mother fell in love with a fugitive during who invited himself into their home.
I have seen it now and am happy to report that while there are certainly depressing parts in Labor Day, I would not call it, on the whole, a depressing movie. In fact, it would make a pretty good date movie, especially if you’re an escaped murderer with a captive girlfriend you’re trying to Stockholm Syndrome into liking you. Because hey, if it worked once…
I want to see this movie… but I also kind of don’t. I want to see it because I like what I see in the trailer. There’s a guy, maybe he killed somebody, maybe he didn’t, who kidnaps a woman and her son. It could be creepy, but instead he makes pies and teaches the kid to play baseball. Awww. It could have an ending that’s not totally depressing, right? And I don’t want to see it because of Up in the Air. That one looked cute too, but the story meandered around before faltering and sliding backward into a sad ending. I don’t want to watch another movie like Up in the Air. The question is: will Labor Day be like that? Maybe I should have read the book.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT
As loathe as I am to see anything with the word ‘awkward’ right there in the title, this movie looks okay. I even jumped through the fourteen hoops YouTube puts up to stop kiddies from hearing swear words and made sure the red band trailer didn’t reveal it as a pile of dumb. It’s not a pile of dumb, though some of it is trying a little too hard. I’d spend two hours with it. Though if I’m being totally honest, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought without Zac Efon (COUGAR ALERT).
Updated fairy tales are all the rage these days, but not all of them adhere to the adaptation adage: ‘stay true to the intent of the original.’ After all, the intent of original stories like Beauty and The Beast and Frankenstein is that the main characters are ugly. When you ‘update’ their ugliness to a few scars (I, Frankenstein) or an eyebrow tattoo that says ‘suck’ (Beastly) you miss the point and your movie doesn’t work. This is what happened to Beastly and what I predict will also happen to I, Frankenstein, no matter how big they go with the special effects. Actually, it will probably be worse for I, Frankenstein. I mean… superpowers? Saving the human race? What?? And Frankenstein was the doctor’s name, not the monster’s.
Ooh, I remember this. There was a really good documentary about it called Paradise Lost. The whole (true) story is such a big mess (did the teens do it, is the town blaming them just because they wear black, why is that other guy so sketchy in interviews) that the title is an apt one. I just hope they’re able to ‘unravel the knot’ so to speak by the end of this fictional version, otherwise why bother to fictionalize it at all?
A drunken snowplow driver. Now there’s a scary thought. As our province continually reminds us in TV commercials, a snowplow ‘ain’t no featherduster’ (seriously – they really say that). But in this movie’s case, the snowplow really is a featherduster! Just look at that silly little thing! Also this trailer is confusing. So he ran a guy over… on purpose? By accident? Before or after the dude was crashing at his house cooking up a tray of eyeballs and our pal snowplow driver was hiding in a quinzhee? And then there’s a…. what’s who doing with that snowmobile? WTF is going on??
2013 is over and it’s time to rank the movies I saw according to their bestiness and worstiness. As I paged through my review notebook listing films according to their secret star rating, I noticed three things. One: franchise films have done well with me this year. Two: I only saw 45 movies. And three: only one of them was bad enough to rate one star. My policy this year was not to waste money on bad movies, but it made me realize that bad movies have their uses. They force you to think about WHY the movie bad, and they make for hilarious reviews. I therefore resolve that 2014 shall be the year of using my Scene points to see crappy movies.
And now, the list. If you don’t agree with it, feel free to argue with me in the comments. That’s what they’re for. Just keep it clean, ok?
Until I saw the trailer for Saving Mr. Banks, I had no real desire to watch Mary Poppins (too cutesy) or read the book (because I had no idea it existed). But in the interests of knowing what the hell they were talking about, I read the book and watched the movie the day before I went to see Saving Mr. Banks. I was surprised to discover how different they were, a circumstance which is explained in this movie.
Mary Poppins author Pamela Travers refuses to sell Walt Disney the rights to her stories until the re-writes address wounds left over from her own childhood.
Now that I’ve seen Saving Mr. Banks, I’m awfully glad I ‘did my research’ so to speak. This movie seems to assume you’re familiar with the book and movie (though I think you could get by with only having seen the movie). You may be confused if you aren’t. On the whole though, it was a very good movie.
First of all: apologies! I had a snow day from work yesterday and completely forgot about the trailer reviews. Second of all: Huzzah! Saving Mr. Banks gets a wide release this week so I can finally see it!
ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
Like Napoleon Dynamite, Anchorman is one of those movies that people either find hilarious or painful. I fall into the latter category. I don’t laugh when people make asses of themselves in a movie. I cringe. Anchorman was so awful and unfunny to me that I didn’t even make it 20 minutes into into the movie before I had to turn it off. And I NEVER turn movies off Well, sometimes I do. But they have to be REALLY bad. Even the trailer for this one made me want to crawl under a rock, so James Marsden or no James Marsden, I’m skipping this one for sure.
This movie has a lot of actors I like in it. Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper (well, okay, I only like him sometimes). Logic states that I should be chomping at the bit to see it, but I’m not. For one thing, this trailer gives me very little idea of the plot. It’s got something to do with a con job. And for another thing – it’s about conning people, and I don’t like stories where criminals are the main characters and we’re supposed to be hoping for them to screw somebody over. I will only consider it if the person getting screwed is worse than they are (i.e. they deserve it). But the trailer didn’t tell me that was the case, so I’m not going.
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS
This trailer makes the movie seem like a Disney Nature documentary with dinosaurs, but don’t be fooled. Watch any of the TV spots like this one and you get the truth: it might be in 3D, it might have nice computer animation, but it’s still loaded with the same awful nasal voices, unfunny cliches, and poop jokes that they slap on all second rate kids’ movies. Little kids will be impressed with the looks, but if you want a good STORY about dinosaurs, rent them The Land Before Time (the first one).
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
Strike One: Cohen Brothers
Strike Two: Struggling musician
Strike Three: Laconic pace which is sure to bore me
But then again: Helloooo, Garrett Hedlund. Hai kitteh! I like Carey Mulligan. And that’s not a bad song.
I might rent it later on.
THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG
To be perfectly honest, after last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey failed to do more than get the massive, indistinguishable clump of dwarves within binocular viewing distance of their destination, I’m not eager to see this movie. As the middle chapter in a trilogy of movies made from a single not-even-very-long book, it will have more time to waste than the other two, which at least have beginnings and endings to deal with. Fans will no doubt lap up the time wasting and beg for more, but I can’t read more than a few chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien without wondering why I’m torturing myself. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to see this movie. We’re not getting Saving Mr. Banks at my theater.
SAVING MR. BANKS
Now HERE’S a movie that interests me. As a writer who has experienced the attempted hijacking of my work by clueless people, I can understand why P.L. Travers was so reluctant to sell the rights to Mary Poppins despite Walt Disney’s 20 years of asking for them. Though obviously she did eventually and Dick Van Dyke was in it and there were lots of words in it that were made up, so I have to wonder – how’d he get her to change her mind? Plus, Emma Thompson is just great in everything.
TYLER PERRY’S A MADEA CHRISTMAS
Okay, I’m not normally a Tyler Perry fan, but this looks funny in an “I need something upbeat and uncomplicated for my family to watch on Christmas eve” way. I’m ALWAYS looking for more of those movies so I won’t have to watch Love Actually again. Favorite joke:
“Your daughter is grown. Leave her alone!”
“I’ll pay you.”
“When do we leave?”