On The Couch #17: Raising Arizona Apr30

On The Couch #17: Raising Arizona...

If this week has taught me anything, it’s that Nicolas Cage isn’t the best father-figure out there. The question isn’t if he’s a bad movie-father (he’s not); it’s in which movie is he a worse father, as Kick-Ass’s Big Daddy or Raising Arizona’s H.I. “Call me Hi” McDunnough? Round 1: In the Beginning… Let’s start out with his past life. In both Kick-Ass and Raising Arizona, Nic Cage plays a former inmate. Kick Ass’s Damon Macready, the man who will one day become Big Daddy, was an honest cop set-up by a dirty cop on bogus drug charges and gets sent to maximum security prison. In Raising Arizona, Hi McDunnough is in and out of jail constantly for smaller crimes, but they are crimes he actually committed, so we’ll have to give him the point. Someone skipped career day.  Winner*: Hi McDunnough! *Winning in these categories isn’t a good thing. Round 2: Looks Hi McDunnough – creepy moustache, weird haircut. I call it Wolverine-chic. Big Daddy – creepy moustache, cosplay outfit.    “Okay, honey. Time for daddy to teach you about eyeliner.” Winner: Tie! Round 3: Parenting Style Big Daddy is very hands on. He makes his daughter memorize details about weapons and shoots her while she’s wearing a bullet-proof vest, because when you’re training your daughter to become a deadly avenger of the night, preparation is everything. Hi is the opposite. Call him too laid back, but you have to give him credit in that he never fires live rounds at Nathan Jr. Leaving the baby in the middle of a highway might cost you a point. Winner: Big Daddy! Round 4: Known Associates On Big Daddy’s side, you have Kick-Ass, who is about as useful as the Hi’s pals the Snoats brothers,...

At The Theater #15: KIck-Ass Apr29

At The Theater #15: KIck-Ass...

Leaving the 34th Street AMC Theater after watching Kick-Ass, I couldn’t help but think “Ugh, that was way too much popcorn.” Before the movie, I bought a large popcorn to split with Julie and Bryan, and put in on the ground in front of my seat as I got situated. Unfortunately, someone sat down in the seat in front of me and leaned back, sending my popcorn flying. Picking up the bag, I saw that about a quarter of the bag’s contents were now in a nice pile between my legs. This is all before I took a piece of popcorn out of the bag. I went back to the concession counter, explained what happened and asked the guy if he wouldn’t mind topping me off. He said sure, and while refilling the bag, realized it was a large and told me that there are free refills on large popcorns. Still, it was nice that initially he was refilling the bag out of kindness than out of policy-awareness, so I’m giving the concession staff at this AMC a big A+. The free refill policy would prove to be my undoing. By the time we hit the Iron Man preview, half our popcorn was gone, and not to the floor this time. I turned to Bryan and Julie and asked if I should get a refill before the movie started. They didn’t answer, so I asked again. Julie pointed out that if I have to ask more than once if we should refill the popcorn, clearly I want more popcorn. Point taken. I ran out for a refill. As I was walking to the concession stand, I took fistfuls of popcorn in my mouth. Hey, if they’re going to refill it to the top, then...

On The Couch 16: The Informant! Apr23

On The Couch 16: The Informant!...

Yes! Finally! A Matt Damon movie where my girlfriend isn’t swooning over him. It would be pretty hard to in The Informant! Damon sports a bad toupee, big glasses, and a moustache. His character, Mark Whitacre looks like your middle-aged distant relative that dances funny at family weddings. You know who I’m talking about. That guy that you’re not sure how you’re related and you rely on your parents to remind you of his name because you only see him once every three years. Yeah, that guy. In other words, Matt Damon looks nothing like Matt Damon. He pulls a Charlise Theron from Monster in this movie, but in a funny way, and not a “Oh my God, are you effing kidding me? That’s Charlize Theron?!? No, burn my eyes out!” kind of way. According to my girlfriend, this is my competition. Nice. In The Informant!, Mark Whitacre works for ADM, a company that’s responsible for putting corn in everything we eat. The government decides to go after them, not for poisoning us with a diet of corn, this isn’t Food Inc., but for being involved in a global price-fixing scheme. When Scott Bakula, inhabiting the body of an FBI agent, shows up to investigate the company on a different matter, Whitacre spills the beans to him about the price-fixing and starts working as possibly the worst FBI informant ever. Somehow while loudly speaking into his microphone, showing off his briefcase tape recorder to an independent contractor, and letting people know about a raid in advance, he manages to help the FBI build a case against ADM. He also manages to royally screw himself over with all parties involved. Remember kids, greed plus ineptitude will get you into trouble. Bad dog! Give Matt Damon back his toupee!...

At The Theater #14: How to Train Your Dragon 3D Apr17

At The Theater #14: How to Train Your Dragon 3D...

While watching How to Train Your Dragon 3D, I couldn’t help but think that the whole movie was a big metaphor for coming out of the closet. Hiccup, the main protagonist, is not like the other Vikings in his town. He’s not a testosterone fueled muscle-head, which pretty much describes every other man here. He’s shunned by his peers for not being athletic, and his father wishes he wasn’t so different. After a fierce battle with some dragons, dad leads a Viking horde to hunt the dragons on their home turf and sends his son to dragon-killing school, which if you’re still following my metaphor is the equivalent of one of those camps parents on the religious right send their to kids to purge them of their homosexual tendencies. Hetero-camp, um, I mean dragon-hunting school backfires, as Hiccup realizes that he cannot bring himself to kill any dragons and begins to pacify them in ways he learns from training his secretly kept pet dragon. Hiccup sneaks off to frolic with his pet dragon every chance he gets. He has to do it in utter secrecy though. If the other Vikings found out that he had befriended a dragon, they would scorn him and kill his new friend. Unfortunately, he is found out, his dragon is locked up and dad wishes he never gave Hiccup his helmet fashioned from Hiccup’s mother’s breastplate. Hey daddy Viking, if you’re so ashamed of your son’s gender identity issues, don’t ask him to wear his mom’s bra on his head and call it a helmet. Just sayin’… In the end, as can be expected in these stories, Hiccup proves to his dad that his skills as a dragon whisperer are worthwhile when Hiccup and his pet dragon save the day....

On The Couch #15: Bruno Apr12

On The Couch #15: Bruno...

Wow, this has been a really bad weekend for me and movies. Four days straight of watching movies, and the best of the bunch is Couple Retreat. Couples Retreat! I could not have predicted this going into the weekend. If you check the rankings to the left, you’ll see that the bottom movie on bost lists came from the past four days. If you judge a comedy based on how much you laugh, then Bruno is definitely a failure. I was shocked, and I mean shocked, by how unfunny the movie was based on how hilarious I thought the Borat movie was the first time I saw it. Is Sacha Baron Cohen resting on his laurels? Did he phone this one in? Like Borat, the best comedy in this movie comes when Cohen, in his Bruno character, interacts with people who don’t know they’re being put-on. Bruno goes on a daytime talk show with an entirely African-American audience, and plays show-and-tell with the African baby he traded for a limited edition iPod. Bruno interviews Paula Abdul (and in the deleted scenes, Pete Rose and LaToya Jackson) using Mexican gardeners for chairs. He even hosts an anti-gay rally full of rednecks that turns into a man-on-man sex show. But that’s maybe 12 minutes of good content in this hour and 21 minute movie. One of the few funny scenes in Bruno. Unfortunately, Cohen goes for more of the shock value comedy that made for a very funny scene in Borat, but largely falls flat here. In the naked wrestling scene in Borat, I thought a lot of the comedy came from the extremely large black rectangle they used to blot out Borat’s penis. Since the movie was “made” by Borat, it came across as the...

At The Theater #13: Greenberg Apr12

At The Theater #13: Greenberg...

Dear Noah Baumbach, In your attempt to create a movie that could be described as Garden State for old people, you succeeded in some respects. Unfortunately, you decided to mimic possibly the worst parts of Garden State in Greenberg. You got a lot of the surface elements right. Ben Stiller plays Roger Greenberg, a single guy on a bunch of psych meds who isn’t certain of his place in the world, similar to Zach Braff’s character Andrew Largeman in Garden State. Also like Garden State, he meets a girl who changes the way he looks at and interacts with the world. You included an indie-music heavy soundtrack. You even had Roger stand in front of garish wallpaper in one of the early scenes, but without the matching shirt. Garden State: like Greenberg for young people…and much better too. What you failed to capture was any of the charm that made fans of Garden State fall in love with that movie. Before, I could never understand why some of my friends hated Garden State so much. But watching your movie, I now have more of an understanding of their opinion. If the charm of Garden State was lost on a viewer, I think his experience would resemble mine while watching Greenberg. I find it hard to believe that you could be responsible for one of the best movies I have seen this year, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and one of the worst, Greenberg. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is full of humor and has a great plot, two things lacking in this movie. Some might point out that The Fantastic Mr. Fox was an adaptation, but to I would point out to them that I have enjoyed your original work as well. I thought The Squid...

On The Couch #14: Couples Retreat Apr12

On The Couch #14: Couples Retreat...

Couples Retreat was the second movie I saw in a four movies over four days binge. If you asked me at the start if I thought Couples Retreat was going to be the best of the bunch, I would have laughed. But compared to Remember Me, Greenberg and Bruno, Couples Retreat seems like comedic gold. I don’t want to go overboard with my praise for Couple Retreat. At best, I could sum up the movie as “meh.” It’s the kind of movie that comes on TBS on a random Sunday afternoon and you keep it on because you’ve got no better options and it’s not that bad. Think of it like Milk Money, but with more bikinis. Looking at the cover, you might think that Couples Retreat is Forgetting Sarah Marshall for old people. Don’t make that mistake. Sure, both take place at gorgeous, tropical locales and both have Kristen Bell, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall is so much funnier. You would probably enjoy watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall a second time instead of watching Couples Retreat. This picture of Kristen Bell is here mainly to keep frequent commenter Bryan coming back to the blog. I have to hand it to Kristen Bell. That girl is smart when it comes to getting cast. Sure, this movie isn’t all that great, but as an actress she spent most of her time filming this in Hawaii. I’m surprised her other colleagues from Forgetting Sarah Marshall haven’t come to the same conclusion of “must get cast on all Hawaii shoots.” I’m also surprised Bell didn’t do everything she could to get in on the last season of Lost. “Come on, I’ve got sci-fi experience,” she’d say, “I could be your geologist. You don’t need the Tina Fey look-a-like.” But...

At The Theater #12: Remember Me Apr10

At The Theater #12: Remember Me...

In 2008, my first year of 52 movies in 52 weeks, I saw a movie set in New York City’s recent past that I found mind-numbingly slow and focused on a main character that I couldn’t stand. That movie was The Wackness, which I thought was so bad I named it the worst movie of both 2008 and 2009. The baton has been passed. I have a new movie set in New York City’s recent past that I found mind-numbingly slow and focused on a main character that I couldn’t stand. That movie is Remember Me. The worst thing about Remember Me is that it’s my own fault that I saw it. This movie was punishment for having my girlfriend get a popcorn refill during the first five minutes of Alice in Wonderland. If only I had a time machine, I could have warned me of one month ago to get the popcorn refill himself (myself?). “You’re really not missing anything. The first five minutes are really slow. And you’re going to end up seeing Remember Me.” One-month-ago-me might say “I wouldn’t mind seeing Remember Me; isn’t Claire from Lost in it?” Then I’d compare it to The Wackness and he would sprint to the concession stand. The three main actors in Remember Me are non-Americans playing Americans with terrible accents. Their accents are so unbelievable than John Cleese’s Taunting French Guard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail would would no longer call his own accent ridiculous. Pierce Brosnan attempts the most over the top Bronx accent imaginable with a hint of Brit coming through. I’m guessing that Emilie De Ravin, Lost’s “WHERE’S MY BABY???” learned her American accent by watching Christian Bale in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I don’t remember her voice being like this when she...

On The Couch #13: The Men Who Stare at Goats Apr04

On The Couch #13: The Men Who Stare at Goats...

I couldn’t help but think of Lost while watching The Men Who Stare at Goats. If the Dharma Initiative were run by the US Army, I think the end result would be The New World Army. The Dharma Army wants you! Similar to the Dharma Initiative, The New World Army waas the US Army’s foray into psychic warfare. Soldier turned smelly hippie turned smelly hippie soldier Jeff Bridges writes a manual for unlocking the mind’s true potential, a program that consists mainly of yoga, tai chi, and moustache growing. It’s never stated explicitly, but if you have any desire to harness the true potential of your mind, it seems you have to grow a bitchin’ ‘stache. Don’t be fooled by the hair, his power is in his moustache. And man, what things the powers unlocked by a bitchin’ ‘stache can do! Kill goats by staring at them for a few hours, make clouds disappear by staring at them and possibly running through walls (though there’s always the risk your ‘stache isn’t bitchin’ enough yet and you just end up with a concussion). The Lost parallel goes a little further. Half the movie is set in the present day, with Ewan McGregor playing a reporter researching what happened to The New World Army after its disbanding and the other half of the movie taking place in the past, showing Jeff Bridges’ recruitment and development of The New World Army. The main reason that Ewan McGregor is doing this research is because his wife in the movie, played by Rebecca Mader aka Charlotte from Lost, has cheated on him with his one-handed editor, and he feels he needs to prove himself in her eyes to win her back. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll have plenty...

On The Couch #11 & 12: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Apr03

On The Couch #11 & 12: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies...

It’s time to get my geek on. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is the latest direct-to-DVD animated movie based on existing DC Comics stories. The movie is mainly based on the 2001 graphic novel JLA: Earth 2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Skip the movie, read the comic. The story centers around Earth-2, which is a world where it’s opposite day every day! People’s hearts on the right side of their body, Superman is the evil Ultraman and Batman is the evil Owlman. I’m not sure why an owl is the opposite of a bat. Maybe because owls can see really well and bats are blind? Ultraman and Owlman team-up with other mirror-mirror versions of the Justice League in the Crime Syndicate, who are like a super-powered Sopranos. Evil Superman even speaks with a Jersey accent. Look at Evil Superman’s eyes. He’s totaly checking out Evil Wonder Woman’s rack! Evil jerk! On Earth 2, the only hero left is Lex Luthor. “What?!? Lex Luthor is a hero?” you ask. Apparently male pattern baldness isn’t caused by wickedness though, as good Lex Luthor is just as bald as evil Lex Luthor. I wish they gave him the red-headed afro that other-alternate reality Alexander Luthor sported in the 1980’s comic Crisis on Infinite Earths. Considering this alternative, maybe going bald isn’t such a bad thing. Lex Luthor is voiced by Chris Noth a.k.a. Mr. Big from Sex in the City. I think this casting decision was to make it easier for guys to get their girlfriends to agree to watch this. Yeah…no dice. If there is any guy out there who successfully convinces his girlfriend to watch this movie based solely on Chris Noth’s appearance, I want to hear from you. “Hey ladies, I’m...