On The Couch #49: The Iron Giant Dec24

On The Couch #49: The Iron Giant...

Some things I like: comic books, superheroes, robots, cartoons. How have I never seen The Iron Giant? It makes no sense. I loved The Incredibles and knew that Brad Bird also directed The Iron Giant, but I never sought out to it until now. I was browsing Netflix’s streaming selection, looking for something under two hours to watch when I came across The Iron Giant. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this movie, so I started it up. For some reason, I thought The Iron Giant was about 10 years older than its 1999 release date. I though incorrectly that the movie came out in 1990. When I heard Jennifer Anniston’s voice as Hogarth’s mother, I thought “Wow, this is her first big movie, not Leprechaun.” But I was wrong. I’m still trying to figure out why I thought the movie came out much earlier. Maybe it’s because I remember seeing it in one of those bulky, oversized, plastic VHS cases that I associate with the 1990s. WANT! I recognized Harry Connick Jr and Jennifer Anniston’s voices quickly, but for the whole movie I couldn’t figure out who played the General. The voice was so familiar, but I couldn’t place it at all. It wasn’t until the credits rolled that I found it was Frasier’s dad, John Mahoney. And Vin Diesel was the voice of The Iron Giant? What the..?! I could feel the tears welling up twice during The Iron Giant. The first time was when The Iron Giant became afraid of his own destructive capabilities and ran away. The second was when The Iron Giant flew up into the sky to stop the missile. Wow, that movie was awesome. How has there never been a...

On The Couch #48: Charlie St. Cloud Dec23

On The Couch #48: Charlie St. Cloud...

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen Charlie St. Cloud yet, and your desire to see it isn’t just based on wanting to ogle Zac Efron, you might want to come back to this post later. If you’ve seen the movie, only want to see it to ogle Zac Efron or have no interest in seeing it, than please come right in! If your interest in Charlie St. Cloud was based purely on ogling Zac Efron, you should really check out the deleted scenes. The first one answers the question on everyone’s mind during the movie, namely “How has Charlie St. Cloud stayed so buff these last five years?” The scene is nothing but a tank-topped Zac Efron doing pull-ups, bicep calls and jumping rope. I feel like this scene was filmed just for the deleted scenes, to give all the squealing girls who saw Charlie St. Cloud in theaters a reason to buy the DVD. Everyone knows this is why you wanted to see Charlie St. Cloud. You might as well admit it. I was perfectly content for Charlie St. Cloud to just have flipped his lid when his brother died. He plays catch with this dead brother every day and eventually has to choose between his fantasy construct or his new, real, live love. But wait! Everything you knew was a lie! His imaginary brother and dead military friend? Actual ghosts! His live girlfriend? Also a ghost! Say what? It’s true. I have it on good authority that during the premiere of Charlie St. Cloud, director Burr Steers yelled “M. Night Shyamalan ain’t got shit on me!” Once you’ve wrapped your head around those twists, another one spins you around. Despite appearing to Charlie as a ghost, his girlfriend Tess isn’t dead! Like Cary Elwes in The Princess...

On The Couch #47: Fred Claus Dec22

On The Couch #47: Fred Claus...

It was a two-fer of Vince Vaughn movies on Saturday. First I caught early Vince Vaughn in Rudy and then I watched some more recent Vince Vaughn in Fred Claus. What Fred Claus really wants for Christmas is to look once more like he did in Rudy. When I was taking screenwriting classes, I had the bright idea that the best movie to write from a purely financial standpoint would be a Christmas movie. If it’s any good, it will have good sales year after year on DVD and be syndicated to kingdom come. Write a hit Christmas movie and then sit back and let the royalty checks pour in every December. The idea I came up with in class was for a movie about Santa’s brother. The guy would be the opposite of Santa in every way possible and would have the goal of ruining Christmas, like the Grinch, but on a worldwide scale. I never got past a paragraph long story idea for it. The makers of Fred Claus did a much better job with the Santa’s brother concept than my paltry idea could ever hope to achieve. It’s a very cute Christmas movie and I really enjoyed watching it. I think one of Fred Claus’s strengths is that it made Fred a sympathetic character right from the start. Young Nicholas Claus is very similar to Own Wilson in Little Fockers. He means well and is always doing good deeds, but he doesn’t quite get how his actions, altruistic as they may be, hurt those closest to him. In Little Fockers, it was Owen Wilson unintentionally screwing over Ben Stiller. In Fred Claus, it’s young Santa Claus screwing over his big brother Fred. I’m amazed Mrs. Claus is cool with Elizabeth Banks’s...

On The Couch #46: Rudy Dec21

On The Couch #46: Rudy...

Rudy was the big one. I’m really glad I finally got around to seeing it. More than any other movie, telling someone I never saw Rudy elicited the “You never saw it?!?” response. Despite automatically having a rooting interest in Notre Dame football growing up because of my Irish background, the premise of Rudy never really appealed to me. It seemed so schmaltzy. This tiny guy really wants to play for Notre Dame, and as the DVD cover points out before you even watch the movie, he does. Thanks for the spoiler, DVD cover. Jerk. After Lord of the Rings, my desire to watch Rudy dipped even further. Why would I want to watch that whiny Samwise Gamgee with his “Mr. Frodo this” and “Mr. Frodo that” try to play football for Notre Dame? At times my interest in watching Rudy would spike. People would tell me I really need to see it. Or I’d watch a good sports movie and remember that I’d never seen Rudy. It’s been sitting near the top of my Netflix queue for years, often passed over for the latest DVD release. Watching Rudy, I was amazed how many familiar faces were in it. The youngest and thinnest Vince Vaughn I’ve ever seen plays the Notre Dame quarterback who sparks the drive for the final score that will allow Rudy into to the game. An equally young, but huge Jon Favreau plays Rudy’s best friend at school. It’s amazing how over the years Vince Vaughn has gotten physically bigger and Jon Favreau has gotten smaller. They’ve almost reached the point where they’ll meet in the middle. He has that look on his face because Coach just showed him what he’ll look like in 2010 Now that I’ve seen Rudy, I...

At The Theater #44: Fair Game Dec20

At The Theater #44: Fair Game...

Out of the two main characters in Fair Game, I found Naomi Watts’s character Valerie Plame to be the more compelling. There is something insanely interesting about what happens inside the mind of a CIA agent whose cover in blown in such a way that Valerie Plame’s was. It’s one thing if her cover was blown on one mission. But what happened to Valerie Plame was exponentially worse. Her cover was blown on every mission and every party of her life simultaneously. Not only that, her closest friends had no idea she worked for the CIA until they read about in the newspaper. Imagine having to explain a secret as big as that to your friends. While watching Fair Game, I kept thinking Plame was played by Claire Danes. I can’t believe Naomi Watts is over 10 years older than Danes. She looks so young. I found it very fascinating to see how she dealt with the aftereffects of her identity being leaked to the press. She operated most of her adult live in secrecy. Her life was compartmentalized where some people thought this about her and some people thought that. To have to juggle all those balls simultaneously just to have them all fall to the ground not due to any fault of her own, but because of political revenge is enough to drive someone mad. But that’s not what she did. She tried her best to deal with things quietly. This is the part I found most amazing. I feel like if something like that were to happen to me, I would have the same reaction as her husband Joe Wilson and scream it to everyone who would listen. Is it because I found Joe Wilson’s reaction more relatable that I found...

At The Theater #43: Unstoppable Dec18

At The Theater #43: Unstoppable...

Whoever designed the teaser poster for Unstoppable deserves to be fired. Look at it. When I first saw it, all I thought was “Well, that’s going to suck.” The poster screams “GENERIC MOVIE RIGHT HERE!” Because of that, Unstoppable wasn’t even on my list of movies to see as I finish out the year. But then people started telling me that Unstoppable was really good. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a score of 88, which is pretty damn good. Now that I’ve seen Unstoppable, I agree, it is pretty damn good. Unstoppable is structured fantastically. This movie should be required viewing in thriller writing classes. The threat of the runaway train continues to escalate throughout Unstoppable, while the chances of stopping the train become progressively worse and the consequences of failure become direr. Denzel Washington is definitely one of the coolest guys on the planet. It doesn’t seem to matter if he’s playing a corrupt cop, a non-corrupt cop or a motorman; he brings a certain level of coolness to every role he plays. I can’t think of a Denzel Washington movie in recent memory that disappointed me. Inside Man is one of my favorite movies of the past few years. Denzel doesn’t disappoint in Unstoppable. I’m glad they didn’t go for the romance angle between Rosario Dawson and Denzel Washington’s characters Unstoppable. During the movie, it kind of felt like it was a destination (railroad pun!) they were headed to, which felt a little weird. Rosario Dawson is closer in age to Washington’s character’s daughters than to Washington himself. When his character Frank Grimes started talking about forced early retirement, the possible romance angle seemed even more farfetched. Alternate endinig to Unstoppable. This is my second movie this week with Kevin Corrigan in it....

On The Couch #45: Braveheart Dec18

On The Couch #45: Braveheart...

Back when I was a sophomore in college, I studied in London for a winter session. One of the other students was a balding, ponytailed, porn-mustachioed 40 something who was obsessed with William Wallace. This winter session in London involved many long bus and train rides to historic sites in the countryside. And this guy would spend every minute of that time telling us either how much he loved William Wallace, how great William Wallace was, or that he (porn-moustache, not William Wallace) was 1/16 Scottish. When I asked him, “Who’s William Wallace?” his reaction was something along the lines of “Who’s William Wallace? WHO’S WILLIAM WALLACE?! You saw Braveheart, right?” No, I hadn’t. He then went on to tell me in explicit detail why I needed to see Braveheart while I went back to listening to my Beatles CDs. During this winter session, he was able to see a statue of William Wallace he had he heart set on seeing and I was able to get my picture crossing Abbey Road. Win-win. Other things people have said when they’ve found out I haven’t seen Braveheart: “What? But you’re Irish? How could you miss it?” Even then I realized Braveheart was a movie about Scottish freedom. “It’s the best movie since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves!” I really needed to stop going to that guy for movie advice. His other leg has a picture of Kevin Costner as Robin Hood. But now I’ve seen it. So no more “What do you mean you’ve never seen Braveheart?” Now, at worst it will be “What do you mean you just saw Braveheart for the first time?” Now that I’ve seen Braveheart can someone please explain to me what kind of title “The Bruce” is? As in Robert...

At The Theater #42: Today’s Special Dec15

At The Theater #42: Today’s Special...

My primary interest in seeing Today’s Special was that it starred Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show. I really like him on The Daily Show, not enough to see The Last Airbender, but enough to head to the nearby Brooklyn Heights Cinema to see him in Today’s Special, a low budget comedy for foodies. I make fun of this movie, but if I wasn’t such a snob, maybe I wouldn’t be so behind on movies right now. Aasif leaves his acerbic character from The Daily Show behind in Today’s Special, where he plays Samir, a frustrated New York City sous chef. He quits his job after being passed over for promotion one too many times and plans to study in France until a family emergency causes him to take over his father’s failing Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens. Samir hires Akbar, a taxi driver who claims to be a former chef from Mumbai. Akbar teaches Samir to cook not only with head, but with his heart and stomach too, and sometimes with his groin. Thankfully, no one has sex with a pie in this movie. Watching Today’s Special made me remember my love of Indian food, especially good Indian food. Growing up I had a lot of Indian friends, even being dubbed an “honorary Indian” by one because of my spice tolerance. Having a lot of Indian friends growing up meant eating a lot of Indian food at their houses. Akbar’s cooking in Today’s Special reminded me of those meals. On the off chance that Mrs. Shah ever reads this, I want her to know that I’ve never had Tandori chicken as good as hers. Kevin Corrigan, the good-for-nothing brother from Grounded for Life, is great in the small part he has in this...

At The Theater #41: Little Fockers Dec15

At The Theater #41: Little Fockers...

IT’S FINALLY HERE! THE EPIC CONCLUSION TO THE FOCKERS SAGA! EEEEE! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Okay, maybe I’m overreacting a little bit. No one is going to line up for a midnight screening of the latest sequel to Meet the Parents. I loved Meet the Parents, but I have yet to make it all the way through Meet the Fockers. I’ve tried. More than twice. The closest I’ve come so far was making it to just around the halfway mark when it was on TBS recently. Amazingly, never finishing Meet the Fockers had no impact on my ability to understand Little Fockers. Meet the Fockers had a similar drop in quality from Meet the Parents as Father of the Bride 2 had from Father of the Bride. Thankfully there wasn’t a equal drop in quality with Little Fockers. Little Fockers was about as good as Meet the Fockers. This bodes well for Father of the Bride fans who never gave up faith for a third movie. The major upsides of Little Fockers are definitely Robert DeNiro and Owen Wilson reprising their roles from Meet the Parents. If they decide to make another Fockers movie and Robert DeNiro doesn’t want to do it, they need to call it a day. Without DeNiro’s ex-CIA Type A father-in-law Jack Byrnes, Little Fockers would fall completely flat on its face. I really like Owen Wilson in roles like this one, where he plays the super-nice guy who still manages to dick people over. He always means well, and his heart is in the right place, but he never quite seems to get the negative impact he has on people around him. I’m pretty sure he plays the same character in the soon to open How Do You Know. Wait, I’m pretty sure he plays...

At The Theater #40: Due Date Dec10

At The Theater #40: Due Date...

I tempted fate this week and went back into the belly of the beast, the Regal Court St (formerly the UA Court St, forever the Hellmouth) to see Due Date. No doubt because I followed my rules from last week, I had another successful screening there. There were no loud conversations in my 10-person filled theater and no one was lighting up next to me. I count that as a win. Someone did leave the theater with 10 minutes left in Due Date. I wondered if he was visiting from Philadelphia, where that is the accepted way to see movies. I’m not sure why most people in Philly leave a movie right before the end, but it makes seeing movies in that city particularly frustrating, especially if there’s a big reveal at the end. Saving money on a hotel by sleeping at the wheel is never a good idea. I’m surprised that Due Date isn’t getting more love from critics. I thought it was very funny. It’s just critics, either. No one I asked wanted to see this movie, despite it starring two actors who have starred in some of the biggest movies of the past three years. Is the lack of love for Due Date connected to the current backlash against Zach Galifianakis that is going on right now? I’ll admit, when I saw an ad for Due Date while coming out of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I thought he was becoming a little overexposed. It’s amazing how big he’s blown up after The Hangover and how many people are sick of him now, all in the course of a little over a year. He’s like Hootie and the Blowfish, but funnier. What I really liked about Due Date is how...