At The Theater 2011 #3: Bridesmaids May28

At The Theater 2011 #3: Bridesmaids...

On paper, I shouldn’t have wanted to see Bridesmaids as much as I did. I usually don’t enjoy Kristin Wiig’s sketches on SNL, and wasn’t a huge Maya Rudolph fan for most of her tenure there too. I can’t sit through an episode of Mike & Molly without wondering why I haven’t changed the channel yet. I can’t stand the Target Lady. But I really wanted to see it in the weeks leading up to its release date. I attribute this to liking director Paul Feig. I loved Freaks and Geeks when it originally aired on TV. And I’d recommend his two books, Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence and Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin, to anyone who, like me, was a bit awkward growing up (okay, I was more than a bit awkward growing up). Plus, Bridemaids had talk that it was Hangover-funny. After seeing Bridesmaids, I’m a much bigger fan of Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy than I was beforehand (though still I don’t see myself getting amped for Mike & Molly Season 2). Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumoto wrote a seriously funny screenplay that Paul Feig turned into a seriously funny movie. I don’t think there has ever been a wedding dress shopping scene anywhere near as funny as the one in Bridesmaids. The laughter level caused by the aftermath of this dinner was off the charts. Melissa McCarthy steals the show in Bridesmaids. Some of her best lines are in the trailer, but she has plenty of other great bits throughout the film. Wiig and Mumoto must have had a lot of fun writing her character. I saw Bridesmaids at the West Hollywood Arclight in Los Angeles. Without a doubt, The Arclight is my favorite movie theater...

At The Theater 2011 #2: Thor May27

At The Theater 2011 #2: Thor...

If there is an award for the movie trailer that served its movie the least at next year’s Tuesdees, Thor’s trailer is definitely going to win. When I watched it during the Superbowl, I immediately thought “There’s a movie I can skip.” And I love comic books. Love them. Granted, I was never a big Thor fan, but the end of Iron Man 2 and knowing that Joss Whedon is directing the upcoming Avengers movie had me interested in seeing Thor. Until that trailer was released. The trailer for Thor makes it look as cheesy as a Kraft factory. Anthony Hopkins is an awesome Odin. But then a week before Thor was released, people who saw sneak previews of it started talking about how good it is. People whose opinion I respected were telling me to go see this movie. And all I could think was, “Really? This movie? No, clearly you mean some other Thor movie.” They definitely didn’t mean this Thor movie. Finally the praise that just kept getting stacked on top of more praise got to me and I grabbed a bunch of friends to go see it the Saturday night of opening weekend.Quick math problem: A group of seven people are seeing Thor, a major summer blockbuster, at 9 PM on the Saturday night of its opening weekend. How early do you show up to the theater? Note: This is New York City; there aren’t any Arclights here where you can reserve your seats in advance. So, how early do you show up? 45 minutes early? An hour? We stopped for pizza on the way to the theater and showed up a little less than 30 minutes early. I know. We were screwed. There was no way we were all sitting together,...

On The Couch 2011 #19: All-Star Superman May26

On The Couch 2011 #19: All-Star Superman...

All-Star Superman has a sad story surrounding it. Screenwriter Duane McDuffie passed away the same week as the movie’s release. All-Star Superman wasn’t McDuffie’s first foray at writing Superman. If you enjoyed the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series on Cartoon Network, you can largely thank McDuffie for that. He wrote some of the best episodes in the series. Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks voices Lois Lane and Desperate Housewives’s James Denton voices Superman. In both terms of writing and animation, All-Star Superman is a great adaption of the comic book by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. The animation has a very anime feel to it, and while not all of Morrison’s crazy ideas made the transition from comic book to screen, McDuffie and the animators remained very faithful. For comparison’s sake, here’s a still from the animated movie… …and Frank Quitely’s original comic book page. I would still rank Batman: Under the Red Hood as the best of the DC direct to DVD line of animated features, but All-Star Superman is a close second.    The only special feature on the disc I got from Netflix was trailers for other DC features. There wasn’t any cool history of comics documentary or in-depth interviews with the creators of All-Star Superman. Maybe those are on disc-2. Cursed by the special feature gods...

On The Couch 2011 #18: Rambo May21

On The Couch 2011 #18: Rambo...

The Rambo franchise is in competition with the Star Wars franchise for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Confusing Titles. You might think Rambo is the first movie in the franchise. Nope, it’s the fourth. The first movie with Rambo in the title is Rambo: First Blood Part II, a subtitle that was often dropped until the recent subtitle-less Rambo was released. The only title in the franchise that is clear is the much derided Rambo III. Say what you will about that movie, but it’s got III in the title and it’s the third movie of the series. Rambo is as full of current over-the-top action movie cliches as Rambo III was for 1980s over-the-top action movie cliches. Yet, it’s Rambo III that Rambo fans will usually apologize for, while touting this one as “OH MY FUCKING GOD! IT’S SO BADASS!” The giant machine gun mowing ripping enemy soldiers in half is as silly as the Rambo lighting fire through his open wound scene in Rambo III. Sure, Rambo’s script doesn’t have the mysticism that romanticized John Rambo’s allies in Rambo III, but at the end of the day, that shooting fire through himself scene from Rambo III cannot be topped. Seriously, what beats this? What’s the most disappointing part of Rambo? Without a doubt, it’s the lack of Trautman. Sure, Richard Crenna died in 2003, and they did use flashbacks of Trautman talking to Rambo from First Blood, but it’s not the same. Trautman is favorite character in the Rambo series. He’s as flawed as Rambo. He was one of the few people who cared from Rambo, and at the same time manipulated Rambo when it benefited him. I would have liked to have seen Rambo reacting to the news of Trautman’s...

On The Couch 2011 #17: Chaos Theory May20

On The Couch 2011 #17: Chaos Theory...

Ryan Reynolds gets his motivational speaker on in Chaos Theory, which I caught on Netflix instant streaming. My least favorite part of Chaos Theory is the framing sequence used to bookend the movie. The framing sequence involves Old Man Ryan Reynolds giving some father-in-lawly advice to his soon-to-be son-in-law, making the main story of Chaos Theory the most fucked up piece of fatherly storytelling this side of How I Met Your Mother. It lets you know that everything worked out in the end for the characters in the main story, but it could have easily been cut. I blame the framing sequence for my inability to really get into the movie for awhile. At the same time, I really enjoyed the note card trick during it. If they could have dropped the framing sequence, but kept the note card trick, I’d be a happy movie watcher. If you like your comedies on the darker side, you’ll probably enjoy Chaos Theory. Most of the humor comes from bad things happening to Ryan Reynolds. I enjoyed the movie, but it didn’t leave that big an impression on me. The most memorable part may be Sarah Chalke’s attempted seduction of Ryan Reynolds in his hotel room. This scene at long last decides the Becky 1 vs. Becky 2 debate. Chaos Theory: good not great. YMMV based on how much you’d like to see Sarah Chalke in her underthings and/or Ryan Reynolds with a...

On The Couch 2011 #16: Rambo III May19

On The Couch 2011 #16: Rambo III...

Rambo III is the Rambo movie that Rambo fans seem to apologize for when they tell you how amazing Rambo movies are. Except for my friend Nick, who has repeatedly claimed “Rambo III is awesome!” This is the same friend who told me I wasn’t a man until I had seen all of the Rambo movies. Well, Nick, I’m now 75% of a man.Rambo III is definitely the most by-the-numbers of the first three Rambo movies. But I feel like the producers were just trying to give the audience what they wanted. I remember my schoolmates growing up telling me that First Blood sucked compared to Rambo. It’s like the producers were listening to this elementary school playground banter. Gone is the message about veterans’ rights from First Blood, replaced with more explosions, more bullets and more blood. This movie is like Rambo on steroids. Oh, wait… Possibly the coolest/most ridiculous movie scene ever? Three Rambo movies down, one to go. I can’t lie, Rambo III was the one I was least excited about watching, but it didn’t come across as badly as so many of Rambo loving fan friends warned. It’s definitely the weakest of the three, but it’s still much better than a lot of action movies from the 1980s. If you take it for what it is, you won’t be disappointed. How could you? Kurtwood Smith is in it! Rambo III wasn’t even the most disappointing thing I watched that day. That would be the Mets losing to the Washington Nationals in their home opener. The Washington Nationals! Come on! Bring on Rambo! I want to be a man the next time I hang out with...

On The Couch 2011 #15: Roman Holiday May18

On The Couch 2011 #15: Roman Holiday...

Roman Holiday is a perfect example of a movie that makes me feel dumb after I’ve seen it. Not because the subject matter is tough to understand, it isn’t, but because I end up asking myself questions like “How have I never seen this before?” and “Why was this movie never even on my radar until recently?” and “This is Aubrey Hepburn’s first movie?” I really had no idea this was Audrey Hepburn’s first movie. You wouldn’t think watching it. She comes across as a completely seasoned professional throughout the entire movie. First movie? Seriously? Roman Holiday should be used to bolster Gregory Peck’s nomination if anyone holds a Most Charming Leading Man Ever competition. While watching Roman Holiday, I couldn’t help but wish I had the effortless charm that Peck has on display constantly throughout the movie. Peck’s charm even comes through in still photos. Okay, time to stop swooning over Gregory Peck. Italy is definitely a co-star in Roman Holiday. If I were in charge of the Italian tourism bureau, I would be mailing copies of this DVD to anyone who ever inquired about vacationing in Italy. Ah, the old “ancient stone face has my hand” trick. Works every time… I feel like Roman Holiday isn’t talked about as much as other movies by Hepburn or Peck, which is a major oversight. It’s a romantic comedy that works on every level and deserves to be seen by more people. I give it my highest possible...