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Runaway Bride (1999)
Despite a charming cast, the film suffers from a host of unlikable characters and a silly storyline
Julia Roberts seems to be one of the most hated celebrities on this website. I can't really understand why. I find her to be talented and charming as well as engaging and usually likable, until I saw Runaway Bride. I thought I was going to like this one but it offered some of the most unlikable characters I have ever seen in a romantic comedy. Generally, the audience should want to cheer for the two people to get together but I couldn't care less. I don't think Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) actually deserved to be in a marriage because she was selfish, immature and seemed incapable of love. I just couldn't fathom why anyone would actually be attracted to her. She has weddings like there no big deal and she probably wasted a lot of money between the four failed ones she had. She has her fiancé invest all of his time into the relationship, trying to show her that he does indeed love her only to be left at the altar. I guess the situation was supposed to be humorous and I shouldn't have taken it so seriously but it was tough to overlook all of the garbage the film was trying sell to me.
Acting wise the film was decent, which did save it a little. Julia Roberts gives an okay performance, although it's one of her worst. However, she is working with rather weak material and she's portraying a woman that is just so hard to like. Richard Gere was also decent although nothing special. The chemistry between these two was basically non-existent which made their relationship seem completely fake and unrealistic. It was hard to buy that a cynical man would fall for a woman that has no problem trampling all over a man's heart. They did have a few funny scenes together though which made the film more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the film runs for an inexplicable 116 minutes so there are a lot of dead spots.
Romantic comedies shouldn't really be loathsome movies. The characters should be likable and engaging so it's easy to get behind them and the story shouldn't be too far-fetched. Unfortunately, Runaway Bride commits the worst sin for a romantic comedy by offering unlikable characters, making it basically impossible to really get into the movie despite how talented the cast may be.
When structural engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) learns his wife is cheating on him, he concocts the perfect murder to get revenge without being caught. Assigned to the case is hotshot attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) who is ready to leave the D.A's. office to join a big money legal firm, but when he's challenged by Crawford's case, he's willing to risk everything to prove the man is guilty.
Given the talented cast, Fracture should have been more than a by-the-numbers thriller but that's exactly what it was. It features a few good performances although they are working with some unremarkable material and can't quite lift the film above mediocrity. The uninspired direction was a bit surprising given the track record of director Gregory Hoblit. He managed to keep things safe and predictable without really adding anything special to the film. I guess he was relying on the strength of his cast which only worked to an extent. The scenes with Gosling and Hopkins were interesting to watch but whenever Hopkins was absent, the film seriously dragged and Gosling's character was really unlikable so it was hard to root for him.
The screenplay was only average with some decent dialog being the highlight of it. The way the screenwriter played out the crime was very formulaic and pretty predictable. The ending was fairly obvious from the beginning and it wasn't a big twist ending that makes the viewer feel smart for figuring it out but rather it was an ending that makes the viewer wonder how these supposedly smart characters weren't able to figure it out. So save for some scenes with Gosling and Hopkins, the audience gets to watch a bland story unfold without any real sense of interest.
Luckily, the casting director did a great job and the performances were able to save the film. Anthony Hopkins was playing a familiar character yet it was still great to watch him on screen and he was the best part about the movie. Ryan Gosling was also pretty good and he managed to keep up with Hopkins. Rosamund Pike was decent, a bit dry though. I really liked Embeth Davidtz and it's such a shame that she didn't get a lot of screen time although this was expected. David Strathairn was decent although a bit wasted with an undeveloped character. Overall, Fracture features a strong cast stuck in average material and it ends up being forgettable. Rating 6/10
The Last Mimzy (2007)
It's pretty harmless yet also fairly forgettable
While vacationing at their parent's beach house, young Noah and Emma Wilder find a strange box. When they open it, they discover several bizarre objects and a child's stuffed rabbit named Mimzy. As the kids play with the objects, they discover that they do seemingly miraculous things. Even more amazing, the children themselves start gaining remarkable new powers. But where did the object come from? And what will happen when their parents, or even the government, learn about their discovery?
The Last Mimzy is a perfectly harmless and bland film. It's mildly enjoyable for kids but it doesn't really offer much for people over the age of 14. I think the film's main problem was the sluggish pacing and dull direction. The film is a little over ninety minutes long but it felt so much longer because everything happened so slowly. Director Robert Shaye shot all of the scenes without really injecting any personality into the movie. Everything felt generic and nothing really stood out; not the acting, special effects or anything. The writing was better because it at least had some creativity to it. The basic premise was intriguing and the film presented some interesting ideas so I can't say that the whole movie was a bore.
The acting was on the forgettable side, much like the actual movie. Rhiannon Leigh Wryn was pretty good as Emma. She's not the best child actor out there but at least she wasn't annoying. She had a few decent scenes and it never sounded like she was just reciting her lines. Chris O'Neil was the exact opposite. He was dull, annoying and he sounded like he was reading his lines. It's kind of sad that he got out acted by a seven year old girl. Although, they did have a realistic brother and sister relationship so he did help to do something right. Timothy Hutton was shockingly invisible. His performance here was quite similar to his performance in "Last Holiday". He showed up, did his lines and left. He didn't seem to put in much effort but of course he's an excellent actor so a simplistic role like this probably wasn't much for him. Joely Richardson was the very definition of bland and was in the same boat as Hutton. Rainn Wilson and Kathryn Hahn were both alright as was Michael Clarke Duncan although he didn't get a lot of screen time. Overall, The Last Mimzy was so harmless that it was really hard to hate. At the same time, nothing about it really stood out and it ended up being forgettable. Rating 5/10
The Number 23 (2007)
An unconvincing thriller that proves to be more ridiculous than thrilling.
"Fate" leads Walter Sparrow to come in possession of a mysterious novel that has eerie similarities and connections to his life, all based around the number 23. As the story unfolds in real life and fiction, Sparrow must figure out his connection to the book and how the story will eventually end.
The Number 23 offers an intriguing premise that is undone by a weak execution. The film just failed on many different levels which is pretty disappointing because it held so much potential. The screenplay was probably the worst part about it. It was filled with silly sequences and laughable dialog that just killed the mood of the movie. It seemed like the screenwriter had a good idea, he just didn't know how to develop it to stretch over a ninety minute running time. The second half of the film was running low on ideas, the twist was pretty obvious and the ending was awful.
Joel Schumacher is responsible for one of the worst movies ever and he did redeem himself a little with Phone Booth and a few other films but The Number 23 reminds me that he's still capable of making a stinker. He has the movie drenched in style but he just can't get a good focus. He moves the film at a clunky and slow pace. He switches from reality to what's actually happening in the book which quickly got annoying. The actual book in the film that's titled "The Number 23" is an awful detective story and the audience gets stuck listening to Carrey narrate it which just bored me to tears. When Carrey is finally done with book, we get stuck watching him run around trying to solve the mystery. At this point, the audience has lost interest and there is no real tension. We impatiently wait for the movie to reach it's horrible ending and unconvincing explanation before celebrating that film has finally finished.
The acting was mostly average and pretty forgettable. Jim Carrey was clearly just sleepwalking through his performance and he didn't even seem to be trying. He was either completely over the top in some scenes or just very wooden. His narration was a complete bore to listen to and he put no life inside his character. Virginia Madsen did the best she could with a limited role but she needs to pick better scripts. Logan Lerman was pretty bland as was Danny Huston. Overall, The Number 23 was an awful thriller that offered more laughs than suspense or thrills. Rating 3/10
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Despite featuring a few heartwarming moments and fine performances, the film was uninteresting and forgettable
Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is the type of guy everyone knows and most have been at one point in their life or another - the working poor. He's smart and diligent but unable to catch a break and falling further and further behind in his responsibilities to everything except his young son (Jaden Smith) whom he'd promised to always be around for, no matter the circumstances.
The Pursuit of Happiness is heartwarming in parts but as a whole, the film wasn't very engaging or memorable. The whole thing just felt too manipulative and I think they tried way too hard to get the audience to feel sorry for the main character. For instance, the first half of the film was mostly depressing to watch because the "hero" of the movie was in a bad state so it was hard to watch him suffer. We had to see all of these unlucky scenes and moments where Chris just couldn't catch a break. It got really annoying after awhile to have the film show all of this and it just proved that it was clear pity draining.
The direction proved to be quite lame and it was a big reason to why the movie wasn't very appealing to me. The pacing was on the slow side and it was unbearable at times. This had to do with the fact that the main character himself wasn't very likable so it got tiring to watch him for nearly two hours. We were supposed to root for him which was easy to do because of his situation but I never really viewed him as an interesting person and he was actually pretty selfish. He took on a six month internship which didn't pay any money and he was surprised that his wife wasn't happy with that decision. Even though everything worked out in the end, I don't believe he should have taken that job because his family was in a bad situation already. I admire his determination to get out of the unfortunate situation but not the way he chose to do so.
The most positive thing about the film was the relationship between Will Smith and Jaden Smith. I know that they are related in real life so filming these scenes was probably an easy thing to do yet they did have an appealing relationship and watching them together made you root for Chris a little more because you want the best for the kid. However, I don't believe Will Smith deserved an Oscar nomination. He was really good but there were better performances from 2006. Thandie Newton deserved a razzie for her performance. She was ridiculously over the top and very fake. She had no control of her emotions and was just generally awful. Overall, The Pursuit of Happiness features a few heartwarming moments but for the most part, it didn't really appeal to me. Rating 5/10
Stick It (2006)
It's my favorite guilty pleasure from 2006
Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is a rebellious teen forced to attend a tough gymnastics academy after driving a motorcycle through a window. There, she gets into it with the tough coach (Jeff Bridges) and other girls, but they all have to work together if they want to win a gymnastic championship.
Stick It is a delightful comedy that features memorable dialog and fun performances. The film itself is pretty standard but it was still a lot of fun to watch. I think the screenplay played a big part in the entertainment factor. There were many great lines and scenes which was surprising since the trailer was kind of lame. However, I went in expecting a cheesy comedy and I had a good time. It was pretty corny yet director and screenwriter Jessica Bendinger had a good balance of the cheesiness so that it never became too much to bear.
There were a couple of things I didn't like about the film though. The second half was a bit more serious and therefore not as funny. As in most comedies, there's always a serious shift and it was just awkward when it happened. This had more to do with the performers rather than the director. Another thing, the message of the film was kind of stupid. I know, this is a harmless comedy and it shouldn't be taken seriously yet it was kind of lame to have all the contestants scratch because they weren't getting their way. It could have been a good idea because contestants do seem to get mad at the judges all the time but I didn't like the way they carried it out here.
The acting was pretty good with Missy Peregrym giving the best performance. Her line delivery was perfect and she had many charming scenes. Hopefully, there will be more of her in the future. Jeff Bridges was decent although he could have done this role in his sleep. Vanessa Lengies was good as a supporting player even though her character was pretty annoying. The rest of the performances were passable except for both Nikki SooHoo and Maddy Curly. They were just too wooden and just appeared awkward throughout the movie. Overall, Stick It was purely a guilty pleasure for me. It's no masterpiece but I did have fun while I was watching it. Rating 7/10
Daddy's Little Girls (2007)
Some fine performances and heartwarming moments aren't enough to make the film above average
Monty (Idris Elba) is a mechanic trying to keep his ex-wife Jennifer (Tasha Smith) from gaining custody of their three little girls since she's been involved with a powerful local drug dealer. When he convinces the smart and beautiful attorney Julia (Gabrielle Union) to assist him, sparks begin to fly.
I wish I could say that Daddy's Little Girls was a good film but it barely ranks as an average one. I blame Tyler Perry for the film's failure because he created the inconsistent direction and messy script. Instead of developing a realistic situation with relatable characters, he created everything as very improbable and the film was kind of emotionally distant. The screenplay was messy because of all the poorly written characters. All of the "bad guys" were so over the top and all of their actions were ridiculous. We never get a real reason as to why Jennifer wants her kids back. Once the character is introduced, it becomes hard to believe that the judge would even consider giving her the kids since her behavior is pretty vile. It wasn't just her but all of the characters. Perry made sure that the viewer knew who the bad guys were and who the good guys were.
Behind the camera, things weren't much better. I didn't like how Perry focused more on the relationship between Monty and Julia than on the relationship between Monty and his kids. I thought it just defeated the whole purpose of the film. Also, the kids were so rude to Julia when they first met her and for no reason either. She was trying to help and they weren't giving her a chance. It just made so sense for them to act that way. Another thing, the tone was inconsistent. In one scene, Perry would be shown having a great time with Julia and then in the next scene, the three girls were suffering while living with their mother. The ending was a bit cartoon-ish but still it was decent and a little heartwarming.
Despite the weak material, there were actually a few good performances. Gabrielle Union was pretty good as Julia. Sure, her character was pretty annoying but she still did a fine job in the role. Idris Elba also gave a pretty good performance. It was easy to feel for his character and he also had great chemistry with Union. Tasha Smith was very unconvincing and annoyingly over the top. Overall, the film wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be. There were a few heartwarming moments and fine performances but other than that, the movie didn't really do anything for me. Rating 5/10
Besides for the decent storyline and gorgeous scenery, the film is pretty weak
While on vacation in Brazil, six young travelers wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere when their bus crashes. After a night of partying on a secluded beach, they wake up in the sand, having been drugged and robbed, leading to an even darker secret about the isolated Brazilian community and their use of tourists.
Turistas offers plenty of gorgeous eye candy although not much in terms of suspense or entertainment. The main reason for the film's weak quality is due to its sluggish pacing. The first hour just stumbles along so slowly featuring characters that are so unlikable that the viewer doesn't care whether or not they survive. Unless your idea of fun is watching people partying on a beach and behaving like morons then you are in for a real treat. When the annoying tourists are finally drugged and robbed, nothing happens to them right away. For whatever reason, the bad guys use this man called Kiko to lead them through the jungle to his uncle's house so that the tourists can think they are going to receive help and be safe. When they finally arrive, the real terror begins although the film doesn't actually get a whole lot better.
First of all, I don't understand why the bad guys waited that long to use them. Why couldn't they just kidnap them after they drugged them? Why did they waste an entire day? The twist of what they do to tourists in Brazil is pretty scary but only one character is actually killed in this manner. The rest die in different ways and once the person is dead, they are useless to the Brazilians because they can't use their body parts anymore. Anyways, the last twenty minutes were fast paced but a bit repetitive because they stayed underwater for most of it.
Director John Stockwell is horrible at storytelling but he does have a nice eye for scenery which was the only true redeemable aspect of the film. They took full advantage of being in Brazil and managed to get many nice shots as well as some neat underwater scenes. While they were pretty attractive, these scenes really had nothing to do with the story so they were a bit gratuitous. The acting was pretty awful with everyone giving below average performances. Josh Duhamel was very wooden and Melissa George was just very bland. Desmond Askew gave by far the most annoying performance out of everyone while Miguel Lunardi gave the best performance although that's not much of an achievement. Overall, 2006 saw the release of many horror films and while Turistas offered something a little different than the usual, it wasn't able to function as an effective horror film. Rating 4/10
Running with Scissors (2006)
Nasty in the most unpleasant ways
Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) is caught between his feuding parents (Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin) when their crackpot therapist Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) steps in and offers to take the boy off their hands, throwing the teenager into a far more dysfunctional family setting.
Running with Scissors fails to generate any laughs or emotion due to the very annoying and fake characters. Given the cast, this film should have been a lot better but the screenplay killed any chance of that happening. First of all, there wasn't one likable person to be found nor was there one person in this mess that actually resembled someone you have a chance of meeting. To top it off, they were all mostly vile and carried some weird character habits that were supposed to be "funny" but barely even managed a chuckle. As a general rule, I always watch a film in its entirety although there were many times I was ready to give up. The characters were self obsessed and the movie didn't give me a good reason why I should care for these people.
Even though this film is an adaptation of someone's memoirs, I believe Ryan Murphy should get the blame for this. He expected the viewer to actually feel sorry for the characters but it was very hard to do that because most of the scenes ringed false. Murphy would pry in on his characters ambitions and break them down. It became disturbing to watch after awhile. Also, it seemed like Murphy was going more for shock value than anything else and the majority of the scenes were incredibly stupid.
The acting was mostly a disaster with even some talented people failing to really rise above the awful material. Annette Bening was just recycling some of her old performances. Her character was a self absorbed idiot and she quickly got annoying. It's mind boggling to think that she actually had an outside shot at being nominated for an Oscar but thankfully, she was ignored. Joseph Cross was just very awkward to watch on screen. His mannerisms suited the character slightly but as a whole I didn't really buy his performance. Gwyneth Paltrow was alright although she didn't get a lot of screen time. Evan Rachel Wood was okay at the start but then started becoming annoying. Brian Cox had a few funny scenes but his performance was mostly embarrassing to watch. Alec Baldwin probably gave the best performance although that's not an achievement of any kind. Overall, Running with Scissors was an awful film that is not worth watching. Rating 4/10
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Traditional underdog story that does little to separate itself from the pack despite featuring some decent performances
Akeelah Anderson (Keke Parker), an 11-year-old girl whose father died forcing her mother to work double shifts to keep the family afloat, has a knack for spelling. When she wins her school spelling bee, she's paired with a retired college professor (Laurence Fishburne) to help her train for the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, but first, they'll have to overcome a lot of obstacles.
I was honestly a little disappointed with this movie. The rating for the film on this site is an impressive 7.8 but I just don't agree with that. The film was way too predictable and the characters weren't engaging enough to make it anything more than mediocre. Predictability is a forgivable flaw if there is a heart to be found in the product. However, the majority of the emotional scenes just seemed fake and the film was rarely ever emotionally engaging. The screenplay was completely formulaic with more than a few cheesy speeches and the dialog was cringe worthy at times.
The lead character was actually a likable person. She did get a little annoying but I'm glad the character actually resembled a real person and not a cloying little kid in the vein of Dakota Fanning. The film makes it easy to root for Akeelah because she is a nice kid and there's very little reason not to root for her. However, since the ending could be telegraphed from the beginning, I lost interest in the film after the midway point. The first half of the movie was decent enough but the last third had me checking my watch constantly because the film was taking forever to finish. They could have easily eliminated some of the scenes and characters to save time. Also, some of the characters were just bad stereotypes and it showed how generic the writing became after awhile.
The acting was decent enough although not good enough to really raise the film above average. Keke Palmer was surprisingly good as Akeelah and she should do well in the future. She actually had a few impressive scenes. Laurence Fishburne was also good and he had a nice chemistry with Keke which was the most appealing thing about the film. Angela Bassett was good although a little wasted in her role. The other performances were adequate except for a few of the child actors although none of them were bad enough to really damage the film. Overall, Akeelah and the Bee is far from an awful film. It actually does feature a few nice performances and touching scenes just don't expect anything amazing. Rating 6/10
The Return (2006)
A slow moving supernatural drama that fails to generate any interest or emotion
Joanna Mills is a tough young Midwesterner determined to learn the truth behind the increasingly terrifying supernatural visions that have been haunting her.
The Return offers a decent storyline that's bogged down by tedious pacing and stiff performances. It's disappointing that the studio decided to market this film as a horror movie since it was really a drama with a supernatural hook to it. The first hour is so hard to sit through because the director moved everything at such a crawling pace. It might just be me but listening to the same clues and watching the same flashbacks over and over again does get pretty annoying. The story is literally at a standstill until the one hour mark.
When the plot finally reaches its boiling point, it does so far past the point of audience involvement or genuine concern. The characters were not engaging enough for me to care about them and absolutely nothing happened in the first hour so there was very little to actually be interested in. When things start to pick up, the suspense is pretty low and the ending wasn't really that great. It was something a little different compared to most films that come out these days but it still wasn't good enough to compensate for everything the audience had to sit through.
Sarah Michelle Gellar was so wooden and uninteresting. She moved at such a slow pace and all of her actions were done very slowly to my annoyance. She gave her lines without emotion and she just looked bored throughout the entire thing. J.C. MacKenzie gave the best performance out of everyone although that's not much of a compliment. He had a few effective scenes as the twisted psycho. Peter O'Brien was just as emotionless as Sarah and it was very yawn inducing to watch them on screen together. Overall, The Return is a tough film to sit through mainly because it's so dull. I only recommend checking it out if you're a big fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar otherwise just skip it. Rating 3/10
Because I Said So (2007)
A mean spirited comedy filled with vile characters
Daphne Wilder (Diane Keaton) has done fine with her older two daughters (Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo) but when it comes to her youngest, the klutzy Milly (Mandy Moore), she feels she has to get more directly involved with finding her a man. Although she has her sights set on Jason (Tom Everett Scott), a successful architect, Milly herself seems more interested in musician Johnny (Gabriel Macht), who just so happens to have a single father who is interested in Daphne.
Because I Said So is an appalling comedy that completely wastes a fine cast with lame material. I didn't have high expectations to begin with yet I wasn't prepared for something this bad. First of all, the screenplay was simply atrocious, one of the worst of the year so far. The dialog was ridiculous and bland as was the majority of the characters and story. The characters were mostly all vile people and not one of them resembled an actual person that you have a chance of meeting. The horrible things Daphne did to her daughter just went over the line many times to the point that it wasn't even funny and Mandy Moore was pretty unlikable herself so it was pretty hard to care about these people.
When the film wasn't offending my intelligence, it was just boring to watch. The actors were all good looking so there is plenty of eye candy but it's all so bland and forgettable. There was no development for some of the supporting characters and Mandy Moore wasn't engaging enough to lead the movie.
The acting was shockingly bad although anybody would have problems working with this material. Diane Keaton was just depressing to watch. She was way over the top and so annoying. I hated watching her do this and I firmly believe that she only made this movie for the money. Mandy Moore was pretty entertaining in "American Dreamz" but here she was just wooden, fake and not very interesting. I love Lauren Graham and she gave the best performance by far but she should choose better scripts. Piper Perabo was practically invisible and given nothing to do. Stephen Collins and Tom Everett Scott were both pretty creepy and I don't know how to explain it. Gabriel Macht was okay, pretty forgettable . Overall, I recommend not checking out this film. It was a waste of time and it wasn't very funny, just mean spirited and tedious. Rating 3/10
Catch and Release (2006)
An unexciting film that's instantly forgettable
When Gray Wheeler's (Jennifer Garner) fiancé is killed the day before their wedding, her comfortable life is thrown into chaos, especially once the secrets of her dead fiancé's life start coming to the surface. The more she learns the more she realizes how little she knew him and, more importantly, how little she knew herself.
Catch and Release is one of the blandest films I have ever seen. It does nothing wrong but it's way too by-the-numbers to have any real impact on the viewer. Everything about it is too harmless and light to fully register which wouldn't have been a bad thing if the film wasn't asking for my sympathy for the characters. Unfortunately, I didn't really care about them because they were poorly developed and rather annoying. The film goes through 95 minutes worth a footage and I didn't really see any development to them. There were developments to the story with many unnecessary subplots being added but the film was still very distant to its characters.
Director and screenwriter Susannah Grant was apparently doing all of this for a paycheck since she seemed to put in no effort at all. Unlike her previous films, she added no depth which made the film pretty dull. I could have missed half of an hour of it and still be caught up with everything because nothing really happens. The dialog was bland and so were the characters. I also never understood what was so special about Grady. He hid a lot of secrets and he seemed to be a jerk.
Jennifer Garner was alright although at times it seemed like she was just sleepwalking through her performance. Timothy Olyphant was in the same boat as Garner. Kevin Smith was by far the best and he had a few good lines. Juliette Lewis was very annoying and unconvincing. Sam Jaeger was just very wooden and Fiona Shaw was just invisible. Overall, Catch and Release is too harmless to really criticize. It's so light and forgettable which means I only recommend checking it out if you're a big fan of Garner. Rating 5/10
Music and Lyrics (2007)
An entertaining film thanks to the natural chemistry between Barrymore and Grant
Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a has-been '80s pop star is given the chance to write a song for a reigning pop diva, but having not written a hit song in years, he needs help with the lyrics. Along comes Sophie Fischer (Drew Barrymore), a quirky florist whose knack for words makes her the perfect collaborator for writing a song that can help revive Alex's career.
Generally, romantic comedies aren't my favorite genre because most of the time the two leading stars lack a certain chemistry to make predictable material seem interesting. Fortunately, Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are great together and watching them on screen was pretty entertaining. The material was of course rather stale yet there were still plenty of interesting scenes and moments so the film never managed to get dull.
The premise was actually pretty good and the music video that opens the film was great. I loved the way it spoofed all those cheesy styles from the 80's. Beyond the premise and the opening scene, things were pretty standard which is okay because the cast was strong. Director and screenwriter Marc Lawrence was just doing his usual tricks. If you have seen "Two Weeks Notice" or "Miss Congeniality" then you should expect the same type of humor. I kind of wish he would add a little more edge to the material but still quite a decent screenplay.
Hugh Grant was giving his routine performance although it still worked fine. Drew Barrymore was also pretty good and she had many funny lines. Most people I know can't stand her at all but I usually find her pretty charming. Kristen Johnston was great and I hope to see more of her in the future because after her show was ended, she seemed to have disappeared. The rest of the cast gave acceptable performances except for Haley Bennett who was quite annoying and her character got old very fast. Overall, Music and Lyrics is nothing mind-blowing but it is a fun little flick that's worth checking out. Rating 7/10
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
A creepy and effective horror remake
A family traveling through the Nevada desert are sent on a short-cut that puts them into the path of a deadly group of killer mutants, who have been preying on innocent travelers for years.
The Hills Have Eyes is a scary and effective horror film that actually takes the time to develop everything instead of just rushing into the violence. For this type of film, there are really only two formulas that are commonly used today. The director could either develop the characters and story so the audience becomes familiar with them or the director can just do a quick introduction and just rush into all the murders. The Hills Have Eyes is an example of the former and it does a good job at it. The pacing is not too slow at the beginning and we get to know everyone as well as get a good look at the location. Then like a torpedo, the film just takes off and it manages to be memorable without being gory or over the top.
Alexandre Aja did a good job behind the camera. He really set up a creepy atmosphere for the film and he used that desert location perfectly. He managed to create plenty of tension with horrifying villains and quick editing shots. He also produced a few inventive death scenes that didn't depend heavily on gore to be scary. He sometimes dragged a situation out for too long but as a whole, the movie was usually interesting and entertaining to watch. The villains looked pretty good as well especially compared to other similar films like 'Wrong Turn'. I would say that the dialog was largely bland yet the characters were still interesting because they were more ordinary and therefore relatable.
Compared to the genre, the acting was better than the standard. Emile De Ravin gave a good performance. She could have played a shallow, spoiled brat but she had a little more depth to her. Vinessa Shaw was a bit of a miscast because she didn't strike me as mom to the baby, maybe more of an older sister. Dan Byrd was surprisingly good and I say surprisingly because I was expecting his performance to be really annoying but it was quite tolerable. Aaron Stanford was unlikable at first but quickly improved as the movie progressed. Kathleen Quinlan and Ted Levin gave adequate performances as the parents. Also, the actors portraying the bad guys did a pretty good job. Overall, The Hills Have Eyes covers some familiar territory but it still manages to be quite exciting thanks to the interesting direction and talented cast. Rating 7/10
The Wicker Man (2006)
A lazy production that is short on thrills and suspense but high on laughs
Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage), a California highway patrol officer, finds himself on the reclusive island of Summerisle looking for a lost girl after receiving a mysterious letter from a woman from his past (Kate Beahan). Nothing on the island appears to be quite what it seems and as his search hits dead end after dead end he grows more and more desperate.
While watching The Wicker Man, I thought it was supposed to be a thriller with some comical elements thrown in since the film attempted to be scary and it was pretty funny. To my infinite amusement, the four genres listed on IMDb are drama, horror, thriller and mystery. I can't believe that a filmmaker (save Uwe Boll and Ed Wood) could fail so horribly at creating a horror film but Neil LaBute does just that. Well, I haven't seen the original but I'm willing to bet that some thought went into that production although I can't say the same thing here. The screenplay was awful, filled with horrible dialog and a bunch of silly sequences that will encourage laughter more than anything else. The story itself was interesting but the way they played it out was just silly and obvious.
After a fast introduction of Cage's character, things quickly go downhill when he actually lands on the island. The residents are awful at lying and watching them interact with Cage's character was just annoying. So, the audience spends about an hour watching Cage search the island for clues and it's quite unexciting since it's really just him scaring himself and interacting with badly written characters. I really have no idea what the director was trying to accomplish here. He portrayed the women of Summerisle as all men hating, hard working and distant freaks. He portrayed Cage as a sturdy policeman but he wasn't able to see through them. Neil did have a good filming location and that island was pretty creepy since it had that fear of isolation and being unable to communicate with other people that weren't on the island. Besides for that, Neil pretty much threw in the towel on everything else.
The acting was awful and the absurdity of the dialog messed up all of the performances. Nicolas Cage was just terrible in the leading role. His facial reactions were over the top and his line delivery was very non convincing. Kate Beahan just had this wide eye look on her face throughout the entire thing and she easily gave the worst performance. Ellen Burstyn was shockingly horrible and this is one film she should not be remembered for. I used to like Leelee Sobieski but her performance here was pretty bad especially during her fight scene with Cage. Everyone else was bad but the previous four stand out as the worst of the bunch. Overall, The Wicker Man failed on many levels and it's not worth watching. Rating 3/10
Trust the Man (2005)
An occasionally funny romantic comedy although it's mostly a non-engaging ride
Tom (David Duchovny) is a stay-at-home dad married to a popular actress (Julianne Moore), while his best friend and her younger brother Tobey (Billy Crudup) has lived for eight years with the hard-working Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal) but won't commit to the relationship by marrying her. This is what happens when these four New Yorkers decide to explore other options.
At a glance, Trust the Man seems harmless enough but it's actually fake and a bit too insignificant to really have an impact on the viewer. The script was simple and it wasn't hard to figure out where things were going. The dialog was okay although some of it was a bit unnatural. I'm not from New York so maybe this is actually normal behavior but a lot of the conversations were just awkward and none of it felt real. All of the characters spoke in the same way so the movie got a little irritating because it was just the same personalities on screen and there was no variety. However, some of the dialog and scenes were pretty funny.
The characters weren't particularly interesting and most of them were unlikable. In the beginning, their situations were interesting to watch and then the film ditched the laughs and got all serious. The sudden change of tone invited the viewer to feel sorry for these people even though most were one-dimensional and pretty selfish. So, the first half of the movie was decently funny and consistent. The second half was serious and just not very interesting. The one thing I did like about the movie was the setting and Bart Freundlich did a good job at creating a realistic area. It's too bad he couldn't use some of that realism with the script and characters.
Out of the leading cast, Billy Crudup gave the best performance. His character was pretty selfish yet still engaging and funny. David Duchovny was very wooden and not interesting at all. This was probably the intention although I didn't like the idea of his character at all and his performance was unbearable at times. Maggie Gyllenhaal was fine but she can do better and she didn't seem to really be trying. Julianne Moore had a couple of good scenes although she was a bit over the top and fake. Out of the supporting cast, Eva Mendes was surprisingly funny although she was only on screen for about ten minutes, maybe a little less. She was the only one who stuck out from that group. Overall, Trust the Man had a decent story although it couldn't generate genuine sympathy due to it's shallow and fake storyline. If you like any of the actors, it might be worth a rental although they all have better work out there. Rating 5/10
Employee of the Month (2006)
A bearable comedy thanks to Dax Shepard and Efren Ramirez
Zack Bradley and Vince Downey (Dane Cook, Dax Shepard) are employees of the Super Club retail chain who already don't get along, except that Zack is a slacker box boy, while Vince is the chain's star cashier who has been Employee of the Month for 17 years straight. When a pretty cashier named Amy (Jessica Simpson) shows up at the store, the competition heats up as Zack is hell-bent on beating Vince to win the coveted award and the heart of Amy.
Employee of the Month turned out to be a lot better than the preview promised although it's still a bland comedy with only a few funny characters and moments. The biggest problem is the staleness of the script. It is best described as hit or miss. Some of the jokes were pretty funny while some jokes felt like a cheap move for laughs and felt quite short at being funny. While the plot was a little inventive, the scenario started to run out of steam because there are only so many laughs you can get out of this type of premise. It would have worked better as a shorter skit because an hour and forty minutes felt too long at times. Also as a romantic comedy, the film completely failed. If you do give it a shot, treat it as a simple comedy with a romantic subplot or else you may be wondering who's in the real relationship.
Dane Cook gave an okay performance. He had a few funny scenes and then he failed to show charisma in a few other ones. Jessica Simpson was awful and she showed no character. Her performance was very blah and she made the romance between her and Dane appear very weak. There was no chemistry between them and once you get past Jessica's looks, you don't get much. Dax Shepard was pretty good and he did a lot with generic material. His sidekick, Efren Ramirez was also pretty good and he had some great scenes with Dax. Andy Dick was incredibly unfunny and annoying. Harland Williams was equally bad although not as annoying. Overall, Employee of the Month is a bland and harmless comedy that's only worth checking out if you're a huge fan of Dax Shepard or Dane Cook. Rating 5/10
The Grudge 2 (2006)
A decent premise is undone by an unintentionally humorous and yawn inducing execution
Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn) travels to Tokyo to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and gets caught up in the same mysterious curse that has killed so many people. With a group of others, she tries to solve and end the curse for good.
The Grudge 2 rehashes everything from the first one and it produces only a couple of scares. The first Grudge was an average movie at best. The premise was decent but the acting was wooden and some of the scenes were really ridiculous. The Grudge 2 is even more silly and less scary than the original. Also, Scary Movie 4 has made it nearly impossible to take these films seriously and I had trouble keeping a straight face during the "scary scenes" which should encourage laughter more than fear. How Takashi Shimizu messed up his own franchise is unexplainable yet he succeeded at creating a decent atmosphere. Unfortunately, he kept the film at a slow pace with a bunch of dull characters and lame scare tactics. Clearly, he did this movie for money and I'm glad it failed.
The screenplay was pretty bad, mainly because it made no sense and they didn't develop the characters at all. In the movie, there were three different stories going on and each of them were somehow related to "the grudge". The connections were weak and a bunch of people were killed without a real reason. They don't explain the rules of the curse very well and it ended up being a bit of blood bath because of everyone dying although the PG-13 rating kept things from getting interesting so even some of the death scenes were pretty lame. The dialog was weak and none of the characters were likable or developed well enough to truly care about.
The acting was on par with everything else and it was a lot worse compared to the first one. Amber Tamblyn was annoyingly wooden. She moved on screen very slowly and all of her emotions seemed fake. Sarah Michelle Gellar was okay although she just had a cameo. Jennifer Beals gave the best performance, she had a few good scenes and was kind of effective. Arielle Kebbel was okay, a little bland. The rest were either horrible or just too forgettable to mention. Overall, The Grudge 2 was a disappointing sequel. It lacked a lot of things and it's not worth watching. Rating 4/10
The Messengers (2007)
A lazy horror film that is filled with the usual clichés
After having problems in Chicago, the Solomon family moves to a remote North Dakota farmhouse to start anew, but their attempts at an idyllic farming life is disrupted when their teen daughter Jess (Kristen Stewart) and her 3-year-old brother Ben start seeing and being attacked by supernatural beings who won't allow them to live in peace.
The Messengers starts off decently although it eventually becomes a generic horror film that's a lot more humorous than frightening. After reading the premise, I thought this could have been a decent movie since it sounded creepy and it held potential. Unfortunately, the film didn't live up to its potential although I should have expected this since the trailer was awful. The screenplay was probably the worst part about it. It was full of silly sequences and bland dialog. The characters were not developed at all and most of them were acting like a bunch of idiots so it was hard to feel sympathy for them.
The directors did a horrible job at building up suspense. They mainly relied on cheap scares like loud noises and random jumps. The music was really over the top and it just made it easier for the viewer to telegraph the next "scary" moment. I also didn't like how they pretty much just used one location for the whole movie. The house was the centerpiece of the story and that's where the majority of the filming took place so it got a little boring after awhile to see the same area. Also, I didn't like the close-ups of the actors. During a conversation, the camera would continually jerk from character to another in the span of five seconds and it got really annoying. The directors did create a decent atmosphere and they do get some points for making their movie stylish. However, since we have come a long way in terms of style and effects, it's not really that hard to make your movie look nice especially if you are working on a Hollywood film.
The acting was atrocious and if this movie had been released in December, I'm sure it would have received several Razzie nominations. Kristen Stewart showed some talent in Panic Room but you wouldn't be able to tell she has talent by watching her performance in The Messengers. She was okay at acting scared and that's it. The rest of the time she was dry and unconvincing. Penelope Anne Miller was just awful when it came to everything. It sounded like she was reading her lines and she had some of the worst facial expressions I have ever seen. Dylan McDermott was just very wooden and he showed almost no emotion. John Corbett gave the best performance and he had a couple of good scenes. The twins who played Ben were also decent and managed to out act many of the adult actors. Overall, this lame horror film is not worth watching because of it's blandness and lazy film-making. Rating 4/10
An awful conclusion to a decent franchise
When a harmless joke balloons into a deadly tragedy, wary friends vow to take their secret to the grave. But for some of them, the grave comes much sooner than they expected.
I Know What You Did Last Summer and it's sequel are both guilty pleasures for me. They follow the slasher formula very closely yet they are still entertaining. I was a little skeptical about a direct to video sequel with none of the original surviving characters since it wouldn't be as interesting and the production value would be a lot less. I still gave it a shot and it ended up being very disappointing. I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer is a lame, un-scary, boring and stupid slasher movie. It offered very little surprises and an awful ending that ruined almost every positive thing the series held.
The director and screenwriters kept things simple and formulaic. It actually started off decently with the first thirty minutes being a little entertaining. The pacing was good and none of the characters were that annoying. During the second half, things got very tedious and nothing really happened. The story developed slowly and there were a bunch of fake suspense scenes. The last twenty minutes were flat out disappointing. The death scenes were average and forgettable. The suspense was nearly non existent and the special twist was horrible. I hated the way they made the killer super natural since it killed the first two films completely. It was a pointless idea and hopefully, there will be no more future sequels.
The acting was awful which was expected. I know you shouldn't expect much from direct to video releases but there was no effort at all with the performances. The majority of the actors just sounded like they were reading their lines. Also, it was hard to care about the characters since most of them were unlikable and just too underdeveloped to really know. I had trouble remembering all of their names since most of them were indistinguishable to one another. Overall, this sequel (and I use that word in the loosest sense possible) is a messy bore and it's not worth watching. Rating 3/10
A horrible movie that lacks entertainment, suspense and a sense of humor
Television producer Tim Manfrey (Dominic Purcell) leads a team down to the Burundi section of Africa to investigate and try to capture a large killer crocodile dubbed Gustave, who has been killing and eating hundreds of natives.
After reading the plot synopsis, I was expecting something similar to Anaconda which was a cheesy, entertaining movie that didn't take itself too seriously. The preview did scare me in the sense that they didn't mention the alligator aspect at all. I don't get why the studio would hide that fact since it would be the movie's main draw. Also, the preview looked very underwhelming. However, my friend wanted to see it which we did and now I wish we had seen something else. Primeval is neither scary nor entertaining. Instead, it is dull, wooden and it doesn't have an ounce of personality.
Director Michael Katleman should get the blame for this. He kept the movie way too serious and the pacing was very slow which made the whole thing tedious. He added unnecessary social commentary and he didn't do a good job at mixing it with entertainment. He also didn't take advantage of shooting in Africa, failing to capture the beauty of the location. I thought it was impossible but he made Africa look ordinary. Also, everything was very dark and annoying. I don't mean the film was actually a dark comedy but everything seemed to be shot at night and it was hard to follow the action. I guess this was done to lower budget costs but it didn't help when it came to actually view the movie. The screenwriters (Michael Ferris (III) and John D. Brancato) were equally useless although this should not be surprisingly since this pair wrote Catwoman. The one good thing about the movie was the alligator and all of his attack scenes. They were somewhat entertaining even if they did look fake.
The acting was just as bad as the writing and directing. Dominic Purcell was horrible as Tim. He was very wooden and he showed no emotion. This was clearly a paycheck movie for him since he appeared to be reading his lines. Brooke Langton was enormously bland and just useless. Orlando Jones was surprisingly bad and I say surprisingly because he's usually pretty reliable in supporting roles. Here, he was wooden and bland, just like his co-stars. Overall, Primeval is simply terrible and it's not worth checking out unless you love bad films. Rating 2/10
Black Christmas (2006)
By slasher standards, this was pretty average and forgettable
In "Black Christmas" a sorority house is terrorized by a killer who makes frightening telephone calls before murdering the sorority sisters during the Christmas break.
Black Christmas is a bland slasher film with very few scares. The original was a mediocre horror film with a decent screenplay. It's a little overrated but at least it developed the story and characters instead of just rushing into the murders. That's what this remake does. It's pretty much a disturbing bloodbath from beginning to end with very few memorable scenes. The frantic pace does keep things interesting and it never gets dull. However, watching so many vacant characters die before you get a chance to remember their names does not equal quality. At best, this could be a minor guilty pleasure although I really have no desire to see it again.
Glen Morgan did a great job with Final Destination and Willard. Here, he's just lazy and he follows a typical path for slasher movies. As mentioned above, he does an okay job with the pace and I have to give him credit for a few cool death scenes but that's it. The writing was awful and it really brought the overall quality down. The dialog was silly and just laughable. All of the dramatic scenes fell flat because of the unnatural dialog. The way the writers handled the background of the killers was pathetic and the last fifteen minutes were horrible. It wasn't suspenseful at all, just unintentionally funny. The killers looked like rejected stunt doubles for White Chicks.
Usually, I can ignore awful acting in slasher movies since it's not suppose to be the main attraction. In Black Christmas, the acting was too bad to ignore. Kate Cassidy was just awful as Kelli. She seemed to be reading her lines and it was obvious that she was just acting. Kristen Cloke gave the worst performance out of everyone. All of those botox injections are really taking a toll on her and she struggled to show emotion. Clearly, she got the job because she is married to the director or is that just a coincidence? Michelle Trachtenberg was just bland as was Crystal Lowe and Oliver Hudson. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was fine in Bobby but she was just horrible here. She was completely unconvincing and just laughable. Lacey Chabert was disappointing average and she didn't get a lot of screen time. Andrea Martin gave the best performance although that's not much of an accomplishment. Overall, Black Christmas may prove to be a decent rental just don't have high expectations and expect something trashy. Rating 5/10
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)
Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) thinks he has found the perfect woman in Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman), who seems like a quiet but pretty woman, though he soon learns that she's needy and possessive, oh, and she's also the superhero G-Girl, though you wouldn't know it from the things she does to Matt after he freaks out and breaks up with her.
A promising premise is ruined by a mediocre execution. My Super Ex-Girlfriend is still an enjoyable comedy however it relies too much on cheap sex jokes and it ends up being a forgettable experience. What went wrong? The cast and the director could not overcome the weakness of the script and I didn't like the way they played it out. I was expecting the guy to be a jerk and it could have been a female fantasy revenge film. However, they made the guy likable and they made the superhero a psycho. It just wasn't very fresh and after about forty minutes, the film wore out it's welcome. Sure, there were a few funny lines however the weak middle and horrible ending kept it from really breaking out.
Director Ivan Reitman has lost his touch. After a successful run in the eighties and early nineties, he started making crap like Evolution and Father's Day. I wouldn't say My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a complete bust but I don't give him credit for any of the quality the movie holds, which isn't too much. Don Payne did an awful job with the screenplay. The majority of the jokes were lame and most of the supporting characters were just one-note. He also kept reusing a lot of the same jokes making the thing really tedious at times.
A few of the actors were good enough to save the film. Uma Thurman was great as G-Girl and she had many funny lines. Luke Wilson was a bit pale and not very interesting. I don't think he makes for an appealing leading man and he's better in supporting roles like in The Family Stone. Anna Faris was just doing her "Scary Movie" routine and it's getting a little old. She needs a challenge or at least some better scripts. Wanda Sykes is either hit or miss for me. She was great in Monster-In-Law and she was bad in Clerks 2. Here, she is just annoying and doesn't bring anything to the movie. Eddie Izzard was alright, nothing special. Rainn Wilson was just annoying and not funny. Overall, I was disappointed with the movie. It wasn't awful yet it had so much potential and the final result was just so average. Rating 5/10
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Surprisingly enjoyable with strong performances by Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep
Fresh from college, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) comes to New York in hopes of being a journalist. Instead, she accepts a job as a personal assistant to the demanding Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), editor in chief of the fashion magazine Runway, who forces Andy to compromise her ideals if she ever wants to make it in publishing.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the year, The Devil Wears Prada is a wonderful comedy that will work for everyone. The screenplay is simple yet still engaging and it really relates to anyone who has had a mean boss in their lives. If you don't like fashion, that's okay since fashion is really just the backdrop to the story. The first half of the film is consistently good with many funny lines and scenes. It then slows down a bit and it becomes more serious. The sudden shift in tone is unexpected yet it is still handled well. The ending is kind of disappointing but not in a alarming bad way so it doesn't subtract from the quality of the movie.
Director David Frankel did an okay job behind the camera although he did keep it safe so the movie was pretty predictable. There were also a few things I didn't like about the film. The relationship between Andy and Nate was handled poorly and the two of them did not go well together. The ending wasn't very good because of the outcome of their relationship, it just felt unnatural and they should have just been friends in the end. The other thing was the message of the movie. It kind of felt like they were saying, "if you can't beat them, join them". I don't think the film really showed that you can be yourself and still succeed at any job unless that wasn't the point. However, I still think that was the point since the screenplay actually had some depth to the characters and I'm hoping it wasn't a shallow film.
The acting was great with Meryl Streep being the highlight of the movie. She was fantastic as Miranda and she deserves an Oscar nomination. Anne Hathaway was also pretty good and she manages to keep up with Streep. Honestly, some of the performances were a bit over the top and Hathaway had to give a subtle performance in which she delivered. Emily Blunt was good as Emily although I don't think she deserves a Golden Globe nomination. It was a funny performance but a little too over the top and not a role that demanded too much from the actress. She was better in My Summer of Love. Simon Baker was just creepy and I didn't like his performance at all. Stanley Tucci was great and it was refreshing to see that his character wasn't just an annoying stereotype. Adrian Grenier was alright although he didn't look too good with Hathaway. Overall, I enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada. It was very entertaining and it's worth checking out. Rating 8/10