Friday, March 30, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 3/30/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'Wrath of the Titans', 'Mirror Mirror', and 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/good_day/033012-Flieder-Flicks

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Artist                            Grade: A

The Hunger Games             Grade: A-

We Need to Talk About Kevin    Grade: A-

Jeff who Lives at Home        Grade: A-

Project X                            Grade: A-

Seeking Justice                  Grade: B+

Wanderlust                        Grade: B+

Friends with Kids             Grade: B+

Chronicle                           Grade: B+

Intruders                           Grade: B+

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island     Grade: B

Goon                                 Grade: B

The Lorax                            Grade: B

Detachment  (On Video on Demand)     Grade: B

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen      Grade: B-

Being Flynn                         Grade: B-

Safe House                          Grade: B-

A Separation                      Grade: C+

21 Jump Street                  Grade: C+

Wrath of the Titans          Grade: C-

Mirror Mirror                    Grade: C-

Casa de mi Padre              Grade: C-

John Carter                        Frade: D

Act of Valor                       Grade: D

Wrath of the Titans


It's hard to believe Warner Brothers actually had the 'cojones' to make a sequel to the critical punching bag remake of the 1981 classic, 'Clash of the Titans'.  It was easily one of the most bashed films of 2010, particularly for its poor use of 3D, implemented only as an afterthought.  Yet it did make money, and therefore you can almost hear the studio executives bellow, 'RELEASE THE SEQUEL!'  I can only hope we don't have to sit through a third installment entitled 'Remember the Titans'.

Needless to say, I had low expectations going into this, as I really didn't enjoy the last one.  It lacked everything that made the original great.  Sure, the original's special effects from claymation legend Ray Harryhausen are a bit cheesy, but that only adds to the charm.  And because they couldn't rely on eye-popping CGI, the filmmakers of the original more than made up for it with cast, performance and story.  That version is a total success and if you haven't seen it you should.  Conversely, the remake is a failure for many reasons.  First and foremost, Sam Worthington just doesn't have leading actor charisma.  Second, the movie is predominantly action, which can be fine except it's simply one unmemorable fight scene after another.  And third, the 3D adds absolutely nothing, except to make the screen look more drab and dull than it already does.  In many ways, this was the 'John Carter' before 'John Carter'.

And now we have the sequel, and my feeling towards it is very similar to its predecessor.  It's just not much fun at all.  Sam Worthington continues to be Worth significantly less than a Ton, adding nothing of value to the film.  Both Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes always have a larger than life screen presence, but are a bit too recognizable and distracting, just seeming like homeless versions of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, rather than the iconic figures of Zeus and Hades.  The action scenes are equally unmemorable to the first, and all too plentiful.  You can pretty much set your watch to it that every 15 minutes Worthington's Perseus will do battle with something with one eye, two heads, or four arms, and it won't be much fun at all.  And the 3D is terrible.  Yet this film does have a few things going for it.  For one, you don't know exactly where it's going, as opposed to the first which is a fairly close remake of the original.  Second, it features a supporting, but too small role from the great Bill Nighy.  To no surprise, he's the best part of the movie.  And third, it doesn't have the obnoxiously long running time of 'John Carter'.  99 minutes is about right for a movie like this.

Bottom line:  If you haven't seen 'The Hunger Games', you'd be crazy to pick this for your night at the movies.  And if you have seen 'The Hunger Games', you're better off staying at home with the original 'Clash', or even a 'Game of Thrones' marathon.
 
Clash of the Titans (1981)  Grade: A
Clash of the Titans (2009)  Grade: C-
Wrath of the Titans  Grade: C-

Mirror Mirror


'Snow White' gets a facelift with this re-imagining of the first feature length animated Disney film.  And, as is often the case, you really shouldn't mess with the classics.

This time Lilly Collins (daughter of Phil) plays Snow White and Julia Roberts plays the wicked stepmother.  And yes, there are seven dwarves, a handsome prince, a magic mirror, and a poison apple, but the story has been changed quite liberally, and to no real gain.  The movie succeeds with the visuals, for which director Tarsem Singh is known, but fails in the storytelling.  (And I feel the same about his other films 'The Cell', 'The Fall', and 'Immortals'.)  Even the talents of character actors Nathan Lane, Michael Lerner, and Sean Bean are all wasted.

When new Disney films are made or old ones are updated, I often ask myself, what would Walt have thought?  For this one I don't think he'd be any more pleased than I was.  If you have a young daughter, feel free to take her to see it; She'll probably still enjoy it.  But otherwise steer clear and revisit the 1937 classic instead.

Grade: C-

Goon


Sean William Scott (best known as Stifler from the 'American Pie' series) plays the proverbial ugly duckling in an educated Jewish family of doctors.  He doesn't have the same intellect and hasn't ever fit in anywhere.  Instead, his talent is his unmatched ability to fight.  And when a professional Hockey team takes notice and hires him as a 'goon' who earns his paycheck by fighting, he finally finds his niche.

I have to admit halfway through this film I had dismissed it as straight-to-DVD fare and didn't expect it to arrive in theatrical distribution.  But the second half won me over.  Liev Schreiber, playing a seasoned goon on another team, really takes the film to a new level and adds a bit of depth to it.  And by the end you really care about Scott's character and get sucked into the inevitable final scene you know is coming.  This isn't 'Rocky', but it's much more enjoyable than last year's 'Rocky' wannabe, 'Warrior', that some foolishly took as seriously as it took itself.  (I still can't believe Nick Nolte got an Oscar nomination for it.)

Grade: B

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day - FOX 35 Orlando 3/23/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'The Hunger Games', 'Casa de Mi Padre', and 'Carnage'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/entertainment/movies/032312-flieder-flicks-friday

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Artist                            Grade: A

The Hunger Games             Grade: A-

We Need to Talk About Kevin    Grade: A-

Jeff who Lives at Home        Grade: A-

Project X                            Grade: A-

This Means War                 Grade: A-

Seeking Justice                  Grade: B+

Wanderlust                        Grade: B+

Friends with Kids             Grade: B+

Chronicle                           Grade: B+

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island     Grade: B

The Lorax                            Grade: B

Detachment  (On Video on Demand)     Grade: B

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen      Grade: B-

Being Flynn                         Grade: B- 

Safe House                          Grade: B-

The Vow                              Grade: B-

A Separation                      Grade: C+

21 Jump Street                  Grade: C+

Casa de mi Padre              Grade: C-

John Carter                        Frade: D

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance    Grade: D

Act of Valor                       Grade: D

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good Day - FOX 29 Philadelphia 3/21/12


This morning was my live TV debut on Good Day on FOX 29 in Philadelphia where I gave my thoughts on 'The Hunger Games'.  Many thanks to everyone there for making it easy on me!  Check it out:

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/subindex/good_day_philadelphia

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hunger Games


If you're at all plugged into pop culture, chances are you've at least heard of 'The Hunger Games'.  It's a wildly popular book from 2008, the first of a trilogy, and has been a highly anticipated movie for some time.  Well, get ready for what will surely be the first mega-successful blockbuster of the year, because unlike 'John Carter', this one's actually pretty good.

I didn't know much at all about the storyline, which is the way I prefer to go into a movie.  So I won't ruin any of it for those of you who feel the same.  But to give you a flavor, the story takes place in a post apocalyptic society where 24 teenagers are selected at random every year against their will to compete in a reality television show, which ends when only one person remains.  Call this one 'Survivor' meets 'The Running Man'.  For my money, that's a pretty good pitch and it works really well, at least for the majority of the 2 hour and 22 minute runtime, which doesn't feel long at all.  The lead is played by Jennifer Lawrence ('Winter's Bone') who gives a fine performance, while Josh Hutcherson ('Journey to the Center of the Earth' and 'Journey 2') is satisfactory at best.  The supporting cast is great though, including Woody Harrelson (who continues to be one of my favorite actors of late), Stanley Tucci (as the over-the-top host a la Richard Dawson from 'The Running Man'), Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, and Lenny Kravitz.  The action scenes are exciting and with a real sense of danger (even though it's pretty obvious the protagonist's safety is guaranteed until at least the end.)  But the violence isn't excessive or gratuitous, thus making this PG-13 film ok for teens.  All in all, I was totally into it, at least until the end when a few cheesy turns occur, headed to a way too cheesy ending.  I understand this is a fault of the book rather than the movie, and unfortunately a necessary evil in order to make this appreciable by the masses, and particularly the targeted teenage girl demographic, but I would have preferred it to be more than a smidge darker.  But that's how I roll.

Grade: A

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Being Flynn


Paul Dano plays Nick Flynn, a young man with a troubled family history.  His dad, played by Robert DeNiro, a self proclaimed masterful writer, was never present, in and out of prison.  And his mom, played by Julianne Moore, was overworked and underpaid.  Now, it's 18 years later and Flynn is in his late twenties, with his mom gone and his dad estranged, he's alone and unemployed and struggling to make a meaningful life.  But his dad, now working as a cab driver as his justified means of researching people, re-enters his life and adds further complication.

First off, yes, 'Being Flynn' marks the return of Robert DeNiro as a taxi driver, but that profession alone is all the similarity this drama has with the Scorsese classic.  (I just needed to address that and get it out of the way.)  But as for my review, I'm torn.  On one hand, the subject matter is gritty and real and the cast is an ensemble of indie faves like Dano, Moore, Olivia Thirlby, and Lili Taylor, thus making this appear like a winner on paper.  Yet, on the other hand, I just couldn't buy any of the characters, and I think that both the writing and the casting are equally to blame.  For me, There's an element of phoniness to all the characters.  They're smart, eloquent, and good looking with nice hair, and yet we're supposed to believe they're homeless, suicidal, lonely, drug and alcohol addicted losers.  This is not real life.  And it's just too hard to buy these particular actors in these particular roles.  I've never been a big Dano fan (although I can't deny he's been in two of the greatest movies of the last 5 years, 'There Will Be Blood' and 'Meek's Cutoff', so he certainly has an eye for good scripts.)  And it's just a little too Hollywood to have a complicated beauty like Thirlby working in the homeless shelter, all too ready to hop into bed with Flynn.  And since when was Lili Taylor reduced to roles of no significance?  To a large extent the talents are wasted.

I suspect art house fans and critics will be split on this one.  Some will connect to it and others will feel far removed.  I fall somewhere in between.

Grade: B-

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day - FOX 35 Orlando 3/16/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on '21 Jump Street', 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home', and 'The Descendants'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/entertainment/movies/031612-flieder-flicks-friday

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Artist                            Grade: A

We Need to Talk About Kevin    Grade: A-

Jeff who Lives at Home        Grade: A-

Project X                            Grade: A-

This Means War                 Grade: A-

Seeking Justice                  Grade: B+

Wanderlust                        Grade: B+

Friends with Kids             Grade: B+

Chronicle                           Grade: B+

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island     Grade: B

The Lorax                            Grade: B

Detachment  (On Video on Demand)     Grade: B

The Iron Lady                     Grade: B

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen      Grade: B-

Being Flynn                         Grade: B- 

Safe House                          Grade: B-

The Vow                              Grade: B-

A Separation                      Grade: C+

21 Jump Street                  Grade: C+

Casa de mi Padre              Grade: C-

Red Tails                            Grade: D+

John Carter                        Frade: D

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance    Grade: D

Act of Valor                       Grade: D

Jeff, Who Lives at Home


Jason Segal plays Jeff, who lives at home at his mom's house.  Jeff believes his life has greater meaning than it seems and all he needs to do is look for the signs.  Meanwhile his brother, played by Ed Helms is having marital troubles with his wife, played by Judy Greer.  And at the same time, their mom, played by Susan Sarandon has been receiving mysterious text messages from a secret admirer.  But fate is about to play a role in all of their lives in this dramedy from those wacky Duplass brothers, who brought us 'Cyrus', 'Baghead', and 'The Puffy Chair'.

If you've seen any of the Duplass brothers' films, you know by now if you're a fan of their work.  And I am.  They have a signature style of improvised dialogue within a structured storyline, unsteady camera movement with seemingly random zooms in and out (which I can't stand, actually), and comic actors in semi-serious roles.  Their films are always entertaining and original and they do a great job of balancing comedy and poignancy.  This one is no exception and makes for a very enjoyable viewing.  Go see it.

Grade: A-

21 Jump Street


For some movies you can just tell by the poster they're not going to be worth your time.  And looking at this one, I think it's pretty clear.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in this buddy cop comedy update of the 80's TV show of the same name where Johnny Depp made his mark posing as an undercover narc in high school.  Now I ask you, is digging up cheesy TV from the 70's and 80's like 'Starsky and Hutch', 'The Dukes of Hazzard' or 'The A-Team' ever a good idea?  (What's next, 'Riptide'?  'Airwolf'??  'Simon and Simon'???)   The answer is clearly no.  And I continue to not understand why Channing Tatum is a movie star.  Can someone please explain that to me?  Yet I must admit Jonah Hill is entertaining, as is Ice Cube playing your stereotypical angry, hard-ass police captain.  And, to be fair, this movie does have its share of funny moments.  So you could do worse.  But you could definitely do a lot better.

Grade: C+

Seeking Justice


I love movies about moral dilemmas.  Whether it be deciding if you should let your wife sleep with a stranger for a million dollars, or pressing a button that you know will kill a stranger for a million dollars, these kinds of thought provoking questions make movies fun to watch.  And the latest Nicolas Cage movie is no exception.

In this film, Cage is married to the beautiful January Jones.  And, as we all know, whenever you see a couple totally in love, mouthing the words 'I love you so much', bad things are about to happen.  But when the opportunity presents itself to 'seek justice', will they take it?  OK, I realize that sounds a bit trite the way I presented it, but I'm trying not to give away any of the many interesting twists and turns, because this is a surprisingly fun, suspenseful, and exciting guilty pleasure that's actually worth your time.  Unfortunately it's saddled with a pretty cheesy straight-to-video-esque title, and the marketing for it has been virtually nonexistent.  (No one I spoke with has even heard of it.)  So I'm not anticipating a big opening weekend, but I suspect it'll do better on subsequent weekends as word of mouth builds.  We'll see.

Now, I don't want to oversell it.  This is obviously not an important film or an Oscar worthy film.  But it's got a good cast, including the great Guy Pearce, it's well paced, and it's pretty fun.  What more do you want?

Grade: B+

Casa de mi Padre


Will Ferrell perplexes me.  I have a like/hate relationship with his work.  Most of the time I'm really not looking forward to seeing his films.  Movies like 'Anchorman', 'Talladega Nights', 'Blades of Glory', and 'Step Brothers' just aren't my cup of tea.  Yet I do like him in 'Old School', 'Wedding Crashers', and 'Elf'.  And just when I begin to write him off as a one trick pony, he'll pull off a relatively serious role in a great movie like 'Stranger Than Fiction'.  Suddenly I'll believe that he's finally maturing as an actor and moving on to smarter films.  Six months later he'll be running around naked and yelling, with disturbingly big hair.  Oh, Will.

So this time Ferrell stars in a send up of low budget Latin American 'telenovela' soap operas, playing a worker at his father's ranch who gets caught up in all kinds of trouble related to his brother's dealings with a drug lord when he falls for his brother's beautiful fiance.  And yes, this spoof is completely in Spanish with subtitles.  It's kind of a cross between 'The Three Amigos' and a fake trailer in Robert Rodriguez' Grindhouse film.  I must admit that makes it different than most of the disturbingly similar cookie cutter films I sit through week after week.  And originality generally goes a long way with me.  But in this case, besides a few clever moments and a few chuckles here and there, it really just didn't provide much entertainment value at all.  To be clear, it's no 'Three Amigos' and the cast is no Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.  In other words, era malo y Will Ferrell es un idiota.  Comprende?

Grade: C-

Detachment


Adrien Brody plays a substitute teacher in a troubled school filled with troubled teens.  And yes, that premise sounds like any number of movies we've already seen ('Lean on Me', 'Stand and Deliver', 'The Principal', 'Dangerous Minds', and 'Teachers' come to mind.).  Yet somehow all of these movies succeed despite the all too familiar storyline.  And that's generally because of the writing and casting.  This one is a bit melodramatic at times and the director's style of filmmaking is too visible and distracting for my taste, but I can't deny it's also pretty powerful, thought provoking, and poignant in parts.  Brody is great, as always, but the rest of the large ensemble including James Caan, Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden, Bryan Cranston, Blythe Danner, and Tim Blake Nelson are unfortunately underutilized.  This movie had a lot of potential, but sadly director Tony Luke didn't fully succeed with all that he was given.  It's still pretty good, but it could have been pretty great.

You can see this film now, before its limited theatrical debut, on Video on Demand.

Grade: B

Friday, March 9, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day - FOX 35 Orlando 3/9/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'John Carter', 'Friends with Kids', and 'Take Shelter'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/entertainment/movies/030912-flieder-flicks-friday

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close     Grade: A+

The Descendants                Grade: A+ 

The Artist                            Grade: A

Rampart                              Grade: A

We Need to Talk About Kevin    Grade: A-

Project X                            Grade: A-

This Means War                 Grade: A-

Wanderlust                        Grade: B+

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy         Grade: B+

Friends with Kids             Grade: B+

Chronicle                           Grade: B+

The Grey                           Grade: B

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island     Grade: B

Big MIracle                        Grade: B

The Lorax                            Grade: B

The Iron Lady                     Grade: B

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen      Grade: B-

Safe House                          Grade: B-

The Vow                              Grade: B-

A Separation                      Grade: C+

The Woman in Black        Grade: C

Underworld: Awakening     Grade: D+


Red Tails                            Grade: D+

John Carter                        Frade: D

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance    Grade: D

Act of Valor                       Grade: D

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie      Grade: F

John Carter


Where shall I begin with this disaster of epic proportions?  At an estimated $250 Million (per IMDB) 'John Carter' is poised to be the first big budget flop of 2012.  There's almost nothing right with it.  The storyline is disjointed and borderline incomprehensible.  (Or perhaps I was just so bored I lost interest in trying to follow it in between several unplanned naps.)  The lead actor, Taylor Kitsch, has the charisma of a lamp post.  (Which is offensive to lamp posts, and I do apologize.)  He's representative of every good looking actor wannabe in L.A. with nice hair and no personality, only a fraction of which actually win the Hollywood lottery, so hopefully he appreciates his good fortune.  And even the name of the movie is boring and tells you absolutely nothing about the tone or genre.  (I much prefer 'Get Carter' and even 'Coach Carter').  Granted, there are some great supporting character actors in the movie, including Mark Strong, Bryan Cranston, and Ciaran Hinds, all of whose talents are completely wasted here.  And at 2 hours and 12 minutes it's just obnoxiously overindulgent.  It could easily have been significantly cut down.  This was like watching the Star Wars prequels, but only the parts featuring Jar Jar Binks.  This movie actually made 'Green Lantern' seem intelligible and well made.  (And although I like Mark Strong, it's just not good for his bio that he's in both of these disasters.)  I even waxed nostalgic about the terrible 2010 remake of 'Clash of the Titans', which suddenly seems better than I originally thought.  In many ways, this is the 'Avatar' of 2012.  Now, I know that sounds like a compliment and that lots of people loved 'Avatar', but to me both films exemplify style and visual effects over substance.  And both feature extremely uncharismatic leads.  (Taylor Kitsch could be the new Sam Worthington.)  And both movies are way, way, way too long for what they are.  And, in general, one should beware of movies in 3D and on the IMAX.  These gimmicks are often used to try to improve upon films that have no other redeeming qualities. 

Sitting through painfully long experiences like this make me seriously question what I'm doing here.  I took one for the team, people. You're welcome.

Grade: D

Friends with Kids


It's always hard writing a review about a movie I saw 6 months ago (at the Toronto Film Festival) which is just coming out in limited release today.  So I'll just take what I wrote in my TFF post and sprinkle in a few new thoughts:

Twice last year we saw what happens when friends decide to hook up with no strings attached.  Well, why not take it one step further and see what happens when friends (played by Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) decide to have a kid with no other strings attached.  (What's next?  'Friends with Kids who have Sex with No Strings Attached'?  But I digress.)  The supporting cast includes Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Megan Fox, and Edward Burns.  Although don't see it for the supporting cast because they're really not in it much.  This one's all about the leads.  This isn't Bridesmaids Part II, despite the reunion.  The film is written and directed by Westfeldt (who also happens to be Jon Hamm's long-time girlfriend) and all in all she did a fine job making a pretty likeable movie.  I'm surprised it's only in limited release.

Grade: B+

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen


'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' is a semi-quirky semi-romance about a fisheries expert who's approached on behalf of a very rich Sheikh who wants to bring the sport of salmon fishing to the desert climate of the Yemen.  Now, I'm guessing you're thinking why the heck would anyone want to see a movie about bringing salmon fishing to the Yemen?  A reasonable thought.  But, actually, I did.  Why?  Well, first off, the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last September, which doesn't guarantee it's great, but it certainly helps the odds.  Plus, I really like Ewan McGregor, and he and Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas generally all pick interesting smaller fare.  So I figured it's at least probably pretty light and enjoyable and possibly something great.  But while all those things are true, this one didn't quite live up to my expectations.  It's a bit charming for sure, and has a few chuckles, but it's also more than a little boring and the romance just doesn't work.  And ultimately it doesn't escape the most obvious problem:  Why the heck would anyone want to see a movie about a very rich Sheikh who wants to bring the sport of salmon fishing to the desert climate of the Yemen.

So the bottom line is, this one's not for mainstream audiences who like action, profanity, sex, and violence.  It's for the festival/art house crowd.  I respect it for its cast and originality, but unfortunately I can only give it a very mild recommendation.

Grade: B-

We Need to Talk About Kevin


Are some kids born bad?  That's the thought provoking question this film asks.  Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly play parents of a very difficult child.  Since birth he's acted out, particularly around his mother.  And now, as a teenager, it's clear he's done something terrible, the details of which slowly unfold in this dark and disturbing drama.

This is one of the last buzzed about films from 2011 to finally make its debut around the country.  It's generated a lot of critical praise since it premiered at Cannes at May, and Swinton was even nominated for a Golden Globe (but surprisingly not an Oscar).  And all the buzz and praise are reasonably due, although the characters are all a bit black and white for my taste.  I also think this movie may have benefitted by being told in a linear format rather than in flashback, but I'm not certain.  But I definitely feel the comedic sounding title and the casting of John C. Reilly are both a bit questionable for such a humorless film.  Yet, there's no denying this is a very powerful film that will stay with you long after it's over, and features great performances by Swinton and Ezra Miller, who plays her son in his teen years.  So, if you can handle the grim subject matter then this is one you definitely want to add to your queue.  And consider pairing it with 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' and 'Melancholia' for a feel-bad marathon of good movies.

Grade: A-

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie


There's nothing like seeing a great movie on a weekend afternoon.  And this experience was truly nothing like seeing a great movie on a weekend afternoon.  In fact I despised every second of it until I walked out after around 45 minutes.

I wasn't familiar with Tim and Eric prior to this complete disaster, but apparently they have a cult following for their show on Adult Swim a.k.a. night time on the Cartoon Network.  And somehow they were able to attract big names like Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Will Forte, and Jeff Goldblum to cameo in this piece of $#!&, which premiered in the Park City at Midnight category of this year's Sundance Film Festival.  So clearly some people have fallen under their spell.  But not me.  In fact, I hate Tim and Eric for taking away some of my precious weekend, and I feel dumber having sat through the first 45 minutes.  Save yourself.  Don't let them waste your time and money.

Grade: F

Friday, March 2, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day - FOX 35 Orlando 3/2/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'Project X', 'The Lorax', and 'The Way'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/entertainment/movies/030212-flieder-flicks-friday

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close     Grade: A+

The Descendants                Grade: A+ 

The Artist                            Grade: A

Rampart                              Grade: A

A Dangerous Method        Grade: A-

Thin Ice                               Grade: A-

Project X                            Grade: A-

This Means War                 Grade: A-

Wanderlust                        Grade: B+

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy         Grade: B+

Chronicle                           Grade: B+

The Grey                           Grade: B

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island     Grade: B

Big MIracle                        Grade: B

The Lorax                            Grade: B

The Iron Lady                     Grade: B

My Week with Marilyn     Grade: B

Safe House                          Grade: B-

The Vow                              Grade: B-

A Separation                      Grade: C+

The Woman in Black        Grade: C

Underworld: Awakening     Grade: D+


Red Tails                            Grade: D+

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance    Grade: D

Act of Valor                       Grade: D

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie      Grade: F

Project X


No, this is not a tribute blog to that 1987 classic starring Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, and a bunch of chimpanzees.  This handheld camera filmed teen party movie featuring a cast of unknowns couldn't be more different.  And it also couldn't be more invigorating.

Of course the premise itself isn't exceptional.  A movie about a group of high school misfits who decide to throw a party at one of their parents' house while they're away is hardly original.  But it's all about how you do it.  And the filmmakers did an excellent job of building and sustaining the excitement.  It feels so real you actually feel like you're at the party, which is totally insane and of course goes horribly out of control.  Let's call this one 'Risky Business' meets 'The Virginity Hit'.  And that's a pretty debaucherous combination.  This one's not for prudes.  Some will hate it.  And even I admit it's kind of a guilty pleasure, but it's a whole lot of fun.

Grade: A-

The Lorax


Waking up early on a Saturday to go see an animated movie based on a children's book in a theater filled with ornery kids is not my favorite part of the job.  Needless to say, I wasn't particularly looking forward to this screening.  But I sometimes forget to anticipate the positives.  Good animated kid's films are often bright, lively, feel-good, musical, and short.  And this movie was all of those things.  I really enjoyed the music by John Powell, including a few musical numbers which might possibly be rewarded come year end.  I also liked the visuals and the 3D.  And I enjoyed the storyline, of which I wasn't familiar, with its environmental and social commentary that felt pretty contemporary for a book written 40 years ago.  I guess that speaks to the brilliance that was Dr. Seuss.  Nevertheless, I must point out that despite all of these positives, at times I lost interest.  As a 20 minute short this movie would be outstanding.  At an hour and 40 minutes it feels stretched a bit thin.  Plus, the flashbacks and non-linear storytelling seemed possibly a bit confusing for the target audience.  Yet overall, people seemed pleased, and I felt the same.

Grade: B