The Campaign (2012)

Because Filipino Tilt-a-Whirl Operators are This Nation’s Backbone!

My interest was piqued in today’s movie because of the two actors that starred in it, but I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater for it.  I feel like I’ve been burned by one of the actors in the movie before, though the other has not really let me down just yet.  I guess I looked at the movie and just felt like I didn’t trust it to be worth my money, so I had set my mind to waiting to see it until it came out on DVD and I could get it from RedBox.  But when Friendboss Josh suggested we go see it, I decided to go.  I was on the fence anyway; I just needed a little nudge.  And that brings us to my review of The Campaign, written by Chris Hency and Shawn Harwell, directed by Jay Roach, and starring Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis, Brian Cox, Katherine LaNasa, Sarah Baker, Jack McBrayer, and John Goodman.

Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has found himself in a sticky situation after he accidentally leaves a sexually explicit message meant for his mistress on the answering machine of a very conservative Christian family.  In response, the two corrupt businessmen that formerly backed Cam, brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd) decide they need a new candidate to run against Cam with their backing so that they can later manipulate him into letting them bring the Chinese tradition of sweat shop labor to America.  They pick Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), eccentric – and possibly gay – son of former politician and Motch brothers associate, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), and set Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty’s campaign manager and hopefully fix the mess that is Marty enough to make him a viable candidate.  And so begins the battle for the Congressional seat of North Carolina’s 14th District.

When I left this movie, I found myself torn in regards to its quality, but Friendboss Josh helped me set myself straight.  I had gotten it into my head that the movie was underwhelming because there were points within this movie that I was not laughing, but then Josh reminded me that movies tend to feel the need to include story, which sometimes needs to be exposition and not laughs.  I don’t really know what I was thinking.  The only things that can pull off non-stop laughter are videos on YouTube with the word “Fail” in the title.  And Josh was kind enough to remind me that I laughed out loud on more than one occasion during this movie.  …But fuck Josh!  He doesn’t tell me what to do in a non-work setting!  I HATE THIS MOVIE!  Okay, I don’t.  When I got to thinking about it in the proper head space, I realized that I did find this movie funny enough to recommend for a viewing.  The story was pretty solid.  The tactics in the battle ramp up in new and mostly hilarious and preposterous ways.  I also found it very interesting that the guy we had liked from the beginning of the movie and the guy we hated started to trade places at one point in the movie, though it’s probably not that atypical of a thing to see in a movie like this.  And, though it goes mostly in the way you’d expect, the way it gets there is filled with enough solid laughs that it’s okay.  It would be no spoilers if you saw the trailer for the movie, but I probably laughed the hardest when Cam pulled a Raging Bull on that baby.  First because it was in slow-mo, and second because to Hell with that baby.  The only other part I can really remember making me laugh really hard was the part where Cam’s car had a painting of him sitting down on the side of his car, which I found hilarious.  There were plenty of other moments, but I took shitty notes.  I mean … I don’t want to ruin it …?

The performances were pretty much exactly what I expected them to be.  Galifianakis was probably not as funny as I’d want him to be, but I probably just hold him in too high of a regard.  I’ve loved him for a long time and I probably just always want him to blow my mind with his hilariousness.  The character he does in this movie is funny, but it’s also one I’ve seen him do in a few different places before.  I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the character would be able to sustain an entire movie, but it did alright and brought a good deal of funny.  I liked his awkward attempts to trash talk with Cam, but more of the actual funny came from Ferrell in that exchange.  Ferrell was also a pretty typical character for him, being the smug, stupid, douche nozzle type, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do it well.  And he punched a baby right in its stupid face.  Speaking of stupid faces, how was Galifianakis’ chubby son in the movie able to pull off a perfectly round face?  He was like a Charlie Brown character.

Once my crazy expectations were put in check, I came to realize that I found The Campaign plenty funny enough to earn a recommendation.  The story was not unexpected, but contained plenty enough laughs, and that’s all a comedy really needs, and the same could mostly be said about the performances.  It’s not the most mind-blowing comedy ever, but it’s good, solid laughs and worth checking out.  The Campaign gets “Rainbow Land is a fictitious place!” out of “I’m Cam Brady, and I seductively approve this message.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

RED (2010)

I Am Getting the Pig!

I vaguely remember someone I work with suggesting that I watch today’s movie, but I don’t really remember who.  I think it may have been Eric.  Who suggested it was fairly irrelevant to me because I’m always down to check this movie out.  I don’t remember the circumstances that first lead to me watching this movie.  There’s a possibility that I randomly purchased the movie without having seen it; something that is a rarity for me to do.  I may also have RedBox’d the movie and liked it so much that I immediately purchased it.  Either way, to fulfill this mystery request today, I needed only to walk to my DVD shelves and grab the BluRay.  Doing so brings us up to speed, so let’s review RED, loosely based on a comic book series created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, written by Erich Hoeber, directed by Robert Schwentke, and starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, James Remar, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ernest Borgnine, and Audrey Wasilewski.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) leads a pretty boring life in his retirement.  So boring, it seems, that he entertains himself by tearing up his pension checks so that he can call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service agent at the pension office, and talk with her for a bit.  The hum-drum life he leads is interrupted when one day he goes downstairs and a hit squad appear to attack him.  He kills the bejesus out of them with extreme prejudice and sets off for Kansas City.  CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is tapped to hunt down Moses and kill him.  It turns out Frank is no ordinary bald dude, but he’s a former black-ops CIA agent who has been tagged “R.E.D.”, or Retired, Extremely Dangerous.  Frank is forced to kidnap Sarah for her own safety and the two set out to get the band back together and find out what’s happening.  With the help of other RED agents – Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox), and Victoria (Helen Mirren) – they find out that their deaths are part of a cover up for the CIA involving people high up on the ladder.  They will most likely kill the shit out of them too.

I really dig this movie.  It suffers a bit from a pretty predictable and familiar story, but saves itself from being too much of the same by telling it in a different and superior way.  The action is over the top and awesome, the movie is a lot of fun for something that’s basically about killing, the performances are delivered by people way over-qualified for such a movie, and the dialogue is very charming.  The action in this movie is a lot of fun.  It’s pretty much all over the top and exciting, and usually framed with some funny dialogue.  I really like the scene you probably saw in the trailer for this movie when Bruce Willis steps out of a spinning cop car and starts firing at Karl Urban, Willis’ legs narrowly being missed by the back of the spinning car.  John Malkovich also shoots a rocket out of mid-air, causing it to explode backwards and kill the person firing it.  I’m sure the Mythbusters would wipe their ass with this notion, but I thought it was awesome, so who cares if it makes sense?  The movie ends on a 20 minute or more action scene of the RED people doing a heist of sorts, but I never got sick of the action because it went on too long.  The movie also had a very satisfying ending.  The throwdown between Willis and Urban in Urban’s office served no purpose to the plot and also seemed a bit out of character for Moses to jeopardize the mission to show Urban that he was better than him, but it was a pretty awesome UFC style throwdown that was amped up by Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle”.  Pointless, but awesome.  Part of what made this movie work for me was the way it was filmed.  They used lots of creative camera angles and cool transitions to make it a very stylized movie, setting itself apart from other action movies.  These were small things that you might not necessarily pay attention to, but subconsciously stick in your mind.  Things like Bruce Willis’ eye transitioning into a bullet in the opening of the movie and John Malkovich flipping off a satellite, transitioning into Karl Urban watching the monitors.  I also liked the postcard things they used to show that we were switching locations.

The cast of this movie is probably the whole reason I went to see it in the first place.  There are so many big names and diverse actors in this thing that I just had to see how it worked out.  Well it worked out amazingly well and impressed me more when I saw who else was in this that was not top-billed.  Bruce Willis is one of the biggest action stars in the world, but he is aging a little by now, making him perfect for this movie.  He didn’t play it like a super-badass action hero, even while he was doing super-badass action things.  He played it more like a quiet, shy dude that was crushing on a girl he met on the phone … oh yeah, and also I’m a total badass.  I didn’t really know who Mary-Louise Parker was before going into this movie because most of her film credits are movies I would not be interested in, and also I never saw Weeds, but she could not have been cuter in this movie, both in looks and in personality.  She was totally fish out of water amongst the crowd Willis gets her involved with, but she had a lot of sass to her and I really dug her in this movie.  As much as I liked her, she had the misfortune of going up against John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, and she could not compete with that character.  I don’t know that I had ever seen Malkovich do comedy before I saw this, but that dude was great.  He was so awesome and hilarious as the uber-paranoid Marvin.  He was crazy and paranoid so people rarely took what he said seriously, even though he turned out to be right more often than not.  He was the one throwing in the most jokes in the action situations, and if he wasn’t actually saying them, he was making me laugh by being downtrodden in the background holding a pink, stuffed pig.  Morgan Freeman was fairly underused in the movie, but was great in the parts he was in.  He was the one that had the part that bummed me out in the middle of the movie, but I got through it.  I don’t care how old Helen Mirren is, I think I would still throw down with her if she wanted.  Something about that lady is just sexy, especially if you have her shooting a 50-calibur machine gun wearing a white gown.  Karl Urban has played a badass before, but didn’t really go above that character to impress too much.  But I guess he was the bad guy for the most part, so you don’t want him to be too charming.

I dig RED a lot.  It’s not the smartest movie you can watch, and you won’t learn anything from it, but you will watch a stylishly-filmed movie with great performances, charming characters, funny dialogue, and over the top, fantastic action.  However I came to see this movie the first time is irrelevant.  I liked it enough to immediately purchase it on BluRay, and I feel comfortable saying you’ll have fun renting it.  SO DO IT!  RED gets “You guys want to get pancakes?” out of “I trained Kordeski.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Rushmore (1998)

My Safety’s Harvard

That guy Eric sure does love his pretentious comedies.  Today’s movie was not only requested, but supplied by friend and coworker Eric.  It’s a movie that I feel like I’ve seen before, but remember nothing about whatsoever.  I did find out that I rated it on Rotten Tomatoes as “Not Interested”.  I feel like that statement still holds true.  I’ve just never been into this director or his movies because they seemed to me like artsy fartsy crap that I wouldn’t find funny.  Let’s find out if I was right in my review of Rushmore, written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, directed by Wes Anderson, and starring Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Mason Gamble, Brian Cox, Sara Tanaka, Stephen McCole, Seymour Cassel, and Luke Wilson.

Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a 15-year-old student of Rushmore Academy who excels in extracurricular activities, but fails in grades.  Because of this, he runs afoul of the headmaster, Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox), and is threatened with suspension.  Max befriends the father of two other students, Herman Blume (Bill Murray), and falls in a one-sided love with Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a widowed first grade teacher.  Max gets expelled for trying to open an aquarium on a baseball field and is forced to go to a public school, where he doesn’t really fit in.  Herman starts dating Ms. Cross behind Max’s back as Max still tries to advance his unrequited love with her.  This eventually ruins Blume’s marriage and his friendship with Max, and the two start a prank war that escalates drastically.  Then some more bullshit happens and the movie ends.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a bad movie, but I will say that I didn’t care for it.  It’s every bit the artsy fartsy movie that I expected it to be, it doesn’t have much of a cohesive story, and it just wasn’t funny to me.  I don’t think I’ve ever really liked a Wes Anderson movie, and I’ve seen a couple.  I understand a lot of people are really into them, but I’ve never really seen the appeal.  There wasn’t much of a story to this movie, first of all.  It was basically just about a kid that got expelled, but this situation was never really resolved.  He was no less expelled by the end of the movie.  He also fell in love with Olivia Williams, and this never turned into anything.  The same would go for Bill Murray being in love with her.  Max has a revelation at the end and becomes a little less of a douche, and even gets Blume and Cross to talk again, but it’s not resolved.  The movie starts a bunch of side stories and forgets what it was talking about.  It’s like having a conversation with my mom.  Abstract story would be fine if the movie ever made me laugh, but it didn’t.  The only thing that even made me smirk was Bill Murray, and pretty much only in the part where he was drunk and downtrodden in the hospital later in the movie.  But that’s just not enough for me.  By the end of the movie, I didn’t feel like I hated what I had just watched, I just felt like I had no opinion and had just kind of wasted my time.

The performances were mostly excellent in the movie, elevating the movie out of the total “meh” category.  Jason Schwartzman is pretty good at playing a total annoying douche, and he does so in pretty much every movie I’ve ever seen him in.  I found him annoying and irritating, but that’s probably not a negative against him because I feel like that’s what he was going for.  This was at it’s best and almost funniest when he was being a total asshole to Luke Wilson because he felt threatened by him and hurt because Olivia Williams seemed to be dating him.  Bill Murray was a much more subdued Murray than you see in many of his movies that I enjoy, but I still liked him in the movie.  I prefer when he does things that are funny, but I really just want to see him.  Olivia Williams was pretty great in the movie.  Most of the time she was just being good-looking and real, but she had a great scene where she was telling Max about her dead husband that was really emotional and really well acted, but it’s not surprising from her because she’s pretty much excellent in everything I’ve seen.  Brian Cox had a couple of kinda funny moments too.  I liked when Max brought him temporarily out of a coma because he hated Max so much.

I really feel completely uninspired by this movie, and thus the extra short review.  I didn’t hate the movie; it had a couple of cute parts, a couple of great performances, but no real story to speak of and it just came off as a little pretentious and unfunny to me.  On the other hand, I’ve heard of a lot of people liking it and Wes Anderson’s other movies, so I don’t know if I can even say I don’t recommend you see it.  And I’m sure all of those people would say something like “You just don’t get it, man!” and write me off as too uncultured to understand the appeal of a not funny comedy where nothing really happens.  But, for the rest of you … I don’t know … check it out?  … maybe?  Rushmore gets “Yeah, I was in the shit” out of “Are you fond of that mustache?”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

The Ring (2002)

Before You Die, You See The Ring

OCTOBER HORROR-THON CONTINUES!  I thought this would be more annoying to watch only horror movies for the end of October, but there’s so many different types and different qualities of horror movie that I haven’t yet gotten bored of it.  The movie I’m reviewing today is one of my favorite horror movies.  It’s an American remake of a Japanese horror movie, and even better, it’s a movie that doesn’t use tons of gore to scare it’s audience.  This movie is The Ring, starring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Daveigh Chase, Brian Cox, and Shannon Cochran, and it’s directed by Gore Verbinski.

Katie (Amber Tamblyn) and Becca (Rachael Bella) are talking over a sleepover about a myth of a videotape that is supposedly cursed in a way that will kill the person who watches it 7 days after viewing.  Katie reveals that her and her boyfriend watched the tape a week prior.  Downstairs by herself, Katie starts seeing things moving around, the TV turns itself on when it’s unplugged, and she sees water dripping out of TVs.  Katie mysteriously and horrifically dies while Becca watches.  Shortly thereafter, Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) goes to the funeral of her neice, Katie, bringing along her son Aidan (David Dorfman).  Katie’s mother asks Rachel to use her abilities and contacts as a reporter to investigate the mysterious death.  One of her first stops on her investigation is the cabin where Katie and her boyfriend watched the tape, and it is here where the tape remains.  Rachel watches the tape and immediately receives a call telling her she will die in 7 days.  So the first thing she does is show the same tape to her ex-boyfriend and Aidan’s father, Noah (Martin Henderson).  Awful messed up way to get back at an ex-boyfriend, isn’t it?  Later, mother of the year Rachel leaves the killer tape out and Aidan watches it too.  So that family’s fucked.  But the rest of the movie is Rachel unraveling the twisted tale of the tape in order to save her family.  Or at least her and her son.  Fuck that guy, am I right, ladies?

I already mentioned that I liked this movie.  I remember being pretty freaked out the first time I saw it.  I can’t remember if it was this movie or the Grudge, but I went out with my friends afterwards and got really suspicious of a dark hallway.  But the biggest thing that freaked me out about this movie was what happened afterwards.  The next day, I got a call from an unknown number and there was no one on the line.  And a little while after that, I got a bloody nose.  And, of course, 7 days later I died.  Okay, 2/3 of that story was true.  I didn’t really get a bloody nose.  I started my period and just counted that.  Okay, okay.  I didn’t die, but I did get a call and a bloody nose.  And right after seeing this movie, my brain, desiring such a cool event, decided I got the curse of the Ring.  I wouldn’t say I was actually scared that I was going to die, but it was gnawing at me from the back of my mind.

I’m not trying to say that this is the only reason this movie was scary, it actually did horror movies right.  I’ve mentioned before that slasher movies and movies where things pop out and surprise you but call it a scary annoy me.  This movie is the blessed third part of that trilogy: the movie that scares you with suspense.  That’s why I liked this movie.  Plus, it was the first of the Japanese horror remakes, and I’ve liked most of them.  And that’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have any kind of gore to it.  The grotesquely mangled faces of Samara’s victims is pretty horrifying, even in the brief couple seconds you see them in, and the tape itself has some brief ickiness to it, but it’s hardly gore.  What the tape does have a lot of is bizarreness and creepiness.  I did find that this movie didn’t really hold up in scares department.  I assume that suspenseful movies only get one or two shots at being scary and I’ve just seen this movie too many times.  But, if you haven’t seen it yet (and also haven’t seen the countless parodies from Scary Movie or others), then you’ll probably still be able to get a good couple scares out of it.

The acting is very solid in this movie, though most of the cast seems pretty heavily sedated at times.  Naomi Watts really does a good job here.  She gets pretty frantic and emotional as the movie goes along, not only believing that she’s going to die, but her son.  Plus, she walks around in her underwears, and I’m always fond of that.  David Dorfman plays a creepy boy pretty well.  Brian Cox has a pretty conflicted performance that winds up in his suicide by bathtub.  The thing that bothered me about that was that his electrical equipment was way more than we’ve been made to believe is necessary.  He has almost every electrical appliance in his house brought into that bathroom and flicks the switch on his surge protector to fry himself.  What ever happened to the toaster?  Isn’t that supposed to be good enough?

The Ring is a good place to look for some quality scares, if only for the first couple viewings.  I’m already started on the sequel, and already kind of regretting it.  But this isn’t about the money grubbing sequel, so I give the Ring a “You’re gonna die” out of “Seven days”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

You could make the argument that there was no summer movie that I wanted to see more than Rise of the Planet of the Apes because no other movie I’ve seen in a summer involved such preparation. Before watching this movie, I coincidentally came across a very good price of $38 for the original 5 Planet of the Apes movies and decided to buy them, then proceeded to bomb through all of them within 2 days. Also throwing in there the Tim Burton remake with the strangely attractive Helena Bonham Carter ape. So I decided today was the day to witness the Rise.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – or, for brevity’s sake, Rise of Monkey Town – includes James Franco (with both arms), Brian Cox (who can not be held down by Wolverine’s claws or Magneto’s chains), and Tom Felton (You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Potter?). I say includes because, let’s face it, the star is the monkey named Caesar. Franco is a geneticist trying to cure his father (John Lithgow) from his Alzheimer’s disease. He invents something that reanimates the brain and tries it on some monkeys. He first tries it on Bright Eyes who shows considerable improvement, but then she goes ape-shit (pun intended) and has to be put down with extreme prejudice. As the drunk dude from Zak and Miri Make a Porno is being forced to put down all the apes they tested on, they find that Bright Eyes went ape-shit because she was protecting her baby, later to be Caesar. Unable to put down the baby, Franco takes him in, only to find out that the drug has affected the baby and it’s smart. Over the ensuing years, he teaches Caesar sign language and Caesar gets smarter and smarter.

Now, it should come as no surprise that eventually the apes break free of their shackles and head towards their inevitable dominion over man. If that’s a surprise, then you probably know nothing of the series and probably won’t be seeing this anyway. They don’t quite take over, but Caesar gets locked up in a habitat where Draco Malfoy tortures the other apes ’cause he’s a jerk-face. Caesar don’t like that. He retaliates by making all the other monkey’s smart, breaking free, laying a whooping on man, and taking to the forest. Also, he makes people render unto him the things that are his, and probably gets stabbed 30-something times shortly after the movie. Et tu, Green Goblin?

So one of the things I heard about this movie beforehand is that it breaks with continuity, which I say it does and it doesn’t. Granted, it does not follow the story of the 4th movie in the series which is kind of where this part of the story would be happening. To give a brief recap: 1) Heston lands, captured by talking monkeys, turns out it’s earth year 3800, OH NO! 2) Other guy lands, finds Heston, mutated people pray to a bomb, set that bitch off, OH NO! 3) Turns out 3 friendly chimps got off the planet, go back in time to human times, turns out girl’s preggers, humans think this will lead to humanity’s end, kill parents, baby lives on, OH NO! 4) Baby now grown up, called Caesar, already talks, gets mad, takes over, OH NO! 5) Last of humans gets all pissy with fairly peaceful apes, start fight, lose, OH NO! 1 – Remake) Screw up all of that stuff. There, now we’re up to speed. So, obviously the monkey doesn’t already talk, doesn’t come from future apes that can talk, etc. But in the 3rd movie, when the dad is telling about how apes rose up, they talked about how the first ape was super smart, kept getting beaten by man and ordered around by man, but then finally said the first words ape spoke, which was “NO”. That story is basically how it happens in this movie. So it follows 3rd movie continuity, but parts from 4th movie continuity. And I’m okay with it.

Another good thing about this is the fan service in the movie, the things you’d notice if you had just recently watched all 6 other movies. Bright Eyes is what one of the apes calls Heston, there’s background story about a rocket getting launched and going missing, of course “Get your hands off me you” yada yada yada is in it. I like these things. Makes you feel special for catching on. Problem of course being if I were to look it up now, I’ve probably missed about 107 more things.

There really wasn’t that much bad in the movie. I liked all of the acting well enough, even the acting of the apes, but the apes were pretty obviously CGI, though better than the young Jeff Bridges abortion in Tron Evolution. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of bad to this movie. At least nothing that stuck in my over tired brain long enough to make it home and write this. I apologize in advance if it’s not as funny as when I tear apart a bad movie; I can’t help that this movie was good. But worry not, I RedBoxed Priest. Coming soon!

Pay the money, see this shit … out of 20 …