Casa de Mi Padre (2012)

Let Him Die.  He’s Missing a Hand Anyway.

Casa de Mi Padre (2012)Friendboss Josh was starting to feel neglected recently because I hadn’t reviewed anything he had requested in a very long time.  Obviously he wasn’t paying attention to my recent reviews or he would’ve realized that I barely have done anyone’s requests recently.  I’ve been busy, forgetful, and disinterested!  But I’m trying to get back into them, and I figured the best place to start was with the request of one of my best friends … and also the one that’s been hounding me and I might be able to get off my back with this review.  And then I can get back to getting him onto his back.  YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN’?  Anyway, Friendboss Josh requested that I review Casa de Mi Padre, written by Andrew Steele, directed by Matt Piedmont, and starring Will Ferrell, Génesis Rodríguez, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendáriz, Jr., Nick Offerman, Efren Ramirez, and Adrian Martinez.

Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell) es un ranchero que cuida para el rancho de su padre en México, aunque su padre parece odiarlo para algo tan pequeño como accidentalmente matando a su esposa (y madre de Armando) cuando él era joven.  El hermano de Armando, Raúl (Diego Luna), devoluciones al rancho un día con su nueva novia Sonia (Génesis Rodriguez), que causa problema porque ella cae en amor con Armando… y porque ella revela que Raúl ha sentido bien a un traficante y está en la guerra con el señor de las drogas peligroso, Onza (Gael García Bernal).

How about that, people?  Was that paragraph made hilarious by the fact that I had some website poorly translate it into Spanish?  …No?  Well then what’s the deal with this movie?  I felt like I was missing something while I was watching this.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen the type of movie this seems to be trying to spoof, but I can’t say for sure.  It would makes sense for why Josh would like it because (as a Mexican) I believe he probably watched nothing but movies and TV shows like the ones this movie was spoofing until he learned the English language at the age of 23.  I felt like this movie was a funny idea, but it never got much beyond that for me.  This movie would’ve made a hilarious trailer, or even a great 5 minute short on Funny or Die, but that joke wore thin in a feature-length movie.  I imagine that the people involved in this movie fell in love with their own idea so strongly that they just never stopped believing in it, whereas I started to nod off in the middle of the movie, which is especially bad because I needed to pay attention just to know what was going on because I had a movie to read.  The moments that I actually found amusing in this movie were pretty sparse.  They went for some comedy in awkward moments a few times (a strategy I have seen work in the past) such as the awkwardly long laugh in the beginning of the movie, or the scene of the girl trying to get on the horse, but they weren’t particularly funny awkward moments.

I would say the most amusement I got out of the movie came from some more visual gags.  They did a lot of jokes in the movie that were intended to make it look like it was a real film that was not paying enough attention to things like continuity, or how poorly their props were made.  Some of these moments were when Armando went to pick up the real calf and it turned into a fake one that wasn’t even the same color, the really fake looking backgrounds in some scenes, the scene where Armando and Sonia were fake riding fake horses and someone would wheel a plant by behind them, the terribly fake miniature of the exterior of the bar (complete with Hot Wheels cars parked out front), the sex scene with Will Ferrell and the mannequin, and (my favorite) the scene where you could see the reflection of the crew in the DEA Agent’s aviator sunglasses with the guy eating a donut against the wall to the side.  There was some amusement to be had in these scenes, but not really enough to justify how many times they went for that same joke.  Of course, the scene where some chick gets shot in her titty at the wedding was some good comedy.

The cast in this movie caused no real complaints from me.  They did fine jobs with material that just didn’t work for me.  If Will Ferrell didn’t speak Spanish before going into this movie, then he deserves some praise for his commitment to learning it.  And he deserves some praise for how hard he seems to commit to his character.  He never really goes for any overt comedy with the character, but Will Ferrell can be funny as a straight man, without going for any jokes too hard.  The funniest thing I’d say he did in this movie involved how bad he was at rolling cigarettes.  There was a scene where they pointed it out that I didn’t find particularly funny, but the scene where he was just rolling a cigarette as he was having a conversation with his friends and he did it so poorly that the tobacco was falling out the end of it in his mouth amused me.  Beyond that, I don’t have much to say about anyone else in the movie besides that they did fine jobs.  And that Génesis Rodríguez is sexy as hell.

I was disappointed to find out that I didn’t really find Casa de Mi Padre particularly amusing, but I also can’t say that I didn’t expect it.  I knew this movie would be hindered by the fact that I had to read the movie for no good reason and that it would have to work hard to overcome that.  It had the potential to overcome it, but nothing in the movie really made me laugh besides a few silly visual gags of intentional continuity mistakes.  The movie wasn’t painful to watch, but it WAS a comedy that didn’t make me laugh so I don’t think I can recommend it for a watch.  Maybe if you’re fluent in Spanish, or if you have a vast experience with telenovelas, you will find something in this movie that I missed.  Casa de Mi Padre gets “Stay away, or I’ll beat you with these hands!” out of “If you were smart, you would know that you are dumb.”

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The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

More of This is True Than You Would Believe.

Today’s movie has been in my Netflix queue for so long that I no longer remember what inspired me to put it there in the first place.  I have a vague recollection of watching part of this movie while in the break room at work and I do so hate to only watch 15 or 30 minutes of a movie and leave without knowing what happened.  Well, however it came to be in my Netflix queue, it arrived recently so I felt I should give it a watch.  That movie is The Men Who Stare at Goats, based on a book by Jon Ronson, written by Peter Straughan, directed by Grant Heslov, and starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang, Stephen Root, Robert Patrick, Rebecca Mader, Nick Offerman, and Glenn Morshower.

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) has fallen on some hard times after his wife left him for the newspaper’s editor.  Feeling like he needs an escape, and perhaps a chance to prove himself to his ex-wife, he goes to Kuwait to report on the Iraq War.  While waiting to be granted permission to enter, he stumbles across a man named Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a name that Wilton recognizes from a man he interviewed a little earlier that told him about a group of American soldiers being trained to use their psychic abilities for combat, teaching them things like invisibility, remote viewing, and phasing.  It was rumored that Cassady had even been able to stop a goat’s heart with his thoughts.  Wilton gets Cassady to agree to let him tag along on his mission and, while doing so, Cassady tells Wilton about his time with the New Earth Army through flashbacks.

I’ve come to realize that I just don’t like reviewing movies that are just “okay”.  If a movie is awful, I’ll have lots of things to say making fun of it.  If it’s good, I’ll be able to sing its praises.  But if it’s okay, all I really want to say is, “meh.”  I’ll try to use more words – and real ones – to describe my feelings about this movie.  It’s an okay and pretty interesting movie, based mainly on a pretty well-written story.  Even though a bulk of the movie felt like just riding around in a car with Ewan McGregor and George Clooney, the subject matter kept it interesting, especially if you consider that this stuff was apparently mostly based on true stories.  So with the story being so interesting, what was the problem?  I would say the problem is that this movie was a comedy but not really all that funny.  I would say that the goofiness that they introduce us to during the course of the movie is amusing, but they were never able to climb over the hill and actually strike me as funny.  But since the comedy was never really a failure, it wasn’t painful to watch.  Just not funny.

The cast of the movie was all pretty spectacular, but they got some pretty big names to participate.  Ewan McGregor was the main character of the movie, and he did a good job displaying the range of emotions his character went through during the movie.  He starts off depressed and mopey because of his wife leaving him, then he went to being pretty skeptical of the New Earth Army stories, and he was totally on board by the end of the movie.  I liked that he kept talking to Clooney about the “Jedi Warriors”, as they called themselves, like it was such a ridiculous notion, even though he’s the only one in the movie that actually has been a Jedi warrior before.  I liked Clooney in the movie as well.  He seemed to take the ridiculousness very seriously, which is always a good choice.  Jeff Bridges was also very good as the hippie leader of the New Earth Army, Bill Django, but it also seems like a character that was written with Jeff Bridges in mind.  Kevin Spacey also plays a dick very well, and he did that here.

The Men Who Stare at Goats was a decent enough movie because of its wacky and interesting story and top notch performances.  The problem with the movie is that it was a comedy but it just wasn’t funny.  I would say, to its credit, that it was amusing for the greater majority of the movie, but it just couldn’t crest that ridge into funniness.  It’s worth watching if it’s on, but I wouldn’t say you need to go out of your way for it.  The Men Who Stare at Goats gets “Now more than ever we need the Jedi” out of “He was dying of a broken heart.  And maybe the cancer as well.”

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Parks and Recreation: Season One (2009)

I’ll Give You Two More Seasons, But Then I’m Out

I just realized recently that I had only done one TV show review. And, since I just recently cancelled my cable TV service, I figured this was the best time to do another one. This TV was one I had heard a lot about and only finally decided to try watching because I found it on Netflix streaming and I just finished catching up on 30 Rock. So I decided to watch a very similar show, Parks and Recreation, starring Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Schneider, and Chris Pratt.

There’s not a lot of summarizing to do here. The whole premise of season one is that Amy Poehler is the head of a Parks and Recreation committee and Rashida Jones is an angry resident of a neighborhood where there is an empty lot with a deep pit in the ground that her boyfriend, Chris Pratt, fell in and broke his legs. Poehler decides that they should build a park on that lot and the rest of season one is basically about that. In episode two, they go around asking people in the neighborhood if they want the park. Most say “no”. In episode three, Poehler gets interviewed by a reporter about it. In episode three, Poehler gets in trouble because she was drinking with some guys from the office on the lot and underage Aubrey Plaza posted a video on the internet of her drinking. In episode five, Poehler goes to a banquet honoring her mother. And in the last episode, episode six, they go to a rock show of Chris Pratt’s band after his leg casts come off. The park has not yet been built.

I went into this show really wanting to like it. I like Amy Poehler a lot from Upright Citizens Brigade, Baby Mama, and SNL. I like Aubrey Plaza from what little I know about her, mainly from Scott Pilgrim. A lot of people like Aziz Ansari. And a lot of people also like this show. But I just didn’t find myself liking this show that much, at least not from the first season. I’m still giving it a shot with season two because sometimes it takes shows a little while to become awesome, but I’m not talking about later seasons yet since I haven’t watched them. But this show seems to be a lot like a midway point between the Office and 30 Rock, two shows that I really like. 30 Rock had a bit of a shaky start, but I’m pretty sure I was into it by episode 2 or 3. The Office also had a longer shaky start, mainly because they were so concerned with staying a lot around the British version until they decided to make the show their own. But this show shares the same style as the Office of having it be like a documentary film crew is watching the people of this building and they have a boss that means well but is kind of stupid and doesn’t have very good people skills. Liz Lemon from 30 Rock is smarter than the other two bosses, but definitely has people problems. I think what this one lacks is the strong supporting cast that the Office and 30 Rock has, or at least the storylines to allow them to shine. The Office has Pam, Jim, and Dwight to back up Michael Scott. 30 Rock has Jack, Jenna, Tracy, Kenneth, Frank, Toofer, and Cerie in Liz’s corner. Parks mainly focuses on Poehler and Rashida Jones.

Sadly, I didn’t laugh at all in these six episodes. I wanted to like it so bad and it bummed me out that nothing did anything for me here. I like Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones so much but there weren’t any good jokes in season one. Rashida’s boyfriend in this, Chris Pratt, was a pretty typical douchey boyfriend, just like Pam’s boyfriend in the Office. I have never really liked Aziz Ansari either. The persona he takes in the movies and TV shows I’ve seen him in just annoys me. And, since I’ve never seen him in a different role, I’ll stick to that. Aubrey Plaza didn’t have much of a part in the show yet, so not much to say there. Nick Offerman was an entertaining character that will hopefully get better as time goes on.

I don’t have very much to say about this show and that bums me out. I wanted to like it so much but I didn’t find it funny and nothing really impressed me yet. Again, that may just be something they’ll overcome as time goes on, so we’ll see about that when I finish season two. I just think it reminds me too much of two shows I like much more and that may have hurt this show. But I feel like it does have potential, so I’m still watching. So, I’ll give this show “I had hoped for more” out of “I may need more practice reviewing TV shows”.

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