(500) Days of Summer (2009)

It’s Love.  It’s Not Santa Claus.

I’m having trouble remembering who suggested today’s movie to me, but I’m fairly confident that it was a lady.  That’s based mainly on the fact that I don’t think most men would want me to watch today’s movie out of anything other than torture.  If I had to guess, I think it was my friend, the Lady MacBalls.  She’s got the required lady parts (I assume) to have suggested this movie, and with her hormones all crazy from the tiny MacBalls growing in her belly, denying her request could’ve meant a very painful death for everyone’s favorite film/video game reviewer.  It was in my best interest to oblige.  But fear of death with not sway my opinion of the movie.  I’ve far too much integrity for that.  So let’s see what I thought of (500) Days of Summer, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, directed by Marc Webb, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Chloe Moretz, Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Minka Kelly, and Rachel Boston.

Aspiring architect Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for Vance (Clark Gregg) at a greeting card company when Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) is hired as Vance’s assistant.  Tom’s friend and co-worker McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) talks Tom into attending a karaoke party, gets really drunk, and tells Summer that Tom is attracted to her.  Over the course of the remaining 500 days, we watch as Tom and Summer’s relationship goes up and crashes down.

As a guy, I started watching this movie wanting to hate it at least as much as I hate my friend, the Lady MacBalls.  But, by the end of the movie, it had won me over.  It’s not perfect.  Most chick-flicks aren’t because they’re well aware of the fact that putting a sappy romance in a movie is well enough for women.  But this story was charming enough, with some good ideas and an interesting look, and even had some funny parts to it, although I’m pretty sure the joke in the movie about someone having Brad Pitt’s face and Jesus’ abs is a Daniel Tosh joke.  I think the difficulties I had early on in this movie stemmed from its vaguely pretentious art style and the premise of the story.  They threw in little artsy cutaways that I found a little tedious, but I at least appreciated the ones that showed us what day we were watching since the movie cut back and forth between different points in the relationship.  There was a very good use of music to the movie, like when Tom was really happy after his first night with Summer and had a good song to accompany him in his jaunty walk down the street that turned into a brief dance number.  I got a little annoyed by the look of the movie near the end, when Tom was revealed to have a chalkboard on his wall that he used to sketch buildings on.  Come on, movie!  Who has a chalkboard wall … and how the hell do I get one?!

The premise of the movie annoyed me at first because it was so clumsy.  It seemed like it really wanted to be clever by making the girl take the typical guy part of not believing in true love, whereas the guy was the lady in being the overly romantic one.  No one’s ever thought of that before!  I also got annoyed by the silly things that caused people to fall in love in the movie.  Summer says she likes the same band as Tom.  BOOM!  I love you!  Summer falls in love later because someone likes the Dorian Gray book she’s reading.  I grant that a girl like Zooey Deschanel telling me she liked Metallica would pique my interest, but I still acknowledge that it’s a poor basis for my undying love.  Later, when Summer is telling Tom about former boyfriends, she says that she dated a guy she called the Puma because he had a big dick.  Is that a thing?  Why wouldn’t you call him “The Blue Whale” or “The Black Guy”?  This is probably not a good thing to have realized about myself, but I started to like the movie near the end, when I could relate to Tom more as an embittered guy who lost faith in the idea of love.  I’m not saying that this is an accurate description of me, but … uh … y’know what?  Nevermind!  Either way, it was interesting to watch the way he felt about Summer change so completely during and after their relationship through the scenes cutting back and forth in time.  I also completely agreed with Tom when he went off about how cards were a waste of time because they were just putting on paper the things you should be saying.  It also enforced the idea that women are lying jerkfaces, since Summer saying that she didn’t want to be anybody’s girlfriend actually meant that she didn’t want to be Tom’s.  I think the moral of this story will be one that can help me out in the future.  Every time I have to listen to a girl complain because “the one” just broke up with her, I’ll tell her to watch this movie.  At first it seems like it’s crapping on the idea of fate because Tom is so sure that Summer is the one, but then the end brings it back around for a happy ending that should shut them bitches up.  Apparently me TELLING them that a person obviously isn’t the one if you’re not dating them anymore is not good enough.  So go watch this movie, bitch.  It’s pretty good.

I liked all the performances in this movie.  Of course, there also wasn’t anybody in this movie I didn’t already like going in.  I’ve liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a long time, and though he was often a mopey bitch in the movie, that was what was called for.  I’m also pretty sure that I’m better with women than he was in this movie, and finding someone I’m better with women than is very hard to do.  For instance, I would never respond to a woman who was asking if I needed office supplies with, “You know what I want.”  Then again, he eventually got her, so I guess I’m the asshole.  Zooey Deschanel spent most of the movie being the kind of girl I wouldn’t like, but she made it more likeable.  I’m beginning to think that Deschanel doesn’t accept a role if she can’t sing in the movie, but I like her nonetheless.  I’m also a fan of Geoffrey Arend.  He tends to be pretty funny in all of his roles, and this one was not different.  Chloe Moretz’ character would typically annoy me, being the smarty pants kid that’s trying to help her brother through a breakup, but with how stupid Tom seemed, it worked.

Despite bordering on the pretentious and having a few things that were too obvious, I found myself charmed by (500) Days of Summer.  I liked the overall message of the movie, I liked the actors in the movie, and I liked the movie overall.  It’s probably a good movie for people to watch after being dumped, and I’ll let you know for sure if it ever happens to me.  I’d recommend this movie even if you haven’t been dumped and would probably say it’s my second favorite chick flick, though that is coming from pretty weak competition.  You can rent this movie from Netflix, but cannot stream it presently.  I give (500) Days of Summer “I think you’re just remembering the good stuff” out of “People don’t realize this, but loneliness is underrated.”

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 (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Our Idiot Brother (2011)

I Won ‘Most Cooperative Inmate’, Four Months Running

Oh man.  I’m on number three of three back to back rom-com reviews and I am feeling pretty exhausted.  This is such hard work.  OW!  Finger cramp.  It’s not from the typing though.  It’s my time of the month.  Well, at least I’m finishing off my reviews with the movie I expected to be the funniest and most enjoyable.  I like the cast so much that I couldn’t possibly not like it, right?  Let’s find out.  This movie is Our Idiot Brother, written by David Schisgall, directed by Jesse Peretz, and starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Shirley Knight, Kathryn Hahn, T.J. Miller, Hugh Dancy, Sterling K. Brown, Janet Montgomery, Matthew Mindler, Bob Stephenson, and Katie Aselton.

Ned (Paul Rudd) is a farmer who lives with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn), and their dog, Willie Nelson … or at least he does until he sells weed to a uniformed police officer and goes to jail for a little while.  He may not be too bright, or perhaps he’s just a little too optimistic and trusting of others.  When he gets out of jail, Janet has a new boyfriend, Billy (T.J. Miller), and refuses to give Ned his dog back.  Billy tells Ned that, if he’s able to get $1000 together, he will convince Janet to let Ned rent a goat house to live in.  Ned goes to live with his mom (Shirley Knight) for a little while, and then starts doing odd jobs for his three sisters to get money, but he also kind of messes up their lives a little in the process.  For his sister Liz (Emily Mortimer), he goes to help her husband Dylan (Steve Coogan) film his documentary about ballet dancers or some shit, but he ends up catching Dylan having sex with the ballerina.  For Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), he drives her to an interview she has with her client, Lady Arabella (Janet Montgomery).  Miranda gets very little information from Arabella, but Arabella confides some very personal details in Ned, who then lets them slip to Miranda.  Ned also becomes involved in her relationship with Jeremy (Adam Scott), who wants to be more than just friends with her.  For Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), he poses nude for her artist friend, Christian (Hugh Dancy), with whom she cheats on her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), and gets knocked up.  Ned just wants to hang out with his family, and get his dog back, but his sisters don’t really want him around.

Did any of that sound like a comedy to you?  Yeah, not really to me either.  This movie is likeable in every way except for the fact that it’s a comedy that is not funny.  Any humor to this movie is like a dull hum that you may not even notice and probably won’t laugh at.  The most it got from me is a smile.  It felt kind of like an artsy version of a comedy, but lead to me thinking it played more as a drama.  Ned does a couple of stupid things throughout the movie that are mildly entertaining, but most of the movie is about the three sister’s lives falling apart and choosing to blame Ned for it because he told people what was going on.  Ned didn’t make Liz’s husband cheat on her, he just told Miranda about it.  Ned didn’t want stories told to him in confidence to get out just so his selfish sister could write a good story, nor did he make Jeremy and Miranda talk shit about the other person behind their back to him.  Ned didn’t make Natalie cheat on Cindy either.  But he gets blamed for all of it.  In a podcast called Doug Loves Movies, Doug Benson suggested that this movie should be called My Three Bitch Sisters because Ned isn’t that stupid, he’s just overly nice and his sisters are bitches.

The performances in this movie were fine as performances, but not that great as comedic performances.  Paul Rudd was about the second funniest person in the movie, but didn’t get a great amount of laughs out of me.  T.J. Miller was the funniest person in the movie, but he was not in the movie very much.  His interactions with Rudd were the occasions that made me chuckle a little.  Rudd plays pretty mellow and uneventful for the whole movie and has only one occasion when he lashes out at his family because they’re ruining a game of charades and he just wants to spend time with his family.  Everyone else had good performances, but they just weren’t funny.  The four main girls, at least, were all very attractive.  Elizabeth Banks didn’t play a very likeable character, which bothered me because I think of her as a very likeable person from the other things I’ve seen her in.  She’s also much better looking as a blonde than as a brunette.  I expected good comedy from Zooey Deschanel because I’ve seen a couple episodes of the New Girl, where she’s very likeable and funny.  But she didn’t really bring any funny to this movie.  She’s even a sort of aspiring stand up comedian, but her sets are more uncomfortably unfunny, which it seems that they intended, but it would’ve been nice to get to laugh in this comedy.  Emily Mortimer is probably the nicest sister, and probably gives the most emotional and comedic performance amongst the sisters, but her comedy is more about her being a little awkward.  Rashida Jones comes close to funny, but I think I was bothered by her in this movie because they made her really lesbian and dressed almost like a guy, when she’s very attractive in real life and they wasted it with lesbo-gear.  Adam Scott didn’t play a douche, as most of his performances I’ve seen him in are, but he also didn’t contribute any funny.  Are we seeing a pattern develop?

This movie is strangely well liked among critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes.  I don’t get it.  It would be a good movie if anything about the movie claimed that it was a drama.  It’s mostly dramatic scenes with a few, sparse laughs.  A drama can have a few laughs, and a comedy can have a few dramatic scenes, but a comedy can’t have only a few comedic scenes.  The performances were good, but not funny.  You may like this movie if you go in expecting a light drama, but instead, I just say you don’t really need to watch it.  Our Idiot Brother gets “Nothing like two dudes and a dog making candles” out of “Such a cliche”.

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!

Your Highness (2011)

Am I the only one that gets really excited to see a movie they don’t expect very much from? Probably, I guess. Either way, I had been counting down the days until Your Highness came to RedBox. I had watched it released on DVD about 3 weeks back but, being new to RedBox, I was unaware that some movies don’t release to RedBox the same day they come out. Your Highness was such a movie. So I went to RedBox’s website and found out when they’d release it, and Tuesday was that day. So let’s jump in to my review of Your Highness, starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, and Justin Theroux.

Thadeous (Danny McBride) is a ne’er-do-well prince and brother of the future king Fabious (James Franco). Thadeous is an awful prince. He’s more likely to be angering tribes of dwarfs and smoking weed with goblins than anything positive. His brother returns from one of many heroic quests he has been on, but this time he returns with a beautiful maiden he rescued from a tower and an evil wizard. Turns out Fabious has fallen in love with this maiden, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), and has decided to marry her. Thadeous’ jealousy for his brother is not sated by this triumphant return and, even though Fabious asks Thadeous to be his best man, Thadeous neglects to show up to his wedding. But someone else shows up in his stead; the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux). Leezar needs the virgin Belladonna to fulfill a prophecy that will reward him with a powerful dragon he can use to rule the world. Leezar makes quick work of the knights and Fabious and leaves with Belladonna. Fabious decides he needs to rescue her but Thadeous has no interest in joining … until the king says he won’t be welcome in the castle if he doesn’t. So the two embark on their journey to save Belladonna. At some point, they run into Isabel, another warrior with a vendetta against Leezar, and they’re off to rescue Fabious’ bonny lass.

Can I deviate from the movie for a second? In the previews for this movie I watched a trailer for a new production that is Bring it On: The Musical. Some might know that Bring it On is a movie that spawned 3 sequels or spin offs or whatever you’d want to call it, making it a Quadrilogy of sorts, regardless of how much Quadrilogy is not a word. So this Tetralogy has now apparently spawned a musical as well. Strangely enough, my problem is not that Bring it On won’t die, my problem is with one of the reviews they played during the trailer. Someone actually had the balls to call this musical “explosively original”. Can you call something that is so clearly based on 4 movies “original”? It seems like an oxymoron or something!

Anyways, we’re not here to talk about raping the English language, we’re here to find out what I think of Your Highness. I was probably only vaguely interested in seeing this movie because a) Natalie Portman is smokin’ hot and b) almost every time I’ve gone into a movie thinking it would suck and Danny McBride was in it, he surprised me by making a movie funny, even if for only his small part in said movies. Well I didn’t expect much from this movie and Danny McBride was a star in it, and I’m proud to say this time I was not wrong. This movie sucked. I wasn’t counting during the movie or anything, but I’m pretty sure the exact count of laughs from me in this movie was zero … maybe negative one. Pretty much every joke in this movie was about as juvenile as you could imagine, which can sometimes be funny, but obviously not all the time. I’m sure 14 year old boys would think there was funny parts in this movie, but who’s parents would let them see this? Not even just because of the violence and nudity and juvenile cock jokes, but because if you’re going to allow them to see that, show them good movies with that stuff. You want a kid to have a good sense of humor, expose them to funny stuff. Simple math right there. To give you an example, at one point McBride slays a minotaur – which was, by the way, dry humping McBride’s man slave at the time, though that’s not the worst part – and he attempts to cut it’s horn off for a trophy. Portman (whilst being hot) tells him that you can’t cut a minotaur’s horn. You might be ahead of me here, but he decides to take it’s dick instead. … yup … Then he wears it as a necklace for the next 20 minutes of the movie.

The production value of this movie was actually surprisingly good. The creatures, both CG and practical, are convincing, the back drops make you believe they’re really in the forest (they probably were) and the costumes look accurate. My assumption is that someone gave this movie a lot of money on the belief that McBride could do no wrong. Well he did, so sucks to be you, money people.

The actors were all fairly good in the movie. McBride played the same character McBride always plays, but this time with an accent. Franco was pretty good. The man servant guy was pretty good. Zooey Deschanel may have come closest to being funny in the beginning when they were using the fact that she’d been trapped in a tower so long she didn’t know normal people’s customs and started brushing her hair with a fork. I said she came closest to funny; didn’t say she arrived. And Portman was super hot. At one point she was wearing a thong! And that MAY have been the reason I wanted to watch this. Impossible to say for sure, really. As for her performance, it was okay. She probably wanted to take a little break after acting her sweet ass off in Black Swan. Justin Theroux’s choices for the wizard were a little tedious though.

So that’s basically the movie. Is this the worst movie ever? No. Is it the worst comedy? No. Is it the worst comedy set in medieval times? … Oh, no probably not. That’s probably that Martin Lawrence Black Knight movie. But, you also don’t need to see this. I don’t technically need to ruin it for you because it’s not a surprising movie, but good triumphs over evil, Zooey and Franco get married, and McBride gets Portman kinda. Surprised? No, probably not. I give this movie a “Don’t bother” out of Crap.

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

Surf’s Up (2007)

A real man is strong enough to admit when he’s wrong. Now, I don’t know if I’d say I was wrong, per se, but … oh wait. Never mind, I was totally wrong. So, in my previous review I revealed that I had rented 2 computer animated movies about birds, and that I had decided one would be crap and the other one would be alright (which was revealed yesterday to be Rio). What I was wrong about was that today’s movie, Surf’s Up (with the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Jon Heder, Diedrich Bader, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, and Brian Posehn), would be crap.

Cody Maverick (okay, we can knock a few points off for giving TheBeef that name) is an aspiring surfing penguin living in Antarctica with his mother and his brother (Brian Posehn). A bird of some kind rides a whale up to Antarctica looking for surfer’s for a yearly contest held in tribute to Big Z, a famous surfing penguin who died some years back while surfing, and also happens to be TheBeef’s inspiration. Cody begs his way onto the whale and catches a trip down to … wherever the Hell it took place. It’s not important, okay?! On the whale, he meets a surfing chicken, name Chicken Joe (voiced by Napoleon Dynamite himself, Jon Heder) who is on his way to the competition and seems to be either constantly stoned or brain damaged. They reach the contest and meet the douchey contest manager, Reggie Belafonte (James Woods), the much more douchey previous year’s champion, Tank Evans (the amazing Deidrich Bader, who had never let me down in a movie until I sat through Meet the Spartans), and the love interest, Lani (Zooey Deschanel, whose name I really resent having to type). Anyway, TheBeef challenges Tank because Tank was douching it up to Chicken Joe, but TheBeef is not that good of a surfer and crashes, gets pummeled by waves, and inevitably gets knocked out by hitting his head against a rock. Lani rescues him and takes him back to her house for treatment from her uncle, Geek (The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges). Can TheBeef learn to surf and win the competition? Tune in to the movie to find out! Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

I completely went in to this movie with low expectations and this movie was able to blow those expectations out of the water (pun intended). The voice acting really suited their parts. You need a kind of annoying teenage sounding person? TheBeef! You need three people that can act (?) stoned and loopy? Bridges, Heder, and Zooey! I mean, with a name like Zooey, how can you not be interested in mind-altering substances? Need two douchebags? Woods and Bader can play that! And you need a sarcastic older brother type? Well I WISH Posehn was my older brother! Completely perfect cast. Although this movie does make me wonder about Bridges in a way I may have mentioned on my review of the Big Lebowski. Had I not seen True Grit, I would think Bridges is a fantastic actor … while playing characters that are basically The Dude. Both Tron’s, Surf’s Up, and of course Big Lebowski; all of them The Dude. Thankfully I have seen True Grit so I know the man has range. I need to see more Jeff Bridges movies to either solidify or destroy the idea that he can only do one character really well. I don’t want to start thinking he’s Danny McBride or something. OH! Low blow?

Anyway, just like Rio and completely opposite Alpha and Omega, this movie is really well animated. Just having seen the few trailers I had, I also would not have realized that the movie was meant to look like someone was filming a documentary, but it was and this was used well in the movie. Not too much so that it’d be annoying, but also using that to comic effect in itself. The animation was also great. The animation gave a lot of personality to the characters and, most importantly, had really beautiful and realistic water effects. Non-gamers may not realize how important water effects can be. When you see a game whose animation cannot pull off water, it’s bothersome, but if it does it right, you notice it. I feel like I pay attention to water in video games a lot because it can be quite the sign of the dedication of the programmers. One problem with the animation is that sometimes you’d lose track of the characters because there’s not a whole lot you can do with penguins to individualize them.

The story was fine, but as is pretty usual in movies, it’s not entirely original. I guess you could say it’s original in that it’s a competition where the main character learns how to win and also learns about himself, but then make them penguins. And I wouldn’t say that the movie is laugh out loud funny either, as I don’t recall laughing myself. The jokes and comedy of the movie were just kind of there. I noticed them, they waved, but they never ran over and raped me into laughter. Wow that’s an awful metaphor. One thing I did think about the story is that, being animated, it seemed more for kids, but I don’t know that a kid would enjoy this beyond seeing penguins. So, whereas Rio was probably more enjoyable to kids than adults, I would say this one would be more for adults but the kids probably wouldn’t think much of it. Maybe I just don’t know what kids think. If I did, I probably wouldn’t hate them so much.

So there you have it, I sometimes assume incorrectly. But, I may also have been thinking this was Happy Feet when I rented it. Thankfully, it wasn’t. But when I eventually see Happy Feet, we shall see if that movie can overcome my pessimism as Surf’s Up did. I give this movie “Give it a look-see” out of “TACOS!!”

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