Bride Wars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway is Cute but Predictable

I did not go to this movie voluntarily. My girlfriend had been asking me for weeks. I finally succumbed on Friday night by using two free Fandango movie passes to get us tickets for a ‘date-night,’ not something we get many opportunities to do. We met for dinner, got popcorn and candy (though I wasn’t too keen on sharing my candy) and then settled in to watch Bride Wars. Good old Friday night date style…ish. Other than a gay couple – or two chummy male friends? – I was among very few men, all of whom were there with their ladies, presumably by force, coercion or bribery.

It was certainly better than I’d expected but, a. that’s not saying much and b. movies for which I have low expectations are almost certainly better than they would have been if I were expecting the cinematic experience of a life-time.

There were some hardy laughs, and jokes of differing style and laugh potential, depending on what makes you chuckle. So, there, I have to give Bride Wars credit. But is that enough? It was far from hysterical all the way through. The antics and shenanigans (can there be both at once?) were mildly amusing but they hardly elicited bouts of guffaws throughout. It was, to say the least from the perspective of a man who actually does enjoy romantic comedies but prefers for them to have a little something more (do they ever?), tolerable. I was not unhappy or uncomfortable being there. It wasn’t too long and I didn’t look at my watch. It kept moving quickly enough, but that brings me to my final problem.

It was predictable.

Now, I think most women, though their powers of prediction generally surpass mine, consciously ignore the inclination to predict when watching romantic comedies for fear of realizing that the vast majority of the genre is silly and not worth blue-lighting. However, I can’t turn that switch off and found the entire thing mesmerizingly predictable. Part of that is, no doubt, due to the commercials which leave little to our imaginations, and the rest is a result of the number of possible outcomes there could be (very few, in case that was unclear) and then picking up on the none-too-subtle hints that the director drops (but I don’t think means to!).

But what of it? Is it a crime to work within an inflexible genre? No. Is it my fault for going to see this movie that I had to know the end to before it happened? Partly.

So at the end of the day I’ll give this flick 5 Chocolate Salty Balls.

Shia LeBeouf and Billy Bob Thornton are Great in Eagle Eye

Off the bat, I liked this movie. It was fast-paced, entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking, which is about all you can ask from most movies these days. Shia LeBeouf, as I think everyone loves to remind us, is quite the up and coming little actor and with Stephen Speilberg keeping him tucked tightly beneath his wing, he’s sure to be just fine (if inserted after the fact into a few digitally enhanced remakes).

Sort-of Spoiler Alert

The plot of Eagly Eye was a combination of iRobot – a supercomputer that thinks it knows how to protect human beings better than they can protect themselves – and Die Hard IV – cyber-terrorism and losing control to the technology that we’re so dependent on. So, it wasn’t the most unique idea ever, but it was a combination of interesting ideas done in their own way. Eagle Eye pushed reality and technology a few steps further than they go, and in that sense it could remind one of a Michael Crichton approach.

Billy Bob Thornton was very funny, even though I don’t think he was supposed to be haha funny. But I laughed. I think he’s hilarious. Michelle Monaghan, the female lead, was okay. I never find her to be a particularly engaging actress (think Mission Impossible III), but Rosario Dawson wasn’t bad. She’s also in a hell of a lot more movies than I remembered at the time, and could be a lot more badass (remember Sin City) if they’d let her be.

At the end of the day, if you like action flicks then this one is entertaining and probably worth your time.

7 Chocolate Salty Balls.

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James Bond Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig is Dark and Awesome

I really enjoyed the new Bond movie. And this is coming from a classic Bond fan – Sean Connery all the way, baby, I usually say, but this was damn fine Bond.

One thing I liked was the crime syndicate that we’re seeing form – a throwback to some classic bond when it wasn’t always some new and random villain. And the proper development of a Bond character is also great stuff. Craig isn’t a classic bond figure who’s smooth talking, always in control, chillax to the max, etc. He’s rough around the edges, doesn’t have total control over his emotions (but he’s learning) and not fully developed in the personality department either.

But he fucks, shoots and is badass like any other bond (other than Timothy Dalton).

The plot was good, the action was great and the bad guy was wicked. I did notice that they really made an effort to get all of the various possible chase scenes in there though: land, air, sea and by foot. A little much in that department but that’s cool.

I know this review is a little late coming but hopefully if you haven’t seen it yet you’ll consider giving it a shot. If it’s a bonus it was under two hours which I think is an excellent feature for any movie, especially ones that tend to run way too long.

What did you think of this movie? What was your favorite part? You pscyhed for the next one?

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8 Chocolate Salty Balls for Quantum of Solace.

South Park Episode 1208, “The Chinese Problem,” Grapples with the Rape of Indiana Jones and Chinese Power

Oh, how Wednesdays are better when new episodes of South Park are on at 10 p.m. After a 6 month hiatus, South Park finally returned to us tonight with a brand new episode.

Berare da Chineez

Cartman, it seems, is terrified that with the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics (read my post about the Opening Ceremonies HERE), the Chinese were declaring their intent to conquer the world and take over America. Thus, he forms the American Liberation Front, which is “dedicated to freeing America from Chinese tyranny.”

After infiltrating a P.F. Changs to find out what the Chinese plan for taking over America is, a standoff with the police ensues and when it’s over Cartman realizes that as much as he wants America to retain its power in the world, that can’t be at the cost of American dignity – a lesson he learned by watching Butters unethically shoot people in their dicks.

The Rape of Indiana Jones

The perhaps even more nonsensical but equally as terrifying half of the plot concerned the rape of Indiana Jones by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who, the episode contends, destroyed Indiana Jones and effectively raped him senseless by making a fourth and totally worthless movie.

Stan, Kyle, the county attorney (who weirdly had four fingers on one hand and five on the other) and police officers all continue to relive the horror of that movie, seeing Lucas and Spielberg gang up on and rape Indiana Jones. One amusing reference was to the classic movie, Deliverance and a particularly disturbing scene therein.

The boys decide to take the two director-producers to trial and prosecute them for the rape they committed; when the cops bust into Spielberg’s house, they find him and Lucas raping a storm-trooper, a reference to the two butchering the classic Star Wars films with digital enhancements and three crappy additional movies. This issue was already tackled in episode 609, “Free Hat,” (click HERE to read about that episode).

In the end, everyone is incredibly relieved that the two evil men are brought to justice for their crimes.

My Thoughts

First of all, you can’t find a South Park episode I don’t like. Even if it’s not the most hilarious or most interesting plotline, I still think that they’re all good and worth seeing. This episode had some good laughs and some good points.

I always appreciate how far the show will take anything, whether to make you uncomfortable or think about what’s important to you, and they definitely took things crazily far with the raping of Indiana Jones – both the use of the word rape and the visual depictions of what happened to him. I don’t think it was necessary, appropriate or tasteful but when could South Park ever be described by any of those adjectives.

Particularly on the Deliverance side of things it was funny and made you cringe, and perhaps by using such a strong analogy, Parker and Stone were really trying to convey how terrible they considered the actions of Lucas and Spielberg to be when it came to their greed and personal interests rather than what was best for the character of Indiana Jones and the previous films’ artistic integrity.

Also, though the conclusion with the Cartman and China issue was a good one, I thought that it was arrived at a bit abruptly and after a shoddy attempt at interweaving that plot with the other plot. I wish that they’d spent more time making a real ending out of that part of the episode which actually is serious and important rather than being silly with Indiana Jones – though, of course, perhaps the Indiana issue was more important to Parker and Stone than the rise of the Chinese?

Summary

What did you think about this new episode? Which issue did you like more: Indiana Jones or China? Are you excited for the rest of the season?

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My Best Friend’s Girl, with Dane Cook and Kate Hudson is Great Laughs and Silly Antics

A lot of people think that Dane Cook is childish. I can’t help but agree, though I still think he’s hilarious. And this movie was a testimony to that. I have no doubt that Cook had a hand in writing this movie – points at which they just told him, “insert your material here.”

Having seen Dane Cook live, I felt like I was watching bits of his sketches – not that they seemed to be giving him moments of stand-up comedy mid-film, but that the way he rehearses his own material again and again until he has it perfectly is the way he prepared for this role.

In any case, I laughed a lot. I’m going to tell you a joke from the movie as this blog does concern religion and this is one of the more religious moments from the movie. If you don’t want a joke (not plot related) spoiled, skip down after this paragraph:

A priest and a rabbi are at a wedding. They see a little boy bend over to pick something up, and the priest says, “I’d really like to screw him.” The rabbi asks, “Out of what?”

Also, the pizza restaurant, Cheesus Crust, was a hilarious touch, as was the owner’s reason for why she had created it.

Really – some great moments and consistent laughing fun. Be warned, though, this movie is crazy vulgar and incredibly disgusting – two characteristics I prize highly in funny movies but which you may not enjoy.

I give this a robust 7.5 Chocolate Salty Balls.

Did you like the movie? Do you like Dane Cook? Watch My Best Friend’s Girl again from your very own home!

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Tina Fey’s Baby Mama, Starring Amy Poehler, is Pretty Funny

Alright, it definitely wasn’t the funniest movie around and it doesn’t deserve any serious accolades or love from the critics, but I laughed enough times and generally enjoyed watching it. Is that such a spectacular endorsement? No. But the critics panned this movie and it certainly didn’t deserve that.

Tina Fey gave a standard Tina Fey-ey performance, and her primary co-stars did a fine job too. You don’t expect the world, you don’t get it, but everybody goes home happy. It’s kind of like most sex – it doesn’t blow your mind but you’re more relaxed afterwards and pleased you did it.

A great part about this movie were the major roles played by Steve Martin and Sigourney Weaver, Fey’s boss and surrogate agency owner, respectively. They both did a great job, were totally random and silly in their parts and were fun to see.

I give this movie five chocolate salty balls, and recommend it to anyone who has an hour and a half to kill and enjoys silliness.

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The 9/11 Conspiracy is Finally Revealed in “Mystery of the Urinal Deuce,” South Park episode 1009

A lot of people think that 9/11 was not a simple terrorist masterminded plot, but a far more elaborate conspiracy, the extent of which nobody really knows. Personally, I’ve watched Loose Change, a movie about one of these conspiracy theories, and though creepy, I could have used some concrete factual confirmation to support the string of “evidence.” In fact, I felt pretty similarly to the way I did when watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

In any case, this episode mocks those who think that 9/11 was a conspiracy that had anything to do with our government and tries to make them feel foolish, petty and unpatriotic. I can’t say that it’s my favorite episode, but it certainly is making a point. What’s great is Mr. Mackey’s many names for poop since the whole thing starts as a search for who went number 2 in the urinal.

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Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder with Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. Lambasts Hollywood as This Summer’s Sensational Satire

Few movies have started this awesome – with so much spunk, cursing and hilariousness. The opening minute is just ridiculous. Though I can’t say the movie maintains this level of absurdity through the duration, there are numerous great scenes and funny lines. At the very least, it’s entirely ridiculous.

This seems to have been the brainchild of Ben Stiller, who really did do an excellent job, but I can’t say that anyone wasn’t great, including Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. I’m not going to tell you all of the cameos and other funny people that appeared because catching them all is half the fun.

A large point of the movie was to lambast Hollywood for its celebrity idiocy, absurdity and general way of doing things, from the rich Jewish moguls at the top, to the insecure big name actors and the idealistic new actors – and every level of fake, pretentious, nonsensical bullshit in between and around them all. In that respect, the movie gets an A+. What a great job it did, really taking its mockery to the next level.

Without taking away from certain jokes, cameos and lines, there’s not too much more I feel I can say, other than to let you know if this will be for you. It is vulgar, very rated R for language and grossness (though much of the blood and guts is meant to look fake to emphasize the Hollywoodness of it), and filled with cultural jokes, movie trivia/history and stupid people to laugh at. If these things aren’t up your alley – particularly satire as an artform – then this movie is definitely not for you. If you enjoy any of those things, especially when they’re executed in wonderful ways that keep a smile on your face for over 50% of the time you’re in the movie, then I’d check this out.

I award it a solid 8 Chocolate Salty Balls. A great end-of-summer movie. Get your own copy: Tropic Thunder.

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Rogen and Franco Do a Great Job in the Bizarre and Twisted Pineapple Express

Honestly, I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this movie. It definitely won’t be for everyone, but to those for whom this movie holds any appeal, I think you’ll get a surprising kick out of it, mostly because there’s not a whole lot like it.

Pineapple Express has a slightly Lebowski-esque feel with a dollop of 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad style humor. But tossing around those movie names doesn’t quite begin to convey to you what kind of movie you’re about to see or just what elements of those films it really has – they’re just feelings really.

First, there’s an incredible amount of pot smoking and the entire movie really does revolve around pot. If you don’t like getting high or laughing at high people, the movie’s probably not for you. There’s also a surprising amount of action. I knew the basic plot before going into the film, but I expected it to be a bit tamer. The violence was pretty gratuitous, and I’m surprised how many people got shot and how much nasty stuff they showed. Also, a lot of people proved surprisingly fine after a lot of getting shot. It was no Tarantino film or anything but for a stoner movie there was a lot of blood and violence. For some reason, though, this is what added that twist and gave it the bizarre feel that carried through pretty much the whole film

More than that, it was funny – not laugh your ass off funny over and over again, but good lines with good laughs interspersed pretty regularly. An element I was not expecting (it seems like there were a lot) was the human touch. The conversations between a lot of the characters, particularly as the stoned scenes went, were shockingly realistic, personal and sometimes touching. Sometimes I don’t find Seth Rogen’s speech patterns particularly realistic, but in this movie I thought he was different – maybe due to the dynamic with James Franco. In any case, the conversation was natural and felt real – perhaps that’s what they call good acting.

There’s more to say, but since I think at this point you can probably decide whether or not it’s for you, I’m going to go ahead and bow out with a surprising rating of 8 Chocolate Salty Balls. Good laughs, weird action and mostly more bizarre than I could have expected.

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“Fat Butt and Pancake Head” (0705) Encapsulates My Hatred of Ben Affleck

I think that Ben Affleck is one of the worst actors on the planet. I hate him in absolutely everything, and am so disgusted when he’s in movies that have the potential to be good or at least entertaining because I’m sure he’ll ruin it for me and everyone else. I was so happy when Matt Damon (who I think is a premier actor and in good movie after good movie these days) stopped sticking so close to his old pal.

For these reasons I love this episode. I also have no real affinity for Jennifer Lopez and so making fun of her is just fine by me. Plus the line, “Oooo, Ben Affleck spooge” sends me rolling on the floor.

Other than a lot of “Oh my God”s and “Jesus”s, there isn’t anything in this episode that pertains to religion, but boy howdy is it silly and good old fashioned South Park fun: pick two obnoxious and shitty celebrities and spend 23 minutes making them look like jackasses. Great stuff. For the record, I also love the episode where the couple with asses for faces turns out to be Ben Affleck’s parents.

To learn more about my hatred for Ben Affleck and read my article about this hatred and my theories about his unwarranted success, please click HERE, then scroll to The Catalyst archives. Volume 3, Issue 1, pages 4 and 5 tell this story.

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