Monday, August 30, 2010

Has 'nanny' overstayed her welcome?

It's been a while since we last saw the good, old nanny on the big screen. So much so, that we have forgotten how she operates. When we need her but do not want her, she must stay; when we want her but no longer need her, then she must go. Sure we may have wanted her to return but now that she has, we realize we don't really need her anymore.

Emma Thompson in Nanny McPhee Returns
Nanny McPhee Returns continues the story of the title character through the years of WWII as she arrives at the Green family farm to help out a destressed mother (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) who has to deal with her three wild children, as well as her aristocratic niece and nephew, while her husband (played by a very scarce Ewan McGregor) is off fighting in the war. Life couldn't get much worse, right? Wrong. On top of all this, Mrs. Green is struggling to keep her farm from an evil brother-in-law who needs to sell the farm to pay off his gambling debts.

Luckily, Nanny McPhee (small "c", big "P") shows up, warts and all, to save the day. Or at least that's how it should be, right? Things should start to get better when Scary Poppins arrives; however, her presence only seems to add to the entire mess of the film.

As the movie progresses, things become crazier and crazier and it becomes apparent that there is no structure to this film. It bogs the audience down in an overly busy, hyperactive "subplots" that make you feel like you are in (or would rather be in) a daycare center filled with spoiled brats.

As far as being a sequel goes, it isn't a very good one. Yes, there is much more magic, but much less story, humor, and heart. As in the original, the nanny shows up claiming that she has five lessons to teach the children, but after the first one, the lessons (along with any sense of story) take back seat to almost two hours of CGI antics (such as piglettes doing syncronized swimming, dancing barley that takes the shapes of random animals, and a constantly belching crow). The children start acting as if they are learning their lessons (and Nanny McPhee starts loosing her warts as if they were), but it never quite feels like they garnered their true meaning.

The movie tries ending on a charming, warm note, as its predecessor did, but fails completely. Once the ending hits, it is hard to believe that that's how it is really going to end and we realize that Nanny McPhee  did absolutely nothing to help the family (or our familes at that).

Nanny McPhee is a loveable character and it would have been nice to see her return in a, for lack of a better word, better movie than this. Nanny McPhee Returns is a jumbled mess of a movie and it feels like nothing less than chaos on steroids, it is too long, and I can't imagine any child (or adult for that matter) getting anything out of this film.

Skip it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Movies You Should See

Drama/ Comedy:

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Garden State (2004)

Being John Malkovich (1999)


American Beauty (1999)

American History X (1998)

Rocky (1976)

Rocky Balboa (2006)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Gran Torino (2008)

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Invictus (2009)

Titanic (1997)

Seven Pounds (2008)

Wall Street (1987)


No Country for Old Men (2007)

The Departed (2006)

Crime/ Comedy:

Fargo (1996)

Raising Arizona (1987)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)


The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Prestige (2006)

Jaws (1977)

Sleepy Hallow (1999)


Scream (1996)

Scream 2 (1997)

Halloween (1978)

The Ghost Writer (2010)

Cape Fear (1991)


Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Back to the Future (1985)

Shanghai Noon (2000)

Rush Hour (1998)

Hitch (2005)

The Karate Kid (1984)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

School of Rock (2003)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Austin Powers (Trilogy)

American Pie (1999)

American Wedding (2003)

Superhero Movies:

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

The Dark Knight (2008)

X2: X-Men United (2003)

Iron Man (2008)

Superman (1978)


V for Vendetta (2005)

The Matrix (1999)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

RoboCop (1987)

Taken (2009)


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Signs (2002)

Men in Black (1997)

I Am Legend (2007)

Independence Day (1996)

Alien (1979)

Predator (1987)

Inception (2010)

E.T. (1982)

The Terminator (1984)

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

The Box (2009)


A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Psycho (1960)

The Shinning (1980)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Disturbia (2005)

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Planet Terror (2007)

Death Proof (2007)

Poltergeist (1982)

The Descent (2005)

The Omen (1976)


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)


Double Indemnity (1944)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)


Anything by Pixar


Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I think it's fair to say that when the opening Universal title sequence came up, every geek in the theater got a boner. Everything about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World screams nerd afrodisiac- from the comic book/ video game feel of the movie to the music, action, and even the gorgeous love interest.

The trailer for this film tells you pretty much all you need to know about this movie. Scott Pilgrim is your average 22 year old Canadian: he is an inessential member of a terrible indie rock band, he shares a tiny, one room apartment with his gay roomate, and is dating a 17 year old high school girl. The whole "dating a 17 year old high school girl" thing doesn't last for long after he meets the girl of his dreams (literally) at a party. Scott can barely speak to her, but is willing to fight each of her seven evil exes in mortal combat like death matches in order to be with her.

With a runtime of almost two hours, this movie makes you kind of wish that Ramona (the goregous love interest) had five evil exes instead of seven. Michael Cera spends too much of his time putting fist to face and not enough time growing into his character. If the ominous, narrating voice from nowhere hadn't told us towards the end of the movie, "Scott has earned the power of love!" or, "Scott has earned the power of self-respect!", we wouldn't be any the wiser.

This movie really solidifies the theory that Michael Cera doesn't have much range. This movie probably would have captured people's attention more had there been a different lead. Thank God we have Edgar Wright. Wright really knows his stories and knows how to tell them well. He is good at paying tribute to classic film genres in a very inventive and entertaining ways (see Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). Wright brings his talents to this film, making sense where sense probably doesn't belong. Wright sets everything "right" (Haha).

As I said, this movie is based off a series of graphic novels (I wish people would just call them comic books), written by Bryan Lee O'Mally, but it runs more like it is based of a video game. The establishing shot of Scott's apartment that opens the movie looks like it jumped straight out of a comic book and the little graphics that appear everytime somebody gets hit are about it in terms of this movie running like a comic book. Everyting else, especially the action sequences, feels more like an old, 80's arcade game.

Despite its length and Michael Cera problems, this film is actually entertaining. The semi-hilarious script cupped with a young and vibrant cast gives this movie a kind of charm that is hard for us new millenials to resist.

See this film.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Step Up 3D

I would like to start my review off with a joke... Step Up in 3D.

If you like movies with a strong story, a solid script, and character development beyond going from "single" to "in a relationship", then this is not the movie for you.

This latest installment of the franchise revolves around a teenager nicknamed "Moose", who has just graduated from high school and is ready to start a new life at NYU as an engineering major along side his bff, Camille; the two are seemingly inseparable and do not yet know they are in love with each other. During his departure from his parents,  Moose runs into and befriends a street dancer named Luke, who happens to be the leader of a local dance crew creatively called the Pirates. Coincidentally, Moose happens to have the skill the Pirates need to win the big dance competition that could earn them the money to save their "crib" from foreclosure.

The story in this film is pretty much zero. It lacks originality and the momentum that it needs to keep an audience interested. When people aren't dancing it seems to just stand still and lul the audience to sleep with a pathetic attempt at an actual story. In a film like this, the story should be what matters most and the dancing should be the kick that gives the movie some flavor. That's not how this movie rolls. It relies too heavily on the dancing sequences and not enough on its characters. Not only that, but this movie is so focused on going between the two couples that it fails to revolve around the dance team itself. We never even see them them practicing.

It doesn't help the audience any when an already snoozefest of a plot gets put in the hands of some not-so-talented actors. These characters are boring and there is about as much depth to them as there is to my bathtub. Sometimes the foundation of B acting can be enough to hold a story through (see any of the Twilight films), but in this case it just did not work.

Did I mention how uninspired the script was? The way these characters intereacted with each other seemed as if they couldn't wait for the other person to shut up so they could get their turn to talk; there was a lot of talking going on and not enough listening. There was no passion, no intensity, and no dramatic effect anywhere in sight and it just made the movie more boring than it was already doomed to be. You know there is something wrong with your film when the most dramatic line is "I'm leaving on a train to California", and it makes the audience laugh rather than feel bad.

Well you cannot talk about a movie that has "3D" in the title and not talk about the 3D, right? Well the 3D in this film is pretty good for the most part. This film was shot in 3D unlike most films nowadays that are put into 3D via post production. The 3D is most noticable during the sequences when the dancers have their hands all up in yo face; however, the more spactacular scenes, like the final dance, did not work as well in 3D.

However this movie is good for a couple things: it makes the first Step Up look like it actually has a structured plot while also serving as a prime example of what movies shouldn't be in the future if 3D does in fact become the standard and 3D premium pricing becomes the norm.

So unless you like watching people dance on screen, Step Up 3D is a boring, unoriginal installment to a franchise that has now run its course, but if you are a fan of these movies then you will probably want to see this film.

I say skip it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Other Guys

After success with movies like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and Step Brothers, comedian Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay have proven themselves as some of the top comedic geniuses of our generation. This time around, the duo teams up with Mark Wahlberg to bring us The Other Guys.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (formerly Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch) play two pencil pushing detectives who don't get out much and only want to live up to their idols, played my Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson (who looks like he just got off the set of another Shaft movie). They plan on doing this by uncovering a huge scandal involving the lottery, a multibillion dollar company, and snotty British-American capitalists.

Honestly, there isn't much of a plot here; only the obscure illusion of a plot that only exists so the writers have something to go with and hold the movie together. In reality, the movie doesn't really hold together all that well and eventually the plot becomes so burried in spoof antics of the cliché buddy-cop film,  that we stop carring about the plot all together and just wait for the next laugh out loud moment.

This isn't McKay's best directed film. There are a lot of awkward cuts that don't make sense and a lot of the action scenes are choppy to the point where it is difficult to follow along, especially the opening chase sequence with Johnson and Jackson.

But in the end this is a comedy and we are willing to let everything bad about this movie slide just because it is so gosh, darn funny. Will Ferrell shines in this film, especially, as the nice guy that we all like to like. Ferrell can chalk this preformance up there with his funniest characters like Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy. Wahlberg gets a few laughs out of us as well as the angry guy who always yells, but his yelling gets tiresome by the end of the movie.  Sam Jackson and Dwayne "the Rock" are also very funny in their ten minutes of screen time; it's not that long but it is definitely worth it.

I must say, however, that by the second half of the movie, the laugh out loud moments become less frequent and it starts to run out of steam by the end, as it starts referring back to jokes made in the first half of the movie that have lost their novelty. There are a few very funny joke, very fresh jokes towards the end of the movie, but there just isn't enough.

In the end, the first half of this film is some of the funnist stuff I've seen in a movie and it makes the entire movie worth paying the $8 for. If you like Will Ferrell and movies like Anchorman, then you will like this movie.

This movie is so funny that I have to say see this film.