Simba’s review: African Cats

I was scolded by my co-writers that I shouldn’t review movies seen under the influence. I can understand this, being high can dramatically change my perception of any experience. When asked to go see this movie, there was no way I was gonna watch this movie sober. So I toked up and it was mind-blowing. Now, mind-blowing isn’t always a good thing. It was mind-blowing to see Disney impose human thoughts onto a lion to say things like: “Gee, my dad is the greatest.” What…..?? My mouth was agape at what was happening before my eyes – it was straight ridiculous. Leave it to Disney to take out any educational value of the nature and turn it into a moral family story. On the other hand, I couldn’t believe how effectively these lions and cheetahs could convey and express human emotion by simple dramatic scores. This made me reconsider acting all together. How is it possible these cheetah cubs could elicit so much sympathy in the shivering rain? They seemed so sad. I kept thinking, “Wow – these cheetahs are gooood.”  And then, “Hey, wait – they just cheetahs!” I came to the conclusion that any shitty actor can get by with a decent dramatic score.

African Cats has a laughable story line of five male lions intent on “overthrowing” the “kingdom” of a “rival” on the other side of river and mama cheetah who tries to protect her cubs that have her “fighting spirit”.  Even though I’m ragging on the story, I have to admit I got caught up in the drama. I got scared sometimes when I thought a “character” was going to get mauled. This movie was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It seems to have opened an entirely new genre of overlaying a human story to real-life nature footage. The rolling end credits are a testament to this new genre. The credits resembled a John Hughes move where you get the yearbook pictures of all the seniors and a caption of where they are 10 years later. I half-expected bloopers with Fang laughing and breaking character.

As outrageous as all of this sounds, I cannot deny the fact that there is some incredible and skillful footage of beautiful, wild creatures. In one major way, the movie was successful – it made me very interested in learning more about lions and cheetahs.  Even though the movie itself provided very little educational information about these animals, it left me with enough to want to research it myself… $6.

Simba’s Recommendations:

Disneynature: Earth
The Lion King
Disneynature: Oceans


Hanna kicks ass!  Well, the movie was pretty good, but literally, seriously, scary little kid.  Saorise Ronan does an admirable job portraying an albino-esque girl who has essentially been raised by her dad in the wilderness and taught how to survive in a coming of age type of film amidst government conspiracy.  Can I say, I really like Saorise Ronan.  What a talented little girl.  She was good in Atonement too.

Anyhow, besides the predictable social errors Hanna makes while trying to reintegrate into society, a ploy that has been done numerous times in the past that serve as a kind of comic relief to the concept of a killer adolescent girl, Hanna, the movie has a pretty zingy soundtrack and a fairly good pace.

I also love Cate Blanchett in pretty much any role she does.  Whether it be this hard-as-nails, mannish Southern bitch, or as the regal Queen of England learning how to rule, I always am astounded by how well she does with what she has.  Eric Bana was also alright.  It’s hard for me to assess because it seems he always has to play this emotionless, accented, detached character, but he does have a nice scene of swimming half naked across what seems like the Arctic Ocean.

Hanna was fun, enjoyable, forgettable…$5

Recommendations from …:
Bourne Identity

Win Win

As I promised in my review for Barney’s Version, I went out to see Win Win with my new found interest in Paul Giamatti.  He didn’t disappoint me either, supported by a network of rich characters.  Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent and The Visitor set me up for something spectacular.  Was it spectacular?  No, but it was entirely enjoyable and left me satisfied with a good concoction of humor and warm fuzzies.  It’s important to know that Win Win didn’t abandon common sense in order to contrive its feel-good moments.  It felt honest.  Tom McCarthy has demonstrated the ability to write in enough complexity and flaws into his characters to create sincere connections amongst his characters that don’t require cheap happy endings for warm fuzzies.

Jackie (Amy Ryan) is the wife of Mike (Paul Giamatti) and mother of two girls.  Rather than simply a sounding board to the central male protagonist, Jackie is a separate force of spunk and integrity.  Leo (Burt Young) and Terry (Bobby Cannavale) are delightful side characters that offer lots of comic relief in the somber story of ordinary folk.  Kyle (Alex Shaffer), a troubled teenage boy, falls into the hands of Mike, a struggling small town attorney and an even worse-off high school wrestling coach.  As anticipated by the trailers, Kyle turns out to be a remarkable wrestler.  As exciting as wrestling can be (I have no idea what that feels like), this movie isn’t the one to showcase its awesomeness.  It’s not really about the sport, or the game.  In other words, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a heroic showdown of squirming prepubescent boys.  Overall, a pretty good film.  Do you need to go see it?  No, but if you’ve got a few dollars around and would like to treat yourself for a couple hours, go on ahead… $7

Recommendations from Yolkie:

The Station Agent
The Fighter

A Guide to Our Rating System

So there may be a bit of confusion over how we rate the movies.   How do we figure out what is worth 6 bucks versus 8 bucks?  Well, me and my compadres here at fatkidslist put together the Comprehensive Essential and Ultimate Guide to the way we rate things on our blog, so hopefully that will help to clear up any confusion.  As a note, some of the previous blogs will be updated to reflect this, and the blogs in the future should follow this general format in terms of ratings.

0 bucks  – total waste of my time I wish I could get my two hrs back. Absolutely nothing redeeming about the movie, hate the actors, char dev, etc

1-2 bucks – I’d wait the 4-6 months for it to come out on Redbox and look for it there but not actively look for it anywhere else cuz its not worth it.  If its not there, no big loss.  I don’t want to ever watch this movie again.

3-4 bucks  – I’d consider renting it from somewhere like Blockbuster that should have it three months after theatrical release, but don’t really want to own it or watch it in the theaters, but if it’s out, no big loss

5-7 bucks – wouldn’t want to pay the money to watch it in the theaters exactly but if there was a good matinee showing, I might watch it/ I like it enough to guarantee being able to watch it by downloading it on itunes, in case its out at blockbuster or there arent any rental stores around

8-9 bucks – I do really like this film, but can’t say I’d pay full price for it, but would jump on the chance for some sort of discountoff of a theatrical ticket, but would definitely prefer to watch it before its out on dvd/digital format for rental/purchase.  I would recommend this movie to my friends.

10-12 bucks – I’d pay a full priced theatrical ticket for this movie.  I would highly recommend this movie to everyone.

13-15 bucks – not only would I pay a full priced theatrical ticket for this movie but I would likely go more than once and/or encourage all my friends to watch this movie immediately.  I don’t mind paying a little extra to support this movie.

Gregg Araki’s Kaboom

Maybe no one watches enough pornography to understand what this movie was trying to do. I mean, people know pornography. People know Ds in Vs action. People know Ds in As action and Ds waggling and bumping into and rubbing up against other Ds. Or multiple Ds being eaten after having served a brief tour within various As. Or possibly Vs grinding out on other Vs or maybe a solitary V existing without any stimulation at all (yeah I don’t get it either). Or a V stimulated by her own animal. Or a D being massaged with a foot or stocking. Or a D being prodded and berated by a smoking woman. Or a V disguised in a whipped cream beard. Or a D cumming into a midget’s derby hat while calling him a “very small cowboy” and asphyxiating an illegal alien with your grandmother’s nylon. Yeah, people know that side of pornography.

But what people no longer consider is the narrative of pornography. Maybe that is because narrative has been obliterated by pornographic websites that attempt to distill a film’s essence into a short, thirty second clip you watch over and over while choking yourself with a phallic vegetable. For these films the narrative is the act itself, the violence itself, the progression itself of this distribution of this meat touching that meat. By progression I mean to say the narrative is the order in which Vs are slurped and Ds eaten and rammed and so forth. By violence I mean to say the narrative is also replaced by genre – it is a narrative of FISTING or MILF or PRE-TEEN or DONKEY PUNCH. But milf and pre-teen are not actually characters. And the trajectory of donkey punch or dirty Sanchez does not simulate a traditional narrative arc (of the Freytag pyramid variety) (though Aristotle might disagree, I don’t know, he was a real pervert).

Kaboom director Gregg Araki is looking for that fleshy material that encapsulates the titillation of a sexual act. You know – the material that has brought the actors together. Maybe a woman is showering when the bug exterminator arrives and needs to spray. And her bath robe is at the cleaners. And the bug exterminator has a penile condition where if he doesn’t orgasm when he gets aroused, his boner swells and it explodes. What – you think that woman isn’t going to F him? You think she is just going to let his boner explode? No – they go at it.

Araki takes that substance around the titillating act and cultivates it. Elongates the terror, the fear, the excitement. Teaches it some new tricks. There are super powers. There are cults and conspiracies. There are underground resistance fighters. And there is sex in almost every major scene. Araki  has made a brilliant, sprawling film out of a fascinating constraint . . . $12

Your Highness

Fresh off an Oscar nomination for James Franco and Oscar win for Natalie Portman, both, alongside Danny McBride from the hilarious mini-series Eastbound and Down, star in the newest Universal comedy, Your Highness, and exemplify how you can pick a great movie one day and your next can be a total, utter dud.  This was the worst movie I have seen in theaters in a really really really really long time.  The only reason I sat in my seat and stayed for the entire thing is literally so I could give a completely objective opinion on this blog and check if there were any redeeming parts to the movie.  There weren’t.

Have you ever seen a comedy where you were just dumbfounded because you couldn’t figure out what was funny and the entire audience had scattered nervous giggles because people are just so uncomfortable?  yup, that was us yesterday.

Question: When did rape and child molestation become something that was funny? Oh, never, that’s right.  Ok, I’m actually totally a fan of some forms of shock humor, Sarah Silverman, for example, I think is hilarious though a lot of people find her offensive.  This movie was just not funny, not well written, and not even that well executed.

To give credit where credit is due, I felt that the main cast did as much as they could with what they were given.  They just didn’t have that much to work with.  Which I completely puzzled by because Danny McBride was one of the executive producers.  Danny!  You’re so funny in Eastbound and Down!  What happened?  Did you have some deep intestinal pain, a hernia perhaps, that pained you so much that you couldn’t channel your inner funny man?  Were you so high and wasted that you didn’t bother checking to see if your comedy was actually funny?  Did anyone actually read the script before joining this cursed mess?  I just completely do not understand what happened, how so much fell through the cracks with such a palate of talented actors…$1

You likely won’t heart Your Highness but in the spirit of providing recommendations

Recommendations from …:
Pineapple Express
Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
Stuck on you

Source Code

In a hybrid breed between Inception and Ground hog day, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Captain Colter Stevens in another mind-bending, reality-twisted action thriller where he needs to save the world, charming the audience with his winning smile along the way.  I’m a bit of a stickler for consistency in plot, and so some things in this movie bothered me, but in general, an enjoyable ride and Jake Gyllenhaal wasn’t too rough on the eyes either.

To round out a well-casted group of actors, Michelle Monaghan played the extremely likeable, witty girl he is always trying to save, every 8 minutes, and you can see why he might fall for someone like her: pretty, funny, smart, and realistic.  Vera Farmiga plays the cool, distant role she plays so well, not a far cry from her sleek self in Up in the Air.  Jeffrey Wright, who you might remember from movies like Basquiat, also plays the same weirdly cracked out character that he also plays so well: quirky, fidgety, but clearly exceptionally brilliant in his own way.  In this particular case he plays the lead scientist who creates the “source code” to allow Captain Stevens to relive the critical 8 minutes before a terrorist attack to solve this who-dun-it mystery.

I don’t really have too many other comments for this movie, except that it wasn’t a bad movie, it was fun, a good way to spend 2 hours in an afternoon or evening to just completely forget about any stress that you might have and just relax in the suspension of reality that director Duncan Jones dishes out to you.

No super special effects (e.g.,  Inception), no curiously philosophical takes on life that may or may not change your life (e.g., Matrix), not even really a wickedly original idea that is extraordinarily well-executed (e.g., Memento), but just a decent, fun way to spend some time in the movie theater/at home if you are looking for something fun to watch.  In other words, not quite worth a full priced ticket, but probably worth above waiting for it on rental…$6

If you heart Source Code

Recommendations from …:
Groundhog Day
The Matrix

Barney’s Version

An epic character piece on a whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking, droopy-eyed curmudgeon we frequently see played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti is an actor that has won the hearts of many, he hadn’t won my affection until I saw this movie.  Somehow, even though it was pretty much the same role I’d seen him in before, he convinced me that he’s definitely worth following.  In fact, I’m really looking forward to Win Win.  Stellar supporting roles played by Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike.

What truly won me over was the strong female lead portrayed by Rosamund Pike.  One of the best female characters I’ve seen in years.  Wise, soulful, strong, and kind – and much too good for Barney.  All three wives are unbelievably out of his league, yet it can somehow works.  Good writing is rarely given to female roles.  Here, Pike’s character offered the most insightful and touching dialogue on the screen.

There isn’t too much of plot here.  We follow Barney’s three marriages.  Still, there are elements of suspense as an underlying murder mystery finds it’s way into the narrative.  And honestly, the colorful characters are complicated and endearing enough to hold ground for the film…$8

Yolkie’s recommendations:
Little Children
The Station Agent


Netflix told me that I would enjoy this exactly 1.5 stars.  I thought to myself, now that seems a little harsh, I don’t think I’ve ever even rated anything one star yet on Netflix, this is mainly because I tend to self-select on things I like.  In retrospect, I should have listened to Netflix.  Grown-ups is just about one of the worst movies I’ve seen in the last year.  So many good things going for it too, great cast, I absolutely love Adam Sandler, and am a fan of Chris Rock and David Spade as well (though haven’t seen either of them for a while).  The cover is funny.  Pudgy adult men men slide down a water slide.  Ingenious.

But I think the fatal flaw of this movie is that it is trying to be too much.  It tries to relate some serious message of how kids aren’t really kids anymore or something, while unsuccessfully trying be funny.  In addition, this film assumes from the get go that we are “in” on all the insults, when the jokes themselves are just inside jokes of making fun of each other not even in a very original or funny.  Unfortunately it all ends up netting out to a film that is very unfunny and very very boring.

The worst part of the whole movie is that the moral of the story isn’t even that great.  The hero, Adam Sandler, is this exceedingly successful Hollywood agent, who has ungrateful spoiled children, and a hot fashionista snobby wife, Salma Hayek.  His other 4 other friends who have not done as well for themselves financially. He is totally unlikeable in the beginning and gets only marginally more likeable throughout the movie, ordering around his maid and yelling to some poor chump on the phone, to pretending his maid/nanny is actually an exchange student cuz he’s embarrassed that she’s around?  The plot culminates to a basketball game where the hero purposefully throws a game he could have easily won in order to give a victory to this guy he feels sorry for, because the other guy is sore about game they lost 30 years ago and works as a short order cook as a townie pizzeria and somehow “needs” the victory more.  Talk about seriously condescending and this is somehow supposed to redeem him or something for being an asshole the rest of the time?  If you’re confused, believe me, I’m right there with you.

You’d think with so much comic genius they would have been able to put something half-assed together, but it’s not smart or slap stick or goofy or anything.  It just is.  and it is for far too long.   It was one of those movies that made me think, holy crap, I paid practically nothing for this since it was part of my streaming netflix deal, yet that was clearly too much, and definitely one of those movies where you wish you could just get your two hours back….$1

If you heart Grown-ups

Recommendations from …:
Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo

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