Tower Heist

Let’s start with a list of what Tower Heist is not.  Tower Heist is not:
– an Italian Job/Fast Five/Ocean’s Eleven type thriller
– a raunchy funny comedy like Bridesmaids, or that funny at all
– an award winning film on any level

Tower Heist does have:
– current relevant material (it’s about a bunch of working class folk getting duped by a douchebag billionaire into a Ponzi scheme)
– a stellar supporting cast (Gabourey Sidibe with a Jamaican accent, where can I see MORE MORE of you?!, Eddie Murphy, GADS how I’ve missed you, Tea Leoni, you always surprise me by how freaking likeable and adorable you are)
– a ridiculous plot and premise, that is so laughably ludricrous

Things I could do without:
Ben Stiller. I have seen too much of you, and you are boring and ugly. I am tired of looking at your pushover face and seeing you furrow your catepillar brows.  Go away.
– Matthew Broderick. You were so adorable, funny and cute when you were young. That does not translate into middle age, unfortunately. You just seem sad, very very sad and you depress me.

Tower Heist felt like a sequel to a very funny film, in the sense that the humor was too safe, and mostly toed or overstepped the line into just not being all that funny.  In the end, not as many laughs as I would have liked, only a few thrills, but in general, good if you just want to make your mind melt for a couple of hours…$6

If you heart Tower Heist:

Recommendations by …
Meet the Fockers
Beverly Hills Cop
Oceans Twelve

Crazy, Stupid, Love

For a star studded cast, Crazy, Stupid, Love fell a little bit short of expectations. There was too much hype and too much expectation before I saw the movie. And while watching the film, I began to doubt whether I really liked movies starring Steve Carell as the main lead and the disappointment mirrored my experience when watching Date Night, except substitute Mila Kunis with Ryan Gosling as the resident hottie.

The biggest excitement of the film hands down is Ryan Gosling…I mean the only reaction you can possibly have whether you’re a guy, girl, single or not, straight, gay is HOT DAMN when you see those artfully crafted chiseled fucken abs. It was refreshing to see Ryan Gosling in a film where his function was to be just a hot piece of meat. I feel like I haven’t seen that in awhile…he’s either wooing his lady fans as the tragically lovesick lead in rom coms like The Notebook or beautifully tragic and dejected lead in Blue Valentine. It was quite cheesy the way they milk his hotness down to the Dirty Dancing “homage,” but you know nobody cares. It was actually funny to see and hear the reaction of the audience as they squirm in their seats in excitement.

Here, he plays a womanizer who volunteers his services to help Steve Carell rediscover his manhood with a makeover (one that I was not seeing significant transformation, but whatevers). Steve Carell plays the same used up role as in his other films. Frankly, it hasn’t really worked since The 40 Year Old Virgin. I will give this character more credit as it has a little more depth as he struggles between holding onto the love of his life and regaining his dignity.

The women in this film certainly took a back seat to the budding bromance of Steve and Ryan. The only thing I would say is that they didn’t really add or detract from the film. I don’t think Julianne Moore or Emma Stone was particularly great. I didn’t find their chemistry with their respective pairings particularly convincing, but I also don’t expect much of that from this sort of romcoms. Marisa Tomei was funny. Overall, the movie was entertaining, but fell a little flat. Definitely, not the best comedy of its class of the year as some might claim. The key is to watch with no expectation and you’ll walk out pleased. $6

If you heart Crazy, Stupid, Love:

Recommendations from Lil D:
Date Night
The Hangover

Ruben Fleischer’s & Michael Diliberti’s 30 Minutes or Less

A comedic rendering of the real-life manipulation and slaying of the pizza-deliver worker Brian Douglas Wells. The characters, motivations and plot devices may seem contrived, overly-complex, but are in fact consistent with the historical event (though the true events were not laughable and totally fucking creepy).

What remains inconsistent is the kidnapping of beautiful actress Dilshad Vadsaria as a means of recovering the $100,000 bank take (Dilshad’s mere presence is unrealistic given she is far too attractive to be Aziz Ansari’s sister or Jesse Eisenberg’s love interest). The abduction occurs in a public restroom stall despite our observation the kidnappers only knew Dilshad’s apartment address (the building address at best, not the actual room). Are we to believe Dilshad Vadsaria favors a dirtier, more communal bathroom to the comforts of her own apartment? That she would go out of her way, walk across the street to a convenience store or a gas station, to make her anus (symbolically and literal soft tissue) more vulnerable, more susceptible to stink, flesh-eating bacteria and airborne illness because that is where she likes to plop the doo-doo? And why would the filmmakers demand Dilshad is a womanly creature who wants to do this? Is she strange? Is she a pervert? Why the desire to save up her defecation for strategic, more urban drops? Is the appeal to her the PUBLIC, the SOCIAL arena that is forced to accept her abuse? Or is it the possibility for INTRUSION that gets her excited? In which case she was victorious on both accounts.

But even if that were the case, why would her abductors not attack her in the privacy of her apartment (complex, lobby, roof)? Why would they wait around, indulge her, until she was in an exposed space with plenty of foot traffic – and then confront her? And how did they know she was a woman who needed to perform doody in this Jeremy Bentham, panopticonish spectacle? There are simply too many unknowns surrounding this scene. I believe the scene may exist as a vehicle to accommodate the off-color but not wholly unfunny reference to the Slumdog Millionaire diarrhea-outhouse scene.

30 Minutes is essentially a vehicle for Danny McBride to get done what he does best – be totally fucking awesome. One aspect of that is cultivating the uneducated, arrogant, rednecked persona best suited for carrying his jokes. The man cannot be stopped. Motherfuckers keep trying to stop him and he continues to slay naysayers. 30 Minutes also has a more skillful ending than other films of its caliber (I mentally categorize it with Horrible Bosses, The Change-up, Due Date, Date Night, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The Hangover Part II – flicks with so much potential but are ultimately mediocre and stumble from high expectations). It stops before it can ruin itself. On a dime. With paint in the eyes. What does it have most other flicks don’t? The triumphant performance of Michael Pena, a unsung and underrated Mexican genius of his generation . . . $6

If you heart 30 Minutes or Less:

Recommendations by Cheet Cheet
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Tropic Thunder
The Big Lebowski

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

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

Let the Right One In

Halloween time is a time for horror movies, and what better movie to watch for these scary dark times than Let the Right One in (also known as Let Me In), a slightly tweaked take in the traditional vampiric tale.  I must admit, I’m a bit of a vampire dork.  I read Vampire Diaries as a teen, devoured all the Anne Rice novels, read Dracula probably about 10 times, and waiting in line impatiently as my mom bought my tickets for the rated R Dracula when it came out (I was too young at the time to buy my own tickets).  So for me, this is definitely a refreshing departure from those sickeningly sweet, mindless vampire shows/movies that are out these days.

This is a story about a blond 12 year old Swedish boy, Oskar, who is bullied at school, an outcast among his peers, who finds an accepting heart in that of a centuries old sweet looking vampire girl, Eli, who lives next door.  Little does he know that she is quite different from other people; to him, she just smells kinda funny (which she is curiously extremely self-conscious about), only comes out at night, doesn’t go to school, but later finds out what she really is, but doesn’t seem to mind.   He knows intrinsically that she wouldn’t hurt him.

You start rooting for him, since he’s the poor chump who’s getting bullied all the time for being a weird little kid, and really, it’s a good thing that he makes nice with the vampire girl cuz he gets whaled on at school, and finally his bullies get their due, and a bit more, when his vampire girlfriend takes vengeance.  It’s a sweet love story in its own way, with plenty of haunting/gory moments (after all the girl’s head does semi-explode into blood), that’s enjoyable for a late night showing…$6

If you heart Let the Right One In:

Recommendations from …:

Vampire Hunter Miyo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Interview with a Vampire

Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis’s Machete

Damn dis movie wiz da bomb!!!! First I wuz like what da hail Danny Trejo you old as fuck! What are you – like ninety? You don’t need a machete you need a food processor cuz you prolly have no more fuckin teeth son. But then he started slicing muthafuckers and I was like okay this Mexican can still make moves man. He be dodging all varieties of honkeyz in this movie from redneck KKKs (Don Johnson) to rich-ass political (Robert De Niro) to Steven Seagull (some kind of half-Chink assassin I don’t know). Especially in this final showdown against Seagull – that Injun got his belly poked through like a BBQ skewer son. And he could barely feel that shit! I was like damn you muthafuckaz copied Monty Python and the Holy Grail fuckin hangers-on muthafuckers. It was still cool though becauze with the knife all inbred in his belly, Seagull committed Seppuku – the Japanese art of suicide.

The other thingz was bitches be getting hella stripped in this movie ya’ll. And all up ons Danny Trejo’s penis bacon or should I say chorizo. There’s this scene where Lindsay Lohan, her moms, and Danny Trejo are all up in a swimming pool drinking hella Patron and fucking each other and videotaping the whole thing. And when Lindsay Lohan showed her titties I was like damn Fez you wuz a lucky muthafucker man and I’ll bet you still strokin it off to that. And that wasn’t even the hottest shit in the movie cuz! Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, these fine-ass nurses – by the end every dude in the theater was holding his dick in his hands. Until Cheech got his ass crucified which wuz a major boner killer. I didn’t want to see him go out like that G I shed a little tear.

So also there were parts of this movie that sucked cat nutz but it wuz like they meant it to be that way. I was like why you make yur movie suckz on purpose player that shit is like lying to your own brain. But the political messages about wetbacks crossing the border and Texan vigilantes – that shit is for real though. Because I know hella Latinos without papers and they are still good people though. They drive kind of slow but that’s okay. Stay up my Chicano bruthaz!! Better than those Enron muthafuckers trying to pillage our shit and that dirty Jew Bernie Madoff. This movie will get to the heart and is bawler son!!! . . . $6

If you heart Machete:

Recommendations by DJ Gun-Ray
Black Snake Moan
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

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