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Nine

No.

I'm not even really sure what Nine is about. I saw it and almost fell asleep... nine times...

The musical numbers seemed pointless. I didn't like a single one of the songs nor did I care about them because they were all about Daniel Day Lewis's character, whom I didn't care about. Clearly, all of the women either had been in a relationship with the director or wanted to be in one whether it be casual or meaningful, but I didn't care and neither the acting nor directing helped to get me involved at all.

I'm not familiar with the source material, but I'm pretty sure that even having seen 8 1/2 wouldn't have helped. I couldn't possibly recommend that you see Nine.

My Sister's Keeper

No.

My Sister's Keeper may as well have been a made-for-TV movie. Absolutely horrendous production value. The acting was awful and the fact that they COMPLETELY changed the end of the book was unnecessary and irresponsible. (I didn't read the book, but I can understand why fans of the novel would be furious.)

Don't even consider watching My Sister's Keeper.

The Ugly Truth

No.

The Ugly Truth was released in theatres on 7/24/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/10/09.

Yes, I did laugh. You will probably laugh as well, but the gags are of little to no substance and you will most likely forget what you thought was funny as soon as you take the disc out of your player.

There was nothing genuine or realistic about the situations in the movie. Every scene was specifically placed to set up the scene after it. With all of the industry folk who read my blog, I'm nervous to mention it, but The Ugly Truth probably would have made a better half-hour comedy series for HBO or Shotime because that's how it's set up.

The Ugly Truth television series outline:
Episode 1 - Introduction (girls wrestling in Jell-O)
Episode 2 - The Deal
Episode 3-4 - He gives her a make over. (Baseball game scene.)
Episode 7 - Vibrating Underwear.
Episode 10 - The trip to Collin Ferguson
Episode 11 - He quits.
Episode 12 - The balloon festival.

Fill it in with some actual, meaningful character development and you would have a pretty entertaining season of television. As a movie though, it's lacking in any kind of depth or realism and so is pretty unrelatable.

Like I said, I laughed and you probably will too... but then you'll forget that you even saw it... my parents saw it in theatres and when I told my mom that I got it from Netflix, she had absolutely no recollection of ever having seen it.

Sherlock Holmes

mmmmm, no.

In my personal rating system, I gave Sherlock Holmes a 3.5 out of 5. This is the first time in 23 months that I've been keeping this blog that I've even mentioned a rating system because I promised, in the header at the top of the web page, that there would be 'no stars, no thumbs. Just a simple yes or no.' The reason I'm doing so is because, while my answer to 'the question' is "NO", I wanted to show you that a contradiction can exist.

Sherlock Holmes is British, as are the rest of the characters. They also speak very quickly. It is, therefore, very difficult to understand much of what they are saying. Eventually you get used to it, but until then, you are left in the dark to figure out what is going on for yourself.

We really do join these characters in the middle of several stories. There's the splitting of Holmes and Watson that is already happening at the beginning (Which, by the way, exceeds the fun of witty banter and enters into the realm of lover's quarrel very early on in the movie and can be somewhat uncomfortable to watch). There's the case involving Lord Blackwood that we jump into at the beginning of the film. There's also the relationship between Holmes and Rachel McAdams character that has clearly been going on for quite some time. Maybe you needed to have read the Doyle's original stories to feel included while watching this movie... I'll never know.

Yes, Sherlock Holmes is an entertaining movie, but no, I don;t think you should see it in theatres. Wait for the DVD and watch it with the subtitles on.

It's Complicated

Yes.

If you are the movies target demographic (45-dead) you will love It's Complicated. If you're under 45 and have seen everything else and have nothing else to do, It's Complicated is a fine way to spend 2 hours.

There is something of a double standard, though, and I found myself getting slightly angry during parts of the movie. Why is it cute and kind of acceptable for Meryl Streep to smoke pot? I mean not according to the MPAA, they did after all give the movie an R rating; I feel like if Meryl's kids were smoking pot and acting the way she and Steve Martin were acting, there would have been a significantly lesser amount of senior citizens snickering in their seats.

You can't go wrong with Meryl Streep. I love Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin is always great in these types of roles (pseudo-serious). It's Complicated is pretty entertaining albeit seemingly pointless and definitely forgettable.

Up in the Air

Yes.

I really liked Up in the Air. I'm not 100% sure why, though. It's charming and depressing. Quirky and dramatic. It's artsy, but not too artsy. There's a message about the value of human connection, but I'm not sure what it is and when the credits begin to roll, the story has been satisfyingly unresolved.

George Clooney plays a man on the move. His job requires him to be traveling for a significant portion of each year and he loves every second of it. When he finds out that he may be out of a job, he begins to realize that he has poured every ounce of himself into his career and he has lost virtually all contact with his family and friends.

Sounds depressing... and it could have been if it were made by a less skilled/more experienced director and starred an actor with less wit. As it is, Jason Reitman and George Clooney have created a masterpiece of depth and levity that so many, myself obviously included, can relate with.

Up in the Air will make you laugh, cry (if you're a pussy), and think, and it is well written, directed and acted. In a time when there are more than 200 movies released each year, that's really all one can ask for.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

No.

What a terrible, terrible movie. The animation is for shit, the story is boring, the voice acting is bad and this is the THIRD movie in the series. The Ice Age movies really only ever were worthy of a 21 minute cartoon on Saturday mornings and it is absolutely mind boggling to me that we are now in the $500 million range for the three movies combined.

Please stop going to see these movies so that I can stop having to watch them... please.

Invictus

No.

I want to set aside the fact that I had no real interest in the story, as well as the fact that I couldn't understand 90% of the dialogue due to the thick accents of the characters. Invictus has to be the most poorly made film Clint Eastwood has directed... at lest in the last 6 years.

I don't know if it's because the story wasn't really film-worthy, or if there actually wasn't any real story there to begin with. It might be that the film was trying to cover too many different elements of the story. There's Mandela with his political issues, family issues, and health issues. There's Matt Damon with his personal issues and his Rugby issues. Then they add in the the bickering between the secret service agents while they try to work together to protect the President even though they are overworked and exhausted. Eastwood tries to squeeze all of that in while telling the story of how a leader successfully unified a nation and tries to teach Americans the rules of Rugby and I think that might have been the movie's downfall.

Since the movie was so jam packed with plots and sub-plots, many are left dangling, seemingly after Eastwood realized that they had no real impact on the outcome of the movie. At one point the only black player on the rugby team injures himself, only to be forced to sit out for a game (which the team wins without him) and then be well enough to play the rest of the World Cup. I thought that maybe the team would be accused of kicking him off the squad because they were racist, but... nothing. It had no effect on the rest of the movie. At one point the secret service agents find Mandela after he had collapsed from exhaustion. The doctor insists that he rest and holds a meeting with the presidents aides to tell them that he cannot work at all, even from bed. In the next scene he's in a meeting. Maybe it was poor editing, but it was a very awkward transition and again, completely unnecessary to the outcome of the movie... at no point during the remainder of the film does anyone mention his health.

I guess Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon acted well... I'm not sure because I don't know what they should have sounded like. The majority of the supporting cast, specifically the secret service, were terrible actors.

I can't imagine that even in a world with 10 Oscar nominees for Best Picture, that Invictus would be one of them. The fact that it's directed by Clint Eastwood and that Eastwood was robbed of a nomination last year for Gran Torino may be the film's foot in the door. I never thought I'd say this about a film directed by Clint, but Invictus is a bad movie. When all is said and done, Invictus is just another inspirational sports movie. If you don't know what happened, you can still guess that the team will either win, or it will lose, but will still have been an inspiration to the entire country. That being said, go see The Blind Side. It's a better movie, probably because it probably wasn't trying to win an Oscar.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

No.

Did You Hear About The Morgans? is a stupid movie with a stupid title. My response to the title is "No, what? Who the fuck are the Morgans?" and rightfully so since even in the fictional world the movie takes place in, the Morgan's are nobody. He's a lawyer and she's in real-estate. Who cares what happened to them?

Plus, there really wasn't much to tell. The Morgan's witnessed a murder and entered the Witness Protection program for a week. The whole thing ends so anticlimactically that I was barely aware that the movie was over.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? is such a colossal waste of money on the studios part (and subsequently the part of the suckers who pay money to see it) that I actually think it was irresponsible of the studio to release it in our current economic climate. Fuck it... they shouldn't have made it at all.

Avatar

... really? No, but I'm still gonna say yes.

So here's the skinny. Avatar is visually stunning. A real modern marvel, some phenomenal special effects; it's true movie magic... then the movie goes on for another 2 hours.

It's absolutely shocking to me that people are claiming that James Cameron has changed the face of movies forever and giving the film rave reviews. We fell into this trap before with Cameron and Titanic. I was 'on board' with the 'titanic' buzz about Titanic (see what I did there?) all the way through to it's Oscar wins and it's VHS release (remember that? it was on two video tapes... you had to take out the first tape and put in the second one to see the rest of the movie... I don't think my copy of the first tape ever made it into the VCR). Now when I look back at Titanic, I cringe. The movie really was terrible. The story was barely passable, but the dialogue was horrific. Then the selfish bitch goes and throws that rock into the ocean... WHAT?!?! James Cameron needs to spend more time coming up with an original, plausible story and realistic dialogue, then complement it with dazzling special effects. Not the other way around... with bad writing... like he does.

For instance, if the natives know that we are using avatars to access their tribe and learn about them, why do we need the avatars? Why not just put on gas masks and go down to the planet that way? Do you think it might be a more suspenseful plot if the humans were going to the planet as avatars... undercover to try to infiltrate their clan without the natives knowing that they were human at all? I do. Also... unobtainium? Really? is that 'cause it's really hard to get or is there a scientific reason we're calling it that? Maybe we can send the Vampanese from Cirque du Freak to get the unobtainium for us. Stupid...

Look, I'm going to say that, yes, you should go see Avatar... in 3D... preferably in IMAX (I didn't see it in IMAX, but I'm sure it enhances the experience). But a Golden Globe nomination? Everybody calm down! Give Cameron a Technical award for his wizardry at a ceremony held at a separate location, but let's not overreact... it's very cool to look at for about 30 minutes, tops... but that's about it.

"If I wanted to hear endless nonsense spewed from something good-looking, I'd watch The Tyra Banks Show."
- Matt Pais of Metromix.com

World's Greatest Dad

Yes.

World's Greatest Dad was released in theatres on 8/21/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/8/09.

This movie is wrong on so many levels... in a very good way...

Level 1 - It's written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait... yes it is... yes, he is the guy from the Police Academy movies with the weird voice... no I'm not kidding you... yes, it's a very good movie and I liked it a lot... let it go.

Level 2 - It stars the kid from the Spy Kids movies with the red hair and his character is into strangling himself while jerking off, German Schei├če porn, and likes to watch his neighbor, a 70-something overweight woman when she changes her clothes with the blinds open.

Level 3 - ... actually it's difficult to tell you anymore without giving away a major scene in the movie that, while it said it in the synopsis on the Netflix envelope, I was unaware of and was a really shocked when it happened.

This movie falls in with Very Bad Things as a member of the "So Dark it shouldn't really be called a Comedy Comedy" genre. So if that's your thing, rent World's Greatest Dad.

Shrink

Yes.

Shrink was released in theatres on 7/24/09 and on DVD on 9/29/09.

Shrink is a little film starring Kevin Spacey along with a handful of supporting actors whose faces you'll recognize, but you can never place where you know them from.

It's ultimately uplifting, but it really makes you wade through shit to get there. There're multiple suicides, self-medication, therapy sessions and so on and so forth... I mean, the movie is called Shrink after all. I got the movie from Netflix at the beginning of October and I put off watching it for months just because I thought it would be boring and depressing but I was very pleasantly surprised.

I really liked this movie and if scanning the shelves at blockbuster or adding movies to your queue, Shrink will be worth your while.

Paper Heart

Yes.

Paper Heart was released in theatre on 8/7/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/1/09.

Paper Heart is a strange mixture of documentary and fiction. The film starts out as a documentary in which comedian Charlyne Yi travels cross-country to ask people from different backgrounds to define 'love'. When Charlyne, who has never been in love and who doesn't believe in love, meets fellow performer Michael Cera, sparks begin to fly and the movie transforms into a "documentary" about a girl (Yi) who doesn't believe in love, grappling with emotions that she doesn't understand and the effects her issues have on those around her.

What's super interesting about this film is that Yi and Cera were actually dating at the time (I'm not aware of their current relationship status). Many of the tender moments between the two required little acting, but the awkward moments that (for the most part) dissolve when you really get to know someone are all so natural that you really might think this was an actual documentary if I hadn't ruined the effect for you by telling you that the whole thing was scripted... sorry, by the way.

If you're looking for an interesting, down-to-earth, funny romantic comedy/mock-documentary (or mockumentary as we call it in the biz) give Paper Heart a rent. It'll make you smile.

The Princess and the Frog

... no...

I have to say that I was a little bored. I was expecting the magic of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid... even The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It could never have been as good as Beauty and the Beast, but at least it wasn't as bad as Pocahontas.

Every one of the songs was about living in the bayou/New Orleans or were message songs and none of them seemed to have any influence on the advancement of the plot (like Kiss the Girl and Be Prepared) they were all about things that we already knew (like Colors of the Wind).

This is definitely for little girls, at no point would a boy (young... or 30 years old) have anything to relate to during this movie. I'm happy that Disney is making an effort to go back to their roots, I was hoping their first attempt at "hand-drawn" animation in 5 years would be more significant. It's not. If you have 2-8 year old girls, they are the target audience for this... they might enjoy it more if they're black... otherwise, don't waste your money; any other demographic will just be bored.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Ummm... nah.

Fantastic Mr. Fox has a very strange combination of "family film" animation and not "adult", but definitely "grown-up" humor. You can tell that this is, without a doubt, a Wes Anderson movie from the moment the first image hits the screen.

It's possible that the critics had over hyped this one for me (or it could be that Fantastic Mr. Fox was the final slot in an all-day movie marathon that began at noon and ended at about midnight) because I can't necessarily pick out anything specific that I didn't like about it. Unfortunately, I cant think of anything about the movie that I loved either, so I just can't bring myself to recommend that anyone go out of their way to see it in theatres.

The Road

Yes.

The Road is extremely bleak. It's definitely a drama and it could be set 10 years or so after the events of the movie 2012. The world has pretty much ended and the few survivors have taken to eating each other for sustenance after all of the food/animals have been killed off.

The cannibalism is the only part of the movie that offers any kind of action as the father and his young son who have not (yet) taken to eating people, try to get to to the shore... and for what? Even they don't know. They have a plan and they stick to it, and if it fails... they have a gun with two bullets.

The performances are powerful. Viggo Mortenson gives us an emotional portrayal of a man desperate to provide safety and a life for his young child. Knowing full well that that will never happen, he settles for merely protecting the boy for as long as possible.

Without giving too much away, there isn't much of a resolution... it's not as if, all of a sudden, the flowers are starting to bloom at the end of the film... and as such, The Road is kind of a downer. It is well made, however, with performances that are strong enough for me to recommend the movie.

The Blind Side

Of course, you should see The Blind Side.

The story is fine, the acting is... above average, at most. I was expecting this film to be significantly more emotional and uplifting than it was.

... I honestly can't think of anything else to say... The Blind Side is a well constructed mildly heartwarming biopic, but ultimately it's just another sports movie. Go see it. You won't be disappointed.

Precious

It's impossible to answer.

The performances ALMOST make it an absolute must see. Gabourey Sidibe does a really good job portraying Precious, but the real stars are, believe it or not, Mariah Carey (if only out of pure shock that she didn't destroy the whole movie) and Mo'nique, who (and I never thought I'd say the next phrase in my entire life) 'will most likely win an Oscar' for her portrayal of a woman so evil that she may have a chance of bumping Hannibal Lecter out of the #1 spot on the American Film Institute's Top 100 Movie Villains list.

I spent the majority of the movie with my hand covering my mouth and my bug eyes staring in absolute shock at what I was seeing on the screen. I would be recommending that you see Precious if not for how horrible it was to watch. I wouldn't suggest that anyone sit through that horrific ordeal, except maybe for parents to show their children how good they really have it.

A Christmas Carol

No...

... or yes...

The animation still creeps me out a bit. They've made great advances in the motion capture technique adding weight to the characters and objects as well as a little bit of life to the characters eyes. In Zemeckis' previous motion capture efforts, the animators weren't able to convince me that the characters weren't dead inside.

Disney's version of A Christmas Carol is a well made, perfectly acceptable version of the Dicken's classic. You will LOVE this movie if you're a huge fan of the story and are looking for a new interpretation. The casual movie-goer, however, will most likely be bored with it. The only reason I didn't leave early was because of the 3D effects and some very cool animation.

The Girlfriend Experience

No.

The Girlfriend Experience was released in theatres on 5/22/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/29/09.

I'm having a hard time figuring out who Steven Soderbergh is as a filmmaker. I'm pretty sure that he just loves his craft, so much so that he feels the need to be constantly making movies. Over the the past 10 years, Soderbergh has directed 13-14 films with 3 more currently in production for 2010-11. He just doesn't stop. He makes movies when there is no movie to make. If a studio gives him a budget, he comes out with an Ocean's movie or some Oscar bait. If not, he makes Bubble or The Girlfriend Experience.

The Girlfriend Experience is shot like a documentary and is about a woman who is looking to be more than an escort. She has meetings with PR people and managers to try to establish herself as a 'girlfriend for a day'. She seems to genuinely care about you, and is interested in your job and the topics that you want to talk about all for a tremendous amount of money. The conflict in the movie is with her real boyfriend who is trying to move up in the personal training world.

If I saw it on HBO, I would have assumed it was one of their "Real Sex" documentaries. The actors are unknown and the whole movie is filmed with a handheld camera. I quickly became disinterested when I realized that there was no point to it. It's one of those movies for which the first hour is filler because the story is only about 20 minutes long. The running time was about 85 minutes and it felt like 150 minutes.

You've probably never even heard of The Girlfriend Experience, but if you have and you were going to rent it, don't.

Lymelife

No.

Lymelife was released in theatres on 4/8/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/22/09.

Lymelife takes place on Long Island and is your pretty standard indie film. The only thing that helps it along is the cast. With Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Timothy Hutton, Rory and Keiran Culkin and Emma Roberts on board, it's hard not to see it through to the end once you've started watching... soooo... you might want to avoid starting to watch this one.

Ninja Assassin

No.

The biggest problem with Ninja Assassin is how bad the blood looks, and that's ultimately why I'm telling you not to see it, but we'll get back to that in a moment. The more important reason I'm telling you not to see it is because of the plot. I know what you're thinking and you're right... there isn't one. Even that isn't my problem. My problem is that they tricked me into believing that there would be a plot.

At the beginning of the movie we have this beautiful FBI agent conducting a rogue investigation of secret ninja assassin clans (hence the title). The plot seems to thicken as we learn that there might be a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of the clans for reasons that we don't yet know about. Her partner is a red herring throughout the movie as they try to convince you that he may be a part of the alleged cover-up and he becomes more and more suspicious at the story moves along... then... nothing. They completely abandon the whole idea of a government conspiracy without ever giving us any proof that there is none. So, really, there is no plot. There almost was one... and then it just vanished.

Now as for the blood. To be honest, I was slightly taken aback by the amount of blood and gore in this movie. I knew it was rated R, but I didn't think it was going to be as bloody as it was... I may have actually recommended it, strictly based on the action if it weren't so ridiculously gory, even with the writers false promise of a story, because it could have been fun.

Alas, no. You should not see Ninja Assassin.

Old Dogs

No... but are you really surprised?

Old Dogs is a movie for adults with humor for children. That's the opposite of how to make a good family film. Some of the plot points include a one night stand that leads to the birth of twins, a business deal with some kind of Japanese sports agency or something, the mother of the twins being sent to prison for 2 weeks and needing a babysitter, and a divorcee and a self proclaimed 'ladies man' volunteering for the job.

Some of the jokes include a spray tanner on the fritz (with Robin Williams in a speedo), the old drug overdose gag when people take the wrong drugs and have hilarious side effects (very realistic and a great, fun message for kids), sneaking into a zoo and realizing that they're in the gorilla pen... oh my god, the list goes on and on...

How long have they been filming this? Has it just been sitting on the shelf? When did Bernie Mac die? It had to be a year ago and yet here he is... the only part of this movie that made me laugh was a dead man.

Every great family film has a simple formula: kid-friendly with an actual story, and SOME humor for the grown-ups. Old Dogs isn't particularly kid-friendly. It has no plot; it's just a sequence of set-up, punchline, heartfelt moment, set-up, punchline, heartfelt moment. I'm pretty sure that the only adults that would find 98% of the jokes in this movie funny, are people I don't or wouldn't like. So I guess if you want me to like you, and you think you might enjoy Old Dogs... don't see it.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

No.

An intense lack of interest in the story is severely impeding my ability to review New Moon objectively. I strongly believe that even with the key demographic being teenage girls, the filmmakers should have made an effort to include everyone. They could have made the action more intense, they could have included better special effects. They could have left out some of the sappy dialogue... unfortunately, as it is, the performances are wooden, the writing is maudlin and hackneyed, and the story is inconsistent, not to mention the complete disregard for the folklore the characters are based out of.

Here are some samples of dialogue:

Edward to Bella (she explains that she won't accept a birthday gift from him because she can't give him anything in return): "You give me everything just by breathing."

Edward to Bella (I don't remember the exact circumstances leading up to the vapid delivery of this gem): "You already do protect me. You're my only reason to stay alive, if that's what I am..."

Jakob to Alice (not a direct quote): "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

Some new rules according to Stephanie Meyer... because apparently, she's allowed to change them:

- Vampires can come out in daylight.

- Werewolves can transform at will, into actual wolves, without the help of a full moon.

- Werewolves are never allowed to wear shirts.

- I haven't figured this out yet, but if you're a werewolf, for some reason you can regenerate pants when you transform back into a human (but not a shirt), or you have to keep spare pairs of pants planted strategically throughout the forest so that when you transform back into a person you won't be naked.

- Vampires can hear each others thoughts, but not about crucial information, like, 'you don't have to kill yourself to be with your girlfriend because she's not dead'.

I don't know how the book ended, but I do know that the movie ended poorly (not that I cared, I had checked out long before the end).

Obviously, if you're going to see New Moon, there's nothing I can say in this review that will stop you... I am hoping to deter the casual movie-goer, though unfortunately there really isn't much else to go see. Two down... ugh, still two to go.

Planet 51

No.

The premise is there, but the execution is off for this silly, super colorful cartoon that is aimed only at young children and yet, at times, is highly inappropriate. One of the two risque jokes will go right over their heads and the other is a dirty joke that's right at their age level. Together they result in my total amount of laugh time from the whole movie... which is seconds at most.

Planet 51 is a high energy film that may entertain your kids while they're watching it, but I implore you to have a sit down with them after and talk to them about why it was a bad movie. We can't have these kids growing up thinking that this was acceptable filmmaking.

2012

Yes.

2012 falls into the category of movies that are so bad they're good. The writers and director must have known it was bad and/or realized that all anyone who was paying to see the movie would care about is the special effects.

In the year 2012, according to this movie, solar flares will release neutrino's which will melt the Earth's core causing the crust of the earth to collapse. Miraculously, this will all happen without microwaving everyone on the planet.

John Cusack plays a character with a name that no one involved in the films production could get straight... Jackson Curtis... or Curtis Jackson. Depending on who you ask or where you look it could be either one. Some people called him Jackson and others called him Curtis. The cover of the book he wrote says 'by Jackson Curtis' but his Driver's License says 'Jackson, Curtis'. So, what's his name? No one will ever know.

In order to save his family, Cusack figures out a way to get them to China where rescue might await them. I don't know how long the flight from L.A. to China is, but I would assume long enough for one to want to kick back and maybe take his tie off. Not Cusack. He flies all the way to China and continues to try to save the world in his suit, tie and all.

Look, the fact of the matter is that while all of these flaws prove how little the film makers care about story, continuity and common sense, they really deliver on the promise of epic eye-candy. If your looking for the disaster flick of all disaster flicks, 2012 is for you.

The Box

Yes.

Have you ever sat through a whole movie and thought, "What the hell did I just watch?" I can tell you that I've seen all of writer/director Richard Kelly's films over the past 10 years and I've had a similar reaction to all three.

I watched Donnie Darko when it first came out on DVD and when it ended I stared at the television for the entire length of the end credits, the menu came back up, I said "What?" out loud, and then pressed play again and sat through the whole movie again... it didn't really help me to understand it at all, but I still love that movie.

Southland Tales? Well I didn't really watch the whole thing; so not so much with the love, but I can say that I really have no idea what it's about or what happened during the parts that I saw.

I was kind of pumped for The Box because the trailer made it look significantly more comprehensible than Kelly's last two films. It wasn't. It turned into something completely different from what I had expected, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just that if you asked me to explain it, I swear I wouldn't be able to. Something about lightening and missing toes, water squares and libraries, of course there's a box and there's also a motel full of employees... there might have been aliens involved, I don't know.

I want to see it again so I can maybe understand it better, in the meantime you're on your own so watch carefully if you decide to go.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Ummm... sure, on DVD...

... and as it turns out, that will be your only option since it's no longer in theatres. The 3D was cool and the story was cute, but the movie was too long (and at 90 minutes long, that's not a good thing).

The fact is that, probably by design, Meatballs has little emotional impact and you really don't feel any different walking out than you did walking in. That's not to say that it won't do it's job... this movie was created to entertain children, not change an adults outlook on life. It's just that, and I will continue to do this, when I compare this Meatballs to any Pixar film, it seems superfiscial... empty... bubblegum.

Rent Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for your kids and get some housework done while they're distracted, but don't rely on it for wholesome family entertainment.

The Fourth Kind

No.

Don't try to fool us with your fake ass "clinical studies", horribly acted "interviews" and mildly frightening "actual footage". We're not buying it and a dramatization of the fictional events isn't necessary. We certainly don't need to see the "actual footage" and the dramatization side by side using a split screen.

Finally, I've said it before and I'll say it again... Milla Jovavich CANNOT act. Stop putting her in movies. Even bad ones. If the only actress you can get is Milla Jovavich, DON'T MAKE THE MOVIE.

The Proposal

Yes.

The Proposal was released in theatres on 6/19/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/13/09.

I actually liked The Proposal. It's a super formulaic rom-com and you already know how it's going to end even if you haven't seen it yet. Bullock does and OK job playing the bitchy boss-lady. Her bitchiness was apparent more due to the reactions of the people around her than the actions of her character. Reynolds plays the same better than average looking every guy that he plays in all the romantic comedies he's in. His ability to ground these kinds of movies helps to elevate them above the common chick flick.

It's easier to recommend since it's available for home viewing, although I think that I would still mildly recommend it if it were still in theatres.

Crank: High Voltage

No.

Crank: High Voltage was released in theatres on 4/17/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/8/09.

There is no possible way to take this movie seriously, even as a gag. In the first movie he needed to keep his adrenaline up. Fast car rides, sex, gun fights, helicopter crashes... these are all legitimate ways of keeping your heart rate up. Some of them are dangerous, but they won't necessarily kill you instantaneously. In High Voltage, he needs an electric charge to keep his heart pumping. Hooking a car battery up to you tongue and grabbing hold of high voltage electric conductors at the top of a tower should have just killed him. Having hard core raunchy sex in the middle of a horse race track to create friction during the horse race and hooking up jumper cables to your crotch instead of just your arm could probably be classified as overkill... and stupid.

I suppose if you're willing to buy into the fact that he fell out of a helicopter with no parachute and survived, Asian gang members happened to be there to collect his living body from right where he landed to bring him back to their hideout to harvest his organs, that he was alive during the harvest, and that he decided to fight back when he realized that the next organ they were going to take was his penis, then there really is no reason not to enjoy the rest of the movie.

From my opinion, though, no, you should not watch Crank: High Voltage.

Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

Yes... kind of.

I remember seeing the original on DVD after being told how great it was and thinking it was OK. I rewatched it in preparation for the sequel and absolutely loved it. It's funny, emotional, action packed... it really has just about everything you could want in a movie.

Boondock Saints II is definitely action packed and has some humorous moments, but struggles with the emotional parts and, stylistically, is really nothing like the original. In fact, although it is written and directed by Troy Duffy, the writer and director of the original, you'd never know it... If Boondock Saints was inspired by Tarantino, All Saints Day was inspired by the Wachowski Brothers. Boondock Saints seemed to effortlessly roll off of Duffy's pen whereas All Saints Day is very heavy handed. Duffy is clearly trying very hard to recreate the qualities of the original and for the first 3/4 of the movie is pretty unsuccessful.

The characters are set up in three groups (just like in the original): law enforcement, the saints, and the mob. Also like in the first movie, the mob are like cartoon characters dripping with stereotypes. I was hoping he might have toned it down a little, but, they remain. The same team of Boston police from the original are back and while they were subtly goofy in the first installment, they're like the three stooges in the sequel. Willem Dafoe's replacement is Julie Benz (Rita from 'Dexter'). She is so annoying throughout the whole movie that it's almost unbearable. The boys are fine although I noticed that Sean Patrick Flannery's brogue seemed a little off... it might just be because I recently learned that he isn't actually from Ireland, he was born in Louisiana and raised in Texas. Maybe if I rewatch the original with this new information, I'll notice it in that one as well.

From the moment Billy Connelly shows up at the end, everything seems to get back on track and the last 20 minutes or so could have easily been tacked onto the end of the first movie. I didn't hate All Saints Day, but I was slightly disappointed. If you're a Boondock Saints fan, check this movie out, but keep your expectations low.

Michael Jackson's This Is It

No.

My problem with This Is It, is that there is no climax. Throughout the film, the editor's continuously introduce layer after layer of the final product, as if there was going to be a final product... there is none.

They start by showing the dancer auditions, then interspersed throughout footage of the rehearsals, they add information about the band, then the production of the video footage for the backdrop of the stage, then the costuming and the pyrotechnics. It all very slowly builds up to what I was hoping would be footage of a near final dress rehearsal with full lighting, make-up and costumes. I recognize the fact that the man died suddenly and that if there was no footage to show, there was no way to create it. I think there were some better choices that could have been made by the director to create a stronger third act to the film.

Performance-wise, I'd have to say I'm slightly disappointed. I know he was just rehearsing and wasn't expecting this footage to be released, but if this was the best footage they had, then they really probably shouldn't have released it.

Sanity-wise, I'd have to say that Michael Jackson had lost a significant portion of his mind prior to the beginning of rehearsals. There were times that he was upset about something and he didn't even know what his problem was. The crew would try to guess what he was trying to say until finally MJ would just repeat the same thing over and over again until the crew would just agree with whatever unintelligible string of words was coming out of his mouth.

Overall, I'd have to say that This Is It is a poorly produced mish-mosh of underperformed classic songs and crazy that goes on for way too long and culminates into absolutely nothing.

Saw VI

No.

I loved Saw and I liked Saw II. Saw's III, IV, and V are a blur. There are some aspects of this entry that help it to stand out, but just because it's recognizable doesn't mean it isn't crap. I guarantee you could pick out a Black-Eyed Pea's song on the radio if it came on... their music is certainly recognizable.

This review contains spoilers. Stop reading now if you don't want to know specific details about the plot.

Saw VI is interesting because it's topical. It had enough sense to take something that is very prevalent in the news and turn it into a story in which someone could be injected with hydrofluoric acid into their mid section until their body disintegrates enough to split in half at the waist, spilling out their intestines. What topic could they possibly take straight out of the news that could incorporate such a repulsive visual? Health care.

That's right, health care... from the grave, Jigsaw goes after the CEO of the insurance company that denied him the treatment that might have saved his life. How does he do this? I have no idea. I can't, for the life of me, understand why these people are agreeing to fulfill this psychopath's wishes. For some reason, the people who have taken over the reigns of Jigsaw's elaborately constructed death train, continue to murder people that have had absolutely no impact on their lives. If these people would just look at each other and say, "He's dead. There's nothing he can do to us if we decide not to continue his murderous rampage. Let's not kill anyone anymore," this could all be over. Instead, they apparently keep recruiting top graduates from MIT to construct these overly elaborate, ostentatious, labyrinthine devices to end people in the most extravagant ways imaginable only to find out that they have set themselves on a road toward certain doom that could have been avoided if they had decided not to kill in the first place.

The movie is constructed fairly well with a mild twist at the end. I've recommended gory movies to the masses before but those movies always have something else going for them (clever writing, a story or characters that you can invest yourself in or relate to). Saw VI has little to nothing going for it.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assisstant

No.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant may have been, like, a billion times better than I had expected it to be... but that isn't saying much.

The movie is Harry Potterish in tone, just replace wizards with carnies and a castle with a circus camp site. The movie is filled with conflict that appears out of nowhere. The main character who is so obsessed with spiders that he has the balls to sneak into the dressing room of a vampire to steal his pet really isn't all that believable. At the same time, unbeknownst to the main character, his best friend, who all of a sudden has this horrible life, with a dead dad and a drunk mom, who can't take it anymore and so wants to become a vampire, sneaks into the vampire's room to provoke said vampire into turning him. The film maker's should have spent more time exploring the friends family background before this confrontation, instead of springing it on us out of the blue. If you never get to know the characters through experiencing their situations with them, it's difficult to develop an emotional connection with them and is then impossible to care about the rest of their journey.

The rest of the problems stem, I assume, from the book. "Vampanese"? Come on, is that really the extent of your imagination? In this story, vampanese are the dangerous versions of vampires. But in all of folklore, vampires are dangerous... number 1: Wouldn't it have made more sense to have had the "nice vampires" change their category to something else so that they wouldn't be associated with such a horrible creature?... #2 Vampanese? That has to be one of the laziest, least imaginative creature names I've ever heard. It sounds like the author was stumped and asked his 6 year old kid for an idea.

This is the beginning of a saga, apparently. Hopefully it will fall the way of Eragon and never be continued. If you have kids who have read the books, you may get stuck sitting through this, and to be honest, it really isn't completely unbearable. Otherwise, don't waste your money.

Where the Wild Things Are

Ummm, this can probably wait for home viewing.

Where the Wild Things Are is a somewhat bleak film that could possibly influence some young viewers one way while others might see it from a completely different perspective. Fortunately, I think the director was going for the much more realistic perspective, which may have been the movie's downfall.

One way, and not necessarily the best way, to interpret the film (if you're a young child) is that you can use your imagination to create a world for you to escape into, and that that's a good way solve life's problems. I would love for that to be a good message to send to kids, however (and I have NO scientific evidence to prove this), if they never unlearn that message, they will probably grow up disillusioned, unhappy, and possibly homicidal.

The other way to interpret Where the Wild Things Are, is that you cannot solve life's issues by simply forgetting about them. I believe this is the message that the filmmakers were trying to convey, creating a very bland, in look and feel, cinematic experience. Max spends most of his time in solitude, in a desert, or just sad/angry. What could have been an interesting emotional journey ends up just being a stagnant escape until he misses his mother and wants to go home.

I do think it's worth a viewing, however, for the very naturalistic performance of Max Records as Max, and for the costuming/special effects of the "wild things". I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out how they were able to express so many emotions through the enormous Muppet heads of the characters. When Where the Wild Things Are comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, give it a rent and check out another thought provoking Spike Jonze film that may or may not be good for the whole family.

Paranormal Activity

Yes.

Paranormal Activity has a significant amount of flaws and if you're looking for a quality film, this is not it. It scared the shit out of me, though.

I actually audibly gasped at one point. The fright lingered for a little bit but was instantly cured when I got home and watched the season premiere of 30 Rock that I had DVRed earlier that night. It stayed with me up until that point, though, as I walked quickly from my car to my front door and then turned the shower light on before the regular bathroom light to see if there were any shadows. Instead of the traditional 2am fridge raid which would have put me in the kitchen with my back to the sliding glass backdoor to our house and the pitch black void beyond it, filled with who knows what horrors, I headed straight up to the safety (?) of my room and forgot about the horrors of Paranormal Activity with the help of Tina, Alec and Tracy.

The acting was passable at times, and then at other times was absolutely atrocious. There were irrelevant plot points that could have been left out entirely, and the actual actions of the movie could have been consolidated into a shorter time period.

Overall, it was highly effective. Like with The Blair Witch Project, there will probably be a bunch of people who won't admit to having been scared. They're lying... Paranormal Activity is a scary mother fucker.

Zombieland

Yes.

The only problem I had with Zombieland is that Shaun of the Dead was made first.

Zombieland is American through and through and Shaun of the Dead is definitely British not only in location and accent, but also socio-politically/economically. While both groups will do anything to survive, the folks in SotD seem more concerned with strictly surviving, staying together and coming up with a plan. The Zombieland characters are distinctly American in that they kill zombies for sport, destroy property to relieve stress, and are distrustful of other non-zombies. To be fair, Shaun of the Dead takes place at the beginning of the outbreak whereas the Americans had two months to grow bitter and disheartened in Zombieland before the movie starts.

Zombieland is the Nascar of ZomComs. It's rednecky, obnoxious and in your face. Sounds terrible, right? Wrong. It's a tremendous amount of fun. It takes its place as the best so far in a recent series movies with running times less than 90 minutes long; short and sweet. It's bloody, gory, and funny, with a smattering of heartwarming moments that help to ground the movie in reality without being too heavy handed. If you can stomach the gore, I highly recommend Zombieland.

Couples Retreat

No.

I had very low expectations going in to Couples Retreat. I haven't liked Vince Vaughan since just after Wedding Crashers. Surprisingly, he was almost tolerable compared to the rest of the movie which is filled with unhappy people who are constantly complaining. First about their lives, then about being tricked into couples therapy, then about each other, then about the situations they were in... the just kept complaining non stop.

There were a few humorous scenes, and several that were probably supposed to be funny, but the rest of Couples Retreat was just annoying.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Yes... even though I was a little bored.

The middle class is dying. This movie almost seems like it's designed to explain to people what's happening to them. It doesn't offer any easy solutions, and it doesn't offer a single solution that can't be boiled down to the dreaded "s" word, and I'll tell you... the more conservatives/republicans pull the socialism card, the more I think that it probably isn't all that bad. And before you panic, I really don't know all that much about socialist societies. My point is, it seems like anytime someone wants a well-to-do person to help a not so well-to-do person, they are being called socialist. So if I want to spend my unused insurance money to help someone who can't afford their cancer medicine and their mortgage payments for either one of them via Universal Health Care instead of giving an insurance company CEO's kid a down payment on a new BMW that he probably doesn't deserve... then I guess I'm a socialist.

As far as the movie is concerned, I usually base my opinion on how engaged I am during the movie. I may not know much about the subject matter or even care about it, it's the film maker's job to make me care and to educate me, otherwise he/she is just preaching to the choir. I was less engaged during Capitalism: A Love Story than I needed to be. I was engrossed in Sicko (which is, in my opinion, Moore's best work). I've seen it multiple times. I don't know if I could sit through Capitalism: A Love Story again, but I definitely found most of it to be interesting enough to recommend.

The Brothers Bloom

No.

The Brothers Bloom was released in theatres on 5/15/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/6/09.

In a world where Duplicity and The International get wide releases, I'm having a hard time why The Brothers Bloom kept getting put on the back burner (sorry Clive, I don't know specifically what it is about you that I don't like... I just don't like you.). I didn't like the The Brothers Bloom and it really didn't stand a chance mostly due to my issues with the title. You see, Bloom isn't their last name... it's the first name of Adrien Brody's character, sooooo... it really should just be called The Brother Bloom... or The Brothers whatever their last name is (I have no idea what it is).

That being said, it was cute and quirky. I didn't hate watching it, I really just didn't care.

The Invention of Lying

Sadly, no.

I was very excited for this movie. I love Ricky Gervais. Have you seen his stand-up on HBO? So funny. Not to say that The Invention of Lying wasn't funny. It just wasn't as funny as I was expecting.

I love the direction it took. I really didn't expect it turn into the "big" lie that it ended up turning into and I'm glad it did. I think it wasted too much time on the smaller lies and the whole "will they, won't they" crap went on for far too long.

I think if the movie were 30 minutes shorter (provided they cut out the right scenes) I would be raving about The Invention of Lying. Alas...

Love Happens

... bull shit. I saw this movie and I don't remember a single moment when the actions on the screen could me misconstrued as "love".

There's a man and a woman. They're both very attractive, save for Aaron Eckhart's chin cave. But at no point did i believe anything other than the fact that she feels bad for him and he needed to get back in the game. There was never any kind of connection. At all. Soooooo... No, you should not see a movie that has a title that has nothing to do with the plot. No.

Away We Go

Yes.

Away We Go was released in theatres on 6/26/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/29/09.

I loved this movie. Away We Go is a heartwarming road-trip movie about two thirty-somethings trying to find their place in the world before the birth of their daughter.

As in other road trip movies, they encounter some quirky characters along the way and each stop helps them discover who they are and what kind of parents they want to be. Hey, I never said it was original... but the two main characters, portrayed by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, are so endearing and have such chemistry that you can't help but fall in love with them.

Away We Go is in my top 10 films this year and will probably stay there. It's definitely one of the year's best.

Fame

No.

Fame isn't a movie.

I don't think I've ever seen such a long piece of film with as little plot as this... I mean, there is LITERALLY no story. Fame is just a 2 hour montage.

I had a difficult time accepting the action in the film anyway. If they were trying to sell this as a musical, then they missed the boat because there weren't enough musical numbers. If not, then there were too many. Do you honestly believe for a second that just because you get a group of 50 musicians and dancers together, that the will be able to work together to improvise a perfectly constructed and choreographed musical number?

And, on a more serious note, it's time to stop releasing these sugar-coated teen dramas that, for example, resolve suicide attempts with a hug. This sort of dumbed-down attempt at appealing to the lowest common denominator is destroying society. If you want to make a movie that addresses some tough issues, then tackle them and stop being a pussy. You'll probably make a better movie for it and, oh my god, you may actually get some respect. It is possible to make a 'good' PG rated movie, but not if it's about PG-13 to R rated material. It sucks when you can tell, just by watching it, that a movie was made because they thought it would rake in some dough and had little to do with craft or the love of filmmaking.

Avoid Fame at all costs, it's not a good or coherent series of images and sounds... see? I really can't bring myself to call it a movie.

Surrogates

Yes.

There's nothing wrong with Surrogates. In fact, there's quite a bit right with it, the most important of which being the running time.

Surrogates has just the right ratio of action, sci-fi, drama, and mystery. The twist is very predictable, but to be fair, it's virtually impossible to surprise an audience in a post-Sixth Sense America. I don't expect to be fooled anymore, I do want them to make a reasonable effort, though. The dramatic element isn't as overbearing as in some recent action movies (Gamer) and it actually adds to the idea; helping us to understand why someone might want to use a surrogate. I mean it's not rocket science, but if they didn't include some sort of psychological reasoning behind it, it might have been harder to buy into.

Surrogates won't win any awards. You may actually forget you watched it a week after you see it, but if you're looking to escape for 90 minutes, this is a perfectly acceptable way to do it.

Jennifer's Body

No.

So, it seems like the Juno screenplay was a hoax, because while Diablo Cody's dialogue in both movies may be super clevs, dope dialogue does not a good screenplay make. The heart that Juno had is clearly missing from Jennifer's Body... and the bodies of all her victim's...

Julie & Julia

Yes.

If you have white hair and love to complain, you'll love Julie & Julia.

You can start your adventure by complaining that the senior price, that is by no means a law or a requirement of any kind, is too high. You have developed a sense of entitlement over time and have no problem telling the box office cashier how much other theatres charge just before you pay the ticket price anyway. Then you can make snide remarks about the cost of concession products... this is important because no one else knows that the prices are high. If you don't tell the 16 year old behind the counter that $5.00 for a small popcorn is "criminal" or "outrageous", than the prices will never go down.

Once you get to the theatre, be sure to stare only at your watch so that if the movie starts 30 seconds late, you can scoff and make a mental note to tell the manager that the movie started 15 minutes late. Because we hate that you can hear, the projectionist turned the volume up to unbearable levels and the manager turned the A/C on full blast because he want your extremities to freeze and fall off.

You could miss 5 minutes of the movie to let the theatre staff know about the volume and the temperature, but instead, you'll sit, miserable, through the whole movie and expect a refund afterwards, even though you watched the whole movie and enjoyed it.

The Informant!

No.

All The Informant has going for it, is the random, hysterically funny monologues that run through Matt Damon's mind thanks primarily to his mental disorder. Other than that, it's just an average movie that may be worth checking out on DVD, but not in theatres.

Gamer

No.

I felt like I was being attacked. I sacrificed my senses for you. Do NOT put yourself through this. Gamer is a horrible experience.