Friday, December 28, 2012

No Stars for this Hotel

Review: Hotel Transylvania

Adam Sandler (That's My Boy) in a children's movie. It's not something that sounds as bizarre as it would have 10 years ago as Sandler has attempted to expand his audience to the elementary school demographic with mixed results. Hotel Transylvania does little to move the perception of Sandler as a mediocre children's comedian in either direction.

In the animated film, Dracula tries to manage his hotel for monsters while keeping his daughter from falling in love with a human who has discovered their secret paradise.

Hotel has a few moments which can make you smile and even laugh out loud, yet it largely fails to rise above fart and kick-in-the-nuts humor and does little to pay real homage to the otherwise legendary monsters found in the hotel.

The large voice cast is fun to hear, with Andy Samberg (Celeste & Jesse Forever) as the bumbling human giving us the most opportunity to laugh, but famous voices do little to make up for a script that really could have been much funnier.

The Final Word: Don't even bother.


Review: Here Comes the Boom
The recent cinematic exploits of Kevin James (Zookeeper) have left much to be desired for mature movie-goers in recent years. So it is no surprise many gave little consideration to his newest PG film, Here Comes the Boom.
In the film, a high school teacher begins competing in mixed martial arts competitions in an effort to save the extra-curricular programs at his school.
As a PG film, Boom has its share of silly moments, but is also surprisingly filled with moments of real humor, character, and tension. In fact, I sat through the film increasingly thrilled with how exciting and gripping the fights grow to be.
James worked himself into pretty good shape for the film (which he later reversed so they could make more fat jokes in the upcoming Grown Ups 2) and it actually wasn't too hard to see him being competitive in the ring.
Overall, Here Comes the Boom was a delightful surprise. The fights were exciting, but still with a family friendly tone. Its the best thing James has done in a long time and another film for director Frank Coraci (The Waterboy) to be proud of.
The Final Word: Go buy a ticket.
(Actually, it should be DVD soon, so you'll have to rent it either way!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Let's Make a Baby

Review: Friends with Kids
You want kids, but you see your friends' children as being detrimental to the marriages of their parents. The solution? Have a baby with your lifelong friend, but keep the relationship plutonic so you can pursue other romantic interests. You get to have a kid and healthy romantic relationships. Sound to good to be true? It is, of course, and Friends with Kids shows us all the hilarious ups and emotional downs of such a radical proposition.
Headlined by a large, perfectly cast group of actors (Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Kristin Wiig, John Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd), the film somehow finds a balance between drama and romantic comedy, being very funny at times and truly heartbreaking at others. It is a carefully crafted equilibrium from writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt (yeah, yeah, she made herself one of the main characters too), which both entertains and engages.
The Final Word: Go buy a ticket.
(Actually, its on DVD now, so really you'll have to rent it either way!)

Come Fly With Me

Review: Flight
Both Flight’s director Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away) and headlining star Denzel Washington (Training Day) are known for their Academy Award-winning dramatic turns. Together, they clearly hope Flight will earn them such praise yet again. Washington makes the strongest case for award-season gold, giving us more of a character than his past few roles.
However, the film as a whole, while entertaining enough for one viewing, is nothing more than decent; a lengthy, repetitious movie than assumes it is of high quality, but puts forth little real effort to achieve such ambitions. Like last year’s The Iron Lady, the film Flight features a good performance unfortunate enough to be delivered in a mediocre film. As a side note, John Goodman (Argo) is, as he is in almost everything he does, a phenomenally entertaining addition to the cast.
The Final Word: Wait to rent it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Final Judgement

Review: Dredd 3D
In a violent future, an elite force of police are judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd is the best and he teams up with a rookie to take down a drug-dealing gang.
Much like last year's The Raid, the remake Dredd 3D is a cheesy, over-the-top, violent mess; annoying if you’re looking for quality, but fun if you want to witness the ridiculous as the judges fight their way up an apartment building. Karl Urban (Star Trek) takes his role as Dredd seriously, speaking in such a raspy voice, it sounds like he’s auditioning to be the next Batman. Overall, director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) gives us a film where what you see is what you get. And sometimes it’s nice when things are just that simple.
The Final Word: Wait to rent it.

Cloud Gazing

Review: Cloud Atlas
Books are hard to turn into movies. Such a large, complex book as Cloud Atlas would seem impossible. Yet directors Tom Tykwer (Perfume) and the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) somehow made it happen. A number of interlocking stories, spanning across cultures and centuries shows how connecting everything might really be. It is an interesting concept, and led by Tom Hanks (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) and Halle Berry (Dark Tide), the film is probably about as good a rendition as there could be.
It is necessarily a long movie, but that sometimes makes it difficult to remember exactly how certain things have affected others. This slows the energy of the film and prevents it from being a truly epic accomplishment, but as I said, I’m not sure it could be avoided. As a side note, the actors in the film each play different characters in each of the stories told, so it is fun to try and spot them, especially when they switch up genders or races.
The Final Word: Wait to rent it.

Pelicula de Ferrell

Review: Casa de Mi Padre
Surrounded by corruption, Armando Alvarez is a simple man who finds the courage to stand up to his family and to Mexico’s most terrible drug lord.
Will Ferrell (The Campaign) is ridiculous. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s a bad thing. In Casa de Mi Padre, a film in which all of the dialogue is in Spanish, it is a bit of both. It is actually a decent performance from Ferrell, but the film is a bizarre parody of Mexican Westerns which at times seems cynically self-aware and self-deprecating, while at others an earnest attempt at quality. It is a confusing mix from director Matt Piedmont (Funny or Die), but is a film that can be fun to watch if you don’t expect too much and watch it late at night.
The Final Word: Wait to rent it.

Being Average

Review: Being Flynn

Working in a Boston homeless shelter, Nick Flynn reencounters his father, a con-man and self-proclaimed poet. Nick struggles not only with this relationship, but with his own identity as well.
In Being Flynn, actors Paul Dano (Looper) and Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook) each bring their usual talents to the roles of son and father, respectively, yet neither go above or beyond anything we typically expect of them. The story is interesting enough, but in the end it doesn’t seem to add up to its full potential. However, the film still marks an admirable step forward for director Paul Weitz (Little Fockers) and an engaging look at a father-son relationship, even if it is nothing particularly extraordinary.
The Final Word: Wait to rent it.