Saturday, March 17, 2012

21 Jump Street

I wasn't dying to see this - I'd seen the previews a few times and figured there would be a bunch of funny moments, but the movie as a whole didn't particularly appeal to me, especially since I've never seen the TV show.  But alas!  I went along with an open mind.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as Schmidt and Jenko, rookie cops who get assigned to go undercover at a local high school to bust a drug ring.  Schmidt was a brainy, sensitive type in high school, and Jenko was a beefy jock who teased him.  Upon re-entering the world of high school, things have changed - smart, eco-minded kids are now cool.  In the process of infiltrating the drug ring, Schmidt fits right in and Jenko struggles socially, in a reversal from their own high school years. And along the way, they sample the drug they're supposed to be busting (in what I thought was probably the funniest scene in the movie), throw parties, embark on extended car chases, go to prom, and maybe, just maybe, learn something about themselves.

I feel like I see a lot of movies where the first 1/3 or 1/2 is hilarious, and then they drop off rapidly from there.  But 21 Jump Street remained consistently funny throughout; I was laughing until the very end.  I had no idea who Channing Tatum was before seeing this, but both Hill and Tatum were great in their roles.   21 Jump Street is part bromance, part teen comedy, and part action movie - kind of I Love You, Man meets Superbad meets Hot Fuzz.  I enjoyed the bromance/teen comedy aspects the most.  But even the more "action-y" aspects were done in a tongue-in-cheek way that I appreciated. 8 out of 10.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friends With Kids

Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) are best friends who live in the same apartment building - they know everything about each other, and enjoy discussing "would you rather" scenarios concerning death.  They are at that age where all of their friends are having kids, and Julie and Jason see the havoc that having kids wreaks on their friends' romantic relationships.  Undeterred by the fact that they are not attracted to each other, Julie and Jason decide that they should have a kid together, share custody, and each continue their search for "the one."  At first, the arrangement works swimmingly.  Julie and Jason co-parent effectively and easily.  But then Jason starts dating a hot young dancer (Megan Fox), and Julie eventually becomes involved with a seemingly perfect divorced dad (Ed Burns).  Julie and Jason both become confused as to whom, and what, they really want.

While the procreation part was a new twist on a classic theme, the rest of the movie followed the romantic comedy formula to a T - attractive but not *too* attractive male and female leads who get along great yet are "not attracted to each other" date other people but then realize that they are meant for each other...with dick and poop jokes thrown in for good measure.

Despite being somewhat formulaic, I liked Friends With Kids.  I pretty much loved the entire cast, perhaps excluding Megan Fox.  As my husband pointed out, if the two of us could build a movie cast, it would look a lot like this one.  Jennifer Westfeldt plays her typical quirky, nervous, self-deprecating role, which I happen to love.  Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd (the cute Irish cop from Bridesmaids) are great as Leslie and Alex, a harried yet loving couple whose relationship is strained with the onset of their children.  Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm didn't have too much screen time, but both were perfect in their parts as a formerly free-spirited couple who unravel at the seams once they have a baby.

All in all, an enjoyable and funny story with a fabulous cast.  I am already looking forward to this coming out on TV so I can watch it over and over again in bits and pieces.  7.5 out of 10.

Silent House

Elizabeth Olsen stars in Silent House as Sarah, a young woman who is helping her father and uncle prepare to sell the family's summer lake house.  The power is out, the windows are boarded up, and vandals have had their way with the house.  And did I mention there's no cell phone reception?  In the film's first of many creepy moments, Sarah receives a visit from Sophia, a young woman who claims to have been Sarah's playmate when they were kids.  Sarah doesn't remember her.  Soon after, Sarah hears a noise upstairs, and she and her dad go to investigate.  They don't find anything, and her fears momentarily allayed, Sarah is left alone in her room to pack up her belongings.  She hears more noises, and her dad doesn't respond when she calls out to him.  From that point on, the movie follows Sarah as she tries to flee from whoever or whatever is pursuing her - which is not really clear until the very end of the movie, and makes the pursuit all the more creepy.

Elizabeth Olsen is a really talented young actress.  She is the only one on camera throughout most of the movie, and she performed well throughout.  We'd seen her in Martha Marcy May Marlene last year, in which she stars as a troubled young woman escaping from a cult.  My husband pointed out the ending of Silent House could have been the beginning of Martha - if you've seen both, you'll know what I mean.

I thought Silent House was going to be a good old-fashioned slasher flick, but it was actually much more ambitious than that.  It was sufficiently creepy throughout, and the plot twists were revealed effectively.  It wasn't perfect and I was left wanting to know more about Sarah's character, but it was a clever, well-done, scary movie.

Lastly, a shout-out to the ladies sitting behind us in the theater yesterday, who felt it necessary to inject their commentary throughout the WHOLE.ENTIRE.MOVIE.  Their commentary was not once insightful.  For example, at one point, Sarah's uncle calls out to her father: "John."  The ladies behind us: "What'd he say?  John???  Don????"  Or, when the uncle was shown onscreen - Lady #1: "He's suspect."  Lady #2: "Mmm hmmmmm."  Honestly, at first I was annoyed but by about the 2/3 mark I began to enjoy their incessant chattering and statements of the obvious.  At the end of the movie?  "That's bullshit.  I want a refund and I didn't even pay for my ticket."

Apparently, Silent House is not for everyone, but it still gets a solid 7 out of 10 from me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star in Wanderlust as George and Linda, a New York couple who, down on their luck, ditch the city for a rural commune.  George loses his job the same day that Linda finds out that HBO won't bankroll her documentary on penguins with testicular cancer.  Out of options and money, George and Linda head for Atlanta to stay with George's brother, but they stop for the night along the way at a commune called Elysium and experience a magical evening full of marijuana, didgeridoos, and skinny dipping.  Atlanta's not all it's cracked up to be, so George and Linda head back to Elysium to give the free love lifestyle a shot.  I won't tell you what happens next, because it is precisely at this point that the movie begins to sort of suck.

The first 30 minutes or so of Wanderlust were super funny.  There were consistent laughs as we watch George and Linda throw parties in their tiny apartment, and sing and squabble in the car while they're driving to Atlanta.  Their first night at Elysium was completely hilarious, as was their time in Atlanta with George's dickhead of a brother and his alcoholic wife.  But when they move back to Elysium, the laughs stop.  Pretty quickly.  Characters become caricatures, and the same old gags are used repeatedly. Some of the jokes are weird, and some just don't make sense.  One "joke," involving George talking dirty to himself in a mirror, actually left me feeling physically uncomfortable.  There's an unnecessary subplot involving the deed to the land that Elysium is on.  There were still a few laughs in there, but 9 out of 10 of the jokes just fell flat.  And while Wanderlust was not overly long, it felt like it dragged.

All in all, I give Wanderlust a 5 out of 10.  This score is composed of a 4 out of 10, because roughly 40% of the movie is funny, plus 1 point added on for a funny spoof of the "grape stomp" video from a few years ago.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, here it is:

I swear, that video never gets old.  And if you're so inclined, the remix is pretty awesome as well:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tiny Furniture

Our main DVR box has been misbehaving for quite some time now.  The good news is, we got a new box.  The bad news is, we'd lose all of the recordings we'd saved.  Let's just say I had a busy couple of days clearing old stuff off of there - I watched five episodes each of Intervention and Pan Am.  We'd had Tiny Furniture saved on there for months.  Last night, the hubs and I finally sat down to watch it, since we'd lose it if we didn't.  Neither of us had particularly high hopes, knowing that this movie fell loosely into the mumblecore genre, but we were both pleasantly surprised.

Tiny Furniture is the story of Aura, a recent college graduate who returns home to New York to move back in with her mother, a successful photographer who takes photos of "tiny furniture" and her overachieving younger sister, Nadine.  Aura has just broken up with her boyfriend, and armed with a film degree, she's having a hard time and doesn't really know what she wants to do with her life.  She reunites with her childhood friend, Charlotte, and has some fun around town.  She gets a job as a hostess.  She embarks on flirtations with a couple different young guys.  She struggles for her mother's love and respect and attention.  She walks around her apartment without pants.

This all sounds boring but it's not.  Aura is a likable, believable character.  She is funny and witty and honest.  Even though Tiny Furniture is mumblecore-esque, it felt a little bit more fast-paced than most of the others I've seen, and I found the characters more likable and less self-pitying.  Aura is fun to watch, and I could identify with her, being that I at times fall into the "I don't know what I want to do with my life" camp as well.

The ending of the movie was classic mumblecore, in that the screen just kind of goes black suddenly, when I was still wanting a little bit more, but that's OK.  I still really liked it.  8/10.