Friday, February 29, 2008

Semi-Pro Review

Is this an artistic masterpiece? Of course not. But it is pretty damn funny. It feels much more like Slap Shot or Major League than Ferrell's other recent sports comedies. It mixes elements of the cliche sports movie and goofball Ferrell comedy to a somewhat refreshing effect. Woody Harrelson is funny but also rather effective in the dramatic moments. Much to my surprise Andre Benjamin continues his streak of surprisingly tolerable performances (earlier in Four Brothers and on The Shield), suffice to say I don't often have high expectations for converted musicians. While it is, of course, cliche and contrived I still had a real good time with it. I recommend it for a fun hour and half, just don't expect the comedic glory of Old School.

Overall Score: 7/10

Margot at the Wedding Review

I don't know if I've ever seen a movie with more completely and utterly unlikeable characters as this. The characters come off as so unlikeable, every singly one of them, that it makes it very difficult to remain engaged in the film. The film's screenplay is highly pretentious and overly talky to boot. Nicole Kidman seems to be trying but her character is unworkable. Jack Black is awful; his crying scenes are so poorly performed that I really can't believe they're meant to be taken seriously. Jennifer Jason Leigh is surprisingly good, however, and is, by far, the most tolerable aspect of the movie. Though it has a few funny moments and a decent performance from Leigh I really can't recommend it.

Overall Score: 4/10

Open Water 2: Adrift Review

I absolutely loved the first Open Water. I thought it did a wonderful job of playing on our natural fear of sharks in a creative, immediate and chilling manner. It was bolstered by decent writing and by a sharp focus on just two characters. Open Water 2, on the other hand, is pretty damn putrid. While it boasts more 'known' actors (Eric Dane from Grey's Anatomy, Richard Speight from Jericho, Cameron Richardson from Alvin and the Chipmunks) the cast here actually brings much less to the table. Rather than playing rounded full characters having six actors forces each of them into the typical horror movie character classes. In fairness both Susan May Pratt and Richard Speight give fairly decent performances in these crappy roles. Cameron Richardson's 'acting' is, I'll be nice about it, not good. The rest of the cast is relatively poor as well. The film's biggest problem, I think, can be found in it's subtitle: adrift. There is no compelling interest to move the story forward. Unlike the first film where the coming of the sharks kept the tension up, here it's a vague notion of drowning and the characters' own stupidity that are meant to enthrall us. It's unbelievable to me that they made a second Open Water movie without a single shark. I really can't recommend this to much of anyone.

Overall Score: 3/10

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Martian Child Review

For as sappy and painfully manipulative as this thing is, the cast sure does try to make it work. Anchored by an, as always, very strong John Cusack performance it makes the whole thing bearable. I'm not sure there are many actors other than Cusack that could have made this role playable. Joan Cusack, ironically playing John's sister in the film, bring a bit of wit and feist to the otherwise very tame and sterile surroundings. Amanda Peet, though she seems to visibly cringe before delivering a couple of particularly awful lines, also seems to really be trying. Aside from than the horrid script, by-the-numbers plot and mediocre direction, one problem in particular stands out: Bobby Coleman. I feel bad taking shots at a child actor but nothing about Coleman's performance worked for me. First of all his character is strangely coated in make-up (at least I hope it's make up) that give him an unbelievably pasty complexion and offputting dark circles around his eyes. His entire look is visually unpleasant. The character itself is unsympathetic, his thieving tendencies and over-weird behavior go too far in the quirky direction to work. Lastly he delivers nearly every line in a disconserting and wooden monotone that shows very little actual acting ability. Now, of course, some of the problems with his performance are the result of the screenplay and the overarching (flawed) concept, but I wonder if a better child actor could have made these scenes more tolerable. Cusack's performance almost makes this worth seeing...if you can tolerate merciless sap for two hours.

Overall Score: 4/10

Monday, February 25, 2008

Arctic Tale Review

I feel really deeply mislead and frustrated by this film, as it's not at all a documentary. Filmed over the course of a decade following various polar bears and walruses the production staff manipulates the footage into the 'lives' of a polar bear and walrus suffering in the global warming afflicted arctic. I feel misled that this is called a documentary. For some reason the makers feel a compulsion to anthropomorphize the actions of the creatures rather than let nature speak for itself. March of the Penguins was so effective as a portrait in the year of the life of a penguin, it didn't need to pander and make silly design decisions to be effective. The other HUGE problem with this film is the snarky narration from Queen Latifah. Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough brought such majesty to the narration of March of the Penguins and Planet Earth that it is tough to listen to Latifah's 'humerous' remarks and observations. The film's reliance on pop-music to set mood is also a deep mistake. I do give it credit though because it does manage to extort some emotion out of the viewer, most notably when polar bear Nanu's "brother" dies and the numerous times the animals face death because of the changing climate atmosphere. While nowhere near as beautiful as the exquisite Planet Earth, Arctic Tale does manage to put some pretty great footage on the screen (especially the underwater work). Unfortunately nearly the exact material covered here was done more effectively in the 'Ice Worlds' episode of Planet Earth.

Overall Score: 4/10

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Be Kind Rewind Review

So the string of 2008 disappointments continues with Be Kind, Rewind. Despite a neat concept (and a director who I thought could pull it off) this one really struggles to find footing and never really takes off. It's especially disappointing because the spoof films made by Mos Def and Black are absolutely hilarious. I really wish we could have spent more time with their spoofs (special note to the 2001 and Ghostbusters 'remakes' which are a riot). The rest of the film, though, is a mess of whimsical nonsense not disimilar in concept from the putrid The Majestic with Jim Carrey. Jack Black is, alas, given a bit too much free reign to play one of his unbearable 'quirky' characters and Danny Glover seems to be mailing it in. Mos Def at least seems to try but his performance is far from special. The screenplay as well is lacking, to put it nicely. Why don't Black, Mos Def and Gondry make the next Epic Movie spoof film low budget-style? I'd see that...

Overall Score: 4/10

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vantage Point Review

So if Rashomon and 24 had a bastard illegitimate offspring I'm pretty sure this is what it would look like. No wonder 24 turned down this premise a few years ago when it was pitched as the starting point of a season... I'm not sure how in hindsight, maybe it was the really slick trailer, the superb cast or my love of political thrillers but I was really psyched for this one, too bad it turned out terribly. Each actor, with the exception of Forest Whtiaker, give poor to terrible performances. Special note goes to Matthew Fox who is remarkably hammy and awful in a career worst performance. Dennis Quaid, who I usually really like, is literally just channeling Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer...only not well. Whitaker, too his immense credit, really tries his best to give something to his underdeveloped character. He is one of the finest actors working today and it saddens me to see him stuck and such an awful role. In defense of all the actors they do have to read some of the worst lines this side of Lifetime made-for-tv specials. Also, while the premise itself is cute, the execution is not. Director Pete Travis manages to painfully drag out the film's 90 minute runtime, his use of rewind and redundant shots are especially painful. Yes we understand that the bomb that goes off causes devestation and that terrorist bombs are bad things...we don't need each character's scenes to have slo-mo choppy 'chaos' shots of the bomb's aftermath, once will do. I guess the film is most tolerable when it cranks up the action in the last act and stops disrupting the action with rewinding/ticking clock segments; yet even still the action comes of as a very poor man's Bourne Ultimatum hindered even further by such poor editing that the shots often have no semblence of running together. If they give awards for making cool trailers for bad movies then this movie's editor deserves to be in the running with whoever cut Jumper's trailer for Most Deceptive Trailer. Don't be fooled by the awesome cast and slick trailer, from my vantage point, or any other, this movie is junk.

Overall Score: 3/10

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jumper Review

What the hell happened here? Doug Liman is supposed to be a solid action director (Bourne Identity is one of my favorite movies). The premise, people who can teleport at will, is pretty cool. Yet the end result is a real piece of junk. Hayden Christensen is NOT a leading man in an action movie. He has sort of a creepy lecherous nature exacerbated by his peering lizard eyes. While it certainly works as a reporter who fabricates his work (in the great Shattered Glass) it's far less effective in pretty much any other role. Rachel Bilson, though beautiful, is stuck working with a ridiculous character. After disappearing for nearly a decade (presumed dead), Christensen's character appears at her bar and they decide to take a trip to Rome together: that day. What girl would do that in real life? Especially with a guy as creepy/sinister looking as Hayden. Samuel L. Jackson is at his hammiest (and most bored) as the villain here. The white hair looks absolutely ridiculous on him as well. I don't know what the hell Diane Lane was thinking but her little part is a mess. Jamie Bell, though, seems to really have fun with the material. Each of his scenes have a bit more life and verve to them. I don't think I'm alone in wishing the whole movie followed him. The ending, as well, is ridiculous and leaves NO closure. I guess the reason I'm giving this such a 'good' review is because the concept is great, the special effects are frequently superb and creative, the action is exciting and the scenery is amazing. I'm really disappointed in this one, with a better lead, more fleshed out characters and a screenplay that isn't garbage it could have been the start to a pretty cool franchise.

Overall Score: 4/10

Definitely, Maybe Review

This was mercifully different from the typical romantic comedies we see in theaters these days. It's a more serious, though still contrived, love story seen in a series of flashbacks that a man tells his daughter on the eve of his divorce. Ryan Reynolds, in a role far different than his typical comedic junk, is remarkably good here. His character's evolution throughout the story, which spans 16 years, feels real and that's high praise. We feel the ebbs and flows of his life far more effectively than any rom-com in recent memory (probably since Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire). Little Abigail Breslin, of Little Miss Sunshine and No Reservations fame, has the remarkable ability to deliver a bad line. In the film's weakest area, the last twenty or so minutes, Breslin is forced to deliver some unbelievably horrible lines but manages to do it with such genuine emotion and skill that her work is, even still, really emotionally effecting. Isla Fisher, an actress I just didn't get the buzz over based on her work in The Lookout and Wedding Crashers, gives a really nifty performance. She gives a great sense of livewire energy that brings a spark to each of her scenes, without going unpleasantly over the top like in Wedding Crashers. Rachel Weisz is fine, though she doesn't exactly seem to be trying too hard nor does she have much chemistry with Reynolds. Elizabeth Banks is terrible. Pretty, yes, but I've yet to see a performance of hers that I think is any better than meh. Her role here requires more complexity than I think she is capable of giving to a character. I'd really love for this role to have been recast. My other huge problem with the film is the way it sort of devolves in the last twenty minutes. I'm not quite sure what happened but as the film catches up to present day the film really loses steam and the screenplay turns to cliche. Which is really unfortunate after how wonderfully real the film's first 90 or so minutes feel. Speaking of feeling real, a nice touch is how Brooks manages to work in the evolution of culture and music throughout the '90s. It's funny how much it helps with the immersion to see our character's cell phones evolving from when the film picks up in 1992 up until today. Music, news feeds and political jokes all help with the sense of immersion, without ever getting that hammy feel used to depict so many movies set in the '80s. I definitely recommend this for romantic comedy fans and I recommend it, maybe, if you can put up with the flaws to everyone else.

Overall Score: 7/10

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Good Luck Chuck Review

I'm embarrassed and sort of disgusted to admit that I'm almost starting to like Dane Cook. Among 2007 roles, he was decent in Mr. Brooks, surprisingly solid in Dan in Real Life and remarkably tolerable here. The movie itself is basically an even dirtier Farrelly brothers movie and has some really funny moments. There is one major problem with the movie: Dan Fogler. If I could pick out one actor from the (very) many films I saw this past year to beat into a coma with a tire iron (or lead pipe or baseball ball or...) Fogler would be the winner. His character is the most foul, distasteful and disgusting character I think I've ever seen in a film. There are scenes in the movie where Cook almost looks depressed to be on the same set as someone delivering Fogler's lines. Alba is, no surprise here, as beautiful and as bad an actress as always. Still Cook's decent comedic timing and some pretty funny jokes made this at least a tolerable way to spend an hour and a half, even if it's a pretty crappy movie overall.

Overall Score: 4/10

Sunday, February 10, 2008

R.I.P. Roy Scheider

"You're gonna need a bigger boat..."
It's a sad day as one of my favorite actors from my youth has passed away. I grew up absolutely in love with the ocean and Roy Scheider starred in one of my all time favorite films, Jaws, and my favorite tv show growing up, SeaQuest DSV. Which isn't at all to discount his great work in The French Connection or All That Jazz, I'll just always remember his as Chief Brody and Cpt Nathan Bridger. My thoughts are with his family and friends now, but I'm grateful that I got to enjoy his work over the years.

How to Rob a Bank Review

Independant movie from a first time writer and director starring one of the worst actresses of her time and the worst actor around, somehow it feels like I should have known I would hate this. The film's star, Nick Stahl, is a pretty decent actor (he made HBO's Carnivale tolerable) but here he is wasted in a foolish role that even he seems a bit uncomfortable about. Forced to deliver horrific lines about the 'evils' of bank surcharges (that make the anti-HMO chats in John Q seem neutral), Stahl looks vaguely disturbed to have to repeat the same ridiculous arguments over and over again. Erika Christensen is one of the worst actresses out there and let's just say she's somewhat miscast as a quasi-villain. Terry Crews is the worst actor around, I'd rather watch Chuck Norris perform Shakespeare than see him act. The story is poorly thought out and the 81 minute running time feels like 801 minutes. It's tough to tell if the film's attempts at humor are purposeful or inadvertent, either way they do not work. Stay far far away from this garbage.

Overall Score: 2/10

Feast of Love Review

This was a pretentious load of trash. In a bit of casting creativity Morgan Freeman plays the all-knowing narrator who spends his screentime doling out wisdom to all the other characters. I'm surprised nobody has tried him in that sort of role before, he's pretty good at it. Freeman is solid as ever but most impressive (and underused) is is Jane Alexander who plays his long time wife. I wish she and their marriage had more screentime. On the other side is Toby Hemingway who might well be the worst actor I've ever seen, I hope to never see another of his films. Fred Ward embarasses himself and gives one of the worst performances I've ever seen as well. Kinnear, Burke, Davalos and Mitchell are all alright, I guess, but their problem (and the movie's) is that there is not one single moment of this movie that feels real. The entire thing is a load of pretension and coincidence.

Overall Score: 3/10

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fool's Gold Review

It's really not a good a movie at all but I still had a good time with it. Maybe it's my unending love for the Indiana Jones movies, but I have soft spot in my heart for treasure hunt adventure movies (I even kind of enjoyed the generally reviled Into the Blue). Matthew McConaughey does his usual aloof shirtless stoner routine. Kate Hudson does her usual cute girl romantic comedy routine as well (please somebody get her real acting roles again, she was great in Almost Famous...). Ray Winstone, Donald Sutherland and Ewen Bremner also appear, basically playing roles we've seen them in before (though to his credit Sutherland at least makes his character a bit more interesting than the usual aloof rich father so common in movie-dom). Alexis Dziena is pretty funny, if a bit over the top, as Sutherland's ditzy tabloid celeb daughter. It's all quite beautiful to look at, that's for sure. I'm not really sure what else to say about this one, it's not good but it is good junky fun.

Overall Score: 5/10

In Bruges Review

Well we have an early frontrunner for best original screenplay as rookie writer and director McDonagh delivers a whip-smart fast paced script for he actors to work through. Perhaps more impressively is the adroit manner in which McDonagh juggles hilarious dark comedy and actual emotion. As an actor Colin Farrell seems to have fallen into a bit of a rut since the Alexander debacle. While he was fine in The New World his early talent seemed to recede in films like Miami Vice and Ask the Dust and was wasted in the mess that was Cassandra's Dream. Farrell broke on to the scene so nicely in early roles in decent films like Tigerland and Hart's War, scene stealing performances in blockbusters like Minority Report and Daredevil (he's actually good in it, I promise) and surprisingly decent lead turns in Hollywood schlock like S.W.A.T. and The Recruit. Farrell here is nothing short of spectacular. He managed to mingle a complicated mixture of light and dark without falling into hammy territory. His character is both a sarcastic schoolboy prankster and a tortured soul and Farrell makes it work extremely well. His comedic delivery is exceptional as well and I hope to see him taking on more humerous roles in the future. Brendan Gleeson gives his usual solid performance as Farrell's partner hitman. Their boss, Ralph Fiennes (absent in body until the last act of the film), delivers his lines with such great panache and verve that he makes for a great villain. To complete the Harry Potter reunion (Gleeson is Mad Eye Moody, Fiennes is Voldemort) is Clemence Poesy, who played Fleur in the 4th film. She brings a wonderful easy presence to the screen and seems to have great chemistry with Farrell. I realy can't overstate just how funny this movie is (if it breaks through expect many lines from it to sneak into the pop culture lexicon), though the humor might be a bit dark or offensive for some. I can't recommend enough that anyone reading this make an effort to spend some time In Bruges, it's well worth the time. This is also my first potential Top 10 film for 2008.

Overall Score: 9/10

Friday, February 8, 2008

Across the Universe Review

This was remarkably close to being a spectacular movie instead it just misses the mark, but there is still more than enough good to take out of it. The first good is the wonderful way Taymor utilizes Beatles songs, some well outside of the intended meanings, and applies them to the lives of our characters: I Want You (She's So Heavy) becomes a military draft and indoctrination theme, I Want to Hold Your Hand becomes the theme for a woman trying to embrace her homosexuality, Strawberry Fields Forever a meditation on loss in Vietnam. Jim Sturgess and Joe Anderson are both exceptional. Sturgess plays the lead, Jude, and brings great life to each moment he is onscreen. His singing, while not particularly powerful, is extremely emotional and he is a wonderful facial actor. Joe Anderson brings great life and a sense of fun to his role as well. Both performances have made me extremely excited to follow their future works. Evan Rachel Wood, and most of the supporting cast for that matter, come off less well. The majority of them, judging from their imdb pages, are not film actors by trade and it often shows. While some have wonderful voices, like T.V. Carpio who performs I Want to Hold Your Hand, they often falter in scenes without song. Bono (of U2) has an embarassingly bad cameo after a mediocre performance of I Am the Walrus. When this works though, it's quite amazing. The film's penultimate number All You Need is Love is one of the most effect romantic moments of 2007 this side of Once. I found the more 'realistic', well maybe I should just say surreal as opposed to the bunch fantastical absurdist numbers, to be far more effective generally. Some songs, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite sticks out in particular but is hardly alone, reek of Taymor's stage background and come across, to put this nicely, horrifically. I found her use of creepy puppets, not unlike those used in her stage production of The Lion King, to be highly offputting and a poor design decision. I only wish the whole film could have maintained the momentum and wonderment of the first half hour or so. The film works best when it acts as a surreal musical; the further it moved into the absurb the more it suffered. Worth seeing for any Beatles, musical or romance fan.

Overall Score: 7/10

Thursday, February 7, 2008

La Vie en Rose Review

Knowning basically nothing about the life of Edith Piaf I went into this with an open mind. It really didn't do much for me, however. As recent music biopics go I FAR prefer Walk the Line or Ray. Cotillard, decked out in fake looking prosthetics, nails all the Piaf mannerisms (or so I hear) but does, thankfully, at times manages to transcend the make-up and mimicry especially in a nice scene at a diner during her first trip to New York. I didn't appreciate Dahan's direction as nearly every scene feels melodramatic and somewhat surreal. Gerard Depardieu is good but alas underused as Piaf's basically absentee father. To be completely honest I found the well over two hour running time highly exhausting, at least Cotillard makes it somewhat tolerable.

Overall Score: 4/10

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days Review

To be honest this was a really difficult movie for me to give any sort of a number grade. I can't actually recommend that anybody see this, it's one of the most harrowing and disturbing films I've ever seen (I sit stoically through various war or 'torture porn' movies each year but this had me squirming uncomfortably in my seat). While it's not as interesting or compelling a take on the late Soviet bloc Communist society as last year's Lives of Others, I found the parts of the film that focus on life in 1987 Bulgaria (mainly in the film's first segment) were extremely effective. Anamaria Marinca's lead performance is stunning, genuine and believable. Mercifully both her performance and the screenplay avoid the cloying histrionic sort of reactions that could often be expected for a film character involved in a situation such as this. One of my main problems with the film, however, is Laura Vasiliu's supporting performance. Not only did I find her character difficult to empathize with, but I found her performance to be significantly lacking especially compared to her more talented co-stars. Vlad Ivanov, who plays the abortion doctor, gives a really believable turn in a role that could so easily have turned out poorly. I, though it seems I'm in the minority here, was bored by Mungiu's direction. I found the oft 'locked-in' camera work to be far less effective than a more mobile camera could have been. Still I do appreciate a director who has the confidence in his actors to call action and record what happens. I do think at times the film veers into exploitation for effect as well, including an overlong locked perspective shot focusing on the aborted fetus while the characters are interacting on the periphery of the frame. Though it does all come off as very 'real' which is quite possibly what, despite the flaws, makes the film work so well.

Overall Score: 7/10

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Superman: Doomsday Review

What we have here is a really interesting idea for a Superman movie: what happens to Metropolis if he dies? It's too bad it just isn't pulled off all that well. The most effective scenes in the entire thing are when Superman is finally defeated and the subsequent burial. For an animated movie of such mediocre art standards I was impressed at the emotion the funeral scene managed to illicit. The action scenes are pretty enjoyable but much of it suffers for mediocre voice acting and a blah script. This could have been a lot more interesting also if Superman's return from the grave was presented in a more veiled manner, rather in training/recovery scenes interweaved into the Metropolis story. I think Superman is one of the worst heroes as he is literally invincible and has countless powers, which gives everything about him a bland sense of inevitability. By giving him a sense of mortality the character is enriched and made more interesting, it's too bad the film didn't explore this aspect and used the death as merely a setback in Supe's invariable victory.

Overall Score: 5/10

Sunday, February 3, 2008

In the Land of Women Review

It's really too bad Meg Ryan missed out on the role of The Joker in this coming summer's The Dark Knight. I mean her plastic surgeon did a hell of a job making her look the part. Wait...what's the you say? She wasn't trying to be the Joker?!? No way! In all seriousness though I found her face's absolute inability to express emotion remarkably disconcerting. Kristin Stewart, aproximately 16 at the time of filming, has more age lines in her face than Ryan. I wish Ryan had followed the example of someone like Diane Lane who has aged naturally but is still gorgeous. Other than that her performance is not particularly good. Kristen Stewart, who seemed so vapid and lost in Into the Wild and The Messengers actually puts some life into her character here and it works. Adam Brody, though he may always be sort of playing Seth Cohen from The O.C., has a surprising amount of depth to his performance here. He manages to convey wisdom and age with his acting that defy his youthful face and image. Not to take shots at a little kid but Mackenzie Vega's painfully precocious little kid, the daughter of Ryan's character, is absolutely unwatchable. The real problem arises here because it never once feels real, and not in that good sort of quirky indie way that Juno or Garden State utilize. A decent performance or two make this things almost tolerable, but the putrid screenplay, poor concept and the robotic facial expression of Meg Ryan mean you should look elsewhere.

Overall Score: 4/10

Black Sheep Review

This movie really has a tremendous horror-comedy premise but alas it moves to far from the central idea and suffers miserably for it. I found the first half of the film to be absolutely amazing. The humor worked well and the concept (invasion of the sheep? good stuff) worked well. Alas the longer the film went the worse it got, to a nearly interminable last 25 minutes or so when all of the humor disappeared. The film's later half is also marred by the prevelance of were-sheeps (think sheep-werewolves). The were-sheeps are neither realistic enough to be scary nor ridiculous enough to be funny. Also the film takes a turn for the truly perverse in the last act and the attempt at gross humor misses the mark: it just makes the viewer uncomfortable and disgusted. I would have preferred to see the central concept played out for the whole film as it's a good one, we didn't need were-sheep to make this work.

Overall Score: 5/10

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Over Her Dead Body Review

Why the hell do producers, directors and actors keep thinking the 'dead fiance (or whatever)' is a good idea for a romantic comedy? It's not. None of these recent films dealing with the idea, Catch and Release jumps to mind, can effectively navigate the complex series of emotions that encompass moving on from the death of a loved one and into a new relationship, let alone add in comedic elements. Here we have Eva Longoria who is, for my money, one of the worst actresses I've ever seen. Granted I've not seen but an episode of her work in Desperate Housewives but she was horrible in The Sentinal and Harsh Times and Over Her Dead Body was no exception. It doesn't help that the piss-poor screenplay paints her character terribly. I thought Jason Biggs was a better actor than the stupid comic relief parts he keeps getting for himself these's starting to look like I was wrong. Lake Bell, quite pretty in a real person way, at least seems to be trying. Paul Rudd actually surprised me here. Generally I think I could be content just watching him spew sarcastic comments for an hour and half but here he actually tries to act a bit and he isn't half bad. I also found myself quite a bit put off by the inept use of religion here: why does a Catholic priest perform an exorcism for a ghost when Catholic doctrines says there are no ghosts? Why does the priest use an exorcism as a ploy to get Bell's character to attend mass regularly? Why is 'heaven' an endless white room where a bitchy 'angel' orders people around? Why do drunk drivers and materialistic bitches get to go to heaven? This is a really bad movie made slightly tolerable by an inspired comedic bedroom scene and Rudd's performance.

Overall Score: 3/10

Get Smart (Unfinished Cut) Review

(Based on an unfinished cut)
Strangely I thought it felt a lot like a slightly more comedic Michael Bay movie (it even uses the music of Trevor Rabin, a Bay/Bruckheimer regular). Carell, as per the norm, is quite funny in the lead role, here as seemingly inept secret agent Maxwell Smart. Hathaway is absolutely beautiful...I'm just not sure she's much of an actress. The Rock actually steals almost all of his scenes with an effortless sense of 'cool' that works well for the material. There are some big problems though. The film is marred by stupid design decisions creating both RIDICULOUS (in a bad way) action scenes and an invincible villain. Call me crazy but I don't like it when people fall from a plane and live. The worst part of the film though are the tacky, classless Bush/Cheney jokes littered throughout. The audience seemed disgusted and entirely offput by one Katrina joke in particular that was simply in bad taste. An occasional political joke can work really well (like at the end of Anchorman) but berating the audience with them only serves as a reminder of the less than great situation America sits in today. I'm no Bush supporter but this is meant to be a fairly lighthearted summer action comedy; not a scathing political message movie. It's funny and has some pretty inspired moments, but some juvenile decisions and satire gone awry really hold it back from being a great action comedy.

Overall Score: 5/10