almdudler

IMDb member since December 2002
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    17 years

Reviews

The Home Teachers
(2004)

Expectations surpassed
I'm surprised at how the majority of these reviews are so negative. Perhaps it's based in large part on expectations, but I came into the movie expecting pretty much the same caliber of film that I'd seen from these film makers before, and I was pleasantly surprised that they had raised the bar. My wife and I both noticed that production values are much better for this movie than the other 'Mormon' films we'd seen. The lighting, sound, and music seemed very well done. Of course, I realize that production doesn't count for much if the script is a dog, but I felt this film came through on that account as well. No, we weren't rolling in our seats with laughter, but there was good chemistry between the two leads, and I never felt myself cringing (as I find myself in many movies) thinking, "no one talks like that" or "that's not something somebody would say." They kept it pretty real...over-the-top in humor, but real in its characterizations. Perhaps the best compliment that I can give is that this film was funnier than the last few so-called blockbuster Hollywood comedies that I've seen. Well done. I may be watching this one again.

Better Off Dead...
(1985)

Totally bodacious
When people ask me what my favorite movie is, they are surprised to hear "Better off Dead." The question is, why? Quite simply, it is the quality of repeat viewing. I have seen this literally dozens of times, and the laughs simply do not subside. I've come to anticipate almost every funny moment in the film, and consequently, I spend the entire time either laughing out loud or eagerly anticipating the next laugh. The pacing of the comedic elements is unrivaled; it is unrelentless, never letting down with gags, funny characters, or hilarious interplay and situations. It also qualifies for me as a Christmas film because of a significant segment of the film that revolves around the family's Christmas antics, and therefore, it has become as much a holiday standard in my home as "It's a Wonderful Life." I will concede, however, that those who didn't grow up in and appreciate the 80's culture will not be as enamored with the film as I am. For me, it's not only the best comedy of all time, it is in some ways a time capsule that captured my high school years and brings a big-time feeling of nostalgia back to my mind.

How to Deal
(2003)

Jam-packed...with cliches and one-dimesional characters
I actually had decent expectations for this one but found myself cringing throughout most of the film. There's really no goal in this movie. As I contemplated the hollow feeling of having wasted a couple hours watching the film, I switched from passive viewer into active reviewer mode to determine why HTD didn't work on so many levels. First of all, I wanted to empathize with Mandy Moore's character, but there was nothing about her struggles that resonated at all. There was no growth pattern (aka character arc) to be found in her either; she was just a whining, disenchanted stereotype. Moore's character is the caricature of the frustrated teen who doesn't want to risk being loved for fear of getting hurt. Another factor that worked against the film was that they tried to cram too many subplots/characters in, and the main story did not benefit from most of that peripheral crap. Let's see, we had the pregnant girlfried...the doper grandma...the father and his new wife...the mother and her new love interest...Halley's aloof but totally undesirable hippie boyfriend...the sister and her fiance's socio-economic wranglings. It was headache-inducing fare to be sure. Halley's love interest just kept popping up, never with a context or sense of why he was where he was. What did we know about the guy? Nothing. We didn't observe his home life. Didn't really learn his interests. He was simply inserted into different settings (parking lots, stores, backyards, etc.) as though required by movie convention. The few scenes that were probably intended to endear us to the loser, such as the funeral speech scene, were presented pathetically with no emotional weight whatsoever. Third, the lazy writing for this film threw so much over-used tripe at us. For example, you know a film is struggling when they have a dog hump one of the principle character's legs. Also, the dope-smoking grandma seemed such a tired bit as well. After those ridiculous and unfunny insertions, any attempts at serious drama in this schizophrenic film were greatly compromised. Casting and chemistry were certainly some weak points of the film as well. My significant other and I agreed that Mandy Moore did not seem in any way conceivably to be a blood relative to the mother in the film. They looked nothing alike. Granted, this is hard to gauge, but then I started to realize that other films pull this off very well. The lack of character change/growth and of any conceivable end goal also made any attempts to generate a conflict or climax to the film moot. Toward the end when the boyfriend avoids her for a while, it was merely yawn-inducing. This is supposed to be tension? This is supposed to make me concerned? Hardly. The film's efforts toward the end to generate some artificial excitement were particularly cloying and lame. In particular, when the boyfriend forced his way on to the radio station's air waves as though he had to do something desperate and gritty to get Halley's attention, I wondered why he hadn't thought to simply go to her house or call her on the phone. There was no indication that he had made any other more reasonable attempts to contact her. Therefore, what could have been a sweet moment, came off as a stunt and portrayed the love interest as a buffoon and social retard.

I can only hope that Mandy finds better vessels for her talent in the future. Churning out garbage like this will do nothing for her reputation and continued employment in the film industry.

The Big Comfy Couch
(1992)

Lame show with poor production value
I have to disagree with many of the other posts, so many of which come from the show's originating country of Canada, interestingly enough. (A little national pride on the line perhaps?) Well, your options may be somewhat limited in the Great White North, but here in the States, there's simply no reason to show your child tripe like the Big Comfy Couch with so many superior options available. My daughter watched it on Sunday mornings a couple times; thankfully, it's the only time slotted by our local PBS station. Just because a toddler or small child is entranced by a show does not make it a good show (see Teletubbies and Barney for indications of this). It has the look and feel of something a family might produce in their basement for fun - hokey-looking characters with the requisite hand puppets. The worst part for me, however, is the music. It's cloying and amateurish, which really sets it apart from other PBS programs that are of obviously higher quality. I feel like wretching at least once during every episode- you can count on at least one cheesy slapstick incident where Major Bedwetter, er Bedhead, falls down, or Loonette will stare at the camera like a ditz, seemingly filling time with her clueless schtick. My least favorite of all is the doll "Molly". Little Molly has all the charm of that doll "Chucky" from the horror flicks. She sits there squirming on the couch, never making a peep. You just wonder when she's going to pull a hunting knife out of that couch and put an end to Loonette's pathetic commentary. Am I being overly harsh on the show? If this was the 70's perhaps. But as a discriminating consumer with so much to choose from, I'm glad I can offer my daughter shows that entertain AND educate.

Hulk
(2003)

A train wreck for comic-based films
I was eager to see this one. As a frame of reference, I loved Spiderman, X-2, and thought Daredevil was so-so. The Hulk strikes me as lagging behind even Daredevil as the weakest entry in the comic book-based movies of late. It was truly a groaner, and the audience I was with seemed to react the same way. Here are the points against this film:

1. The tone was entirely wrong, both for fans of the comic, and I would add, entirely wrong for fans of action films. The trailers clearly billed this as an action film, not a heavy, brooding drama. That said, I had read reviews indicating that Ang Lee had placed a heavy emphasis on the story and character development, so I was actually excited because a comic book movie doesn't need to be superficial. However, there was no humor, no levity at all. It was painful. We've been conditioned with action films to have a few light-hearted moments here and there as a catharsis from the weightiness of conflict, but there were absolutely no intended humorous moments in this film. The only humor, unfortunately, came during very dramatic moments, as I found myself and the audience laughing at some rather corny lines and poor acting by the lead, Eric Bana. I will add that there is a scene toward the end where two characters are talking on a stage-like apparatus; it's supposed to be a moving moment, but instead, it was over-the-top and had the feeling of high school theatrics.

2. Filmic technique - I admit this is more according to my personal taste, but Mr. Lee used a lot of split-screens throughout the film. It was okay the first time, and indeed, they may have been impressively and seemlessly spliced/integrated into the film, but they were used far too often and distracted me. In fact, I had flashbacks to the 80's when my friends got their first camcorders and tried out all the panning and dissolving effects that they could. The film started to have that same cheap 80's experimental camcorder feel to it. Many of the multiple shots did nothing to serve the action. For example, three panes showing helicopters coming to fight The Hulk did nothing for me. It didn't reveal anything new to me.

3. Special effects - I agree with others who have expressed that the CGI just wasn't up to the task of depicting the Hulk. I thought the distant shots worked well enough, but the close-ups showed a creature slightly less believable than the original hand-puppet yoda. There were also a few scenes that looked very sloppily done. There's an explosion at one point, and the person being blown up had a cartoonish outline around him/her and was suspended in the air. I saw audience members groan and look at each other like "was that supposed to look real?" It was pitiful.

4. Convoluted plot - I would think that in most cases an action film has better pacing when the storyline is kept fairly simple or at the very least is coherent. Had the filmmakers chosen to stay true to the origins of the Hulk from the comic book, I think it would have worked much better. Instead, they spent a lot of time with techno/pseudo/medical jargon and psychobabble in making a storyline that was too complicated and tripped over itself many time. I was so sick of hearing the term 'repressed memories' thrown around by the end of the film. Too much talking about the main character's problems and too little showing. We were beat over the head with pseudo-heady dialogue at times that sounded like sci-fi crap, and Lee's surreal shots of molecules didn't help.

5. Poor lead actor - This will be a common refrain, but the lead, Eric Bana was a terrible choice. He was like a wooden version of Keanu Reeves, if you can conceive of that (Reeves is bad enough). The guy wilted every scene he was in, drained any energy and drama that the scene had to offer. I felt no sympathy for the character; he was like an android.

That's probably enough to make my point, but I could go on. Unfortunately, there aren't many positive points to make. There were some decent action sequences in the film, but not enough to warrant the time that I spent in the theatre. A definite thumbs-down for me.

Some Kind of Wonderful
(1987)

Thank goodness Molly Ringwald turned this one down...
Because it's so much better without her. I just read in imdb that John Hughes was furious when Ringwald turned down the role that Lea Thompson took on, but it was her loss and our gain. Lea definitely had a sexy edge that the homely Ringwald could never have pulled off. I've wondered what sort of sick fascination Hughes must have had with Ringwald to elevate a B-actress to star in three of his pictures, but fortunately I didn't have to see her in a fourth.

SKOW would rank as my second favorite of the 80's teen angst films, behind Better Off Dead, which is probably more farce than dramedy, but masterful nonetheless. It noses out "Can't Buy Me Love" which was a similarly enjoyable film. This film was just beautifully acted. It worked for me, unlike Pretty in Pink, because Eric Stolz's character and his troubles seemed more real than Ringwald's. He actually seemed to hate school, instead of being the stereotypical poor kid who makes exceptional grades. Although many parallels can be drawn to Pretty in Pink, I felt it was more enjoyable that Stolz and Lea Thompson were both from lower/middle class families. It endeared me to Lea Thompson's character, because her struggles were not those of a petty rich girl. I also think the soundtrack was on the weak side, and they certainly should have promoted it better (I discovered it on VHS and don't remember it ever hitting the theatres). Maybe the trend of naming movies after popular songs plagued this one - the title seems like an afterthought that was slapped on when nothing else could be decided on.

Bottomline: watch this for the wonderful dynamics between Stolz and Masterson.

Better Off Dead...
(1985)

Totally bodacious
When people ask me what my favorite movie is, they are surprised to hear "Better off Dead." The question is, why? Quite simply, it is the quality of repeat viewing. I have seen this literally dozens of times, and the laughs simply do not subside. I've come to anticipate almost every funny moment in the film, and consequently, I spend the entire time either laughing out loud or eagerly anticipating the next laugh. The pacing of the comedic elements is unrivaled; it is unrelentless, never letting down with gags, funny characters, or hilarious interplay and situations. It also qualifies for me as a Christmas film because of a significant segment of the film that revolves around the family's Christmas antics, and therefore, it has become as much a holiday standard in my home as "It's a Wonderful Life." I will concede, however, that those who didn't grow up in and appreciate the 80's culture will not be as enamored with the film as I am. For me, it's not only the best comedy of all time, it is in some ways a time capsule that captured my high school years and brings a big-time feeling of nostalgia back to my mind.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
(2002)

Hopefully Lucas won't clone this one for Ep. III
My opinions on this one have evolved after seeing it once in the theatre and then again on video. I admit that the final hour was a guilty pleasure which distracted me from how painful the first hour was. Also, I came in with no expectations, because of how horrid Ep. I was. Then I watched Clones on video, and it hit me how truly awful this was. Now I didn't have the eye candy on the scale that the theatre provides...it was just me, my wife, and a lame story filled with very lame acting playing out on a 27" screen. And it didn't work at all. I even think it might be as bad or worse than Ep. I, which I didn't think was possible. There is no lead-in for me to eagerly anticipate Episode III - only the morbid curiosity of gawking at a train wreck. The story did nothing to endear me to the characters or care about their plights. Wooden, terrible acting by Portman and her beau. These films (I & II) desperately needed some comic relief ala Hans Solo to take the attention away from the stiff, lovey-dovey crap, but there was none to be had, so I had to sit through a lot of awkward, even mind-numbingly bad moments while the two young lovers worked through their feelings. Blech!

See all reviews