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Reviews

22 Jump Street
(2014)

Offers very little fresh material
Though I liked the performances of Tatum and Hill (they have really great chemistry), it really feels like more of the same as in the first film. There is also a really tired bro-mance plot that really outstays its welcome in the first 30 minutes. It's like they recycled the plot for I Love You, Man but with more shooting.

Also, there are tons of actors who are wasted in cameos and small supporting parts only so we can recognize them and say: "Oh, they got Richard Grieco to participate" or "Look! There's Nick Offerman again."

There is one hilarious scene involving Tatum having a grand time about a twist involving Hill and the captain. It just seems like a little too much like sitcom style humor.

So, there is not much to recommend here, although I did like the end with all of the fake sequel titles.

Furious 6
(2013)

All stage directions
A slight improvement over Fast Five in that there is a lot less dialogue in this movie, which has never been the series' strong point. Unfortunately, the plot is so uninteresting and undeveloped that any screenwriter could have just written: "We need some explosions, some car collisions, a threat to the main characters and just for fun let's have a character with amnesia. From what I remember, the screenwriter and the director have been the same, the last three movies. Maybe they were getting bored of the whole thing.

Paul Walker's part is totally superfluous and Vin Diesel's is just here to look sad and concerned. Dwayne Johnson gets most of the inane dialogue and Tyrese acts like an idiot most of the running time.

So, what we have is millions of dollars wasted on what could have been just as well an animated feature. That's probably what we are gonna get after people have completely lost interest in the franchise.

Fast Five
(2011)

Now I have seen everything - wait... no I haven't
This won't take a lot of words. Even crazier stunts than the previous installments, really silly dialogue and tired drama about family values. That's pretty much it.

There are also an abundance of characters that are totally uninteresting and underused, just because the plot demands that they participate in the heist. I think that's the reason why the running time of the movie is 25 minutes longer than the others.

We also get the most boring villain and a character from the first movie who is pretty stupid on the surface, but seems to think more logical than all of the other characters combined. Luckily, he gets a hero's send off. Oops! I gave away his demise. Sorry.

This sequel is also the worst offender of setting up characters' point of view and then suddenly make them do 180s for no apparent reason. And to top it all of, it has the most ridiculous car chase in history which is pretty cool, but by then I pretty much lost interest in how it was gonna turn out. Also, you pretty much know that you can't have our heroes die or punished. So it ends pretty much how you expect.

One thing also. Both Walker and Diesel look terribly out of shape. One scene has Diesel pulling up a wounded Dwayne Johnson and I kept thinking that he was gonna dislocate something. Anyway, my commentary is done. There is no point of giving out a rating but I'll give it a 2, just for the effort of giving us a car chase that you definitely haven't seen so much.

Fast & Furious
(2009)

Slightly better than the original
You have to give Paul Walker and Vin Diesel credit. They are what make these movies a little less painful to sit through.

I made a silly promise to myself that I would watch the entire box of the first six movies and I am a little less sorry now, than after I watched the first film.

Although, as I stated before, the series is not high art by any means, but you really have to admire the craft that went into it.

The tone of the movie is very serious compared to the others, excluding the first race which is more of the same silliness that you seen from the other movies. The plot revolves around the one man against a much more powerful opponent (like most Clint Eastwood movies or also many westerns). Diesel plays it for all it's worth, but the story around the revenge plot is unfortunately a very dull experience.

We are introduced to many stereotypes throughout and references to the earlier films. I just lost interest in this commentary. What is there more to say.

Watch this and judge it for yourself. I thought it was a terribly dull experience, although the lead actors do a very nice job, sans one or two perhaps.

Road House
(1989)

The best "bad" movie of all time
There is nothing like going back and re-visit some of the fondly remembered films of your past and Road House is such an archetype of its time. It's amazing that a film that's basically just an excuse for showing hot women and to please everyone, Patrick Swayze without his shirt, as much as possible.

I will not go into the plot because I think just about everyone knows it's ridiculous. Just state that I was surprised how much graphic violence it has. I must have been drunk the first time I saw it, because the fight scenes went straight to the garbage bin of my mind at the time.

Anyway, what is so attractive about this is the film's inane dialogue. There is actually a character who says: "I used to "bleep" guys like you in prison" to try and intimidate Swayze's character, Dalton. It's amazing that Swayze could finish that scene with a straight face. The bloopers must be a riot to watch.

There is one more reason why I like this film and that is Jeff Healey. I think this is the only time he ever tried acting and he does a really good job. His southern accent is believable even though he is from Canada and the songs are a nice mix of covers, past songs from the band and of course best of all The Doors cover. One little fault: Jeff Healey normally only played lead guitar in rare instances, but here (because the songs are playback), he is able to both play the rhythm and lead guitar at the same time. I saw him live where he had the ugliest lead guitar player in history and it's a shame that they didn't include somebody to play him because I think he didn't use the same guy in all his concerts. Anyway, it was nice to see his two other regular band members get some shots in the movie.

The score by Michael Kamen is pretty good, but it sounds an awful lot like the score from Lethal Weapon which has been pointed out by Oliver Harper on Retrospective Reviews.

There are however major flaws with the flick that I simply can't overlook. Kelly Lynch is given the most ridiculous character to play and one of her lines comparing Dalton's character to that of the bad guy made me almost faint in disbelief. The bad guy Wesley is nicely played by Ben Gazzara by the way. I am not a huge fan of his and in many of his roles he goes overboard with his method training (the worst performance was his Al Capone), but fortunately he is very low key and has a nice moment where we see that he does have a conscience buried deep inside the character.

I will not mention the director because this is definitely a Joel Silver production if ever there was one. I don't know why he feels that he has to show women who are humiliating themselves and don't get me wrong. I don't object to naked women on screen but there is one character who taunts Dalton and it's the most excruciatingly bad scene to sit through. That scene alone is why I give the film such a low rating.

The ending is very cheesy. Wesley has such a stranglehold on the town that the citizens don't stand up to him. What do they do to make up for that. I won't reveal it but it is one of the more unbelievable parts of the movie, but then the whole thing ain't exactly a documentary to begin with.

Guardians of the Galaxy
(2014)

I don't know where to look
This is an impressive film, not just the visual effects but the intelligent screenplay that goes along with it.

I am not familiar with the source material but fortunately director James Gunn sets up the universe nicely in about the first 30 minutes of the film (in more ways than one).

Chris Pratt was a good choice for the lead and he obviously has comedic timing from his work on Parks & Recreation. He must have worked extremely hard to get in shape so I'll give him a gold star for that.

If there is a problem with the show, it's over-length and so many speaking roles, that you have to see the movie at least three times to get it fully. That's a minor fault, though and for the most part it is totally worth its running time. It borrows from a lot of different genres but the main one is oddly enough family drama.

Here are my favorite moments/characters:

1) The slave girl is hilarious. Pity she is taken out so quickly.

2) Groot is an absolutely amazing character. He has so much personalty even though he can't really converse. The absolute favorite scene is when he kills 10 or more bad guys and gives the goofiest smile to the camera.

3) The incredible space battle near the end. The visual effects in this sequence are absolutely stunning.

There are a lot of other good moments but I just wanna list a few bad ones as well.

1) Ronan is incredibly stupid. The way he just let the good guys get away with stuff is a little bit annoying and will of course lead to his defeat.

2) Djimon Hounsou's eyes. This is the most annoying of the visual effects. It was probably how the character looked in the comic book, but it hurts "my" eyes to look at them. Also, his character is a little underdeveloped for people unfamiliar with the source material.

Otherwise, I think it's the best Marvel movie so far, even outdoing Spiderman. The use of pop songs are also inspired and to tie it with the plot is unusual.

Note: Watch Cinema Sins commentary on this flick. I laughed my lungs out.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
(2006)

Logic is not this movie's strong suit
I can't help myself. Continuing my quest to see all of the movies in this franchise, I got through Tokyo Drift.

Let me just say that I enjoyed it very much, although I am still baffled by the story lines in these movies. You have to set your logic-meter at absolutely zero to enjoy these flicks.

Even though there are almost none of the original cast members who appear in this, I thought that the star did an okay job once you get past his thick southern accent. Kudos to him for having enough integrity not to alter it. Speaking of accents there is one thing that I can't forgive and that is the girl's Australian accent. Even though there is a half-assed explanation of her mother being Australian, she was born in Japan. Was she born in captivity and was never allowed to leave her house. It's also explained that her mother left her to live with her boyfriend's family. Maybe I am making too much of this as usual. I was a language major.

There are also an extraordinary amount of Japanese kids with American accents besides Lucas' best friend, Han and of course there is a black kid who is of course a thief. This I can half believe but are there really that many Americans in one school?

As I said, these are not the questions you should ask yourself but enjoy the film for what it's worth. Unfortunately, it's not worth that much. This definitely falls in the category: "It's so bad, it's good. What do we have here: 1) A kid who is destined to go to juvenile hall if his father doesn't look after him 2) A father who gives him a hard time about rules, then decides to completely ignore them at the end 3) A mother who looks like she has been through the mill over and over (that was uncalled for) - A Japanese kid with a chip on his shoulder, who of course has ties to the Yakuza 4) Another Japanese kid (with the American accent) who of course is more than willing to help our hero because, hey, what else is there to do on the weekend 5) The love interest (I actually liked the line: "Hey, what does it matter where I am from", which is pretty ironic) 6) The uncle from the Yakuza who concerns the villain.

Speaking of that, everybody in this movie looks so concerned throughout this whole thing. Were they afraid that this movie wasn't going to make any money? There is also an abundance of meaningful looks between the characters that almost gave me a heart attack from laughing.

Now, now. I shouldn't be so critical. After all, the filmmakers do put on a good show here. I should almost give this 5 out of 10 just for giving me all those laughs. What the hell, I'll do it.

Iron Man Three
(2013)

Hollywood women look great, don't they?
This is a little late to write commentary on the third installment of the franchise, but I just can't help myself.

As usual, Robert Downey Jr. does great as Stark and I can't think of anyone who looks better in this universe. His age is starting to show, though. But if I looked as good in my present age, as he does at almost 50, then some wrinkles is a small price to pay. One who looks even better is Gwyneth Paltrow. Just goes to show you that California sun does miracles. Or is it that miracle innovation called surgery. I doubt it. She looks way too natural.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah! Iron Man 3. Well, it doesn't stink. How about that? Except, there are some crucial errors, mostly due to casting. Ben Kingsley is a good actor but what the hell is what that accent? I know he's supposed to be a British actor playing the mandarin but shouldn't it therefore be an Asian accent he's adopting? Rebecca Hall who plays one of Tony's conquests I believe is British. I first saw her in Frost/Nixon but she hides her Britishness very well. It is also nice that we see her tryst with Tony way in the past because I don't think Tony would have gone for her when the main storyline is set. There is a twist to her character but to be honest, it's not that big of a surprise.

Of course, now he is involved with Pepper and we get the usual relationship quarrels from a thousand other movies. Fortunately, these scenes are short and don't ruin the overall experience.

Now for the worst part. Introduction to a new character which is of course a kid. It's like a bad sitcom where they think this storyline will boost ratings. Please stop.

Anyway, there isn't really that much to recommend about this show except action scenes. But isn't that what kids wanna see? Unfortunately, there isn't that much action except for that sensational helicopter who does what? It has something to do with putting the actors in danger?

Edge of Tomorrow
(2014)

More Paxton, please
I have become a little disenchanted with movies of the 2010s, especially these summer popcorn movies featuring aliens and tons of CG. I knew I had to see this because it starred one of my all time favorites, Tom Cruise. I think he gets unfairly judged as a movie actor because he is a star (plus he is kind of weird).

Anyway, I hoped that this flick was in the style of the excellent remake of War of the Worlds, coincidentally also starring Cruise. When I saw that they ripped off Groundhog Day, I was really let down. Luckily, I perked right up again very quickly. Yes, they do use the basic premise of that classic but this is much more than trying to find a gimmick for what is essentially something we seen a thousand times before: Man vs. Alien.

Let me get to my favorite part which is the performance of Bill Paxton. It's the first time that he and Cruise have worked together, as far as I know and I can't believe they have such good chemistry. Every scene they are together is pure comic gold. I wish that they had a little more screen time as a pair because after Paxton is gone, the movie takes a more tedious turn. Not that it gets boring but I don't think that the scenes between Emily Blunt and Cruise are that interesting. I was thoroughly disappointed when she shows up on screen. When she appears and is killed, I knew that it wasn't the end for her. Wouldn't that have been a cool twist, though. No, no. We can't have that.

Fortunately, we are spared the traditional love story but the movie gets bogged down in the scenes with her, Cruise and that annoying scientist. I don't know how he figured out how the alien could be defeated and the plot doesn't allow a thorough explanation.

Now for the worst part. The ending. Cruise loses his powers and has to convince his comrades to go fight this thing. The movie cheats by having them convinced in a matter of minutes but that's not the biggest problem. There are continuity problems as well. Again, I can forgive that. But when those black eyes appear again, I thought to myself: "They screwed up". I you haven't seen the movie, judge for yourself.

Anyway, my rant is over.

2 Fast 2 Furious
(2003)

Slight improvement over the first
Again, I plunked down and watched the second film because I have bought a bluray-set of the first six movies. This time was more enjoyable.

Although, it is a major disappointment that Vin Diesel decided to bow out for the second installment, I think his replacement, Tyrese Gibson is okay. He was of course part of another big franchise (Transformers for the 2 people who may not have seen that trilogy) and here he seems to have a lot of fun. He was permitted to ad-lib a lot and fortunately his improv is for the most part hilarious.

Although, many have complained that the racing element is not a major part of this film, I think it is more the screenplay and the edit. I could have sworn that I saw at least two scenes that jump to another, where Tyrese and Paul Walker basically just repeat what the other one mentioned just before. Ex: At the end Tyrese says: I have to keep an eye on you here in Miami. The next scene Walker says: "So your settling down here in Miami".

The villain of the piece is a scary-looking feller. He looks like a cross between David Hasselhoff and Sgt. Barnes from platoon. Turns out he's the son of Wings Hauser, who did a lot of B-movies in the 80s and 90s. I think his largest role was in the mini-series adaptation of "The Long Hot Summer" with Don Johnson and Cybill Shepherd. One thing, though. It is sort of anticlimactic that we don't get to see him getting his head kicked in by either Walker or Tyrese. They did it to one of his henchmen in a hilarious fight scene.

Now, the director. This I had never thought in a million years but John Singleton of all people. It is like Woody Allen directing Lethal Weapon. Sadly, he does an admirable job most of the time except for the big action set-piece near the end.

Walker looks a bit tired of the whole thing and displays very little emotion throughout. It doesn't even look like a big deal to him that he loses the girl at the end.

So, if you are hell bent on seeing lots of cool races you are going to be disappointed but the show is a little bit easier to swallow, thanks in large part to Tyrese Gibson.

The Fast and the Furious
(2001)

I am getting old
Awful, awful. I avoided seeing any of the Furious movies for over a decade and maybe it was because of the teaser trailer. Maybe it was because it didn't show anything about what the movie was about or maybe it was because the movie itself wasn't aimed at me as an audience. I was almost thirty at the time, but I have enjoyed other movies that were not aimed at my age group like the first Spiderman movie which was released around the same time.

What I dislike about the first movie is the stupid dialogue. Yeah, yeah. I know it has something to say about loyalty and whatever but mostly sounds like it was written by a 13-year old. Spiderman was goofy in places but there is a weird kind of tone throughout this, especially in the scenes between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

There is one particular scene that I didn't get for the life of me. Diesel's thuggish best friend accuses Walker of being a cop and the two of them is ready to kill Walker, but the scene ends without a payoff what so ever. It just cuts to the next scene. What the f...! The friend does inspire one of the funniest scenes in the whole thing. The friend is about to cause trouble because he is incensed that Walker has been accepted so easily by Torreto (Diesel's name in the flick). Diesel loses his temper and says something like: "I didn't know you either and accepted you". The friend then replies: "We were 3, you idiot". Priceless, even though it's not totally verbatim. I honestly can't remember if I reversed the dialogue, but it is still funny as hell.

One more scene I have to mention which is unintentionally hilarious. Walker blows his pistons in the first race. Diesel says something like: "Oh, we better get that repaired". The car is steaming and 2 seconds later Walker's car is fine to drive. What did they do? Just throw the pistons in the hood and they magically attached and worked perfectly. Granted, I am not a mechanic but I know a car that has lost its pistons need more work than that. Then there is a guy who says: Cops are coming! Walker and Diesel flees in separate cars and for a very flimsy reason, Diesel decides to park in a garage and just slowly stroll down the street (check out the directors commentary).l The cops spot him and Walker picks him up (of course in the magically reconstructed car).

I know I am not supposed to nitpick at plot points like this but they are so obvious here. The races are few and far between which is another problem and they are hard to follow. One thing you could see is the lever that activates the nitrous oxide conveniently labeled "NOS". Again, hilarious.

There are a lot of other problems with the movie but let's just say I was thoroughly underwhelmed. I knew I was not supposed to see a piece of high art but come on; some b-movies make ten times more sense than this. I was also shocked to find out that Roger Ebert actually liked this and gave it three stars. He attacked films that had much better dialogue and plot developments than this. Maybe his illness was getting to him at that point, but I don't think so.

I know my commentary is a little long and perhaps a bit unfair because there are some good elements in the show. A sensational car chase at the end and the best part, Paul Walker, as I am saddened by his death. He could have done so much more than these picture and if you saw one of his first roles in Pleasantville you saw real potential. He looked a lot like a young Paul Newman and could have followed his path which makes his death even sadder. I guess the money eased his pain, though.

Note: Do yourself a favor and listen to the director's commentary. Not only is it hilarious but makes you understand the film a whole lot better. I changed my opinion from this being a terrible movie to a terrible movie with some good elements, if that has any relevance to anyone at all.

National Lampoon's Vacation
(1983)

Chevy Chase gives a real performance
This is almost a perfect comedy and I have watched this maybe 20 times. It's not only a very funny movie, but it is the most relatable film ever made. We have all been on these family trips where you are supposed to have fun but instead, everything goes to hell.

What is so amazing about this film is Chevy Chase. He actually gives a performance whereas in many of his other movies he just seems bored. I loved Fletch when I was a kid, but you can tell that Chevy tries very little and he is not in his element in this type of action-comedy. Here, he is outstanding.

There are so many great scenes in this show: 1) The dead aunt on the roof - 2) The visit to Ellen's cousins, especially the discussion about french kissing (what a horrible image it gives you). Of course, it went way over my head as a kid - 3) The scene in the desert, where Clark nearly croaks from dehydration and many, many more. There are a few rough spots as when the family drives into a black neighborhood. I understood what the filmmakers are trying to do, but it just falls flat. And the main sore point about the dead dog. I laughed at the time, but must admit that I felt a little guilty about it. The scene is played very well by both James Keach and Chevy.

So, It is almost perfect but not quite. The ending actually made my stomach turn a little, because I am not a huge fan of rollercoasters. But John Candy is terrific and it is like no other movie performance he has made since then. It was a little far-fetched that Roy Walley does in the end, but what the hell, it's a movie, not real life. If you haven't seen the movie you won't know what I'm talking about, but I doubt there are many that haven't seen this amazing flick.

Fresno
(1986)

Almost forgotten
I had almost forgotten that this spectacular mini-series was shown on Danish TV and what luck when I found it on some obscure web-channel that starts with a You.

It's a must that you have a minimum of knowledge of soap operas before you can enjoy this hilarious send-up of them. And also, if you have the chance, check out Barry Kemp's interview on Archive of American Television's web page. Then you will appreciate just how good this is.

It follows the story lines of standard soap opera bibles and twist them ever so slightly to make it just a notch more broad. But, you have to pay attention or you will miss the joke. It reminds me a little bit of the short-lived series Police Squad!, although the comedy is a lot more subtle for the most part.

Here is a few examples of the comedy of ridiculous on this show: Some of the characters talk in these overblown southern accents and others don't even though they are sometimes siblings. The plot revolves around a raisin empire. A handyman who on the surface is just an annoying subplot character, but as the story continues becomes more and more comic. Absolutely side-splittingly funny country music numbers sung by the Teresa Ganzel character. Also check out the name of her and her boyfriend. That's just a few examples.

So if you can stomach it, check all five hours at once. I guarantee you will either love it or say: What the hell was that?

Mary Tyler Moore
(1970)

The first sitcom with a clearly feminine point of view
It's not the greatest sitcom in the world but it did has it moments. It will forever be associated with having a female character that wasn't married and didn't really pursue marriage.

The main story lines in the first 3 or 4 seasons was on Mary's relationships with the other 2 female characters Rhoda and Phyllis. Ed Asner said in an interview that he was a little frustrated that the workplace wasn't really featured in those years and I agree with him. The later years were the best seasons.

Still, the stories all through the run were different and more fresh than most sitcoms pre 1970, and the interaction between the characters are better than most sitcoms up to that point.

The reason for the feminine point of view is obvious. There were a lot of female writers on this show, more than I have ever seen before. This doesn't affect the shows quality but it is still clear that the male characters are softer than they usually were up to that point.

Planes
(2013)

Very well done, but too similar to Cars
It is not easy to find faults with animated films these days because there are so many being made these days. Let's remember that it takes a ton of work to make a good one, and you almost feel double disappointed when the film does not live up to its intended effort.

Like I said, I admire the effort it must have taken to put this out. The problem is that it lacks a truly original story. This is such a formula script that I almost felt sorry for the actors who intended to elevate it and they do, but only slightly.

The animation is very high standard but let's not forget that it's style have been tried out two times before, starting when we first saw Cars. There is little difference here but as I said, it's very well done.

The script is so formulaic however, that it brings the whole enterprise down. There is also a problem with the lead character. He is just too goody two shoes for us to care much about his struggles and without colorful supporting characters to back him up, I am sorry to say that you feel completely let down about two thirds into the whole thing.

So, what to do. Shall I recommend this movie just because of the effort that was put into it? Sorry, I can't. There are too many outlets for entertainment these days that it would be a terrible waste to see something so inferior for that kind of money a movie ticket will cost you today. Save it for a rainy day on Blu-ray, which I am thankful that I did.

The Wolf of Wall Street
(2013)

Scorsese does a remake
I am sorry to say that Scorsese finally made a terrible mistake. He went ahead and made a remake of his two previous masterpieces, Goodfellas and Casino and sort of made fun of himself, which could have worked, but comes awfully close to failing. Explanation: The movie has very little to say, other than there are people who think it's fun to be bad guys.

Let me also point out that although the movie feels like a Scorsese movie, there is not that immediate sense of emotions that you almost always get from a Scorsese film. Here it almost feels like Scorsese is saying, well I finally won on Oscar, so to hell with all you. The movie almost feels like a big wind up with no release.

There is an appalling amount of scenes that go on forever until I finally said to myself, enough already. It starts almost at the beginning, where we are introduced to Matt Mcconaughey. It's an inspired bit of casting and you have got to admire him for sending himself up as really weird. But as the scene goes on it, it goes on and on. Another one is where DiCaprio is giving his pep talk. It reminds me of the speech from Glengarry Glen Ross, just stretched out endlessly.

But enough. I don't want to trash Scorsese, because he is the most influential filmmaker in the world. Let me put it this way: Nice try, but you have to make a story that's different the next time.

Psych
(2006)

Updated version of Moonlighting but it works
Really solid entertainment. I didn't know that it was possible to make a show like this today, a show that has a supernatural element to it, but doesn't rely on heavy-duty visual effects. All those shows are really a pain to watch.

One thing that is also really unusual is that it doesn't rely on gross out humour and over the top sex jokes to be a hilarious show. The violence is also toned significantly down from other shows.

So why is it so delightful? Simply put, the chemistry between all of the main cast. I can't think of a show where each cast member doesn't bring something that I find absolutely true to their character, each and every episode. James Roday, with this kind of slacker attitude could have been a stereotype, but he manages to be so charming and charismatic, that he makes it totally his own.

Corbin Bernsen, as the highly principled father figure is his best role to date. Totally different from Arnold Becker (L.A. Law) and completely devoid of that kind of smarminess that was so popular back in the 80s. Also, the choice to use him in the 80s segments are a little bit ridiculous. That toupee doesn't make you look younger, Mr. Bernsen. Other than that, it's a brilliant way to structure a TV show and a wise choice not to go from past to present all through the running time. Just one scene is fine.

I hope that other producers will take note of this show and make less of these insanely annoying reality shows, that really is as far from reality as I can think. Just because a show is fictitious doesn't mean that we can't relate to it if the characters are well written like Psych definitely is.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
(2009)

Actually pretty funny
David Cross finally starts to grow on me. He's created a desperate character that appears to be what we all aspire not to be at first, but then suddenly, we realise - gee, we are him, most of the time anyway. We all like to think that we are morally superior to everybody else sometimes. For example, when we hear about somebody who did something terrible, we are pretty quick to condemn that person and without getting all the facts.

By the way, this is not a civics lesson on morals that I am writing here, but it's to put David's Cross character in perspective. Here is a man with no real life experience. He comes off as the most ignorant person you have ever met and still, there is a part of us all that are just like him. Haven't we all tried to impress somebody about something we really know next to little about?

Anyway, this is a comment about a comedy show and it is hilarious at times. Especially Will Arnett, who is by now pretty famous for his politically incorrect characters. He's done them on both 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation. The British characters are also extremely well written and I have met several people from England, who were a lot like them.

The plots, however, are pretty unbelievable and you just have to take them for what they are. Situations that drive the comedy. What makes this serial superior is the character stuff and to a lesser degree, the archetypes. You won't laugh for a full 20 minutes, but you will get a few and at the same time you will experience some dynamite acting. This has been a positive review for once.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
(2012)

A little of Column A and B
This has to be the hardest movie to rate as either great or terrible. The good parts are so good indeed that you can almost forgive the bad, but not quite.

Let's start with the good. A truly compelling take on an absolutely stale idea: Running away, or in this case becoming a circus. It totally mimics that old, old saying: You can't go home again. Here the twist is that none of the characters really gives a damn about the circus and are using it to get this: Go back and be another kind of performers, although using a lot less skill.

Another positive: Ben Stiller really has made Alex the Lion his own. He totally nails it every time. Although, a lot of it is based on parts he has played before, he makes it so likable

Sorry to say that every single one of the other main cast are totally wasted. Somehow, they are totally written off as individuals in this one. Chris Rock's has only one scene to shine, David Schwimmer gets nothing and Jada Smith hardly has any screen time. They all get the same recycled material that may have worked 2 other times but totally falls on its face here.

What does get a lot of attention are the new characters and some of them impressed. Bryan Cranston does a marvelous job as the tiger with the wounded ego and burned coat and Frances McDormand is of course amazing as the French Gendarme. But sorry to say, the action sequences with her are just plain ridiculous. Like the T2 in Terminator 2 only with less emotions.

Of course, the animation is top notch all the way through and that's why it is so sad that the thing is so average anyway. Also, there are way too much emphasis on making the whole thing look as cool as possible to please teens and tweens. Also, the music numbers are poorly chosen.

The Campaign
(2012)

Better than Anchorman
I don't know. I seriously doubt that Will Ferrell knows how to make a scene that rings true, at least in his comedies. His character is less stupid than his Anchorman character but only by a small margin.

As for the rest of the movie, well, I laughed a little bit but almost all of the jokes have been used in similar projects, like Black Sheep and Bulworth. The comedy is seriously forced and why does there have to be that terrible epilogue where once again, Will Ferrell is allowed to be, well, Will Ferrell.

Zach G (Sorry, forgot how to spell his last name) does his best with a character that you will probably only find in movies. You have to write him as too good to be true, otherwise the evil that lurks behind him doesn't have the same effect. Here's where Dylan McDermott's Tim Wattley comes in. Seriously, did they really borrow his name from Seinfeld or is it just an unbelievable coincidence. Never mind. McDermott does an admirable job of making a fool of himself but I doubt that there is an award for him in the near future.

John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd also show up and for what? Don't know and neither did the screenwriters apparently. It feels tacked on.

There's not much else to say. It wasn't worth the rental price. Ferrell can be good if he is reigned in by a decent director. I am surprised that Jay Roach directed this because he has made a few good ones before.

Tower Heist
(2011)

Seriously, Mr. Murphy. Do something worthwhile for once
This doesn't even begin to come close to what it was intended to be, a high class caper/comedy that was to be something different than the ordinary heist thriller. It's a shame that Eddie Murphy agreed to lend his services to such a shoddy show, even though given his recent decline as somebody to follow, it's not that surprising.

That cannot be said of Ben Stiller, however. It's nice to actually see him play somewhat of a normal person but the project reeks of reused material from other and better heist flicks. I can't even begin to fathom why this is considered an original idea.

Take for example the villain, actually well played by Alan Alda, but the thing about him being under house arrest is seriously hard to swallow. Especially, given the fact that he is under suspicion of ripping of people who work in the same building. The scenes between him and Ben Stiller also lacks a dangerous undercurrent. They got the words but don't have the rhythm.

Also, I was seriously annoyed by the Casey Affleck character. He is written as a whiny toad who all of a sudden steps up, but the plot seriously lets him down. I couldn't think up one reason for his sudden change of heart. He just does a 180 and that's that.

Matthew Broderick looks seriously out of touch with comedy too. Strange since he has been one of the greats of comedy for many years. He doesn't look that healthy either.

There are a few good things about this thing. The thing with the car is pretty clever, but try not to think about what happens with it. It is seriously preposterous, but it does have the funniest moments in the whole flick.

So, Mr Murphy. Although, I have been a fan for years, I wish we could turn back time in which you actually cared about the projects you chose. Stiller? You can't do better, so who cares?

The Iron Lady
(2011)

Painful to watch
Really soils the name of Margaret Thatcher. I don't know why anyone would consider this a great movie or even a very good one. The only thing that kind of redeems it is the Oscar-winning performance from Meryl Streep.

The movie is barely interested in the political life of Thatcher and pretty much dismisses her as the greatest female politician of the 20th Century. What the movie is interested in is her decline into dementia and while that may be a serious issue, I don't think that belongs in a biopic like this.

This feels like a cross between the mostly ignored and reviled biopic of John Belushi, Wired and the more prestigious, The Queen. Sadly, this is no queen and Meryl Streep doesn't top that other Oscar-winning performance either.

It's not that I mind supernatural elements in a movie but I can't see much of a purpose for it here. it's also a little disturbing to see talented actors like Richard E. Grant who were so prominent in the 90s being wasted so badly here.

This was directed by a woman so I will be careful about what comes next in my comment here. But why did you make a film about Thatcher just because she was a female politician. You simply did not do it because you were interested in her at all.

Arthur
(2011)

Boring and sad
Though, I wasn't really a fan of the original, it did have the greatest comic drunk in Dudley Moore. This however, proves that funny drunks can only be portrayed on The Simpsons. It's also a little sad to see Helen Mirren in this kind of material. She actually said on the Blu-Ray Extras that she thought the director was good because he let the actors ad-lib a lot. What the hell is that? As it looks to me, this film chucked out all that supposedly ad-libbed material and made this into the standard romantic comedy. There are a few scenes with witty banter between Brand's Arthur and Greta Gerwig's Naomi but the rest is a crashing bore.

Another thing is the storyline about the arranged marriage. The mother's motivation for fixing Arthure up with the Jennifer Garner character feels absolutely false. She would almost immediately get him to be a worse drunk than he was before.

As for the comedy, there is absolutely not a single line that gives you more than a mild chuckle. I don't know why the usually reliant Luis Guzman dropped his heavy accent here either. Yes, he does play virtually the same guy every film he's in but I almost missed it here. Here he just seems to waiting to cash in.

I don't usually give all out negative comments like this one, but this film looks like it wasted a huge amount of money to remake a film that wasn't that good in the first place. To the director: Please try to come up with an original at some point and to the actors: don't give praise to a director who lets you loose and then makes you boring.

The Fighter
(2010)

Exceptional teaming of Wahlberg and Bale
It's hard to say which one of the two leads deserve the most praise and that's just one of the great things you can credit this magnificent film for.

Mark Wahlberg has firmly left his Marky Mark days behind him and has been in some of the most praised American films of the 90s and 00s. and he is no dummy. He knows he will look good if he is surrounded by top- notch talent, even if it means being overshadowed by them.

I can honestly say that I couldn't find one bad performance in The Fighter, even down to the smallest parts. The whole thing seemed totally authentic and credit therefore must go not only to Bale and Wahlberg but certainly in no small way to David O. Russell.

But we must remember that this is especially Bale's show. His performance cannot be diminished. It is an extremely scary and sad character but we totally believe his transformation. It is also a little frightening to think that he actually looks not at all well through the entire thing. He must have starved himself to slim down to that stick figure.

The one thing I couldn't really understand was the fight scenes. How come Wahlberg's fighter can take numerous extremely hard blows to the head without much damage? It hardly looks like he's been hit, except for the first fight. But I'll let that one slide.

Otherwise, kudos all around. Extremely well crafted, superb underdog story and what about that Amy Adams. She will definitely bring in all the boys. She is not a bad actress either.

Moneyball
(2011)

Another triumph from the "Capote" director
With all of the focus being on who can make the loudest, use the most spectacular visual effects, it's amazing that this movie made any money at all.

Forget that this movie has major stars like Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in the cast, although they do their characters justice (these are probably the most subdued Hill or Pitt characters you have ever seen). The main reason why it works is because of the really fascinating story behind it.

It could have been easy to make the character of Billy Beane into an arrogant jerk, who thinks he knows more than anybody else. Pitt makes the wise choice to play a guy who has nothing to lose and is willing to think outside the box. But he is also humble enough to know that he can't do that alone and quickly realises that he needs somebody like Hill's character, Peter Brand. Brand is the quiet introvert who is brilliant, but doesn't think much of himself. He just turns out to be exactly what Beane needs. It is a lot of fun to see Pitt and Hill play off each other. There couldn't have been a more odd couple in the history of cinema but they have undeniable chemistry on screen.

The movie handles baseball as a business, where it is the latest thing you have done that counts. That is usually what people remember. In comes the manager, played by Capote actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. It is of course necessary to make general manager and the manager into adversaries in these types of movies, but Hoffman plays it without the usual cliché of screaming and lecturing because he knows more than the boss. They may hate each other but it is never the main conflict in the show. That goes to Beane's self-doubt about what he is doing and why he is doing it. Again, Pitt handles it beautifully, especially when we learn that he has an ex-wife and daughter. Watch the scene where he is trying to put on a brave face when his team is about to go to the dumps. There is also a hilarious scene featuring Spike Jonze as a more than understanding 2nd husband to Beane's former wife. Simply brilliant.

I could go on and on about this fantastic film, but just to add a little more. Were it not for filmmakers like Miller who does these character driven stories so well, we would be forced to read books, just to get the noises out of our heads from the latest superhero flick in theatres.

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