dollpenguin

IMDb member since December 2005
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    15 years

Reviews

The Big Year
(2011)

The Big Year Soars Above Expectations
The Big Year's low IMDb rating and box-office take had me worried that this film would be a "lame-duck." Turns out, this movie is really good.

I am not a "birder" and know very little about birds other than what I find on a typical restaurant menu. The beginning of The Big Year made me think I would learn a little bit more about birds, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that the film is not about birds at all; it is about people, how we relate to one another, and the things that drive us to do the things we do.

The characters were more three-dimensional than those of any other movie I have seen in a long time. I think a lot of people are thrown off because we often don't know who to "root for" in this film. The characters seem like real people, albeit participating in a sport most of us do not understand and have never even thought about trying. I hesitate to even call birding a sport because there are no spectators, trophies or prizes involved.

Jack Black gives his finest performance ever imo, playing an average working-class guy named Brad who has a crazy obsession with birds. His dream of spending an entire "Big Year" spotting and photographing as many birds as possible seems odd to us (and Brad's family), but we soon learn that he is not alone with this obsession. All throughout the film, Brad offers glimpses of how birds and humans are more alike than different. Jack Black nails the dialog which manages to be insightful while avoiding any semblance of pretentiousness.

Owen Wilson plays a married contractor named Kenny who takes more pride in his world record "Big Year" than anything else in the world including his trying-to-conceive wife. He gives a believable, nuanced performance as someone who will go to any length to protect his record, yet he is far from an average scumbag villain. He reminds me more of a prescription drug addict that I might feel sorry for. Kenny is so blinded by his addiction to "birding" that he cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees.

Steve Martin gives a beautifully balanced performance as an aging business owner who has always dreamed of trying for the Big Year birding record. Martin is known mostly as an on screen "wild and crazy guy" but in The Big Year, he remains subdued as he has in previous films such as Grand Canyon and Parenthood. If you liked him in those movies, you will like him in The Big Year as well.

The Big Year was not meant to be a gut-busting comedy, but there are several humorous moments. This movie also manages to be quite touching, thought-provoking, sometimes uplifting, occasionally heart-rending, and beautiful throughout. A lot like life except with better direction, better actors, great dialog, and fantastic cinematography.

Opposite Day
(2009)

It Is Only Worthwhile On Opposite Day
I watched Opposite Day yesterday and it was possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. My wife couldn't believe how awful it was either - we both like kids movies and even a lot of movies that people say are terrible don't seem too bad when we keep in mind that they are for kids. I have enjoyed children's movies starring Pauly Shore, Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrel, Hulk Hogan, and most recently Jackie Chan and Dwayne Johnson. However, Opposite Day was terrible; I'm talking Baby Geniuses 2 terrible.

It seemed as if the writer of Opposite Day didn't know his own plot. Situations presented for supposedly comedic effect were not indicative of the alternate reality that we were supposed to accept. The script was also filled with throwaway dialog that was humorless even for children too young to understand simple jokes.

The director seemed to think the audience was dumb (over explaining concepts that ruin the suspension of belief even in young children). Maybe he was overcompensating for the horrible writing. The shot angles were adequate, but I don't think the director had a plan.

I also think the acting would have been better with a different director - some characters in kids movies must overact to emphasize their emotions for people who may not otherwise understand (very young kids); in Opposite Day there were no subtle characters which causes the effect to be lost on young and old alike. The movie had some good actors; George Wendt, Ariel Winter, etc, but they must have been told how to perform scenes rather than the director letting their abilities carry them.

I'm not trying to over analyze the movie. I am willing to glaze over most faults I find in a movie like this. However, I should have turned this movie off way before it turned me off so entirely. I do not see how anyone can truly enjoy this this movie. It is not so much that it is stupid, it is that the writing doesn't even try to be funny.

At one point a character says "We're going to have so much fun it will be coming out our ears!" and the kids laugh hysterically. I really think that was supposed to be a funny one-liner, but can't tell. This movie lacks humor and tries to rely on sight gags that not only get tiresome from repetition, they are so dumb that a typical child will have his/her intelligence insulted. My 5yo son loves movies, but was bored with this - anyone older than him would not even care enough to make a joke like "This film is great - WAIT - it's Opposite Day!"

Roseanna McCoy
(1949)

Unlikeable Protagonists Ruin This Movie
I really expected to like Roseanna McCoy because it had a really good premise and fine actors. Unfortunately, the way the characters were developed left much to be desired. Johnse Hatfield is introduced as a stalker, which may have been acceptable in 1949. However, I have watched many movies from that era and the way Johnse behaved (supposedly)out of desire for her would never have been acceptable.

Johnse's actions concerning Roseanna McCoy may have been begrudgingly tolerated after a long courtship. But from his first several meetings with her, it is made clear that Johnse is a loathsome and dumb, albeit handsome, brute. I understood Roseanna McCoy was supposed to be extremely naive, but some of the ridiculous choices she made left me wanting to see bad things happen to her. It did not seem like Roseanna cared about anything or anyone, including herself.

The lovers' families were feuding just like in Romeo and Juliet, but that is where the similarities end. Johnse was certainly no Romeo and Roseanna was definitely not Juliette. The love story seemed very forced, and not just because Johnse takes what he wants, world be damned. In the third act, the movie tries to create sympathy for the two characters but it is far too late. Johnse and Roseanna were the two characters I cared about least in the movie.

As other reviewers have stated, the cinematography was excellent in Roseanna McCoy. I just wish the rest of the film had been as fine as the camera-work.

The Manson Family
(1997)

Excellent depiction of the Manson Family!
I just watched this movie last night, and wow! I have read several books about Manson, and was surprised at how this movie mostly stuck to the facts, and still created a dramatic and frightening film about the disintegration of the Family, and the murders that took place over two nights in 1969. The direction is excellent and the editing is top-notch for a film with this budget. I was reminded of Natural Born Killers throughout many sequences in this film. I cannot believe that this film hasn't garnered more attention.

The numerous depictions of drug use and sexual freedom are very realistic and accurate. The hallucinatory scenes are a visual feast. I give this movie a well deserved 10 because it never slows down, and will surely become a cult-classic for fans of disturbing and/or violent cinema. Some of the scenes of blood and gore seem fake, but real death scenes often look just as fake because they are so in-your-face with the gruesomeness and violence. This film takes no prisoners and fans of violent horror will certainly be satisfied.

A warning to the squeamish..this film is vile, bloody, and chock full of sex, drugs, rape, nudity and very graphic violence.

The Country Bears
(2002)

Terrible movie; lame, boring, and trite.
The Country Bears, based on an attraction at Disney World, features excellent voice talent. Sadly, the talented actors are wasted on lame dialog. I cannot recall a single humorous line spoken in this insipid waste of celluloid. The plot is very similar to the Blues Brothers, except instead of hilarious blues singers trying to reunite the old band, these are unamusing hillbilly bears trying to reunite the old band.

One way that the Country Bears fails miserably, is by not introducing any conflict. Instead of a story, this film is a string of predictable events leading to one logical conclusion. A five year old could predict the outcome of each scene in this motion picture. Long before it ended, I was bored to tears and just wishing the movie would reach its prognosticative conclusion.

I'll admit, the singing and dancing can be fun for fans of honkytonk music. It seems that the entire film was created as an excuse to make the bears sing and dance.

I would recommend skipping this movie, and taking the children to Chuckie Cheese instead. There, you can enjoy singing animals onstage and skip the mind-numbing dialog that is spoken throughout The Country Bears.

Lil' Pimp
(2005)

Starts off funny, but soon the joke wears thin.
Lil Pimp is the story of a little boy who becomes a pimp. The animation and voice acting were perfect for this type of film.

I laughed out loud for the first 20 minutes or so of this movie; mostly at the concept. After that, the joke wore thin. As a 15-20 minute animated short, Lil Pimp would have been a classic. Instead, this movie consists entirely of one joke that lasts far too long.

Weathers, voiced by Ludicrous, does have several crude and funny one-liners. Unfortunately, that is all the boy's pet rat is good for as he contributes nothing else to the story. Eventually, I grew as bored with his remarks as I did the rest of this movie.

I am a big fan of South Park, and other animation aimed at adults. I also play several online pimp games, so I am partial to stories about pimps. The transition from little boy to lil pimp was brilliant; but after that, both the story and dialog became redundant and predictable.

I give this movie a five. It is worth watching for the great concept and voice acting. Just do not expect much else or you will be quite disappointed.

Bugsy Malone
(1976)

Great idea - Weak film
This movie was weak even for 1976 standards. If the children had sang there own songs instead of lip syncing the tunes it may have been better. The kid friendly portrayals of violence (shooting victims with cream, etc.) are funny for about 15 minutes. The gag quickly wears thin, however, and the entire viewing experience becomes cumbersome.

The story is basically a watered down gangster film enacted by children. Some of the children became famous when they got older, and Jodie Foster was already a big name when this film was released.

The costumes were great, the music was decent, and some of the dancing was very good. Other than that, this movie (the story, acting, direction, lip syncing) was a completely ridiculous waste of time for people of any age. I am giving this movie a three out of ten.

Mikey
(1992)

This is a great slasher movie
This movie was not exceptionally original, but it stays very interesting throughout. The violence was well constructed, the pacing was perfect, and the acting was above average for this type of film. Brian Bonsall did a wonderful job playing the psychotic killer. One of the things that I especially liked was that his victims were all average people that were easy to relate to. Although they were believable, this movie is still more entertaining than scary.

This movie isn't going to make you think, but for pure entertainment value it is quite good. I love these kinds of horror movies, my favorites probably being Silent Night Deadly Night and Sleepaway Camp. If you enjoy those two movies you will probably like this one as well.

The Incredible Torture Show
(1976)

This is one of the greatest exploitation movies ever!
Extreme violence, graphic nudity, white slavery, a diabolical midget, forced ballet, imprisoned girls being caned on their bare arses; this movie has everything! How can this movie get such a low rating??? Any fan of John Water's "Pink Flamingos" or Troma movies such as "Mother's Day" or "Toxic Avenger" will find this movie to be a masterpiece! Yes, it is demented. Sure, it is in bad taste. Of course it is as sick as hell, but I love this movie. I have seen many movies that attempt to push the boundaries of decency, but this is the funniest one I have ever been privileged enough to view. Sure, you can get the nudity and violence in a film like Caligula or Ilsa, but this movie offers so much more. The humor is darker than a grizzly bears butt during new moon, but if you are as twisted as I am you will want to view this cinematic opus of insanity over and over again. I have watched it many times, and will watch it again many times in the future. When I have had a bad day, there is nothing like this farcical film about captive women being abused by a midget and a madman to cheer me up.

Pumpkin
(2002)

This movie is wonderful!
This film has a lot of depth. The actors did an excellent job portraying very three-dimensional characters. Occasionally, I found myself rooting for the antagonists. In this movie Christina Ricci's character is part of a comically cliché sorority. The sorority sisters decide to mentor mentally retarded college freshmen as a goodwill project to help them win a contest. When Ricci's character meets Pumpkin, played by Hank Harris, her entire world changes. My world changed too, because I suddenly had a new favorite movie.

The writing was superb. This outstanding story is both hilarious and touching. The directing was top-notch as was this pacing of this perfect little movie. The sense of humor displayed ranges from quirky to diabolical.

I would recommend this movie to fans of Donnie Darko, Napolian Dynamite, or Last Supper :)

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