Flypaper (2011)

Flypaper” (2011) Flypaper2011Poster

This crime caper involves a bank heist that goes horribly awry as two different groups of bank robbers try hitting the same bank at the same time.  As a concept, that’s not bad.  The film is a little low-budget in some respects, what with poor lighting and some generally bad photography.  Otherwise though, “Flypaper” is really quite remarkable.

The film stars Ashley Judd and Patrick Dempsey, and it needing to be said, they steal the show.  Dempsey is especially good playing a very neurotic individual without his meds.  His manic speech and overall hyper energy add both comedy and fun to the film.  Judd plays well opposite him, as the bank teller with a thing for neurotic Dempsey.  She’s a little feisty and smart, and the banter between the two leads is entertaining to say the least.

The film gets a little messy in its plot though, slightly confusing but not unbearable.  There are some great supporting characters, like Peanut Butter & Jelly, but also some wasted opportunity to utilize the talent.  Olivia Spencer is in it as Judd’s friend and co-worker.  Other greats in the cast include Jeffrey Tambor and Mekhi Phifer.  Why weren’t these actors better used in the story?  I suppose the time for them onscreen just wasn’t there in the script but still, it seems a waste.

As I said, the plot gets a little twisted.  The premise of 2 robbers doing a job at the same time on the same bank has sort of a hilarious nature built in it.  “Flypaper” though takes a strange turn with a murder mystery thrown into it.  At first, I was intrigued.  What is this?  A who-dunn-it in the middle of a comedic heist movie?  It’s interesting, right?  That feeling is what kept me watching this film.  It was good, and there’s definitely some very entertaining bits, but it also starts to get convoluted.  Who is the killer among them?  That starts to wear thin after a bit. It gets a little confusing, but as I say, it wasn’t too unbearable.

If you are looking for a Netflix fun film without too much fuss, give “Flypaper” a shot.  It’s a little rom-com meets a bank heist comedy meets a murder mystery.  Dempsey and Judd save the film without question so enjoy their performances!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part IIIThe_Hangover_Part_3

So this is to be the end of one of the funniest trilogies ever made?  Pardon me for saying this, but it just wasn’t that funny.  In fact, “Hangover Part 3” comes off pretty serious.  At no point in the movie are the main characters drugged or drunk, or simply unconscious.  What we are left with is the Wolf Pack running into serious crime drama and almost no funny business at all.  John Goodman plays the villain and he is pretty scary.  No laughable warm teddy bear here – no, just straight-up villain.  What about Leslie Chow (everyone’s favorite trunk hostage, Ken Jeong)?  Although he is himself, he is also sans the comedy element that made him so lovable.  In short, there is nothing really that funny to this movie.

To give a very quick recap on the horrible and non-funny moments of the film (and I would say SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT here if the movie actually wasn’t such a letdown) here we go: a giraffe gets beheaded, Allen’s father dies, Allen verbally abuses everyone in a mental-illness manner, everyone bans together to send Allen to an institution (they say clinic, but we know different), traffic accidents, Doug is captured, they all get arrested in Tijuana, Black Doug is executed, Phil’s mini-van is trashed, and they all end up witnesses to 2 murders.  Doesn’t sound that funny, does it?  That’s the problem with this film.  It just wasn’t funny.

Look, this was a great film franchise, and it’s sad that they seemingly shucked this mess together without thinking with their funny bone.  It seems to me that no matter what, every studio is in a race to make more money.  I get it – but must you seriously spend MILLIONS of dollars on something so utterly forgettable.  I’m sure I have said this in another review somewhere; it sounds familiar even to me.  So allow me to save you the money (even on Netflix, it ain’t worth the rent) and the time (because 2 hours on this film is way too long) by saying that this is in fact THE END.  Yep, they called this one right with its yawn of a tagline.  Because I don’t think they have any more material.

Maybe the hype was right?  Maybe it was a tease of a trailer that seemed to make this film better than it actually was?  The reality is that comedies are – by design – humorous and entertaining, and this film was anything but those two things. I barely laughed and I was more disturbed by Chow imitating the dog than entertained by anything else he did.  And poor Doug – he barely has lines in any of the films and he is YET AGAIN kidnapped/missing through the entire film.  Yuck. Yuck.  We have seen this joke before right?

Any way you slice this film, it wasn’t very funny.  Take it from me and find a cure for the Hangover franchise, because this buzz has worn off.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

Morning Glory

Morning GloryMorning_Glory_Poster

Sorry that it has taken me so long to post another review.  Honestly, with Spring right around the corner, it is difficult to find the time – as opposed to finding the time to throw myself into yard work!  However, my wife and I discovered a film that we both had forgotten about.  I remember the trailer for it.  I remember the plot-line and the cast both being interesting, and yet I do not recall it ever having been released in theaters.  Maybe you feel the same way?  Suffice to say, “Morning Glory” was a discovered-by-chance movie for us.

Regardless of how I came by “Morning Glory”, I take issue with the film.  The film is categorized as a Romantic Comedy.  I am here to say that it most certainly is not.  Trust me folks, there is so little romance in this film that such an aspect of the film should have been forgotten about COMPLETELY.  While the storyline is compelling, nothing is worse than expecting one kind of a movie and being given something else.  I have always taken issue with comedies that suddenly decide to be serious, and I feel similarly in regards to this film.  It has to do with a changing your expectations I suppose.

The film does have a good story and it has a powerhouse cast: Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Goldblum, John Pankow, and Patrick Wilson.  Okay, so did I throw you with those last 2 names?  Patrick Wilson I had to really think about; he appears as Night Owl in “the Watchmen ”.  John Pankow was tougher though.  My wife’s stellar memory came into play: you may remember him from the hit TV show “Mad About You ” when he played (wait for it…wait for it…) Ira Buchman!  Seriously though, the cast is incredible.  Sadly, the film fails to do anything with ANY of these actors.  The film spends so much time of Harrison Ford’s character that it fails to do anything with anyone else.  This is a massive misuse of talent, and probably a budget too.  Anyone could have been in the place of these other characters.  All you had to do was pay Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams and you could have done much less with the rest of the cast.

The good storyline is compelling, but not very evocative.  What I mean is that the film does move you.  It doesn’t feel like the Today show, it looks like a sub-standard morning TV show. (I know that’s the idea, but this is dumbed-down so much as to not seem realistic at all.)  However, the “we-are-so-poor-we-can’t-buy-doorknobs” aspect of this was so over-done as to seem utterly cliché.  While I felt for Rachel McAdam’s character in the film, the character itself is given no depth whatsoever.  Truth is, “Morning Glory” doesn’t seem too deep in the thought-out department.  The script is okay, but the entire movie doesn’t have any great punch-lines.  (It does feature some great scenes with a hysterical weather man, though.)

Overall, “Morning Glory” isn’t worth the watch, especially if you are looking for a Romantic Comedy.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

Arthur (1981)

Arthur” (1981) ArthurDVD

It took me almost 30 years to finish watching this movie.  How’s that for a statement?  Yes, I tried watching this comedy starring Dudley Moore and John Gielgud.  I was 14 (I think) and I was told this was a very funny film.  I saw the 1st 15 minutes and I was irritated with Dudley Moore’s cackling laughter.  So, I turned the channel.

Flash forward to this year, and my wife insisting that “Arthur” really is a funny movie.  She tells me this, but all I can hear is that laughter.  Short, drunk and very British – that was my recollection of Dudley Moore’s portrayal of the titular character.  Like with many things, I decided to listen to my wife (who offers more sound advice that I had benefited from more often than not).  She was right again!  I have to say “Arthur” is very funny indeed!

It was all about listening to the dialogue.  Arthur’s lines are hysterical!  Of course, he was drunk – and that makes several of these lines even funnier!  The lines are so great, that it makes “Arthur” one of those quote-worthy films.  “You must’ve hated this moose.”  “Yes, I see no reason for prolonging this conversation, unless you’re planning to knock over a fruit stand later in the evening.”  “It’s terribly small, tiny little country. Rhode Island could beat the crap out of it in a war. THAT’S how small it is.”

These quotes are awesome!!!  I’m actually cracking myself up while reciting them!  It is just one of those funny the older you get kind of films.  Maybe I just understand it better now.  Maybe I just needed to hear the lines better.  Or maybe I just needed to watch more than the 1st 15 minutes.  Regardless, I get this film now.

It’s an improbable tale about a billionaire who is more like a child than a man, and who finally grows up when he falls in love and his butler/man servant gets sick.  But ignore the impossibilities.  Look past the one in a billion chances.  Take the film at only face value, and you’ll have a rewarding experience.  There is no really deep message, no commentary on the rich, no criticism on moral ambiguity of Arthur.  It’s just a funny movie, and that’s all.

The performance of John Gielgud is extraordinary, most likely because he never was one known for comedy.  That alone makes “Arthur” very enjoyable.  Of course, Liza Minnelli is also pretty funny in this.  You forget sometimes how funny she can be, which I guess is because whenever I hear her name all I can think of is “Cabaret”.  Then there is Dudley Moore.  His delivery of his lines, acting as drunk as a skunk, makes this film even better than it could have been.  In truth, it is Dudley Moore that truly makes “Arthur” a comedy.  The rest is just window-dressing.

So, if you are in the mood for a downright funny movie and don’t mind a trip back to the ‘80s, then I recommend “Arthur” for a great time!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

 

Zookeeper

ZookeeperZookeeper_Poster

Not all films are going to be great cinematic experiences.  Sometimes, you just come up with a decent story and have some fun with it.  That’s what I got from “Zookeeper”.  I hate to say it, but keep your expectations of this film low and you’ll really enjoy it.  There really isn’t anything all that awful about the movie.  Isn’t that refreshing to hear?

Zookeeper” follows the misadventures of Griffin played by Kevin James.  I really liked Kevin in “Hitch”, but since then I don’t think there’s been anything all that great about the work he’s done.  (I recently saw “Grown Ups” and there was nothing there either.)  In this story, James is playing a dedicated zookeeper that truly cares for his work and the animals, but his love life is in shambles.  When the threat of Griffin leaving the zoo leaks to the animals, the animals decide to take matters into their own hands.  It turns out the animals can talk!  They try to patch together Griffin’s love life thinking this will keep him at the zoo.

The love life storyline is predictable, but the great part is: I didn’t care.  Rosario Dawson turns up in this movie out of seemingly nowhere.  I can’t remember the last thing I saw her in!  Anyway, she is fantastic in this and I couldn’t help but think that maybe Rosario should try her hand at more romantic comedies.  There’s something very down-to-earth about her and it plays well in this genre.  Hello, Ms. Dawson, are you listening?  Try it!

As for the talking animals, they could have been funnier.  The voices of Cher, Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, and Nick Nolte all help to create a colorful cast but they are ultimately underused.  I kept hoping for something really gut-busting to happen with the animals.  Don’t get me wrong there are some good moments!  I guess I was just hoping for a little more.  All in all though, “Zookeeper” kept me entertained and chuckling through most of the film.  It’s nothing to go crazy for, but if you need a little no-brainer brand of movie for a chuckle then this could be the film for you!

Predictable love story, some funny scenes with talking animals, charming actors in the leads, and a easy to watch story make “Zookeeper” worth the time.  Enjoy!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

Tower Heist

Tower Heist Tower-heist-movie-poster-hi-res-01-405x600

I’m not the biggest Ben Stiller fan, honestly.  But the thought of him teaming up with Mathew Broderick and Eddie Murphy in a comedy just seemed like a really god idea.  I love Alan Alda, but who doesn’t?  Yet, Alda plans the bad guy!  You remember the trailer for this right?  I know that my wife and I thought we had a pretty good idea of where the film was going before it even started.

We were wrong.

This is one of those movies that comes out and the trailer kind of makes it look one way, but once you sit down to watch it, you suddenly realize that you don’t have a clue where this is all going!  It certainly has some comedy to it.  Overall though, I thought it was like a cleverly-written heist caper.  The writers spent a great deal of time getting you more acquainted with the characters so that they weren’t just thrown at you.  That worked well over the run of the film.  In the end, you really were caring for the characters.

The film also has the nice realistic ending that so many feel-good movies lack.  It wasn’t that everybody gets away completely  scott-free; the ending actually makes sense.  It was nice to see Tea Leoni in the cast playing a fun character to boot.  The wit of the film actually is something a little more real than other comedies.  Eddie Murphy is pretty funny, but it was honestly just enjoyable to see him playing a type of character he hasn’t done in a LONG time.  Broderick is okay, but nothing inspiring to his performance.  Stiller was the real stand-out though.  He makes you believe in his character and you root for him through the entire film.

Of course, Stiller’s character wouldn’t have worked so well if not for the greedy, nasty, slime-ball character played by Alda.  Alda tears up the screen with his performance.  He gobbles up the lines and spits them out with such smarmy, superior attitude that there is nobody I would have rather seen in this role than him!  He may have just opened up a lot of other roles that I could see him in.  Alda plays the bad guy REALLY well!

Over all, “Tower Heist” wasn’t quite as funny as I would have liked, but it was a very enjoyable movie!  This is kind of a sleeper hit.  The trailer is misleading as to the story’s direction, but the story itself is really interesting and the characters are believable.  Enjoy this one when you can!

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

The Hangover

The HangoverHangoverposter09

I know the hype concerning this film was all like “oh my gosh, that’s the funniest movie EVER”, but honestly, I didn’t laugh a whole lot.  It was still funny, but not like I thought it was going to be.  “The Hangover” to me is the cliché that never grows old it seems: a bachelor party in Las Vegas that goes awry.  I think we’ve all seen this before, haven’t we?

The premise is simple: guy is getting married, plans bachelor party to Vegas, invites soon-to-be brother-in-law along for the trip, and things go downhill fast.  The fellas wake up the next morning and can’t find the groom-to-be, and worse yet, can’t remember anything from the night before.  There is so much silliness that is revealed as they try to backtrack their way through their night of debauchery that it’s absurd.  It’s funny in that it should not be taken seriously at any time.

It’s all very adult and very extreme.  This kind of thing does not happen to normal people; this stuff only exists in the movies.  That being said, it is pretty funny.  The language is foul, and there’s nudity and gestures that can easily offend, but let’s face it: if you are watching this movie, you probably already knew that kind of stuff was going to be in this film anyway.

Zach Galifinakis seems stuck in playing the same character, which was more suited to the film in “Due Date” with Robert Downey Jr. but here is kind of annoying.  Bradley Cooper comes off as the smug & arrogant jerk that seems destined for bachelorhood – and I was shocked the character was actually married and a dad!  Ed Helms plays the nice guy nerd, and may be the funniest actor in the movie.  Together, they are the Wolf Pack.  Catchy, but the entire movie is cliché and I didn’t find it overly humorous.

To each his own, but my recommendation on “the Hangover” is to watch it if you want to, but not with anyone under the age of 18.  It’s not overly vulgar, but it comes close.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings PlaybookSilver_Linings_Playbook_Poster

This is just a great movie.  Without question, it is no wonder why it has been Oscar-worthy & why so many in Hollywood are talking about David O. Russell.  “Silver Linings Playbook” ranks pretty high on my scale of “quirky romantic comedies that aren’t really rom-coms”.  Too confusing a category?  Well, let me give you a comparison: “Elizabethtown”.  It has that serious side to the story, with all the sentiment and emotion, but it also possesses this quirky off-the-cuff humor that I love.  Truthfully, this is a brilliant bit of acting by just about EVERYBODY in the film.

Let me cut right to it: Bradley Cooper is exceptional in this film.  “Silver Linings” will make him a household name (which I kind of already thought he was, but apparently not in the UK).  It is hands-down his best role that I have ever seen (and to date, I think I have seen all but 4 of his films).  I really liked him in “Limitless” but hated him in “Valentine’s Day” (although that was really the character) – and don’t ask me about “the A-Team” (Yeesh!).  Cooper demolishes this movie from start to finish.  I mean he kills it!  By the way, that’s a total compliment.  Cooper has this raw reality that comes out in this performance that is stunning.  I wish he wasn’t up against Daniel Day-Lewis for the Oscar this year, because he otherwise has a solid shot at it.

Jennifer Lawrence is downright amazing too.  You forget sometimes how good she was in “the Hunger Games”, but then you see her in this and you have to say “she really is a very powerful actress”.  She has this control to what she does that seems effortless.  It’s like the girl was born to be dramatic.  And it’s a subtle kind of dramatic too, not over-the-top.  Great example of what I am talking about: Anne Hathaway in “Les Miserables” is over-the-top dramatic whereas Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech” was subtle dramatic.  It can be understated and still powerful, ladies.  However you slice it, Lawrence delivers a stellar performance as Tiffany here.  She has a Golden Globe & a SAG Award to prove just how awesome she is in this.

The supporting cast is equally brilliant, too!  It was like a breath of fresh air to see Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles again.  I just love Chris Tucker; he has to be one of my favorite comedic actors.  Seeing both of these actors in this film was like icing on the cake.  It was good before, but this just took it to a whole new level!  And Robert DeNiro tackled this quirky role and delivered yet another amazing job!  He was perfect for this part though, and in a way that’s hard to describe.  (See the movie first and then see if you agree with me on this one.)

David O. Russell wrote and directed “Silver Linings Playbook” and he scores a big thumbs-up from me on both of those jobs.  If you look at his resume as both writer and director, there’s a really bizarre collection going on there.  “Three Kings”, “I Heart Huckabees” (a film I absolutely loathe), and “The Fighter” are the big three that jump out at me when I see that list.  How bizarre is that?!?  After his success with “The Fighter”, clearly David O. Russell knows how to direct (even though he did not win, 2 of his actors did!).  I wish him continued success at this year’s Oscars, but I don’t know how he will fair going up against Spielberg and “Lincoln”.

There’s this bright vigor to this film that I can’t quite explain.  Russell has these talented actors and is really bringing their best out on screen, but it’s controlled with a soft touch.  There’s this scene where Cooper is having a meltdown outside of a movie theater…or nearly a meltdown.  The best part of this film is that it takes you sort of inside the character’s mindset and lets you see how they see.  It’s not crazy; it’s just different.  The near-meltdown scene is a prime example.  He starts to lose it, but then he comes back from that edge and the entire scene feels like it could be any one of us watching the film.  You find yourself nodding along and saying to yourself “I can totally see something like that happening”.  It’s not just that it feels believable – it feels like something you’ve already seen in your own life. 

The bottom-line is this: “Silver Linings Playbook” has some quirky humor to it as it tells an unflinchingly real story of two people who are struggling with life, but oddly find their salvation in each other.  It’s not your average feel-good romantic comedy.  In fact, I don’t particularly think it fits into that category.  Regardless, this one is well worth a watch.  If you can, make it out to the theater to check this one out.  It has fresh feel to the entire film that separates this one from the herd, and it deserves all of its Academy Award nominations.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the WorldSeeking_a_Friend_for_the_End_of_the_World_Poster

Not all love stories are comprised of sexy stars and witty banter and clever storylines.  This one felt much more simple, plain, and honest.  “Seeking” stars Steve Carell as Dodge & Keira Knightley as Penny.  The premise of the story is this: an asteroid is headed for Earth and it will kill us all, a quiet man with a boring job watches as his wife runs away from him when they both hear the news that the Earth is doomed.  Dodge is so shocked by his wife’s clear disappointment with him as a choice for a husband that he simply goes about his life while society falls apart around him.  Penny is the girlfriend of a neighbor of Dodge’s that tries to reclaim her albums form his apartment and instead meets up with Dodge.  Thanks to some loose-lips truth-telling, Penny delivers to Dodge a letter from his long-lost love that gives Dodge hope that she may be the one he is supposed to end his life with.  Desperate to reconnect with her, Dodge goes on a road trip to find this woman while Penny feels an obligation to tag along.

Basically, this is a road trip movie with a really unusual backdrop.  That backdrop is sometimes frightening to behold.  Fortunately, the filmmakers decided to not dwell upon the more horrific side of society falling apart.  Instead, they focused on telling the story based on a simple question: if you knew the end of the world was about to happen, how would you like to go out?  Maybe you never found true love, like Dodge, and you set off to find what you THINK is the real answer to your love life’s woes.

From that premise, it becomes fairly formulaic.  Yes, we all see it coming: Penny & Dodge will end up together.  But for a little while, at least it is fun to see their love story unfold.  It is interspersed with poignant moments – like Penny reconnecting with an old ex, and Dodge making peace with his estranged father.  Truthfully though, there is this cold …awfulness to the story.  It is sad that Dodge was married to someone that regularly cheated on him.  It is sad that Penny has never been with anyone that really understood her.

Of course, the end of the world IS coming and the film never backs away from that.  The asteroid is not diverted at the last minute.  Bruce Willis is not coming to save the day.  The end is imminent & inevitable.  So, the story ends with with that sad reality, but it gives the audience at least a pause to question ourselves in those same circumstances.  Ultimately, “Seeking” is fairly tame and charming in its own right, but it is depressing none the less.  Skip this one and peek at something a little more uplifting.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

 

It’s Complicated

It’s ComplicatedIts_complicated_ver2

I know this kind of comedy doesn’t appeal to younger audiences, but “It’s Complicated” is pretty hilarious!  When you have Alec Baldwin acting smarmy, he’s fantastic.  When you have Meryl Streep  just simply personifying her role, it’s a thing of beauty.  And when you add Steve Martin acting the role of nice guy, it gets better than you would think.  All in all, this film keeps you entertained from beginning to end.  Isn’t that the goal of any film, really?

It’s Complicated” follows a pretty modern story.  The parents (played by Baldwin & Streep) have been divorced for a couple of years and the ex-husband has moved on and married again.  The parents have 3 children, the youngest of whom is about to leave home & go off to college and the others have just graduated college and the eldest is about to get married.  The chaos of this tale revolves around what happens when the parents hook-up over their son’s college graduation weekend.  He’s now having an affair with his ex-wife, and she is now the other woman with her ex-husband.

The whole story may not have worked with other actors, but the talent here made it work in spades!  There are 2 particular elements that supported this effort: Steve Martin and John Krasinski.  Specifically, it is Martin’s lovable nice-guy architect that I found myself rooting for.  He sort of stumbles into the whole scenario and you can’t help but want him and Streep to end up together.  I was laughing hysterically at the two of them when they go on their 1st date.  It’s priceless and so simple as far as humor goes, but they both have such talent at pulling it off!  Krasinski plays the fiancé to the parent’s eldest daughter.  His scenes both at the hotel and the family gathering right afterwards were funnier than I was expecting.  He’s so likeable anyway and you know he can do funny, but the character was indicated as being that strong of a role.  I think the actor just sort of ran with a couple of scenes – and they made the movie better for it!

I found “It’s Complicated” to be a strange story but filled with some great moments.  It was funny than I thought it was going to be, so if you’re in the mood for a little different kind of comedy, this is worth the watch.  It has a realistic feel to it, which I think sells it better than most other comedies out there.  I have to say – once again – that Meryl Streep is a fine actress.  She may try to be all humble and mild-mannered about things (which makes you like her even more), but I think she might be one of the greatest actors of all time.  She does this stuff so effortlessly!

I recommend this film for the 20+ crowd, mainly due to the subject matter.  The story doesn’t get dark or twisted, but I think a lot of younger viewers would just find the whole film too slow to keep them engaged.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE