June 27, 2009

#030: The Hangover

Yes! That is correct. I am writing a post about a movie that is still in theaters. I haven't been to the theater since last November, so this is my first movie-going experience of 2009. I am not sure what spurred us to pay matinee prices to go see this film on the big screen. I guess we got sick of sitting in the house, and it was way too hot to do anything outside. I have heard lots of good things about The Hangover, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't be too disappointed with spending $6.50 per ticket. Okay, on to the movie...

I didn't warm up to this film right at first. I like Ed Helms as an actor, but I wasn't sure about the other 3 guys. However, just a few minutes into it I was totally buying the characters, and felt they all did a good job. The only one that didn't do great job was the guy who played Doug, the bachelor. It wasn't that he was a bad actor, there is just something about him. Luckily he isn't in the film very much. After coming home I looked him up and saw he is the same guy who played Nick Cage's sidekick in the National Treasure movies. I have never seen the sequel, but his character in the first movie is right up there with JarJar Binks as "most annoying supporting role." I guess I subconsciously remembered not liking him. Anyway, his part is pretty small, and he does a fine job in The Hangover. The story got my attention pretty quickly and the rest of the time I was glued to the screen; waiting to see what these guys were going to do next. I felt the pacing was really good. There was never a dull moment, but it never felt like it was going too fast. It gave you just enough time to catch all the humor, but then quickly moved on to the next joke.

I really don't have anything negative to say about this movie. It made me laugh a lot, but it was different than a lot of comedies. Even in great comedies there are some jokes that completely don't land. You think to yourself, "that was kinda stupid", but you don't dwell on it, and just move on. I really don't think there were any of those moments in the movie. It felt like everything had been edited very thoroughly, and they spent a lot of time thinking about the scenes that would make up the final cut. The timing of the delivery and the tone of the acting was always spot on. While this makes for a very enjoyable movie to watch, it somehow felt..... I guess unrealistic. That is confusing, cause I am not saying anything that happens in this film is realistic. It is just that a character never stumbles on their words or thinks about what they are going to say. It is as if these people know their emotions exactly, and are poised with the words and facial expressions to portray those emotions. The lines are delivered... and hilarity ensues. The people behind this movie did a great job in really thinking out the storyline and using it to facilitate the jokes. Other comedies have fallen into the trap of having a series of jokes they want to deliver and the storyline is almost secondary; it's only there to get us from one joke to the next. Pineapple express is a very good example of a movie guilty of this. Towards the end of The Hangover, it felt like it was sputtering out a little bit. Things get resolved and I felt like the movie was over, but for some reason moving pictures were still appearing on the screen. Then we get the payoff at the very end, and we are left to walk out of the theater with big smiles on our faces.

I definitely would encourage you to see this movie. You could probably wait for it to come out on DVD, but I am pleased I got to see it in the theater. I will go ahead and say it is the best comedy I have seen this year. Yes, even better than Role Models.


June 25, 2009

#029: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Over three weeks ago Netflix shipped us The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. It sat on our entertainment center collecting dust as other movies came and went. This past weekend I finally reached the breaking point. We were either watching it over the weekend, or it was getting sent back Monday morning unwatched.

 I am not sure why we kept it so long without watching it. I guess I just couldn't find 3 hours to commit to it. The other night I decided to finally pop it in and give it a try. I was definitely interested by the premise of this movie. Aging backwards seemed like a solid basis for a compelling story. There seemed to be a lot they could do with it. I was looking forward to it even though I hadn't heard a lot of good things about it.

From the beginning the pacing of this movie is extremely slow. The start of the film felt clunky and had a difficult time gaining any momentum. I was waiting for it to pick up pace, but it never really did. It clumsily meandered along for the full 3 hours. I could have put up with the slow pace if the film made some interesting statements, or allowed me to connect emotionally with it. However, it was severely lacking in both departments.

 In hindsight, I am not even sure what this movie was about. Yes, the dude aged backwards, but the novelty of that quickly wore off, and there was nothing left. There was no comedy, it seemed to take itself way too seriously for that. There were a couple quirky characters, like the guy who was always getting stuck by lightning, but there wasn't enough of that sort of thing. It all felt very dry and gloomy, with the feeling of death hanging over everything. This is all fine, but to pull that sort of movie off you have to really allow the characters to connect emotionally with the audience. This is where the movie really failed for me. It completely lacked heart. There were moments, but overall I just didn't get it. It wasn't charming, it wasn't tragic, it wasn't happy, it wasn't sad.... it just really wasn't anything.

 I thought parts of it came across as corny. The Brad Pitt voice-over was lame. Overall this movie just didn't work for me. It definitely isn't worth investing 3 hours of your life. I am wishing I would have just sent it back without watching it. I rarely regret watching a movie, even if I don't like it. This movie was so... "bleh" that I actually wish I hadn't even watched it.

 My thoughts about how the movie would go were so much better than how it actually was. All that being said and I still haven't got to the worst part. The whole movie is told through the reading of a journal as a daughter sits with her mother in the hospital. These scenes were painful to watch. The old woman, aka Granny McStutters, takes forever to speak. I get it that she is on her death bed, but can we move it along a little bit. The movie is slow enough already without having to sit there and wait for old Daisy to choke out a few words.

To sum up my feeling on this movie... I hated it. At first I didn't think I hated it. But now that I have thought more about it, and I hated it.


June 14, 2009

#028: Seven Pounds

I have taken the past few weeks off from blogging, and watching movies in general, but it is time to get back to it. 7 Pounds is the most recent movie I have watched, so I will take a few minutes to share my thoughts on it.

First off, I had very low expectations for this film. I heard it was a lot like Pursuit Of Happyness, which I really didn't like. While the Will Smith character was very similar, for me 7 Pounds was a much better film. 7 Pounds starts out by thoroughly confusing us about what is going on. As the viewer, I wasn't sure if the events I was watching were in the past, present or future. The interactions were confusing, and we weren't sure who our protagonist was, or what the heck he was doing. However, it all starts falling into place pretty quickly, and at roughly the halfway point both me and my wife could tell exactly how it was going to end, even down to certain details. From talking to others I have heard this is not always the case. Some people seemed to have actually been surprised by the ending, which seems almost impossible to me. For me, the movie isn't trying to surprise us with the final scenes. It takes on the much more difficult task of keeping us interested in a story we already know the ending to. With this, I feel the movie really succeeded. Even though I felt like I knew everything that was going to happen, I remained very engaged in the story. There was one scene that I wasn't really expecting, though in hindsight I should have known it was coming. This man has decided his destiny, and set the course to arrive there at the end. He has put a lot of planning into it and is very resolute in his decision. However, there is one scene where we see him question what he is doing. For a few moments we see the fear he must be feeling. I didn't expect to see that, and I felt like it added a lot more depth to the story.

Now that I have sufficiently praised the movie, it is time to belittle it. My first complaint is the acting. I usually don't notice poor acting unless it is really bad. While I am not going to say Will Smith's acting was bad, it was kind of annoying at times. He does these facial expressions all of the time, and it just gets old. In an emotional situation I don't feel like I crinkle my face up and cock my head to the side, so why is this guy doing that same move in every scene. I think it is Will's way of acting out the character saying, "I want to tell you the truth, but I can't. So I am just gong to make faces at you."

Overall it was an enjoyable movie. I am glad I watched it.