REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets 2 [2019]

Was the world always this dangerous? Illumination missed the boat on The Secret Life of Pets because the way they’ve told these stories thus far make them a lot more conducive to television than cinema. If that first film’s sprawling character list devolving into wild schemes and pratfalls barely adhering to the flimsy plot beneath wasn’t enough to prove it, composing The Secret Life of Pets 2 into three very disparate subplots forced together at the climax is. Moving to a long-form narrative format would supply breathing room to focus…

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REVIEW: Odd Thomas [2014]

“I may see dead people, but by God I do something about it” It’s August 14th in Pico Mundo, CA and the world is about to end. Well, not the world per se, but the community young Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) resides. Sort of. He sees ghosts of dead people with unfinished business, a gift passed down by his crazy mother wielded in secret from everyone besides Police Chief Porter (Willem Dafoe) and girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin). But while it allows him to help the tragic, helpless souls wandering around…

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REVIEW: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [2013]

“I always save your knick-knacks” What began as a 1939 short story by James Thurber debuting in The New Yorker, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty found its way to the big screen in 1947 led by Danny Kaye. The tale of a daydreamer losing himself in excitingly heroic fantasies while sleepwalking through a daytrip of chores in the city with his wife expanded into a magazine editor finding more interest in the pulp stories he reads than the drab life he leads. It’s a conceit mirrored today with Mitty…

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REVIEW: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World [2012]

“You were the love of my life” It’s easy to conjure images of post-apocalyptic wastelands, cryptic symbolism, and philosophical ruminations when one thinks about the end of the world. Hollywood uses this fascination to create science fiction actioners and depression-laden dramas each decade even though the layperson would never fall into such over-the-top cliché. Most John Q. Publics would let loose, create some sort of last minute bucket list, and live without consequence after years of cautious sacrifice and regret. Despite inevitable riots, chaos, and crime, one shouldn’t ignore the…

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Posterized Propaganda November 2012: Marketing Goes Artsy With ‘Killing Them Softly,’ Lincoln,’ ‘Skyfall’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. I have to credit the Alamo Drafthouse and Mondotees for slowly turning the industry around to the appeal of limited edition prints and excessive series. You’re spending an insane amount…

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REVIEW: Balls of Fury [2007]

“I’m going to Disneyland!” With the appropriately titled book Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! under their belts, one could easily make the case for Balls of Fury being Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon‘s cornerstone in screenwriting profiteering. A sports redemption tale set inside the seedy underbelly of elite ping-pong, the premise is laughable as a comedy skit let alone a feature length film. But this is what Garant and Lennon—comedians and creators of “The…

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Picking Winners at the 84th Annual Academy Awards

For the next week and a half, Spree contributor William C. Altreuter, our online film reviewer Jared Mobarak, and me will share our thoughts on who will take home the Oscars. Let’s kick things off with … Best Supporting Actress. —C. S. BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:Bérénice Bejo – The Artist as Peppy MillerJessica Chastain – The Help as Celia FooteMelissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids as Megan PriceJanet McTeer – Albert Nobbs as Hubert PageOctavia Spencer – The Help as Minny Jackson Christopher Schobert: Bill, it seems like every time you and I tackle…

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REVIEW: Young Adult [2011]

“Mad Love, Buddy” And the award for movie with the worst message for young adults is Young Adult. Bravo Diablo Cody for what appears to be a cathartic foray into justifying arrogance, shallowness, and alcoholism as signs of great artistic talent rather than portraying them as glaring issues needing work, help, and maturity. Kudos for hiding a dark cesspool of angry depressive horrors beneath the sheen of a light-hearted coming home to romance the now married ex-boyfriend comedy and for allowing horrible monsters to become more horrible. Thanks for at…

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REVIEW: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas [2011]

“They serve pancakes in hell” When your leads are a pair of co-eds who love pot and desire the delicious goodness of White Castle burgers to satisfy the inevitable munchies, throwing a litany of oddball situations and raunchy characters their way makes complete sense. It’s an asinine world populated by one-note figures somehow working within their contextual limitations to induce laughter from an audience’s need of immaturity’s release. As a result, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle was a brilliant stoner comedy with longevity, its surprising success birthing the…

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REVIEW: Puss in Boots [2011]

“We don’t have any baby muffins” Before Shrek left his swamp to spawn a four-feature franchise I sadly had no real interest in continuing past the original, a Latino kitty cat roamed the lands of Far Far Away. Without a home once San Ricardo turned its back after the public bank was robbed with him left holding the moneybags, Puss in Boots must survive on the fringes of society to woo the ladies and endlessly thieve. Needing a big score for an influx of cash, Puss returns to his adopted…

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REVIEW: Big Fan [2009]

“We came all the way from Staten Island” Don’t underestimate the talent of Patton Oswalt. Playing a 36-year old man that lives with his mother, works a dead-end minimum wage job, and lives only for the New York Football Giants; this comedian delivers the goods on dark depression. It is always a pleasure to see an actor that has been pigeon-holed into one genre branch out and show the possibilities of range that have never been discovered. With Big Fan being written and directed by the former editor-in-chief of The…

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