REVIEW: Pain & Gain [2013]

“I gotta get a pump” I like when actors not only play to their strengths, but also make a concerted effort to do so. Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson saw an opportunity to have fun playing a couple of bumbling amateur criminals—waiving their salaries along with director Michael Bay for backend deals—and had faith audiences would come to see them make light of their physiques and act the fools. Pain & Gain is a perfect venue for their somewhat limited skill sets as its true to life tale of greed…

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REVIEW: Galaxy Quest [1999]

“Never give up. Never surrender.” What would happen if William Shatner were beamed into space for real—tracked down by a group of aliens indecipherable from the litany of cosplaying fans clamoring for his autograph at one of the infinite Comic Cons held around the nation? This is the question stuck in screenwriter David Howard‘s head as he put Galaxy Quest to paper in order to imagine the possibilities. A lush with a bigger head than when the titular show was on air, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) encourages fans with a…

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REVIEW: Men in Black II [2002]

“I see you neuralyzed another partner” There’s nothing like a lost memory trope to allow lazy screenwriters the opportunity to explain their film within the construct of its plot. Despite an inventive, tongue-in-cheek reenactment program hosted by Peter Graves about mysterious conspiracy stories ushering us back into the Men in Black universe, Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro‘s subversion of their expository prologue is wasted. No one enjoys disembodied voices and scrolling text to describe backstory in a Kindergarten teacher’s tone of superiority, so why not poke some fun at the…

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REVIEW: Men in Black [1997]

“May I ask why you felt little Tiffany had to die?” Fresh off the success of Get Shorty two years prior, director Barry Sonnenfeld‘s still young but effective career found it’s biggest hit in the rollicking science fiction comedy Men in Black. Unfortunately for him, the film also proved to be his last cinematic work worthy of note after a solid Hollywood journey beginning behind the lens for Rob Reiner, Penny Marshall, and the Coen Brothers. Broader in his comic sensibilities than that more subversive duo, his handling of Ed…

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REVIEW: Cars 2 [2011]

“I vant to siphon your gas” Being that I was not in what appeared to be a vast majority of people who thought Cars was ‘lesser’ Pixar, I can’t say I was too surprised to find I was on the outside of the even bigger group of critics who trashed Cars 2 as a sequel based solely on toy manufacturing profit. Yes, it is totally a cash-grab—I’m not questioning that fact—but alongside this is an attempt to create something the studio has yet to do, an entertaining comedy existing on…

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REVIEW: How Do You Know [2010]

“We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work” The man doesn’t direct much—he averages almost five years between films—but James L. Brooks still holds intrigue with each release. Broadcast News is a classic, As Good As It Gets very good, and Terms of Endearment beloved, although I find it merely okay and overrated. His last film, Spanglish, actually entertained at a decently high level too, making me overlook the overwhelming number of average or below notes from critics on How Do You Know. Admittedly, the…

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REVIEW: The Great New Wonderful [2005]

“I think I’m lost” I will admit I had been looking forward to checking out this film for a while now. Hearing stuff about how it was a great character based drama in a post-9/11 New York City and how it really held meaning and was a catharsis for those who watched. Just the fact that it was a serious dramatic turn for director Danny Leiner, yes he of Harold & Kumar fame, was enough to pique my interest. In the end, however, the film really fell flat for me…

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REVIEW: A Life Less Ordinary [1997]

“I thought we agreed there’d be no cliches” I had always heard good things about this film, but never had the chance to check it out despite being a fan of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and 28 Days Later. A Life Less Ordinary has a lot of aspects that Boyle later used in his child fairy-tale Millions from inventive camera tricks to a melding of fantasy sequences with reality. The main thing taken from this viewing however is the tragedy that Ewan McGregor and Boyle may never work together again. Ewan…

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