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Movie Review: Just Go With It (2011) May 6, 2011

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It seems like it was so long ago that I was an Adam Sandler fan.  I loved his crazy, stupid movies.  No matter what anyone says about them, they were (for the most part) hilarious and unique in that Sandler-esque kind of way.

These days, frankly, Sandler’s movies suck.  They’ve become predictable, formulaic, and not very funny.  I feel like he is undergoing some kind of mid-life crisis, for some reason always trying to make his films have a proper storyline and some kind of message about life.  That’s not his forte.

And so it was with reservations that I went to see Just Go With It, a ‘romantic comedy’ about a plastic surgeon who pretends he is married to lure chicks, kind of like that episode of Seinfeld where George gave it a go.  And just like George in that episode, the scheme backfires when he meets the woman of his dreams (Andy Roddick’s SI model wife Brooklyn Decker), and must now continue to pretend he is temporarily ‘married’ by getting his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) to act as his wife.

You don’t need me to tell you where this movie heads and how it ends up.

As I mentioned above, Sandler doesn’t make good movies anymore (his best efforts these days are, I would say, ‘average’ at best).  Jennifer Aniston almost never makes watchable movies.  Throw the two together and it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Fortunately for them, there were a few good moments in Just Go With It, but none of them involved Sandler or Aniston.  The real stars of the film were Bailee Madison (who plays Aniston’s quirky daughter) and Nick Swardson (who is more hit and miss but has some good moments as Sandler’s cousin).  And Brooklyn Decker was surprisingly adequate as the fake love interest, demonstrating not only that she can act but also that she possesses decent comedic timing.  There’s also a supporting role with Nicole Kidman that I didn’t know about, but she wasn’t as funny as she could or should have been.

But ultimately, Just Go With It is probably exactly what you’d expect it to be — two big stars, an initially interesting premise, a predictable plot and a few good jokes, but far too many bad ones.  Potentially worthy as a DVD rental on a rainy night if you are in the right mood, but otherwise don’t waste your money.

2.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Something Borrowed (2011) April 18, 2011

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National Release Date: 5 May 2011

Something Borrowed has a specific target audience in mind, and that target audience doesn’t include me.  After all, it is based on the bestselling chick lit novel (by Emily Griffin) and stars Kate Hudson, who I simply don’t like for reasons I don’t really understand.

Something Borrowed is an apt title, I suppose, because it borrows freely from other chick lit and chick flicks.  Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin from She’s Just Not That Into You — is it just me or has she lost a lot of weight?) is a thirty-year old single woman who is a quiet sidekick to her wild best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson), and is secretly in love with said friend’s fiance Dex (Colin Egglesfield), who was once her potential suitor and may have feelings for her too.

That’s all I’ll say but I imagine you can guess the rest.  Angst, heartache, heartbreak, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, love lost and love won — you get the gist.  It’s categorised as a rom-com but the humour is light and typical.  I wouldn’t call it completely predictable but there was definitely a sense of inevitability to the whole thing, which was all very formulaic.

There were good reasons for me to like the film.  Rachel is a lawyer (my old world) and her long-time confidant Ethan (John Krasinki) is a writer (my new world).  It’s a film about something I can appreciate — competing desires — what you want against what others think is right.  But I just couldn’t get into it, and I doubt the rest of the almost entirely male reviewer audience could either.

To be fair, I am a fan of Ginnifer Goodwin, who seems to be making a habit of being the lead actress without getting top billing (she was really the central character of He’s Just Not That Into You and dominates this film from start to finish).  She gives a stellar performance and is likable as the torn Rachel.  And as much as I hate to say it, Kate Hudson was pretty good too (but it doesn’t change the way I feel about her).  As for the male cast, John Krasinki was solid, bringing his comedic presence from The Office along with him, but Colin Egglesfield was horrible.  A fine looking man, but he failed to bring out a character that could have and should have been so much more.

Ultimately, the target audience may very well enjoy Something Borrowed.  Modern fairytalesque love triangle, (very) light humour, pretty stars and a cookie-cutter plot with an ending that’s too neatly wrapped for my liking (though for a film of this kind it’s not too bad).  I just wish it was more engrossing, had more laughs, and had more likable characters.  Was that too much to ask?

2 stars out of 5

Movie Review: She’s Out of My League (2010) April 10, 2010

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I heard some good things about She’s Out of My League before I went to see it — so I had reasonable expectations.  It seemed like one of those Judd Apatow-esque films, with a quirky premise, everyday characters, and lots of funny (and sometimes outrageous or vulgar) dialogue and interactions.  Well, it pretty much was, and while it’s not bad, there’s nothing to really separate it from other similar films in recent years.

Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby, Tropic Thunder), a very underrated actor in my opinion, plays Kirk, a regular guy who works in airport security.  British Actress Alice Eve plays Molly, a pretty girl Kirk meets by chance, and who seems too good to be true.  The name of the film says it all, so there’s no need to elaborate much further than that.  Of course, there are the wacky friends, the crazy family, the rival, and a bunch of embarrassing incidents — all things you could have probably guessed.

For what is essentially a vulgar-ish rom-com, She’s Out of My League actually offers some interesting and honest insights into human nature and relationships.  At times, the story can be sweet and display some heart, but it never really gets there in my opinion.

Is the film funny?  Yes, but nothing that had me rolling in the isles.  To be honest it was too “hit and miss” for my liking, and there was an over-reliance on swearing for comedic effect.  When used correctly, it’s awesome, but too often in this film it comes off as contrived and obnoxious.  Don’t get me wrong though, there are some genuinely funny moments, whether it’s a casual conversation or a cringe-worthy incident.  But sadly, this was another one of those films where the trailer revealed all the best jokes.  When will I learn to stop watching them?

She’s Out of My League is a decent film capable of making you laugh, especially when in the right frame of mind, but ultimately it’s not a standout in this type of genre.

3 out of 5 stars

DVD Review: 500 Days of Summer (2009) March 23, 2010

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[I was supposed to put this into my second DVD Blitz, but the film was too good for me to not give it its own review]

For months I’ve been hearing and reading about the praises raining down on 500 Days of Summer, the romantic drama-comedy directed by first-time feature director Marc Webb and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber.  Naturally, this made me a sceptic.  How good could a seemingly light-hearted romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel be?

Well, I finally found out on DVD over the weekend.  And I fell in love with it.

500 Days of Summer tells the story of Tom (Gordon-Levitt), a young man working for a greeting card company who meets Summer (Deschanel), the girl of his dreams.  There’s just one problem: Summer doesn’t believe in love.  Director Marc Webb describes it as more of a coming-of-age story than a romantic comedy, though I’d like to think of it as both.

It’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes 500 Days of Summer so endearing.  Is it the non-linear progression?  No, that actually got me a little confused and annoyed at times.  Could it be the creative visual style and the innovative storytelling techniques?  I liked it, but I don’t think so.  Maybe it was the characters, the way the conventional male-female relationship stereotypes were flipped on their head.  But surely this isn’t the first time this has been done.  Could it be the main leads?  Well, Zooey Deschanel is very cute and I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives the performance of his career, but no, I don’t think so.  And while it is a funny film, it’s not constantly or outrageously hilarious.  The laughs come from very random and quirky comments and moments, which are brilliantly conceived, but I’ve seen funnier films in the last couple of years.

So what is it that made the film so enjoyable and delightful?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s all of the above.  Or none.  Love isn’t rational anyway.

The film just has this incredibly sweet sensation to it.  It captures that feeling of falling hopelessly in love, the passion, the despair, the heartbreak, and the bitter-sweet aftermath.  I can’t think of another film that has done it this well, this real, with so much creativity, and so much heart. And with a cracker of a soundtrack too.

5 out of 5 stars!

[PS: Maybe I will have another opinion of it upon a second viewing.  I did, after all, watch this on the eve of my two-year wedding anniversary.]

DVD Review: I Love You Man (2009) December 28, 2009

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I usually only review new movies out at the cinemas, but I Love You, Man is recent enough so I’ll make an exception.

Paul Rudd has unexpectedly become one of my favourite comedic actors (who would have thought that after Clueless he’d still be around 15 years later, while Alicia Silverstone never did anything noteworthy since?) and Jason Segel really grew on me after Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Throw in these two funny dudes in a film written and directed by John Hamburg (who co-wrote Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Zoolander and directed Along Came Polly), and the outcome is a wild and hilarious ride!

I Love You, Man is a highly unconventional movie.  It’s essentially a romantic comedy with two guys as the leads, but with no homosexual overtones whatsoever (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – a bro-mantic comedy, so to speak.  Paul Rudd plays Peter Klaven, a regular guy, a recently-engaged real estate agent who has invested all his time and effort into his relationships with women that he has no real male friends.  Enter Jason Segel’s character Sydney Fife, a carefree dude with a take it or leave it attitude to life that turns Peter’s life upside down.

I know, that sounds like a pretty crappy, cheesy premise, but I Love You, Man really works, probably in ways you wouldn’t expect.  It’s not a gross-out or stupid comedy – it is surprisingly honest and realistic (for a comedy of this sort, anyway), but the laughs are by no means second rate.  Rudd’s brutally awkward performance and his chemistry with Segel provide most of the funny moments, but the supporting cast – which includes the lovely Rashida Jones, the always welcome JK Simmons, and The Lonely Island’s Adam Samberg – are also extremely solid.

I Love You, Man is not without flaws, and it is, after all, a romantic comedy, so expectations need to be kept in check.  That being said, it is a lot funnier than a movie of this kind should be.

3.75 out of 5 stars!

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