A Day At The Pictures: Quick Reviews of Movies Three

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You should see my real balls

You should see my real balls

Don’t you miss when movies were called “pictures”, and you could buy prostitutes for a nickel? I do. And speaking of which, recently up came a busy couple of weeks for moviegoers everywhere. Rather than spotlight just one, I decided to write up all three. Because I love you. And no, I didn’t see that High School Musical bullshit. Zac Efron can blow me (he has such nice lips).

First up, there was Kevin Smith’s newest Jersey themed movie with pornography abound. Then, I had the pleasure to hang around Paul Rudd and Stifler for awhile. Follow that up with the big holiday event of the season, the newest 007, and you have a good couple weeks of movies folks. Read on for my thoughts.

Zach and Miri Make a Porno

Directed and Written by Kevin Smith

Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, Craig Robinson

zachandmiri1

If there’s a recipe for making me happy at movies, Kevin Smith’s name in the credits is a good place to start. I’ve loved all his films save Jersey Girl (which while sappy is unfairly labeled as crap), and this movie, Zach and Miri, is no different. The title does a fairly good job of telling the plot, but I’ll go a bit more in depth. Zach and Miri are best friends since, well, forever, and live together in a shoddy apartment sharing a shoddy car and both have shoddy jobs (I couldn’t tell you what Miri’s job is if I wanted to, but Zach works at a coffee shop) and a shoddy life with no loving relationships to speak of between them. To make ends meet, they fall upon the natural get rich scheme of making a porno…together. Hijynx ensue, as Delaney (Craig Robinson, he of The Office and Pineapple Express fame) helps finance the movie in order to see him some boobies. We get wacky auditions featuring Jason Mewes as Lester being his usual hilarious self, and the infamous Traci Lords as Bubbles.

It wouldn’t be a Kevin Smith movie without heart, and this movie has it in droves. I can’t help but get sucked in, and I think most people would. But when you go to a Smith movie, you expect laughs, and you get them here, mostly between the playoff between Rogen and Banks. Rogen has certainly been funnier in his many movies of late (the Apatow mainstay has rocked audiences everywhere in starring and supporting roles in the following: Pinapple Express, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, etc.), but he’s great here, and there’s definitely some chemistry between Banks and him, a necessary evil for a movie like this to be a success. Elizabeth Banks, who burst onto the scene with 40 Year Old Virgin (as the masturbation crazed sexpot that almost steals Steve Carrell/Andy’s manginity) is great here. She’s vibrant, beautiful and one of the guys. And she wears granny panties.

The supporting cast features the normal Kevin Smith mainstays with a slew of cameos that I won’t spoil, but Kevin Smith fans and hell, movies fans will enjoy them.

All in all, while audiences might be tiring of the nigh constant presence of Rogen and hell even Banks (who’s in this movie, W. and Role Models in rapid fire succession), this is another worthwhile to the just great comedies that have been showing up at the cineplex of late. While I may be skewed because I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan and a fan of Rogen since his days when he was a high schooler on Freaks and Geeks, it’s a worthwhile movie to see for anyone who wants some laughs and relief from the economic depression. It certainly isn’t the best of Smith’s works, but it has its moments and that giant throbbing heart in full force. 

Grade: B+

Role Models

Directed by David Wain

Written by David Wain and Paul Rudd and company

Starring Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Elizabeth Banks (again) and Jane Lynch 

role-models2

 David Wain, the comedic genius behind Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten, helms and writes Role Models with Paul Rudd, who seemingly is the most popular man in the comedic kingdom. The guy has connections with everyone. He’s apart of the Will Ferrell gang (see: Anchorman). The Apatow gang (see: all of them). Hell, he even married Phoebe on Friends. And he’s been apart of Wain’s crew since the start, an underrated comedic troupe in itself. And the thing is, he deserves it. Paul Rudd is fucking hilarious. He can be a straight man. He can be a loony in the supporting cast. He can do it all. Here he tries on leading man, and it suits him well. Of course, it helps to have such a talented cast around him. This is where Seann William Scott comes in, being his funniest since his indelible role in American Pie which he still quite hasn’t shaken. He plays Wheeler, a fun loving ladies man who dresses up as the Minotaur, representing an energy drink. His partner is Rudd, who’s Danny.

They both are very much losers, except Danny just isn’t having any of it. He’s a saracastic, depressed bastard and takes it out on everyone around him. It makes for good laughs, but also incites a breakup with his girlfriend Beth (played by hey, the beautiful and charming Elizabeth Banks again). It also leads to an incident at a high school that leads them in line for jail time, until they settle on community service instead.

Enter Sturdy Wings, an organization dedicated to helping children (created by Gayle Sweeney played delightfully and crazily by Jane Lynch, an Apatow staple whom everyone will recognize). Rudd and Wheeler are each assigned a “little” to their “big” and that’s exactly when this movie turns into a classic. A slow start is all it takes to prevent this film from being a perfect comedy, and the credit, as always, goes to McLovin (or Christopher Mintz-Plasse) as Augie, a teenager engaging in real life role playing games. But not so fast: Ronnie played by the hilariously profane kid Bobb’e J. Thompson is just as funny. These two kids bring the movie together, and play off Rudd and Scott so damn well.

It’s a thing of beauty, and the incredible climactic role playing fight scene is a thing of beauty. This is probably my favorite Wain film, which says a lot, because The Ten and Wet Hot American Summer are must see comedies.

Also: KISS is cool again folks.

Grade: A-

Quantum of Solace

Directed by Marc Forster

Written by Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis and others

Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mathie Amalric, Olga Kurylenko and Jeffrey Wright

quantum

Rewatching the classic Casino Royale was essential for me before going to see this movie opening night. Casino Royale was almost a perfect movie, not just a perfect Bond movie. It revitalized and revolutionized one of the most popular film franchises of all time. Who cares if it borrowed from the ultra gritty Bourne series. It borrowed it well.

The problem with Quantum of Solace is just how awesome Casino Royale was. This film takes place directly after Casino Royale finishes, the first direct sequel in the Bond pantheon, and because of it, it’s almost lacking. Don’t get me wrong: I think this movie was a necessary chapter in Daniel Craig Bond series. But Marc Forster and company were hamstringed by the previous movie and forced to follow it up and tie up loose ends and deal with the anger and resentment Bond holds (which is shown quite impressively). Even so, we get a few breathless action scenes that are so forceful you can’t help but gasp afterwards. This movie, like Bond, doesn’t fuck around.

Daniel Craig is on his way to becoming the best Bond. He’s by far the biggest badass ever (see: what he does to the poor fellow on the motorbike). He may not be as sexy or wily as Sean Connery, or as cool as Pierce Brosnan, but he’s got the complete package despite being so different than all his predecessors. And he might be the most talented ACTOR to ever play James Bond. Joining Craig is Judi Dench as M, as embittered and pained as usual, but as delightful to watch as well. Jeffrey Wright reprises his role as the wily Felix Leiter, but could stand to have a more integral part than he has, because the guy’s a great actor. The Bond girl is another ravishing beauty, Camille, played by Olga Kurylenko. Just like any Bond girl, she has her moments, but is fairly forgettable. The uber talented Academy Award nominated Mathieu Amalric plays the villain Dominic Greene, who has connections to our dear Camille. Like Wright, the actor’s talent is wasted. Dominic is a lame villain that you never feel can truly threaten Bond, not like Mr. White from Casino Royale or even Jaws from old.

As for the plot of this blockbuster? It’s not really important, but here it goes: After Mr. White escapes the clutches of MI-6, Bond goes off the grid trying to follow leads on the secret organization that seemingly has spies everywhere, yet no one knows exists or even what it’s name is (hint: you’ll find out, and it doesn’t take a genius). Bond is on a rampage, a nigh killing spree going for what he wants, much to the ire and concern of M and company at MI-6 and even the CIA. Bond stumbles upon Mr. Greene, and voila, the plot thickens, and things explode, etc. etc.

There’s much fun to be had in Quantum, but if you’re expecting Casino Royale, you’ll be disappointed. What you will get is another fine movie that continues the much necessary new direction that the Bond direction has taken. If this was the first movie with Craig, it’d be getting almost as many raves as Royale. Go see it, gents.

Grade: B

And that’s been our first ever “A Day At The Pictures”. If you’re lucky, I may go see a movie again in my life.

–Spiffy

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3 Responses to “A Day At The Pictures: Quick Reviews of Movies Three”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    I bet Kevin Smith had your caption in mind when they filmed that scene.

    I thought Quantum of Solace was alright, but pretty underwhelming (not to mention short). The story was sometimes hard to follow and the Bond villains were pretty bland; Greene may not have posed much of a threat against Bond, but they could have at least made him interesting. Camille had a kind of cliche backstory and, like you said, is fairly forgettable. Plus the secret organization is supposed to have spies everywhere, but the only time you get that feeling is in the interrogation scene at the beginning (which of course, I won’t spoil). I feel this should’ve been a movie where Bond and M aren’t able to trust anyone… even each other. Maybe the movie needed more betrayals?

    Fight scenes weren’t bad, though. Daniel Craig’s rough and tumble take on Bond continues to impress and Judi Dench’s M is solid, as always.

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    I’d be amazed if Smith had that caption in mind, because he didn’t film that. David Wain did. It’s from Role Models. I guess that’s what I get when I don’t put the name of the film in the caption. Of course, you should know who Paul Rudd is (he’s only grossed $1 billion dollars). 😉

    I didn’t feel like Quantum was short at all. The length didn’t even cross my mind, which means it was the perfect length IMO.

    I think Camille and Mrs. Fields just needed to have more sex with Bond, is all.

    As far as the spies everywhere: what about the opera scene? There could have been more backstabbing (who doesn’t love a good backstabber?), but I didn’t have a problem with it either. And Bond and M don’t trust each other for practically the whole movie (Bond is going rogue practically, after all), so I don’t see your point on that account.

    So basically, I guess I disagree with you completely haha. Ah well. It happens. Hopefully we can get some more responses.

  3. The Belated Top 25 Films of 2009 « Goki’s Giving Groin Says:

    […] Here is a link to what I said when I first saw it, which also features my thoughts on my 10th favorite movie of the year Role Models (as well as Quantum of Solace, which didn’t make the cut). […]

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