Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rickey's Film Corral: Rounding up Moves You Were too Damned Lazy to See

[Rickey's in-depth analysis of the various cinematic offerings currently showing at a movie theater near you. Rickey will use his critical skills to weed out the dreck from the moderately watchable, thereby saving you money and vastly improving your quality of life. Don't say we never did anything for you, OK?]

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Erika and I saw this one overseas in San José (there’s very little to do in San José other than avoid being mugged) and paid roughly $5 for two tickets to an evening showing. Even that small amount felt like a rip-off. This movie isn’t just offensively dumb, it’s mean, manipulative and violent. Now, unfortunately, I’m on the record as having enjoyed the first Transformers movie for what it was: a mindless fun flick showcasing large robots punching each other. But this one expands upon everything that was bad in the first movie and runs with it full tilt. We’re talking terrible acting, overwhelming use of indiscernible CGI, shoddy editing, and a runtime that extends about 100 minutes too long. Want to save yourself ten bucks at the movies? Try eating paint chips while staring at a poster of Megan Fox—you’ll get pretty much the same effect.

Granted, nobody was expecting director Michael Bay to craft a modern day version of “The Seventh Seal” from a Saturday morning children’s cartoon, but still… something feels very unwholesome about watching flag draped coffins of U.S. soldiers being escorted off a plane by giant robots in a military base somewhere in the Middle East. Kitsch I can take, but perverted patriotism is another thing altogether. And the less said about the movie’s insinuation that the Obama Administration would attempt to negotiate peace with a villainous race of alien robots the better. Oh, and what are your feelings about paying to see a minstrel show in the year 2009? Because this movie features two gorilla shaped robots with gold teeth who “don’t read too good” talking jive to each other. It’s a pretty shocking thing to watch, especially when you consider that Steven Spielberg, the director of “Amistad,” and the upcoming biopic "Lincoln” is the executive producer on this film. I honestly can’t come up with a single reason to recommend this movie to anyone, and I liked “Armageddon” for crying out loud.

Brüno. (I just want you to know how difficult it was to get an umlaut symbol to appear in this post). Well I suppose that this movie attempts to push your buttons in a better way than the previous one we just reviewed. If you consider Sasha Baron Cohen attempting to lure Ron Paul to bed more sublimely enlightened than an alien robot humping Megan Fox’s leg, that is. Brüno operates in the same way that Borat did: it attempts to mine comedy from the conceit of an outsider illuminating our inner prejudices. The problem is that Cohen targets some very low hanging fruit – talk show audiences, a group of redneck hunters, Paula Abdul – and the movie comes off more as a series of cheap shots than a witty social commentary. While it’s true that all good comedy is born from a certain degree of derision, I feel the same way about this movie that I do about some of Andy Kaufman’s stuff: going to an extreme length to rile up and upset people just isn’t all that funny. Also, there’s serious full frontal male nudity in this one. Regardless of how enlightened you may consider yourself to be regarding alternative lifestyles, nothing can prepare you for the first twenty minutes of this movie and the sight of a singing dancing penis. Nothing.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Every year, I get dragged to one of these films about children magicians brandishing wands and saying funny made up words. I agree to this because sitting through these movies morally entitles me to pick the next eighteen films we watch together. This installment of the Potter franchise focuses on some sort of magical book, a talking sofa, and children magicians falling in love. Yay. Between these movies and “Twilight,” I’m seriously concerned about one day having “the talk” with my bewildered progeny and needing to explain that adolescent romance doesn’t necessarily include spells, potions, or general supernatural tomfoolery.

Bottom line, if you liked the last few Potter films, you’ll probably like this too. They’re all kind of a blur to me at this point. You’d think that after six semesters of sending their kids to this Hogwarts place, the parents would’ve sued the pants off anyone associated with a school that subjects it’s students to trolls, giant spiders, dragons, and similar outlandish dangers. (I’m assured that all this will be resolved in the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Order of the 2nd District Court”). Also, they’d better hurry up and make the final movie because the kid playing Ron Weasley looks like he’s about 30 in this one.

On the Docket !

[These are movies that I haven’t yet seen but after watching the last one, am COMPLETELY ENTITLED to see because they are undoubtedly incredible and cannot possibly be any worse than that Transformers train wreck that I convinced Erika was totally worth seeing. Ahem.]

District 9. A sci-fi action movie about aliens arriving on Earth then being rounded up in a ghetto in South Africa? Shot in documentary style by a newcomer director that nobody has ever heard of? I’m telling you, there’s absolutely no way this can fail. I am dead serious about this.

Public Enemies. This one shouldn’t take too much arm twisting to convince the Mrs. to go see. She gets to see Johnny Depp play the charming John Dillinger and I get to watch a slick Michael Mann movie about a bank robber. A win-win situation if I’ve ever heard of one.

500 Days of Summer. Hey look, the kid from “3rd Rock from the Sun” has resurfaced! That alone has me intrigued for this indie love movie. As does Zooey Deschanel. Yes, every now and then, I am capable of picking a sentimental date flick…

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Bob said...


"...going to an extreme length to rile up and upset people just isn’t all that funny."

I have said this before about other comedians and have been lectured about how I just don’t “understand satire.” Oh Please.

There is satire, and then there is lazy comedy. When comedians aren’t talented, they go for the offensive angle to shock us. Thanks for the warning, I am glad to hear Bruno kinda sucked.

Rickey Henderson said...

So the blood feud is over? I feel so empty now...

Bob said...

/blood feud.

Just saw a preview for District 9 last night. That looks like a powerful movie. It might be sci-fi, but it looks disturbing in the way it looks at our politics and the way "outsiders" are treated.

Smitty said...

here is satire, and then there is lazy comedy. When comedians aren’t talented, they go for the offensive angle to shock us.

Nailed it. I can take Cohen in short bursts, which is why Da Alli G Show worked. But you can't make it into a whole movie. My skin crawled several times watching Borat.

Glad to know Transformers sucked. Will wait for it to come out on Blu Ray so I can watch it at home while hammered.

I can't wait to see District 9, and am going on a Man Date to go see the Dillinger movie.

steves said...

I didn't think the first Transformers was all that good, so I have avoided this one. For some reason, Rickey seems to see the political angle (e.g. Iron Man review) of movies that no other reviewer catches. Hell, I read Entertainment Weekly, and they never fail to take the opportunity to throw in some political bias. Was it really that blatant?

I never saw the appeal in Bruno or Borat, so I guess I just don't understand satire either.

The Dillinger movie looks really good and I have heard good things about it.

kathcom said...

I thought the first Transformers was total crap. It was a movie marketed to kids with soft core porn shots of Megan Fox. Okay, so maybe for some that was a redeeming quality.

I must admit, I get queasy whenever a movie trots out 9/11 type devastation in New York. So if this movie is throwing in the flag-draped coffins, it gives me one more reason to avoid it. That and Shia LaBoeuf--what a tool.

My husband says the same thing about Andy Kaufman. I admire the audacity it takes to attempt comedy, to see things in a different way, to hold up a mirror to us and to take the chance of bombing big time.

For that reason, I'll see Bruno when it comes out on DVD. I don't care about the quality of a laugh. I'll mine almost any kind of comedy for a chuckle or two.

I'm hard up for funniness and will take it where I can get it...even if that means sometimes not getting it at all and wasting an hour and a half of my time on this pitiless earth.

Tiggy said...

"Robots Punching Each Other" should be the greatest movie ever made. I shall avoid.

On the other hand, dancing, singing penises are right up my street.

Bob "Melon" Melonosky said...

Ha, ha, ha, "rounding up moves!"

I have this move where I put her left leg behind my right ear, and while grasping her buttocks firmly, dunk three oreos into a glass of ice cold milk.

Feel free to use it but please give me credit.

Chris C said...

a Seventh Seal reference. nice!