Archive for December, 2005

Trading Places (1983)

Trading PlacesFour Stars

Starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Akroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis, this movie’s idea is simple. In different circumstances and opportunities, would a rich man who became poor turn to crime and other pitiful activities to make it by, and would a criminal, given a better life excel in his newfound environment.

Murphy is the criminal who one day, on the whim of a bet, is given an upscale, well to do life of a successful businessman (Akroyd) and Akroyd is then framed and reduced to nothing, everything he had taken away in a heartbeat. Soon Murphy beings to excel, leaving behind and looking down on all that he was, and Akroyd soon turns to drinking, stealing, and attempted suicide to escape the hell that was now his life. But, by a chance of luck, both Murphy and Akroyd find out that they were the subjects of a terrible joke, two bored men playing with their lives for a simple transaction of a dollar.

In the end of the movie, they retaliate, and turn those men into what they thought was a joke, poor and hollow. This movie is a great role for both Murphy and Akroyd. Murphy is still at the height of his career, around the time of Beverly Hills Cop, funny and engaging. Akroyd play the part of a stuffy upperclassman perfectly, to a point where you don’t really think he is acting, only portraying a side of himself you secretly know is probably his predominant side. Jamie Lee Curtis is the lost hooker trying to make money off the whole situation, and really is just the pretty face in all of this.

It is rated R, and there are some parts that I am sure my parents wouldn’t like and would feel are unnecessary. I think the movie is solid, entertaining, short, and to the point, with a good splash of silly. I think most people that like Murphy in any of his early 80’s roles, and didn’t know about this one would love this movie.

King Kong (2005)

King KongFour and a Half Stars

Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, and Andy Serkis, I won’t spend too much time reviewing the story of King Kong, by now you should know it, and if you don’t, just keep hanging out underneath that rock.

People go to deserted island, find King Kong, capture him, bring him back, show him off in New York City, he escapes his chains in rage for the woman he loves, and climbs the Empire State Building trying to swat down hostile fighter planes, and then plummets to his death.

The story isn’t too different, updated but still set in the early 20th century. Watts does an awesome job of acting on a green screen, never actually seeing a CG Kong. Brody is average, not relatable, and Jack Black, is Jack, you never believe he is anything else, and is probably the only reason I didn’t give this a full five stars. But, he does play a great seedy character, so maybe he was a good cast. Maybe it was Watts (Ann) and her love of a huge monkey.

I have heard that this movie was self indulgent, ran too long, had way too much exteraneous crap, was too much visually, and the story takes way too long to get going. This is what I say to all of these claims.

1) Self Indulgent. Yes, it was. Damn, Peter Jackson just spent possibly a decade of his life on Lord of the Rings. He brought those epic and detailed books to life on screen in a respectful fashion. This man gets to call his next shot, whether it was Garfield 2 or King Kong.

2) Ran too long, too much junk, too visually stimulating, the story spends too much time in New York City. I can’t argue that there was a lot of CG stuff in this movie. If you don’t like that, what the Hell are you doing at this movie? Really? The story is fun, but not a great character story, you should be going to this to see a huge monkey kick dinosaur and military butt and to love a damsel. If you like CG, this won’t run too long for you at all, every moment is a thrill ride. As for too much time in the beginning, well, I would just say I don’t know how I would have cut it down, you have to establish some of Ann’s character and what would make her almost love a huge ape.

The other thing I would say, specifically, is that some people I know didn’t like the Brontosaurus scene. I would say, that if you hold this up to the Jurassic Park movies, Kong takes those to the next level visually. Maybe the dinos toppling was a little silly, but believable and sadistically enjoyable to watch destruction of dino life. These scenes are so much more rich, with more on screen time with the T-Rex and a slew of other dinos that are more atmospheric in the Jurassic Park films. Give me a fight scene between a T-Rex and King Kong, or four of them. Do I think he could actually win that, probably not, he sure could survive a Rex bite without much more than a gash. But I do think that an ape with arms could waste a T-Rex that is practically helpless once on it’s side.

If you can’t tell, I loved this movie. Like I said, don’t go for the best story ever, you know the bill, it is kind of like Titanic, you know what will happen, you want to see how this director gets us there visually with today’s technology. I could watch this a ton of times, I would buy it, and I recommend it to everyone to see at least one, even if you form your own picky negative opinions.

Bruce Almighty (2003)

Rothe Blog Bruce AlmightyFour Stars

Jennifer Anniston, Jim Carrey, Catherine Bell, and Steve Carroll, this movie was classic the moment it hit the screen. Perfect role for Carrey to be himself, and a unique enough idea with the support of today’s effects to make it work. Carrey is a reporter who just can’t get ahead in his life, or so he feels. He gets the stupid news stories, and no one takes him seriously, and it seems that he always gets passed over for that promotion, or that next level of achievement in life. Anniston is the girlfriend who loves him for his strengths, and Carrols is the other young reporter looking to make anchor at the news station.

The coolest thing about this movie is how it actually does some probing of Christianity. What would it be like to be God, and what is our best guess of what is could possibly be like to be omnipotent, trying to rule over so many people, and how to watch over everyone safely and fairly.

Of course, it is funny. Carrey has his over the top parts, but you do get swept up in how much fun it could possibly be to be able to do anything you could possibly dream with the snap of a finger or with a gush of breath. I always laugh myself to tears when Carrey is in the background while his evil nemesis (Carroll) is on air delivering the news. He makes Carroll speak ridiculous jibberish, it is so childish, but so stinking funny.

I would argue that later in life Carrey has taken his over the top personality, and removed more of the stupid body type jokes, and it is more an essence of him. I do think he is an incredible talent, he and Robin Williams are two that come to mind when I think of actors who can just think of something funny on the spot, and he does just that in this movie. So, if you enjoy Carrey and his perfected humor now in later life, you will like this. He drives the movie, and does some good sincere serious acting as well, but if you loathe Carrey, obviously skip this one. If you can overlook him, see if and fantasize what it could be like, to be God. It really is fun.

Madagascar (2005)

Rothe Blog MadagascarOne and a Half Stars

I didn’t like this movie. I think that it did pretty good at the box office, but the three or four people I talked to either didn’t like
this movie, or it didn’t stick out in their minds. But I wouldn’t watch it again.

Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett, David Schwimmer, Ben Stiller and others voice the zoo characters who are looking to escape to the wild. Wandering around New York, and then eventually getting shipping out to have to make it on their own, the point in this movie never really comes out. It feels kind of like one big flashy empty gimmick after another, and not an ounce of me liked any of the characters. The animation was ok, there was a good amount of detail, but I think that the dance song routine on the island encompasses what this movie was all about. Making really young children laugh at the silliness, instead of developing characters with somewhat relatable plights, feelings, and needs. The best Disney movies did that, and I think this is one of those that just figured because it was 3d that maybe the lack of story would be overlooked.

I just wonder how much longer it will be before we as an audience are past the “wow” factor of 3d animation and demand more quality, helping suppress movies like this from ever making it to the screen.

Watch this for the visuals, but I don’t think anyone you know will ever come out of this crying, or with a day changing emotion of any sort.

Fever Pitch (2005)

Fever PitchFour Stars

My review of this movie is going to be highly bias, as a direct result of the awe that I have for the 2004 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Yankees, and beyond.

Starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, it’s a love story between two unlikely people, a local school teacher (Fallon) and a high paced business type (Barrymore). They end up going out, and all of a sudden it is a level playing field, she doesn’t act like a successful business person anymore, only her work interfers. I found that a little weird.

But basically, ever since he was little, he has had Red Sox season tickets. He splits up the games with three other people, and they go to every game. They are die hard. She gives some understanding because she is preoccupied with her job. In the end, he screws up and puts baseball first and she walks away. His father left when he was little, so the Red Sox are his blanket, his safe haven from the world and he just hides there when anything becomes hard. I must say, it was fairly convincing, and Fallon wasn’t obnoxious in this movie.

Eventually they get back together and it is happy ever after. But the best part of this movie, is it is all about the comeback that the Red Sox made against the Yankees in 2004, and they intertwined that history with this little love story.

A decently fun movie, and not too lovey without a fair amount of humor, I would recommend this to most people, and definitely to any of those baseball fans out there that are still left. If you loved that series you can relive it here in some fashion.