Archive for January, 2006

Derailed (2005)

DerailedFour Stars

Starring Jennifer Anniston, Clive Owen, Vincent Cassel and Melissa George, it’s a movie of lust, blackmail, and revenge.

I may have seen one preview for this movie, tops. I saw Jennifer Anniston in a dramatic role, and Clive Owen is ok, I knew that I would probably try to see this. But I didn’t enjoy the movie as much when I was actually watching it, as I did after I went home and thought about it.

I am sure this concept has been done before. I just know that I didn’t guess what was going to happen, and was surprised at every turn. Jennifer Anniston is evil. She seduces these stupid men looking for the “Greener Grass” and then just as they are about to have their time in a dumpy hotel, a man breaks in, beats the hell out of the man, and what looks like a rape for Anniston.

Soon, the rapist / blackmailer (Vincent Cassel who was equally devious in Oceans 12) starts calling Owen’s house, making money demands. Owen tries to protect his family, his little girl who has serious diabetes, and Anniston who he thinks was raped. His life starts to spiral our of control, his friend is killed, his job is in jeopardy, and he is loosing all of his money.

After the final drop off of money, he finds out Anniston was involved. But, this is what I thought was strange, Anniston and Cassel stick around the city for more victims. Owen follows Anniston and has a plot to get revenge and to stop them. At this point I was cheering him on, so scared and angry that something like this could happen to a semi-decent man (if you forget the cheating). He is involved in a shoot out at the hotel that kills Cassel’s associate in X-ibit, and Anniston.

You think that everything is finished there, but soon we cut to a scene with Owen teaching in a prison rehab center. He has lost his job at the advertising agency, and you aren’t sure where it is going, and how the different opening all ties together. He receives a workbook that has the whole story among many other notebooks with the criminals assignments. Cassel is waiting for him as Owen ventures into the back, where the laundry is done. But Owen walks out alive, all along he had planned on seeing Cassel again. The audience thinks he is dead in the shoot out scene, but he survives at the loss of an eye. Owen knew this, and knew what he had to do to finish it.

I may watch this movie another time, I don’t know. I was caught off guard, and it wasn’t what I expected. It ended good, the regular Joe wins, but it is hard to watch at times, and is pretty brutal and in your face with the violence. If you can handle some violence and like twists, this movie is for you. Sarah actually liked it for the most part, it kept her attention. But I wouldn’t recommend this to my mom, nor to most of my friends. I gave it high markings for an original idea and good acting, so if you like what I rate, you may want to see it just once.

Liar Liar (1997)

Liar LiarFour and a Half Stars

Starring Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, and Cary Elwes, whether you like Jim Carrey or not, this movie is a classic comedy that is almost ten years old now.

The idea is simple. Jim Carrey is an obnoxious, compulsive liar who is, here’s a stretch, a lawyer. His job is his life, and even though he loves his son, he can never seperate his life from his career. Then one day is called into his bosses office to pitch a client on an idea. The boss is so turned on, she jumps Carrey, and this leads him to lie why he can’t make it to his son’s birthday party. At that party his son wishes that for just one day, Carrey can’t lie. The hilarity of the movie ensues, and everything and everyone he had avoided telling the truth now get and earful.

A role probably written specifically for Carrey, it is over the top, exaggerated, and a perfect fit. I always laugh myself silly when I watch this movie, and we watched it with my wife’s parents. Sarah only started laughing out loud at sitcoms two years after we were married. Her parents rarely laugh outloud at movies from what I have experienced, and even they enjoyed this.

If you don’t prefer Carrey or his humor, this is him in context, his crazy antics are fitting for the role, and it is highly enjoyable. I think everyone should see this movie, there is some language and sexual innuendo, but it is good for most audiences and maybe even to watch with you children. The short out takes at the end expand on the movie, and what a dimension Carrey added to this role. Rent it now if you haven’t ever seen it.

True Lies (1994)

True LiesFour and a Half Stars

Starring Arnold, Jamie Lee Curtis, Eliza Dushku, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton and Tia Carrere this is a fun action packed movie about marriage and saving the world by James Cameron.

Real short rundown. Arnold is the secret agent with a legal secretary wife. They have been married for 15 years and she thinks he is a computer salesman. Then, one day Arnold walks into her office, and catches her talking to a man, and thinks she is having an affair. He does some investigating and figures out she is being played by a sleezy guy. In the end, his game goes horribly wrong as they are both taken hostage by the real terrorists. The terrorists have four nuclear warheads and are making cash demands of the USA. Well, you guess it, Arnold wins in the end any everything is safe.

I just love the cast. Paxton plays class A jerks so well, and for me, this is a great role for Arnold. Semi-serious, doesn’t demand him to be too over the top, instead he can be a cocky secret agent who just whoops the bad guy butt. Not to mention, for 1994, this had some great action sequences and effects, from Arnold flying a fighter jet in the city, to the car cash on the Florida Keys bridge and Arnold pulling Jamie Lee out of a burning limo while hanging upside down with one hand. Curtis is no slouch in this movie, and she has this strip tease scene when Arnold is playing her which shows how really beautiful she is. She also plays a decently convincing housewife who is stuck in the middle of something secretive.

Rated R for violence and that striptease scene, I recommend this movie to anyone. A fun movie that will keep you entertained for over two hours, this is timeless classic in it’s own right.

The Constant Gardener (2005)

Constant GardenerThree and a Half Stars

Starring Rachel (Tessa) Weisz and Ralph(Justin) Fiennes, this is a movie about Corporate America’s drug testing that they want kept quiet in Africa.

This is a good movie. The storytelling isn’t completely original, but it is a nice way of giving the viewer a true sense of how much Justin and Tessa love each other. From how they awkwardly met, Tessa at Justin’s throat to the end, when you learn that the distance between them is because Tessa is trying to protect Justin, from things he doesn’t need to know.

Tessa, a strong willed individual, has just met Justin and for whatever reason that I missed, is going to Africa. An English diplomat, it seems feasible. Whilst in Africa, Tessa, a bleeding heart for all people in need, starts to poke around and upsets some people. Well, the movie starts out with the news that she has been raped and murdered. The a good chunk of the movie is told backwards, including how they met right up to the point of when she died. When the back story catches up to current time, Justin sets out to finish what Tess starts, at the cost of his life. To expose a pharmaceutical company that is testing a new drug on Africans who they believe “Will die anyway”.

A very well made movie, emotional, this is something my parents may like. It is brutal, the violence in Africa, and it is very sad. For that reason, although it is good, it isn’t something you’d want to own for entertainment value.

The Wedding Date (2005)

Rothe Blog The Wedding DateTwo and a Half Stars

Starring Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, and Jack Davenport, the movie’s title is pretty self explanatory. Kat(Messing) wants to make her ex-fiance jealous at her little sister’s wedding, so she hires a male escort to pose as her gorgeous boyfriend Nick (Dermot).

Of course, desperate and vulnerable Kat falls for the strong confident “I have a great answer for everything” Nick. But for the first half she is still unsure if she wants her old fling back (Jeffrey coincidentally) or go with Nick. Soon enough, she finds out her little sister and Jeffrey were sleeping together, that is why he broke off their engagement. Then the flood gates break loose.

I like Dermot. He has done some mildly interesting stuff in his short career. But Messing does nothing for me. She doesn’t seem just like Grace from “Will & Grace”, but isn’t an actress that would solely draw you into the theater. Not particularly funny, nor particularly memorable, this has a whisper of the feel of every Julia Roberts movie ever made from “Pretty Woman” to “Runaway Bride” and it doesn’t help that Messing also has red hair. Unless you can rent this for free, this isn’t even a very good love story, I would pass on it.

Just Friends (2005)

Just FriendsFour Stars

Starring Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart, I really liked this movie and felt guilty doing so. Maybe it is because parts of it I could relate to, and other parts were just so silly in situation that you couldn’t help but laugh.

Chris (Reynolds) and Jamie (Smarts) are the best of friends in high school. Jamie is the hot cheerleader type that flirts with all the guys and acts without too much discretion around Reynolds. In the final party of his senior year, Chris gets up the courage to write how he really feels in Jamie’s yearbook. Well, like most high school stories, things go wrong, and oh, did I mention, Chris is a fat guy. So he is royally embarrassed by his peers and runs away to Los Angeles vowing never to return. Instead, promises to become “Somebody”.

Fast forward to the future, Chris is now a successful music mogul, confident, good looking, he can have any girl he wants. For Christmas, he has to escort in hopes of signing, a hot young bubble gum singer (Anna Faris) that is also irritating and obnoxious. Flying to Paris, she accidentally frys the microwave in the plane with some tinfoil, and the planes lands. Just outside of Jersey, Chris decides to stay with his parents until they can get another flight. He hasn’t been home in ten years, and all of a sudden, everything comes rushing back. Everything he wanted to escape.

The “Friend Zone” is a term coined by this movie, meaning, when you are such good friends with a girl she can’t even see you as a dating option. Chris sees Jamie, his feelings come rushing back, and so do his imperfections. Trying so hard to be someone he is not, one hilarious situation after another arises. Then he has to deal with Dusty (Chris Klein of American Pie fame), who also had a thing for Jamie is high school and is trying to score.

Back and forth they go, this movie makes you feel for Chris in both ways. The “Friend Zone” is real and true, and if you can appreciate that, you will love this movie. That, and the scene on tv when Chris is lip signing, in his fat suit, to “I Swear”. So stupid. Not a movie my parents would like, but anyone who enjoyed 40 year old virgin, or wedding crashers, this is less vulgar, more painful humor at times. You should check this out if you liked either of those two movies, and if you think Reynolds is a super cocky humor genius.

Love Actually (2004)

Love ActuallyThree and a Half Stars

This movie was just swarming with stars, from Hugh Grant, to Liam Neelson to Kiera Knightly and Laura Linney. The whole movie is about 5-10 different types of “love” stories that are all happening simultaneously.

There is a good deal of humor to this movie, in different forms, but I don’t think the format would be really appealing to most people. Jumping back and forth, I must admit that it took a little while for me, for the movie to really pick up. Maybe about an hour, hour and a quarter in the stories all started getting good.

It would take me a really long time to write out what each story was about, and I think it unecessary. Most people have seen a movie like this before, fragmented, and this one all works out for the best in the end. You really feel good about love, the stories all work together in that they all kind of hit their low and high points together. The end being the highest, all of the romances are resolved in some form, and you really leave wanting to be close to your own certain someone.

One of the love stories, as bizarre as it is, involves these normal people as body doubles in adult movies, so there is some “not needed” nudity, and that is what makes this rated R. Beyond that, I think it may be worth seeing once, for those of you who like differently told stories of love. There isn’t a role in here that is really a draw, most of the larger talent all have smaller roles. Hugh Grant’s is the biggest so if you like him, this is very much in character with the types of roles he plays. Otherwise, this could be the “feel good movie of the year” so if that statement peaks your interest, then try it out.