Two Parts Soap Opera, One Part Romantic Comedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy, Stupid, Love or Stupid, Crazy, Love?  That was the question that plagued my mind this past week as the constant flood of trailers swarmed onto the television channels.  It seems that almost every other week a chick flick or romantic comedy is coming out and while many of my friends can’t wait to see the films, others grow tired of seeing the same old thing.  Now I’ve been doing my research on IMDB, Metacritic, and EW and I must say there has been a large mix of reviews for this movie.  So after checking it out yesterday, I decided to put in my two cents about this movie.  Let’s get started.

The premise for this movie is that Cal (Steve Carell) and his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) are getting a divorce due to lack of romance and care in their relationship.  Cal, taking the news harder than his wife, decides to spend his time in the bar complaining about his troubles, eventually gaining the attention of Jacob (Ryan Gosling) the suave, sophisticated, and skilled player.  Under his tutelage, Cal begins a transformation from geeky married man to Jacob’s right hand man and the movie portrays his adventures in his new life.  Despite his new appearance, Cal still has a lingering spark for his wife and Jacob as well begins to feel something more for a particular girl.  The two must now search their own hearts and determine what they truly want for their lives.  See trailer here

So yes sounds like a typical soap opera/romantic comedy right?  Well that’s pretty much what it is my friends, but with a more realistic twist.  Unlike some romantic comedies that portray love as a mushy and magical fantasy that everyone dreams about, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a realistic look at how hard love and life can be.  Throughout the entire movie Cal and company get hit with a lot of crap and often at times where things are starting to get better.  Instead of some magical solution showing itself, everyone has to work hard, persist, and sometimes unite to get pass the problem.  There are plenty of times when you feel sorry for Cal as the poor guy gets caught between two worlds.  Perhaps what adds more realism to this movie is that Corell’s acting has really captured the confused, scared, and caring role of a devoted husband and all the emotions that are tied to it.  I have to warn you that Carell has diverged from his typical loud, obnoxious, and aggressive comedy style you’ve come to love.  Instead he’s traded it for a more somber, awkward, and well-timed comedy that had the audience giggling through the movie.  Moore as well does her job well with the exception of her comedy which is a little too overacted for me, but seems to excel at crying, being depressed, and being a devoted mother.

Despite the constant depression and bad relationships in this movie there is some comedy in this movie that kind of brightened up the mood.  Gosling who has trades his down home country boy part for the player had well-timed, clever dialog that complemented his character quite well.  He also manages to capture the transition of lone wolf to good friend in the movie that had me reminiscing about some of my friendships.  The youthful innocence and surprisingly mature comedy centered on Robbie (Jonah Bobo) was perhaps the biggest source of laughs for me.  At the age of 13, the young boy faces his own dilemmas that question his look on love, and actually provide for quite an entertaining side story.  Even more the direction of this movie resulted in me actually getting lost in nostalgia at the emotions I faced when I was that age, minus a few things.  Emma Stone even provided some comedic relief to the movie, more in the art of teeny bopper one liners that get a quick laugh.  She also has some issues to overcome, but she wasn’t really in enough of the movie to really elaborate her problems or develop her character.

Hopefully what you’ve picked up from this review is that there are a lot of problems and a lot of connections between the characters which makes for a very involved story.  The comedy, although sometimes over my head, was well done and kept the movie fun and entertaining.  Even Marissa Tomei’s part, although short, gave us some cheap laughs.  Unfortunately this comedy is not enough to keep the pace fast enough for me.  I must warn you that this movie seems to drag on at places and sometimes made me feel like the movie was going to last forever.  The movie could have probably been a half an hour shorter and still gotten the same message from the movie.  However, despite some of the unnecessary scenes, there were a few twists that impressed me and finally broke the predictable trend of the chick flick I so longed for.  What even impressed me even more was that the ending, although somewhat predictable was not the ending I was expecting, which again I applaud.  Despite the ending not being predictable, most of the movie was and the dialog was.  Combine this predictableness with the slow pace and you get a combination that can lead you to a snooze fest.

Well let’s sum this review up since I’m running out of things to talk about.  Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of the more surprising romantic comedies of the summer.  The acting is superb, the dialog is clever and well timed, and the relationships and characters are well developed and intertwined.  However, the pace of the movie can really bring you down and may even make you nod off at parts as I saw happen a couple of times with various audience members.  However, I have to give it up for this chick flick surprising me and the realism that was in this movie, which was a nice change for once.  Thus I’ll give this movie a solid 8.0, but strongly suggest waiting for this movie to come out on Netflix and Red Box unless you want to see an expensive soap opera.  Tune in later today/tomorrow to read about the Smurfs.

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FWB: Mindless Sex Film or Friendship With Some Sex In It?

 

 

 

As many of you know Friends With Benefits, or FWB as the trailers are using, released this weekend alongside Captain America.  My first speculation about the movie was that it would be exactly like No Strings Attached, which launched only five months ago, with the substitution of Mila Kunis for Natalie Portman and Justin Timberlake for Ashton Kutcher.  It turns out my suspicions were pretty dead on about this movie.  However there were a few things about this movie that surprised me and, in my opinion, made the movie better than I was expecting.  So sit back, relax, and read my review about another summer chick flick.

In case you haven’t seen a trailer for this movie, FWB is about Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) two people who succeed in the business world but fail in the dating world.  Jamie, who is a job headhunter, recruits Dylan for art director of GQ magazine and brings him to New York to work.  Once there the two get acquainted, make jokes, and eventually become friends.  However friendship apparently is not fulfilling all of their needs, mainly sexual, which leads to the two having casual sex without an emotional attachment.  Once the pact is set, the movie becomes a portrayal of their friendship with glimpses into the past of the protagonists.

As I watched this movie, the first thing that came to mind was how similar the acting, plot, and comedy was to No Strings Attached.  Kunis plays a role that can be described as an older version of Jackie, her character form That 70’s show.  One may even think that Kunis’ character is a raunchier version of Portman’s character from NSA, with a much filthier mouth.  However, this role seems to be natural to her, as she played the part well not overacting at all.  I’m happy to say that I was also pleased with Timberlake’s acting, which was much better than what I saw in Bad Teacher.  Timberlake nails the part of a big business worker again, like he did in The Social Network, and captures the lifestyle down to the slightest detail.  His diversity as well was impressive as there were times where he was incredibly silly and other times more down to earth and serious, which made for a stronger character, perhaps my favorite of the film.  The other actors in the movie do a good job as well, but unfortunately are only in minor supporting roles often providing comedic one liners or situational comedic relief.  Woody Harrelson was pure comedic relief as he played the gay sports columnist.  Patricia Clarkson was also comedic relief, as she brilliantly played the obscene Lorna whose antics perhaps made me laugh the most.  Jenna Elfman was perhaps the only other character that had a balance of comedy and serious roles.  She was definitely one of the factors driving the plot of the story and her character was an essential bridge that connected everyone in the story.  Elfman fit that part naturally and I was greatly impressed with how flawless her acting was in the part.

So I’ve already shared one positive quality of this movie with you, which is how well the characters fit together in this movie.  Every character had their role to play, and each character had the appropriate amount of screen time to fulfill their roles.  The pace of the movie was also pretty decent for me as well, a little dragged out in places, but for the most part quick to keep my attention.  I also liked that they spread the background of the characters throughout the whole movie, filling in the pieces of the characters gradually instead of at once, which kept me into the movie.  Yet another quality I liked was how the movie really captured and portrayed aspects of what true friendships looks like, minus the sex of course.  There were plenty of scenes that actually made me think of my friendship with my best friend as Jamie and Dylan shared secrets, debated on issues, hung out casually while watching movies, or played video games together and that was nice to see.  This friendship was a driving force of the movie and opened up various situations that gave the movie some spice.   Perhaps the last biggest positive for quality for me was how this movie made fun of other romantic comedies that currently fill the movie world.  The way this movie focused on how cheesy romance scenes can be some time had me laughing in tears, and how the fantasy romance is not how the real thing goes.  I applaud this movie for poking fun at these various romance film characteristics.

Despite the plethora of positive qualities in this film, there were a few qualities of the movie that I really didn’t like.  Perhaps the biggest fault to this movie is how predictable the movie was.  Before thirty minutes of the movie had passed I was able to figure out about three quarters of the movie and knew what was going to happen at the end.  About halfway through the movie had about 99% of it.  I don’t understand why chick flicks cannot surprise me at all, but I guess that’s because the audience for these movies doesn’t care about surprises, just romance and comedy.  The next weakness for me was the graphicness the sex scenes for these movies.  I’ll admit I’m uncomfortable with these scenes in every scenario, but this movie really took it over the top for me.  Kunis and Timberlake cover a wide variety of things one can do during sex.  Some people laughed, others remained silent, and some like me were shocked to see some of the shots.  A third weakness was how some of the comedy grew stale in the movie.  Although I found a large amount of the comedy funny there were some jokes that just went on and on, and after the fifth or sixth reiteration was just not funny anymore.  One of these jokes was about who sang Closing Time, it was funny the first three times, but annoying after that.

Okay time to wrap up here my friends, though I could definitely write on for a few more pages.  The truth is Friends With Benefits is a raunchier, more detailed, and overall better version of No Strings Attached.  The main strength of this movie is how well the cast fits together and the various levels of connection between each character.  The diverse comedy, natural acting style, and detailed character development were also extraordinary qualities that helped paint a nice picture of how friendship can be one of the greatest gifts in life.  However the large amount of predictability, the constant integration of sex, and stale comedic jokes really weakened the movie for me as a whole.  Thus I’ll give Friends With Benefits a 7.0-7.5 for my overall score, and will say it is one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while.  It’s worth a Netflix folks, but probably not worth the trip to the theatre, unless you’re looking for a good date movie or girls night out film.  So tune in next time boys and girls for my Robbie’s Next review and don’t’ forget to spread to the word to your friends.  Later.

Not the Lizzie McGuire movie, but the Selena Gomez movie

This weekend Fox 2000 studios released the movie Monte Carlo starring Selena Gomez.  Upon first seeing the trailer three months ago, I began thinking that this was another Lizzie McGuire movie minus Hilary Duff.  Although there were plenty of similarities to the Disney movie, there was a little more depth to the film than what I had been expecting.  Despite this depth, Monte Carlo proves to be a generic pre-teen/teenage romantic comedy with some pretty good camera work.

Let’s start off, as I always do, with a little plot summary.  As you may have seen in the trailer, Monte Carlo centers on a Texas girl named Grace (Selena Gomez) who has a mediocre life in her hometown, but aspires to have something more exciting.  Through hard work and some generosity from her parents Grace and her faithful sidekick Emma (Katie Cassidy) are able to go on a tour of Paris France and see the city of lights.  Also tagging along for the trip is Meg (Leighton Meester), Grace’s responsible stick in the mud step sister who is not too thrilled on sharing the trip.  Regardless the three arrive in Paris and find their accommodations stink and begin hating their reward for their hard work.  During one rainy night, the girls take refuge in a hotel where they by chance run into Cordelia Winthrop Scott (Selena Gomez) an heiress and selfish brat who hates responsibility.  Soon enough Grace, who looks just like Cordelia, poses as the heiress and the trio begins living the high life.

Gomez takes the major role in this movie as she plays two characters with very different attitudes.  When Gomez plays Grace, she acts like an unsure teen looking for something more than she already has.   There are times where Grace is a rebel and likes to break the rules, and other times where she is a law abiding citizen and follows the rules.  Gomez does a pretty good job at portraying the character, but there are times where the character feels to fantasized and unreal, which made me role me eyes.  The very brief time she plays Cordelia, Gomez manages to play that spoiled brat that she’s played as in the Wizard’s of Waverly Place, but picks up a pretty good English accent along the way.  Although a little overdramatic at some points, Gomez still plays the role of the spoiled daughter quite well.  Katie Cassidy plays the wild, irresponsible, rebel Texan who cares nothing for the rules as she pursues the idealistic high society life.  Despite how predictable Emma is, Cassidy does a fine job portraying the character really laying it thick on the country accent and capturing that bubbly laughter that is stereotypical of blonde characters.  Where Emma is kind of the devil on your shoulder character, Meg is the angel of reason kind of shifting toward a more ethic and good nature role.  Meester actually portrays this character very well, which surprised me since I had seen her play a wilder role in the Good Girls Go Bad music video.  I was very impressed with her acting as that awkward good natured girl, who reminded me of Bella from the Twilight series but nowhere as overdramatic or cheesy.

Despite the good acting, the movie’s story is incredibly predictable and shallow with very little surprise to it at all.  A majority of the movie is something from a pre-teen/teenage dream of living the high life without paying any of the expenses.  A majority of the time the girls are playing dress up in expensive jewelry, dresses, and makeup, which although makes them look even more beautiful, really does nothing for the story for me.  When not dressing up, the girls are out schmoozing with three different boys and each experiencing a different aspect of Monte Carlo.  As I sat there and watched the movie, I was able to predict what was going to happen way in the movie, which made it boring for me for the most part of the movie.  Unlike some movies that have action or witty dialogue to make up for the predictability, Monte Carlo really had juvenile dialog, very weak comedy, and very little catchy music to really keep the pace going.  And unlike Larry Crowne, which I also saw this weekend, the romance we have seen is extremely fantasized and unrealistic often moving too fast or seeming too cheesy.

However this movie was not all bad as I may have made it sound.  One thing is the movie is cute and may make you say awwww at a few scenes.  The backstory of the characters is also pretty well done, it’s just short and not as emphasized as it should be.  As I mentioned earlier, the acting is very well done, even by the guys in this movie.  Most of the ladies will be ecstatic to know that Cory Monteith is in this film and pretty much plays a role extremely similar to Finn, minus the singing.  Perhaps the biggest strength of this movie though is the cinematography work.  The cameras have done a fantastic job capturing the beautiful scenery of Paris and Monte Carlo.  My breath was taken away at the famous monuments, the spectacular views of the city, and the natural beauty of the countryside, all filmed at just the right angle for maximum enjoyment.  The camera work also does a nice job at bringing emotion to the scenes that the film would otherwise lack.  There are times where I felt the scene would be completely lacking of any romantic feelings, had it not been for the camera filming at just the right angle, and probably a little help from some music as well.  Although the girls have natural beauty to them, the camera also helped make them even more stunning.

Overall Monte Carlo is a fun rainy day movie that is definitely worth a Netflix view.  Cute characters, beautiful scenery, and some great acting give the movie a little kick, but it’s still more a dress up movie than anything else.  For those of you that have eight to twelve year old nieces, sisters, daughter, etc. I think you all will enjoy this movie.  Those looking for a real plot, funny comedy, and good character development, this is one to avoid.  My final rating on Monte Carlo is a 6.0-6.5 range.  Tune in tomorrow for a look at my review on Priest, which is getting ready to come out on DVD.

Is this movie worth jumping for? Jumping the Broom

About a week ago I saw a triple feature of movies that started with Jumping the Broom.  This movie was an African American comedy that brought together two families from two different social classes and mixed them together in one household.  Although this idea sounds cute, the question to ask is whether or not its worth two hours of your life to see this comedy.  Read below to find out.

The start of this movie starts out with a romantic night out between the two main characters Jason and Sabrina, as we get a rapid intro into their busy lives and how much they love each other.  What turns into a casual walk quickly transforms into a wedding proposal and the amount of time they have for them to get married, which is about a month.  However, my fellow movie goers this movie instead takes place over the course of a weekend, which is packed with so much drama and comedy it makes one wonder how they came up with the dialogue and situations.  A quick walk through of this movie involves the introduction of the two families, of Sabrina and Jason.  Sabrina’s family is a rich and powerful family full of high society, well dressed, and stuck up aristocrats who think lowly of everyone who doesn’t fit into their high society.  The second family is Jason’s who live deep in the heart of the rough city, and have standard working class jobs and the attitude to follow.  The mother, Mrs. Taylor, has an attitude problem with Sabrina who she hasn’t met yet and her family who is taking her baby away.  Despite the disagreements these family already face,  they wind up being forced together on the island home.  Over the course of the next half hour, you get to meet the supporting cast of the movie, which have a variety of traits, and the plot speeds up.

Soon the wedding movie becomes a soap opera with lots of deception, secrets, mistrust, and yes lots of crying.  As one secret build upon another, many hurtful things are said and many lives that seemed together, or in some cases not together, are changed and we are thrown into a state of sorrow.  However, this movie is not all depressing and the directors of the movie have done a good job injecting humor that breaks that tension.  Much of the comedy I found funny came from Mr. Willie Earl, whose comedic timing, funny manner of speaking, and tough but mature attitude brought me to tears a couple of times.  The rest of the cast had some funny moments and a majority of the audience thought the humor was rather clever and enjoyable. Eventually the rest of the drama is revealed, and the predictable plot finally concludes with the ending we all know was coming, which I will not reveal.

So is this worth watching?  Let’s sum up the goods and the bads below:

Goods:

Fast pace:  No slow parts here ladies and gentleman.  The pace of the movie is fast enough to keep most audiences awake, despite the occasional low key moment.

Diverse characters:  Both sides of the family have their unique cast.  The rich side has a stuck up mother, a wacky irresponsible aunt, the quiet debonair mother, the clever maid, the preppy cousin, the cougar friend, the slutty maid of honor, and the enchanting bride.  Jason’ family has the tough love mother, the hard working groom, the mom’s best friend who is like an aunt, and yes the wild Willie Earl who breaks the tension.  I’m sure you will find a character that you will find hilarious in this movie

Comedy balance:  This movie is full of diverse comedy from situational comedy to catchy one liners that will make you giggle.  However, most of the comedy is geared towards a certain audience, it’s not a comedy geared towards everyone. thus, there are some mannerisms that one may not understand.

Fun Music:  Although you may not think about the music when you see a movie, the scenes are complemented well with the music and have you dancing in the scenes.  You may even laugh at a few of the musical selections they have prepared for you.

Bad:

Predictable:  As expected of comedies, the plot is predictable and not very original.  You can see the ending/solutions a mile away and can predict some of the comedic lines that the writers have prepared and weakens the prepared dialog.

Soap Opera:  This comedy has a lot of elements that make it seem like a big budget soap opera.  The secrets in particular make you roll your eyes at the drama that unfolds and you quickly begin asking yourself, “Okay where is the evil twin?”

Those are basically the two big bads of the movie.  However, as you can see I found a lot more positives in this movie that seem to overshadow these two weaknesses.  Heck I still haven’t mentioned the great acting, the beautiful settings, the decent camera work, and yes the ‘unique’ dialogue.  Overall, I think a lot of people will enjoy this romantic comedy and will find a character they can relate to in the first thirty minutes.  If you’re like the audience I saw this movie with, then I have no doubt that most will get over the predictability of the story line and the overdramatic scenes.  The Robbie’s rating for this movie is:  7.5-8.

Intended audience:  Fans of cute comedies, soap opera fans, and people who like fast one liners or quirky comedy

Avoided audience:  People who are not fans of slapstick, people who hate soap operas, and anyone looking for a comedy that has a lot of drug or alcoholic humor.

Till next time enjoy and email me at rgkarim@mail.roanoke.edu to give me insight into my writing and help me improve.

Is the plot borrowed?

So last Saturday I took my weekly trip to the movie theater and caught a double feature.  One of the two flicks was Kate Hudson’s newest movie Something Borrowed, a movie that was all about secrets.

This movie essentially starts out just like the trailers have showed for the past two months with a party celebrating Goodwin’s character Rachel.  Here we see Darcy, Kate Hudson, in her typical role: a spoiled, energetic, silly drunk who is very outspoken.  After a very heartwarming, and by that I mean very cheesy and one liner filled dialog, we fall into a few flashbacks helping set the background story between Rachel and Darcy.  Throw in a few shots of Dex, Colin Egglesfield, and the cast is almost all set up for the movie.

It doesn’t take long for the party to end and the trouble to quickly start as we launch into that famous scene in the trailer where we see Rachel sleeping with Dex.  As soon as this happens, the movie’s plot quickly lays out in about five-ten minutes.  The plot not surprisingly is all about not telling Darcy about the two sleeping together and about Dex and Rachel determining there feelings for one another.

Over the next hour and a half, the movie becomes nothing more then one secret piling onto the others with constant interruptions by one liners and flashbacks.  Add a few predictable outcomes, some drunk scenes, a couple of twists, and some catchy music and bam the movie is over.  So the question is was it worth it?

Goods

  • Music goes well with movie: Do I really have to say more?  The music is very pop culture/mainstream and is adapted to the scenes well.  When a party is currently going on we have fun upbeat dance music, nice walks around the setting gets seasoned with that casual sunshine tone of music, and sad scenes take on a more somber tone with the ivory keys ringing in our ears
  • Camera work: As in most chick flicks, the camera work is very nicely done, though it’s really hard to screw up in these movies.  The sports scene on the beach captures the fun dives, dips, and returns.  Facial features, emotions, and setting are nicely captured and adds some emotional meaning to the scenes.  I would have to really applaud the effects they captured at the end of the movie, though I won’t ruin the scene.
  • Good acting: For the most part the acting was decent if not good.  Goodwin and Krasinski were perhaps the best two of the cast nailing their roles and making the dialog come to life.  The rest of the cast filled their roles okay, but I felt a little bored or disappointed with how they approached their roles with some of them acting a little bland at times.
  • Clever lines: Some of the comedy in this movie, which again there is a lot, had some zing to it.  Unlike Thor, the timing was not as well planned and the jokes that came seemed a little too distant for me to appreciate.  Half the lines had me thinking the writers were trying to be too funny with the dialog, while other times i thought they were trying to be too stupid.  Regardless there was some cleverness to the movie that I found to be fun, however I am rather picky with my comedy.

However this movie has a some serious weaknesses for me that I wish to share with you.

  • Thin storyline: Okay now I know we’re not expecting the best story lines from this movie, but surely you can do better than this.  I know these movies are supposed to be predictable, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely thin out the plot set in the book .  The directors needed to read the novel more and find ways to make the characters come to life and put a little pizazz into the movie, not just fill it with quirky one liners.  Oh well I guess they all can’t be Spielberg.
  • Slow Pace:  Perhaps the story wouldn’t have been as bad if the pace had been faster.  Yes, we know there is a big secret and that both of them have a thing for each other and they both want to act on it.  Does that mean we have to spend the next hour and half talking about it, constantly refreshing the idea that we have the secret, and deciding not to act on it.  NO, this movie could have had just as much comedy in it, delivered the plot, and finished in 1:15 minutes instead of nearly two hours.  There were times where I started to fall asleep because it was the same thing over and over again.
  • Kate’s character:  I love Kate Hudson and think she’s a great actress, but something about this role disappointed me.  Darcy was too much of a drunk, too airheaded, and too immature for Kate Hudson’s talent.  Half the cast from Glee would have been a much better choice to fill the role as they played a similar role not too far back.  If they wanted to use Kate Hudson, then they should have changed Darcy a little to be immature, but not as teenagerish as they had her play.  In this Movie however, I tried to ignore her character as much as possible.
  • Soap opera feel:  This chick flick was also a little too soap opera like for me, with a lot of the characters feeling too immature to be considered real.  There were times when I felt I was watching high schoolers argue about their relationships and I can take a little of that, but not that level no way.

The final judgement for Something Borrowed is… it’s cute but very diluted from what the book was.  The acting needs to be fine tuned for most everyone, the pace needs to be picked up, and the comedy needs to be dialed down a bit.  Keep in mind that there are some very sweet scenes and a few surprise twists that can make anyone’s heart melt.  Keeping everything in mind the Robbie’s Rating for this movie is a 6.0-6.5.

Recommended audiences:  Fans of slapstick, one liner comedy, fans of John Krasinski and Gennifer Goodwin, those looking for a cute comedy, or those looking for a fun date movie to cuddle too.

Until tomorrow my friends keep on watching the movies and let me know how I can improve in my writing.