Young Adult should have be matured more in production.

 

 

Over the past two weeks I’ve heard a lot about the movie Young Adult and how it may be one of the best movies of the year.  When I read the plot synopsis of the movie though, I was a little skeptical about seeing the film.  However, I decided to give it a try and report it to you.  So read on if you wish to find out about Diablo Cody’s latest piece of work and find out if the creator of Juno still has her game going.

 

For those of you who don’t know, Young Adult is the tale of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) a successful writer of a teen book series who is currently hitting a wall.  As a result, she has hit a slump in her life and is searching for motivation to write her next book.  An unexpected invitation conveniently arrives one day from an old flame and Mavis packs up her things and head back to her hometown.  The mission when she arrives is to rekindle the magic she had with her ex-boyfriend even if it means taking him from his wife and new daughter.

 

I know sounds horrible right?  Well I’m here to say that this movie is just as weak as the plot synopsis and may be one my least favorite movies I have seen in months.  The first problem I had with the movie was the horrible plot centering on breaking up a successful marriage just to rekindle an old high school relationship.  It was pathetic watching Mavis’ pathetic attempts fail over and over again and watching her fall further down the rabbit hole of denial.  The audience can clearly see what is going to happen a mile a way, yet it takes forever for the movie to get there.  This slow pace made it hard to keep paying attention and I found myself wondering when the film was going to end.  Their particular choice of filter they used on the camera also gave everything that grayish/sad tone which further sucked my energy away as the cast continued to just ramble on and on about the same things.  The dialog was just fine for the movie, but there was nothing spectacular about it and some of the “comedy” failed to impress me as I found it more insulting than funny.  I guess the final thing to mention that was a big weakness is that those looking for a romantic movie are going to be disappointed, as there was really no romance whatsoever between any of the main characters.  No this is not a rom com in disguise, or a romance drama, this is something different.

 

Was there anything that I liked about this movie?  Well amidst this sea of despair and depression there were some small glimpses of light to help lighten the mood.  For one thing the character Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) managed to keep Mavis grounded to reality and keep the pace of the story moving.  Of all the characters, Freehauf seemed to be the only character with brains, as he was the only one able to see the situation for what it was.  Although Matt was also able to uncover many secrets, most of which were predictable, he was unable to uncover the big secret that I didn’t see coming, which ironically explained a lot of things.  When Matt wasn’t on screen, the other thing keeping my attention was Mavis’ developing book.  I found it very creative and fun to try and figure out which things she would use in her book and how she would transcribe her experiences into words. 

Perhaps the only other positive thing I have to say about this movie is despite the lousy plot line there were some morals built in to the movie.  I wish not to tell you these morals for fear of spoiling, but rest assured there are some deeper lessons buried within the story line.  By the end of the movie I was able to learn a few things that I challenge you to look for should you see this movie.  Perhaps that is the most brilliant thing Diablo Cody does in her work is find ways to teach people lessons in the subtlest ways.

Young Adult is indeed one of the most unique movies of the holiday season, but for me this movie was just not up to the par of what the hype promised.  The ridiculous plot, insulting comedy, and the ridiculously slow pace were too much for me to take.  Despite Oswalt’s best attempts to keep the story going and the valuable lessons, this movie really is best left to being watched in the comfort of your own home.  Save your money on this film and go see another movie coming out soon, unless you just really need to see a depressing movie for your holiday season.  Overall my scores are as follows:

 

Comedy Drama:  4.5

Overall Movie:  4.0

 

So until Wednesday this is Robbie K signing off and telling you to enjoy the movies.

One Day Artistic and Depressing

Amidst the blood bath movies of Conan and Fright Night and the children’s film of Spy Kids 4, One Day starring Anne Hathaway released this weekend.  All summer I have seen trailers for this dramatic film and though the premise was interesting, despite it being another chick flick.  I was even surprised to find out that Roger Ebert liked the movie and figured that I was in for a real treat that would make this film stand above the rest of the romance movies I’ve seen this summer.  Was it?  Read on to find out.

The premise for One Day is one cool evening in London graduates Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) decide to follow in their friends’ footsteps and spend the night with each other.  After an awkward attempt to make love, the two decide to be friends instead.  The movie then tracks their lives over the next twenty three years, as they continue to meet up on the day they first met July 15th, the one day.  See trailer

That’s really all I can say about the plot unless you wanted me to go through the whole movie for you.  Was a plot so small worth the hype?  The answer, at least in my opinion, is no.  At first I was intrigued by the movie as the two essentially talk about their weaknesses and introduce us to their personalities.  The first couple of years really brought the dynamic duo to life and did a nice, concise job of giving us the backstory for this friendship.  However, the movie soon takes a turn down the slow and boring path as we soon get hit over the head with a lot of monotonous details.  On top of the repetitive information, depression also fills this movie as scene by scene, minute by minute, more crap hits the fan, most of which is alcoholism or relationship troubles.  Even at the end of the movie the film seems to drag on, just like in Return of the King, and you wonder what the point of these scenes are when there is a much better stopping point ten minutes early.  However, the twist near the end of the movie was certainly a surprise to me, which I guarantee will shock a majority of the audience.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m perfectly fine with seeing these realistic problems and watching the characters either succeed or fail.  However these trials should either be faced in a shorter amount of time, or at least have some more general comedy to help relieve the sadness.  This movie fails to do both things.  One has to listen carefully to the dialog to find any humor, as there are no silly accidents, vulgar sex jokes, rude gestures, or childish comedy for one to enjoy.   The lack of this comedy and the slow pace resulted in me being very bored with the whole movie, but that’s probably because I’m not mature enough to understand some of the lessons this movie has to offer.  This movie is definitely more focused on the artistic side of cinema than the traditional comedy style. 

This brings me to my next point is that this movie has some great lessons within.  The first lesson is that friendship takes a lot of work to remain close, especially long distance friendships.  The whole movie portrays how Emma and Dex must learn to change themselves to keep their friendship alive.  Dex for instance must learn to overcome his man child stage and alcohol problem to redeem the slum that he falls into.  Emma on the other hand must find confidence in herself, while learning to be less serious and more fun to help get a better grasp of life.  Another lesson is that love isn’t the magical fairy tale that romantic comedies and Disney films make it out to be, and how sometimes the love you seek can come from the least obvious places.   A third lesson that was hit hard in this movie is that alcohol and mindless sex once again are not the solution to getting you out of your problems.

What more is there really to say about this movie?  Overall the romantic dramedy the trailers showed us was really more a long and sarcasm filled soap opera.  Again those looking for comedy, intense romance, and a rich story will be disappointed by this artistic film.  Those looking to watch a fun movie will also want to avoid this movie because of the massive amounts of depression.  The final result for this movie is a 5.5 on my scale and is worth more of a movie rent than a theater trip.

Help yourself to this movie. -The Help

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movies based on books seem to be one of the current popular trends for movies these days.  This past Wednesday, The Help released in theatres and quickly has been making headlines left and right as one of the best movies of the summer.  My movie posse and I just saw the movie last night and I’m here to give you some info about this good movie.

For those who have not read the book or seen the trailer, The Help centers on the lives of black maids working for the elitist class in Jackson, Mississippi.  One maid, Aibeleen (Viola Davis), tells her perspective of the life maids’ live and their feelings on the jobs they do every day for their employers.  However things soon begin to change when aspiring journalist Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college and decides to stir up a little trouble for her “friends” while attempting to stand up for the maids by creating a collection of stories from the servants.  Once the book is suggested to Aibeleen, the movie portrays the development of the book and the lives and motivational forces that drive the others to participate in the project.

So is this movie worth the hype that it has been receiving?  In my opinion, yes I think it is worth the hype, but probably not worth a perfect score that some critics have been suggesting.  To start off, this movie is an accurate portrayal of life in history that’s not too overacted, or loaded with cheesy dialog.  Instead the story is brought to life by a great cast of actresses whose characters add their own flavor to the plot of this movie.  Emma Stone surprised me with the role she played in this movie, playing the serious, dedicated, and loyal writer instead of some wacky, one liner spewing, teenage airhead role she is famous for.  Viola Davis seems a natural as Aibeleen, delivering her dialog with emotional drive without crossing the overacting line too often.  Octavia Spencer, who plays Minny, helps bring some sassy, take no crap, humor that had most of the audience, including me, cracking up.  Bryce Howard, no longer playing Victoria, plays an evil, arrogant southern witch, who had me seething during the movie as she drove the plot of the movie.  Jessica Chastain however, was the southern belle on the opposite spectrum, who was kind and genuinely good as she attempted to do things for herself and those that she loved.  The rest of the cast was great as well, but these five really made the movie come to life for me and kept me in to the movie.

The acting was not the only thing that kept my interest in this movie though.  For one thing the director of this movie found a way to take multiple stories and intertwine them with the main story to provide multiple tales to follow.  Throughout these stories the dialog was fantastically written to fit with the scene, often injected with some humor to break the emotional tension building up.  Minny’s participation in the various tales probably entertained me the most as one instant she was the wisecracking maid and the next at mercy of some other character, a good representation of the two sides to the maid back then.  Also laced throughout the movie is background on the main characters, which is slowly revealed over the course of the film instead of all at once.  The gradual revelation baits one’s attention and keeps you roped into the movie to find out more.

Perhaps the biggest strength of this movie though is how everything flows together to capture and bring the emotions of the characters to life.  The camera work is beautifully shot from a variety of angles that best capture actions and expressions of the characters.  The soundtrack as well was properly selected in this movie, each score/track helping bring the audience into the mood of the scene.  Both of these factors, combined with the brilliant acting mentioned early, sends one on an emotional roller coaster ride that may cause one to tear up, as it did to three of my friends.  And although I didn’t tear up, Taylor and his team managed to really drive the morals and lessons of this story right in my heart, which made me feel good by the end of the tale.

There are also some bad aspects to the movie, the biggest for me being the a few dragging parts throughout the movie.  Another aspect that is hard for me to enjoy is some of the cruel things that one sees in the film.  Yes, I know these scenes are supposed to make you hate, or pity the characters, but too many of these scenes gets me hot under the collar and makes me enjoy the movie less.  The ending as well may have been a little bland for me as well and kind of left me hanging and wanting more of a conclusion, despite the strongly delivered monologue.

If you get one thing from this review tonight it should be that The Help is one of those movies worth seeing in the movies, particularly with a group.  Those looking for great acting will be pleased with the cast and characters of the film. Fans looking for an emotional story and rich character development are also in for a treat with this film.  After analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the film, I give this movie a 9.0.  However as a final warning, people who tend to cry should bring a box of tissues.  Until next time folks!

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.

There should be no texting in this movie! Larry Crowne is a must see!

The first time I saw the trailer for Larry Crowne, I thought another sappy, overacted, love story that we’ve seen in movies like Twilight and the Notebook or as we have heard in many Taylor Swift songs.  To my surprise, this movie was nothing like that all and instead was an entertaining and pretty realistic portrayal about handling what life throws at you.  To tell you the truth this may be one of the best movies I have seen this summer, and even this year.

As you’ve seen in the trailers, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is a successful, caring, and hardworking supercenter employee who is fired from the company because he never went to college.  Despite his services in the navy, his loyalty to the company, and the amount of enjoyment he gets working at Umart, they still let him go to pursue other options.  After striking out with various job interviews, Crowne turns to his loyal friend Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) a greedy yard sale entrepreneur who tells him to go to college and get educated.  Eventually Crowne arrives at college and signs up for two classes, one of which is a public speaking class taught by Ms. Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts).  Tainot is teacher going through some tough time of her own, but unlike Crowne who is trying to take life by the reigns, Tainot decides to drown her troubles in booze.

So what did I like so much about this movie?  Well to start off the pace of the movie was faster than I expected.  Unlike some romantic movies I have seen in the past, Larry Crowne’s pace was fast enough to keep me interested, yet slow enough to still deliver the lessons and story that it had set it to tell.  I’ll admit there were a few slow scenes that were probably a little carried out, but overall I thought the pace was balanced.  I think what also helped the pace of the movie was the different types of humor injected throughout the movie, more on the humor later.

However the pace was only one strength of the movie.  Perhaps the biggest strength is how realistic and entertaining the story is.  Instead of some drama filled, overacted, teenage love story, Larry Crowne is a more accurate portrayal of life.  Success doesn’t just magically come for Crowne, like we have seen in other movies, instead we see him experience both failure and success as he works hard to get his life back on track.  It actually brought back memories of my struggles to find balance in my life and trying to recover from some bad times, though I must admit my bad times were nothing like Crowne’s experiences..  However there was also another side of the story that some may be able to relate to.  Ms. Taibot’s faces her troubles in a little less positive manner resorting to alcohol to drown her sorrows.  Instead of working hard to improve her life, she instead takes the easy, temporary relief that comes with getting drunk and faces the consequences the next morning.  These two sides of the coin approach to life really helps one see how to there is a balance that must be achieved in order to tackle life.

It may sound like the story would get old after a while, but the acting and comedy provided by the actors, both main and secondary, keeps the movie fun and exciting.  Unlike some comedies that seem to focus on one or two comedic styles, like Hangover, Your Highness, 40 year old version, Larry Crowne has a variety of comedic styles that can be enjoyable by a wide variety of ages.  For instance there were plenty of one liners that had the audience cracking up, which for most of the movie were well timed to keep you laughing.  People who may have had troubling marriages, relationships, or other forms of interactions will get a kick out of some of the irony and justice you see in the movie.  Others may laugh at Larry being introduced to the modern world and the new frontier of technology.  Although Lamar is his starting mentor, Larry’s main guide into the world is Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a carefree, women’s right passionate, hippy spirited student who has a natural zest for life.  The spunky and youthful nature of this college girl is a wrench in Crowne’s quiet life, forcing him to experience new things and move on with life at a rapid pace.  Not only was she an important cog to the pace and story of the movie, she and her friends made a lot of scenes fun.  Perhaps the most enjoyable comedy for me though was the amount of college life jokes that were present in this movie.  Whether it was that awkward, lazy college student, the intense science fiction geek or sports jock, or even a teacher being intimidating, harsh, or fair, I found myself laughing a lot as I could relate my friends to these characters.  There were a lot of aspects that actually reminded me of a few professors, and I was able to actually picture my professors doing these kinds of actions, which made me laugh even harder.  The point is there is a lot of comedy here that one can relate to, which seems to amplify how funny the jokes are.

However this movie is definitely not perfect.  Perhaps the biggest weakness to this movie is the last few minutes of scenes which kind of dragged on.  Although it tied up a few loose connections, the ending to the movie went back to that cheesy romance style that seems to make most audience members heart melt.  Instead the movie should have ended a little sooner, where there was still some uncertainty, mystery, and everything had ended on good terms.  To me it would have felt like a more realistic and appropriate ending.  Another weakness, though only minor, is some of the camerawork in the movie.  There are some shots where the background is really blurry and for me it was distracting to the scene rather than helpful.  Although it is not an issue in most scenes, there are some close up shots of the actor that really emphasize blurry backgrounds.  Other than these two issues, the only other things that come to mind are some overacted scenes, a few pointless lines, and a small amount of unanswered questions.

To wrap this up, Larry Crowne is an exciting tale of tackling life that teaches a good lesson about life.  However, what really separates this movie from more recent movies with a similar lesson is the strong cast and diverse characters that this movie had.  Hanks, Roberts, and all the rest of the gang worked so well in this movie and I hope to see some of them work together again.  Again the comedic styles are diverse, fresh, fun, and extremely relatable and I hope you find it as enjoyable as I do.  This movie I feel deserves 9.0-9.5 rating and is definitely worth checking out.  I strongly recommend you to see this film except if you only see movies with action, horror, crude comedy, or are a Hanks/Roberts hater. 

The Art of Getting by is Metaphoric Depression in Art Form.

 

We all die alone, no matter if we have loved ones or no matter where we are we all die alone.  What’s the point of doing anything if in the end everything we do doesn’t matter? Yeah I know sounds like a fun opening to a movie doesn’t it?  The opening monologue for the Art of Getting By is the perfect summary of the main character George Zinavoy (Freddie Highmore) a pessimistic high school student who is incredibly lazy and smug about his life.  Highmore, who you may remember as Charlie from Tim Burton’s Chocolate factory tale, has taken on a more mature role in this movie as he explores what is the meaning of doing anything in life if we all die in the end.  Despite the threats and encouragements teachers and parents throw at the talented high school student, George decides to mainly cut class and ignore his responsibilities as a student.  In a style similar to other artistic movies, the large number of scenes revolving around George alone are shot in an artistic approach, often targeted towards various symbols that are supposed to inspire and challenge the audience to think about what they are seeing.

Amidst George’s fatalist lifestyle, a light of hope in the form of Sally Howe (Emma Roberts) arises and becomes the object of his attention for the rest of the movie.  Roberts, who you have seen in Scream 4 and Aquamarine, has certainly grown up over the past few years ditching the Nickelodeon child she once was for the role of a popular student with a sad childhood.  As soon as these two meet, the rest of the movie is laid out for the audience.  The movie turns from George’s slacking nature into a series of scenes and sequences centering on George’s experiments with new things.  Parties, art, friendship, and even romance are thrown into George’s life.  Perhaps what is brilliant about this movie is that instead of it being a magical success or an instant pleasurable experience, the audience sees George’s indecisiveness and analytical mind work out the events that are happening to him.  This symbolic portrayal helped me realize that I too sometimes hesitate on new experiences because of my over analyzing nature and how sometimes thinking too long can result in a loss of a fun experience.  The emotions captured by the cameras in this movie of disappointment, shock, hurt, and awkward happiness makes the movie seem more realistic and not some overacted, blown out of proportion soap opera that I’ve seen in the past.   It was very rewarding to finally see a movie about teenage problems that felt real and not some rendition of Twilight, Glee, or Prom like.

However, despite the realistic dialogues and well developed characters, the movie itself is a little too depressing for my tastes.  It’s not easy to be entertained for an hour and half watching a depressed and lazy teenager drifting through a city.  When a story like this is filmed using that grey, grainy, cloudy filter and dragged out at a slow pace, I couldn’t help but get a little bored and tired of the movie.  There were times where I began to nod off because the pace was too slow.  I would have like to have seen George or Sally actually show genuine happiness occasionally in the movie to help brighten up the sad and grey setting.  Although I saw it coming before half the movie was over, the last ten minutes of the movie or so actually speeds up and fulfills these wishes, though the ending of the movie kind of leaves me feeling no emotion at all, which I typically don’t like to share as an experience.

Overall The Art of Getting By is a movie that truly shows off how artistic the movies can be.  Some may be inspired by the morals in this story, while others may be bored to death at some of the pointless or irresponsible traits the movie endorses.  At least two couples left the movie before a third of the movie was over and the rest of the audience mainly gawked at Highmore.  However, those looking for a metaphoric, accurate, and realistic outlook on the experiences of teenage life should check this movie out, while those looking for more of the blockbuster movies should either wait for this movie to come out on Netflix or avoid the movie all together. 

Overall I give this movie a 6.5 for great camera work, very good acting, and realism.

So until next time my friend enjoy the movies and keep on watching. Don’t forget to write me back at rgkarim@mail.roanoke.edu for any constructive criticism you might have.