Tag Archives: Jim Carrey

[Trailer] – The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

21 Dec

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

We’ve seen movies about the old school of something going against the new school of something, but we haven’t seen that done all that much in the world of magic. Well, that’s what next year’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is going for, and there’s now a trailer for it, which you can watch below.

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[Review] – The Three Stooges

26 Apr

Title: The Three Stooges
Year: 2012
Directors: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Writers: Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly, based on the short films by The Three Stooges
Starring: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jane Lynch, Larry David, Brian Doyle-Murray, Sofía Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Stephen Collins, Dwight Howard, Kate Upton, Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, Jennifer ‘JWoww’ Farley, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Paul ‘Pauly D’ DelVecchio, Samantha Giancola
MPAA Rating: PG, slapstick action violence, some rude and suggestive humor including language
Runtime: 92 min
IMDb Rating: 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Metacritic: 56

The Three Stooges may just be one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2012 movie year. Not because it’s good, because it most definitely isn’t; but because it’s not as horrible as I was so sure it would be. Every single promotional material we had gotten for this film had me thinking it would be a serious contender for the worst film of 2012, and would instantly classify as my fourth D- of the year. Well, apparently the trailers and clips made it look far worse than it actually is, because even though this doesn’t hold the faintest of lights to the classic Three Stooges legacy it comes from, it definitely could have been far worse.

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins

2 Jul

Title: Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Mark Waters
Writers: Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern, based on the children’s book by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater
Starring: 
Jim Carrey, Ophelia Lovibond, Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Angela Lansbury, Philip Baker Hall, Dominic Chianese, Clark Gregg
MPAA Rating: 
PG, mild rude humor and some language
Runtime: 
94 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
5.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
48%

I didn’t really like Mr. Popper’s Penguins, it was just too predictable and it played it safe all the time with its jokes. But it’s a PG family-oriented film so we can forgive that, not to mention that Jim Carrey was still fun to watch at times, and even though I thought he was too restrained by the material it at least makes the film better than I initially thought it would be. It’s sort of like the opposed feeling I got when watching Green Lantern yesterday, even though I ultimately liked that film better than I did this one I still felt it was a disappointment because I expected more from it, while I expected this one to be seriously bad and it turned out slightly better than that (but just slightly). And that’s really one of the better things I can say about this very loose adaptation of the popular children’s book, that it’s not quite as bad as I first envisioned it was going to be.

And I think that this is the film that will finally proof that as awesome as penguins are, you can’t just throw them in any movie and have them amp up the film’s charisma exponentially. I mean, sure, the penguins here, which Mr. Carrey’s character inherits from his father, look cute and whatnot, and they made for very fun promotional material, but once you find out that the movie is this dumb at parts, you’ll soon grow tired of these penguins which aren’t really given all that much to do, and that’s when my issue with Mr. Carrey comes into play. If you know me, then you’ll know I really like this guy, he seems like one of the nicest guys in show business, a hard worker, and has given us indelible performances, both in comedies and dramas, but the way he was used in this one I just really didn’t like. Not that it’s his fault, he does the most out of what he’s given, but what he was given meant we saw a Jim Carrey that was way too passive and considering he was the sole star of the film we really needed the classic frantic Mr. Carrey to make this one funner, to make the penguins funny, actually, but he was nowhere to be found.

And if you’re still mad about me trashing the penguins, please know that I actually love penguins, I loved March of the Penguins and I thought Happy Feet was quite good, but that’s just the thing, Mr. Popper’s Penguins isn’t a documentary that will let you fully lose yourself in the world of these adorable animals, nor is it an animated film that will make them come to live and do all these silly things (and in today’s market they’d probably be silly things in 3D), they are penguins (some real, some CGI) that are put in a real environment and you see them being awfully limited by it. So that’s another thing I thought didn’t work here.

Jim Carrey is Mr. Popper, this guy who’s involved in some high class real estate business and who as a consequence is super wealthy, and lives the good life in this huge Manhattan duplex which is decorated in this very minimalistic style, and will soon be invaded by the flock of penguins that was somehow passed down to him by his father. He has two kids and is divorced from Amanda, their mom, but he’s on super good terms with her, even to the point in which you don’t believe them as a divorced couple, even though we get the gist that Mr. Popper neglected her and his kids as his father once neglected him, but whatever. He obviously will eventually fall in love with the little penguins and you know there’ll be attempts at funny sight gags with them and then attempts at some sort of sentimental moment with them, and while they’re certainly well-intentioned I just didn’t really think this one pulled any of it off. And yes, of course the little penguins will make him notice how he neglected his family and it’ll all be better.

Then, I have another problem with this film, and that’s the fact that as cute as penguins may be it’s kind of dumb to assume you’ll be able to keep them. And yes, I know this is a kids movie and little ones I’m sure will get a kick about these lovely creatures roaming a fancy Manhattan apartment, but Mr. Popper is supposed to be a grown-up, and when you have a film in which the villain character is the zookeeper played by Clark Gregg then you really can’t but into it considering that in reality this is the one guy that’s being rational, and thus the whole movie just stops working for you.

This is a family film that suffered from being just that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is obviously material for a family flick, but this one lived and breathe by the rules set by one, even to the point in which it tried to reign in Mr. Carrey and made CGI-created animals the focus of most of the gags in the movie when you have one of the best physical comedy actors in the world as your star, I just didn’t get that. But still, when they do give Mr. Carrey his moments to shine, many of them next to the incomparable Angela Lansbury, then this film feels as though it’s lighting a spark, but then the penguins come along and extinguish it just as fast.

Grade: C

Everything Must Go

11 Jun

Title: Everything Must Go
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Dan Rush
Writer: Dan Rush, based on the short story by Raymond Carver
Starring: 
Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Peña
MPAA Rating: 
R, language and some sexual content
Runtime: 
97 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 
76%

I like seeing actors known best for their comedic work stretching out of their comfort zones to tackle more serious fare. And I like it because some truly stunning performances have resulted from that. Just take a look at Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love (my sixth favorite film of 2002), or Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (my favorite film of all-time), even Steve Carell has also done his bit of dramatic acting in Little Miss Sunshine (my fourth favorite of 2004) and, most impressively, there’s Jim Carrey a man that has given three pretty much perfect performances in dramatic roles in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. So yeah, when comedians decide to go serious, great things sometimes happen, and that has also extended to the work of Will Ferrell. We were witnesses of that in 2006 when he did Stranger than Fiction (my eleventh favorite film of that year), and we are witnesses of that all over again now, when he takes the leading role in Everything Must Go, an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story that, while it doesn’t do all that much to improve over its source material, does find a role that it seems Mr. Ferrell was just born to play.

I just thought there was honestly a lot of stuff to like about Everything Must Go. Not only is the performance given by Mr. Ferrell a fantastic one, but there are a trio of sincerely wonderful supporting turns by Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace and Laura Dern. But first, a bit of the story, Mr. Ferrell plays Nick, an Arizona-based salesman who’s about to hit rock bottom as he gets fired from his job and his wife leaves him, freezes his bank account and throws all of his possessions in their front lawn. All of that in one day. Oh, and he’s also battling a case of alcoholism, not in the sense that we’ll get a scene of a misery-stricken Nick in bar shouting and being loud, but in the sense that he just likes to drink, in a sense that he’s just a regular guy but one that has drinking as his number one priority, and that’s the worst kind of alcoholic because that’s the one you actually feel very sorry for, the guy that means well, the guy that doesn’t go on violent fits, the guy that quietly and calmly just drinks his life away.

The short story on which the film is based is a pretty damn good one, and even though I ultimately don’t necessarily think this film did all it could have done to make this a truly successful adaptation, I still think it maintained the essence of that Raymond Carver short story, it’s obviously a much more viewer-friendly approach to the narrative than in the story, but the good stuff is all still very much there, it’s all still very personal and feels like a tough and intimate look at a man’s life crumbling down. And you know Mr. Ferrell is going to rock out a role that requires said stuff from him, because he has that big frame and still manages to look and act like a child at the same time, and because he has the charm to make us connect with the character and care for him, and because, much like he did in Step Brothers (though obviously in a much more serious tone) the guy rocks at playing this sort of child in a man’s body who just failed at living in a man’s world.

So we see Nick, just sitting in a chair in his lawn, with a lamp next to him, trying to act as though everything is normal, trying to hide the fact that he’s in full crisis mode from his neighbors who can now see him do everything as there are no more walls between them. And it’s all pretty good, the problems he faces trying to live in his lawn, getting a rude awakening by the sprinklers bright and early in the morning, showering, and just plain trying to figure out what to do next with his life. But I loved this film the most not because of the situations it put Nick in, but because of the characters it put him with.

One of these characters is Frank, a cop who was also Nick’s sponsor in one of his failed attempts to go through A.A. and who comes to his lawn after the neighbors start complaining about the man living there in plain sight, and who tells him the law allows five days for a yard sale and that’s how much time he has. There’s also Laura Dern delivering a gem of a performance in a small role that has her as Nick’s high school crush who he decides to look up. And then there’s Samantha, a pregnant woman who’s just moving in to the street from a whole other city and who’s husband she is waiting for as he’s to arrive later on. Samantha’s played by Rebecca Hall, who I think is just insanely talented and absolutely beautiful, and Ms. Hall just does her thing with Samantha as she does with all of her roles, making her likable and a soul companion to Nick, it’s just truly fantastic to see the relationship between these two develop.

And then there’s Christopher Jordan Wallace as Kenny. And this is the character I just fell in love with, and the relationship between him and Nick, more than the one between Nick and Samantha, is the best part of this film. And Christopher Jordan Wallace, the fourteen year-old son of the late hip-hop great Notorious B.I.G., is pretty much as perfect for this this role as Mr. Ferrell is as Nick. Kenny is just your typical curious kid, he rides up on his bike in front of Nick’s lawn and asks him the questions everyone wants to ask but only a kid will, and instantly becomes Nick’s business partner in his venture to sell all of his stuff in a yard sale because, as Frank and the movie title told us, everything must go. The movie as whole is pretty laid back really, there is heavy stuff going on but there’s never an urge to really tackle that head-on, and even though some further greatness might have come out of doing that, I’m more than fine with this film not going there, because there are still tremendous performances to watch on display here even without the more emotional load, and Will Ferrell proves once again that funnymen doing serious things can often give us something very special.

Grade: B+

Just Go with It

3 Apr

Title: Just Go with It
Year:
2011
Director:
Dennis Dugan
Writers: Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, adapting from the 1969 film screenplay by I.A.L. Diamond, which was adapted from the stage play by Abe Burrows, which was based on the french play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy
Starring:
Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman, Dan Patrick, Dave Matthews, Nick Swardson, Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck, Rachel Dratch, Kevin Nealon, Heidi Montag, Minka Kelly
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language
Runtime:
117 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.2
Rotten Tomatoes:
18%

 

By now we all know what to expect from an Adam Sandler comedy, we know what his style of goofy comedy consists of, so you know if you’d like to stay away from his films or not. Now, I personally like his style when it’s done right, but that hasn’t really seemed to be the case for his last few films, and even though Just Go with It is a film that you can, pardon the pun, totally go for, it’s not an amazing one by any means.

Moreover, I think it’s time for Mr. Sandler to go back and do a dramatic role. He is, much like Jim Carrey, one of those physical comedians that are super silly in their comedy, and yet have a really touching sensibility when they do dramas that I find incredible to watch. Adam Sandler has done two dramas, 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, a film by the master Paul Thomas Anderson and one that I can’t praise enough, the other one was 2007’s Reign Over Me which wasn’t as perfect a film, but was still quite remarkable. I guess we could potentially count 2009’s Funny People, a film I liked better than many seemed to, as more of a dramatic entry in Mr. Sandler’s canon, but it wasn’t a straightout drama film like the others, so I won’t. But yes, Just Go with It was fine and all, Adam, but please, give us another drama.

But, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the actual film. I’ll say this much for Just Go with It, for a romantic comedy, it’s pretty damn competent. I mean, it’s a film that while entirely predictable, does offer us a few surprises along the way to keep things fresh, and it has Brooklyn Decker in it, who is gorgeous enough to have any film she’s in bumped up a grade just for her sheer presence in it considering she wasn’t asked to really act all that much. Not to mention that Jennifer Aniston, who had been in last year’s The Bounty Hunter, needed a role like this to get her back to being her awesome girl-next-door self which we all love. But then again, I’d also like Ms. Aniston to go back and do another drama in the vein of The Good Girl again.

This isn’t a perfect film, don’t get me wrong, I’m not recommending it, I’m just saying that’s totally bearable and that, while it’s far from the best film you’ll see all year, it’s a good option in the horrible rom-com genre. I mean, it’s very very easy going, it tries to play naughty, but you know it’s innately good-hearted, it may try to seem as though it’s pushing the envelope with some of its stuff, but you know it’s actually quite the passive little bugger you’ll let pretend otherwise. And as such, there will be bits in which you’ll get frustrated by it, but there will also be parts you’ll find yourself laughing with it, and the ratio of those two is better than you’d expect going into it.

The thing is, we all feel like we know Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler already. They have been part of our media-loving lives for the past decade and a half, and they have been great friends themselves from way before that, so there’s that sense of watching people you know being funny and warm to each other, and that’s genuinely nice to see in this one. I mean, this is after all better than Mr. Sandler’s previous effort, which was the unfortunate Grown Ups. And, as for Ms. Aniston, even though I probably liked last year’s The Switch a bit better than this one, this is still heaps better than the disaster that was The Bounty Hunter.

If you’ve seen the trailers you already know what this one’s all about. Mr. Sandler has his heart broken on what was supposed to be his wedding day, and decides to get back on the horse by having a lot of sex with anyone he could find who would be disarmed by a man armed with a wedding ring and tales of a wife that broke his heart. Ms. Decker plays one of those girls, except when it’s all said and done, Mr. Sandler’s character, Danny, thinks she might be more than just a one-night thing, and she’s probably thinking the same way, except she first wants to meet Danny’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who obviously doesn’t really exist.

So then Danny enlists his assistant Katherine, the character Ms. Aniston plays, to pretend to be his crazy ex. And you probably know how the rest of this one goes. And there’s no shame in this film for being so obvious in its next steps, it still has the likable and beautiful Ms. Aniston, the gorgeous and sexy Ms. Decker and the dependably goofy Mr. Sandler to keep it afloat. Not to mention that the supporting cast includes an Academy Award winner in Nicole Kidman and Minka Kelly, who I personally find to be even more beautiful than Ms. Decker, not to mention that she’s actually got some acting chops, not that this is the sort of film in which she could prove that.

Go see this one if you have time to kill, if not, don’t bother with Just Go with It. I mean, I liked it much better than I thought I would, which is why this review may sound a bit enthusiastic, but that only says things about how low my expectations were, the greatest thing I can say about this film is that it looked as though everyone involved had a great time making this one, and since it’s not as though we were invited to hang out with movie stars in Hawaii then I guess that’s neither here nor there, so go see it if you’re a fan of the stars or if you have two hours of free time and the other options seem crappier.

Grade: C+

The Way Back

16 Feb

Title: The Way Back
Year:
2011
Director:
Peter Weir
Writers:
Peter Weir and Keith R. Clarke, based on the novel by Slavomir Rawicz
Starring:
Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language
Runtime:
133 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
76%

 

Peter Weir is a master at filmmaking, the Australian director has maneuvered his way smoothly through many genres and styles, his Dead Poets Society is amazing, The Truman Show is a thing of beauty and he got a seriously stellar performance from Jim Carrey in it, and then came 2003’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, an awesome film that also happened to have been the last one he made until this one, seven years later. And much like his last effort, The Way Back has an appropriately epic feel to it to go along with some very fine performances from really capable actors. My problem with it was that, though grand in scale, the emotional complexities were too underdeveloped for me to really feel for the characters here, and when you’re in such a huge two-hour-plus ride you really need that involvement to get through it without having it feel tiresome.

And that’s really the problem with The Way Back, that it’s very long and that, even though it’s incredibly well made and acted, it, at times, feels as though it drags on because there isn’t as much emotional weight to keep you fully involved. The visuals may be really amazing, and they are thanks to cinematographer Russell Boyd, a frequent collaborator of Mr. Weir and an Oscar winner for his work in Master and Commander, but that’s just it, the movie many times feels far more invested in its gorgeous views than in its dramatic substance.

And I’m really not dissing The Way Back, it’s really a very very good film, I just wanted it to be a huge epic and get Peter Weir back to the Oscars (he’s been nominated six previous times), while the only nomination it got was for Makeup (it qualified for the 2010 Oscar crop, but it got its release in 2011 so I’m counting it as an ’11 film). But yeah, even though it feels too long at times, and not as invested in the emotional subtleties of it all, this is still one very solid film, done exquisitely well by a guy who knows his craft, and who loves observing people against some very intense and special situations.

I wanted to grade The Way Back somewhere in the A-range, maybe a strong A-minus, but it will definitely fall a bit short from that, because, a year from now, I doubt I’ll remember this one all that much. And considering this is supposed to be this very epic look at survival and enormous issues within, that’s quite a letdown. I want to congratulate Mr. Weir and his crew for actually making this film, because the production values are simply superb, and the fact that a film this huge and ambitious found a home and financing is really fantastic, but the overall product, though great to look at, isn’t all that great to ponder at once you’re done with it.

If you can put aside that considering the amazing story it told the film itself should have been far more epic itself, you’ll find yourself watching a pretty amazing film. One in which the story is of escapees of a Siberian prison, making their way 4’000 miles through, to freedom in India. Yes, that’s how huge the scope is in The Way Back. A helluva journey with endless possibilities of death in many ways, but, really, that’s kind of it. And yes, that huge journey with countless chances of starvation and injury is compelling stuff, no doubt about that, but there’s way too few character development here for it to propel itself to sheer greatness.

The four main cast members are all excellent. We have Jim Sturgess as the one I guess we’d call the leader of the pack, Janusz. Then we have Ed Harris, who’s seriously amazing, as an American who goes by the name of Mr. Smith. And finally we have Colin Farrell, a Russian guy named Valka. These are the three main escapees we meet in the journey, but along said journey we also get to meet Irena, a young woman who has escaped from a collective farm near Warsaw and joins them. Irena’s played by Saoirse Ronan, who turned heads in her breakthrough Oscar-nominated role in Atonement, and who continued to be great in the otherwise so-so The Lovely Bones, and who continues to be incredible here, a streak that she probably won’t break once she reunites with her Atonement director, Joe Wright, for this April’s awesome-looking Hanna, alongside Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett.

I’ve heard claims that the story on which this is based isn’t actually true, as the film says it is, and if it really isn’t it wouldn’t matter much to me. I mean, if it were true it would probably actually be a bit too unbelievable, and no matter the case Mr. Weir and his cast and crew were still crazy committed into translating the true (or maybe not) tale to the screen, which is what counts. I don’t really care that much in the case of The Way Back if the story is true or not, I just care that it’s well done, and this one really is. Yes, there could have been a lot more dramatic and emotional complexities, but this is still a pretty darn good film and you should definitely go watch it.

Grade: B+