Tag Archives: Leslie Mann

[Review] – This Is 40

6 Jan

This Is 40

Title: This Is 40
Year: 2012
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Judd Apatow, based on characters by himself
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Tim Bagley, Melissa McCarthy, Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, Rob Smigel, Annie Mumolo
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material
Runtime: 134 min
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Metacritic: 58

I am, like so many others, a devout member of the church of Judd Apatow. What the man has done to change the comedic landscape of our time during the last decade or so really is amazing. From having his hand in some of the most adored cult TV shows in recent memory, from The Ben Stiller Show to The Larry Sanders Show to, of course, the short-lived masterpiece that was Freaks and Geeks, to revolutionizing comedy in the mid 00’s with films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad.

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[Review] – ParaNorman

23 Aug

Title: ParaNorman
Year: 2012
Directors: Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Writer: Chris Butler, based on a story by Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, John Goodman, Ariel Winter
MPAA Rating: PG, scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language
Runtime: 93 min
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Metacritic: 73

The people at Laika are the kind of people I love. Founded in 2005, the Oregon-based stop-motion animation studio did work on that year’s Corpse Bride, and they released their first feature as a company in 2009 with Coraline, the absolutely stunning adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s novel. That film just blew me away because of how exquisitely it was made, and it totally established Laika as an animation studio with aesthetic sensibilities that really spoke to me, and I honestly couldn’t wait to see what they did next.

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[Trailer] – This Is 40

7 Aug

A few months ago we got the first trailer for This is 40, the new film directed by Judd Apatow, the “sort-of” sequel to his Knocked Up. Now, a second trailer for the film is out, which you can watch after the cut.

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[Trailer] – This Is 40

27 Apr

Judd Apatow is back in the director’s chair this year for the first time since 2009’s Funny People (which was a bit of a flop, though I personally liked it). But anyway’s, the film he has lined up for this year, This Is 40, is a “sort-of” sequel to his great Knocked Up, and the first trailer for it has just been released, and you can watch it after the cut.

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[Trailer] – Paranorman

30 Mar

We’ve already seen a trailer for Paranorman before, but this new international trailer, which you can watch above, is a bit longer and has some new footage to get you excited for the film. And you really should be excited, this one’s being made by Laika, the great stop-motion animation behind Coraline, and the talent assembled is pretty nifty.

The Change-Up

3 Sep

Title: The Change-Up
Year: 
2011
Director: 
David Dobkin
Writers: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: 
Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin
MPAA Rating: 
R, pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use
Runtime: 
112 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
22%

 

When promoting The Change-Up, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds (two very likable guys) did something I thought was very smart and that actually got me amped up to see the movie, whether it was in promotional appearances on talkshows or in a funny viral video they did, they said something like “Yes, another body swap movie”, rightly acknowledging that there have been too many of those already, but saying that they wouldn’t be making this one if they didn’t had anything new to add to the worn-out formula. They argued that there hadn’t really been an R-rated comedy version of the body swap movie, and I guess they were probably right, and, you know what, considering it came from these two, it got to the point in which I actually kind of wanted to see this film.

If you looked at the pieces this film had assembled, then you could make a pretty solid case for feeling like I did about wanting to see this one. The director was David Dobkin, who hasn’t done a film since 2007’s quite bad Fred Claus, but who’s also the guy responsible for the terrific Wedding Crashers, the writers were Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the guys who wrote The Hangover (and not it’s far less awesome sequel), and the cast had the aforementioned twosome as the leads, and rounded up its supporting players with the likes of the awesome Alan Arkin and Leslie Mann, who’s a huge favorite of mine and should be one of yours, too. So yeah, it may be a body swap movie, but it was coming from the director of the third highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time and the writers of the movie that holds the first place in that ranking (the aforementioned far less awesome sequel is the one currently at second place), and it had a cast full of very likable and dependable people, so I think I was well within my rights to be hopeful about this one.

And I may have been well within my rights, but after spending two hours watching this film I discovered I should have listened to my initial gut feeling and not gotten my hopes up, because The Change-Up really had one of those horribly formulaic plots, and yes, there was the R-rated element that was new to these body swap films, but it wasn’t executed the right way at all, there was a lot of crude humor but not one bit of it was smartly done. Instead I got the feeling that it was done pretty much only to be able to call this film an R-rated body swap movie and earn it some sort of differentiation for it. And, sure, it’s actually quite fun at times to see Jason Bateman act like Ryan Reynolds, and vice versa, but those amusing moments are few and far between, and their certainly not enough to carry the film by themselves.

The two guys that swap bodies in this film are Mitch and Dave, two guys who have shared a solid bromance since the third grade but whose lives couldn’t really be any more different. Dave is a dad to three, a workaholic lawyer with a high-strung wife, played by Ms. Mann, that goes well with his own uptight personality. Mitch, on the other hand, is his eternal bachelor best bud, though written a bit too much as a caricature in this film, a guy who’s just way too infantile and who apparently doesn’t realize exactly how some of the stuff he says to women sounds. And that, I think, is a problem that’s evident all over The Change-Up, that it doesn’t realize just how childishly rude it can sometimes get, it’s just horribly obscene and foul-mouthed, at times creepy and pretty much always insulting to our intelligence as an audience. And it’s not like I have something against rude and foul-mouthed humor, I happen to love it actually, it’s just that when it’s used as cheaply as it is here it’s painful to see, it makes you miss that other R-rated comedy with Mr. Bateman from this year, the hilarious Horrible Bosses.

Anyways, Mitch and Dave will one night find themselves drunkenly telling each other about their stupid miseries and wishing they had each others lives. And of course that because they did all of this while pissing into a fountain their wishes will come true when they wake up next morning. And I won’t really get into what they do when they’re in the other guy’s body, because no situation is really specifically worth remembering or all that great, the movie just makes the characters sort of dumb from this point forth, and it’s not really worth your time, though Ms. Mann sure tries her best for it to be. They will try to convince Jamie, the wife, about who they are but that won’t work, and they will be forced to try and live out their situation, and we’ll find out that Mitch deep down always wanted Jamie so he’ll be tempted to go for it while in Dave’s body, and that’s pretty much the most compelling question The Change-Up allows itself to ask. And yes, I know, it’s not really compelling at all. That’s how it all pretty much goes in this film.

Grade: C

Rio

5 May

Title: Rio
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Carlos Saldanha
Writers: Don Rhymer, Joshua Sternin, Jeffrey Ventimilia and Sam Harper, based on a story by Carlos Saldanha, Earl Richey Jones and Todd Jones
Starring:
Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, Rodrigo Santoro, Wanda Sykes, Jane Lynch, Bebel Gilberto
MPAA Rating: 
PG, mild off color humor
Runtime: 
96 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 
72%

Carlos Saldanha has been a solid weapon for Blue Sky Studios and Fox, the guy co-directed Ice Age and Robots as well as directed both the Ice Age sequels, and now here he is tackling a story that would see him direct an animated version of his hometown: Rio. And, really, one of the reasons why Rio is such sensational fun is the fact that it’s based in Rio de Janeiro, a city that gives the film a truly colorful world to play with which really heightens its look like crazy and goes along well with the voice cast, who all provide some very funny performances.

I guess it’s impossible to see an animated film and not compare it, in one way or another, to Pixar films. And even though this one doesn’t really have the genius storytelling that Pixar seemingly provides without a fault (though Cars was a minor slip-up in some ways), it does provide a pretty impeccable aesthetic to love. I just think that if Pixar’s films are the animated films adults will love just as much, if not way more, as the kids, then Rio at least is a film adults will have no problem watching. The story may be decidedly predictable, but at least they back it up with a stunning palette of colors that capture the spirit of Brazil amazingly with their portrayals of the vibrant energy the country has, whether it’s their beaches or their carnavals, this one is terrific at capturing that buzzing energy, which is complemented by the fact that the soundtrack is insanely fun and adds to the whole effect of Rio.

Some people may leave Rio feeling as though it was just an overstuffed film, because at times it does feel like it’s just stretching itself like crazy to go all out in every single scene in order not to lose your attention. And that’s partly true, and it’s because it doesn’t have a story with enough heart and originality to let it have the luxury of taking a slow moment, or introducing a pensive and very deep scene, like the Pixar movies do. But at least Rio‘s not like the subpar animated films we’ve seen because it doesn’t give up, but instead just amps up its arsenal of fun to make us not notice that it doesn’t have that killer of a story. And for quite a few moments here, it really does work.

It’s cool to see an animated film make a foreign country its setting, especially when it’s in South America which is where I’m from, not only because it obviously increases the commercial appeal of the movie, which has been evident in the $370 million Rio has already made some three weeks since its release, but also because it widens the things they can play with, especially when they base it on a country with such vibrant life and attitude as Brazil, which I’m guessing is where Mr. Saldanha’s presence as the director really paid off, as the film is so evidently in love with the country, and rightfully so.

Rio tells the story of Blu, a domesticated blue macaw living in Minnesota with an owner voiced by the awesome Leslie Mann. And Blu just so happens to be the last remaining blue macaw on earth and so a bird expert is excited when he seems to have found the perfect mate for him in a female blue macaw voiced by Anne Hathaway. However, Blu is just totally used to living a domesticated life so the trip to Brazil is full of unexpected surprises to him, especially after he encounters exotic bird smugglers, which in his attempt to escape them, force him to experience the culture of the country, make unlikely friends and, most importantly, learn to fly. All of this is voiced to perfection by Jesse Eisenberg, who we all know has the fidgety and neurotic voice tailor-made to fit the anxious macaw.

And it’s all really well done here, I can’t do enough to express just how incredible it all feels just because of the amazing array of colors in display here, as well as the musical side of it all which, done to Sérgio Mendes’ music, make for some very entertaining and really nicely animated dance sequences in the carnaval. As a love letter to his hometown, Mr. Saldanha has done something really beautiful.

I love animation and this year has already given us the extraordinary Rango, which this one is unfortunately not as great as, and I can’t hope enough that Pixar’s 2011 release, Cars 2, is better than the film it spawns from. As for Rio, I don’t think that it has enough heart or just sheer plot to be one of those kid-oriented animated films that also do wonders to work as an adult-oriented flick. Because the fact is that the film has pretty much no story, just from that paragraph in which I explained the basic gist of the story you could probably predict what it would be all about, with Ms. Hathaway’s bold and confident macaw at first having some pretty excellent banter with Mr. Eisenberg’s uneasy macaw and then having that friction and clash turn into obvious love.

That story works wonders as one to keep this one, if you’ll pardon the pun, flying by in a breeze, but they don’t really add to it any real substance to get this one to the same level as some of the great animated films we’ve seen in the past few years, which is why I can’t bring myself to grade this one in the A-range. But still, for a film to go watch with kids you could do so much worse than taking them to Rio, it looks sensationally great on-screen and has a voice cast that will have you laughing all the way through if you can ignore the fact that the plot is really slim, which, if you just focus on the vibrant colors and music, won’t be that hard to do.

Grade: B+