A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

April 11, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

I've seen a lot of movies since the last edition of the Movie Minute, but nothing that has really warranted it's own write-up. I haven't been particularly inspired to write anything about the mostly average flicks that have stolen away precious hours of my important life's work. It's much more fun to see a movie you either love or absolutely hate. That said, here is my mediocre recap (appropriate, no?) of the some of the tax write offs that the studios have dumped into the theatres while waiting for the summer blockbusters to knock down the door. Some of them skewing more towards good (and bad) than others.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

In Theatres April 18th

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: Devastated Peter takes a Hawaii vacation in order to deal with recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah. Little does he know Sarah's traveling to the same resort as her ex ... and she's bringing along her new boyfriend.

Review: The Apatow machine cranks out another raunchy rom-com, this time with Jason Segal (the tall friend of Seth Rogen in Knocked Up) getting his star turn. It's a decidedly mixed bag this time around, lighter on the raunch than Superbad and Knocked Up (save for the 3 or 4 shots of Jason Segal's wiener), and also lighter on the laughs.

FSM doesn't reinvent the wheel, but there are certainly enough solid laughs to recommend it, so long as you don't go in expecting something on par with it's comedic Apatow lineage (excluding Walk Hard of course...that's the dumpster baby of the Apatow family). Bill Hader makes the most of his small part, getting off some of the best lines, mostly via camera phone. Mila Kunis comes out of nowhere to knock your dick in the dirt with how beautiful and genuine she seems. And Russell Brand, who plays British pop star Aldous Snow (think Enrique Iglesias meets Simon Cowell), the guy who steals Sarah Marshall from Peter (Segal), is pretty classic, especially in a dinner scene reminiscent of the classic Back to the Future-quoting dinner scene in Knocked Up.

Ultimately, FSM falls prey to some pretty standard rom-com trappings (guy gets girl, loses girl, gets her back, etc) that hold it back from greatness, but you could certainly do much worse. You won't forget Sarah Marshall, but she's not really someone you want to take home to meet the parents. Consider her more of a one night stand.

Thunder Matt Rating: 3.5 Gratuitous Penis Shots Out of 5


IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: "21" is the fact-based story about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings.

: Based on the best selling book, Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich (which I haven't read, but The Hundley has), 21 has a great premise and set up, but ultimately craps out. With the exception of Kevin Spacey who chews scenery (in a good way) with Pacino-esque precision, the cast is about as formidable and exciting as a strip mall. For a while, the story gets by on it's cool factor (Vegas baby, Vegas; great soundtrack too), but any goodwill that it built up comes crashing down in the climax, which is absurd even by 'Hollywood ending' standards. Rounders this is not. Save your money and go use it on the real thing instead.

Thunder Matt Rating: 14. Dealer gets Blackjack. You lose.

In Bruges

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: Holed up in Bruges, Belgium after a difficult job, two hit men begin to differ on their views of life and death as they become used to local customs.

Review: Ever since Pulp Fiction (some would argue Reservoir Dogs) married hit men and dark comedy to great effect, seemingly everyone has tried their hand at that formula. Most have failed miserably. (For proof, rent Smokin' Aces. I dare you.) Fortunately, In Bruges succeeds where most fail, falling just short of being 'great', but certainly not for lack of trying.

It starts off a bit slow, as two hit men, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are exiled by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to Bruges to await further instruction on their next job. Ray hates Bruges and is bored out of his mind, while Ken urges them to take in the sights and make the best of their situation. (Ray: "If I'd grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me, but I didn't, so it doesn't.") Things pick up when they stumble upon a crew filming a B-movie (Ray: "They're filming midgets!"), Ray meets a beautiful local girl and they finally discover their 'assignment'.

In Bruges is at it's best when it sticks to the dark comedy...occasionally it drops the comedy part of the equation and becomes just plain dark, which throws off the tone a bit for my liking, though some may argue that therein lies the poignancy, and I wouldn't argue. Never cliche, In Bruges is flawed like it's protagonists, but is a great entry to the hit man canon. Besides, any movie with hookers, midgets, beer, sarcasm, hallucinogenic drugs, cursing Irishmen and a bit of surrealism, (sometimes all in the same scene) can't be all bad.

Thunder Matt Rating: 4 Stouts Out of 5

Young @ Heart

In select theatres April 18th

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: Prepare to be entertained by this documentary following a New England senior citizens chorus (average age: 81) that has delighted audiences worldwide with their covers of songs by everyone from The Clash to Coldplay.

Review: You probably stopped reading after the synopsis huh? But seriously, despite a premise that seems gimmicky and too cute for it's own good, Young @ Heart will win over even the most heartless bastards out there. The camera films the goings on of the Young @ Heart chorus, led by their relatively young chorus director Bob Cilman (he's 51) as they rehearse for a big concert in their hometown (they've toured Europe extensively. Like Hasslehoff, they're huge in Germany).

Instead of trotting out the timeless staples though, this chorus goes a different route. Ever heard your grandpa sing 'Schizophrenia' (Sonic Youth), 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?' or 'Fake Plastic Trees'? Unless your grandpa is Mick Jagger, probably not. As you can imagine there are moments of humor (both intentional and not) and sadness, especially towards the end. When one of the main chorus members sings 'Fix You' on stage less than a week after his good friend and duet partner on the song passes away...well, if you don't get emotional when you watch that, then you just don't have a soul. If you only see one documentary about senior citizens singing rock songs (the other being Shine a Light, the new Stones documentary), let it be this one.

Thunder Matt Rating: 3.5 Walkers Out of 5

Mediocrity Rules Lightning Round

Definitely, Maybe: Well, it was certainly better than P.S. I Love You. A trio of charismatic beauties (Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz and the underrated redhead Isla Fisher) and plot that keeps you guessing make this one watchable. 3 Stars

Semi-Pro: This movie will have the unfortunate distinction of being known as 'the one where Will Ferrel jumped the shark'. A few good laughs aren't enough to save this incoherent mess. The Jackie Moon Bud Light/Old Spice commercials had more laughs than the entire movie. A renter for a Sunday afternoon at best. I still hold out hope for Step Brothers though. 2 Stars

The Bank Job: A slightly above average heist film. It gets the nob for being 'above average' almost solely based on the presence of the impossibly gorgeous Saffron Burrows. Jason Statham is a poor man's Bruce Willis. 3 Stars

The Other Boleyn Girl: No thanks. Not even Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman can save this one. For what it's worth ladies, my wife said that 'the book is way better'. I kept waiting for Eric Bana to turn into the Hulk when he got mad. 2.5 Stars

Paranoid Park: The very definition of 'minimalist arthouse flick'. A sparse plot punctuated by lots of people skateboarding in slow motion. Somewhere in there lies a unsolved homicide. Directed by Gus Van Sant, I imagine this one is more for people who enjoyed Elephant or Last Days as opposed to Good Will Hunting. Not for the antsy or impatient. 3 Stars

Street Kings: James Ellroy is a great noir crime writer (LA Confidential), but when it comes to movie scripts his luck has been spotty at best (see: The Black Dahlia). His median score skews more towards below average with this latest cluster f of a cop thriller. What probably reads as stylized, colorful dialogue on the page comes off as corny and contrived onscreen. It's saying something when Keanu Reeves plays the only character who isn't a caricature. But the fact that his character doesn't see the plot 'twist' coming makes him a idiot. Pass. 2.5 Stars