Me and My Nine Iron

August 20, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 3:47 pm
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The fun kids franchise for adults came out with its third installment, and this one was by far the weakest in laughs and story structure. Rowley wasn’t nearly as funny, and Steve Zahn had a bigger role in this father-son story. While the moral direction and sentiments were nice, it was much heavier than the first two and also sacrificed a lot of humor in the process.

From Rotten Tomatoes, “Overly familiar and a bit too reliant on slapstick, the sitcom-like Dog Days fails to improve upon previous installments and will likely appeal to few outside its target audience.”

Alas, it was only slightly amusing and too episodic; they went on random trips, taking a break from the central story that was Greg trying to hook up with Holly, that were neither funny nor what I wanted to see. And now you have Zachary Gordon going through that awkward pubescent phase and Peyton List, who had a bigger role, strutting around in her bright-colored lip gloss. Their quickness in growing up is the reason why the third (The Last Straw) and fourth (Dog Days) books were combined in this one.

While the next book in the series is still being considered to be adapted, Gordon’s next feature is the star-studded The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, alongside Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Olivia Wilde and many others. Dog Days is only for previous fans, but if you haven’t watched the first two, it’s still a great series.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 5.8
What it should be: 6.3

Pass

BJ

August 16, 2012

The Bourne Legacy review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 12:10 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in South Gate:

One of the most anticipated action movies of the year, along with Skyfall and yes, The Expendables 2, it was more of the same from The Bourne series – both a good and bad thing. I don’t remember too much about The Bourne Trilogy, but if it was always deliberately confusing and ridiculously amusing (don’t even get me started on Alaska), then expect another solid addition to the first three that were highly-praised.

With a running time of 2:15, Jeremy Renner does a fine job filling in for Matt Damon as Agent Aaron Cross. Though, a bit high-voiced for a ruthless agent and with some humor not seen in any other agent, I would think that’s not in keeping with his character. Also, a rather weak denouement accompanied by the now unsatisfying, all-too-familiar ending of a Bourne movie. Otherwise, entertaining throughout with great settings and a fine Rachel Weisz to look at.

Renner and Damon need to be in the next one together because while this one was worth watching, this respectable franchise is slowly heading downhill. Like Damon said after The Bourne Ultimatum, “We can’t keep going forever.”

The Bourne Legacy opened in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 7.3
What it should be: 7.3

Recommend

P.S. All you Mexicans who bring your babies in your strollers into the theater, what are you thinking? That’s two Mexican-predominant screenings, and two strollers I’ve seen – zero elsewhere. And that doesn’t include several more who I don’t expect anyone that age to sit quietly for over two hours. There was one a few seats away from me who was making whining noises the entire time. Shame on you, parents, for having everyone put up with that just so you could watch the movie.

BJ

August 10, 2012

The Campaign review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 2:01 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Orange:

I was hesitant about this movie once I saw the trailer. I so wanted to laugh because you have two (now) big-name comedic leads–one of them the ever-so-awkward Zach Galifianakis–but it just wasn’t funny. Maybe deep down on the inside, but in a comedy, that’s just not going to get it done. At least you get what you expect; the movie is exactly as unfunny as the trailer looks.

Sure, Will Ferrell dishes out his classic crude one-liners, but they’re about the only good thing about the movie, and it’s barely enough to make it okay. The rest should’ve been chopped up and made into a short on Funny or Die, from the crew to the story to the short 81-minute run time, but the biggest problem of the whole movie was the conception of Galifianakis’s character. Plain and simple, it’s not laugh-out-loud funny. Not even once. It doesn’t translate onto the big screen for a full feature and is nowhere near as funny as I’m sure they all thought it was as they were filming it.

Written by Chris Henchy, who has written three screenplays all starring Ferrell (Land of the Lost, The Other Guys), and Shawn Harwell, his first, the story was much too simple (and a little outrageous) to be good. From the Rotten Tomatoes consensus, “”Its crude brand of political satire isn’t quite as smart or sharp as one might hope…” Directed by Jay Roach, who in the last ten years, has directed three TV movies and received an IMDb rating of 6.1 (Austin Powers in Goldmember), 6.3 (Meet the Fockers), 5.9 (Dinner for Schmucks) and now 6.2 from those on the silver screen.

With a whopping $56 million budget, that’s amazing given that Adam McKay had to practically beg and plead with the studio for a $50 million budget for Anchorman 2 (Steve Carell + Paul Rudd > Galifianakis). Only for the diehard fans of the leads, even then it doesn’t offer a whole lot.

The Campaign opens in theaters today.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.2
What it should be: 6.2

Pass

BJ

August 5, 2012

Total Recall review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 8:19 am
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Orange:

A remake of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Recall, per Colin Farrell, the first act is different but the rest plays off the 1990 film. I disagree because while Arnold was fighting whether it was a dream or not, that’s only briefly touched on in this one. Rather, his main conflict is what side of two remaining nation states he’s fighting for. The movie would’ve been better if it was like the original.

I will give it props for trying, as it’s 85 minutes of nearly non-stop action once Farrell steps into Rekall. Not perfect for a handful of reasons: story beats are highly derivative of The Bourne Identity, I did not like Kate Beckinsale as the main antagonist, Jessica Biel‘s relationship with Farrell’s was unfulfilled (I thought Diane Kruger, who was considered for the role, would’ve played her better too) and the futuristic set pieces, although cool at times, were far from perfect (e.g. the cars, at least the ones I saw in post-production, were unattractive clunkers).

But the biggest drawback I had was the action, especially when it consumes the entire movie. When your protagonist dodges as many bullets as Farrell’s does, it starts to detract the viewer from being in the moment and lends the idea that a spray of machine guns is no longer dangerous to our protagonist. That might be the most fatal thing in any genre, and the reason why there are so few good action movies. (Two glaring examples that come to mind are Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.) The hand-to-hand combat was pathetic, slow and mundane. Some better fight scenes and a bigger mystery throughout would’ve made this a true classic like The Bourne Trilogy, but I know that’s asking for a lot.

Notwithstanding that, a good first crack at the $125 million movie by Kurt Wimmer, who I heard speak in September. Farrell’s performance is very bread and butter, but I’m just glad they didn’t let then 63-year-old Arnold reprise his role, which he wanted to. Overall, a remake that didn’t need to be done with a lot of gimmicks, unbelievable action and out-of-place nods to the original.

Total Recall opened in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.3
What it should be: 6.8

Consider

BJ

August 2, 2012

Ruby Sparks review

Filed under: Food reviews,Movie reviews — BJ @ 8:53 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Hollywood:

A feel-good rom com about a writer whose fictional character comes to life – and everything he writes about her coming true. As uncomfortable and envelope-pushing as these “rules” become, they’re believable for anyone in his shoes and plain maniacal fun.

Written and starring Zoe Kazan, who’s absolutely adorable, and her real-life boyfriend, Paul Dano, who’s made it a long way from his dorky role in The Girl Next Door. He’ll next appear in Looper, the intriguing sci-fi flick coming out in September. Also appearing: Elliott Gould (Friends), 4-time Oscar nominee, Annette Bening and a horny Antonio Banderas.

Not a perfect movie, but certainly not deserving of its negative reviews. Still, one of my favorite movies of the year by the way it made me feel and just below Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Moonrise Kingdom.

Ruby Sparks opened in limited release last Wednesday.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.5
What it should be: 7.5

Recommend

I checked out Jones in West Hollywood, looking to eat some Italian food. The interior was pretty boojie, especially considering its affordable prices ($11-15 for pizza and pasta dishes). More a place to take your date with its dim lighting and intimate booths, I was totally fine having a candlelit dinner in the gay part of town with my guy friend. They have a casual room past the main room, which is where we had to sit because there weren’t any tables at 9:30p on a Tuesday. We shared a spicy sausage pasta dish and a brick-oven pizza, and they were both amazing.

With the aforementioned and good-looking waitresses, I can’t think of a single reason not to come back if I’m in the area. Great find via the highly-rated Yelp reviews.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Recommend

BJ

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