SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW 2011
paul cooney, john cribbs & eric pfriender
<< click here for Summer Movie Preview 2011 Part I: MAY >>
<< click here for Summer Movie Preview 2011 Part II: JUNE >>
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (Michael Bay, Paramount)
Against the backdrop of the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, the alliance between Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Optimus Prime is put to the test against a common enemy: Shockwave.
PAUL: What have these fucking machines got against us anyway? Could it be that they just want to kill LaBoeuf, and if we sacrificed him they would leave us alone? Speaking of war movies... WWII produced great flix like The Longest Day and The Great Escape, so if a few hundred thousand uneducated and unrich Americans had to die in order for those films to eventually get made...well worth it. But so far our Middle East adventures have produced Three Kings, which fucking sucks despite what some cinema loving morons might try to tell you (contrived hackery!) and Syriana, which, although starring the great George Clooney, remains unwatched by yours truly cause I don't got time for 3 hour films that aren't filled with tit and ties...or titties as the French say.
ERIC: When Transformers 2 came out, I somehow didn't realize that I had missed Transformers 1. And now we have this. I've seen a bit of the final fight from the first one, and I honestly feel like it's totally incompetent. I could not tell who was talking or what was going on or who was even shooting in which direction. But clearly, understanding who is standing where and what the plot is and who punched who is not important to people. What used to seem like a natural target to make fun of now feels weird. People clearly like these things. At this point, pointing out how terrible they seem to be is starting to make me feel like a dick.
JOHN: Does Dark Side of the Moon really sync up with Transformers? Even if it does, I don't think they should have given the mash-up a theatrical release, even if "Brain Damage" is exactly what you get from watching the movie itself. Well, they're not getting my "Money" this "Time" (not that they ever did, I'm just milking this stupid Pink Floyd joke.)
It all harks back to that scene in Big where Tom Hanks is testing the robot that turns into a building and says "I don't get it." But it's not just the robot turning into a building, it's a robot turning into anything. Sure the theme song was cool, and the animated movie had "Dare to Be Stupid" on the soundtrack, but I was never a Transformers fan back in the day (or Go-Bots for that matter...as far as transforming vehicles I was more of a M.A.S.K. kid.) I mean, Megatron had laser guns on his shoulderpads and shit, and he transformed into...a laser gun. Isn't that a little redundant/unnecessary? Plus I always had the Cars problem with Transformers: do they defacate? Have sex? Make babies? And apparently Michael Bay has already addressed at least 2 out of 3 of these questions nobody actually wants to know the answer to - he really should stop before the world is given the first full-length robot porn film (who am I kidding, Japan has to have come up with something like that by now.)
That's not even getting into the franchise's obvious incompetence and unpleasantness. I don't doubt that Michael Bay will offer up his usual listless, indiscernible two-second shot aesthetic or that Ehren Kruger will have come up with more of that hilarious robot "street talk" he gets paid millions of dollars to pull out of his talentless ass. I simply don't understand its appeal to anyone. That recurring bit of nonsense on the preview where all the gears are shifting and POUNDING! and CRANNNNNNNNNNNNNKing and CONNECT!ing reminds me of the transitions from the movie to the host segments of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In other words, I don't find them "cool" the way Michael Bay does. He is my John Heard, trying to convince the youth market that these things are awesome. Mr. Bay, I don't get it.
LARRY CROWNE (Tom Hanks, Universal)
Unclear of his next steps after losing his job at a big-box retailer, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) enrolls at his local college, where he finds a niche among the school's community of outcasts, and a connection with a teacher (Julia Roberts) who has lost her passion for life. Screenplay by Nia Vardalos.
PAUL: Oh shit Nia Vardalos wrote a script? Well I'm sure as shit watching this. I hearted the fuck out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and that other Greek fuckfest she made. Put some Windex on it! Ha ha...you go, Nia!
ERIC: Is Tom Hanks the most beloved man in America? He even gets a pass from being part of the liberal Hollywood elite because of all the movies he acts in and produces about WWII veterans, so the red state people love him, too. I've never understood why people like Julia Roberts. Instead of going to see this, you should re-watch The 'burbs.
JOHN: Hanks goes back to school, just like Dangerfield, Scott Bakula, Adam Sandler and possibly Ernest did before him. Actually it looks more like Hanks goes indie-cutesy: he's on a scooter, he's mingling with young minority actors, there's an unattainable girl...but Hanks retains his A-List Hollywood cred by casting Julia Roberts as said unattainable girl. From the preview, it seems like his character, so set in his ways, learns from his new adventures while simultaneously touching the lives of those around him. Is Larry Crowne his Gran Torino?
Pfriender is right, Hanks is a charmer. He's so charming the producers of his first movie, a slasher film, decided not to kill off his character because he was so likable. And he is likable! He's likable playing a smartass, he's likable spying on the Klopecks, he's likable comparing the size of the moon to his thumb. However, in my opinion, he is not likable when he plays an imbecile and/or manchild. I didn't find him charming in Big, Forrest Gump, or The Terminal. Now some people do - in fact, his larger image as the unassuming everyman acclimated to instant approval by Americans everywhere is in many ways defined by these roles. But parts like this seem a hair away from him getting casted as a doofus in blackface in that movie Werner Herzog apparently wanted to make at some point (according to Harmony Korine.)
And how dare he steal Bryan Cranston's wife? Bryan Cranston is America's real sweetheart.
MONTE CARLO (Thomas Bezucha, Fox 2000)
Three young women (Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy) vacationing in Paris find themselves whisked away to Monte Carlo after one of the girls is mistaken for a British heiress.
PAUL: Oooo no gamble here, this is a surefire smash hit. I don't need to go to Monte Carlo for thrills and chills this year, just to my local multiplex where the legal and delicious Miss Gomez will carry two lesser ingenues along for a two hour ride of titillation! My chips are all the way in and my erection is profound!
ERIC: I don't have any daughters, and I didn't grow up with any sisters, so I have no frame of reference to judge what this is even supposed to be. But good luck sitting through this with your twelve-year-old daughters. I'll be at the ballgame.
JOHN: Gomez does Prince and the Pauper! Shenanigans on the polo field! Not since the days of Grace Kelly have the shores of Monacco known such class. And if Selena and her companions (the number of Teen Choice Awards between the cast must be staggering) want to hit the casino and race track, hey - what happens in Monte Carlo stays in Monte Carlo. This could be The Hangover for the tween set...or, more likely, another rehash of the lazy "sparkly American girl goes abroad" subgenre that spawned The Princess Diaries, What a Girl Wants, etc. Does that necessarily mean it won't be any good? Who says?? (Get it, that's Selena & the Scene's new song recorded for the movie.)
ZOOKEEPER (Frank Coraci, Columbia)
The animals at one particular zoo decide to break their code of silence in order to help their lovable zookeeper (Kevin James) gain the attention of one particular woman.
PAUL: I love it. I believe it too. Kevin James is probably the most lovable human being alive, and I can easily see a whole zoofull of cuddly creatures falling head over paw for the King of Queens. Let's hope the animals land him a hot Asian wife like he has in real life.
ERIC: I wonder what it's like to be Kevin James. Sure, he's famous. And rich. But he must know that everything he's ever done is a ridiculous piece of shit, right? I mean, even Jim Carrey has legitimate funny things in his past. In any case, I would have been able to just pretend this didn't exist, but they started incorporating its marketing into everything, including the NBA Finals, so now I'm pretty sure that it is a harbinger of the apocalypse. You have been warned.
JOHN: You say "Kevin James." I say, I'm in. I never followed King of Queens but I have to admit the scene where he gets drunk at the sports bar in Paul Blart made me laugh. You say "goofy animals." I say, stop talking - I'm in. I'm not above indulging in the occasional guilty pleasure such as last year's unjustly derided Furry Vengeance. You say "goofy animals WHO CAN TALK" and I say...you should have stopped talking when I asked you to. Because while animals should be high-fiving, wearing sunglasses and gettin' toasted, but not TALKING - that ruins it! Other than the Babe films, has there ever been a decent, non-animated "talking animal" movie? Zookeeper, take a good long look at in the mirror and really ask yourself: do you want to be to this decade what Hot to Trot was to the 80's? Joe's Apartment to the 90's? Beverly Hills Chihuahua to the 'Aughts?
I still have hope that this can reach a Hotel for Dogs level of greatness. After all, the zookeeper is an underappreciated sage: it's thanks to the zookeeper that Homer Simpson learned about the birds and bees.
HORRIBLE BOSSES (Seth Gordon, Warner Brothers)
Three friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis) concoct a deadly plan when they realize their respective bosses are making their lives miserable. Co-starring Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston.
PAUL: Horrible casting is more like it! Ha ha...u see what I did there? Jason Bateman? Jennifer Aniston? It's like the bland leading the bland. Ho ho! Kevin Spacey quiffs it up and Jason Sudeikis brings whatever odor he usually brings to this slice of rancid gristle, which is of course going to be saved by two handsome Irishmen, Charlie Day and Colin Farrell!
ERIC: I've been fooled by funny trailers before (remember Pineapple Express? Funniest trailer Iíve ever seen- did not laugh once during the entire movie.) That said, this looks funny. I like Bateman, Sudeikis, and the dude from It's Always Sunny, and even Colin Farrel looks like he's pulling it off here. Special bonus - Bunk in the interrogation room! I'm in.
JOHN: Let's focus on one thing: everybody should be applauding Jamie Foxx's return to comedy. He's become such a self-serious shadow of his former charming self that I was beginning to worry we'd lost him forever, especially after reading an interview with Vivaca A. Fox where she strongly hinted that there are no current plans to greenlight Booty Call 2: Electric Bootyloo. Inexcusable.
I'm certainly focused on that, because I can't find any other excuse to rent this one from the library a couple months from now. Jason Bateman is hardly a draw. Neither is that SNL whosit. And although it's endorsed by Cooney and Funderburg (and from the above comments I'm assuming Pfriender likes it too), I still haven't caught any of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so I can't justify seeing this for the guy from that show.
But hello, what's this? Co-written by John Francis Daley? Sam Weir himself! Is my loyalty to Freaks and Geeks - the greatest non-animated, non-British TV show of all time - strong enough to support the writing debut of its 13-year-old star? I just saw a pretty good movie about a woman who kills her horrible boss...also Little Shop of Horrors already perfected the plot to kill a dentist" scene (sorry, Novacaine)...so I don't know what to think of this film beyond the kind of lazy title.
Another thing: is it supposed to be an inside joke that Kevin Spacey is reprising his Swimming with Sharks asshole? Just seems weird, since I assume not a lot of people think about that movie these days. It either has more of a following than I realized, or the producers figured it's so obscure they can comfortably rip it off.
IRONCLAD (Jonathan English, Arc Entertainment)
The Plot: In 13th-century England, a small group of Knights Templar fight to defend Rochester Castle against the tyrannical King John (Paul Giamatti).
PAUL: This might be the sexiest movie of the summer...a group of Knights Templar invent the first ironclad warship and do battle with a rotund Italian who dares to pretend to be the King of England? Sweet sassy molassy those beatniks in Hollyweird have outdone themselves with this saucy bit of hullabaloo. I really don't understand how an ironclad warship helps protect a castle, unless it patrols the moat which is a pretty bad ass idea, but I'm not one to question the Knights Templar! I just hope they burn Paul Giamatti at the stake, although they're going to need a lot of stakes to singe that husky paisan's ample derriere.
ERIC: What's with all of the weird production company logos before the trailer? I've never heard of any of them, but they're all cheap and mid-80's feeling. It's like Ironclad was a co-production between Live entertainment and Corolco Pictures. Anyway, if you're one of those jags who can't get enough of the battle sequences in Braveheart, you should probably set aside some time to see this. Personally, I like Brain Cox better when he is underplaying something rather than screaming "Never surrender!"
JOHN: Is this really directed by Johnny English, the goofy ne'er-do-well spy portrayed by Rowan Atkinson?
"Rated R for brutal battle scenes and brief nudity" sounds promising enough, until I remember that I saw half an episode of Game of Thrones in a hotel room and it sucked. Also, that brief nudity could refer to a Paul Giamatti hairy ass shot. Could go either way.
Your Highness ruined medieval movies for the year, then Christopher Smith's Black Death - with Sean Bean - made them cool again, then Game of Thrones - with Sean Bean - ruined them again. Then they killed Sean Bean off on that show, and he almost got killed in real life! What I'm saying is, I really really hope Giamatti's character is horribly killed in this one.
Derek Jacobi is on board to add class, but seeing Brian Cox running around just made me wonder if this was going to turn out to be the new Broken Lizard movie. Which is fine I guess: these types of movies should all be part War Lord, part Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (David Yates, Warner Brothers)
The end begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts to find and destroy the final horcruxes. But when Voldemort finds out about their mission, the battle we've all known has been coming -- Harry vs. Voldemort -- looms large on the horizon. And who will triumph?
PAUL: What the hell is a horcrux? I've never read a page of these books nor seen a minute of the films...am I missing out on anything? From what I can tell the lead actress is English, and lord knows the English have never been synonymous with attractiveness. Is the conflict of this movie really centered around the fact that Voldemort is jealous cause Harry's pubic hair grew in and it was lush and dark and not spindly and grey like his? Seriously? Has my uncle been on the level with me or is he yanking my chain only figuratively for once?
ERIC: When the seventh and final book was finally released, I got sucked into the hype and decided to read them. The series is great, and seen in its entirety, it's clear that they are about death, loss, and accepting mortality. So basically, a less-pretentious Tree of Life. Which is totally going to be the pull-quote on the DVD.
Aside from Cuaron's take on the third book, the movies have all been fine, but I can't help but feel like they're missing something, because they are. The books are just packed with too much, so the movies always have to walk that line between including every detail needed for the plot, and keeping the action moving so we don't fall asleep. If you haven't read the books, the whole central mystery from the sixth film makes no sense. When Snape revels "I am the Half-Blood Prince," I remember thinking "Were we supposed to be trying to figure that out?"
But they're not all bad. They look cool, and it's admittedly neat to watch the kids grow up over the course of the series. And if you can find anything at all to like about any of the movies so far, this one will clearly be exciting. It's basically going to be a two and a half hour climax.
JOHN: Well I've seen all these goddamn Harry Potter movies, due to the fact that I live on earth. I watched Part 1 of Part 7 recently, and I have to say the first half hour or so was actually pretty good...there was a lot of action, lot of suspense, and a very real sense that there's no way the bad guys weren't going to win (they even killed Bill Nighy offscreen, the bastards!) I think I actually cared about the characters for that portion of the movie. Then they started with the camping, and the annoying bickering, the soap opera love triangle gobbledy gook, and I just wanted to see them all die. Which I don't think was the reaction the filmmakers were going for. It's one thing to split a movie into two movies if you've got a lot of story to tell, but all I could picture during the brutally boring second hour were the Warner Brothers producers making "stretch - it - out!" gesture on the sidelines, the greedy bastards.
Hopefully this second half will be a little more packed with the ol' action and not end on a scene where I'm expected to lament the death of a CG character.
As an aside, I will say that it makes me genuinely sad that J.K. Rowling is richer than astronauts while the work of the recently departed Diana Wynne Jones, who was writing about kid wizards and invisibility cloaks before Rowling was even on welfare, is still relatively unknown outside of the fantasy community and people who've seen Howl's Moving Castle.
SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN (Wayne Wang, Fox Searchlight)
A two-tiered story set in present-day Shanghai and 19th century China. As longtime friends Nina and Sophia balance careers, husbands, and families, they look to the past to understand their ancestral connection as evidenced by the story of Snow Flower and Lily, a pair of seven-year-old girls who are matched as laotong, or "old sames", friends who are closer than husband and wife and are bound together for eternity.
PAUL: The secret is out! And so will my cock be depending on how crowded the theater is and what the public indecency laws are in the state I'm viewing this magnificent creation in. Maybe I'll go watch it in Canada, those hippies don't have any laws at all do they? Two Asian broads called Snow and Flower used the secret fan technique to bring the most earth shattering lesbian orgasms heretofore ever seen? Vis a vis count me in Confucius!
ERIC: I predict this is the big box-office winner this weekend.
JOHN: I never saw The Joy Luck Club, but...isn't this just The Joy Luck Club? From the director of The Joy Luck Club with a stupid title like The Joy Luck Club from a bestselling novel...like The Joy Luck Club? Learn from Lucas, Wayne Wang, and don't return to the sandbox 20 years later!
I don't know anybody who's a fan of Wayne Wang (unless they're a secret fan), but wasn't it all over when he helmed Maid in Manhattan? Or is he trying to pull an Ang Lee by retreating to his native country and adapting a popular female Chinese novelist to regain cred after a series of hit-and-miss (mostly miss) Hollywood ventures?
From what I've read in the trades, this is the year's It Movie, the kind that actors name-drop to sound hip. "Hot young climbing actress Skinny McModel tells Us Weekly that her 'must see' is this summer's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan." So congratulations Hollywood community, for gathering around what is essentially an Oprah Book Club of a movie like it's the most daring and arty film of the year. Endorsing it makes you feel so smart and cultured, doesn't it? I don't hold it against Wang's movie...but it's just the kind of thing that makes thinking about it intolerable.
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