Friday, July 27, 2012

#4 & #5: Jason Segal Double Feature

It seems that my Netflix Challenge list is much like watching Star Trek movies--only the odd numbers are good. Moneyball was great. Harold & Kumar not so much. 50/50 was amazing. Bad Teacher was  just whatever. It wasn't a bad movie, per say. It just wasn't a good one. 

Cameron Diaz is Elizabeth Halsey, a foul-mouthed, money-digging, pot-smoking horrendous person. Elizabeth teaches junior high. And people like her are the reason good teachers get the short end of every stick. When her sugar daddy leaves her, she decides that she needs bigger boobs, and her entire purpose for doing EVERYTHING is to get bigger boobs and woo the  extremely wealthy substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake). For some odd reason, the gym teacher (Jason Segal) takes a liking to Elizabeth and an odd one-direction love triangle starts. That's not even a triangle, that's just a love line with three people.

Diaz is funny enough, but her character had so few redeeming traits that I was waiting, nay hoping, she would fail. As I tell my students on a regular basis, protagonist appeal is of the utmost importance in a movie (Well, the ones lacking giant explosions, car chases and such.) Diaz's character had no appeal. I wasn't even that curious about what crap she would get into next. She did, as necessary, have a couple of redeeming moments near the end, but she still never seemed likable. Jason Segal, though, he was pretty hilarious. His character is the gym teacher you wish you had in high school. Loved every minute he was on screen. 

Jeff, Who Lives at Home was better than Bad Teacher, by far. Segal is Jeff, a 30 year-old lazy man who lives in his mom's basement. His brother (Ed Helms) is a selfish jerk who finds out his wife is cheating. His mother (Susan Sarandon) finds a surprising admirer at work. The movie is over the course of one day when Jeff starts following signs and gets off course on his way to buy wood glue. The people--family and not--he encounters are interesting but not fascinating. It is no laugh out loud comedy like Segal usually does, but it is still a funny, endearing story that explores the oddness of life. It was a little slow going for me and didn't truly pick up until the climax when everything sort of came together in this unbelievable moment. I don't regret seeing it, but I probably won't watch it again.

So, there you go. Two Jason Segal movies back-to-back. Now that I'm over this Strep throat, I can get back to watching. Crazy Heart sat on the shelf too long. I'm sending it back and moving it to the bottom of the list. Next up, Real Steel.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

#3 50/50

This is one of those movies that just missed me when it came through theaters. I love mostly everything Joseph Gordon-Levitt does, and I think any story about fighting cancer is worth my time. This movie was more than worth my time. It's in my top five great movies I've seen this year.

Excellent acting. Amazingly moving story. Hilarious. Heartbreaking. All that good stuff.

I remember seeing the first preview on IMDb, and there were comments from people who were offended by the idea that someone would dare make a comedy about cancer. My response: why the hell not!? Cancer is a big fat bitch, and sometimes the only way to deal with the biggest bitches is to laugh at them. 50/50 isn't a straight up comedy though, so don't go in expecting some terminal illness version of Knocked Up. It's an honest story about a young guy dealing with the idea of death and the idea of surviving. (I'm getting a little choked up writing this review. That's how good this movie is!)

All the characters are relatable, and I cannot give enough praises to the amazing acting of Gordon-Levitt. Seth Rogen is pretty much the same character he plays in every movie, but it works here. Bryce Dallas Howard is properly annoying, and Anna Kendrick is lovable and perfect. Anjelica Huston, though not on screen for very long, completely embodies the overbearing Mom who needs love and sympathy too.

After watching the awful third installment of the Harold & Kumar series, 50/50 was very refreshing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

#2: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

It was Christmas in July in our house tonight, and a disappointing Christmas at that. This Harold and Kumar adventure was definitely not the best; it wasn't even the second best. Tim said it's "tied for fourth."

The weed jokes were there, and they were mostly dull. The crude humor was prevalent, but nothing was tears-in-my-eyes funny. NPH was brash and horny, but his turn in the whore house in Texas from the second movie was far more entertaining. The recurring joke with the little girl kind of got on my nerves (blame being a parent if you want, but a toddler and cocaine is just not funny).

I guess I shouldn't have expected much from the third outing of a stoner movie, but I was expecting a little more.

Sorry if this review seemed dialed in; I'm just showing the movie as much love as it showed me.