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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

#1: Moneyball

I love sports movies. The drama of the game and the emotions of the players usually gets me every time. It's not often that you watch a sports movie that's not about the players.  Moneyball is one of those movies, but it still holds all the drama and emotion of a traditional sports film.

Brad Pitt is Billy Beane, a former player turned scout turned GM for the Oakland A's. In 2001, he shook up MLB by choosing players based on the advice of an economics graduate from Yale named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Billy didn't have a lot of money to spend on superstars, so he had to figure a way to build a winning team on a budget. This was his way. It wasn't received well, and it had a rocky start, but there wouldn't be a movie starring Brad Pitt if everything had been perfect, right?

The movie, at times, feels more documentary than narrative, and I like that. When you're behind-the-scenes you really want to feel like you're peering into a world you're not usually allowed to see. As with most sports movies, I found myself completely getting into the Big Game scene. I sat on the edge of the sofa, bated breath, just waiting for the outcome. I tend to completely lose myself in a good cinematic sporting event, and this one did not disappoint.

Pitt, channeling Robert Redford like nobody's business, does an excellent job. He carries the humor, humility, frustration, and quiet gratification of Billy Beane throughout the story. It was also nice to see that Jonah Hill can indeed play serious. I was actually worried that his performance would resemble Owen Wilson's attempt at playing straight (which comes across as sarcastic). Hill fits comfortably, and I never laughed at him at inappropriate times.

If you're a fan of baseball, definitely see this movie. If you're a fan of the underdog, see this movie. It's heartwarming, a bit inspiring, and all around well done.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

30 Movies on Netflix: The List

  1. Moneyball
  2. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
  3. 50/50
  4. Bad Teacher
  5. Jeff, Who Lives at Home
  6. Crazy Heart
  7. Real Steel
  8. The Switch
  9. Contagion
  10. Red: Werewolf Hunter
  11. The Debt
  12. Chronicle
  13. Anonymous
  14. Tower Heist
  15. The Change-Up
  16. Just Go with It
  17. What's Your Number?
  18. Friends with Kids
  19. The Sitter
  20. Our Idiot Brother
  21. 30 Minutes or Less
  22. The Back-Up Plan
  23. Young Adult
  24. How Do You Know
  25. Yes Man
  26. Love and Other Drugs
  27. My Week with Marilyn
  28. The Woman in Black
  29. Friends with Benefits
  30. Larry Crowne

30 Movies on Netflix

Hi there! I don't even know who's going to read this since it's been soooooo long. But I'm back to throw out a challenge.

I don't get to the theatre as much as I did before L&D came along, but I do still love my Netflix. I'm trying to catch up on some movies I've been wanting to see (and some I'm sure Tim would be interested in seeing), so I've moved 30 of those movies to the top of my queue.

All my shows are on hiatus until the fall season starts in September, so here's the challenge:

Watch all 30 of these movies (click here for the list) and write reviews for them before the fall season starts in September. Can I do it? I hope so!

In the words of Barney Stinson...