Month: December 2013

Gigli (2003)

An oddball comedy/crime movie that might be a bit insensitive the mentally impaired, Gigli isn’t a horrible mess, and it actually contains a bunch of individually great scenes which show us just how much better it could have been. It’s ultimately a failure of a movie, but there’s enough good material here that I almost want to suggest that you watch it, simply because a few scenes are worth seeing. Perhaps you’ll be able to catch them on television or watch them on YouTube. The film stars then-real-life couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, each playing a “professional” contracted to kidnap a mentally handicapped kid and hold him for purposes of extortion by their boss. Affleck’s character, Larry Gigli (pronounced Gee-lee), takes Brian (Justin Bartha) from his assisted living facility and brings him back to his house. Ricki (Lopez) shows up a few minutes later, informs him that Larry’s boss didn’t trust Larry to do the job himself, and so that’s that. Larry and Ricki have to babysit a plot device until events sort of just happen to them that cause reactions. The film subverts a few clich├ęs. Larry is attracted to Ricki from the start, and he hopes that they’ll fall in love. Perhaps he is in love with her at first glance. She is a lesbian. She informs him of this right off the bat. She doesn’t...

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

You would have to press me really hard in order for me to tell you anything that I could remember about the first live-action G.I. Joe film, which I had to look up again to learn that it was subtitled Rise of Cobra. I only watched it a few months before the sequel, but remembering anything that happened within it is a struggle. The only thing that clearly came to mind was the final reveal right before — or was it during, or after? — the credits, which (spoiler alert!) told us that the President of the United States had been impersonated by a member of Cobra, the bad guys. Not remembering a whole lot is a theme that I sadly took to the sequel, as even a few moments after G.I. Joe: Retaliation came to a close, I was struggling to remember what had just happened. I only wish I was kidding. This is the kind of film that is moderately exciting in the moment, but if you’re trying to remember any of it afterward, you’re going to struggle. There’s a lot of action and a lot of funnily named characters, but that’s about it. Given that the lead from the first film is killed in the first few scenes in Retaliation, it almost seems as if the film wants to be more of a reboot, focused on...

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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is an action movie that is a lot of fun if you can get your mind into the place of its intended audience: The twelve-year-old boy who just loves smashing up his toys real good. Or, more correctly, smashing up the rest of the house, because the toys themselves rarely take a hit. Seriously, with all the gunfire, high-speed chases and close-quarters fighting in Rise of Cobra, it seemed to me as if people missed far too often, while everything around them was getting completely destroyed. Purportedly based on Hasbro’s long-running line of action figures, Rise of Cobra is exactly that: An origin story for the bad guys in the G.I. Joe universe. The Joes, as they are called — a team of the best and brightest soldiers from all over the globe — have already been established prior to the film’s opening. They protect the citizens of the world from bad guys, or something of that nature. They seem to exist solely for the plot of this film, and could easily have been on vacation leave prior to its opening events, in which four “nanomite” missiles are almost stolen by some bad guys. The army was guarding them, and while they failed in their protection, the Joes managed to secure them. For whatever reason, two army men, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord...

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The Kids Are All Right (2010)

More about the general concept of family than any particular situation, The Kids Are All Right is a drama about an unconventional situation which contains many instances easily applied to all sorts of familial struggles. The fact that it centers on a lesbian couple who happen to find their relationship complicated upon meeting their sperm donor makes it noteworthy, but I do think that despite a specific story and cast of characters, many of the lessons and discussions within the film apply to the lives of almost anyone. The aforementioned couple includes Nic (Annette Bening), a doctor and the more controlling member of the family, and Jules (Julianne Moore), who is hoping to start a landscaping business, but has never been able to follow through on anything in her life. The two are in love but even at the film’s opening, we can see there are troubles. Together, they have two kids: Joni (Mia Wasikowska), recently 18 and heading off to college at the end of the summer; and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), who wants to meet the biological father of both the children. And it was just one father. Both women had one child from a single sperm donor. That donor happens to be Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who owns an organic restaurant and acts as the antithesis to Nic. He’s a laid-back person who says “cool” a whole lot,...

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Manic (2001)

Shot in a raw, gritty, handheld manner that often makes it feel like a documentary, Manic is a film that you’ve likely seen before, or at least you’ll feel as if you’ve seen it at some point in your life. If you’ve ever seen a movie in which a character is placed in a mental hospital, you’ve seen Manic, as it hits all the beats required of such a film and rarely deviates from the formula. Manic‘s claim to fame is that its characters are primarily young teenagers. The lead is Lyle Jensen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is forced into a juvenile psychiatric ward after nearly killing another kid with a baseball bat. He claims nothing is wrong with him, but the cigarette burns on his arms and obvious anger issues say otherwise. The primary psychiatrist is Dr. Monroe (Don Cheadle), and he says that they’re going to help him with his issues. Perhaps having a caring and genuinely good primary doctor is another thing that Manic does differently. Dr. Monroe does seem like he really wants to help these kids. From this point, the film progresses mainly as you’d expect. Each of the secondary characters at the mental hospital is defined almost solely based on the problem that brought them there. One likes to fight. One is self-harming. Another lacks self confidence and screams at night for what seems...

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