WALL-E

Official Movie Site: WALL-E
Rated: G

Swanner: One thing I love about summer is that we always get a new Pixar movie. Granted I was disappointed in Cars but last years Ratatouille reminded me what great filmmakers the folks at Pixar can be. This years offering is Wall-E. The story follows the only surviving robot left on earth after all humans have been evacuated. Our hero continues he’s daily routine for hundreds of years till one day a robot probe is dropped on earth and Wall-E realizes how lonely he’s existence has become.

Judd: As our readers know, I hated Cars and I wasn’t too fond of Ratatouille after my initial viewing (I’ve changed my opinion after watching at home). For some reason I knew I was going to like Wall-E. I figured that because our star Wall-E is effectively mute, Pixar was going to have to rely on acting, a simple script, and excellent direction to get the story across—keystones of their previous successes. Wall-E delivers all that and a healthy dose of Hello Dolly.

Swanner: I was surprised at what an emotional movie it was but it’s Pixar…and those people are amazing and always seem to surprise me. There were a few times I was brought to tears. I also liked that this movie is bright and cute for the children but has a real substance storyline for the adults that deals with what were doing to the planet and ourselves. How corporations are telling us how to live and as they do Wall-E becomes more human than the humans in the film. I know I make it seem like a serious film but it’s really a romantic comedy with a message most people won’t get till they are in their car.

Judd: I know what brought a tear to your eye. It was the hover chairs the humans were zooming around in on the spaceship. They were armless recliners with built in TV and cell phone. The fact that you won’t be alive to see just marvelous technology is what made you misty.

Swanner: You are such an asshole…seriously. Granted…I would like to have one but that was not what I was teary about. I’m sure if I tried to explain it to you it wouldn’t do any good since your kind of evil isn’t capable of emotion. I did notice that the character of Wall-E was quite similar to Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp character. You can really see it in his relating with Eve, the female probe, and his little cockroach friend. I’m sure the people at Disney would have preferred something more fuzzy and cuddly. All of a sudden the rats in Ratatouille don’t seem so bad.

Judd: You mentioned the comparison to Charlie Chaplin when we left the theatre, and while I don’t want to say you’re wrong I do think Wall-E can be compared to any silent comedic film actor of that era that would sometimes play a romantic lead. Buster Keaton also comes to mind. And that that’s what I think what made Wall-E such a likable and engaging film even though there’s no dialogue for the first half. Pixar pulled from the classics of the silent era. With one look they could break your heart.

Swanner: Break your heart…don’t you need a heart to have it break? Satan!!! I loved this movie. I thought Kung Fu Panda was the animated movie to beat this year but Wall-E moves right into that spot. Actually, like Ratatouille, this film becomes more than just an animated movie. It crosses over that line that only Pixar and Disney seem to be able to cross. I’ll be surprised if this film isn’t a huge hit and a real Best Picture contender at this year’s Oscars. Andrew Stanton is the writer/director (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., A Bugs Life) and a gift from the movie Gods.

Judd: Stanton does seem to have a knack for creating stories that are sophisticated enough for the adults and light enough for the kiddies. Wall-E is a shoo-in for Best Animated, but I think it’s a little early for Best Picture. We’ll see in February.

Swanner: 5 Stars
Judd: 4½ Stars

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Wanted

Official Movie Site: Wanted
Rated: R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality

Judd: The other night Tom and I saw the newest film from director Timur Bekmambetov, the same guy that gave us the Russian phenomena Night Watch and Day Watch. Wanted stars James McAvoy as an insignificant nobody whose life is changed when super assassin Angelina Jolie introduces him to a secret society of super assassins headed up by Morgan Freeman.

Swanner: Once involved, McAvoy discovers that the major bad guy killed his father and now plans to kill him. So McAvoy must train to avenge his father death. So that’s the plot in a nut shell…a very small nutshell but it’s a popcorn movie. Plenty of action, great editing, incredible stunts and special effects. Everything you could possibly want in a summer action flick. Actually we could have used more male nudity but that’s just me I’m sure

Judd: You are a fat pervert. I thought the movie was a little too predictable and that the lead character was a little inconsistent. For our readers that are fans of the comic series, Wanted is what is called in the biz as “loosely based”. Wesley (McAvoy) and The Fox (Jolie) are the only characters from the comic that made it into the movie and while the plot is similar it’s not nearly as dark. I agree that the action sequences were fantastic, but the thin plot was a real negative for me.

Swanner: Call me a pervert if you want but do you have to call me fat? I thought it was predictable as well but I didn’t go to the movie thinking it was going to have a complicated plot. I actually it had more plot than I expected. I did think that with the a good looking cast that we could have used more nudity. It was an R rated movie and there were plenty of opportunities to see some man meat but what do we get??? A half ass shot of Angelina Jolie’s ass. I just don’t think its fair.

Judd: I haven’t called you fat in a while, so I had to throw it out there on general principle. I think that a movie with such artistic direction and interesting characters should have had a deeper plot. I saw the twist coming from a mile away. Maybe Universal/Paramount wanted to test Bekmambetov with American audiences so they gave him a flimsy script. I don’t know, but I do know that the script was not worthy of the direction. I know it sounds one note, but I wanted to like the movie more that I did and I would have if the script was better.

Swanner: I think your point is valid. I loved his earlier movies and those movies had quite complicated stories with many twists and turns. This was not that complicated but in it’s defense I don’t think it needed to. I liked the simplistic story…good vs. evil. I think it would have just muddled it down. The last thing I want to see is another Spider-man 3. Earlier, when I mentioned the male nudity…I didn’t mean Morgan Freeman. He’s one of my favorite actors…clothed actors. I think seeing him naked would be like seeing Kathy Bates naked…don’t make me to that again please.

Judd: Well then let’s agree to disagree.

Swanner: 3½
Judd: 2

The Love Guru

Official Movie Site: The Love Guru
Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references

Swanner: Imagine if you will…all the rejected jokes from all the Austin Power movies, mix that with a handful of Bollywood salutes and let sit. Pour in an ex-N’sync performer and one of the worst actress working today. Bake for 88 minutes and serve to anyone that can swallow it down and you have the latest Mike Myers bad idea gone worse…The Love Guru.

Judd: I was baked for 88 minutes and the movie still sucked! The Love Guru is about a guru who wants to be as famous as Depak Chopra and he’s hired to counsel a hockey player whose wife? girlfriend? who cares? leaves him for the opposing team’s well endowed goalie. Mike Myers (over)plays The Guru Pitka, Jessica Alba (under)plays the team owner, and Justin Timberlake shows up as Jacque “The Cock” Grande. If you’re wondering who played the hockey player and his girlfriend it doesn’t matter.

Swanner: I was noticing that as well. The two main characters, the hockey player and his wife, were not really that important in the show because Mike Myers didn’t play either. The whole movie was Myers trying to recapture the fame he achieved in the Austin Power movies. It was torturous to watch. Fart jokes, pooh jokes and penis jokes were all they had to offer. I normally like Myers movies but The Love Guru was just awful.

Judd: I will say that the teenage boys with what I would assume were learning disabilities that sat behind us thought the movie was hysterical. Although there was one in their bunch that felt the humor was too complex and a few of the jokes were over his head. So I would recommend this movie to anyone who is dumb enough to not understand why a character name Jacque The Cock would have a rooster as his logo.

Swanner: Him. The loud short bus rider that sat directly behind me. Yes, those with learning disabilities might want to steer away from this complicated script. I must say that he was funnier (tragically) than the movie. I did think that Justin Timberlake was the only thing that kept this film from just being a complete waste of time. He may have been over the top but you can tell he’s out to make something good and not just make himself more famous. I think he’s a real talent…a real cute talent and I bought his character completely. He had fun so I had fun till Mike Myers had to steal all the attention again

Judd: You liked Timberlake because of his big willy and the five minutes he was on screen in a Speedo. The rest of his performance was just as over the top as Myers. We forgot to mention Ben Kingsley is in the movie. I guess he wanted to add it to his esteemed list of work like The Sound of Thunder and Bloodrayne. His Oscar weeps.

Swanner:Sure I enjoyed Justin in the Speedo, but I thought he actually added something and got some rock solid laughs. His role seemed uncut and fully fleshed out. We also forgot about Stephen Colbert, he plays one of the play by play sportscasters that’s having some issues with addiction.

Judd: Colbert was probably the funniest character in the movie and even he sucked!

Swanner: 1½ Stars
Judd: ½ Stars

Get Smart

Official Movie Site: Get Smart
Rated: PG-13 for some rude humor, action violence and language.

Swanner: I had many questions on why a studio would try to recreate a 40 year old TV series into a $80 million dollar big screen summer movie. The 18 to 25 year olds probably have never seen the original and would late 60’s humor translate to today’s younger audiences? I have more questions, but these are the ones that would have concerned me if it was my $80 mil. Brian, can you answer these questions?

Judd: Would you believe I do not have an answer to your questions? Get Smart was reincarnated for seven episodes on Fox in 1995. Don Adams did White Castle commercials in 1990. Barbara Feldon hasn’t done anything remarkable since her cameo on Mad About You in 1993. My only guess is that actor/producer Steve Carell and director/producer Peter Segal (Tommy Boy, Naked Gun 33 1/3) are fans of the show and they are the ones the pushed the idea.

Swanner: Well whatever the reason for doing it…it worked. First thing they did was to update the brand of humor. They used some of the gags for the TV series, the ones that will satisfy the older crowd, but brought in a lot of fresh ideas that supplied big laughs. My only complaint was Terence Stamp, I don’t think they told him it was a comedy. His character seemed like the only guy that wasn’t in on the joke.

Judd: He was the bad guy, he wasn’t supposed to be a part of the buffoonery. The plot of the movie is that Maxwell Smart finally becomes a C.O.N.T.R.O.L. agent and he’s assigned to tracking down a nuclear weapons stockpile held by C.H.O.A.S. in Russia. I liked how they used the Cold War elements from the show as a part of the movie. I think I was happy to see bad guys that weren’t Muslim terrorists. Who knew there would come a day when Soviet arms dealers would be considered “fresh”!

Swanner: Besides Carell there is a big funny cast. Anne Hathaway does a excellent job playing agent 99. You also have an outstanding supporting cast with Alan Arkin, Dwayne Johnson, Terry Crews and David Koechner. Alan Arkin is always a welcome member of any cast and really good here. I must admit I went in expecting the worst but had a really good time. I didn’t think they were going to be able to pull it off but they made a 40 year old concept work.

Judd: I thought it was “nice”. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t horrible, it was nice. It was safe. It felt like they were casting the widest net possible for the movie—which of course is what you want to do with a summer blockbuster, but I felt they may have sacrificed something that could have given the movie a little bite.

Swanner: You’re right on the “safe” thing but I think it goes back to my first questions. Maybe “smart” would be the better word here. With a risky project like this you have to hit the biggest demographic you can to cover the investment. I think they did it and did it well.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Official Movie Site: The Incredible Hulk [2008]
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images, and brief suggestive content

Swanner: I know you’re probably curious on why they are remaking The Hulk. I think I’m the only one that liked the first one, which failed to become the blockbuster comic book movie hit they had hoped for. But the studio had enough faith in The Hulk to pour even more money into the chance of creating a franchise. Surprisingly, this new version is really good and looks to become the box office champ they always knew The Hulk could be.

Judd: I didn’t see The Hulk, but I know it wasn’t well received. I do know that The Incredible Hulk is a complete re-do starring Ed Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt. It follows the same format as the other Marvel Comic movies inasmuch as we see how our star became the way he is during the credits, there’s about 90 minutes of plot, 15 minutes of the big final battle, and 10 minutes at the end to lead into the sequel. Original? No. Entertaining? Yes—with exceptions.

Swanner: Exceptions? I don’t like the sound of that. The difference between the two versions for me is like comparing Alien to Aliens. Granted they are not the same storyline but the way they were approached was quite similar. Alien is much like the original Hulk. Deliberately paced, more cerebral and focusing on the angst of the character. The Incredible Hulk is much like Aliens, action, action, action…breathe…action, action, action. Was it better for me? They are both good but this one will definitely keep your attention.

Judd: I hated Ed Norton and Liv Tyler. I thought they were boring and wooden. Ed Norton’s poor performance I blame on direction. Liv, well she’s Gwyneth Paltrow with fuller lips—speaking of, Liv’s upper lip is so plump, I swear to Jehovah I thought I saw it touch the bottom of her nose. It was extremely distracting. It looked like someone punched her in the mouth.

Swanner: I agree that Ed Norton’s performance was under played which I’m sure was the direction and the script. After all, Bruce Banner is suppose to stay calm to prevent the Hulk from coming out. Coming out…I guess it is a bit of a “coming out” story. Anyway, Norton’s performance was what I was hoping for…Liv Tyler on the other hand has the emotional range of a corn muffin. I did like when the Hulk was growling at her and her hair moved. So I’ll give props for her hair.

Judd: I’m sure that director Louis Leterrier (Transporter) was trying to make Bruce Banner cool, calm and collected, but it was overkill Norton came off as nearly comatose. Despite the sedated performances I will say the movie moved extremely fast. The action scenes were great, and luckily there were plenty of them. The Incredible Hulk is in no way as slick as Iron Man, but I don’t think it was meant to be.

Swanner: I think overall they did a nice job with it. It was nice to see cameos by Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. I also liked the ending and for goodness sake…don’t reveal the surprise.

Judd: Bill Bixby was in it? I must have missed him. There was no missing Lou Ferrigno—and FYI, Lou provided the voice for The Hulk. Oh no! That wasn’t the surprise was it?

Swanner: Why must you ruin everything?

Swanner: 3½ Stars
Judd: 2½ Stars

Sex And The City

Official Movie Site: Sex And The City
Rated: R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language

Swanner: I know all the girls have been waiting for this one and I do use the word “girls” loosely. It’s been four years since Sex And The City was one of HBO’s big hits and now after all these years people are wondering if the ‘sex’ is still good…the answer is “yes” it’s still really good. I know both Brian and I approached this film with hesitation. I didn’t really watch the series and Brian was a big fan but was afraid the magic couldn’t happen again.

Judd: I was a big fan, but over the years as I moved from my eager and hopeful twenties into my dry and embittered sixties I find that the story doesn’t move me as much as it once did. The writing is still sharp and there were some funny moments, but at nearly two and a half hours it felt like little more than five shows run back to back. The characters are the same. Carrie is still selfish and convinced she can teach an old dog a new trick. Charlotte is still an uptown trixie fixated with having the perfect life. Miranda is still going against her grain with Steve and the baby. And Samantha is still a one dimensional, sex-obsessed drag queen.

Swanner: I’ve got to tell you when I heard it was that long I nearly crapped myself. Comedies traditionally are under two hours…way under. But they made it work, even though I did ask Brian the time once. Most special effects films usually run two and a half hours, and if you consider the makeup involved to make those old hens attractive, it really is a special effects film.

Judd: They could have trimmed off ½ an hour by cutting out the montages. There were at least two montages of SJP modeling clothes. And then there was that god-awful Auld Lang Syne montage. It felt like writer/director Michael Patrick King was trying to fluff it up so that the audience could get as close to OD’ing as possible. Four years is a long time without a fix.

Swanner: I OD’ed and I never really watched the show. I really hated the Miranda character. Was she always such an asshole? (can I say that?) I guess she really had the most to work with as an actress. The goofy dumb one was a waste and the old cougar was funny in a sad way but why is Sarah Jessica Parker considered such a beauty. It looked like a mortician did her makeup in the film. There was at least twice in the movie I was startled at how scary she looked. The only time SJP looked good was when she had a vale on. They should have just called it The Golden Girls Reunion and called it a day.

Judd: Of course you OD’ed, you hadn’t built up a tolerance. Back at the beginning of the series Miranda was actually a good, normal character—probably the only normal character on the show. Which of course they had to go and screw that all up by making her pregnant. You know what I say about children—they ruin everything, including Miranda. So yes, she was always tough but this time they made her a downright bitch. She was once my favorite character and I think I hated her the most in the movie.

Swanner: I definitely hated her the most. I did notice that with the exception of the movie star none of the guys were head turners. Was it like that in the series? It’s New York and they can’t do better than that? How can SJP be a fashion plate? I mean magazines call her a trendsetter? She looked more like an Irish Setter. Granted you and I are aren’t any kind of beauties ourselves but we never claimed to be. Maybe that’s what the joke was…Carrie thinks she’s pretty and the other women hang out with her to feel prettier. Even Cynthia Nixon is better looking. I’m becoming obsessed.

Judd: The mole haunts your dreams.

Swanner: it does. I could take a nail clipper and just snip that baby off. Doesn’t she have medical insurance? I did think the dresses and shoes were nice and they way under used my close personal friend, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Jenn did a nice job with what she had but I don’t want to make the movie any longer…what was it four hours or something?

Judd: I thought Jennifer Hudson was weak—which I place the blame solely on the director. There were several instances in the movie that the audience was laughing when they shouldn’t have been and that is a direct result of weak or misguided direction. Hudson’s bland performance in a throwaway character was little more than to give her a little face time.

Swanner: That is not her fault. They always got complaints that it was all about the white girls so they call in Jennifer Hudson (my close personal friend) to make nothing more than a cameo appearance in the film. Bland…the role maybe but Jenn!! She looked spectacular and you can just take the paws off my girl. Now even though i make fun of Sarah Jessica Parker it doesn’t mean i didn’t like the movie. It was entertaining and fans of the show should be very happy with the results.

Swanner: 2.5 Stars
Judd: 3 Stars

Iron Man

Official Movie Site: Iron Man Movie
Rated: PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content

Judd: The summer blockbuster season gets kicked off with Iron Man this year, and if the rest of the movies are as good we’re in for one hell of a summer.

Swanner: Iron man follows Tony Stark a weapons mogul who is taken hostage by terrorists and while being held builds a prototype of a suit that will become a major weapon for anyone that controls the technology. Using the suit to escape his captors he decides to use this technology for good while others want it for their own evil ways.

Judd: As everybody probably already knows, Tony Stark is played by Robert Downey Jr.. What everybody probably does not know, that that Robert Downey Jr. is buff! He looks good! Surprisingly good considering the past ten years. The cast also includes Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane; Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes, Stark’s military liaison; and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Stark’s assistant. The whole cast was excellent, especially Jeff Bridges. Although, Gwyneth provided the same bland whininess she gives to all her characters.

Swanner: You are so right, the cast is very good especially Bridges and Downey Jr. I also thought the story was good and frankly I was surprised a couple of times by the twists. John Favreau did a really good job with the pacing as well as the look of the film. I think this ranks up with Batman Begins or the original X- Men. We have a new franchise on our hands and I can’t wait to see more of it. You need to be nicer to Gwyneth, those shoes she was wearing were fierce.

Judd: I can’t say that I was surprised by anything; I thought the plot was fairly by the numbers. I can only think of one twist that I didn’t see coming, but I think anyone familiar with the comic will already know. That’s not to say that everything else about the movie wasn’t spectacular. As our readers know, I’m not a special effects person, but the special effects in Iron Man are absolutely amazing. Fantastic. And I want to kiss Favreau for understanding that frantic tension does not mean wildly shaking the camera a la Michael Bay.

Swanner: Of course fans of the comic aren’t going to be surprised by the plot but newbies to Iron Man like myself will be. There is very little here that was great. It was two hours and I was never bored…that says something. When summer offers so much fluff, it’s nice to start out so strong with a really smart fun movie. I love the way Robert Downey Jr. owns the screen in this film; he really looks like a movie star. It’s not surprising since he’s had such wonderful performances recently in Charlie Bartlett and Zodiac. I’m excited for him.

Judd: Iron Man definitely puts Downey back on top. You know I liked a movie if I say that I would pay full price to see it, and I would pay full price to see Iron Man – hell, I’d might even spring for popcorn.

Swanner: 4 Stars
Judd: 4 Stars