Traitor

Official Site: traitor-themovie.com

Judd: The other night Tom and I saw Traitor, a movie about a Muslim boy who witnesses his father’s murder and grows up to be a terrorist. If you’re already rolling your eyes there’s no point in reading the rest of the review. I will say that while the plot is only slightly deeper than my summary, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Neal McDonough and Said Taghmaoui gave excellent performances.

Swanner: Not to mention the cast was really cute…I feel so shallow. I’d also suggest that you not watch the trailer for the movie ahead of time cause they give some major plot devices away. I liked this movie more than you, I guess, and I hate terrorist movies. I hate feeling uncomfortable for two hours waiting for them to blow something up. It’s not very entertaining if you ask me. I agree that the cast is good and cute, as I mentioned, but it’s certainly not a repeat viewing for me.

Judd: The cast was ridiculously hot. Is it too much to ask to make a movie with ugly terrorists? Every time someone blew themselves up I was singing Sex Bomb in the back of my head. Traitor does go a little deeper into the religious aspects of terrorism than other like films. Cheadle is an ex-American and deeply religious Muslim who is drafted into a terrorist cell. The movie explores the fact that the Quran does not condone terrorist violence but it’s open to very wide interpretation.

Swanner: I just don’t like terrorist movies. It all so tense and the explosions. Why don’t terrorist movies ever have a gratuitous shower scene? We got it in Eastern Promise and that made that movie much more entertaining. Did you notice that Guy Pierce looks a lot better than he did after he did The Time Machine. I swear he had the HGH look to him but now he’s looking good. Maybe he needs to take a shower too. It would be fun, all the boys snapping towels and slapping butts. I think I need a shower myself.

Judd: See there you go, if all the terrorists looked like you I’d be a lot less distracted. The only problem I have with terrorist movies as a genre is that they’re all the same. This one tried to break the mold, but the sheer length of the film broke the tension and momentum. The last 20 minutes were dragged out way too long and I found myself looking at my watch. When the very end of the film came it felt too neat and tidy. Everything was hunky dory, there was no sense of lasting repercussions.

Swanner: I thought the ending was really good and you were checking your watch at one hour and 15 minutes into the movie. I remember this since I asked what the time it was and groaned after you told me. The middle of the movie was like dragging an anchor down the street. I thought it was never going to end. Did I mention I don’t like these kinds of movies?

Judd: There was a big reveal in the middle of the movie that picked up the pace for me, but as I said, that pace didn’t last. For me the movie was like giving a BJ to a guy that won’t orgasm. In the beginning I’m having fun; toward the middle I’m still into it but I’m getting tired; by the end I’m sore, bored and can’t wait for it to be over.

Swanner: A 1 hour 55 minute BJ. I would have gone home a long time ago. The movie wasn’t that boring or torturous. It felt like there was way too much about Cheadle’s character and we really don’t know where he stands. So as we they reveal more and more about him, the earlier info becomes less important. By the way… he’s religious, we get it. Do we really need to watch him pray again?

Judd: I disagree that as Cheadle’s character progresses the earlier info becomes irrelevant, but I do agree that his character isn’t nearly as deep and convicted as the filmmakers intended which does make him seem a bit ambiguous. I would recommend this movie to Cheadle and Pearce fan for their performances, but I think they won’t be happy with the movie overall.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars

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The House Bunny


Official Site:www.thehousebunny.com
Rated: PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language.

Swanner: Shelly is a house bunny at the Playboy mansion but the day after her 27th birthday she’s asked to leave because 27 years is 59 years in bunny years. So Shelly must face the world as an uneducated, homeless bunny. Fear not because Shelly happens by a sorority house that’s looking for a house mother. Of course the sorority girls could really use an ex-bunny to help them transform themselves so the boys will notice them. Anna Faris stars as Shelly and I think this is the film that’s finally going to make her a star.

Judd: Anna Faris has always been a star to me! She’s had a very interesting career. She’s done the Scary Movies and various other fluff pieces. She’s done a handful of indie flicks, some of good and some not so good. She was also in Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain. Not to mention she’s in my all time favorite movie May, so I’ve been a fan of Anna’s for a long time and I was banking that I would enjoy The House Bunny based on her alone. I have to say, she delivered as she always does.

Swanner: The movie felt a lot like Revenge of the Nerds. You have the poor picked upon sorority Zeta Alpha Zeta (think Omega Mu) and the mean stick-up-the-butt Phi Iota Mu sorority who has plans to take over their house. Fortunately Shelly will save the day and all will end well. I don’t want to hear anyone saying that I’m ruining the ending. If you think there will be some tragic end to a movie called The House Bunny than I feel sorry for you.

Judd: Geez, could you have at least given a spoiler alert! The plot really isn’t all that important. You know that Shelly is going to teach the ugly girls how to be pretty and popular, and the ugly girls are going to teach Shelly a little self awareness. OK, so it’s not a movie that Gloria Steinem would endorse but I thought it was a funny fluff piece. Would have it been as funny without Anna? Maybe, but her comedic timing and physical skills are impeccable. She’s really what elevated The House Bunny to something more than an end of summer scrapper.

Swanner: I agree. Anna Faris really comes through and carries the movie. There are also a lot of young actress who deliver some really good performances. I liked that the unpopular girls were very different characters. So often female characters are all just window dressing for their male counterparts but here the woman are actually better actors and better looking than the guys. Actually, guys in this show are nothing to right home about. Seriously, were there any guys you would classify as hot?

Judd: Shelly’s love interest really isn’t all that cute, but he’s not supposed to be. The bartender at the mansion was intentionally goofy looking. The guy that the 2nd lead goes after really isn’t all that cute either. But then this movie about the girls and their transformation. It really didn’t need cute guys. For a lot of the other actresses in the house this was their debut, including Katherine McFee and Rumer Willis.

Swanner: Katherine McFee…blah!!!

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 3 Stars

The Rocker

Official Site: rockermovie.com
Rated: PG-13 for drug and sexual references, nudity and language

Judd: The other night while Tom stayed home to play with his Ouija Board, I trekked out to the theatres and sacrificed my time for you, dear reader, and saw Rainn Wilson in The Rocker. It’s being touted as a Rainn Wilson movie—the goofy guy from The Office—but what it is, actually, is a 102 minute Teddy Geiger commercial. Who is Teddy Geiger? He’s a failed teeny-bopper Jonas Brothers solo wannabe who was a flash in the pan in 2006. And guess what, he’s got a new album coming out this year!

Swanner: Teddy’s not that cute. Did he sing well? Would I like the album? Isn’t this the movie about a rock drummer who is dumped by his band just as they are becoming famous and now (20 years later) he lives in his sister’s attic? So who is this Teddy? At my meeting last night some haggard stage mother parked her gas guzzler so close to my car I couldn’t get in the car till after she left.

Judd: What do you mean, “Who is this Teddy?” I told you who Teddy is! And yes, Teddy is cute. He looks like Gael Garcia Bernal’s younger brother. Yum. I would pay to see them make out. Anyway, the premise to lure people older than 12 into the theatre is that Rainn Wilson is a failed rock star living in his sister’s attic. The movie is really about an Emo band trying to make it big. Teddy Geiger played the lead singer who has a crush on the bassist, played by Emma Stone, whom he’s dating in real life. The movie was an issue of Tiger Beat on film. Tom would have loved it.

Swanner: He’s 20 years old, so before you paint me as a van driving, grade school perv, I wasn’t the one who would pay to watch him make out with that hideously thin Bernal…and by the way, I no longer get Tiger Beat. So now you’re saying they spent 30 million dollars to jump start this guys career…that’s what you’re saying, right? You don’t see anything odd here? Maybe they played songs in this movie about a “rock band” to sell soundtrack albums?

Judd: $30M is nuthin’ for them there Hollyweird types! They’d spend $30M on a colonic! Seriously though, the movie was a bland, inoffensive, forgettable teen film. If I were a fan of Rainn Wilson I would have left the theater feeling duped. The Rocker is not the movie that’s being advertised. It’s not a bad movie and I didn’t hate it, but it’s not a good movie either. And yes, I do believe that this movie is an attempt to jumpstart Teddy’s career. Why else would feature three whole songs from a fake band with an encore at the end of the movie? This Is Spinal Tap, this is not.

Swanner: You are always looking for a conspiracy. Last week you went on about how George Lucas released the Star Wars cartoon as a way of introducing his Saturday morning cartoon and now this…what next? That Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Maybe they’re going after a best song nomination at the Oscars. The women who parked too close to my car last night had one of those SUV’s and she was parked in a compact spot…there’s your conspiracy damn it!!!

Judd: I’m not looking for conspiracies! This is the second movie I’ve seen this month that is little more than marketing for a product. They have absolutely no artistic merit or raison d’etre. (Don’t you love my $10 words?) I’m tired of sitting through commercials. Sure, it could be said that the Batman films or anything from Disney is about selling toys, but at least those movies have a depth and vision—OK, forget that I mentioned Disney.

Swanner: That’s where I put my foot down. No one slams Disney while I’m around. Remember, Disney and Pixar are one now. Shame on you!!!

Swanner: Missed it
Judd: 2 Stars

The Clone Wars (2008)

Official Site: www.starwars.com

Judd: In a further attempt to squeeze out another bazillion dollars from Star Wars fans, George Lucas has released another Star Wars movie. This one is Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which from what I know is episode 2.5. I never liked Star Wars. I didn’t like Four through Six and I hated One through Three. This one does nothing to change my mind. In fact as someone who isn’t blinded by fanaticism, I’m starting to think the Star Wars is the greatest hoodwink to have ever been created outside of organized religion—which Star Wars almost is!

Swanner: I’d just like to say that the views of Brian Judd are not those of swannerandjudd.com or any other publication they are associated with…are you insane. Calling Star Wars a cult and making George Lucas sound like a movie mogul Jim Jones? I don’t want my house torched by a bunch of 40 year old virgins that still live in their parents’ house…no way. I loved the movie. It was everything I’d hope a Star Wars movie would be.

Judd: Coward! The Clone Wars is about a war on a planet. Does it matter which planet? No. It is also about Jabba the Hut’s kidnapped child. And here’s how stupid the plot is…. Jabba hires the good guys to recover the child. The bad guys tell Jabba the good guys are the ones that kidnapped the child, so while the good guys are trying to return the kid, Jabba is trying to kill them. That’s it. That’s the whole movie. All 90 minutes of it. Oh and there’s Jabba’s gay Uncle Ziro, who sounded like a mix between Truman Capote, Leslie Jordan and Droopy Dog. Funny coincidence, the voice actor for the current Droopy Dog is the same actor for Ziro—what range!

Swanner: It really was the same person? You are so good…that is, when you don’t reveal the entire story of a new Star Wars movie. I’m not a coward, I’m smart. I’m not going to get on the wrong side of someone who’s main goal in life is the live long enough to own a real light saber. I thought I was a good story. It brought in a lot of favorite characters and introduced new characters. I didn’t really like Anakin’s new side kick. I thought the character was added just to appeal to the young girls and it’s not necessary. I also thought that the script’s dialog was lame. It’s bad Saturday morning cartoon dialog for 6 year olds. Lucas doesn’t realize that the fans of Star Wars love that it’s not dumb downed for kids. Even the kids appreciate that Star Wars remains or I should say remained pristine.

Judd: Don’t even get me started on the dialogue or the acting. I swear I heard Samuel L. Jackson stifle a yawn while he was delivering a line. The only reason this movie was released was to introduce the follow up Saturday morning cartoon. That’s why they introduced Anakin’s sassy apprentice and that’s why the dialogue was so lame, not that it’s excusable. There are plenty action-oriented cartoons that appeal to the adults and children.

Swanner: This was basically a pilot for a Saturday morning cartoon? Why did we review this? So I had to sit through 90 minutes of that silly ass script and yet another 80 identical action sequences that meant nothing since we know how the story ends up…oh the suspense. I’m pissed now. Are you sure? Couldn’t this thing have just gone directly to DVD?

Judd: Not only did you watch a pilot for a cartoon, but you watched a pilot for a cartoon that’s already been done. The Cartoon Network will be premiering Star Wars: The Clone Wars this year, but had a mini-series back in 2003 called Star Wars: Clone Wars. Do you see the difference? There is no “The”. PT Barnum said “There’s a sucker born every minute”, George Lucas banked on it.

Swanner: I hope the Star Wars fans that have devoted their lives to the force don’t do something stupid…like letting Lucas get away with this!!!! Attica! Attica! Attica!

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 1 Star

Tropic Thunder

Official Site: www.tropicthunder.com
Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material

Swanner: When you have a comedy with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey, Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan and Tom Cruise how could you possibly go wrong…Brian?

Judd: Oh, I don’t know. It could be ruined by sloppy, lazy writing that relies on profane one-note jokes that aren’t that funny but are repeated until you laugh—I call that the “Leno Method”. In addition to the fact, Stiller and Black are normally reasons I avoid a movie. Robert Downey Jr. was the only actor in the movie worth watching as he plays a white Australian actor (think Russell Crowe) who undergoes a skin pigment augmentation to play a Black soldier in the movie within the movie.

Swanner: I’m not a big fan of Ben Stiller as an actor or as a director (he is both here). Acting wise its like watching all the most irritating scenes from his movies and bringing them back as if they were golden. As a director I have to fault him because he should have replaced himself with a better actor. As for the rest of the cast, I liked them. I’m a fan of Jack Black (especially when he’s in bikini briefs for long extended scenes) and I think Robert Downey Jr. makes any movie he’s in better by him being in it. By the way, the plot of the movie follows a group of spoiled actors being dropped in the Vietnamese jungle to find their motivation for a Vietnam war picture they are starring in. Once left in the jungle they are pursued by drug smugglers but the actor think they are being perused by movie Vietcong

Judd: There is a subplot with Matthew McConaughey as Stiller’s agent back in Hollywood and Tom Cruise in a fat suit as a blow hard movie exec. McConaughey is forgettable and Cruise is funny-ish, I guess. As I said, for me the writing was completely sub-par. The movie aims to offend everyone, but it does it in ways that we’ve seen before. There was only one moment where I thought the writing was creative and actually funny. Of course this is also the scene that is causing quite a bit of controversy among advocates for the learning disabled. I was going to say that much like Stiller, the screenwriters think they’re funnier than they are. Guess who wrote it.

Swanner: I thought the script wasn’t the best but that still may have to do with the fact Stiller’s delivery sucks. The rest of the dialog is good. The story is a bit obvious but enjoyable with the Hollywood scenes are inserted. Tom Cruise was actually very funny but I was surprised by the language in the movie, most of the hard R dialog comes from him. There has been a lot of controversy over making fun of the retarded and the fact the Downey Jr. in Black face. If you actually watch the movie you’ll see that the movie makes the point that actors will change their pigment or play the disable only to win Oscars.

Judd: I just want to mention that there was another screenwriter involved name Etan Cohen who wrote an 11 minute short titled, “My Wife Is Retarded”. I want to throw that out there because I don’t want anyone to think Stiller could be funny enough to pen the “Full Retard” monologue. Maybe I didn’t like it because I’m not easily shocked. Black face in this context didn’t shock me. Tom Cruise dropping a string of F Bombs isn’t shocking. Stiller playacting “full retard” wasn’t shocking. Tropic Thunder is the equivalent of a three year old yelling “Poop!” in room full of adults. The toddler is delighted by the offense while the adults shoo him back into the playroom. Someone should have shooed Stiller back into the playroom.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 1 Star

Hamlet 2

Official Site: www.hamlet2.com
Rated: R for language including sexual references, brief nudity and some drug content

Swanner: Every year, a few movies become audience favorites from the Sundance Film Festival…Hamlet 2 is one of those darlings. This is the story of an actor turned high school drama teacher who is about to have his drama program cancelled. With one last attempt to save theater our protagonist writes the play Hamlet 2. This is a strange film to describe.

Judd: I would describe it as not very good. It wanted to be witty, sharp and pleasantly offensive but it comes off as trying too hard and really not that funny. There were some moments that were genuinely funny, but the more I think about the movie the less I liked it. There were scenes that were absolutely pointless. There were subplots that were nothing but filler. I think Hamlet 2 being the darling of Sundance speaks less to the quality of Hamlet 2 as it does to the quality of the other movies shown.

Swanner: I liked it more than you did but not a lot more. I did think there were a lot a funny moments in the film but they were either cheap laughs or they had to work way too hard to get them. I think the lead actor Steve Coogan and the director Andrew Fleming are a lot of the blame. Coogan was good but there are times when it seemed he was lost and he just couldn’t carry the film. A perfect example is when he first meets Elizabeth Shue, watching him mug for the camera was painful.

Judd: I’m actually having a hard time remembering the parts I liked. Catherine Keener played his wife and she was a lot of fun, but there was nothing particularly good about her character. She played the drunk bitchy wife tired of her husbands failings. That’s not a new role and she didn’t say any one-liners that were real zingers. But compared to the rest of the movie she was one of the best things about it.

Swanner: When the play is in production there are some funny parts but my favorite in the movie was Amy Poehler from SNL. She was making me laugh big time. I’d suggest that people wait for DVD unless they really are in to independent film that just miss the mark.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 1 Star

Pineapple Express

Official Site: sonypictures.com/movies/pineappleexpress
Rated: R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence

Swanner: Seth Rogen doesn’t wear pants the last 15 minutes of Pineapple Express. Five Stars!!!

Judd: That was right to the point. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the writers of Super Bad, come together once again for Pineapple Express, a stoner comedy/action film starring Rogen and James Franco. I was looking forward to Pineapple Express ever since I saw the R-Rated trailer, and let me tell you, it was better than I hoped.

Swanner: This was really a dream review for Brian and I. Brian has always been a big fan of Franco and Seth Rogen tops my Beefcake list. So how wrong could this movie be? The story follows Dale (Rogen) a process server who witnesses a murder that just happens to be his dealer’s (Franco) supplier. The film follows these two as they get high and try to stay alive. Did I mention Seth Rogen doesn’t have pants on through the last 15 minutes of the movie??

Judd: The writing of Pineapple Express is spot on. I was laughing from beginning to end. College guys nationwide are going to be quoting lines for a very long time and I do believe the movie is going to rank up there with Friday as a stoner classic. Not only is the movie hilarious, the action sequences are extremely well done and gratuitously violent—and who doesn’t want to laugh and cringe at the same time? It was brilliant.

Swanner: The movie is rated R so they had some fun. They don’t hold back here. The language is definitely for adults as is the violence and the drug use. On the subject of the violence in the film let me say it’s funny violence…cartoonish and deliberate. It’s a comedy and they pull out all the plugs to make you laugh. If you’re not a fan of these things then don’t see this movie. If you are fan of stoner movies than you’ll love the movie, it’s script and characters.

Judd: I don’t think you have to be a fan of stoner movies. I think Pineapple Express definitely hold it’s own as an action comedy. I think anyone who likes movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Rush Hour, or Hot Fuzz is really going to enjoy Pineapple Express; I think that’s what makes the movie so unique. It makes a stoner movie out of a foundation that is usually reserved for the buddy cop movie and does it better than many of the buddy cop movies out there.

Swanner: I agree that it’s a very exciting action comedy but I do think that if there are folks that don’t like stoner movies will have plenty here to hate. Moving away from “those” people I liked the movie for the chemistry of the two leads. These guys have been working together since Freaks and Geeks and it shows. They work so well together it’s almost hot…and with Seth in briefs for the last 15 minutes ,it is hot. Traditionally stoner movies don’t do well in theatres but become huge hits on DVD, I think Pineapple Express will change those statistics when it become a big box office hit.

Judd: I agree. I think Pineapple Express is more groundbreaking than what it will get credit for and I think opening weekend may not be huge, once word of mouth get out it’s going to make a ton of money.

Swanner: 3 1/2 Stars
Judd: 5 Stars