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Swanner: Last night Brian and I got to see one of the big holiday movies, Twilight. The film is based on the highly successful novel by Stephanie Meyer about a family of vampires in the Pacific Northwest. The story follows Bella, a 17 year old girl that’s temporarily living with her father in a small Washington town. While at school she notices a strange group of pale students. She finds out that they are all part of the Cullen family, a mixed bag of young people, whom even the blind would know these folks are vampires.

Judd: Oh my god, this movie was so horrible. The first 30 minutes when we, like, meet Bella and, like, her, like, new school friends and we, like, meet Barnabas and, like, the rest of the Cullens it’s, like, totally excruciating. After the set up, the movie turns into a whole new breed of horrible. One that had me laughing every 5 minutes or so. It turns into a gothic, overwrought, cheaply made teenage soap opera that makes anything created by Aaron Spelling look like high art.

Swanner: Grandpa, this movie wasn’t made for you. It was made for younger people who still have a sense of romance and adventure. Not for a sweatpants wearing old fart that hasn’t had a good bowel movement since The Big War. This is a vampire romance movie with teenagers. I rather enjoyed the soap opera style script and the overwrought angst. Remember back when you were a 17 year old girl and that first romance was everything to you? I thought this was a nice twist to the old vampire story and I’m really looking forward to the next movie.

Judd: If I didn’t know you, I’d think you were kidding. Unfortunately, I know you. First of all, let’s tackle the nonsensical plot. Bella shows up at school on the first day and tells everyone, “I’m a weird loner, leave me alone!” and by lunch the whole school loves her, except the Cullen kids. Apparently, getting what she wanted by being ignored caused her to fall instantly in love with Barnabas – the “dreamy” vampire that looks like a young Christopher Walken with too much eyeliner. At that point Barnabas follows her around like lost puppy all the while telling her to leave him alone. She would be at her locker, he’d pop up behind her and tell her to leave him alone and then disappear. That’s retarded.

Swanner: Edward and Bella are star crossed lovers, stupid. Romance!!! I know the idea of something sweet and dreamy is not part of your mindset but this movie is very much that. “I love you, but if you’re with me you’re in danger…so I can’t be around you anymore” You need to watch more teenage dramas on TV. You’d know that this is very much how the younger people (who the movie was made for) think and talk. I like that there was reduced sexuality considering the audience. Although I think we could have had a nice Vampire Guys Gone Wild moment but you can’t have everything, Pops. I know I went home and wrote in my diary afterwards.

Judd: I guess being a vampire is a lot sexier than being a eunuch. It amounts to the same thing. A gal wants a fella that’s going to show miraculous restraint and won’t ever complain about blue balls. Helen Mirren needs to sit down and have a chat with these girlies. Anyway, let’s not forget to mention the horrible special effects. The movie looked like it was made on a dime – literally. Remember how they would tilt the camera sideways in the old Batman series whenever they scaled walls? Yeah, that’s pretty much what you got in Twilight.

Swanner: I didn’t notice the special effects being bad but then again I wasn’t bitching through the movie like others did!!! I was drawn into the story. So, do you think the American Indians in the show are really werewolves? If so, do you think the guy in the wheelchair needs a wheelchair when he turns? What about her dad? He’s the sheriff in a town overrun with supernatural beings…do you think he’s got a secret too??? Maybe I need to read the books ‘cause I have too many question and I don’t think I can wait.

Judd: Read the books? Please. You mean listen to the audio books. And if the Native Americans are werewolves, I bet the guy in the wheelchair turns into a wolf with hip dysplasia.

Swanner: Yes, I mean the audio books…I don’t really read. I wonder if they have them on iTunes??? Isn’t this a great time to be alive?

Judd: Bah. The movie as it stands sucks. It would be one thing if it were done tongue in cheek – which is hard to believe it isn’t – but the movie and its audience takes themselves very seriously. Every time Barnabas was on screen the little girls and the gay boys would swoon and squeal. I would recommend this movie as a rental. That way when you’re laughing at all its cheesy glory, you won’t get pelted to death by lip gloss and blow-pops.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 1½

Quantum of Solace

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Swanner: James Bond is back…again. Once again, Daniel Craig has donned the Tux, ordered the martini and all hell has broke lose for anyone in his way. This is more of a sequel then the regular stand alone Bond film…not to say it couldn’t stand on it’s own…this time Bond is seeking revenge on the people responsible for killing his girlfriend from Casino Royale. (He can really hold a grudge.) Expect amazing action, stunts, chases, fights, slow motion destruction…just don’t be expecting too much of a storyline.

Judd: I was really disappointed with this Bond. The bar was set really high with Casino Royale – new Bond, new perspective, new attitude – I was expecting that to carry through, and basically all Quantum of Solace provides is a blow ‘em up SFX movie. It could have been another Die Hard and it wouldn’t have made a difference. While watching the movie I thought I was missing out on a lot because I wasn’t getting much out of the plot. The reality is there wasn’t much of a plot.

Swanner: I think that most people will feel there is something missing but it’s still better than a lot of the old Bonds were for me. One other thing that people will be missing is the tongue in cheek humor of the past films. The earlier movies had an almost comic book hero feel to them. Bond out smarts the evil genius and sleeps with the skinny super model. That has definitely changed. Personally I think for the better but the Bond fans may disagree.

Judd: I’m one of those that disagree. Bond is supposed to drink, smoke, screw, spout witty bon mots and save the day. He’s not supposed to sulk, pout, go renegade and blow shit up just for the hell of it. I could have handled the thin plot better if some of the Bond hallmarks were there. Even the main Bond Girl in Solace was a bust. What kind of name is Camille? He didn’t even screw her! At least he drove an Aston Martin and screwed the other Bond Girl in the movie – a redhead aptly named Strawberry Fields.

Swanner: Strawberry Fields…couldn’t they do better than that? Seriously. That was always my favorite part. The Bond girls always had dirty names which was fun when I was a boy. Pussy Galore, Holly Goodhead…now those are great Bond girl names. I know this is more of a sequel to Casino Royale and a kick of to a whole new Bond. I’ll wait and see what comes next with girlie excitement.

Judd: Quantum of Solace is paper thin and generic. Even though this was a sequel to Casino Royale and a whole new Bond, they better get back to some of the cornerstones of what makes Bond. The last time I was this disappointed is when Brosnan announced he wasn’t going to smoke on screen.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 1½ Stars

Madagascar 2

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Swanner: We knew it was going to happen. You don’t make a lot of money on a kids movie and not expect a sequel. Madagascar made a lot of money and now part 2 has arrived. This time around the animals have some how made the crashed plane work and they are on their way home…but not to New York, they are on their way home to Africa. (The continent not the country.) When they get there we find out that Alex was actually from the area and gets to meet his family while the rest find their own in this new land.

Judd: I couldn’t remember Madagascar 1 outside of you being annoyed by Ben Stiller and me being annoyed by Chris Rock. I have to say that this time around, I don’t think either of us was bothered by either of them. What changed? The script was better, there were better jokes and Rock and Stiller were reined in. I laughed through the whole movie, and I can’t say that there was a moment where I thought it became the Rock or Stiller Show.

Swanner: I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that they gave the other characters a storyline as well. They never had the chance to grandstand. They did make it very funny and musical. I didn’t have time to be bored, I was laughing way too much. I also liked that they brought in new voices and of course the penguins still steal the show but they do let Jada Pinkett Smith search for a husband hippo and lets just say…he’s all that.

Judd: He’s all fat, you mean. Madagascar 2 gives us a glimpse into the world of chubby chasing, and the fact that chubby chasers are sick, sick individuals obsessed with sick, sick desires. I did think it was funny that he wasn’t interested in her personality. All that mattered was that she was chunk-alicious. I loved Alec Baldwin as the evil uncle—yes, the story was a bit Lion King. Sacha Baron Cohen is back as King Julien and he is funny as always.

Swanner: Brian, if you don’t know, has a fascination for larger people and of course his self loathing is obvious but he’s working on it. In the world of Hippos…the bigger the better. Brian took it too personal. This is a nice safe sequel…and a successful one at that. They saw what worked the first time and did more of that. They didn’t try to give it an edge, they made it funnier. You don’t get sequels like this very often so enjoy it before someone brings out Doogal 2 and spoils it for everyone.

Judd: Tom says I’m a closeted chaser because he wants me to want him. He’s like the slutty girl from high school that can’t stand it if someone doesn’t find her attractive. To Tom, everyone is a chaser. I agree that this sequel was better than the first, as really good sequels ought to be. I’m sure in the end DreamWorks will milk it dry and end up ruining it.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 3 1/2 Stars

Zack and Miri make a Porno

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Swanner: When roommates Zack (Seth Rogan) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) can’t pay their bills they get the idea to make a porn to end all their money problems. This is the new comedy from comic genius Kevin Smith who not only directed the film but he wrote the screenplay. You can always count on a good script from Smith but this time it’s way dirty…even dirtier than Clerks II which was among my top ten movies the year it debut. The film is rated R which is good cause who wants to see a PG movie about people making porn.

Judd: I’m happy to see more rated R comedies, as long as they’re funny. Unfunny rated R movies are like a profane child trying to get a shock, funny rated R comedies allow adults to laugh at adult situations. Zack and Miri definitely allows adults to laugh at adult situations. And let’s not forget the supporting cast is excellent, Justin Long (the Apple kid), Brandon Routh (Superman), Jason Mewes (Clerks), Craig Robinson (The Office), Jeff Anderson (Clerks), Tisha Campbell (Little Shop of Horrors) and Traci Lords.

Swanner: I knew I was going to love it. Seth Rogen in a movie about making porn…it’s like a dream come true. If it was gay porn it would be a better dream but I’ll take what I can get. I love Kevin Smith’s script’s because they are funny. This time the dialog is fresh and original and yes sometimes it’s shocking but if he can make me blush and laugh out loud I’ll pay for a ticket. I’m tired of PC comedies that are trying not to offend and all you end up with is crap like Because I Said So or Hot Rod.

I Judd: will say that Kevin Smith tends to have a heavy hand when it comes to the romance in his films, and this one was no different. For as snarky, apathetic and overall Gen X –y he writes his characters, when the romance kicks in it’s at the total opposite of the spectrum. It becomes talk of “You’re the one” and “I’ve always loved you.” Retch. It comes across as too heavy for the rest of the film.

Swanner: You just hate romance. Your idea of romance is a full bottle of Jim and three new porn movies for the weekend…that’s not real romance Brian, that’s masturbating drunk. Do you really think that Gen Xers don’t get gushing and sappy? They do, I should know. Just because it says porno in the title doesn’t mean this movie was made without emotion. I liked the love story and it needs big angst to make the ending work so well. If you removed the romance you’d still have a funny movie but one missing heart and aren’t we looking for the two main characters to realize how perfect they are for each other?

Judd: How would you know how Gen X’ers feel, you Boomer! And don’t say your boyfriend, because he’s Generation Disney, pervert. Kevin Smith runs into the same problem with all of his movies. You’re laughing along, having a good time with great meaningless sarcastic dialogue. Meanwhile Smith is sneaking up behind you ready to brain you with his cast iron skillet of romance. There are tears, looks of longing, miscommunication and misunderstanding. So to answer your question, no I’m not looking for two main characters to realize how perfect they are for each other. Every time there’s a male and female lead, they’re in love by the end of the film. I’m tired of seeing it. Why can’t they stay friends? Why can’t they be “in like” with each other and leave it at that?

Swanner: I’m not going to argue with you on the romance. The fact is that the movie is hilarious and the performers are all good. I think the biggest crime here is that the movie is getting a bad rap before audiences have a chance to see it because “porno” is in the title. Some theatre chains are not going to carry the film because they think it’s going to be too dirty. This film is no dirtier than Clerks 2. Kevin Smith likes to talk about dirty things without really showing them. Even when he teases something dirty it’s so funny it doesn’t seem offensive.

Judd: I think the movie is getting a bad rap from the people it’s supposed to get a bad rap. Smith knew what he was doing when he chose the title. Kevin Smith fans are going to see the movie because they know what to expect. People that like edgy humor and pushing limits are going because the work “porno” is in the title. Conservative sticks in the mud are going to rant and rave about moral corruption in Hollywood, which is going to want to make everyone else see the movie. I think it’s going to do very well because of the scandalous word in the title.

Swanner: 3 stars
Judd: 3½ Stars

High School Musical 3

high_school_musical_3_posterOfficial Site: highschoolmusical3

Swanner: This week I saw what very well be the event movie on the Fall. High School Musical 3 closes out the trilogy that followed Troy and Gabriella and friends as they complete their senior year of High School and have that one last chance to do the best spring musical ever. Of course the whole High School Musical phenomenon started two years ago when the Disney channel debut a TV movie that’s gone on to be two huge TV movies (both huge in rating and DVD sales) and two multi-platinum CDs. Will the third installment be as big? You betcha!!!

Judd: I didn’t see the movie because I don’t have any unresolved issues from my youth. Back in 1959 when Tom was 8 years old, he had an unhealthy obsession with Cubby on The Mickey Mouse Club. With HSM, Tom is able to relive is Mousketeer infatuation in a creepy and pathetic fashion.

Swanner: I do not have unresolved issues from my youth…and I was not 8 in 1959 you bastard. You can’t sit back and enjoy HSM because the idea of anyone having a good time in high school is foreign to a bitter old queen who probably dreaded everyday of school his entire life. Yes I love these movies cause of the joy they bring. In a world of hate and sadness…they offer hope and friendship and frankly I can’t get enough of either.

Judd: Oh please, you only reason you like these High School Films is because it gives you the feeling of hanging out with the cool kids. No one is going to call you gay and fat from the screen. The added bonus is that they jump around and sing songs, so not only are you able to hang with the cool kids, but they’re doing all the things you wished you could do when you were in high school. I pity the teachers that would have to work at East High. I’m sure the teachers lounge would smell of cigarette smoke, coffee and Glen Livet – a lot of Glen Livet.

Swanner: I’ll have you know I was one of the popular kids in school. I mean I was no Troy Bolton but still popular. You know I’m a big fan of musical theatre so why wouldn’t I like these movies. Sure, they have simple plots and obvious characters but they are also opening up the genre to a new generation. The HSM movies are building a fan base of young people (like myself) that we may find the next Sondheim or Webber amongst them. These movies aren’t great art but they are highly entertaining and inspiring to a new generation of movie goers.

Judd: There is a difference between musical theatre and good musical theatre. The only things this kind of manufactured, artless rubbish encourages is more even more manufactured, artless rubbish. Maybe in 30 years I’ll watch the High School Musical movies for the kitsch factor that will have built over time and actually enjoy them for all the wrong reasons.

Swanner: I love how you’ve labeled it as artless rubbish when you have yet to watch any of the three films. You are the worse kind of critic sir…you are a snob! I did want to point out some of my favorites in the movie. The score is really good and has some really nice opportunities for big dance numbers but still offers the wonderful ballads we have grown to expect from the franchise. I also like the performances from these young actors. There is a lot of talent here and plan of seeing lots of good coming from the cast. Finally, thank you Kenny Ortega for reviving the musical. I really liked his movie Newsies and when it wasn’t the hit it deserved to be he didn’t give up. It may have taken 15 years but the musical is back and Ortega is almost single handedly responsible. I don’t know if Hairspray and Mamma Mia would be the box-office hits they were if High School Musical had not warmed up a new generation of musical lovers.

Swanner: 3 Stars


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Judd: Imagine a storyline about a boy born into royalty and barely coasting through life on his family’s name. His father shows blatant favoritism toward his younger brother. His mother is a bull headed matriarch. One day this boy decides he’s going to outdo his brother, garner his father’s respect and prove his worth to the world. It sounds like a drama of Shakespearean proportions. What is it? It’s Oliver Stone’s new biopic, W.

Swanner: I thought you were talking about some biblical story but yes…that’s W. Josh Brolin plays George W. along with an all star cast. The film darts back and fourth between 1966 when W. was pledging a frat house all the way through present day. We get to see him meet Laura (played by Elizabeth Banks) and get yelled at by his mother and father (James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn)

Judd: Don’t forget we get to see him run unsuccessful oil fields, trade Sammy Sosa, and get slyly manipulated by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. I was expecting a movie that was going to lambaste George W Bush and portray him has one part bumbling fool, one part evil genius. What the movie delivered is a story about a man who wasted his youth and has spent the rest of his life in over his head. I felt that W. was fairly well balanced for a Stone picture and the performances were all spot on. Thandie Newton had better get an Oscar nom for her portrayal of Condie Rice.

Swanner: Thandie was terrific. I’m still pissed she never got nominated for Crash, but you know how the Academy can be. They did try to explain that W’s been trying to get his fathers love and respect his whole life but that’s no excuse to kill hundreds of thousands of people. I thought the movie was uncomfortably entertaining and worth a watch. It was creepy when you find yourself laughing at scenes that have gone on to cause such pain and suffering. When Dick Chaney (played beautifully by Richard Dreyfuss) says we don’t need an exit plan in Iraq cause we’re never leaving, you laugh and then you cringe.

Judd: I didn’t mean to sound as if the movie takes an apologists stance. I liked the fact that some of the historical decisions of the administration were portrayed in a light tone. I think we’re conditioned to think that when Bush and crew decided to bomb Iraq they laughed maniacally and rubbed their hands together. That’s what we want to see. We want to see that sort of evilness. It’s disconcerting when you realize that death and the world opinion were less than a second thought to them – and that’s what makes them truly evil.

Swanner: I can’t imagine people sitting down and enjoying this film the same way you would No Country for Old Men or any other film. There is too much bad history with this family. The movie really isn’t made to appeal to a republican or democratic audience. So I’m not sure who this film will appeal to. I know I’ll never watch it again not even for the amazing performances. Josh Brolin really deserves props for making W. almost palatable…almost. The cast should get plenty of acting nominations once the awards season starts. right now I need another dose of Beverly Hills Chihuahua just to clear my head from all this political crap.

Judd: When I initially left the theatre I felt the movie was a little shallow, but Oliver Stone did all he could with a film that covered a 40 year period in 2 hours. I think this movie will do better as it ages. Currently, this country is paying for the mistakes of the Bush Administration and we’ll be paying for those mistakes for a long time. As time rolls on, I think W. will be a good starting point people who want to know the motivations behind one of America’s darkest times.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 3½ Stars