Youth in Revolt

Swanner: Going in to see Youth in Revolt, I was a bit nervous. The movie was first scheduled for November and was moved to January. (brief history of movies will tell you that nearly nothing good ever comes from January and being moved to January says a lot) So walking in all I had on my side was that it was a comedy and it was 90 minutes long…these are the little things that give reviewers the strength to go on some days. Surprisingly it was a strange and funny movie and better than the 2 hour Heroes I was DVRing at home.

Judd: Interesting that you would say that. The movie, starring Michael Cera, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta and Zach Galifianakis, is targeted to teen hipsters. I know that my 15 year old self would be all over this movie. However as an adult, watching a teen with schizophrenia commit grand theft auto, arson, and watching him drug the girl he “loves” (wants to screw) to get her expelled so he can have her – I found it all a bit creepy.

Swanner: It was very creepy. I’m sure the movie is saying that young men will do anything for the woman (girl that gives out) he loves. I’m really going strictly off the humor in the script. The storyline is just awful. No wonder this kid is a mess. His mother goes through boyfriends like crazy and his dad is dating a girl half his age (which is perfectly normal) so his home life is complicated. His best friend is delusional so the fact this kid hasn’t off’ed himself is a surprise all it’s own. Still, the script is very funny and most of the references were for old guys like us.

Judd: I have to say that while Michael Cera is a one trick pony, this script gave him a little more to do than be the stuttering nebbish he normally plays, and he pulled it off. Though I’m torn when it comes to judging the script on the quality of it’s writing. It does have some very funny moments and it’s nice to see teen sex romps written for kids that don’t fall for the American Pie franchise. It’s nice to know there are kids that appreciate dry wit, but at the same time, I feel that teenagers referencing obscure movies and spouting off $5 words a bit pretentious.

Swanner: Do you really think that anyone under 18 will think the script has been cleverly written? I think the under 18 year olds will enjoy the goofy coming of age aspect, but when Cera comments of Italian movies I imagine many glazed over young people waiting for the next pratfall. I’m okay with a script written for us old guys that has enough bright shiny objects to amuse the kids. It was also fun having them make reference to many northern California locations…even though the “Berkeley” scenes were completely off the mark.

Judd: I think you’re absolutely wrong. The script isn’t written for us “old guys”. This movie is written for the Juno/hipster/teen culture that espouses all the bright-shiny-objects that the majority of kids of that age go after. Unfortunately, when you’re that young trying to establish an identity that is outside the norm you tend to go overboard – which this movie does, and I found to be irritating.



The Tooth Fairy

Judd: 20th Century Fox steals Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson from Disney to try their own hand at kiddie magic in The Tooth Fairy.  A story about a minor league hockey player who is turned into a tooth fairy in order to rekindle his sense of hope and belief.
Swanner: You forgot to mention that Johnson’s character, a has been hockey star who is known for knocking out teeth (they refer to him as the tooth fairy). After telling his girlfriends daughter there is no real “tooth fairy” he is sent to Fairyland (I’m serious) where the hockey star is force to serve time as a tooth fairy. As silly as this all sounds it actually works as a family film but then we are seeing Johnson emerge as a star that appeals to the whole family. Director Michael Lembeck does a nice job of keeping the pace moving well. The script is but Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel who have written some great scripts (City Slickers, Parenthood) make this one toe the line of being funny for kids and funny enough to keep adults attention.
Judd: Details, details.  I think you lavish the movie with a little too much praise, but I’ll agree that I was disappointedly happy with the movie.  I was expecting to hate it, but I didn’t.  The puns that ran throughout the film started to annoy me, but the movie wasn’t as cloying as I thought it would be.  The small performances by Billy Crystal as the Fairy Gadget Man and Julie Andrews as the head fairy were nice touches.  The only thing that felt really out of place in the movie were the hockey sequences.
Swanner: I never understand why these people always have to be famous people. It’s always a sports star, politician or actor that has these extraordinary things happening, but I guess no one wants to see a state worker becoming a tooth fairy. I’m not really trying to praise it too high, but I went in as well thinking I’d hate the movie so it was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t. It was also nice to see Ashley Judd (Johnson’s girlfriend) doing movies again. Her last big movie was Bug in 2006 and she did do some direct to video movies last year. This should put her back on the map.
Judd:  I can’t think of any state workers that would have the nickname “Tooth Fairy”.  A gay dental hygienist at Folsom, maybe?  Anyway, another thing that makes the movie tolerable is that they didn’t get too cutesy with the kids.  There was a “bonding” moment between Johnson and Judd’s tween son, but that was it for the schmaltz.  It’s kind of a paradox.  This could be a kid’s movie that people who don’t like kids would enjoy, but have no reason to see it because they don’t have kids.
Swanner: It will appeal to his regular audience. The same ones who like Race to Witch Mountain and The Game Plan because he’s a trusted actor to families with kids. He’s dependable as well as being bankable. The other thing that works for his choice of movies is that they all have a good message. I think it’s important for him to set a good example. He’s likeable and in Tooth Fairy he does just that.
Judd: 1/2

Crazy Heart

Swanner: Bad Blake is a 57-year-old, washed up, whiskey drinking, chain smoking country music singer who has spent too many years trying to be a star.  Jeff Bridges plays Bad who has hit the point in his life where he’s in a downward spiral but finds salvation with a young reporter, Maggie Gyllenhaal, who offers him something to believe in again. Director Scott Cooper does a great job pacing the film and bringing some wonderful performances to the screen.
Judd: I don’t know what to think about this movie.  All the performances were excellent; I could smell Jeff Bridges mix of boozey sweat, stale cigarette smoke and Brut.  Maggie is always good, and while Colin Farrel and James Duvall are both good, their screen time adds up to little more than cameos.  My problem with the film is that the story is nothing new.  In fact, they made pretty much the same exact film last year and called it The Wrestler. 
Swanner: I also couldn’t stop thinking about Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Whenever they would refer to Colin Farrell’s character, Tommy Sweet, and how he wants Bad Blake to write him more songs it was just Hedwig complaining about Tommy Gnosis stealing the songs he had written. This is the coming out story for the senior crowd, “When is he ever going to get his life together” storyline that just about every actor (still working) gets to play sooner or later. I over looked the familiar story for the terrific performance by Bridges. 
Judd: I was thinking Hedwig too!  Of course, both antagonists being named Tommy didn’t help the matter.  I’ll have to agree with you that this is one of those tried and true redemption stories that every grizzled middle-aged actor gets to play.  Which one is your favorite comes down to your tastes in actors.  The Wrestler, which I feel was an inferior movie, was Mickey Rourke’s comeback movie and that’s the reason it was so emotionally charged.  Crazy Heart is all around better, but unfortunately, I wasn’t rooting for Jeff as much as I was rooting for Mickey because Jeff has always had a great career.
Swanner: I was rooting for Bridges … he reminded me of Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment and you know I have no love for the freakish Mickey Rourke. What you’re saying is true and I think people are going to like this movie more because everyone like Jeff Bridges including Hollywood who gave him a standing ovation at The Golden Globe Awards. I also want to mention Maggie here because without her performance I don’t think the Bad Blake character would have had reason to change. Her performance was pivotal and Oscar worthy. I liked this movie because it was hopeful when so many of these movies aren’t.
Judd: Maggie’s character was the biggest problem for me.  Of course I understand that I will be in the minority on this one, so I won’t dwell.  Long story short, I would think that they could come up with a more interesting catalyst for change than a woman.  But that’s just bitter old me.
Swanner: That is just bitter old you.

Book of Eli

Swanner: I don’t know if it’s the lack of sunlight or the fact that there is another post apocalyptic movie in theatres either way the future looks dim.  I’ve had to watch California slide into the ocean, seen the machines take over the world and potato sack dolls that are all that’s left of humanity. Now we have the Book of Eli which follows “the walker” (played by Denzel Washington) who is traveling west to deliver what appears to be the last King James Bible left in existence. Haven’t I seen this movie before?

Judd: I think you gave away part of the story with that King James bit.  Do I care?  No.  I am not a Denzel Washington fan.  I think he’s over-hyped, and I’ve yet to see one of his movies that I enjoyed.  Book of Eli does not break that record.  This is another throw away January movie that’s short on plot and long on wind.  Gary Oldman plays the bad guy looking to get the bible to control the poor (I liked that part), Jennifer Beals plays his blind lover, and Mila Kunis plays the requisite T&A.
Swanner: If The Bible is the big surprise in this film then they have more problems then I realized. I don’t understand what this end of the world thing is all about. It seems to be the obsession. Even over the holidays we had Viggo Mortensen in The Road and don’t forget Zombieland and Knowing. I’m surprised people are leaving their homes. This film felt a lot like the old Mad Max movies. The lead actors all have beautiful teeth and everyone else has rotten teeth. I hate these end of the world movies because it looks like the future of dental hygiene is out the window. I do think it’s humorous the there is no food or water but we still have the gas to drive motorcycles and trucks.
Judd: The world is coming to an end because there’s a Black Democrat in the White House.  Oh, and global warming.  I’m not sure what to say about the movie, the performances were decent.  Denzel was sufficiently badass; Mila was excellent as the tag along fish, but the movie itself is forgettable.  There were some memorable moments like bartering wet-naps for a battery charge, but whatever flashes of inspiration were then crapped upon by moments like “Ring My Bell” played on a wind-up Victrola.
Swanner: You really have to let that go. I know it was silly but it was a very small detail. I agree that the acting was all good but this genre is so overly saturated that this movie will suffer by comparison. Without revealing anything I must say that the twist at the end was pretty silly and the ending itself was just downright eye rolling. I’m so looking forward to getting out of January…I don’t know why people even go to the theatre.
Judd: I wish I knew the answer to that question.  I know why we go – we have to, but why anyone else would leave the house to see a movie released in January is beyond me.  Stay home, rent something good.
Swanner: Amen

Leap Year

Swanner: Amy Adams plays Anna, a young woman who has been waiting for her long term boyfriend Jeremy (played by Adam Scott) to pop the question. When he doesn’t, Anna decides to follow Jeremy to Ireland where he’s attending a conference. In Ireland they have a tradition that on leap year a woman can ask a man to marry her without ridicule from the townsfolk … I guess. (I’m serious, this is the plot and it’s not even a leap year) The question is will Anna get to Ireland in time for her to pop the question???  Do we care?
Judd: “Why is Tom being so snarky about a romcom starring Amy Adams?” our readers are asking themselves.  “This is normally something that he would up on his tiptoes for, squealing like a little girl.”  The answer is because the movie isn’t very good, which comes as a huge disappointment to Tom and me.  Yes, even me.  Amy Adams and Matthew Goode in a movie shot in Ireland , talk about pedigree.  Too bad the horrible script and lackluster direction spoil it.
Swanner: Sure I’m upset. This is Amy Adams and she does no wrong … or so I thought.  I still remember that young girl in Enchanted that birds and roaches would come to or that one where she cleans up murder scenes and the one with the Fargo woman. My point is that Amy Adams always delivered even if the movie came up short. This film is missing the one thing a Romcom must have … chemistry. I never cared or wanted these characters to find each other and fall in love. I wanted them to go back to their sad little lives and leave me alone. I need to weep now in disappointment. 
Judd: I know what you mean.  I like Amy Adams and I think she is an extremely talented actress, and I have a crush on Matthew Goode (Match Point, Brideshead Revisited).  I was so excited to see those two work together that I was looking forward to Leap Year even though I knew it was a romantic comedy.  My biggest problem — outside the lack of chemistry — was that initially Amy wanted to go to Ireland , and then once she was there turned into a xenophobic bitch.  The movies started out a romantic travel movie and turned into a generic city girl in the country story.
Swanner: I was thinking how beautiful the movie would be filmed in Ireland as they travel from village to village. It was barren and muddy. This film will probably bring traveling to a halt. It painted the natives as being backwards and difficult. You’re right about Amy’s character Anna, she’s a horrible person and why Matthew Goode would put up with her is still a mystery to me. Sure they give him the “you have to pay up or loose the farm/bar/hotel” storyline is no where near a good enough reason. The best thing that could happen to this film is if it went straight to video. 
Judd: Amy and Matthew must have owed someone a favor because they could have easily set this movie somewhere in the Alabama or Mississippi cast with two nobodies and it would have been exactly the same crap movie.  What makes matters worse is that the brilliant John Lithgow plays Amy’s father and he’s onscreen for 5 minutes.  Another waste of huge talent.  I don’t know how this movie was made, but it’s the equivalent top shelf liquors going into a Frat Girl Party Punch that leaves you feeling miserable and nauseous. 

Judd: No Stars