Scream 4

Judd: Ten years after the last Scream, which was supposed to cap the trilogy, the Scream franchise is being rebooted. Sydney (Neve Campbell) is back in the town of Woodsboro to promote her self-help book bringing the curse of the Ghost Face Killer with her. But like all slasher movies, the killer focuses on murdering the local youth before going after his aged foes. And instead of Jamie Kennedy spouting off the “rules” of horror flicks, we’re given the founders of the Woodsboro High Cinema Club to keep the audience informed of how a decade old reboot is supposed to go down.

Swanner: If you pick up your phone and hear…”What’s your favorite movie?” you know another Scream movie has been made. They have brought back the original three, Campbell as you mention as well as Courtney Cox and David Arquette. So as new as most of the cast is we still see familiar faces to pull us back into the horror of it all. Director Wes Craven still knows how to make the movie tense but keeping campy and fun.

Judd: I’m not sure what I think about this 4th installment. The first Scream was innovative as it was a homage, but still a unique horror in its own right. The second kept the homage concept fresh by making it a movie within a movie. The third put a tongue-in-cheek twist on the homage scenario. By now the gimmick seemed a bit stale to me. I knew what was going to happen; I knew the formula; I even went in knowing who the killer would be before I was introduced to the characters.

Swanner: Well, Duh!!! It’s not that the different cast members weren’t explaining is all to us. This was the reboot. You start the reboot like the original as a way to lull the audience back into the franchise. Then you can change it up for a new generation of victims. The one thing I have to mention is Hayden Panettiere’s new haircut. Girl, you look sharp with your short but girlie do. I was impressed and I’m sure my boy Michael will love it too.

Judd: Panettiere’s haircut may have been cute, but her whiskey soaked voice was not. Since when do girls in their early 20s sound like 60 year old roundhouse waitresses? Is she in competition with Kathleen Turner for manliest voice? The other thing that bothered me about the movie was that there was no character development. Yes, we already know Sydney, Gale and Dewey, but the rest of the cast seemed to be there only to pad the body count. The other movies had large casts they still managed to differentiate Victim A from Victim B.

Swanner: Usually the cast is more recognizable so you think you know the characters better. This cast had quite a few people I didn’t know and yes, those characters were up the knife but this is a teen slasher movie so I was just sitting back and enjoying the ride. It’s not the best of the scream movies but it does keep the genre alive and that’s a good thing. One last thing is screenwriter Kevin Williamson has really kept up the clever dialog which makes these films so much fun.

Judd: OK, I’ll give you the recognizable cast equals relatable characters. Scream 4 works, but it’s a faded beauty. If you squint and cock your head to the side, No. 4 looks almost as good as the first three, but I think I would rather remember the splendor years than to see this old girl try and flaunt her stuff once more. And that goes for Courtney Cox, too.

Swanner: ½
Judd:

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Rio

Swanner: Opening April 15th is the latest film from Fox Animation, Rio. It tells the story of a blue Macaw that has been domesticated in Minnesota but comes to find out he is the last male of his species. So Blu and his human Linda travel to Rio so Blu and Jewel (the only female blue Macaw) can save the species. The rest of the story involves illegal bird trafficking and how our characters get in and out of trouble. Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway lend their voices to our heroes.

Judd: The music for Rio is supplied by Sergio Mendez and one of the Black Eyed Peas. Does it matter which one? Not to me. Outside of the music, Rio is a boring albeit colorful snoozefest that has nothing to say. There was no message about bird trafficking. The movie took place during Carnival, but there was no explanation of Carnival. There was nothing about Brazil, Rio, or birds. The script was a treatment that never got punched up.

Swanner: There was so much wrong with this film. The first portion was done with out much dialog and looked like they were stealing directly from Up. Once the plot kicks in it didn’t offer me enough conflict to hold my or half of the kids in the audience’s interest. Jesse Eisenberg’s voiceover wasn’t working for me and the villains were lame and without any real threat. The villain bird was awful…I know they were trying for Scar from The Lion King but it just wasn’t working. The music was okay but more of a distraction and definitely nothing memorable.

Judd: Back in 1980 Diana Ross hosted an episode of The Muppet show, the opening number was a bunch of birds on the beach singing Peter Allen’s “I Go to Rio”. I would bet dollars to donuts the concept for Rio was stolen directly from that sketch. Between the glasses and the 3D effect, children are usually pretty still but Rio is so awful that they were just as fidgety as they normally are during bad 2D movies. Between this and Mars Needs Moms, 2011 is not shaping up to be a good year for animation.

Swanner: Thank goodness for Rango. You know it’s a bad year for animation when Gnomeo and Juliet is one of the better ones. Not to mention that the short on the front of Rio is the same short they had shown last year on one of the films from Fox. I was waiting for “I Go to Rio” though the whole movie and that was the only thing that helped this whole forgettable affair.

Swanner:
Judd:

Hannah

Judd: A teenage girl and her father live all alone in the wilderness, but she’s ready to see the world and venture out on her own. The only problem, she and her father are part of some covert government program. In order to live a peaceful life she’s going to have to kill the remaining participants before they can kill her. Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett star in this violent thriller.

Swanner: I have renamed this movie The Hannah Identity because this is a blatant remake of The Bourne Identity. They don’t know who they are and all these different agencies are trying to kill them … blah. I hated The Bourne Trilogy … I hated this. Director Joe Wright was really taken out of him element with this non-stop action thriller when all his experience was stuffy British period dramas and that terrible Soloist we hated two years ago.

Judd: Close, but not quite. Hannah doesn’t dwell and brood over her identity, and it really doesn’t become an issue until the end. I thought Wright did a fine job with direction. It comes across a little “music video”-ish with plenty of high contrast images with broad camerawork, but it works. In fact, I think broad is the perfect description of the whole movie. The villains were definitely “broad” – in fact I don’t think I’ve heard such effective use of whistling since Kill Bill’s Elle Driver.

Swanner: I’ll give you the whistle but the camera work was sometimes awful. The soundtrack was defining and the flashing lights were as irritating as I was warned they would be. They should have some sort of notification for epileptics before the movie. The identity thing doesn’t come into issue till the end to leave this relentless nightmare open for a sequel.

Judd: Did the flashing lights and the loud music hurt grandpa’s ears? I’ll give you that the soundtrack was a bit much, but I don’t think the Chemical Brother’s loud, electronic, bass heavy soundtrack was anymore obnoxious than Trent Reznor’s score for The Social Network. Both were equally grating. The performances were all good. I thought Cate Blanchett’s Suhthun Belle accent was, like most of the movie, equal parts effective and preposterous.

Swanner: Don’t give me that grandpa shit. It was overly loud to keep the audiences attention up considering they’ve all seen this movie and know how it’s going to end. Shaking cameras and overbearing bad music…it was a music video wanna be. I will give props to the acting and the editing. As irritating as the movie was the editing was top notch but I guess that’s standard for a music video. I love how you dog Source Code like an old man, yet have the nerve to call me grandpa when this movie had everything you hate in a film. Writers Seth Lochead and David Farr have no previous experience so that explains how the studio turned this in to a Bourne redux.

Judd: Oh for heaven’s sake! I said I didn’t like the music and, you’re right, the shaky cam irritated the hell out of me. But you forget this movie also has one of my favorite cinematic devices – everyone ends up dead at the end, and when everyone dies I’m a happy camper! I’m sure you would be raving if Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett got together and movie ended with a dance number or a pillow fight, you teenage girl!

Swanner:
Judd:

Arthur

Swanner: After 30 years Warner Brothers has decided to remake the classic Dudley Moore comedy Arthur. This time around Russell Brand plays Arthur and Helen Mirren steps in to the John Gielgud role of Hobson. I’ve gotten over my anger about remakes because today’s generation won’t watch the classics so they might as well remake the best but why not make them better or at least as good. This new Arthur is neither and it makes me sad.

Judd: I did not see the original Arthur, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’m sure I would have been even more disappointed than I already am. For those readers not familiar, Arthur is drunken millionaire who’s sole reason to be is having fun. The fun must come to an end when Mommy gives him the choice between losing everything and marrying a woman of her choice. To complicate things, after 30 years or carousing, Arthur has finally found the girl of his dreams.

Swanner: The film is a lot like the original but what it’s missing is us caring about what happens to Arthur. Director Jason Winer only does an okay job, which surprise me since he was director for most of the first season of Modern Family. I would have expected more laughs and better characters. Writer Peter Baynham took a lot from the original script but he forgot to make the characters loveable and eccentric. The original Arthur was filled with amazing and funny characters where this remake lacks charm and most of the characters are forgetful.

Judd: Only being slightly familiar with the original, I always assumed that Arthur was supposed to be a happy-go-lucky drunk. Brand’s Arthur was sad, driven to drink by his uncaring mother and his father that died at a young age. Of course, this can probably be attributed to modern times where any character that drinks, smokes, or has sex too much must suffer from some sort of mental anguish. Heaven forbid they just like to drink, smoke or screw.

Swanner:
Judd:

The Music Never Stopped

Judd: Tom and I have had very different schedules these past few weeks, so when we got the invite for Can’t Stop the Music, I thought it was weird when Tom actually wanted to go to the screening at the theatre, when he could have rented like I did. Can’t Stop the Music is a story loosely based on rise Jacques Morali and the Village People, starring Steve Guttenberg as Jack Morrell and the Village People as the Village People.

Swanner: What are you talking about? The Music Never Stopped is the movie that was screened. If it was Can’t Stop the Music I would have just watch my copy at home. It stars J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour and Lou Taylor Pucci…not The Village People as The Village People. It’s a about a father and mother who find that their estranged only child has a brain tumor and after surgery lost his memory of the last 15+ years. Only music helps him remember his past and it’s not YMCA or Macho Man either.

Judd: Uh oh. What the hell were they thinking making the titles so damn similar? I think I saw the trailer for The Music Never Stopped, though. I’ll base my review on that. JK Simmons was amazing as he always is, but the plot seemed to be a bit thin. It was almost as if screen writers Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks knew they had an emotional subject, an emotional time period and a backdrop of emotional music, so they didn’t bother writing with any depth. Am I close?

Swanner: It was highly emotional but the film itself felt very Lifetime movie to me…a really good Lifetime movie! I swear I could tell where the commercials would have gone. The actors are all terrific and the scene between Simmons and his wife and son are really good even thought the transition between the son’s change in personality seemed too quick like you might see in a stage play…think Jack Nicholson in The Shining. The director, Jim Kohlberg, works well with the actors but the TV quality of the film is all due to inexperience.

Judd: You bring up good points. I think my biggest problem with the movie – yes, I actually saw it – was the son. He’d go from engaged, to dazed, to cracking wise all in one scene. And that’s not to say Lou Taylor Pucci isn’t a good actor, but I don’t think he was given a role with real substance. Even the flashbacks to when he was normal, seemed very superficial.

Swanner: It’s hard to say if it’s the actor, the writer or the direction but the film works because Simmons and the supporting cast are so good but yes, sometime it doesn’t work. Is it enough to call this a bad film? No. As I said before, it’s really good TV movie quality and I think if you go in knowing that you should have a good time. It’s about a family dealing with a crisis. It’s a little movie that will move you but leave you wanting more.

Judd: I can say this much, The Music Never Stopped was better than Can’t Stop the Music, but not nearly as much fun. Given the choice between the two I’d watch Can’t Stop the Music. Now, if you don’t mind I’m going to just get some ice cream and some milk and blend myself a milkshake. Do the shake! Do the milkshake!

Swanner: ½
Judd: * ½

Your Highness

Swanner: The creative team that brought us Pineapple Express are trying their hand at another stoner comedy called Your Highness. It takes place in medieval times where a Warlock has kidnapped the Prince’s virgin so the prince and his brother are on a quest to save her…well after they finish smoking their bong. This had the opportunity to be very funny but alas it wasn’t. I just realized that Highness in the title has a double meaning…how sad am I?

Judd: Are you kidding me? You just figured that out? For a stoner comedy, there wasn’t very much pot humor. Sure they smoked here and there, but it wasn’t as prevalent as it should have been in a comedy called “Your Highness”. I’m not sure what they were going for, but it failed at all levels. Stoner comedy, Medieval satire, Action/Adventure. It was all around horrible. I actually feel bad for James Franco and Natalie Portman.

Swanner: I can see why Franco and Portman did the movie, they need to get the kids to watch their movies. Director David Gordon Green had a big hit with Pineapple Express which was a major hit with the right demographic. Danny McBride and Ben Best are making their big budget debuts as writers and they failed with this mess of a script. This would be a bad five minute skit on SNL so stretching it out to over an hour forty was just torture. Was it fun? Sometimes but mostly I was bored.

Judd: I agree that the failure of the movie is due to the almost totally humorless script. It’s a shame too, because there were some good ideas and I think Green took what he knew was funny and ran with it – the wise old wizard scene was great. I’m sure that it was probably difficult for Green to make any improvements when McBride was also the lead actor.

Swanner: That’s a good point. Green was trying to make funny out of nothing. I think they were trying to be the next Princess Bride but that had a clever script and great supporting cast. It really does come back to a sloppy script that was never really good at anything it was attempting.

Judd: The whole movie felt like one fantastic idea that never got developed. On the day shooting was to begin, McBride and Best showed up with five pages of notes and said, “This is all we could come up with.”

Swanner: ½
Judd:

Win Win

Swanner: Paul Giamatti stars as a man with a failing law office and a failing High School wrestling team. One day the grandson of a client shows up who is an all state wrestling champion. This is one of those wonderful little stories that offer a charming family dramady with likeable performances and a good message. Director/Writer Tom McCarthy makes another terrific film which should help continue this renaissance were seeing in the independent film market.

Judd: Along with Paul Giamatti, the movie sported a veritable Who’s Who of indie films. Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Ryan, Burt Young and newcomer Alex Shaffer, as Kyle the wrestling champ at the heart of our story. I liked Win Win, though I felt the story was a bit simple and maybe a little naïve.

Swanner: The cast was all good and it’s nice seeing all these actors working. I also wanted to mention Melanie Lynskey who plays Kyle’s estranged mother, the villainess, she was one of the two girls that starred in Heavenly Creatures years ago with Kate Winslet. This was a really good role for her. I really like the family unit at the heart of the film. Giamatti’s extended family was very eccentric but loveable and mirror real life very well.

Judd: I’m having a hard time coming up with something to critique about Win Win. It was well made, and I enjoyed it, but it’s not my type of film. The performances were all excellent, but with actors the caliber of Cannavale and Giamatti, would you expect anything less? I even thought that Shaffer was excellent, which is a testament to director McCarthy’s talents.

Swanner: ½
Judd: ½