Crazy Stupid Love

Judd: After 25 years of marriage, Emily (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce from Cal (Steve Carell) and Cal finds himself back on the market. Jacob (Ryan Gosling) teaches Cal the ways of seduction, but to what does the life of a playboy amount? What is this crazy, stupid thing called love?

Swanner: Nicely put … Crazy, Stupid Love is one of those unexpected treasures that you stumble upon. I had liked the preview for it but I wasn’t sure it would pan out on screen, since it rarely does. Directors Glenn Finarra and John Requa (I Love You, Phillip Morris) do a great job making these characters come to life with just the right amount of likeability, and the Oscar worthy script by Dan Fogelman grows them into real flesh and blood people … brilliant. Fogelman’s previous writing credits are for Cars, Bolt and Tangled…really? Wow!

Judd: I hate to call Crazy Stupid Love a romantic comedy because it’s a tainted genre, but this movie rises above with great characters and a great story – and a ton of story, to boot! The amount of subplots in Crazy Stupid love is crazy, but not stupid. I was amazed at how the movie covered all of them to a satisfying end, and none of them felt tacked on. There’s Emily and Cal, Cal and Jacob, Jacob and Hannah (Emma Stone), Emily and David (Kevin Bacon), Hannah and Richard (Josh Grobin), Robbie and Jessica, Jessica and Cal, Cal and Kate, and a couple of other subplots just for good measure. The movie dipped into clichéd banality once or twice and the amount of plot almost became overwhelming, but in the end everything served a purpose. All without a pillow fight or flour being thrown in someone’s face.

Swanner: That was exhausting but absolutely true. I loved how in the beginning you find a character or characters that you can relate to and start rooting for them, but by the end of the film I was rooting for everyone. They all had reasons for things that they did and they were all valid. I didn’t have to make excuses up in my head for why someone did or said something because it’s so well written and edited that it makes sense. You mention about slipping into cliché, when they do even Cal realizes its cliché and calls himself on it…how freaking refreshing is that?

Judd: Since I need to find something to bitch about, the problem I had with the movie is that all of Jacob’s conquests come from the same bar. Don’t you think that the women that frequent this establishment would finally figure out that he’s kind of gross and skeevy? And I don’t think I’m being sexaphobic here. I understand the Casanova thing. But we all know someone who’s very good at getting laid and for as much as we envy that person, don’t we also talk crap about them behind their back? Because let’s face it, guys who get laid all the time usually don’t have discriminating taste and have bagged as many beasts as they have beauties.

Swanner: I don’t think this is a movie you need to find fault with. He needed to cruise the same bar so Cal and he would become buddies. I also think that Ryan Gosling is too delicious to ever be skeevy. I think it’s a terrific film and I already have it on my top ten list for the year. I will warn people that it’s an adult movie with a PG-13 rating. Don’t take kids to see this movie…get a sitter and have a nice kid free night.


Cowboys & Aliens

Swanner: With one of the best and most intriguing titles of the summer, Cowboys & Aliens hits the theatres this week. The film stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig as two cowboys that are trying to keep aliens from taking over Earth circa 1873. After aliens attack a small western town, a posse heads out to get their kidnapped residents back and to put an end to the aliens’ carnage. This a serious film and i think that’s why it works. It never gets as silly as Mars Attacks because it follows a typical western storyline of the bad guys rolling into town and the good guys fighting back … it’s just the bad guys are aliens.

Judd: I hate the title. I think it’s stupid, but it’s accurately describes the movie. Based on the title alone, I was worried about seeing Cowboys & Aliens; I thought it was going to be a mindless bore. The first two acts were actually pretty good, the movie following your stereotypical western plotline. It all fell apart for me in the third act’s final battle. It was too long and not as fun to watch as you would expect it to be.

Swanner: Besides Ford and Craig you also have a great cast of supporting players which includes Paul Dano, Olivia Wilde, Adam Beach and Sam Rockwell. The film is directed by John Favreau (Iron Man) who does a nice job with the pacing and the overall production. It took five writers to come up with the script. I won’t list them all but their past projects were Iron Man, Transformers and Lost. Like i said before, the film works because they kept to a traditional storyline. Another big stand out for me was the Cinematography. It’s lovely to look at without ever losing the feel for the film

Judd: Westerns usually have pretty good cinematography because the landscape is as much a character as the cast. I would have liked to have seen more of Paul Dano, because he’s a phenomenal actor. I was pleased with Sam Rockwell, as I always am. I wish my feelings about Cowboys & Aliens were more polarized, because I’m having a tough time praising or bashing it. What was good was great and what was bad was awful. I’m not mad I wasted my time on the movie, but I will never watch it again.

Swanner: I’m not a fan of westerns as a rule but this has brought the western back with a twist. I did like the way they ended it in a very traditional western style. I almost expected the theme to Blazing Saddles playing in the back ground. I think they took some risks and I think it paid off. No it’s not a perfect movie but it was fun and a nice change from the barrage of more of the same. This film should really propel Daniel Craig from being just another James Bond.

Judd: Speaking of Blazing Saddles, the Sheriff is named Emmet Taggart, Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles is named Taggart. Is that a slight nod? I think it might be

Swanner: 1/2

Captain America: The First Avenger

Swanner: I have to start by saying I was really not looking forward Captain America. I thought the preview looked too old and some moments in the previews just looked bad. After seeing it I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a nerdy small fry who’s drama is to join the army and fight the Nazi’s. After being 4F by every recruiter he meets Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who has an experimental drug that will take him from zero to hero. Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and the world has its first super hero.

Judd: Compared to previous comic-book installations, Captain America is kind of in a funny situation. It takes place in 1945, so it’s limited by the technology of the time – as compared to, say, Iron Man. Captain America doesn’t have super powers like the X-Men or the Hulk and Steve Rogers is as normal and American as apple pie – meaning he’s not a tortured soul like Batman. That leaves us with very little to distract us from a thin and superficial plot which, admittedly, is expected from movies of the genre.

Swanner: The main storyline here has Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) a crazy Nazi working for the super science division Hydra, who is out to find occultist items to give the Nazi’s/himself super powers to take over the world. It sounds a lot like an Indiana Jones plot line; like the greedy, power hungry Nazi’s that we saw in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Of course Schmidt has harnessed some glowing cube that gives the bad guys a power source no one from that time period has ever seen.

Judd: OK, so the glowing cube thing and all of Hydra’s weapons and soldiers were pretty cool. However, I think that it could have been better, more stylized. I think the art direction and look of the movie should have gone Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with a more retro-futurist, streamlined look. Or, in not so pretentious terms, it could have looked more comic-booky.

Swanner: I think the reason it wasn’t over the top comic-booky is because once all the super heroes meet in The Avengers they would have to continue the look. Since that wasn’t the look for Ironman, Hulk or even Thor I think they were looking for more continuity. If this were a stand alone I’m sure they would have done that. I was actually really happy with the production design and the general pacing of the film. Director Joe Johnston did a great job with the film. As I said earlier, I didn’t think the film would be good but I was proven wrong and now I’m looking forward to The Avengers next May.

Judd: OK fine, but I will say that I loved Red Skull’s car. That thing was bad ass. I also thought the special effects, especially when Chris Evans was shrunk down to a 90 pound weakling, were excellent. That was a very well done and creepy effect.


Winnie The Pooh

Swanner: A new Winnie the Pooh movie opens this week in theatres and offers a lovely walk through the 100 acre woods for kids of all ages. Now if you’re not a kid of any age than you might find this 69-minute version a tough watch. It’s not that the film isn’t beautifully made, it’s just that the film is really made for the youngsters … very youngsters. Winnie the Pooh wakes up with a hungry tummy while Eeyore discovers he has lost his tail … I’m serious. The main storyline is that Christopher Robin has gone missing and the only clue the 100 acre residents have is a note that says Back Soon that they misread as Backson, a scary creature of the woods, that they think has kidnapped him and they have to get him back. All that and it has musical numbers.

Yes, it took seven writers to come up with this story. I know for the right audience this will be a delight for child and parent but it wasn’t for me. I blame Pixar for this. They have raised the bar so high that even their parent company, Disney, can’t keep up. I do think that this should have come to theatres because bringing very young children to theatres is a no no in my book but than again why not. If there is an audience for this movie then prove me wrong and I hope you do. I just want those Pooh fans that are all grown up that it’s not that same old Pooh you remember or maybe it is and I’ve just grown up and don’t remember anymore. That really would be that saddest part of all this.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Swanner: I have mixed emotions here. After every Harry Potter movie, I always found comfort in the fact that there was another on it’s way. Now I have to judge without that safety net … so here it goes. Part two starts off right where the first one finish. Voldemort has found the elder wand which makes him even more powerful and Harry and company are still in search for the remaining horcruxes. I’m not going to explain anything here … you know it or you don’t and i don’t have the space to explain (read book) Basically Voldemont/BAD and Harry Potter/GOOD.

Director David Yates and writer Steve Kloves take no time grabbing us and taking us for a ride we’ve never experienced with these stories. Maybe it’s because they split the book to make sure everything makes it on screen or maybe it’s because it’s the finale. Either way it works like a two hour and ten minute rollercoaster. Ups and down with both action and emotion. I had actual read the books (on CD … it counts) so i had an even stronger tie to each character good and bad. The actors really gave all they had to this film with incredible performances all around. I was very impressed with the special effects and the cinematography and production design is perfect as always.

It’s a great conclusion to the series. I’m happy with the way it ended and the fact they did split the book to give the fans of the books the most we could ask for from the movie makers. I also want to thank JK Rowling for not only creating this world but for making the producer not alter that world. Keeping all the actors the same no matter what made all the difference. The Harry Potter series joins Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and even the Indiana Jones Films as not just great filmmaking but great entertainment. I’ve personally seen these movies more times than i like to admit and I’ll be watching them over again and again. It’s hard to say goodbye to people you’ve seen grow up but these eight films will be treasured for years by me and generations of Harry Potter fans living and yet to come. Deathly Hallows 2 is the best film I’ve seen this year … class is dismissed


Horrible Bosses

Swanner: This has been the summer of raunchy comedies. I guess this trend goes back to the original Hangover but it seemed like everything started with Bridesmaids. Back at the beginning of May I would have never guessed that a consistently funny group of comedies would make their way to theatres. In Horrible Bosses you have three men who have three really terrible bosses and decide to kill their bosses because murder is better than unemployment. You can tell this is going to be a very silly movie.

The bosses (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell) are really worthy of murder and very very funny. The Three main characters (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) are basically the three stooges, every move they make is just plain dumb and that’s why this comedy works. You want them to kill their bosses even though they’re more likely to kill each other first. The cast is so talented and work so well as an ensemble that the real star turns out to be the script. It’s funny and the dialog is clever. The word play with Jamie Foxx is priceless. The script is written by Michael Markowitz, Jonathan M Goldtein and John Francis Daley. Daley is better known as Sweets from the TV series Bones and a Jude Aptow alumni from the series Freaks and Geeks.

Director Seth Gordon (Four Christmases) keeps the action moving and the laughs coming. I wouldn’t call this the best of the summer raunch but it’s better than most … I still have a place in my heart for Bridesmaids but Horrible Bosses is right at the top because it’s funny and the terrific cast isn’t posing to be the lead but to be part of a really good movie. That being said, I think that this movie will change the way people look at Aniston and make Charlie Day a movie star.