Fright Night

Swanner: I think it’s interesting that we have gone from such wonderful movies like Crazy, Stupid Love and The Help to crap like One Day, Conan The Barbarian and now Fright Night. I hate to reveal my hand so soon but I’m just so surprised. Fright Night somewhat follows the ’85 original script about a teenage boy that realizes his neighbor is a vampire. After that its a free for all of bad writing.

Judd: I’m not familiar with the ’85 original, so I went in with a fresh perspective. With Anton Yelchin, Collin Farrell, Toni Collette and script by Marti Noxon (Buffy, Angel, Mad Men) I was hoping for a half way decent script – tight, witty and well-written. As Tom mentioned the script was awful, and the performances were phoned in. Anton Yelchin is capable of so much more than just looking stressed, and Toni Collette was completely underutilized. Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse, is Christopher Mintz-Plasse because he’s the biggest one-note in Hollywood. He has less range than Steven Segal.

Swanner: The only person in the show that seemed to be trying was Colin Farrell. It looks like he’s trying to add something to the role, but the script does limit him. David Tennant (Doctor Who) also tries to mix it up, but he’s so over the top it’s distracting. I think he’s trying to do his best Russell Brand imitation, and let’s face it … when has that ever been an asset to film? I do want to know how much money Midori paid to have the Peter Vincent character to swill Midori out of the bottle through just about every scene he appears.

Judd: I kept waiting for a punch line with that Midori thing. No one in the audience laughed when he drank his first Midori on the rocks, though you and I (experienced drinkers) both gagged. And you hit the nail on the head with the Brand comparison. The thing that really bothered me about the movie was that it seemed director Craig Gillespie felt that drawing a scene out would create dramatic tension. It gave me hypertension.

Swanner: The movie either needed to be a full dramatic horror film or a campy one…you can’t do both. The scene that comes very early in the film with the gas line, where the vampire completely exposes himself drove me crazy. A 400 year old vampire would never do anything that stupid. Risk everything he has? I don’t think so. Also, has anyone ever heard of character or storyline development? I think the first half hour of the movie must have been cut out because it was disjointed mess. I feel bad for anyone that spends money on this crapfest.

Judd: I disagree that a movie has to be either full horror or camp – Shaun of the Dead is an example of genuine thrills and laughs at the same time. Fright Night feels like an amateur effort from people who have repeatedly exhibited their true capabilities. The pace is slow, the script is sloppy, there is absolutely no wit or intelligence. One night some really talented people got shitfaced on Midori sours and decided to earn an easy buck by putting out a half-assed remake.

Swanner: No Stars
Judd: ½

One Day

Swanner: This weekend Brian and I went to see the new film One Day. It’s a love story that takes a look at the relationship between Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess over 400 years but always on the same day July 15th. The film is directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education) and written by David Nicholls based on his book.

Judd: Oh stop, it only felt like 400 years. Anne Hathaway starts out a mousey, makeup-less Anne Hathaway who’s unconfident and content to be a loser. Jim Sturgess starts out a rich, arrogant bastard. After a sexless night, they become best friends (much like 1999’s Trick). As time moves on Hathaway blooms into the Hathaway we know and love, and Sturgess wilts as the worst of his traits take over. Oh yeah, his mother has cancer not that it means anything until the movie is two-thirds over, and even then it doesn’t amount to much.

Swanner: On the subject of the mother with cancer, she’s played by Patricia Clarkson. Clarkson always makes a movie better, but she did what she could here. I did think it was sad that the second time we see her she’s wearing a scarf on her head, which just seemed like such a cheap way to let the audience know she had cancer. If you have Clarkson in your film, for god’s sake give her more to do. I like these actors, but this film was a poor excuse for the Same Time Next Year storyline. The whole idea is that we should want to see these two characters get together; I never wanted to see these two even be friends no less than lovers.

Judd: I dislike romance movies in general, but One Day is so contrived you can’t help but roll your eyes when the “big tragedy” happens. And then the movie continues to insult the audience by carrying on for another 30 minutes. Hathaway and Sturgess had absolutely no chemistry, which is no fault of their own. Either Scherfig’s took all the emotion out of the book – which I doubt – or Nicholls’ should stick to writing novels and leave adaptations to the pros.

Swanner: If you remember after the big tragedy I gave a silent cheer thinking that meant the end was near … it was not. I’m the opposite of Brian, I usually love romantic movies but as Brian stated these characters had no chemistry at all. If it weren’t for the fact that I really like the two actors I would have probably got up and left. This is definitely on my worst picture list of the year.

Swanner: ½

30 Minutes or Less / Glee

Swanner: I went to see the Glee: The Concert Movie last night and it was so good. It was really cool because it was just a press screening so there weren’t as many people to see me crying through the whole movie. Yes, I am a Gleek … I’m OK with that, but it’s the really awful people that make being a Gleek hard.

Judd: No, what you are is a big, fat girl with awful taste in entertainment. While you were seeing Gleekeoke: A Sucker is Born, I was seeing 30 Minutes or Less; a buddy movie with Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari (Parks & Rec), Danny McBride and Nick Swardson (Reno 911, Blades of Glory). Losers McBride and Swardson strap a bomb to pizza boy Eisenberg’s chest and give him 10 hours to rob a bank, or else.

Swanner: First of all it wasn’t karaoke. It was filmed from their concert tour earlier this year. It’s a documentary … sort of. The cast does stay in character during the movie and they also interview super fans who claim that Glee has changed their lives. They had all the main character students in the show and yes, they are singing live. It’s really a good way to see them because you really get to see that they can sing, they can dance and we already know they can act because they are so wonderful in the series.

Judd: So it’s a mockumentary featuring the characters of the show putting on a concert. Was it in someone’s barn? Where Judy and Mickey there? Then it showcased real-life fans of the program gushing about how Glee is “The Bestest Ever!” Sounds like a giant circle-jerk to me. 30 Minutes or Less was 86 minutes long, and felt like a treatment that was never fleshed out. It moved from scene to scene with no exposition, each scene centered around one Big Joke with some mildly funny dialogue sporadically peppered throughout.

Swanner: Don’t you dare belittle Glee. You don’t know and you don’t understand the joy of Glee. Your movie was 86 minutes. How lucky. Usually when we see crappy movies they are two hours or more. Oh, I did want to mention that there is a special appearance from a certain substitute teacher in the movie that was just great. The best part of the movie is that The Warblers do appear and sing three songs. I would say the only downfall is that they don’t sing anything new…just reprise songs from the show, but then you never really get new music at a concert anyway.

Judd: I was lucky it was 86 minutes. The movie started at 7:00, and I was home by 9:00 even though I had to go all the way up to Roseville. However, that’s really the only good thing to say about the movie. The cast played themselves, which is a shame because Nick Swardson is a pretty good character actor. The Warblers? Hmm, I like the name… What did they sing? Three Coins in the Fountain? Shangri-La?

Swanner: The Warblers sang music you’ve never heard of so don’t bother yourself with it. If you’re a fan of Glee then go see the concert movie. But if you’re not a fan, go see something else…this one is just for us. Gleeks can rejoice…there is a heaven and it’s in 3D.

Judd: Sounds like Glee-kkake to me. The tagline should read: Bring a Towel!


30 Minutes or Less: ½

The Help

Swanner: Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives – and a Mississippi town – upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families and make it into a tell all book about what it’s like to be The Help. Directed and written by Tate Taylor based on the best selling novel by Kathryn Stockett.

Judd: Clocking in at 2 hours and 17 minutes, The Help isn’t light summer fare, but the pacing and the direction move the story along at a decent clip. The performances in The Help are all stand-out with an Oscar-worthy turn by Octavia Spencer. The stellar cast is rounded out with Bryce Dallas Howard as a fantastically pointy, wicked antagonist. Viola Davis, Allison Janey, Sissy Spacek and let’s not forget Cicely Tyson who, at two hundred and eighty-nine years old, looks fantastic.

Swanner: You are right on with the Oscar talk on Octavia Spencer but all I could think of is that Howard and Spencer will both be fighting for that Best Supporting Actress Oscar although Janey, Spacek and Tyson could easily be included in that category but their roles have nowhere near the bite. Viola Davis should easily land a best actress nomination and with the exception of Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher film I don’t see much competition. How did you feel about the overall tone? Personally I wanted more Color Purple but got Steele Magnolias. I wanted more of an edge to the film…not that it wasn’t heartwarming and devastatingly heartbreaking. When I saw that Chris Columbus was a producer I realized it was going to be a mild look at the time period.

Judd: I’ll agree that the movie could have been much heavier, given the topics and the time period. Had the movie been a downer, it would have gotten a November/December release. I think the movie delivered what I was looking for. I wasn’t expecting, as you put it, Color Purple. I wanted more of a dishy, southern tale with real emotion. And I’m glad that the southern bitches weren’t just evil to their servants, but they also ostracized poor Celia Foote just for being white trash.

Swanner: Story wise I was very happy with the movie. When I say I wanted more edge that’s just on my wish list. The movie delivers and should me a real crowd-pleaser…in the more liberal states. I’m glad they showed that there were good white employers even though the focus of the film were on the bad ones. I seriously hated the Hilly character so much that if I were Bryce Dallas Howard I would hang low for a while. It’s hard to remember someone who so encompasses such a hateful character. This film will certainly find it’s place among some of the great films about women…yes, a gay classic is born.

Judd: The Help almost makes me forgive Bryce for Lady in the Water. She’s like an evil Kristen Bell. The only real problem I had with movie is its runtime. There were moments where the movie could have ended, but it kept going on. I also had a real problem with Emma Stone’s wig. There is no way her hair would have been that perfectly curly in the humid south. No way.

Swanner: Enough with the wig thing. Christ!!! The running time was to include important elements from the book. Things that, if excluded, would have kept the fans (and there are a lot of them) from seeing the film.

Judd: I’m just saying that as a person with curly hair myself, there is no way her hair would have looked like that back then with all that humidity and limited selection of product! Aqua Net can only do so much!

Swanner: 1/2
Judd: 1/2

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Judd: James Franco plays Will Rodman, a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, which his father, played by John Lithgow just happens to be suffering from. Rodman creates a serum that makes monkeys smarter, but only has a temporary affect on humans. The most fantastic thing is that the treated monkey’s intelligence can be passed on to its offspring. This is the whole setup to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a movie that no one asked to be made, especially after Tim Burton screwed up the first remake, and a movie that I was expecting to suck on an epic scale. However, I was wrong.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty wrong with this movie. Lithgow’s character was merely a plot device to show that the Alzheimer medicine wasn’t effective on humans. Franco, while I adore him, is not cut out to play a scientist; I found myself laughing when he started talking about the “systemic effects of the ALZ-112 on the brain’s synapses,” and other such biomedical mumbo-jumbo. It reminded me of Tara Reid as the “genius anthropologist” in Alone In The Dark. The movie started to pick up steam about half-way through when Cesar, Rodman’s smart monkey, is taken to an ape repository after attacking the neighbor for yelling at the addle-brained Lithgow. The movie then shifted into a fairly stereotypical prison movie. Cesar gets beaten up for being the “new meat”; gains respect by shanking the prison guard (Harry Potter’s Tom Felton); then starts trading black market cookies to build an army of apes. They escape and make a run through San Francisco to get to Muir Woods. Thus the rise of the planet of the apes.

It sounds ridiculous and stereotypical, and while I did roll my eyes several times throughout the screening, the overall movie is an entertaining romp. It’s well paced and the CGI apes are cutting edge. When Franco isn’t tripping over his thick tongue trying to sound smart – not to say that he isn’t in real life – he gives a fine performance. Lithgow is woefully underused. The overall feel of the movie is extremely melodramatic, and it took me awhile to sink into it. The bad guys, Felton, Brian Cox and David Oyelowo, are one step away from twirling their mustache – nothing worse than Giovanni Ribisi in Avatar. But once I got into the groove – I think the prison cookie trading is what got me – I enjoyed the ride and there were some genuine emotional moments. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a decent close to the summer blockbusters.


The Change-Up

Judd: Ryan Reynolds is Mitch Planko, a irresponsible “actor” who works one week a year and spends the rest of his time eating hummus and masturbating. Jason Bateman is Dave Lockwood, Mitch’s best friend, is a workaholic who sees more of his coworkers than he does of his wife and children. One drunken night they each wish they had the other’s life, and there you have it…

The plot has been done to death, and quite frankly The Change-Up does nothing to reanimate the old chestnut. It’s all the same old same old – complete with each character learning what their loved ones really think while said loved one is making a confession to the other’s corporal form. That being said, as a gross-out comedy, and as a comedy for those who dislike children, The Change-Up is worth at least a rental. Bateman’s Mitch Planko trying to feed babies at 3 a.m. is hysterical, and Reynolds’ Dave Lockwood giving marital advice to Bateman is dead-on. “A husband is nothing more than a brain-damaged mule. He does not stray from the path; he does not make decisions for himself.”

But for every scene that hits, there’s another that misses. Most of those scenes come in the boardroom where Bateman’s Planko is trying to fill Lockwood’s shoes as a lawyer. The scenes rely on lazy buffoonery to stumble through and there are far too many of them. The movie was written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, creators of the first The Hangover, a movie not known for its cutting dialogue and witty repartee. Unlike The Hangover, The Change-Up doesn’t have Las Vegas to throw our characters into constant chaos. Though there are a few outlandish scenes featuring Planko’s personal exploits that are pretty funny. But the real meat of the movie is the hilarious inside look a long-term relationship – when there’s not a reason to close the bathroom door anymore.

Do I recommend The Change-Up? Sure. Do I recommend paying for it? Not even a matinee. But this winter when it’s released on Blu Ray and DVD, I know I’ll be renting it, or maybe even buying a used copy and I’ll be recommending others to do the same.

Judd: ½