Swanner: This week we saw Wanderlust. It’s the new Paul Rudd/Jennifer Aniston movie about a couple who stumble on to a rural commune and how it changes their lives. The film is directed by David Wain (Role Models) who also wrote the screenplay with Ken Marino (Rudd’s douche bag brother, Ken, in the film). The first thing you notice about the film is it’s an R rated “adult” comedy which I knew immediately when the naked man with the very large penis came running after this couple. Oh, and I saw Jennifer Aniston take a pee on a lawn and then wipe herself with a leaf … my life is now complete.

Judd: It should also be mentioned that Wanderlust is an Apatow production and sports the best supporting cast of forgotten actors who unfortunately get too little work. Kerry Kenni (Trudy from Reno 911), Lauren Ambrose (Claire from 6 Feet Under), Michaela Watkins (SNL, The New Adventures of Old Christine), Linda Lavin (Alice), Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordon) and Jordon Peele (Mad TV). While I enjoyed Wanderlust, it’s not a great movie and it feels very appropriate for this time of year. The plotting and the scenes meandered, but what can you expect from a movie about hippies titled Wanderlust?

Swanner: The supporting cast is great. Thank goodness for Judd Apatow for forming a company that keeps these folks working. I just loved Kathryn Hahn. She’s one of those actors that make everything better because she’s in them. You also forgot to mention Malin Akerman who played Katherine Heigl’s bitch sister in 27 Dresses (one of the great films of the last decade) and Justin Theroux who is Jennifer Aniston’s real life love interest. I really thought this was a funny character driven movie.

Judd: The movie suffers from a lack of structure. If the script had been tighter, if the direction a more precise, Wanderlust would have been a Big Summer Comedy. I’m happy that I saw Wanderlust, but I wouldn’t want to pay for it, and when it’s released on video I’ll wait until it goes to the $5 bin to buy it. It’s a throwaway comedy with some very funny parts that can’t save the overall movie.

Swanner: It does suffer from too much improv. You can tell when they go off script and when the director lets scenes go too long but I still think it’s worthy of seeing in the theatre. There is no better experience then to see a laugh out loud comedy with a full audience. The great cast and Aniston urinating in public make this a best bet for the weekend. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of nudity so if you’re squeamish about wieners and naked old people then this is definitely not the movie to see.

Judd: Come on now, there were plenty of boobies, too. Although tits don’t cause as much commotion as cock. Anyway, I don’t think this is worth seeing in the theatres and I recommend you save the price of a ticket and spend it on the joint you’re going to smoke when you rent the movie this summer.

Swanner: 1/2

This Means War

Swanner: First of all i have to say i hate the title. Okay, now i can talk about the movie. The storyline here is two secret agent partners to realize they are dating the same woman. Once they do it becomes a competition to win her heart. Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine star in this action romantic comedy. I bet they called it This Means War because they thought men would show up to anything with war in the title. So sad that they are probably right but it’s still a bad title.

Judd: What’s wrong with the title? I think it’s a fine title and you are 100% correct that it appeals to men. No normal man is going to see something with a normal Romcom title words like Dresses, Bride, Love, Pretty, Date, Wedding, Mail or Diary. In addition to that, we really don’t want to see a “Big Fat” anything. Between the appealing cast and the excellent (but deceitful) title, I actually wanted to see This Means War. Did the movie live up to my expectations? Yes, but then my expectations were really, really low. All I wanted was a bunch of extremely attractive people acting stupid, and that’s what I got.

Swanner: I’m glad you got what you expected. I was a bit disappointed. I like my romcoms to center around the girl not two overly testosterone males trying to out do each other. Reese Witherspoon does play our love interest and she’s really good at it. Chelsea Handler makes her big screen debut and she steals every scene she’s in. I’m not saying that the guys weren’t good but between Chris Pine’s mole and Tom Hardy’s flaws i just couldn’t get giggly over the men.

Judd: Right. You want pillow fights and every scene ending with the cast of females falling on the bed in exhaustion/glee. I’m sorry there wasn’t a cake baking montage set to an Aretha Franklin song that ended in a food fight or an exploding bag of flour. If a male has to be dragged to a romcom to appease their other half, this is the romcom they want to see. This endorsement does not mean the movie was good. In fact, it was barely palatable. The fight scenes are poorly choreographed, there is only enough action to wake you out of your diabetic coma every 20 minutes, and while Chelsea Handler did steal the show, she’s a fag hag. She’s not going to appeal to the poor sucker accompanying his girlfriend to this movie. And you shut the hell up about Tom Hardy. He’s flawless, crooked teeth and all.

Swanner: Tom Hardy is a dramatic actor and after watching this everyone will agree with me. Did you notice there wasn’t even a music montage of Reese trying to figure out what to wear on a date…I’m so confused. I guess i did like the movie more than you. My expectations were too high and yours too low and the movie ended up there in the middle. Director McG and writers Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg are all known for their making movies that appeal to men so i guess I’m not the target audience this time around. This Means War was enjoyable enough and would have been better with a different set of leading men.

Judd: I did notice there wasn’t a single montage, and honestly, I was surprised by that. I give Tom props for slumming in a romcom. He’s got the looks and the chops, but you’re right, he’s not right for a romantic comedy. My real problem with the movie was the script. It telegraphed every move. Everything that happened in the third act was given away in the first two; the movie provided its own spoilers. And as I already mentioned I expect more from the action scenes. The car chase was fine, but the fight scenes were all shaky-cam and quick edits, which is a gimmick to cover crappy staging. Hardy has proven in both Bronson and Warrior that he can throw punches. There was no reason for the awful camera work.

Swanner 1/2

Safe House

Swanner: After a CIA safe house is attacked the managing agent (Ryan Reynolds) has to protect his detainee (Denzel Washington) from the assassins on his trial. My first thought was that this was too big a movie for February. Two huge stars and enough explosions to satisfy any summer moviegoer. It might be its R rating that placed it into its release date. Newcomers Daniel Espinosa and David Guggenheim serve as director and screenwriter respectively.

Judd: Safe House is one of those movies that has been shown on the silver screen since the beginning of cinema. A law enforcement agent who takes his job seriously gets double crossed by his superior while working with a bad guy who just might be a good guy. The really good movies rise above that basic formula – LA Confidential – Safe House clings to it like a first year film student. It’s loud and the action sequences are well done, but that’s about all there is to it.

Swanner: I do agree that the film really relies on action, action, action as a way to move the story along. That being said the two leads and even the supporting cast do really well with what’s provided. The moments with Washington and Reynolds where nothing is blowing up to pull the movie above the standard Steven Seagal direct to video crap. You also have to admit that the sound and special effects teams really got a workout on this film.

Judd: The sound effects were ridiculous. By the end of the movie I was wondering just how many plate glass windows and sides of cow did the Universal FX department go through to make this movie. And not to mention it was so loud! I had to turn down my hearing aid because I kept getting feedback. It was a constant barrage of breaking glass and bones; body blows and firing guns.

Swanner: That’s what I meant by it being such a big movie. You have to wait for summer for that kind of loud. For this film being the first real theatrical piece for both director and writer I thought they did well. Having two movie stars does hurt either but I do think this film will be well received by the masses. Considering the lack of action films out right now Safe House should do very well so I guess placing it in the middle of February was smart counter programming for what will be a barrage of Valentine’s Day schmaltz.

Judd: I agree that the movie will do well with the masses, and it is a nice alternative to the romantic crap that is polluting our multiplexes at this time of year, but the movie isn’t good. I would say it’s worth a rental, but definitely not worth the price of a ticket.


Journey 2

Swanner: After receiving a message from his grandfather, a teenage boy (Josh Hutcherson) partners with his stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) to find his grandfather and the Mysterious Island he is living on. This is the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) minus Brendan Fraser. Director Brad Peyton and writers Brain and Mark Gunn know how to make a family movie without dumbing it down. I never felt talked down to which is really something in a time when conservative groups are trying to push wholesomeness

Judd: Dumbing it down is nothing new; look at all the live-action crap Disney put out in the 60s. A simple story is one thing, but these types of movies usually suffer from an overdose of “zaniness”. There is always some whacky character who is disturbingly unfunny. Luis Guzman plays the whacky character here in Journey 2 but, like the rest of the film, he’s restrained enough that I wasn’t suffering from a migraine by the time it was over.

Swanner: You’re so right, Guzman took what could have been a deal breaker roll and made it funny without making it stupid. He made the movie work for me. Everyone else plays their parts pretty much up to par…and there’s nothing wrong with that. Safe is good but Guzman really shined here. As I said, the rest of the cast plays it safe with the exception of Vanessa Hudgens who shows off her lack of big screening acting skills.

Judd: All I know is I hated that she called her dad Papa and pronounced it “pa-PA”, like she was French or something. Every time she said it my skin would crawl. Dwayne Johnson is his usual affable self and Michael Cain is some old guy the target audience isn’t going to recognize – nor will the majority of their parents, for that matter. The real star of the movie is the visuals on the Island. I do not like fantasy and even I was charmed by the locale.

Swanner: I remember you reacting to Hudgens’ … acting. She started on the small screen and that’s where she should stay. I liked your use of the word charmed. I was charmed by the movie as well. It’s the movie I was hoping to see and more. The sets are worth mentioning and I thought the film moved great. One big problem with family films is leaving too many dead spots for the kids to get bored. Journey 2 is so much better than its predecessor it’s ridiculous. I’d stop calling this film Journey 2 and just call it Mysterious Island.

Judd: ½

The Innkeepers

Swanner: Opening this week is the new film The Innkeepers. It tells the story of a couple hotel clerks who are trying to find paranormal activity in the old hotel before the place closes at the end of the week. Mysterious things start to take place as a psychic (Kelly McGillis) checks in to the hotel. The story was developed by the director (Ti West) from his time staying at the actual hotel during the filming of House of the Devil.

Judd: This week we’ve seen two Haunted House movies, The Innkeepers and The Woman in Black and I guess I’ve never realized how formulaic these kinds of movies really are. It starts with something going bump in the night, and from there it’s the same one poltergeist-in-the-shadows trick over and over until the end where the hero either saves the day or succumbs to the haunting. Sometimes a movie like Paranormal Activity gives us a fresh take on the old trope. Innkeepers is not one of those movies.

Swanner: It does have that indie pacing to it, but I like the bumps in the night. I’m not sure what you want or expect from your horror films, but I liked it. It’s nothing close to The Woman in Black, which also opens this week, but for its budget I think the film does very nicely. The ending is a little typical but the scares leading up to it had me covering my eyes through a lot of it. The cast is small but good, with familiar faces of Sara Paxton and Pat Healy in the lead roles. I loved that they filmed in an actual hotel. There is something very creepy about long endless hallways with just doorways on either side … anything could happen.

Judd: I guess. I was doing my taxes while watching the movie, and the only time I was engrossed enough to turn away from my 1099-INT was when Kelly McGillis was channeling the ghost. I don’t get creeped out by “atmosphere”. I need a story. Once again I turn to Paranormal Activity because not only did it have the scares, but it had a good story with the lead woman being haunted as a little girl and her husband provoking the demon. The Innkeepers felt flat.

Swanner: I thought the film had enough scares to keep me going. It wasn’t ‘til the ending that I thought it went a little flat. but most horror films do that for me. I’m not really sure what I expect from these films, but I know it when I see it. The director kept me on the edge of my seat all through the film, and it’s one I’d like to see again. In the world of low budget horror films, this one offers good scares without torture or a guy with a machete, and for that I’m happy

Judd: I was more frightened by the amount I owe the IRS than I was by The Innkeepers. There is nothing new or fresh about The Innkeepers, and to me it felt like it would have been more comfortable in the Direct To Video market. It isn’t SyFy bad, but it’s worth the price of a movie ticket.

Swanner: ½

The Woman in Black

Swanner: After more then ten years of playing Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe steps out as leading man in a new gothic horror film The Woman in Black. Radcliffe plays Albert Kipps, a young lawyer who travels to a small town to settle the paperwork of a deceased client and discovers that her mansion is haunted by a spirit that haunts the house and the town near by. James Watkins directs with Jane Goldman writing the screenplay based on Susan Hill’s novel.

Judd: If you’re a fan of these types of movies you will undoubtedly notice that The Woman in Black proudly wears the Hammer name. For those who aren’t into scary movies, Hammer Films is a London based production company closely associated with the horror genre since the 1930s. The Woman in Black is very old fashioned it’s pacing and it’s story; whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to the viewer

Swanner: I’ve been a fan of gothic horror since i saw The Innocents as a kid. I love the pacing and the tease. It makes me so nervous I’m usually covering my eyes during all those tense moments…I’m a bit of a girl during scary movies. I like that they play psychological head games and not worry so much about having a guy with a chainsaw. I also liked that the spirit goes after kids. I say this not because of my hatred of children but because nothing terrifies more than something that goes after the innocents. Teenagers are one thing, this chick goes after the under ten crowd … that’s a bad ass villian

Judd: You’re also a bit of a girl during musicals, romantic comedies and life in general. I do not like traditional gothic horror; I find the pace is often too slow. I don’t get caught up in things that go bump in the night. Especially when the “bump” is repeated ad nauseum. While I understand the allure of being scared by something other than a slasher film, for me, a movie like this has to be a head above to hold my attention. The Woman in Black belongs in the head.

Swanner: I did like this film. I thought there was a good pay off in the end and the ending was not what i expected. It was a solid kick off to Radcliffe’s post Potter career. It shows he can carry a movie without his friends from Hogwarts. I’m also glad to see the trend to making horror films that are scary without torturing or hacking up teenagers. It wasn’t as scary as the preview because it’s not that movie…it’s better than that.
Judd: The ending was and wasn’t what I was expecting. I figured it would end in one of two ways, and the movie ended in a combination of both. I agree that Radcliffe proves here that he can carry a film, and in fact, all the performances are good. These kinds of movies aren’t my thing. For fans of the good old fashioned haunted house movie, they’re not going to be disappointed. For those expecting a little more refine, The Woman in Black is no sophisticated lady.


The Artist

Swanner: The is such a buzz in the air over the new film The Artist. Here you have a black and white silent movie made by a French guy staring two French actors which retells the old Star is Born story of a young actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) who’s career is taking off as the older male silent stars George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) career is fading. The film is really a love letter to the era of silent films and how the affect of sound changed an industry. So you could say there’s a bit of Singin in the Rain in here too.

That being said there are many things I like in the film and things that I didn’t. First the look and the feel of the film are wonderful. You forget how beautiful black and white films look. How your eye searches the frame finding all the details of the costumes and set. You also realize just what a great lip reader you can be. I was finding myself following the dialog very easily with out the title cards (which were few and far between). The actors really did their work on really capturing the style of acting used during the era. The film is fun. One thing i noticed while watching was that you literally couldn’t take your eye off the screen. So when it comes to home video you won’t be able to run to the bathroom or kitchen without pausing the movie. No playing Words with Friends of Family Feud on your phone without loosing track of where the film is going and with a distracted society like ours that’s going to be a big problem. I suggest seeing this movie in a theatre where distractions all minimal.

The film also seems a bit gimmicky. Halfway through the film i started getting bored. The point where Valentin is spiraling down i felt myself drifting. Maybe it’s because the novelty had worn off or possibly because I’ve seen this story before. It’s hard to stretch one note for an hour and forty minutes. It should come to no surprise that the film comes with a happy ending. As I said, it’s a love letter to the era. I did like the movie and i think people who love movies should see it but for those of you out there who won’t watch Young Frankenstein because it’s in black and white, i say pass this one by. This movie wasn’t made for you.