Chimpanzee

Swanner: This week I saw the new Disney Nature film Chimpanzee. It tells the story a young chimp named Oscar and how he survives over a year with his tribe. I must admit it was like being at home on a Sunday night in the 70’s watching the Wonderful World of Disney. Documentaries are a funny creature. Some are informative and some tell a story. Our journey with Oscar was a sweet story of survival in a very beautiful location.

Judd: I’m not into the Disney story-telling documentary. I’d much rather see the blood and guts of the wild. Beast versus beast versus a just-as-vicious Mother Nature. I want National Geographic. I want a hawk eating a mouse. A vulture eating corpse. If it’s a documentary about monkeys, they better show some poo flinging.

Swanner: OK … The story follows the tribe as they look for food and try to maintain control of their area from other groups of Chimps. I was expecting the music from West Side Story as one of the other groups of chimps do try to force out Oscar’s tribe because they have nut trees that supply much of their food. (spoiler alert) I did want to mention that Oscar’s mother is killed, which is standard for a Disney movie, and Oscar needs to find one of the older chimps to adopt him or he would certainly die.

Judd: The movie is OK for kids, and I did laugh at cutesy silly things here and there; but I thought, overall, the movie felt slow. And of course Oscar’s mother died – I wouldn’t put it past the Disney film crew to have staged it just to follow formula. Grease a few palms, make a backroom arrangement with a cheetah. “She’ll be at the nut grove around three o’clock. Make it look like an accident.”

Swanner: Disney did not put a hit on Oscar’s mother. It was a bit slow and I didn’t think Tim Allen’s narration didn’t do anything to make the film better where a good narrator can do amazing things to a documentary. As I mentioned the cinematography was amazing. I still don’t get how they can film the chimps without disrupting their lives. It’s how can reality shows be natural with a cameramen following you around but Disney does it and does it well. I have to applaud Disney for not making this too much of a weeper and keeping it more on the positive side.

Judd I agree, the camera work was amazing. The images were well framed, sharp and crystal clear. They also did a few neat things with some time-lapse photography. I also agree that Buzz Lightyear is not the best choice for a narrator, but I suppose it’s a change from Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones. I’m old-school, I’ll take Nature’s George Page any day. For an adult without children, I recommend staying home and watching something more engaging on Discovery or Animal Planet. But for someone with kids, Chimpanzee is a descent throwback to The Wonderful World of Disney.

Swanner:
Judd: ½

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The Cabin in the Woods

Swanner: I’ve been hearing good buzz on this movie since last year’s Comicon. Joss Whedon (Buffy) was writing and producing with writer director Drew Goddard. The film was horror mixed with sci-fi with a lot of laughs. So after seeing the previews I was really looking forward to seeing the movie thinking this is my type of horror film. The film follows five young people who have come to a remote cabin in the woods for a little vacation. This part feels very much like The Evil Dead but then things go very wrong … dead wrong!

Judd: I knew nothing about Cabin in the Woods outside of the fact there was some BIG TWIST the studio wants reviewers to keep secret. While I’m not going to reveal what I think the twist is, I will say that had I seen the trailer before the movie, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it as much. The movie starts out laughably stereotypical with a group of college kids heading off to a cabin in the woods in a Winnebago. They stop off for gas at a creepy General Store, where a filthy, tobacco chewing redneck warns them of their impending doom. This is all done very tongue-in-cheek, and we soon learn there are other factors at play.

Swanner: So to avoid giving anything away (if you haven’t already seen the trailer) all hell breaks loose and the second act follows very much the standard horror film minus the twist. The third act is where things get different and the bloodbath is worth the wait for horror fans. The main cast have all work in TV and film but no real star outside of Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and he plays the jock as well as anyone can with the rest of the five playing very much to the stereotype.

Judd: I liked the secondary story, and I like that Richard Jenkins was part of it. He always adds so much to a role. The stereotypical teenagers were, to me, almost a little too stereotypical. The “stoner” reminded me waaaay too much of Scooby Doo’s Shaggy that I found it distracting. Anyway, having seen the movie, I don’t know if I would want to see it again. The scary parts weren’t that scary, and I don’t think the secondary story was explored enough. Maybe if the script would have focused more on the secondary, than trying to tell two stories, the movie would have been more memorable. After all, we’ve seen the horror aspect of Cabin in the Woods told one hundred times over.

Swanner: I totally agree. The five kids in the cabin has so been done so maybe the balance was a bit off. I don’t know that the film would work if it was from the secondary storyline only because all the twists center around the kids. It really doesn’t matter, I still thought the movie was fun and it’s always nice to mix things up a bit. It didn’t match the buzz but it was a hell of a lot better than Wrath of the Titans so I was glad to be there.

Judd: Well then maybe instead of trying to come up with an interesting twist – which is blown in the trailer – Joss Whedon should have focused on making the secondary plot the main plot and using the kids as filler. Unless what we think isn’t the twist and the real twist is the cameo by Sigourney Weaver. If that’s the twist, that’s a pretty weak fucking twist. Either way, the more I think about The Cabin in the Woods, the more disappointed I become. It’s too bad because, like Leslie Vernon, it could have been a very interesting take on an old trope.

Swanner: 1/2
Judd:

The Three Stooges

Swanner: There are two kinds of people in the world, Stooges fans and people who obviously have no sense of humor … we’ll refer to them as women. Occasionally you’ll find a female stooges fan, but they are rare. This review goes out to the fans … men. When I knew the Farrelly Brothers were attached to the project I was pretty happy. They know how to pull off slapstick and they always do a great job casting. Within the first few minutes of the film I knew there was something genius happening.

Judd: There’s been a dark cloud hanging over this production for the past couple years, especially when it came to casting issues. I have to say the cast we got is perfect. Relative nobodies Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso as Moe and Curly, and Sean Hayes as Larry didn’t give performances that were impressions of the Stooges, they became the Stooges – with Hayes as the real shiner. Everybody can do a Curly or Moe “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”. “Wise guy, eh?” But who can nail a Larry? Hayes did. The supporting cast with Sofia Vergara, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson and Larry David as a grumpy old nun are also fantastic.

Swanner: I loved the way they split the movie into three shorts, very much the way the Stooges movies were done. The first part of the film is the Stooges from coming to the orphanage as babies and leaving the orphanage as adults. The writing by the Farrelly Brothers and Mike Cerrone (Me, Myself and Irene) is funny, establishes characters and moves everything along very well. The script and direction was so important in this film and it’s all spot on. I still can’t believe Larry David was the grumpy nun…every scene he’s in is a classic.

Judd: The reason this Stooges works so well is because it sticks to the Stooges formula. It doesn’t try to modernize them; it doesn’t put them in situations the originals wouldn’t have been in; the foils are all familiar. Some people are grumbling online that the cast of Jersey Shore show up for a scene or two, but the original Stooges had plenty of guest stars and pop-culture cameos relevant to their time.

Swanner: Whatever the reason it all works. I felt terrible for the couple in front of us because I was laugh and snorting through the whole movie. I hope that the audience for this film isn’t frightened away. Seeing it in a theater full of laughing people was amazing and it how you should see it the first time. The only thing missing from the movie was the pie throwing…they set it up but never quite got there.

Judd: We were both excited when we saw the lady with the up-do and pearls, because we knew she was going to get a pie in the face – alas, she did not, and that was a disappointment. But there was plenty else to laugh at and plenty else that is classic Stooges that I’ll forgive them for letting the Grand Dame go unscathed. As I said earlier, The Three Stooges does not feel like a remake. This new cast picked up where the originals left off 50 years ago and that is the most satisfying thing about the movie.

Swanner:
Judd: ½

American Reunion

Swanner: After three theatrical films and five direct to video releases, is there a need to bring back the original American Pie cast for a reunion movie? Universal thinks so. The studio has brought back together the original cast all these years later to milk this franchise one more time. As you can tell from the title it’s the 13th year class reunion, so everyone has headed back to East Grand Falls to see what Jason Biggs is trying to have sex with now.

Judd: I thought it was a good idea, but when I told a friend of mine about it, he expressed worry that reuniting the original cast would somehow tarnish the original films. After seeing the movie, I think he might have been right. With movies one through three, we get to see naive, horny kids mature into wiser, horny adults. Twelve years later, we’ve got a bunch of 30-somethings pining for what could have been, apologizing for what never was, and worried because they’re not as horny as they used to be.

Swanner: I was impressed that they got everyone back for the movie but then again I’m sure most of them didn’t have a whole lot to do. It was interesting to see how different some of the actors looked. Chris Klein, who is practically bald, must have called up Nick Cage and asked to borrow his toupee for the film. I like how Thomas Ian Nicholas grew a beard so he didn’t look like he was 14. You know Tara Reid loved doing the film since she hasn’t been in a theatrical film since she stank up Alone in the Dark. Your turn…

Judd: Ugh, Tara Reid. Boy, what a reminder of why her career didn’t go anywhere. She’s HORRIBLE! I haven’t seen acting that bad since Taylor Swift in Valentine’s Day. I thought the story was a bit slow as well, but I think it was deliberate. Instead of moving at the pace of a hormonally charged teenager, the pace was planned and careful. Pacing like that does not go well with the over-the-top sex humor. Sex romps are not supposed to be calculated and purposeful.

Swanner: It also wasn’t as funny. More than anything it was a “look how crappy our lives turned out” kind of film; we got that last year with Young Adult, which was much better and funnier than this thing. Fans of the franchise will get a kick out of seeing how everyone looks, but I don’t think it’ll be making any new fans. Jason Biggs does do full frontal nudity, if that’s something you’ve always wanted to see, and Seann William Scott still looks good but he looks like he’s tired of playing Stiffler. Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge are still working for a reason… They know how to make this kind of material work. All in all, I was happy to see it and I’ll be happy to forget it.

Judd: My friend said that he felt that American Wedding was the best of the three and that it was the perfect capper to the trilogy. Everyone knows that in real life it’s all downhill after marriage. There’s no need to us remind of that by showing people we grown to love as crazy sex-obsessed kids have gotten older and are stressed over a humdrum life, perceived lack of success or the trials and tribulations of child rearing. It’s bad enough to look in the mirror and see you’re getting paunchy. To see that Jim Levenstein is getting doughy right along with you – that’s just depressing.

Swanner:
Judd: