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Girl Most Likely

Girl_Most_Likely_2At the ripe age of 34, Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is a New York socialite who’s once promising career as a playwright is on the skids – actually, it never got off the ground. After being dumped by her boyfriend and a fake suicide attempt, Imogene goes back home to Atlantic City New Jersey, where her mother, Annette Benning is cohabiting with a compulsive liar (Matt Dillon), her brother, Christopher Fitzgerald, an autistic hermit crab salesman, and tenant, Darren Criss.

Girl Most Likely is aiming to be an indie, failing-Gen-Y’er-returns-to-the-nest, movie with all the prerequisite quirkiness and oddball characters. Unfortunately, the cast as a whole is 10 years too old of the roles. Wiig is supposed to be 34 (yeah right!), but her character behaves more like 24. When she returns home, which is established has not been for years, she’s upset that there is a stranger renting her room. Her brother, who is nine months younger, would have been better off as a high school student. Plot holes abound as Imogene searches for her father who she recently finds out is alive and a successful author living in New York. Imogene’s mother told her children when they were nine that their father had died, when actually he went off to complete his doctorate. Why Imogene, who supposedly ran in the same literary circles never realized her father was alive is never addressed.

The performances were all acceptable for the materiel, but ultimately forgettable. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini don’t bring anything special to the table and never make the characters likable. The only actor with a modicum of honesty and authenticity was Annette Benning. The real issue with the movie is that screenwriter Michelle Morgan thought that a group of stunted adults would be enough to carry the story. Worse still, the emotional immaturity of all the characters never amounts to anything and hardly feels genuine.

Girl Most Likely is one of those indie films that give other indie films a bad name. Poorly written, blandly directed and relying on faux quirky to appeal to the art-house audience, this girl is most likely to disappear without much of a trace.

Judd: 1 Star

Turbo

maxresdefaultSwanner: Summers have always been a time to get the kids to the theatre to take away their allowances so every couple weeks there is a new offering. This week’s is Turbo. It’s the story of a snail, Turbo, who with the help of a young Hispanic man, Tito, both find their dreams After Turbo is accidentally super charged he becomes super fast to the point that Tito gets Turbo entered into the Indy 500.

Judd: With an all-star voice cast of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Samuel L Jackson and Snoop Dogg Turbo is an extremely diverse cast, but doesn’t feel formulated. No one felt like a token, which is refreshing. That being said, the movie itself was very formulaic, with the first half – the part where the underdog proves himself – feeling boring and slow.

Swanner: I think they have to be formulaic since they are appealing to younger kids. Even though some of the humor is adult it felt like they were playing to the under 10 crowd. The script by director David Soren, Darren Lemke and Robert D. Siegel had me watching the characters play and not really listening to the message of the script. Was there a message? I just kept thinking about my garden and how the main characters wouldn’t last long in my yard.

Judd: It’s your basic “follow your dreams no matter how impossible” message. If the screenwriters would have left it at that, with the two underdogs trying to prove themselves to their respective brothers, the movie would have still been boring but it would have been better than the tacked on villain that came at the end of the movie. Throughout Turbo is inspired by racing champ Guy Gagne; when it comes down the final race, Guy and Turbo are pitted against each other and Guy turns into a major dick. It was unnecessary conflict.

Swanner: The movie was entertaining enough. I did have some sleepy moments in the middle. Did you notice how many kids were restless in the middle? I noticed it was mostly girls. This is very much a boy movie with all the car talk…hey, that must be why I got sleepy. Turbo should have no problem finding its audience but will they take it for a second spin??

Judd: This boy loves cars and it did nothing to improve the movie. And yes, I did notice the restless and irritating children. For the first half hour I blamed my dislike of the movie on them, but as the movie progressed and didn’t get any better, I realized that they were as bored as I was.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 1 Star

R.I.P.D.

imagesSwanner: It seems to be no secret that Universal has no faith in their new film R.I.P.D. The studio has been bad mouthing the project since they did reshoots last year. That’s strange considering the star power and how summer movies really don’t have to be good to be a hit. Just look how Paramount made the soulless World War Z a hit. The storyline follows Nick (Ryan Reynolds) a recently desist police office that gets drafted into the Rest In Peace Department (RIPD) to fight the evil undead that still walk the earth. He’s partnered up with Roy (Jeff Bridges) a sheriff from the 1800’s that’s been doing this for a while.

Judd: Also starring Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon, the movie is basically Men In Black meets Ghostbusters. As Nick and Roy round up “dead-ohs” to send off for final judgment they uncover a plot to open a portal to allow the undead souls back to earth. The movie certainly isn’t great, and everything has been done before, but what I wasn’t counting on is how fun and over the top the movie is. Destruction – particularly car pile-ups – is cranked up to an 11.

Swanner: There was good chemistry with all the actors. It looked like they were having a good time. The film is based on Peter M. Lemkov’s Dark Horse Comic of the same name. Director Robert Schwentke keeps things moving well but if there is a villain here it’s the script. The screenplay is by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi who also wrote the new Clash of the Titans which shows that they like to copy what has worked before and make it work again. You said it, there is nothing new here and if it wasn’t for some fun performances this would be completely forgettable.

Judd: From a personal perspective, I would have liked to see less CGI especially for the Deados, where the benefit of masks and puppetry would have felt more organic. There were some scenes where the CGI was plain awful. I also think there was a huge missed comic opportunity with Nick and Roy’s alter egos. The living see Nick as an old Chinese man (James Hong) and Roy as a beautiful young blonde woman (Marisa Miller). In one scene, Roy is slurping up some sloppy Indian food; I think it would have been hysterical to see his alter ego eating in the same disgusting manner.

Swanner: That would have been funny, but they still got many laughs from using the alter egos all the way to the end. We did go in expecting the worst and got something middle of the road enjoyable. The 96 minute running time worked for me because too often these CGI heavy movies tend the run at least 45 minutes longer, so you might say it gave me less time to pull it apart. Is it a movie theatre film? Yes, but only for the genre; otherwise, it will make an entertaining rental come October.

Judd: Agreed. It was better than I expected, but it’s not great. It’s the kind of movie that you go to see if you’re bored and you’re debating the choice between this and Grown Ups 2. Redbox is going to make a killing on this one.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars

The Conjuring

IMG_9335.dngSwanner: Think of all your favorite scary movies. Some people like slashers while others like monsters or aliens. I like ghost stories. So you can imagine how excited i was after seeing my first trailer for The Conjuring. It tells the story of The Perron family, Roger (Ron Livingston) and Carolyn (Lili Taylor) with there five daughters. They move into a new house and within hours they start to realize they are not alone in the house. First clue people…when Sadie the dog won’t go in the house don’t unpack anything. After quite a few scares Carolyn searches out Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) a paranormal investor couple. Then it gets really crazy.

Directed by James Wan (Saw) who directed Insidious, one of my favorites from a few years ago, knows how to scare you and can do it multiple ways. I think that’s what makes his films so scary. If you see a slasher film you know some guy with a knife is around the corner. With Wan’s films you don’t know where it’s coming from you just know it’s coming. The script is my Chad and Carey Hayes (The Reaping) twin brothers who like to write scary movies. The three together work well together creating a movie that keep you questioning if someone is standing behind your door long after you’ve left the theatre.

One other thing that makes the movie so scary is that it’s based on truth. The Warren’s are actually very famous paranormal investigators having worked on The Amityville and Haunting in Connecticut cases. Lorraine can be seen in the series Paranormal State on the biography channel. She’s real and this story feels very real thanks to the creative team both cast and crew. The screening that i attended had a few people leave after some intense moments and the laughter you usually get after the first few scary all but ended as the story gets more frightening. I know some people will roll their eyes at this film but those of us who live for this shit, you will love it. There were scary moments i thought i might soil myself…thankfully i didn’t. Just to let you know, i did a complete search of my house once i got home. All the lights were on and the shower curtain was anchored open. Sweet dreams…

Swanner: 4 Stars

Pacific Rim

PACIFIC RIMSwanner: 1954 was the year people first ran from large creatures that came from the nuclear rich waters off the coast of Japan. Since then Hollywood has been trying to get American audiences to spend money on such creatures destroying American cities. King Kong has worked a few times and in 1998 Roland Emmerich actually had box office success with Godzilla even though the film kind sucked. So why would anyone bother with the genre and why would any studio back such a film? Guillermo del Toro is why.

Judd: In an interview del Toro he said outside of Transformers, Americans don’t have a version of the Japanese Giant Monster, or kaiju, movie. That and his passion for those movies were his reasons for creating Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim tells the story of an inter-dimension rift that’s opened in the Pacific Ocean where giant beasties, called Kaiju, emerge to destroy the worlds’ cities. In response, all nations pool their resources to build giant Kaiju fighting robots called Jaegers, which is German for “hunters”.

Swanner: So these monsters keep popping up out of the ocean and destroy one large city after another along the Pacific Rim. Every time they do we send out a Jaeger and they kill the monster. The problem is that the monsters are learning how to defeat the Jaeger. Now what will happen? Are these creatures just trying to scoop up beachfront property for themselves? del Toro and Travis Beacham have written a pretty tight script for a creature feature with brave heroes, acid spewing monsters and a very subdued love story.

Judd: The real treat is the visuals; del Toro knows how to dress a set. Every scene is jammed packed, almost cluttered, with something to look at; it’s beautiful. He also knows how to stage a fight. The fight scenes were shot slow and in full frame so I could see what the monsters and robots looked like; I could see the swings and punches. It’s so refreshing to see this kind of steady-cam work in a time where handheld visuals and frantic, kinetic motion are de rigueur.

Swanner: The cast all played the parts very well and you’re right, the visuals are delicious. You want to search every set for cool things. The interior of Hannibal Chau’s store and backroom was amazing. I liked the movie. It was fun and it brought out the 12 year old in me. I do think that some older people aren’t going to like this very much. It’s loud and there are lots of monsters. Those people can go see Grown Ups 2 and regret they didn’t see Pacific Rim.

Judd: I liked that the cast was mostly cable television actors. That made the Jaegers and the Kaiju the focus of the movie. Pacific Rim is a big, fun old-fashioned creature feature. The plot is engaging and smart – for a fluff piece. The action is excellent, the visuals are detailed and amazing. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 3½ Stars

I’m So Excited

imagesSwanner: You normally won’t see me going to foreign language films because I hate to read. Okay, I said it. My eyes are as lazy as everything else. So when we got the invite for the new Pedro Almodóvar film, I’m So Excited, I was like “hell no” because his films are very talkie and I never know what’s happening. Still, this one was different, it’s a comedy. He had been going through his darker period with dramas even though he was known for his comedies and this one promised to be super gay. So I went and it was super gay but not really super good.

Judd: As our long time readers know, Tom is the Wal-Mart to my Target. I may be the one that farts into my seat cushion at the art house cinema, but unlike Tom, at least I go to art house cinema. That being said I am also a huge fan of Almodóvar, with Bad Education being one of my all-time favorite movies. I was looking forward to some lighter fare after last year’s super dark and twisted The Skin I Live In. I’m So Excited is about three gay male flight attendants (redundant, I know) trying to keep their business class passengers calm as the pilots try to find an open runway to crash land after it’s discovered the landing gear is busted. All hallmarks of Almodovar are there – gem tone color palate, chatty dialogue, deeply intertwining stories; but the humor, for me, was either lost in translation or just plain super lame.

Swanner: My problem with the movie was that it paints itself to be a sex farce. Over the top characters, everyone in the business class having sex with each other and even a musical number. So why the dramatic storylines? That’s where the film falters. I liked it more than Brian…I think. The farce worked very well and as I said it’s super gay. That’s where the film will lose some of the art house crowd. All the performances are good but as I said before the dramatic moments bring the fun to a screeching stop.

Judd: I was sorely disappointed. I think I went in expecting more of a Keystone Cops with lots of sex and drugs, but instead I got weak jokes and a painful musical number. The drama, for me, was the only thing that made the movie interesting. The psychic virgin, the bisexual captain and his wife, extortionist Madame, the scheming businessman who lost his daughter to the sex trade – Only Ms. Jacqueline Susann could come up with better characters.

Swanner: Sure those would have been fine storylines…in some other movie. If you’re an Almodóvar fan you’re probably seeing the movie no matter what we say but if you’re on the edge I’d say wait for DVD and see it at home. Hopefully they’ll dub it so you can actually watch what’s going on.

Swanner: 1½ Stars
Judd: 1½ Stars