Imagine every romantic comedy cliché and sappy platitude about love stirred together into one giant gelatinous conglomeration of hollow sentiment. That’s Valentine’s Day. Regardless of your thoughts on the holiday, this movie, which aims to celebrate our national day of love, might have the opposite effect. This movie makes He’s Just Not That Into You look like When Harry Met Sally. It?s a fairly large ensemble with plenty of mega-watt stars, but it’s too bad that nobody knows what to do. Jessica Alba’s character literally runs her course an hour into the film and yet she still makes meaningless appearances. This overstuffed Hallmark card has ridiculously safe, candy-coated storylines sanded so that there is no hint of edge or wit (Anne Hathaway is the most ludicrous PG-13 phone sex operator you will ever find). The resolutions of most of these storylines will be predictable to anybody who has ever read a greeting card. Jamie Foxx is supposed to be a bitter TV reporter popping up everywhere reporting about the ills of V-Day. Think he’ll have a change of heart by the film’s end? The cast does offer their small pleasures (there are SIX Oscar nominees/winners in this movie!), except for the kid who has a crush on his teacher (Jennifer Garner). He was insufferably annoying. So was his movie.
Nate’s Grade: D+
While never approaching the realm of good, I’ll admit that Mike Myers’ latest is not the cinematic abomination is has been hailed. I laughed a few times, though rare. Myers’ brand of comedy mixes puns, juvenile bathroom humor, slapstick, celebrity cameos (Ben Kingsley, why?!) and a certain level of self-aware absurdity (I don’t think Myers has found a penis joke that he didn’t enjoy). I feel that the comedy world has moved beyond Myers’ once popular brand of yuks. Thanks to Judd Apatow, we’ve transitioned to smart and tender character-based comedies. The threadbare plot relies takes too many self-indulgent and lazy detours. Why do we have to endure Guru Pitka (Myers) sing “More Than Words”? It’s not funny and just wastes time. Here’s an example of the lack of thought: Pitka wears a chastity belt but he can still get injured being hit in the groin. It’s a movie that doesn’t even remember its own gags. I’m always wary when a movie resorts to extended scenes of the characters cracking up and adding lines like, “I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.” I have no qualms over crude comedy but it needs to be done with some planning to context and character. Watching someone get hit in the face with urine is not funny. Having pint-sized Verne Troyer get hit in the head is not funny the 80th time it happens. The movie never even satirizes the self-help industry. The Love Guru is too indulgent, too forced, too pun-heavy, too ill conceived, and far too stupid to succeed. I never thought I’d say this in a comedy that includes Myers, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, John Oliver, Daniel Tosh, and Romany Malco, but Justin Timberlake is the funniest man on the screen as a daffy French-Canadian goalie, and that probably says enough.
Nate’s Grade: D+
This is a punishing and blandly mediocre movie, one that cannot inspire any strong feelings whatsoever. It’s a limp remake of a Korean horror movie where a blind woman gets an eye transplant and starts seeing ghostly creatures. The glossy American version stars Jessica Alba as said blind woman and watching her bump into furniture would have been more entertaining. The production values are competent, though the characters exist in a strange world where ordinary apartment buildings are designed like labyrinths. The horror elements are mostly of the “Boo”-variety and The Eye does little to establish whatever rules govern its spiritual universe. Why would closing a door stop a ghost in its tracks? It’s a ghost! The flick follows the tired plot device that ghosts have unfinished business and need flesh-and-blood humans to fix it. Come on ghosts, you’re dead, you got plenty of time on your hands. Eventually the movie transforms into a non-scary road trip to Mexico (there’s no way Alba would have gotten an international eye transplant) to learn about the poor eye donor’s unfortunate demise. This then leads into a contrived scenario where Alba must use her combined ghostly glimpses to save lives. The ending is just kind of pathetic as well. The Eye has a few nice stylistic touches, like what goes down in a Chinese restaurant, but the movie seems to exist as young male wish fulfillment. And by that I mean the concept of a beautiful woman who is blind and therefore doesn’t realize how beautiful she is. It’s the only way the majority of men can ever legitimately fantasize about having a shot with Jessica Alba.
Nate’s Grade: C
No better or no worse than the original, this less than fantastic follow-up to the cruddy 2005 superhero dysfunctional family melodrama ups the apocalyptic ante with the emergence of the powerful Silver Surfer, the herald for a cosmic cloud, yes cloud, that consumes the life forms of planets. The special effects run the gamut from fake and awful to passable, but what ultimately kills this movie is how little substance there is. It’s lightweight, shallow, and more interested in making the kids giggle. Example: The Human Torch, after touching the Surfer, can now switch powers with any of the members after they touch him. The Thing, covered in spongy orange rock, is lamenting his state but finds solace in his relationship with a blind woman. The Human Torch asks what Mr. Rock Dude what would do if he had but a few moments left in this world. Now, I’m thinking that the Human Torch is going to swap places with his buddy so that The Thing can enjoy even one night as a regular flesh-and-blood human being with his sweetheart. Maybe they could even knock boots without her getting serious rug burn. But no, the movie does nothing and just moves along because it doesn’t have the scope, the interest, or even the time to flirt with anything outside its limited plot. The storyline, what little there is, is predictable from beginning to end and the action sequences, while expanded from the first film, still fall far short of eliciting tension or tickling the imagination. I swear the only reason the flying jet thing is introduced was to sell toys. You have a bunch of people with unique super powers; the least the script could do is think of exciting things to do.
Nate’s Grade: C
Like film noir on steroids. Director Robert Rodriguez has made the most faithful comics adaptation ever; giving life to Frank Miller’s striking black and white art. The visuals are sumptuous but the storytelling is just as involving, a perfect mix of noir/detective elements and subversive, highly memorable characters. Sin City may be the most violent studio film … ever, but the over-the-top tone keeps the proceedings from becoming too nauseating, even after limbs are lost, heads roll (and talk), and dogs pick away at living bodies. This is a very ball-unfriendly movie; lots of castrations. The blood even looks like fluorescent bird crap. The stories become somewhat repetitious (anti-hero saves distressed woman), but Miller and Rodriguez keep their tales tight, pulpy, comic, and unpredictable. My girlfriend turned to me after it was done and said, “That was a great movie.” I could not argue.
Nate’s Grade: B+