Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Movie List 2012: August

* = rewatched


Hot Rod

A misfit stuntman tries to raise money for his dying stepfather.

Genre: Wonderfully Silly Comedy

Yeah, that's right, I watched this one again. One of my friends had never seen it and that seemed like something that needed to be rectified. I already talked about this one back when I watched it in January [ML2012 #13], but I can muster up some more.

I love this movie because I find it to be a perfect amount of silly. Unlike something like Zoolander which opens the flood gates of ridiculousness and never shuts off the valve, Hot Rod's silliness ebbs and flows. It moves between quirky and silly, hilarious and heart felt. And that just makes it all the funnier, because then you get laughs coming out of unexpected situations. I love the little quiet moments in the movie that come right before its best jokes.

What can I say? It's a little dumb, extremely silly, and it makes me laugh every time.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil

A blind man and a deaf man are suspects in a murder investigation. If they want to get out of this mess alive they're going to have to solve the case and clear their names by themselves.

Genre: 80's Buddy Comedy

If you were to tell me there was a new movie coming out about a blind man and a deaf man who try to solve a murder, I would tell you that that sounds like a terrible idea. And you know what? If this movie was made today, it would suck out loud. Yet this movie's from 1989 and guess what? It's brilliant.

First of all look at the main characters: Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. If I had never seen this movie before I would watch it just to see what that team-up was like (hint: it's hilarious). Not only are they both amazing comedians in their own right, but I love that they're so different. They have very unique styles and yet they work well together. It makes their characters seem all the more like real people, unlike movies where the writer's style is omnipresent across all the characters' voices.

The weird thing is I first saw this movie as a kid and I enjoyed it just as much then as I do now. But when I was a kid I definitely didn't notice how raunchy it is, and by raunchy I mean they make a few jokes about sex and erections, and like so many 80's comedies there's a scene of some naked boobs as well. Yet none of it is gratuitous: it all makes a lot of sense within the context of the scene.  And that's one of the things I like about it. I mean adults make references to those things, they exist, it makes sense for such things to pop up from time to time.

It's funny, and it stars two infamous comedians, and with a premise like this you can't tell me you aren't a little bit curious.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The story of King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table, and their divine quest to find the holy a manner of speaking.

Genre: Classic British Comedy

First of all, this movie is comedically brilliant. It's so insanely clever and the scenes in it are all so memorable.

But therein lies the problem. This was the first time I had seen this movie in many, many years and yet I think I could still reconstruct this movie for someone nearly scene for scene, nearly joke for joke. I probably have to blame this on the fact that when I was a kid people would not stop quoting this movie. I mean, yes, Monty Python is brilliant, but come on. There are other brilliant things out there. Let's quote something else for a while. And before you say it, Yes, I do realize that I'm being a total hypocrite because I'm always quoting The Simpsons.  But at least I quote The Simpsons and others. I swear there were some kids in high school who would quote this thing exclusively.

Now, why am I talking about this crap, instead of the movie? Because it's frickin' Monty Python and the Holy Grail! A frighteningly large number of kids found this movie to be so funny that they quoted it for years and years. I shouldn't have to say anything about classic movies, because you should have all seen them already. I mean, what's next? First you want me to tell you about Holy Grail, then next thing I know you'll be wanting me to tell you all about A Charlie Brown Christmas. I feel like an idiot sitting here and telling you these things. If you haven't seen this movie by now, I doubt I'm going to convince you to now.

It's a very funny movie, freakishly memorable, and I doubt I'll ever own it because I can remember the entire thing and thus generally have no reason to watch it.

Ernest Goes to Jail

Ernest P. Worrell is a lovable loser, but when he gets called for jury duty the crook on trial realizes that Ernest is the perfect double for the prison's most notorious inmate. The look-a-like manages to swap places with Ernest, and now he's got to find a way to get out of jail before that crook can hurt the people Ernest cares about.

Genre: Silly-Dumb Kids' Movie

Most of the things I said about Ernest Goes to Camp can be said about this one as well. Jim Varney is the sole reason to watch this movie. Pretty much all the other characters are annoying or bland...or annoying & bland. But Jim Varney makes me laugh. Even if he's doing some dumb slapstick bit that's obviously aiming at children, I still have to smile a little because he's so expressive while doing it.

I know I railed on Ernest Goes to Camp a little bit, but this one made me appreciate it more. Ernest Goes to Camp had a lot more characters for Ernest to bounce off of, a much bigger story, and a better backstory for Ernest. In Camp Ernest wants to be a camp counselor and that makes a lot of sense: He likes kids, he likes helping people, and he likes being trusted with important jobs. However, in Ernest Goes to Jail he dreams of being a banker...and I honestly can't figure out why. It really doesn't fit his character at all. Plus there are a number of bits in Goes to Jail that are just odd. It seems like a lot of stuff was shoved in willy-nilly. Lots of odd plot things too, like Ernest gets magnetized when he gets shocked with electricity? Why? Oh, because you needed to fill up some space with easy jokes, and you needed a deus ex machina in order to set-up the ending.

So, yeah, it definitely is far from the best. And yet, I did enjoy the movie. I just couldn't help myself. While most of it is pretty bland and dumb, there are a number of scenes that are just pure genius. I mean, there's a scene where Ernest is in the jury box listening to the case as he chews on a pen, and the pen breaks, and he's trying desperately to look nonchalant as he's got ink everywhere; it cracks me up so hard. The scenes like that one were just priceless, you guys. Priceless.

Back to the Future II

Doc Brown returns from the future to tell Marty that his future family is in danger. But when their time machine falls into the wrong hands, Marty and the Doc must travel all over time to set things right.

Genre: Time-travel Comedy Sequel

Back to the Future II is no Back to the Future. That's not to say that it isn't a fun movie, but it is to say that the original was a masterpiece and this one's...this one's a sequel. It definitely has that feeling of trying to cash in on the notoriety of the first one. Lot's of homages to past scenes and what not.

Anyways, it's still a really fun movie. And like the first one it's quite dark. When Marty and the Doc fracture the timeline, they end up creating a pretty dark world. It's kind of like a kid-friendly The Butterfly Effect in a way.

But I don't know. It's a really odd movie, and there really aren't any sequels like it. Part of it seems like a superfluous cash-in on a popular franchise, part of it cleverly weaves itself into an extension of the first movie, and part of it seems like an original dark-yet-kid-friendly story about time travel gone wrong.

I think what it comes down to is that if you liked Back to the Future, you'll probably enjoy this movie too. It won't impress you as much as the original did, but you'll get a kick out of it. If nothing else you'll enjoy references to the original as well as the 1980's view of the future which is hilariously off base. It's like the 80s on space steroids. I laughed out loud when they show that the house of the future is still using fax machines.

Hope Springs

An old married couple go to couple's counseling in order to try to bring intimacy back into their marriage.

Genre: Senior Citizen Romantic Drama

I know this is a bit of a cop out, but I don't think I'm qualified in any way to rate this movie. I am so very clearly outside of its target audience. I'm not a senior citizen and I have extremely limited relationship experience, let alone marriage, let alone 30+ years of marriage. Considering those are the main themes of the movie I think its safe to say that I can't relate. So who am I to judge it when I have no idea how well it handled those themes?

I will, however, say that this movie is a lot less funny than the trailer depicted it as. I mean, sure it has its comedic moments, but overall this movie is a pretty heavy drama. It also discusses sexual topics much more than I was expecting. Both of which seem like things people should know about it. I mean, at the theater I work at we had a family come in who apparently didn't realize what kind of a movie it was and they brought their 10 year old along for. Surprisingly they actually made it 40 minutes into the movie before they walked out; and you can bet they had to field some rather interesting questions on the ride home.

The movie stars Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, and by "stars" I mean that they're practically the only actors in it. Sure there's a couple people here and there, and Steve Carell has some bits, but really Jones and Streep carry most of the movie by themselves. And as you'd expect they do a great job.

I will also say that although Streep's character is supposed to be the most sympathetic one, I personally found Jones' character to be the more sympathetic one. Streep's character did a lot whining, but it seemed that she was equally to blame and yet that fact was often glossed over.

So yeah, I don't know. I saw it because it was free and I was in the mood to see a movie. And it was kind of interesting and mostly enjoyable. So mission accomplished.


Norman is a young boy who can talk to ghosts. This, however, makes him come off as crazy to rest of the world who can't. Yet, now the dead are rising from their graves and Norman is the only one who can save the town from its haunting past.

Genre: Claymated Supernatural Adventure

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but it contained a ton of elements that I like: zombies, the supernatural, claymation, jokes. Plus I had heard some really positive things about it and I was really curious to see what it was like. It far exceeded my expectations. Not only is the movie super cute, but the messages behind it are wonderful. It takes the plot in some directions I didn't see coming. The movie is kind of like what you'd get if you combined The Goonies, Doctor Who, and Hocus Pocus.

The only real complaint I have is that the art is both amazingly original and occasionally distracting. For instance I love the art style going on in the movie, and since claymation is so rare, it was a breath of fresh air seeing something done in clay, but not done in Burton or even Aardman's styles. And with that being said, the way a couple of the female characters have the most unnatural heads I have ever seen. I tried to look past it, but I couldn't. It is just bizarre. I can't even describe them properly. But if you watch the movie you'll see what I mean.

Similarly the animation was both amazing and slightly lazy. The action scenes were smooth, they took chances, they incorporated some really amazing effects, and they were just an absolute pleasure to watch. And yet a lot of the slower scenes seemed like they weren't being animating with as many frames and thus they seemed a little choppy. And choppy animation always slightly ruins the illusion of animation by reminding the viewer of the process. I don't really mind because I find the process fascinating, but I can see why it'd be a significant bother to some people.

I don't want to end this review on me complaining, so once again I'd like to say how much I love this movie. I saw it weeks ago and yet I've still got scenes from it replaying in my mind, and imagery bouncing around my imagination. It works on multiple levels and I think adults will enjoy it just as much as kids. If I get a chance I'd like to see it in theaters again, because some of those scenes looked so great on the big screen.

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