Cripes. Remind me why I thought this was a good idea? It’s a never-ending stream of movies… Pressing onward with the popcorn flicks of July.
The Last Airbender
This movie has not looked very interesting to me, but the third trailer ran in front of Iron Man 2 and it finally kind of explained the plot. In a world where people can control the elements and ride flying platypus, the fire nation and the Eskimos are fighting, and it’s up to a six year old to save the Eskimos. The Last Airbender is a live-action adaptation of an anime cartoon I have never seen, or even heard of, although it is apparently very popular with kids. It’s directed by M. Night Shymalansanana. Ever since The Sixth Sense, I have wanted to like Shamalayana, but he makes it really really hard for me to do so with his constant need to be too smug about his TWIST! endings. I don’t think The Last Airbender will be changing my mind about that.
The Kids Are All Right
Another of the most popular titles coming out of Sundance this year, The Kids Are All Right is about the new nuclear family. Jules and Nic (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) are a lesbian couple whose children both came from the same sperm donor. When the kids, now teenagers, decide to meet the man who made their family possible, Jules and Nic’s relationship is tested, as is the bond of what family really is. It looks like a great character piece, kinda funny, kinda touching, maybe a little sad. The cast is stellar, and you can’t hardly go wrong when your actors are all this good. Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island, You Can County on Me) is the sperm donor/dad, and the kids are played by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Josh Hutcherson, who looks completely different from when I saw him last in Bridge to Terabithia. I can see where certain groups may get up in arms about this movie, but… Families are changing. Movies should change right along with them.
Poor Universal. Where Dreamworks Animation is at least carving out space as “Pixar without the imagination”, Universal looks like an after-ran in every way. The animation isn’t great, the story is kinda lame–supervillain saddled with adorable orphans–and despite a voice cast loaded with top flight comedians (Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Julie Andrews, Ken Jeong, Danny McBride, Russell Brand, Jason Segel, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, Jemaine Clement), it doesn’t look very funny. Doesn’t look like anything I couldn’t find in Spy vs. Spy.
I don’t understand Adrien Brody. He’s such a talented actor. He could be working at the highest level of film. But it’s like ever since he won the Oscar, he just wants to be an action star. He keeps making these awful scifi/action movies, and posing like a douche all over red carpets. Did anyone ever see Dummy? Dummy was a great movie.
Back in 1988, when the Interwebz was still a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, Jack Rebney, a corporate pitchman for Winnebago RVs, lost his shit while filming a commercial. The VHS tape was copied and passed around, becoming a viral video before that term probably existed. Twenty years later, filmmaker Ben Steinbauer made a documentary about Rebney. The result is Winnebago Man. I have never ever heard of this movie, but now I desperately want to see it. Rebney is a crotchety old guy who swears constantly and makes threats of physical harm. I kind of want him to be my grandpa now. I couldn’t find a trailer for Winnebago Man, but here is a very entertaining clip from a panel at SXSW in 2009:
Chris Nolan has two personas. One helms the rebooted Batman series and makes crowd-pleasing yet fantastic blockbusters. The other makes cerebral thrillers wherein things are never what they seem, and they’re so good you watch it and love it and talk about it forever. A decade later and I’m still picking apart Memento. Inception looks almost unbearably pretentious, but I’ll probably see it anyway. Leonardo di Caprio is a special agent who steals secrets from your dreams. Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies, La Vie en Rose), Ellen Page (Juno), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer) join him in what seems to be a heist flick with a twist. You know, Nolan seems to have the knack for TWIST! endings that M. Night Shamamamala thinks he has.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
It’s official. Nicolas Cage is poor.
Dinner for Schmucks
Man this is mean-spirited. But the potential for some great comedy is high. Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man) and Steve Carrell anchor a story about a corporate hack desperate for a promotion (Rudd). He’s so desperate in fact, that he’s going to an annual dinner party thrown by his boss (Bruce Greenwood, a terribly underrated character actor) where the cool kids make fun of whatever losers and rejects they can get to come with them. Carrell is the idiot of course. Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) also star, and will probably deliver the best laughs. There will have to be a moral to the story, but I hope it doesn’t puss out too much–with the right touch this could be a very funny movie, and I hate it when good comedies go too soft in the end. I am disappointed to see ventriloquist “comedian” Jeff Dunham has a role, though. The last thing I want is this guy getting delusions of grandeur and thinking he can be a movie star.
Ramona and Beezus
I’m already annoyed with this movie because I couldn’t find a copy of the trailer that didn’t have Disney’s Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) introducing the clip. Ramona and Beezus is a harmless piece of fluff aimed at tween girls all about believing in yourself, the power of imagination, it’s okay to be different, girl power, sisterhood forever, etc. But you know what? It doesn’t look like total drivel and we need decent movies for girls in theaters.
Angelina Jolie’s character in Salt is being billed as “the female Jason Bourne”. I’m Team Jolie from way back and I’m not apologizing for it. I especially love her in this kind of role–tough, hardened, is she or isn’t she the bad guy. Bad girl? Err…terminology FAIL.
It’s a teeny update of Beauty and the Beast and I don’t know anything about it except holy fuck Alex Pettyfer is HOT. He’s old enough for me to say that, right? Crap.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Children are dumb because we make them dumb with movies like this.
They say this movie is really really good, but man, it kind of sounds like a bummer. The Dry Land tells the story of James, an Iraq war vet suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and trying to reacquaint himself with normal life after coming home from the war. Heavy stuff, and supposedly very well done. I might not run to theaters for it, but I will see this one eventually.
Conundrum. I can’t stand Katie Holmes, but I love Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Little Miss Sunshine). The Extra Man stars both. I think Kevin Kline and John C. Reilly have tipped the scales though. Surely amongst such company, Holmes can’t kill this movie. But then, she did make a dent in Batman Begins and that’s freaking BATMAN. Ugh. Will just have to risk it. The Extra Man is about an upper-crust escort (Kline) educating a writer (Dano) about his business. It’s an oddball quirky supposed comedy (I find this type of movie is usually not as funny as the filmmakers think it is) from the same people who did American Splendor.
This was on my wish list of films to see from Sundance this year. Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek star. They say Duvall steals the show. It’s a black comedy about a crusty old hermit who throws a funeral party for himself. I really don’t need a reason to see this. Duvall + Murray + funeral humor = sold.