Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To, Big Hero 6, Whiplash Reviews

Dumb and Dumber To
Dir. Bobby & Peter Farrelly

In second grade, I got in trouble for proclaiming at room volume: “who’s got the wiener schnitzel?” Some girl told the teacher thinking I meant something else, but my young mind only absorbed that line from the funniest movie ever made, Dumb and Dumber. It’s a film I return to over and over again, and remains my all-time favorite movie. When I was but a wee boy, my mom received a VHS double-pack of The Mask and Dumb and Dumber for her birthday. After coercing her to let me watch a PG-13 movie, I would play them so often the video became unwatchably degraded. To this day, I can still recite large chunks of the movie word-for-word, and it no doubt shaped my sense of humor growing up (which inevitably led me on the path to trying stand-up in my undergrad years). It’s a film that means a lot to me, but through the years, it seems like the powers that be in Hollywood want to take that magic away.

First was the god awful prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, starring two younger actors doing their best Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels impressions, which was the comedy equivalent of watching a close family member succumb to a deadly skin disease. Then came the “unrated” DVD and Blu-Ray re-release. Unless you scour the internet, the only version you can currently buy is this shitty, re-cut version which literally takes out some of the best scenes and ruins some of the funniest moments by adding unnecessary comic beats. So when it was announced just over a year ago that Jim and Jeff would be returning, a full 20 years later, to film Dumb and Dumber To, it seemed like such a cynical cash grab from the Farrelly Brothers.

Both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels just weren’t the same people anymore. Jeff was off doing respectable work like The Newsroom, and Jim Carrey’s stardom had taken a major toll on him – he was depressed, on meds, writing existential children’s books, and going on whacked out “spiritual journeys.” Like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it just seemed their youthful energy would be channeled into forced “old guy” humor to justify this desperate money-making scheme. And looking at the output of the Farrelly Brothers recently - The Three Stooges, Hall Pass, and The Heartbreak Kid - was hardly promising. But here we are anyway, and out of obligation, I lined up and bought my ticket to promised disappointment. After seeing the film however, I have to say, it was a blindsidingly fun (but still unnecessary) swan song to put an end to things.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Interstellar, Nightcrawler, John Wick, Rich Hill Reviews

Dir. Christopher Nolan

Usually the central argument against space travel and funding programs like NASA is that we have "enough problems on Earth to deal with." Unless we have some sort of cataclysm, we tend to stay grounded, with excuses like world hunger stopping us from exploring the stars.  In Interstellar, Chris Nolan provides a glimpse at a similarly disillusioned near-future, where space travel has taken a back seat while the planet is suffering and turning crops into dustbowls.  Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is an ex-NASA pilot and father of two, who joins an expedition to leave Earth in a last ditch effort to find another habitable planet for humanity.  What's framed as a simple family drama, with McConaughey going to save the world for his kids, is told in a hard sci-fi/poetic fashion not dissimilar to Kubrick's 2001 (a moniker many films aspire to but rarely earn).  Interstellar is a challenging film to grasp from a scientific perspective and even on a thematic level, but at the heart of it lies a very simple story of a determined father. It features gorgeous depictions of space, and its ambition is huge, but I think when it comes down to it, the emotion was a little too heavy-handed and its endless amount of philosophical and scientific ideas may have overly complicated the film against its favor.

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