Terrible comedy written and directed by Larry David. The distinctive Larry perspective is unmistakably there, but it’s surrounded by complete garbage in terms of plot, character, acting, production values and jokes. Actually, as far as production values go, this isn’t all that far removed from The Room; it has that same early ’90s TV look to it. Watching it made me very thankful for what Larry (with the backing of HBO and the help of collaborators such as Robert B. Weide and Larry Charles) has managed to do with Curb Your Enthusiasm: channel his unique voice and sensibility into something perverse and hilarious, rather than something as shitty as this.
I can see how this would appeal to (some) kids – it’s basically a live-action cartoon – but for adults it’s pretty tedious stuff that, at close to three hours, long overstays its welcome. Jack Lemmon is watchable as the villainous Professor Fate and quite fun in his second role, Prince Hapnick, in the Potzdorf interlude. There’s a disturbing level of sexism throughout the movie, made worse by the needless inclusion of a suffragist subplot (included only to enable ridicule). The famous pie fight is quite lame.
Terrible comedy about Japanese attacks, and other wacky hijinks, in California during World War II. The worst Steven Spielberg movie I’ve seen (full disclosure: I haven’t seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!). Aside from a distinct lack of jokes that are actually funny, there’s a disturbing rapiness exhibited by a couple of the male characters that’s supposed to just be all part of the fun (spoiler alert: it isn’t). The nicest things I can say about it are that a couple of the action scenes were staged well and the cast isn’t bad (though none of them can do very much with this material).
I’m glad I knew in advance how poorly this had been received; I would have been sorely disappointed otherwise. I generally like Steve Carell but I think he’s miscast in this (or the character should have been changed to better suit his talents). Steve Buscemi is OK but can be so much better. Jim Carrey, who seems like he hasn’t been around in a while, is quite good as the rival/villain street magician, but that isn’t enough. It just isn’t funny.
I went into this knowing almost nothing about it and came out with a considerably lower opinion of Gus Van Sant than I’d started with. River Phoenix is fine and Keanu Reeves less a liability than he could have been, but it’s self-indulgent and just not very interesting. The attempt at Shakespearean parallels doesn’t work.
One of those action/horror/thriller movies (e.g. Stigmata, The Ninth Gate, etc.) that confuse religious mumbo jumbo for intriguing premise and plot. The story is just so pointless and unengaging that it was hard to make it to the end. I have only one nice thing to say about it: some of the special effects aren’t bad.
A little worse than Jackass Number Two, though to be honest they run together in my mind. They really seem to have run out of ideas by this point, and they’re looking noticeably older and worn out. As with Jackass Number Two, the climactic stunt – Steve-O being showered in shit inside a bungee-portaloo – was quite disappointing. Nonetheless, some parts still made me laugh a little. Disclaimer: I didn’t see it in 3D, and it’s entirely possible – but not very likely – that doing so would have lifted it to a perfect 10/10.
Yuck – I really didn’t like this movie. It suffers from genre identity confusion, ending up as a kind of children’s/horror/comedy hybrid with wildly inconsistent elements. It’s very difficult to imagine an appropriate audience; some of the sillier “humour” featuring the gremlins would really only appeal to young children, but the more violent and scary parts would probably be too strong for them. The framing device makes no sense since the character telling the story is absent for much of it. Characters often act with inexplicable stupidity, and the behaviour of the gremlins themselves is even more hard to understand (why on earth, for example, do they at one point imitate a group of carollers?!). The music is jarringly bad at times. The town seems almost entirely empty in most outdoor scenes; could they not afford a few extras to walk by? I liked Gizmo (what can I say, he was kind of cute), and seeing younger versions of Glynn Turman (Mayor Royce from The Wire) and Jonathan Banks (Mike from Breaking Bad) in small roles, but these glimmers of enjoyment weren’t enough to make up for the movie’s failings.
Very disappointing Abel Ferrara gangster movie featuring Christopher Walken as the titular character, a drug lord in New York who’s released from jail and has soon killed off all of his competitors – and, bizarrely, wants to save New York’s ailing hospital system (?!). Most of his gang members are black and there’s a certain racism to it all (particularly the blue-lit scenes of black characters partying) I found uncomfortable. I also found it hard to suspend disbelief through quite a few of the plot developments. Still, interesting to see some actors (e.g. Steve Buscemi and Giancarlo Esposito) in minor roles.