Category Archives: 4

Movies that score 4/10.

Review: Joe Versus the Volcano

Director: John Patrick Shanley
Year: 1990
Score: 4/10

Hmmm if this prototype was available in 1990, do you reckon the final version is available for sale by now? Asking for a friend...

Hmmm if this prototype was available in 1990, do you reckon the final version is available for sale by now? Asking for a friend…

Strange romantic comedy that has inexplicably become a cult film. In the first act there’s an appealing quirkiness that reminded me of the parts of Tim Burton’s movies that I actually like. Unfortunately it quickly devolves into an unfunny, uninteresting sequence of predictable (if bizarre) events. Tom Hanks is his usual reliable self and Meg Ryan (in – for no particular reason – three roles) doesn’t grate as much as she sometimes can, but they can’t salvage the material. Poor Ossie Davis and Nathan Lane are completely wasted; Davis’ scenes seem like they’re going somewhere but don’t, instead basically conforming to the ‘Magical Negro’ stereotype for no purpose I could discern. The moment with the oversized moon is quite nice.

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Guest Review: The Great Gatsby

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Welcome to a brand new feature on Movies and Bacon: guest reviews! Today’s guest reviewer is Drew Pontikis from Obscene Gaming. Here’s his take on The Great Gatsby, a film previously reviewed by Movies and Bacon here.

You sit there and think about the terrible film you've made!

You sit there and think about the terrible film you’ve made!

A Baz Luhrmann film is the girl equivalent of a Michael Bay film, and The Great Gatsby follows this format as much as Moulin Rouge does. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, sporting the ropiest accent this side of Janet Street-Porter, the story is told through the eyes of Spider-Man Toby Maguire; a man so infatuated with Gatsby it is hard to build any rapport or empathy with the characters without feeling just a little bit sick.

The set and scenery are overly decadent and grandiose, buried elbow deep in the art deco styling of the time the film is set. Unfortunately after the first five minutes this becomes blinding, and as the film goes on it lacks the ability to impact you in the way it is apparently intended.

From start to finish the film lacks any suspense, clarity of plot, and the twist at the end is so telegraphed that it could have been dreamed up by the World Wrestling Federation. It strikes me as the sort of film that is targeted specifically at girls in their early teens whose mothers have let them watch Titanic as an example of what love looks like, and who now need a further hit. Like I said, the girl equivalent of a Michael Bay film.

I’ve never read the book, so I may be doing Baz Luhrmann a great disservice. This is, however, the film that ‘they said could never be made’ – frankly, I wish they hadn’t bothered.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Review: Adventures in the Sin Bin [a.k.a. Sin Bin]

Director: Billy Federighi
Year: 2012
Score: 4/10

Get it? The numbing condoms are called 'Everwood' and have a picture of a hockey stick on the box? This is literally the best joke of the whole movie.

Get it? The numbing condoms are called ‘Everwood’ and have a picture of a hockey stick on the box? This is literally the best joke of the whole movie.

Formulaic, forgettable attempt at a teen coming-of-age sex comedy. It has occasional moments of sweetness, such as those involving the relationship between the protagonist and his brother, and it’s good to see Jeff Garlin, Gillian Jacobs and Tim Blake Nelson (all in small roles), even when wasted in a movie of this calibre. I don’t usually regret watching movies – even the bad ones usually have some redeeming features, or are worth watching to cross off my list – but this one is worthy of regret. Every review of it other than mine seems to draw attention to perceived similarities to (or shameless ripping off of) the style of Wes Anderson, but I didn’t really notice any.

Review: Blue Caprice

Director: Alexandre Moors
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10

This was the real reason I changed the name of my blog from Simon Says Movies to Movies and Bacon.

This was the real reason I changed the name of my blog from Simon Says Movies to Movies and Bacon.

Sterile dramatisation of the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper attacks that gives no real insight into the killers (apart from, in broad terms, who they were), the victims, the crimes (apart from how they were committed), or the fear they caused. By the end I struggled to see the point of the movie. The climax is entirely anticlimactic, and while I realise that’s how it went down in real life, that’s really no excuse; this is a (non-comedic) movie, it needs to end with at least a modicum of drama. The performances are adequate but the material is turgid so they don’t help. There’s a consistency to the tone and mood at least. Skip it.

Review: Hell Baby

Directors: Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10

Hell Baby

Five hilarious people, plus Leslie Bibb, all simultaneously fake-vomiting. This movie is not for emetophobes.

It’s such a shame this is a dog because I really like so many of the people involved with it! Rob Corddry, Keegan-Michael Key, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Kumail Nanjiani, Tom Lennon (who co-wrote and co-directed in addition to having a supporting role as a priest), Riki Lindhome; all are hugely talented, and almost all have their talents largely wasted in this. What a disappointment… so many of the jokes are just bad. Key, at least, is able to amuse simply by how he plays his character, regardless of the strength of the writing; the others (with the possible exception of Nanjiani, who’s not in it for long) don’t have that luxury.

Review: Hot Rod

Director: Akiva Schaffer
Year: 2007
Score: 4/10

This comedy is harmless but the laughs are few and far between – so much so that it instigated a (largely unsuccessful) search, in the weeks that followed, for genuine laugh-out-loud comedy movies. Andy Samberg plays the lead and while I think he’s quite talented, his work here seems to suggest he should stick to shorts as he can’t carry a feature. Has some strong comedic performers in supporting roles (Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Will Arnett and Chris Parnell) but they’re mostly wasted.

Review: The Late Shift

Director: Betty Thomas
Year: 1996
Score: 4/10

Vaguely interesting but mostly unsuccessful HBO movie about the battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman (and network executives, agents, managers, etc.) over The Tonight Show in the early ’90s. My interest in the material was sparked as a result of following the later battle between Leno and Conan O’Brien (and NBC) as it transpired, and reading at the time that the Leno/Letterman kerfuffle had been equally crazy. Unfortunately, despite the intriguing real-life events, this movie is pretty lifeless and shoddy. The key figures are all included, but these aren’t performances; they’re impersonations, and often poor ones. John Michael Higgins isn’t too bad as Letterman, though maybe I just like Higgins so I didn’t judge him as harshly as his co-stars. Somehow Kathy Bates won awards for her portrayal of Helen Kushnick, Leno’s insane manager; in my view she completely overacts in the role.

Review: Upstream Color

Director: Shane Carruth
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10

Very strange movie from Shane Carruth, his follow-up to 2004’s excellent Primer. It’s an exploration of the lives of two people, and a bunch of pigs, who are affected by the life-cycle of a parasite. It often gets compared to The Tree of Life but for me the comparison is shallow; both movies are impressionistic in style and disjointed in narrative structure, and both can result in some head-scratching, but Carruth is no Malick. I spent much of it confused and by the end, even after reading more about it to understand what it was trying to do, I felt it had failed.

Review: Mama

Director: Andrés Muschietti
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10

This falls squarely into that breed of horror movie that can reliably make you jump and/or freak you out with some creepy imagery, but never properly earns its thrills and is sorely lacking in the character and story departments. The second half (or perhaps the final third) is particularly disappointing because once we’ve seen the creepy imagery in enough detail, it loses its power and just starts to become silly. Jessica Chastain (from a thousand movies over the past two years or so) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (from Game of Thrones) are tolerable but unimpressive.

Review: Cloud Atlas

Directors: The Wachowskis & Tom Tykwer
Year: 2012
Score: 4/10

I’m really glad this was made, and really glad I saw it, but sadly I must report that it didn’t really work. It’s hugely ambitious and has some interesting ideas, plus a bold central conceit of telling interwoven stories set over hundreds of years and using each actor to play multiple roles (thereby amplifying the sense that the stories are connected). However, ultimately the stories aren’t sufficiently connected for it to matter, we aren’t given enough reason to focus on one story over others, and most of the stories aren’t very interesting. Also, the variance in tone between the stories is quite jarring (though the increasingly quick intercutting is done quite cleverly at times). Two more complaints: by 40 minutes into this 171 minute movie, I still had no idea what was going on (in my view the directors should have made more of an effort to make the stories accessible from the start, rather than leaving the audience disoriented for so long), and the pidgin English used in one story rendered much of its dialogue incomprehensible to me (there should either have been subtitles or the pidgin should have been less pronounced (excuse the pun)).

Review: Oldboy (2003)

Director: Park Chan-wook
Year: 2003
Score: 4/10

Having heard such great things about this Korean movie for so long, I suppose my disappointment was somewhat inevitable; but not only did it not live up to the hype, I actually thought it was pretty bad. There’s a nugget of a good premise (a man is held captive for fifteen years but is never told why, and is then suddenly released), and a couple of neat action scenes, but it’s overdone and quite silly, particularly the second half. I found it very difficult to suspend my disbelief enough to fully buy into what happens and why it happens. I intend to watch the US remake (directed by Spike Lee and starring Josh Brolin) to see if the premise can be executed more effectively.

Review: Jackass Number Two

Director: Jeff Tremaine
Year: 2006
Score: 4/10

It made me laugh a bit but was pretty bad. It’s hard to tell if this is measurably worse than the original or if it’s just that I don’t find this stuff as funny anymore. There’s still the comaraderie on show and the palpable sense that we’re watching a bunch of mates having fun with each other (their constant laughter at each other’s antics is a major part of this), but there were many more hits than misses this time. Also, the climactic skit/prank – involving Ehren McGhehey thinking he’s pranking a taxi driver but actually being pranked himself into thinking he’s about to get shot dead, all the while wearing a fake beard made out of pubic hair lovingly provided by the rest of the Jackass team – was a whimper rather than a bang and seemed to lack the sense of gravity needed to elevate this from TV show to movie.

Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Director: Sam Raimi
Year: 2013
Score: 4/10

Most of this is rubbish; Sam Raimi appears to have fallen into the Tim Burton trap of style over substance. James Franco is terrible in the title role and his co-stars are largely unremarkable, other than Michelle Williams who is quite good as Glinda. The ‘intrigue’ between the witches is dull; I think there’s supposed to be some mystery and tension about who’s really wicked, but it was difficult to bring myself to care. There are some impressive visuals, and things pick up a little in the second half, though not enough to make it worthwhile. What a shoddy way to present the world of Oz to contemporary audiences!