July 30, 2010, - 6:13 pm
It’s rare that a movie I thought I’d absolutely hate isn’t bad at all. That’s the case with the biggest box office release this weekend:
* “Dinner For Schmucks“: When I first received the trailer from the studio promoting “Dinner For Schmucks,” I predicted it would be awful, and I criticized the title. I stand by the second part, as the proper title should be, “Dinner For Schlemiels.” The New York Times quoted me on that point and backed me up.
But now that I’ve seen Dinner, I have to eat crow a little bit. I found the movie absolutely hilarious. Yes, it’s raunchy and lewd. And no way should this movie have the PG-13 the ratings board gave it–do not allow your kids to see it. But it’s really not a bad movie. Some parts are stupid, some slow and ridiculous, some way too vulgar–this ain’t for prudes. But overall, I liked the message at the end, and I laughed along the way to get there. I also looooooved the way it made fun of pretentious, New Age “modern art” and the “artist” phonies who make it.
This movie is based on the French original, “Le Diner de Cons.” The story: a guy (Paul Rudd) who is an up-and-comer in the financial industry works for a company which buys distressed companies, takes ‘em apart, and sells them off to make money. He gets the chance at a promotion when he gets his foot in the door with a Swiss bomb factory owner and royal who has a lot of money. But there’s a condition on the promotion. Rudd has to attend a monthly dinner his boss holds, at which each attendee must bring a complete geek or social misfit whom they make fun of.
When Rudd’s girlfriend–whom he wants to marry–learns of it, she forbids him to attend and gets upset with him over it. Meanwhile, Rudd meets a complete misfit IRS examiner (Steve Carell), who makes detailed, picturesque scenes out of dead mice. Soon, Rudd is roped into going and on the outs with his girlfriend because of a misunderstanding over a female Stalker. And Rudd is worried about his girlfriend’s amorous, arrogant New Age modern artist, whose exhibits she is curating.
Like I said, funny, sometimes slow and seemingly ad-libbed, and sometimes too raunchy. But overall, entertaining and not bad.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Charlie St. Cloud“: This movie was mostly charming and touching, if predictable and somewhat formulaic. But did they really need to throw in a vulgar, gratuitous reference to masturbation? And sex by the main character in a cemetery was creepy . . . not to mention the fact that it’s with a ghost. Still, I found it an entertaining and enjoyable movie about how sometimes you need to let go, move on from tragedy, and live life, even if it was somewhat maudlin.
Zac Efron (my favorite All-American Jewish actor) shows his ever-ranging acting chops in this love story, mostly about the love between brothers. Efron plays a skilled and smart high school athlete son of a single mother (Kim Basinger). He and his little brother are close, and he’s getting ready to head off to Stanford, where he’s scored a sailing scholarship. But things never go as planned. And on his way to a graduation party, with his brother in the car, they get into a car accident. Efron lives, thanks to the sticktuitiveness of paramedic Ray Liotta, but his little brother dies, and Efron is devastated.
At the funeral, he sees his brother’s ghost, and they make a deal to meet every day at sunset to play catch and talk. Efron gives up his dreams and scholarship to live at the cemetery as its caretaker and spend each day at sunset with his brother, letting life pass him by. But life goes on, and a female sailor catches his eye.
Does he move on, or is he stuck in a world of talking to ghosts, and “I see dead people”?
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore“: This movie is aimed at kids, so if you are an adult, you will probably have my reaction. It was funny and cute at first, but it seems long and gets old fast. But for kids, it’s fine. And it’s in 3D, which wasn’t necessary. I did love the Road Runner cartoon that precedes the movie and the 3D with that was fantastic.
The story: Kitty Galore, a rogue agent cat who has become a villain, sneaks into top secret headquarters to unleash a satellite signal that will make all of the world’s dogs go wild against their owners. It will destroy the world. So secret agent dogs (who previously tracked “radical felinism”) and secret agent dogs–both of whom normally hate each other–have banded together to stop Kitty and save the world. Lots of celebrities voice the dogs and cats.
ONE REAGAN (for kids)
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Charlie St. Cloud, Dinner for Schmucks, Dinner With Schmucks, Kim Basinger, Movie Reviews, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zac Efron