September 30, 2011, - 12:00 pm
Nothing spectacular debuting in theaters today. The best of the new movies is very raunchy, so it’s not suitable for kids or teens. I did not see “Dream House,” as the screening for that was scheduled during the Jewish Rosh HaShanah holiday (will try to see later over the weekend and add a review). My review of “Where Soldiers Come From” (along with a review of the far superior “Restrepo”) will be posted on Sunday or Monday.
The story: a relatively young guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds out he has cancer, and he has a 50/50 shot at living. He goes through the trials and tribulations of a cancer patient, cheered along with the humor of his loser-ish best friend and co-worker at a public radio station (Rogen).
As I noted, it’s quite funny, something you wouldn’t expect or expect to like with a cancer movie, but it has it’s place. A really funny set of scenes includes Rogen trailing and tattling on Gordon-Levitt’s pretentious, selfish girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard). Anjelica Huston plays Gordon-Levitt’s hovering mom, and Anna Kendrick plays his therapist, as we watch him fight to battle a rare form of spinal cancer.
If you don’t like raunchy movies, you probably won’t like this. But it wasn’t bad, even if the ending is somewhat predictable. One thing that was missing: they didn’t mock tax-subsidized, far-left public radio nearly enough. In fact, barely at all.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “What’s Your Number?“: Absolutely awful. This romantic comedy was barely romantic and only sometimes funny. But it was consistently absolute garbage throughout. I can sum the “plot” (if you can call it that) of this in one line of dialogue uttered by lead actress Anna Faris:
I’m a jobless whore who slept with 20 guys and I need to be with someone who appreciates that about me.
Yup, that’s what passes for a movie “heroine” these days: a slutty bimbo. The story: a young woman in marketing, who just got fired from her latest job, is reflecting now that her younger sister is getting married. She writes down the number of guys she’s had sex with and the number is 19. At her sister’s engagement party, the women bring out an article from Marie Claire magazine that states that women who sleep with 20 or more men are unlikely to ever be married. Duh! So, in order to avoid sleeping with a 20th man, Faris hires her good-looking neighbor (Chris Evans) to track down all 19 of the men, so she can rekindle a romance with one of them. Hey, just the job for “Captain America” (Evans’ alter ego in another movie).
If this sounds like a really bad proposition for a movie, it is. I’m making it sound even better than it was. Yes, there were some funny lines, but mostly, this was a vile stinker. I guy putting his hands on his testicles and then smelling his hands–this is funny? Skip at all cost.
My fellow Detroit-area movie critic, James Sanford, aptly described this as “Whore-ible” and “Sex-cruciating,” and I concur. Hey, Hollywood, thanks for more garbage.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Machine Gun Preacher“: Gerard Butler plays an ex-con thuggish loser who finds G-d and goes to Africa to build orphanages for Christian kids ravaged by the war in Sudan. While this is based on the true story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker, and could have been a great movie, it missed the boat and I found it completely disappointing on several levels, not to mention on the level that it was heavily subsidized with the Michigan film tax credit.
First, while the movie mentions–just once!–the Muslim violence of the Sudanese government against the Black Christians of South Sudan, the movie instead focuses on violence by Christian warriors of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). Hey, let’s whitewash Islam and blame all gruesome attacks and violence against children in Southern Sudan on “warring Christians.” That’s what this movie does, and it’s shameful. There isn’t a single scene in this movie showing the janjaweed, the Muslim militia gangs sent by the Muslim Sudanese government, attacking, hacking, mass-murdering, and/or gang-raping the Sudanese Christians, as they did throughout Southern Sudan. Given that, the few parts in which Butler plays Rambo in this movie are empty and silly.
Next, the “hero” in the movie, Sam Childers, isn’t exactly a hero. In fact, even though he’s become a Christian preacher, he’s still a piece of garbage. He’s always angry and self-righteous, not to mention abusive of those who’ve helped him. And he doesn’t change. He drives his best friend to a drug overdose and suicide. He abandons his family and spends every dime they have to build more and more for kids in Africa. There is doing good, and then there is abandoning what is important in life to do more good at the expense of your family. This guy goes overboard. And, then, the movie leaves you hanging without telling you what happened and how or why his family stayed together after he neglected them for African kids.
The movie is also pointedly anti-business and plays class wars, with a couple of scenes showing a wealthy car dealer as the bad guy because he only gives Childers $150, instead of the $5,000 for which he asks, for the African orphanage. Then, the movie shows the man holding a fun Mexican party at his fancy home. Yes, cold rich people in America abandon the poor to hold fancy parties in their homes, right? That was the message. Not shown is that Americans are the most generous people on earth.
For a movie that preaches Christianity and forgiveness, I was surprised that it begins with a scene of Childers (Butler) and his former stripper wife (played by Michelle Monaghan) having sex in public and daylight on the front seat of their crappy car, while parked on the service drive of a highway. Classy.
Perhaps I’m a snob for not liking this movie about a lowlife pretending he’s become something better. But, remember, snobbery is vastly underrated. Especially in this case.
TWO MARXES PLUS A BIN LADEN
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame“: I like a good Chinese martial-arts-mixed-with-ancient-fable movie. This wasn’t it. Instead, I found this to be long, boring, simplistic, and kind of stupid. The special effects were cool, but not enough to make up for the time I felt I’d been cheated out of with this unsophisticated story.
This takes place in ancient times when the first female Chinese Emperor is to be inaugurated. She has and has had many opponents, including Detective Dee, who is in prison for a plot against her and a crime for which he was framed. But the Empress brings Dee out of jail to investigate who is starting a series of fires that kill people. The fires magically start inside of the particularly people and they burn to death. Many of these people are connected with building a giant Buddha tower set to be finished by the Empress’ inauguration.
The movie seemed to go on and on and on, and the answer of who was causing the fires and why seemed silly and was never hinted at anywhere in the movie before the end. I found the movie mostly pointless, even though I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and cool effects. And there was was very little martial arts in the movie. By the time there was, I was already bored to tears and not interested.
This wasn’t a good story, it wasn’t tight, and it just wasn’t interesting in the least. I also wondered about the presence of a blond Chinese warrior back in the late 600s. Did they have hair bleach then? A minor detail, but one which you focus on when the story is boring. If this is an attempt at Chinese feminism, it’s an epic failure.
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: 50/50, Anjelica Huston, Anna Faris, Anna Kendrick, cancer, Chinese movies, Chris Evans, Detective Dee, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Empress Wu, female Emperor, female Empress, Gerard Butler, janjaweed, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, Machine Gun Preacher, Michelle Monaghan, movie, movie review, Movie Reviews, Sam Childers, Seth Rogen, sluts, South Sudan, Southern Sudan, Sudan, What's Your Number?