March 20, 2009, - 9:38 am
By Debbie Schlussel
**** UPDATE: Review of “The Great Buck Howard” Posted Below–SCROLL DOWN ****
There is one excellent movie, this weekend, and it happens to include my friend from high school in a minor co-starring role. The rest of the selections range from not bad to funny but vile/disgusting. There was no advanced screening for “The Great Buck Howard,” so I will see it and add a review here, later today.
* “Duplicity“: Since I loathe Julia Roberts, I expected to hate this movie. But I was surprised. It was excellent and enjoyable from beginning to end. And not because my friend since high school, actor Rick Worthy (his real name from the days at Southfield High is Rick Titsworth, but he changed it for obvious reasons), is in it (he’s the tall Black bald guy with the mustache–super nice guy and so down to earth).
This movie is everything a movie is supposed to be. It’s fun, light, very suspenseful, and humorous. And it’s clever. Roberts and Clive Owen play, respectively, former CIA and MI6 agents who were lovers in the past. They are now partners in crime in corporate espionage. She’s involved in corporate security at a large pharmaceutical company. And he is working for a counterespionage outfit hired by a rival pharmaceutical company to spy on her company. She is secretly a double agent for the counterespionage outfit, and together they work to con the company out of a new product worth gazillions.
There are a lot of flashbacks in this movie, which are slightly annoying, but it would be hard to tell the story in a continuous timeline, without giving almost everything away.
This is one of those great caper movies you’ll probably see on TV endlessly, once it’s out of theater circulation. But you’ll be happy you saw it in the theaters. Don’t let the presence of the repugnant Julia Roberts scare you away from this. The best actor in this movie, though, is the always excellent Paul Giamatti as the pompous, insecure CEO of a rival pharmaceutical company.
Has some mild sex scenes and content, so not really for kids, and the plot is too sophisticated for them, anyway.
* “Knowing“: Although the last fifth of this movie was kind of a mess and slightly rambling, I liked it. Nicholas Cage stars in his fifth thriller involving coded messages and numbers in this doomsday movie. But he’s convincing as usual in his sense of urgency.
A young girl at a school in 1959 suggests that she and her classmates draw pictures of what they see for the future, to be deposited in a time capsule, which will be opened on the school’s 50th anniversary. The girl is suddenly possessed by voices, which force her to write a series of numbers. On the 50th anniversary, the capsule is opened and Nicholas Cage’s young son gets the list of numbers.
Soon, Cage, a physicist who has done studies on flaring stars, discovers that the numbers correspond with the dates and numbers of human casualties for each disaster since 1959 . . . and future disasters. He reunites with the daughter of the girl from 1959 to find out what is happening and why strange men are haunting his family.
I don’t want to say much more, as it will give away the movie, but I will note that there is a Noah’s Ark-esque ending and message, which I liked.
As I noted, this movie ends kind of messily, but it begins with a bang and keeps you hooked until the mess begins. Not bad, but could have been tightened up. Fine for kids, though might be slightly scary for them.
* “I Love You, Man“: While I’m embarrassed to say I laughed effusivley a few times during this flick, it was mostly vile and disgusting. Lots of bathroom humor–farts, vomiting, dog defecating jokes–and lots of pretty explicit, gross sexual humor. Um, I didn’t need to know about a guy’s masturbation station. TMI. And I don’t exactly enjoy “bro-mance” movies that are basically gay, as this movie is. Nor did I need to see two guys French kiss. Didn’t we already have this in “Milk,” just a few months ago?
The people who made this movie were more interested in pushing the envelope than anything else. And the story is stupid.
The best parts of this movie are the presence of Lou Ferrigno and the band, “Rush.” And that’s not saying much.
The “plot”: A L.A.-area real estate agent (Paul Rudd) with no guy friends but many female ones is engaged to be married (to Rashida Jones). He goes out on “man-dates” to meet male friends in search of one to become his best man at his wedding. Rudd eventually meets Jason Segel (who famously showed us his penis onscreen repeatedly in his last big box office release, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), a free-spirited slacker former child star who free-loads at real estate open house buffets, hangs out in his man cave, and refuses to scoop after his dog poops.
Rudd meets him at the open house he is holding at Lou Ferrigno’s mansion, which he’s trying to sell. They start hanging out, and eventually their relationship supercedes Rudd’s relationship with his soon-to-be bride, causing tension.
The funniest parts are the jokes about Lou Ferrigno and the Hulk and a guy throwing up on another guy after a beer drinking contest. And that should tell you something. This movie is just average. The jokes are raunchy and cheap. And the humor wrapped in mostly vile and disgusting dialogue simply isn’t worth it.
He’s forty pounds overweight, with a Jew-fro and a small d–k,
populate this trash. And that’s the tame stuff.
This movie was clearly made for the twenty-something oversexed frat boy crowd whose diet includes too much Jon Stewart and little of substance or worth. For the rest of us–i.e., civilization–it’s not for you. And definitely not for kids or even “mature” teens.
I Hated This, Man.
* “Sunshine Cleaning“: I had mixed feelings about this movie because it basically promotes single motherhood, giving us the message that “it all works out in the end,” which as we know ain’t the truth. Plus, it was kind of a grotesque version of a “sister doing it for herself” chick flick.
Amy Adams plays a single mother, who is stuck cleaning houses for a living. She’s still sleeping with the married father of her kid, a police detective who was her high school quarterback boyfriend. While he has excelled in life, she’s faltered and is stuck in a rut. And she has a loser sister, who is always late to work and gets fired for insolence. Then, there’s her eccentric father (Alan Arkin) who is also hard up for money and always making bad business decisions, while looking for the “big” deal.
Adams’ “gifted” (really, perverted and impolite) son is kicked out of school, and she needs to make more money to put him in private school. Plus, she is embarrassed when she ends up cleaning the home of a former high school classmate, who is relatively well-off.
Adams learns about the world of “biohazard removal”–basically cleaning up after dead and/or murdered people at crime scenes and starts her own business with her sister. The money starts to roll in.
But as in every movie with a story, it doesn’t stay that way. Oh, and don’t forget the girl who thinks her sister is a lesbian and comes on to her.
Not my cup of tea, but mildly entertaining. Not enough, though, for your ten bucks.
* “The Great Buck Howard“: I’m a fan of John Malkovich’s acting, and that’s why I thought I’d like this story of a has-been mentalist who is trying to get back on “The Tonight Show,” and keep people coming to his touring shows. His character is based on “The Amazing Kreskin.” The movie is the story of his young assistant (Colin Hanks, who is briefly joined in the movie by Tom Hanks who plays a novel role: his dad), a guy who drops out of law school to find himself as a writer and took the job as Buck Howard’s road manager to bide his time.
Malkovich is his usual talented self, though his ambiguously gay, aging performer shtick seems like I’ve been there, seen that before. And I have, when he played an aging gay man who impersonates Stanley Kubrick in “Color Me Kubrick.” And there wasn’t that much new here. Still, it’s entertaining, if slow and pointless, and it’s funny.