December 21, 2012, - 3:05 pm
With Christmas in just a few days, this is the time that Hollywood is supposed to put out its biggest, best blockbusters. Instead, they give us schlock, which is the best descriptor for the new movies at theaters, this weekend.
* “Hyde Park on Hudson“: A while ago I wrote on this site about a disgusting scene in a movie in which a President I don’t even like is shown getting manually masturbated by someone. That was this movie, as some readers correctly guessed. It’s Hollywood’s way of attacking and taking down every single authority figure in American history, even the uber-liberal, statist ones they revere. This long, slow, boring, creepy movie presents an even creepier version of Franklin D. Roosevelt than anything I’ve seen on any President. FDR (played by Bill Murray) is portrayed as a sleazy, sex-obsessed weirdo, who doesn’t let a visit to his Hyde Park estate by the King and Queen of England get in the way of his conquests of multiple members of his harem. Yuck.
This is the story of Margaret Suckley (in the movie, she is just “Daisy,” probably for obvious reasons), FDR’s Plain Jane fifth or sixth cousin (in the movie, she says they’re not sure which it is), who is recruited by FDR’s mother to “entertain” him at the Hyde Park estate one summer during his Presidency. Yup, FDR’s mother–as portrayed in this movie–is his pimp, and ultimately Daisy becomes one of his several concubines, joining his secretary and one of his longtime wealthy patrons in the harem. The movie is supposedly based on Suckley’s diaries and letters between her and FDR that were allegedly found under her bed after her death at age 99 in 1991. Suckley is played by Laura Linney.
Skip this barf-fest at all cost.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Jack Reacher“: I was really looking forward to this movie based on the thriller novels of author Lee Child. But what a letdown. While there were some mildly cool car chase and shooting scenes that are inserted in any action thriller, the movie was silly and preposterous–particularly when it comes to the plot and the storyline. It wasn’t interesting or thrilling most of the time, and you don’t really care “whodunit.” The “why” is stupid and never ever explained, nor is much of what is going on. It’s not a tight script, and I’m surprised this movie is coming out now, instead of January or August, the cemeteries of movies where Hollywood sends the worst movies to die a quick death. Tom Cruise is his usual great acting self, but he produced this jalopy of a movie so he takes the blame for the bad vehicle featuring his good acting.
The plot: a former Army sniper who served in the Middle East is accused of shooting five people from a parking garage across the river. He writes a note to prosecutors to get Jack Reacher, a mysterious superhero-type of a guy in the form of a retired military police investigator, played by Cruise. He’s not only a brilliant investigator, but a great physical fighter, car chaser, shooter, and so on. Reacher is hired by the accused’s defense lawyer, who also happens to be the daughter of the district attorney prosecuting her client. Someone is out to get Reacher as he gets closer to the truth. Is it the district attorney? To be honest, I didn’t care much because the movie is that bad. The only good thing about this is the presence of Robert Duvall, but even that isn’t enough to make things right.
I’m surprised this is PG-13, since it’s violent and includes a scene in which the bad guy tries to make someone bite his own fingers off. Sick. Sad. Long. Boring. Waste of time.
HALF A MARX
Watch the trailer . . .
* “The Guilt Trip“: Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen play an ambiguously but stereotypically Jewish mother and son with the last name, Brewster, who go on a road trip together, as Rogen tries to sell his invention (an organic cleaning solution made out of fruit) to major retailers. Streisand is your stereotypical, annoying, guilt-inducing, intrusive Jewish mother who asks questions about the most personal and inserts herself everywhere she’s not wanted. Rogen can’t stand it, but he feels sorry for her and takes her along on the trip so she can reunite with her long lost first love, after whom he’s named.
While there are some parts of this movie that are alternately very funny or touching and endearing, mostly it’s just a non-stop reel of bad joke after bad joke and stupid, raunchy joke after stupid, raunchy joke. I liked the idea of a mother/son road trip, which we haven’t seen before at the movies. I just liked it without these two, neither of whom I like much at all. And too much of this movie was melodramatic angst and whining and screaming that’s just what people go to the movies to get away from. In the end, the messages are two of the typical and predictable ones: mother knows best and mother and son will do best by getting along after all.
A side note on this: after the screening I attended, there was a live telecast featuring Streisand and Rogen. I don’t like Seth Rogen, but his stock went up 1,000% after seeing the telecast, since all he did was rip on Streisand and her ridiculous lifestyle and demands. The movie was supposed to be a road trip, but Streisand is so special in her own mind and so absurd in her demands that the whole movie had to be done from a warehouse and sets built especially for her, since she insisted on filming the entire movie 15 minutes from her Malibu home, after making increasing demands of the filmmakers. During the live telecast, Streisand constantly whined about how hard it is to drive and how impossible it is to drive at night. She also spoke of how difficult the internet is, as is checking things online It was a nice insight to how out of touch this over-pampered far-left, Obama-supporting celeb is. As in, very.
As I said, while some of this is very funny, it’s also very overwrought and annoying. It was mildly entertaining, though, and better than all of the other new offerings.
HALF A REAGAN
Watch the trailer . . .
* “This is 40“: It takes a lot to sit through this incredibly long, boring, 2 1/3 hours whine-fest. If seeing a naked husband (Paul Rudd) with butt and legs in the air looking in a mirror to see if he has hemorrhoids is your idea of a good time, then this is your movie. For the rest of us, um, no thanks. This is writer/director Judd Apatow’s latest raunchfest, and in this case, it’s not even funny. Just gross and extremely whiny.
Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s real-life wife) play Pete and Debbie, the husband and wife from Apatow’s “Knocked Up” (read my review). They are both turning 40 and don’t want to face it, instead having signs of a mid-life crisis. They are constantly arguing over his secret eating of cupcakes (sugar isn’t allowed in the household), his support of his father and the father’s new family with an airline stewardess, and other things I couldn’t care less to hear about. They read their kids’ facebook accounts and confront the boys who attack their kids online. Debbie worries about her women’s clothing store and who stole $10,000 from it. Pete is worried about his failing new record company and the fact that he can’t sell CDs of his latest golden oldie rocker.
Lots of bickering, shouting, yelling, and so on. Very little that’s entertaining. Why pay money to go to the movies to see this when you can see it in households across America or in divorce court? And in those places, it’s a lot more interesting than this portrayal of spoiled very-upper-middle class people living beyond their means and constantly complaining about nothing.
Watch the trailer . . .
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