August 7, 2009, - 4:39 pm
Weekend Box Office: Lame, Barely American G.I. Joe (Has Muslim Influences), Okay Julie/Julia, Charming Ocean/Pearls; UPDATED: Im”Perfect Getaway”
Sorry for the movie reviews being posted so late, but I had a lot going on behind the scenes today.
* “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra“: This wasn’t screened for critics (a sign it’s crap), so I paid to see it. And it wasn’t worth it. Great special effects, lots of action, chases, killing, and fighting, but a completely stupid and boring story. So much action, so little insomnia (meaning the opposite–it’s a yawner).
The most disappointing thing about this movie is that almost everything American has been whitewashed from it. You’d hardly know any of these people in the movie are Americans other than some of them speak English, most with a bad foreign accent (and the White Ebonics mumbling guy–star Channing Tatum). And that’s no surprise, given that director Stephen Sommers said they were deleting all the “rah-rah American” stuff from the foreign ads for the movie (and dissed Vietnam Vets). Well, guess what? They already deleted the “rah-rah American” stuff in the movie, itself. There’s nothing American about it, but for a couple brief scenes of the White House and the President, and a tiny script on the screen at the beginning noting that the G.I. Joe’s were at NATO (and that’s not even American, though we’re a member and founded it). So tiny, and yet it’ll probably be deleted from the movie for the foreigners.
You know what is in it, though? One of the heroic main characters–one of the G.I. Joe’s is an Arab from Morocco (who wears a keffiyeh the whole time), played by Arab Muslim Said Taghmaoui who has been in a number of anti-Israel movies. Oh, and why is Channing Tatum–an American soldier and G.I. Joe–wearing a keffiyeh for like half the movie when he isn’t in a Muslim country or fighting Muslims anywhere in the movie? To get a ton of Arab cha-ching, when this is shown in the Muslim world. Cha-ching, whoredom.
The story? An evil defense contractor from Scotland is selling weapons to NATO or presumably the U.S. and at the same time, he’s also the one sabotaging those and hiring criminal thugs to get the weapons. Tatum and a Wayans brother play soldiers (presumably American soldiers–we’re never really told because America must be whitewashed to make money in foreign ticket sales), who are holding the briefcase of weapons known as “Nanomites.”
The nanomites are tiny organisms that destroy and eat up everything in sight turning it to dust, until ordered to stop. Tatum and the Wayans brother join the elite “G.I. Joes–many of whom are foreigners–to get the weapons back. Tatum’s ex-fiancee (Sienna Miller) is one of the evil crooks who’ve stolen the Nanomites and are threatening to use them to eat up cities. Dennis Quaid is their commander.
The movie is stupid, and no one in it can act, save Quaid, who has a few lines, including the sagacious, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.” A complete waste of time, unless you like endless shooting, action, and special effects that–despite their coolness–are boring as hell.
* “Julie & Julia“–This started out as a light enjoyable Four-Reagan movie, but as time went by, declined to a Two-Reagan movie at best. It intertwines two stories: how Julia Child (Meryl Streep) became a chef in France in the late ’40s and early ’50s in Paris defying a tradition of mostly male French chefs and setting out to make a French cookbook for Americans, something that was novel at the time; and how Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a 20-something college grad working the phones and answering questions from 9/11 victims in New York spent a year making over 500 Julia Child recipes and blogging about it for Salon.com.
While it was somewhat charming and entertaining, this movie–essentially a bearable chick flick–was waaaay too long. And Memo to Hollywood: When you make a movie with people constantly eating in it, would it pain you to insist that at least just one of them would eat with their mouth closed. Since none did, it was like a really bad date . . . except your savage date’s open mouth wasn’t across the table, it was huge on the big screen. Gross.
Don’t go see this on an empty stomach (even if, like me, you are turned off by excessively rich French food and its preparation)–endless scenes of cooking, but why would I want to see that, when I can actually learn something from watching it on the Food Network.
While Meryl Streep is good and convincing as the high-pitched-voiced Julia Child, some of it was overplayed and over the top. And it got annoying. Even more annoying were the multiple anti-Republican jokes and constant harping on the McCarthy hearings and how they were “out to get” Julia Child’s husband and accused him of being gay. Heck, I can believe that someone married to her (and they never had kids) could, indeed, be gay. In fact, Stanley Tucci–who plays her husband–played Meryl Streep’s gay assistant in another recent movie the pair did together, “The Devil Wears Prada.” So, it’s not a stretch.
Nor did I need to know that Julia Child allegedly said that a hot piece of pasta was “as hot as a stiff [DS edit: rhymes with ‘rock’].” Truly tasteless. Child is an American iconic chef. No need to dirty her up and filthify the flick.
About a half hour could have been cut from this movie–particularly the neurotic parts in which Julie Powell constantly whines and then fights with her husband. The movie’s message is that the husband is such a saint and that Powell is self-absorbed but comes to see what a great, supportive husband he is. But, in real life, Julie Powell cheated on her husband after doing the 500-plus recipes. I also didn’t need to know about Julia Child’s even weirder, gargantuan sister. Who cares? So what? Added nothing to the movie and ate up time.
For guys whose wives drag ’em to this, it’s a bearable, relaxing, somewhat charming movie. But it’s ruined with politics, occasional dumb dirty jokes, and the arrogant slowness and length that made two hours seem like three, and every scene seem like the gazillionth ending.
* “Ocean of Pearls“: This movie is only showing in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles and is written, directed, and financed by a Detroit area Sikh medical doctor, Sarab Neelam. It’s a charming, touching story of a Sikh medical doctor who struggles against prejudice and his own identity to fit in, in America.
While I liked it, it overplays the level of bigotry in America and definitely overstates the alleged “overexuberance” of airport security and security officers’ treatment of Sikhs. We don’t want Muslims (and the star of this movie is not a Sikh, he’s a Muslim–Omid Abtahi) pretending to be Sikhs and trying to get through security with weapons hidden in their turbans. And I think many Sikhs would be as turned off as I was by a very disturbing scene in the movie where the Sikh doctor takes actions that are extremely sacrilege.
Plus it was funny to see Dennis Haskins a/k/a “Mr. Belding” from “Saved by the Bell” as a surgeon in a serious movie. It made me laugh, but I got over it.
Still, I found the movie moving, because it demonstrates an important return and appreciation for tradition that one might explore forsaking, to instead discover increased value in the tradition. I also found it interesting, since I have a fondness for the Sikh people who fight Muslim prejudice in India on a daily basis and have generally been very pro-Israel and definitely pro-Western.
Fast-paced, well written, and it kept my attention and interest throughout.
* “A Perfect Getaway“: This thriller movie is not so thrilling since I hated all of the annoying and cloying characters (and not in a fun, creepy way; just flat-out annoying.
Two newlyweds (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) are on their honeymoon on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, where they are hiking to the beach. On their way, they meet two strange couples–the first couple have nasty tattoos and feel strange, and the second are a Southern couple, including a guy who has fanciful stories about being in special ops in Iraq. The honeymooners learn that a couple has murdered another couple in Honolulu and come to Kauai. Are one of these two weird couples the murderers? Will they honeymooners be killed?
I couldn’t care less if all of them were killed, plus I basically figured it out (everything other choice was too obvious), which makes the movie a waste of time.
Bloody and annoying, the “twist” at the end wasn’t exactly novel (it’s been done before and far better), and the movie was slow–even at just over an hour-and-a-half. When I finally grew to like the two characters who are the targeted victims, the movie has already gotten way out of hand. Lotsa blood and some gore, but not much in the way of salt and pepper to make it appetizing. As “perfect” as rotten steak. Disappointing. And skipworthy.
Tags: A Perfect Getaway, Amy Adams, Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, France, G.I. Joe, GI Joe, Hawaii, India, Joe McCarthy, Julia Child, Julie & Julia, Julie Powell, Kauai, keffiyeh, McCarthy haearings, Meryl Streep, Milla Jovovich, Nanomites, NATO, Ocean of Pearls, Omid Abtahi, Paris, Patriotism, Republicans, Said Taghmaoui, Salon.com, Sarab Neelam, Sienna Miller, Sikh, Sikhs, Stephen Sommers, Steve Zahn, Wayans Brothers