Monday, October 29, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook (R)


Are.You.Kidding.Me?!?!?!?! Is there a new rule that I hadn’t heard about for romantic comedies? They must now be 95% depressing and try to make up for it in the remaining 5%? If that is the case then Silver Linings Playbook was an absolute success! It was less than two hours long but felt like four. Before any of you say that I’m jaded because I’m single let me just say that I wanted to enjoy this movie. I was ready to sit back in my seat and just get lost in the romantic funniness of it. At no point was I drawn in to this film. I was an outsider looking in and I so did NOT like what I saw. I would liken it to the train wreck theory but, after a little while in, I no longer wanted to watch any more.

Maybe at the ripe old age of 29 I am a bit old-fashioned but Hollywood romance seems to be slowly circling the drain. What ever happened to Sam and Annie? Joe and Kathleen? Anna and William? Linus and Sabrina? David and Susan? C.K. and Tracy/Tracy and Macaulay? And last, but not least Johnny and Baby? While most of these films did have some drama they didn’t let it take over the entire film and they certainly knew when to lighten up. I’m hoping I’ve seen a good Rom-Com lately and this movie tonight temporarily wiped it from my brain. There has to have been something good and recent. Right?

Silver Linings Playbook is about Pat, recently released from a mental institution where he’d been visiting since a slight “incident” involving his not-so-faithful wife. Pat had decided that he’s going to see the good and happy in everything. For someone determined to see the good, he sure does shout a lot. It’s also the story of Tiffany, recently widowed and recovering from trying to sleep her way through her grief. And I don’t mean that she was getting lots of rest.

I’m trying really hard right now to think of something good to say about this movie. The one part I actually liked was the dance scene because it was so painfully horrible that you just had to laugh. As for the rest, it was mainly a lot of yelling, cussing and football. And surprisingly enough, the football games were not the cause of most of the yelling and cussing although they did have their fair share.

I guess I should move on now from attacking the movie and start attacking the actors. I’m sure they’d be thrilled. Let’s start with Bradley Cooper. Bradley played the role of Pat. Let me rephrase. Bradley was chosen for the role of Pat. I didn’t quite believe him as an ex mental patient. I’m wondering if he decided that raising his voice and being overly profane would get across the character he was trying to portray. Sorry, Bradley. You just didn’t do much for me. I felt nothing other than anxiety for the movie to end. If you need “crazy” lessons maybe you should get hold of Christian Bale. He does it well.

Moving on. Jennifer Lawrence, you disappoint me. You were very nearly as profane as Bradley and some of the stunts you pulled made me ill. Inappropriate doesn’t even begin to describe some of your actions. Readers, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Jennifer was cast in the role of Tiffany. Not that cussing in general conversation ever thrills me but hearing it come out of her mouth just made me feel squidgy. It wasn’t natural, if you will. It wasn’t natural if you won’t. Samuel L. Jackson she is not! Any time Tiffany and Pat got together a yelling match ensued. Uber-romantic, no?

Robert De Niro played the part of Pat’s dad, Pat Sr. He was the only actor in this film that I liked; maybe because he was believable. It is not surprising, after meeting his mom and dad, that Pat Jr. is crazy . I'm surprised it wasn't worse. Not only does Sr. have a slight case of OCD, he’s also obsessively superstitious regarding his football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. I’ve been surrounded by OU/OSU fans my entire life and all of them put together wouldn’t fill up Pat Sr.’s crazy basement.

I’m going to end my actor complaints with Jacki Weaver, Pat’s mom Dolores. I don’t know what the deal was but it seemed as if she was only allowed to say a couple things in any scene she was in and most of what she said came out as a whine. Imagine Peg Bundy but higher pitched. It was absolutely grating. She contributed nothing to the film besides “crabby snacks” and “home mades”. At least I think that’s what she was saying. I have no idea what either of these things are.

In case any of my prior comments didn’t discourage you from taking your children, or yourselves, to see this, hopefully the break down will.

Sex/Nudity – Yes but, fortunately, not much. We saw the back of a woman in a shower and quickly discovered that she wasn’t alone. Later on we saw more of the woman after they were found out. We also saw Jennifer’s naked back.

Cussing/Cursing – Not just yes…and they hit all the really good ones too. The descriptive word of choice in this script was the F-word. I may have missed a few but by my count it was spoken at least 76 times. That puts it right up there with 21 Jump Street. I’m beginning to wonder if Samuel L. Jackson and Wesley Snipes would watch this movie and be shocked by the language. In one scene Mr. De Niro dropped the bomb around 10 times in less than a minute. My sister and I have been known to have some knock down/drag out fights – sometimes literally – and yet we somehow managed to not cuss. Even when our parents weren’t around. Considering the fact that we got a stern lecture for saying “fart” I don’t even want to know what the punishment would have been had we spewed some of the intelligence that was erupting out of the mouths in this movie. My mom gave up long ago getting me to not say the word “butt”. Yep. I’m a wild one. My point is it’s completely unnecessary. There are other words in the dictionary.

Smoking/Drinking/Drugs – There was drinking. Of that I’m sure. A few beers. A couple glasses of vodka. The only drugs were the ones given to the mental patients and we never saw them being abused. I don’t recall seeing anyone smoking. If anyone did, they weren’t a main character.

Violence – Yes. There are a couple of fight scenes. One got a bit bloody and the other was shocking because of who was hit.

I cannot recommend this movie to anyone. There were a few parts that made me laugh for a second and someone did kiss but to call this a romantic comedy is severely mislabeling the film. I would feel horrible if I said anything remotely encouraging about this and my mom or niece went to see it. I would even go so far as to beg my newly married cousin and her husband to keep as great a distance away from it as possible. It does not promote healthy relationships AT.ALL. Go see Sinister instead. Just kidding. Sort of.

There was nothing after the credits during the pre-screening so feel free to do what I did, if you go see this, and go home and share how not good this was in the attempt to keep others from having to live through the same experience.

I am now in desperate need of a new Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film. They know how it’s done. The only silver lining in this film was that it eventually ended.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sinister (R/110 Min.)

I started this year’s Halloween viewing way late. Like…yesterday late. Now I’m trying to catch up in the few days I have left. Then it’s back to football movies. Wahoo (insert sarcasm font here). I missed out on the free pre-screening of Sinister by 6 people. I got to the theater later than usual because I had to go pick up my hockey season tickets. What? Priorities, man! Anyway, by the time I got to the theater the line was already super long. Dang it. After they’d let a good number of the people in, the rest of us were turned away because the theater was full. We were told that if we left our names and e-dresses we’d get passes to a future movie. Cool!

I was pretty sure Sinister was going to scare me but I wasn’t sure how much. Having just discovered that this was produced by the same person who produced the Paranormal Activity films I’m not surprised by the nature of the scares. This movie relied on jump-out-at-you events and your own imagination to set your pulse to racing. I had absolutely no desire to go see Sinister by myself. I knew there would, more than likely, be other people in the theater but I wanted someone with me who would tell me what I missed when I hid behind my hands. And, I know it sounds odd, but I wanted someone who would laugh at me for doing so. Trust me. This completely alleviates any tension caused by the Boogie Man. My cousins Justin and Jessica (yes, their names have been changed) went with me. Thank goodness. Let me tell you, Justin had quite a few laughs at my expense.

Sinister is the story of Ellison, a true crime author who moves himself and his family in to the house near which a family was murdered. While taking stuff up to be stored in his attic he comes across a box containing disturbing (to put it mildly) home movies. Soon after he begins watching the movies, creepy things start to happen to him and his family.

This is the type of horror movie I absolutely hate and yet I still go see. I mentioned the jump-out-at-you scares earlier. These make me so mad. And make me miss half the movie because I’m hiding behind my hands just waiting for it to happen. I counted at least 8 such scares. Some of the ones that happened may have been combined with one I counted because they were back to back and in the same scene. One scene involved super loud noises (two, to be exact) that I counted as one. Another involved people popping up unexpectedly. They were all counted as one also. Just be prepared.

Fortunately, a lot of the scares give you a bit of a warning. Actually, a good portion of the movie was predictable. I did make two predictions that turned out to be false but I did okay throughout the rest. Poor Justin had to listen to me talk through quite a bit of the movie. This is NOT typical for me. It’s a pet peeve of mine for people to do so but I think I did it out of discomfort. That, and the fact that, had it bothered him, Justin would have told me to shut up. We’re cool like that. What was frustrating about some of the predictability is that, regarding several pertinent facts, Ellison took forever to catch on. He’s supposed to be this smart guy detective-type person and the audience caught on way before he did with the same facts he had. I was very disappointed. Even more frustrating, Deputy So and So (that IS what he’s called in the film) took nearly as long. What really sent me over the edge was the fact that they found a connection between two of the families who were murdered but didn’t stop right then and check for a connection with the rest. And they knew these were serial crimes!!! ARGH!!!

I read somewhere that this was supposed to be psychologically disturbing. I’m beginning to question my personal level of disturbibility (What? I can’t make up words?) because, other than the quick scares, it didn’t bother me as much as I’m guessing it should have. Then again, it didn’t seem to bother Justin and Jessica either. There was one scene in which the husband and wife were tied up on their bed and the family dog was sitting between them. No, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to any of them but, I’m almost ashamed to admit, my first thought was, “Oh no! Not the dog!” You have to understand, though, THIS is what is sitting on my lap as I type…er…try to type.
I think that when your only babies are fur-babies, it tends to affect how you direct your emotions on occasion. At least that’s the logic I’m hiding behind for now.

At this point I usually prattle on and on, ad nauseum, about the actors. None of them were so bad that it distracted from the movie but, then again, none of them will be nominated for Oscars for this movie. You can’t really fault me for saying that. How many actors have won anything for their role in a horror film? And don’t say “Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster” because Silence of the Lambs is considered to be a Psychological Thriller so I win. Ha! The only actor who came anywhere close to bugging me was James Ransone who played Deputy So and So but I strongly believe he was told to act that way.

I know I talked earlier about a few of the things that bothered me about Sinister but I’m going to add more. So buckle up, Buttercup. I didn’t keep track of the number of these because I didn’t know I’d need to but there were many scenes in which Ellison heard something at night (of course) that woke him up or startled him in some way, shape or form. When he went to investigate, at no point did the man turn on a light. Okay, I will admit to having heard things and went investigating in the dark but my reasoning is that, in my house, some of the light switches are quite a walk from the last area full of light. I’d totally ruin my night vision getting to the next switch thereby leaving plenty of time for the bad guy to get me. You’re welcome, bad guys, for the details. However, if I kept hearing the same thing over and over, night after night, AND I had seen the bad guy outside my house, in my back yard, that place would be lit up like the 4th of July. And the space in between light switches…? That’s what one million candle power flashlights are for! Justin and I were getting a little miffed by Ellison’s inability to flip a switch. You wouldn’t believe the relief when he finally did it…in one scene only. Dork. To make things worse, there were a couple instances in which he investigated without carrying a weapon. What exactly did he think he was going to do if he came upon the bad guy? Talk him down? I don’t think so. In yet another scene he sits on the sofa right in front of the ginormous picture window through the curtains of which you could see the shadows of anything that might pass between the street light and the house. Finally, after a hole is accidentally created in the floor of the basement/ceiling of the main part of the house, Ellison never patched it up. Has this man never, in his entire life, seen a scary movie? You never EVER check out the noise without a weapon. You never EVER sit in front of a window or door. And you never EVER EVER leave extra spaces through which the bad guy can get to you. NEVER!!!

Let’s move on to the mom’s actions throughout parts of the film. I’m going to put SPOILER ALERT here even though I don’t really think it is. Soon after the family moved in to the house, Ellison’s wife informed him that if things started to go south she was going to take herself and her kids and move in with her sister. Do you think this happened? Now what kind of horror movie would this be if she had? Oh! And when all the loud noises were going on in the house not once did she wake up. She did wake up when her son had night terrors but if any of the sounds had anything to do with Ellison, he was on his own. How heavy a sleeper is this woman? She even slept through her husband’s screaming. I want some of whatever she was taking to catch some z’s. Honestly though, I’ve decided that all the wife was in the movie for was to bust Ellison’s chops for his rather poor decision-making abilities.

I’m not going to break this one down so you can decide whether or not to take your children to see it because if you think it is okay to take your children to movies like this, nothing I say is going to dissuade you. I really REALLY hope you would think twice before doing so. If you want to see this at the theater and are taking your kids because you can’t find a sitter, give me a call. I’ll come watch them. Unless you live outside the greater greater OKC area. You’re a bit outside my comfortable commute range.

Despite the many complaints, would I recommend Sinister to anyone? Actually, I would. To other people who go for any type of scares. To people who enjoy the jump-out-at-you scares. To other people who want to see as many scary movies, new and old, as they can in the weeks preceding Halloween. And finally, to those who don’t mind predictability and blatantly stupid moves by some of the characters. Some of the scenes in this film were highly clich├ęd but some of the reviews I’ve read mentioned unexpected twists. I’ll refrain from mentioning that Justin and I figured out a good portion of what was going to happen before it did. Even the supposed “unexpected” parts. I can’t speak for Jessica because she was sitting on the other side of Justin but I know she’s pretty smart so I wouldn’t put it past her. I’m guessing the afore-mentioned reviewers didn’t catch on as quickly. Wow! That was rude. So sorry.

I wonder…would any of this have happened if Ellison hadn’t watched the movies? Probably. The bad guy seemed determined. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been much of a movie. It would have been Not So Sinister. The story of a true crime author and his family, who moved in to a new home, found a box, ignored it and nothing happened. Not sure I would go see that film.

There is nothing after the credits so feel free to leave when you see them. The final scare is truly the final scare.

P.S. I’d like to give a big shout out to the editors. When the cameras were close up on the little girl when she was painting on her wall (she was allowed), the dress she was painting was completely filled in. When the camera pulled away there was a decent-sized section that was unfinished. Then! At one point the door to Ellison’s office opened in to the room. Later on, it opened out. How does this happen? Why would the way a door swings be changed during production? Why?????

P.P.S. Also, how did one of the characters not notice neon green poison in their coffee? It was flippin’ glowing! Okay. I’m done.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pitch Perfect (PG-13/112 Min.)

Pitch Perfect Pictures, Images and Photos

There are two reasons, and two reasons only, to go see Pitch Perfect. The music scenes and Rebel Wilson. It’s true. The rest of the movie just fell flat. No pun intended. I knew going in to this that it wasn’t going to be a blockbuster but I’d hoped it’d be better than it was. The scenes didn’t flow. The acting was less than stellar (but what did you expect, really?). AND! There wasn’t one but TWO vomit scenes, the second of which almost made me hurl.

Pitch Perfect is about the cut-throat world of collegiate a cappella competitions. That gave you chills, right? Sorry. That was rude. To continue, Beca (Anna Kendrick), a freshman at Barden University, is nagged in to joining the all-girl a cappella group, The Bellas. The leader doesn’t want her and the songs suck so I can’t imagine why it took so much begging to get her to take part. The main goal of The Bellas is to make it back to the finals of the a cappella competition and beat their rivals, The Treblemakers (groan); an all-boy group, also from Barden, led by a second-rate jerk.

I know I’ve mentioned a time or five that I was a band geek from middle school through college so you’d think I’d be a little more sympathetic towards music groups like this. You’d be wrong. It’s just not my bag. There’s a reason such groups are made fun of in TV and movies. Way more so than school bands are. Hey! I don’t make the rules. If this is how I feel then why did I go see Pitch Perfect? Why not? I really did go to hear the singing. It sounded like it was something I could sit through at least once and it was…just.

Despite the number of supporting cast in this film, only two actors are actually worth mentioning. Rebel Wilson and Skylar Astin. Let’s get the negative over with first. I sort of liked Skylar’s Jesse at the beginning of the movie though he did confuse me a bit. His roommate was crazy in to wanting to join The Treblemakers and it seemed to me that Jesse found this a touch silly. Next thing you know, he’s auditioning for a spot in one of the groups. And he only had one facial expression. He joked around for so much of the movie and his face never changed that when he was serious and angry with Beca, it took a minute to figure it out. This happened a couple times. I thought maybe he had forgiven her and was about to be silly again but nope. He was still ticked. He just looked happy to be so. I did appreciate the album cover scene though. If you decide to see the movie you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. If you’re leaning toward not seeing it, this scene is funny but not worth sitting through the entire movie for. I’m just sayin’.

Rebel Wilson stole pretty much every scene in which she appeared. Rebel played Fat Amy. Why did she call herself Fat Amy? So none of the other girls would call her this behind her back. What a brilliant idea! Cut ‘em off at the knees and give ‘em nowhere to go. Amy was a bit crude but Rebel made it work. I thought she was mildly amusing in Bridesmaids but she was a breath of fresh air in Pitch Perfect. It seemed that when some of the scenes were getting bogged down with too oft repeated “funnies” or not so great acting she would pop off a one-liner that would bring it all back again. I want to go back and watch other movies she’s been in to see how she holds up in those. If IMDB is to be believed, Rebel was the first person cast for Pitch Perfect. I see why.

The rest of the acting was pretty meh. That’s all I have to say about that.

Let’s go ahead and break it down:

Sex/Nudity – A shower scene is the worst offender and all the naughty bits are kept covered. Sex is mentioned quite a lot but we didn’t see it acted upon. A girl’s nipples (grossly enlarged for cheap laughs) are seen through her white T-shirt. Fat Amy tears open her shirt and exposes her undergarments. This particular action was included in the trailer so if you’ve seen that then this is old news.

Drinking/Drugs – Lots of drinking at an a cappella mixer. Several references to drugs.

Violence – A really lame fight scene.

Cussing – Yup. Quite a bit but either I didn’t catch any of the big ones used or they were, amazingly, left out.

Stomach Turning – I mentioned in my post for Here Comes the Boom that I didn’t want to have to use this category very often and here I go in my very next post. The two vomit scenes were disgusting and absolutely uncalled for. Other than the fact that their songs sucked pond water, the Bellas lost the competition at the beginning of the film due to one of the singers projectile vomiting all over the first few rows of the audience. Later in the film she pukes so much that one of the other girls, who ends up falling in it, makes a “snow” angel. No demon-possession horror movie ever made produced this much vomit. And you know how bad those can get. It was just over-the-top stupid grossness. Why is puke such a big draw?

If you enjoy movies full of cheap laughs you’ll probably like Pitch Perfect. If you’re going for the singing, that’s probably all you’ll like. If you’re going because you like Anna Kendrick…well…more power to ya. I strongly recommend not taking children to see this. I was going to say to get them the soundtrack as the songs were the best thing about the movie but the riff off scene contained several songs about sex. I guess you could get it and always skip that track.

There is a very brief extra scene at the beginning of the credits but nothing after that. Go home and scrub your brain clean of this film. It’s the right thing to do.