Thursday, July 05, 2012

Film Week

A (day late) review of the films I've seen this past week.

CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (2011)
This one took me by surprise. It's a sitcom, yes, but it's an emotionally genuine one. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore star as a couple who separates after she decides she wants a divorce. Carell ends up drinking and telling his sad story to everyone in the bar, which catches the attention of Ryan Gosling, a player who teaches Carell how to improve himself and become like him: someone who gets laid and eschews emotional attachment. Moore, meanwhile, is unsure how to proceed, and then there's Emma Stone sort of floating around, catching Gosling's interest without responding to the games he's trying to play. What I liked so much about this movie, besides the ensemble (all of whom are very talented), is that it doesn't play the characters strictly for laughs. We start with four characters types, and then the movie spends time peeling back their layers as they discover themselves, what they think they want, and where their lives most make sense. I was prepared to dismiss it, but I enjoyed it so much. How it all comes together is somewhat sitcom-like, but it doesn't undermine the characters or make them idiots for the sake of the plot. ****

THE GREY (2012)
Overlong and unsubtle. It's a B man vs. nature thriller that thinks it's an introspective and serious tale of survival. Also, thanks to the trailers, you spend an hour and 56 minutes waiting for Liam Neeson to basically get in a fist fight with wolves, and you're not going to get that. Not at all. This one will disappoint no matter what you're expecting, really. *

CHRONICLE (2012)
Three high school kids discover something underground and gain telekinetic powers. It's interesting to watch the tale unfold; the kids are three-dimensional, they deal with their growing powers in ways that are realistic, and the special effects are very clever. The found footage device doesn't always work, though. It's good in the first act, hampers the development of the second, and is almost completely abandoned in the third. The third act also, predictably, goes for the gigantic action climax in a way the movie itself doesn't quite earn. Still, there's a lot here that the filmmakers get right. And honestly, it's the best X-Men movie anyone's made so far; does everything that X-Men: First Class tried so hard to do, but without the pretension, the terrible acting, or the excess 45 minutes. ***1/2

AMERICAN REUNION (2012)
Well, it's as good as could be expected, since none of these movies were ever really that good in the first place. So why do I keep seeing them? Because at their core, there's some real heart to them that I've always appreciated. Once you get past all of the gross out humor and the dick jokes and fake tits, the relationship between Jim and Michelle (and how can I pass up Alyson Hannigan in a movie?) has always been so endearing and silly and romantic. I'm about five years older than the characters, but I also fell in love with and married the dorky, silly, funny, sexy, aggressive girl. Eugene Levy, though, has always been the best part of these movies, and he still is. The moments between Jim and his dad are the best things in the series, and this one didn't disappoint on that level. As for the rest, well... I can't imagine anyone out there really, genuinely loves these characters and is hoping to see them all again, but if you do, it's probably the second best of these movies. At least all the actors come back (though some for basically cameos). Fascinating to see all the actors who were too good for American Wedding jump at the chance to be in, really, anything these days. I remember when they were comparing the cast of American Pie to the cast of American Graffiti. How'd that work out? **1/2

2 comments:

Kal said...

I watch Chronicle and Save the Block in the same afternoon. Best indie double bill I have seen in years. Usually I hate those 'found footage' films but Chronicle really one me over and turned out as bleak and hopeful as I wanted in the end.

Matt said...

Gotta agree with you on "Crazy, Stupid, Love." My wife and I were pleasantly surprised how funny and entertaining that movie was. High marks for everyone involved.