Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Funny People


Running Time: Two and a half hours

MPAA Rating: R

I’m sure that there are going to be many people who will expect a movie that is called “Funny people”, is written and directed by Judd Apatow, and stars a couple of the most well known comedians of the past two generations to be just like the audacious comedies we’ve seen in the past from these entertainers. However, people who are expecting another Knocked Up or Forgetting Sarah Marshall may be disappointed as this film is the very essence of what has come to be known as a “dramedy”. In it, Adam Sandler essentially plays himself in an alternate universe as a semiretired comedian and well-known movie star. This seems to be working out well for him until a wrench is tossed into the works in the form of a malignant disease. Faced with his own mortality, the star takes on a younger comedian (Seth Rogen) as his assistant and companion.

Viewers shouldn’t expect “My Sister’s Keeper 2” or anything like that. The disease is used to set the plot into motion, not to be the plot itself. In fact, there are very few movie clich├ęs present to take note of. One thing that is notable in the movie is that it sacrifices many opportunities to get cheap laughs from the audience at the expense of its realism. Much of the humor feels like it was improvised by the stars themselves, which gives them genuine and unique parts that could not have been copied by any other actors.

Sandler is (obviously) a natural in his part, and Rogen manages to make up for the travesty of “Observe and Report” earlier this year through this film. The real-life chemistry between the two people carrying similar careers in different times adds a lot of depth to their relationship and helps us get through some of the more dramatic moments in the film. Every actor in the movie gets their time to shine, and not one of them disappoints. A celebrity cameo-ridden scene in a popular bar puts this point to the test when we get memorable showings from Norm Macdonald, Ray Romano, and Eminem (just to name a few).

If you are looking for a true-to-life comedy and don’t mind some tear-jerking along the way, then the two and a half hours should definitely be worth your time and money. If you are looking for a stoner flick with some heart, then you might want to stick with your tried and true Apatow collection at home. This movie was made for an audience that wants to care about the characters in it and is willing to take the time to let that happen. The film begins with a distinct change in the lives of the characters and leaves them in the end to seek out redemption and happiness from life, letting the audience decide the successfulness of the funny peoples’ endeavors for themselves.

Yours truly,

Autolycus

Actual Rating: This one definitely earns its “R” rating with plenty of crude language and a few sex scenes for good measure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

(500) Days of Summer


MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: An hour and a half

Let me start off by clarifying the title of this movie. “(500) Days of Summer” does not, in fact, refer to skipping over Spring, Winter and Autumn for a little over a year. Actually, it refers to a woman named “Summer” (played by Zooey Deschanel, the girl from “Elf”) and the 500 days that she spends in the life of Tom (played by the guy in “10 Things I Hate About You” who wasn’t Heath Ledger). The film’s narrator describes the movie in the beginning as “a story of boy-meets-girl, but not a love story”. This is because, as the audience quickly learns, Tom gets dumped from his seemingly perfect relationship. This seems at first like it will be a surprising plot twist, until we learn that Tom was warned by Summer up front about the impossibility of a relationship. The rest of the movie is an examination of how all of this went down and how Tom comes out from it.

With the summary out of the way, I’d like to point out that this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to my dream film of 90 minutes closed in on Zooey Deschanel’s eyes. This movie makes it especially easy to slip into an infatuation for the gorgeous and quirky actress because we see the movie through the mind’s eye of Tom. As such, everything we see about Summer is perfect. Her timing, sense of humor and devious behavior all add up to create an entirely unblemished entity of a woman. Only a few times in the film does the audience get to see what Tom cannot, that Summer is a human being who must come to terms with her own issues as well.

Seeing a movie set in how a character views things, rather than how they literally are, is definitely a unique and interesting experience. Life may at one moment turn into a musical-esque dance to Hall and Oates’s “You Make My Dreams Come True” to an entire city turning into nothing more than a stenciled picture erasing itself with the main character’s hopes and ambitions. This culminates in a scene showing the drastically different expectations Tom has for a party where he will see Summer and the reality of the event shown side-by-side in real time onscreen.

(500) Days of Summer has a very real feel to it. This movie was made for the ‘Tom’s of the world; people who have had failed relationships or infatuations and survived to talk about them. It shows everything from the happy times to the weeks spent in bed with nothing but twinkies and liquor. The movie gives the audience something that they might not see in other movies however, and that is the fact that a person can better themselves from a bad experience if they choose to do so. It shows that hardship may not always lead to the desired ending, but can be just as worthwhile in a world of surprises. That, in my opinion, makes this one of the most relevant movies that you can possibly see. Definitely take advantage of that.

Much Love,

Autolycus


Actual Rating: The MPAA got it right this time with a PG-13 rating. There are words and some implied sexuality, neither of which is going to break the stride of anybody who’s ever walked through a high school hallway.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Running time: 2.5 hours
MPAA rating: PG

Going into this film, my greatest fear was that it would only serve as a very long advertisement for the final two of the series. Rumors had even passed around the web that the extremely notable ending had been cut for use as the opening of the Deathly Hallows. As I’m sure that Warner Bros. would be none too pleased with me revealing what is or isn’t in the movie, I do have one thing to say: it is the single most powerful ending in the series thus far.

From the moment the movie begins in the rubble and shock of The Order of the Phoenix’s final battle, a deep emphasis is placed on the paternal relationship that Dumbledore holds for Harry. This is reflected throughout the last half of the movie as well. What may be considered my biggest issue with the plot is what happens in the time betwixt these ruminations of human emotion. Anybody who has read the book will be expecting long-standing infatuations to make themselves known, but they all seem to come on much too strongly and with fervor to boot. The only blatant sign of the amorous feelings a certain Ron and Hermione share in the previous films is a bit of spontaneous hand-holding. In this one, she seems about ready to try the “avada kedavra” herself when he makes eyes at another woman.

With that out of the way, I’d like to move on to one of the most significant plot lines of the film: the struggle of Draco Malfoy. The only reference that I can think of for his character is Rolf from “The Sound of Music”. Both are essentially normal youth who are called upon by dark forces to commit unspeakable evil. At first, Draco seems to be rather proud of his undisclosed assignment, going so far as to subtly brag to his friends about it aboard the Hogwarts Express. Seen alone, however, he is still a very human child who struggles in quiet contemplation of the task before him. This brings the viewer an empathy for him that has not been easily felt in previous acts. This is contrasted by the very evil and manipulative youth of Lord Voldemort himself, shown through flashback memories and played by the nephew of the adult Dark Lord’s actor.

As it stands in my categorization of the series, The Half-Blood Prince comes only second to The Prisoner of Azkaban, which stands with the highest quality of the bunch. You’ll hardly realize the time that has passed when the credits roll, and it will hopefully become apparent why the Deathly Hallows had to be split into two films. The characters that remain in the end leave us with the harsh sting of reality, and the hope aided by loved-ones for the future.

As I’ve come to realize, from my experience and presumably that of many others, the MPAA are a bunch of twits who could rate a movie more accurately by rolling a die. Therefore, I’ll be posting my own view on the film’s rating in each of my reviews. A much more correct rating for this movie would be PG-13, as many images and scenes are terrifying in a traumatized-for-life sort of way, and should not be viewed by the children of parents who dislike spending their nights watching their kids’ closets for signs of monsters. Otherwise, enjoy the midnight shrieking due to images of undead sea-creatures and possessed girls floating in mid-air.

Much Love,
Autolycus

P.S. As this is my first full review of a movie, I don’t expect it to be great. With that said, I would greatly appreciate your feedback, questions, corrections, requests, etc.
Thank you!