WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 14
1) Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
I hadn't heard good things about this somewhat mediocre comedy, so going in with low expectations yielded some pleasant surprises. Granted, I saw way more of Jason Segel than I would have liked, but beyond an overly-long nude scene he goes on to play a very sympathetic character hitting rock bottom when the love of his life, played by Kristen Bell, breaks his heart. There's some great inside humor about the acting world, as Bell's character stars on a fictitious version of any of those CSI or Law & Order cop shows that have like twenty versions and spinoffs. There's also some great lines about Bell's character starring in a bad movie about people being killed by phones. When Segel goes to Hawaii to forget Bell's titular Sarah Marshall, it proves difficult when he runs into her along with her new boyfriend, an absurd British pop singer played by Russell Brand, who delivers some of the funniest lines of the film in his own unique accent. Mila Kunis is surprisingly likable as a hotel worker who may just be the key to helping Segel move on. She usually annoys me, but here toned down the shrill voice and genuinely was the preferable option to Bell. All in all, it was a nice vehicle for television stars transitioning to the big screen, with Jack McBrayer in the mix along with the others I mentioned. Segel stretches his talents with a funny rendition of a song about Dracula, one that later hilariously involves puppets. I still say he's a better supporting actor than a lead, and he was better in I Love You Man with Paul Rudd, who has a pretty good minor role in this film. I probably wouldn't have been too impressed in the theater either, but as a rental it had some likable characters and good laughs, and I couldn't ask for much more than that.
“They're heeee-eere!” Yes, it's another one of those classic films that somehow slipped through the cracks, although it's been referenced so many times in popular culture and spoofed by everything from The Simpsons to Family Guy, that I felt like I knew the whole story already. It's vintage ‘80s Spielberg, as a family begins to realize there's something terribly wrong in their house. Is it the fact that their little girl seems to hear voices in the static on the television? Maybe it's when furniture begins to rearrange itself, which they at first treat as novelty. A tree yanking their son out a window and trying to devour him during a thunderstorm is one major red flag, but also distracts them from the little girl being sucked into a bright light in their closet, and ultimately another dimension. The film played out as I expected it would, and I already knew the major quotes(“This house...is clean.”) There's a nice little coda at the end that I didn't expect, and just when they think it's safe is when they face one last threat. Everyone plays it straight, including Craig T. Nelson as the patriarch, but there are definitely a few unintentionally hilarious moments along with an intentional one at the end that made me smile. For 1982, the effects were decent, and I have the sequels lined up to watch this week, both on the same disc. I wonder if they'll hold up to the original, which is a classic, or disappoint as so many often do...
3) Kate & Leopold:
It amused me to think of this film as “Kate & Wolverine”, and imagine what it would be like if Meg Ryan was being courted by Hugh Jackman's most famous mutant role, rather than by a time-travelling duke discovered by Liev Shreiber. Even without a comic book connection, the time travel aspect would be enough to hook any comic book geek while the romance side would appeal to the ladies. So it's probably the perfect date movie for any geek lucky enough to get a date. And as long as you don't look too closely at tweaked historical facts, time travel paradoxes, or one familial connection made more explicit in the director's cut, these are all your standard, likable characters that you'd look for in a Meg Ryan movie. Jackman shows the audience, and Breckin Meyer in the role of Ryan's brother, just how a gentlemen properly made his intentions known and won a lady's heart back in the 1800's. As hard science fiction it stumbles, but as a romantic fairy tale it succeeds on many levels.
4) To Die For:
Nicole Kidman shines in this ‘90s classic about a woman so obsessed with achieving fame that she'd cross some serious lines, particularly in her marriage and in her relationship with some local students. It's a dark comedy and a cautionary tale of obsession and delusion, told through flashbacks and media coverage. I liked the style of the film as well as seeing Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck in what must have been very early roles in their respective careers. Matt Dillon plays the unfortunate husband while the “attractive in a bug-eyed sort of way” Ileana Douglas has some standout scenes as her sister. I'm dancing around spoilers here, but there aren't too many surprises because one character's fate is revealed almost from the very beginning. It's more about seeing what led Kidman's character down the road she took, and what her fantasy perception of reality would eventually cost her and those around her. And somehow, amid the tragedy of it all, the film still manages an awesome little ending that would make any Italian-American smile.
More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!
Labels: WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews