IHAO on ... a bunch of movies!! - 26 Reviews

Hello everyone! 

Time is an enemy to everyone who is trying to do anything important.  Or at least time-sensitive.   I love being able to write reviews for everyone about everything, current, old, wrestling, television, just on everything, as well as writing all the sillier or more intricate reviews, like the Arbitrary Numbers and the Fantasy Bookings.  But that leaves very little time for me to be able to actually cover everything.  I can’t put out two reviews a day, because that is too much to ask you folks to read.  And I only put out 5 a week, but every week there is probably on average one new film or wrestling event to writing about, and that takes a slot.  Then there are weeks with many films, like I’ve had recently and will be moving into with Oscar season continuing.

So I came up with an idea.  I asked my facebook to give me a list of movies that they did not think I had seen.  I absorb entertainment and media like a sponge, and have watched a LOT of movies.  This way I can give shorter reviews on a bunch of things people might not think I’ve seen, as well as have a fun bank of things to come back to when I need inspiration.  In the nice long list of films, I probably saw a fifth of them, which is a great number.  So I’m going to review all 26 of the movies that were suggested that I have seen.  This will be a rapid fire barrage of reviews.  Let’s get going!

 Dinosaurs! – Nicole Clockel
An edu-tainment Claymation-y fun short about dinosaur life.  I remember specifically sitting with my best friend at the time, Karl, when we were 7 or 8 at his house, and between playing TMNT SNES games or with figures or running around outside, we watched this little video.  I’ve seen it since then as well, but it is a silly thing to talk about.  It is purposefully silly, and all kinds of weird, but really enjoyable.  It is on youtube, and I’ll linky it here.  I definitely think it is worth your time, because of nostalgia for some of you and just for fun in general.  It isn’t great by any means, but it is fun.
Grade: C+

Rat Race – Lenton Lees 
The semi-rebooting, more “another version” of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Rat Race features an incredible cast, and is a big ole chase/race comedy.  It is hilarious, has some heart, and some awesome music.  It is probably one of the best comedies to introduce people to a bunch of great comedians all at once, including Mr. Bean, Seth Green, Whoopi Goldberg, John Cleese, Breckin Mayer, Amy Smart, and Jon Lovitz.  Really enjoyable, though it doesn’t quite shoot that extra mile.  It sits in a nice comfortable zone that most good comedies do, where it is real good, but the actual film never tries to be any greater than that.  Highly recommend.
Grade: B++

The Longest Yard – Lenton Lees
Wrestlers!  Sandler the last time he was funny!  Except there’s sequences of it totally not being funny, too, because Sandler has to always ALWAYS write his characters as having enormous penises or getting the hottest women in the world.  But that’s fine, because that has very little actual impact on the movie.  This is probably one of my favorite sports films I’ve seen.  It actually goes that extra mile in film quality and technique, as well as just having incredible actors in Burt Reynolds, William Fichtner, Terry Crews, and a slew of awesome wrestler … not “cameos” as everyone’s screentime and character weight is larger than that.  It is an incredibly fun sports movie with a moving story, it is really funny, and even though it blatantly steals an entire scene from the British remake of the Longest Yard, Mean Machine, it is still a really fun movie that is also really good.  Probably my favorite Sandler film, and easily the one I think that is his best film.
Grade: A++

Ernest Saves Christmas – Lenton Lees
Here’s the thing about Ernest: you either love Jim Varney’s shenanigans, or you just don’t get it or see a point.  I personally find Ernest endearing.  In fact, this is the first Ernest film I saw, which is good, because it is also easily his highest budgeted, best looking, best acted, best directed, BEST Ernest film.  It tells a great story, has fun comedy, and is a Christmas classic in the Jessel household.  On top of that, I do believe it has my absolute favorite Santa Claus in film, played by the same dude who is the Sultan and Jasmine’s father in Aladdin!  He is perfect as Santa, and adds some amazing gravitas to what could have just been a frivolous and silly kids movie.  It isn’t one of the best movies ever made, and the effects are absolutely dated, but it is a wonderful movie.
Grade: B++

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut – Lenton Lees
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made all of two things I like: South Park and Book of Mormon.  I do not like BASEketball, I don’t like Cannibal: the Musical, I don’t like Orgazmo.  But this movie is excellent.  It is an amazingly well made musical parody of just about every single style of musical, from Les Mis to Disney to Sound of Music.  The story itself has a purpose to exist as a film because it is about censorship, parental choices, and really nice satire of the “crusade” against cursing.  I really think this movie does everything right.  And its unique animation style makes it in a sense timeless, which is great!  Great movie.
Grade: A+

Much Ado About Nothing (Whedon version) – Lenton Lees
Not every movie that is a good movie I like.  Wes Anderson movies prove that.  As does this one.  One of the best things about Shakespeare is that every adaptation is 100% the director’s intention.  And some of Joss’ choices are awesome.  And some are not.  I think Whedon was able to really elevate the parts of Claudio and Don Pedro fantastically, making both parts have a lot more weight and interest than most versions of the show.  He also made some very good comedic choices early in the film.  But very quickly, the comedy of this comedy goes away.  And that’s … just … wrong.  Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy, pure and simple.  And Whedon treated it as a drama.  And that is a disservice to a lot of the characters, a lot of the language, and a lot of other choices.  Dogberry wasn’t particularly funny, even though he’s written to be.  Don Jon isn’t very menacing because everything is treated so seriously so he isn’t a foil.  Benedict and Beatrice don’t have a banter-filled romance because the banter is more catty and snide than humorous and joyful.  There are some bits I really enjoyed, generally whenever he had the actors get more physical, because otherwise they just pontificate into the wind at each other.  In the end, Whedon focused on the “Much Ado” while forgetting the point that it is all about “Nothing.”
Grade: B-

Oversexed Rugsuckers From Mars! – Jason Abraham
I’ve been saving this one for a Nanarsday review, but I’m MORE than happy to talk about this HORRIBLE MOVIE now!  It is a gloriously terrible movie about a man who has sex with an alien vacuum cleaner, and it becomes a rapist and rapes a woman, who gives birth to a human-vacuum hybrid baby.  It is gross, and hilarious, and terrible.  One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen and I LOVE IT!  I found it randomly years ago, and it is a pride of my collection of films because of its ridiculous-ness.  Really, if anyone ever wanted to watch it, FIND ME and we’ll watch it that second.
Grade: F+

Chasing Amy – Jason Abraham
I have a love/hate relationship with Kevin Smith.  I either love his films and buy into them completely, or hate them and find them worthless.  Chasing Amy falls in the worthless category.  The script is preachy, the situation is so narrow that no one can relate to it, making the characters unlikable and just complainers.  Smith doesn’t direct Affleck very well here, which is crazy considering how great Affleck is in other Smith films.  It just … I just hate this movie.  Give me Dogma, Mallrats, or Clerks II any day.
Grade: C--

Dawn of the Dead; Day of the Dead; Land of the Dead – Tony Daniel
I love this little bit.  I may have never seen Night of the Living Dead, but I have absolutely seen and own all of the Romero trilogy of Dead films.  Comes with being married to a zombie lover.  Let’s touch on all of these:

Dawn of the Dead – This film is perfect.  Acting, tension, shots, characters, story, everything.  This may just be my favorite zombie movie, period.  I was blown away because what I THOUGHT this movie was and what it actually is are two VERY different things.  The effects are real old and not very good looking, but I like to see them like a time capsule of effects, and completely buy into them.  I say it all the time, but dated-ness is not a real negative, and these may not be the best effects, but they are great effects for what they are.  I cannot recommend this film more highly.  Grade: A++

Day of the Dead – I thought this would be my favorite, and I do really like it.  It is much more of what I thought it would be.  And it easily has one of the best villains a zombie film has ever had in it.  It also explores the zombie mythos more, which is very cool, and Romero continues to push the envelope with his characters.  It has better effects and is really interesting … but just not as good as Dawn.  I don’t know if I can put my finger really on why, but I think it is something to do with our protagonist, who while being interesting just isn’t as good of an actress, and the pacing of the film itself is a little off, leading to some boring stretches.  But the effects, and the other characters, are all well worth price of admission here.  Grade: B+

Land of the Dead – So Dawn of the Dead got a remake, and Romero was all “I can make a ‘modern’ zombie film better than that.”  So he continued the story of his world of zombies.  And man, I love it.  It isn’t as good as the last few, but it has some GREAT characters, some awesome world building, and while the plot is less interesting, the overall effect leaves me very happy.  I love this movie, even if it began the decline in quality of Romero’s writing.  Grade: B++

The Man Who Knew Too Little – Beth Lyons
This comedy was actually suggested to me by Beth probably a year or so ago, so I bought it, and I watched it.  I wish I had been writing reviews then, because then I wouldn’t have to think about this movie again.  Oh, yeah, that should make it obvious, I don’t like the movie.  I don’t think it is bad, I just didn’t find most of its comedy very good.  The entire idea is fine, and some of the scenes are fine, but the whole product just leaves me cold, as our protagonist has to be continually stupider and stupider to allow the very thin premise of “believes all the spy stuff is fake, accidentally gets caught in real spy stuff” to continue.  The climax of the film is just long and tedious with the whole Russian dance sequence and the bomb and … ugh.  I just did not care for the film, and really do not think it is very good, and mostly forgettable.
Grade: C--

The Bank Job – Jason Schmidt
Good ole Jason Statham.  Action star, good actor, British.  Ok, so Bank Job isn’t a GREAT movie.  It’s a real good one, though.  Based on a real heist, with some good actors and some great camera work, the film works.  I’ve seen a lot less memorable Statham films, though this one only barely jumps above that pack.  It isn’t great, but it is fun.  And if you are a history person or a heist person, this one may do even more for you.  For me, it was just a good movie.
Grade: B

Jackie Brown – Jason Schmidt
Jackie Brown is a neat little movie.  That actually sounds more belittling than I mean it to.  It has a slow first act, but not a BAD first act, just a slow one, that builds really well to an amazingly well made finish.  Lots of great actors all throughout the film, including the wonderful Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson playing the character that we all actually attribute to him in the modern zeitgeist, and Robert De Niro who may have … 8 lines in the whole movie?  But it is still one of his best roles.  I really like this movie.  It isn’t the easiest sit because of that long first act that really needed an editor, and Robert Foster is good but doesn’t quite keep me as interested for those long sections as Tarantino has found Christoph Waltz can.  But it is still a very good, very ambitious movie.
Grade: B+

State and Main – Jason Schmidt
David Mamet is a playwright, director, and a screenwriter and director.  He is known for things like Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, but he’s done a lot of other stuff.  State and Main is one of those other stuffs.  It … isn’t particularly good.  There are bits and pieces I really like in there, but there is also some stunt casting that does nothing for me and some of the comedy beats come across VERY Mamet, in that every character rushes through their dialogue as fast as they can.  The actual movie is about the filming of a movie in a little town because they like a stained glass window, and all the turmoil it causes everyone.  I don’t really think it is worth a watch, but for some people, all that fast-talking is actually a turn-on.  If you are a Aaron Sorkin fan, this may just be up your alley.
Grade: C-

Devil’s Advocate – Jason Schmidt
I love talking about good Keanu Reeves films.  Mostly because I think he is an underrated actor.  As an actor myself, I can see the actual “craft” in what he is doing, and I get why for some he doesn’t come across like he acts.  He is very stoic faced a lot of the time, and his voice is generally calm no matter the emotion.  But what Keanu does really well is expression of emotion through his eyes and his body.  There are very few actors who can pull of supreme confidence just by standing there saying nothing like Keanu can.  And there are very few that can show the deterioration of a soul like Keanu can, that slow wearing down that was necessary for this film.  Devil’s Advocate is a GREAT movie.  It is a morality play in a time period when morality was pretty gauche to begin with.  Al Pacino is fantastic in the movie as well.  It is a great film.  One I used to own, and I need to buy again.  I recommend.
Grade: A+

Man on the Moon – Jason Schmidt
The biopic on Andy Kaufman, made by dear friends of Andy Kaufman, paying homage to the man, played by the only person anyone that knew Kaufman thought could play him.  This is a great biopic.  It has great music.  It has great acting.  It has a compelling, albeit very movie-fied as admitted by the prologue of the film, story of the real life of this enigmatic actor.  I own the soundtrack.  I own the film.  I love both.  It is a shame that Jim Carrey did not get the Oscar for this performance, but of course he should have since 1999 was the year of terrible Oscar decisions and Shakespeare in Love sweeping through almost everything.  Man on the Moon was called by some the best picture of 1999, and others just didn’t get it.  Which is kind of perfect when it comes to talking about Andy Kaufman.  I highly recommend to anyone that loves comedy and the history of comedy.
Grade: A++

Mars Attacks! – Jason Schmidt
My dad took me to see this movie.  My mom didn’t like that he did.  It is a weird, silly, off-putting, crazy kind of film.  Definitely not for everyone.  It is absolutely unique, and everything I want from a Tim Burton film.  It also holds the honor of being the only live-action film based on a trading card series, which is a mindboggling piece of information by itself.  A tongue-in-cheek homage to 50s sci-fi horror films, and filled with just … craziness.  Man, I just … this is a weird movie kids.  Too weird to be good, too weird to be bad, it is its own brand of quality.
Grade: W (for weird … I actually give it a C)

The Departed – Jason Schmidt
Hey, wanna know a great movie?  The Departed.  Done.  Go watch a great movie.  What you need more?  How about its pedigree of actors and directors and cinematographers?  I’ll wait while you imdb it.  I know right?  How about the incredible filmmaking just in general?  Or the tight script?  Or the intriguing characters?  Or the amazing conceit?  Or the original that is ALSO good, but this remakes for western audiences in an old school mafia way that transcends the original?  This movie is great.  Period.  Watch it.
Grade: A+

Black Swan – Jason Schmidt
Darren Aronofsky is so so good.  And Black Swan is amazing.  Tense, thrilling, psychological, amazing acting from Natalie Portman (got an Oscar for it, well deserved), this movie is phenomenal.  The music is of course going to be great because it is Swan Lake.  But really, this movie is amazing.  It should have gotten at least a cinematography and a best director nod.  It got neither.  These kind of psychological thinky thrillers tend to not do well in the Oscars.  Aronofsky deserves awards.  And this film is one of his best, written as if tailored to his style specifically even though it wasn’t.  Watch this very very intense film some time.
Grade: A++

Waterworld – Jason Schmidt
Waterworld is one of the biggest financial flops in history.  Doesn’t make it a bad movie, though.  It makes it a great punchline, but as a fantasy movie, it is actually all kinds of AWESOME.  The setting is all practical and all amazing.  The acting is great from Dennis Hopper and even Kevin Costner.  The script is a great story filled with little nods and secrets to the what happened in the world.  The action is awesome.  I love the movie, and really don’t understand why others don’t.  Maybe because they only know the joke and never actually watched the thing.  Give it a chance.
Grade: A++

12 Monkeys – Jason Schmidt
Time travel movies are difficult, and sometimes their plots just don’t quite add up.  Other times they are too simple.  12 Monkeys is both.  Confusing and simple.  I don’t think it is a bad movie, it has some real interesting parts to it and some good acting.  But I ultimately found it boring.
Grade: B-

Four Rooms – Jason Schmidt
Four very different vignettes from four pretty different directors all based around rooms in a hotel.  Uh … I guess I’ll say this: Tim Roth is great.  Each individual sequence is so incredibly different I’ll just grade each one.
Part 1: D
Part 2: C-
Part 3: A+
Part 4: B+
So when I watch it, I just skip to the middle.  Yup.

Deathproof – Jason Schmidt
Man, I do not know how to talk about this one ... ok, lemme list the things that are good. The direction is fantastic. The movie looks and FEELS good, from a filmmaking and thematic standpoint. Kurt Russel is AMAZING as Stuntman Mike. The action and car sequences are really amazing and frenetic. A lot of the things that I love from Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained are here and this is the prototype for him directing like that. This movie is a bridge from his old style (which I generally don't care for) and his new style. There is a lot to like. But this movie SERIOUSLY needed an editor. A stronger edit would have helped this movie incredibly. And another sequence of Stuntman Mike doing what he does would have been perfect. Trim down all the standard Tarantino talky talk that didn't really do very much and give us another Stuntman Mike sequence. Tarantino learned to trim himself for Basterds and Django, making much stronger, engaging films. And that's the problem, I suppose. I really wanted to be engaged the whole time, and was really only engaged when Kurt Russel was onscreen and for the basics of the chicks. The genre subversion at the end was interesting, but for me, abrupt, and right at the end, I actually found myself rooting for Stuntman Mike because I knew more about him and understood him better, and he had less dialog than the chicks that I was supposed to be rooting for. Showing, not telling, made him a stronger, more engaging character. And they just left Mary Elizabeth Winestead with the crazy redneck! What the heck!? This movie is hard to grade. I can see myself wanting to watch it again, and I LOVED everything with Kurt Russel, but I dunno if I wanna slog through the rest.Grade: B-

High Fidelity – Jason Schmidt
One of the first “serious” comedies I’ve ever seen, it made a huge impact on me.  I am a collector and sponge for media much like John Cusack is in the film, though my own life and his represented in the film has nothing in common, and I don’t actually relate to him, but that doesn’t actually matter.  He resonates.  And his relationship struggles opened my eyes.  The film is unique, which is a huge plus.  It is a really well written and well acted film, so that’s real cool.  Honestly, though, it just didn’t stick with me like I thought it would, and I don’t care to see it again.  I don’t hate it.  I just don’t like it.  I remember how good it was, but that’s the extent of it.
Grade: A

Harvey – Cindy Carrin
The only Jimmy Stewart film I’ve seen and loved.  It is a great play, a great old movie, and just awesome all around.  A classic.  You absolutely should watch it.  Everyone.  Do it.
Grade: A+

And there we have it!  A LOT of films reviewed in a handy dandy quick way with beautiful pictures that took me way too long to format.  Thanks everyone, and I am positive I will do an exercise like this again!  Until tomorrow, where we have some newer films, a Wes Anderson film, some wrestling, and probably other stuff!

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