Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I’ve Been Watching a Lot of DVDs Lately …

… what with the writers’ strike and all. I’m surprised to realize I haven’t missed TV at all, but then again it’s only January. We don’t typically get a lot of new material until February, anyway, so thus far the hiatus feels rather normal. A few more months of this could get really old, especially if we only get eight episodes of “Lost” instead of the originally scheduled 16.

The strike has allowed me to catch up on some movies, at least, so here’s a roundup of what’s been in my DVD player recently:

“The Game Plan”
I absolutely loved Dwayne Johnson when he was layin’ the smack down in the WWE as The Rock—he’s my favorite (and best) professional wrestler of all time. All that goodwill and Johnson’s natural charisma are the only things that got me through this clunker. There are a few funny scenes, but overall it’s as painful as a quarterback sack. I cannot believe it took three people to write this. It’s like “Three Men and a Baby” with about 3 percent of the laughs.
Grade: C-
(If you want a movie from the same genre that gets everything right, I recommend “Enchanted,” especially for a glowing performance from Amy Adams that will leave you smiling long after the credits roll.)

Finally got around to seeing what has been called one of the best comic book adaptations of all time. I certainly wouldn’t agree with that assessment, but it’s an enjoyable ride for the most part. Ron Perlman is amazing as the big red title character, but writer/director Guillermo del Toro loses his way in the oversized final act; “Hellboy” gets away from the wit and sarcasm it does best while trying to wrap up the nearly incomprehensible plot.
Grade: B

“Knocked Up”
The rare movie that lives up to the hype. Basically a pitch-perfect comedy, but too many raunchy elements to recommend to any and all. Still, Katherine Heigl made a fan out of me, and writer/director Judd Apatow manages to deliver a heartfelt message (and even somewhat wholesome, from a certain point of view) without succumbing to cliché.
Grade: A-

“Pan’s Labyrinth”
Once again, Guillermo del Toro doesn’t quite live up to the hype. One of the best reviewed movies of 2006 didn’t bowl me over the way I was expecting (I remember hearing phrases bandied about like “a reimagining of the fairy tale” or some such thing). “Labyrinth” is really good, but it didn’t leave me pinned to my seat or even that emotionally engaged. A nice story, to be sure, and well done, just not the monumental experience I was hoping for. Perhaps that’s not del Toro’s fault, but such are the times.
Grade: B+

“Reign Over Me”
An interesting premise makes for a better trailer than an actual movie in this case. Don Cheadle and especially Adam Sandler make much more out of their roles than what’s on the page in a wandering and over-sentimental script. Sandler gives his best performance since “Punch-Drunk Love,” but his good work goes to waste by the time we enter one of the worst courtroom scenes you’re likely to see. Throw in some pat personal revelations for Cheadle’s character and a failed attempt at import via a forced impassioned soundtrack, and “Reign Over Me” comes up feeling more scattershot than Sandler’s character.
Grade: C+

Knockdown hysterical for the first half-hour or so, but this one wore out its welcome pretty fast. Jonah Hill maintains only the same squealing pitch throughout, and he begins to grate soon after the convenience store gets robbed. And it just so happens that scene ushers in Seth Rogen and Bill Hader as two bumbling police officers who also have way too much screen time. Thank goodness for Michael Cera.
Grade: B-

Quirky, funny, and generally heartwarming, with great performances all around, especially from Andy Griffith in an Oscar-worthy turn as a curmudgeon with a soft heart. The only thing that kept me from loving this movie is the fact that it centers around two otherwise lovable characters engaging in an extra-marital affair; it’s hard to root for adultery. Overall, though, “Waitress” was the first in a trilogy of excellent I’m-keeping-the-baby movies in 2007.
Grade: A-

1 comment:

erica said...

really? B+ on Pan's? really?