Here’s Round 3 of my movie thoughts.  If you are reading this on Google Reader, click through to the actual post where  I’ve been embedding trailers in case anyone is interested.

123. Couples Retreat

My thought process: “Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau are pretty funny, I like Jason Bateman, Jean Reno is awesome, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, and Kristin Davis are all attractive women who can do comedy, this movie should be great.”

Screenwriters Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau’s thought process: “Let’s get the studio to pay for us to fly out to a Hawaiian resort with some funny guys and attractive women. I’m sure a movie will figure itself out somehow.” Sadly, it didn’t. Jokes are few and far between. Saw this one with Adam, unfortunately we hadn’t had quite enough to drink beforehand. And we couldn’t figure out who this movie was geared toward. Pretty disappointing stuff.

122. The Maiden Heist

OK, so this direct to DVD film was written by the guy who penned You, Me, and Dupree and was directed by the guy who helmed Garfield.  So naturally, it stars Morgan Freeman, William H. Macy, Christopher Walken, and Marcia Gay Harden.  I think direct-to-DVD unfairly has a stigma attached to it, unfortunately this film isn’t helping matters much.  The premise is kinda kooky: each of the three male leads plays a security guard who has fallen in love with a piece of art (basically they are objectum-sexuals).  But the gallery has sold the exhibit to somewhere in Scandinavia, so the three decide to steal the artwork.  It is a bumbling criminals tale with few laughs, and I shudder to think what the film would have looked like with weaker leads.  Also, there’s a Breckin Meyer cameo, so that should pretty much tell you what you need to know.

121. Trick R’ Treat

A horror anthology consisting of four very loosely connected tales of Halloween.  I believe the film was very well-received by the horror community, who were (justifiably) frustrated by the distribution difficulties facing the movie.  I personally didn’t find any of the segments particularly scary, and it is easy enough to frighten me.  It boasts a relatively interesting cast, including Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Leslie Bibb, Brian Cox and Tahmoh Penikett.  Some original stuff, but I dunno, the twists didn’t do much for me.  Of course, I only catch a couple of horror films a year.  The film was written and directed by the guy who co-wrote X2 and Superman Returns, which makes a lot of sense.

120. Surrogates

Saw this one during a triple feature at Bengies with Adam, Alice, and John.   I had an absolute blast at the drive-in (thanks for the idea, John!) which was due to the company, the movies (more on that later) and stuffing my face full of ridiculous food we had brought.  If you ever head out to Bengies, and you should, don’t listen to John.  There are plenty of places nearby to get dinner to bring in.  I also should have followed my cardinal rule of watching baseball: bring one more layer of clothing than you’ll think you’ll need.  Anyway, Surrogates feels like a Philip K. Dick knockoff.  The story was interesting enough, but it seemed to be forced into becoming a Bruce Willis summer blockbuster, resulting in a bloated mess that didn’t really need to be so broad.

119. Gentlemen Broncos

I love my name, but I gotta say, people I share it with have been letting me down in a big way.  Subway is dead to me and I know where I’m not going for jewelry.  There are a few baseball players named “Jared” or some variant, but they are all hurt or sucky this year.  And then’s Jared Hess, director of Napoleon Dynamite and this movie.  Gentleman Broncos definitely shares a sensibility with the former, but at least this one is tolerable.  The film’s three different plots are all vaguely interesting, but it is exceedingly clear that I just don’t get Hess’s cinematic world.  I haven’t seen Flight of the Conchords yet (I know, I’m a bad person), but I like Jemaine Clement (check out Eagle vs. Shark), which is topical because it was announced today he’s going to be a baddie in MIB III.  If there’s one reason to see this movie, it would be Sam Rockwell in a dual role where both characters are over the top outrageous.

118. Bright Star

I’ve already covered this Oscar nominee (Best Costume Design).  I was going to say it is a typical Oscar period piece, but that’s not really true.  Oscar period films tend, in my opinion, to be much more grand than this one.  Bright Star felt small and contained.  I think it was intentionally light and airy, but it doesn’t quite work.  The cast is pretty solid, though.  Between this, The International, Brideshead Revisited, and I’m Not There, Ben Whishaw has been on an exceptionally terrible streak.  Abbie Cornish likely finished around 7th in Oscar voting and is primed for a breakout.  And my love for Paul Schneider is pretty well-documented at this point.

117. Extract

Oh Mike Judge.  You are running out of excuses, I think.  Yes, your movies haven’t been marketed very well.  But in this case, that’s because there wasn’t really anything to market.  The story meanders all over the place and I think pretty much every supporting character (i.e. everybody other than Jason Bateman, showing up for the second time this post) could have been eliminated without losing much.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still gems here and there, and Judge does know how to create memorable characters.  But the plot is a mess.  A waste of a first-rate cast including Ben Affleck, Mila Kunis, J.K. Simmons, Kristen Wiig, and That Guy extraordinaires Clifton Collins, Jr. and Beth Grant.  The Gene Simmons cameo is pretty fantastic.  Oh, and as I pointed out to Brian, between this film and Couples Retreat, Jason Bateman has gotten to hook up with both female stars of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  The bum.

116. Serious Moonlight

Penned by the late Adrienne Shelley and directed by Cheryl Hines, the film shares a certain sensibility with Shelley’s Waitress that I don’t quite get.  I don’t want to say that you have to be a woman to appreciate this movie, but I think it helps.  I say that only because I can’t really imagine a film where the gender roles are reversed.  Here, Meg Ryan ties up (well, duct tapes up) Timothy Hutton, her husband of a decade, until he loves her again and agrees not to run off to Paris to propose to his girlfriend (Kristen Bell, in her second appearance of the post).  Justin Long also shows up, which probably few people think is as great as I do.  I respect a lot about this film.  Most of the action takes places in two rooms, and it rarely seems slow.  But the characters seem like such unpleasant people and their motivations seem poorly defined.  Also, like most things in my life, needed more Kristen Bell.

115. World’s Greatest Dad

Sometimes I think that a “dark comedy” is code for a film that isn’t really funny, but doesn’t contain much drama either.  I know John disagrees with me here, but I didn’t really get this one.  It is kinda impossible to describe the film without getting all spoilery (the trailer gives it an admirable try).  I will say that I respect Bobcat Goldthwait for putting together a story about a single dad and his kid where the kid is a snot-nosed punk with seemingly very little in the way of redeeming qualities.  So in a way I get the structure of the film, what it is trying to say.  I just don’t think the path it takes is very entertaining.

114. I Love You, Beth Cooper

This movie had a little bit of buzz surrounding it, since it was directed by Chris Columbus, but tanked something fierce.  And rightfully so.  The high schooler loser has a crush on the class hottie is a well-worn path, and this film doesn’t really have much to add to the genre.  If you’ve ever not liked a movie for being too predictable, you are gonna want to stay far, far away from this one.  Also, I think we’ve reached the point in dorky guy/attractive girl movies where we need at least one halfway decent reason that the girl should get with the guy, other than that she had an obnoxious boyfriend who always bosses her around.  Hayden Panettiere is far and away the best thing about the movie, and it is unfortunate she wasn’t given a better script with which to work.  Alan Ruck shows up, as does Cynthia Stevenson who has apparently carved out the incredibly specific career of playing mom in high school romantic comedies.  The film does contain one of my favorite lines of the year: “Am I everything you masterbated to?”

Coming up next time: a non-Oscar Holocaust movie, one of this year’s Oscar nominees in a non-Oscar role, and another Oscar-nominated film.

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