Category: "Movies: Don't Watch"

Four Brothers

November 29th, 2006


Four BrothersMark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund co-star in this gripping tale of brotherly love, betrayal, and revenge from acclaimed filmmaker John Singleton.

After their adoptive mother is gunned down during a grocery store holdup, the estranged brothers reunite to seek revenge and take matters into their own hands. Defying police orders, the four begin turning their old Detroit neighborhood upside down searching for the mastermind behind the brutal killing. Along the way, they discover they are bound by ties thicker than blood in this emotionally powerful, action-packed drama.

I had expected only to like this movie. I had seen the trailer and commercials and from them the movie looked decent. I had not expected to run out and buy a copy after seeing it so I could watch it time and time again; I did not expect to love it, only to be entertained. And I was entertained, at parts...but only a few of them.

The self-help street justice that the brothers turn to in their effort to avenge their adopted mother's killer was over-the-top unbelievable. The "saintly" woman who took these lost-cause boys into her home apparently did not do nearly as good of a job raising them as everyone gave her credit for. She took these boys when no one else wanted them. She gave them a home when no one else would. In her and each other, they had family. But then they grew up, went their separate ways and never got off the streets. Only one of the four appears to have his head on straight.

Marky Mark was good in his role, but the role just wasn't impressive. None of the roles were. The writing and the action were hijacked out of some 80s movie that is only aired on the basic channels Saturday afternoons when the networks have nothing else to show. I would have thought the film industry had evolved beyond movies like this.

I am usually a supporter of violence in movies. In most action movies it can paint a picture. In Four Brothers it was senseless and unnecessary as it just leads you back to the idea that what the brothers got away with was completely ridiculous.

The ending. Oh my, the ending. "There is a plot twist coming, I can feel it... Wait, was that it? Was that the big finish? Huh. I guess it was." I just narrated your thought process as you watch the end of Four Brothers.

I think the plot was too big for the movie and there was no way the makers could have achieved what they wanted. I cannot imagine a scenario when this would be a movie worth watching. Feel free to pass on Four Brothers.

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November 10th, 2006


ShadowboxerShadowboxer is an emotionally-charged, full-throttle thriller, which delves deep into the harsh underworld of organized crime and uncovers the complex lives of trained assassins, Mikey (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Rose (Helen Mirren). But when a brutal crime boss wants his wife dead, Rose has a change of heart when they find her pregnant. And so, the three begin a harrowing life on the run. Driven by fierce love, Rose and Mikey protect their adopted family from present danger -- looking to redeem their tragic past.

As the movie began to pick up steam, it really began to rub me the wrong way. There were ridiculous scenes at the beginning that I figured only set the stage for more to come. Luckily the weird beginning did not become the weird middle or the weird ending. The movie got less bizarre, but the story never really seemed to do much for me. The only redeeming factors in Shadowboxer were a few performances. The cast was decent and some of the actors did a respectful job.

The bad guy: I like Stephen Dorff; he reminds me of a young, Lost Boys-esque Kiefer Sutherland. But maybe the vampire vibe comes from his part in Blade. The world may never know. He plays the over-the-top crime boss. We see that his men are fiercely loyal, though we never know why. We never find out what he does or why he is so good at it. All we know is that he is heartless and wants his wife killed. I like him, but he wasn't great here. Though some of you may enjoy his full-frontal scene...

The good guy: Cuba Gooding, Jr. has played some brilliant parts over his well-respected career. He has done great work in great films and he has done great work in some lesser films. Shadowboxer will fall into the latter category. Cuba's role was not one many other actors would covet, especially if they had his name recognition, but he was impressive in it. Another "lesser" movie in which Cuba excelled is A Murder of Crows.

The doctor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Out of nowhere, Gordon-Levitt has given me two great performances. He did not have a lead role in Shadowboxer like he did in Brick, but he is still worth mentioning. I can talk about how good Cuba was and I can talk about how excited I get when a movie is set in Philadelphia and someone makes a run to Pat's for cheesesteaks, but it was really Gordon-Levitt's performance that was the highlight of the movie for me. His part was much less serious than his character in Brick, and it was hilarious. Maybe it wasn't intended to make me laugh so hard, but Gordon-Levitt as the crime boss's go-to doctor when "accidents" occur, who also has an affinity for large black women...if you would not laugh you don't have a sense of humor.

If you take a "Hey, I think you'll like this" recommendation from someone who has not even seen the movie you could enjoy parts of it. That is the brief version of how I ended up seeing Shadowboxer. I went through it so now you don't have to. And now I can do my small part to educate you on a movie you are probably better off avoiding.

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The Matador

September 25th, 2006


The MatadorLonely hit man Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan in a Golden Globe-nominated performance) and struggling salesman Danny Wright (Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear) form an unexpected bond during a chance meeting in a Mexican bar. Six months later, when the self-proclaimed "facilitator of fatalities" turns up on the doorstep desperate for help, Danny and his wife (Hope Davis) are both horrified...but intrigued enough to oblige. Together, the two men set out for the most thrilling adventure of Danny's life and the most critical kill of Julian's career. Deftly mixing explosive action with savage wit, The Matador is "effortlessly entertaining" (Rex Reed, The New York Observer).

I cannot remember who it was that suggested I watch The Matador. I always try to get back to those who make recommendations I use and offer my feedback, but this time please forgive me.

I have always enjoyed Pierce Brosnan. I never really thought he was the best James Bond, but he did well in the roll...if that makes any sense. Either way, you understand that he is always the cool Brit chick-magnet. In The Matador, there is a small twist on that as he has a strong penchant towards booze and loose women. Not only does Julian Noble lack the class of James Bond, but he may be completely devoid of tact as well. He is a loose cannon and completely socially awkward. For 22 years he has enjoyed a career that has kept him in total isolation from other people's personal lives. Or more so that it has been his personal life that has remained in isolation.

Things have changed. While in Mexico on a job, he has a startling realization that he has no friends. Drunk and lonely he stumbles into the hotel bar and finds an unsuspecting Greg Kinnear character (Danny). This poor man, who is nervously waiting to hear back from the company he just pitched for business, breaks the commandment of thou shalt not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is the first friendly face Julian has come across since he realized he had no friendly faces in his life and he is immediately labeled "friend."

The unlikely duo plays the get-to-know-you game for a little while before Julian oversteps his boundaries by asking Danny to help him on a job. Julian asks Danny to help him kill a man. Pulling the trigger or distracting body guards, there is no difference to Danny who wants no part of Julian's business in Mexico, a decision from which we are shown the seeming end of the friendship. Until Julian shows up on Danny's doorstep in Colorado.

For a few days Danny stayed in Mexico in case the company whose business he sought needed to hear his pitch a second time, and over those few days he shared a few drinks with a man who kills people for a living, a man with no one else to turn to when he is at his wit's end. Julian needs a friend again and with no one else to turn to, he gives Danny the choice to help or turn his back.

Brosnan and Kinnear play an odd-couple of sorts, two personalities who could hardly be more different. I would argue that they did not have good chemistry together, but that was the whole point. I believe every interaction between Julian and Danny was supposed to be as uncomfortable for the viewers as it was for Danny. That was mission accomplished.

I liked where the movie started. I liked where it was going. I did not like where it ended up. The final scene was the best way they could have ended the movie, but it was the conflict resolution I did not like. I liked the Julian Noble character, but the movie would have been better had it been about all of the years he was the best at what he did. Remove the conflict in The Matador and let Julian do what he does best with a camera over his shoulder. Give me a The Matador prequel and I bet you sell more tickets.

The movie was luke warm. You would be ok to see it at someone else's request, but you needn't actively seek out The Matador.

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Little Miss Sunshine

September 6th, 2006


For months I waited in anxious anticipation for Little Miss Sunshine. I all but counted down the days until I would be able to see this cast come together and lend its collective hand to a simple story. The movie has been receiving very favorable reviews from movie lovers and casual viewers alike. Somehow, however, I managed to miss the boat on this one. I may have to reserve judgment somewhat until I can see it again, but who knows when that will be. For now, I will give you my first-impression thoughts.

Some of the things I have read about the movie have praised the character development. I must have been asleep during the part where they added depth to any of the characters. I won't go into too much detail to save the spoilers for a separate conversation, but I only liked what they did with two characters and one of them received about half of the screen time he deserved. The only development given to any character was how he or she contributed to the problem(s) that threatened to pull the family apart.

I was excited for this cast to see how its members would interact on screen. I wanted to see how well they would banter together. The focus of the movie, however, was the story rather than the writing/dialogue. The story did not deserve all of this attention. Each character provided maybe one scene of comedy and that was it.

So many scenes and ideas were run into the ground. Something would be suggested in dialogue and the theater audience would laugh. Those who laughed would see the suggestion play out in their minds and that, in most movies, would be the end of it. Little Miss Sunshine then took it a step further to then act out that suggestion after the laughs had already been received. Too many scenes dragged on with almost no purpose. I think Little Miss Sunshine could have been a short film if only the length of the movie weren't necessary to build the suspense leading to the actual beauty pageant (and even that scene ran too long).

I like the idea of a movie geared towards the importance of family; one that shows us that usually no one understands or accepts our quirks better than our family. We all have problems, and together we can work them out. Each member of the family was different. They thought they were all on their own, isolated island. It was from a last-minute road trip, which forced them into each other's lives, that they began to see that they were there to support each other. I like the message, I just did not care much for the vehicle with which they pushed the message.

Abigail Breslin was adorable. I cannot, and I need not, elaborate much further. She was the bright shining star in this picture that played the young girl, Olive, and she was figuratively the glue that held this movie together. Credit is due, also, to the costume team who dressed her in the most freakishly bizarre yet amazingly precious outfits.

Alan Arkin was the other highlight for me in Little Miss Sunshine. It was his on-screen time that I mentioned above was not what it should have been. He deserved more, alas the part was not written to allow it. He has always been the Police Captain from So I Married An Axe Murderer to me, and now he's Grandpa from Little Miss Sunshine. This was a great part, and I cannot articulate how fantastic he was.

On their contributions alone I wish I were able to suggest you go see this movie. Maybe upon a second viewing I would find the magic everyone else sees in this movie. For whatever reason, I did not really enjoy Little Miss Sunshine.

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August 11th, 2006


DragnetDan Ackroyd is Sgt. Joe Friday of the LAPD. His partner has retired and is replaced by Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks). Together they lead the investigation of a series of crimes committed by a criminal organization that leaves a calling card bearing the acronym P.A.G.A.N. at each scene. Friday is a man who plays by the book, and he has memorized each line in it. Streebeck is the Yin to Friday's Yang. The personalities clash and the result is comedy.

In the movie, Joe Friday is actually the nephew of the Joe Friday popularized and memorialized in the original TV show by the same name.

Dan Ackroyd plays the part well, though was not overly impressive. I really began to think about the fact that some of his earlier work was so impressive (e.g. Ghostbusters, Blues Brothers) that parts like this were really beneath is potential.

Tom Hanks gave me somewhat of the same impression. This was the young, loveable Tom Hanks. He was the care-free bachelor with the wild side. He was the guy who, unfortunately, no parts are written for today (though that is not terrible from the perspective that there is probably no one who could ever replicate the young Tom Hanks). He had the sharp wit and quick comebacks that were timed perfectly with Ackroyd as Joe Friday, but Friday was the main character. Ackroyd was the lead and Hanks had to play support.

The first half of the movie was fun. Not necessarily funny, but fun. It was the fun 80s movie that made me nostalgic for the movies I loved growing up and have a permanent place in my DVD collection. Those movies are silly comedies that are not really all that funny in today's society, but the jokes are a familiar and comfortable reminder. If the movies have a link to your past, they are great. If you try to apply 1987 jokes to a fresh 2006 audience, the results will not be favorable. And the results of my watching Dragnet were not favorable for what I believe to be that reason. For my time, I would rather watch those movies I hold dear than be reminded of them by a sub-par Dan Ackroyd performance in a movie that keeps a young Tom Hanks tied up in the yard.

I watched Dragnet on a recommendation that came up during discussion around the Top 5 Tom Hanks movies. Dragnet does not make my top 5.

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Match Point

July 6th, 2006


Match PointMatch Point is "a winning combination of sex, mystery, brilliant writing and first-rate acting that all adds up to one of the most erotic and exhilarating movies in years." (Maxim).

Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is being torn apart by his desire for two very different women. Marrying Chloe (Emily Mortimer) will bring him a life of wealth and success, but his true passion lies with his brother-in-law's fiancée, the stunningly sensuous but unpredictable Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Pulsing with tension, Match Point rides the dangerous line between ambition and obsession to an ending as surprising as it is chilling.

I do not know exactly what I had expected the title to mean, but whatever it was, I was wrong. I think I had imagined something having to do with matches and fire. The title, I thought, was perfect for the film. It is a reference to the game of tennis where either in your favor or against you, the fate of the match potentially rests in the outcome of this one point. It could go either way. The theme from the movie that each situation, each conversation, could go either way depending on nothing more than a whim, was pulled together with those two words which combine as figurehead for the movie. I liked that a lot. And over the 2 hours and 4 minutes at which Match Point weighs in, I liked almost nothing else.

I did like the performance by Matthew Goode who played Tom Hewett. He is sort of...if Hugh Grant and Tom Cavanagh had a baby. Charming, British and yet gangly and awkward.

I was not at all impressed with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Though as I recall, the good things I had heard from my sister-in-law may not have mentioned anything beyond his good looks. I thought his acting was forced and choppy. As the movie began I thought his acting would ruin the movie. Then I remembered that Scarlett Johansson was in it, too. (That means it would be her acting that would stand out as the low-point.) He seemed overly dramatic at times as if his talent may be more fitting for on-stage rather than on-screen. Besides, he looks and sounds a little too much like Joaquin Phoenix (think about it).

Just as she does in all of her movies, Ms. Johansson underwhelmed me yet again. Her delivery seems completely devoid of emotion and a passion for her craft. It is probably best noted from her performance in In Good Company, but it surfaced again here. I have seen the same lists as you, where she is listed near the top of the hottest and the sexiest actors. I have read the same articles as you, where she is touted as the first and only actress to define our generation with her grace and natural ability while the camera rolls. I just have not seen it for myself. To me she is best suited for awkward, angsty teen roles like the one she played in Ghost World.

I was just reading an IMDb forum spoiler discussion on the movie and someone pointed out an interesting parallel between one of the characters in the film and a book read by one of the characters. I love subtle references like this, even when, like this one, I have not read the book. Kudos to Woody Allen for that.

I wish I could give Mr. Allen more credit in my thoughts on his work. I have not seen what many consider his best films, but of the others I have seen I have not been a fan. To that point, however, some have gone so far as to call Match Point his crowning achievement. I guess I just do not understand his genius. So many people talk about what the man is able to do and it must be entirely over my head.

The synopsis provided with the DVD mentions mystery where the only real mystery was when was the movie going to finally end. It also includes a quote that refers to Match Point as one of the most erotic movies in years. The most erotic point was when Rhys-Meyers was saturating Ms. Johansson with massage oil. She's completely covered from the viewer's standpoint and looks like she needs a magazine to cure her boredom. It looked like the cover from a cheap steamy-romance novel. I say cheap because I bet Rhys-Meyers's scrawny frame doesn't tip the scales at more than 160 pounds.

Regardless of lofty promises and salesmanship on behalf of the promoters of the DVD, the movie was a disappointment. I cannot remember a time when I have had such an urge to get up and turn off a movie. And I probably would have had I not been entertaining guests. Match Point, or as I affectionately refer to it: "The Movie That Never Ends," seemed to really drag on and on.

For more specific conversation related to spoiler information, please see the forum topic on the subject.

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The Brothers McMullen

June 6th, 2006


Three brothers from New York struggle through conflicts arising from their Irish Catholic heritage. At first separately, and then together they tackle love, marriage, and infidelity. Their parents were not ideal role models in matters of the heart so they are forced to teach themselves in this picture written and directed by Ed Burns, which features familiar faces from She's The One.

The acting was a little rough around the edges and with the choppy video, it is evident that this was a low-budget project. Ed Burns was not the first to write a movie about failed relationships and burgeoning love, nor did he put an overly memorable feel on his version. The ending was slightly touching, which was at least nice from my perspective to get some relatively positive emotion out of the movie. I spent most of my time bored with it, but it did end decently by comparison.

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The Da Vinci Code

June 1st, 2006


Harvard professor Robert Langdon was dragged into a religious conflict that dated back a few millenniums. He and French Cryptographer Sophie Neveu had work together to follow the path toward the answers. Conflicts arose from many sources: the figurative path to follow was not known, neither were the questions whose answers are sought, and Robert Langdon was wanted for murder. In a surprising turn of events, the path begano reveal itself in religious lore and a few of Leonardo Da Vinci's works.

I cannot say how enjoyable the movie would be to someone who has not read the book, or at least read it recently. I had just finished reading the book about two weeks before I saw the movie at the theater. Many things were different. In my opinion, too many things were different. There were so many intricate details pieced together in the book that had to be removed for the sake of time that left enormous holes. Some of the holes were patched with movie-specific details, but they were not as good.

I believe that, for the most part, people prefer whichever came first, reading the book or seeing the movie. It becomes a reference point against which the other is measured and many differences seem too great to overcome. Having read the book first, I cannot tell you if the book is worth reading after seeing the movie. I can tell you, however, the movie was not worth seeing after reading the book.

A friend of mine made a fantastic point that summed up the difference between the two mediums perfectly. He said, "The book was much more Indiana Jones than the movie." On paper, the story had much more mystery and suspense. Almost none of it translated onto the big screen.

He and I differed in our opinions of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. I cannot speak for his reasons, but he thought Hanks was good for the part. I thought it was a poor casting choice. Additionally, he sounded like he did back in the 80s; the sound is as if hearing his own voice delivering the words is a surprise to him. (Think about it.)

The dialogue in the movie was horribly forced. It was a long string of forced cues. To be able to explain what was happening, without the luxury to include a chapter of text, writers built all-too-convenient verbal cues. One character, seemingly out of the blue, would ask another something completely unrelated to the current conversation and then the second person would feign surprise and explain how it all ties together. Compare this exactly to when you try to coerce another person to answer a question to which you already know the answer. (I don't think I explained that very well, but it was the best I can do.)

If you have read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, especially recently, I do not recommend you see the movie. I thought the movie was as bad as I expected the book to be...

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April 3rd, 2006


BongwaterLuke Wilson is David, your ordinary, run-of-the-mill pot dealer from Portland, Oregon. He coasts through life by rarely, if ever, leaving his house, save the occasional "business trip" into the back woods to see his supplier and re-stock his inventory. He leads a very mundane existence, until Serena.

Serena (Alicia Witt) is a fiery red-head who can never seem to get her life in order, though she tears through the lives of others like a tornado on a warm Midwestern day.

Thanks to Serena, David's house burns down and he finds himself out of luck with love. The movie also features Andy Dick, Scott Caan, Jamie Kennedy, Brittany Murphy, Jeremy Sisto...and Jack Black.

I will forever remain skeptical of the question, "How bad could a movie be that has Luke Wilson and Jack Black?" The answer, if you are curious, is "Really bad."

I have made the sacrifice and watched this movie and can now warn you to stay away from it. I apologize if you beat me to it; in the event you have already wasted time watching Bongwater, there is nothing I can do.

This is not mainstream film, and should not be viewed as such. It is much more accurately described as a B-movie. From the blatant nudity of the opening credits; through the twisted drug use and the violent (though that is any consolation) rape scene; to the aliens; the movie was very bizarre.

There is a silver lining in that I now have a renewed motivation to write a screenplay. I am confident that if Bongwater can raise funds, I will be able to do the same.

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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

December 6th, 2005

Sky Captain and the World of TomorrowScientists begin to go missing. One who fears he is next tries to enlist the help of a reporter (Gwyneth Paltrow), but fearing the danger is too great he leaves her with little. In this futuristic 1930s (40s?) setting she decides to team up with ace fighter pilot Joe Sullivan (Jude Law) better known as the Sky Captain. With his help, and that of Joe's inventive sidekick (Giovanni Ribisi) they attempt to find out where the scientists are disappearing to and who is launching these disastrous attacks on cities around the world...using giant robots.

The movie was styled after sci-fi movies from days gone by. It was interesting to see how they made the movie look, but that was the movie's only redeeming factor. The creators gave the movie characteristics of science fiction films your father or even granfather would have watched. What they didn't give the movie were characteristics of a good movie. I don't feel all that badly telling you that I thought this movie was pretty awful.

You look at the cast and maybe just maybe the movie would be good. The acting was forced, the plot could not have been more predictable and the writing was weak. Jude Law was fine; my expectations of him are never high. Give me a casting veto in Hollywood and Gwyneth Paltrow would never get another job. My expectations for her are even lower than those for Law, though in this movie she still somehow managed to not meet them. And my saving grace, Mr. Ribisi. I thought for sure he was going to do what he does so well and thus make me forget the male and female leads, but he had too small of a part.

I am admittedly stubborn and that partly manifests itself through my unwillingness to turn off a movie when I am not enjoying it. This movie almost changed that. Within almost the first five minutes I had my first knee jerk reaction to turn it off. I suppressed the urge and finished the movie...maybe turning it off wouldn't have been such a bad idea.

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