Category: "Movies: Don't Watch"

Kicking & Screaming

November 22nd, 2005

Kicking & ScreamingWill Ferrell's trademark off-the-wall lunacy kicks in for a comedy sure to score big with the whole family! Phil Weston (Ferrell) is a mild-mannered suburban dad - who's suddenly transformed into a caffeine-fueled sports maniac when he becomes the coach of his son's unruly soccer team. But when the championship pits Phil's underdog team against the squad coached by his own domineering dad (Oscar winner Robert Duvall), it's game on for the most uproarious mismatch of the season! Suit up for fun, Ferrell-style, with the comedy Ebert & Roeper give "Two Thumbs Up!"

Recipe to make Kicking & Screaming:
Take 3 parts Mighty Ducks add equal parts of Bad News Bears and Little Giants. Mix well in a bowl and add a splash of soccer. Let sit overnight.

They even did the Flying V! Why wasn't Emelio Estevez cast in this movie? At least give the guy a cameo...

I am sorry, but I was not entertained by this movie. My expectations were low, and even they were not met. I laughed at two, maybe three parts, but that was all. More than anything, the feeling that came over me was one of anxious anticipation of the end credits. I guess if you have little kids this could be a fun movie but even in that vein I think it was still too shallow.

Will Ferrell takes over as head coach of his son's soccer team when the regular coach leaves his post. With no qualifications except being the son of a good soccer coach, he starts from square one. The lesson is not to get too competitive in sports and to always remember to have fun on the field, but they really did a poor job of relaying this message. To help teach the boys how to play well and together Ferrell enlists the aid of his father's neighbor (an NFL hall of fame coach) who brings little more to the picture than his name, but he does help Ferrell pick up a nasty addiction to coffee.

The caffeine habit Ferrell develops was absolutely pointless to the story. Not only did it not add humor, but I think it only was in the story as filler. How do you make a short movie a little longer? Why not add a few scenes in a coffee shop? I know I am reaching a bit here, but if this was an attempt to make kids not want to drink coffee I would wonder how they received funding to make this movie.

Overall the movie was not horrible. I watched it with my sister and she enjoyed it. She said she was entertained the whole time. I was not, but we can't win them all.

What kind of favor do you owe someone when you, as Robert Duvall, agree to make a movie like this? "Hi, I'm Robert Duvall, maybe you have seen one of the movies I was in. Godfather? Apocalypse Now? Kicking & Screaming?" Here is how that is acceptable: "Grandpa, will you make a movie with Will Ferrell?" Done.

Don't see Kicking & Screaming. Just let it fade into the annals of cinematic history as it if never happened. And yes, I do realize that I was far too critical of a kids movie.

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American Movie

November 17th, 2005

American MovieAn aspiring film maker struggles against his own personal demons as well as external forces. In his quest to make his first feature length film we see how he encounters influence of drugs, alcohol, gambling, a dysfunctional family, and his own poverty.

To raise the capital for his first movie, he decides he must complete the short he started 10 years earlier, "Coven". "Coven" is in line with the short films he has made growing up and they are all the model for the full length movie he wants to make in the future. His genre is "B" Horror flicks.

He enlists the aid of friends to help as stand in extras, stage hands and film editors. Everyone is inspired by his determination to see the project through to the end and they never give up on him, though sometimes it was not easy to stay.

I had a class my senior year of college with a kid who suggested that I see this movie. I believe his words were something to the effect of "It's awesome." I must apologize to him for I must have missed something huge, for it fell well short of the billing he gave it.

Not even I can deny the impressive nature of Mark's (our struggling film maker) character. He is so driven to make his movie(s)...that or equally as driven to not work 8-5 in the factory. His knowledge of what it takes to actually make a movie seems a bit wasted on the crew with which he surrounded himself, but you get what you pay for I guess.

I enjoyed a laugh or two at how absolutely obscene the language could be between Mark and his family and friends. I fought with my own sense of political correctness as I tried not to laugh at one character's stories of substance abuse. Truth be told, that was the funniest part of the movie, but how horrible is it to laugh at someone sharing that part of their life?

I was entertained, but I just don't think that is enough for me to suggest this as a "Watch" movie. Though something inside me leads me to believe that I might take some criticism for this one. If you end up in a situation when someone has it and wants to watch it, go nuts. But there is no need to seek it out.

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Mosquito Coast

November 4th, 2005

Mosquito CoastHarrison Ford and River Phoenix star in a movie (directed by Peter Weir) about civilization. The movie starts as Phoenix narrates an introduction of his father (Ford). "He dropped out of Harvard, to get an education" (para.). He has a knack for anything mechanical, always inventing. Whereas he could be making millions of dollars from his creations, he works on a farm and tinkers in his spare time. One result of such tinkering is a machine that makes ice from fire, no electricity required. On a whim, he decides to head into the jungle and bring ice to societies that have never known its pleasures.

Mosquito Coast was a title once reviewed in the original forums, but lost in the hack incident. I couldn't remember if it was a positive or negative one, though I know where I will make my stance.

Charlie: My father often talked of things being revealed - that was true invention, he said. Revealing something's use, and magnifying it; discovering its imperfections, improving it, and putting it to work for you. God had left the world incomplete, he said, and it was man's job to understand how it worked, to tinker with it, and to finish it. I think that was why he hated missionaries so much - because they taught people to put up with their earthly burdens. For father, there were no burdens that couldn't be fitted with a set of wheels, or rudders, or a system of pulleys.

Harrison Ford's character could have used his intelligence and creativity to really make a difference in peoples lives, which he did for awhile. Based upon that, I think this movie could have been so much more. I do not want to go into too much detail, but I will tell you that he does become obsessed with his quest to bring ice into the jungle to be set before people who have never experienced such a thing.

Once the conflict arises about whether or not to move back to the United States the movie took a serious downturn. I was relatively entertained up until that point, but not at all after. I found myself unable to avoid feeling embarrassed for Ford's character and the way he acted. I am happy to send this movie back. Bring on the next one. It was not horrible, I just feel as though it fell short. Fell short of what, I am not sure, but it was missing something.

Let me save you the almost 2 hours of your life. Watch something else.

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The Big Empty

September 4th, 2005

The Big EmptyAcclaimed writer/director Jon Favreau stars as a struggling actor about to enter a weirdly comic twilight zone. After agreeing to deliver a mysterious suitcase to a remote desert truck stop in exchange for $25K, John Person (Favreau) finds himself trapped in a bizarre world of unusual characters. Is the whole town mad, or are the loony locals the only sane things about this strange parallel universe called The Big Empty?

Jon Favreau, ironically or not, plays an actor who has not found work in awhile. Between casting auditions, he scrapes by as a courier. As he was just sitting down to calculate just how many thousands of dollars he is currently in debt, a knock comes at his door. The "crazy" neighbor from down the hall comes to Favreau with the proposition of a financial clean slate. If he will deliver a package to Baker, California, he will be given the money to pay off his credit cards.

Accepting the job, the story is about the people that he meets while waiting to make his "drop" to a mysterious man known only as Cowboy. The small desert community is full of crazy people who speak frequently about alien abductions. Are they crazy, though? Or are they the only ones that know the truth?

Ok. I know the plot does not sound like a movie that is terribly exciting, but at least it was really really bad. It is not a long list, nor is it a distinguished one, but The Big Empty has made my list of Worst Movies.

I decided to watch The Big Empty based solely on cast. Jon Favreau, in this man's opinion has done good things (Swingers, Made, PCU). And...I may or may not have somewhat of a schoolboy crush on Rachael Leigh Cook. Is that such a crime?

So my desire to dunk Rachael Leigh Cook's pigtails in my inkwell is not a crime, but making this movie should have been. I know I am being harsh, but I can see no reason why either Jon Favreau or Joey Lauren Adams would agree to be a part of such a film. The way I have it figured out is that Favreau owed the Director a favor. Sort of a "get me a date with your sister...and fine, I'll be in your stupid movie" type of favor. Ms. Adams has bills to pay like the rest of us. She just needed a little something to tide her over until the next Kevin Smith picture. And yes, I will admit it, Rachael does not really have a strong track record with making good movies. It makes sense to me that she was in this one. There is no mystery there.

If I can keep just one other person from making the mistake I did in seeing The Big Empty, then I have succeeded as a person. The hours spent watching movies and toiling over my reviews will at that point all be worth it. On the contrary, if I cannot deter you from seeing this movie then I apologize in advance for failing you. But it is not my apology that you should seek, it is that of EVERYONE who played part in making this movie.

And now let us never speak of this one again...

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Raising Arizona

May 9th, 2005
Raising ArizonaWith Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter and John Goodman. He's an ex-con who used to rob convenience stores. She was the cop who used to take his mug shots. Now they're married, and all they want is a child so he kidnaps one! Soon, everyone, from the police to the mysterious Lone Biker of the Apocalypse are on their trail.

This movie has played on Comedy Central for years and I had never caught it from the beginning so I never watched. Finally I have seen it start to finish and boy can I say it was a disappointment. This movie was bad..., nay this movie was awful.

For the first five minutes or so of the movie, it was pretty funny. Eventually Nic Cage stops robbing convenience stores, as a result he stops going back to jail. At about this point even the novelty wears off from looking at Cage's wild hair; that stops being funny, too.

Once Hi (Cage) falls for Ed (Hunter), the movie is no longer worth watching. Holly Hunter brings nothing to the film. John Goodman, who plays almost exactly the same character he did in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (less the Bible talk), offers little contribution.

All I could do was sit and wish for the ending of the movie to come sooner and I remember feeling let down when my wishes did not come true. The end of this movie was absolute torture. Yes, I am being very hard on this movie, but I disliked it that much. It started out so promisingly. What a shame.

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The Reckoning

May 2nd, 2005
The ReckoningA priest on the run finds refuge by joining up with a band of traveling actors. When the troupe comes across an innocent girl imprisoned for murder, they attempt to solve the crime by acting it out on stage.

A young priest is run out of his village and forced to find his own way. He meets up with a band of traveling actors and persuades them to let him join. In England in the 1300s, as the movie is set, actors would only play out stories from the Bible. When the troupe realizes their performances lack attendance they decide to try telling a story that is not in the Bible. There is a young woman in town who will be hanged for the murder of a boy. The story they will play is hers.

What they do not plan for is winding down a path of truth to uncover lies that may affect the lives of the entire town.

The main character is Paul Bettany (Wimbledon and A Knight's Tale). He does a fine job, but this places Willem DaFoe in a support role. There is nothing wrong with DaFoe playing a lesser role when there is a strong lead, but Bettany is not that. And overall I was very disappointed with Dafoe. I was constantly wondering when he was going to do something. I hate to say that he mailed in this performance.

The movie ended weakly. It is never good to be left with a feeling of "That's it?" as the credits roll. Feel free to skip this one.

I expected so much from this film. I got none of it.

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April 25th, 2005

The story of two young boys who try to make their way through life with their father. Their mother has passed rather recently and the family tries to make a new life in a new home.

One of the two boys has an extremely active imagination and through which is often visited by dead Saints. He has studied documentation for any Saint he can get his hands on. He realizes that he often times sees things that are not there which is why he goes to get his older brother when a duffel bag full of money lands next to the fort he built by the train tracks.

The question arises of how to spend it all without telling their dad about it and while ensuring that none of the money (British pounds) becomes useless as the conversion to Euros is only days away.

The younger boy wants to use all of it to help those in need while his brother begins to research an investment portfolio.

I cannot say that I was not disappointed. Throughout the movie I just thought they could have done more with the story. Aside from the two boys, character development was a little weak. While I understand that the movie was centered around the two of them, I was hoping for a little more involvement from their father. It is not until the very end of the movie that we finally learn anything about it and at that point, why bother?

The ending overall was good. In previews I had a good idea what to expect and from that I was left touched. The very very end of the movie though, while symbolic, was probably unnecessary.

I liked the movie, sure. I do not think it was nearly as good as I had expected, though. I feel bad putting a "Don't Watch" on this movie, but I feel it's most appropriate.

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The Upside of Anger

April 12th, 2005

Though I am currently unable to say what exactly drew me to this movie in the previews, I made it a point to see this one in the theater. It is safe to now say that I wish I had not done so.

When her husband does not come home, a woman deduces that he must have fun off with his secretary to Sweden or someplace; thus leaving her with the sole responsibility over their four daughters. The four daughters range in age from one in middle school to a final year college student. Kevin Costner plays a former baseball star and current drunk who now works for a radio station in Detroit (101.1 WRIF). He, having associations to the family, learns of this husband's disappearing act and offers his form of courtship of the mother. She, now bitter towards the entire world (especially her daughters), parries his advances.

The only thing I took any enjoyment in was the fact that it was to be set in Michigan. Beyond that, this movie brought nothing to the table. I know that many people see Kevin Costner's name near a movie and start their bad reviews on the spot, but he was actually good in this one. His character, however, was 100% unnecessary. The makers of The Upside of Anger did a fantastic job of making his character useless. If you are not left with an empty feeling regarding Costner in this one, I am amazed.

I have so many complaints with this movie, but I will not let on any specific spoiler information in this medium. That is, if I even knew where to begin venting them all.

The only "Upside" to this movie was when it ended.

Despite my feelings towards this movie, it is still getting good reviews. Ok, I will concede that there were a few parts at which I laughed. In no way did those parts save this sinking ship. I would love to pick the brain of someone who actually enjoyed it.

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Amores Perros

February 2nd, 2005
Amores PerrosA car accident serves as the bouncing-off point for three separate stories.

This one was added to my viewing queue following a long and artsy review by Moyer. As he and I generally like the same movies, how could I go wrong? I guess I set myself up for a fall with that one. Bring on the irony. I never thought I would utter the following phrase, "This movie was just too dark for me."

3 LONG stories all linked around a car crash scene that opens the movie. Each story not only involves, but is centered around characters' relationships with dogs. I am not a dog person, but I do consider myself an animal lover (go figure). All three "shorts" (I use that term loosely) shows dogs getting either hurt or killed. It was not enough for me to be offended or grossed out or upset, but it did hurt my opinion of the movie.

My thoughts are not all negative towards Amores Perros. I did like how the main characters/dog owners in each story are just like the dogs with which they keep company. Parallels can easily be drawn between the characters and the dogs. In this way to suggest that we are not so unlike dogs and that we are not necessarily as civilized as we like to think was very well done.

I think the percentage of people who would like it is so small that the odds are not in your favor. If you do happen to see it and do like it, I will stand corrected. That said, good and bad both shown above, it is my recommendation that you should pass.

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The Triplets of Belleville

January 31st, 2005

The Triplets of BellevilleYou've never seen anything like THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, a wildly inventive and highly original animated feature crowded with colorful characters and fantastic imagery.

Kidnapped by mysterious, square-shouldered henchmen, a Tour de France cyclist named Champion is spirited across the ocean to the teeming metropolis of Belleville. His grandmother and faithful dog follow his trail and are taken in by a trio of eccentric jazz-era divas. The motley sleuths follow the clues to an underground betting parlor and now the chase is on!

If you do decide to watch this one, I am afraid it would only be on a "to satisfy my own curiosity" basis. Would I say the movie was bad? No. Would I say the movie was good? No. The fact is that for being such a long film The Triplets of Belleville was difficult to get through. The animation which is clearly the selling point of the movie needs to grab and hold your attention for the duration as there is no dialogue. There is hardly a word spoken after the first scene (not including song lyrics). My initial reaction as the credits began to roll was that I did not like this movie because I am not on drugs. I am guessing that the creators were hoping for a different feeling when the movie is over.

Am I glad I have finally seen The Triplets of Belleville, a movie I had been waiting to see for some time? Yes. I feel better being able to say I've seen it but I do not expect to see it a second time.

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