The Ugly Truth/Funny People/G.I. Joe/Julie & Julia

4 Full reviews and 2 brief ones

G-Force – 2 stars – When harmless is a bad thing. Kids may find this enjoyable, and if you find yourself being forced to see it, go the extra mile and see it in 3D.

The Collector – 4 stars – Great horror film that works on two levels. The shock and disgust of violence and gore, and the psychological fear of a cold, calculating unknown, unexplained villain. Reaffirms my faith in modern American horror.

The Ugly Truth

2.5 Stars

What do you get when you combine the cliches of a run of the mill romantic comedy and the bawdy humour of a boy’s night out? It’s still predictable, it’s still mediocre, but you get a few more unexpected laughs than normal.

Katherine Heigl stars as Abby, a romantically challenged TV show producer, forced to hire Gerard Butler’s Mike, a self-proclaimed relationship expert due to declining ratings, and the two instantly clash. But when Abby falls for her new neighbour, she seeks Mike’s advice for dating the guy, no matter how outlandish they become.

Fun, safe plot, huh? Well, it follows the usual trajectory, most recently seen in The Proposal just one short month ago. You can pretty much tell where it’s going to go from watching the trailer. So if you’re looking for a safe bet, a sure thing, this is the film to check out.

Heigl is making it really hard for audiences to like her. Off screen she decries the characters offered to women, yet routinely plays to the stereotype on screen. Butler really is the saving grace. Beneath his rugged good looks and action star physique lies a sharp wit and impeccable comedic timing. Think Scottish Brad Pitt.

But despite the funny jokes that will have you roaring with laughter and squirming at the over raunchiness for what you would expect to be a tame romantic comedy, the blending of the two may leave a weird after taste in your mouth. It works to a point, but you’re not really sure what kind of movie you just watched. I must refer you to Kevin Smith, the master of meshing frank dialogue with a relationship centric plot.

This one’s worth a rent, not a theatrical visit.

Funny People

4.5 Stars

Sure Judd Apatow has his name on just about everything these days. And sure, Seth Rogan is everywhere and it’s been easy to take shots at him for being overexposed. And sure, Adam Sandler has seen better days. But that all changes with Funny People.

Sandler plays George Simmons, a fictional version of himself, an actor/comedian who learns he has a rare form of lukemia, and decides to take Ira Wright (Seth Rogan) under his wing, and the two together re-evaluate George’s life.

The thing about Judd Apatow is that he has this ability to create characters he really cares about, and subsequently you really care about, and also make them really funny.

Adam Sandler finally finds that balance he’s been searching for in recent years between his comedic goofy persona and his serious work. You get a man who is faced with his own mortality, and is still able to crack jokes about it. And that is what still appeals to the everyman in the audience.

The only real gripe I have about this movie is that it is overly long and does drag at points. It feels like two films about the same thing. The first part is about a man dealing with his potential death, the second part is him reconciling with a former love. It could have been two movies had they done a little more with each. But each story was shortened and put into one film, causing it to drag a bit.

It’s still one of the best films of the year, and not one to be missed.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

.5 Stars

I said I’d give this film 5 stars if there was a PSA at the end. That was a joke. And there wasn’t. Good news is that there’s still a 5 star review for it. But as you can see, there’s a decimal point and nothing else in front of the 5. And that half a star is being generous.

After a failed mission to protect a highly volatile new warhead, Duke and Ripcord meet up with the covert-ops squad G.I. Joe (Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity) to recover the warhead, and stop a megalomaniacal arms manufacturer from causing chaos in the world.

I guess I should start with a positive thing or two about the film. Brendan Fraser’s brief cameo as who I can only assume is Beach-Head (possibly Sgt. Slaughter, but why not cast Sgt. Slaughter?) was a lot of fun, cause he’s in, he’s out, and it was kinda cool. I enjoyed Sienna Miller’s portrayal of the Baroness… to a point, possibly more on that later. Dennis Quaid was great as General Hawk. And then there was… umm….well… there was, wait no…. ok, I got nothing else.

Otherwise, holy crap what a tragedy! What an insult. At least the first Transformers film had respect for the source material. It seems director Stephen Sommers and his team of 6 writers (Sommers being one of them) got a character list and said “We’ll do whatever we want.” The comedy was ill timed, the characters were all over the place, and it just wasn’t G.I. Joe.

Since I am advising that you don’t even bother wasting your time with this, I am going to get into some spoilers. If you feel that you must endure this travesty of a film, then skip on down to the Julie & Julia review. What the hell was with The Baroness and Cobra Commander being brother and sister? What was with The Baroness and Duke having a romantic past? They couldn’t have possibly done a worse job with the Baroness (again, Miller’s portrayal was fine, and the problems I have with the character are purely the fault of the writers). They were setting up the film for potential sequels. But The Baroness is historically such a phenomenal villain, and they destroyed all that. How can she go back to being a villain after her realization that she wasn’t under her own control?

The action and special effects weren’t pulse pounding. They weren’t edge of your seat. They were slouch in your seat out of boredom, laughably bad. I was bored by the climactic chase sequence through the streets of Paris. You know what it reminded me of? Team America: World Police. In fact, this whole film was a psuedo-serious Team America that wasn’t in on the joke.

If you liked the show, if you liked the animated film, if you liked the action figures, don’t see this film. It will ruin your childhood. Even though Shia LaBeouf isn’t in it.

Julie & Julia

3.5 Stars

I recognize Meryl Streep as a great actress. She is. She’s phenomenal. I never got all “OMG! BEST ACTRESS EVER! I HEART MERYL STREEP!” But, yeah, I dig her work. And this, Julie & Julia, is some of her best, funniest work, and it doesn’t hurt that she has the great Amy Adams as her foil, and the equally great Stanley Tucci supporting her.

Julie & Julia is the tale of two true stories. Julia Child’s (Streep) as she masters the art of French cooking and attempts to make it accessable to American cooks, and Julie Powell’s (Adams) as she cooks her way through Child’s book in a year and blogs about it.

This is two great movies. Combined for one, it’s kind of a mess. It tries to correlate the parallels between Powell and Child, and what they discover on their respective journeys, jumping back and forth between the two stories. But it spends too much time on each. Just as you’re getting into the story, writer/director Nora Ephron violently pulls you away and thrusts you into the other one. And back and forth like that for two hours. I’m digging each story equally, but I’m also pissed off that I can’t fully follow them.

But the ADD like flip flopping aside, it is such a funny script. Streep is hilarious and Adams holds her own against the insurmountable force that is Streep. It never feels like they’re reaching for a joke. The comedy comes naturally, from these two women and their experiences and their characters. And it’s that humour that holds your attention through the film. And because of that humour, you’re with the characters when they do hit the serious points. You’re with them the whole way through. It’s great.

This is a film that everybody can enjoy. Fellas, skip the G.I. Joe this weekend, take your lady to Julie & Julia, you’ll thank me for it later.

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