Yes, time to catch up on all the flicks I caught in the month of July, and have been too damn lazy ("Preoccupied" is the term I prefer) to post them. Since I don't really write for moviesonline all that much anymore (there's a fun story there, I'll get to later). As it stands, I saw a fwe flicks this month that I'd like to share my opinions on, and hear from you, the readers of Former Dude Speak aka There's Always Mini-Golf.
The only tweener that gets it's own review is 3 Fast 3 Furious, for reasons revealed in that post.
CARS: Pixar has done it again. They created another winner. Although, it's not as cool as The Incredibles, it still ranks up there with the Pixar greats. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and the animation is quite good. Besides, you have Owen Wilson as the voice of a car that gets stuck on it's way to LA in the small town of Radiator Springs. It's Doc Hollywood with talking cars. The supporting cast knocks it out of the park, and creates a fun little community that, were I a talking animated car, would want to be a part of. Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, George Carlin (as the hippie VW bus, no less), Larry The Cable Guy (who I never caught doing stand up, but who made the flick really work for me, if you can believe it), and Tony Shalhoub, among others, make this a damn good time. It's good for whole families, while retaining a good sense of humor for adults and pothead hipsters alike. And not the Shrek 2 style of comedy where it takes something popular and does the same thing, but it's funny because it's Shrek doing it, not Spiderman. It's a good story, beautifully told, with a solid heart. Easily one of the best this summer.
Pirates Of The Caribbean- Dead Man's Chest: It's made countless millions of dollars and has captured the nation by storm. Odds are, you've probably seen it. But I'm gonna talk about it anyway. POTC was a damn solid film, but it was marred by a few flaws that nag on me. Not to Superman Returns levels of nagging, where it actually changed my opinion of the film. But there are some things nonetheless that bug me about it.
The most common gripe of the film I subscribe to. It's too damn long. Sure it's a lot of fun, but there was a lot of unnecessary stuff. Like the cannibal island bit, which introduced a bunch of strange elements that didn't matter to anything in the world of the film. And every sly, winking nod to the audience about how there was a first film. (Little hints, repeated bits of dialogue, everything but turning to the camera and saying "Hey, remember in the first one when we did that?") And Johnny Depp, despite having an entrance that tops the first film, seemed to be trying a little too hard to recapture the magic of his performance from the first film. It was slightly irritating. I was afraid the film would suffer from what I like to call "The Curse Of The Mummy Returns", where it's bigger and more extravagant than the first film, but it loses it's goofy charm that made the first one so damn appealing to begin with. The first half hour of Dead Man's Chest was going down that road mighty fast.
Luckily, things turned around, though, and I wound up enjoying more. When Davy Jones and his crew arrive, the film comes alive for me. The special effects in these scenes are amazing. Bill Nighy's performance as Jones is also a marvel to behold. He conveys a lot under the effects (I heard he was motion captured, and everything on his face is in fact digital, but I'll be damned if I could tell that, I thought it was make-up). Whenever he and his crew are on screen, the film becomes what it intended to. And that stuff worked for me. Everyone else was on par from the original, Bloom surprising me the most. But the Davy Jones crew, man. That's what this movie's all about. And the cliffhanger ending would have been truly amazing had a) I not read a spoiler of it ahead of time; and b) it arrived about fifteenminutes earlier, thus ending the film.
Still, it is by no means bad or a waste of time. It's a good time at the moviesif you can stand the length. It's worth it, especially for Jones. (And that shot of his ship submerging is gorgeous).
Clerks 2 : Hands down, my favorite summer movie. Well written, just as hilarious as anything Kevin Smith has written before, and poignant to boot. The sequel that most people questioned a need for, Clerks 2 follows Dante and Randall along their career paths. When a fire, caused by a stray coffee pot and Randall's negligence, burns down the beloved Quick Stop, the boys have to move on to Mooby's, the fast food joint that doesn't get many visitors. Once again, the action takes place over the course of one day, but this time it's the last day Dante has before moving to Florida with his fiancee where her family will hook him up with a sweet job managing a car wash. Randall is, naturally, confused by this course of action, but supports his best friend as best he can: by riffing on popular culture and being as openly offensive as anyone can. Along the way, there's a lot more plot this time around, involving Becky, the manager (played by the absolutely gorgeous Roasrio Dawson, who I'll get to in a moment) and Elias, the teenage fast food worker who's a bit naive, but not for long thanks to Randall. And of course, Jay and Silent Bob are hanging outside the restaurant, selling weed despite a trip to rehab (based in no small part on Jason Mewes own stint with rehab).
It's definitely the best film Smith has made in his career. While he often laments about his lack of talent, he tries new things here, and is more confidant than I've witnessed. He even includes a brief musical number that was surprisingly well done. It made me love the Jackson 5 song "ABC" again, after years of loathing. He does with two other songs in the film, actually, finding good uses for previously hated tuens "1979" by Smashing Pumpkins, and "Misery" by Soul Asylum. But Smith knows his characters well enough to let them do what they do, and have us observe them. The film is full of wonderful little moments, like the go kart scene, and the musical number, amongst others. Sure, there's a donkey show, but it's honestly the first time I can say that a donkey show in a movie like this is not only necesary but should be required. And all these scenes worked for me.
For God's sake, there's a C.H.U.D. reference in the film!
The actors are at the top of their game, which is a nice change of pace from the first film, where everyone was a non professional. Brian O'Halloran is Dante, once again, the perpetual stuck in a rut guy who wants something he can't have and settles for the only available option to get him out of the hell he thinks his life is. Age has proven well to the character, as he's now fully aware of how much he hates his life. And Jeff Anderson is back as Randall, which might be one of the greatest characters ever conceived this side of GOB Bluth on Arrested Development. Randall is pure id, even more so than Jay. The things Randall does in this film are brilliant, from corrupting the mind of young Elias (or just taking inthis kid's weirdness for what it is... I speak of the Pillowpants scene) to an attempt to reclaim "porch monkey" as a non offensive term. ("It's ok, I'm taking it back"). He switches unbelievably well between moments of rage and humor. And towards the end, he makes a big speech to Dante that most actors wouldn't be able to pull off in a wet dream. It's touching and hilarious, and he never drops the ball. Randall is pitch perfect. The movie is worth it alone just to hear his diatribe about The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Roasrio Dawson is amazing as Becky, as she is a well written character. And my love of her in this flick has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with a passing resemblance to a recent love in my life, both in look and character. (Not to mention dialogue, which is a little freaky as she says things the ex said. Seriously, Dawson was one step away from saying "Dino Midas!"). She's absolutely perfect, and fits in with the crew. And Trevor Fuhrman as Elias... this kid has a long future ahead of him. He plays the character a little too well, but sells it, and almost steals it from the leads (when Dawson isn't). A perfect foil for Randall, even more so than Dante.
I could keep going on about the movie, but I won't. All I will say is that you should see it. It also has one of the best last shots in a movie, and one that sums up what the movie is about. Clerks 2 may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, it was the perfect summer blend.
(How's that for lame?)
Miami Vice: Ah, what would summer be without a Michael Mann film? A movie about guns and machismo and beautiful people in exotic locations driving fancy cars and boats. And guns.
Miami Vice plays like a giant episode of the TV series it was based on. At least that's what I've heard. i never watched the show. My friend Ed says the show was all about style, and very little substance. That's what Miami Vice the movie is like, but it takes itself a lot more seriously. Colin Farrel, whom I've never been afraid of showing the love for, plays Crockett while Jamie Foxx tries valiantly to make me forget about Stealth by playing Tubbs. They work well together, and you can tell that they would be partners for a long time at this point.
I can't really tell you what the movie's about. Mainly because I have no idea myself. It involves Crockett and Tubbs going undercover to nail a drug lord. Or something. A few drug lords, maybe. It's kind of confusing, but the movie is all about mood and texture. And guns.
There's a lot that's not that great about the flick, such as the senseless sex scenes (which, alliteration aside, is something I never thought would be a negative in my column) and a length that almost rivals Pirates and Superman in the "c'mon already" category this summer. But Farrel and Foxx are pretty damn good, and the set pieces, when they work they work hardcore. There's very little in the way of exposition, as it's all about the procedural work. And by procedure, I men Farrel boning Gong Li. for like twenty minutes. In Cuba. You read that right.
I don't know who the guy is, but one of the villains in the piece, the one with more screen time than the main one, kind of looks like Sayid on Lost. And he looks like that Fred Armisan guy from SNL, who's not that funny. And he looks a little like T-Bone's cousin Andrew. Point is, I liked him a lot. He brought more to his character than most would.
Mann shot an impressive flick, on HD no less. It's full of testosterone and Moby tunes, but that's what Mann likes. And kudos on frequent use of Audioslave, for that matter. Mann's films are about tone more so than plot, and the characters that inhabit the worlds he creates. Last of the Mohicans, Heat, and especially Collateral, all show this well. (Insider kicks ass on many different levels). Miami Vice is no exception to the cannon. Not exactly his best (it could have used a little more in the clarification department, and less on the sex scenes), but it's still a worthy entry for the resume.
And the gunfight in the end is ridonkulous. All I can say (and have been saying since I saw it, Dan can attest) is I want the gun Jamie Foxx uses. It's insane. I actually yelled "HOLY FUCK!" when he fired it.
So there you go, kids, some fine tweeners for your day. You see these flicks? Wanna talk about them? Post comments. Try to keep it spolier free, if possible.
Oh, and flicks I haven't yet seen, but plan on include: Nacho Libre (finally coming to the $2 theater), The Devil Wears Prada (my friend wants to go see it, so I'm using her as an excuse), Lady In The Water (just to see what the big deal is), and Monster House. No interest in the other Owen Wilson movie, or the one with the Wayans brother playing a midget.