This Week In Cinema: December 30 2012-January 05, 2013

men in black

I’d love to be part of an intergalactic police force, I’d probably end the universe with my ineptitude, but it’d be fun while it lasts!

Nothing great this week, but a decent handful of films,

Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012, Robert Vince, United States Of America) *

Some of the movies in this franchise are enjoyable, and sometimes they are pretty bad. Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups is pretty bad, but it’s not horrendously bad. That’s a small distinction, but when watching a movie like Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups it’s an important distinction to make. The message of the film isn’t all that terrible and the dogs are cute, and that’s about as positive as I can get on this Robert Vince picture. Well, on second thought, there weren’t any flatulence jokes, and that actually counts for something in my book. But seriously, Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups will probably work for its target demographic and that’s all fine and dandy I suppose.

World’s Greatest Dad (2009, Bobcat Goldthwait, United States Of America) ***

The ending veers off the rails somewhat and at times Bobcat Goldthwait lets go off the restraint that served his direction so well. But, for the most part Mr. Goldthwait concocts a nice blend of pathos and gallows humor. I laughed at more than one joke that I probably shouldn’t have laughed at given the content of the joke, but funny is funny says I. Robin Williams is a real treat as he pours himself into the role completely. He’s just as pathetic as he is endearing and awkwardly funny. World’s Greatest Dad is rough around the edges and it doesn’t always work. But, it is effective in both its satire and its humor, and that made it a tough, but rewarding watch.

Meet The Parents (2000, Jay Roach, United States Of America) ***

There are a lot of stupid moments in Meet The Parents and a lot of moments that fall completely flat. At the same time there are some genuinely funny moments. The male nurse joke is an example of an exceedingly stupid joke, it’s as if the people who wrote the movie had no idea how common a male nurse is in the medical field. Yet, they hammer that joke home again and again and it only serves to make the movie look stupid. But, things like the water volleyball spike, and Owen Wilson in general are funny and had me laughing. I laughed more than I rolled my eyes, so while it’s not a great film Meet The Parents is still a decent time waster.

Red Riding Hood (2011, Catherine Hardwicke, Canada/United States Of America) *

I’m going to keep my thoughts on Red Riding Hood simple. The costumes are okay, everything else is atrocious. The story is meandering, heavy handed, and ridiculously convoluted in an awful way. The love story is non-existent, the acting isn’t any better (yes, even from Gary Oldman). From start to finish Red Riding Hood is a giant waste of time, and a movie that serves no purpose other than to try and cash in on the popularity of Twilight. My wife didn’t like Red Riding Hood, I didn’t like Red Riding Hood, I don’t know why anyone would like Red Riding Hood.

Men In Black (1997, Barry Sonnenfeld, United States Of America) ***

I had fond memories of Men In Black, and while still good the film didn’t quite live up to those memories. I liked the slapstick zaniness of Barry Sonnenfeld’s film, especially the way it approached violence in a very Looney Tunes sort of way. I wasn’t expecting the film to be as completely surface as it was. In that sense I think the film doesn’t fully live up to its potential. Sure, the action is cool, the premise is interesting, and the practical effects are great. But, there are characters in Men In Black that are dying to matter more than they do, and characters like Linda Fiorentino’s Laurel Weaver who is so surface that she doesn’t matter at all. Still, I did have lots of fun with Men In Black, and in the end that’s mainly what I believe the film was aiming for and that’s why I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Half Baked (1998, Tamra Davis, United States Of America) **1/2

I enjoyed individual scenes, or jokes, in Half Baked but I can’t say that I enjoyed the final product as a whole. The problem is that so much of the comedy depends on Dave Chappelle and Guillermo Diaz. When the film focuses too much on its other characters, mainly the always annoying and never funny Jim Breuer, the film lacks any comedic punch. Not all the jokes hit, in fact way more miss than hit. But, the ones that did hit had me laughing heartily, and were emblematic of the type of humor I’ve come to expect from Mr. Chappelle. Half Baked is an extremely flawed comedy, sometimes I’m not sure it understands what movie it wants to be, but it has moments where it shines. The moments where it flounders outweigh the shiny moments, but I did enjoy the shiny moments.

Abduction (2011, John Singleton, United States Of America) *

I’m not sure if I can hate a movie where the villain threatens to kill all of the protagonists Facebook friends. That sort of fucked up shit only happens in the rarest of movies, the movie so terrible that it doesn’t understand how terrible it actually is. Abduction is terrible, from everyone involved. Maybe John Singleton was once a competent director, but based on his recent output his name should by synonymous with the term “hack.” There isn’t a single moment in Abduction that feels genuine, it is manufactured tripe through and through. Trying to convince the viewing audience that the Pittsburgh Pirates would actually draw that many fans is a surefire sign of a film that has lost touch with all reality. Abduction is full of characters who do and say stupid things, action that is as cookie cutter as it can get, and direction that is willing to be awful at every turn. In short, Abduction is amazingly terrible and I loved it for that.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992, Bill Kroyer, Australia/United States Of America) ***

The animation is okay, the characters are okay, the story is okay, and so on and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with FernGully: The Last Rainforest, but there’s nothing that great about it either. I know plenty of people, like my wife, who watched it when they were kids and it still holds a place in their heart. I don’t have that attachment, and when compared to all the other animation that I have seen FernGully: The Last Rainforest doesn’t stand out enough. It’s well made, it feels in every way like a professional production. But, I know that as time goes on I will remember less and less about this movie because of its inability to stand out from the crowd.

Wrap-Up:

It was a tough race between the three “good” films that I watched this week. In the end I had the most fun with Men In Black, and it stood out to me more than the other two films. Men In Black takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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