Movie Reviews
December 27, 2007

I'm a member of Netflix now, and it occurred to me that I can easily review movies on a regular basis now, as I watch them. My wife and I take turns picking out movies--I pick two and then she does the same--so some of what I'll review wasn't me making a boneheaded rental. It was her. Also, I don't prioritize for new movies. I rent whatever I feel like (or whatever she feels like). Anyway, here's some of the backlog...

Waiting for Guffman

Christopher Guest is a fairly funny guy, sometimes. I liked what I saw of "Best in Show," so I gave this one a chance and liked it a little bit less. It was a fairly predictable mockumentary and perhaps not as funny because the people it portrayed weren't funny so much as they were sad.

Guest himself appeared as a man who fancies himself a Broadway talent (though his past moment of greatness was actually setting a theatre on fire). A small town in Missouri is throwing a pagent to celebrate its history, and that will include a play directed by Guest's character.

Guest's character feels that it's his shot at greatness and a Broadway deal, and even convinces a theatre critic to come see the film. The rest of the movie is primarily about the preparations leading up to that grand performance, with Guest acting as a drama queen and his castmates thinking him a total genius. It's clear to anyone watching that the play is at best destined for mediocrity, and from that we are supposed to draw our laughs as we watch in the comfort of (now) our living rooms.

Overall, the movie has some genuine laughs thanks to strong performances from Eugene Levy and Fred Willard, but most of the movie I felt like there was a nervous laugh in the back of my throat, wanting to come out but struggling to find a moment on-screen that made the timing right. That pretty much sums up the whole movie for me. I appreciate the concept and the crew and their performances and to a certain extent the dialogue, but I just wasn't laughing enough.


National Treasure

Nicholas Cage is not my idea of a great actor. He's mostly the same in every movie, only in "Raising Arizona" that made him a slacker with no direction in life and here it makes him a misunderstood archaeologist who just might be a genius.

If you take a look at who was involved in the making of this film and even the list of actors--which includes the likes of John Voight and Sean Bean--you'd think it's going to be some serious action movie with riveting performances. Instead, what you get is the sort of picture that's two fun hours of conspiracy theory and adventure scenes that leave you feeling like you just saw a good movie much like any other 50 other movies in the genre.

The story centers around Cage's character, who against his father's wishes is hunting for family treasure he believes was passed down through his line by the Templars/Freemasons. He's partnered up with Bean's character as the financier, and with some generic computer nerd guy who reminded me of Patton Oswalt. Before long, Cage and Oswalt whoever are running from Bean, then racing him to find whether or not there's any truth to Cage's idea that something special is on the back of the US Constitution. That of course means a daring heist and a love interest and all of the stuff that makes for a great summer blockbuster. In the end, the movie itself is one of the finer blockbusters I've seen in awhile thanks to smooth directing and witty dialogue and all of the other stuff you already know to expect if you've seen 10 blockbusters in your life.

It's formulaic and at times stupid and predictable, but it works and makes for a reasonably enjoyable two hours. My wife, whose pick it was, is looking forward to the sequel. I'll probably watch it along with her and not grumble a whole lot.


Some Like It Hot

This movie was one I'd been wanting to see for awhile, after coming to appreciate Jack Lemmon's work in films like "Grumpy Old Men" and "The Odd Couple." So far as I know, "Some Like It Hot" was one of his earliest performances, along with Tony Randall and Marilyn Monroe. It was the first movie I'd seen where she made an appearance, and what a cutie she was! But enough about her, since she played a shallow character every bit as blonde as you'd suppose.

The movie, which is slow to begin, makes its leisurely opening in 1930s Chicago. Lemmon and Randall play two musicians trying to make their living at a speakeasy, which gets raided as the film plods through its opening scenes. They manage to escape unscathed, but Chicago is a busy city and it isn't long before they're wanted by the mob. Their out? Some women are wanted for a performance in sunny Florida. The fact that they're men deters the pair from accepting the job at first, but as the situation around them worsens, suddenly things sound pretty good in Florida.

The whole opening portion isn't particularly funny and takes something like 20 minutes or maybe a half-hour. It was entertaining, certainly, and reasonably enjoyable, but not amusing. Then the pair is walkign to the train and from that moment onward, laughs come every minute or two. Not slight smiles or the occasional guffaw, but belly laughs as the pair find themselves in one unlikely scrape after another.

The blossoming love interests by the end of the film have come a bit absurd--though still amusing--and the movie's ending is clever but stupid. However, it's been a long time since a movie made me laugh as long or as hard as "Some Like It Hot." If you can stand a little black and white comedy and don't mind a picture that's slow to get up and running, you could certainly do much, much worse.


Well, those are my three reviews for now. As I said, I will probably write more of these as I watch additional movies... if anyone even cares to read my novice ramblings on movies.

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Suskie Suskie - December 27, 2007 (08:11 PM)
Netflix is awesome. I've had it for a couple of years now and I've gotten a lot of vital viewing done in the process. So way to go.

And I agree with your views on National Treasure. Yeah, it's reasonably stupid and not a bit of it is remotely believable, but I still enjoyed it and will probably see the sequel as a result.
iamtheprodigy iamtheprodigy - December 28, 2007 (07:06 AM)
I agree with you on the first National Treasure as well. I consider it somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Anyway, I just saw the sequel to National Treasure yesterday. The best quick way I can describe it is that it's pretty much the same plot as the first movie, except it's a different treasure and this time all the steps to get to it are way more farfetch'd. Personally, I was so annoyed with some of the events that occurred that were completely impossible that I found it difficult to enjoy the movie. The action and witty lines are also less abundant in the sequel, which was disappointing overall to me at least.
LegacyGaming LegacyGaming - December 28, 2007 (07:34 AM)
I have a friend that has Some Like It Hot, and evry time I go over to his house I always wondered if it was good. I tend to sift through massive library and borrow (with permission of course :). I am gonna check that one out.
And, on the National Treasure, I go with ya on that one, it is a guilty pleasure (Nick Cage pulled it off ever so slightly in the way of character development as the movie went-on) but great flick nonetheless. Disney definitely pulled off a great action without the sex, blood, and needless violence.

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