Movie Night: The Big Lebowski

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t take a week off. Last week’s post was eaten by Tumblr Beasts, but it was “Weekend At Bernie’s”. I’ll quote from Twitter for the day:

“Damn bloody auto-refresh. Movie Night: Weekend At Bernie’s. Mildly funny, very ‘80s, too much cocaine. 3.5/5.”

“Spent too much effort writing the review in the first place to do it again. Deal with it.”

Anyway, tonight’s pick. Roll on, two.

The Big Lebowski isn’t as shallow as it pretends to be. Underneath a story of a guy who really just wants to bowl with his friends, there’s a near-classic mystery adventure happening. Under that, however, is a guy that just wants to bowl with his friends. There was a little too much intrusion by the second story that I couldn’t enjoy the first, and not enough that I couldn’t ignore the first either. It’s left a a weird sort of black hole, like when a popular show focuses on its side characters for an episode, while you catch glimpses of the main characters’ regular shenanigans. It could just be a trick of the mind, but if you told me that Jeff Bridges was born looking 60 years old, I would instantly believe you, and deny all proof to the alternative. Speaking of mind tricks, the dream sequences were rather well done, even if “Kill da wabbit” was playing in my head for most of it. Overall, as a cult hit, it’s something to experience. Make it a rental, leave the purchase alone. 3.5/5.

Movie Night: The Hangover

So, this is the official first Movie Night of 2013. How about those fireworks, eh? Seriously, who needs that many fireworks? My local explosio-ganza lasted for roughly 10 minutes. That’s ridiculous, even for fireworks. Regardless, I hope everyone’s year will, at the very least, not get any worse. Tonight’s combatant is relatively recent when compared to other Movie Night fare, being released in 2009, The Hangover. This has gotten a lot of attention from my brother’s and my social circles (such as they are), so there’s got to be something to it, like Adventure Time, for example. On the other hand, Gangnam Style, ugh.

This definitely falls hard on the latter end of the scale. The only redeeming moments are Mike Tyson punching a guy, and Wolfmother on the soundtrack. And that’s just sad, when you think about it. The characters are extremely unlikeable, and in no way deserve the ending they got. I was waiting for it all to blow up in their faces, but I was left completely unsatisfied with a cheesy happy ending. Everything works out, and everyone is better off for the experience, big whoop. This is supposed to be a comedy? The soundtrack was atrocious, barring exactly two entries. If you can work out why only two, you should be able to guess the other. Unfortunately, this movie panders itself to what has become the majority in society, and if this is what life has to offer, I’d gladly pass. 0.5/5, only because Zack Beardie got knocked the hell out.

Movie Night: The Naked Gun

See? I told you we were back on track, but you didn’t believe me. WHY DIDN’T YOU BELIEVE ME!? Temporary insanity aside, Movie Night presents a comic classic in The Naked Gun. Voted as one of the “Best 1000 Movies Ever Made”, it practically guarantees a laugh. Well, we’ll just see about that…

The Naked Gun presents itself somewhat as a parody of genre; specifically, the cop-centric action movie. It feels like the American version of British comedies: a few good lines, but a pale comparison. Had John Cleese, for example, been cast in the lead role instead of Leslie Nielsen, I think a better movie may have resulted. Nothing against Nielsen, of course, but the movie as a whole felt drab, washed out. The set ups for the incidental gags were too telegraphed, in a way that could’ve only been more obvious had the subtitles flashed “THIS IS A JOKE” and “THAT WAS A JOKE” before and after respectively. The premise could work, and be reasonably successful in a serious movie. Perhaps one shown at noon between soap operas or during discount flights, but still. Overall, I felt that hype let the movie down, but it’s unfortunate I laughed as much during the credit roll than throughout the main feature. 2/5.

Movie Night: Mars Attacks!

It’s said that even the best laid battle plans only last until the first shot is fired. For the first time since we started, we have a freeform bye week. My brother, the “man with the plan”, went in this week without a plan, and it shows. All previous picks had at least been following some internal logic. But Mars Attacks! was picked because, and I quote: “it looked weird”. I guess by that token, I can be thankful we didn’t end up with some freaky parody porn or something. Anyway, onwards to adventure!

For a Tim Burton film, I was left rather unimpressed, and a little disappointed in the lack of Johnny Depp. The film feels as though it’s either trying too hard to be “campy”, or not hard enough to be a serious contender. Several characters were brought in with enough focus that you could believe they would matter, but no. Disintegrated. The visuals could’ve really benefited in the same way as the overall tone: go for “retro” B-movie schlock, or put some more effort in. The aliens looked like they stepped out of an optimistic CDROM adventure game. It honestly feels like the movie ran out of money half of the way through, because suddenly there was a mad dash to get to the ending. The characters that matter don’t feel like it, and the ones that feel like it don’t matter. Save yourself some trouble, and just read a wiki summary. It’s more likely to be entertaining. 1/5.

Movie Night: Spaceballs

I briefly entertained the idea of doing a “special edition” Movie Night due to Halloween, which may still happen, but not today. Tonight is for Mel Brooks in general, and Spaceballs in particular. According to my brother, it made the cut so he could “finally get that one joke in The Simpsons”. I had to look it up, and apparently, this is what he was referring to:

Homer: When I first heard that Marge was joining the police academy, I thought it would be fun and zany, like that movie –Spaceballs. But instead it was dark and disturbing. Like that movie, Police Academy.

So, having seen both, let’s put it to the test.

Spaceballs is a typical Brooks film. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable; far from it. But coming into it having seen some of his other works, it felt a little samey. Or maybe it’s because I was more familiar with the parody source material, that it fell a little flat. Cast-wise, there were no real weak links, with Rick Moranis being the stand-out star for me. There were some genuinely funny lines, and everything seemed to work, but for some reason, it failed to catch a spark in my interest. If this comes up as an option for you, I’d say pick Blazing Saddles or Men In Tights, as in my opinion, they’re the better movies. 2.5/5.

Movie Night: Animal House

Movie Night returns to form with a bye week pick, again visiting the classic era of cinema with Animal House, which I am informed is John Belushi’s second-best movie. First being The Blues Brothers. Now, as a precursor to this review, I should mention that, shockingly, I’m not American, so some of the references may have been lost on me. Thankfully, pop culture is more than happy to provide filler for the gaps in my education, Futurama being the front runner in this case. Regardless, on with words.

Released in the late ‘70s, Animal House still holds up rather well when compared to modern films. It’s certainly a better comedy than most modern attempts at the genre, and that’s a sobering thought. A touch crude for my tastes, but I guess that’s the target audience. Not knowing a great deal about the National Lampoon publication, the little I do know doesn’t fill me with hope for actually liking it. Despite initial reservations, the film is an entertaining, if low-brow, affair. I had no problems with the majority of the cast, except for Donald Sutherland as the English Professor, but even then only because I’d previously seen Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers, and he reminds me of Gene Wilder. Aside from the toplessness, I’d recommend the film to really anyone, provided they were mature. 3.5/5.

Movie Night: The Omega Man

Movie Night rolls on another week, with the 1971 film The Omega Man, AKA: “The Ωmega Man”, and is based on the novel I Am Legend, which some might recognise as a Will Smith movie. Which is unfortunate. Having only really known about the film from references, most notably The Simpsons: Treehouse Of Horror, this made a great selection for bye week.

The movie holds up rather well, despite being over 40 years old (isn’t THAT a sobering thought?), and given the technological limitations of the time. The Family were too reasonable for my tastes, seeing as how I expected them to be slightly more monstrous. Realistically, you could’ve replaced them with a non-specifically religious cult for the same effect. I also would’ve liked to see Charlton Heston be isolated more; once the major players were introduced, things started to feel rushed. Almost as if there was another quarter of the movie that was cut, without being properly checked for continuity. Some pacing issues and minor editing glitches put a bit of a crimp in an otherwise solid story. Overall, 2.5/5.

Movie Night: Lethal Weapon

Tonight’s Movie Night is another Bye Week pick. I can’t really think of too much to say here. It’s been out for a little while, so I’m assuming most of you would’ve seen it if you were remotely interested. Keep in mind, I’m not really an action movie type of guy.

Mel Gibson “acts” crazy, but trash tv has taught me it’s probably not an act. Credit where it’s due, it DID fit the character. The movie as a whole felt… empty to me. I was expecting either more plot or more action. And yes, I know one of those things was a real long shot. It just felt like filler for the most part. I never felt engaged enough with the story, and there wasn’t enough action to switch my brain off. Overall, not my cup of tea. I’d give a 2.5/5.

Movie Night: Police Academy

Tonight’s Movie Night is the second of the bye weeks, with the “unseen classic” reasoning. I’m sure most of you have either seen this already or at least know about it. An inoffensive comedy featuring numerous jokes that have already been used in other places, so I guess this is where they got the ideas from. I agree with my brother, that it’s good to see a comedy that doesn’t just resort to crass, common-denominator style humour. Well, most of the time, anyway.

Overall, I’d recommend it as part of a block of movies. It struggles a little on its own, and I’m not sure how well it would stand up over time. You know, more than has already passed. I’d give it a 3/5.