Sunday, June 20, 2010

Toy Story 3

Happy Father's Day to all of you fellow Daddy's out there. It's been a hot and humid day today, my brain was feeling all melty and I was seriously contemplating turning on the air conditioner, my wife's Mediterranean warm blood be damned. On this hot day I thought it would be a great idea to take my son to see a movie at the theatre. Not any run of the mill movie, oh no, for you see this is his first theatrical experience and it has to be of top quality, and of course it can't scare the snot out of him either, I'd be sleeping on the couch for at least a month. Toy Story 3 fit the bill perfectly. We arrived fairly early, got our tickets and popcorn, which he couldn't stop eating and went inside to wait. This is always the problem with these big summer flicks on opening weekend you never know how big of a crowd you're going to get. It was full but not packed in, and thankfully they were mostly kids about my son's age. The parents probably had the same dilemma I had, my little guy will never go for sitting 2 and half hours wearing 3D glasses. So thankfully they had some 2D screenings. I've heard the 3D is really awesome so I may have to check this one out with the adults some time soon. After the bajillionth trailer we finally got to the Pixar short which was as always outstanding, called Day & Night. Nathan really dug the Battle Royale between night and day. It was really great visually, very funny. Of course once the credits start rolling on the short he looks up at me with a half cocked head and said, "We go home now?" I smiled and leaned in telling him this was just the beginning.Woody, Buzz and the gang of Andy's toys find themselves in the twilight of their playtime. Andy is about to head off for College and they are uncertain what will become of them when he leaves. They are accidentally sent to Sunnyside Daycare for their retirement, where they discover that all may not be as it seems.This by far is the most adult themed Toy Story yet, thankfully, that idea was lost on my son who seemed to just enjoy the pratfalls and hijinks the toys get in and out of. We follow Woody and Buzz as they try to keep the hope alive that they still mean something to Andy after all this time, as well as pulling a "Great Escape" from Sunnyside. It's got great pacing and dialogue as usual for a Pixar flick. These guys truly understand how to make family entertainment. I'll admit it, it's damn hard to find any flaws in this extremely well put together film. It was nice to hear the voices of Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head) & Slinky now voiced by Blake Clark. They also had some great new additions with Michael Keaton as Ken, Ned Beatty as Lotso and Jodi Benson as Barbie. The Ken and Barbie stuff had me rolling, if they were to do a spin off I could totally see them working that one out at the Sunnyside Daycare. It's a fun, clever and very moving third installment and a fitting end to these characters if this is truly the end of the road. I have to admit I found myself getting a little choked up near the end. I, like Andy, have a very fond recollection of my childhood and my favorite toys and I also had difficulty putting the toys in the attic. This was also fueled by the fact that I was holding onto my 2 year old son at his first movie at the theatre, so yes, I got something in my eye.

Grade: 5 Buckets

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The A-Team

All I have to say is what the hell happened this weekend? I wanted to start out with, "I love it when a plan comes together, Ka-ching!" But now I'm just sort of standing in mild shock. Apparently a young Will Smith clone and a martial arts fighter once known as Jackie Chan blitzkrieged the box office with their Karate Kid movie kicking in 55 million bucks while the A-Team found itself second at 25 million. Yes, both films are rehashes of a popular 80's film and a television show, yes both are not wholly original or what one could or should consider to be cinematic masterpieces. But, only speaking for the A-Team, it's a damn fun time. The critics were pretty harsh toward the A-Team but kind to the Karate Kid, perhaps the bad reviews caused people to turn away? Maybe we live in a far more cynical world now where folks would prefer to see a ten year old child brutally beaten by bullies instead of a couple of army rangers trying to fly a tank. But if you were to ask me, having a kid of my own, I don't think I could get through the Karate Kid. So what gives? Why were families lining up to see this movie? I guess that Jaden Smith is just too damn cute for his own good. Although I would put good money that the main draw was Jackie Chan. But who the hell knows!!! Breathe deep...Ok, back to the review, I saw A-Team this weekend and I really enjoyed myself. Yes it's insane, they do things that are, more than likely, impossible to do in real life, but they did the same kind of ridiculousness and more on the show so I truly think it's in keeping with the original theme. I was pumped to see it but I was worried that the film would fall victim to the biggest flaw in the show that these crack commandos couldn't take the killshot, or worse they would miss. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this A-Team knows how to get the job done and it's a damn funny ride too.Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson) and his Ranger team; Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Bradley Cooper), Bosco "BA" Baracus (Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) and H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock (Sharlto Copley) are the best at what they do. Unfortunately the team is framed while on a mission to recover some federal plates and are promptly sent to prison for the crime. They quickly escape from their maximum security prisons with a mission to clear their names and return to duty. If you've seen the show then you've heard the whole set up. They are pursued by Faceman's old flame Captain Sosa (Jessica Biel) and they are monitored by the mysterious C.I.A agent Lynch (Patrick Wilson) who tends to keep his toe squarely in the gray area. The action is pretty non-stop as they guys get in and out of some pretty hairy situations. It is truly a hilarious and action packed romp that never stops. So did I mention they try to fly a tank? Yes, this is the sequence that has split reviewers and fans on whether one should go and see the film. A-Team Director Joe Carnahan pretty much explained this scene as best he could, if you watch the action in this film and you're bored then you just don't like action movies, plain and simple. This is escapist action that fits in with the great fun 80's flicks of the past like Lethal Weapon, Commando & Rambo. There is an equal amount of insanity in all of those films and that's what we love about them. The A-Team is no different and what makes it even better is the chemistry between the four guys. Sharlto Copley practically steals the movie as he gives Murdock the craziness but with some genuine heart and soul. And I was pleasantly surprised by Rampage Jackson as B.A., I really thought he was just going to try to mimic Mr. T, but he really seem to bring something a little different to the character. Bradley Cooper was pretty good as Face although I still would have preferred Ryan Reynolds on this one, but Cooper looked like he was having a good time and he really worked well with the others, so no real complaints from me. What can you say about Liam Neeson, the guy totally owns the Hannibal role, he's truly worthy and again another surprise that I was sure Bruce Willis or George Clooney could somehow play better. Liam, like his previous hit Taken, takes charge and by the end of the movie you know why they call him Hannibal. (the battle of Carthage, anyone.)So my plea to you is if you want to see a fun summer action flick that takes you on a great ride that'll have you grinning from ear to ear then I highly recommend you see the A-Team. Tell Will Smith's kid you ain't buying what he's selling! Do it Now!

"A Crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from their maximum security prisons to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire....The A-Team."

Grade: 3 and a half buckets

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Get Him To the Greek

Technically this is not a sequel, more of a spin-off. One of the best parts of Forgetting Sarah Marshall was the insane yet hilarious drug addled rocker, Aldous Snow. Created from the warped minds of Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segal and of course Russell Brand. At first glance you would think this is just another useless and tired sequel that is attempting to cash in on an established character from a previous film. Thankfully that's not what we get here. It's two thirds Almost Famous and the rest is an out of control orgy of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Take that scene from Almost Famous where Russell (Billy Crudup) declares himself a golden god and jumps in the pool multiply that by ten and you've got Get Him to the Greek.Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), before we can get five minutes into the film, practically flushes his career down the toilet by releasing an unintentionally racist music video called African Child. Thus plunging Aldous out of the top ten and out of the hearts and minds of his fans. Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) an assistant at Pinnacle is tasked to reinvigorate Snow's career by getting him to the Greek theatre in LA for a 10 year reunion concert.It's a fairly straightforward plot, and it's damn funny. If I drank and smoked as much as these guys did I'd be pushing up daisies for sure. The chemistry though between Brand and Hill just make it that much more enjoyable to watch. Aldous isn't a total idiot but he's completely mental. He's an old school rocker part Ozzie, Robert Plant and maybe even a bit of David Bowie. There is a part in the middle that kind of drags as at one point it's trying to figure out what kind of movie it wants to be. We get a lot of insight into Aldous' world his past loves and his messed up parents. But once they make it to New York it really starts to pick up. Let the drinking commence.There are some great smaller character stuff here from Aldous' dick of a father (Colm Meaney) to P-Diddy's record Mogul. He almost stole the show, I never thought Puffy could be funny. But damn he really impressed me with his comic timing. Also thought that Aldous' baby mama Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) was pretty hilarious as a Brittany Spears esque pop rocker. Also thought Elisabeth Moss' Daphne, Jonah Hills, girl was also cute and kinda funny. Really liked seeing her in this. This flick is most certainly dirty but it's got some heart and most importantly it's funny as hell. So go and check this out as soon as possible.

Grade: 3 Buckets