Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Movie Review - Toy Story 1 and 2 Double Feature in 3D (1995/1999)

Featuring the voice talent of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack
Directed by John Lasseter

First things first...there's really no reason for these two films to be re-released in this 3D format. It doesn't appear that anything additional has been done to these films to give them a 3D effect. Sure, there's depth, but that's about it. The two flicks absolutely look good in digital, but there's nothing new here. That being said, for the price of a 3D upgraded ticket, you get to see two good films. Do you need to see them on the big screen? I don't know. There's nothing that really screams "you've got to see this again at a theater." Still, two decent films here, with one significantly better than the other.

I'm not gonna delve into plot summaries because everyone's seen these two movies already, I'm sure. Let's just jump into my thoughts.

The first flick was a landmark film -- the first full-length computer animated feature. For me, the unfortunate thing is that after a stellar 45 minutes that manges to whiz right by, the film falls flat when Buzz and Woody get stolen by mean kid Sid. The last 30 minutes or so feel drawn out for suspense and there really isn't all that much suspense to be had. It's disappointing because the character development here is superb all around. The filmmakers manage to make all the characters (with the exception of the one-note Sid) resonate with the audience. It should be said that the film looks good, too...it was an easy choice, I guess, for the computer animators at Pixar to choose to animate plastic things first and you can certainly see the advancements they've made over nearly fifteen years from this to Wall*E and Up. That being said, the film still looks darn good.

Where Toy Story fails a bit in the story department, Toy Story 2 succeeds greatly. Thanks to the addition of Jessie the Yodelin' Cowgirl (voiced wonderfully by Joan Cusack), the folks at Pixar manage to do a rare thing in Hollywood -- make a sequel that surpasses the original. Because of Jessie, the film contains one of my favorite scenes ever in movies. As Jessie remembers her past of being loved by her owner and then being discarded as she grew older, we are treated to a beautiful visual montage set to the heartbreaking song "When Somebody Loved Me" sung by Sarah McLachlan. Chills...just chills...There is something about that scene that gets to me every single time I watch this movie. I love it. I just love it.

The sequel works a little better in part because we don't have the obligatory set-up introduction of the characters. We're able to jump right into the story. It also helps that the story -- a toy collector "abducts" Woody and wants to ship him off to Japan to be part of a toy collection at a museum -- works much better than the Sid-centric storyline in the original.

I will say that going into this, I thought that Toy Story 2 had a place in my Top Ten Movies of All Time (which I still haven't crafted), but I don't think it will go there anymore. Top 25, maybe, but it just didn't hold up quite as well as I remembered. Still, it's a stellar movie (as evidenced by the rating below).

The RyMickey Rating for Toy Story: B-/C+
The RyMickey Rating for Toy Story 2: A-

A Book a Week - Lost


Book Thirty-Eight of the Book-a-Week Quest

Lost
by Michael Robotham (2005)

The previous book I read by Michael Robotham, Suspect, was mindless entertainment. This one wasn't as much fun and I think I may be done with the author.

Suspect is told in first person by psychologist Joe O'Laughlin as he helped an investigation of police inspector Vincent Ruiz. Lost is told in first person by Vincent Ruiz as he tries to solve a crime with the help of Joe O'Laughlin. A child is missing and after a three-year investigation, it is believed that the young girl is dead and her killer is in jail. Ruiz doesn't believe justice has been served, however, and he's desperate to find the girl whom he believes is still alive.

The problem with the novel is that the crime is much too convoluted to follow. Robotham keeps building suspect upon suspect, evidence upon evidence...by the end, there are seemingly upwards of ten people involved in the crime, none of whom we really care about, nor could we have any guess as to why they did what they did. It just gets ridiculous and incomprehensible. Plus, Robotham seems to have a really difficult time writing action scenes.

It was a quick read, but it was certainly not impressive.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Movie Review - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D (2009)

Featuring the voice talent of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, and Mr. T
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller



Finally! An animated movie this year that deserves to be a part of the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars this year.

Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) longs to be an inventor. Although ridiculed by those in town and seemingly looked down upon by his father (James Caan), he invents a machine that will allow water to be transformed into any food. When the machine accidentally gets shot up into the sky, he fears that his hard work was for naught. However, when it starts raining food (hence the title), he soon is being hailed as a genius. Unfortunately, the machine begins to go on the fritz and the food falling from the sky gradually becomes bigger and bigger, wreaking havoc on Flint's hometown of Swallow Falls.

This flick was shockingly adult in its humor -- I only counted one "poop" joke (and that was about a monkey throwing its feces...it was kind of funny). Instead of the cheap kiddie humor, this movie relies on witty dialogue and wonderfully animated mannerisms in order to invoke laughter. The voice acting here is top notch, too. From Bill Hader and James Caan's father/son relationship to Anna Faris as the love interest to Bruce Campbell as the ever-increasing-in-size town mayor to Mr. T as the tremendously funny cop, everyone does a really amazing job.

Animation-wise, the film looks pretty darn good, too. Sony Pictures Animation brought us the pretty good Surf's Up and the fantastic Monster House in years past (we can forget about Open Season). They're quickly becoming an animation studio to watch. As an animation fan, it's interesting to have another newish company that can maybe rival Pixar (this year, Sony won the battle for sure over Pixar's overrated Up ). The only issue in terms of the animation is that the 3D is nonexistent. Once again, another film where you just have to wonder why the heck is this in 3D if there's nothing popping out at me?

The RyMickey Rating: B+

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Book a Week - The Bell Jar

Book Thirty-Seven of the Book-a-Week Quest

The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath (1963)

Witness the psychological downfall of Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar, a wonderfully written tale that unfortunately leaves a little to be desired in terms of character development and actual plot.

Told in first person by Esther, our protagonist is actually a fully realized character -- one of the most substantially developed characters I've read this year (which, since Esther is apparently strongly based on the author is understandable). The problem is that everyone around her feels like a throwaway character. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter as the story is solely about Esther and her spiral into depression, but it would've been nice to have a little more oomph from the secondary characters.

Certainly an interesting read, there's really not much here in terms of story -- the plot is somewhat nonexistent, but we cget an in-depth look into the psyche of a young woman...and it helped me realize that you ladies are cra-a-a-zy...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Year of Firsts

  • I discovered that I like whiskey. I am becoming more and more like an old man with each passing day...I'm sure whiskey's an "old man" drink...
  • I partook in sports betting for the first time. I now have a vested interest in football -- that $6 I plunked down'll do that, I guess...

Movie Review - Deadgirl (2009)

Starring Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel

While skipping school one day, Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan) venture into an old, abandoned insane asylum. While exploring the basement of the facility, they happen to come across a naked woman tied up in chains. The two friends have decidedly different ideas as far as what to do with the girl. What happens next is incredibly disturbing (certainly not for everyone) and delves into the psyche of a deranged teenager's mind.

I don't really want to discuss a whole lot more because it's best that this movie just unfurl for you if you have any desire to watch it. Granted, there are problems with the flick...it runs on a bit too long and the beginning (first 30 minutes or so) was on the boring side. It took me a bit to warm up to the main actors as well and by the end they still aren't the epitome of great acting -- everything seemed a bit forced.

But, the thing is that the story is unlike anything I've ever seen before...there's something to be said for uniqueness. The two different mindsets of Rickie and J.T. were both surprisingly believable and the last 45 minutes were surprisingly tense and intriguing.

Yes, it's a horror movie, but in the broadest sense of the term. The beginning starts out with a few silly "jumpy" moments and it certainly never veers out of the horror genre (for reasons that I really won't get into so as not to ruin the film), but I really wouldn't classify it as a horror flick. It's definitely a look at morality and what one would do when faced with certain ethical situations. And, as the movie points out, there isn't always a clear decision.

Note: This film is currently streaming on Netflix in case anyone has that capability.

The RyMickey Rating: B-

Friday, September 25, 2009

Movie Review - I Love You, Man (2009)

Starring Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressley, Andy Samberg, Jon Favreau, and J.K. Simmons
Directed by John Hamburg

Personal Confession: I'm much like Paul Rudd in this film. Not only in the lack of serious guy friends, but in the awkward mannerisms, odd speech patterns, and "uptightness." There's a scene where he leaves a rambling message on a phone that seriously could've been me (I'm certainly known for my rambling messages and was just called out on it within the past week). Much like Rudd's Peter by the film's end, I guess I've changed in the past year (I've actually had multiple people tell me that...for better or worse, I guess) -- "found" a guy friend, perhaps am becoming a little less uptight, but I certainly still am maintaining the awkward mannerisms and speech patterns...so I'll just leave it at that...

Before I get critiqued for being too personal, let's jump into the movie. Rudd is Peter Klaven, a real estate agent who just got engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones). Peter doesn't really have any guy friends...he's got acquaintances, but nobody that he can call upon to be his best man at his wedding. Realizing that, he starts to seek out a male counterpart and he stumbles upon Sydney Fife (Jason Segal) who has crashed one of his open houses simply for the free food and to pick up aging divorcées. Despite their significantly different personalities, Peter and Sydney inexplicably hit it off and become close friends (once again, oddly familiar to me here). Some conflict arises simply to further the plot, but, in the end, this is an incredibly simple story.

I was actually pretty impressed with how "uncrude" the film was as a whole. Sure, there are some "adult" scenes -- the "masturbation zone" bit made me laugh -- but it's not an incredibly dirty film despite the fact that the ads when it first came out kind of wanted you to think that it was.

Paul Rudd and Jason Segal are both really great here. It's nice to see Rudd in a lead role and he came off as a completely believable guy to me (obviously, I guess...hence the whole first paragraph of this review). Segal (who is great on How I Met Your Mother) was also fun to watch -- sure, he was the "crude" one here, but nothing really seemed over-the-top. His role came off as genuine to me. Rashida Jones isn't given a whole lot to do here, but she was adequate. Quite impressive, actually, was Jamie Pressley -- she makes the most out of a small role as Zooey's friend.

The film wasn't stellar...there weren't quite enough laughs to give it a really high rating, but the acting certainly raised the bar here. I say give Paul Rudd more leading roles and make Jason Segal a star...

The RyMickey Rating: B-


Movie Review - The International (2009)

Starring Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, and Armin Mueller-Stahl
Directed by Tom Tykwer

After watching all the movies I've watched this year, I can't help but think that they don't really make "smart" movies in Hollywood anymore. Sure, your indie filmmakers may produce small gems like In the Loop or Surveillance or Jerichow, but big studios seem to shy away from adult-oriented flicks anymore (not completely...but these flicks are few and far between). It's unfortunate because I feel like there's a market there (and maybe I'm the only person in that market), but they don't produce that stuff anymore...and when they do produce flicks that fit into that category -- like The International -- it's even more unfortunate (to me) when the flick can't deliver the goods.

Now, this movie wasn't bad by any means...it's just a little bit too convoluted for its own good. The story's too complicated to go into detail here, but essentially there's this European bank that is providing third world countries with weaponry and Clive Owen's Louis Salinger from Interpol and Naomi Watts's Elle Whitman from the NYC District Attorney's office are going to take them down (don't ask me why the NYC District Attorney's office is involved...it was explained at the beginning of the flick, but there was much too much unnecessary information thrown at me since then and I can't remember for the life of me the reasoning). On the whole, the plot is intriguing, but like I said, the writers throw in too much for their own good.

The movie took a while to get started. Thirty minutes in, I honestly was bored out of my mind. However, the film picks up steam at about the 45-minute mark and is certainly intriguing the rest of the way. There's some really great scenes -- one of which involves the Guggenheim Museum in NYC that was incredibly tense and wonderfully shot -- and these scenes make the film come alive in its second and third acts. I must say that even in the boring first act, the film always looked good...the film made great use of its European and New York City settings.

I found Clive Owen and Naomi Watts to be quite good here. Watts isn't really given a whole lot to do except stand around, but I'm starting to like Clive Owen more and more as an actor. He brings a machismo to the screen (you believe him when he's holding a gun), but he's absolutely a talented actor as well. And supporting actor Armin Mueller-Stahl (a name you may not be familiar with, but you'd recognize his face) was impressive.

There's certainly good here, but the lackluster story brings the flick down. It's going to fall into the "recommended for some" category...if you watch it, prepare yourself for a long initial 30-45 minutes before it picks up some steam.

The RyMickey Rating: C

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Movie Review - O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, and Holly Hunter
Directed by Joel Coen (and an uncredited Ethan Coen)

If only films could be based solely on looks/cinematography, movies like O Brother, Where Art Thou? would take a place in my favorite movies of all time. Unfortunately, they don't, and this Coen Brothers effort falls a tad short for me.

Loosely based on Homer's The Odyssey (which I know I've read at some point in time), the flick follows three hickish guys who have just escaped from a chain gang and are on a mission to find a secret treasure (sounds corny, but it's not as bad as that one sentence makes it sound). My biggest issue with the film, though, is that the story is essentially a series of small set pieces with quirky side characters simply connected by these three escapees coming across them. Parts of the film are great -- the scene with Michael Badalucco's Baby Face Nelson, the Ku Klux Klan scene -- but they don't add up to a super whole for me.

George Clooney as the "ringleader" of the on-the-lam criminals always throws me for a loop. Try as I might, I often have a very difficult time differentiating him from his real-life movie star persona and the characters he plays in his films -- I feel like I'm watching Clooney rather than a character (same goes for Julia Roberts and John Travolta most of the time). It's not that Clooney disappoints here (or really disappoints in any film), but I still never get the feeling that I'm watching a character. Turturro and Blake Nelson are each fine, but didn't wow me. I was actually pretty impressed with Holly Hunter's minimal role (and was equally unimpressed by an over-the-top John Goodman).

Still, there are laughs to be had here. And, like I said above, the film really looks spectacular. The sepia-colored tones tempered with strong use of yellows provided a palette that was certainly visually appealing and one that I imagine would look great on the big screen. I just wish there was a little more cohesiveness to the story, rather than just a series of segments strung together.

The RyMickey Rating: C

Movie Review - Love Happens (2009)

Starring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston
Directed by Brandon Camp

When I saw the poster, I was wondering why Jennifer Aniston got second billing after Aaron Eckhart. Maybe it's just my celebrity crush on the gal, but I couldn't help but think that Aniston was much more of a "name" than Eckhart. After watching the movie, though, I understand that Aniston is really just window dressing -- there to look pretty and somehow motivate the main character Eckhart. About halfway through the movie, Aniston went missing for about twenty minutes and when she came back onscreen, I literally said, "Oh, Aniston's in this! I forgot."

Eckhart (who was so good and absolutely undeservedly overlooked because of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight) is motivational speaker Burke who helps people cope with death, but, in true movie fashion, he is unable to deal with the pain he suffers due to his own wife's death a few years ago. He eventually meets Aniston's Eloise, a florist, and they eventually hit it off, with Eloise nudging Burke to face his own issues in order to better assist others in confronting theirs.

The problem here isn't in the actors because Aniston and Eckhart (along with Dan Fogler as Burke's right-hand man, Martin Sheen as Burke's dead wife's father, and Judy Greer as Eloise's assistant florist) are certainly serviceable and make the most of what they're given. However, what they're given is pretty dismal -- dialogue, while not silly, is just inconsequential. Entire scenes with Burke dealing with his followers could have been eliminated...and it felt like these scenes made up at least a third of the movie.

There's really not a whole lot here. The "love" that "happens" between Eckhart and Aniston was really nonexistent. Part of me actually interested in seeing this film because it appeared to be the first "adult" feeling film I've seen as a wide release in a while, but it's unfortunate that there wasn't really a whole lot here.

The RyMickey Rating: D+

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Year of Firsts

  • Went to my first show/concert at a bar...granted the show was in a section separate from the bar, but beer was flowing there, so I say it counts..

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie Review - Sorority Row (2009)

Starring Briana Evigan, Margo Harshman, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Leah Pipes, and Carrie Fisher
Directed by Stewart Hendler

First off, how weird is the placement of the ladies in the poster to the left? They're kinda sorta laying atop one another...just strikes me as weird.

Secondly, let me list a few of the character "names" from the credits: Bra-Clad Sister, Trampoline Sister, Amazed Senior Guy, Over-It Sister, Thwarted Guy, Already Drunk Sister, Slutty Sister, Hot Guy, Sea Pig, Naive Girl #1, Naive Girl #2, Stoned Dude, Wasted Guy. I'm guessing Slutty Sister is the chick who showed her boobs, but with the creative names above, why not just call her "Chick with Unattractive Bosom"?

The story here is simple...five sorority sisters decide to pull a prank on a guy by pretending that the guy date-rape drugged one of their fellow sisters to death. They drag the guy and the "dead" sister out to some dump where the guy, in a state of panic, actually kills the sister who was pretending to be dead. Desperate to keep things under wraps in order to save face and maintain a happy life, they decide to ditch the body in a giant hole in the dump. This being a horror/slasher flick, someone finds out about the crime and enacts revenge.

And most of that revenge is via shoving objects into girls' mouths...every sorority girl that died did so because of something being shoved into her mouth. The phallic/oral sex symbolism of this is not lost on me...why nearly everyone needed to die this way, I don't know; it becomes mind-bogglingly boring. Sure, the first kill was actually pretty nifty, but after that it just got old. None of the murders were remotely surprising...you could see a bunch of them coming from a mile away. And the reasoning behind the killer's motivation for this was ridiculously stupid.

That being said, there's something to be said for not being bored here...at times, I appreciated the odd shots that the director set up and the funky lighting and the grainy look. Then, at other times, I was frustrated by these same things.

Plus (and this'll sound completely sexist and awful), if you've got a movie about sorority girls, is it wrong to expect it to contain hot girls who aren't afraid to show some skin?

The RyMickey Rating: D

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Movie Review - Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, Gladys Knight, Mary J. Blige, and Adam Rodriguez
Directed by Tyler Perry

The flick starts off rather promisingly with a hot-looking Taraji P. Henson sporting a nifty afro singing a sultry song in a slightly sleazy bar. Unfortunately, after those initial five minutes, everything just goes downhill.

Henson is April, a nightclub singer struggling to make it by week to week, as evidenced by the fact that we're told that her house is run-down (we, as an audience never really see this...to us, the house looks like it's in moderately good shape). At the same time we're being introduced to April, we also see three kids (who, come to find out are April's niece and nephews) breaking into crazy old Madea's house attempting to steal her VCR. Of course, big sassy Madea will have none of that, but as she begins to beat up the kids, she realizes that these young'ens may be in bad shape. The kids say that their parents have died and that they're living with their grandmother who has gone missing for the past few days. Madea takes the kids to their Aunt April's house, and, you guessed it, after an initial trepidation to take in the kids, April ends up being won over by the concept of family and all is well in the end.

Yep, I ruined the ending for you...but it's not as if you couldn't see it coming from the first seconds of the flick. Tyler Perry writes everything so that it is paint-by-numbers. There's no surprises here in the slightest. It doesn't help that it is poorly directed and shot. There are very few shots that contain two people in them -- it's mostly a shot of one person talking, then another person talking, then back to the other person talking. And then there's shots where the extras literally stand in front of the camera blocking the view of what we're supposed to be seeing. And everything was obviously shot on a soundstage...nothing looks remotely real. Incredibly poorly shot and directed.

Let's not forget the completely unnecessary musical interludes -- there's six of them, I think, and we see whole entire songs sung that really serve no purpose except to get reaction shots of April as she's listening to them. Granted, the songs sounded nice and Gladys Knight and Mary J. Blige have decent voices, but there is no point at all to these songs playing out in their entirety in the movie. Add to that, the character of Madea (the only part of this movie that actually worked...which was different from his last effort for me where the character didn't really work at all) disappears in the final 45-60 minutes, never to return except during the unfunny bloopers in the credits.

And none of the actors do Perry's poor script any favors. Henson, who started out fine in those first five minutes where she was singing, falls apart after that. It's like she went to the Sassy Black Actress School to learn what the stereotype of an angry African-American woman should be. The kids in the flick were just as bad...really, no one here was any good.

The RyMickey Rating: D-

A Book a Week - Fight Club


Book Thirty-Six of the Book-a-Week Quest

Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)

Even though the movie is directed by one of my favorite directors, David Fincher, I've never seen the cinematic adaptation of Fight Club. That being said, since it's a film liked by a lot of people, I had had the ending spoiled for me. Fortunately, that didn't really ruin my appreciation for this book, which, while not amazing, was an enjoyable read that I was able to finish in less than a day.

Most everyone reading this probably knows the plot, and, if you don't it can pretty much be summed up in one (run-on) sentence. The narrator (who, if I'm not mistaken, we never find out his name) meets up with Tyler Durden, an anarchist who has formed various groups including a Fight Club (in which participants secretly meet in order to beat each other to a pulp) and Project Mayhem (a group that fights against societal norms in violent manners); a friendship ensues and the narrator begins to change...for better or worse...

There's not a lot of plot here, but that really didn't detract from my enjoyment of the novel. To me, the biggest point that Palahniuk is trying to make (and I swear I wrote this before I looked at Wikipedia...the same thing, essentially, is written there) is that men have been stripped of their masculinity, whether it be by women or the materialistic consumer age, and Tyler's Fight Club and Project Mayhem are simply ways for men to become MEN again. Have a little fun...beat some people up...fight back at a government and society that has turned you into the weaklings that they force you to be. For the most part, Palahniuk makes this work. Sure, he delves into the "consumerism is bad" thing, which, although I've read nothing else of his, I've heard is prevalent in quite a few of his novels, but I appreciated the theme.

And Palahniuk writes in such a manner that, although he tends to jump around and be talking about two or three different things at once, is incredibly easy to read and follow. Not once was I confused and I felt like it was one of those novels where I easily could have been. His writing style isn't overly descriptive which is another plus in my book. He writes just enough about something to give the reader a broad idea of what he's talking about and allows you to fill in the blanks.

Overall, I must say that I enjoyed the book quite a bit. As evidenced by the fact that I read this in the course of about 16 hours, I really couldn't put the book down. I'd definitely consider picking up another book of his.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Movie Review - Brick (2005)

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emilie de Ravin, and Lukas Haas
Directed by Rian Johnson

I love a good film noir (see Double Indemnity). I'm also a big fan of screenwriter-director Rian Johnson's latest endeavor The Brothers Bloom. Mixing those two up -- film noir and Rian Johnson -- just didn't work for me in the slightest. This flick which transplants the film noir (complete with the corny dialogue and femme fatales) into a modern-day high school setting just feels utterly pretentious and laughable.Link
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Brendan, a young guy whose ex-girlfriend turns up dead. He attempts to find her killer, but, if I'm being completely honest, I really didn't give a damn.

Gordon-Levitt is the only one here who comes out looking alright. If it weren't for him, I would've stopped this flick about 20 minutes in. Everything about this movie -- the direction, the writing, the acting -- felt heavy-handed and exaggerated.

Not a fan of this one, for sure.

The RyMickey Rating: D-

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Year in Movies

Nearly 130 movies so far this year...I think I'm continuing on through the fall now...it's just 3 1/2 more months...I've already seen enough crap, what's a few more months...

Nevertheless, take a look at the long list below with a little bit of analysis at the end.

5/5 *** 0/128 = 0%
None

4.5/5 *** 3/128 = 2.34%

4/5 *** 8/128 = 6.25%
3.5/5 *** 13/128 = 10.16%

3/5 *** 11/128 = 8.59%
Two Lovers
Cold Souls
2.5/5 *** 16/128 = 12.50%

2/5 *** 10/128 = 7.81%

1.5/5 *** 18/128 = 14,06%

1/5 *** 21/128 = 16.41%


0/5 *** 11/128 = 8.59%

I would say that anything 3/5 or above would be something that I would recommend people to see. Therefore, based on the above ratings, I would say that of the movies I've seen, I would say that 35 movies -- or 27.34% -- would be worth your watching. This is slightly above the last "Year in Movies" listing. Once again, if I'm being really honest, most of those movies in the '2.5/5' section are worth your watching, too, but since I consider them only average, I figured I should only "recommend" things that are above average. If you include the 2.5's that percentage jumps to nearly 40%.

Honestly, that's not all that bad considering I've watched EVERYTHING that came out this summer. Now I just need to start to tackle the 20 or so wide release movies that I still haven't seen that are out on dvd now...I'm sure that'll lower the percentages a little...

Movie Review - Jennifer's Body (2009)

Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, and J.K. Simmons
Directed by Karyn Kusama

As a story, I actually kind of liked Diablo Cody's debut screenplay effort, Juno. If only people didn't talk in it utilizing "too quirky for their own good" dialogue, I would've enjoyed it even more.

A similar thing happens in Jennifer's Body, but to a much less successful degree. The basic plot -- chick turns into a demon and kills the boys around school in order to sustain life -- isn't anything new necessarily, but as an overarching story it's intriguing enough. The unfortunate thing is that Diablo fills the movie with cheesy lines that are too cool for school -- for example, "You're just jello because you're not invited" -- 'jello' being the cool kid equivalent to 'jealous,' both of which contain the same amount of syllables so it's not as if we're even shortening the time it takes to say it.

Megan Fox is okay as demon chick Jennifer, but we're not talking about a great actress here...and I don't get the fascination with this girl. Sure, I guess she's attractive, but there wasn't a minute in this movie that I thought she lived up to her reputation as the most downloaded or Googled woman on the internet. Plus, as an actress, I literally feel like I'm staring at an empty, vacant face...there's no emotion behind those eyes or those looks that she doles out.

Amanda Seyfried, on the other hand, is becoming an actress I enjoy (she was absolutely the only good thing about the horrendously awful Mamma Mia). She's the dorky one in this...we know that because she wears glasses and doesn't know what to wear in order to look cool in one of her first scenes. As she gradually begins to discover the "real Jennifer," she can't get anyone to believe her, including her boyfriend, played by a surprisingly decent Johnny Simmons (who apparently was in Hotel for Dogs, but I don't remember him). Simmons isn't given a lot to do here and his role is nothing other than the requisite boyfriend role seen in so many other movies, but for some reason or another, I liked him in this. Unfortunately, Simmons and Seyfried share one of the most awkward sex scenes in movies this year...it felt like it went on forever and I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Listen...this really isn't a good movie and I certainly don't recommend it. And Diablo Cody is too snarky for her own good. But, Seyfried and Simmons, along with some interesting (although not always good) directorial choices by Karyn Kusuma make this not an epic failure.

The RyMickey Rating: D

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Second Takes -- Moon and Crank: High Voltage

Just watched two 2009 movies again and they hold up pretty much as I originally thought.

  • I watched Moon again at the Newark Film Festival, and I stand by my original thoughts on it. Rockwell is damn good and the production design is stellar...possibly the best this year. Still, it feels a little long in the middle, but it's certainly a smart film. The B sticks.
  • I was a tad worried to watch Crank: High Voltage again simply because I wondered if watching it the small screen would cause it to lose it's insane allure. It doesn't. The movie is nuts...balls to the wall, take-no-prisoners nuts...and it's great fun. In my original review, I was unsure whether it was so bad it was good or just plain bad. Well, it's just damn good -- ridiculous, but damn good. While not for all tastes, it takes talent to make a movie this spastic actually enjoyable and comprehensible. Kudos to filmmakers Neveldine and Taylor. This is getting upgraded a half point to a B+. And, it's also taking a spot in the Top Ten again after it was removed last week...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Book a Week - Our Town


Book Thirty-Five of the Book-a-Week Quest

Our Town
by Thornton Wilder (1938)

Unlike Equus and The Glass Menagerie, the only other plays I've read for this Book a Week Quest, Wilder's Our Town really didn't resonate with me.

The story/dialogue is incredibly simple and I really think this is just one of those plays that doesn't read well on paper. There's a need to watch this unfold onstage in front of you...a need to feel the actors' emotions.

I also know that there's gotta be some deep meaning here that I just didn't get. I guess there's something about stages of life (as the play focuses on "youth" in Act I, "marriage" in Act II, and "death" in Act III) and how we change as people as we get older, but that's not deep at all and really pretty damn obvious.

I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to see this onstage, but I certainly didn't love this one.


Monday, September 14, 2009

A Year of Firsts

  • Attended my first film festival in lovely Newark, Delaware. It was okay. I had a good time, but the films were a little lacking. I've been told that the Philly Film Fest will be much better.
  • I got flashed at for the first time...those University of Delaware chicks will just pull out their boobs for anybody...maybe it is time to go back to school...

Movie Review - Whiteout (2009)

Starring Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, and Tom Skerritt
Directed by Dominic Sena

Although I didn't know how the perpetrator was involved, I guessed the identity of the felon within ten minutes of the film. Alright, now that I've patted myself on the back, let's move on.

Carrie Stetko is a U.S. Marshall doing a stint in Antarctica, dealing with various small crimes and misdemeanors. Somehow, someone discovers a dead body of a Russian guy out on some ice, and while investigating the crime, Carrie unearths a years-old secret that makes her begin to question even the intentions of her closest friends.

There's maybe a good movie here (emphasis on maybe), but it just ends up being a little too silly for its own good. The dialogue here is ridiculously laughable. The musical score foreshadows every single event. The final action scene was so incomprehensible and went on for such a long period of time that I couldn't wait for it to be over. People were slipping and sliding all over the place and it was impossible to tell who was who and where they were in relation to others.

And it's a shame really because Kate Beckinsale is actually decent in this. Sure, her role is given some ridiculously silly backstory and she isn't really given a whole lot to do, but I liked her in this. I also appreciated the fact that the movie didn't really stoop to cheap thrills. Sure, it didn't really succeed on several levels, but I liked that it wasn't simply stupid...I just wish that there could've been a little more oomph to the story.

The RyMickey Rating: D+

Movie Review - 9 (2009)

Featuring the voice talent of Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, and John C. Reilly
Directed by Shane Acker

Let me be honest up front here. There were some work issues that occurred during the middle of this that caused my attention to be taken away from the film for a portion of the middle. The thing is, though, this thing never caught my attention from the very beginning, so I don't think it really will end up making a difference in my rating.

It's a post-apocalyptic world, all humans are dead, and the only things surviving on the planet are nine little "sock people" created by some scientist guy prior to his demise. These "sock people" live in fear of some various robot creatures that want to kill them by sucking their "souls" out of their bodes (the scientist placed bits of his soul in each of the sock creatures). That's it.

And I couldn't care less. I felt like I was watching a distant cousin of The Nightmare Before Christmas. There were scenes and characters that felt like they were pulled right out of that film. Sure, it looked a little richer and had better backgrounds (but I'd expect that from a computer-animated flick made two decades after Nightmare), but this really didn't have any emotional oomph to it. I didn't care what happened to any of these "sock puppets." Everything looked the same (and I'm not just talking about the characters). The backgrounds and "set design" were just shades of brown and gray, ultimately very unappealing to the eye even for the short running time of the movie.

Maybe this thing worked as an animated short (which it was prior to the director deciding to flesh it out to a feature), but it didn't work at all in this extended format. And, once again, there's not a single animated film that I'd long to see in the Best Animated Film category this year.

The RyMickey Rating: D+

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Movie Review - The Ritual (2009)

Directed by Anthony Spadaccini

This is, in all likelihood, the worst movie I've ever seen. It's about some serial killer in Delaware who videotapes his murders. However, we never once see one of these murders...we're just told about them in a series of insanely boring and horribly shot video interviews of the killer to his new young protégé.

In order to make it through this movie, I wrote down three pages of notes...As you'll see below, my mind wondered quite a bit...there are some choice quotes here...
  • On American Idol, there are scenes where the parents of these kids that can't sing praise their kids and give them big heads. I wonder if the director's friends and family do this to him because this movie is shit. [Note: this note was written less than FIVE minutes in!]
  • At the five minute mark: I have never wanted a movie to be over more than this one.
  • There are 102 square fabric panels on the wall in House #2 at the Newark Cinema Center (Thomas will later say there are 98)
  • Did the Phillies end up winning tonight? I last heard that Madsen was coming in in the 9th as the closer with the Phils maintaining a 9-8 lead (Note: they didn't win...Madsen blew it...we need someone to be a closer, dammit!)
  • Saw 6 can't be worse than this.
  • I want to leave so badly, but there's a fucking video camera tripod set up in the aisle so we can't get out.
  • I criticize my fellow moviegoer and give him shit for answering texts during the movie, but I was begging his girlfriend to text because at least I could get peeved at that rather than stew in my frustration over this movie.
  • I wish I had Swedish Fish.
  • I need to buy a pair of jeans.
  • "Zoot suit riot . Throw back a bottle of beer."
  • That guy kind of looks like Meatloaf
  • I have literally never been this B-O-R-E-D in a movie in my life.
  • Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg!
  • Poke out my eyes!
  • Will people applaud at the end of this (we left as soon as the credits began to roll, but I heard no applause)
  • Oh my God, it's only 10:37. It's only been an hour!
  • My fellow moviegoer says: We really could've used that free wine they were giving away in the lobby! 
  • Are police officers allowed to wear earrings? ('Cuz they do in this movie)
  • I am literally looking forward to Sorority Row.
  • Movies like this make a mockery of cinema
  • I'm starting to fade...sleep is creeping in...eyes getting heavy...
  • With so little reviews of "The Ritual," I wonder if, when I post my "review," I'll pop up on the first page of Google if you type in "movie review the ritual delaware" [Note: I do!]
  • From my fellow moviegoer: They oughtta show this at Guantanamo
  • I don't think I'm gonna write anymore...Let me give this film a chance for the last 20 minutes.
  • The Partridge Family
  • The Brady Bunch
  • "Hey, hey, we're The Monkees!"
  • I Am the Walrus
Like I said, probably the worst movie I've ever seen. The zeros that I gave out this year have been treated unfairly because they could never ever be as bad as this. I'd rather only be able to watch Miss March or Brüno (love that ümlaut!) or Dance Flick for the rest of my life than to have to watch another frame of this movie.

The RyMickey Rating: F

Movie Review - Keeping the Peace (2009)

Directed by JJ Garvine and Tai Parquet

I try my hardest to separate my politics from what I'm watching onscreen. I was quite successful with the very good documentary Outrage that I watched earlier this week. Unfortunately, Keeping the Peace, a documentary by local Delawarean filmmakers, just made me angry.

First off, George W. Bush is Hitler according to this film's subject, Michael Berg. That quote was said in the first ten minutes and then repeated again by someone else (the real Dr. Patch Adams actually...you know the guy Robin Williams portrayed a few years ago). Berg's son, a young man contracted out to do work in Iraq, was brutally beheaded when he was captured by our enemies. Now, I understand Berg's frustration with the Bush administration (sort of), but Hitler comparisons? You lose your credibility, buddy. Berg decides to run for Delaware's single House of Representatives seat in 2006 as a member of the Green Party on a platform of peace. He's shut out of debates, has very little campaign money, and can't seem to get his message across despite getting national press (going on Larry King and some Inside Edition-ish-type show). Maybe he can't get his message across because it's hard to take the guy seriously since he's always wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  Nevertheless, the filmmakers really paint the guy as kind of a saint. [While at the same time, painting long-time Delaware Representative Mike Castle as devilish character initially (he is later depicted in an actual normal manner). The first time the film mentions Castle, a still photo is displayed onscreen with Castle shaded in "scary" blues and reds (kind of like a negative picture) with an ominous drumbeat playing behind him. Aargh! Frustrating!]

The people that make the most sense in this movie are Berg's campaign manager whom Berg fires a few months before the election. Berg's manager states that he "wanted Berg to win, but Berg just wanted to be a martyr." Amen, brother, amen! And then, they interview the communications director for the Republican Party of Delaware (props to my peeps!) who states that in order for third party candidates to really succeed, they need to start off small, winning county elections, etc, prior to moving up to the "big time." They need to gain their support before pushing for a run in the big leagues. And he's right. There's something to be said about the US being essentially a two-party system, but the film doesn't really say anything about it.

I feel bad for Michael Berg. Who wouldn't? What happened to his son was awful. But people like Berg make me angry. Even a simple throwaway segment where we learn that Berg was a public school teacher in the 90s and he posted peace rally signs all over his classroom made me peeved. Am I supposed to pay taxes so he can spout his beliefs to the kids of America? Nope. I'm not.

A frustrating movie that irked me immensely.

The RyMickey Rating: D-

Movie Review - Sin Nombre (2009)

Starring Édgar Flores and Paulina Gaitan
Directed by Cary Fukunaga

I feel like I've seen this movie before. In fact, I saw a very similar movie (in style only) called Trade starring the young actress Paulina Gaitan who also starred in this. This was a short movie (90 minutes) and it didn't feel long, but I couldn't really get interested in it enough to really like it or recommend it highly.

At the start of film, we see two storylines -- one involving young gang member Willy who seems to be struggling slightly with his gang leader and is soon pushed to the edge by a horrific act. The second story is about a dad, his daughter Sayra, and his brother. They decide to try and illegally enter the United States and hop on a train to get to the US border. These two stories will eventually intertwine and Sayra and Willy will meet. Willy saves her from an awful situation and young Sayra seems to fall in love (or, at the very least, grow intensely fascinated) with Willy. Good things can't come of that as Willy is being hunted down by his own gang for a crime he committed.

The unfortunate thing is that there was very little tension in this film. It's unfortunate because this is a character-driven flick and there's some fairly good acting on display here. Édgar Flores' Willy started out a little weak and by-the-book for me, but his character was eventually fleshed out a tad and it became better as the movie progressed. The star was Paulina Gaitan's Sayra. Yes, her character was flawed (her love/fascination for Willy, while warranted, seemed to come on much too quickly and her actions at the end of the flick were just silly), but the young actress was certainly impressive. I remember liking her a lot in Trade as well, so she is definitely a young gal to watch.

The RyMickey Rating: C

Movie Review - Every Little Step (2009)

Directed by Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern

Certainly, up until this point, this is the best thing I've seen thus far at the Newark Film Festival. A surprisingly tension-filled look at the auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. The auditions are intercut with video and audio of A Chorus Line creator/choreographer Michael Bennett discussing how the musical came about and how they shaped it into a long-running show in the 1970s.

It runs a tiny bit too long towards the end, but I was actually amazed at how entertaining it was. It was actually incredibly interesting to see the nuances that different actors/actresses brought to the roles they were auditioning for and it allowed us in the audience to try and guess who should earn a spot in the show.

I really don't know a whole lot about A Chorus Line, and, if I'm being completely honest, none of the music that was showcased here really won me over and would make me want to see the show, but that's even more proof that the movie does a great job -- even if I wasn't impressed with the show, I was thoroughly impressed with the movie. I stand by the fact that this flick puts you on the edge of your seat wondering how things are gonna pan out for these young aspiring actors/singers/dancers.

The RyMickey Rating: B+

Movie Review - Valentino: The Last Emperor (2009)

Directed by Matt Tyrnauer

Although I have seen an infinitely more boring movie after watching this, I still found this flick incredibly blah. Some filmmakers follow around the eccentric designer Valentino around as he prepares for a fashion show (which may or may not be his last) and a 45th anniversary party.

There's nothing exciting here. Valentino's a spoiled little six year-old who always gets his way. I really couldn't care less.

The RyMickey Rating: D

Movie Review - Wiener Takes All: A Dogumentary (2009?)

Directed by Shane MacDougall

I initially walked out of this thinking that this documentary about wiener dog (read: dachshund) racing was so bad it was good. However, as the day has worn on and I'm over 12 hours removed from seeing it, I realize that it really doesn't hit that mark.

Yes, it's funny at times and I wasn't really bored during it, but there's really nothing here to recommend this to anyone.

The RyMickey Rating: C-

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Movie Review - Sugar (2009)

Starring Algenis Perez Soto
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

This flick started out as a very straightforward by-the-books baseball movie in the vein of The Rookie -- guy from the Dominican Republic pitches pretty well, gets picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs (I think that's what the team was called), plays for a bit, runs into some trouble in terms of not pitching as well as he should be, doubts himself, then has a comeback of sorts. Everything happened except that last thing, which, in some respects is a good thing...the filmmakers decided to do something different instead of the "happy" typical baseball movie ending. The unfortunate thing is that this film's final act is completely and utterly pointless, adds nothing to the flick, and runs on for much too long.

Algenis Perez Soto as the title character was actually decent, thankfully. Considering that he's never been in a single other thing, I was actually somewhat impressed. Now, he didn't wow me and it certainly wasn't anything to overly praise, but he at least kept my attention for two hours.

The directors (who were also the writers) were fairly unimpressive, throwing in a couple shots just to shout "Hey! Look at us! We can do cool shots like this! We've got talent!" In particular, there was a long tracking shot that simply followed Sugar as he walked through some casino-type fun center...it was a shot of his back for what felt like an eternity and then, when he finally got where he was going, the shot switched to something else. Nothing like looking at someone's back for 45 seconds. This shot stood out like a sore thumb.

So far, at this point, the Newark Film Festival is 0 for 2 when it comes to "narrative" films...True, I've already seen Moon and In the Loop which are also showing there, but as of now, the documentaries are infinitely more enjoyable.

The RyMickey Rating: D

Movie Review - The Horse Boy (2009)

Directed by Michel O. Scott and Rupert Isaacson

So, I walked out of this movie about an autistic boy and his parents who are trying to "heal" his disease thinking that I liked it. It was a well-put together documentary with some nice footage and an adequate amount of both interviews with medical professionals and the family that we're following.

But my fellow moviegoer despised it with a passion, saying that it was one of his least favorite movies of the year. As I was watching my next movie at the Newark Film Festival, I couldn't really stop thinking about this one and I slowly started to get angry about it...here's why...

Rowan is a six(?) year old boy who suffers from autism. His father, who loves horses, feels that Rowan is infinitely calmer when he is around horses and decides to take Rowan and his wife to Mongolia to (A) be around horses and (B) see some shamans who will maybe "heal" his son. The problem is (and this is even recognized by the parents at times in the movie) that this is really just a self-serving plan for the parents. The parents are pushing their agenda onto their son. Their guilt is seen as they're grasping for straws to find some healing power for their son. Who cares that when they get to Mongolia, Rowan is calmer while watching a tv, rather than when he's around horses? I feel like that dad could've easily said at any point in time, "You're getting on that damn horse, Rowan! We traveled all the way to Mongolia to ride these horses and we're gonna ride some frickin' horses!" The mother admits that Rowan's "attitudes" go up and down naturally, so why make this trip? In the end, Rowan is supposedly a much more even-keeled kid, but that also could be because that's the agenda that the documentarians were pushing.

While on imdb, it only lists Michel O. Scott as the director, wikipedia lists the Rowan's father as the director, too...and if that's the case, the agenda-pushing here is ridiculous. Even though the film looks good, I cannot help but think that the family was only pushing what they wanted the audience to see. And, although the father throws in a line or two to show that this trip was entirely self-serving for himself (even if it did have a somewhat beneficial result for their son), looking back on it, the movie is too manipulative for its own good.

The RyMickey Rating: D+


FYI...This is one of the few films at the Newark Film Festival that is being shown prior to it getting a limited release (I believe it opens in Philly in the next two weeks or so).

Movie Review - $9.99 (2008)

Featuring the voice talents of Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia
Directed by Tatia Rosenthal

The one thing I can say about this movie that makes it unique is that I'm sure it's the first time you'll have seen full frontal male claymation nudity.

Moving on from that, this animated flick is about a group of people living in an apartment complex and their interweaving lives. Honestly, there's not a whole lot of story here...the tales of the ten or so people that we come across are all very generic and certainly not original (for the most part...although there was an extremely odd tale about a woman who wanted all her sex partners to get their bones sucked out of them...literally...and I don't mean "bones sucked" in a sexual way, you flithy-minded heathens. She literally wanted them to go and have a procedure wherein their bones would be sucked out of their bodies).

Nevertheless, despite the lack of originality, the claymation is what makes this movie unique and places it in the "recommend" category for me. I'm a sucker for claymation (there was a Claymation television special that ran around Christmas when I was little that had two dinosaurs as the hosts trying to find the meaning of the Christmas song "Here We Come a'Wassailing" that I still watch every single year on VHS...I love it!...but enough about that...), and the animation here was pretty damn good. Little things like turns of a head or hand motions had an authenticity to them.

This is a short movie, and while not a great one, I would certainly add this to your netflix queue when it becomes available on dvd...it's 75 minutes that, if you're an animation fan, you'll be happy you watched.

The RyMickey Rating: B-

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Movie Review - Chéri (2009)

Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates, and Rupert Friend
Directed by Stephen Frears

I must admit that I started out pretty darn confused in this movie. Considering that the only thing I knew about it was what was contained in the poster, I assumed that Michelle Pfeiffer was playing some woman name Chéri. Well, Chéri is a guy who falls for Pfeiffer's Lea, a courtesan. Chéri (Rupert Friend) and Lea begin a six-year love affair, much to the chagrin of Chéri's mother (Kathy Bates).

I'm thinking this movie is supposed to take place in 19th century France, but no one has French accents. Each character has fancy French names, but they have British accents and the accents of Pfeiffer and Bates fade in and out whenever they see fit. At times, there's witty banter between Lea and Chéri's mother, but at other times, the dialogue fell completely flat.

The acting is pretty darn weak across the board with Pfeiffer leading the way in disappointment. She isn't helped by the weak script. For a movie that's supposed to be romantic, there's very little romance to be had. We were supposed to believe that Chéri and Lea were in desperately in love, but I never once got a sense that their relationship was anything other than a sexual one.

It should be noted that this movie was only 85 minutes long, but it felt like an exorbitantly long two hours. I really couldn't wait for this to be over. When all you can say about a movie is that the period costumes looked nice and the musical score was interesting, there's something wrong with your flick.

The RyMickey Rating: D

Movie Review - Outrage (2009)

Directed by Kirby Dick

The crux of this film, as was stated in the pre-film introduction by a former professor at the University of Delaware, is whether the outing of gay politicians by other gays should be considered gay-bashing in the homosexual community. Should politicians who support legislation that is "harmful" to the gay community be outed if they are hidden deep in the closet?

Although the film does detail the story of the outing of Democrats Ed Koch and Jim McGreevey, the huge focus is on the Republican party. Granted, it's the conservatives that are more likely to vote against gay-friendly legislation, but it certainly comes off as more anti-conservative than anti-liberal (This was most evident to me in a completely unnecessary scene towards the end of the film that throws in tales of multiple gay teens who were killed...the only reason this segment is in the movie is to drum up sympathy and it made me angry). Still, even the Republican writing this must admit that there's something innately hypocritical about gay politicians constantly voting "no" on gay legislation.

Yes, the film criticizes my political leanings, but I'm the first to admit that the Republican party isn't perfect (although we're certainly more perfect than those nutjob liberals). It angers me when the Republicans team up with the Religious Right and allow religion to rule over everything. Have some balls, folks! Heck, I'm a religious guy, but isn't a staple of all religions some tenant of kindness? No need to be nasty against people that are "different" from you. I may not be pro-gay marriage, but I'm not gonna be nasty about it (note that I'm for legal unions for homosexuals, but not for the use of the term "marriage"...but enough about my political leanings...there's nothing like discussing politics to make people hate you...so I'm gonna stop).

The film, as a whole, moves along at a fairly quick pace. It doesn't really drag and it looks pretty good onscreen. Yes, it's evident that it's pushing an issue/side (and those interviews with the gay Log Cabin Republicans don't fool me into thinking it's really even-keeled), but it was surprisingly decent even if it didn't really bring anything new to the table.

The RyMickey Rating: B

Movie Review - Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009)

Directed by Sacha Gervasi

Unlike It Might Get Loud's three musicians, I have no desire to go and listen to the heavy metal group Anvil after watching this flick. In fact, if I never hear another word about them, the better.

We are introduced to the band via interviews with rockers like Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Slash from Guns 'n' Roses telling us how influential the 80s metal band Anvil was to them. For some reason or another (we're led to believe that it's because of crappy record labels), Anvil falls into some level of obscurity, all but forgotten except by some loyal (read: crazy) fans. Although lead singer/guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner are now working normal everyday jobs, they long to return to their roots. When a fan contacts them about becoming their manager and starting a European tour, they jump at the chance. The tour is somewhat of a failure, but it gets Lips in the mood to record another album, attempting to regain the success of his youth.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the fact that this felt like a mash-up of VH1's Behind the Music and Reuniting the Band. The film was trying to get me care about these guys, but they're really just two nutty fifty year olds who are going through a mid-life crisis, longing for their youth. There were interviews and moments here that really felt set up, too, which doesn't sit well with me -- for example, we just happen to be sitting with Lips as he reads an e-mail about the fan that I mentioned above who wants to be their manager and set up a world tour...how convenient!

Towards the end of the movie, someone compares Anvil to Rolling Stones and The Who. I may not even care a bunch for those bands, but Anvil is not even in the same category, and pretending that they are makes you lose some credibility.

The RyMickey Rating: D+