Balls of Fury
I was bored, there was nothing else playing, and I badly needed to laugh. Balls of Fury was the wrong movie to see generate laughter and to cure boredom. The last comedy I saw was Superbad. Now that was a real comedy. If you are bored or need to laugh, you must promise you will see Superbad and steer clear of Balls of Fury. There weren’t many terrible aspects of the film. Actually, there were only a few things I found wrong with Balls of Fury. Dan Fogler plays Randy Daytona in his first starring role of a major Hollywood picture. Fogler is a washed up table tennis star. When he is approached by a sketchy FBI agent (George Lopez), he must infiltrate an underground table tennis tournament headed up by Feng (Christopher Walken). In the end, Fogler saves the day and gets the girl. Wow, I never saw that coming.
As I mentioned before, there were only a few things wrong with Balls of Fury. Unfortunately, these few things had a big impact on the demise of the film. The first big problem I found was the abundance of recycled jokes. For example, an actor would use a joke at one point in the film and then use it five more times in another context throughout the rest of the film. This got old after the first ten minutes of the film. Honestly, how many times can a guy get kicked in the jewels and still have it be as funny as the first time?
The other major issue I had with Balls of Fury was the way many of the actors (especially Fogler) were obviously forcing the laughs instead of letting them come naturally. A good comedian is able to induce laughter from the audience in a very natural and organic way. Honestly, I don’t think Fogler has what it takes to become a big time, successful comedian in today’s movies.
I would advise you not to waste your $10 for a ticket but maybe a $4 rental when it gets to DVD. I give Balls of Fury a D.
Be Kind Rewind
First things first, do not let the trailer for this film fool you! Be Kind Rewind is not a comedy, no matter how much the trailer tries to tell you it is. The last movie that was marketed this way was Man of the Year. The trailer for that film made it look like another typical Robin Williams comedy but it definitely was not. I am not saying either film was bad. It is just that the trailers for both films were very misleading. Be Kind Rewind is certainly more of a drama than anything else.
Be Kind Rewind is a “dramedy” (drama/comedy) that stars rapper-turned-actor, Mos Def, as a video rental employee at a mom-and-pop type store. Funnyman Jack Black acts as Mos Def’s bumbling idiot friend. Black is a disgruntled factory employee who decides to exact revenge on his employer by sabotaging the factory. Unfortunately, his misguided attempt leaves him “magnetized.”
The video store owner, played by Danny Glover, goes out of town leaving the video store in the hands of Mos Def. One day, Jack Black comes into the store and accidentally erases all the video tapes in the store for his magnetized head. To keep the store from going out of business, the duo decides the best thing to do would be to just remake each of the magnetized films themselves. This part of the film is the only comedic segment of the whole movie. During this time, the two create their own versions of such films as The Lion King, Robocop, and Ghostbusters. The customers end up loving the shorter, cheaper versions and they stand by their local video store even when the FBI comes to shut them down.
Be Kind Rewind is a sweet story at its core that shows how a small community can really come together and unite when push comes to shove. I am not sure if this movie is really for everyone. I think one of the reasons why so many people were disappointed with Man of the Year was because it was not the type of film they were expecting. Unfortunately, I think Be Kind Rewind will ultimately succumb to the same fate. It is too bad because it really is a sweet, heart-warming, decent film. I give Be Kind Rewind a B-.
Black Snake Moan
Black Snake Moan is one of the most beautifully absurd films I have ever seen. The film’s plot was almost as ridiculous as Samuel L. Jackson’s last film, also with ‘Snake’ in the title, Snakes on a Plane. But somehow, the combination of the overacting, bizarre plot, and thick, southern, bluesy rock music made for one enjoyable, albeit also disturbing, film.
Black Snake Moan starts off by giving the viewer a brief, but comprehensible, overview of the two main characters’ lives before their paths inadvertently cross paths. Sam Jackson is an aging southern black man trying to make ends meet with his crop farm when his wife bitterly leaves him for his brother. Christina Ricci is the epitome of everything a parent would hope their child would not become: a drug abusing, sex addicted basket case. When Ricci’s boyfriend (former N’ Syncer Justin Timberlake) leaves to go to war she is left with, to put it loosely, the aching need to have sex. She proceeds to go around town looking for whatever she can get and one night ends up at a party where she is drugged and raped. She is left for dead at the side of the road just in front of Sam Jackson’s shack. The next morning Jackson finds the badly beaten young girl and proceeds to nurse her back to health. When Ricci finally comes to, she is still so shaken up from the night she was raped and tries to run away. This is the point where the bizarre aspects of the story begin to come into play. Sam Jackson doesn’t let her leave his home until she has “changed her evil ways.” As the story progresses, Ricci tries to come to terms with the fact that she has many problems that must be faced and Jackson tries to deal with the fact that his wife is never coming back and that he cannot control people as best as he would like to. The story sounds relatively simple enough but it is the small things that make this film so unique and stand out among most conventional films.
The piece of the film that is the most outlandish is the story itself. The whole idea that an old black man in the south can force an attractive, sex and drug addicted, young woman in his home until she changes her ways is preposterous. The other parts of the film that make it so unique are the camera work and the music. The way the director uses the camera to evoke certain emotions from the audience or even the characters themselves is unique on its own. There is one particular scene in the film where this is apparent. At one point, Sam Jackson, is strumming away at his guitar during a thunderstorm. In most other films this would just be another scene used for whatever purpose but the scene had such an impact that it could have lasted for just 30 seconds and it still would have had the same impact.
Black Snake Moan is by no means a film for children or anyone under 18. I am 22 and seen many disturbing films but this film definitely stands alone as one of the most disturbing movies I have seen since 1994’s Se7en. Based on the uniqueness of this film, I easily give it a B.
The Blind Side
Although Bullock has done dramatic roles in the past none have been as “meaty” as her turn in The Blind Side. In this movie, based on the inspiring true story, Bullock plays a strong, but loving, mother of two in Memphis. When she notices a 17-year-old African American boy walking alone on the side of the road, she invites him into her family’s home. Over the following months the boy, Michael Oher, develops a strong bond with the family. The family shares the same feelings for Michael. Michael’s biggest moments come on the football field after he is enrolled at a prestigious private high school. He becomes a local hero and soon college scouts are knocking on his door.
The Blind Side is one of the most inspiring movies in years. In reality, Michael Oher is now in his rookie season of the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens. The movie is a true story of how Michael’s life changed for the better after growing up in the Projects. However, the audience is only shown a couple of flashbacks of Michael’s life in the ghetto but it is enough to get a real sense of how tough his life was before meeting the Tuohy family.
Enough nice things cannot be said about Sandra Bullock’s performance in this movie. She plays her role perfectly. Bullock has the southern accent down flawlessly, unlike many actors such as Cameron Diaz’ infamously horrendous accent in The Box. Bullock is also able to balance her character’s personality perfectly. She is tough and is clearly the alpha of the family but at the same time she portrays a lovingly unselfish mother, wife, and community leader.
The rest of the acting is really not much of which to speak. However, for not being a trained professional actor, country singer Tim McGraw gives a fairly believable performance as Mr. Tuohy.
There are some hokie scenes, which were almost certainly created specifically for this movie, but overall this is a great movie for the whole family and that is rare to find these days. I give The Blind Side an A-.
The Box is an adaptation of the short story, “Button, Button,” by Richard Matheson. Although I never read it, it is fair to assume that the short story was far better than the movie. Set in the 1970s, it is about a couple living in Richmond, Virginia who, through a couple of misfortunes, finds themselves in a bit of financial trouble. Just in the nick of time an old man with half his face missing arrives at the couple’s doorstep holding a box with a button and an offer to make. He gives the box to the family and tells them if they push the button two things will happen. First, someone in the world, someone they don’t know, will die. Second, for pushing the button, they will receive one million dollars. Obviously, they are faced with a very tempting offer. Thus, the rest of the movie becomes a morality tale with poorly created plot twists. There must have been ten times throughout the movie were something completely preposterous occurred and I found myself raising my hands in the air with disgusted confusion.
There is so much wrong with The Box. Let’s start with the first notable problem: Cameron Diaz’s southern accent. She has to be one of the worst actors to ever use a fake southern accent on screen. Every other sentence out of her mouth is spoken in the way she normally talks. She isn’t fooling anybody. If you ever saw Gangs of New York you would know she has never done accents well. In that movie she was supposed to be Irish.
Another major downfall of this film was its pace. So many scenes were either way too long or completely unneeded. The Box did not need to be anywhere near its two-hour runtime. Equally crap-tastic were the special effects. During a scene involving water, it looked as if the CGI water was made for a 1980s film. The Box is a dreadfully terrible film. There was literally nothing good about it yet it wasn’t the worst film I’d ever seen. Therefore, I give it a D-.
Brothers stars the trifecta of wonderful young actors. Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman play married couple, Sam and Grace Cahill, who have two young daughters. Maguire is a Captain in the Marines who gets shipped off to Afghanistan soon after his convict brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), is released from prison, determined to straighten out his life. Not long after Sam is shipped off, Grace finds out that Sam’s helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan and is presumed dead. From here, the movie shifts back and forth between Sam being tortured in Afghanistan and Tommy and Grace forming a strong bond as Tommy helps Grace to cope with the loss of Sam.
Months later, Sam returns home after being considered KIA. The mood is nerve-racking for the rest of the movie (as if being tortured by Al-Qaeda isn’t enough). As an audience member you have to remind yourself to breath every once in a while. After returning home Sam has false assumptions that Grace and Tommy had been sleeping together while he was fighting to stay alive overseas. Sam must now struggle with his suspicions of his wife’s infidelity, what he did to survive as a POW, and the fact that his daughters would rather be with Uncle Tommy than him.
If only one word could describe Brothers it would be ‘stressful.’ Almost every scene in this movie makes you squirm and be thankful that none of what you are seeing on the screen is happening to you. However, if you think this movie is exactly like the domestic violence shown in the trailers, fear not. Really, those couple of scenes are the only ones like that in the movie.
Brothers is a great film and Tobey Maguire certainly earned his Golden Globe nomination this year but this is NOT a movie you would want to see with your family over the holidays. If you are looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy go see The Blind Side. On the other hand, I highly recommend this movie for anyone who prefers a good award-caliber film to the blasé, recycled junk Hollywood rushes to theaters every other week. Also, this is a movie for anyone who is a fan of the three main actors because these are some of the best performances you will ever see come from them. I give Brothers a B+.
If you remember (can you even forget?), 2006’s Borat became a standout hit solely because of how racy and unexpected the movie was. This time, Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashionista by the name of Bruno. The movie is filmed in the same documentary-style format as Borat. The basic premise of both films is to create a despicable character, add a ridiculously offensive plot, and then throw that character into the most intolerant, racist, and hillbilly places in America.
Bruno is about a gay Austrian who was somewhat famous in his native land but then travels to the U.S. in search of fame and fortune. When he realizes that the only way to achieve this is to become straight, he travels to the Deep South in search of answers.
As unbelievably offensive as Bruno is, Baron Cohen’s flamboyant character cannot compare to the offenses made by the actual real-life Americans shown in the film. Yes, Bruno the Character is rude and disgusting but at least the audience knows that the actor portraying Bruno is just acting and that hopefully he is not as ignorant as his fictional character. The Americans in the film are actually the more vile “characters” because they are not acting. They are, in reality, voicing their honest and intolerant views toward gays. Those are the scary parts of the movie.
I strongly discourage people from seeing this movie who are offended by the following: continuous “gay bashing,” excess shots of male genitalia, orgies and bondage sex, and anyone how felt that Borat was way too disgusting and distasteful. Believe me, Bruno is far worse. As long as you have a broad sense of humor, see Bruno. I give it a B+.