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Dear Frozen Paris: Happy With 13 Terrible Ultimatums? Love, John

January ends and February begins, yet just like a kid looking for proof of aging on their birthday, it doesn’t feel like much has changed.  At least, not in terms of movies.  This week’s big movies involve John Travolta as a bald badass, a handful of independents, and another composition-based romantic fluffer from Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message In A Bottle).  Apparently, Hollywood hasn’t stopped releasing January movies because they are too busy to look at a calendar.  Oh well, we were in Rome last week, and now we get to say goodbye to Eurotrash baddies in From Paris With Love (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

So, From Paris With Love is directed by Pierre Morel who also directed Taken and District 13, yet not Transporter 3 (he was only thanked in the credits) nor District 13-Ultimatum, which also comes out today, but we’ll get to that later; like when I stop employing coordinating conjunctions and end this sentence or if I exhaust every conjunction there is trying to show off my level of linguistic competence.  Well, I hope the film isn’t as unnecessarily complicated as my introduction.

“[Morel] brings in lobotomized entertainment at 90-odd minutes. During the February doldrums, this cannot be underestimated.” Nick Pinkerton Village Voice

It would be crap any other time of year, but today, lobotomized entertainment earns a recommendation.

You're welcome

“Giddily succinct in ways literal-minded folk will not appreciate, From Paris With Love is an object lesson in the realities of what the Obama administration once euphemized as “man-made disaster.”” Armond White New York Press

Even when he likes a movie, he can’t help but sound critical.  If they ever make a movie about academic/critic, Armond White, they should consider the title “From Academia With Spite.”

“Stoopid fun, From Paris With Love doesn’t do much for Paris or love, or your brain cells, but it flies like a crazed eagle on uppers and comes from the talented, propulsive schlocketeer Pierre Morel.” Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

Speaking of challenging reviews, I don’t know how to feel about a movie that is described as a demented eagle on psychoactive drugs.  The fact that the eagle in question doesn’t support Paris, love, or my brain is disheartening, but ultimately its endorsements are as relevant as alternate spellings of the word “stupid.”

“As with Spaghetti Westerns and sit-coms, you know they’ve jumped the shark when the tone turns to self-mockery.” Cole Smithey Daily Radar

Well, at least there are jokes.  But perhaps more importantly, can a non-sequel jump the shark?

Even more importantly, who would win?

“I hasten to say this is not criticism of John Travolta. He succeeds in this movie by essentially acting in a movie of his own.” Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

There was a time in Travolta’s career when that comment would be mostly positive.  I fear the opposite after learning that his next movie is Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride.

“Only a Wild West town between sheriffs has fewer law officers than this film’s depiction of Paris.”  Lisa Nesselson Screen International

I suspect the same lawlessness may be true for the demilitarized version of future Paris in District 13: Ultimatum (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“More of the same, only more. Yet here, “more” means a more needlessly convoluted plot, a more cartoonish parade of ethnic stereotypes, and more leaden political metaphor than viewers can digest.” The Onion (A.V. Club) Scott Tobias

More.  More.  More.

“It’s not hard to be engaged by the sheer energy of the District 13 films and, despite a handful of minor plot gripes, the sequel more than matches its predecessor for eye-popping action and relentless drive.” Toby Weidmann Filmstar Magazine

Check out some eye-popping action and relentless drive from the original.

“The fight sequences (choreographed by Raffaelli) are especially creative, with the combatants using any available object, including a priceless Van Gogh painting, to get the job done.” Variety Jordan Mintzer

Art saves the day!  It could only be cooler if he used the painting to hack off some guy’s ear.

“Jumps the shark regularly with glee . . .”  James O’Ehley Sci-Fi Movie Page

Really?  Two movies jump the shark in the same week?

John Q Shark implements his "no more jumping over me" rule

“The reason this wildly improbable, socially clueless drivel is easily the most entertaining film of the week is that it contains three of the most exciting action sequences I’ve seen in the past ten years.”  Christopher Tookey Daily Mail [UK]

Contrary to most stereotypes, if you want action this weekend – stick with the French.  However, if you want thrills, get stuck on a frosty ski lift: Frozen (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“An effective, no-frills gruel-a-thon if that’s your cup of Swiss Miss, and it explores such burning questions as: What happens if you’re dumb enough to leave your bare hand on a metal safety bar overnight?” Boston Globe Ty Burr

A: It turns into Ice Ice, baby.
B: You have one less hand to hold your Swiss Miss with.
C: Answer B is really hard to say

“With a different set of shivers sent up and down collective audience spines, you’re there in that chairlift with those doomed humans whether you like it or not, dying every inch of the way with them.”  Prairie Miller NewsBlaze

Do I have to freeze to death with them?  I’d rather sip my Swiss Miss while wrapped in a Snuggie.

“Frozen is quite simply terrifying. It will do for skiing what Jaws did for swimming.” Brad Miska Bloody Disgusting

Will do for dentists, what sharks do for skiing.

“It’s difficult to get into its “What would I do?” vibe, though, through so thick and transparent a barrier of contrivances.” Los Angeles Times Michael Ordona

Like, why can’t they use cell phones?  Why can’t they drop from the lift and ski down?  And why does this roundup seem to be honoring Shark Week?

“Don’t be surprised if the movie’s most wince-inducing moments come not from the “disturbing images” (as the MPAA describes the sight of a leg bone sticking six inches out of one character’s ski pants) but rather of the bad acting and worse dialogue.” Variety Peter Debruge

Well, that spoilery review answered my ‘drop from the lift’ question.  Perhaps a more entertaining question would be: How would you feel if you were a dark comedy/crime noir Best Foreign Film nominee from Denmark?  Answer: Terribly Happy (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)

“A strong crime-thriller on par with some of the films from the Coen Brothers, one that keeps you captivated with every twist and development.” Edward Douglas ComingSoon.net

People use the term “on par” all the time, but why is nothing ever “on birdie” or “on eagle?”

After seeing this picture, I finally understand why they call it The Masters

“Finds the sweet spot in that realm of disturbing, unpredictable drama tinged with the blackest possible comedy…a deliciously dark and offbeat surprise.” Marshall Fine Hollywood & Fine

It’s a dark comedy and an unpredictable drama.  Does it dip into any other genres?

“Not a horror movie but a witty, expertly constructed psychological thriller.” The New York Times Stephen Holden

As someone who’s never seen a Danish comedy/drama/thriller, just what would I be in for?
“An eerie spellbinder featuring inbred folks from a small, evil, Danish town.” Harvey S. Karten Compuserve

So this film could do for inbred Danish folks what Deliverance did for inbred Southern hillbillies?  Apparently, all of my comments about this movie are really questions, so what’s the low-down on this highly-rated import?

“Not terrible, not happy.”  Staci Layne Wilson Horror.com

That review could also apply to many long-distance relationships, like the one between a local girl and a deployed soldier who exchange letters in Dear John (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Hallstrom knows his way around heartbreak and domestic frigidity, and his syrup whispering skills come in handy, as Dear John has a tendency to buck wildly when it comes to articulating the strain of a long-distance relationship.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

I’m confused by the idea of syrup whispering.  Is he trying to boost molasses confidence so it’s brave enough to make the journey to my belly?  Also, did he pick up this skill in the syrup slammer?

“Hallstrom and his low-heat stars can’t find the pulse of this corpse.” Orlando Sentinel Roger Moore

And now someone’s dead?  When did that happen?  Did a shark get him?

Dear Filmmakers: Please make more movies like this.

“There’s no real depth or texture to the characters of any sort, sentimental or otherwise, and I say that as someone who can be brought to tears by a Hallmark commercial.” Los Angeles Times Betsy Sharkey

When 100 minutes of romantic storytelling generates less emotion than a 30-second commercial, expect disappointed viewers to send hate mail.  For example:

“Dear Mr. Sparks and The Filmmakers: Due to unanticipated disappointments, I regret to inform you that I cannot love your film. Godspeed.” Kimberly Gadette Indie Movies Online

“Dear Nicholas Sparks, There’s no easy way to say this. But with Dear John, the latest of the five films made so far from your sentimental, best-selling novels, I think our relationship is in trouble.” Washington Post Michael O’Sullivan

Uh oh.  People are breaking up with Dear John via Dear John letters.  So, if the film isn’t for Spark-lovers, who’s the movie for?

“Awash in mawkish sentimentality, Dear John still will move you deeply – if you’re a 12-year-old girl.” Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic

PDJ is awash in sharkish sentimentality

5 Responses

  1. Awesome. Good work, Pat. Let’s see if you can get “syrup slammer” into the next review too. I look forward to it.

    Also, let’s rent Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus tonight. Please?

  2. With a name like mine it’s probably obvious I’m not big into romantic movies with beach scenes. So it may surprise you that “Dear John” pulls at my heart strings something fierce.

    I just know this one will be different. (it has to be…)

  3. This is like the fourth week in a row I’ve actually laughed. In fact, still laughing at “you have one less hand to hold your Swiss Miss with.” Sounds like a Welsh town.

    Syrup whisper…

  4. “Will do for dentists, what sharks do for skiing.” (I just had to repeat that line.)

  5. Not terrible, not happy!

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