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Holy Man Rolls Solitary Grub Forever

The title sounds like a retelling of the story of Sisyphus starring the Dali Lama and an unfortunate larva.  Word is still out whether this week’s movies are more entertaining than a monk kicking around worms, but let’s hope so.  Our first movie continues the (sometimes) proud tradition of converting Saturday Night Live sketches into feature films: MacGruber (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Establishes a character on par with Austin Powers and does more than an adequate job transcending the pitfalls of prior movies based on “SNL” sketches.”  Edward Douglas ComingSoon.net

So this film lands somewhere between the randy action hero and the weak plots and catchphrase humor of most SNL movies.   But is it funny?

“When the film is funny, it’s very funny.” Chris Tilly IGN Movies UK

But that implies that when it’s not funny, it’s something else.  What is it?

“An unending string of easy scatological jokes which it executes really, really well.” Joshua Tyler CinemaBlend.com

Oh.  It’s either really funny or it’s wall-to-wall high-class poop jokes?

“MacGruber actually snaps together quite agreeably thanks to a thunderously filthy screenplay and a game cast, who heroically taffy pull a slender concept to a pleasing consistency of comedic madness.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

Forget the poop jokes, tell me more about comedic thunder taffy.

“A jerry-rigged contraption whose rubber-bands-and-baking-soda construction is lucky to work once and then fall apart.” John DeFore Hollywood Reporter

It's okay if it only works once, so long as it works.

“There’s a reason you’ve never seen the words “Will Forte” topping the billing of a major motion picture. After the throbbing flameball of unfunny that is MacGruber, you never will again.” New York Post Kyle Smith

Like so many comedies, this film’s humor seems to depend on the placement and orientation of your funny bone (the closer to the butt the better).  Although, if you already like Will Forte and the sketch, it should be right up your alley.  But if your alley would prefer a film about drug-smuggling Hasidic jews then grab your bowling ball and check out Holy Rollers (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Effectively warns against leaving Eden for Sodom, a vivid portrayal of Hasidic men used as drug couriers.” Harvey S. Karten Compuserve

It may not be a good idea to leave Eden for Sodom, but I suspect the parties are better in the latter option.

“Sect, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll. A humane take on the draconian US anti-drug approach, but it’s unfortunate that similar nonwhite characters in movies continue to be ferociously demonized, while white youth are simply emotionally troubled.” Prairie Miller NewsBlaze

While institutional racism may not be explored, the idea of religious traditionalist narcotic mules sounds complicated enough, unless someone wants to simplify?

“A SERIOUS MAN meets GO.” Chris Bumbray JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Two hours reduced to five words. As long as we’re feeling reductive, what’s the single best aspect of this film?

“Jesse Eisenberg gives an emotive, sympathetic performance as a man caught between two worlds, but eventually genre conventionality undoes this potentially novel crime story.” Tim Grierson Screen International

“It’s gratifying to see Eisenberg move past nerdy-cutie parts; his slim shoulders, it seems, are capable of handling more than Michael Cera’s leftovers.” Time Out New York David Fear

If you doubt Eisenberg as a star-to-be, at least we know he’s keeping himself busy.  After being in Adventureland and Zombieland, he stars in two movies this week: Holy Rollers and the Michael Douglas drama: Solitary Man (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“A truly impressive portrait of self-destructive, smooth-talking alpha males, and a testament to an actor who waltzes across that Peter Pan–syndrome tightrope with the greatest of sleaze.” Time Out New York David Fear

Smooth-talking alpha sleaze.

“The Boyfriend Experience. And a sex villain so over the top, that even Douglas keeps him at arm’s length. While giving no evidence of his supposed irresistible powers over women, in reality always money or fame, neither of which can be claimed here.” Prairie Miller NewsBlaze

His character may not be rich or famous, but he still looks like Michael Douglas.  I’m sure there are plenty of lonely single men who would call that a leg up in the dating world.

“Douglas makes all the contrivances feel like universal, soul-testing dilemmas. He encourages the audience to lean in and watch him close, to pick up a few tips on how to look cool while melting down.” Noel Murray AV Club

How to look the opposite of cool while melting down.

“…with the always interesting Douglas in the driver’s seat, you can’t help but be drawn into the mind and actions of a character who refuses to face up to his limitations.” Cole Smithey ColeSmithey.com

The mind of a character actor has a schizophrenic population.

“Solitary Man intends to be shocking, and has been rewarded with some respectful reviews. But ticket buyer beware — the film’s real shocker is its unpleasantness.” Joe Morgenstern Wall Street Journal

What could be unpleasant about a glorified sexual deviant portrayed by a movie star?  Before you answer that, would it be more or less unpleasant than an ogre who trounces Prince Charming, A Fairy Godmother, and Rumpelstiltskin?  On second thought, don’t bother answering my rhetorical questions.  Instead, sit back and enjoy another retrospective roundup that begins way back in 2001 with Shrek (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Funny, irreverent and moving, the unconventional Shrek may mock fairy tales, but in the process, creates its own.” Portland Oregonian Kim Morgan

It’s a fairy tale farce that takes pieces of other stories and reanimates them into something new.  So, it’s a franken-fairy farce?

“As innocent as a Disney movie — and a lot more entertaining.” San Francisco Chronicle Mick LaSalle

That’s odd.  I usually would credit Disney movies with being entertaining before I would call them innocent.

“If “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid” were banquets for the eyes and ears, “Shrek” is an out of control food fight that’s so invigorating to watch you wish it could go on forever.” James Sanford Kalamazoo Gazette

Fans of the food fight that lasts forever didn’t have to wait long to get another helping, because in 2004 it was time for: Shrek 2 (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“I wasn’t prepared for the slap-happy brilliance of Shrek 2, which should ideally be seen twice–once with kids, once savored at something like a midnight show.” Slate David Edelstein

It’s not often that kid/family entertainment shares praise with cult-classic midnight movies.

“So gorgeously animated and so thoroughly entertaining for all ages that only an ogre would complain it’s not quite as fresh as the original.” New York Post Lou Lumenick

Ogre’s? Care to respond?

“Bright, lively and entertaining, but it’s no “Shrek.” Maybe it’s too much to expect lightning to strike twice.” Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

Only an ogre (and/or Roger Ebert) would think lightning striking twice was too much to expect.

“Lightning strikes twice, but not as brilliantly as before, in Shrek 2. The welcome sequel to the monster 2001 Oscar winner about an ogre’s unlikely romance with a beautiful princess successfully recycles many of the qualities that made the first one an instant animated classic and worldwide smash.” Variety Todd McCarthy

See?  And as long as we’re recycling old reviews, let’s hear what Roger Ebert had to say about Shrek the Third (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“It makes the mistake of thinking slapstick action is funny for its own sake. True, characters zooming and bouncing around are easy to write because no creative invention is required to set them in motion. But so what?” Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

So what?  The first Shrek movie made over $250 million and the sequel made $436 million.  The ‘So what?’ is the cha-ching sound.

“Shrek, DreamWorks’ big green cash machine, has finally run dry, perhaps not of box office power, but most assuredly of the caustic, fractured fairy tale-isms and the wry, snarky wit that made the first film, and to a lesser degree, the first sequel, so winning.” Austin Chronicle Marc Savlov

The Shrek franchise may have run out of funny, but it’s not done making money.

“The law of diminishing returns is no more apparent than in the movie world. A sequel, with rare exceptions, is worse than the film it follows, and sequels of sequels fare even worse. Such is the case with Shrek the Third.” Christian Science Monitor Peter Rainer

Uh oh.  Critics were already calling for a “happily ever after” after part tres.  What is in store for el cuarto (the supposed franchise finale): Shrek Forever After (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?

“After a disappointing third outing, this Shrek brings the cycle of fairy-tale-themed films to a fine finish.” Michael O’Sullivan Washington Post

We’ll see.  If the recent crop of remakes is any indication, then we know that franchises don’t end, they just go into hibernation.

“It’s no classic, but Shrek Forever After is a pleasant reminder that every time a cash register rings, this ogre turns angelic.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch Joe Williams

This is what happens when the cash register stops ringing.

“Mediogre at best.” Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea

If you want mediogre, consider this punny practical jokeogre?

“The reputed swan song for the series and its first entry in 3D, pic contains a respectable number of laughs, but also borrows its storyline from the oft-recycled “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and if that’s all its creators can do, it’s best to put Far Far Away far far away.” Variety John Anderson

King Sheep isn't far far away from putting Far Far Away far far away.

4 Responses

  1. I liked both “franken-fairy farce” and “comedic thunder taffy.” Oh, and the baby. Nice work, King Sheep.

  2. ha ha ebert is an ogre

  3. Recycled Puss in Boots jokes are one thing, but if this movie plays Smash Mouth in a montage again, I’m walking out.

    And why the fuck didn’t they ever think of a name more inventive than Donkey?

  4. my funny bones are always active coz i always crack jokes everyday .

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