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Let The Freaky Social Case In

Sure, let all the freaks in.  Open the door for the social misfits and borderline threats to public safety.  We’ll have a party where everyone is welcome.  It’ll either turn out to be a thunderdome approach to Darwinism or we’ll share phone numbers, pictures, and create the ultimate super-inclusive Utopian version of The Social Network (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“History as we know it is still unfurling, and The Social Network is that rare film that has something — not yet definitive, but certainly provocative — to say about it.” Kimberly Jones Austin Chronicle

For the unprovocative: It’s a modern film about now.

“The Social Network is the movie of the year. But Fincher and Sorkin triumph by taking it further. Lacing their scathing wit with an aching sadness, they define the dark irony of the past decade.” Peter Travers Rolling Stone

Keen observation or dark irony?

“As socially significant to this generation as films like Network, All The President’s Men and The Graduate were in their own time.” Pete Hammond Boxoffice Magazine

“A riveting cinematic triumph that can be fairly described as the Citizen Kane of the 21st Century.” Scott A. MantzAccess Hollywood

“The Social Network is the movie of the year. If Coppola were into computers, this would be The Godfather.” Fred Topel Screen Junkies

But before we get lost in the ocean of praise, we should hear from the lonely haters who dug deep to dislike.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a regular reader then you don’t need a preamble to know whose poison pen is next.

“Like one of those fake-smart, middlebrow TV shows, the speciousness of The Social Network is disguised by topicality. It’s really a movie excusing Hollywood ruthlessness.” Armond White New York Press

And he’s really a man in need of some happy pills

“Mr. Fincher and Mr. Sorkin offer up a creation story for the digital age and something of a morality tale, one driven by desire, marked by triumph, tainted by betrayal and inspired by the new gospel: the geek shall inherit the earth.” Manohla Dargis New York Times

And when the great and glorious geeks of our generation go to great beyond, I hope Gabriel asks them a germane password like “Who shot first?” (FYI: don’t guess Greedo).  After all, in nerd nirvana, we must leave the uninitiated at the gates screaming Let Me In (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)!
“This unsettling, effective American remake really gets under the skin as one of the year’s most powerful thrillers.” Michael Rechtshaffen Hollywood Reporter

Compared to most fall movie releases, it’s unsettling for two of the year’s best movies to open on the same October weekend.

“A smart horror film that exploits a deep-seated fear in America: subtitle-phobia.” Liam Lacey Globe and Mail

Boo!

“So far superior to the usual run of Hollywood horror films that one can easily forgive the fact that it doesn’t quite match its Swedish model.” Frank Swietek One Guy’s Opinion

Hollywood’s Vampire models

“Ultimately, if the Swedish version is near perfection, Matt Reeves’s version achieves complete supremacy. Masterpiece is an overused word, but it’s hard to think of another so powerful. Let Me In is the new standard for vampire movies.” Brad Miska Bloody Disgusting

When you see this sign, does that mean you’re the one?

“Reeves has Americanized a very good foreign film without defanging it.” Orlando Sentinel Roger Moore

Our next film seeks to Movieize a very good book without defenestrating it. Like a poor stockbroker whose sanity crashed along with the market, such is the manic money misfortune of Freakonomics (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“Swift and easily digestible. None of it will likely provoke discussion, though … doesn’t seem to be anything more substantial than interesting yet trivial data.” Christopher Campbell Cinematical

The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.
An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

“At the center is the quietly exciting notion that numbers can be used to both mask the truth and reveal it, depending on the character of who’s holding the calculator.” Matt Pais Metromix.com

The best way to do addition, depending on the flavor preferences of who’s eating the calculator.

“By the end, don’t be surprised if you are still asking yourself what, exactly, the definition of freakonomics is.” Dustin Putman DustinPutman.com

Definition of freakonomics: the title of the movie/book – Freakonomics.

“Blame producer Chad Troutwine for bringing together an array of talented documentary filmmakers to try to coax life into material certainly not suited to the medium of film.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

Perhaps a fortune cookie would have been better?

Woah. The cookie called it.

“A quartet of uneven TV pilots posing as a full-length documentary.” Village Voice Dan Kois

If ten quartets of pilots posed with briefcases and Captain Penultimate had the winning swagger, he’d be holding Case 39 (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“Case 39 has been forlornly gathering cobwebs in the proverbial filing cabinet for over a year. Understandably so – it’s terrible. We’d be embarrassed too.” Film4

I’m embarrassed of that last title segue.

“If I’m to understand the movie as it is presented, demons do not enjoy passive aggression, it only enrages them further, and to avoid a demon, it’s best if you’re neither a nice nor smart person, because then the demon has nothing to work with.” Adam Lippe Examiner.com

To avoid a demon, we should be neutral, banal, and trivial.  Speaking of which, did you know 14% of all facts and statistics are made up, but only 27% of people know that fact?

“It’s all been done before, of course, and Case 39 is let down by too many of those jolting boo! moments, ropey special effects – check out a badly-animated hornet attack – plus a plot even casual horror fans can predict.” David Edwards Daily Mirror [UK]

A badly-animated boo! for casual horror fans

“This ramshackle movie features a preposterous plot, dodgy direction and clunky editing, and yet it’s great fun to watch the actors squirm with fear.” Rich Cline Shadows on the Wall

There was a subtle current of spookiness running through this week’s roundup, starting with scary good then good and scary.  Then there was the frighteningly trivial and now stupid and squirmy.  It’s as though Halloween’s eerie presence looms on the calendar’s horizon; offering a chilly greeting before a stretch of holidays.  Or maybe I’m just looking forward to a day when everyone is encouraged to be weird.

“Case 39 is too bland, with scares that are so polite they almost take their shoes off to avoid dirtying the hallway carpet of your mind.” Jon Hamblin SFX Magazine

King Sheep has no idea if the hallway carpet of his mind is clean

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Legend Of Strange Howling Money Buries Superman Again

It is unnervingly possible that the only real world threat to DC’s fictional Übermensch is money.  After all, low sales is what killed him last time and things must be going well because they haven’t killed him again.  Instead, we lost Captain America and Batman, but they both returned from their dirt naps.  In comics and on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“The first time around, Wall Street felt like a warning about the perils of excess just as excess started to exact its toll. This one’s little more than a reminder that we all got, and remain, screwed. Noted.” The Onion A.V. Club Keith Phipps

Question: Are we screwing ourselves with excess or are those with excess screwing the rest of us to keep it?

“No deep thoughts here; this is a product of shiny surfaces and glittering patter, the cinematic equivalent of a derivatives offering. Instead of whacking Wall Street, Stone gives it a poke that ends up as a tickle.” New York Magazine David Edelstein

Tickle yourself Elmo?

“Tom Hanks said it best: “There’s no crying on Wall Street.” LaBeouf and Mulligan are terrible. LaBeouf has no “killer instinct”. Douglas makes love to the camera.” Victoria AlexanderFilmsInReview.com

Slow down.  First, Hanks was talking about baseball.  Second, no one named LaBeouf has a killer anything.  Lastly, Douglas, dude, leave the camera alone.

“Just like the Stock Market, this movie suffers from some pretty scary highs and lows.” Joanna Langfield The Movie Minute

And if you’re up for going down, you can join Ryan Reynolds as he gets Buried (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“Cortés has an invigorating fondness for the zoom lens. But the movie’s real asset is Reynolds himself, utilizing his comedy chops for unexpected levity.” Joshua Rothkopf Time Out New York

Expected levity: a joke about someone rolling over in their graves.

“Talk about burying the lead. . .” Peter Sobczynski eFilmCritic.com

I should have expected that too.

“Those who claim that Reynolds is just a handsome star should look at this nail-biting, expertly directed political thriller, which he carries single-handedly on his solid soldiers with his dramatic chops.” Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com

Dramatically comedic chopper.

“This exercise in racked nerves makes most of the year’s thrillers look like flailing maniacs by comparison.” Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

Flailing maniacs sound pretty scary.  If they show up I’ll be locked in a closet Waiting For Superman (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).
“Controversy is already swirling around this powerful and important documentary exposing the shocking state of America’s educational system and vividly demonstrating how it is failing the nation and devastating the lives of individual families.“ Shirley Sealy Film Journal International

Speaking as an educator, I can say with complete honesty that I want Superman in my classroom.

“Powerful, passionate, and potentially revolution-inducing documentary.” Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

The revolution will not be televised, but it is available in theaters.

“Exhilarating, heartbreaking and righteous, Waiting for Superman is also a kind of high-minded thriller: Can the American education system be cured?” John Anderson Variety

If it can’t be cured, kids will just keep repeating the same grades over and over.  Eventually, a 22-year-old third grader will saunter into class and the teacher will look up with an exasperated expression that says: You Again (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?
“You again? Another dismissible chick flick that revolves around a wedding and wastes a handful of good actresses by making them behave in a way that no recognizable person would?” Moira MacDonald Seattle Times

Some statements must sound like questions?

“How bad is it? If it were a TV sitcom, it would be cancelled after a single episode.” Frank Swietek One Guy’s Opinion

It could have been worse.  It could have been an unaired pilot.

“Such a stinker that the only way to improve it would be for Disney to run the negative and all of the prints through an industrial shredder.” Lou Lumenick New York Post

And then we’d use what’s left as confetti for a party.  Everyone in attendance would drink, laugh, and Howl (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“The filmmakers don’t get everything right but their passion for Ginsberg’s genius and their excitement over trying to deconstruction a literary master work is contagious. A more perfect film might have been just a teensy-weensy dull.” Kirk Honeycutt Hollywood Reporter

And a more perfect review would correctly spell “deconstruct.”

“A Beat Generation biopic that makes you sympathize with the Man? That’s just unholy.” Keith Uhlich Time Out New York

Well, the Man is supposed to be the devil.

“Milk meets Pink Floyd the Wall. Says everything it has to say in the first 20 minutes, then keeps repeating itself.” Kyle Smith New York Post

Well, the Man is supposed to be the devil.

“Like the counterculture icon that penned the poem that serves as the title to Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film, Howl is one odd bird.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

From one group of odd birds to another, I couldn’t have asked for a better segue into Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’ Hoole (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“Though anything is possible, I seriously doubt that ‘Use your gizzard’ will supplant ‘Trust the Force’ anytime soon.” Frank Swietek One Guy’s Opinion

I suppose it is also possible that “trust the force” will replace the more accurate “use the force.”

“A sweeping, grand explosion of animated entertainment, skillfully assembled by Snyder…a tremendously engaging, inspired movie, and should not be overlooked by family audiences hungry for a rousing change of pace.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

The gizzard is strong with this one.

“Zack Snyder’s films have some of the best opening-credits sequences in cinema; the unfortunate thing is that there’s always a movie after them.” Keith Uhlich Time Out New York

If it would improve your opinion, you could leave early.  Depending on your luck, you might find a great taco truck or You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“A choice cast and, as usual, some snappy [Woody] Allen patter and observations on amour-or the lack of it-will hit the bulls-eye with Allen fans who follow him wherever he goes.” Pete HammondBoxoffice Magazine

Follow him long enough and eventually you will meet a small Jewish filmmaker.

“This love letter to the Reaper and his unknowable timetable is a bracing addition to an erratic, yet indispensable oeuvre.” Keith Uhlich Time Out New York

Don’t fear the begging Reaper.

“If this were my very first Allen film, my reaction would be, “That’s it?” Drew McWeeny HitFix

King Sheep says 'that's it.'

Easy Alpha Devil Town

I have no idea what an easy alpha devil town is, but it sounds like a collection of domiciles filled with promiscuous type-A demons.  If I lived near such a place, I would board up my windows, mount a machine gun on my roof, and put up signs that warned tourists to stay away from The Town (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“If “Heat” and “The Departed” had a baby, the result might come close to The Town, a riveting and explosive crime thriller and one of the year’s best pictures.” Boxoffice Magazine Pete Hammond

How does movie copulation work exactly?  I ask because most gangster movies have a macho quality that complicates the situation.

“It’s rare to see an ensemble movie like this, so loaded with talented actors, in which virtually all of them get an opportunity to make an impression. Affleck is the boss and the star, but he knows how to share.” Time Mary Pols

When sharing is the opposite of caring

“The Town is nearly as ludicrous as [Affleck’s] debut Gone Baby Gone — another poison pen letter to Beantown.” Armond White New York Press

So, if you hate a movie that most people like (Gone Baby Gone is at 94% on RT), maybe you’ll hate this one too.

“Affleck shows this is how you f_ck_n’ direct a movie.” Phil Villarreal OK! Magazine

And that is how you fuckin’ c_ns_r for publication.

“The Town is part of a career turnaround so amazing that he [Affleck] looks like the new Clint Eastwood. Seriously.” Caryn James Newsweek

That comment makes me wish I had a time machine so I could go back to when Bennifer starred in Gigli and Daredevil and tell angry movie geeks that one day “Affleck will be the new Clint Eastwood.”  I would laugh and laugh with knowing satisfaction as they beat me silly.  The differences between reality then and reality now is the difference between Alpha and Omega (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).
“Someday they’ll make an animated movie in which carnivorous animals actually kill and eat their prey; until then, we’re stuck with the likes of Alpha and Omega.” Vadim Rizov L.A. Weekly

If the wolves aren’t hunting, killing, or other wolf-activities, how do they spend their time?

“The sexual tension is thick between the woodland creatures in Alpha and Omega, an animated children’s film with a plot that has more in common with “The Blue Lagoon” than “Bambi.”” San Francisco Chronicle Peter Hartlaub

How much sexual tension should be expected?  Would a better title have been Full Moon Lagoon or Randy Bambi?

“Almost totally bereft of surprises.” Steven D. Greydanus Christianity Today

It can’t be too risque if the guy from Christianity Today was bored by its lack of risk.

“It’s an ugly, laughless 3-D cartoon about wolves that is so wussified and stupidified that it’ll bore kids and make their adult minders wish they’d done something comparatively interesting, like cleaning the gutters in the rain.” Kyle Smith New York Post

Or arm-wrestle a crocodile

“A gentle courtship guide for youngsters, “Alpha and Omega” is a free-spirited animated comedy where acrobatic chase sequences, featuring wild wolves, take center stage.” Cole SmitheyColeSmithey.com

If you are uneasy about prescribing an animated courtship guide for your kids, you can bypass the birds and bees with nerds and sleaze in Easy A (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“What this high school morality fable really recalls is “Clueless” — a comedy of very contemporary ill manners drawn from classic literature, an immersion in the young-adult lexicon and a potentially career-making showcase for its lead actress, Emma Stone.” Variety John Anderson

It’d be too easy to assign this movie a grade, instead let’s say its star earns a gold star.

“Emma Stone is crazy good in this – Goldie Hawn in ”Private Benjamin” good, Gilda Radner in good, Shelley Long in ”Cheers” good!” Clint Morris Mediasharx

Constructing awkward sentences to insert pop culture references doesn’t always work so…good.

“Wielding an improbable vocabulary that would elicit a head scratch from Merriam-Webster and possessing a beautiful and expressive face, the 21-year-old redhead [Stone] makes you fall for her hard.” Randy Myers Contra Costa Times

How to look smart while scratching your head

“The ghost of John Hughes smiles upon Easy A, a film that freely and giddily borrows from and pays tribute to Hughes’ famous Holy Trinity of ’80s teen angst comedies.” Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel

I wonder if the ghost of John Hughes sees Molly Ringwald’s path from Breakfast Club to Pretty In Pink echoed in Emma Stone’s move from Superbad to this.

“I’d like to see Gluck and Royal actually study what John Hughes achieved during his short stint in teen cinema before they attempt to piss all over his grave a second time around.” Brian OrndorfBrianOrndorf.com

I wonder if the ghost of John Hughes knows his grave is soaked in urine.  And if so, I hope he haunts those pissers.  Or perhaps he can hire someone to torment his foes.  How about a Devil (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?
“A taut, psycho-supernatural chiller with an elegantly simple premise: Five strangers, trapped in the elevator of a highrise, start to go nuts.” Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) St. Paul Pioneer Press

That’s the film’s summary in words, but let’s go nuts with images for the rest.

“It’s not a great film. But it held my interest throughout and released me at just the right time.” Teddy Durgin Screen It!

Timing is everything

“Shyamalan has instead indulged his moldy sense of protracted mischief, providing pedestrian thrills to fans who’ll see every turn of this feature coming a mile away.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

Pedestrian thrills

“Perhaps someday, in the greatest twist of all, Shyamalan will be remembered as the Hitchcock of the early 21st century. Until then, movies like Devil will be misunderstood as schlock.” The Onion A.V. Club Scott Tobias

The greatest fist bump of all

“A pocket-size supernatural thriller that plays a bit like Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians retold by an unstable Sunday School teacher.” Adam Markovitz Entertainment Weekly

King Sheep is a relatively stable everyday school teacher

Evil Romantics Still Hitting Resident Virgins

When will those pesky romantics leave the virgins alone?  Bullying people based on their romantic proficiency seems pretty cruel, especially since bullying them about their physical appearance or their cooties is much more socially acceptable. And by cooties, I meant their ‘ick’ factor, not the zombie virus nonsense that fills the world of Resident Evil: Afterlife (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Like one of its lumbering undead, this video game franchise is hard to kill. The fourth entry is less about zombie mayhem than about progressing a larger story arc – if anyone still cares.” Joe Lozito Big Picture Big Sound

For those who care, the story follows hero-protag Alice who (in part 1) worked as security for the Umbrella Corporation, until she learned they were evil and responsible for the zombie outbreak.  In part 2 she developed super powers and Umbrella was evil.  In part 3, she learned she was a clone and Umbrella was still evil.  Umbrella is always the villain and the only thing that changes are the films they steal ideas from. Maybe Alice can be a vampire next time.

“Stupid, over the top but a lot of fun and, once again, ending with the promise of yet another sequel.” Alex Zane Sun Online

Resident Evil: After Afterlife?

“It’s boring. It’s derivative. It’s chaotic. It’s a franchise that’s been running on fumes for eight years. With this entry, the fuel gauge has finally hit empty.” Dustin Putman DustinPutman.com

But doesn’t ‘on fumes’ imply that the tank was already empty?

At least with this gauge ‘on fumes’ = a fuller wallet.

“An adaptation which will soon feel decades behind its time.” Joshua Tyler CinemaBlend.com

Like, in a couple decades?

“Been there, done that, pass the console.” Elliott Noble Sky Movies

If you weren’t there, didn’t do it, and don’t have the console controller yet, just remind them that I’m Still Here (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Is Joaquin Phoenix putting us on? After watching the terrifying, near-brilliant exposé I’m Still Here, in which the Oscar nominee’s public and private unraveling becomes a sick joke, the question doesn’t matter.” Time Out New York Joshua Rothkopf

Then why’d you ask it?

“Whatever their actual intentions, I’m Still Here does take on, at times forcefully and effectively, the pathological fallout of the Entertainment Industrial Complex.” Manohla Dargis New York Times

Is ‘pathological fallout’ just a tactful way of saying that being famous makes people assholes?

“This riveting, dismaying documentary is that cinematic car accident you can’t take your eyes from.” David Noh Film Journal International

An enigmatic car accident

“At times I’m Still Here is as ridiculous as Borat, which certainly adds weight to the naysayers’ arguments, and yet even through the multiple shots of male nudity, drug taking and human desecration, everything feels organic.” Sam Bathe Fan The Fire

I know that labelling vegetables and meat ‘organic’ makes it more desirable, but a film?  They said ‘human desecration,’ but maybe they meant ‘compost.’

“You won’t personally be ridiculed and physically attacked. You’ll just leave the theater feeling like you were.” Christopher Campbell Cinematical

And if you’re a virgin, hopefully the violence won’t be amplified with The Virginity Hit (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“Equal parts bold experiment (in sustaining a YouTube aesthetic for an entire film), and shallow redux of well-worn teenage sex comedy tropes.” Andrew Barker Variety

‘Well-worn’ and teenage sex tropes go together like peas and carrots.  Although, in this context, the vegetable metaphor takes on an oddly sexual meaning.  I doubt it wouldn’t have been improved by going together like birds and bees.

“The Virginity Hit is fresh, unpretentious fun, but the comedy is so raw that it will appeal only to those who appreciate this sort of unfiltered peek into the mind of males in their late teens and early twenties.”  ReelViews James Berardinelli

I’d recommend filtering the dirtiest thoughts, but censoring often makes things worse.

“Hilariously chronicles the missteps and triumphs—and everything in between—of four teenage guys in their efforts to get laid for the first time.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

Isn’t that the plot of American Pie?  What other teenage comedies is the movie shoplifting from?

“Crass and vulgar, of course. It’s supposed to be funny, too, but it isn’t…It makes a movie like ‘Superbad’…seem like Shakespeare.” Frank Swietek One Guy’s Opinion

Our final film wants to make Titanic look like Love Boat, but whether it succeeds or fails is up to The Romantics (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“The all-night orgy of stupidity that ensues is so contrived that instead of examining friendships and love, it only made me wish they had all drowned, saving us from 95 minutes of wooden, boring and inconsequential embarrassment.” Rex Reed New York Observer

In reviewing the film, the comparison went from orgies to mass homicide and it was boring?

“(Holmes) fails to deliver requisite laughs to keep the comedy afloat.” Boxoffice Magazine Steve Ramos

The movie isn’t called The Comedians.  It’s all about the romance.

“This is probably not a good movie to see with your fiancée or fiancé.” Cole Smithey ColeSmithey.com

But you shouldn’t see it with anyone you’re romantic with…so it’s not funny and questionabily romantic.  Is there anything worth praising?

“[It] somehow skirts utter loathsomeness by dint of its elegant camerawork and a few finely tuned performances. I’m not suggesting you run out to the theater and see this, but if it comes on cable someday and you have a big pile of laundry to fold…” Dana Stevens Slate

I hope that praise is on the DVD box.  Recommended as household chore background noise.

“Just in time for hurricane season, this perfect storm of pretentiousness blows into a theater near you.” Matt Stevens E! Online

King Sheep prefers unpretentious imperfect storms.

Go Machete America

I figured we had a long trip around the sun before we saw the return of the summer blockbuster, but this weekend’s releases might deserve some of that solar spotlight.  Movies that straddle the seasons need more luster of summer than funk of fall and a George Clooney spy movie might crank out the proper wattage.  Go big or go home.  That’s the way of The American (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“The American ends the summer not with a bang but an existential whimper.” Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly

If The Expendables and Scott Pilgrim were the bang and this is the whimper, then endings are only based on when you stop listening.

“Anton Corbijn’s The American looks and feels like a movie made by a filmmaker who hasn’t been to the movies since the ’70s – and I mean that as the highest compliment.” Movieline Stephanie Zacharek

So the movie is less ‘new and original’ and more ‘like Grandma used to make?’

“If you’re willing to let go of your Hollywood-bred expectations for a movie of this type-spectacular action set pieces, constant pulse-pounding music, a killing every 15 minutes-The American is a great pleasure to watch, an astringent antidote to the loud, frantic action movies that have been clogging our veins all summer.” Slate Dana Stevens

Based on titles, you’d think the cinematic vein cloggers would be Dinner For Schmucks and Salt.

“You’ve heard of “Jason Bourne.” Here’s “Jason Boring.”” James Verniere Boston Herald

Would you prefer James Bondage?

“It’s like being given a connect-the-dots puzzle, only to find out it contains just four dots.” Luke Y. Thompson E! Online

I’m guessing it’s a square.

“The dread in the film is so quickly forgotten. What remains is an urge to fly to Italy, rent an apartment in a medieval city and invent your own adventure.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Liam Lacey

Does the vacation package include the untraceable gun and assassination plot or do those cost extra?  We should invent a story as long as we’re Going The Distance (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“To date, no motion picture has adequately captured the soaring highs and devastating lows associated with a long distance relationship, but Going the Distance comes as close as any movie has.” ReelViews James Berardinelli

I suppose every relationship poison needs a film antidote.

“From the corny ‘see what we did there?’ title to a plot that’s as predictable as a transatlantic flight-path, this is a truly join-the-dots romcom.” James Mottram Total Film

After seeing this, connecting-the-dots looks pretty cool.

“There’s just not quite enough to the movie: not enough jokes, not enough obstacles, not enough sex.” Dana StevensSlate

Does it have enough of anything?

“A relationship movie in which the f-bomb gets dropped about once a minute and the screen is dotted with bare derrieres (male).” Robert W. Butler Kansas City Star

“Going the Distance is a reminder of the sorry state of the rom-com, where gross scenes and easy-to-write trash talk have replaced smart dialogue.” Linda Barnard Toronto Star

Why do I have to choose between witty and shitty?  Fuck it.

“Likely to resonate with a generation of young people to whom “When Harry Met Sally’s” orgasm scene seems downright quaint.”  Boxoffice Magazine Pam Grady

If exploding heads and other action movie killsplosions seem quaint, perhaps you should venture across the border with one hand on a motorcycle throttle and the other holding a Machete (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“It was Rodriguez’s evident intention to make the most tasteless, weirdly cast, wildly irresponsible grindhouse movie of the year, and he’s succeeded.” Gary Thompson Philadelphia Daily News

Fantastic!  He’s succeeded at giving everyone something they didn’t know they wanted.

“In the end, Machete may not be all that original, but it is fresh – fresh as a steel blade to the gut.” Austin ChronicleMarjorie Baumgarten

And it’s original – original as describing a violent movie with a violent metaphor.

“If this kind of selfconscious cinema junk is to be enjoyed, it can only be enjoyed by morons.” Armond White New York Press

Morons, care to respond to Armond?

“Rodriguez emphasizes style over substance, but the sheer audacity of his vision – the energy, the inventiveness, the extremes to which he’s willing to take his gruesome sight gags – is his salvation.” Rossiter Drake San Francisco Examiner

Hallelujah!

“Rodriguez combines sharp satire and timely political commentary with a decidedly B-movie ethos.” Claudia Puig USA Today

King Sheep has an undecidedly B-movie ethos.

Last Exorcism Takes Century

Considering the upcoming roster of fall movies, demon expulsion might be more entertaining.  Perhaps exorcism could be embraced as America’s new favorite pastime. Fathers and sons would toss biblical passages back and forth instead of baseballs and watching a televised exorcism would be like seeing a church-themed mash-up of Criss Angel and professional wrestling. Then there would be movies, books, and crucifix-equipped action figures until the entire trend went the way of 3D and all that’s left is The Last Exorcism (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“A horror film for the Christian fundamentalist set, The Last Exorcism employs the aesthetic of The Blair Witch Project for a musty demonic-possession tale that promotes strict, anti-modern doctrinal faith as the most righteous path.” Nick Schager, Slant Magazine

Of course the story has an anti-modern slant, exorcisms are an ancient practice rooted in ignorance and fortified by religious groups and horror movies.  As far as I’m concerned, Hollywood should stop making movies about possessed people unless the Ghostbusters are in it.

“In its eagerness to deliver familiar genre pleasures, it somehow misplaces its soul.” Noah Berlatsky, Chicago Reader

Did they try looking under the couch cushions?

“A worthy addition to the horror climate.” Nick Nunziata, CHUD

Horror climates are full of unwanted additions.

“Director Daniel Stamm and his screenwriters studiously keep a lid on the proceedings, only letting short puffs of steam escape as the tension mounts.” Kelly Vance, East Bay Express

I’m confused by the steaming tension-pot metaphor.  Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle careful?

“It’s easy to sum up what’s wrong with The Last Exorcism — nothing happens.” Bill Gibron, Filmcritic.com

Nothing sounds pretty careful.

“As taut and economical a horror film as I’ve seen in a long time…a gripping little movie that will give you the willies.” Marshall Fine, Hollywood & Fine

Apparently, nothing will give you the willies.  And speaking of Willies…

“It’s fun and it will have you jumping out of your underpants.” Willie Waffle, WaffleMovies.com

I meant the reviewer’s name, not a trouser snake.  Nevermind.  Spooking the characters from our next movie would have Romans jumping out of their togas in Centurion (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).

“What have the Romans ever done for us? Raped and pillaged mostly, according to a film that also appears to want us to root for them. Bizarre.” Catherine Bray Film4

There could be some novelty to a Roman underdog story.

“Centurion delivers some large-scale action but plays almost like a Roman-era Western in its depiction of a few soldiers trying to get home alive after the slaughter of their comrades.” The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore

Everything might have been a Roman/Western if the Romans just kept moving west.

“Who to root for? In the end, that ambivalence is part of the fun.” Brett Michel, Boston Phoenix

Yeah, but their conflict is with the Celts (Picts), which is separated from me by geography and history.  It’s like telling me the results of a Scotland vs. Italy soccer match; I care in the same way that I care about someone else’s winning lotto numbers.

“Really little more than a boys’ adventure tale done in a style more gruesome than most…too intense and nasty to be sheer dumb fun, and too silly and formulaic to be taken for a serious historical epic.” Frank Swietek, One Guy’s Opinion

The intersection of dumb and epic.

“Centurion is certainly atmospheric but the brutality and beheadings make it disappointingly monotonous.” Allan Hunter, Daily Express

A boring number of beheadings?  Do these Centurions just hold their blades at neck-level and yell “Red rover, red rover, send anyone who doesn’t look straight ahead right over?”

“300 perpetuated the myth that the best way to survive life was to either shout at the top of your lungs or fight in slow motion. Centurion simplifies that formula by eliminating the shouting and just gives us the gory deaths, mostly at normal speed.” Adam Lippe, Examiner.com

There are plenty of choice lines that are better shouted, like “Freedom!” and “This is Sparta!” Are the criminal gangsters of our final film willing to turn up the volume on the dialogue?  Any Takers (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic)?

“A buffet of Gritty Crime Drama clichés that offers no surprises but nothing egregiously stupid, either.” Eric D. Snider, Cinematical

A cliché buffet?  Why not a stereotype smorgasbord, a familiar feast, or some motto munchies?

“Takers might have made a perfectly decent little B heist movie, but someone had to go and forget to give the cameraman his Ritalin.” Ty Burr, Boston Globe

How bad is the shaking?  Are we talking gentle bumps or the frantic mess of an over-caffeinated frostbite victim riding a jackhammer?

“It’s a misfire with a few cracking action sequences, best viewed at home with a mute button safely within reach…looking as though it was shot with a webcam held by someone with severe allergies.” Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com

Okay, send that cameraman to a doctor.

“Each close-up competes to be the closest, until everything looks like Batman getting dressed.” Graham Killeen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

If you’re going to be that close, it had better be his good side.

“The logical result of watching Heat over and over and over until your brain burns out, and then wondering what it would look like if the whole thing were remade as a Smirnoff Vodka commercial.” Joshua Tyler, CinemaBlend.com

King Sheep wonders if the re-release of Avatar will out-perform all of this weekend's movies.

Nanny Switches Lottery Ticket for Vampire Piranha

Last week, I stated that the summer movie season is over based on the idea that the big-budget blockbusters are in hibernation until the holidays.  However, this week offers several films meant to ease the transition from summer fun into the barren wasteland of fall movies.  There’s a sperm donation rom-dramedy, 3D killer fish, a cheap parody that doesn’t belong in theaters, a light ghetto adventure, and the lovably disfigured Nanny McPhee Returns (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).
“What we truly need as a society is an Aliens vs. Predators like extravaganza in which McPhee goes nanny-a-nanny against Mary Poppins.” Phil Villarreal OK! Magazine

A nanny battle royale could even use AVP’s tagline: “Whoever wins, we lose.”

“Somewhat silly, yet genuinely sweet, often amusing and pleasantly diverting for everyone young and old. Please be sure to stick around after the end credits for a stinger.” Avi Offer NYC Movie Guru

A stinger missile?  What sort of airborne trouble would necessitate…oh.

Chim Chiminy, Chim Chiminy, Chim Chim Chiree!

"Tell General McPhee we have the target in sight."

“The ham-handed director was Susanna White, who intercuts compulsively, whether or not anything is happening.” Joe Morgenstern Wall Street Journal

I’m sure the editing isn’t that

“Kid viewers will have fun with the references to barnyard poo, poo of all sorts, poo to reckon with.” Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly

Superscatcanbealittleatroicous.

“It’s a not-completely unwelcome and not-completely terrible sequel, one that actually betters its predecessor.” Jeff Vice Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Those kindish words might be welcome praise for this weekend’s other sequel – the babes and blood craziness of Piranha 3D (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“80,000 gallons of fake blood, extreme violence, gore, terribly cheesy dialogue, legit scares, high tension, porn stars and a wet T-shirt contest all in 3D. Are you sold yet?” Kevin McCarthy BDK Reviews

Not quite, how about a ridiculous claim about the movie’s transformative powers?

“Has plenty of good, old-fashioned blood & guts and the kind of full frontal nudity that’s guaranteed to send young boys into puberty.” Jen Yamato Movies.com

Does that mean it’s in 3-DD?

“The Citizen Kane of killer piranha movies.” Dave White Movies.com

This time around, I hope Rosebud is a jet-ski strapped with water-proof explosives.

Or the Rolls-Royce of Rosebuds.

“Piranha 3D goes for the jugular. And generally misses, but generally in an amusing way.” Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel

Missing the jugular gives it a 50/50 chance of generally landing on my face.

“So good-natured in its approach to trashy entertainment that it’s hard to resist the ride. Provided you’re not too busy vomiting in the aisles.” Geoff Berkshire Metromix.com

Given the gratuitous blood and flesh, we need some fangy heliphobics to help clean up.  It’s a good thing Vampires Suck (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“Plenty of gags fall flat, but writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer… have tapped the vein more effectively than their norm, with enjoyable details and on-the-mark senseless brutality.” Michael Ordoña Los Angeles Times

It’s moronic, but that was it was aiming for.

“Parodies can be hilarious. This one sucks.” Bruce Demara Toronto Star

Puns can be stupid, if they’re too punny.

Or, if you prefer irony.

“If you’ve ever read a single book — we’ll include Stephenie Meyer — you’re probably better than this.” Nick Pinkerton L.A. Weekly

Gotcha, this movie is not for book readers.

“This is the kind of film that is so bad that you almost wish that it had been shot in 3D simply so that you could just take your glasses off and not have to look at it anymore.” Peter SobczynskieFilmCritic.com

Gotcha, the movie isn’t for movie watchers either.  It’s really that bad?

“So here I am, down on my knees, begging you not to go see “Vampires Suck.” Who knows? If we can get enough people to stay away from the theater, maybe we will finally be able to rid ourselves of Friedberg and Seltzer once and for all.” Adam Tobias Watertown Daily Times

Perhaps Friedberg and Seltzer will give up making movies if they buy a winning Lottery Ticket (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“A ROFL treasure hunt which unfolds like an inner-city variation of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. What more can you ask for from a ghetto-fabulous, escapist fantasy?” Kam WilliamsTheLoop21.com

But aren’t ghetto’s part of a Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad World?

“A parade of painful ghetto stereotypes, missing every opportunity for satire or meaningful social commentary.” Josh Bell Las Vegas Weekly

Some parade’s are painfully hard to see.

“It’s just additional proof that those responsible for such horrible films need to win the lottery so that they’ll stop subjecting the masses to such offensive and not particularly funny material.” Jim JudyScreen It!

Instead of cursing filmmakers with enough luck to become rich layabouts, why don’t we just avoid their movies?

“Let’s call it four out of six numbers, with no power bonus. Some payoff, but don’t quit your job.” Tom Long Detroit News

If I’m only going to win enough to keep playing the lotto, maybe I should just pocket the money I was going to spend on the tickets.  Give me a second to consider The Switch (Rotten TomatoesMetacritic).
“The Switch is so incredibly aptly named, not simply for its plot, but for the fact that it offers what appears to be a somewhat raunchy romantic comedy and instead hands you a touching, charming, well written story about fatherhood and love.” Matthew Razak Examiner.com

Should they have called it Bait & Switch?

“So unimaginative and formula-driven…that it seems entirely to have been hashed out by executives over a long lunch.” Jay Antani Moving Pictures Magazine

A suit says “give me the cream,” and after someone says “that’s what she said,” another executive says “hey, there’s a movie in that.”

“It would be nice to argue that the good outweighs the bad in The Switch, but it’s a wash.” ReelViews James Berardinelli

When you put good and bad in the wash together is it gad or bood?

Either way, it sounds ruff.

“Squeezes fresh laughs out of what is, in essence, a rather startlingly post-Freudian, nature-trumps-nurture view of child development.” Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

For curiosity’s sake, has anyone tried making a pre-Freudian nurture-trumps-nature view of adult retardation?

“The film offers few — make that no — surprises. What almost saves it is the acting.” Peter Travers Rolling Stone

King Sheep is never - make that often - surprised by what critics say