Every Single Article Written by Russell - All 140
Ted, the R-rated teddy bear movie starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarlane, hits theaters this week, and for what it’s worth, it is the best R-rated comedy starring a foul-mouthed, cocaine snorting stuffed animal ever made. The titular Ted lives up to the promise of Fox’s advertising blitz: He imbibes alcohol and drugs, bangs hookers, and insults children. MacFarlane milks all the dark, inappropriate comedy he can from the premise and adds just enough genuine heart to the mix that the film never begins to border on grotesque. Ted is the Citizen Kane of Pothead Teddy Bear movies.
Director Michael R. Roskam makes his directorial debut with Bullhead, a fascinating if uneven film that centers on two enforcers within Belgium’s “hormone mafia.” Apparently the hormone mafia is a real thing, though I confess I’ve never heard of it. Regardless, Bullhead fails to work as a Scorsese-esque crime movie, but it is a compelling as a character study of two similarly damaged, violent men attempting to cope with a shared childhood tragedy.
Warning: This review contains some pretty massive spoilers. I was initially on the fence about spilling any plot twists in this review, because Pixar went to such great lengths to avoid allowing any such material to infiltrate their advertising campaign for the Brave. In this era of spoiler-tastic movie trailers and commercials, I thought that Pixar’s effort to preserve some mystery about the movie was commendable. After seeing Brave with my own eyes, I believe that the second half of the movie wasn’t kept under wraps because the studio wanted audiences to be pleasantly surprised. I believe the second half of the film was suppressed because it sucks.
The first scene of Jeff, Who Lives at Home encapsulates the entire movie. The film opens with a close up of Jason Segel’s face as he explains into a tape recorder that he loves M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, because the movie parallels his own world view that everything in the universe is connected, and destiny drives everyone towards a perfect moment. He concludes by questioning what destiny has in store for him. Segel’s performance here is straight-faced and perfectly sincere. The camera cuts to a medium wide shot, revealing Jeff sitting on the toilet, his pants around his knees. He delivered his heart-felt monologue while taking a crap. Clever.
Rock of Ages hits theaters this week, a safe, sterilized elegy to the over-the-top hair metal of the ‘80s. Rock of Ages contains all of the stupidity and cheesiness of the ‘80s but none of the gross excesses and none of the fun. This muddled mess of a musical won’t win over any new converts, and it will likely turn off die hard fans.
The world’s greatest detective and his long suffering sidekick return again to save the European continent in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. If you hated Guy Ritchie’s over-amped, slap stick-y approach to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective, you’ll detest this movie. If you liked it, you should like this. A Game of Shadows is essentially more of the same, but with flashier action sequences and a more convoluted plot.
I’ve spent some time pondering how to write a fair review of Machine Gun Preacher—this week’s Blu-ray release—and I’ve come to the conclusion that it probably can’t be done. Director Marc Forster has crafted a technically fine biopic on the controversial Sam Childers, the former drug dealing biker who converted to Christianity and initiated his own personal crusade against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, but what viewers take away from the film will depend entirely on their own political leanings.
Ready for a gritty reboot of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves starring Kirsten Stewart and Chris Hemsworth? No? I know what you mean. I feel like this movie had already been made by Hollywood just a few months ago. But here we are, and you know what? Snow White and the Huntsman is actually a pretty good film. It suffers from a laborious screenplay and uneven acting performances, but there’s enough gorgeous spectacle here to keep all but the most cynical cinema goers mildly satisfied.
I’ll admit up front that I don’t know anything about hockey. As far as I know, the only two things that distinguish hockey from any other sport where athletes try to place an object in a goal is that hockey takes place and ice and hockey players are renowned for beating the crap out of each other. Lucky for me Goon—not to be confused with Eric Powell’s brilliant comic series The Goon—doesn’t seem to be a hockey movie so much as a boxing movie on ice.
A handful of twenty-somethings travel to Europe and hit the road. They journey across two continents from France to Russia seeing the sights, meeting the people, and embracing the culture. They end their trip after a brief visit to Pripyat—the site adjacent to the Chernobyl disaster—and they all return to America a little wiser, a little more worldly, and enriched with some wonderful experiences they’ll never forget. Chernobyl Diaries is a modern day retelling of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.