Movie Review: Our Idiot Brother

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Ever since Clueless I have been a big fan of Paul Rudd. He is just my kind of fellow, don’t know how else to describe it! I usually do my best to catch all of his movies as they hit DVD, I’m not much of a theatre-goer otherwise I would definitely check them out there. Netflix finally delivered Our Idiot Brother to my home – and what a joy! The movie was a comedy but also a bit of a life lesson. We all have these people in our lives that we look for and we look to but can sometimes we such an incredible inconvenience but in the end we appreciate them and grow to love them as they are, that is My Idiot Brother.

Paul Rudd, playing Ned, starts the movie getting arrested for distributing drugs to a police officer. He lived on an organic farm with his dog and his hippie girlfriend. It is clear from the arrest forward that he doesn’t have quite as much going for him as one would expect. His family immediately comes to his rescue offering shelter, food, love and support. It is clear that the family is a bit off though and has a plethora of issues themselves. His three sisters are all striving for something completely different in life. One, Zoeey Deschanel, is a lesbian, but maybe more of a sexually charged bisexual, or maybe straight, but she really wants to be a lesbian. Another sister, Elizabeth Banks, is a journalist and is the highest reacher of all the siblings. She wants to make it big and really lives an upscale, city, business lifestyle. The oldest sister, Emily Mortimer, is a mom, she is the only married sibling and her husband has a few quirks that immediately make him unlikable to the audience.

Ned is a very happy guy. He has an extremely positive outlook on life and doesn’t get in too deep in anything. He takes everything on the surface and does his best to really roll with the punches. His brother-in-law gives him a job working as an assistant as he films a documentary. Ned does his best to go along with but never seems to do things good enough for his brother-in-law. He exposes their children to television and games they would prefer their kids don’t see and quickly lands himself getting shoved out of their house and onto the next sister’s home.

He spends time in each of his sister’s homes and one by one manages to mess up the one thing that they each seemed to have wanted the most: a valuable relationship, a career advancement and a happy family. Ned doesn’t see these as his fault but really focuses in on dishonesty, lack of morals and ethics and a lack of trust. Ned makes a really great point for each of these things. With time his sisters do internally reflect a bit on his actions and the reactions and make peace with what has changed in their lives. It really seems like they for once open their eyes to their behavior and internalize what could make their lives better, stronger and more fulfilling and how to see life a little more through the rose-colored lenses that Ned has on. In Ned’s time of need his sisters pull through – you cannot beat a strong family bond, especially when you see that your ‘idiot’ brother was really trying to do his best.

It was a really funny movie with some great lines. Through the humor and strange situations there are some great messages and if you view it at the right time there are definitely things I could reflect on that each of the sisters did that I may also be guilty of, giving me just a small dose of a life lesson. It was a fun, entertaining movie that certainly did not drag on at all. I really enjoyed it and if you see it – I hope you do too! Keep on rocking Paul Rudd!

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Movie Debriefing: Adventureland

Posted on August 28, 2009. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I hate to start off on a negative note but it seems that Adventureland to me was missing the adventure, and the potential. This movie had a great cast including Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, etc… but they were not used to their full potential in this flick at all. An enjoyable aspect was that Ryan Reynolds took on a slightly different character. He was older than the characters and played a mentoring sage mechanic with a dark side at this amusement park. It was interesting to watch him, and he played the part really well.

In the end this movie was fairly typical. Boy and girl work together, have the hots for each other and there are obstacles and people in their way but it works out in the end. It’s the 80s, which is almost random in this movie because it seems that at times you would forget it was even set in the 80’s until you saw a cassette tape and heard the music. I anticipated a funnier dark comedy, but this was a little more depressing and pretty slow moving. I was disappointed, and I hate to write such a negative review, but I really wouldn’t watch this again or recommend it.

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Move Debriefing: 500 Days of Summer

Posted on August 3, 2009. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I am, in general, a fan of Independent films. I like that genre as a whole because it offers something different than the big Hollywood cookie-cutter plots. The wardrobes are more fun, the sets are more fun and the plot is usually outside of the traditional film lines which makes for a pleasing experience in many cases. 500 Days of Summer has all the wonderful aspects of independent films coupled with great acting and truly great cinematography. This movie was wonderful for a variety of reasons, and like the movie I’ll start from the beginning.

Narration in films can either be masterful or terrible, in 500 Days it was great! The narrator hit the nail on the head and quickly caught us up in this story that was not a love story, but in the end I still think it was a love story. As the narrator puts it, “This is a story of boy meets girl”… There is no denying that, though boy falling head over heels for girl may be more like it. Summer has an infections personality and is like-able for all types of people, especially men. The story follows Tom through the ups and downs of being in a relationship with fickle Summer. Like Tom this movie makes us feel hot and cold about Summer with every memory but it’s impossible to shake her off. She’s fun, she’s happy usually and when she’s sad we want to know why.

500 Days of Summer doesn’t follow their relationship from point A to B, and it doesn’t go from B to A either. There is a slight logical but rather illogical way that the memories and the stories of their relationship are told to the audience, but it’s a fun sequence and keeps the movie light. The basic jist of the plot is that Summer ( Zooey Deschanel) doesn’t believe in love. If love finds her that’s ok, and if she finds a relationship that’s ok as well but she’s not out to find love. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a greeting card writer who knows that love is out there for him, he believes in true love and shows his emotions through his cards. Clearly this is going to be a troubled relationship. They definitely have bright moments but as we know from the get-go this relationship is doomed.  It’s clear what stage in the relationship we are viewing based on the day, in total there are 500 days. We also get an idea of what type of memory we will be witness to based on the sky, cloudy days are sad, or miserable memories where as sunny days bring on happy memories.

 From a dance sequence to shopping in Ikea 500 Days of Summer is a hit! The cast is fun with a wide range of characters from co-workers and crazy friends to siblings with golden advice the cast is diverse and works really well together. For a lighter movie with a lot of heart, and in the end truly shows what love is all about I’d recommend 500 Days of Summer.

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Movie Debriefing: BottleShock

Posted on April 10, 2009. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

While flipping through the Redbox at my local grocery store trying to find a cute flick to watch last weekend I came across this one and the cast caught my eye. I read the short plot summary and figured for $1 why not?! What a great choice! Even at $5 I would’ve been more than pleased with this selection.

The gist of the movie is telling the story of how California winemakers got put on the map by beating out French wines in a blind Paris wine-tasting in the last 70’s. It is a great story that really warms your heart at the end seeing how far a little faith and hard work can go.

Alan Rickman plays English wine connoisseur, Steven Spurrier,  who has a French wine school. He travels to the states to learn more about the wine that California has to offer and plans to showcase the best he’s tasted in a blind wine tasting to prove that French wine is far superior. Rickman has no idea that his now infamous wine tasting would turn French wine’s superiority upside down and turn the world of fine wine into a spin cycle of shock, joy and outrage.

Bill Pullman plays Jim Barrett, the main California vineyard owner, who along with his son Bo, played by Chris Pine, are struggling to keep their vineyard afloat in tough times. Through layoffs and other downturns it looks like the vineyard will have to be closed and that their dreams of bottling fine tasting wine are at a close. Bo has more faith in their product than Jim and insists that Spurrier takes a bottle of their wine back for the tasting contest even though Jim is strongly against entering their wine in the competition. Bo is sent to France to represent the California wines in the contest and comes home a champion. At the same time Jim and Bo both learn that their wine may be out of the running as it wasn’t what they thought it was when they went to take a sip, but the bottleshock wears off from the wine showing its true color(s) and the bold new taste it brings to the world of wine.  It shows a true unity that existed between the various, competing, vineyards of California. They were competitors because they all were trying to sell wine, but they were allies because if one of them succeeded they would all succeed and in the bad times they all felt the struggles together. The unity is something that people in all industries can learn from and it shows how people that come together get more accomplished than those who try to go against the grain.

This is a great story with a little bit of love, a little bit of sweat, some tears and a great ending. It helps you appreciate the hard work that ‘kids from the states’ put into their dreams and truly helps you enjoy the fine things grown right here in our own backyard. I know I personally already love home-grown wines from the US and this made me appreciate what we have even more! Bottleshock is a great title as well, because this was the main theme and in the end this story proved that this one vineyard created a longer lasting bottle shock among the french, the Californians and wine connoisseurs across the world. Highly recommended!

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Debriefing: Pineapple Express

Posted on January 21, 2009. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

This movie is a riot, plain and simple. It’s strange because I like such a wide variety of movies, but this movie just really had me roaring with laughter from start to finish. There is no doubt as to why James Franco was nominated for an award for this role – he was perfect, his character was spot-on, memorable and everything else good acting should be. Just great!

Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) is a process server by day. He is also dating a high schooler, but overall seems happy to work his job and smoke in his off-time. He’s a very committed employee and ensures that all subpoenas are served to the correct people, it is really a riot to watch his work in action. His regular dealer Saul (James Franco) becomes his buddy during a visit. They exchange laughs, watch television and enjoy a new, rare type of drug that Saul has come across. Denton leaves to finish his daily work and is then witness to a murder. This murder happens to include the next person he had to ‘serve’ and is coincidentally linked to this murderer though Saul because of the drug, aka Pineapple Express.

Saul and Dale spend the rest of the movie running away from nothing and everything, and at the same time learning that they are best friends. They realize how much they mean to each other. The pair make a great team and create some very comical scenes a long their path of enlightenment. Reflections on things from the weather, to how to make money quickly will leave you laughing with delight at their comical revelations. Both actors are cast phenomenally well and don’t stoop to cheap levels to make laughs. Franco is priceless as a run of the mill dealer who is as clueless as they come. It is evident that they both inhale too much, but the humor is in their discovery of themselves, friendships and running from the bad guys who are in an ironic way also running from Saul and Dale.

If you are in the mood for a light film with a minimal amount of required thought, Pineapple Express is definitely the one to check out. Franco becomes the perfect dealer character and both himself and Rogan deliver a hilarious tale about two guys with nowhere to go but everyone to run from. It ws a surprise hit for me, and one I won’t mind seeing again!

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