Youth in Revolt

Comment Bubble


Story – Youth in Revolt is a film in which Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a sex-obsessed teenager who meets the girl of his dreams on a family vacation. Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) is a free-spirited and beautiful girl and exactly what Nick is searching for to burst away from a life long constraint of virginity. The two are kept apart by a vast array of things and the only way for that to change is for Nick to transform himself. The movie is filled with comedic stunts by Nick and his newly developed alter-ego, Francois, to gain the undying love of Sheeni. To be honest, I was expecting another Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but the story quickly develops into something that kept my full attention,always keeping me wondering would happen next.

Cast – The two stars of the film are Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday, who will hopefully become much more famous than any of the other girls Cera fumbles for in his films. The secondary actors are a proud list filled with: Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta and Justin Long, all of which did an excellent job and could have been huge stars in the film, but were limited by screen time.

Characters – Once again, Michael Cera proves why he’s Hollywood’s go to awkward teenager in his role as Nick Twisp. He will forever be typecast that way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching his fumbles and follies! Cera does show glimpses of breaking out of that role with his alter-ego Francois, but behind the mustache and cigarette he plays the same character with just a little more attitude. I thought it was odd how quickly he is thrown into the movie without much development, but it doesn’t take long to figure out how he works. Portia is someone I quickly fell in love with, and the beach-scene explains why! The supporting characters are all magnificent and I wish they had more screen time, they’re hilarious!

Relativity – Any teen boy who’s had an awkward moment with a girl can relate to Cera’s character in this movie, probably more so than any of his previous characters. Like so many teens before him, Cera is deadset on losing his virginity and goes to humorous ends to make it happen, much like the adventures most the guys I know went through. I didn’t meet many girls in my teenage years that related to Doubleday’s character of Sheeni, but she’s a “unique” stereotype many have seen before on screen.

Intangibles – This movie includes short bits of animation and a bunch of quotable comedic lines. The animation is cute the first time, but weird beyond that. They are very brief though, and there aren’t very many. While I wasn’t a fan, they aren’t of much consequence so I can ignore that. The quotable lines are all lines from Cera’s character of Francois and I can’t wait to use them on my lady! As for theater laugh-factor, I found myself laughing out loud a bit more frequently than the audience as a whole, but could hear quiet chuckles from the other males in the crowd with their dates.

This movie certainly won’t reach my all time favorites list, but I did enjoy it quite a bit and will give it a slightly better than average 3 X‘s to encourage anyone that’s been a teenager to see it!



Comment Bubble


I will be the first person to admit, that before Avatar’s premiere, I thought for sure it would flop harder than You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Granted, I didn’t have a whole lot to judge the movie on other than that damn Coke-Zero commercial, but there’s just not a whole lot about blue, giant-arrow-shooting, cat-people that I find particularly interesting. With the commercial’s odd looking creatures and large mechanized flying machines, I just saw Avatar as a sequel to all the worst parts (Jar Jar Binks) of The Phantom Menace shoved together. I had assumed that director James Cameron’s “revolutionary” 3D technique was just a gimmick, and I wasn’t about to put on goofy headache-inducing red and blue glasses to watch a glorified 3D movie that belongs at Six Flags.

My entire attitude changed one I read this review, and suddenly I was open to checking it out. My buddy found tickets for about $15 at a relatively close IMAX theater, so we decided to go see it on opening night. The “IMAX Experience” thick-rimmed glasses we received at the door weren’t red and blue, but still made everyone look like Harry Caray. At first, I was pretty disappointed in them (and at Gizmodo for writing such a persuasive review of the 3D technology) when the IMAX in 3D advertisement ran, only to find out shortly that the 3D advertisement was inexplicably shown in plain old 2D! This was realized just as the movie began, as the true 3D effect was completely unmistakable!

It was like nothing I’d ever seen before!* The CG was absolutely incredible! If it weren’t for the super advanced electronics, un-natural fauna and flora, and 8 foot tall blue cat people, I would have had a hard time figuring out which scenes were filmed and which were computer generated! I remember one scene vividly that made me feel uncomfortable. The depth in the shot was so extreme, my instinctual fear of heights made me clench both arm rests next to me!

Ignoring the monumental 3D aspect of the movie for a moment, I’m not sure how well the story would appeal to a wide range of audiences. For example, I’m a huge science fiction fan (and Fern Gully fan, for which most of the movie seems inspired by), but I’m not sure how much I would enjoy the almost 3 hour long movie if I had seen it in 2D. Several scenes seem relatively unimportant, but what’s there to complain about? They’re in freaking three dimensions! I can’t help but wonder though, if the appeal of this movie is simply due to the fact that it’s technologically the first of its kind. 20 years down the line, when 3D movies are mainstream, will Avatar be considered amongst the best?

It’s for those reasons that I wouldn’t recommend anyone see this outside of a 3D IMAX theater. If you do have the means to catch it in all its technological glory, certainly make a point to. Just remember, watching Avatar in 2D would be like buying a Corvette with an automatic transmission; you’d be missing the entire point.

*Not technically true, since I see things in 3D on pretty much a daily basis.

Tagged as:


Comment Bubble


I’m going to go ahead and get this out of way in the first sentence: this movie is not the feel-good movie of winter. Repeat, Brothers is intense, and not the movie you should take your grandmother to go see when she’s in town for the holidays. It’s about as much as a ‘war movie’ as Transformers is, but the emotionally charged script would make it difficult to watch for persons that could identify with the characters.  Although supporting actor Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t think the premise of the story is all that realistic, I still wouldn’t recommend anyone in, or thinking about joining, the Armed Services let their girlfriends, wives, or mothers go anywhere near this film.

Warnings aside, Brothers is well done and worth at least renting in the future.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire convincingly play rough-neck brothers, but in my mind, the best acting performance of the film is by 10 year old Bailee Madison, who put a 12 year old Miley Cyrus to shame.  Maguire still manages to fit several blank stares into the film, and several story-lines seem to abruptly end before they’re resolved.  I had the feeling towards the end of the movie that director Jim Sheridan was simply giving as many emotional scenes as possible to his big-name actors in the attempt to glean some awards for their performances.



Comment Bubble


We get it. Teens are awkward, make hasty relationship decisions, and enjoy their alcohol and marijuana. Greg Mottola, writer/director, embraces these formulaic concepts that have historically proven to be quite successful, and throws in a twist: The teens aren’t really teens. They’re recent college grads, and the lead character, James Brennan, played by Jesse Eisenberg strikes an oddly personal chord in his inability to find any sort of job. He eventually accepts a carnie position at a local theme park, and, surprise surprise, makes friends and falls in love with a co-worker.

Throughout the movie, you can’t shake the feeling that Mottola was writing James’ character with Michael Cera in mind to play the part. The result is an Eisenberg that is frustratingly awkward, and does a poor job at convincing me, the audience, to sympathize with the guy. None of the characters feel like  22 or 23 year old college-aged kids, despite several bar scenes. They all feel 17 or 18, even though Eisenberg himself happens to be 25.

For a movie that seemed to be marketed as a comedy, it does a horrible job producing any laughs. To be fair, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig do an admirable job in their overly-obvious roles as comedic relief, but I’m a huge Bill Hader fan. The repetitive, dry, humor that perpetuated throughout the movie gave me the feeling that Mottola was going for a darker, indie, comedy (Side note: maybe it’s just me, but it seems that calling a movie a dark comedy is an excuse for forced or esoteric humor). I ultimately didn’t find the movie, in general, all that humorous, though I could see some people finding enjoyment in the effort.

The movie’s saving grace was, surprisingly, the soundtrack. Husker Du, Falco, and The Cure all were expertly woven into the story and actually really added to the scenes in which they appeared. Looking at the tracklisting, it really does look more like an 80’s mixtape than soundtrack, which, in the end, probably makes it work.

Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t pay to watch Adventureland again. However, I don’t regret watching it, and I’d probably recommend it to a friend if they were in a romantic-drama mood and wanted to watch a movie without having to invest their undivided attention in the film.

Read some professional reviews about the film that I feel give the movie far too much credit, and tell me what you think (imdb, rottentomatoes).

Tagged as:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Comment Bubble


Having been in 5th grade and young and impressionable when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released, I was forever addicted to the series. I read each new installation the day it came out, though I never went so far as to camp out Borders like some kids. As I grew older, some of the appeal of Harry Potter wore off and I began to ignore almost everything Hogwarts-related. I was actually surprised to find out last night that the seventh and final book in the series was released TWO YEARS AGO. Call me out of the loop.

Regardless of my fading interest in the series, I couldn’t turn down a Wednesday night opportunity to catch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at my local theater. The first several opening scenes rolled, and I felt a strong sense of nostalgia. I had missed Hagrid’s adventures, Dumbledore’s antics, and Harry’s…whatever it is he does. I was pumped to be getting back into the story, and I was looking forward to the rest of the movie.

Unfortunately, my enthusiam was fairly short-lived (that’s a bad thing too, when the movie is 2:15 long). Even in my excited state, the forced dialog and awkward acting was too much of a buzz-kill for me to ignore. It’s been so long since I actually read the Half-Blood Prince that I don’t really remember how well it adhered to the book. Giving the screenplay writer the benefit of the doubt in that regard, the job he did translating character interactions to the big screen wasembarassingly bad. There appeared to be no chemistry between any of the actors, tons of blank stares, and camera shots that lingered on emotionless faces. I ended up laughing at the awkwardness of the scenes much more often than laughing at the intended humor.

The movie did however have some redeeming qualities. Like any huge-budget production, the filmography and special effects were superbly well done. Several times I found myself zoning out of the story and intently watching the effects. Speaking of zoning out, anytime Emma Watson’s character Hermione graced a scene, I lost track of everything else in my field-of-view. In any case, I will be much more apt to check out the next movie if they nix the ‘Harry Potter’ part of the title and just run with ‘Hermione Granger and the Deathly Hollows.’