Monday, April 30, 2012


I apologize, I am going to have to delay the review I had schedule for today. I have been working on getting the Podcast up and running and its taken up my free time.  
I am happy to announce that ITunes has approved our podcast and will be adding it to the ITunes store in a few days. Here is the first episode and I will be posting the next one soon. I will post the missing review Wedensday at 10:00.
Until then Please enjoy the first episode of the PieKast.

Monday, April 23, 2012

American Reunion

American Reunion – 113 min – R

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of crass humor. Being vulgar for the sake of being vulgar never entertains me. I enjoy intelligent humor. Witty goes along way with me. I get entertainment from a great story and character development. When I am faced with a movie that has made its money with a character named the “Stiff-Meister”, I am not planning for a good evening. I sat down, opened my note book and tried to keep an open mind. I was completely surprised that it was not as bad I was anticipating. It was not a good film but it was not a complete loss. I would go as far to say this was a yellow light film because of the work of two actors.
The original cast is back for their 13th year reunion (I thought these happened on the 10, 20, 30 year mark). Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are still married and going through a reinvention of their relationship. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married and a house husband. OZ (Chris Klein) is a famous sports announcer. Stifler (Seann William Scott) is a big shot business temp, and Fich (Eddie Kay Thomas) is the most interesting man in the world. They all went their separate ways and at this reunion they all merge back to town to meet up and catch up on what’s been going on.
Jim and Michelle stay with Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy) and this is important because one of the kids that Jim used to baby sit for has grown up to be a teenager. Kara (Ali Cobrin) has the ability to act on the crush she was harboring for Jim all those years ago.  Perfect ingredient for awkward relationship moments.
Aside from Jim and Michelle’s story it seems like no one has grown up. Everyone else seems to be stuck in the same plot lines they have been wrestling with from high school.  The problem with this script is that it tries, like an aging high school star, to recapture its youth. Out of all of the characters we see, the only one who should still be the same was Stifler and thankfully he was. The “Stiff-Meister” has not really changed for him and that works.
The main problem with the story was the Fitch story line. It was like they did not know how to fill out his time away from the group.  They completely did him a disservice by trying to pigeon hole him into a type of person you normally see at a reunion. It was not written well and I blame Adam Herz because he knew better. Mr. Herz was with this franchise form the beginning. He was the there when this series was a fresh Idea.  He has to have a better sense of what was going on with Fitch’s life and not succumbed to a stereotype that does not really fit that character. I want to one day ask him what he was thinking, and was he happy with the choices he made for this character.

Eugene Levy is a comedic genius. His performance is one of the two actors who pushed this red light movie up to a yellow. His sense of comedic timing is spot on and his grasp of the character are truly enjoyable to watch. Even the tired shtick of Jim and his dad having an uncomfortable conversation is made enjoyable by him. The connection between those two characters is genuine and makes it fun to watch even if it’s a bit time warn. His interaction with Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) at the end of the movie was HI-larious. It was a great uncomfortable interaction and slow build up to the delivery of the line “Great movie”. The Popcorn tub’s motion had me laughing so hard I could not breathe.

The other person is Sean William Scott. His character is gross, rude, sexist, and shallow. But he is our gross, rude, sexist and shallow character. This may be because he was written this way but I liked how that is one character that has stayed the same through all of the films.

What do you think of this franchise? Has it run its course or do you think there are still stories to be told here?

Monday, April 16, 2012

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street – 109min – R

In all of movies that look back on TV shows and decide this is a story that needs a movie, 21 Jump Street is the only one that is honest about what type of movie it is. It pokes fun at its own ridiculousness and does it with the all of the style and dignity of a self deprecating comic. It is refreshing to see a movie that delivers on its promises from the trailers. However, this one gave too much away. It shared all of the golden moments trying to get people in the door. This movie is a red light because it just rushes from one trailer moment to another.

We start out with the main characters in actual high school. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) is the typical nerdy kid who is a social outcast and looks like a Vegas Eminem. Jenko (Channing Tatum) is the complete opposite of Schmidt: tall, good looking, fit and popular. They do not get along in school and, like life, after time passes they find they have some things in common. They also learn that they can benefit from each other’s strengths. They become partners at the police academy: Jenko helps Schmidt get in shape and In turn Schmidt helps Jenko study. Together they make one mediocre cop. Their first assignment is park patrol, after botching that they go to a failed undercover unit to blend in with high school students.

Their new Captain is Dickson (Ice Cube) and he is everything that you expect from a stereotype. They handle the new assignment with all of the seriousness and professionalism of Jerry Lewis skit. But they learn that the new pecking order in school has changed. Geek is the new cool. So we have a bit of a role reversal Jenko has no clue how to live in this new universe where up is down and left is right. This film has great role reversals in its story and an interesting statement on how popularity corrupts.

The co-directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, only have a few movies to draw experience from, but from this attempt I have to say they have potential. I think they do a good buddy picture because they have collaborated on a number of films in the past and draw that companionship into their characters. The things that I liked form their work on this picture was the balance between camp and irreverence to the original material without going over the top with the carryover from the TV show. Other TV inspired movies have tried to overdo the campy nature of the dated premises. This movie had a good balance between those elements but was just not very good.

Spoiler Warning!!! You will get an atomic wedgie and stuffed in a locker if you click here!!!!!

Ok, I lied. I have no spoilers for this movie because the trailers have given everything away. There are a few plot points that are not given away but they are not really worth talking about. At best they are cute but not noteworthy.

The best line in the movie is from the first captain that talks about the 21 Jump Street program as something that is dug up because people have no originality and they try to pass of this old #@%& as something new and hope that no one notices. Yep. Sums up this movie and I respect them for not lying to us and themselves in thinking this movie was anything else.

What was the last TV based movie that was made that you liked and why?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games - 142min – PG-13

I did a post on trailers that were good and bad. The trailer for this movie falls into the good category. They did an excellent job making me interested in seeing the film but did not give anything away. I got goose bumps when the main character broke ranks and volunteered to take her sister's place. I got them from that scene each time I watched it. I have to give this movie a green light because it delivers on what was promised. 

The movie takes place in a post war civilization where the winning side resides in the Capital and the rest of the land of Panem is broken up into 12 districts. Each district selects by lottery a boy and a girl to compete in a fight to the death. The Games are televised and everyone is forced to watch them as a reminder of who is in charge. In District 12 Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers as tribute to save her younger Sister Prim (Willow Shields). She is joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the male tribute for this session of the games. 

They are brought to the Capital and are trained by Haymitch (Woody Harrelson)a pervious winner from District 12, and presented to their stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who is in charge of their image. He helps them make an impression. Together they do their best to survive. 

This movie was outstanding. I was so enthralled with this story that I didn't notice my usual pet peeves. I have never been a fan of the jerky shaky camera shots and this movie has its fair share. These shots were needed because they helped create tension and cover up the fact that we are watching children fight to the death. They did a great job of doing all of the violence off screen. We see a weapon raised a splatter of blood and a limp body. The use of the shaky camera shots were an excellent touch and not overused. 

This movie is definitely close to the book. They did cut some elements but they did a great job of keeping the main plot untouched. You didn’t need to read the books to keep up with the story but if you enjoyed the movie I suggest reading the books to get more in depth with the characters and their history.

The setting reminded me of Firefly, where the capital had advanced technology and the districts were living in Depression-era squalor. Right before the start of the games I was thinking to myself, am I really sitting here watching children kill one another? They did a great job of keep the intensity without glorifying the gore. 

The Director (Gary Ross) was an excellent choice because of his ability to visually tie in emotional connections with the images of the stories he tells. Looking back over his resume and I am a fan of all of the movies he has written. I never realized the connection to all of these beloved movies is because of one man. 

Mr. Ross, Thank you for making the movies you have, they have touched me and sparked in me the love of film I have today. Dave and Big are my favorites, who am I kidding all of them really.

Sorry, had to take a personal moment there after I realized who he was, and the influence he had on my life.

Warring Spoilers!!! May the odds be ever in your favor if you click here. 

Rue (Amandla Stenberg) dying made be cry and the revolt in her district made me want to join in tearing the capital apart. I was so emotionally involved I was drained at the end of it. I am still angry with the whole thing. I have to move on before I get my dander up again.

President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland, and he does evil bad guy well. His menacing comments with Seneca (Wes Bentley) were supremely creepy.

Elizabeth Banks did an excellent job of completely taking the role and becoming something different, I had no earthly idea it was her under the makeup as Effie, I had to look up who she was I could not recognize her at all. Stanley Tucci is the best, nuf said.

Were there changes to this story you did not like, or did you think they left something out that you wanted to see in film? 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

Movies have been missing stories that show that female characters can be just as strong as male characters. It is a deficit in our films that sadly still remains. Mirror, Mirror has a strong female lead and a great idea of empowerment but the poor story delivery ruins any hope of keeping the theme of female strength alive. This movie has a few bright spots and many good messages but smothers them in the flat images and limited scope of its settings. I really wanted this movie to be better but all it rates is a red light.

The story is well known, an evil queen (Julia Roberts) puts her beautiful young step daughter, Snow White (Lily Collins), to death. White gets saved by a soft hearted steward, Brighton (Nathan Lane). White is found by a group of bandits -- seven to be exact: Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), Half Pint (Mark Povinelli), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Wolf (SebastianSaraceno), Butcher (Martin Klebba) and Chuckles (Ronald Lee Clark). 

With their help, White discovers her strength and she teaches them that people can change. The Prince (Armie Hammer) is under the queen’s love spell as she has designs on his money ANNNNNND because he is a beefcake. They take liberties with the story to make it more politically correct but fail in making it interesting.  

There is also a gross humor factor that I think was added to make kids giggle. For the story there is no real reason to have them in there. The story is supposed to be told from the perspective of the Evil Queen, but even that element gets lost.

She only leads into the story and does little more than set the stage. Then it falls back into it being about Snow white. They could have done much more with this as Julia Roberts is a powerhouse that ended up in a supporting role. 

Spoiler Warning!!! No one over 4 feet tall beyond this point.!!!!

The banter between the bandits was the best part of the movie, “who put you in charge of her lips?” “Guys we have a spare”, “I need you *smack* I mean we need you”. The only down side is that the stunt men used when they were on stilts had longer arms than the actors and it was painfully obvious. If I am noticing arm length instead of action, you are doing something wrong.

I loved how much potential that Snow white had as a character. I would enjoy seeing more of her fight against the queen’s forces. They could have lost the whole bird crap facial and bee sting lip botox treatment in favor of a montage of Snow White fighting.

Sean Bean makes an awesome King. He is really only in the movie for a few min but steals the scenes he is in. I can’t think of a movie that he did that I

You can never go wrong with a Bollywood Ending. I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I am entranced with the final dance number. Best part of the movie is right here Look I just saved you $7.50 and 106 min of your life watch it here.

What movie do you think has a great message of empowerment for women? AND was entertaining?