Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer Movie Preview

During the summer months, the smartest profession to be is a teacher, since you don’t have to do anything. At all. Seriously, all I’m required to do this summer is go to bed when I feel like it, wake up when I feel like it, and watch a ton movies. On a scale of one to ten, I’d rate summertime for teachers as “frickin’ sweet.”

So while you’re assembling your voodoo dolls of me to stick pins of spite into, read this blog about some of the bigger summer movies I’ve seen so you can either attend them or avoid them, depending on the movie. I’ve had the time to preview them for you, so at least I’m doing something productive for those of you still spending a majority of your time in an office and/or cubicle.

For those of you that haven’t seen one of these flicks and would like to, I promise I’ll keep major spoilers to a minimum. How about this—I’ll only talk about things that could be deduced from the trailers. Deal? Deal.

Knocked Up

Amy and my parents hated this movie, as did a lot of other people because of the profanity-laden dialogue that runs constant over the course of the film. In all honesty, this movie could’ve had about 60-70% less cursing and still been just as funny, but hey, who am I to judge a professional screenplay writer when I’m at home writing a blog?

Actually, I rather enjoyed the film. It had some really funny quips and interchanges I found to be witty, and Kristin Wiig of SNL was absolutely hilarious. If you haven’t seen any of her from Saturday Night Live, you should.

Mostly, though, I think I liked this movie because I’ve followed Judd Apatow’s other TV projects really closely and loved them a lot. “Freaks and Geeks” is still one of my favorite shows of all time, and “Undeclared,” though short-lived, was also really underrated. The best part is that these shows used a lot of the same actors in “Knocked Up,” so it was cool to see them all grown up. Of course because the shows were on network TV instead of big screen, the amount of foul language was minimal, which honestly is my one complaint about Knocked Up. If you can stand it, go for it. If you’re offended by a barrage of F-bombs, stay home.

Evan Almighty

Steve Carell is one of those guys you expect to watch and laugh at unconditionally. Anyone who’s a big follower of “The Office” or “The Daily Show” should know exactly how funny Carell can be. Expecting anything less than hilarious in this movie would be a disservice to him.

But despite Carell being hilarious as Evan Baxter in “Bruce Almighty” opposite Jim Carrey several years ago, “Evan Almighty” really wasn’t that funny. Carell’s character is, strangely, the straight man in this movie, and most of the jokes are Morgan Freeman’s one-liners as God and really unfunny quips by Wanda Sykes’s character.

The movie has its moments, but overall it’s absolutely unhilarious. Meaningful, sweet, and refreshing, but unhilarious. While “Bruce” was a movie for comedy’s sake, “Evan” is a movie for global warming’s sake. There’s a message in this one that’s extremely positive presented in a fun way, but this movie is not a comedy. Don’t go for laughs, go for a pick-me-up and maybe some reflection.

Like I said, I enjoyed the movie, but hardly laughed. Take that for what it’s worth.


I know we’re getting out of hand with the ‘80s re-tread movies, but visually, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like this before in my life. The special effects in this movie are on some other worldly level, and that alone is worth the price of admission. That, and Megan Fox is a reasonably attractive young woman.

In terms of plot I wasn’t very moved, and I found the dialogue to be cheesy at times. Extremely cheesy. Limburger, baby. But I say that not having followed Transformers when I was a kid. I knew of Optimus Prime and the Decepticons, and had some friends with a handful of the toys (which were always pretty cool to play with) but I went into this movie not really knowing the deal. For that reason the whole outlay of the movie was pretty unrealistic, but that’s how the story of the Transformers goes I guess.

I’ve heard it said that this movie is 2007’s computer graphic equivalent of Jurassic Park, and I’d call that pretty accurate. JP wasn’t the greatest scripted cinematic achievement of all time, but it revolutionized CGI and made for an extremely entertaining summer blockbuster. Transformers won’t disappoint if you know why you’re going to see it. Optimus Prime isn’t winning a Best Supporting Actor this year or anything, but any time Steven Spielberg is involved you’re probably in for a fun ride, which this one totally was.

Harry Potter 5: The Order of the Phoenix

Shame on you if you still haven’t read these books, but what better way to hype up the seventh and final novel of the series than to release the fifth movie just over a week in advance of Harry’s conclusion?

The movie leaves a couple of hints about that final book if you’re able to catch it before “Deathly Hollows” comes out in about a week, but the real treat of this movie comes in the final battle scene of the movie. Without giving away too much, just know that every Harry Potter movie has given me at least one moment of jaw-droppingness, and the big fight at the end of this one filled that role for me this time around.

Otherwise, this movie will be what you expected—an accurate translation of the book onto the screen. They always do so nicely with these films, and Order of the Phoenix was no different. If they don’t hurry up and film the final two, however, Harry’s going to start getting liver spots and a beer gut. Maggie Smith, the actress who plays Professor McGonogall, looks like she’s 117 years old.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the final book now. It’s been a long wait. Anybody else feel like a nerd for being such eager anticipation for a children’s book? Anybody?

The To-See List

Summer’s not even close to being over, and there are still a number films I’d like to see, though I’m not sure I can justify spending much more money on movies. Some of the ones I’d be interested in seeing before the end of ’07 include (click on the movie titles for trailers):

The Bourne Ultimatum – Before the Bourne movies I never would’ve guessed that Matt Damon would be one of my favorite actors. I love this series and thought “Identity” and “Supremacy” were action movie classics. Can’t wait until August for this.

The Simpsons Movie – What red-blooded American isn’t waiting to go see this when it comes out in a couple weeks? Have you heard about all those 7-Eleven’s that were turned into Kwik-E-Marts? I want one.

License to Wed – It’s got Jim from “The Office,” Robin Williams, and that little Andy Milonakis mini-me, so it’s got to be worth watching. I’m saving this one for DVD, though. It will make a great stay-at-home date movie.

Ratatouille – My brother’s the big computer animation buff (Ice Age is like his favorite movie of all time), but I love Patton Oswalt and think this should be fun. Probably another rental.

American Gangster – A Ridley Scott flick starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (what Ridley Scott flick doesn’t star Russell Crowe?). It’s not out for a few more months, but if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you should. It looks awesome.

J.J. Abrams’s new untitled movie – This ran before Transformers and Kevin Clark and I had no idea what the heck was going on. The first-person camera thing is cool (but then again, I actually liked the Blair Witch Project), but withholding the title is even more interesting. Any theories, anyone?


Adam said...

I think the new movie is called 1.18.08 based upon the preview.

wade said...

great reviews and always love your witful (is that a word english boy?)sayings. I don't know if you heard but we are moving back to IL in August. Jeanne left State Farm and is starting at UofI to get her PhD. We bought a house in Champaign so hopefully can get to see you soon to catch up.

Kim said...

Thanks for the reviews! Maybe when Dave and I get a chance we will actually be able to see one soon!

kk said...

Don't forget Sicko.