Film Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

Also known as: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (working title)
Release Date: July 27th, 2010 (Canada – Fantasia International Film Festival)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright
Based on: Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Music by: Nigel Godrich
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong, Nelson Franklin, Thomas Jane, Clifton Collins Jr., Bill Hader (voice)

Universal Pictures, Marc Platt Productions, Big Talk Productions, 112 Minutes

Review:

“When I’m around you, I kind of feel like I’m on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them.” – Scott Pilgrim

I haven’t watched this since it came out in theaters. From memory, I liked it at the time but strangely, I’ve never felt the urge to rewatch it until now, nine years later. And that was mainly just to review it, as I’m a fan of Edgar Wright’s work and Scott Pilgrim still seems to be beloved by comic book fans after all this time.

Well, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Maybe I’m older, or since I’ve seen this, I sort of know what to expect from it so the razzle dazzle doesn’t awe me as it once did or maybe it just isn’t a good movie as far as its story, characters and purpose goes.

To start, this is an amazing looking picture on its surface. I really dig that the filmmakers committed to the bit and gave us a true live action version of the comic without trying to rework it into something more realistic. The special effects are spectacular, the musical numbers are cool and this film is really impressive in that regard. I love it for its style and how it is all conveyed on screen.

However, the whole story is focused on one of the worst romances I have ever had to sit through in a film. Scott is obsessed with Ramona, but she acts like that girl who is too cool for everyone at all the parties she feels the need to keep going to. But really, she’s just a broken person with bad hair that delivers packages for Amazon Canada like a total twentysomething normie just trying to pay for hair dye, thrift shop clothes, avocado toast and her 1/9th of the rent.

Still, her personality is off putting as fuck but then so is Scott’s, as he just acts like whatever he thinks she wants and he even treats his current girlfriend like shit and doesn’t really seem to know who he is, what he wants or where he’s going. He just knows that he’s obsessed over some hipster douche with weird hair and now has to fight a bunch of her exes in order to maybe date her. But she is so indifferent and noncommittal for almost the entire picture that Scott just comes off as a dopey puppy that needs to have his heart crushed.

Normally I wouldn’t be so harsh on something like this but it is this budding relationship that is the framework for the entire narrative. Sad pussy puts it all on the line for salty nihilist weirdo bitch that kinda maybe likes him right this minute but has no idea how she will feel in five minutes.

There is no lesson to be learned on this journey.

I’ve never read the comic because I don’t have much interest in it but I hope the relationship in the source material isn’t this shallow and stupid.

The only reason why this doesn’t get a terrible rating from me is that the visuals and the style of this film are so alluring and perfectly presented in the film medium that the picture does put me in awe in that regard. This is a really cool and fun movie to look at and I dig the music. The surface is superb, it just turns to crap when you get past the polish, bright lights and groovy tunes.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, as well as the Kick Ass movies and Zombieland.

Film Review: Cooties (2014)

Release Date: January 18th, 2014 (Sundance)
Directed by: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Written by: Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan
Music by: Kreng
Cast: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Jorge Garcia

SpectreVision, Glacier Films, Lionsgate Premiere, 94 Minutes

Review:

“Nap time, motherfuckers.” – Wade

*Written in 2015.

If you ever wanted to see Dwight Schrute team up with Frodo Baggins and fight zombie children in an elementary school, then this movie is for you! For those who never thought about that scenario, it is still a pretty sweet film.

Cooties takes place over the course of a day. Elijah Wood plays a struggling writer who comes to the school for the first time as a substitute teacher. He immediately butts heads with Rainn Wilson, who is essentially Dwight Schrute as an elementary P.E. teacher with a great mustache.

Allison Pill, probably most known for her part in Goon, plays Wilson’s girlfriend and creates tension between Wood and Wilson’s characters.

The film kicks off pretty quickly, as a zombie-like affliction spreads throughout the school but only effects those who haven’t yet gone through puberty.

We get awesome scenes of these teachers murdering zombie children. It is pretty great for those of us who have ever had run-ins with smart ass kids.

While the story isn’t all that great and the film isn’t, by any means, a classic, it is still a good way to waste 90 minutes of your time. The movie is predictable, the humor is passable but all in all, this is a fun ride. And who doesn’t enjoy Rainn Wilson? Let alone, Rainn Wilson as a badass?

The film’s final sequence takes place in a Discovery Zone type of environment, where the adults and a few of the surviving kids traverse through the child-safe maze in an effort to get out alive.

I liked this movie. I don’t know if I will ever watch it again but it was certainly a good way to waste some time on a Saturday morning between breakfast and lunch.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Zombieland.

TV Review: American Horror Story (2011- )

Original Run: October 5th, 2011 – current
Created by: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Cesar Davila-Irizarry, Charlie Clouser, James S. Levine, Mac Quayle
Cast: Evan Peters, Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O’Hare, Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell, Frances Conroy, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Michael Chiklis, Finn Wittrock, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer, Chloë Sevigny, Cheyenne Jackson, Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr., André Holland, Billie Lourd, Alison Pill, Alexandra Daddario, Grace Gummer, Lance Reddick, Alexandra Breckenridge

Ryan Murphy Productions, Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, 20th Century Fox, 78 Episodes (so far), 37-73 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2015.

I just binge watched the first three seasons of American Horror Story, as I was running out of things to watch on Netflix and this was in my queue for a few years. I have yet to see season 4, as it isn’t available yet.

I have a few friends who obsess over this show, which is probably why I put it off for so long. Usually, when a bunch of people build something up really high, I am left disappointed. I think the only time I wasn’t was when I finally sat down to watch Breaking Bad.

I wouldn’t call American Horror Story a disappointment though. It was pretty enjoyable and I’ll watch future seasons, albeit at my own leisure. But I wouldn’t call the show special or hype it up to everyone I know.

The premise of the show is horror, which is obvious by the title, but other than tapping into supernatural elements and showing something scary every now and then, it plays more like a teen drama. But that is the way of Hollywood these days. Sure, most of the characters are older than teens but this is definitely a show written for them.

The show just isn’t scary and that is why I have reservations about horror being used in a television format. Sure, you can churn up a few frights and provide creepy visuals and a dark tone but over the course of a 13 episode season, the monsters you are selling get less and less scary. When the reveals have to happen early because modern audiences can’t tolerate suspense, there is nowhere else to go other than adding in more teen drama and stretching out a resolution.

I guess the one thing that irks me about the show, is how the payoffs seem rushed, the resolution happens almost too early and the final few episodes of each season play like an epilogue that is too fleshed out. The grand evil each season is conquered around episode 11. So what you get is two more episodes that really aren’t necessary. I don’t care about any of these characters that much. It’s like the ending to the extended edition of The Return of the King – you just want it to be over.

Highlights of the show include the acting talents of Jessica Lange and Evan Peters (who was Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past). The rest of the cast, at least the actors who appear over multiple seasons are all pretty good. Although, Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau was horrible. I don’t blame her, as the character of Laveau was horribly written. The writers really tarnished the well respected legacy of the New Orleans Voodoo Queen and turned her into an evil vengeful idiot. Kathy Bates was fantastic though, I do want to point that out.

I like the show more than I dislike it but it hasn’t solidified me as a fan and it is a moderately enjoyable way to waste a weekend.

Update:

After the third season, I watched two more. Each year gets worse and worse, to the point that I’ve completely stopped caring about the show. The last season I watched was Hotel and I have no more interest in the future of this anthology franchise. I think there are two more seasons after Hotel with the possibility of this going on forever… but I’m done.

Film Review: Goon: Last of the Enforcers (2017)

Release Date: March 17th, 2017 (Canada)
Directed by: Jay Baruchel
Written by: Jay Baruchel, Jesse Chabot
Music by: Trevor Morris
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Marc-André Grondin, Kim Coates, Liev Schreiber, Jonathan Cherry, Wyatt Russell, Elisha Cuthbert, T.J. Miller, Tyler Seguin, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Prust, George Parros, Colton Orr, Georges Laraque

No Trace Camping, Caramel Film, Entertainment One, 101 Minutes

Review:

“Evolve. Or go extinct.” – Xavier LaFlamme

I’m a pretty big fan of the original Goon, which I consider to be the best hockey movie since Slap Shot. I am also a huge fan of hockey and the preseason for the NHL is already underway and I’m being overtaken by hockey fever. Living in the States, I wasn’t able to see this movie until now but at least it dropped just in time for the hockey season, which seems more fitting than it’s St. Patrick’s Day release in Canada.

Unfortunately, Goon: Last of the Enforcers isn’t quite Goon but I did enjoy it.

The one thing that the film is missing is the heart and spirit of the original. Ultimately, it feels like an unnecessary sequel even though I was personally looking forward to it because there is a certain magic between Seann William Scott’s Doug Glatt and Liev Schreiber’s Ross Rhea. I wanted to see these two interact one more time and despite this film not living up to the original, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to one more go around after this.

Scott and Schreiber are just great as these characters. The rest of the cast is fun too but the film is powered by these two men and their rivalry turned to respect.

In this picture, a third goon shows up and has absolutely no respect for anything. Frankly, you just want to see this asshole get his just desserts. This new goon, played by Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt) is so good as a despicable character that you can’t not sort of admire his performance and his presence. The sky is the limit for this kid.

Doug’s teammates return and they are all just as funny as before but you seem to spend less time with them and more time on the drama of Doug trying to discover himself in a life after hockey with his now wife and coming child adding a sense of pressure and responsibility that he has a hard time balancing with his personal struggles.

In the beginning, Doug is beaten into retirement by his new rival. He takes on a normal life but wants to get back on the ice to prove that he’s still got it. In an homage to Rocky III, Doug seeks out his former rival, Ross Rhea, in an attempt to train himself for the possibility of a rematch with the man that put him on the shelf and usurped him as the king of hockey fisticuffs.

I liked the premise and seeing Doug and Ross work together and even become teammates, by the end of the film, was a cool evolution of their story. The film takes their mutual respect to a new level and that is much more interesting than Doug dealing with his insurance job and becoming a father.

Marc-André Grondin’s Xavier LaFlamme is also back but he takes a backseat and doesn’t have the screen time he had in Goon. I really like the LaFlamme character and thought he was sort of wasted here. The same goes for Jay Baruchel’s Patrick but Baruchel also directed this and probably thought that a cameo here and there was all he could tackle while helming this picture.

If you love Goon, you will probably like Goon: Last of the Enforcers. It doesn’t live up to its predecessor but you get to see these characters evolve into something more than where they were when we left off with the first film.

Film Review: Goon (2011)

Release Date: September 10th, 2011 (Toronto Film Festival)
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Written by: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg
Music by: Ramachandra Borcar
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Marc-André Grondin, Kim Coates, Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber, Jonathan Cherry

No Trace Camping, Caramel Film, Don Carmody Productions, Inferno Pictures Inc., Alliance Films, Magnet Releasing, 92 Minutes

Review:

“You have my respect. Whatever that means to you, you got it. But, know this shit hard. If ever there comes a time when it gets down to the marrow, and it’s you and me. Kid, I will lay you the fuck out.” – Ross Rhea

Goon is the best hardcore hockey film since the Paul Newman classic Slap Shot. And to be honest, as a fan of hockey, movies and testosterone, I think that Goon is either on or pretty damned close to the Slap Shot level.

Written by Jay Baruchel (who also stars in the film) and Evan Goldberg, this is a movie that lives up to their previous collaborations and their great individual efforts. It also provided Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber with the two best roles they’ve played. In fact, I would be all for a spin-off about Schreiber’s character, the veteran goon Ross Rhea.

Actually, the scene in the bar between Scott and Schreiber is one of my favorite verbal confrontations ever filmed. The mood, the lighting, the lines spoken and the chemistry between the two men in just that one scene, elevate this film to something much more than a late night sports comedy. Kudos to both actors.

This is a quick paced and never boring 90 minute mixture of bad ass hockey shit, lighthearted adult comedy and just a really compelling story about a lovable tough guy that just wants to find something in the world that he is good at. It is about a guy who wants to belong somewhere.

The final confrontation in this film is also a pretty epic scene. The film builds towards the inevitable battle between the two toughest guys in minor league hockey and when it finally goes down, it makes the three hour battle that is The Return of the King look like Strawberry Shortcake.

This film is great. I can see where it wouldn’t be many people’s cup of tea but fuck people and fuck tea.

Film Review: Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Release Date: February 1st, 2016 (Regency Village Theater premiere)
Directed by: The Coen Brothers
Written by: The Coen Brothers
Music by: Carter Burwell
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Alison Pill, Wayne Knight, Christopher Lambert, Fisher Stevens, Patrick Fischler, Clancy Brown, Robert Picardo, Dolph Lundgren, Michael Gambon, Peter Jason

Working Title Films, Mike Zoss Productions, Universal Pictures, 106 Minutes

hail_caesarReview: 

The Coen Brothers always peak my interest when they have a new film coming out. Granted, I’m not a nut like the hardcore Coen loyalists but I am a legit ordained minister of Dudeism, a relgion based off of their film The Big Lebowski.

Hail, Caesar! is a motion picture littered with stars. For the most part, everyone other than Josh Brolin, Alden Ehrenreich and George Clooney feel like they are just glorified cameos. Ehrenreich isn’t even on the poster. But then you have Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill on it, while they are only in a handful of scenes.

The film is beautiful to look at but it is lacking in just about every other regard. Sure, the acting is top notch but when you have a cast full of talent like this, where most of them are limited to just a few scenes, they all probably had their best stuff because they weren’t bogged down by a rough shooting schedule and didn’t need to focus on anything longer than a few pages of dialogue, if that.

It is an enjoyable movie, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t as exciting or as interesting as it would lead you to believe. The introduction of Johansson’s character was magnificently shot and executed but I feel like her character was just brought into the film so that the Coen Brothers had a reason to create their own old school Hollywood synchronized swimming extravaganza. And I feel like that is the true purpose of this film, that the Coens wanted to try their hand at old school filmmaking techniques and to do it while working with all their friends.

Additionally, where we saw footage of films within the movie, they never really looked like pictures from 1951, where this is set. The films, even if they were black and white, were too sharp and too clean. The typefaces used looked out of place and not of that era.

There was just too much going on in the movie. I know that the plot is about Brolin’s Eddie Mannix and how he has to manage all these Hollywood superstars. However, it would have been a more interesting movie had it really just focused on one of his situations. Sure, the others could have been included but too much time was given to things that distracted from the narrative. The only real interesting plot thread was Clooney’s Baird Whitlock being kidnapped and held for ransom by communist writers. In fact, I adored the dialogue in those scenes between Clooney and the commies.

Hail, Caesar! is fun, to an extent. It just feels very empty and although it created a world that truly feels lived in, it didn’t explore it deeply enough.