Category Archives: Romance

Love Actually

So this is a bit of a long post.

I actually enjoy rom-coms. I know I’m forbidden to say that as a man, but I’ve seen a fair number of them. There are those that are crap and those that I genuinely like. Some are just ok. I’m not being dragged to watch all of these movies either. And the excuse that they’re all generic is kinda bull. All genres are “generic.” Kinda why they’re a genre. That’s not the point though. That’s a whole separate post I may get into some day.

So Love Actually, is a Richard Curtis film. The man behind works like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and of course the amazing Blackadder. I like all of those (I feel like Blackadder shouldn’t be included though. Too different). They’re rom-coms and they’re good. To me at least. Love Actually is amazingly enough, another one. The title gives it away, and in a sense kind of gives away the whole film.

I both like and dislike Love Actually. It’s complicated. The original cut (one of them at least) was over three hours. The runtime now, is 135 minutes. That’s still a long movie, especially for the genre. Love Actually is one of those movies that involves separate story-lines that all interconnect in the end, though you can see the connections easily enough as the film progresses. The character connections are really anything to worry over. My experience with these kind of films is that they never seem to be that good. To me they always come across as to overly complex for what they are and Love Actually is no exception. It’s long and has a number of pretty complex stories that don’t fully work because they’ve been cut down to fit in the film. They’d work better as a miniseries TV movie where we could see the full stories.

Beyond that though, the movie has another fault with me. It’s kind of… schmaltzy? Some of it just seems horribly gushy to me and cliché. I know that’s excepted from some films in the genre, but it still seems a bit excessive at times. That and I guess I’m expecting more from Curtis. Still, the romance part of the movie still works. That and it is supposed to be somewhat fairy-taleish. Rowan Atkinson’s character was initially/still is supposed to be an angel, but it kinda got cut from explanation.

The comedy aspect is what does it for me. It’s why I enjoy rom-coms because they can amazingly enough be good comedies. That’s where this movie shines because despite how unfunny it can be (moments where it isn’t supposed to be anyways) the movie has some great comedic moments. At least I thought so. It’s not like it’s going to be on anyone’s top comedy lists, but it’s still really good there.

The cast is another one of of those aspects that helps make the film work. Ensemble casts generally seem to be less than what you want, but the ones that work are usually really good. So let’s start with Bill Nighy. He’s a great actor. Love him. Does a great job here. Wish he had more screen time. Shit, they could make a whole movie for his character, which I guess they could do for most of the characters really.

Colin Firth has his own little storyline as well. It’s not really that brilliant. It’s Colin Firth playing the kind of role he’s known for and he does a good job at it. In this case he’s kind of exaggerating it even more.

Liam Neeson and Thomas Brodie-Sangster play stepfather and son. Both are really good. I actually want to go back and see how many scenes have Neeson standing at full height and not bent over. The kid is little to begin with and of course Neeson is huge, so it’s entertaining to watch that interaction just because of that. I also loved how blunt there part was. It was a very open relationship that I’m sure plenty of people would disapprove of (at least in the US), which is kind of bull. Kind of wish some of their deleted scenes stayed in.

Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman play husband and wife. Thompson is great. She actually probably appears the most in the film since she seems to be the one most of the characters all know. Rickman unfortunately get’s les screen time, which is a shame. He’s a great comedic actor. Has the timing down wonderfully. He needs more of those roles. There’s also a deleted scene with Thompson and her son (who never appears really) about writing a school essay about their christmas wish. His is to see everyone’s farts, which would be great. This also leads to cutting out the headmistress’ little story, which was good as well. Anyways, both do a good job, though I feel like their story get’s cut up a bit. Both of their characters have more scenes to work with other characters than their own marriage troubles. Maybe not. Kind of feels like it though.

Now is as good as any to mention Rowan Atkinson I guess. He is supposed to be an angel, though lacking the wings and whatnot. One of the deleted scenes with Emma Thompson and her children actually alludes to this even. The whole thing of his holiness was cut out because it complicated things to much. That makes sense. The movies already to complicated. Still, Atkinson still appears and the best one is with Rickman in a shopping center. It’s a great scene to begin with, but if you go and watch the movie, knowing he’s supposed to be an angel, his appearances make more sense.

Martin Freeman has a nice little bit. Plays a stand in doing nude sex scenes. Nice little bits.

Kris Marshall has a couple of nice lines as well and I do like the portrayal of Wisconsin.

Laura Linney has a bit part. I didn’t care for it, mostly because it felt so stripped down.

Keira Knightly and Chiwetel Ejiofor are newlyweds. We get to see their wedding. Andrew Lincoln (Walking Dead) is Ejiofor’s best friend. I think they probably have the least funny story. I really can’t think of much with their plot that was funny. Probably the one I liked least.

And finally (I think) is Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon. Grant is Grant. He does his normal thing. He also has a number of great lines in addition to his nice little dance (which was to short) and his speech about the “special relationship” between Britain and the US.

I’m tired and need to stop. Basically the movie has plenty of problems, mostly because it tries to accomplish way to much. Still, it has some great bits. It’s a good comedy at least.

Bedazzled (1967)

Another British film that’s been remade. Alas, I saw the remake of Bedazzled before this original one. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the full movie though, since I only caught it on cable.

Bedazzled is an interesting movie. Again, if you’ve seen the remake you have at least a board grasp of what goes on in this film, though as far as I can remember they really aren’t alike. Bedazzled is sort of a telling of Faust. Dudley Moore plays a cook who is infatuated with his co-worker. Peter Cook comes along as the Devil, although he goes by George Spiggott. Over the course of the film he gives Dudley Moore wishes essentially for his soul, yadda yadda yadda. Shenanigans ensue.

I hate to say that the film requires intelligence to watch, but it kind of does. The movie is a very sharp satire, one that to me seems like it was very much ahead of its time. The deliveries are very low-key and it’s very much a sort of dry sense of humor. It’s easy to miss a lot of the, for lack of a better word, jokes. Still, the sheer amount of content in the film makes it hard not to laugh every now and then. The movie also incorporates its fair share of physical gags, though again, it’s very understated. I’m a fan of Moore and Cook. I’m actually a dj on my college radio station and I play some of their recordings from Beyond the Fringe, so I guess I’m slightly biased on some of my love for the two men behind the film.

The acting really isn’t great. Dudley Moore and Peter Cook can do better, but it’s not like it’s horrible or it detracts from anything. The film also features Raquel Welch, a name most people my age don’t recognize, however she was an international sex symbol back in her day. She has a small role, but at the time it was understandably a big deal.

Dudley Moore enjoys playing instruments and creating music. In an interview he said that he basically had to decided between music and acting/comedy. In Bedazzled you get a nice glimpse at his musical talents since he wrote the music for the film. Just kind of further goes to show how intelligent and talented these two men are.

The movie did run a bit long for me. There were some bits that ran a bit to long and if you don’t enjoy what they’re doing in the bit, it just makes it that much longer.

Bedazzled wont be for everyone. There are plenty of people who don’t get satire. Clever wordplay is another one that get’s missed by some and when it includes particular references, you do have to be a certain type to get them. The movie does have nuns on trampolines, so that’s something to look forward to.

It’s not great. It has plenty of problems and doesn’t really appeal to a wide audience. Still, for self-professed comedy nerds I think it’s one of those movies you have to give a shot, if for no other reason than because it’s a creation of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

Fever Pitch (1997)

I’ve never read Fever Pitch. I’ve read some of Nicholas Hornby’s other works and enjoyed them. I’ve also enjoyed the film adaptations to varying degrees. This Fever Pitch is the original film version. It was remade in 2005 with Jimmy Fallon and uses Baseball (Red Sox) over football (Arsenal). I saw the 2005 version before ever seeing this.

So if you’ve seen the remake, you have a pretty good grasp on the basic outline of the film. Colin Firth comes from a broken home. His dad attempts to connect to his son and for whatever reason while attending an Arsenal match (his first) he falls in love with the game and team. Throughout the film we see flashbacks of Firth’s character growing up and proving his dedication to the team. Firth is an English teachers, as is Ruth Gemmell, though her character is new to the school. Firth is very laid back and is the “cool” teacher, while Gemmell is a bit more uptight, organized. Naturally they clash, although early on a comment is made about the two of them hooking up because of that. The rest is pretty strait forward, though there are plenty of detail differences between this and the remake.

I don’t remember the remake to really compare to this film so I wont even bother. I did like how they handled Firth’s character. He’s very aloof at first and they do a great job of making him out to be a bit of an ass early on. As the movie progresses, it’s kind of surprising that he grows on you. They also did a great job of portraying how much of a man-child he is and I think the flashbacks sort of help with that. The portrayal of how important that team (or any team) is to the fans is handled really well.

Colin Firth is pretty good. I don’t think it’s as good as some of his other work, but it’s pretty easy to see how he’s already getting typed cast in certain roles this early on. Ruth Gemmell did a really good job as well. I thought she was fantastic. And I love Mark Strong. I don’t think I’ve seen him do a crap job (other than maybe Sunshine, but that was a role). He’s basically playing Firth’s buddy and does a good job at it. Kind of weird seeing him in that capacity, but he’s fine.

Fever Pitch isn’t exactly redefining the rom-com, although I’m also sort of hesitant to call it a rom-com. It has a bit more depth to the characters development and there seems to be a more realistic view of life’s problems. I can also see where people uninterested in football (soccer) would be less than thrilled, although I think the movie does a good job at getting you invested in the sport, sort of like how the remake got a lot of people to pay attention to the Red Sox. It’s also a British film with some references to things some folks might not understand if you aren’t familiar with that culture. I’m a bad judge at this though since I’m a slight anglophile.

Still, it’s a good movie. I wouldn’t necessarily pop it in if I wanted to watch a light, fluffy, rom-com, since I still have a hard time as seeing it as one of those movies. Still, it’s a good movie to watch at some point and I can’t imagine that people would hate this if they liked the remake or if they like rom-com’s or similar such films. I mean Colin Firth’s in it so that’s always another reason to check it out.

The Muppets

Well I’m fresh out of viewing The Muppets so this is going to be a glowing review. I haven’t had to much time to try and say anything negative, though I don’t think I need to.

The Muppets is about how the Muppets have been forgotten. That over the years their popularity has decreased and that times have changed. That we wouldn’t appreciate them now even if they did put on a performance.

The movie is a love song to the Muppets. There’s a lot of blowing smoke up their own buts it you want to twist things to a negative view. The fact is that the Muppets were a huge phenomenon and while younger generations may not be familiar with them, there are still young people and older audiences that love them.

In a way the new movie is similar to the orignal Muppet Movie, but not really. Out of all of the films, that’s the best comparison. In fact they reference the orignal film frequently to compare themselves to it. The orignal movie was sort of about the Muppets meting for the first time and the new movie is the Muppets meeting each other for the first time in years. It really is a sequel of sorts to the orignal film.

The original Muppet Movie however was very much a road movie and was very lighthearted. This film is actually quite different when you look at it. There’s a lot more exploration of the characters, or at least some of the main ones. The movie explores their dynamic and to an extent looks at why the Muppets were so great. There are a number of moments that are just horribly unfunny, because they’re sad. They are very good emotionally charged scenes.

The music of course was really good. They don’t hold up to the orignal songs, but I think that has more to do with time. “Life is a Happy Song” is actually really good and catchy. I think the movie needs more than one viewing for them to become as memorable as some of the older ones, but they are still pretty solid. Actually Chris Cooper does a pretty good rap at one point. The only two full old songs to make appearances are the Muppet Show theme and of course Rainbow Connection. There are some references and extracted lyrics from older songs, but they aren’t performed.  There’s also a great cover of Nirvana.

The Muppets were all great. You have different puppeteers now that some of the originals have died or moved on, but honestly I thought they did a great job. The only issue I had was with the guy who does Staldorf’s (I think) voice. The voices for that duo were very iconic for me and the new voice just doesn’t match the original. As far as the new Muppet Walter goes, I thought he was ok. Nothing spectacular, but good for the movie. He actually isn’t really the main character. He’s more of a catalyst to get the movie going, which was nice.

Jason Segel, who incidentally is the reason this movie exists, did a good job as Walter’s brother. Amy Adams was really good as well. For the roles they were cast in they were pretty damned good. As was Rashida Jones as the TV exec. OF course the movie has to have a human villain which is where Chris Cooper comes in and he was great. Again he does a neat little rap at one point. Really the human cast was great.

The cameos. The Muppets are famous for their cameos. I’m almost disappointed in the cameos in this movie, but maybe that has something to do with my fondness for the cameos in the other films. At this point these may be spoilers for you. I’m going to list some of the cameos, mainly the ones I enjoyed, so you’ve been warned. Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Bill Cobbs, Zach Galifianakis, Donald Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, John Krasinski, Jim Parsons, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey RooneySarah Silverman, Ken Jeong, Kristen Schaal, and Emily Blunt. There are more, but those are the ones that I remember and stood out to me.

My biggest disappointment was the lack of Steve Martin. For some reason I just thought he’d make an appearance. He’s worked with the Muppets a number of times and I always loved his appearances. They did at least reference him a number of times by name or via a picture of him. I’m also glad that they paid tribute to Jim Henson frequently. His name is branded various places as is his picture. It was nice that they did that.

The Muppets is different. The tone has changed. Yes the movie is wacky, but they scaled it down in my opinion. Again it’s a love song to the Muppets. The scenario in the film is a plea for the Muppets to reunite and get attention again and really that’s what the movie itself is. It’s about putting the Muppets together again and trying to get an audience and hopefully inspire certain folks at Disney to make another Muppet and I can only dream of them doing the Muppet Show again.

It doesn’t top the Muppet Movie, but it’s damned close. Having not seen the other Muppet films recently I’d have to say this one has a good chance at being number two to the original film. And yes it has some flaws, but I’m willing to forgive them because it’s the Muppets. After all this time they made a movie and it was worth that wait. I can only hope that people will actually go see this, especially if you loved the Muppets growing up.

Punch-Drunk Love

Where to start? Punch-Drunk Love is an odd film that people seem to love, hate, or are just plain confused about. I fall into the latter category. On one hand I was kind of board and I was confused about a number of things. On the other hand, I loved some parts of it. I had a very polar opinions about the movie.

One of the things I enjoyed the most was Adam Sandler. Yes his acting is good, though to be honest the character is sort of like the ones he plays in his own film, just a bit more tame. I’m a fan of Sandler’s work normally anyways, which plenty of people aren’t. The character though is what I liked. He was intriguing enough to keep me watching the film throughout the slow parts. Part of that is because I identify with the character to some extent as far as awkwardness and anxiety, particularly around others.

I wouldn’t tell someone that this si a heartwarming film that is going to make you laugh. In a lot fo ways the film ultimately is, but I feel like going into the movie an expecting that would only put me off the movie even more. There are plenty of hilarious scenes though, depending on your sense of humor.

I’m sure I missed a lot of things that happen in this movie. Apparently there are a lot of little details to be enjoyed. Normally I wouldn’t bother to give this a second watch, but I think that is exactly what this film needs. It needs a second viewing to either confirm your dislike for it or to help sway you over to loving it.

%d bloggers like this: