Archive for October, 2007

29 Oct 2007

Dan in Real Life

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Dan in Real Life“Dan in Real Life”may have a recycled plot of its love story predecessors, but is far from garbage with strong performances and witty dialogue.

Steve Carell (“Evan Almighty”) stars as Dan, an overwhelmed, widowed father with three daughters working as an advice columnist. At his annual family reunion, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche, “Desengagement”). The two instantly hit it off and for the first time since his wife’s death, Dan seems ready to move on. Later that day, Dan learns that his newfound soul mate is also his brother Mitch’s (Dane Cook, “Good Luck Chuck) girlfriend.

Even with a depressing premise, “Dan in Real Life”is simply the feel-good film of the fall season. From the heartwarming story to the subtle, yet hilarious comedy, this movie is hard not to like.

Advertised as a comedy, “Dan”is a sincere romantic drama at heart. With many realistic relationship themes, it is easy to connect with the characters. The simplicity of two people falling in love can be a very strong theme when portrayed as well as it is in this film.

The best part of the movie is Carell’s multi-dimensional character. Both of his best-known characters seem to come out in Dan. Early in the film he is able to recreate the naïveté of his character in the “40-Year-Old Virgin”while folding his daughter’s thong.

Later, his character seems to resemble the obnoxious and stubborn boss from “The Office”when rudely revealing his brother’s “adventurous”personal life at the dinner table. Only Carell’s trademark awkwardness ties Dan’s character together.

As the tension between Marie and Dan builds, the onslaught of predictable plot twists insult the viewer’s intelligence.

But director Peter Hedges (“Pieces of April”) uses sharp dialogue and one-liners to brighten the mood and enthrall the audience.

Whether it is Dan comparing his corn to an angel or his daughter, Cara dropping to her knees with mascara running down her face shouting, “You are a murderer of love!”when Dan sends her boyfriend away, the laughs keep on throughout.

Along with this and a varied supporting cast, each actor is able to stand out. Cook’s off-beat acting and comedic talents proved perfect when soloing “Let My Love Open the Door”in a tenor pitch.

Binoche adds a sense of reality to the film by wholeheartedly laughing at Steve Carell while he embarrassedly covers his eyes during one of her nude scenes. It was as if she wasn’t acting, but basking in his comedic abilities.

While this film fails in originality, it is the best date movie of year.

‘Dan in Real Life’
Release Date:Oct. 28
Director: Peter Hedges
Starring: Steve Carell, Dane Cook, Juliette Binoche
Genre: Comedy, romantic comedy
Rating: PG-13 for some innuendo
Grade: B+

16 Oct 2007

Stephen Colbert's new book dishes out advice with his usual wry, sarcastic bite

No Comments Opinion, Published Work

Martin Crook/Stephen Colbert is a true pioneer and visionary. He has one of the top-rated shows on Comedy Central, an ever-growing online nation and even his own flavor of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s called “Americone Dream.”

Now, with his new book out, Colbert has finally confessed that he actually is America.

First off, to determine whether or not this book is right for you, Colbert gives a short list of instructions.

- Highlighting, underlining or margin doodles are strictly prohibited

- The reader must never put any sort of “flowery foliage”between the pages

- Ladies must not use this book as a balancing device on their head for the improvement of their posture.

The list continues, but fans of the show already know this book is going to be even more ridiculous than Colbert’s hatred for bears.

The book’s dialogue begins with little “America’s”first memory. In one page, Colbert bravely tells the epic story of how he and his ferocious cat fought off the evil babysitter that had taken his parents’ place. His second memory is seeing two rhinos do it.

From there the book branches off into many different topics, ranging from homosexuals to the future.

He writes, in small font, an entire chapter on how old people are useless and should be put to work building the 400-foot wall around America that will keep the immigrants out. In the same chapter he uses larger font to praise the elderly. It is common knowledge that the elderly can’t read small print, right?

For the young, easily persuaded readers, Colbert adds “Fun Zones”to the end of every chapter. Highlights include a game where you have to match the correct pair of recently neutered balls to the correct dog (Bob Barker is an option).

Another is an experiment in which you place a gerbil in a water-filled fishbowl and a hardcover copy of Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species”on top. This is supposedly a foolproof way to disprove evolution.

The book is also filled with thought-provoking quotes and impeccable analogies. On the chapter about the religion, he goes on the record saying “Agnostics = Atheists without balls.”

By far, the most entertaining chapter in the book is “Sex and Dating.”Through many life experiences, Colbert gives some very heartfelt and “dead serious”advice, which includes tips on how ladies should show more cleavage and a few ideas on how guys should lower their sexual expectations.

One analogy that stood out more than any other was, “Sex is like the death penalty: one outcome, so many different ways of carrying it out.”

When it comes to science, Colbert was as confounded as the secret service when President Bush almost died choking on a pretzel. That is why he included his own (aka America’s) science glossary.

Included are such words as liposuction, magic and urology, which is defined as, “This is pee science. Dirty stuff, but I guess it takes all types. Who am I to judge?”

The final pages of this glorious book offer a brief glimpse of the future, including how to defrost Colbert’s cryogenically frozen head, and a copy of his White House Correspondent’s speech.

In his first outing into the world of literature, Colbert instantly becomes a legend. In “I am America (And So Can You!)”he writes with the same humor as his show, but adds much more. It also becomes clear that he officially has the biggest ego in the world.

16 Oct 2007

Michael Clayton

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Michael Clayton

With little action and a lot of lengthy dialogue, “Michael Clayton”slowly goes nowhere.The film revolves around lawyer Michael Clayton (George Clooney, “Ocean’s Thirteen”), whose job involves cleaning up his law firm’s biggest messes.

When firm partner Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson, “Cassandra’s Dream”) has a mental breakdown and destroys the integrity of one of his biggest cases, Clayton is called upon. Now on the verge of losing a $3 billion case, Clayton must discover the mystery behind Edens’ breakdown while getting to the bottom of this illustrious and complex case.

From the drawn-out opening dialogue, it is easy to tell that this movie might be hard to follow. In a film where every detail counts, but not every detail is explained, director Tony Gilroy loses the casual viewer in this intricate tale.

In Gilroy’s previous film, “The Bourne Ultimatum,”he successfully mixes explosive action sequences with a smart twisting plot. In “Clayton,”he leaves out the action, but adds even more twists.

The film’s biggest fault is the confusion it creates with numerous subplots that drag the story out.

Clayton is a simple lawyer in the beginning of the film, but by the end is an indebted, depressed, divorced dad with a career that has gone nowhere over the past 17 years.

While trying to show all of Clayton’s problems, the story gets even more complex with a puzzling case dealing with a company’s involvement in a cancer-causing product.

As for the acting, everyone got a chance to shine, but no one stood out. Clooney portrays Clayton with a solemnity that seemed to fit, but kept Clooney from his true abilities. Wilkinson’s character, Edens, was the most dynamic and proved it during an intense scene in which he proclaims his undying love to one of his clients while stripping.

The cinematography helps this film stand out. Every character is filmed with the idea of understanding every expression. The camera had a tendency to carefully follow and slowly revolve around Clayton to add impact to the drama occurring on the screen. While fitting the director’s vision, this circular way of filming only added another layer of confusion.

There is one scene in the film’s finale that seemed to sum everything up. Clayton is shown from an overhead view going down an escalator to a building exit. In this shot the audience sees a unique view of the escalators, one going up and the other down. This seemed to capture the two ways the film could be interpreted. The first is where you are led down this complex tale and exit feeling satisfied. The second is where you are led up into this big mess and are lost on top of it all.

‘Michael Clayton’
Release Date: Oct. 12
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Michael O’Keefe, Tom Wilkinson
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for some language and sexual dialogue
Grade: C-

09 Oct 2007

The Heartbreak Kid

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The Farrelly brothers may be back with “The Heartbreak Kid,”but they seem to have lost the magic in “There’s Something About Mary.”In a world full of gross-out R-rated comedies, this film cannot stand its ground.Ben Stiller (“Night at the Museum”) stars as Eddie, who has a huge problem with commitment. Everything changes when he meets Lila (Malin Akerman, “The Brothers Solomon”).

After six weeks of dating, Eddie takes the plunge into marriage. Everything seems perfect until the honeymoon, when Lila turns from Eddie’s dream girl into a sex-crazed bimbo with the IQ of a goldfish.

To make things worse, Eddie also happens to find his true love when he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan, “Mission Impossible III”) at the resort bar.

For a film with so much going for it, there is little that actually makes it great.

The Farrellys are famous for gross-out humor. While there are a few extremely inappropriate scenes, there just aren’t enough to make the film consistently funny. One scene that comes to mind is a nightmarish event involving Lila’s ‘70s-style “bush”dousing Eddie with an unforgettable golden shower.

Something else that makes Farrelly movies great is the strong central and supporting characters. In their previous work, like “There’s Something About Mary”and “Me, Myself and Irene,”every character gets plenty of screen time along with their own show-stealing moments.

In this film, Stiller takes a back seat to the other characters. While he shines during some side-splitting sex scenes, he is as dull as a monotone math teacher during the rest of the film.

As for the supporting characters, the only one that truly stands out is Akerman. She creates the perfect “bride from hell”with her disturbingly graphic potty mouth. On the other hand, there is Monaghan’s jokeless character, who only drags the movie down.

As experienced and talented as the Farrelly brothers may be, this film plays out like an amateur director’s first attempt at a romantic comedy.

‘The Heartbreak Kid’
Release Date: Oct. 5
Director: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Ben Stiller, Malin Akerman and Michelle Monaghan
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: R for strong sexual content, crude humor and language
Grade: C+