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7 posts from April 2010

April 26, 2010

"Death at a Funeral"

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy -- 'Death at a Funeral' starring Chris Rock In Chris Rock’s newest film, Death at a Funeral, the multiple Emmy- and Grammy-award winning comedian stars as the eldest son charged with bringing (and keeping) the family together after its patriarch dies.

To say the day started out badly for Aaron (Rock) is an understatement. The casket that the funeral director brought to the home had the wrong body (“If this is not him,” the mortician speculates, “then your father is in one of two places.”) Dad eventually turns-up, but so do a plethora of problems. Cousins, friends, wild Uncle Russell (Danny Glover), and a little person with a big revelation and a blackmail scheme add to the chaos Aaron must moderate.

He gets no help from younger brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence), a successful albeit penniless writer. After all, organizing the service, delivering the eulogy, hiding the dead midget’s body... these are all the duties of the eldest son. But Aaron has other things on his mind, too. Some day he would like to save enough for his own home and maybe even publish a novel.

But that day is not today, not with so many dysfunctional relationships in need of mending and a father so deserving of a noble sendoff. From somewhere, though, Aaron musters the wherewithal and when the dust settles and the last naked guest falls from the roof, he pulls it all together for an almost happy ending.

Strike-up another casualty of the financial crisis. Notwithstanding the once bankable comedy triumvirate of Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan, Death at a Funeral was DOA at the box office. The beating it took from How to Train Your Dragon is understandable; the popular DreamWorks film has been at the top for five weeks. But a shellacking from Jennifer Lopez’s The Back-up Plan? How is that possible?

For many reasons. One: it is a preposterous premise, which when you consider that it is a remake of a critically acclaimed film, sounds impossible but only begins to describe how ruinous this movie really is. Two: No one will ever want to shake Tracy Morgan’s hand again (we’ll leave it at that). Three: Danny Glover, the brilliant star of films like The Color Purple and Silverado, is stuck on the toilet for most of the movie. I could go on, but how many different ways does the point need to be made. The real “Death” at this “Funeral” is the dignity of those involved.


1/2 Honk
MPAA Rating: R for language and drug content.

"Dark Legacy"

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy -- 'Dark Legacy' Dark Legacy:
George Bush and the murder of John Kennedy

   For the conspiracy lover, director John Hankey gives us a 103-minute argument that George H. W. Bush pulled the strings that pulled the triggers in the November 22. 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. For some, it's an "I knew it" moment. for others, the revelations are so preposterously extrapolated that you can't help but stay engaged to see how far it'll go. Either way, it's entertaining.

   Oliver Stone's "JFK" on steroids.


April 23, 2010


NYC baby!

April 16, 2010


Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy -- 'Kick-Ass' starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Nicolas Cage

In the controversial new action film, Kick-Ass, a nerdy teen dons a mail-order wetsuit and sets-out to fight crime in New York City. The only problem is that he has no superpowers whatsoever … unless you count being invisible to girls, a skill that is easily acquired hanging out in a comic book store.

Thinking that all it takes is resolve and a cool costume, graphic comic fanboy Dave Lizewski takes to the mean streets. Before he can do much good, though, he’s assaulted and the resulting video makes him something of an Internet celebrity attracting both thugs and vigilantes. Two of the latter, Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage) and daughter Mindy, are themselves basement superheroes (“Big Daddy” and “Hit Girl”) only much better trained, armed, and purposed.

Once a highly regarded cop, Damon was framed by the city’s underworld boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong). While in prison, Damon’s wife died giving birth to Mindy. Now the duo has sworn vengeance, but if Lizewski (a/k/a “Kick-Ass”) will help or hinder that effort, is not obvious because D'Amico’s son Chris has a super-secret himself.

Whether or not the film lived-up to its title, critics and fans can’t seem to agree. It topped the box-office chart, but Roger Ebert called it, “morally reprehensible.” It is, but not for the reasons Ebert lamented. Yes, it’s profane. Yes it’s gratuitously violent. Yes, young purple-haired Chloe Grace Moretz is all shock and no awwwww. Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby. Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Nothing new there. What’s really troubling, we realize, is that today’s heroes fight all alone. When Lizewski is being beaten by three people for trying to save a victim early in the film, for instance, he begs a passerby to call 911. The passerby instead runs into a diner and returns with his cell phone-wielding friends who video the carnage. “Awesome,” they say, never lifting a finger to help. That’s morally reprehensible.

Lots of nervous laughs and odd choices: Elvis and Gatling guns (“Trilogy” works though Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partirò” would have been a more operatic way to spray lead); Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who was brilliant as the RPG dork in Role Models, goes to the dark side as “Red Mist;” Nicolas Cage employs Adam West’s cadence; and, of course, angelic little 12-year-old Moretz channels Lenny Bruce.

Overall original and entertaining, but not for everyone, especially the squeamish. Think: “Spider-Man” meets Reservoir Dogs.


3 Honks
MPAA Rating:  R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use - some involving children.

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April 08, 2010

"Date Night"

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy -- 'Date Night' starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey In the new romantic comedy, Date Night, Tina Fey and Steve Carell come to realize that their relationship has plateaued and they need to do something more jolting than their mundane weekly dinners-out. So they buy a fog horn, make-up a few misspelled signs and crash a Tea Party. Well, maybe not, but what they do – steal another couple’s dinner reservation -- is almost as reprehensible.
    Potato skins and salmon at the Teaneck Tavern just don’t do it anymore for Phil and Claire Foster. It’s all gotten just too routine and Phil is concerned that they’re more “roommates” than they are married. To shake things up, Phil takes Claire to a trendy new restaurant in Manhattan where, without a reservation, they stand no chance of being seated. While waiting at the bar, Phil overhears an unacknowledged reservation being called for the Tripplehorns and suddenly mans-up. “That’s us,” he says. “We’re the Tripplehorns.”
    They’re seated and it’s a fun moment but it’s over all too quickly when the Fosters are bounced from their table and taken out to the alley where two thugs try to kill them. Apparently, Phil and Claire picked the wrong couple to impersonate. The real Tripplehorns are blackmailing the District Attorney. Actually, they’re not. A mobster named Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta) is behind it all. But that doesn’t help the Fosters who go on one uncharacteristically wild adventure to save not just their good name, but their lives, as well.
    Date Night is exactly what you expect: a charming comedy that perfectly exploits the wit and pathos fans of the popular TV stars will come to see. But there’s a dark side to the film. Entertainment Weekly called it a “conservative comedy with mainstream values.” In other words, it’s one of the few movies that dare to refute “trickle-down parenting” (i.e., first and foremost, mom and dad have to be happy). Yes, there are snipes and doubts, but in the end, the Fosters come to understand that what others call a “stagnant” marriage, they call a “stable” one.
    Thankfully, it manages to entertain without being preachy or losing comic focus.
    A perennially-shirtless Mark Wahlberg spoofs his earlier self; a wonderfully-comic James Franco outdoes himself (“Like I wanna spend the rest of my life selling stolen wheelchairs!”); and, the great Ray Liotta, he ought to be ashamed of himself self. No big whoop, they’re incidental. The real draw is the chemistry Fey and Carell work to make Date Night a good way to spend one. 

2 1/2 Honks
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference.

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April 06, 2010

“Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?”

Chris Miksanek - The Med City Movie Guy -- 'Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too' In Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? four couples travel to the Bahamas to reignite their stagnant marriages and succeed, I suppose, if by “ignite” they mean “send up in flames.”

    Don’t let the jet skis, the pristine white sands and the storybook beach house fool you. There’s trouble in paradise. Terry (Tyler Perry) doesn’t know it yet, but his wife’s glow isn’t from the sun; and Marcus, he can’t seem to do anything without arousing Angela’s suspicion. Sheila and Troy, meanwhile, are having an awkward time -- Troy is still job-hunting and Sheila’s first husband, Mike, just popped-in for a week at the timeshare. Patricia (Janet Jackson) and Gavin? Well, they picked a fine time to announce their divorce, which is ironic, because Patricia penned a successful book on relationships.

That’s just the beginning. Bad luck follows them back to Atlanta where some suspicions are confirmed and others are debunked. When it’s all over, a tragedy will bring them closer than they could have ever imagined but it all comes at a tremendous cost.

Why Did I Get Married Too? is Perry’s follow-up to the similarly titled 2007 original and doesn’t disappoint, even if the popular writer/director perpetrates another bait-and-switch. What is purportedly a hipper, more poignant Couples Retreat almost immediately transforms into a heavy tale of trust and commitment in much the same way that last year’s Madea Goes to Jail was less about support hose and orthopedic shoes than about forgiveness and redemption.

That’s not a bad thing, especially if it’s done well. And Perry does it very well, admittedly with a lot of schmaltz. The Louis Gossett Jr. / Cicely Tyson walk-by. What was that all about? A respectful homage to a past generation who left us the gift of solid values, to be sure, but did it have to be so preachy? Thankfully that’s the worse that can be said (or rather the worse I would dare say about An Officer and a Gentleman’s Sergeant Foley).

To orchestrate nine character arcs in two hours, Perry goes fast. Every scene not just moves the plot forward, but also reveals a tinge more about each player some of whom are necessarily less complex than others with one clear standout: Janet Jackson. Her golf-club swinging meltdown (insert Tiger Woods joke here) ranks with Mo'Nique’s Oscar-winning performance in last year’s Precious.

Intense sometimes, uplifting others, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? is a refreshingly thoughtful film that runs the emotional gamut.

2 1/2 Honks
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including sexuality, language, drug references and some domestic violence.

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