Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some More Summer Movie Reviews

The Hangover

"I was disappointed that it wasn't like Memento"- Fpendl.

The Hangover is a pretty typical man-comedy of the Judd Apatow school: seemingly simple plot, bizarre and often surreal occurrences, bromantic undertones, casual drug use, witty pop culture references, sharp one-liners, cardboard female characters, cameos from the extended Frat Pack/Jew Tang Clan. The storyline follows the previews almost exactly: bunch of guys wake up after a wild bachelor party, only to find that the bachelor is missing and there's a ton of weird stuff going on. Like a tiger in their shattered hotel room. And a baby.

As Judd Apatow comedies go, it's pretty good. There are a lot of zingers, mostly delivered by Zach Galifianakis as the creepy and inept brother-in-law-to-be. There are enough good sight gags (the baby, the ring, the tuxedo "delivery") to make up for the sea of terrible ones. There are the obligatory cameos (Jeffrey Tambor steals every scene he's in as the father-in-law). There are the offensive racial stereotypes.

I saw it in a packed theater with college students and it received a roaring laugh track, although not as much and not as consistent as Pineapple Express, and of course not touching Superbad, the greatest Judd Apatow film of all time. Yet perhaps because I've seen so many of them and the formula seems so worn- you know Ed Helms will dump his too-evil-to-be-anything-but-a-movie-girlfriend lady, you know the bride and groom will make up, etc. etc.- I felt a little jaded afterward. My sides hurt from laughing but more from visceral impact than anything else.

The Hangover is by far the best comedy I've seen this summer, but not in the same class as The 40 Year Old Virgin or Superbad. It's a "rent" movie.

4/5 overall

The Taking of Pelham 123

More remakes. I've never seen the original film; all I know about it is that it was the inspiration for the codenames in Reservoir Dogs. Tony Scott, the director, is obsessed with visual spectacle and iconic images, much like Zack Snyder and so what could be an otherwise decent technothriller-type film is ruined by lots of spinning cameras and slow-motion.

Denzel Washington, as always, gives a good performance as a slightly chubby Everyman having a really bad day; John Travolta looks like he's having fun for the first time in years. There are serviceable character actors in the rest of the roles, but they're servicing a script that is passable at best, and includes such howlers as the hijackers getting a wireless signal in a subway tunnel by putting a router outside the car, Denzel taking a bribe for a paltry amount of money, nobody knowing about the secret exit, and, of course, the final third of the movie, which turned a passable thriller into a laughable action film.

Not worth the time or the effort or the talent of everyone involved.

Overall 2/5

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