You may or may not be aware that in my real life job that pays me, I work for a motion picture studio. My friends are all in the film industry. Given that, you might think that I see a lot of movies. That would be incorrect. It's not that I don't like movies; rather, I chalk it up to a deep, profound laziness. Basically, if a movie that interests me doesn't start within about a half hour of the time I leave work at the theater I can walk to, then I am no longer interested in that movie. Woods sees far more movies than I do, and he has All Of The Jobs, plus a wife who ostensibly requires occasional attention. But! Recently I saw 5 films in 5 days, which is the inspiration for this column. Come join me on this exciting journey, won't you?
I have arbitrarily chosen to begin this journey on Friday, June 28th, which is the release date for The Heat.*The Heat stars Sandra Bullock as a mousy shut in FBI agent and Melissa McCarthy as a big fat jerk cop. Shenanigans ensue and then they catch a bad guy or something. It was actually a lot funnier than I thought it would be. Watching the trailer, I figured it would be pretty terrible, and it was not that, so hooray! It makes sense, as it was directed by Paul Feig, who previously directed Bridesmaids, along with episodes of The Office, and Arrested Development. He also created Freaks and Geeks and wrote a couple of good books... he's funny, is what I'm trying to say. At any rate, it's out of theaters now, but catch it when it comes out on HBO if you need to get your wife or girlfriend to shush for a couple of hours (aside from the laughing, that is). Bonus points for Joey McIntyre.
The Lone Ranger:** Boy, did people go out of their way to avoid this movie. In a lot of theaters, the Lone Ranger was both the title and a description of the audience. Given the fact that the talent crapped all over it and blamed the studio while "promoting" it, it's not particularly surprising, and the trailer was kind of a mess. All that said, I thought the movie was really, really fun. It was overly long and all of the Indian slaughtering was slightly uncomfortable, but Johnny Depp playing Captain-Jack-Sparrow-But-An-Indian was funny, and if you can't enjoy a guy riding a horse on top of a train while the William Tell Overture plays, then I don't know what to tell you. You're probably dead inside. Sorry about that. I still say it would've been successful if it had been a This Is Spinal Tap style mocumentary about the band from Airheads.
The Way, Way Back:* At the moment, this wins the prize for Phil's Favorite Movie of the Year. It was written and directed by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (you may remember Rash as the Dean on Community), who previously wrote and won an Oscar for The Descendants. It had the same sense of depth and warmth as The Descendants, but it was a lot funnier, and I like funnier so for me it was better. My coworker liked The Descendants more because he likes sad bastard movies more, which is just not right. Anywho, Sam Rockwell is genius in it, and I hope he gets some love around awards season. Also featuring Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, the aforementioned Rash and Faxon, and the girl from Bridge To Terabithia as the sexy ingénue, which made me feel old. The star is Liam James, who is famous the world over for playing Young Shawn Spencer on Psych. This is one of the very few movies that I would consider owning on Blu-Ray. Just really, really great. The only bad thing about it is that they didn't give us a lunchtime screening of it, and I had to pay my own money to see it. That's just rude.
Grown Ups 2 Pacific Rim: SPOILER ALERT. Here is the entire plot of Pacific Rim- first some robots punch some monsters and then some monsters punch some robots and then everyone punches everything the end. It was great! If you are the type of person so inclined to see a movie that involves robots and monsters punching each other, then I fail to see how you would be disappointed with Pacific Rim. I sure wasn't. And at least it wasn't a superhero movie or toy adaptation or crap sequel. My one quibble (actual spoiler) is, why don't you go for the chain sword earlier? I know if I had a chain sword, that's pretty much the first thing I reach for, even if I'm just opening a giant robot sized beer. Call it the Voltron Conundrum. I've already come up with pitches for 2 Pacific Rim sequals- Pacific Rim 2: Electric Boogaloo. This time it's about rival Jaegers and Kaiju breakdancing crews who battle not with their fists, but with their moves. After that would be Pacific Rim 3: Welcome To The Pacific Riff Off
The Wolverine:* I liked The Wolverine a lot more than I thought I would. It was certainly better than the first one, which is an admittedly low bar to clear. I do wish there were a lot more ninjas and a lot fewer dream sequences, but any movie with a robot samurai is pretty okay in my book. Also, let's please stop doing things in 3D. It is quite unpleasant. I would also like less trying to explain mutant science (which seems to be an issue in every X-Men movie) and more Wolverine punch-stabbing people and calling everyone Bub. I sure complain a lot for a movie I claimed to enjoy. Whatever, it's a decent enough flick and you don't have anything better to do.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters:* Yes, I actually did see this, because they showed it at lunch and I would rather see movies than work. I literally got paid to see it, so screw off. Are you not aware of the Percy Jackson book series? Well I am here to inform. It is a blatant rip off of Harry Potter except instead of creating a unique magical world, the author just shoves Greek mythology in there and calls it a day. I guess the movie was okay, if you're a kid. Or an idiot. Of course, that's exactly the way I feel about Harry Potter movies, and those made a LOT more money than Percy Jackson.
Elysium: Elysium is Wall-E except for adults. There, that's the entire plot of Elysium. But I liked Wall-E, and I am technically an adult, so I liked Elysium. Especially the parts with the machine guns and the samurai swords and when Matt Damon is all like PUNCH in his exo-suit. Granted, the best part of every Matt Damon movie is the punching. Like the one with Scarlett Johansson where he was a single father and there were a bunch of animals... you know- We Fought A Zoo. (yes, that's the joke. I regret nothing)
In A World: Unfortunately, the only way you can see this currently is if you live by me or in New York, so maybe write it down on a post it note and look for it in a theater near you or On Demand in the future. Lake Bell wrote, directed, produced, and starred in this movie about a woman trying to break into the boys club that is voice over work for movie trailers. I thought the trailer was pretty good, but my major motivation for buying tickets is that Lake Bell was doing a Q&A afterwards, and that sounded like a good, LA type thing to do. It was absolutely hilarious. I laughed heartily and consistently throughout the entire movie. If I had one nit to pick, it would be that Bell didn't do enough accents and voices, because she was really good at it. She also wrote a whip smart script and surrounded herself with plenty of funny people. Highly recommended if you get the chance. Also go here and read about it in Lake's own words. After finishing this article of course.
ON CABLE: If you follow my twitter, then A) you've probably already read most of these jokes and B) you are aware of my love for Pitch Perfect. I am neither ashamed nor alone. EVERYONE loves Pitch Perfect. My filmmaker friends, Buffstampede writer Ryan Koenigsberg, offensive lineman Alex Kelly... even Chidera Uzo-Diribe sent out a tweet wondering why CU didn't have a riff off (if you haven't seen Pitch Perfect, you've now had 2 riff off references go right over your head. Shame on you). It is a movie about a capella singing competitions, which are horrible and stupid in real life. But the movie manages to make them funny and interesting. Starring Anna Kendrick as the future
Mrs. Phil Fraser woman most likely to take out a restraining order. I also have the soundtrack and look shut up already. Also, Celeste and Jesse Forever, which I caught over the weekend. It was a good, but in my mind not great co-written by Rashida Jones and starring Jones and Andy Samberg. They play a couple of childhood sweethearts who are going through a divorce. Personally, I didn't think they had a ton of on-screen chemistry together, so they kind of had to fake it by giving them quirky couple type things to do together (pretend to give a hand job to a baby carrot!) which I thought fell kind of flat. But it was funny, and had some heart. There are worse and more expensive things to do on a date night than open a (couple of) bottles of cheap wine and watch it. I think they should put that on the poster.
COMING SOON: There are 2 movies I'm looking forward to. The first is The World's End, which is the final installment of the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. Frankly, there is no way that this movie can live up to my excitement. Hot Fuzz is my favorite movie, and Shaun of the Dead is right up there, so I am giddy with anticipation. It finally plops in theaters on August 23rd. The second is Hell Baby which is currently available on demand and iTunes I think, but opens in theaters on September 6th. It's a horror comedy from Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, who created Reno 911. The trailer says it has bloody violence, graphic nudity, sexual content and language, and I like all of those things.
What have you seen? What are you looking forward to seeing? Let's all discuss now, in the comments!
*full disclosure- my studio is responsible for this movie.
**full disclosure- a couple of my friends are partially responsible for this movie. The entertaining movie part, not the crappy box office part.