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August 2010 Review Roundup

While it was a higher than average month in the terms of movies watched, it was probably the worst on average as far as quality went. Had to go to the theater to see something above-average.

August 1 - Cop Out (1/10)
August 2 - Repo Men (3/10)
August 9 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2/10)
August 15 - The Book of Eli (5/10)
August 16 - Stolen (4/10)
August 21 - The Other Guys (7/10); Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (8/10)
August 22 - Saving Face (6/10)
August 23 - Brooklyn's Finest (7/10)
August 29 - MacGruber (2/10); Kissing Jessica Stein (6/10)

Month's Movies Watched: 11
Previously Unseen: 11
Theatrical: 2
Home: 9
Year-To-Date: 70
YTD First-Timers: 65
YTD Theatrical: 21
YTD Home: 49

"Kissing Jessica Stein" Review

This 2001 film gets lumped in with other lesbian indie films like Go Fish when it's more about finding mutual companionship and sexual intimacy between two people, regardless of what's filling their underwear.

Jennifer Westfeldt (last seen playing the reporter dubbed "Blonde Ambition" in my 24 S8 recaps) stars as the titular Ms. Stein, a stereotypical hyper neurotic New York City Jewess. In a rapid montage we see her having a half-dozen of the worst dates with guys and we get it: maybe it's time to try chicks.

On the side is Helen (Heather Juergensen), a over-sexed straight art gallery manager who has different men to satisfy her different moods, but decides that it's time to broaden her horizons. With the help of a pair of gay friends, she writes up a personal ad that catches Jessica's attention, though she's clearly too skittish at first.

Once you get past the overly wordy script by the stars that betrays its off-Broadway origins and need to allow the writers to show how they'd act the heck out of it, there's a surprisingly chaste tale that's hardly about gay soapboxing as one might expect. Both women start off straight and by the end, one still is and the other isn't, but could probably revert. The conflicts and "Oh, no! No one can see us together!" moments on Jessica's part could happen if the pair were rich/poor, black/white, conservative/liberal, whatever/whatever. There's no sex or nudity shown - unlike the happy skin bomb in the middle of Saving Face - though that leads to one of the biggest laughs as a hard-up Helen grouses, "Who do I have to blow to get some p*ssy?"

Since both writer-actresses are straight - Westfeldt has been partnered with Jon Hamm since 1997 and Juergensen is married - that may explain the slight remove the story is viewed from as well as the appreciated lack of "gay experience" sledgehammering that so option grinds these movies to a halt. (The problem is that many gay filmmakers frequently think the most important part of gay characters is their sexuality, not what they do outside of bed. Tip: No one watches straight characters and wishes that the story stop so we can watch them muse on their hetero-ness.) I also wasn't too crazy about the sub-plot about Jessica's editor which is really amped up in the trailer, but feels crammed in during the movie itself.

Score: 6/10. Rent the DVD.

"MacGruber" Review

[Sing along, kids.]


They've taken the Will Forte SNL sketch and made a feature movie!


It bombed at the box office and it easily to see-a why-eye!


It's raunchy, foul-mouthed, tedious but only rarely funny!


Score: 2/10. Skip it.

Note: The best thing about it is the rich, colored lighting and cinematography. It looks like a vintage music video, but so what?

"Brooklyn's Finest" Review

Antoine Fuqua, who guided Denzel Washington to an Oscar in Training Day, comes back to the gritty cop genre with Brooklyn's Finest, a film which takes a little too long to get to a bewildering and somewhat unsatisfactory ending.

It intertwines a trio of plots involving Richard Gere as a burned-out, undistinguished patrolman a week from retirement; Ethan Hawke as a stressed-out family man with a wife and four kids in a moldy house and twins on the way; and Don Cheadle as a deep undercover operative in a drug gang whose real life is disintegrating and is looking to get out of his cover and get behind a desk. Gere is apathetic about everything; Hawke (looking pretty haggard; I thought he was Kevin "Johnny Drama" Dillon at first) is trying to steal drug money to pay for the down payment on a new home; Cheadle is torn between taking down the drug lord (a very good Wesley Snipes basically playing a later-life Nino Brown from New Jack City) who saved his life when he was undercover in prison.

Other than a couple of coincidental brushes during the story, the three never cross paths until the very end and even then don't interact. The ending was a mess because one cop's tale doesn't make much sense from a motivational standpoint and another's is rather predictable; the third's is a really heavy-handed bit of irony. Fuqua spends too much time showing the characters thinking and not enough time showing them acting out. It's too bad because the performances are all better than the underbaked script would provide lesser talents to work with. It's for the performances that I recommend watching Brooklyn's Finest.

Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable.

"Saving Face" Review

For once, I'm smart enough to look at the trailer before before spending the time to synopsize a movie's plot, so watch this:

Joan Chen is a 48-year-old divorcee who comes up pregnant and is thrown out of her father's home in Flushing (which is apparently a big Chinese enclave in NYC), showing up on her surgeon daughter's doorstep. Meanwhile, super-cute lesbian Michelle Krusiec is being pursued by Lynn Chen (no relation AFAIK), a ballet dancer whose father is Michelle's boss at the hospital. (Much is made of the tight-knit community, but come on.) Culture clash hijinks ensue.

Saving Face is a pleasant-enough, slight, light sorta romantic comedy/culture clash movie with a distinct Asian flavor, down to being almost half in subtitled Chinese which makes the presence of Will Smith (yeah, THAT Will Smith) as a producer a surprise. What's odd and earns the film its R-rating is one rather explicit - and totally awesome! - scene of the young, nubile, beautiful lovers canoodling topless. It's not that explicit - we're not talking Bound or Chloe-grade hands-on action - but it comes from nowhere to transform an overall innocuous movie into THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!! (If Prop 8 opponents were smart, they would've run a clip of this scene and asked, "Do you really want to prevent this?") Not that I'm complaining - believe me, I'M NOT COMPLAINING!!! - but it does come from left field. Beware watching with children.

Score: 6/10. Rent the DVD.

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" Review

The balance sheet going into - OK, sneaking into; I made this the back half of an impromptu double-feature - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was this: I like Edgar Wright's work (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz); I hadn't read the graphic novels it was based on; I'm a regular visitor to Toronto and photographed a New Model Army show at Lee's Palace last year; I "get" the videogame and anime aesthetic that the trailer showcases; and I'm on record as thinking Michael Cera is an empty hole on the screen.

It's a testament to Wright's skill that he is able to make a visually dense pastiche that holds together and holds our interest despite two factors that would normally kill a movie dead: a leading man who is not plausible as a hero and a leading lady without any discernible qualities that make her worth fighting 7 Evil Exes over. Other than her changing hairstyles, Ramona Flowers is a self-involved snot. Newcomer Ellen Wong as Scott's platonic girlfriend Knives Chau is a burst of sunshine and energy and for a moment it appeared they'd put him with her, but the Hollywood formula that made Pretty In Pink faceplant at the finish line is at work here.

Perhaps the point was that Scott is projecting something interesting on her, but that doesn't work because Cera's such a mousy drip, just as he always is. While there are moments here where he breaks out of his default mode, he spends most of the movie playing the same character he always plays. The movie bombed at the box office primarily because he is poison. By all rights, his career should be pretty much over. Time to go to college, Mikey.

It doesn't help Cera that he is spanked by Kieran Culkin as his gay roommate in every scene. (Pun intended.) About halfway through I stopped trying to imagine how Jesse Eisenberg would've been better and started wishing Culkin was playing Scott. (I'm sure the producers felt the same way on Monday morning after its opening.) The evil exes are good, especially a fun Chris Evans and almost unrecognizable Brandon Routh as an ex who is a current with Scott's old girlfriend and is such a strict vegan that he has superpowers.

But the ultimate star of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is Edgar Wright who hopefully won't suffer too many career repercussions from having an empty hole in the middle of his lively frames. I'm looking forward to picking up the Blu-ray to soak up the details that whizzed by at the show. If you're looking for fizzy fun, you'll find it here; you just won't get much intellectual soul or emotional meaning.

Score: 8/10. Catch a matinee.

BONUS: Check out the official trailer (below) and then the absotively BRILLIANT mash-up that some masterfully put together (really below) using the same audio, but cutting in Matrix footage. Genius!

"The Other Guys" Review

The only real question that needs to be asked and answered about the latest collaboration between Will Farrell and writer-director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Stepbrothers) is whether it's funny or not? Answer: It is, sometimes hilariously so, but overall it's only slightly above average as the story interferes.

After supercops Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock are knocked out of commission, it's left to "the other guys" to step up and attempt to fill their shoes and the odd couple of Will Ferrell and Marky Mark try to get to the bottom of things while clashing in personality and methods. As with previous McKay-Ferrell collaborations there are plenty of oddball bits, many of which hit (e.g. a surreal argument involving lions and tunas killing each other; Ferrell's college activities and a running gag about the kind of women he attracts) and quite a few miss (e.g. another running gag in which their captain, Michael Keaton, keeps quoting TLC lyrics while claiming to not). Eva Mendes is hot and funny as Ferrell's wife, but Steve Coogan is wasted, not that he's a comic titan that was misused.

While I laughed a lot, as I was walking down the hall to sneak into Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I found the experience evaporating from my memory with every step. It's no Anchorman, but it's worth a rental.

Score: 7/10. Rent the DVD.

P.S. There is a really weird bit of heavy-handed liberal politics during the end credits when people heading for the exit are lectured via animated charts about how much CEOs make compared to the janitors - who needs a blooper reel? - but since no one is paying attention or there for a Huffington Post screed, it's just McKay stroking himself. Wank, wank.

"Stolen" Review

Stolen (aka Stolen Lives) is one of those movies with so many recognizable names that you wonder why it never got released? Then you see it and it's not that it's really bad as much as not really good.

Jon Hamm stars as a police detective whose young son disappeared eight years before when he ducked into the bathroom at a diner during a fair. Understandably tormented, he's obsessed about the case and grown distant from his wife Rhona Mitra until one day the badly decomposed body of a young boy is discovered in a toy chest at a construction site. When it's immediately determined not to be Hamm's son, the mystery of who this kid was and how he got there takes over.

We flash back to 1958 where struggling family man Josh Lucas is begging the bank not to foreclose on his house while his wife is hanging herself at home, leaving the now-widower with three sons. A sister-in-law's family takes in two of the boys, but the third, a sweet, mentally-challenged boy is sent along with Lucas who struggles to keep his day laborer job while tending the kid. One night, while having a tryst with a smoking hot Morena Baccarin (Firefly, V), the boy is taken from his car and meets his inevitable fate as the boy in the box.

Director Anders Anderson uses a slightly disorienting transition technique to bounce us back and forth between time periods (e.g. Hamm is in a bar and we see a bar maid take a tray of drinks and as she walks toward the other end, we're back in 1958 with Lucas and company), but never manages to orient the audience to the drama of the situation. Since we know early that the little boy is doomed, we're just left to trudge to the point where we find out who put him in the box and how it connects to Hamm's story. With just flat melodrama to fill the felt-longer-than-it-was running time, it never pays off. If you're a fan of Mad Men, the most interesting thing is to see Hamm with his hair messier than it gets after one of his numerous illicit shags.

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable.

"The Book of Eli" Review

Watch this:

Done? You've pretty much seen all there is to see in The Book of Eli. There's been an Apocalypse that has washed all the color out of the world and a lone badass walks the land with a Bible that a bad guy wants. Stuff gets blown up, people get shot, and we're wondering how Mila Kunis looks so fresh and babalicious in the dirty ruins. Some have praised the spirituality of the film, but I didn't really see much along those lines and the final "twist" wasn't. Overall, it's an OK movie, but nothing we haven't seen many, many times before.

Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.

OK, with that out of the way, can we talk about how trope-bound this genre is? EVERY post-Apocalyptic movie seems chained to the same checklist of bullet points: biker gangs who have gas for their choppers when no one has water; the good guys have almost no ammo while the bad guys seem to have cleaned out Cabella's; cannibals; smoking ruins; no animals except for an isolated cat or dog; few, if any, children and only a handful of people who remember "the way it was before"; after decades, water is precious but the bars still have booze; the cause of The End is never really specified nor the time frame. After The Road and news of a new Mad Max-universe flick, Fury Road, I'm ready for a new vision for the end of the world. I just wonder who'll be bold enough to present one?

Attack of the Johnny One-Notes! (Commentary)

Johnny could only sing one note
And the note he sings was this

Poor Johnny one-note
sang out with "gusto"
And just overloaded the place
Poor Johnny one-note
yelled willy nilly
Until he was blue in the face
For holding one note was his ace

"Johnny One-Note" from Babes in Arms by Richard Rogers and Lorez Hart.

There used to be a time when actors deathly feared being "typecast," meaning that as much as they may've wanted to or been able to play different kinds of parts, they were only offered variations of the same thing - i.e. Mafia tough, ditzy blonde, etc. I'm not talking about roles which they're most identified with like John Wayne as a cowboy, Humphrey Bogart as a guy in a trenchcoat or George Clooney as a very handsome man, but those who get stuck in the Danny Trejo rut (i.e. because he always plays ditzy bimbos, wait, what?) though they went to Julliard or studying with Lee Strasberg. Occasionally an actor pigeon-holed into one type is able to rattle the preconception cage and surprise us with an unexpected performance that they probably had to beg to play - think: any gorgeous actress who gets ugly, fat and/or beaten for a dramatic role (right, Farah, Charlize, and Nicole?) - but few are that lucky.

The past decade or so has seen a major uptick in actors so limited in their range, seemingly happily so, that they fall into a couple of categories: those who we know by name regardless of the character's name and those who we know only by their seminal character's identity and then proceed to call them that for the rest of their lives. How does this work? Quick: Who's co-starring with Will Ferrell in The Other Guys? If you said, "Marky Mark," you're living what I'm saying. How about this: who are Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Seann William Scott? Ring any bells? OK, who are the actors who played McLovin in Superbad and Stifler in American Pie? (For the answer, please look back three sentences.)

While there are still versatile actors like Will Smith and Angelina Jolie who play all sorts of roles equally well and have (and will have) long varied careers, where do Stifler, McLovin, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera go from the roles they've always played? Does anyone seriously see them playing anything but what they always have? Even Ethan Hawke took a plausible stab at Hamlet. Hell, JACK BLACK, has attempted to not be his tubby slacker self a little.

What prompts this long simmering commentary is the opening today of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World starring the non-entity called Michael Cera. After enduring his same meek mouse act in I can't say how many films, I described him this way on Facebook: "Michael Cera is an empty hole in the middle of the screen whose presence is only discernible by the surrounding environment. Just as a donut hole is defined by the donut around it, we only know Michael Cera exists because everything else is around him. I wouldn't be surprised if his scripts come with his character named 'Michael Cera.'" Mind you, it's not that I hate Cera - I have more opprobrium for humidity - but he is such a rangeless actor that as snazzy as it looks and liking Edgar Wright's other films (Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz) and the concept (haven't read the books), I feel that the whole endeavor is going to be crippled by putting the drippy noneness of Cera at the center of everything.

This has been a problem for Cera in movies like Youth In Revolt*, Juno, and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist as we've been expected to believe he was the dream guy of otherwise intelligent females. Juno was a whip-smart 14-year-old boy (note: obligatory Ellen Page crack) and we're supposed to believe that she wanted this void to fill hers? The most ridiculous conceit of N&NIPL is that Kat Denning's character had never orgasmed until the Mightly Hand of Cera gets on the case. (I turned to my girlfriend at that point and said, "So this is a science fiction film?") So wussy is Cera that the heavy ex-boyfriend of Norah was played by Jay Baruchel of She's Out of My League and Undeclared semi-obscurity. Perusing the reviews for Scott Pilgrim, even the most laudatory only assign faint praise to Cera's portrayal and it sounds a lot like those who didn't think Ben Affleck ruined Daredevil.

Final quiz item about Michael Cera: Name one of characters he's played in movies - not TV, cuz the fact he was named George Michael on Arrested Development is a gimme - that isn't in the movie's title, meaning "Scott Pilgrim" or "Nick" aren't acceptable answers. I'm waiting...

The next actor-known-only-by-his-name due a beating is Jonah Hill, aka "that fat annoying guy in all those movies." As my Get Him To The Greek review said, "Jonah Hill plays a variation of the same fat guy he plays in everything." Amirite? Since he's never had a title character like Cera, I honestly couldn't tell you what the name of his character has been in anything he's done. Even Judd Apatow didn't bother, naming Hill's part in Knocked Up "Jonah." (Probably to ensure he'd respond when spoken to when the cameras were rolling.) I hear he's good in this Cyrus movie, but as with Cera and Scott Pilgrim, I don't even pretend to believe he's going to be any different.

Now the other variant on this theme are the known-by-their-role actors like McLovin and Stif...whoops, see what I mean? Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Seann William Scott. Those guys. Remember? Jeez, we just talked about them a few paragraphs ago! OK, McLovin and Stifler it is. While McLovin showed a little growth as Red Mist in Kick Ass, his part in Role Models was so similar to his Superbad role, I'm wondering if it wasn't McLARPin in the script. He seems like a nice kid, but I hope he's investing his earnings with his broker, Urkel.

As for Stifler, well, playing the role in three American Pie movies and falling back on the persona in flicks like Bulletproof Stifler (ne Monk) and The Rock and Stifler in the Jungle (bka The Rundown) pretty much seals his fate, doesn't it? He did do a good job with a dual role as twins in Southland Tales, but the movie was an epic mess of effed-upness that no one saw. Most recently endured in the execrable Cop Out, where he played someone who may as well have been named "Shitfler," I'm not betting on any big transformations coming in his future.

Looking over this rogue's gallery, I'm struck by the lack of women on it. Is it because there are so few female stars with even archetypal characters? Bonnie Hunt usually shows up as the sardonic tart sister or friend; Anna Farris typically plays bubbly comic parts, but has done other stuff. Some might be tempted to suggest Summer Glau whose Hottie Terminator on the show of the same name (in my mine; my g/f called it "Sarah Chonic") was just a mechanized verson of River Tam from Firefly/Serenity but as similar as they were, along with her part on Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, I caught her on an episode of The Unit and she was so different it didn't seem like her.

While the fates of a quartet of one-note actors doesn't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world (as Sam Marlowe would say, wait, what?), it's odd to see that instead of fleeing typecasting as actors past would've, they've basically embraced it for immediate reward vs. having a future. (When Michael Cera wants to get his Olivier on and perform Othello - HA! Yeah, right! Like cross-racial performances like that would ever happen these days! - who's going to do anything but stare at him, give him a noogie and tell him to get outta here?)

The problem for movie makers is that in casting these Johnny One-Notes, they're polarizing the potential audience pool because some people won't even entertain seeing films featuring them because they JUST KNOW that so-and-so will "suck and be no different than he is in everything else." Surf around and read the nerd-rage comments on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - many who may've been interested because they've read the books or like the director are loudly announcing they're not interested because Cera's in it. As audiences reject his boy-boyish-man persona over and over, how long will it be until no one wants to hire him to sing his single note?

I was going to link to my Youth In Revolt review, but to my surprise I never even logged when I saw it, much less wrote a review sometime in June. It wasn't that bad, but I can't believe I didn't notice it got left off. Says a lot, doesn't it?


UPDATE: Two days after writing this, Scott Pilgrim's opening weekend B.O. was a meager $10.5 million, opening #5, and this HitFix piece mulls over why it flopped. Of particular note was this:
Hollywood and the media still thought Michael Cera was a star then, which brings us to the first problem:

In 2010, Michael Cera hurts you at the box office.
After "Superbad" and a supporting role in "Juno," many mistakenly believed the "Arrested Development" cast member was the next quirky, unexpected star who could relate to the millennial generation. Well, not so much. His follow ups either were puzzling, but quality misfires ("Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist," "Youth in Revolt") or outright bombs ("Year One"). That string of negative results basically stung Cera's likability with audiences. Unfortunately, he'd already been selected as the lead and shot "Pilgrim" before the biggest turd, "Year One," even hit theaters. Universal quickly realized the problem, but while they could hide his face on the poster, it was hard to take Scott Pilgrim himself out of the trailers or TV spots. And frankly, if you're Cera's agent, you better be hoping that "Arrested" movie actually gets off the ground or HBO comes calling about a TV series after this weekend.
You heard it here first.

"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" Review

Here's all you need to know about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: the original Swedish title is - I'm not kidding - Men Who Hate Women and the movie is 2-1/2 miserable, boring hours of that theme. I haven't read the book, but it'll be interesting to see how the slated David Fincher-helmed, Daniel Craig-starring remake handles the seething brutal misogyny of the source if it's anything like this Swedish film.

For all its running time, the plot is rather sparse: A disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, is hired by an uber-wealthy industrialist to solve the disappearance of his niece off the family's island - accessible only by one bridge that was blocked by an accident that day - 40 years previously. While he digs into the case, we see that he's being monitored by a mysterious goth hacker, Lisbeth Salander, who was hired to vet him before his retention and remains interested in his doings. When she gives him crucial hints based on documents he's scanned, she makes it easy for him to track her down and he enlists her in his quest to uncovered the sordid secrets surrounding the missing girl's fate.

While this all sounds capery and Lisbeth has been turned into a minor pop culture icon with Ellen Page leading the speculation for remake duties - a sign of how lazy and unimaginative Hollywood is in casting (not that Page isn't a good actress; she just looks like the Swede in the original) - what isn't obvious from the hype and marketing is what a punching bag Lisbeth is. I don't usually spoil on movies, but you should know that within the first 45 minutes you will be treated to her being beaten up by subway hooligans; forced to perform oral sex on her court-appointed guardian (we don't know why she's beholden to him until near the end of the movie) in order to get her own money; and then her brutal beating and rape by the sadistic creep when she tries to get more cash. Since we don't know who she is as a person - we barely do by then end - we're forced to watch her punched in the face, handcuffed to a headboard, tied spread-eagle with electrical cords, sodomized and then staggering home. (Don't forget to make some popcorn for the boisterous fun!!!) While this leads to a supposedly awesome turnaround on the guy - she secretly videotaped her two-hour ordeal - it's just ugly. Not Monica Bellucci getting raped in Irreversible ugly, but nasty and unnecessary enough.

What makes these early scenes bewildering is that while she is shown bedded down with another woman at home, she promptly hops on Mikael's junk for a ride, hopping off and going back to her room the moment they get off. Deceased author/journalist Stieg Larsson clearly viewed Mikael as his alter-ego, so that he thinks that a troubled lesbian wants nothing more than to take dictation - ifyouknowwhatImean - from Mr. Reporter Man suggests that he didn't have to dig to deep to find issues with women to project upon the characters. And if you think the origins of Lisbeth's back-covering tattoo are discussed, even in passing, forget it; as I said up front, the tattoo isn't in the original title. It's savvy, if cynical, marketing. Who would pay money to watch Men Who Hate Women (and Beat, Rape, and Murder Them)?

Score: 2/10. Wait for the remake in case they delouse the plot.

Check out the difference between the trailers and note what's not mentioned in either.

"Repo Men" Review

While it sounds like a sequel to the punk cult flick Repo Man, the Jude Law and Forest Whittaker-starring Repo Men actually has more in common with the similarly-titled and themed Repo! The Genetic Opera except that it's not a musical and it's not very good.

In a not-so-distant future that looks like Blade Runner, replacement body parts, artiforgs (artificial organs, get it?), for ailments are available for hefty price - a pancreas is over $600,000 - and if you're unable to make the easy payments, after three months Jude and Forest show up to reclaim your tasing you and hacking them out of your soon-to-be-dead-cuz-it's-not-as-if-they're-stitching-you-back-up-and-you-kinda-needed-that-thing-they-just-took-in-the-first-place body.

Jude's a top repo man for The Union, the Evil Corporation that supplies the artiforgs, but after a mishap on a job, he wakes up to find he is now a customer with a new robo-heart. Unfortunately, his change of heart (har-har!) leads him to be unable to perform his duties as he suddenly realizes that the people he's been hacking open with great alacrity have families and it makes him sad. It also makes him fall behind on his payments and that eventually makes him - I know; who saw this coming? - a fugitive from the company and his best friend who's sent to reap-o him.

While Repo Men starts off well with a good look and energy, it rapidly goes off the rails due to seriously lumpy pacing and story problems. His marriage is shown as being pretty lousy to start, so when it goes south, it's not big deal and makes the wife's return toward the end a head-scratcher. The economics of the artiforg business don't make much sense and despite a blithe blow-off about how customers shouldn't pay no nevermind to the rumors in the media about what happens to people who fall behind in payments, that there are literal piles of bodies accumulating so why isn't some eager reporter on the case?

For that matter, any social commentary that could've been made about the health care system and whether it's moral to make a buck of the dying - regardless of how you feel about the subject - is bypassed in favor of incoherent action that rapidly becomes obviously borrowed from other movies like Minority Report. Speaking of ripped-off, there is a fight scene so obviously nicked from Old Boy that it's all the more outrageous because they totally botched the homage/gank. If you're going to steal, steal properly, people!

Despite Jude Law's new drabbed-down look, there are too many potentially interesting themes that go unexplored and an overall lack of logic and focus that make Repo Men a movie best left unpurchased in the first place.

Score: 3/10. Catch it on a friend's cable.

"Cop Out" Review

This movie sucked. The end.

Score: 1/10. Skip it.

OK, why did it suck? Because it's unfunny, has a sloppy story, it's unfunny, Tracy Morgan is unfunny, it's tedious, boring, and unfunny. Oh yeah, it's not funny, either. Kevin Smith - directing from someone else's script for the first time, though you can tell he stuffed some of his childish humor in - must've thought he was making a homage to Eighties cop-buddy flicks like Beverly Hills Cop, but as Cop Out painfully proves, Morgan ain't no Eddie Murphy and having Harold Faltermeyer do the score doesn't put it in the same league. I laughed a few times at total throwaway gags, but so what? I'm a fan of Kevin Smith, but if I meet him, I'm going to punch him in the junk and demand my two hours back for wasting my time.
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