May 16, 2008

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Reviews

A couple of flicks I've run off in the past few days from my sickbed:

The Game Plan (2007) - Aging but game egomaniacal pro quarterback discovers literally on his doorstep an unknown eight-year-old daughter just as he heads for his last shot at a Super Bowl ring. Hi-larity ensues, at least in theory. Ya know, I have to admit that I honestly like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He's charismatic, reasonably articulate, good-humoured and, seemingly, faintly aware of his own absurdity. But it isn't enough to save this dog, which was thin, cliched and at times downright icky. (Fairly late in the movie it's revealed that the girl's mom - who we are led to believe is away on a business trip - has been killed six months previously in a car accident, thus getting rid of the obvious roadblock in the burgeoning romance between The Rock and the (admittedly) shmokin Roselyn Sanchez, who plays the kid's ballet teacher. The woman who we were led to believe is the girl's mom is, in fact, her aunt.) I was particularly put off by the girl herself, who spoke with that innocent yet cynical Wisdom of the Child attitude that makes me want to reach for a brick. No eight year old talks that way - unless they've seen too many recent movies about eight year olds.

But Tom, you're no doubt saying, this really is just a kid's movie. Lighten up. Well, maybe. But that's another of my beefs. The Rock shouldn't be doing this sort of thing. Instead, he ought to be making more cheesy action flicks about ancient swordsmen, space rangers and bounty hunters. Build up more of a cult following. Then go for the change of pace. Aaaahnold never could have pulled off Kindergarten Cop without all those Conan and Terminator movies and whatnot behind him. Also, if this is what passes for a kid's movie these days, I don't want mine anywhere near them.

Oh, one other thing. The blooper selection (always a favorite of mine) was cast as one of Marv Albert's classic gag reels. (Albert has a small part in the movie.) It was a neat idea, but didn't work very well. I'd rather see the goofs by themselves, not with Marv (or anyone else) talking over them.

One and a half orgles out of five.

L.A. Story (1991) - Steve Martin's "homage" to Los Angeles, sometimes called the west coast counterpart to Woody Allen's Manhattan, although frankly I don't think there's any comparison. I've seen this film only once before, when it first came out. I recall that my reaction then was, "Eh, pretty nice." My reaction now, pretty nice. Although every now and again it reaches an almost lyric quality (I like the gravedigger scene in particular), most of this movie is just, well, nice. What else can I say? A bit quirky, a bit flowery, but mostly not all that deep. Although he is obviously a very intelligent and artistic guy, something in me suggests that Steve Martin is not the sort of actor whose work is going to hold up over the long term. I don't think he's anywhere near as subtle or deep as, for example, Bill Murray.

Also, the fact is that I can't stick Sarah Jessica Parker.

Howsomever, I had completely forgotten about Patrick Stewart's extremely funny cameo as the Matre 'D of L'Idiot. That almost was worth the price of the rental alone.

Three orgles out of five.

The Player (1992) Robert Altman's insider-Hollywood story of murder and blackmail. Better than I remember from when I saw it in the theatre way back when. I can't stand Tim Robbins' politics, but he is a very good actor. And I can't stand Altman's politics, but the man sure knows how to shoot a movie.

My only problem with this sort of thing is that there is a certain falsity about Hollywood types doing a movie about the awfulness of Hollywood types. Although the film is loaded with cameos of bigshots purporting to lampoon themselves, my guess would be that they are collectively so far down inside the cocoon that most of them don't even really appreciate what they are doing. Or perhaps they do. That might explain why the rehab centers are all so full.

My only other problem with this film is that it contains one of the most gratuitous trashings of an innocent character - I refer to Cynthia Stevenson's Bonnie - that I can recall ever seeing. Sure, you'll say it is just part of the fallout. But it didn't have to be.

Four orgles out of five.

Posted by Robert at May 16, 2008 01:23 PM | TrackBack