Exam, Paul Williams Still Alive & The To Do List Movie Reviews

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to those in the UK who won’t be reading this since you’re not at work pretending to work while actually reading blogs! Then I think you Americans have next Monday off? So, since no one will be around the next couple of weeks, I figured it was time to do a few more mini-reviews of movies that I didn’t give enough of a shit about to review when I watched them a year ago. Sounds like fun, right?! πŸ˜‰ Here we go…


Exam (2009)

Directed by Stuart Hazeldine

Starring: Adar Beck, Chris Carey, Gemma Chan, Nathalie Cox, John Lloyd Fillingham, Chuk Iwuji, Luke Mably, Pollyanna McIntosh, Jimi Mistry, Colin Salmon

My Opinion:

Exam is the best of these three movies, which doesn’t say much for the other two. I’ll say that Exam had a brilliant concept and I did appreciate that. It started out pretty great but got too far-fetched & silly by the end, which was disappointing since it had a lot of potential. I’m feeling lazy today so I’ll let Wikipedia give you the set-up:

The film is set in present-time United Kingdom in an alternate history. Eight candidates dress for what appears to be an employment assessment exam; they enter a room and sit down at individual desks. Each desk contains a question paper with the word “candidate”, followed by a number, from one to eight. The Invigilator, a representative of the company named DATAPREV, explains that the exam is 80 minutes and consists of only one question, but there are three rules: they must not talk to the Invigilator or the armed guard at the door, spoil their paper, or leave the room. If they do, they will be disqualified.

That sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? And it is – it’s why I watched this movie. And it gets even more interesting when the exam starts and the candidates discover the one question. The state of the world in this alternate history, which we learn a little about as the movie progresses, does help to explain the lengths that these eight candidates are willing to go to in order to get this job. But not quite… As to be expected, there are a couple of pricks who you’re meant to immediately dislike but none of the characters are very well developed and you don’t care enough about any of them to really care who will get the job at the end.

Had the characters been better instead of so one-dimensional and had the story been less far-fetched by the end, I’d have liked this one a lot more. I did really enjoy the mystery involved with the whole thing. It was fun seeing the candidates trying various ways to figure out what the hell was going on with the bizarre exam. In a world (shit, did I just use the “in a world” phrase?) where times are desperate, as in the story’s alternate history, you can almost believe that these candidates will do anything to get this very important job. However, the movie doesn’t manage to make us believe that “this could really happen”, which sucks as I think it could. Exam reminded me a lot of The Purge, which is another movie that I thought had a brilliant concept & so many ideas to be explored but never were. Like The Purge, Exam feels like a wasted opportunity (although I really liked The Purge and find myself always sticking up for it).

Don’t let my negativity discourage you if you like the sound of this movie. I think I may just be too picky in always expecting movies to have some deeper sort of meaning. If you don’t think about it too hard & are able to suspend disbelief, you may get some enjoyment out of Exam.

My Rating: 6/10

Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Directed by Stephen Kessler

Starring: Well, mainly just Paul Williams, his wife, and the director but there’s plenty of old footage with famous celebrities to watch. 

My Opinion:

What a shitty documentary. Hell, I think I could make a better documentary. The trouble isn’t the subject as I think Paul Williams is fascinating enough to make for an interesting documentary. But god the director, Stephen Kessler, is annoying! This reminded me a bit of the John Hughes documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me (which I reviewed HERE). In both films, the makers almost feel more like stalkers than like proper filmmakers.

I’ll say that Paul Williams comes across a bit grumpy in the documentary but that’s probably understandable as the director pretty much spends the whole film talking about how Paul Williams used to be a pretty big star but now he’s nothing (which isn’t true at all, especially since Daft Punk soon after declared their love for him & worked with him on their amazing Random Access Memories album). It’s ridiculous as Paul Williams has had a longer and FAR more successful career than Kessler (his only other movie you’ll have heard of is the crappy National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation).

As for Paul Williams, I know some people here probably know nothing about him although you may recognize his face. He was (well, still is) mainly a singer-songwriter but also an actor whose most famous work was in the Seventies. He wrote songs for people such as Barbara Streisand (Evergreen) and The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun & Rainy Days And Mondays). Perhaps his most famous song, though, is The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie (it’s certainly my favorite & in my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs). He was also in Smokey And The Bandit and the spectacularly mad Brian De Palma film Phantom Of The Paradise, which I reviewed HERE. Williams plays an evil record executive in Phantom, which is a mental “horror musical” that I enjoyed so much that I decided to watch this documentary soon after. Bah! Rubbish. Watch Phantom instead.

It’s hard to know what to rate this as it IS worth checking out if you’re interested in Paul Williams and don’t know much about him. There are plenty of old clips with lots of famous celebrities & the film is almost worth watching for that alone. Don’t expect the most in-depth documentary ever, though, and be prepared to feel as annoyed by the director as Williams sometimes clearly is. I’m glad I watched it but would like to see a better documentary about Paul Williams.

My Rating: 6/10

(okay rating more for the fact that Williams is an interesting character than for the quality of the documentary)

The To Do List (2013)

Directed by Maggie Carey

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rachel Bilson, Johnny Simmons, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Steele, Andy Samberg, Scott Porter, Connie Britton

My Opinion:

How can a totally filthy sex comedy be so BORING and completely unfunny in any way? What a load of shit.

I’m thinking that maybe I truly don’t like Aubrey Plaza. I don’t have much experience with her (she’s in that Parks & Recreation thing, right? Never seen it). I didn’t mind her in the slightly pretentious Safety Not Guaranteed but then she mostly just got on my nerves in the disappointing Life After Beth. Well, I’d have to say I pretty much hated her in this. I don’t know if that’s entirely her fault, though, as I can’t say I liked anyone in this plus the movie is just plain bad. I honestly can’t think of a less funny “comedy” that I’ve seen in recent years. It’s almost as bad as a Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer “parody” movie.

(Just go play with yourself instead of watching this movie – you’ll have way more fun)

So, in this movie, perfect student Plaza decides she wants to lose her virginity & do every sexual thing that she can before heading off to college. Or something like that – I don’t remember much of this movie now. Anyway, here’s her sexual “to do” list:

I wouldn’t call myself a prude so my issues with the movie have nothing at all to do with the subject matter. I do enjoy the occasional sex comedy. But what I require is for them to actually be funny. I mean, WTF is this shit?:

Aubrey Plaza’s character is beyond annoying in this movie & I can’t imagine anyone wanting to do any of the things on that above “to do list” with her. The only funny thing, looking at that list, is how it says “British?” next to “teabagging“. lol. Okay – that’s kind of funny. But the rest of this movie is NOT. This movie can go do all of the above things to itself. Yeah… Go fuck yourself, movie!

My Rating: 3/10

Now here’s the rather epic, totally 70’s prog rock-y Touch, Paul Williams’ song with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories:

44 thoughts on “Exam, Paul Williams Still Alive & The To Do List Movie Reviews

  1. Ive only seen Exam and I also didnt like it so much. Have no real desire to see either of the others (even if it mentions that teabagging is for Brits only) πŸ™‚

  2. Your thoughts on Paul Williams in your review sounded more insightful then what was in the Documentary , I’m sure. Aubrey Plaza is sexy, but I don’t think she is that good of an actress. I hated Safety Not Gaurenteed, but I did like Life After Beth(mainly for her) Exam is something that I may

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ Yeah – I don’t think that documentary really said any more about Williams than what I said. So I’ve found someone who likes Plaza! πŸ™‚ I don’t know.. I just don’t like her so far in what I’ve seen. Exam is worth checking out, though. You should enjoy it okay if you don’t expect much!

  3. She’s good in Parks & Rec, pairs really well with Chris Pratt. I’d actually suggest skipping the first couple seasons and jumping in at season 3 or so (whenever Rob Lowe & Adam Scott joined the cast)

    • Lol. Well… He’s still alive! πŸ˜‰ I think there was renewed interest in him after the Daft Punk album. I thank Daft Punk & Phantom of the Paradise for my interest in him – not this crappy documentary. πŸ™‚

  4. I really rather liked Exam, but I can’t say I remember it that well. Certainly didn’t strike me as deep, either. I think the mystery sustained me first time, so I don’t know how well it would play again. Though as I can’t remember it…

    • Yep – that’s exactly the type of movie it is: one that doesn’t really stick with you. πŸ˜‰ I can’t say I remember it in TOO much detail now as I watched it a year ago. I enjoyed it enough but highly doubt I’ll ever watch it again in my lifetime.

  5. The smut!! The filth!! The perversion!!!

    Does Plaza actually get teabagged??

    I’ve been tired of her forever….


  6. That Paul Williams documentary is so odd, right? He was an interesting dude though and this movie does make him seem grumpy as hell. HAHA He’s just a grumpy old dude now. The To-Do List was an okay movie, I feel like it was TRYING SO HARD to be one of our beloved coming of age 80’s movies. Like no this was not Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, etc, etc, it just tried and tried and then kept trying some more. I am on the fence about Aubrey, sometimes I totally like her, see I didn’t mind her in this movie, but in others I just don’t even want to look at her face. I don’t know what it is about her. Oh and Hi I am trying to get back on the horse and read blogs and write again. πŸ™‚ Missed you my friend.

  7. It’s funny, I just saw Paul Williams in an episode of Voyager, where he played the leader of an alien race that was discovering music for the first time. The episode was just okay, but I liked the irony.

    • Yeah… Kind of! The To Do List certainly was. Ugh. Exam had potential, for sure. What a shame it didn’t live up to that potential. And it’s a shame that documentary wasn’t very good as Paul Williams is interesting!

  8. Exam was alright. I pretty much felt the same as you. I can’t even remember the ending anymore. As for To-Do List, it was so annoying and boring at the same time. I don’t even know why I finished that movie. It was quite like garbage and so much that I didn’t even bother to write a review for it. πŸ™‚

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