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?! 😉 Here we go…

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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:

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Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (2013) Review

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Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (2013)

Directed by Cody Cameron & Kris Pearn

Starring Voice Actors:
Bill Hader
Anna Faris
James Caan
Andy Samberg
Neil Patrick Harris
Benjamin Bratt
Terry Crews
Will Forte
Kristen Schaal

Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo! Yo Gabba Gabba!)

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation

Running time: 95 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Flint Lockwood’s invention, the FLDSMDFR, has not been destroyed as previously believed and is now creating food/animal hybrids which are attacking those trying to clean up the island. The FLDSMDFR must be stopped before these dangerous foodimals take over the world.

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My Opinion:

I would love to have some of the drugs the filmmakers were on when they made this movie. I mean, the first film was crazy enough but this one is bananimals.

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I’ve sort of seen the first film a couple of times (I slept through most of it the second time). It’s okay. You certainly can’t say the story lacked originality! That’s definitely the case this time around as well. It continues immediately after the end of the previous film (I think. From what I remember). After the FLDSMDFR is destroyed (or so everyone thinks), an inventor (& the CEO of Live Corp) named Chester V arrives to clean up the island with a team of other scientists while Flint and his friends are sent to live in California where Flint takes a job at Live Corp.

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I felt that this section of the film was a little overlong and I was a bit bored. The movie is very slow to begin with. Luckily, Chester V needs Flint to come back to the island after his team of scientists are attacked by cheespiders (You know! Giant cheeseburgers with spidery French fry legs!). Turns out the FLDSMDFR wasn’t actually destroyed and it’s now churning out these crazy food/animal hybrids (foodimals, FYI) that could take over the planet. And Chester V needs Flint’s help to shut his invention down before more foodimals are created! Dun dun DUUUUUNNNN!

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This is where the movie finally picks up and gets much better: When Flint & his friends come back to the island which is filled with all kinds of weird & wonderful foodimals. I was going to try to remember all their funny names for this review but, unfortunately, I’m old and have a terrible memory now. Let’s see…

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I remember the huge “tacodiles”. Tacodile Supreme, actually. Um, Shrimpanzees? Watermelophants? Mosquitoast? And, of course, the “leek in the boat!”. Haha! The pickles that Flint’s father befriends are pretty funny and the family of marshmallows is adorable. But NOTHING is cuter than the little strawberry Flint’s girlfriend names… “Berry”! SO FREAKING ADORABLE! Okay, Berry totally made the whole movie for me. I want to adopt Berry. Berry can come live with me and we’ll watch things like Strawberry Shortcake together.

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Really, I don’t know what else to say about this. It does have some funny moments but it’s all pretty mental. It’s nowhere near the level of the stuff we get from Pixar or Disney. The characters are all likeable enough but I’ve still not fully bought into any of them after two films in the way I did with Pixar characters like Sulley & Mike. It’s a fun enough film to sit through with your kids, though, and I like it more than the first one. Because Berry isn’t in the first one! Your kids will love it and you won’t hate it.

My Rating: 6/10

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