Midnight In Paris (2011) Review

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Midnight In Paris (2011)

Directed & Written by Woody Allen

Starring:
Kathy Bates
Adrien Brody
Carla Bruni
Marion Cotillard
Kurt Fuller
Rachel McAdams
Michael Sheen
Owen Wilson

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight.

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My Opinion:

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Midnight In Paris but I just have to say this: I think I deserve a payrise for getting the word “Xenomorph” into my company’s newsletter last week.

Now, onto Midnight In Paris: a movie I watched months ago but never reviewed because I don’t really have much to say about it. But, shit – apparently a lot of you like it as it’s in third place in that poll of movies you want me to review. So, damn, I better stay true to my word! 🙂

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Here’s my big, embarrassing movie blogger confession: I’ve never watched a Woody Allen film. NONE! So Midnight In Paris was my first & only. Tell me, Woody Allen fans – was this the place to start? I assume not. But, I dunno… I really liked the sound of it plus I’m a big fan of Van Gogh so I was a sucker for that poster up there. ^ I am NOT, however, a fan of Owen Wilson. Probably because he’s been in too many of those annoying Wes Anderson movies. Plus, I’ve always hated his voice. And, you know, that nose. I’m sounding bitchy now but I’m just trying to point out how much I do NOT like Owen Wilson so that you know this may have had an effect on my enjoyment of my first Woody Allen movie. However, it’s definitely a good film & I can understand why some people really like it. It needs to be your type of “thing”, though.

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With this movie, as with Wilson’s character, it really comes alive when it’s in the past. These scenes are so much better than those set in present day with Wilson’s absolute bitch of a fiancĂ©e (Rachel McAdams). But that’s the whole point – a viewer may very well end up loving 1920’s Paris just as much as Wilson’s character does. I may not be able to fully relate to a love of 1920’s Paris but I can relate to feeling nostalgic about a certain time. I hate 2015! The world is shit now. I’d probably go back to the 1970s/early 80s. Hmm… I suppose that’s a little unoriginal. I’d probably be happy in any time that’s before the Internet but after indoor plumbing! Oh, and after women stopped being treated like shit. Wait… we’re still treated like shit! Oh cool – I think I’ve written enough now. I can finish this horrible first-ever Woody Allen review I’m making a mess of! 🙂

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Summary:

Midnight In Paris is a good film and I would assume those who love Woody Allen films loved this one too (not that I can compare it to another film of his since I’ve not seen any). I’m probably not cultured enough to have fully appreciated all the famous historical figures Wilson’s character meets in the past but I did find this a very fun part of the story as I actually didn’t know beforehand that anyone “special” was going to be in this. I also didn’t mind the romance in this although I’m not the type to usually go for that. Oh yeah! And my favorite “hey, it’s that guy!” guy was in this (Kurt Fuller – never thought to look up his name before now). I can’t say Midnight In Paris is a movie I fell in love with or that I’ll ever watch it again, though. I liked the originality & it was entertaining but I know I probably should have watched an older Woody Allen film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014) Review

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring:
Ben Stiller
Robin Williams
Owen Wilson
Steve Coogan
Dan Stevens
Ben Kingsley
Rebel Wilson

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The things in a museum come to life every night. For the third time. But in London this time!

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My Opinion:

Well, I had nothing ready to post for today so here’s a quickie! I saw this just after Christmas but never got around to reviewing it. What can I say? I actually quite like these Night At The Museum movies. As far as “family” movies go, anyway, I think they’re far more enjoyable than some of the other terrible “family” films these days that maybe only one member of the family actually enjoys. I still say they don’t make good non-animated movies for the whole family like they used to (such as Big. I miss things like Big!) but the Night At The Museum movies are a step in the right direction.

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Secret Of The Tomb is, of course, not as good as the first film but is at least better than the second one. I thought the second film was the weakest of the trilogy & went overboard on making so many exhibits come to life that the movie ended up a bit of a mess. It also forgot to focus on the main characters that we liked so much from the first movie so, in Secret Of The Tomb, they don’t make the same mistake again & they give us lots of time with our main favorites while adding only a few interesting new ones.

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I’m really not a fan of Ben Stiller at ALL but I don’t mind him in this series. There’s a “Neanderthal” version of him in this one which I found pretty stupid but I’m sure he was a hit with the kids who saw this. Owen Wilson & Steve Coogan once again make a fun duo and that damn monkey is just as lovable/hateful as always. Rebel Wilson does a great job playing “Rebel Wilson as a security guard” (she’s a love her or hate her – I’m pretty sure I don’t love her) and Dan Stevens from that movie The Guest that everyone goes on about plays the biggest new addition, Sir Lancelot. We even get to briefly see Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs & Mickey Rooney once again – love those guys! It was bittersweet seeing Rooney again but it just plain heartbreaking seeing Robin Williams, whose character I’ve always felt is the best thing about the Night At The Museum films. It was hard to not get teary-eyed over his final line in the film. SPOILER WARNING – this was the line:
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His final line, spoken to Ben Stiller, is: “Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.” Which, if you’ve seen the movies, you know that means day has come & the exhibits will no longer be “alive” so he goes back to being a wax figure after speaking this line. So perfect but so sad.

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Summary:

There’s not much else I can say about Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb other than that it’s an enjoyable film for the whole family. Some of the humor is a little silly but that’s to be expected from a family film – I still had plenty of fun watching it as an adult. Possibly the best thing about these movies, however, is that I think they’ve made plenty of kids interested in visiting museums & learning more about history. What did I do about a week after seeing this? I of course ended up making a trip into London to visit The British Museum where we were told we weren’t the first ones to ask if they actually had the big nine-headed snake thing from the movie (they don’t). However, they DO have the cute little dude in my below photo (Garuda). 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Here’s a good link to check out if you plan on watching this movie then taking your kids to The British Museum: A Night At The Museum – Fact Vs Fiction

Drillbit Taylor (2008) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rhetologue’s Movie Logs. Thank you for the reviews for this blogathon! Let’s see what he thought of Drillbit Taylor. 🙂

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Drillbit Taylor is the tale of an ass kicking hobo that has the hallmarks of a John Hughes’ movie but in Seth Rogen’s hands. Movie Logs reviews this odd team up for Cinema Parrot Disco.

Drillbit Taylor follows three high school friends who, in finding themselves mercilessly bullied, hire a homeless man pretending to be a martial arts expert to defend them while at school.

Now, I was previously under the impression that Drillbit Taylor was the work of Seth Rogen but that’s only part of the story. It seems John Hughes pitched this story under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes, obviously a practice he was in the habit of doing when the idea was a little bit…poop. Drillbit Taylor is within a list that also includes Maid in Manhattan and the Beethoven franchise. In fact, Drillbit was Hughes’ last film before his death in 2009.

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For Seth Rogen, being a part of this project was probably an amazing opportunity. His own career has been tremendously influenced by an irreverent and teen-centric world. From Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) to this year’s Bad Neighbours, his work must have been influenced in some way by the coming of age tales of John Hughes.

Drillbit does have a whiff of the John Hughes about it with its irreverent themes, smartass kids and bizarre story. Yet it’s not particularly strong and that’s kind of the point. This is what John Hughes thinks is sellable but not worthy of his name. How strange is it that what Hughes considered poor seems awfully similar to what Seth Rogen made his name pumping out? This is the biggest problem with Drillbit Taylor – it seems at odds with itself.

The premise is pretty sweet and finds Owen Wilson as an affable wanderer that finds his opportunism and inspiring words fusing into a conscience.

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Though this dynamic is at times compelling it’s never really funny…it just happens and you watch it because it’s there and that’s fine…I guess. Owen Wilson truly holds this movie together with his personal charisma. As Drillbit moves into the school to protect his wards, posing as a substitute teacher, the novelty of the story peeks out from under the banality.

However, when Drillbit starts a relationship with deluded teacher Lisa (Leslie Mann), he finds it harder to keep his old life a secret. He finds himself going head-to-head with two mindless school bullies, played by Drake and Josh’s reformed fat kid – Josh Peck – and the unflinching Alex Frost.

The lies, the economical attempts at romance, the suspense of finding ways to come to his wards’ rescue all help to make Drillbit Taylor watchable yet the balance of humour is not weighted in its favour.

With the help of the near faultless anxiousness of Leslie Mann, it gets so close. Then there’s Danny McBride and Reno 911’s Cedric Yarbrough playing a couple of homeless opportunists that are practically the 3rd baseman waving Owen in for a homer…yet somehow it doesn’t quite get there.

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That might be because the movie struggles to generate empathy for the kids, who are the now generic characters referencing WASP and Jewish culture.

You know, they’re your quintessential chubby and short kid (Troy Gentile as Ryan), skinny and tall kid (Nate Hartley as Wade) and nerdy kid who probably smells of cough syrup and sea salt (David Dorfman as Emmitt). Those character profiles have served Seth Rogen well, as he’s built his whole career on them and hasn’t stopped using them yet. However, in this incarnation, it’s all too predictably placed and paced.

With Rogen writing and producing SuperBad a year earlier it also feels like a bit of a cheeky replication of characters. The kids are a little younger and we gain a little bit more back story, yet it’s ultimately covered ground. The battle rap scene is particularly cringe-worthy and is indicative of how 2000-and-late these characters seem in their contrivances.

This all helmed by director Steven Brill, who is not particularly in the business of making good films. This is the man that has brought us the likes of Little Nicky (2000) and Without a Paddle (2004), being just two of his affronts to cinema. Drillbit Taylor may be his bets movie to date yet it feels more like a weak version of an Adam McKay (Step Brothers, The Other Guys) movie, without the humour to back it up. Visually, Drillbit Taylor is nothing to write home about, and delivers some engaging sequences in all the predictable places if only to keep our attention.

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Last words

“What more could you really want?”

I actually like Drillbit Taylor. It’s a fun movie even if it is pedestrian. It’s enjoyable even if it’s not particularly funny. It delivers some twisted moral but is still somehow inspirational. It achieves some poignancy without being particularly layered. Drillbit Taylor is simultaneously a terrible John Hughes movie, as it has none of the heart of his fare, and a passable Seth Rogen slam piece, as it exists to amuse and to fund Rogen’s money making habit. That’s quite the achievement.

Drillbit Taylor could never be considered a John Hughes movie in its finished form but in some respect it is the same concept as Weird Science – some nerds want to stop being bullied so employ the powers of a magical being to protect and empower them. In the case of Lisa, she was a sexy computer generated genie. In Drillbit’s case he’s a hobo who will say and do anything to make an easy buck until somehow his lies manifest in magical truth. Either way, they end result is still the same and it is that subtext that maintains the spirit of the movie despite its weaknesses.

Truly, Drillbit Taylor is the type of movie that forces you to ask yourself, on a lazy weekend when the remote is just out of reach, “what more could I possibly want?”

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Drillbit Taylor (2008) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from, umm… Rob of Movie Rob? I don’t know who he is. Lol! Just kidding, Rob – Thank you so much for helping to get me SOOO close to having EVERY Hughes film reviewed. I’ll try to find those last two myself & possibly do the two I haven’t received. Then it’ll be EVERY Hughes movie reviewed in one place! Wow! Now let’s see if Rob liked Drillbit Taylor. 🙂

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“Now in addition to the Chinese Kung Fu we’ve got a little Mexican Judo, as in ‘Judon’t know who you messin’ with, homz.'” – Drillbit Taylor

Number of Times Seen – 1 (12 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – 3 freshmen in high school decide to hire a bodyguard to protect them from bullies

My Take on it – I had heard of this one prior to watching it, but didn’t know anything about it.

I actually don’t feel that my life has been enriched in any way by finally seeing it tho.

This movie is at most a mediocre tale of 3 geeks who hire an ex-soldier to be their bodyguard in school. Little do they know that he is really an AWOL homeless vet who tries to use this “gig” as a way to fund his flight from the authorities to Canada.

The star of this movie is Owen Wilson who plays the title character and he acts…well..just like he always does, which doesn’t say much.

The writing here by John Hughes just isn’t anywhere near par for him and it seems that at this point, he really just raised up his arms and gave up trying to make good movies. There are a few humorous lines and scenes, but all in all not great.

This was Hughes’ final movie as a credited Writer since he died a year after this came out. He was probably quite ashamed by this screenplay because he used the pseudonym that he always used when he wrote a bad movie; Edmond Dantes (The main character of The Count of Monte Cristo).

Quite unfortunate since he didn’t have a chance to redeem himself from this one!

Bottom Line – Has some good lines but definitely a far cry from Hughes’ best. This one is mediocre at best. Wilson is his usual self which doesn’t say much for him.

Rating – BAFTA Worthy