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Lady and the Chump: "Identity Thief" and "Side Effects" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 11 February 2013 08:54

Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman in Identity ThiefIDENTITY THIEF

Near the very start of the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy comedy Identity Thief, Bateman’s character, the mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson, is enjoying a birthday party thrown by his wife (Amanda Peet) and two adorable daughters. After blowing out his birthday candles, Sandy scoops his younger daughter in the air – she looks about four or five – and, in what seems like a totally improvised gesture, turns her upside down, playfully plopping her face-first into the cake. The whole family laughs, but no one laughs harder than that cake-smeared little girl, who takes a second to wipe frosting from her eyes and mouth before exclaiming, to our utter delight, “Oh my God!”

Just thought I’d share that in case you were curious about the movie’s funny moments, because for me, that was the only one.

 
Eat and Greet: "Warm Bodies" and "Stand Up Guys" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 03 February 2013 09:23

Rob Corddry and Nicholas Hoult in Warm BodiesWARM BODIES

See if this sounds familiar: A sweet, lonely, non-human – but decidedly male – being with a limited vocabulary toils through a portion of Earth all but completely devoid of life, performing the same mundane, regimented activities day after day. Occasionally, he augments the dreariness by collecting tchotchkes from more civilized days, which he stores in his makeshift home-slash-warehouse, and comforts himself by playing old music on a recognizably antiquated device. One day, a beautiful female enters his life, and although he’s initially nervous about making contact, he proceeds to woo her by offering safety and shelter, making her laugh, and subtly expressing his undying devotion. The female, however, soon leaves, but our protagonist doesn’t take her evacuation lying down. Instead, he follows his beloved, and subsequently sets into motion events that not only might reunite the pair, but might lead to the rejuvenation – indeed, the very survival – of the entire human race.

If you didn’t know the movie in question was titled Warm Bodies, and didn’t know it was a romantic comedy about a zombie who becomes enamored with a girl with a pulse, wouldn’t that description sound just a teensy bit reminiscent of WALL•E?

 
Skit-ish: "Movie 43," "Parker," and "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 27 January 2013 18:40

Leslie Bibb, Justin Long, and Jason Sudeikis in Movie 43MOVIE 43

Ordinarily, Movie 43 would be the sort of unsatisfying, throwaway release that I’d dispense with in a paragraph, or maybe just a sentence or two. And it’s not as though its opening-weekend box-office intake – a meager $5 million, despite the presence of nearly every star in Hollywood – necessitates longer consideration of the film. But this anthology comedy in the style of those ’70s cult classics Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube seems to me a special case. How often, after all, do you get the chance to write about what might be your all-time least-enjoyable experience at the cineplex – including that time during the early ’90s when you had to leave a screening for emergency root-canal surgery?

 
It Takes a Vile Witch to Raise a Child: "Mama," "Broken City," and "The Last Stand" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 20 January 2013 12:28

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jessica Chastain, Isabelle Nélisse, and Megan Charpentier in MamaMAMA

A new film titled Mama opened this past weekend, and it stars Jessica Chastain. Given the current Oscar nominee’s cinematic omnipresence over the past two years, you may be inclined to say, “Well, of course it does.” But I’m leading with that information because in addition to being almost insanely prolific, Chastain (whose recent résumé also boasts The Tree of Life, The Help, Take Shelter, and, of course, Zero Dark Thirty) is about as reliable an indicator of quality as this decade’s movies have provided. And against considerable odds, not the least being its unpromising January release date, director Andrés Muschietti’s outing is a supernatural fright flick of considerable quality – gripping and nerve-racking and sensationally well-made, and yet another showcase for Chastain’s stirring soulfulness and remarkable versatility.

 
The Needle in the Haystack: "Zero Dark Thirty," "Gangster Squad," "A Haunted House," and "Hitchcock" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 14 January 2013 12:45

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark ThirtyZERO DARK THIRTY

As an orchestrator of cinematic suspense, Kathryn Bigelow might currently be without peer in American movies. The sequences of Jeremy Renner dismantling explosives in the director’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker were miniature masterpieces of sustained excitement; despite our knowing, through much of the film, that it was too early for Renner’s Sergeant William James to be killed off, each masterfully shot and edited act of bomb disposal vibrated with legitimate threat. In Zero Dark Thirty – Bigelow’s and screenwriter Mark Boal’s fictionalized docu-drama about the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden – nearly every scene feels like a ticking time bomb. There is, of course, never any doubt about the narrative’s outcome, yet Bigelow’s gifts for composition and pacing ensure that you still watch the picture with rapt attention and dread. And blessedly, she’s also a spectacular entertainer. The movie is tough-minded and sometimes tough to watch, but even when Bigelow is fraying your nerves, she’s tickling your senses.

 
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