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items tagged with Phil Hartman

Fight or Flightless: "Penguins of Madagascar," "Horrible Bosses 2," and "Rosewater"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2014-11-30 22:54:06

Penguins of MadagascarPENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR

Penguins of Madagascar opens with a sweeping overhead shot of an (animated) Antarctic expanse, which eventually lands on an orderly march of flightless waterfowl. This introduction is narrated by a documentarian voiced by Werner Herzog, who informs us, in the director’s unmistakable German-accented English, that we’re to witness penguins in all their natural glory – right before he orders a crew member to shove a few off a cliff, just to see what will happen. Between Herzog, the environmental-doc satire, and the sheer goofiness of it all, this prelude is such a fantastically funny way to start directors Eric Darnell’s and Simon J. Smith’s spin-off that it immediately leaves you anticipating a movie that’ll be smart and hilarious throughout. Would you settle, though, for smart and moderately amusing?


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Idle "American": "American Dreamz," "The Wild," and "Scary Movie 4"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2006-04-26 00:00:00

Mandy Moore in American DreamzAMERICAN DREAMZ

American Dreamz is like a middling Saturday Night Live skit that never ends. In writer/director Paul Weitz’s conception, the president is a slow-witted dolt being puppeteered by his staff, the participants on an American Idol-type mega-hit are a combination of talentless sweeties and fame-hungry monsters, and the American public happily buys every piece of pop-fueled mediocrity placed before it, especially when it’s swathed in the sentimental, jingoistic guise of “patriotism.” Wherever did Weisz come up with such fresh objects of ridicule?


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"David Gale" Is Bad, but Not All That Bad: "The Life of David Gale," "Old School," and "Deliver Us from Eva"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2003-02-26 00:00:00

Laura Linney and Kevin Spacey in The Life of David GaleTHE LIFE OF DAVID GALE

Reading the reviews for Alan Parker’s The Life of David Gale, you might assume that it’s the most staggeringly offensive cinematic release since Freddy Got Fingered. (Glenn Kenny of Premiere magazine and Roger Ebert gave the film a combined total of zero stars.) And upon realizing that the film in question boasts the considerable acting abilities of Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, and Laura Linney, not to mention direction by two-time Oscar nominee Alan Parker, you’d have every right to wonder: Can the movie be that god-awful? The short answer is: No, it’s not. Parker’s film is bad, yes, but it’s bad in typical Hollywood fashion, especially for a paranoid thriller; the plot twists are ludicrous, the dialogue, especially when dealing directly with the film’s polemic over the death penalty, is clunky, and it’s so high on its do-gooder mentality that it comes off as vaguely embarrassing. But despite what you might have read, it’s not the work of Lucifer, merely the work of talented individuals acting uncharacteristically like hacks.


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