Jack Black

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

Year: 2006
Directed By: Liam Lynch
Written By: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, and Liam Lynch

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was never much of a Jack Black fan, until I saw this movie. In fact I had to be practically forced to see the movie by Amber whose persistence paid off when I found not only did I like it but I loved it. The movie had me from the very beginning when little JB sings his tasty jam. I love that song, as well as many in the movie. I have the entire soundtrack downloaded on iTunes, and I rarely skip it when it comes up on random play. Songs like Kickapoo and Beezleboss literally put me in a better mood when I hear them and that still surprises me over ten years later.

Jack Black has been around forever and slowly risen through the ranks to be a leading man but I was having none of it. I have actually to this day still never seen arguably his most famous movie, School of Rock, and the same goes for Nacho Libre. I didn’t see them when they came out on principle because I simply didn’t like Black. So many people told me I should see them, but I have always been a stubborn fan when I got my mind set on something and I had my mind set on Black. I think it stems from Orange County and the role he had in that film. I had mixed feelings about it but one thing that really annoyed me was Black’s over the top portrayal as the drug addict brother.

I felt completely different after seeing this movie and didn’t shy away from his movies afterwards but I never went back. Maybe somewhere deep in my subconscious I’m a little frustrated at how thoroughly Amber put me in my place on the subject of Jack Black and I stubbornly stand by my original principles out of spite when it comes to movies like School of Rock and Nacho Libre. Maybe one day I’ll check those out and realize how wrong I have been for all these years. It’d make a lot of sense actually because I admire Black’s musical skills so much. School of Rock just makes sense, but that stubborn fan in me is unrelenting.

I love this movie, through and through, but I think there is an easy formula that won me over with it. Start off with a bang and leave them laughing in the end. I’ve already mentioned how much I love the beginning of the movie with little Jack Black and Meatloaf. It’s funny and fun. It’s a great song too and it sets the entire tone for the movie. Check this out and tell me it’s not a great way to start a movie:

Kickapoo hits the mark and I feel the Rock when I hear it and I feel the passion. I love the tasty jam and it’s delightful use of the fuck word. It takes me back to when I was a young child trying to rock out in my own religious home. I have always loved my explicit material but it was absolutely not accepted in both of the religious homes I grew up in. One of the most embarrassing memories I have from the age of yesteryear was how I saved up enough money to buy some music. I don’t remember how old I was but back then we were buying tapes. I bought Green Day’s Dookie album on tape and I was pumped. I’ll never forget that after meeting my dad in another store he took one look and went all Meatloaf on me. In one of the most humiliating moments I had at that age I had to stand there while my dad loudly demanded my money back for garbage they had no business selling to someone so young. It was only one of the most famous albums ever but it had “four letter words” in it. My dad wasted not a second tearing the tape open and reading the lyrics on the inside when I showed him what I had gotten. The same went on in the other household when I was scolded for listening to Nine Inch Nails or Snoop Dogg. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I’d do as a parent myself, but I’d be more likely to confiscate and keep it for myself than to humiliate or whip out the belt.

Tangent over and back to the point. Kickapoo was a great opening that follows with some fun and some shenanigans before leading up to an ending that blows me away every time. There is little more I love more in the combination of music and film than Tenacious D and their rock off with the devil. I love the devil, who was played by the giant Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Though I’ve never been a fan I have to have respect for such a key figure in the history of rock, but I think as the devil he rocks the hell out of this shit. “I’m the devil I love metal!” that’s just fucking awesome. See for yourself:

I love how blasphemous it is and how awesome. It doesn’t matter if it makes any sense or if it’s practical. It’s all about the Rock and this absolutely fucking rocks. I love that not only is the devil funny and on point but when he rocks you can feel the difference. It would only make sense that the devil was the greatest rocker of all time.

I love a movie that catches me so by surprise and wins my affection despite all my instincts. When a movie proves me wrong it reminds me that I’m not right about everything and I think we would all be better off with a little bit of a reminder to that undeniable fact. Amber had been after me to watch this movie for months back in 06 or 07 and I refused as long as I possibly could. She owned the album for the film on CD and would play it often. I would get frustrated because with no context I hated listening to it. That’s something else she was right about because I find myself in an on going love affair with the music still after all these years.

This movie is overwhelmingly silly at times but that’s all part of the fun. Where this movie wins is with the music and that’s fitting because it achieves what it is literally trying to do. I may have avoided this movie and done my best to not see it, but when I did I fell in love with something unexpectedly. This is some of the most fun I have watching any movie and I love when the songs hit my playlist on random and I can feel that fun all over again. I think this movie is worth your time, your attention, and your ears and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

NEXT MOVIE: The Terminator (1984)

 

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Orange County

Year: 2002
Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Written By: Mike White

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here is another movie that simply doesn’t belong.  I fell victim to the easy deals offered by Amazon Prime and ordered it at a really cheap price.  I remembered that I didn’t like it when it came out but thought it was worth a second chance.  I remembered thinking this movie meant something, that it had to be important because of all the people involved but despite myself I just didn’t like it.

This movie gave me every reason to think that young Colin Hanks was on the way to following in his father’s footsteps and on the way to being the next big actor.  Tom Hanks had yet to start slowing down in his career and his son was a spitting image of him in this movie full of famous comedians.  This movie wasn’t much of a hit but I thought it represented more to come from Colin Hanks.  After 12 years though I feel safe in saying that was a completely false assumption. Hanks has been part of some great things over the years, most recently the stellar first season of Fargo on FX, but he has never risen anywhere close to his father’s level.

This movie co-starred Jack Black who was largely up and coming at the time and it sported cameos from many big players.  Making brief appearances in this movie were the likes of Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, John Lithgow, Ben Stiller, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, and Leslie Mann.  I thought all those names meant this was significant.  I thought it meant that this movie was better than it actually was but I was wrong.  Having watched it again for the blog I just can’t help feeling the exact same way I felt when I watched it at 18.

This movie has a laugh here and there but it’s not a good movie.  I won’t go as far as to say it’s not worth your time to see but you could undoubtedly find something better to do with your time when faced with options.

NEXT MOVIE: The Other Sister (1999)

King Kong

Year: 2005
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. Original Story: Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Peter Jackson’s next venture after creating the incredible and historic Lord of the Rings trilogy. No matter what he had decided to do there were going to be very big expectations.  I don’t know that anything he could have possibly done could have measured up those expectations but this movie came pretty damn close.  It is another epic film that runs a lot longer than anyone likes but it’s what Jackson thrives at.  This movie does offer some of the most exciting action sequences you will ever see and the visual effects are spectacular. It took on the responsibility of rebuilding a Hollywood legend and it carries that legend to another level.

When Peter Jackson finished with his epic goldmine trilogy he could have done anything he wanted to.  He could have chosen any project on the table but to his credit, he chose to take on a challenge.  King Kong goes back to very early in the film industry being made in 1933.  It had a legacy that was going to have lots of needs and expectations to fulfill when the remake was attempted. I think Jackson lived up to those expectations and even exceeded what some of us could have imagined. He had built his name making some of the biggest epic movies of all time and chose to follow up with the first epic ever made.  There could not have been a better choice to helm the project of bringing back that epic that still stood significant after more than 70 years.

I think this was an incredible movie but I have never felt it was as good as it could have been.  I have always thought the greatest flaw of the movie was in its cast.  With a picture like this, that is going to have all the hype in the world behind it, I just really thought they should have went big with the actors they chose.  The thing is, I like most of the actors in this movie but still, they could have gotten bigger people to play the part.  I really like Jack Black. I think he is an incredibly talented entertainer but when this movie was made I didn’t think he was a great choice.  I think he played the part well, but I really don’t think he was at the right place in his career to carry a movie this large on his shoulders.  Despite this opinion, I do think he was great in the movie and I think he acted his ass off.  The same goes for Adrien Brody. I like Brody despite some of his creepier movie roles over the years, but I don’t think he was a great choice to play the hero in the movie.  He has proven me wrong as a hero before, specifically in Predators but I just don’t see him as a serious choice for that role.  I think he is a talented actor and I don’t think he was bad in this movie but I have just never felt he was right for the part.

Naomi Watts was cast as the starlet of the film, the beautiful damsel in distress that captures the heart of the monster.  I think she did an incredible job playing the part and could not say a criticizing word about her performance.  I thought she showed a lot of talent and had to do so most of the time against a green screen which makes the performance even more impressive.  Yet I still have the same feeling about Watts as I do about Jack Black and Adrien Brody.  She did a great job but I think this movie would have been more successful had a more popular actress been cast in the part.  I don’t know why I feel this way because I honestly do think she played the part to a T and did a great job.

I think the greatest role in this movie was actually the one performed by Andy Serkis.  I don’t mean the part of the cook which he also played but that of King Kong.  Just as he did for Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as the creature Gollum; Serkis again donned the motion capture suit and performed the actions of the legendary ape. It is a talent he probably won’t be able to get enough out of because these types of roles are rare but Serkis really has a specifically awesome gift.  King Kong in this movie is incredible and a lot of that has to do with the work put in by Andy Serkis.  He went the extra mile studying apes and their behavior to prepare for the part and it paid off handsomely.

This movie also sported a very good supporting cast aside from the other actors I have mentioned.  When this movie came out I had really high hopes for Colin Hanks.  The son of the legendary actor seemed destine for great things but that just hadn’t happened yet.  I had hoped that this movie would put him on that path but I was wrong.  Colin Hanks has only gotten older over the years and never really stepped out of his father’s shadow to make anything significant of himself.  I liked seeing him in Mad Men a few years back but by then his part in the show only reminded me of the high hopes I had for him years before. Jamie Bell has a role in this movie that I didn’t think was that great but want to mention it simply because it came off the heels of his performance in The Chumscrubber, which I really liked.  I am not a fan of Kyle Chandler but he has continued to do great things despite what I think.  I think he fit his part really well in this movie though and it seemed to do more for his career than anyone else’s part did.

I have always been under the impression this movie failed to live up to expectations but like I said I think the expectations were insurmountable.  I may be critical of the cast myself but I don’t know that I could really be critical of the movie itself.  I think the cast could have been better but they all did an incredible job in their roles.  I think this movie offers some of the most incredible action sequences ever filmed.  The attack of the savages, the stampede in the gorge, and Kong vs. the T-Rexes just to name a few were mind blowing and seem to get better with every viewing. What’s so awesome is that even after those mind blowing scenes are over there is still so much of the movie left, so much more action to look forward to.  This movie runs way too long really, but it doesn’t stop with the intensity or the action.

This is an awesome movie and I think it packs a pay-off that makes it worth anybody’s time to see it.  That says a lot given the movie runs for over three hours but I don’t think you will be disappointed investing that much time in the film.  It is an epic movie and made by the master of epics.  Peter Jackson really knows how to make these kinds of films and he did an excellent job with this one.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is a lot of fun. It’s an adventure throughout and I usually like watching it any time I find it on television. I think the new version is a nice adaptation and has really nice visual effects.

kingkongThis poster is a little boring. I think there were a ton of ways to make this more iconic and visually appealing graphically. There were tons of directions you could go and people would have automatically known what the movie was going to be. King Kong is already so iconic. The designers could have had a lot of fun with this but they lost the chance to do that. There are weird Photoshop glows everywhere too. I think it’s just sloppy. Too bad.

NEXT MOVIE: Kingpin (1996)

Enemy of the State

Year: 1998
Directed By: Tony Scott
Written By: David Marconi

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out during my first year in high school. What’s funny is that by the time I graduated four years later it had all but become a reality. The Patriot Act had been passed and the government had the capabilities that are portrayed as too dangerous in this film. This movie was made right before our society changed so drastically.  This was made during a time when the internet was still young, cell phones were young, and the biggest problem the nation faced was the fact that the President was getting blow jobs on the side. The world was so different then and you can see that in this film.  They use strange devices like video cassettes, pagers, and VCRs.  I always enjoy movies like this that remind me of when the world was different, in a way that many of the younger generations will never understand.

The government agencies portrayed in this film are totally fictional but they still bear a representation of what certain agencies became after 9/11.  Some of the technologies used in this film have become big time players in the new society we live in such as facial recognition technology and satellite surveillance.  This movie made for a frightening scenario in 1998 but the realities of it in today’s world aren’t that severe. It doesn’t affect the day to day lives of normal people and most of what we see in this movie is just Hollywood stuff.  One interesting thing I just noticed in the movie is that Jon Voight’s character was born on 9/11/40.  Strange coincidences like that often pop up in films, as I mentioned in our Demolition Man review.

I have never been a fan of Ridley Scott‘s little brother, Tony Scott.  He is the weaker director of the two brothers and I have never liked his coloring technique or his choppy way of piecing sequences together.  I’ll admit that he has made several decent movies though and I have liked many of them, such as this one. Will Smith is, and always has been, one of the coolest guys in the business.  I haven’t always been his biggest fan but I can’t deny his talent.  He had swagger long before it became the thing people talked about.   In this film he plays the part well and I have always remembered it as one of his better movies.  It’s one that I bring up if I need to give someone an example of how good he really is.  Gene Hackman fit his part well and this was another great addition to a long and distinguished career from Hackman.  Jon Voight also naturally fits the role that he plays in this film. Tom Sizemore is another one perfectly cast in his part as a criminal with a big time shoot out ending. The casting department just hit a home run all around by putting together a great supporting cast featuring Seth Green, Jack Black, Barry Pepper, Jamie Kennedy, Gabriel Byrne, Regina King, Jason Lee, Lisa Bonet, and the sons of James Caan and Gary Busey.

This movie is a non-stop thrill ride that really keeps the excitement coming.  It has a great cast, a good story, a lot of action, and a very climactic ending.  I have written many times about how much action films meant in my household growing up. This one was held in high regard all around, and still is by me today.  This movie runs a bit long at two hours and twelve minutes but it is definitely worth that time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Every time we review a Will Smith movie, I am going to link this video. Watch it.
Jay as Will Smith
For some reason, I got really sucked into this movie last night. We did have a babysitter, so maybe that had something to do with it, but I really found the movie to be really entertaining. I have seen it before, but it had been a really long time, so it was fun to follow along and trying to remember what happens and how. This movie is a fun ride, and Will Smith is always a fun guy to watch. I don’t think that he cries in this movie. Maybe he does, but Ryan has this running joke about how Will Smith cries in every movie he is in. He can make a tear appear at the drop of a hat.

I really like this movie. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth watching. It will keep you entertained and wondering if the government is really like that. Listening to everyone’s conversations. It’s all a little creepy if you ask me.

NEXT MOVIE: Enter the Dragon (1973)