Jeffrey Tambor

Paul

Year: 2011
Directed By: Greg Motolla
Written By: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t think I had even seen this movie when I bought it on the spot to add to our collection. Did I really need to see it to feel secure in the purchase? I am under the impression that if Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are going to collaborate on something that it will automatically be awesome and it belongs in our collection. I am happy to say that impression didn’t end with this film and I don’t expect it to change with anything these two do together in the future. This movie is a classic example of what happens when a group of funny people get together to do what they do best. This movie is fun and funny; I enjoy it every time I see it.

I first fell in love with these guys when I saw Shaun of the Dead for the third time. I consider it one of my favorite comedies of all time and I never tire of seeing it. It’s a movie I have found to get better with each viewing, the greats are always like that. I liked Hot Fuzz an awful lot too but felt it suffered in comparison. I have never been really interested in British comedy; choosing always to harness a true American mentality when it comes to film and entertainment. We are the greatest, anything anybody else does they are simply copying us (also, I’m from the South, it all plays into this mentality I had when I was young). Of course I have learned time and time again over the last fifteen years as a truly open minded adult that I was horribly mistaken with that line of thinking. My point being, there was a time when I would have turned my nose up to these guys simply because they were British. They, in fact, are part of the reason I am a more open minded and aware person today when it comes to film and entertainment. When this movie came out it was so exciting because it was like they were invading American film with it. They wrote a simple but really funny story and invited all the cool kids to the party.

To voice the alien namesake of the film they got Seth Rogen, such an unbelievably like able guy that when he went before a Congressional panel to talk about Alzheimers disease elected men of official office seemed to be gushing over him. They got some SNL headliners in Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. They got a typical comedy go-to-guy Jason Bateman and brought in other regular comedy stars like Jane Lynch, Jeffrey Tambor, David Koechner, and Joe Lo Truglio. To put a cherry on top of this alien joy ride they throw in Ripley herself just for the fun of it. Sigourney Weaver’s mere presence in this film makes it all that much better given the content.

Two popular British stars who have succeeded in doing their own thing at home decided to head this way and try it out American style. I think they were very successful at it and I think that is the most significant thing about this movie. It’s a fun and funny movie but more than that it represents a significant accomplishment and testament to the talents of Pegg and Frost. Of course Pegg is becoming more and more of a star these days on his own. I like the variety of his work but I’d rather see him with Frost at his side any day of the week.

I was at work one day when I mentioned this movie coming up on the blog and was surprised to hear animosity about the film from a zealously religious friend and co-worker. It gave me pause for a moment but when I gave it some thought I understood. This movie does refute the existence of God by having an alien character that knows more about the universe than we do. I had never given the matter much thought but I understood why it would bother my friend. I think it’s a shame to let something like that rob you of enjoying something so funny but hey, to each his own right?

This movie certainly doesn’t bother me on any moral or religious pretexts and I am happy enough just to enjoy it for what it is. It is a remarkably funny comedy and it’s a lot of fun to watch. I love the ease with which everything regarding Paul seems to make sense. It’s clever writing on behalf of Pegg and Frost; who are great as the comic book guys touring the American nerd hot spots. They made a cool movie and there is no reason to take anything literally enough to blind you from something you could enjoy. You avoid this one and you are missing out on something that is good. It’s a mere step in careers that continue to climb the steps of stardom for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. In the case of these two I’ve found that all steps on the way to the top have been worth our time so far. Good movie that I think any mature adult would enjoy.

NEXT MOVIE: The People Under the Stairs (1991)

As a footnote, I wanted to include video of Seth Rogen’s testimonial before Congress. Amber showed it to me one day and I was both taken with his story and impressed by how he handled himself in such an official setting. He comes in and is naturally funny before delving into a very serious topic. I admire what he stood up to do and I hope he has been able to make headway with his goals. When you watch this, pay note to how the Congressman is responding to him.

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Meet Joe Black

Year: 1998
Directed By: Martin Brest
Written By: Eight different people are credited with writing, which makes sense given the movie makes so little.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let me start this review by being brutally honest.  We didn’t finish this one; in fact we barely made it half way through before deciding we couldn’t take another minute of it.  I’m going to blame Maverick. We gave that film the full viewing and felt our time was completely wasted so when this one started wearing thin we threw in the towel early.  It’s an interesting story that offers plenty to think about and appreciate but I don’t think it transitioned into a good film.  This film is UNBEARABLY long, and on top of that the portrayals are all wrong.  Brad Pitt portrays Death like a child in the world for the first time, Anthony Hopkins is just going through the motions, and I thought the best performance came from Jeffrey Tambor, doing his best Dr. Phil impression.

There are things I like about Brad Pitt’s performance in this movie but too much I don’t like.  I am a fan of Pitt but in this movie he looks too boyish and ridiculously good looking.  What? Death couldn’t pick a more realistically looking person with 7 billion people to choose from? Did he really need chiseled features and highlights in his hair?  Good thing he didn’t pick the cab driver that hit Brad Pitt in the beginning.  Hopkins cohorts would have been perplexed in completely different ways and Death probably wouldn’t have been able to bang the daughter.  Now, about Pitt’s portrayal, this in truth is probably how the character was written.  Why is he so childish? I get the peanut butter thing but beyond that I am scratching my head.  Wouldn’t Death, who has been walking the Earth since the beginning of time, be more familiar with the nuances of the people he takes on a daily basis? It’s implied that Death knows all dialects easily but he doesn’t know any of the little things about everyday life?  We found it all too ridiculous to dedicate any more of our weekend night to.

Anthony Hopkins is terrific in everything; the man just beams power and dignity even when he isn’t doing anything exceptional.  Maybe that’s part of having been knighted I don’t know.  In this movie I really feel like he is just going through the motions and cashing an easy paycheck.  He plays a man who knows his time is up and he is struggling with that realization quietly with little dialogue.  So much of what I saw from him was simply that look of being lost on his face. However, the man did a damn good job with it despite whether it called for heavy acting or not.  Back in the 90’s Anthony Hopkins could easily hold our attention for lengthy films and we would have watched more if it was there.  Times have changed, and looking at this film now the power of Hopkins wasn’t enough to keep me interested for an outrageous running time of two hours and fifty eight minutes.

I am a huge fan of Jeffrey Tambor, specifically because he is awesome in everything.  He can play the serious part and then turn around and be the funniest person on screen in his next part.  Tambor will never be the leading man, but as a supporting actor you can’t do any better no matter what the role calls for.  In this film, I literally had to look him up to make sure it was him playing the part and not Phil McGraw. Look at this side by side and tell me if I am wrong:

meet-joe-black-280.jpg        

In fact, looking at it myself now….can you even tell me which is which? Where these guys separated at birth or was the button to make this human design punched twice by accident in the whole larger scheme of creation? (I know that last analogy is a little odd, excuse me I’ve been reading Brave New World). Despite the obvious lookalike problem I have still loved Tambor in everything, and he is just as good in this film as he is in all the others.  I think he brings a great personality to an otherwise dull film and if I remember correctly his character is rewarded in the end as the heir to the empire.

I don’t see the need to discuss this film any further as we can’t honestly review having not finished it.  If you have your own thoughts about this film and I have horribly offended you then by all means leave a comment and make your case for it.  If I gave up too soon and made a horrible mistake I would be the first to admit it.  It would only take the easiest of suggestions from someone with the opposite opinion but absent that there is no way I’m giving this film another hour and a half of my time.  Having said all that I can’t recommend it to you, but I would really appreciate the thoughts of anyone who wants to speak up for the movie.

Hellboy

Year: 2004
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Written By: Guillermo del Toro, Peter Briggs and Mike Mignola (comic books)

RYAN’S REVIEW

For a long time this was one of my favorite comic book films.  At this point in time there is plenty of steep competition though as comic book films seem to own the big budget movies that are released.  However in 2004 when this movie came out I thought that the only films in the genre that were better were X2 and SpidermanI had never heard of Hellboy before seeing the movie and had absolutely no familiarity with the comic.  I felt like I was taking a chance when I watched it and was pleasantly surprised when I not only liked it but loved it.  I think this movie has a great story and script, excellent casting, and nonstop thrills that keep it interesting.

The first film in a comic book franchise is always tricky to make.  Do you please the comic fans or do you create something new that anybody and everybody can enjoy?  One way or another somebody is always disappointed and criticism will come.  I think this movie did an excellent job with its beginning though.  Something that slows down these first films is the fact that everybody has to be introduced, there powers or abilities have to be explained, and that can take up half of the film.  This film does all those things so nonchalantly that it makes it surprising that so many others do it wrong.  I think that is a credit to the filmmaker.  Guillermo del Toro is a highly respected filmmaker and for good reason.  Most of the comic book films at the time weren’t getting what you would call high profile directors behind the camera, but this movie is evidence that it clearly makes a big difference. Del Toro not only directed this one but worked extensively on the script himself and movies are always better when the director is telling his own story and not someone else’s.  What del Toro made in the end was funny, exciting, and most importantly it was cool.  I have said before that one of the most important parts of some movies is how cool they are and del Toro knows how to make a cool movie.

I am a big fan of Ron Perlman and think he was awesome as Hellboy.  Perlman has extensive experience being put under heavy make-up for a role having played The Beast on the long forgotten Beauty and The Beast television series.  That experience obviously played a part in the decision to cast him because whoever played the part would have to undergo lots of time in the make-up chair.  What I found so interesting in Perlman’s performance though was how well he played the part.  As Hellboy he was supposed to have the persona of a very young man and Perlman was 54 when this movie was made.  He was so funny and smooth as Hellboy, a bit rough around the edges but that’s part of who Ron Perlman is. Perlman is a real nasty looking guy, which is part of what I have always liked about him.  He is great as a bad guy and that is where he is often cast, so I specifically like how well he played the good guy in this one. I am a fan of Sons of Anarchy on FX and think that Perlman is great in that show as well, a perfect role for a guy like him.

As for the rest of the cast I will say that most of them did much better than I would have expected from them.  I am not usually a fan of Selma Blair and she isn’t great in this one or anything but she isn’t bad either.  Rupert Evans was good as the pure of heart FBI set to take over keeping up with Hellboy but they really made a mistake letting him go for the sequel.  John Hurt did a great job in his role and I thought Doug Jones was also great voicing the character of Abe Sapien. I don’t know that it really mattered who voiced Abe Sapien though, he is an awesome character and I don’t think it made a difference what he sounded like. My favorite of the other actors in this film though has to be that of Jeffrey Tambor.  The man is just awesome in everything he is in and I am always happy to see him in any movie.  He has a larger than normal role for him in this one and I like that even better.

When it comes to the bad guys in this one I don’t think it even matters who played the parts.  When establishing any story that involves good versus evil you just can’t go wrong by making the bad guys Nazis.  Nobody will ever be quite as hated as Nazis. Viewers all over the world love to hate and root against them in movies.  The character of Kroenen is without doubt one of the most badass villains I have ever seen in any movie.  From the very beginning when he cuts down all those US troops you can’t help but just get excited at what else this guy might do and he just keeps doing it. The mask he wears, the weapons he uses, and the way that he just won’t die is all incredibly badass and awesome. A villain like Kroenen is essential to any movie like this. He isn’t the main bad guy; he is the ultimate weapon the main bad guy sends out to do his business. Karel Rodin played the part of Rasputin and he is very good in that role.  He has a villainous look to him and seems threatening with everything he does. I liked him as the head villain but he is overshadowed a bit by his main henchman.

This is the kind of movie I can’t say enough good things about.  I was really disappointed with the sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army and think that it was an awful follow up.  The movie had its moments but overwhelmingly I thought the story was too silly and weird.  Things focused way too much on fairy tales where the first one was more cosmic and mysterious.  We do not own the second film because we simply didn’t think it was worth buying. Despite that I still look forward to the possibility of a third film.  I have heard nothing in a long time about a third Hellboy but there is always the chance a movie studio decides to roll the dice on a franchise with name recognition. I think this is an awesome movie that anybody would enjoy.  I’d imagine plenty of people never gave it a chance simply because it is called “Hellboy,” but they are missing out.  This is a fun and exciting movie that is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I liked this movie a lot. It’s about the only thing I like that has Ron Pearlman in it. Ryan is a huge, huge fan of Sons of Anarchy and I again seem to be the only one in the world that doesn’t like the show. In any case, I think this movie is fun and silly. It’s an easy movie to enjoy and has a great storyline.

I don’t like the poster or the DVD cover of this movie, so I am not going to waste time writing about it.

On to the next film!

NEXT MOVIE: 

The Hangover

Year: 2009
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Written By: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

RYAN’S REVIEW

Amber and I went to see this movie in the theater when it came out and I don’t know if we have ever laughed so hard in the theater. From beginning to end the laughs never stopped and we walked away feeling really fulfilled by the film. I think it has been a little outplayed at this point, only 3 years later. It was really popular when it came out and still is today. I also think the sequel destroyed any legacy the movie might have had by being so awful. For my thoughts on The Hangover 2 you can read this.

This movie caught everybody by surprise in 2009, and it put Zach Galifianakis on the map. I think Galifianakis is awesome but he is only going to go as far as that beard will get him. He is hilarious in this movie but I think he has played the character to death now. I’ve had enough of the weird bearded guy by now, but I’m glad to see he has gone with simply a stache in his next film, The Campaign. Although he does appear to be playing the same character yet again. I am not really a fan of Ed Helms but he was really funny in this movie as Stu. I think Bradley Cooper is really good as the cool guy in control too. I think Ken Jeong is really funny, and his role in this movie really advanced his career. Ken Jeong is from Greensboro, NC and before becoming an actor he was a surgeon or something. It’s a fascinating story really and I think it is really cool because we live really close to Greensboro. Coincidentally Galifianakis is from a town farther away but still close in the other direction from where we live (he is from Wilkesboro, NC). I thought Mike Tyson‘s cameo was funny and I have heard that it has helped him get his life back on track which is a good thing. I can’t forget to mention Jeffrey Tambor, I think he is awesome and he adds a lot to the film.

Everybody already knows how funny this movie is so I’m not going to go any farther into it.  I think this is a really funny people that most people will enjoy, but the sequel left such a bad taste in my mouth I don’t find myself in the mood to watch it anymore.  Nevertheless this movie is worth your time.  Just don’t waste any on part 2, if you saw this movie you more or less have already seen the sequel.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember seeing this movie in the theater. I also remember completely laughing my ass off. Everyone I know has seen this movie and every single one of them think it’s hilarious. There is really not much more to say about it.

I like this poster. It captures the main characters in strange situations leaving the question, why? Why does Galifinakis have a baby with sunglasses on? Why is Andy from The Office missing a tooth and hey, look! Hot Bradley Cooper is in this. We all know the cliché of going to Vegas, getting completely wasted to the point where you do something crazy. I mean the city’s motto is “What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The font is a clean sans serif that is glowing slightly to allude to the glowing lights over Vegas.

NEXT MOVIE: The Happening (2008)

EuroTrip

Year: 2004
Directed By: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg, and David Mandel
Written By: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg, and David Mandel

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a really stupid movie but I have always enjoyed it and it still makes me laugh.  It is pretty similar to Road Trip, which came out four years prior. I think this movie does just enough to set itself apart and make it memorable, for me anyways.  I know a guy from high school who looks exactly like Matt Damon in this movie, and he is the lead singer of a band now.  I love that song he sings “Scotty doesn’t know,” it stays with me for days.  Otherwise there isn’t much more worth mentioning here, mediocre cast in the leading roles with the support of several big names in cameos. Aside from Damon, Lucy Lawless, Vinnie Jones, Fred Armisen, Diedrich Bader, and the incredibly funny Jeffrey Tambor appear in cameo roles. They all came together for this movie and were very funny. In the lead cast Jacob Pitts was exceptionally funny and I will always remember him from this movie. The others were funny as well but have done little else with their careers. This is a quick and pointless movie so if you know that going in I think it is worth your time.  It’s a funny movie that I always enjoy seeing, but nevertheless it doesn’t deserve much more than this as far as a review goes.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Watch it! Simple and hilarious.

NEXT MOVIE: Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)