Owen Wilson

Free Birds

Year: 2013
Directed By: Jimmy Hayward
Written By: Scott Mosier, Jimmy Hayward, David I. Stern and John J. Strauss

 

It suddenly dawned on me tonight, on the eve of Thanksgiving, that I haven’t reviewed a movie with a Thanksgiving theme. Over the past couple of years at least I have liked to drop a movie review that correlated with America’s mostly passed over holiday. So suddenly did the realization hit me that I had little to no time to consider an appropriate film. In years past we have reviewed Dutch and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, both excellent movies for the holiday. This year on short notice I had little time to consider before the most practical film of all was suggested by Amber. So, I may have dipped into my children’s fledgling DVD collection for this title that I think works all too well.

There are several films made for my children that I find myself liking just as much as they do. Titles that immediately come to mind are The Croods, Big Hero 6, and of course this film. Pixar makes great films for all ages too but all too often now they are trying to make me cry and it pisses me off. I will never get over that bullshit at the end of Toy Story 3. I’m referencing the scene in which all the toys find themselves in the trash compactor with no hope of escape. Instead of trying to come up with some new escape plan they all hold hands and accept their imminent death in what last for many many seconds before they are saved. Come on Pixar, why don’t you just kick me in the balls and make me cry honestly??? It’s obscene to have this kind of moment in a children’s film and nothing makes me feel sillier than bawling my eyes out in a Toy Story film.

I find that I cry far more often in children films than in adult films these days. I am unashamed of it in most cases but Pixar gets under my skin because they are just laying it on too thick. In The Croods when the dad has to throw his entire family across the gap in the Earth only to be left behind himself I cry like a baby, but that’s different. There’s the father daughter aspect that hits me in the heart and I feel like they earn my tears honestly. Pixar cheats by going too hard for that punch in the gut, and really letting the moment linger.

This movie however does not make me cry at all and in fact it’s quite the opposite as the laughs keep on coming. I think the story about these turkeys time traveling to get themselves off the Thanksgiving menu is hilarious. The two main characters are voiced by Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson making the movie that much cooler. You even have a lot of other great voices filling up other roles like Amy Poehler, Keith David, Colm Meaney, and even George Takei. They all sound fantastic and deliver on a script that will keep you laughing.

It’s easy the older we get to dismiss animated films for being nothing more than babysitters for the youngins but if you sit down and watch some of them with them you might find yourself surprised. I didn’t particularly like Boss Baby, but for every five of those movies there’s a Shrek, Wall-E, an Up and I know I’m starting to contradict myself naming a few Pixar films but those are exceptional films and Pixar has, in the past made some truly exceptional movies.

So if you get bored with parades and football this Thanksgiving day check out this movie with your kids. You will probably be surprised to find out you enjoy it just as much as they do. Whatever you do try to do something to celebrate the family fun day and not move immediately to Christmas. Take some time to eat turkey, congregate with loved ones, sit through at least one ridiculous argument, and honor the memory of a make believe history. If you already have your Christmas lights up shame on you, that’s Friday work. Tomorrow, that’s all about family, fun, some drama and a lot of thankfulness. I hope you all have a happy one and find plenty to be thankful for.

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The Royal Tenenbaums

Year: 2001
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

RYAN’S REVIEW

This one takes me back to a long time ago when life was so much simpler. A time when a good time was a an hour down the road at my brother’s apartment and life’s greatest concern was getting school work done on time. It was at my brother’s apartment where I first saw this film and I fell in love with it immediately. I was in college myself at the time and this movie just spoke to me at that time and place in life.

I think Wes Anderson is an awesome filmmaker with a very unique style that sets him apart. I am a bigger fan of the movie he followed this one up with, The Life Aquatic, but this was a great movie in and of itself. This movie tells an interesting story about a family that used to be a big deal but tragedy befell them all as time moved on. They are all estranged until they find themselves being drawn together for the first time in almost 20 years. Their conflicting and contrasting personalities make for a great black comedy.

The cast of this movie is quite remarkable. I don’t know the whole back story behind the connection between Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers. I know they went to college together and have a friendship beyond their careers but there is certainly more to the story than that. He must be a quite likable director because many actors and actresses continue to work with him regularly. Some even go out of their way for him actually. I read that during the shooting of this movie some of the other actors like Anjelica Huston and Bill Murray would specifically work to shield Anderson from Gene Hackman who notoriously can be difficult to work with. I read that Murray would actually show up on set during his days off just for this purpose.

Whether he was hard to work with or not I have always been a big fan of Hackman and like him in this movie specifically. He is perfect as Royal Tenenbaum and I think it was a role that capped off a great career. It hurts my heart to consider that after more than a decade of not acting we have definitely seen the last of him. At 86 years old he is still with us though, and hopefully enjoying his retirement. The last time I heard anything about Hackman he had been in a road rage incident in which he beat up somebody giving him guff, and that was only a few years ago. The man, even in his 80’s, is too badass for the general public to cross. I could be wrong about the story I’m remembering but I like it the way I remember it.

Beyond Hackman the cast is nothing short of fantastic. It’s always fun to see Ben Stiller and the Wilson brothers together but I think specific props go to Gwyneth Paltrow who played such an interesting character in this one. I think the role that Bill Murray plays is his weakest of all the roles he has played in Wes Anderson films. Murray is great as always but his character is just underused and not his best. I think Danny Glover is fantastic as Herny Sherman. While still very active as an actor Glover just doesn’t get the roles he used to and that’s a shame.

I don’t feel like I’ve said enough about this movie but this movie is all Wes Anderson and I have written my thoughts on him before. For more insight into my thoughts on the director see some of our reviews of his other films. We have reviewed The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limitedand Moonrise KingdomWe also have The Grand Budapest Hotel in the collection but it was a late addition we have yet to get around to reviewing.

So in the spirit of not being redundant I’m going to close out this review simply by letting you know that this movie is worth your time. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson then you should have already seen it but if you aren’t then you should check it out and see what you’ve been missing.

I am sure there is plenty of backstory to this movie that is interesting and note worthy. Unfortunately I have never taken the time to read about it. Anybody who does know more about the Anderson/Wilson relationship and how it transitions into the movie feel free to leave a comment and enlighten us.

NEXT MOVIE: The Rules of Attraction (2002)

 

 

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Year: 2004
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach

RYAN’S REVIEW

Wes Anderson has only made a handful of movies to date and I love nearly all of them but this one is without doubt my favorite.  His movies tend to be slower and have a very subtle type of comedy to them that just gets me every time. The film is dedicated to Jacques Cousteau and was made as both a tribute and caricature to his films. In this film we see Bill Murray in the lead role playing an apathetic and disheartened rival to “Cousteau and his cronies” that is on a mission for revenge of all things. Somewhere out there is the mysterious Jaguar Shark, that may or may not exist, who killed his right hand man. Things have fallen apart for him and he just flat out doesn’t care anymore.  As he goes on this adventure seeking revenge he encounters financial difficulties, pirates, a small mutiny, and a tragic loss along the way.

I am a huge fan of Bill Murray and think his performance in this film is one of the best he has ever had.  As Steve Zissou he plays a man who was once on top but has fallen from the limelight and is now laughable.  He has lost his drive and now lives carelessly and without inhibition. I love his “scientific purpose” for killing this Bigfoot of the sea. Revenge, a ridiculous notion to take out on a sea creature that may or may not exist, but it jives perfectly with the personality of Steve Zissou.  When Ned approaches him with the possibility of being his son he simply drifts away for a moment and smokes a joint on bow of the ship then returns to immediately pick right back up with the conversation.  The way he treats Ned is hilarious too.  When they sit down to have a drink together he treats this grown man as if he were a child, “no that’s mine, he doesn’t know anything about wine.” Paired with Zissou’s apathetic style is an arrogance that only a man who was once great can have.  I love when he renames Ned Kingsley Zissou and just goes forward with it even after Ned’s reservations. Zissou may be kind of a dick but he is ballsy and that makes him a badass. The scenes when he breaks free to fight the pirates and leads his crew in the rescue of the bond company stooge are awesome.  One of my favorite lines from the movie comes right after he fights off the pirates when he yells “you left your dog you idiots!” Yet Zissou later leaves the dog behind himself after rescuing the bond company stooge. All and all I love this guy; he’s like “The Dude” of the sea only not a pacifist and a lot crazier.  He is an awesome character and I don’t think any other actor out there could have brought him to life in quite the same way as Bill Murray.  Murray is truly a one of a kind artist and person. We must cherish every film he has left in him and with hope there are many more to come.

Wes Anderson uses so many of the same actors on a regular basis that he has practically developed his own troupe.  Owen Wilson is one of his regulars and turns in a great performance as Ned, who may or may not be Steve Zissou’s son.  I think his accent in the film is perfect, it has a draw and twang to it that really adds humor to the things he says.  I’ve read that he modeled the accent after that of Will Patton.  I can see how he tried but there is still a nasally sound to it that makes it sound altogether different from Patton.  Willem Dafoe plays the part of Zissou’s most loyal crewman Klaus, who struggles with the relationship developing between Steve and Ned possibly because he is a closet homosexual.  I think Klaus is awesome and I love the scene in which he confronts Ned and smacks him across the face. Willem Dafoe was everywhere for a while right at the turn of the century but I haven’t seen him in anything significant in quite a while.  That’s disappointing because I think he is a great actor.  He has a role in Anderson’s next movie and I look forward to it.

I am not a big fan of Anjelica Huston but Wes Anderson obviously is because he casts her in everything.  I don’t know this but if I was a betting man I’d put money on the notion that she probably reminds him of his mother as that is the role he usually casts her in.  She has a look that conveys intelligence and dignity and she brings that quality to every role she plays in his films.  As Eleanor Zissou, Etheline Tenembaum, and as the estranged mother Patricia from Darjeeling Limited she is always a strong, wise, and independent woman.  I’m not a big fan because personally I have always thought she looked kind of evil but her roles in Anderson’s film have really made me come around to liking her more.

I’ve also never been a fan of Jeff Goldblum, at least not as a leading man anyway.  I do like him much more when he plays a secondary character like he does in this film as Zissou’s rival Alistair Hennessey. I think Goldblum has plenty of great scenes in this movie but my favorite is when he meets Zissou on the deck of his ship.  When he casually asks the dogs name before walking over and smacking the shit out of him is so funny.  I like the way asks its name before hitting it and the way he points at it as he stares it down afterwards.  It conveys power from a man who has succeeded so much more than his rival has financially.  Cate Blanchett is a fantastic actress and has a very interesting role in this movie.  Blanchett hadn’t even met her co-stars when she walked onto set and filmed her first scene with them on the beach looking at the glowing Man-of-wars.  She is that talented of an actress though, she’s a pro who can show up and drop a great performance just like that.

It was made out to be a big deal that Bud Cort was cast in the movie but I don’t buy it.  Now I’m not saying he didn’t do a good job because I thought he was excellent as the bond company stooge.  I love the scene after the rescue on the Belafonte when Hennessey asks how they got all his equipment and Cort replies “we fucking stole it,” hilarious.  I simply won’t give Cort any additional credit because I specifically hated the film he is most famous for.  I hear all the time about how it’s a classic and what not but I can’t see it.  As far as I am concerned Harold and Maude is a bleak and demented movie.  Its dark comedy on suicide never really appealed to me and I think the relationship between the two title characters is gross.  You can say love holds no bars but screw that I’m telling you there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed when it comes to age difference as it pertains to sexual relations.

The ending to this film is so powerful.  When everyone finally sees the Jaguar shark it proves that Zissou wasn’t crazy, and even he himself questioned that at times.  Throughout the entire film he never seems certain that there is actually anything out there but finding it validates him as a person.  He gets emotional for the only time in the film because he realizes he isn’t crazy and he still has the talents he thought he had lost.  I think in that moment he finally allows himself to feel the loss of his best friend Esteban and of his possible son Ned.  It is touching to see this stoic and apathetic character actually feel something. Following that scene is the Zissou sitting outside alone as the audience applauds his newest film.  As he is joined by his crew he walks away triumphantly to whatever new adventure lay before him.  It is an incredible ending to an awesome movie.

This is a movie I usually hesitate to recommend to people because I never know how other people will take Wes Anderson.  I love his films and wholeheartedly look forward to every one he makes but most of the people I talk to don’t really like his films.  Despite that I’m going to say this film is without doubt worth your time because it is one of my favorites.  If you have seen it before please leave a comment to share your own thoughts, I am always interested to hear what other people have to say about a film I don’t know many who have watched.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is absurdly ridiculous in all the right ways. Of course by now you should know, and understand that we really like Wes Anderson. He has an original style and look and I don’t think any other movie carries it as well as this one. It was such a strange, strange film yet so interesting you can’t look away. And furthermore, I will watch anything that has Bill Murray in it. (Side note about Bill Murray. Have we ever mentioned we live in North Carolina? Every year we go down to SC around Folly Beach and vacation and visit some friends. Guess who also vacations around the area? That’s right Bill Murray. And legend has it that he is extremely nice in real life.)

lifeaquatic

This is probably the best I have seen where the designer tried to fit the whole fucking cast in there. I still hate it. But at least there are no floating heads in the ocean surrounding the pod. I have to say I am really disappointed with this poster. I think that they had such an opportunity to do something really cool because of the design and style of Wes Anderson. Boo, I am not impressed with this poster at all. One of my least favorites simply because of the opportunities lost on it.

NEXT MOVIE: Life of Brian (1979)

Hall Pass

Year: 2011
Directed By: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Written By: Pete Jones, Kevin Barnett, Peter and Bobby Farrelly

RYAN’S REVIEW

I do not like infidelity and I hate watching movies about it. So I really protested when this one was suggested for rental. With nothing else to choose from at the time I settled and found myself laughing much more than I ever would have expected. As a happily married man I want to say one thing for the record; if you need a “hall pass” from marriage then there is no hope for your relationship. Taking time apart is one thing, but carte blanche to do whatever you want and betray the trust and love of your spouse is something that can only be bad. Despite that I think this movie is funny because it is honest about the situation. The horny men are practically hopeless in their efforts to woo women while their wives become the willing prey of other horny men. This is a movie I really didn’t expect much from but found something to really like and appreciate about it.

The strength of this movie comes from the stars. I don’t know what has been up with Owen Wilson lately but I think with this movie he showed us he still has plenty to offer. I have always liked Wilson and was really disappointed when I heard that he was having troubles a few years ago. I don’t know enough about what happened but I think he had some serious depression issues and if I’m not mistaken there was a suicide scare at one point. He seems to be on the right track now though and as a fan I am grateful for that. He is really funny in this movie and had great chemistry with his main co-star. I think Jason Sudeikis is hilarious; everything he does makes me laugh. These two guys together are what make this movie funny and I can not imagine that I would have liked it had any other two men played the parts.

I have always thought Jenna Fischer was great as Pam on The Office, and I enjoyed seeing her in this movie. She is a beautiful woman who has a normal look to her that made her a good fit for this part. I am sincerely glad too that she and her husband in this movie are the ones that stay true to each other despite their opportunities. I have never been a fan of Christina Applegate and at one point thought she was second only to Michael Jackson in plastic surgery procedures. I do not know this and have no idea if it is true at all but there have been times over the years when she has just not looked right. She looks more normal now but I think that is just the work of a better surgeon that fixed the disaster that had become her nose. I have never found her to be particularly funny and given I think her looks are as fake as a three dollar bill I don’t see anything to appreciate in her. She isn’t bad in this movie but I do not like the character she plays or what she does. While I think the idea of “Hall Pass” is stupid in general. I think it is much worse to give it to your husband then run out and have one of your own. Not only that but to dishonor your vows for thirty seconds with an idiot who is ready to kick you straight to the curb once he is finished with you is just shameful.

This movie had a really good supporting cast as well. I am usually a big fan of Richard Jenkins and whatever he brings to the films he is in but I don’t think this was the right role for him. I just don’t see him as the super cool single guy that can get any woman he wants and do anything. Where were the other funny guys these guys usually co-star with? Why wasn’t Will Ferrell chosen, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, or anybody else really? I just can’t imagine how they ended up settling for Jenkins in this role. Stephen Merchant is one of the guys in their posse here and I think he is really funny too. In case you don’t know who Merchant is; he is the writing partner of Ricky Gervais and they have created many funny things together. I have never seen Nicky Whelan before in anything else, but damn. Could they have found a hotter woman to play her part? Not to mention the fact that she gets topless in this one which is always a plus, and in her case a mega plus.

One of the things I specifically like about this movie is that it is honest. These guys think they are getting what they want but they are so hopeless that they resort to desperation in the end. It’s honest too because while they are trying so hard to get what they want and failing, their wives are able to do it so much easier. This is why a hall pass is stupid gentlemen. Why you are out there chasing all the ass you can lay your eyes on and getting rejected your wife is out there with the opportunity to do whatever she wants really, and she will be more successful. In the end both parties will have done something that they will have to live with and it is the kind of thing that can destroy a relationship. I think it is natural for both men and women to desire others after making their commitment to each other because we are all weak and pathetic creatures of desire. Nothing is worth the trouble you will incur by acting on those desires though. You can destroy your life and hurt the lives of your friends and family by doing this. It is a selfish thing to do and more often than not it simply isn’t worth that kind of trouble. You have to suppress those desires and just appreciate the out-of-reach people like the ones we see on TV. Checking out and perving on women you come in contact with in the real world will only lead to trouble.

I for one would never do this even if my wife suggested it. Sure it sounds like a cool idea but is it worth what I would be risking? I come from a broken home and am part of a generation that grew up with divorced parents. I can tell you that it isn’t worth it, don’t do it. I was a kid that suffered from the mistakes of my parents and I would never in a million years want to put my own children through such a thing. Not only that but I am lucky enough to really love my wife and I would never betray her trust with another. I will say it again; if you think you need a hall pass from marriage so you can chase other women then you might as well go ahead and call an attorney because your relationship is probably beyond saving.

I think the fact that I hate the idea of this movie so much but still liked enough to add it to the collection says something about how good it is. It’s a funny movie and I never expected to laugh so much when I sat down to watch it. I think this movie is worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone that asked.

The Darjeeling Limited

Year: 2007
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson

RYAN’S REVIEW

Some movies can just speak to you in ways that you can’t really put into words.  Sometimes a film can coincide with your life so well that you feel an instant bond with it. Wes Anderson films typically revolve around people with suppressed emotions and difficulty coping with dramatic circumstances.  I was going through similar issues in 2007 and while my issues were completely different from those in the film it put me at ease nonetheless. Wes Anderson movies do that to me though, he has an interesting method when it comes to storytelling.   This film is also set in India, which is another reason I really like it.  There is a lot of emphasis in the film on India culture and I have always been very interested in India.  It is a very rich and diverse culture that has been cultivated for thousands of years.

Wes Anderson is the kind of director that draws a lot of talent to any project, even when he travels to the other side of the world.  This film has many of his regular stars.  Bill Murray makes a small cameo in the beginning, this was his fourth collaboration with Anderson.  Anjelica Huston in her third film with Anderson as the mother of the three brothers.  As the brothers he has Owen Wilson, who has worked with Anderson on all of his films. Jason Schwartzman plays the youngest brother, he also frequently works with Anderson. I am a big Jason Schwartzman fan, he is a really talented and funny entertainer.  Adrien Brody plays the middle brother and I am a big fan of his as well.  I didn’t like Brody at first but he has continued to impress me with his range as an actor, he just keeps making good movies.  What really makes Wes Anderson movies great is the fact that they get better each time you see them.  He is a true filmmaker, being involved in all aspects of production.  It’s the movies that are made by men like Anderson that tend to be my favorites.  In many ways he is very similar to the Coen brothers that way.

This is a really good movie but it isn’t one I usually recommend to anyone.  Wes Anderson makes such a unique film that I never feel confident trying to persuade someone to give one their time. My favorite Anderson film is far and away The Life Aquatic, but I love them all and this one is probably either second or a close third behind The Royal Tenenbaums. If you give this one a shot I hope enjoy it as much as I did.  This isn’t really a good enough review for a movie I love so much, you will have to excuse me.  I have  recently cut caffeine out of my diet, it blows.

AMBER’S REVIEW

If you know anything about us, you should know this. We are HUGE Wes Anderson fans. I believe the first one I ever watched was The Royal Tenebaums and I have been in love with his films ever since. This one is a more recent installment compared to the rest that we own. The whole concept of this movie is very strange and weird in true Anderson fashion. Most of his films revolve around weird and unusual family situations that are completely outside of the normal family unit. In this one, their father dies and their mother has joined a convent. The three borthers (Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody) go on a journey to bond and to try to find their mother that left to become a nun and didn’t attend their father’s funeral. The movie is filled with strangeness that cannot be explained and is completely worth watching.

One of the best things about Wes Anderson is that he loves working with the same people. He takes these actors that I feel he finds “worthy” and uses them in different films and in different scenarios. It always works out and they always perform so well and different every single time. He loves Schwartzman, Wilson (both of the Wilsons), Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, and has even made Ben Stiller into someone he usually is not. I love this film and this guy. All of his films are worth watching and this one is no exception. You have to see it, it’s not even a suggestion.

NEXT MOVIE: Darkman (1990)