Renee Zellweger

Me, Myself & Irene

Year: 2000
Directed By: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Written By: The Farrelly Brothers and Mike Cerrone

RYAN’S REVIEW

There is often a fine line between funny and stupid.  Nobody out there knows how to teeter on that line better than the Farrelly Brothers.  They have been making us laugh, and blush, for twenty years now and this film is exactly what I expect from them.  A stupid scenario formatted to be really funny.  Occasionally I find their movies to be too stupid but there are some exceptional ones.  This one is incredibly funny but does tend to get too stupid here and there. However, the laughs this movie offers will challenge those you got out of any film.  A funny movie made by funny people with their favorite funny man.

I remember the days when Jim Carrey was just full-on bursting with comedy.  In the mid to late nineties the man was so relentlessly funny and everything he touched turned to gold.  That all changed somewhere along the way and looking back over his career it seems to have ended after this film.  I am and always will be a big fan of Jim Carrey but he has been missing something for quite a while now.  I don’t know what that is but I will always hold out hope to see the Carrey of old come back.  His talent is undeniable but something has certainly changed about him.  He is currently wrapping up the sequel to one of his greatest, his first collaboration with the Farrelly brothers in fact.  Dumb and Dumber To will be hitting theaters sometime in the near future and I have high hopes for it.  Those guys were hilarious the first time around and I look forward to seeing what they are able to do now. At the same time I have concerns about the state of Carrey’s career when he is going back to Lloyd Christmas while nothing else seems to be working.  Jim Carrey if you are out there I am hoping you hit a home run with your next film and I believe in you man, never give up.

While I will never accept it until it is undeniable, this is currently the last really funny movie made by Carrey.  He has made a couple of comedies that weren’t bad since but nothing as nonstop funny and over the top.  With that being the case, Carrey really went all out in this one.  The two personalities of Charlie and Hank gave Carrey a duality to capture two different kinds of comedy.  I love when he turns into Hank and tries to pull off a super cool persona.  One of my favorite parts of the film is when he slides off the hood of the car in one motion while smoking a cigarette, hilarious.  I also love so much about his character as Charlie too.  His half-assed explanation about his children being that “his great grandmother was half Italian” is simply priceless. I remember when this movie came out Jim Carrey was seen as such a crazy guy that with each new film there was a prevalent thought along the lines of “what will he do this time?” In this movie he admitted that his antics were too much for even him at one point.  The specific scene that made him blush was the one in which he drinks milk from the mother’s breast.  He should have blushed too; he was really going to town on that thing. All for the greater good though, you gotta love a comedian that will literally do anything to make us laugh.

Since seeing Chicago and Cold Mountain I have considered Renee Zellweger one of the most impressive actresses of the decade but this film never seemed right for her.  This part, the hot girl in trouble messed up with the wrong people, in a film like this.  It’s just beneath her as an actress.  Granted this was before the two movies I mentioned but it still doesn’t seem like a good career decision.  Why did she play a part like this? She isn’t bad in the film I just think she could have done better in 2000.  I am a huge fan of Richard Jenkins and always enjoy a chance to see him in any movie.  I don’t think this film really showcases what he has to offer as a comedian and actor but he’s here.  Chris Cooper is great in the bad guy role.  He has a real sinister look to him and a tone in his voice that brooks no argument.  Cooper is never cast as a guy that gets picked on, for good reason.  Any time I have ever seen him I feel like he is always a character that conveys some power or a sense of danger. The rest of the cast only makes the film funnier.  There are plenty of people I haven’t even mentioned that are worth noting.  Tony Cox is always great and brings some great laughs to this movie.  Anthony Anderson is awesome whether he is being funny or stone cold gangster “Antwon Mitchell” style. He’s like a chubbier Michael Strahan; you can’t help but like the guy because he makes everything he is in better.

This movie is what it is, but when what it is makes us laugh it’s easy to be forgiving as a critical viewer.  This movie occasionally is a bit too much but it is funny enough to make you forget about anything that was simply stupid in the effort to be funny.  It is a relentless movie that will have your side hurting after all the laughter it provokes.  I sincerely hope that in a few months Jim Carrey will give his greatest comedic performance in his next collaboration with the Farrellys but until then I will always be happy to have this one.  It’s going on 15 years since this came out but this movie is just as funny now as it was then.  Having said all that I wouldn’t recommend a movie this vulgar to my mom, but to anybody else I’d point them toward it and tell them to get ready to laugh.  A very funny movie that is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love this movie. I never get tired of watching it. I know that a lot of people hate on this one. Actually they hate on Jim Carrey in general, but I don’t care. I love that guy. I love him when he is serious, I love him when he is funny, I just think he is one hell of a person. Also, on a side note, when he dated Jenny McCarthy, he got along famously with her Autistic son, she referred to him as an autism whisperer. THAT makes me love him EVEN more. Back to the matter at hand though, this movie shows what it can be like when a person just finally gets pushed too far. I think we can all (to some degree) relate to that feeling.

Me Myself & Irene

The only reason this is a great poster is because of Jim Carrey. He carries it completely and you totally get a sense of what the movie is about. He looks seriously goofy and nice on the left side and the right side he looks utterly like pure evil. The tagline is great too. “From Gentle To Mental.” The thing I really hate about this poster is the typography. And that’s a big one for me. I like that they used different weights for the words, but the outline and overlapping and drop shadow are killing me. Really? Other than that, this poster is really successful. I always know what movie it is immediately, and that’s simply because of the main focus. Jim Carrey. (I love him.)

NEXT MOVIE: Minority Report (2002)

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Cold Mountain

Year: 2003
Directed By: Anthony Minghella
Written By: Charles Frazier

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a great movie with fantastic performances and production value.  It tells a compelling story that takes place near the end of the Civil War. Despite my history background I have never been a Civil War buff and while I appreciate this movie it isn’t one that I love.  The movie begins with a very gripping battle scene that sets the tone for the film. I think the love story between Inman and Ada brings the movie down but the rest of the film is good enough to overcome that fault.  This movie is in our collection for one reason and one reason alone, Renee Zellweger‘s performance.  I felt Nicole Kidman was highly overrated at the time and really enjoyed seeing her get her ass handed to her by the ugly chick.  This is one of Zellweger’s finest roles and she earned her Oscar with spades.

This is our second movie in a row starring Jude Law and that is ironic given that neither of us really like him.  Anybody could have played his part in this film though, he does nothing to distinguish himself.  When I say that Kidman was shown up by Zellweger I mean exactly that.  Just when you are really sick of the Ada character Ruby shows up and pumps life into the dismal and depressing story.  Ray Winstone is great as the menacing lawman of Cold Mountain while all the men are away at war.  His albino henchman may be creepy but I want to point him out as Charlie Hunnan.  All the Sons of Anarchy fans need to check out what he was doing before he was Jax Tellar, he must had just lost in a tough decision over the casting of a vampire role. Again for the second movie in a row we get to see the beautiful and talented Natalie Portman in a small role. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a good part as a scandalous preacher in just one of many cameos in the film. Also lending their talents in small roles are Giovanni Ribisi, Brendan Gleeson, Ethan Suplee, Donald Sutherland, and even Jack White of the White Stripes in a rare acting role. These performances collectively make this movie worth your time because they are all great performers.

There is no and never has been a town called Cold Mountain in North Carolina, but there is a Cold Mountain here in our Appalachian mountains.  That doesn’t matter though, it doesn’t change the circumstances of the Civil War that the film covers. I am not a Civil War buff because it feels too cliché, being a southerner and all. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from the conflict though and a need to understand the time period.  This movie is worth your time because it is a good movie.  I don’t think I have done it justice with this review but watch it for yourself and tell us what you think.

AMBER’S REVIEW

My favorite part of this entire film is Renee Zellweger. She is completely amazing in this film. She shows so much range and depth in this film that you almost forget who she really is. She won the Oscar with this film and I honestly feel like nobody earned it more that year. The whole story is really touching. Aside from the love story that is going on between Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, the story that means the most to me happens in Cold Mountain between Zellweger and Kidman. Kidman is a woman who has been pampered and taken care of her whole life, and when that all falls apart, in moves Zellweger to help her get her shit together. I love the dynamic that the two have together throughout the movie. They truly had amazing chemistry.

The war aspect for me is secondary throughout this film. It is important and what is going on in this small town is touching and affects everyone. There is something for everyone in this award-winning movie and I completely recommend it if you haven’t seen it before.

NEXT MOVIE: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Cinderella Man

Year: 2005
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Cliff Hollingsworth

RYAN’S REVIEW

I distinctly remember having no interest in seeing this movie when it came out back in 05, but I saw it in the theater despite that.  I went to the movies with my brother and it was his suggestion. I only agreed on this one because Russell Crowe had recently got in trouble for beating someone up. I don’t remember what the circumstances of what he was in trouble for were but it was for beating someone up for something.  I remember liking the idea of a guy in the news for beating people up having a big budget movie where he was a boxer in theaters.  Thinking back to it now I find myself wondering if that was indeed a coincidence or an interesting plan for publicity.

There are more movies made about boxing than any other sport and not all of them were made by Sylvester Stallone.  Men who dedicate their lives to fighting often find themselves in interesting situations in life.  The lives they live can be so dramatic yet so inspiring, either way their lives are often story worthy.  It takes a special type of person to choose a life of fighting, of hurting and getting hurt. Those people are fascinating and we all love the opportunity to observe them from a distance, and to cheer for them when they are punching the shit out of the other guy. James J. Braddock was one of these interesting men and he lived not only an interesting life but through a very interesting time in our country’s history that we should all remember and learn from, The Great Depression.  Braddock was an inspiring fighter during a time when many people were in serious need of inspiration. This movie does a really good job of capturing the desperation of the Great Depression without going too far and becoming overly sappy.  Times were harder than most of us can imagine today and it took a hard person to survive it.

I always love a movie that surprises me and this one definitely did.  I am a fan of both Russell Crowe and Ron Howard but didn’t really like their earlier collaboration with A Beautiful Mind so my expectations for this one were low.  This movie proved to me that they both still had a lot to offer in their careers.  I think this is just one of many fantastic movies from Russell Crowe, he seems to get better with age too. He apparently took quite the beating during the making of this film and sustained several injuries on set.  I was raised in North Carolina not all that far from Mt. Airy, in fact I have to go there for work often and pass right through old Mayberry.  I grew up watching Opie Talyor, then Richie Cunningham, and then the fantastic movies made by Ron Howard.  Howard is an interesting person because he has spent his whole life in the business.  There is a lot of talk about what stardom can do to children with the problems of so many celebrities but Ron Howard has only gotten more successful as time went on.  Ron Howard did a great job with this movie by really capturing the struggles on all levels of society during the Depression, and the boxing matches were wicked.

The rest of the cast to this film was great as well.  Renee Zellweger is such a fantastic actress, and she brings a lot to the film as Braddock’s wife.  The film industry chooses beauty over talent far too often and we don’t have enough actresses like Zellweger because of it.  I think Paul Giamatti falls into the same category oddly enough, he has had to work really hard to get where he is, and it is his talent that got him there. He brings a lot of emotion to this film in a seemingly effortless fashion and it is his performance that helps captivate us with the Braddock character.

As in all boxing movies you need a loud mouth opponent to hate.  Hating the other guy makes us fall in love with our hero even more.  In this film that opponent is a former real life heavyweight champion Max Baer and the film may have taken some liberties with the character to fit him in the mold of the bad guy.  Max Baer is actually the father of Max Baer Jr. who played Jethro on the original The Beverly Hillbillies, and needless to say he and the Baer family weren’t thrilled with the portrayal of their patriarch. He was portrayed as a brutal man who wanted to hurt men more than beat them, a rude and despicable man.  Craig Bierko played the part well whether it was an accurate portrayal or not.  This movie may be “based on a true story” but that doesn’t make everything in it true, and we as viewers must always understand that.

I think I have rambled on about this movie enough now but I hope you give it a shot if you haven’t seen it.  It’s got a great and inspiring story, great performances, and was made by a grade A professional in Ron Howard.  Historical accuracy not withstanding there is still plenty to learn about our own nation’s history with this film.  The poverty on all social levels was true, the homeless taking up residence in a shanty towns they named Hooverville, after President Hoover, was true, and James J. Braddock really was a nobody who managed to beat the world heavyweight champion and inspire the masses during tough times. All that makes for something worth seeing, this movie is definitely worth your time.

One final note about Ron Howard.  I mentioned his early work on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, but failed to mention some of his more recent work in television, Arrested Development. It is probably one of my all-time favorite comedies and it did not last long enough.  It was an intelligent comedy that people weren’t ready for and it didn’t get the ratings it deserved. With the lack of ratings it only made it three seasons before being shut down by FOX. If you have never seen it then you should go out of your way to buy it and watch every episode multiple times.  If you have seen it then I have fantastic news for you.  The show is reuniting for six episodes that will be aired on the internet via Netflix.  It’s awesome because we get more of the hilarious Bluth family, and interesting because it is being offered the show via internet only.  This signals big changes in the industry that will also eventually affect how we receive all viewing media.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Wow, Ryan wrote a book. First of all let me just say that I can’t stand Russell Crowe. I am the only person that I know that doesn’t like him. I also hate movies about boxing and wrestling. I never want to watch them and I dread it when a new one comes out because I just know Ryan is going to make me watch it. However, this movie is more than worth your time. It is the classic cliché boxing movie, but it is so worth you time for the uplifting power that it has. It will take the problems in your life and make them seem like little details in your life.  I also love the fact that it is set during the Great Depression. Sometimes, in America, especially right now, we think we have it so hard, but in reality we just have no idea. Nothing really compares to being that poor. This movie is heart-felt and well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Clash of the Titans (1981)

Chicago

Year: 2002
Directed By: Rob Marshall
Written By: Bill Condon and Bob Fosse

RYAN’S REVIEW

I remember taking Amber to see this movie back in 2002 when we were just a couple horny teenagers.  I took her to see it because I was probably trying to get her into bed but I actually ended up enjoying the movie.  I distinctly remember being really impressed with the film and telling many people how good it was.  This movie isn’t one I would have ever seen on my own because it really isn’t up my alley.  I did thoroughly enjoyed the movie despite all that and I think that’s part of what makes it such a great film.  I especially didn’t think a musical had any place in the film industry in 2002 but was proven wrong.  This movie got nominated for nearly everything and won many of the nominations including Best Picture and Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, and Rob Marshall were all nominated as well.

I have never been a big fan of Renee Zellweger but I cannot deny that she is fantastic actress.  She will be in a couple of our upcoming movies in the “C” section of our collection too.  I happen to like her roles in those movies better (Cinderella Man and Cold Mountain specifically) and I’d rather discuss her at more depth in those posts.  I do not like Richard Gere either, in fact I specifically don’t watch films with him in it, this film being a rare exception.  I think it’s because of Pretty Woman, that damn movie spawned tons of films with the exact same damn premise.  I typically avoid Julia Roberts for the same reason.  I can’t say Gere really brought much to the film. I suppose that it is something that he didn’t bring the film down, but a better actor could have been cast in his role. Catherine Zeta-Jones is great in this movie and really deserved her Oscar.  In this movie she explodes with talent that I don’t think many people even knew she had in her. She is singing and dancing with intensity and she is so seductive. I have always been indifferent to her as an actress though and while she is a beautiful woman she just isn’t really my type. Queen Latifah is great as well in this movie, this performance helped her career greatly at the time when her star was rising.  I am a big fan of John C. Reilly and like him in nearly everything he does.  I am not always a fan of his really goofy movies with Will Ferrell but he has made many great movies as a serious actor including this film. Lucy Lui also makes a great cameo in this movie, but I feel she has never risen to her full potential as an actress. Rob Marshall did a good job with this movie but I haven’t seen any other film he has made.  In 2009 he made what appeared to be a very similar film to this one, Nine, with Daniel Day-Lewis but it wasn’t not nearly as successful.

Amber and I actually took a vacation to Chicago this year and since we are reviewing a movie by the same name I would like to take the chance to say a little about the city.  Chicago can be intimidating because it is so large but it is very tourist friendly.  What really impressed me the most about the city, besides its beautiful architecture and never-ending buildings, was how traffic was handled.  For a town with so many people traffic seemed to be a non issue.  There is a unique network of roads in Chicago and traffic directors on duty during what would typically be rush hour and they direct both vehicles and pedestrians.  Chicago is unique because it is a city that was built to be a city.  Nearly the entire city was destroyed during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and when rebuilding started city planners and architects from all over the country came to help.  The city was designed by the best people available to be a great city and that’s exactly what they made.  We had a great trip and I would recommend it as a vacation spot to anyone looking for somewhere awesome to go.

Now back to the movie, I can attest that this movie can be enjoyed by anybody because I like it.  As I said before this is a movie that isn’t really up my alley.  It’s based on a Broadway show, there’s signing and dancing, it stars an actor I specifically don’t like, and actresses I’m not all that fond of. For all intensive purposes I should hate this movie but on the contrary I like it.  The songs aren’t bad, the choreography is very good, and the performances are great. This was a great movie and it is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan’s crazy. I totally took him to see this to get him into bed. I really don’t remember if that’s the truth of it, or if I just really wanted to see this film. I was still in high school when this came out and I was taking a film critique class, in which we watched Guys and Dolls. I thoroughly enjoyed that one so much, that when I saw this trailer on television, I just knew that I had to go and see it. I am so glad we did. I remember being blown away by how good it actually was. The music fits so well into every scene so seamlessly. Most musicals just piss me off because it is just singing and dancing and no plot, a lot like the recent abomination on television: Glee. (My good friend Jessica would kill me for saying that.)

If you aren’t that into musicals, I get that, but this one is different. This one is worth watching. I even have the soundtrack and can sing all the songs, and that is very unlike me. Check this one out. If anything, you get to see a bunch of hot ladies dancing around in hardly nothing. I also want to mention the outstanding performances of Queen Latifah, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere.

NEXT MOVIE: Chinatown (1974)