Posts Tagged ‘paul rudd.’

Ant Man

In 1989, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) created a formula for something called the Pym Particle that can rearrange the spacing between atoms.  The resulting humans can be the size of an ant, but retain the strength of a human.  Hank has trained a mentor, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) but Darren seems too willing to use Hank’s invention to create chaos, and he’s too willing to sell Hank’s invention to the highest bidder, even if those bidders are of ill repute.

Twenty-six years later, Cross has invented a suit, which he calls a yellowjacket suit, and he’s working on a shrinking ray with decidedly mixed results.  Hank still doesn’t want to share the secret of his formula and his suit with Cross, even though Cross is involved with Hank’s daughter, Hope. (Evangeline Lilly)   Hank has someone in mind for the suit, a divorced ex-con, who skims from the rich and gives to the poor, named Scott Lang. (Paul Rudd) Scott can’t even hold down a job at the Baskin Robbins ice cream store, so when his friend Luis (Michael Pena) tells Scott that there is an old safe in a mansion, whose owner is away, Scott takes a chance and breaks into the safe, and finds a suit and Hank’s formula.  Will he help Hank break into Cross’ lab and steal the Yellowjacket suit before Cross perfects his formula?

I like this movie, primarily because it’s so funny.  I couldn’t stop laughing at the jokes in this movie.  Non-stop wall to wall jokes.  The story is quite a departure from the average superhero saga, the superhero excels here because he is small, not because he’s bigger, or stronger or faster than anyone.  The superhero excels because he learns to work with three species of ants, because the species are mentioned by name, it might get kids interested in entomology, but the ant colony is really a metaphor for working together with others to get things done, and sure enough Scott works together with his friends to try to bring Hank’s plan to fruition.  The writers do a nice job of working in some of the Marvel Universe characters.  There’s a lot of unexpected dramatic tension between Hank and his daughter, and Hank and his mentor.

This is not a perfect movie, the writers underutilized Hope, she really could have been a superhero, but she is denied for sappy sentimental reasons, and because comic book nerds’ heads would explode if the movie strayed from the source material.  The relationship between Scott and his daughter is shamelessly manipulative, and there is way too much product placement. But compared to last year’s Marvel blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, this is Shakespeare.

The acting is superb, Paul  Rudd is relentlessly funny, charming and sweet, he really seems like a nice guy who really wants to redeem himself to his daughter. Michael Douglas hits all the right notes in his performance, he can be a tough guy, and a sensitive guy, a scientist and a brawler, and he handles the dramatic scenes with ease.  Evangeline Lilly was totally believable as the martial arts trained tough girl, just trying to win the approval of her dad,  Corey Stoll of House of Cards is demented evil personified, with a glint in his eye.  Michael Pena, David Dastmalgian, and rapper TI, are the comedy relief, and boy do they deliver.

The direction keeps things zipping along, with excellent pacing, including several really interesting fight scenes.  It’s not hard to coax great performances from the likes of Michael Douglas. But the director also gets good performances from Michael Pena and rapper TI, and a very good performance from Abby Ryder  Fortson.  He has not made any movies of note thus far, minor comedies like Yes Man, and The Break Up.

Ant-Man:  Success may lead to an Ant-hology

anchorman 2

It is the 1980’s, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone  (Christina Applegate) are now married, and co-anchoring the news in New York.  Legendary new anchor (Mack Tannen) is retiring and Ron thinks he’s going to be chosen to succeed him, but Mack chooses Veronica.  Ron’s oversized ego is shattered.  He ends up at Seaworld, introducing the marine acts.  He meets Freddy Shapp  (Dylan Baker) who has an idea to start a 24-hour news channel with airline magnate, Kench Allenby.  (Josh Lawson) Ron reunites the news team that rocketed him to fame in San Diego.  Sportcaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) is selling fried bats as fried chicken.  Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) is a famous cat photographer,and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) is presumed dead, but shows up at his own funeral.  Ron’s given the graveyard shift, but he has an idea that may revolutionize news, but does it work?

I wanted to love this movie, but a lot of this movie is a re-hash of the first movie.  Ron is an egomaniac, due for a comeuppance, and he gets several. Brick Tamland is the same incredibly dumb character he played in the first movie.  Champ Kind is now an offensive racist. The satire of CNN, and Ted Turner is obvious.  The relationship between Ron and his black female boss mirrors that of Ron and Victoria in the first movie, with Ron embarrassing himself in front of her family.  The problem is very few of the jokes work, and many of them are downright cringeworthy. Ron’s scenes with his son, and new boss just didn’t work.  On top of all that the movie is way too long, one set of scenes had Ron’s son raising a shark as a pet, if that was a Free Willy satire, it didn’t work.  Those scenes should have been removed. The whole movie takes too long to develop and the payoff isn’t worth it.

Will Ferrell plays the same officious boor that he played in the first movie, it was tolerable in the first movie, it is not in this movie. Ferrell has made a career out of playing unapologetic jerks, and it’s wearing thin. Christina Applegate has less to do, and is therefore less funny.  Steve Carell has gone from  one of my favorite comedic actors, to being one of  the most annoying actors in the movies,  I don’t know what Greg Kinnear is doing in this movie, but whatever it is, it’s not funny.  Paul  Rudd is the only person who redeems himself in this movie, and he doesn’t have nearly enough funny lines. There are a bunch of famous cameos in one of the final scenes, but the cameo scene, soon dissolves into unfunny excess.

There is nothing of note about the direction, except for a few wasted special effects and a plethora of scenes that should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

This is yet another sequel that never should have been made.

Anchorman.  Weighed down by too many unfunny jokes.

Movie Review: Admission (2013)

Posted: January 25, 2014 in Comedy, Drama
Tags: ,

admission

Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is an admissions officer at Princeton.  Princeton has just slipped to number two in the best colleges in America.  The Dean of Princeton, Clarence (Wallace Shawn) wants more and better students to go to Princeton.   A high school teacher from a small secluded high school named John Pressman (Paul  Rudd) has a high-schooler named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) that he’d like to introduce to Portia.  Jeremiah may not have the best grades or SAT’s, but he did pass eight advanced placement exams without taking any advanced placement class.  There might be another mitigating factor that might help Jeremiah get into Princeton.  Portia is not having the best of times since meeting Jeremiah, her boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen) has just impregnated a classics professor named Helen (Sonia Walger) and left Portia. Is Portia in the mood to be charitable to Jeremiah?

There are a couple of problems with Admission.  The first problem is Tina Fey is playing the same loveable loser character that she plays on 30 Rock.  The second problem is that she doesn’t get a chance to do too much comedy.  She is weighed down with too much drama. And what we have ladies and gentlemen is a dramedy, a genre that has never worked since the beginning of time.  The comedy is drowned out by her breakup, issues involving her mother, and even weightier issues than that.  Rudd is stuck playing a globe-trotting do-gooder with an adopted son.   Add to the drama a poor attempt at romance between Rudd and Fey. The women are too strident, both the women in Jeremiah’s high school and Portia’s mother.  Like feminists on steroids.  The ending is just plain disappointing.  And the movie goes on 10 minutes after it should have ended.

The acting is ok, Fey tries mightily to wade through all the melodrama, but she just can’t do it.  Part of the problem with the script is that Fey did not write it.  30 Rock had an incisive, satirical edge that had clear targets and always hit those dead on. I do not know what this movie was trying to say.  Paul Rudd is a good comedic actor, given the right script.  This is not the right script.  Lilly Tomlin, who plays Fey’s mother, has always been a bit too abrasive for tv and movies, that doesn’t change here.

I don’t know who to blame for the writing, the screenwriters, or the author of the book the screenplay was based on.  I couldn’t imagine who would read this book, and then who would make this book into a movie.  Finally, the movie is too long, comedies should never be over 90 minutes

Admission.  Denied.

perks-wallflower

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy, bookish, high-school freshman.  He is so shy that he doesn’t say a word in his first day of English class.  Charlie is so shy that his English teacher, Mr. Anderson, (Paul Rudd) befriends him.  Charlie finds another friend in high school senior, Patrick (Ezra Miller) in shop class.  Patrick introduces Charlie to his half-sister, Sam, (Emma Watson) at a football game.  Charlie immediately falls in love with Sam, even though Sam is in love with Craig (Reece Thompson) who is in college.  At a party, Charlie eats funny brownies and makes more friends.  Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) is a bossy girl, who wants Charlie to go to a Sadie Hawkins day dance with her.  Charlie and Mary Elizabeth go out for two weeks, but then Charlie kisses Sam during a game of truth or dare, and that one act puts their group of friends in danger.  But then Charlie gets into a fight with Brad (Johnny Simmons) and his bully friends, they are bullying Patrick. During the fight Charlie blacks out.  When he wakes up, the bullies are knocked out, and Charlie is still standing.  Why is a football player and his goons bullying Patrick? Why is Charlie blacking out?

One word for this movie is overwrought.  A lot of the experiences in this movie don’t exactly ring true to the high school experience I remember.  First Charlie is so shy, he can barely talk, but soon he has a bunch of high school senior friends, albeit outcast friends.  Seniors never hang out with freshman, that just doesn’t happen, seniors don’t have intense feelings for freshmen, no matter how many funny brownies they eat.  Everything in this movie is so intense and condensed that 4 years’ worth of angst packed into one year.  But then all of a sudden, the movie redeems itself with a reveal, I won’t say what it is, but it ties the movie together nicely.  The romance between Charlie and Sam is still unrealistic, but the story makes more sense and it’s grounded in something besides the everyday high school angst.  There’s a lot of drug use portrayed in this film, not the usual pot smoking, but there’s a scene where Charlie takes LSD, and so I don’t think tweens should watch it even though the movie is rated PG 13 older teens can watch it, and talk about it with your parents or an older sibling, because there are a lot of issues in this movie, and you will want to discuss these issues with someone older, if you are a teen.  I don’t necessarily agree with their point of view on peer pressure and drugs, but I will leave that to you, gentle reader of this blog.

The acting is quite good.  Emma Watson struggles a bit with her American accent, but it holds up well and she gives a good, heartfelt performance.  The real stars are the supporting cast.  Logan Lerman plays Charlie with a sincerity and earnestness that is rare in these coming of age films.  Ezra Miller is wonderful as Patrick, playing the serious and comedic scenes with equal aplomb.  Mae Whitman is also very good as Mary Elizabeth, she handles the complexity of her role well. And it’s nice to see Paul Rudd in a serious, contemplative, role, he acquits himself quite nicely.  It’s a refreshing change from his comedic roles. The actors that play the teens look a lot older than teens, but that’s a minor detail.

It’s a long movie, an hour and 45 minutes, but it’s paced well, and there’s a good story to be told, so watch it.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower:  Plant yourself in a chair and watch it.