Thursday, June 30, 2005

MR. AND MRS. SMITH-Rated PG-13 for envy caused by being forced to recognize how ugly you are.

This is the story of two really good looking killers or secret agents or bounty hunters who either work for the government or some super-secret shadowy worldwide organization with offices that look like the inside of a spaceship. They're also married, so it is therefore funny.

In the opening scene, the Smiths are in separate rocket cars, bounding across the grassy hills of Africa, followed by a stampeding herd of water buffalo and three absurdly white South Africans with straight blond hair and icy blue eyes, firing shoulder-launched missiles at them from Land Rovers. Thank God for those water buffalo running interference! This scene is so full of close calls that there's only time for one humorous quip, which occurs when the two rocket cars cross the border from South Africa to the relative safety of Namibia. At the border, there is a small white hut with a sign that says "Namibia Customs and Immigration." As he blazes by the hut, Brad Pitt shouts out "Traveling as a family!" to the Namibian customs agent, who duly notes their immigration status in his notebook, just before the herd knocks the hut to the ground. Once the herd has passed a few seconds later, we see the customs agent stand up amid the demolished hut, dazed but unhurt, which indicates that it's ok to laugh at him.

Seconds later, with the Master Race in hot pursuit, Brad and Angelina go flying off the edge of an absurdly high cliff, to certain doom. Seconds later, two parachutes open and we breathe a sigh of relief. It would be a shame to see two people who are so good looking die at the hands of freaks like those icy-eyed racists from South Africa.

Back home in Los Angeles or New York, the Smiths share a glamorous penthouse apartment overlooking either the city or the ocean. Despite their narrow escape from death by South African, they squabble about such things as the fact that Brad leaves his dirty socks in the floor. She gives him a hard time about forgetting to bring milk on his way back from the secret mission, so he reluctantly agrees to go out and get it.

On his way there, of course, he gets a phone call from the President or Commandante of either a Middle Eastern or eastern European country, pleading in an unseemly girly fashion for Brad’s help right away and telling him that a private jet is actually idling right over his left shoulder in the parking lot of the Circle K where he bought the milk. Sure enough, it's there, and he's off on another adventure.

Meanwhile, Angelina is running a hot bath, which is a movie signal for potential nudity. As she removes various layers of secret agent equipment, the scene cuts away to black-hooded commandos rappelling down their building. Just before Angelina drops her robe, they crash through the bathroom door and drag her away, down the elevator and into a black Humvee, which takes her to a secret airport, used by the enemies of the people who sent the jet for Brad.

The rest of the movie is basically the two of them appearing to try really hard to kill each other and despite being the best secret agents, assassins or bounty hunters in the world, they miss all the time. This is convenient, of course, because they're married, which therefore makes it funny.

People criticize Hollywood for making movies without a point, but “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” doesn't fall into that category. It makes one very strong and clear point: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are really good looking. If they had a child, he or she would probably be magical. The unspoken sub-point to this is that you are not only not magical, you really look like crap by comparison.

Without ruining the ending, Brad and Angelina find out that one of the parties in the dispute is really evil and so they join forces, return the nuclear warhead or perhaps the historically or culturally important treasure to the proper authorities and blow the bad guys to hell, while making a wise crack along the lines of "Take it from me. You shouldn't make the Mrs. mad."

In the end, they return to their fabulous apartment (miraculously repaired from the commando raid) and the same scene as from the beginning plays out again. Brad is stretching out his legs to relax in a jacuzzi or perhaps with a martini, when Angelina reminds him that he still hasn't brought back the promised milk.

They're also married, so it is therefore funny.

On a scale from Randy Quaid to Goldie Hawn, this movie is too sexy for its shirt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, rated PG for striking terror in the hearts of men who might have to go see this movie and for excessive (meaning any) use of the word "sister" by white girls to refer to other girls with whom they don't share a mother.

I was super optimistic about this movie ahead of time, and man was I right. Four teenaged girls all go to high school together and through the whim of fate, come together as friends, even though they're all different in completely predictable ways. One is pretty, one is brainy, one is an accomplished high school tennis star and one is chubby but not so chubby you wouldn't want to look at her for 90 minutes. Movie chubby. You know what I mean.

High school, or perhaps one year of high school or perhaps college, comes to an end and the girls realize they have to go their separate ways. They decide to celebrate this passing in the traditional American way, by buying one pair of pants which they will all share, despite the obvious hilarity caused by the presence of the chubby one in this pants-sharing situation. They briefly consider a pair of maternity pants but the pretty one is grossed out.

Shortly, the girls head off to their respective destinations: the pretty one goes off to modeling camp, where after her Bulimia classes, the pants fall down and she mails them to the brainy one. The brainy one is doing a summer internship, or has perhaps taken a job involving a white lab coat, at Genius State University. Fortunately, the white lab coat covers the pants just fine. Alas, the square old dean of students at Genius U. does a "pants sweep" through the dorm one night and the brainy one saves them by balling them up and putting them down the back of her shirt. No one ever looks at your back during pants sweeps. The next day, she mails them to tennis player, who is, ironically, working for an air conditioner installer that summer. Mostly, she just wears the pants to work, where they are exposed to various elements with no comedic properties. This is the most realistic, but least interesting part of the movie. She's actually a pretty decent apprentice electrician, so good on her!

For a while, the pants are forgotten, but then the chubby one steals them from a dryer in the laundromat frequented by the tennis girl completely by coincidence. At this point, she wears them dutifully for the rest of her summer/year/tragically pointless life. Come to think of it, this part of the movie was kinda uneventful too.

In the end, they all get back together to recount their adventures, but they don't invite the chubby one, because she's a stinkin' thief. If you ask me, this is just a set up for a sequel, because you never do see what happens to the pants in the end.

If you're a woman or girl or gay man and want to cause your husband/boyfriend/ more straight-acting partner's face to turn to dust with misery and boredom, I highly recommend this movie.

On a scale of Gilbert Gottfried on the low end and Richard Simmons on the high end, this movie is about as annoying as Carrottop.
GEORGE A. ROMERO'S LAND OF THE DEAD, rated R. That means gore and nudity and that I'll eventually have to see it.

Am I only one who is surprised that George Romero is still alive? He invented the zombie category back when zombie movies were first being made.

I'm a big fan. I love zombie movies. Just ask anyone who knows me. I even love ones I haven't seen (yet). The roots of my affection stem from two facts: Julia Roberts has never appeared in a zombie movie. And Pretty Woman was originally titled $3000, the amount of money it cost to buy her and what most actors are really worth.

Big name actors are getting paid so much nowadays that it's almost impossible for a studio to make any money. The big exception is with low-budget horror movies like this one. All you need are dark streets, cemeteries and/or shopping mall sets, hundreds of extras who can walk with their arms out like mummies or flopping around like they're paralyzed, a couple guys with chainsaws/bats/fire pokers, and a hot chick (who's not Julia Roberts). Mix well, and you have a sure thing that'll make a couple bucks without any big "stars."

In George A. Romero's latest movie, the only star is the script. Mankind is threatened by zombies who are coming back from the dead. A bunch of mismatched comrades including a hot chick barricade themselves in an ammo shop, a mall with an ammo shop, or a fort with an ammo depot. This unlikely band of man's last hope kills a lot of zombies, but not before the zombies kill the hot chick while peeing, making love, or both. Some other stuff happens and in the end the small number of brave souls left think they're safe...until another zombie pops up! Credits roll and you get up and leave your soda cup behind for some high school kid to clean up.

Bottom line: I'll love it.

On a scale of "Pretty Woman" on the low end and "Dawn of the Dead" on the high end, I give this movie $9.00 plus $3.50 for a soda.

HERBIE: FULLY LOADED, rated G for trademark Disney cornball emotion and Lindsay Lohan's family-friendly wardrobe.

I haven't seen this movie and neither have you, but we don't really need to, do we? At the beginning of the film we learn that Lindsay, although startlingly beautiful with a killer body, adorably hip (yet family friendly) clothes, and a perky woefully misunderstood and unpopular. She tries--gosh how she tries--but somehow people just don't seem to "get" her.

It doesn't help that her mother is dead/living in another state/a selfish career woman who wears $800 pastel suits and constantly admonishes Lindsay to comb her hair, and that her father is dead/living in another state/sweetly bumbling yet pitifully unaware of the heart-wrenching problems Lindsay faces.

If only she could find a way to be show the world what she's got...and to win love from a handsome yet utterly un-sexual boy with soulful eyes.

Maybe an anthropomorphic car could help. Enter Herbie, whom you might remember from the old Love Bug film, although I never saw it so I can't connect with your nostalgia. Sorry. Anyway, Herbie is a little car with a lot of personality, and naturally he and Lindsay hit it off and are soon defending each other like the staunchest of friends.

Hilarity ensues when Herbie manages to embarrass Lindsay's rivals, which almost certainly include at least one Mean Girl with combed hair and glossy lips. Sweet cornball emotion ensues when Herbie manages to embarrass yet thrill Lindsay by thrusting her together with the handsome yet utterly un-sexual boy with soulful eyes whom Lindsay loves loves loves...if only he could possibly be attracted to her and love her back?

At the pinnacle of the film Lindsay and Herbie enter a NASCAR race to face a challenge from Matt Dillon, the aging-but-still-hunky racing champion stud. Can a little VW bug with peculiarly expressive headlights match up against Matt's smokin' hot rod? Can plucky Lindsay with her artfully unkempt red hair possibly have a chance against Matt's hunky embodiment of male domination?

I don't want to spoil the ending for you. Go on and pay $9.50 to see how it all turns out.

On a scale of "Freaky Friday" starring Lindsay Lohan on the low end and "Freaky Friday" starring Jodie Foster on the high end, I rate this movie in the early 1990s.
MADAGASCAR, rated PG for mediocrity and some scenes that contain animals rapping.

Ok, I haven't seen this one, but I'll assume that what happens is that sassy-talking animals get themselves into a sticky situation wherein somebody's farm or jungle resort or school for the blind is going to be bought by an evil corporation, which is also probably owned by animals, but mean ones.

I don't want to give away the plot, but the good animals rally at the end just when things look bleakest, throw a bake sale or win a road rally and earn just exactly enough money to pay the taxes and keep the school for the blind going. Then the animals who are voiced by celebrities you've heard of (pretty slim pickins in this case...Cedric the Entertainer and Andy Richter) become famous and are on the cover of Newspig or Swine.

This movie is awful, but mostly because it doesn't have the decency to be truly, truly bad. It's like most of the food in your refrigerator: not good enough to eat, but not rotten enough to throw away, and that really ticks me off. It doesn't even provide you with ironical so-bad-it's-funny moments.

It's basically Dreamworks' way of calling you a dumbass.

On a scale of "Weekend at Bernie's" on the low end and "The Godfather" on the high end, I give this movie a "Madagascar."