Date Night, Best Movie of 2010 Thus Far


DATE NIGHT (B+)


The dynamic duo of Tina Fey and Steve Carell moonlight as the lead characters in Date Night, the driving force to the overall success of the film, and the main appeal of this comedy. These two are an absolutely hilarious pair, but also provide the story some depth in the portrayal of their characters. Fans of either of these actors will probably be pleased, because Date Night is a must see.


The movie follows an aging married couple, Phil and Claire Foster, who routinely go out on dates, but dates that are always the same. The dates turn out to be nothing but habit as opposed to a night of fun and enjoying each others company. After seeing their friend's seemingly normal and happy marriage go sour, the Fosters fear they may be headed down the same path.


To shake things up on date night the two dress fancy and head into New York City to go to dinner at a trendy and expensive restaurant. Upon arrival at a thriving seafood restaurant the Fosters discover there are no tables available, for months. In a snap decision, Phil pretends to be a party waiting for their table and the two trick their way into a coveted spot in the dining area.

With the Fosters sitting at a table that does not belong to them it creates the old mistaken identity problem, but in the worst way. Two tough looking characters (Common, Jimmi Simpson) come to the table demanding an item of value they think the Fosters possess.


From here, a kaleidoscope of problems transpire introducing a star studded cast of actors like: Mark Wahlberg, William Fictner, Ray Liotta, Mila Kunis, James Franco, Taraji P. Henson, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, and even Will i Am. The sheer depth of the cast is pretty impressive.


The filmmakers do a fine job of establishing the nature of this project. The characters, the conflict, the mostly un-serious tone, and the progression to solve the dilemma are all well defined. At times Date Night seems to have difficultly walking the fine line of combining comedy and serious drama; but the screenwriter Josh Klausner created a strong comedic tone early helping the movie dabble in both genres.


The script evolves the story swiftly and with hilarity. Fey and Carell are the main piece of this jovial energy, but the conversation in the film is full of great comedic dialogue. I laughed hysterically more than a few times in this film which is more than I have from a comedy in awhile.

Aside from all the burst out laughter, there were plenty of other well placed comedic elements causing me to be ripe with a smile or a small chuckle. Date Night featured a lot of creeping jokes. By this I mean the full humor of the joke doesn't hit you til your brain processes the information into hilarity.


Overall, Date Night is a perfect escape from reality into the comical world ruled by Tina Fey and Steve Carell. This movie is a perfect example of what it means to be entertained for an hour and a half. It is a ridiculous movie that allows the viewer to sit back, take in the simplistic narrative, and enjoy the funny situations these two get themselves in.


Not all will like this movie (three out of us four who saw it loved it), but if taken for what it is, Date Night can be enjoyed by all fans of Fey and Carell. The great blending of comedy with a serious predicament makes this well executed combination very satisfying if you don't over-think it, and just let yourself enjoy it.


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MOVIE NEWS


There have been new developments on some of the news I have reported in recent months. Here are some quick tidbits on how the pre-production of the reboot of Spider-Man and Mission: Impossible 4 have evolved.


First up, is the highly controversial reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. Most of you know by know that (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb is set to take the reigns of the revamped Spidey franchise. Many think his successful work on the 2009 indie film will not translate when working on an action packed super hero movie like this.


In my opinion, a talented filmmaker (which Webb definitely is) can translate their talents into almost any genre if they collaborate well with the right creative teams. Someone who cares about the superhero franchise and wants to create a good adaptation of a series can make most die hard fans happy. That is, barring that Sony doesn't stand around interfering like Spider-Man 3 and the pre-production for the Raimi-directed fourth installment.


In the reboot, Peter Parker will be in high school, so he obviously needs to be played by a young actor. Early reports have been that Sony and Webb have been looking into Logan Lerman to play the nerdy high school genius. Many hardcore Spidey fans were not pleased with this choice.

However, a report has recently surfaced that Sony is not even considering Lerman for the part at all. Sony said 100% Lerman will not play the part of Parker and is not even on the list of candidates being considered. I don't really think you can be more definitive than that, so Lerman is definitely out.

The new gossip is that Josh Hutcherson could love Mary Jane. No, I don't mean he is taking bong rips with Michael Phelps; he has been rumored to play the role of Peter Parker. Hutcherson is an actor I actually respect and think could play the role well. Hutcherson has starred in Journey to the Center of the Earth, Bridge to Terabithia, and many more notable projects.


Word on the street is that Hutch (can I call ya Hutch?) has been hitting the weights to beef up. This is just speculation, but the 3D reboot needs a Peter Parker soon; the production is set to begin later this summer. A July 3rd, 2012 release date has been announced by Sony.


You also may have noticed, I said 3D reboot. Yaaaaaay. Notice the enthusiasm? The film is most likely to be shot with 3D cameras because the bad reputation and poor success the post production conversion process has rendered. I personally do not care for 3D for the most part because it is a scam for three more of my dollars.


Very quickly, I wanted to discuss a possible break on who will be directing Mission Impossible: 4 because J.J. Abrams definitely will not be filling the director chair. Two time Academy Award winner Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) is seriously negotiating with Paramount to direct this film; a vacancy needing to be filled ASAP with production slated to begin this summer. The movie is set to be released May 27th, 2011. So, in other words, Mission: Impossible needs a director like the Minnesota Vikings need Brett Favre next season.


Notice, the movies from Bird's repertoire are all animated. He needs some live action directing experience. He has been working to get his pet project, 1906, financing from Warner Brothers. The movie is about the destruction of San Fransisco by a catastrophic earthquake in the year 1906. This idea sounds like it could be a dynamic picture, but the studios are reluctant to give a rumored $200 million budget to a director with no live action experience. Enter, Mission: Impossible 4.


As more develops, I will be bringing it to you. Stay tuned.


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AN FUTURE NBA STAR?

The Chicago Tribune recently did a video report on Jaylin Fleming, a fifth grade basketball player who is considered to be the best player for his age in America.


Fleming does not only have the skill necessary for success in basketball, but the work ethic to help elevate his game to the level of being considered among the best young basketball players in the nation.


Being only a hair over five feet tall and being so far away from the ten foot rim Fleming has to work hard on his dribbling skills and quickness with the ball.


The young Chicago star player recently got to meet one of his idols, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Fleming's game has been compared to the second year NBA star, and even more so now that the two got a chance to shoot around together.


The ten year old has been mentored and trained by his father John Fleming. "He's worked hard," said Fleming. "A lot of people are talented, but they don't cultivate their gifts."

According to his father, Fleming not only works hard on the basketball court, but most importantly works hard in the classroom. Fleming is kept humble because his parents have taught him basketball is not the most important things in life, but his faith and family are.


"The only thing that is in my mind, is keep loving God and your family," said Fleming. "Keep playing basketball, but don't let the game use you."


Fleming no doubt has the talent and the work ethic to play basketball on elite levels as he grows up. Will this young hoop star develop into an professional player some day?


"Play your game all the time," said Fleming. "And play 110 percent."


Link to the Chicago Tribune video.

A WORTHWHILE RENTAL

The Great Buck Howard is a movie I am positive many of you have not seen. How could I know this? Well, the total worldwide box office take for this film was less than a million dollars at $790,195. It only played in 55 theaters.

Your local movie store or Netflix will have a copy of this movie I believe you need to see.

Chances are most of you missed your chance to see it on the big screen. Despite being accepted and first shown at the Sundance Film Festival and getting positive critic reviews (72% approval on RottenTomatoes), this film's run in theaters was short.
This film is based on the true life of The Amazing Kreskin.

The Great Buck Howard stars the, well, great John Malkovich. He plays a fading performer who calls himself a "mentalist." He is, in most regards a magician/entertainer. In the movie Buck emphasizes he is not a gimmicky magician, but a "mentalist."

The story is told through the perspective of Troy played by Colin Hanks. Troy drops out of law school without his father's knowledge to pursue a career as a writer. Unable to keep up with his bills because of his new career choice, Troy is forced to take up the job of assistant to the maniacal and difficult to please Buck Howard.

Working for the mentalist, Troy discovers that he rather enjoys the pressing job of pleasing Howard. He is never short of impressed by the act Howard puts forth on stage. Troy even helps the fading star pick up some national recognition again.

He achieves this with the help of a publicist named Valerie played by a woman I truly love, Emily Blunt. Together they work to get Buck back in the spotlight which they achieve to some degree.

It is unfortunate this movie has not been seen by mass audiences because John Malkovich is magnificent in his portrayal of this quirky character. I think it is one of his best roles though none could top Teddy KGB in Rounders.

Even with him not being the main character in this story, the movie was made by his performance. Without Malkovich magnificently playing this role the other characters would have little to no conflict to make this story thrive.

To promote his act, Howard appears on many talk shows like: Conan O'Brien, Regis Philbin, and Jon Stewart. Also making cameos are: Jay Leno, Tom Arnold, Martha Stewart, Kelly Ripa, George Takei, and David Blaine....whew (wipes brow of sweat).

With all these working components, it is almost laughable to think this movie had such a small amount of commercial success. Hopefully, my recommendation to see The Great Buck Howard will motivate many of you to give this great movie a chance. The writing, the cast and their acting, and the overall execution of this project should put this on any movie lovers must-see list. If you do not like this film, check for a pulse, you may be dead.

THE THIRD DIMENSION SCAM


A hot topic of discussion on the film blogging world is Hollywood's new ploy to steal three dollars from audiences via the third dimension. Since Avatar, many studios are pushing for movies to be released in 3D for more lucrative promotion opportunities and the extra profit. Films that were not shot in 3D, like the April 2nd release Clash of the Titans, have been converted into 3D by post production.


Early perception of the post production conversion to 3D for Clash of the Titans is not great as you can read from SlashFilm's Peter Sciretta. He was able to view 7-10 minutes of the film recently. He discusses an unnatural, odd, paperboard cutout-feel.

That is not what I like to hear when paying the extra price for a movie that's not a spectacle like Avatar's multi-year production of 3D (compared to Clash of the Titans record three month transformation).


Before Avatar, Transformers Director Michael Bay said he thought "3D was a gimmick." Well, after Cameron's masterpiece, Bay showed signs on budging on Paramount's push to create a 3D Transformers. Now, Mike Fleming of Deadline New York reports that the director is not likely to shoot his third robot bashing movie with the new Hollywood craze.


Bay has many good reasons for not wanting to shoot in 3D. The cameras are "too big and cumbersome for the fast paced action scenes he shoots." The post production conversion process does not seem a likely option as Bay has sent footage from the previous Transformers films to be converted. He wanted to get a feel for how third film would translate on screen from this method. It appears so far that Bay agrees with Peter Sciretta's perception of the gimmicky looking 3D. Here are Bay's full thoughts on the issue.

Now, leaning towards a negative casting note, the atrocious acting of Tyrese Gibson will indeed be featured in Transformers 3. I was hoping more than anything Tyrese would not make the cut because his acting is like watching Ray Charles try and hit baseballs. It never works.


Also returning for a third go-round will be Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf and Optimus Prime. Despite contract disputes, Paramount was able to get the 40-ton Transformer to reprise his role as the Autobot leader.

Bay said the third installment of the franchise would be in theaters in 2012.

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HOLLYWOOD TRICKS

To start off, you must understand that I Clash of the Titans in 3D, which absolutely none of you should do (thankfully my showing was free). DO NOT GO SEE CLASH OF THE TITANS IN 3D! Warner Brothers does not deserve your hard earned extra three dollars. As the audience, you have a voice in saying that pumping out atrocious looking 3D like this will not stand. The public should not have to pay the same price for the amazing work in Avatar and this junk 3D.


I know this seems harsh, but this is coming from an all encompassing standpoint for what I saw, which was the 3D version. This movie would have played out better had I not paid the extra three dollars.

As I stated in my latest Transformers article, Clash of the Titans was not made for 3D screenings like the glory of Avatar. It was converted into 3D by some lame post production process that does not create an immersing experience, but a distracting one. Stop trying to steal three dollars from us Hollywood; because if you continue to churn out 3D crap like this, no one will see your movies in the third dimension.

I was so agitated with grainy sub par 3D, I had to pull the glasses off my eyes several times during the movie due to the deplorable graphics giving me a headache (not to mention the extremely loud non stop action). The fact that the executives from this production approved the final cut of the 3D version boggles my mind. They must have felt that investing the money in the conversion and not using the 3D would have been too much of a waste.


Clash of the Titans is a remake of the same titled 1981 film. The story surrounds Perseus, half man, half god. Perseus decides to take a stand against the gods when they feel slighted by humanity and decide to reign terror down on them. I feel no more need to divulge plot details.


One thing I absolutely loathe in movies is bad writing. Especially bad writing that does nothing but bridge one action scene to another. Clash of the Titans was full of this type of unintelligent writing. It is almost like the amateur writers thought they could substitute plot and character development for more and more mindless action hoping to woo the audience into adoration for the characters and interest in the plot.


The story is crammed full of one battle after another against new creatures like a pack of scorpions, a man given demonic powers by Hades, Medusa, the Kraken, or little harpies flying about causing dismay. Some of the action in this movie was really good; some of the action was terrible. The standoff between the three witches of fate is an example of the terrible. Apparently, the audience was supposed to take in the action subconsciously in this scene. The images were edited together with such lightning fast pace I literally had no idea what was going on until the action stopped.


The way the stand off with the over-sized scorpions finishes is so moronic I could not stop from shaking my head. The following scorpion scene, has to be one of the dumbest pieces in cinematic history. From then on, I knew I would have a hard time enjoying the rest of this movie.

After battles following battles, little to no dramatic tension, it caused me to become so bored I was desiring the credits like Paris Hilton desires attention. Then, the whole movie builds up to Perseus preventing Hades from releasing the Kraken on the seaside city Argos and killing all its inhabitants including the ravishing Princess Andromeda. Never in my life have I seen a more anti-climatic end to a movie. The beast takes forever to wake up and seems like an impossible foe, and then it is just over. Like I said earlier, this movie has almost no drama or tension filled moments.


Overall, Clash of the Titans would definitely be a much better movie if you don't spend the extra money and just see the standard 2D version. The 3D made me detest the content in this movie more, even though it was no worse than average. The basic story is interesting, the well imagined creatures are menacing and deplorable, and the cast has firepower (but uncharacteristically they don't deliver). Unfortunately, the screenwriters are hacks. They spend almost no time developing the characters, no time actually trying to tell the story, and all their time devising a new opportunity for some action. Oh yea, the 3D makes BattleField Earth look awesome.


If you are a fan of the earlier mentioned cast or mindless action, you may actually enjoy Clash of the Titans. However, any movie-goer looking for a real cinematic experience will not get it here. If you go, do not see it in 3D or you will be cheated out of three dollars!


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RON PAUL LEADS THE CHARGE

Texas Republican Senator Ron Paul shook up the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this past Saturday with his controversial speech.

"The conservatives and the liberals, they both like to spend," said Paul. "Conservatives spend money on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases."

The speech criticizing even conservatives was met with a mixture of applause and boos. Much of Paul's platform is based around his discontent for America's foreign policies.

Paul criticized conservatives in his speech calling them hypocritical for supporting a return to constitutional values while still supporting foreign conflicts.

"Don't you think it's rather conservative to say, Oh it's good to follow the Constitution. Oh, except for war. Let the President go to war anytime they want," said Paul. "We can do better with peace than with war."

Paul also discussed one of the country's more prominent topics of political discussion, economics.

"The reason why the American people have awoken ... is because the country is broke and the people in Washington won't admit it," Paul said.

Paul is a possible presidential candidate for the 2012 presidential elections. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February Paul came out with the most support for the 2012 presidential bid in a straw poll gaining 31 percent of the vote.

"It's been 60 years since we went to war in Korea," said Paul. "Why do we have to have troops there?"

Speeches like this dividing conservatives could make for an interesting lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

Source: Raw Story

SO CLOSE

The Gophers ended their historic run Sunday by losing by 29 points to rival Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship this Sunday. The Gophers were fresh off pounding a much more talented Purdue Saturday night, but couldn't carry the energy and success over into today's game.

With this win Gophers sealed themselves a spot in the NCAA March Madness tournament. They play Xaiver in the first round of the tournament.

I AM INTRIGUIED

The second trailer for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has just hit the web, and I must say that this trailer has me anticipating the film's May 28th release. I was skeptical after seeing the first trailer that featured little reference to a plot and nothing but overblown typical Bruckheimer action sequences. But this new trailer has dialogue that caught my attention, some reference to appealing story arcs, and was also comical.

The biggest reason I have been so cynical towards this movie is because of Jake Gyllenhaal's skin color. He is not Persian, or even Middle Eastern for that matter; but is playing the role of a Persian Prince. The Caucasian character choice is obviously based solely on Gyllenhaal's marketability compared to that of a no name actor that fits the dark skinned profile.

I can't even think of any prominent Middle Eastern actors, or actors that even look from that part of the world. Naveen Andrews comes to mind who plays Sayid Jarrah on the hit (& awesome) show LOST. Dev Patel hit the scene last year in Slumdog Millionaire, but he hardly looks like an action hero (despite actually holding a black belt in Tae Kwon Do). You could also make a case for the star of the Harold and Kumar films, Kal Penn. But that brings me back to the not looking like an action hero point. So with those things considered, Gyllenhaal looks like the best choice despite my early annoyance with the casting decision.

The trailer can be seen here.

If one thing is certain, it's that I will be at a midnight showing checking this movie out to see if it is for real like the first Pirates of the Caribbean or a computer generated piece of junk like the third.

Next I wanted to promote another movie trailer new to the internet called The Joneses. It has been awhile since I have seen David Duchovny or Demi Moore in a movie, and they are the stars in this flick. The concept for the film hooked my attention with the plot revolving around a group of elite sales people posing as a family living the perfect life in order to appeal to the consumer market, i.e. the people they associate with. They pretend as a "family" to buy and enjoy the latest consumer goods, but in reality they are just acting like real life commercials to try and increase product sales.

The trailer can be see here.

I am relieved to see Demi Moore still has some movie roles left in her and isn't resigned to dealing with Ashton Kutcher's annoying jokes all day. Demi has to be the greatest looking 47 year old on this planet, and I eagerly anticipate the April 16th release of The Joneses for that very reason and Moore.... errr I mean more. Damn I'm good.

TIME WASTED: 85 MINUTES

The best thing that comes to my mind when beginning a review of Saint John of Las Vegas is how thankful I am that I was able to see a free promotional screening as opposed to spending money to see this far below average film. For what I consider a baffling decision, I cannot for any reason come to a good conclusion why any production company would green light this script, employ people to make this movie, and then distribute it after actually seeing it.

The film stars Steve Buscemi as John, an uninteresting insurance company employee struggling in the rut that is his life. He gets a promotion to work on the road investigating suspected fraudulent claims from his company's policy holders. His partner in his task is another un-intriguing but strange character named Virgil played by Romany Malco (Conrad from Weeds). The two hit the road together to investigate a suspected fraudulent customer claim just outside of Vegas. This is not good for John as he has a slight (understatement) gambling problem.

What am I supposed to be taking away from this film?!?! It's not really funny. The characters are not redeemable and are hardly interesting. It has little to no consistency. And what is the theme? Is it the gambling? Is it working through a crappy job? Is it two complete different personalities working together? Is it Buscemi and Silverman's odd relationship? The only thing I took from this movie is that the 85 minutes I wasted of my life watching it can never be replaced.

Overall, Saint John of Las Vegas was: not funny, not interesting, had almost no direction to the story, and had two or three redeemable or memorable parts the whole movie. At the premiere, there was scattered laughter early, but as the movie progressed less and less chuckles let lose from the audience. One guy laughed almost hysterically the whole time, but there is always one moron who likes garbage like this.

In most cases none of you will ever come across this movie. But if you do, heed this notion that it will be a waste of your time. Even Buscemi fans will be disappointed. The 14% approval rating on RottenTomatoes complimented with my distaste should be enough for you to stay far away. The film is only showing at the theater two blocks from my house, Carmike Cinemas in Oakdale. Save yourself an admission fee and don't see this one.