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Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Date Night" makes for a nice break from the kids.

Date Night
review by Brent Sweeting

3 out of 4 stars

Think back...Remember when you first started dating and everything was new and fresh and exciting? When time alone together was anytime you weren't at work, and not just a quick break between chores and taking care of the kids? Seem like a distant memory? How about this....Remember when you were lying in bed last Saturday and your kid was so excited to see you, that they woke you up by jumping in the air and landing right on your stomach? Remember thinking to yourself, "Are men actually born missing the part of their brain that reminds them to close drawers and cabinets after they finish using them?!?" "Date Night" is all about capturing these little moments that only mean something to the people who have experienced them. Namely folks married with children.

Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Steve Carell (The 40 Year Old Virgin) are Phil and Claire Foster. Two working parents whose weekly date night has started to feel like one more chore to fit in before going to bed. The pending divorce of a couple they are friends with stirs up doubts and some hard truths about how stale their lives have become. They decide to spice things up a bit and go out for a real night on the town. The night's first stop is a swanky restaurant that books weeks in advance. Phil pretends they are "The Tripplehorns" to steal a reservation from a couple that hasn't shown up. Phil of course has no idea that couple was stealing from a mob boss that had never seen their faces and only knew their last name? I'm sure you can see where this is going.....

"Date Night" is a wild ride that takes Phil and Claire Foster through a night they will never forget...As much as they might like to. Along the adventurous trail of mishap after mishap, "Date Night" runs through a gauntlet of cameos and surprising supporting cast. There is Mark Wahlberg (by the way, is it still acceptable to call him Marky Mark?) as the ex-client of Claire's who does government black ops and can't seem to find a single shirt to wear at any point in the movie. James Franco (Spider-Man) and Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) are the real "Tripplehorns" that live like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde always ready to drop their seedy life and run at a moments notice (after vigorous making-out of course). Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live) and Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island) are the Foster's friends that have decided to split up. Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) is the local mob boss, and William Fichtner (The Dark Knight Returns) is outstanding as the ambitious district attorney.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey are both funny. The weakest parts of the movie involve scenes where they have to convey real fear or intense emotion. Steve is pretty seasoned both dramatically as well as comedically and pulls these parts of just fine. Tina as always, nails the comedy, but can't quite tap into enough real emotion when called for, especially in moments where Claire is deathly afraid. For the most part though, she does just fine.

While the movie is funny, I think it still could have been funnier considering the talent involved. It's obvious from the outtakes at the end of the film that at least a portion of "Date Night" is improv. Not a big surprise since both Tina and Steve come from improv backgrounds including Second City and Improv Olympic (now just iO). As a result of this, its hard to tell how much of the plot and dialogue is scripted, and how much is made up on the spot. Some of the writing and dialogue is very clever, and some of it is just too silly to take seriously at all. Overall "Date Night" is just great for what it is... A nice break with your significant other, and a fun evening away from the kids.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Clash of the Titans" is a titanic let down.

Clash of the Titans
review by Brent Sweeting

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

Bad writing, bad directing, bad acting, and for an extra $5.00 you can upgrade your ticket to see the movie in really badly rendered 3D. Much like the recent "Star Wars" prequels, "Clash of the Titans" takes a highly anticipated storyline and butchers it. This movie will still appeal to some who just want to see a modern special effects version of Greek mythology, but almost every thing that could have been great about "Clash of the Titans" ends up missing the mark.

Based on the 1981 Gen-X childhood staple of the same name, "Clash of the Titans" tells the story of

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Hot Tub Time Machine" is a lot more fun than it has any right to be.

Hot Tub Time Machine
review by Brent Sweeting

3 out of 4 stars

"Hot Tub Time Machine" never pretends to be anything other than what it is, a fun romp through the '80s that is heavy on both current and past pop culture jokes and crude humor. No one ever actually looks directly into the camera and says, "We are sending these guys back through time in a hot tub. We know its ridiculous. Deal with it," but they come close. The entire tongue in cheek feel and randomness of the movie makes it obvious that no thought should be given to the plot of this movie. It is this acknowledgment of the ridiculousness of the story that

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"How to Train Your Dragon" is the first great family film of the year.

How to Train Your Dragon
review by Brent Sweeting

3 out of 4 stars

With great 3D animation and effects,  lovable characters, fun fast paced action, and a story and dialogue that you will enjoy just as much as your kids, (provided they are old enough to handle a pg-13 animated film), "How to Train Your Dragon: IMAX 3D" is a movie that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Hiccup, a young Viking, lives in a village that is constantly at war with dragons. His father is

"Repo Men" would be a better film if it picked one genre and fully committed to it.

Repo Men
review by Brent Sweeting

2 1/2 out of 4 stars

You have been waiting for an organ transplant that you may never get. Time is running out, but there is another option. You can buy a new mechanical organ from "The Union". So what if it costs $650,000.00? How do you put a price on longer life? After all, you owe it your family. You owe it to yourself... except there is a catch. If you default on your payments for more than 90 days, the "Repo Men" will hunt you down, cut you open, and take the organ back. This is the premise of "Repo Men". A somewhat schizophrenic movie that can't quite decide if it's a mindless blood and guts action film, a thematic look at corporate ethics and greed, or a Hitchcock style psychological "twist" movie. Like anything pulled in too many directions at once, "Repo Men" never gets the chance to fully develop any of these aspects to their potential, and the overall film suffers as a result.

Set many years in the future and

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland" is Tim Burton's most visually impressive movie yet.

Alice in Wonderland
review by Brent Sweeting

3 out of 4 stars

Dissatisfied with her life, a girl chases a rabbit in an overcoat down a hole, gets big, gets small, meets a caterpillar smoking who knows what, "Off with her head!", etc... Everyone over 13 knows the story of Alice in Wonderland. Remade over and over, usually centering around a number of celebrity cameos and supporting characters,  but essentialy telling the same story. Fortunately Tim Burton hasn't just rehashed the same story one more time with new faces. Unfortunately the new story isn't terribly interesting, but it is a fun trip to a familiar place with old friends, and hands down Tim Burton's best looking film ever

This of course brings up a question that is likely

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kevin Smith's cop movie spoof has a few laughs, but never quite lives up to its potential.

Cop Out
review by Brent Sweeting

2 1/2 out of 4 stars

Even though this is the first film directed by Kevin Smith that he didn't write as well, his fingerprints are all over the movie. This will be a welcome surprise for hardcore Smith fans that were afraid he had gone "studio", but for people not familiar with Kevin's work, the large amount of crass dialogue and locker room humor will likely come as an unwelcome surprise. Unlike traditional cop buddy movies like "Lethal Weapon" or "Beverly Hills Cop", "Cop Out" is a comedy first, cop movie second, and it never really succeeds at either.

"The Crazies" title may just refer to the folks that green-lit this zombie catastrophe.

The Crazies
review by Brent Sweeting

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

If a few scares, and some blood and guts is all you expect from a zombie flick, then you might enjoy "The Crazies"...right up until the last 10 minutes when it goes from average B movie, to flat-out ridiculous. I wont spoil the ending for you, just in case you insist on throwing your Friday night away, but I will tell you that the audience I saw this with got up and started walking out early.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Avatar" could stand to learn a lot from "Shutter Island".

Shutter Island
review by Brent Sweeting

3 1/2 out of 4 stars

All during the first half of "Shutter Island", I kept thinking to myself, "I hope James Cameron is taking notes." "Avatar" will continue to get a lot of press this year about how visually impressive it is. But while the colors and imagery in "Avatar" all felt like they were put in the movie specifically to impress us, "Shutter Island" is one of the most visually stimulating movies I have ever seen and it is all put in place as an additional means of telling us the story.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Universal says "Happy Valentines Day" to classic monster movie fans with remake of The Wolfman.

The Wolfman
review by Brent Sweeting

3 out of 4 stars

The Wolfman is not a terrifying, "scared to walk to your car after the movie", fright fest. What it is, is an unabashed love letter to the classic Universal horror films. With that goal, it succeeds splendidly.

The plot begins echoing the classic 1941 "The Wolf Man". Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns home to his father's estate after many years abroad in America. Shortly after he arrives, a werewolf attacks him, and he begins to change. He eventually comes to grips with what is happening, but of course everyone thinks he is delusional and in need of psychiatric help. Anthony Hopkins plays his father Sir John Talbot, and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) plays the fiancée of Lawrence's recently murdered brother. Lawrence hunts down the creature that has killed his brother for most of the movie, and slowly begins unraveling more than he planned. Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings,) rounds out the cast as Detective Abberline who doesn't believe in werewolves, but does believe Lawrence is guilty of the recent murders occurring in the town.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dora the explorer + Clash of the Titans + (insert teen comedy here) =

Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
The Lightning Thief
review by Brent Sweeting

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

Let me start by saying that when I was 10, I would have loved this movie. As a matter of fact my brothers and I would probably have watched it over and over on VHS. That said, I am not 10 anymore, and unless you are, I suggest you steer clear of this insulting take on Greek mythology.