Movies I Slept Through – J. Edgar

“J. Edgar” is the origin story of the FBI and ultimately, “The X-Files”

John Edgar Hoover is a complex figure in American history. He came along at the exact moment when he could accomplish the things he wanted. He served as the creator and director of the FBI for nearly 40 years and created many technological advances used in law enforcement today. His personal life has been subject to speculation following his death. If he were born into today’s 24 hour news cycle society he’d more likely be Augusten Burroughs than director of the FBI. We know too much about people now to make a surprising movie about someone. There won’t be any movies about Herman Cain in 40 years where you find out things and say, “He did what with those women?”

[It should be noted that I saw this movie under the best circumstances. I was one of 4 people in the theatre so I felt like an eccentric recluse who forces his staff to watch films with him.]

J Edgar” takes a look at some of the major accomplishments of his lengthy career. If you think J. Edgar Hoover is President Herbert Hoover, you’re going to learn a lot. If you’re a student of history or just super old, chances are you’ll be familiar with a lot the content, but “J Edgar” also focuses on a lot of his personal life. It takes some strong stands on his relationship with his mother and good friend Clyde Tolson(Armie Hammer).

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hoover and does a phenomenal job, as expected. For DiCaprio, it’s a character similar in scope and style to Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.”(It’s the way of the future.) He completely becomes the character. It’s really gotten to the point that if he doesn’t blow you away with his performances, the entire film is a failure. DiCaprio is beyond the point of being allowed to phone it in.

A lot of care went into the production of sets and especially the makeup. A good portion of “J. Edgar” takes place when he’s an older man. The makeup looks great when they’re in a controlled environment and intentional lighting, but some scenes, especially the ones that take place outdoors, makes the elderly J. Edgar and Clyde Tolson look like Dan Aykroyd in “Nothing But Trouble.”

“J. Edgar” suffers most in its directing. Clint Eastwood wants to make every scene a poignant one and results in the movie having no ebb and flow. Everything comes off at the same level. The story is told mostly as Hoover dictates his biography and often feels like you’re being dictated to. It also suffers from the fact that J. Edgar Hoover just wasn’t really a likeable or trustworthy guy. He’s interesting, sure, but at no point did I find myself pulling for him.

It’s not a bad movie by any stretch, but also falls short of last year’s great historical biopic “The King’s Speech.” There’s an explosion near the beginning of the movie, but after that feel free to doze off at any point. Anything you miss can be filled in by the members of your house staff you forced to sit through it, or, lacking that, just check wikipedia.


Movies I Slept Through – The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is the sexually deviant love child of Kenny Rogers and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

[Note: I may slip into some Southern dialect during this review, but if you watch the movie, you won’t blame me.]

Miss Mona Strangely(Dolly Parton) is a real nice lady. She supports local charities, pays more than her fair share of taxes and runs the most morally responsible whorehouse west of the Mississippi(Probably east of the Mississippi too, but that just doesn’t flow as well). Miss Mona’s whorehouse, better known as The Chicken Ranch, has grown into an institution of Lanville County, Texas.

Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd is well aware of the goings on out at The Chicken Ranch, but turns a blind eye to it. Partly on account of they never have any trouble from the girls out there and partly on account of he has an ongoing relationship with Miss Mona.

Things have run smoothly in this part of Texas for a long time. They don’t bother nobody and nobody bothers them. That is until sensationalistic reporter, Melvin P. Thorpe(Dom DeLuise(F*ck Yeah!)), rolls into town to do a Watchdog Report on the The Chicken Ranch and how the local law enforcement neglects the debauchery that’s happening right under their nose.

Did I mention this is a musical? It seems that may have slipped my mind.

At first, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is somewhat off-putting. When you see Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton running around doing sexual stuff all you can think of is modern day Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton doing sexual stuff, but that quickly fades away once you just accept the absurdity of everything. They both were kind of in their heyday with Reynold’s mustache being at it’s mustacheiest and Dolly’s boobs at their boobiest.

Dom DeLuise is a lot of fun as the girdle wearing, crotch stuffing, morally righteous reporter attempting to ruin everyone’s fun. He’s like what Glenn Beck would be today if Glenn Beck could cary a tune.

The women of The Chicken Ranch are all dressed in negliges and weird 80s clothing as if they’re headed to a hipster party(Ironically enough, there’s a 47% chance that at the party “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” will be projected on a wall somewhere). In a world before internet porn, I could see how this may have had a profound impact on some younger guys.

The songs featured in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” either fall on the side of being weirdly fun or funnily weird. My personal favorite being when the Texas A&M Aggies sing and dance after a victory because they know they’re on their way to The Chicken Ranch and they’re all wearing their finest neckerchiefs. (On a historical note, according to this movie, the 1982 Texas A&M football team only included one black guy. Don’t worry though, The Chicken Ranch, employs exactly one black lady of the night)

If there’s one lesson to be learned from “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” it’s that a society of laws based on conservative morals is not always the best way to approach things. If there’s a second lesson to be learned, it’s that people would get a lot more banging done if they weren’t so busy singing.  “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is a fun and whimsical farce that can be laughed at (and occasionally with) and isn’t to be taken too seriously. Feel free to Doze Off during it, but wake up once in a while to bank another image of Dolly’s plunging neckline or sneak a peak at Burt’s wondrous chest rug.

[Note: This review was based on a reader’s suggestion. If you have a movie you want me to review, send an e-mail or leave a comment.]

Movies I Slept Through – Thor

“Thor” is what would happen if a grown up Richie Rich had purchased a really sweet Halloween costume.

God of Adventures in Babysitting

Most everyone I know assumes I read comics. Simply put, I don’t. I can hold my own in a conversation about comics because I know a lot of people that do read comics and if you mention one thing they will talk for the next 45 minutes without realizing you don’t actually care. That being said, when I was younger, I would pick up a few comics from time to time and when I did, I chose  Thor.

So, having some history with the source material, I was wary of the ability to translate it into film. Thor differs from most other Marvel characters because, well, he’s an actual deity from Norse mythology and brings all of that baggage with him. Marvel tends to put things in the real world with characters growing up in actual cities and Thor is kind of the exact opposite. On to the movie!

“Thor” begins with a brief encounter on Earth and then quickly thrusts us into the realm of Asgard, where the Norse gods dwell. Long ago, frost giants had come to Earth to wreak havoc upon the pitiful humans.  Asgardians appeared, led by Odin(Anthony Hopkins) and essentially kicked their asses, stole their power and sent them back to World 6 of Super Mario Bros. 3.

In present day Asgard(I guess), Odin has two sons: Thor(Chris Hemsworth) and Loki(Tom Hiddleston). Thor grows up to be the clear heir to Odin’s throne. He’s big and strong and a bit of a prick. Loki is jealous of the attention Thor receives. He’s smaller, but tricky and a bit of a prick.

Thor isn’t happy with some of the decisions Odin makes so he decides to travel to Super Mario Bros. 3 World 6 and finish off the Frost Giants once and for all.

Pro Tip: Use the Magic Flute to take the Rainbow Bridge and get the Hammer of Thor Suit.

Thor and his buddies fight the Frost Giants for a while, but eventually have to be saved by Odin riding the mighty Sleipnir, an eight legged horse.(The horse’s name isn’t mentioned and it isn’t important to the story, but I wanted you to know how smart I am.) Odin is pretty pissed because Thor kind of violated a truce that had been around for quite a while and banishes him to Earth There(Or… here?) Thor meets some affable scientists(Natalie Portman, Erik Selvig and Kat Dennings) in the whitest small town in New Mexico and learns what it means to be mortal. Meanwhile in Asgard, Loki uses his trickery to become the ruler.

Reading the plot or even explaining it, things seem complicated, but I have to give the film credit because at no time did I feel confused. Other than that, there aren’t any bright shining stars in “Thor”, but there aren’t any glaring holes either. The movie shifts tone a bit when it jumps from Asgard to Earth, focusing more on the fish out of water stuff on Earth. The humor is hit and miss, but overall is passable. The Frost Giants also seem to change sizes depending on how intimidating they need to look, but it’s off putting and doesn’t make a lot of sense.

My main problem with “Thor” is Loki is right. He essentially grew up feeling like Thor was the favored son, and that’s because he was. Odin told them both that one would grow up to be the ruler, but never had any intention of choosing Loki. Loki’s the type of leader that people will look back on in a few years and say, “You know, Loki did a lot of bad stuff, but he did get rid of the Jews- I mean Frost Giants.”

“Thor” is a pretty fun movie, but you won’t miss much if you Doze Off during some of the slower parts. If you’re looking forward to the upcoming “Avengers” movie, keep a hawkeye out for a cameo and don’t forget about the bonus scene at the end of the credits.

Movies I Slept Through – It’s Kind of a Funny Story

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is  what would happen if Holden Caulfield grew up in the 90s.

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” stars Keir “TIny Justin Long” Gilchrist as Craig, a 16 year old who’s going through depression. Craig is a smart, talented product of the 90s and therefore thinks he wants  to kill himself, but decides this may not be the best idea so instead checks himself into a psychiatric ward.

Like all fictional  psychiatric wards, this one is populated by slightly cooky but lovable nutjobs. The two most important in this case being Bobby(Zach Galifianakis) and Noelle(Emma Roberts). Bobby is the Zack Morris of the crazies and Noelle is the quiet hot chick that cuts herself.

Craig is a nice kid. He got into one of the best public high schools in New York City and is preparing to apply for a prestigious summer program. It’s difficult to understand why exactly Craig is depressed. He has an intact family that cares about him even if is father(Jim Gaffigan) is a workaholic and his mother(Lauren “It’s gonna be a sad day when she loses her MILF status” Graham) is a bit over protective. Nothing seems extreme enough to warrant his depression so Craig just kind of comes off as a wuss. A relatable wuss, but a wuss nonetheless.

Bobby is Craig’s mentor. He’s a little off kilter, but Craig likes him because he seems to have everything figured out. However, he is also a patient so you know he’s going to have some issues. Zach Galifianakis is really great in this role. It’s a toned down version of what you’re used to and he manages to come off as, for lack of a better word, sweet. It’s really nice to see he has range.

Noelle is the girl for whom Craig inevitably falls.(Didn’t expect a whom in here did you?) She doesn’t talk a lot and from what I saw of Emma Robert’s performance in Scre4m, that’s probably a good thing.

There are a few odd scenes here and there including what is essentially a music video and another that’s just begging you to realize this is an indie film(colored clouds, yay!). Overall, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is what the title promises. It’s definitely worth putting on. You can Doze Off in any scene not involving Zach Galifianakis. Also, keep an eye out for awesome comics like Leo Allen, Jim Gaffigan and Aasif Mandvi.

Movies I Slept Through – Scre4m or Scream 4

“Scre4m” is so meta if this were a review I’d give it a twist rating at the end.

Welcome back to Woodsboro. It’s been 10 years since the original killings by Ghostface Killah. What? Nope, sorry, it’s just Ghostface. It just so happens that Sidney Prescott(Neve Campbell) has returned. Don’t worry though, she has completely moved on from the three separate times she was hunted down by psychopaths. In fact, she’s so moved on, she’s written a book and is doing a signing just to prove it.

To everyone’s surprise, the killings start up again right around the time Sidney returns, but she doesn’t seem to be the focus from the beginning. This time the killer is tormenting her cousin, Jill(Emma Roberts) and her group of horror movie buff friends. Jill is a lot like Sidney was at her age. She’s pretty, has a boyfriend that doesn’t use front doors and is being hunted by a murderer. (They grow up so fast.)

“Scre4m” plays out how you would expect. Characters are introduced, they either make a reference to what would happen in a movie or talk about how meta they are and promptly prove they didn’t learn anything from those movies by getting themselves killed. New Rule: You only survive a horror movie if you don’t act like you’re actually in one.

One thing that really bothered me is that a lot of the characters talk about this one being a reboot. Last time I checked, reboots don’t have a 4 after(or in) their titles.

The acting is pretty bad all around. In fact, David Arquette and Courtney Cox are so bad I didn’t even believe they were in a failing marriage (You’d think they could have nailed that one).

Despite all that, “Scre4m” isn’t as bad as you would expect. The casting is pretty good for the archetypes they’re portraying. In fact, the casting for Jill’s boyfriend Trevor(Nico Tortorella) is so good he looks like what would happen if Cotton Weary(Liev Schreiber) and Billy(Skeet Ulrich) from the original movie had a baby.

That's a good lookin' man

There are a few good jump scares and it’s just kind of fun to watch Ghostface stab little girls. (That may not be the best phrasing, but I stand by it.) The twist at the end is pretty interesting until that character continues their monologue and then it gets pretty stupid pretty quick.  If you find yourself watching “Scre4m”, you know exactly what you’re getting into. This one isn’t worse than any of the others so it gets a Doze Off.

Movies I Slept Through – Paul

“Paul” is about what life would be like if you could enjoy Seth Rogen’s wit without looking at his stupid face.

“Paul” stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Graeme(Really, that’s how they decided to spell it?) and Colin, an artist and a writer who love science fiction. Graeme and Colin are, well, they’re exactly what you think of when you think of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They’re touring America and hitting all the big alien hotspots when they run across an actual alien. It’s kind of like “Chasing Amy” except no one tries to have sex with the alien.

(Think about it…)

My biggest problem with “Paul” is that it doesn’t do anything new. “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” were parodies of genres, but they both brought something new with them. “Shaun of the Dead” was one of the first really good zom-coms and “Hot Fuzz” focused on some of the more menial aspects of law enforcement. “Paul” isn’t really a parody of alien buddy movies. It’s more of an alien buddy movie for adults. (Although I use the term adult liberally.) Think “Mac and Me” meets “Tommy Boy” or “A Gnome Named Gnorm”(You’re welcome Anthony Michael Hall.) meets “Pineapple Express.”

There are fart and weed jokes, a running joke about how three tits would be awesome(but we learned that in Total Recall) and even a character that learns cursing is ok and proceeds to do so constantly. There are a few funny moments. Jane Lynch shows up doing her schtick that hasn’t quite gotten stale yet and Jeffrey “Hey Now!” Tambor is great as popular science fiction author. Jason Bateman, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio show up  as law enforcement agents trying to chase down the Paull; I really like all those guys, but they weren’t used well here.

I found myself wanting to hate this movie, but I just couldn’t. Things play out exactly how you know they will, but Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are just fun to watch work together. I’d like to say nap through it, but I have to go Doze Off.

Movies I Slept Through – The Book of Eli

“The Book of Eli” stars Denzel Washington as a man named Eli who has a book and is also the first black man to survive the apocalypse.

“The Book of Eli” stars Denzel Washington as Eli, your classic postapocalyptic badass who says he isn’t looking for trouble, but always seems to find exactly that.  He’s on a mission from God . He doesn’t have a specific destination, rather he travels by faith.

So, like Fievel, he goes West. Along the way he wanders into a town, meets a hot chick(Mila Kunis) and runs afoul of a powerful leader(Gary Oldman) all while kicking serious ass. We’re not sure exactly how long ago the world was destroyed. At one point, Eli says he’s been wandering for 30 years, but judging by the charge on his mp3 player I say it’s just over 7 hours.

“The Book of Eli” is a lot of fun. The fight scenes are well executed, especially the one done in silhouette near the beginning. Denzel Washington is still a badass and Gary Oldman is a great counter as a power hungry book collector(Nerdiest villain ever?). There’s a weird twist in the last part, and things teeter off even more at the very end. Overall “The Book of Eli” wants to make the audience say, “Wow, that was pretty cool,” and is successful. This one gets a Doze Off.

Movies I Slept Through – Catfish

“Catfish” is a documentary that plays out after a photographer is contacted by the family of an 8 year old girl who paints a photo of his that appeared in a magazine. 8 year olds, dude.

Out of respect for the movie, I can’t really say much more. It’s essentially about the development of that relationship through today’s technology. The great thing about “Catfish” is that you can say to people, “the film wouldn’t be as effective if you knew the plot beforehand.” (This should be preceded by a “pfft” and/or a smirk)

There’s been some controversy over whether or not the movie is real. To that I say the same thing I said when I found out Two and a Half Men was canceled for the rest of the season. Meh.  Even if it is fake, it’s still enjoyable.

It’s a good story and engaging, but I don’t feel like I learned anything that I haven’t known since 1997.  Except the whole thing about catfish at the end, I learned that and it was cool enough to justify nodding off through the rest of it. Feel free to Doze Off during the first part though, you won’t miss much that you can’t piece together and by the time things get really interesting you’ll be hooked. (HA… man… fish pun)