Movies I Slept Through – Captain America

“Captain America” is two hours of set up and a 30 second trailer for a disappointing movie coming out in 2012.

All Steve Rogers(Chris Evans) wants is to serve his country. America’s entry to World War II is afoot and Steve feels it’s his duty to fight. The only problem is… well, he has a crap load of problems. He’s small, he has asthma, a bad family medical history and has already been turned down four times. Can you imagine in what bad shape you’d have to be in for a 1940’s doctor to deny you military service? That guy would be more likely to prescribe cocaine and cigarettes for your asthma than tell you not to go fight NAZIs.

Steve Rogers gets his chance to serve when he meets Dr. Abraham Erskine(Stanley Tucci). Dr. Erksine is the head of a secret project to develop an American super soldier. Steve Rogers really must want to do what he can do for his country because for all he knows this secret project could have been unknowingly taking LSD or trying to destroy goats with his mind bullets. Nevertheless, it turns him into the super soldier as promised.

Steve Roger’s greatest enemy is not Adolf Hitler, but Johann Schmidt(Hugo Weaving), head of the NAZI R&D department and all around bad dude. He’s discovered some sort of something artifact and is harnessing its power to create District 9 style obliteration guns and other city destroying weapons. During Dr. Erskine’s early NAZI scientist days, he put Johann Schmidt trough a similar super soldier project and that for some reason made him have (I guess if you haven’t seen the trailer this is a spoiler alert) a red skull. So, he’s also Red Skull, but don’t worry he wears a human mask for most of the movie.

This leads to one of my biggest problems with “Captain America.” During a significant portion of the movie, they tease Red Skull. Schmidt has some sort of weird tick that looks like the cockroach guy from Men in Black and in one scene he shoots a guy and some RED blood gets on his SKULL broach. Now, this wouldn’t really have been a problem if they hadn’t shown Red Skull in many of the trailers. So at this point teasing Red Skull is like a stripper giving you a  lapdance after she jerked you off in the alley.

Despite this annoyance, the rest of the movie works really well. The effects to make Chris Evans look tiny pre-secret project are just as impressive as the steroids it took to make him look buff post-secret project. Humor is used to great effect. Most of which coming in the beginning, but also during Captain America’s experiences with the propaganda of the time.

At times things seem completely over the top or super patriotic, but you kind of have to expect that from “Captain America.” It just doesn’t seem too forced even it is all a we-are-America-and-America-is-the-greatest-never-doing-wrong-never-doing-harm mentality. Just sit back and enjoy it knowing that all the people Steve Rogers kills are NAZIs and that makes it a-okay. “Captain America” gets a Nap Before.

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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 – Water for Elephants

“Water for Elephants” is a lackluster “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” prequel.

“Water for Elephants” is a story told by an old man straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The bulk of the story takes place in 1931 and follows young Jacob Jankowski(Robert Pattinson). He’s a bright young man on his way to graduating from Cornell with a degree in veterinarian sciences. Now, here’s my first problem, I’m going to be generous and say he’s a senior at Cornell University at the age of 20 in 1931. That would mean here in 2011 he’s 100 years old and running around going to circuses on his own. Although I enjoyed Hal Holbrook’s performance, I just didn’t buy it and it got things off to a rocky start.

That’s all fine because things get off to a rocky start for Jacob as well. I once woke up two hours after I was supposed to be at a final exam(still passed the class), but that’s nothing compared to what happens when Jacob is pulled out of his final. He goes from having everything planned to having absolutely nothing.

Jacob begins wandering the rails and eventually hitches a ride on a train, old school hobo style. The train turns out to be that of the Benzini Brothers Circus. It’s the perfect place for an ivy league near-graduate veterinarian, not even the Ringley Brothers could boast such a man.

Jacob quickly rises in the ranks and finds himself in the favor of August(Christoph Waltz), the ring master of the circus, and his lust worthy wife Marlena(Reese Witherspoon). August has a bit of a temper, to put it delicately, and Jacob soon finds himself  wanting to give Marlena the life she deserves. Blah blah blah.

The love story behind “Water for Elephants” is nothing new, but there are a few bright shining moments that save it from being just “Titanic with an Elephant”. First is Christoph Waltz. He gives a great performance  as the proprietor of Benzini Brothers. At times he’s a very bad man and mistreats the animals, but you can see he’s struggling to do what he feels is right to keep his business and people going. In fact, I found myself relating more to him than I did the young lovers, and he beats animals. It may be that Christoph Waltz is an amazing actor, but I think it’s because he can see through the camera and into my soul to steal my deepest secrets.

The other star is Tai, the elephant who plays Rosie, the elephant. More than anything else this movie is a showcase for the majestic nature of elephants. Although, to be fair, I don’t think Tai showed much range.

The love story of “Water for Elephants” falls short of being anything worth investing in and the score is as subtle as an elephant sitting on your testicles, but Christoph Waltz, Tai and the rest of the animals are enough to make it worth staying partially awake. “Water for Elphants” gets a Doze Off.

Movies I Slept Through – Black Swan

“Black Swan” is about Nina, a ballerina that goes black and doesn’t go back.

Natalie “I Wanna F*ck You Too” Portman plays Nina Sayers, an up and coming ballerina who is a bit of a perfectionist. She can dance technically great, but when it comes to letting go and dancing through instinct she has a few issues.(Isn’t that because she’s white?)

After the No MILFs Allowed Ballet Company kicks out their aging star(Winona Ryder), the lead role in Swan Lake is up for grabs. Thomas(Vincent Cassel), the head of the company, knows Nina is perfect for the role of the white swan, but will have trouble with the black. He tries every thing known to man to get a woman to loosen up: verbal abuse, sexual assault, having sex with one of her friends. Eventually, she does start to let go and gives into her darker impulses.

Darren Aronofsky directed this movie with the grace and precision expected of the subjects. (Someone has to have said that by now, right? I’m leaving it anyway.) He gets nice performances from all of the actors and much like “The Wrestler,” you don’t have to be a big fan of the subject matter to enjoy “Black Swan.” It may even cause you to find a new appreciation for the ballet or lesbians for that matter.

I stayed awake through this entire movie because I didn’t want to miss the sexual scenes between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. It wasn’t as great as I had imagined in my head, but I couldn’t have expected that from a rated R movie. I give “Black Swan” a Coffee.

Also, someone remind me to start a ballerina company in the future. It’s like a farm for young girls that want to do anything to please you.

Movies I Slept Through – Arthur(1981)

“Arthur” is a really funny movie that will make you wish you were an extremely rich, high functioning alcoholic.

“Arthur” stars Dudley Moore as a lovable alcoholic who’s searching for love in a lot of the wrong places. He’s the heir to $750 million, but his family threatens to cut him off unless he marries Susan Johnson(Jill Eikenberry). Why does he have to marry her? I have no idea. What’s wrong with her? They just don’t click the way he’d like.

Arthur has no ambition. His days are spent drinking, taking unsuspecting prostitutes to fancy restaurants and hanging out with his butler Hobson(John Gielgud). Hobson is the only person willing to call Arthur out when he’s acting like an ass.

While out shopping, Arthur spots Linda(Liza “Lucille 2” Minnelli) shoplifitng a tie(don’t worry, she’s a petty thief with a heart of gold). She is caught by security, but Arthur jumps in to defend her and pay for the tie. He’s done it. He’s found his manic pixie dream girl.

On paper, Arthur comes off as a male Paris Hilton(trivia: Paris Hilton was just a few months old when this movie was released… maybe her parents were inspired), but Dudley Moore and writer-director Steve Gordon make him downright lovable. He tries hard to be completely obnoxious, but is too likable, and despite his buffoonery, he has some really poignant moments, “Everyone who drinks is not a poet. Some of us drink because we’re not poets.”

John Gieglund is great as Hobson, Arthur’s professional buddy(I gotta look into that job) and Liza Minelli is showcased as Arthur’s affable article of adoration.(Alliteration like a mothafu…) There are some really nice moments from the rest of the supporting cast as well.

I originally just wanted to watch “Arthur” before the remake came out so I could say I grew up loving it and it’s blasphemy that they would try and recreate it with that prat Russell Brand, but it actually holds up really strong even after 30 years. Arthur gets a Coffee.

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 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” or “The One Where Harry’s a Dick”

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is the 5th installment of the series and centers around the ministry of magic’s denial of the return of You-Know-Who(Voldemort… that’s in case you didn’t know).

In fact, they’re in such denial that measures are being taken against those who claim Voldemort has returned.(Just like a real life government) Aside from that there’s a lot of other crap going on: Harry, Ron and Hermione are under pressure to do well on their Ordinary Wizarding Levels; they meet a new weird friend that says strange things; they’re all dealing with growing older and getting sensations in their areas; and their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a raging cu–(Sorry, there are kids in the room).

“Order of the Phoenix” is the longest book in the series coming in just shy of 900 pages so it’s understandable to leave some things out in order to tell the story in the given time frame. I understand that books and movies are two different mediums of storytelling, but  in this case so little time is spent on everything that nothing makes sense. I finished reading “Order of the Phoenix” about 36 hours before I watched it and I still had trouble keeping up. If every 2 hours of LOST came with 900 pages of supplemental reading I feel like I’d understand it.

Outside of that things are fine I guess, but it doesn’t really matter. The acting is par for the course and the scenes all look pretty cool, but you’d better be into pretty shiny things because that’s all you can really get out of it.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” reminds me of the time I only read part of the cliffs for “The Scarlet Letter.” I got a D on that test and “Order of the Phoenix” gets a Sleep Throughout.

Movies I Slept Through – Let Me In

“Let Me In” is about that kid Jeremy from the Pearl Jam song if he had met a vampire instead of killing himself.

“Let Me In” is the story of Owen(Kodi Smit-McPhee), a 12 year old boy who’s at a troubled point in his life. He’s picked on at school, his parents are going through an ugly divorce, and he has no friends, but then he gets new neighbor his age, Abby(Chloe Moretz).

Abby is mysterious and interesting. She listens to Owen, she’s good at puzzles, and she encourages him to stand up to his bullies. Oh, and she’s totes a vampire.

The general story makes it seem like “Let Me In” is just trying to cash in on Twilight’s popularity, but it’s not. Not only was the original novel published a year before, but people are straight up murdered, no one shimmers and there isn’t any type of love triangle with a man-beast. One thing that did bother me is that it’s set in New Mexico and there’s snow all over the place. This created a real “Finkle and Einhorn” situation in my head. I know there are mountainous areas in New Mexico, but I still couldn’t shake it from my head.

Both Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Mortez give really good performances. The bully(Dylan Minnette) is just extremely evil. They even try to humanize him by showing he struggles sometimes too, but you just think, “Good.” The scenes where the vampire goes crazy do feel weird and don’t flow well so I’m sure the Romanian judge would take a few points off for that.

The biggest flaw of “Let Me In” is that two years ago “Let the Right On In” was made in Sweden and is amazing. Although I’m sure neither of them hold a candle to John Ajvide Lindqvist’s original novel. So I say watch “Let Me In” then “Let the Right One In” then read “Let the Right One In” that way you can enjoy all of them without sounding like a prick.

“Let Me In” gets a Nap Before.

Movies I Slept Through – Grown Ups

“Grown Ups” is another Happy Madison movie that will just make you remember you really loved Billy Madison and/or Happy Gilmore. This particular movie is about… umm, oh boy, do I really have to? *sigh*

“Grown Ups” is about five friends that played basketball together when they were younger and are brought together once again when their coach(Blake Clark) dies. (I was much more affected when he died as Sean’s dad in Boy Meets World.) All five guys and their families go to a lake house for a weekend to spread their coach’s ashes.

Let’s take a moment to get to know these guys. There’s Lenny (Adam Sandler), the leader/hardworking rich guy that’s too busy to raise his kids; Kurt(Chris Rock), the homemaker(What’s that? He’s a man homemaker? Outrageous!); Marcus(David Spade), the bachelor that says inappropriate things; Rob(Rob Schneider) he’s spiritual and married to someone much older than him; and Eric(Kevin James) and, well, he’s just fat. Oh, and I can’t forget the old black lady(Ebony Jo-Ann) she’s sassy and sometimes farts.

There’s a moment near the beginning “Grown Ups” that points out the major flaw. The old black lady sits on one of the kid’s PSP and then you hear a sound effect of Pacman dying. Everything about this movie is just out of touch. I know “Grown Ups” is PG-13 and meant to be for families, but I don’t know anyone that would enjoy this movie.

The only moment (I’m going to spoil this because I don’t want you to have to sit through the rest of the movie) that is even remotely good is when Tim Meadows walks up to Chris Rock and says, “Well, if it isn’t the other black guy that grew up in this town.”

I’d like to sum up how I feel about this movie by paraphrasing from an Adam Sandler movie that I actually like:

Mr. Sandler, what you’ve made is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever seen. At no point in your rambling, incoherent plot were you even close to anything that could be considered funny. Everyone that watched is now dumber for having seen it. I award you a full Coma, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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)