Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy, Stupid, Love stars Steve Carell as Cal, whose wife Emily (Julianne Moore) suddenly announces at dinner one night that she wants a divorce, and tells him on the drive home that she cheated on him with a co-worker (Kevin Bacon). Cal proceeds to move out of their house and starts spending a lot of time at a bar in order to drown his sorrows.

At the bar, he meets a regular named Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who is a ladies man and seems to take home a different woman every night. Because he feels sorry for Cal, and also because he is tired of him moping around the bar telling everyone about his separation, Jacob volunteers to help make over Cal and teach him tricks for how to pick up women, as he hasn't dated since he met Emily as a teenager. Cal finally works up the courage to speak to a beautiful woman named Kate (Marisa Tomei), and they end up going home together and having a one night stand.

Jacob also meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a recent law school graduate studying for the bar exam, who appears to be immune to all of his typical techniques to attract women. When her boyfriend does not propose to her as she expected, she finds Jacob and plans to have a one night stand, but they end up falling for each other and Cal ends up teaching Jacob about being a good boyfriend.

Further complicating things, Cal and Emily's son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is in love with the babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), but Jessica has a crush on Cal. All of these love stories end up colliding hilariously one day when everyone ends up in Cal and Emily's backyard.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is not only funny, but very touching. There is a great scene where Emily calls Cal pretending to need help relighting the pilot light on the water heater, but in reality she is standing in the kitchen and just wants to hear his voice. Ryan Gosling has mostly been in dramatic movies, but he gets the chance to show his comedic chops in this film, and he is very funny as well as being a very good dramatic actor. Jonah Bobo was also very good, and this is just the beginning of his film career. Although this is definitely a "chick flick," there is something for both men and women to enjoy in this movie.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Change-Up

The Change-Up is another variation on the body-change comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as Mitch, a single slacker, and Jason Bateman as his friend Dave, a married father of three. One evening after hanging out at a bar watching a sports game, they both urinate in a fountain and exclaim how they envy each others lives.

As it turns out, that fountain was magic and they wake up the next morning in each others bodies. Unfortunately, it could not be a worse time as Dave is involved in a merger at work and Mitch is about to get his big break out role in movies, which turns out to be a "lorno" (light porno). However, the fountain has been moved and they have to live each others lives until they can find the fountain.

Mitch rises to the occasion and works very hard on the merger after screwing it up, and Dave gets to enjoy life without the pressures of marriage and parenthood. Mitch also encourages Dave to go on a date with Sabrina (Olivia Wilde), who thinks he is actually Mitch, because he only dated one woman in his entire life.

Mitch and Dave also get a chance to see how their loved ones really feel. Dave realizes that is wife (Leslie Mann) is very unhappy in their marriage because he works too much and hasn't paid enough attention to her and the kids. Mitch has a conversation with his father (Alan Arkin), who he has not always gotten along with well, but learns that he loves him despite his goof-ups. In the end, Dave and Mitch learn to appreciate their lives and finally find the fountain so they can switch back into their own bodies.

Although The Change-Up did have funny moments, a lot of the humor was very childish and over the top. It relied too much on nudity and bathroom humor instead of finding more sophisticated ways to be humorous. Also, the concept of a body switch comedy is not exactly original. The audience was able to empathize with Leslie Mann's character, fortunately, because otherwise she would have just been the typical nagging wife in a buddy comedy. The Change-Up isn't a bad way to spend a lazy summer afternoon, but it's not at the level of classic R-rated comedies like The Hangover, Knocked Up, or Wedding Crashers.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Smurfs

Although I do enjoy watching kids movies, I was especially interested in seeing The Smurfs because I watched them every Saturday morning growing up in the 80's. One of the advantages of growing up and having kids is that you can use the next generation as an excuse to recycle toys, books, cartoons and movies!

The Smurfs are a group of little ("only three apples high") blue people who live in tiny mushrooms. They are hunted by Gargamel (Hank Azaria)-an evil wizard-and his cat Azrael, who are trying to hunt the smurfs in order to extract their essence. Luckily, the little blue guys are usually able to use their magic to outsmart Gargamel.

One night, Papa Smurf has a vision of the Smurfs being trapped by Gargamel, but he doesn't want to worry any of the other smurfs. While running from Gargamel and Azrael, Clumsy Smurf is sucked into a portal which opened during a blue moon. Smurfette, Papa Smuf, and several of the other smurfs go after him and are followed by Gargamel and Azrael.

They end up in Central Park in New York City, and in order to hide from Gargamel, they run into an office building and hide in a box. The box is taken home by Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris), who is an ad exec at a large New York firm. In addition to a new promotion, Patrick's wife Grace (Jayma Mays) is also pregnant with their first child and he is feeling a lot of stress and uncertainty about the future.

Patrick and Grace take in the smurfs and try to protect them from Gargamel until there is another blue moon to reopen the portal so the smurfs can go home. Hilarity ensues as the smurfs cause chaos around Manhattan and accidentally mess up the ad campaign that Patrick is working on. Eventually, Patrick realizes that the smufs just need someone to take care of them, and that he is up to the challenges of being a new dad.

The special effects are pretty good, and it was fun to see the smurfs on the big screen. Neil Patrick Harris was also very good in his role. Although Gargamel was supposed to be over the top and goofy, adults who take their kids to the movie will probably be happy when he is not on the screen because he was just a little too stupid.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Friends With Benefits

First of all, I have to give a shout out to my best friend Janice. We went to see this movie during a "girl's night out" and both really enjoyed it!

Friends with Benefits stars Mila Kunis as Jamie, and headhunter who is trying to convince a successful blogger named Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to move to New York City to take a job as the artistic director at GQ. After a little persuasion, and showing him the "real New York," Dylan agrees to take the job.

Jamie and Dylan become friends, and one night while they are watching a cheesy romantic comedy and drinking some beer, they start discussing the concept of "friends with benefits." They are both rebounding from break ups and agree that men and women let sex become too complicated, and that things wouldn't be so messy if people just looked at it as a physical act without adding extra meaning to it.

They, of course, become friends with benefits and things seem to be going well until Jamie decides she'd like to go back on the dating scene. She meets a pediatric oncologist named Parker (Bryan Greenberg), who decides that things are getting too serious after they sleep together. Her mother convinces her to go out of town for the 4th of July, but after she flakes out on her to spend time with a recent boyfriend, Dylan invites her to LA for the holiday weekend.

In LA, they stay with Dylan's father (Richard Jenkins), his sister Annie (Jenna Elfman) and Annie's son Sam (Nolan Gould). Dylan did not tell Jamie that his father is suffering from Alzheimer's and that his mother left the family when his father became sick. Later that night, Dylan ends up comforting Jamie about her recent break up and they end up sleeping together, which Jamie thinks has more meaning this time. However, the next day she overhears a conversation between Dylan and Annie, is hurt by what Dylan says about her and immediately heads back to New York.

Jamie ignores Dylan's attempts to contact her at first, but when he tracks her down she confronts him about what he said about her and if he really ever wanted to be her friend. When his dad comes to visit from LA, they have a conversation about true love and his regrets that he let his soulmate get away. Dylan realizes that he was afraid of being hurt, and sets out to win Jamie back before it's too late.

There were great cameos in this movie from Andy Samburg, Emma Stone and Shaun White. Woody Harrelson was also hilarious as a gay sports editor at GQ and Richard Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson were terrific as Dylan's dad and Jamie's mom. Most importantly, this movie was true to how men and women in their 20's and 30's relate to each other. Also, Justin Timberlake was not afraid to make a fool of himself and showed a real talent for comedy, and the sex scenes between him and Mila Kunis were very realistic.

Rating: 5/5 stars