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The Reel Deal

TRANSFORMERS 3, HORRIBLE BOSSES & MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS

Quick Takes on Three Films

Film Insight by Tyler Malone

July 2011

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON:

Reel Rating: 0 out of 5

If you liked the first two Transformers movies, then that means you’ll probably like this, the third installment. It continues in the same vein as the rest of the mind-numbing franchise. I, of course, did not enjoy this film–surprise, surprise–and even think that Transformers: Dark of the Moon was worse than the previous two movies (which is a feat in and of itself). Michael Bay, up there with the worst of Hollywood directors, has no wit, no wisdom, no subtlety, no taste-level, no sense of story, no sense of humor, no sense of style, no sense at all really. He has one great talent and that is blowing shit up, but you can only watch so many explosions before you stop caring. What keeps you invested, what keeps you engaged, what keeps you wanting things to not blow up and for the tale to have a happy ending, is story, characterization, theme, etc. Cool visuals only take you so far. If you don’t empathize with characters or what they’re going through, or get a sense that a story means something, then you ultimately don’t really care what happens to them. In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I really didn’t care who would end up winning the war: the Autobots and mankind or the evil Decepticons. Actually, that’s not true: I honestly wanted the Decepticons to win and decimate Earth just so I could be assured that I’ll never have to sit through another of these awful Transformers films. Even with top notch acting talent like Frances McDormand, John Malkovich and John Turturro, every character still manages to be uninteresting, annoying and unbelievable. The robots sometimes seem more human than the humans, but that’s not saying much (trust me, these robots are no Wall-Es or C-3POs or Johnny 5s, they’re almost as personality-less as the people). How does Bay continue to get top notch acting talent to debase themselves for him? (We obviously know the answer: $$$$). But Frances McDormand? John Malkovich? John Turturro? COME ON! So much acting talent wasted on this awful spectacle (which can be properly summed up as an assault on the eyes and ears and brain and butt–all will be numb when the film finally comes to its prolonged conclusion). Of course, McDormand, Malkovich and Turturro will come out unscathed–they all have careers filled with memorable performances in great films–but another actor actually has a lot to lose from this movie. There was a time when the film’s lead, Shia LaBeouf, seemed like a promising young talent (remember A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints?), but now we see that, whether talented or not (up for debate), he either doesn’t know how to pick a good movie or, worse, only picks movies based on the paycheck. Why, oh why, Shia, do you want to work with Michael Bay? The king of schlocky action movies? Over and over again? Of course, lots of actors do big budget blockbusters to pay for their posh mansions, but the good ones supplement that work with great art house films (where they can show their range and take a stab at grabbing an Academy Award). See your co-stars: McDormand, Malkovich and Turturro. Shia, what good art films have you sprinkled into your repertoire between these Transformers pieces of crap? You’ve managed to sprinkle in more crappy blockbusters in between your other crappy blockbusters. The best film you’ve made since the first Transformers is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which was mediocre at best. Okay, okay, enough of giving Shia grief. Let me move on to my other two quick takes so I can forget I wasted my time on this horrendous cinematic experience.

HORRIBLE BOSSES:


Reel Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Horrible Bosses is a passable film that features pretty standard white male comedy. Three guys (played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) have horrible bosses (played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell) and so they plan to kill their bosses and make their lives that much easier, it’s an interesting enough premise, and the film has some decent jokes and pretty good performances, but there is something undeniably missing. No doubt they wanted this to be the next Hangover, but Jason Sudeikis isn’t believable as a Bradley Cooper ladies man, Charlie Day may be funny but he’s no Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Bateman just has so much more to give than this role offers him. Some of the jokes will most likely get a laugh out of you, certainly, but plenty more will just garner eyerolls. For example, one such eyeroll moment (or actually series of moments throughout the film): they decided to name a character “Motherfucker” just so the main characters can keep calling someone “Motherfucker” over and over. This is something the writers must have thought was hilarious, but which any person with half a brain won’t chuckle at past the first time used (if it even gets a chuckle there, which it certainly didn’t from me). There are some great comedic moments in the movie though, I’ll admit, which is why I’m being generous and giving the film a 3 out of 5. I guess what’s most disappointing is that with better writing and if it were placed in abler hands, I think this movie could have been much funnier. But I’m not here to review a movie that exists in my head, I’m here to review what was in front of me on screen. So I’ll just say: Horrible Bosses is nothing to write home about, but compared to some of the other terrible comedy we’ve been subjected to this year at the movie theater, I’m fine giving it a pass.

MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS:


Reel Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a family movie that is mildly enjoyable if you can look past its faults. It’s not as lame or annoying as the trailer would make you think, but that’s about as glowing of a review as I can give it. Jim Carrey appears as a character similar to his Liar Liar protagonist: a divorced father whose work overtakes his family life. He’s a likable guy who just has his priorities a little out of whack. As in Liar Liar, he needs something miraculous to help him see the error of his ways. Instead of an inability to lie, here it is just a bunch of penguins. Though Jim Carrey does his best to keep the film fun, funny and entertaining, it definitely has it’s slow parts, and has a few just plain bad parts. But as far as family fun goes, eh, it is what it is. It’s the kind of movie where kids will probably really like it–at least the one’s in my screening sure as hell did–and parents will be amused enough to not be annoyed (which is more than can be said for a lot of the crap Hollywood manufactures for kids these days). If you’re not going to it to take your kids, it’s the kind of movie that’d be on television on a Sunday afternoon and you’d watch only because nothing else was on, and then you’d keep watching because, well, you started watching and you might as well get through it. But by the end, as with most Jim Carrey characters, Mr. Popper will probably have grown on you (at least a little bit). Though admittedly, you’ll forget the film five minutes after you stop watching, and never think about it again (in positive or negative ways).

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a film directed by Michael Bay, written by Ehren Kruger and based on the Hasbro characters. It stars Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Tyrese Gibson. In this, the third film in the Transformers franchise, the Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

Horrible Bosses is a film directed by Seth Gordon and written by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein. It stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey & Colin Farrell. In the film, three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a film directed by Mark Waters, written by Sean Anders, John Morris & Jared Stern, based on the book by Richard & Florence Atwater.. It stars Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino & Angela Lansbury. It is a family comedy in which the life of a businessman begins to change after he inherits six penguins, and as he transforms his apartment into a winter wonderland, his professional side starts to unravel.

LINKS:

IMDB: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

IMDB: Horrible Bosses

IMDB: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Reel Deal Quick Takes Written by Tyler Malone

Picture Courtesy of Paramount and Allmoviephoto.com

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