Walk Hard – Review

Usually, spoof flicks have some movie prerequisites you need to see before you get the jokes. Otherwise, you’ll just laugh at the movie because you think you’re supposed to.

Fortunately, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story only spoofs two movies: Walk the Line and Ray. Both of those are excellent, so if you haven’t caught ’em, do so. But not back-to-back.

Let me explain.

Musical biopics follow a predictable pattern. The movie starts in childhood with some horrible tragedy. The star rises to fame. Drugs and divorce bring the star to the edge. The star finally recognizes his weaknesses and rises yet again with a final, musical equivalent of “Happily Ever After.”

When I saw the trailers for Walk Hard, I thought, “Oh, maybe they’ll make this pattern funny. Wait, Ricky Bobby’s friend is starring? Really? Oh this is gonna suck hard.”

And I was right. You’ll notice from the poster that this is a Judd Apatow movie. That means you’re in for two hours of Cox jokes. Lots and lots of Cox jokes. There was a single funny moment with The Beatles (They show up in the Drug section of the story). I won’t spoil it (as a gift to you who have to suffer through this), but it’s the one highlight.

Skip this one and if you have already seen it, I’m sorry.

Grade: D

We Own the Night – Review

Remember when The Departed came out and won all those Oscars? And you know how Hollywood likes to copy anything that’s successful? Well Einstein, you should have known We Own the Night was coming before Scorsese finished his acceptance speech.

In The Departed, the two main stars are on opposite sides of the law. Both happen to be cops with one undercover. In We Own the Night, the two main stars are on opposite side of the law, but they are brothers. See? It’s different.

The Departed has ultra-realistic gunplay and violence. We Own the Night has super-ultra-realistic gunplay and even more violence. Oh, and it adds a car chase.

Mark Wahlberg stars as a hard, no nonsense cop in The Departed. In We Own the Night, Mark Wahlberg stars as a hard, no nonsense cop…with a brother.

So you can see, We Own the Night is a totally different movie. No seriously, it is different. It’s worse.

I’ve heard that it’s not fair to compare one movie against another. Each movie must stand on its own, right? Wrong. If Hollywood goes out of its way to blatantly rip off another movie, isn’t it only fair to compare that effort to the original? I think so.

If you’ve never seen The Departed, you need to watch it first. If you saw it and thought, “Man, I wish Mark Wahlberg’s character was in another movie!” go watch We Own the Night.

Grade: C

Blade Runner: The Final Cut – Review

I have a confession to make. In all my years of movie watching, pop-culture references, and internet memes, I’d never seen Blade Runner. Sure, I’d watched scenes here and there. And with the internet and every SF movie borrowing from it, I knew the basic premise. But I never took the time to watch it in one sitting.

Finally, I can scratch that one off my list. But here’s where it gets funny (funnier?). I watched the Final Cut version. How’s it different than the Theatrical Cut, Director’s Cut, and Give the Studio More Money Cut? I have no idea. But I do know a few things.

First, the Final Cut was Ridley Scott’s “favorite cut.” I know this because he says so in the bonus features. My guess is that bonus feature was also included in the Director’s Cut, but who am I to judge?

I also know that Sean Young came back last year and filmed some new scenes for this cut. What are they? Again, I have no clue, but there’s a section in the middle where she starts playing the piano that looks “newer” than everything else. They are also the only scenes where she’s not in the same frame as young Harrison Ford.

But here’s the best part. Edward James Olmos is in this. For those that don’t know, he’s in the new Battlestar Galactica. In Blade Runner, the replicants are called “Skin Jobs” – the same name they call the human cylons in BSG. See the connection?

Yeah, I just watched the most classic SF movie ever, and the most I got out of it was the “Skin Job” reference. But really, this movie is awesome. It’s a classic for a reason. Is this version better than the others? No clue. But if you do, lemme know!

Grade: A

The Assassination of Jesse James – Review

One of the best Westerns ever is Tombstone. I’d call it the best ever, but Clint Eastwood had a run that can’t be ignored.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Holy Crap This is a Long Title got no love at all at the Box Office. My guess it’s because the entire movie is spelled out in the title. Then again, my theory falls apart when you consider The Return of the King or Titanic.

The legend of Jesse James is more famous than Brad Pitt, who plays him. Fortunately, the director decided to focus the story on Robert Ford played by Casey Affleck (No I did not intend to watch two Casey Affleck movies back-to-back.). This had the chance of being somewhat interesting. Afterall, you have one of the classic betrayals in history told from the point of view of the betrayer. How did Robert Ford, once loved and trusted by Jesse James, get to the point of shooting him in the back? It’s the classic hero’s fall from grace. It should have been brilliant.

Instead, it was dull. I think the problem was that the movie was almost three hours long and the story takes place after the James gang commits their last robbery. So you have a three-hour Western with no robberies. Yeah. Exhilarating.

I understand the director’s dilemma. In order to have your hero turn into a villain, it must take time. Otherwise, you end up with Anakin Skywalker who kills a guy (sorta) then agrees to slaughter a bunch of kids. All within five minutes.

But three hours of watching Robert Ford’s progression was taxing, even for watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Towards the end, whenever Brad Pitt was on-screen, I’d say, “There he is! Kill him!” However, I will say that when the moment finally arrives, it’s severely disturbing. The director plays out the scene so well, that applying the title of “Coward” to Robert Ford is justly deserved.

I’ll give the movie credit for its end. After the assassination, the movie fills in some of the history of what happens to everyone. I knew nothing of Robert Ford, so that part was very entertaining, but I also like documentaries. Take that for what you will.

But I gotta knock it one last time for its length. And here’s why.

There’s a narrator.

Narrators are put in movies to fill in the boring gaps. A three-hour movie with scenes that plod along like ents does not need a narrator. Period.

Grade: C+

Gone Baby Gone – Review

Nowadays, when I watch a movie, I try and think of things to talk about in these reviews. Halfway through Gone Baby Gone, I was ready to call it “so intense, I can never watch it a second time.”

Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is about child kidnappings. Not being a father, I don’t have the same emotional reaction to these kinds of movies some of my friends have. They say that a man changes when he holds his child for the first time. Never is that more apparent to me than by talking to my child-rearing friends about these kinds of movies. These guys now tear up at a Lifetime movie (while I point and laugh). Seriously.

But watching the first half of Gone Baby Gone, I got a fun-size taste of those emotions surrounding the loss of a child. An hour into this, I was ready to crown Ben Affleck as the greatest director of the year. Then, an hour and a half into it, I remembered this was a Ben Affleck movie.

Now don’t get me wrong, the movie is not terrible. The first half truly is brilliant, but the second half is a bad cliché. It’s like Ben Affleck thought you were born yesterday and tried to pull a fast one. But in this day and age, these kinds of movies aren’t the only game in town and bad endings stick out like a sore thumb.

Moving on…

I will give credit to Ben’s bro, Casey. He plays the part of a Boston PI like he was born there. Oh right, he was. Anyway, he did a good job.

OK, so the ending is kind of lame (especially the morality question they throw at ya like a pie in the face), but this might be worth a rental. The first half is, anyway.

Grade: C+