Archive for November, 2010

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Yes Man

November 19, 2010

Yes Man

This film is typical, boring, romantic comedy.  It might have a highlight or two, but for the most part, it falls flat with little to nothing new.  This film is about Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel being Zooey Deschanel.  Both of them are fine as themselves, but the same old over the top schtick that Carrey does, and the sweet free willed girl that Deschanel always does, doesn’t lend itself to anything new and or original.

The story starts out with a bland character portrayed by Jim Carrey, who works in a bank, approving loans, and doesn’t approve any of them, in fact, he doesn’t say yes to anything.  And then, he finds out about this magic program, in which he says yes to anything and everything, and all of a sudden his life changes, for the better.  So he decides to say yes to everything for a whole year.  During this time he falls for Zooey Deschanel’s character and things are going fine, until his saying yes to everything gets him into trouble with her, and they break up.  So, he goes to find the guy who told him to say yes to everything, to find out why things aren’t going as swimmingly as they were before, and the man tells him, that his yes method isn’t about saying yes to everything, but not being afraid to say yes, and not being afraid to change, and to say yes to things that make sense.  So Jim Carrey’s character does that, and he wins back Deschanel’s character.

When it comes down to it, the story is so bland and predictable that no one really would have been able to save it.  Even Danny Masterson of That 70’s Show fame and Bradley Cooper, from The Hangover, who are funny in their own right can’t even help this sinking ship.  And Zooey Deschanel and Jim Carrey make it worse.  Carrey plays his loud over the top self in a role that it can work for with better material and a different lead with him.  Zooey Deschanel is probably screwed when it comes to acting.  She always plays the same character, the really sweet, artsy, nice, hippie type of character who is too calm, and I am not actually sure she can play anything else (see The Happening).  And it just gets annoying in this film, even when she is supposed to be sad and angry and Carrey’s character, she just seems lethargic.

Like I have already said, you could have had Spielberg direct this film, but because the story was so bland and sappy, it wouldn’t have made any difference.  But when it comes down to it, Peyton Reed is known for this type of romantic schlock which generally does fairly well in theaters, so I guess, more power to him.  Visually this film is meh, it is what you expect from a romcom.  The scoring of this film is fine, but again, what you expect from a romcom with Zooey Deschanel in it.

This is a film that I strongly recommend skipping.  There are many decent romantic comedies out there, but this isn’t one of them.  It is boring, overdone, and predictable in every sense.  Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel aren’t worth seeing in this film, and there is no real redeeming factor.  That isn’t to say that people won’t enjoy it, but unless you live for romantic comedies, skip this one, because it offers nothing new.

Entertainment Grade: C-

Critical Grade: D

Overall Grade: D+

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How To Train Your Dragon

November 12, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

This kids film hits on a level that is normally reserved to Pixar films. It is cute, funny, and extremely well made. There likely is a message in the film, but it doesn’t get caught up in it, but instead lets the simple story move the film along and does a very good job of creating memorable characters.

The story is that of a young boy who doesn’t fit into his village of Vikings. He isn’t tough enough and just doesn’t seem Viking enough instead spending more time inventing things (and these inventions are generally for taking down dragons), but that isn’t the Viking way. Things change when there is a particularly bad dragon attack and many of the adults in the village go off to find the dragon’s lair and destroy them. Hiccup, the main character, and the other youngsters are left to be trained and to become dragon slayers themselves. Hiccup, however, has taken down a dragon during the last attack and goes off into the woods to find it, and finds out that dragons might not be as bad and dangerous as the villagers think.

The voice talent in this film is great. Jay Baruchel does a good job as Hiccup, and the rest of the talent, which is fairly well recognizable doesn’t over shadow the story. This is one thing that I’ve noticed about some animated films where the magnitude of the names doing voices in the films often outweigh the characters and the story in the film. Instead of a character being that character, they are the actor as that character. This film uses fairly big names, but not huge names, and I think that helps. Even Gerard Butler, probably the biggest name doesn’t over shadow his character. And you end up routing for the characters.  Jonah Hill does a good job of playing the bumbling meat head of a Viking who is all about the violence and only the violence, and American Ferrera does a great job as Astrid, the love interest in the film.  Craig Ferguson and David Tennant help fill out a very good cast, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, of Superbad fame, does a good job voicing a character who means well, but is a bit of an idiot at times.  Mintz-Plasse’s character reminds me a bit of Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter at times.

Visually this is well animated film, the variety of the dragons is very well done and the expressions, especially from Toothless (the main dragon) are simply phenomenal. Visually it is on par with Pixar, and normally where DreamWorks has been lacking is the story, but in this case, it is on par with Pixar again. Cressida Cowell’s book is masterfully turned into a film.

This is a film that is definitely worth checking out. Everything comes together with the story, the characters, voice talent, and the animation, and while that has become more common, it is still a lot of fun to watch a film like this one. I would definitely recommend watching it if you get the chance.

Critical Grade: B+
Entertainment Grade: A
Overall Grade: A-