The Cell

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:47 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Cell
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vince Vaughn
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: New Line Cinema
Release Date: 2000
Kiddie Movie: Don’t even think of bringing them.
Date Movie: She’ll get squirmy and hold you, then again, you might get squirmy too.
Gratuitous Sex: Weird sex and lots of nudity.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of it, mostly in twisted mind sequences, but who wants to see a dude’s intestines being pulled out in any state of consciousness?
Action: Not much action.
Laughs: Some twisted chuckles here and there.
Memorable Scene: The dude getting his intestines pulled out.
Memorable Quote: Nothing really.
Directed By: Tarsem Singh

After watching “The Cell” my one thought was “Whoa, that was one fucked-up movie.” It was sick, it was demented, it reminded me of this twisted cross between “Hellraiser” and “Silence of the Lambs,” and in the end I can’t say it was the greatest movie, but it was sure entertaining, and although it was pretty obvious how things would turn out (they have to turn out that way – it’s pretty standard in Hollywood now that there aren’t any deviations from a happy or expected ending, although maybe they should try more – look at what a cool twist did for “The Sixth Sense,” but I’m sorry, I digress), “The Cell” kept me paying attention for the entire movie, and that’s always a good thing.

Here’s the story: Jennifer Lopez plays Catharine Deane, this psychiatrist type of lady working for a controversial company. What the company says is that it can implant the thoughts of one person into another’s mind so that person A can interact with the mind of person B, hopefully helping them to get over a comatose state caused by a variety of brain problems. Well, Catharine has been working with this young boy who’s mind has essentially shut off, but she can’t get through to him in his mind. Since his mind is full of ugly images, well, Catharine wants to reverse the process so that she can show the boy that life isn’t as ugly as his mind shows. Alright, enough intro and foreshadowing.

So, Catharine is going about her days but there is a killer, Carl (Vincent D’Onofrio), on the loose. He’s got mental problems, likes to turn girls into dolls by drowning them, cleaning them, and well, it’s pretty sick. The problem is that Carl has kidnapped one more victim, has her in the holding tank that will soon fill up with water, and his mind finally snaps him into a catatonic state. With no way to wake him up, the fed people enlist the help of Catharine to enter the dude’s mind to try to find out where he is holding her. Blah, blah, you can figure out the end.

What is cool with the movie is that it paints a fucked up version of reality in the mind of the psychotic. Dark images, blown exaggerations of reality, and how scary a psychopath might really be seeing the world, well, that’s what we see in the mind of the catatonic. Meanwhile, in the eyes of the living, we see how life can be better, how we can still be in charge, and how good people just want to help.

What is bad about the movie is you already know the ending – eventually they figure out where the killer is hiding the body, and the chief investigator guy saves her. That I fear is the Hollywood status-quo. Me, personally, I would have preferred them figuring out where the girl was too late, the chief investigator snaps, leaving a way for a more twisted sequel. But, that’s me – always hoping for an edge.

I’d say “The Cell” is, as a movie, about a 2 ½ starrer, but, adding the quality violence, the dude hanging but hooks in his back, and just a totally fucked up view of reality in the mind of a killer, well, let’s add another star and give “The Cell” 3 ½ stars out of 5.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Dr. Seuss’ The Car in the Hat

MPAA Rated – PG
It’s 1:22 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Mike Myers, Spencer Breslin, Dakota Fanning, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Sean Hayes
MPAA Rated: PG
Released By: Universal Pictures
Release Date: 2003
Kiddie Movie: No.
Date Movie: No.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of it implied.
Gratuitous Violence: Comic style.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Nah.
Memorable Scene: None.
Memorable Quote: None.
Directed By: Bo Welch

I’m not usually appalled at a movie, in fact I am one of the most easily amused moviegoers that there is, but the movie version of “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” just appalled me. Why? Because they took a cute and comical story and turned it into crap. What’s going to upset me more will be if this movie actually makes money. Why am I so upset? Well, maybe it’s Alec Baldwin (he plays a slime-ball man intent on sleeping with the kids mom) exclaiming to the dog “I can’t believe you whizzed on my taco!”, or maybe it was The Cat explaining to the kids when they almost take The Fish’s advice “Are you gonna listen to him? He lives where he pees!”, or maybe it was the scene where The Cat works to make the couch a little more bouncy where they show The Cat complete with butt-crack, or maybe it was The Cat describing the S.L.O.W. (his wacky car) as the Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Watchamajigger, and that it was previously called the Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transporter, yes, the S.H.I.T., although they at least stop Conrad (Spencer Breslin) from actually saying it, or maybe it was the shameless plug for the Universal Studios ride. I can usually laugh at anything, but sadly there wasn’t anything to laugh at in this movie.
The story pretty much has Mom (Kelly Preston) as a realtor, who is hosting a party that night. Quinn (Baldwin) keeps trying to convince Mom that Conrad should be in military school every time he visits. Mom leaves the kids at home while she’s at work, instructing them not to enter the living room. The kids are babysat by Mrs. Kwan (Amy Hill). Well, it starts raining, Mrs. Kwan falls asleep, and here comes The Cat (Mike Myers), pretty much sounding and acting like Austin Powers. He begins a day of mischief, the kids learn a lesson, and all is well. All is well except the desecration of Dr. Seuss because although they sometimes have a rhyme in the movie, for some reason I’m thinking that The Cat being lactose intolerant was nowhere in Dr. Seuss’ original plan.

Alright, I’m done ranting. Based on the information above, if you want to take your kids to this movie go right ahead because that’s the kind of humor that’s in this movie. Oh yea, also be ready to explain to your kids why it’s funny for The Cat to stare lovingly and call the garden digging device a “dirty ho.” It’s -1 star out of 5 for “The Cat in the Hat.”

Beer-Snobbery, Understanding Women, Lots of Movie Talk, and Stu Likes Boobs!

By: The Dude on the Right

Download and ListenDownload the Podcast!

Stu Gotz is back! Yup, Stu Gotz is back for our “Weekend Wrap-Up!” podcast, but sadly, sound effects are not. Yup, I’ve got some technical difficulties with an upgrade of my Podcast software and bad testing on my part, but that doesn’t stop Stu and I from recollecting things that have gone on while Stu was away with the Gotz family. Stu, it seems saw a lot of movies, so I do my best to move Stu’s various synopsi along while he tells you if you should see “Black Swan,” “Tron: Legacy,” and “Gulliver’s Travels.”

Since Stu was gone, I was wondering how the Little Gotz’s fared being away for Christmas and if Santa was able to find their boat, and Stu was happy to report that the boys enjoyed Christmas, even without snow, and that Santa made it to the boat to keep the kids happy.

Me, meanwhile, being newly married, am trying to understand women, and who better to ask for advice than Stu!

We talk about “Dinner for Schmucks,” Stu hopes to convice Mama Gotz to see “The Green Hornet” with him while I have to work on convincing My BFF to come with me to “The Dilemma,” we are both looking forward to “Chuck” coming back and think the new Paula Abdul show sucks. Yes, we do talk a little about the shooting in Arizona, but that’s too serious for the two of us so I tell Stu about some bat-shit crazy women on “The Bachelor” and work to convince Stu that the Chicago Bears will be in the Super Bowl.

Stu tells of beer-snobbery, I tell of Idol-aprehensiveness, and Stu likes boobs. Yup, Stu is back.

Thanks for listening!

That’s it for this podcast! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Blood and Wine

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:40 Long
A Review by:
– Stu Gotz

Blood and Wine
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Judy Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Stephen Dorff, Michael Caine
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: 1996
Kiddie Movie: Much less appropriate for kids than it is for dates.
Date Movie: Save the money and take her to a Steak and Shake instead.
Gratuitous Sex: One nipple would have rated this movie an additional half star from me.
Gratuitous Violence: I had a violent attitude after seeing this movie.
Action: Fights, car chases, all with a dash of salt.
Laughs: I sat in my seat laughing about how bad the movie was.
Memorable Scene: Actually… The fact that the movie didn’t slap a happy romantic cliché ending was the only thing memorable about this movie for me.
Memorable Quote: “Baby, I’m gonna take you away from all this.” Do real people really say this while dancing the marimba in lingerie? Not in my book. But then again this movie was definitely not my type of book.
Directed By: Bob Rafelson

Have you ever made chicken soup? I’m not talking about busting out a can of Campbell’s but actually making it from scratch? The recipe for chicken soup is pretty simple and hard to mess up (although it can be done). By adding the right components, at the right time, and in the right amounts, nine times out of ten you wind up with a pretty basic soup. In time and with a little practice one can even learn how to doctor up a basic chicken soup recipe and make it into something totally kick-ass and far from basic.

Did you know that Hollywood knows the secret to kick-ass chicken soup and very often applies it to the recipe of making movies. A lot of times the creation is supreme, but other times it’s just plain old broth. Such is the case of the new Jack Nicholson and Michael Cane movie “Blood & Wine.”

This movie reminded me of my Jeep on a cold winter’s day – it just didn’t want to start. But back to the soup comparison. Like waiting for that pot of water to boil, this movie seemed to take forever to build to something exciting. After the water did get boiling the writers added some good stock in the way of bad guy characters in Alex Gates (Nicholson) and Victor Spansky (Cane). Lots of potential here. Later came a little salt which reviled the plot to a jewel heist. To spice things up a bit some salsa was added in the way of Gabriella (Jennifer Lopez – hubba-hubba, what a babe) who portrayed a Latin love interest. For good measure the writers even threw in a little sour lemon as a way to potentially spoil a perfect crime.

They followed the recipe, and even tried to add something special, so why was it that this movie was so bad? I think it’s because I’ve been fed chicken broth, stew, casserole, gumbo, and flambé all my life. I’m tired of that recipe and its deviations. What I want is something new, and this movie is not new. Actually, to be fair, the movie should actually get acclaim for being a perfect example of a “Hollywood Cook Book Movie,” but for me it was like one of those old Gum Shoe novels made for late night TV. Slow, boring, and predictable. I really don’t know whose ass I wanted to kick more after seeing the movie, Fox for releasing it or the Dude on the Right for making me pay $4.50 to go see it. I cannot recommend this movie to the everyday kind of guy, but if you’re a film student the structure will appeal to you, and if you’re a dorky Chicago film critic it will appeal to you because you’re an artsy horses ass that has lost touch with the blue collar class people like me. Sorry Jack but I can only give your movie 1 out of 5 stars. Please don’t kick my ass! Later…

Alex & Emma

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:36 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Alex & Emma
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Sophie Marceau
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Warner Bros.
Kiddie Movie: Girls might like the love story, or just won’t get it.
Date Movie: Guys, it’s only an hour and a half. Indulge her as long as she lets you see “The Hulk.”
Gratuitous Sex: One pretty serious scene, but no nudity.
Gratuitous Violence: The dudes threatening to kill Alex, but you really don’t believe them.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: A few.
Memorable Scene: None.
Memorable Quote: None.
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Produced By: Elie Samaha, Rob Reiner, Alan Greisman, Jeremy Leven, Todd Black

It’s not that I thought “Alex & Emma” sucked, it just seemed to lack a knockout punch, or at least a decent round, to get you wrapped up in the story. It’s almost too cutesy, and once again we get a romantic comedy that pretty much shows women are suckers for groveling men.

Alex (Luke Wilson) has a problem. He’s gambled away his book advance and now owes some Cubans a bunch of cash. He’s got 30 days to finish writing his book so he can get the rest of the advance money so he can pay back the Cubans and not get dead. What does Alex do? Well, he calls a company that sends out stenographers, pretends he works at a law firm, and Emma (Kate Hudson) appears on his doorstep. So here is this woman, on the doorstep of an apartment that makes some slums look like palaces, accepting a job from a guy who says he won’t be able to pay her until the end of 30 days when the book is finished. It seems he wants to dictate the book and have her type it up. Alright, so the initial premise is farfetched, but then comes the rest of the movie.

As Alex is dictating his novel, Emma is always one to chime in with her opinion. Now sometimes this opinion is alright, but mostly it just stops Alex and makes him explain approach to writing a novel. Quickly we are able to see that Alex is telling a story similar to his love life now, except set in 20’s. This is never more apparent than his continuing changing of one of the characters in his story, the au pair, from a bouncy Sweden to a bossy German to a swinging Spaniard, and finally to the sensible Anna. Pretty much the Emma is Anna.

So while Alex is dictating his story, we get movie bits of his novel starring none other than Emma as the au pair and Alex as Adam Shipley, the dude in the story who loves two women. But where is the other woman in Alex’s life? Well, low and behold she shows up to really make Alex’s novel end exactly as he wrote it, as his publisher calls it, bittersweet, because the Adam loses both women.

But can a romantic comedy end on a bittersweet note? No way in hell. As you can easily calculate, even though Emma now seems to hate Alex, well, somehow there will be a twist to get them together in the end.

The movie is totally calculated from beginning to end. We never get a sense of urgency based on Alex’s 30 days to being dead plot, pretty much all Kate Hudson is good at is smiling (but I will admit it is a beautiful smile) and acting goofy, and if you saw Luke Wilson as the movie portrays him, I doubt you would buy him as a romantic comedy writer. It is for these reasons that my only recommendation for “Alex & Emma” is to wait for it as a rental. Guys, you might have to take your lady to this in order to make up for dragging her to “The Hulk,” but be thankful it’s only about an hour and a half long. It’s okay, but in the realm of romantic comedies there is nothing in this one to really remember. 2 stars out of 5 for “Alex & Emma.”

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Air Force One

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:58 Long
A Review by:
Stu Gotz

Air Force One
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Dean Stockwell
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Columbia Pictures
Kiddie Movie: Lots of violence so you might want to hire a babysitter, although the President’s twelve year old daughter seemed to handle the killings well.
Date Movie: Couple of spots she might grab your hand or jump in your lap.
Gratuitous Sex: Not at all.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of quality kills.
Action: Yep, and suspense too.
Laughs: Some good one liners, but not rolling on the floor laughter.
Memorable Scene: The end rescue with the passengers still alive sliding….., I won’t ruin it too much.
Memorable Quote: A couple that go something like this: “The President will get his baseball glove back and play catch with his balls.” and “That pod was designed for a reason, General. He has no right to take a chance with his life.”
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen
Produced By: Armyan Bernstein and Jon Shestack

I’ve got to say that 1997 has been a slow year for the action blockbuster. Of course there are a few exceptions like “Men In Black” (whose 90 minute or so delivery was short and to the point), “Face/Off” had a few slow, mushy moments, and “Con Air” was hokey but definitely fun! In seeing previews of “Air Force One” I had hoped this would be the defining movie of the summer. Well, I wouldn’t call it that, but it is one to see none the less.

What’s it about? The previews pretty much tell it all. AF1 gets hijacked and the President kicks some serious ass to save the day. If you’re like me you know how far fetched this scenario would be. Not so much the hijacking part, but the President as an ass kicker part I don’t buy. Think about it – I figure Bill couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag, George was an old man, Ronnie would have drooled on the hijackers, Jimmy was a lover not a fighter, Gerry’s trick knee would have given out, and Dick, hmm, well actually Dick would have found a way out because he was one slippery bastard – God bless his soul.

Anyway, I think you can see my point. But hey babe, this is the movies and movies is magic so anything can happen! With that, if you can buy the concept of shitty security on AF1 and the Pres as an ass-kicker, then I bet you’ll enjoy this movie.

President James Marshall prepares to overcome one of the Russian terrorists who have hijacked Air Force One. So what’s the good and bad of it? On the good side all the actors play their characters well. From Glenn Close as the VP Kathryn Bennett to Gary Oldman as the pretty viscous terrorist, Ivan Korshunov, all of the performances were convincing, if you could believe this sort of thing could happen to begin with. So, what else was good? The end rescue scene left an impression in my mind – totally far-fetched but great to watch on the screen none the less. The down sides of this movie? Well, simply put, the believability factor. If you’re a Doubting Thomas, nay-sayer type then don’t even spoil this movie for your friends by going to it and saying “Oh sure… That would never happen.” If I were your friend I’d kick your ass and stick it into the popcorn bucket.

Ahem… Air Force One is a suspenseful, action packed, well acted, and totally out of the realm of possibility movie that I highly recommend, give 4 out of 5 stars and I’m Stu Gotz

Aeon Flux

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:33 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Aeon Flux Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Charlize Theron
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Kiddie Movie: Leave them at home.
Date Movie: Leave them at home as well.
Gratuitous Sex: There is a scene and Aeon is in a bunch of skimpy and tight outfits.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of killing, but only the PG-13 kind.
Action: Lots of running and chasing.
Laughs: Nah.
Memorable Scene: Nothing really.
Memorable Quote: None stand out.
Directed By: Karyn Kusama
Produced By: David Gale, Gregory Goodman, Gale Anne Hurd, Gary Lucchesi

The only thing I could come up with, as I sat there watching “Aeon Flux,” was that I’ll bet it looked a lot better on paper. The story was okay, Charlize Theron looked good, although I didn’t like her hair, but in the end, the movie just didn’t seem to click for me, and not having seen the animated series from which it was based, I don’t know if it was even supposed to. Anyway, here’s the basic story…

It’s 400 years from now and most of the human population was wiped out, well, about now, due to a way wicked disease. To save the world, some scientists came up with a cure, then built this walled-in city, kind of a Utopia, where all is supposedly well, although all really isn’t. Lately an underground movement has been afoot to overthrow the Goodchild family (they’re the ruling brothers, who helped develop the original vaccine). It seems the underground folk are becoming increasingly concerned that some citizens just seem to disappear, for no apparent reason, and it is time to take action. Spurring on this is Aeon’s, I believe her niece, being mistaken as a spy and killed by the government folks. Aeon now has nothing to live for but a mission, and as it turns out, her mission is to assassinate Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas), one of the ruling brothers. She’s ready to do the deed, but then starts finding out certain things, and suddenly she finds him more important to keep alive, and he quickly realizes that you can’t always trust your siblings.

As the story plays out, and I won’t ruin the “surprise” that explains the Utopian world, Aeon is now on the good side of Trevor, they have to escape, then get back in, she has to jump on an airship which holds all of the secrets of the world, and Sithandra (Sophie Okonedo), a dudette with hands for feet, goes from being Aeon’s ally, to Aeon’s nemesis, and back to Aeon’s ally, thanks to some weird telepathic powers that the underground warriors have developed.

So, what did I find wrong with the movie? I don’t know, maybe it was because Aeon was just too cold of a character. Her only emotion was really one of gloom, even in times of discovery, and her narration just proved droning. The action sequences were alright, but I suppose the other issue I had with the movie was that I wish movie folks would quit doing the “We shoot and kill lots of people yet since we don’t actually show them getting shot and killed and don’t show blood, well, we can still get the PG-13 rating to get the kids” thing and just make the movie an R movie. Aeon had skimpy outfits, but pretty much screamed to run around naked a couple of time, they could have had better quality kills by being R, and could have used dialogue that might be more appropriate, although maybe vulgarities don’t exist in a Utopian society. That, or maybe they should have really done this movie as an animated movie rather than live action, and just kept it true to the original roots of the movie.

“Aeon Flux” wasn’t horrible, but it seemed more like two hours rather than the hour and a half running time it actually had. It’s 2 stars out of 5 for “Aeon Flux.” Would have been better rated R.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Alvin and the Chipmunks

MPAA Rated – PG
It’s 1:31 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jason Lee, David Dross, Cameron Richardson
MPAA Rated: PG
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Kiddie Movie: It’s really for them.
Date Movie: Only if you’re bringing the kids.
Gratuitous Sex: Nope, but some skimpy outfits on the back-up dancers.
Gratuitous Violence: Cartoonish.
Action: Not really.
Laughs: Mostly for the kids.
Memorable Scene: Nothing really.
Memorable Quote: Nothing comes to mind.
Directed By: Tim Hill
Produced By: Ross Bagdasarian Jr., Janice Karman

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s because I’m old, but you would think that with the advances in technology that our beloved Chipmunks, namely Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, would still have the chipmunk voice but you would be able to understand them a little better. Not so. And you would also think that they could write a story a little more creative than the Chipmunks being seduced by a dirty record company executive. Not so. Even so, I didn’t think “Alvin and the Chipmunks” was all that bad.

As I eluded, the story for “Alvin and the Chipmunks” is pretty simple. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are living in the woods when their pine tree gets chopped down for an office Christmas tree, and the boys come along for the ride. Seeking a life of ease, the boys then stowaway with Dave (Jason Lee), a struggling songwriter who is friends with the evil record dude, Ian (David Cross). Sure, Dave quickly accepts the fact that he has talking Chipmunks, especially when he finds out they can sing, but they are rambunctious creatures, messing up Dave’s pad, but all seems well when the boys have Ian record “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t be Late), and Dave does his best to keep the boys grounded as they enter the rock star world.

But Ian sees an opportunity to exploit the Chipmunks for financial gain, he splits them up from Dave as sleazy record company people do, gives them a life of excess, and works them until they become tabloid fodder.

Can Dave save the heroes from a life of booze, drugs, and cheap women? Of course he can, this is a children’s movie, and he does so just in the nick of time.

And, oh yea, of course the movie has a love story built in for no real reason, namely Dave trying to woo his ex-girlfriend, Claire (Cameron Richardson).

For the kiddies they will probably really like “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” and most of the kids in the theater when I saw it seemed entertained, although they did start to become distracted during the romantic dinner scene. For the adults, it’s not horrible. Jason Lee does a nice job as Dave, keeping him friendly enough in a quirky sort of way, and David Cross is good as the sleazy record dude. The CGI of the Chipmunks themselves is done fairly well, giving each of the boys their own character, but I still can’t believe they are so hard to understand.

There’s nothing special about “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” but it seems okay in a kids kind of way, and of course what would a kid’s movie be without a fart joke. It’s 2 ½ stars out of 5 for “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Alpha Dog

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:57 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Alpha Dog
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Ben Foster, Shawn Hatosy, Emile Hirsch, Sharon Stone, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Willis
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Universal Pictures
Kiddie Movie: Only if you want them on the wrong life path.
Date Movie: Both you and your dudette have bodies to ogle.
Gratuitous Sex: Nudity and sex!
Gratuitous Violence: Mostly hand to hand combat, but sadly one gun scene.
Action: Not really.
Laughs: There’s a chuckle or two.
Memorable Scene: Frankie trying to get Zack to leave the apartment.
Memorable Quote: I hope I got this right: “Have a period or something.”
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes
Produced By: Sidney Kimmel, Chuck Pacheco

I think knowing the ending of “Alpha Dog” before going in to see it made me feel even worse for Zack Mazursky, the brother of Jake, because up until the end, getting kidnapped was the greatest thing that seemed to have happened to him. Here’s the basic story…

“Alpha Dog” is a fictional look at a true Hollywood story about a kidnapping gone bad, kids gone bad, and parenting that is mostly questionable, except, for, well, that of Sonny Truelove (Bruce Willis), sort of, who supposedly has mob ties and supposedly sets up his son with drugs to sell, yet tries to get Johnny (Emile Hirsch) out of a sticky kidnapping situation, but Johnny doesn’t listen. Such are kids sometimes.

Anyway, Johnny and his group of friends, including Elvis (Shawn Hatosy) and Frankie (Justin Timberlake), enjoy their days by selling drugs, getting high, drinking a lot, and sleeping with hot girls. Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster) owes Johnny money, and Johnny ain’t too happy about it, tries to beat up Jake, and now Jake is pissed. Jake and Johnny seem to go back and forth a bit, but Johnny doesn’t take it too well when Jake takes a dump on his living room carpet.

Meanwhile, Jake’s brother, Zack (Anton Yelchin) is a fifteen-year-old kid, not really happy at home with his over-protective mother, Olivia (Sharon Stone), looks up to his hoodlum brother, and decides to run away from home when he gets busted with having a bong in his room. So Zack is wandering around, Johnny and his crew spot him, and Johnny decides to kidnap Zack so that Jake will pay his debt. As things sometimes go when you don’t fully think about your plan, Johnny finds himself in a pickle, and now instead of just a person dealing drugs, he’s also a kidnapper.

Johnny assigns Frankie to take care of Zack, so of course Frankie invites some people over to party, the girls think it is cool that Zack is “Stolen Boy,” and Zack is having a pretty good time smoking pot, getting drunk, being “cool,” losing his virginity via a threesome in a pool, and figuring he would ride this out until his brother pays his debt, and all will be well. But little does Zack know that Jake, rather than just pay off his debt, intends to kill Johnny, Johnny is now freaked realizing kidnapping can lead to life in prison, and of course Johnny thinks his easiest course of action is to have one of his buddies kill Zack and leave him in a shallow grave, even though everyone and their aunt and uncle knows Johnny kidnapped Zack, and has partied with Zack.

I found “Alpha Dog” a really good movie, tapping into a world of people most of us wouldn’t have far to understand where the kids went wrong thanks mostly to some of the worst parenting out there. The sad thing about “Alpha Dog” is that it is based on some true events. Sure, I’m not exactly sure what was real, and what was Hollywood fantasy, but there were two scenes in the movie that really stuck in my head. One was Frankie, truly torn between his loyalty to Johnny and his liking Zack and wishing Zack would just go back home. In the scene, knowing the fate that awaits Zack, Frankie tries to get Zack to go to the corner store for him, possibly getting Zack out of the apartment long enough to keep him from getting offed. But Zack doesn’t to go, enjoying just relaxing and watching “Austin Powers” on the TV. The other scene is Zack, being driven to what he thinks is back home, talking to Frankie about how he thinks he might change his life, and maybe appreciate his mom more.

What works in “Alpha Dog” isn’t just a great story, but the performances by everyone were fantastic, and yes, especially Justin Timberlake. In the end it’s really a sad story, especially for Zack who, for a few days, enjoyed being cool, even impressing Frankie with his fighting skills, and losing his virginity with two cute dudettes. Then he finds himself dead, when sadly, if Johnny had just listened to his dad, Zack might have been able to learn to play guitar like he wanted to, and Johnny’s friends might have been able to avoid life, and even death sentences, for the kidnapping.

I liked “Alpha Dog,” but it might not be your cup of tea. It’s violent, it’s got sex, it’s really a sad story, but in the end I was gripped with the story and give it 4 stars out of 5.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Along Came A Spider

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:43 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Along Came a Spider
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, Michael Wincott
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Kiddie Movie: Too adult. Leave them at home.
Date Movie:
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Some pretty gruesome killings.
Action: A good chase here and there.
Laughs: Nah.
Memorable Scene: The ending.
Memorable Quote: None.
Directed By: Lee Tamahori
Produced By: David Brown, Joe Wizan

Sometimes you go and see a movie and you leave going “Hmm, that was a pretty good movie.” Not “Wow,” not “Oh my God,” just “Hmm.” Such was the case of “Along Came a Spider” for me.

After seeing a series of movies that showed I’m too easily amused, it was good to see a movie that I could appreciate for just being a good action/drama. “Along Came a Spider” teams Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross, a good investigator brooding about the loss of his partner, with Monica Potter as Jezzie Flannigan, a secret service agent that let the girl she was protecting get kidnapped. Alex wouldn’t have anything to do with the kidnapping except that the kidnapper brings him in by leaving him some clues. And so the chase is on. Alex takes Jezzie under his wing because she feels like she screwed up but Alex sees her as a valuable ally because she could help profile the kidnapper (it was the teacher at the school where the little girl went – don’t worry, I’m not giving any important plot points away, this is part of the story).

Not the greatest of suspense films, there have been better, but “Along Came a Spider” does a good job of leading you through Alex’s investigative process and the relationship he develops with Jezzie. But the movie does have some flaws, like some too obvious foreshadowing of a couple of plot points, although also does a great job of mixing up how you might perceive the movie to end.

I can’t go into the story much more without giving too many things away. Freeman does a great job as Alex Cross, trying to put the pieces together, and Potter is good as the innocent secret service agent, but there is some lack of thrill that had it been there, it could have gone right up there with some of the great movies of this type. This one ends up being just a “Hmm, that was a pretty good movie” and with that a “Hmm” movie gets 3 stars out of 5 from me. Even so, if you’re looking for a nice thriller, go see “Along With a Spider” and you’ll get a “Hmm” too, or maybe a little better.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!