Unstoppable

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:39 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Unstoppable
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: 11/12/2010
Kiddie Movie: Not too you, they might not like trains anymore.
Date Movie: She might get suspenseful and snuggle.
Gratuitous Sex: None.
Gratuitous Violence: Things get run over by the train.
Action: It’s mostly a thriller and suspense film rather than action, although it still is action.
Laughs: There are a couple of one-liners to make you chuckle.
Memorable Scene: Frank and Will getting to know each other in the train.
Memorable Quote: Oh my God! Galvin, you asshole!
Directed By: Tony Scott
Produced By: Julie Yorn, Tony Scott, Mimi Rogers, Eric McLeod, Alex Young

I saw the trailer for “Unstoppable.” Yup, there he was, Denzel, in all of his Denzellness, as a train engineer, and there it was, a train, with no one at the controls, set on a collision course for releasing toxic stuff into a large town. Yup, I also get it, there’s a newbie involved, in this case Captain Kirk, I mean Chris Pine, and somehow they will save the town, and maybe one of them might die. And finally, yup, I thought, “How exciting can this movie be? “ As it would be, I had no desire to really see this movie, but when my BFF had something to do and I had some free time, the choice was “Unstoppable” and Denzel or “Morning Glory” and Harrison (Ford that is). I can’t really say anything about the romantic comedy movie, but I will say that “Unstoppable” was a thrilling movie, my fingernails are bitten, and simply, “Who knew?”

The plot is simple: Two oafs in the rail yard don’t follow protocol and one of the trains ends up rolling down the track with no one in the cab to stop it, and, oh yea, the safety mechanism off because of our oafs. As Rosario Dawson tries to figure out what is going on (she plays the rail yard manager), she also finds out that there is volatile liquid being transported and a rather large Pennsylvania town in its path. Meanwhile, Will (Pine) and Frank (Washington), find themselves on a different train, with Will being the newbie, being trained by Frank (Who knew there was so much to learn about driving a train, but the movie shows that a hell of a lot goes into being an engineer instead of just hanging out in that cab, tooting the horn, and waving at traffic stopped at the crossing?). As luck would have it for the town, Frank’s train is on the same track as the rogue train, and, oh why am I bothering telling you any of the plot?

Look, for a fun time at the movie, and a movie that is pretty much non-stop in thrilldom and excitement, you can fare a lot worse than “Unstoppable.” Tony Scott keeps the action going at a nice pace, and in a weird way, what really makes this movie work is the cinematography, which nicely builds the suspense of the movie from start to finish. I mean, we pretty much know how things are going to turn out from the minute our oafs screw up by not hitching the air brakes, about the only question would be if any of our stars bite the dust. There is enough back-story to make you interested in the characters just enough, you can find yourself despising the corporate morons, and sure, there is some unbelievability and over-the-top-ed-ness about the film, but in the end you can sit back, relax, and know that the town is safe because Denzel is at the helm!

So, for a nice thrill ride during an evening at the theater, and I know this sounds weird, but go ahead and see a movie about a train. “Unstoppable was fun, Denzel and Chris had great rapport, I nibbled my fingernails off even though I knew the basic ending, and it’s 4 stars out of 5 for “Unstoppable.” Yes, I couldn’t believe it myself that it was that much fun.

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

Due Date

An excerpt from my movie review of Due Date

Yup, it’s a buddy movie, and the other comparison people are making is to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” only this movie doesn’t have any pillows (Thinking about it, it almost would have been a nice little tribute by the movie makers to make a nod to that scene, but hey, that’s just me), instead we get Jamie Foxx as Darryl, who may or may not be the father of Sarah’s child, we get Juliette Lewis who is a pretty funny pot dealer, and we get a scene where probably each and every one of us would like to “discipline” a child in the manner Peter does, only we know we would probably end up in jail.

Due Date

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:40 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Due Date
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Warner Bros.
Release Date: November 5, 2010
Kiddie Movie: Oh no, please leave them at home.
Date Movie: My BFF liked it – yours might, too.
Gratuitous Sex: “Sort of” is probably the best way to put it.
Gratuitous Violence: Slapstick, and a gunshot.
Action: There’s some chasing by the Mexican border police.
Laughs: Lots of them, and many that hit you out of thin air.
Memorable Scene: I would say either the scene with the little kid, or the scene with the dog.
Memorable Quote: Too many to list.
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Produced By: XXXXXXXXXXXXX

There was an instant comparison to “The Hangover” when “Due Date” was going to be released, mostly because the commercials for the movie stated something like “From the people who brought you ‘The Hangover,” but let me say this, even thought “Due Date” is a funny movie, unlike “The Hangover,” which, in the stretches of your mind you can actually, almost believe, most everything that happened could happen, there are a number of scenes in “Due Date” where even I couldn’t suspend reality, and for that “Due Date” is no “The Hangover.”

That said, it is funny.

Let’s get to the story…

Robert Downey Jr. is Peter. He’s a business traveler with the good looking wife Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), and they live in Los Angeles. There he is, away on a trip to Atlanta, or somewhere thereabouts, and Sarah is pregnant, ready to pop as it would be, and he’s looking forward to coming home to be there at the birth of their child. He makes his way to the airport when who does he run in to? Well, it’s Ethan (Zach Galifianakis). Ethan is quite the character, on his way to Hollywood, and through a comedy of errors, yup, Peter is booted from his flight, has no ID, and who comes to his aid? Well, it’s Ethan, again. Yup, it’s part Ethan’s fault for Peter’s trouble, Ethan feels a tad guilty (or maybe he just wants a friend), and our two polar opposites are now on a cross-country drive to the wonderful west coast.

So, sure, along the way, since this is a comedy after all, there are a lot of hilarities ensuing, maybe some drug use, and Mexican cops who are anything but clean. We find out a lot about Ethan, especially since in the world of Chatty Charlie’s he’s right up there with the best of them, and Peter really just wants to get to L.A. and sometimes his temper gets in the way.

Yup, it’s a buddy movie, and the other comparison people are making is to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” only this movie doesn’t have any pillows (Thinking about it, it almost would have been a nice little tribute by the movie makers to make a nod to that scene, but hey, that’s just me), instead we get Jamie Foxx as Darryl, who may or may not be the father of Sarah’s child, we get Juliette Lewis who is a pretty funny pot dealer, and we get a scene where probably each and every one of us would like to “discipline” a child in the manner Peter does, only we know we would probably end up in jail.

I really liked “Due Date,” and really don’t want to give away any of the jokes because when they hit they usually come out of left field, and are better left to be served up in the moment, but the one scene I will ruin, and it’s the scene that took me out of the movie, was when Peter gets arrested by some Mexican border police dudes, and then Ethan steals not only the border police vehicle, but also is able to hitch up the trailer the police are keeping Peter in, and bring Peter along for the ride. This is the scene that, for me, took all plausibility of the movie out of reality (Okay, it wasn’t the only scene,) although, I will state, that a number of people in the theater did find the ensuing police chase funny.

In the end “Due Date” made me laugh, and made me laugh hard at times. There were some slow moments, maybe things got a little too serious at times, but for the scenes where Peter disciplines the child, and that dog, I have to recommend “Due Date.” And mucho credit to the duo of Downey Jr and Galifianakis because they really pulled off the “buddy” comedy well, thus putting Robert Downey Jr. up there, in my book, as the world’s second greatest actor. (Michael Keaton will always be the first). I liked it, my BFF liked it, and for a fun, adult trip to the movies, I says it’s a 3 1/2 star flick out of 5.

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

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Here’s a bit from The Dude on the Right’s Blu-ray review of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”

…I guess I hate to put it this way, but it seems that “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is a dudette flick.  I say this simply by viewing it with my fiancé, whom, after we finished the movie, simply said “It was under two hours. It had a happy ending. I liked it.”  Yup, my fiancé has a pretty simple scale for her liking of movies, and yes, she does have to actually like the movie, but as the credits started to roll, and I looked at her and said “Ehh,” she stated her case based on her ratings scale, I said “Really, you liked it?” and she replied “Yes I did.” Hmm?…

Read the full review here.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:56 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainnent
Kiddie Movie: It’s better for the older kiddies.
Date Movie: My BFF liked it, so go ahead and snuggle.
Gratuitous Sex: The Princess wears some skimpy outfits is about it.
Gratuitous Violence: There’s a lot of swordplay and people getting stabbed.
Action: Lots of chasing and running around.
Laughs: A chuckle here and there.
Memorable Scene: Whenever the dagger gets used.
Memorable Quote: Nothing.
Directed By: Mike Newell
Blu-ray Cool Things: The deleted scene is useless, but for film buffs the “CineExplore: The Sands of Time” is kind of like a visual commentary track.

I guess I hate to put it this way, but it seems that “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is a dudette flick. I say this simply by viewing it with my fiancé, whom, after we finished the movie, simply said “It was under two hours. It had a happy ending. I liked it.” Yup, my fiancé has a pretty simple scale for her liking of movies, and yes, she does have to actually like the movie, but as the credits started to roll, and I looked at her and said “Ehh,” she stated her case based on her ratings scale, I said “Really, you liked it?” and she replied “Yes I did.” Hmm?

So let’s start with the story… Jake Gyllenhaal is Dastan. He’s a little kid in the land of Persia and in a showing of courage, the King decides to adopt him, making him that adopted brother, and Prince, of Persia. He has two other brothers and they actually seem to get along in that brotherly way, and all is well with the kingdom. As the story goes the soldiers come across the land of Alamut, a holy land pretty much left alone in the kingdom, but through a “spy” it seems the Alamutians might be running weapons to the enemies of the Persians. Looking to strike while the iron is hot, with a bit of surprise, the boys, and the King’s brother, Nizam (Ben Kingsley), decide to attack, and in doing so Dastan ends up with this dagger. There is much rejoicing, it is deemed that Dastan should marry Tamina, the Princess/rulerish dudette of Alamut, but then the King dies from a poisoned cloak thing.

Well, Dastan is framed for the King’s death, he runs off with Tamina and decides he has to clear his name and also finds out that the dagger has this magic sand that can turn back time a bit. He learns of the true nature of the sand from Tamina, how it came to be, and the resulting problem should the sand fall into the wrong hands.

And so, for the remainder of the movie, Dastan and Tamina go through adventure after adventure in their quest to prove the good name of our hero, and secure the sand from the bad people.

Look, the movie is grandiose in scale, looks beautiful, but for me just seemed to keep getting itself too complicated in the treachery, the mysticism, and the 3-D-ness effects that were there for the movie in the theater, and maybe will be there for the 3-D TV’s in the future, but for even the Blu-ray scenes it was like wasted screen time when we get it, snakes fly at you in 3-D but don’t do it on my current flat screen.

Jake Gyllenhaal is good enough as Prince Dastan, Gemma Arterton is snippy and pretty as the Princess Tamina, and the film looks great, but I just kept sitting there on my couch waiting for the movie get to its ending, an ending that I thought went too far back in time, but then again, I guess it had to in order for the happy ending. I can see the kids liking it, I can see the dudes being okay with it, but for me it seemed about a 2 star movie that wanted to be a lot more than it ended up being For my BFF, though, she liked the story, it was under two hours, and had a happy ending and felt it was about a 3 1/2 star movie. I’ll average them together and round up to finally give the movie 3 stars out of 5. What do I know?

As far as the Blu-ray kinds of stuff, I still am trying to figure out why the Blu-ray version has a deleted scene that does nothing, really, but show some cut off heads on a platter. It does, though, for movie buffs, give an interesting, kind of “commentary” track, where if you watch the movie via the “Bonus Features” menu, there will be this dagger that shows up every now and then that if you use your remote, you can get a boat-load of “making of,” “how did they do that,” and tidbits about the movie. It’s kind of cool, at least the first couple of times, but it does get a little tedious waiting for the “dagger” to do it’s magic every time – I suggest using the index to see the things you really want to learn about quicker.

All in all a decent film to watch with your more adult children, or go ahead, snuggle with your honey on the couch while she checks out Jake’s abs, but for me the movie got lost in a lot of grandioseness that actually took away from the story.

21

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 2:02 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

21
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgess, Laurence Fishburne
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Columbia Pictures
Kiddie Movie: Only if you to turn them into degenerate gamblers.
Date Movie: If she likes to gamble in Vegas and doesn’t just go there for the shows.
Gratuitous Sex: Ben and Jill get it on, but sadly it’s PG-13 so her arms cover her boobs. The group also meets in a strip club, but the girls have pasties on.
Gratuitous Violence: Some some beating up of people.
Action: Our heroes do find themselves running from casino goons through the belly of a casino.
Laughs: A chuckle here and there.
Memorable Scene: All I’ll say is the look on a dude’s face at the end of the movie.
Memorable Quote: Micky to Ben: “I love a parade, don’t you?
Directed By: Robert Luketic
Produced By: Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Kevin Spacey

That’s it. I’m draining my bank account and heading to Vegas. Yup, I can count, too. Oh wait, they have that crazy facial recognition software now, don’t they? And, oh yea, I like to have a cocktail or ten while at the blackjack table. And, oh yea, they worked in teams. You know what, I guess I should scrap that idea and just go back to the lottery. “21” though, a movie loosely based on a group of MIT students who made a lot of dough in casinos by counting cards at the blackjack tables, is a lot of fun, if not somewhat preposterous.

In the movie we get Ben (Jim Sturgess), a student at MIT who wants to go to Harvard Medical School, only he ain’t got the money, and he’s banking on getting a free ride scholarship. When his professor, Micky (Kevin Spacey), notices that Ben is a math wiz, he figures Ben would make a good fit into his team of kids who take weekend trips to Las Vegas beating the casinos at their own game. At first Ben is hesitant, but since his dream-girl from afar, Jill (Kate Bosworth), is part of the team, Ben finds himself wrapped into a world he never came close to dreaming about (you see, Ben was the typical nerd at MIT, hanging out with his two, typical nerd friends, concentrating on school and a robot project instead of hitting on girls). Things are going well as Ben finds he is great at running a table, Micky loves him because he’s making him loads of easy money, but then, you can guess, the lifestyle starts to get to Ben’s head, he starts to gamble instead of remember the rules, and forgets that as easy as Micky can make his life in college, he can also make it miserable. Then of course there is Cole (Laurence Fishburne), a loss specialist for the casinos, hot on the trail of our college kids, realizing exactly what they are up to and probably happy because it means he gets to beat up somebody.

“21,” being the Hollywood take of the actual story, of course changes a whole bunch of things about the story, but it’s probably better because the actual story, while fascinating, would be pretty boring on the big screen. At its core, though, is the basic concept of using a team to gaining the upper hand at the tables, though I’m doubting any of the original team members found themselves running through the casino kitchen trying to get away from casino goons.

Jim Sturgess does a nice job of developing the nerdy Ben into a flashy Vegas high-roller, Kate Bosworth just needs to be on the screen to make me happy (although an R-rated version with her naked would be better), and Kevin Spacey is great in that “I am holier than thou so you will listen to me or be crushed” role. Some of the flashy effects make the film look better on the big screen, and the ending was “Hollywood calculated” for me, but if you’ve got an afternoon free and ever thought you could beat a casino at blackjack, the movie pretty much shows you that you have no chance, so go ahead and split that pair of tens even though the dealer has a nine showing (I’ve seen it done – the dude won both hands). It’s 3 ½ stars out of 5 for “21.”

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

15 Minutes

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 2:00 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

15 Minutes
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, Kelsey Grammer, Melina Kanakaredes
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: New Line Cinema
Kiddie Movie: Not at all.
Date Movie: She might get scared and snuggle.
Gratuitous Sex: More nudity than sex.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of it.
Action: Some good chase scenes.
Laughs: De Niro always gives some chuckles.
Memorable Scene: I won’t spoil it.
Memorable Quote: None stand out.
Directed By: John Herzfeld
Produced By: John Herzfeld, David Blocker

“15 Minutes” was one of those movies that as stupid, hopefully for a while, was its base story line, it still ends up enjoyable, I guess mostly because the characters are creepy and likeable, and there is one twist that I’m still surprised the filmmakers used. Here’s the story that hopefully never ends up on TV.

Robert De Niro plays Eddie Flemming. He’s a cop in New York who does his job well, even if he does let news-dude Robert Hawkins (Kelsey Grammer) film a lot of what he does. With this Eddie has become sort of a celebrity in the town. Enter Emil (Karel Roden) and Oleg (Oleg Taktarov), two new visitors to the United States from Western Europe. Oleg dreams of being a film director and to help him achieve his dream he begins by stealing a way-cool video camera and then directing his first scene – Emil killing his buddy. Emil isn’t too hip to Oleg’s filming until he finds that documenting their assorted murders might land him a financial windfall when he sells the footage to Hawkins and plans to option the screen rights. In the meantime Jordy (Edward Burns), the fire marshal, hooks up with Eddie when both their jobs intersect investigating some of Emil’s handiwork. Eddie tries to teach Jordy a thing or two about being a celebrity and Jordy tries to teach Eddie a thing or two about being a little less intimidating when questioning scared suspects, in this case Daphne (Vera Farmiga) who witnessed Emil’s slicing work on his buddy.

So with our heroes on the trail of the killers, the movie turns to Robert Hawkins lack of scruples, or at least lack of caring about anything he shows on TV, when he airs one of the murders Emil committed. Upsetting everyone, especially young Jordy, it does make you wonder if there isn’t anything that might not end up on TV nowadays, but you sincerely hope, although you would probably still watch, that it doesn’t come to the likes of Grammer’s Hawkins showing the top story.

The story for “15 Minutes” is one that doesn’t seem too realistic, it has a few holes, but it is daring enough to pull off a couple of surprises which I won’t tell you here lest I spoil a major plot point, and I think that might be why I ended up coming out of “15 Minutes” saying to myself as well as hearing from others that the movie wasn’t that bad. De Niro is his usual great self and Burns plays Eddie’s puppy dog sidekick faithfully. You tend to hate Emil and feel kinda sad for Oleg, yet the one plot line that really didn’t fit was Eddie’s relationship with news reporter Nicki (Melina Kanakaredes) which just seemed a little out of place for Eddie’s personality. Oh well, I guess you can’t have it all.

So, for “15 Minutes” you get an entertaining movie containing well-played bad guys, well-played good guys, some quality kills, a little gratuitous nudity, and a feeling that it won’t be too long before some broadcaster really does show someone’s murder on TV. I’ll give “15 Minutes” 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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

A Prairie Home Companion

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

A Prairie Home Companion
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Woody Harrelson, L.Q. Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Picturehouse Films
Kiddie Movie: They won’t get the jokes and the teens might not like the music.
Date Movie: You’ve both got to appreciate radio variety shows.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of innuendo.
Gratuitous Violence: Nope.
Action: Nope.
Laughs: Lots of chuckles and some good laughs.
Memorable Scene: Nothing really stands out.
Memorable Quote: It goes something like: “I asked ‘What are you here for?’ ‘Liquor,’ she said, and lick her I did, and I don’t work there anymore.”
Directed By: Robert Altman
Produced By: Robert Altman, Wren Arthur, Joshua Astrachan, Tony Judge, David Levy

I vaguely recollect, as a youngster, going to see a sort of vaudeville/variety show at our local theater, and enjoying it. The music was campy, the characters had, well, character, and it just seemed like a fun time all around. Seeing “A Prairie Home Companion” sort of brought me back to that time, and I had a fun time all around for this movie, except for two old ladies in the audience, but I’ll save that for my blog. Anyway, let’s get to the movie…

I’m not sure of all of the particulars of this movie, nor am I one for much investigative work, but supposedly the movie reflects an actual radio variety show set in the same Fitzgerald Theater in Minnesota. For our movie the radio station has been sold to some dude from Texas, and this will be the last show for “A Prairie Home Companion.” All of the characters, and there is a huge cast of characters, seem to have their own way of dealing with the demise of the only life they’ve know for the last thirty-some years, and we get to see it all, complete with lots of variety-show type music and some mysticism in the fact that this will be the final episode of the show, as well as the final night for some of the characters, thanks to the arrival of Dangerous Woman (Virginia Madsen). The show goes on, the show ends, and life goes on, for most of them.

I know that’s sort of a short synopsis, but the movie doesn’t really seem to have a set “story,” but rather just tries to show the tales of everyone involved in this last performance, and it’s those performances that hold the movie together. First we are introduced to Guy Noir (Kevin Kline). He’s a private investigator who is relegated to security for the show due to the lack of any real work for a private investigator in a Minnesota town. He sets up the story, is quirky thinking Dangerous Woman has a thing for him, and shows that he really isn’t a good private investigator when a cast member dies. Garrison Keillor is G.K. He’s sort of the ringleader for the show, giving the lead-ins for the various acts, voicing the commercials, and even singing along with the various characters at times. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin play Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, singing sisters for the show, who spend the night reflecting on how their lives have turned out. The cornballs of the show are Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as Dusty and Lefty. They are supposed to be a couple of cowboys fresh off the range, turning songs into corny jokes and being risqué. And in a role that shows if she could get out of the dorky film roles she has been stuck in, Lindsay Lohan did a fantastic job as Lola, the daughter of Yolanda, fascinated with suicide and wondering about her own future.

All of our characters intertwine, as we would expect, during the backstage scenes, and it is here where the stories take place. No one can understand why G.K. won’t announce to the audience that this is their last show nor the death of one of the cast, to which G.K. retorts that every show is the last show, and that he doesn’t do eulogies. Yolanda hopes that there might be time at the end for Lola to get on stage, and low and behold there is, and as the movie comes to an end, Dangerous Woman is back, but Guy wonders who she is there for. We don’t find out.

Me, I liked this movie a lot, but you might not, and that’s okay, because this is definitely not a movie for everyone. Pretty much if you hate bluegrass-ish or vaudeville style music, well, you will hate this movie because there is a lot of it present in the movie. And if you want a totally cohesive story, well, you won’t get that from “A Prairie Home Companion” either. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a variety-style show, enjoy a lot of sexual innuendos jokes, and can get through the mysticism part of Dangerous Woman, you will most likely enjoy this movie a lot.

The movie itself was great for me, but what also blew me away was Robert Altman’s, and I guess it was his call, use of mirrors during many of the behind-the-scenes scenes. It gave the movie much different affect, and limited, I suppose, the need to shoot scenes multiple times from multiple angles, allowing all of the characters to feed off of each other for the entire scene with the mirrors enabling their faces to remain in the scene. Okay, that was way to hard to explain, so I’ll just wrap this review by giving “A Prairie Home Companion” 4 ½ stars out of 5. But please, take my warning about the music and jokes appropriately, because I don’t see many middle-of-the-road people for this film. You will either like it or hate it. I liked it.

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

A Knight’s Tale

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:42 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

A Knight’s Tale
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon, Alan Tudyk
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Columbia Pictures
Kiddie Movie: It’s cute but the jousting is a little violent.
Date Movie: She might find Heath dreamy.
Gratuitous Sex: A scene with some perky nipples.
Gratuitous Violence: The jousting gets pretty good.
Action: Just the fighting scenes.
Laughs: Chuckles here and there and the speeches by Chaucer are usually pretty funny.
Memorable Scene: Nothing really.
Memorable Quote: Nah.
Directed By: Brian Helgeland
Produced By: Todd Black, Tim Van Rellim

Leaving the theater, a couple of girls in their early teens were in front of me. Their simple comments: “That movie was great.” “He was soooo cute.” And those comments really sum up “A Knight’s Tale.” Don’t get me wrong, I did like the movie, even with things that had no place being in the movie, but it was a cute film, had some nice action, a story that you could figure out from a mile away, and I laughed a couple of times. So, let’s get to the story.

William (Heath Ledger) grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, or at least on the wrong side of town. It’s the medieval times and he wants to compete in the jousting and sword tournaments. Bad news for him – he’s not a man with a royal family line. Then, as the story would have it, his master, a jouster, dies. Seeing his chance to change his fate he dons the old man’s armor, nearly gets his head taken off in the joust, but still wins. William decides that he can compete, his companions, Roland (Mark Addy) and Wat (Alan Tudyk), aren’t so sure but go along for the ride, and they run into Jeffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany), naked as a jaybird, who can forge some papers saying William is of royal lineage.

Well, William starts to compete, keeps winning, mostly because his best competition is off fighting a war, and falls in love with Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon). The climactic finish comes at the jousting championships in London where William is exposed as a fraud, his past coming to haunt him yet his fights coming back to save him, and all’s well that ends well.

Most things in this movie are of the normal cookie-cutter variety. You’ve got the love story which you know how it will end; You’ve got the tournament side which you know how it will end; and You’ve got the foreshadowing point which you know will save our hero. Mix into all of that a rock soundtrack that seems strangely out of place yet still works and well, you get “A Knight’s Tale.”

In the end “A Knight’s Tale” was stupid yet cute, and if it wasn’t for the humorous orations of Jeffrey Chaucer, well, “A Knight’s Tale” would have fallen flat on its face. If you’re looking for an intriguing story, suspenseful action, and a movie that makes you think, well, “A Knight’s Tale” won’t be for you. But, if you just want to see a generic movie with some action, a nice love story, and some humorous ramblings, well, you’ll probably like it.

I’m giving “A Knight’s Tale” 3 ½ stars out of 5 because it is exactly what you would expect it to be.

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

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 2:25 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards, William Hurt
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Warner Bros/Dreamworks Pictures
Kiddie Movie: Leave them at home.
Date Movie: She might get weepy.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of innuendos and talk.
Gratuitous Violence: Robots get disintegrated.
Action: Not really but some chase scenes.
Laughs: Thanks to Teddy.
Memorable Scene: When David find The Blue Fairy. They should have left the film there.
Memorable Quote: None.
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Produced By: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Bonnie Curtis

I said in my preview that “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” looked to be a great family film. I’ll tell you what, leave most of the family at home because this ain’t no “E.T.”

“A.I.” is a great showing of filmmaking, and you would think that combining the likes of great filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, who started the development of this film, and Steven Spielberg who is, well, Steven Spielberg, that this film couldn’t go wrong. For me it went wrong, I guess, because Stanley Kubrick isn’t Steven Spielberg and Steven Spielberg isn’t Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick had a knack for turning a nightmare into a twisted reality, Spielberg is best at making a dream a reality, and this movie would have been better as a nightmare or as a dream, but not both which seems to be what Spielberg ended up trying to do.

In “A.I.” we get a future where you just can’t get pregnant willy-nilly. Robots have become commonplace, especially for sex, but our robot maker thinks that the next best thing is to make a child who can love, basically a child for all of the families that can’t have a child. He develops David (Haley Joel Osment) and gives him to the first test-family, Monica (Frances O’Connor) and Henry (Sam Robards), a family whose own son is in frozen hibernation until a cure can be found for his illness. At first Monica is skeptical, but eventually she activates David to be able to love. She begins to love David, even though he is a robot, but then, low and behold, her son gets a cure and now Martin, Monica and Henry’s biological son, comes home. Yea, you can guess, things get a little tense as Martin and David vie for attention, but Martin has the upper hand because he is human and can figure how to manipulate a robot.

After a few things go wrong on the David front, well, Monica decides it’s time for David to go, but she won’t return him to his builders for fear he might get destroyed. So she leaves him to fend for himself in the forest. It is here, after finding Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) – he’s a sex robot on the run, that David starts to see what he is, but he wants to be a real boy, like in the Pinocchio story which Martin made Monica read to them, and begins his quest to find the Blue Fairy. Not to give anything more away, well, let’s leave the story at that.

But here’s the problem – “A.I” deals with dreams and nightmares, and a movie trying to be both. I think this movie needed to be a nightmare to work, instead, Spielberg tried to turn it into a dream.

Why do I say that? I guess because, in the end, this movie shows that David would always be a robot and that is the nightmare, while Spielberg tries to make it a dream instead. David finds Gigolo Joe, who, in a way, is a much smarter robot than David, and is introduced into a world of sex and no answers. David finds a dark world, still searching how to be a real boy so he can really be loved by Monica, and sadly, even thinking he found it, well, he can’t find it (not like in the other robot movie “Bicentennial Man”, where eventually the robot finds a way to grow old). No, in this movie, we get a robot trapped in hell, in a nightmare, and given a way out, which, and no, I didn’t know Stanley Kubrick, didn’t like most of his films but appreciated his filmmaking, but would like to think he would have left David trapped in his nightmare instead of giving him a way out. David’s a robot. Yes, one that can love, but in the end one that can’t truly be loved. That’s how I think things are. But that can’t be the way for a nice, PG-13, bring most of the family movie, yet you will get, yes, a thought provoking movie, but in the end a nice, PG-13, bring most of the family movie that you shouldn’t bring most of the family to see.

For the younger ones the only cute thing is the super toy called Teddy, basically a teddy bear who can interact with its owner. Scarily, I think Spielberg should have really taken “A.I.” to the next level, yes, an “R” level, where David gets to experience decadence, where David gets to experience real hate, where David is really trapped in a nightmare, and where dreams don’t come true. Even for real boys dreams don’t come true – that, I think, is the reality.

I know a lot of critics are giving high praises to this film but I just can’t. I heard one ten-ish year old dude leaving the theater saying he gave it 2 stars, I heard a mom say she liked it although thought the ending was dumb, but the audience didn’t really applaud (the trailer for “Harry Potter” got more of a reaction), so I’m giving “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” 2 ½ stars out of 5. I think it would have been a better movie as David’s nightmare than David’s dream.

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