Eagle Eye

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:57 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Eagle Eye
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Chiklis, Billy Bob Thornton
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2008
Kiddie Movie: It might make them never use their cell phone again.
Date Movie: She might cuddle with you for comfort or just roll her eyes.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: There’s a lot of people who die, but you don’t see it.
Action: There’s a lot of people who die, but you don’t see it.
Laughs: Only for the absurdity of some of the scenes.
Memorable Scene: Who knew Morse Code could save the world.
Memorable Quote: “We’re already in mid-shitstorm.”
Directed By: D.J. Caruso

While watching “Eagle Eye” I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a day, a few years ago, when a group of friends were getting liquored up, watching a bunch of movies, namely “I, Robot,” “War Games,” “The Italian Job,” and maybe even “Enemy of the State,” and said to each other, in an altered state, “Dudes, we could make a movie combining all of these,” and then, you know what, they did. I would toss in “Live Free or Die Hard,” only I believe that movie was probably already in development by the time “Eagle Eye” was being drafted, but hey, you can’t say that the “Eagle Eye” tunnel scene isn’t reminiscent of the “Live Free or Die Hard” tunnel scene, just substitute a helicopter for a military drone aircraft?

Okay, maybe the premise for the story of “Eagle Eye” wasn’t developed in my fictional universe, but it does takes a lot of premises from a bunch of different movies, with the end result that computers really only do what they are programmed to do. “I, Robot” had the three rules for robots; “Eagle Eye” has the Preamble and Constitution. In the end computers just want to be our friends, and look out for us.

In terms of story, for this one you get Jerry (Shia LaBeouf) and Rachel (Michelle Monaghan). They are ordinary people, in fairly ordinary lives, and then, somehow, their lives become intertwined by the voice of a woman who seems to need them to carry out some dastardly deed. The voice dictates to Jerry instructions that get him in a jam with the FBI and then helps him escape from the FBI, while the voice also turns Rachel into a distraught mother with the fear of her son being killed, thus dictating her actions. And as the movie goes along, Jerry and Rachel can’t seem to figure out how this voice seems to be able to control just about every technological part of their lives, from subway trains to street lights, from junkyard robots to power grids, and in the middle of it all, we start to see a plot developing, which we must suppose is some dastardly terrorist plot, but, ahh, other things are at work here.

And you know what, I’m not going to directly give away what is directly at work here, although I sort of already hinted at it, only to say that most every aspect of this movie is unbelievable in our world, yet somehow believable if the “ringleader” of this story turns out to be who she is.

So, here we go. If you want to totally escape reality, “Eagle Eye” should take you there, or maybe freak you out as to what might be possible in a few years. The weird thing is that I kind of liked it, in the same way I liked the movie “I, Robot,” and loved Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) as the FBI guy who is flustered by technology. There are a lot of things blowing up, you might wonder if someone can really change stoplights at will, who knew that the baggage handling of an area could be so much fun if you aren’t being shot at, and if you live near some electric towers, you might think about moving.

As a Chicago person, in a little aside for this review, in the theater I was unsure if I saw it, but thanks to the DVD and slow-motion, at the beginning of the movie there is a helicopter shot of the Chicago El, St. James Catholic Church in Chicago (where I used to go to mass sometimes when I was in college), and Keating Hall, the “sports center” where I used to do a killer can-opener of the high-dive board in the pool at Illinois Institute of Technology, where, yes, I went to college, and also where all of this reviewing stuff began for me. I know it’s dorky, but for me it’s always cool to see things I am totally familiar with in a movie.

Anyway, “Eagle Eye” is an action-filled movie with tons of seemingly implausible scenarios, but get the DVD realizing this and you should have a good time on your couch, and sure, you might laugh when some things happen, but hey, that’s what movies are sometimes about. And as hard as this might be hard to believe, I was almost ready to give this movie a 4 star rating, until, in Hollywood fashion, the poignant ending I envisioned was changed into a feel-good ending, so I’m dropping it ½ star to 3 ½ stars out of 5 because someone else in this movie should be dead. With that, I was hoping, when watching the DVD, that the alternate ending it contained would be the one I was hoping for, but all it really did was sort of set up a sequel. Blah.

And speaking of the DVD, for the movie-geek crowd, the 2-disc version does have quite a few extras that are interesting if you love seeing how movies are made, especially mixing in seeing behind-the-scene things on location, a nicely detailed “Making of…” features, and a feature with the Director of Eagle Eye, D.J. Caruso, having a discussion with John Badham, the director of “War Games,” with how the movies are similar, yet different. I always love a fun gag-reel and the 2-disc version has it, and as usual, we can see (and be happy) that some scenes were deleted. You also get commentary stuff, if you want it, more scary stuff about your cell phone, and I’m just sad they didn’t have an “On Location…” for Chicago. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to like looking at my old church from above.

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

Bad Santa

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

Bad Santa
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Graham, Bernie Mac
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Dimension Films
Kiddie Movie: Definitely not, no matter how loudly the kids scream they want to see the movie.
Date Movie: If she’s got a twisted sense of humor.
Gratuitous Sex: Some pretty wild scenes.
Gratuitous Violence: Some punches get thrown, and some gunfire, too.
Action: Not really.
Laughs: Lots of them.
Memorable Scene: Too many to mention.
Memorable Quote: Too many to mention.
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff

The trailers for “Bad Santa” sure provided a challenge for parents as their kids were now asking “Daddy, why is Santa bad?” I’m not a parent, nor do I pretend to be, but I suppose parents had to adjust their explanation of Santa Clause a bit, maybe explaining that sometimes Santa’s helpers, you know, those ones at the mall, end up being naughty, not nice, and Santa still treats them the same and they will get a lump of coal in their stocking hung by the fireplace. Anyway, I wasn’t presented with that problem, I was just looking for a twisted Christmas movie, and I sure got it.

Pretty much the story goes that Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) and Marcus (Tony Cox) infiltrate a different mall every year, posing as Santa and his helper elf, in order to case out the joint and rob it of its loot. Every year Willie says that this will be his last job, then when the money runs out, well, he’s back to calling up Marcus setting up the next job. As it turns out, this time The Kid (Brett Kelly) shows up on Santa’s lap, and then lets Willie into his life. Early on we don’t really know if The Kid really believes Willie is Santa, we hope not, and that somehow Willie is just taking the place of a father-figure, a really twisted father-figure at that, because The Kid’s parents are going to be away from the house for a few years (the kid is being taken care of by his totally out of it grandmother).

Meanwhile, Willie goes about the holiday season being totally hammered, or banging fat women in the dressing rooms, at least until he meets up with Sue (Lauren Graham), a bartender with a Santa fetish, even if Santa is a drunk loser. Marcus, on the other hand, just keeps trying his best to hold the con together, mostly threatening legal action for firing a black elf.

“Bad Santa” is a dark comedy in every sense of the word, yet still humorous in a truly adult way. But for those of you easily offended, who were appalled at the trailer running during a football game and having to explain things to your kids, well, you probably won’t find the humor in it at all. The ending gives you a couple of fun plot twists, and although I’m usually one rooting for the darkest of endings, “Bad Santa” actually ended in a sappy, yet still dark, sort of way.

This movie is definitely not for everyone. If you found the trailer the least bit offensive, stay away, but for the rest of you there is a humor present. You won’t be huddling around the fireplace year after year waiting for “Bad Santa” to come on the TV so you can watch it with your family, and I highly doubt TBS will be having 24 hours of “Bad Santa”, but for adult humor at the holiday time, this one fits the bill. It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “Bad Santa.”

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

Bad News Bears

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:53 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Bad News Bears
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden, Sammi Kane Kraft, Jeffrey Davis
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Kiddie Movie: I’d say keep anyone under ten at home unless you want them to be a potty-mouth.
Date Movie: She might just be repulsed at Coach.
Gratuitous Sex: Some push-up bras and the team is sponsored by a Gentlemen’s Club.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of kids fighting.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Quite a few.
Memorable Scene: Coach explaining to one of his players why he was at his house.
Memorable Quote: Too many one-liners to pick.
Directed By: Richard Linklater

I have to admit that I was pretty much under the notion that it was totally unnecessary for them to do a remake of “Bad News Bears.” Then I saw the movie and I have to admit I was highly entertained. I will warn you, however, and apparently no one checks the movie ratings, that this version is PG-13, and I an hoping that the dad who brought his to not-too-well-mannered kids who appeared to be around 5 or 6, well, that he has a lot of explaining to do to mom when they start cursing up a storm around the house.

Now I don’t remember the original that well to really comment or compare, I really just remember the scene from “Breaking Training” where Tanner is running around the Astrodome because they wouldn’t let them finish the game. That being said, I’m not going to try to compare them. Let get to the story…

For “Bad News Bears” we get Billy Bob Thornton playing the drunk, Coach Buttermaker. He’s a pest exterminator by day who gets hired by Liz (Marcia Gay Harden) to coach a team of misfits. It seems Liz didn’t like that the lousy kids couldn’t be on a team, did some kind of protest/lawsuit, and now there’s pretty much a bunch of good little league teams, and the Bears. With their first game being a complete massacre, Buttermaker decides their only hope is to get Amanda (Sammi Kane Kraft) to pitch, and the team actually gets a little better. Then of course there’s the bad boy, Kelly (Jeffrey Davis), who ends up coming around after an encounter with rival coach Roy (Greg Kinnear). Yes, you can guess, our rag-tag team of losers eventually learn how to play as a team, Buttermaker realizes that being an asshole coach isn’t really a good way to help kids have fun, and everyone learns valuable lessons about teamwork, friendship, raising kids, and if winning is everything.

Kids insulting and fighting with each other is still funny to this day, and “Bad News Bears” makes the most of it, though they do take it to a level that is probably good for the ten and over crowd, but leave the younger ones at home. Billy Bob is great in this role, similar to his role in “Bad Santa,” just a little nicer I suppose, and the kids in this flick do a great job at messing with each other. In a showing, though, of how times have changed from the original, it appears that being sponsored by a bail bondsman isn’t as bad. There is an ode to “Chico’s Bail Bonds,” but for our 2005 Bears, “Bo-Peep’s Gentlemen’s Club” is our new sponsor, which isn’t a bad thing because they do seem to send some cheerleaders to the game.

I found “Bad News Bears” enjoyable for the older crowd, and I’m sure some parents may be offended at the language and actions of both the kids and their Coach. Lots of chuckles, and couple of good laughs, and just almost two hours of entertainment and I’m giving “Bad News Bears” 4 stars out of 5.

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

The Alamo

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 2:17 Long
A Preview by:
The Dude on the Right

The Alamo
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Maurice Ripke, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarría
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Touchstone Pictures
Release Date: 4/9/2004
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Produced By: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Mark Johnson

Umm, the movie tells the story of the big old battle at The Alamo, as well as some other battles down in Texas. It’s a little early for wondering if this could be a big old action film, but the trailer does show some promise and with the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard attached to it, well, that adds a little more potential.. I’ll write more about this one as we get closer to April.

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