Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Do So Many People Like Your Mall, Paul?

Paul Blart: Mall Cop


Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the number one movie in North America for the second week in a row. To date the movie has grossed over 64 million dollars. That is right, Paul Blart Mall Cop! Take a few minutes to let that sink in. No, seriously I will wait… Now I know that humour is a subjective thing but I cannot fathom why this film is so popular. My guess is that Paul Blart: Mall Cop appeals to the same crowd that enjoy sitcoms such as According to Jim and Two and a Half Men were the situations and humour are comforting in there predictability. Unfortunately, I found that watching Paul Blart: Mall Cop was similar to listening to a bad stand-up comic. No matter how hard the comic tries, you ultimately know the punch-line to every one of his jokes…even before he is finishes the set up.

The main recurring punch-line in this film is that Paul Blart (Kevin James) is fat. After failing to make the grade at the New Jersey police academy, Blart takes up a job as a mall security guard. When he is not getting humiliated by mall customers, or teased by local store managers, he spends his time pining for the girl working at the hair extension kiosk (Jayma Mays). On one unfortunate day, the mall is hijacked by a bunch of skateboard/BMX riding criminals. Armed only with his trusty Segway, Paul must launch into action in an attempt to save the day. Yet can a man who chronically falls asleep without having sugar every 25 minutes really be a hero? Will he ever get the girl of his dreams? I am pretty sure that you already know the answer to both these questions.

Frankly, the only thing that you probably will not know going into the movie is that you are basically paying to see an hour and a half advertisement for Segways. If you ever encounter parkour loving criminals, make sure you have your Segway handy! Now I have heard several people try and justify this as merely a kid’s film, which I find hard to believe for two reasons. The first is that there are very few situations in this film that would appeal to kids. Sure a kid will laugh at the idea of Paul eating candy off the floor, but the drunken bar scene will go over their heads. Secondly, the people that seemed to be laughing the loudest in the theatre were all adults.

The fact that Kevin James plays Blart straight does not help matters much either. Had the character been completely oblivious to the situations, ala Dumb and Dumber, it may have added something to the overall humour. Instead James wants to keep his character grounded in reality when everything around him is complete farce. The funniest moment in the entire film for me was when Paul was giving relationship advice to Pahud (Adhir Kalyan), a teenager with stalker like tendencies towards his girlfriend. The character of Pahud is humorously outlandish, yet he is the only character that truly fits the tone of the movie. Maybe if the rest of the characters were not so grounded this film might actually be worth recommending. Yet, as it stands, this is not even worth the cost of a rental.



For more reviews from 2009 click here

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It Shall Not Be A Dark Knight For Oscar

Best Motion Picture of the Year
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
FROST/NIXON (Universal)
MILK (Focus Features)
THE READER (The Weinstein Company)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight)

Best Achievement in Directing
Danny Boyle, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight)
Stephen Daldry, THE READER (The Weinstein Company)
David Fincher, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Ron Howard, FROST/NIXON (Universal)
Gus Van Sant, MILK (Focus Features)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Richard Jenkins, THE VISITOR (Overture Films)
Frank Langella, FROST/NIXON (Universal)
Sean Penn, MILK (Focus Features)
Brad Pitt, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Mickey Rourke, THE WRESTLER (Fox Searchlight)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Anne Hathaway, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (Sony Pictures Classics)
Angelina Jolie, CHANGELING (Universal)
Melissa Leo, FROZEN RIVER (Sony Pictures Classics)
Meryl Streep, DOUBT (Miramax)
Kate Winslet, THE READER (The Weinstein Company)

Best Perfomance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Josh Brolin, MILK (Focus Features)
Robert Downey Jr, TROPIC THUNDER (DreamWorks, distributed by DreamWorks Paramount)
Philip Seymour Hoffman, DOUBT (Miramax)
Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
Michael Shannon, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (DreamWorks, distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, DOUBT (Miramax)
Penelope Cruz, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (The Weinstein Company)
Viola Davis, DOUBT (Miramax)
Taraji P. Henson, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Marisa Tomei, THE WRESTLER (Fox Searchlight)

Best Adapted Screenplay
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, Screenplay by Eric Roth, screen story by Eric Roth & Robin Swicord (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
DOUBT, Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley (Miramax)
FROST/NIXON, Screenplay by Peter Morgan (Universal)
THE READER, Screenplay by David Hare (The Weinstein Company)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (Fox Searchlight)

Best Original Screenplay
FROZEN RIVER, Written by Courtney Hunt (Sony Pictures Classics)
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, Written by Mike Leigh (Miramax)
IN BRUGES, Written by Martin McDonagh (Focus Features)
MILK, Written by Dustin Lance Black (Focus Features)
WALL-E, Written by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter (Walt Disney)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
BOLT (Walt Disney)
KUNG FU PANDA (DreamWorks Animation)
WALL-E (Walt Disney)

Best Documentary Feature
THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON) (Cinema Guild)
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment)
THE GARDEN
MAN ON WIRE (Magnolia Pictures)
TROUBLE THE WATER (Zeitgest Films)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
THE BAADER MEINHF COMPLEX, Germany
THE CLASS, France (Sony Pictures Classics)
DEPARTURES, Japan (Regent Releasing)
REVANCHE, Austria (Janus Films)
WALTZ WITH BASHIR, Israel (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Achievement in Art Direction
CHANGELING (Universal)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
THE DUCHESS (Paramount Vantage, Pathe and BBC Films)
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (DreamWorks, distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Best Achievement in Cinematography
CHANGELING (Universal)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
THE READER (The Weinstein Company)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight)

Best Achievement in Costume Design
AUSTRALIA (20th Century Fox)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DUCHESS (Paramount Vantage, Pathe and BBC Films)
MILK (Focus Features)
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Best Achievement in Film Editing
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
FROST/NIXON (Universal)
MILK (Focus Features)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight)

Best Achievement in Makeup
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (Universal)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, Alexandre Desplat (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
DEFIANCE, James Newton Howard (Paramount Vantage)
MILK, Danny Elfman (Focus Features)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, A.R. Rahman (Fox Searchlight)
WALL-E, Thomas Newman (Walt Disney)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, "Jai Ho," music by A.R. Rahman, lyric by Gulzar (Fox Searchlight)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, "O Saya," music and lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam (Fox Searchlight)
WALL-E, "Down to Earth," music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, lyric by Peter Gabriel (Walt Disney)

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
IRON MAN (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight)
WALL-E (Walt Disney)
WANTED (Universal)

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight)
WALL-E (Walt Disney)
WANTED (Universal)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner Bros.)
IRON MAN (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment)

Best Documentary Short Subject
THE CONSCIENCE OF NHEM EM
THE FINAL INCH
SMILE PINKI
THE WITNESS: FROM THE BALCONY OF ROOM 306

Best Animated Short Film
LA MAISON EN PETITS CUBES
LAVATORY - LOVESTORY
OKTAPODI (Talantanis Films)
PRESTO (Walt Disney)
THIS WAY UP

Best Live Action Short Film
AUF DER STRECKE (ON THE LINE) (Hamburg Shortfilmagency)
MANON ON THE ASPHALT (La Luna Productions)
NEW BOY (Network Ireland Television)
THE PIG
SPIELZEUGLAND (TOYLAND)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

There Can Be No Certainty Without Doubt

Doubt

In the history of great epic debates (i.e. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie, Batman or Superman, Transformers or G.I. Joe, Cheer’s Sam and Diane or Sam and Rebecca, etc.), there can only be one truly correct view. How do you know which side is right? Well that is easy; the correct point of view will be the one you feel most strongly about…your own. If you are still not sure that your views are right? It is always a good idea to find others whom share the same views as you. Validation is key to winning any debate. Now you are probably thinking that this juvenile logic has no merit…and you are probably right. Yet there are times in life, such as shown in the film Doubt, where this train of thought is used justify the most sinister of actions.

Based on the play of the same name, Doubt takes place within the walls of a catholic school in the Bronx during the 1960’s. Despite being in the community for several years, St. Nicholas Catholic School is experience a time of change much to the chagrin of long time principal, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep). When Sister James (Amy Adams) starts to question Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) close relationship with the school’s first, and only, black student; Sister Aloysius is determined to uncover the truth. Having only her moral certainty as proof, Sister Aloysius sets in motion a battle of wills with Father Flynn; a clash that will ultimately have irrevocable consequences for all involved.

Designed to generate countless debates after viewing, Doubt is an intelligent drama that does not provide any easy answers. The audience is given just enough information to form an opinion. Yet, like characters in the film, the information is not substantial enough to ignore the lingering feeling of doubt. It also does not help that Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman deliver exceptional performances, which forces the viewer to constantly reassess who they have placed their loyalty behind. Amy Adams does a good job of holding her own as well. She is the embodiment of the viewer’s emotions, always swaying between the realms of certainty and doubt. The one performance that will probably generate the most debate this award season is Viola Davis. As the mother of the student in question, Davis is great. She conveys the inner turmoil of a mother torn between taking care of her son and desiring him to achieve an education regardless of the cost. Although Davis is only in the film for what feels like 10 to 15 minutes, she does leave a lasting impression far more memorable than the one Judi Dench did in Shakespeare in Love. I am still on the fence on whether that really merits award consideration but, judging by the early critic’s award nominations, I am glad that her work has connected with so many people nonetheless. While some might be perturbed by the fact that Doubt provides no clear answer, the ambiguity is what makes Doubt so stimulating. Forget about the recent re-igniting of the Team Aniston or Team Jolie hullabaloo, the juiciest pop culture debate of 2008 is easily Team Aloysius or Team Flynn.