Saying that I am disappointed in the films released this year would be an understatement. Last year at this time I already had 9 films on my "Best of List", this year I am struggling to find at least 5 - and the Holiday films don't look very exciting either. Recently I caught up on some films recently released to DVD and I would describe 4 of them as awful, while the other 3 are mediocre at best. Here are my thoughts:
1. Splice - **Spoiler Alert** The first thing that I wrote down in my notes as I was watching this film was "she is the mother"(referring to Sarah Polley's character). Guess what! Big shocker! She is the mother! So, my point is that the film is incredibly predictable and unoriginal. The creature is kind of a cool looking “hybrid”- but that is the only cool thing about the film. The plot is that they splice human genetics with animals (apparently several different animals - that is never really explained). Of course, things don't go as planned because as we have learned from every film - you can't mess with human nature. Science and technology = bad things happen. Wouldn't it be groundbreaking to have a film showing Science and technology saving humanity instead of ruining it? I have mostly Darwinist ideals about nature (you know evolution...survival of the fittest..), but I think science & technology are naturally a part of our evolution. They are only going to make us stronger. Anyway....how disturbing is it when he has sex with the creature?! Ew. As Sarah's character says "There are some things you DO NOT DO!". He not only had sex with an animal, it was also young (not sure of the age exactly but it was definitely an "innocent" creature) so he basically committed statutory rape and bestiality at the same time. What a way to give me nightmares. Just when I thought it couldn't get more disturbing - the creature turns into a male (and into a bird? Wouldn't they have noticed that with all of their testing? Are they the dumbest Scientists ever?) and RAPES her. Seriously, I am not making it up. At this point, I write in my notes "pregnant." Guess what? Big shocker! She gets pregnant! I am sure an equally awful sequel is already in the works. Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley are better than this film – being in such a poorly written film makes them actually bad actors. Bad career move.
2. Chloe - Predictable garbage – I cant believe these actors would stoop so low. How did they get Liam Neeson to agree to this film? Really, I want to know. I am indifferent about Amanda Seyfried. I think she is a decent actress (she holds her own against an extremely talented cast in Big Love and has comedic timing in Mean Girls & Jennifer's Body), but I hardly find her beautiful - besides the huge eyes - I would describe her as plain. The nudity was awkwardly placed and the lesbian storyline was ridiculous – it is a shame that Chloe is portrayed as a crazy, stalker with obvious sexual problems rather than a normal young girl who is questioning her sexuality. Also, I would have appreciated a little more background information on Chloe (she is a prostitute – although we get no background info as to why she is doing this as a profession – the only info we get is that she severely dislikes men and cries while she is in the middle of her "dates" so she obvi isn’t happy in her profession). The plot is that a woman suspects that her husband is cheating on her - so naturally she hires a prostitute to seduce him (which is the most passive aggressive way to confront your suspicions that I can think of). **Spoiler Alert** Is the audience really supposed to believe that Chloe is telling the truth? We never see Chloe and her husband together - we only see her lies about their sexual encounters. How disturbing is it when Chloe had sex with her son? It was an obvious plot point, but it still shocked me that they would actually go that low. Side note - the son was a super cutie (Max Thieriot).
3. MacGruber - There is absolutely no point to see this film other than getting to see Ryan Phillippe looking hot (especially in that white Henley - I adore guys in white). I am concerned that he would debase himself by agreeing to be humiliated in this film. Not funny in the slightest – I didn’t think it would be considering the SNL skits are rarely funny. I watched it with severely low expectations and was still shocked at how bad it was. There were a lot of low points in the film (that weren't funny at all) that I thought o.k it can not possibly get any worse - and then it continually shocks me by getting worse. Surprisingly, there was a plot - it just kept getting lost by unfunny (and often repetitive) jokes. I was embarrassed for all involved.
4. When in Rome - Preposterous. Absolutely ridiculous. The cast was awful. Dax Shepard was skeevy (and not hot), Josh Duhamel can’t act (o.k - slightly hot) and Jon Heder was just plain stupid (and ew.). They all played overly cliched romantic suitors in the most over-acted way possible. I’ve really tried to like Kristen Bell (I even tried to watch Veronica Mars once – but couldn’t get through 1 episode, I am planning to give it another try soon). She was pretty funny in Party Down but it was a pretty small dose of her (and the writing on that series is freakin' fantastic - it would make any actor look good). I just don’t think she can carry a film – especially a stupid, romantic comedy. The film wasn’t funny, charming, romantic or even the least bit interesting.
1. Iron Man 2 - I watched this about a month ago - and you know what is really sad? I can't remember a thing about it (I honestly can't say that I remember the 1st one too well either - what does this say about the Iron Man as a franchise?). I do remember that I was entertained for most of it - then it starts to drag at the end. It didn't move as fast as it should have. I love the chemistry between Gwyneth Paltrow and RDJ (I can't say the same about the chemistry between RDJ and Scarjo - but really does she have chemistry with anyone but herself?). The machines were awesome, but the fight at the end was tiresome. Sam Rockwell (AKA Owen Wilson's voice double) was a perfect as a slimy, bad guy.
2. Winter's Bone - This film hits a little too close to home for me (growing up very poor with a drug dealing father). We always had lots of dogs around that we couldn’t afford to feed. We did not however, kill and eat our own squirrels (and that was something I didn’t need to see. Thank you very much.). So that being said- I tend to hate these kind of films (white trash dramas) only because they remind me of things that I don’t want to be reminded of. Luckily, I didn’t have younger siblings to take care of - which is the only interesting part of this film for me. Jennifer Lawrence does do a decent job, there is a subtlety in her portrayal of anger and disappointment that is beautiful– I don’t see it as an Academy award worthy performance, but since she sadly has no real competition she will likely get a nomination - maybe even a win. I mostly see it as great writing – the way she is motherly towards her siblings yet cold at the same time. I just think the film's plot was a little tedious and predictable. It wasn't a bad film by any means, but I think the mostly positive reviews caused me to have higher expectations.
3. Get Him to the Greek - It was much funnier than I expected. The casting of this film is what made it watchable. Although, I think Russel Brand is slightly annoying (and looking at him makes me want to shower…he is just so …skeevy. ) - the rest of the cast was hilarious. Puff Daddy (he will always be Puff Daddy to me - get over it.) absolutely killed it - in a good way. He delivered my favorite line from the film ("Do you know how many Air Jordans 6 Black kids wear?") Hilarious. Jonah Hill and Peggy Olsen from Mad Men actually make a cute couple. I credit the casting director for not giving him the Seth Rogen treatment (i.e having a girlfriend that is too hot for him). I love Carla Gallo – from Undeclared (and as a running joke among the Apatow crew to cast her as “the girl” – I.e “Period Blood Girl” in Superbad, “Toe Sucking Girl” in 40 Year old Virgin. She actually has a name in this film which is definitely disappointing…did “microphone vagina girl” get rejected?) Rose Byrne was unexpected casting as Jackie Q - a ridiculous pop star. She was awesome - I guess I never thought of her as a comedic actress. I love the beginning of the film – the making of his video "African Baby". The lyrics are pure genius. As the film progresses it just goes from hilarious to strange and ridiculous. I think it all started when he had to smuggle heroin on to the plane. The plot just goes downhill from there and never recovers from it. What a shame....