Reel Opinions


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Last Holiday

Queen Latifah continues her career downward spiral since her Oscar nomination for 2002's Chicago with Last Holiday - a harmless, yet ultimately bland and unnecessary remake of a film unseen by me. This is the kind of movie that makes you wonder why anyone involved thought it was worth making. It doesn't do anything original or interesting, it's immediately forgettable, and aside from a small handful of clever lines, it's not very funny. Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club, Because of Winn-Dixie) has assembled a talented and likeable cast, yet the uninspired screenplay gives them nothing to do, which begs the question why even bother in the first place?

Our heroine, Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah), is a quiet woman currently struggling to get by in her current meager existence working as a clerk at a department store. She has a lot of big dreams, such as becoming a world-renowned chef, and confessing her true feelings to cute co-worker Sean (LL Cool J), but doesn't have the nerve or the spark to make her dreams a reality. After suffering a blow to the head while on the job that knocks her unconscious briefly, Georgia is terrified to learn from the company doctor that the resulting CAT scan reveals she has a rare brain tumor and only has three weeks left to live. Deciding to make the most of what precious little time she has left, she quits her job, takes all her savings she's been building up her adult life, and plans to make the most out of life at an exclusive European ski resort doing everything she's always dreamed of. Georgia's newfound free spirited lifestyle brings her to the attention to many of the guests who are also staying at the resort, including the wealthy head of the department store chain she used to work for (Timothy Hutton) who is visiting there with some friends. When his friends start hanging out with Georgia more than him, he becomes suspicious and jealous, and becomes determined to find out who this mysterious woman who seemingly came out of nowhere really is.

Instead of seriously tackling the question of what one would do if he or she found out they only had a short time to live, Last Holiday decides to treat its premise like a sitcom. There are plenty of "wacky" characters who wander in and out of the film as the screenplay sees fit, there's the scheming yet ultimately harmless villain working behind the scenes, and there are plenty of over the top comedic set pieces. But hey, perhaps I'm being harsh. After all, I'm sure the filmmakers were trying for escapism entertainment, so it's understandable that this is the path they chose. While I have no problem with that, my problem is that the movie does not do it very well. Instead of coming across as funny and clever, many of the situations, such as when Georgia tries her luck at skiing, come across as tired and uninspired slapstick with the actors screaming and falling over themselves, but not really generating any real laughs. When I watch a fun "escapism" movie, I just want to laugh and forget about my problems. All Last Holiday made me do was wonder how the heck a script like this stood out amongst the hundreds of others that must wind up on Queen Latifah's desk everyday. That's not to say the screenplay doesn't have its moments. There are a couple of quiet scenes where Georgia has some "conversations" with her mirror reflection about the situation she's found herself in of not having long to live that are heartfelt and true. These moments, while fleeting, do at least show that writers Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman put a little bit of thought into their effort.

While the script may be uninspired, the cast helps lift bring it some much-needed life. As much as I think Queen Latifah needs to be a bit more choosy in picking her projects, she definitely is having fun, and that fun comes through in her performance. Her portrayal of Georgia from meek store clerk to confident woman is likeable and so energetic that she alone makes the film worth watching at least once. Although none of her lines truly made me laugh, Georgia is an easy to relate to character, and is made all the more so by Latifah's performance. That's why it's so sad when the film keeps on throwing her into continuously outlandish sitcom situations throughout the film. Though she never loses the human side of her character, it seems like a mistake, especially when you see what she can do with her character during the film's more quiet and honest moments. The rest of the cast does not quite stand out as much as Latifah, but they at least make the most out of the little the screenplay gives them. There was one actor I wanted to see more of, and that was famed French actor Gerard Depardieu, who plays the chef at the resort who strikes up a close friendship with Georgia. Although he is enjoyable, the movie never seems to dig deep enough into his relationship with her, making it seem a bit more shallow than I think the filmmakers intended. Same thing for LL Cool J as the man Georgia secretly longs for. He spends such little time around Georgia and disappears for so long in the film that you almost wonder what the attraction between the two characters is. Though the characters may not be memorable, the performers give it their all.

Are the performances alone enough to keep Last Holiday afloat? Even Latifah's energetic lead is not enough to prevent this movie from drowning in its own cliches and contrivances. The entire production as a whole feels forced and pointless and never really gives any reason for it to be on the big screen. Even "fun" movies such as this need to have some kind of memorable moment, and this film has none. By the time the film arrives at its almost pre-determined ending (Sorry if you consider the following a spoiler, but anyone who thinks a big studio fluffy romantic comedy is going to end with its lead actress in a casket is a fool.), you just don't care anymore. Although the actors bring their talents to the project, you can't help but wonder why they're even bothering in the first place. This is yet another movie that didn't need to be made, and the money used to make it could have been better served to make a more memorable film.


Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not of the belief that every movie has to be important or astonishing to win me over. There is a place for mindless, fun movies too. But, if you're going to do it, just do it right. Last Holiday does not do it right, so it does not get a recommendation from me. It's got a great lead character and a charming European setting, but with the prices today's theaters are charging, it takes so much more to make a filmgoing experience memorable.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

The Producers (2005)



How wonderful it is to see a movie musical like The Producers hit the screen. After the overblown spectacle of Phantom of the Opera and the half-baked sappy melodrama of Rent, here is a film that is so full of energy, life, and just plain joy that I have to question if the critics who panned this film even watched the same movie as I. Then again, your enjoyment of The Producers may have a lot to do with your familiarity of the source material. As a huge fan of both the original 1968 film and the Broadway musical that inspired this version, I simply couldn't be happier. The stage production's original director, Susan Stroman, makes her film directing debut and has brought as faithful an adaptation of the play as one could hope for. In fact, there were times that I almost felt like I was watching a much bigger version of the original stage show. Whether or not this bothers you is a personal call. All I know is that it didn't bother me that much, and I haven't laughed this much or this hard all the way through a comedy in quite a while.


For you unfortunate souls who have never experienced The Producers, the story centers around Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane), the once celebrated "King of Broadway" who, after producing a series of flops, is now reduced to ridicule from his peers and forced to make love with numerous wealthy and horny old ladies for money in order to back his shows. After his latest flop, a musical version of Hamlet called "Funny Boy", closes on its own opening night, Max is more distraught than ever before. Fate steps in when meek and hysterics-prone accountant, Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick), enters into his life. While going over Max's account books, Leo comes upon an idea - A Producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit by raising more money then he needs to back the show, and then once the show immediately closes, pocket the unused money. Max wants the money, and Leo wants to leave behind the dull accounting life behind and live the good life. The two decide to go into business together and begin their search for the worst play ever written.

Their search ends when they come across a script entitled "Springtime for Hitler" - a musical written by a deranged Nazi sympathizer named Franz Liebkind (Will Ferrell) that chronicles the life of Hitler through song and dance. Determined to see "Springtime" fail, Max and Leo hire the worst director alive in the form of a flamboyantly gay cross dresser named Roger De Bris (Gary Beach), and a Swedish female lead that can barely speak English named Ulla (Uma Thurman), who also acts as Max and Leo's secretary. Even with all their preparing and planning of the perfect flop, the final outcome is one that neither of the two friends could have ever foreseen when the production is misunderstood by critics and audiences as being satirical and is dubbed a smash.

Much like the film version of Rent, The Producers brings back many of the same talent that made the show a hit on the stage. Aside from the two starring leads of Lane and Broderick, Gary Beach also returns, as does Roger Bart as Roger De Bris' equally flamboyant partner and assistant, Carmen Ghia. Unlike Rent, however, The Producers transfers successfully to the big screen because it actually has a story to tell, real characters, things that resemble conflicts, and above all, enjoyable songs. Most importantly, however, the film is funny from the first scene to the last. The returning stars are obvious veterans, and getting to see their performances on the screen after seeing them on Broadway a couple years ago was a huge thrill. I thought maybe something would be missing, or maybe it wouldn't be the same, but I still laughed as hard as I did when I was sitting in the orchestra pit area of the St. James Theatre. Lane and Broderick have such a natural opposite chemistry with each other that it's almost impossible to describe, but it works so well. Their lengthy introduction scene where they meet each other for the first time, and the scheme is initially set into motion is a wonder to watch as the two actors play off of each other and the delivery of their lines. Gary Beach and Roger Bart are wonderful as well in roles that could have come across as tired and cliched, but instead light up just about every scene they're in. Sure, Roger Bart is kind of in danger of getting typecasted as flamboyant gays (he also played one in 2004's Stepford Wives remake), but I can't deny he got some of the biggest laughs from me.

Of the two main actors new to the roles, both Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell shine in their own way. Thurman has an appropriately sexy/clueless atmosphere to her performance, and when she belts out her character's signature number "When You Got It, Flaunt It", she shows quite a bit of range in her singing. I also liked that the character of Ulla has been fleshed out more in both the stage production and this film than in the original movie. She seems more like a real character instead of a running gag which is mostly what she was used as in the 1968 version. And Ferrell as "Springtime's" playwright is a welcome sight after his last few disappointing films such as the mediocre Bewitched and the awful Kicking and Screaming. He takes on the insane character with full force, fully embracing every verbal, physical, and mental quirk of the character with often hilarious effect. Sure, he doesn't come close to capturing the glory of Kenneth Mars' take on the character in the 68 film, but he still gives it his all.

So, what of the film itself? Well, as mentioned earlier, the film is an almost slavishly faithful to the original stage production. While many of the scenes were shot on location in New York, there are many others that are quite obviously a soundstage and make no effort to hide their "staged" appearance. Normally, this would bother me, but this time, I let it fly because it seemed to fit in with the tone that the movie was trying to capture. And that tone is the great Hollywood musicals of the 40s and 50s. There are a number of scenes that are staged with a flair for the nostalgic including Leo Bloom's fantasy sequence "I Want to Be a Producer", Max's lament as he looks back on his life in "Betrayal", and a particularly charming scene where Leo and Ulla discover they have strong feelings for one another. The choreography, the staging, and the overall look is appropriately old fashioned, though there is of course the usual Mel Brooks touch of parody. I don't think the great Hollywood musicals of yesterday ever even dreamed of a number like "Keep it Gay"...The jokes fly fast and furious, both in the lyrics, the visuals, and sometimes even the staging of the sequences themselves. (A chorus line of old ladies using walkers.) That's what makes The Producers such a joy to watch. There's literally something to smile or laugh about in nearly every frame, and it continues right through to the ending credits. This is definitely one movie where you want to sit through the credits, or risk missing a very funny parody of pop ballads performed by Will Ferrell, and an additional scene that features a minute long closing number performed by the entire cast after the credits are completely finished.


The Producers is a movie that will truly divide film fans I believe. Those who completely buy into the nostalgic musical spirit and sheer insanity of it all will love it, and there are those who will find it overly cute and cheesy. It's all in how you look at it, I guess. I loved every minute of it, and look forward to adding the film to my collection. Personally, I think this is the most fun I've had watching a movie in quite a while, and definitely the most fun I've had watching a movie musical since 2002's Chicago. The Producers is a great remedy to how overblown and serious some recent film musicals have become. It is 2 hours and 15 minutes of total check your brain at the door fun. If that's the kind of movie you're in the mood for, you can't do much better than this.

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Hoodwinked

With the world of theatrical animation growing larger than I think anyone even imagined (There's literally at least one animated film being released every month from now to August.), the filmmakers have to try a lot harder in order to stand out. No longer can you rely solely on visuals or the automatic audience that see these films in order to have a hit. Hoodwinked, an independent cartoon made outside of the studio system, does absolutely nothing to stand out. The film takes obvious inspiration from the highly overrated Shrek films, trying to put a modern satirical spin on the Little Red Riding Hood story and filling the movie with pop music. Unfortunately, director Cory Edwards obviously didn't see this as a chance to improve on imperfection, as the film is limp, lame, and barely managed to force out a mild chuckle from me. Even with a breezy 80 minute running time, Hoodwinked seems labored and desperate, and will appeal only to the youngest of animation fans.

Set in a fairy tale forest where humans and talking animals exist with one another peacefully, it seems that a massive crime wave has been plaguing the land. A mysterious thief whom authorities refer to as the "Goody Bandit" has been stealing sweets left and right, forcing various small bakeries and food stands to go out of business. Our heroine, Red Riding Hood (voice by Anne Hathaway) is a delivery girl for her Granny (Glenn Close) - a kindly old lady who runs the largest sweets and pastry business in the forest. Red is honestly concerned when she finds her Granny's business has been targeted and ransacked by the Bandit, and goes to her house to check on her. Instead of her gentle grandmother, she finds a suspicious Wolf (Patrick Warburton) in a cheap disguise waiting for her. The scene turns even more chaotic when Red's beloved Granny comes out of hiding in the closet bound and gagged, and a seemingly-insane ax-wielding Woodsman (Jim Belushi) comes diving through the window, swinging his tool madly and screaming incoherently.

Flash forward hours later, and Granny's house has been turned into a crime scene being supervised by the tough Police Chief Grizzly (Xzibit). He thinks it's an open and shut case, and that not only is the Wolf the guilty party, but he is also the dreaded Goody Bandit. Frog detective Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), however, thinks there's more to the story than what's been told. Questioning all four of the main people playing a role in the story, we learn what led each of them to Granny's house. Red was there to check on her grandmother out of concern; the Wolf is an investigative reporter who is tracking down the Goody Bandit, and thought Red and Granny might have connections to the thief; the Woodsman is actually a German Schnitzel vendor with dreams of becoming an actor, and was dressed as a lumberjack because he was auditioning for a commercial for foot cream; and Granny is revealed to be an Extreme Sports enthusiast whose reasons for being bound and gagged in the closet are too complex to summarize. As each character tells their own tale, the puzzle pieces fall into place, and the true identity of the Goody Bandit who is trying to wipe out Granny's business will be revealed.

Hoodwinked is a film to be admired in some ways. I liked how the story was told out of sequence, letting the flashbacks of each individual character fill us in on the plot. Sure, this style of storytelling is nothing new, but in an animated film targeted at young children, it's certainly an interesting angle. Also, you have to admire the effort it must have taken director Cory Edwards and his team to get this thing put together without any outside studio financial support. I'm sure it was a labor of love for everyone involved, and seeing it getting a wide theatrical release is probably a very rewarding end to what must have been a grueling process. The admiration ends here, however, as what is actually displayed on the screen has no business being there when stacked against the competition. Even when you consider that this film was made independently, Hoodwinked is so astonishingly amateurish in just about every way that the big screen only magnifies the numerous flaws.

The chief offense is the overall look of the film. Hoodwinked is easily one of the most uninspired looking animated films I've seen in years, and looks no better than some of the stuff you see on Saturday mornings. Sure, the film is brightly colored, but the character designs are so depressingly run of the mill you have to wonder how much thought went into making them. The human characters have this bizarre lifeless quality that make them look less like people and more like freakish human-sized plastic dolls come to life. Maybe it's the fact that their skin has this almost unhuman shining glow. Or maybe its the fact that their hair doesn't move and looks like it was plastered on top of their head. This may sound like I'm nitpicking, but with how detailed computer animation has become, there's simply no excuse for hair that does not move whatsoever when a character is gliding through the air. All of the characters seem to suffer from some flaw - either stiff and lifeless animation or just plain uninspired or uninteresting design. The film's defenders say the fact that it was a personally financed production means we should cut the filmmakers a break and let them cut some corners. I say that if you're going to release your movie theatrically, you need to try a bit harder. The makers of Hoodwinked obviously did not, making it the most visually unappealing animated film in recent memory. (I'm not even going to talk about the children who appear during the Woodsman's musical number, who look less like kids and more like living Chucky dolls.)

If the film had a strong script, I could probably forgive the film's numerous visual flaws. Unfortunately, the script seems to have gotten about as much attention as the animation. The jokes in this film try to fly fast and furious, but not a single one of them are funny, nor did any of them cause a nearly full theater packed with children to laugh. They giggled a couple times, but most of the time, the kids were as dead silent as their parents as the film constantly paraded limp gag after gag across the screen. The film's sole highlight is an old mountain goat character who can only sing instead of talk because of a witch's curse. Once he leaves the movie after his single scene, the film goes back to its old tricks and never recovers. I smiled a couple of times, but never truly laughed, nor did I feel involved enough to get into the story or the characters. A great animated film can involve you in ways that even some live action films can't. Hoodwinked kept me at a distance, and brought forth no emotion whatsoever. The film also features several musical numbers and pop music montages that go nowhere and only seem to exist to pad out the slight story to fill the running time. Perhaps more puzzling than the fact that these music sequences seem to often come out of nowhere is how abruptly and without warning they always end.

All Hoodwinked has to go on is its voice acting, which is surprisingly strong considering everything else. Anne Hathaway and Glenn Close in particular are the main stand outs, creating likeable performances that breathe more life into their characters than the script provides. Patrick Warburton pretty much gives the same performance he almost always does, while Jim Belushi gives a very bizarre turn as the German Woodsman. Other celebrities include Chaz Palminteri as one of the Wolf's informants, and Andy Dick as a cute bunny rabbit. The entire supporting cast are completely forgettable, however, and are restricted to standing in the background and spouting off tired one liners when the need arises.


Hoodwinked is the kind of film where I couldn't help but think that I would be more entertained if I was watching a movie about the making of the film than watching the actual cartoon itself. I'm sure the production must have been quite the labor of love for one and all and there must be some interesting stories to tell about its trip to the big screen. The final product, however, is just so lame and uninspired that you almost think everyone involved wasted their time. Hoodwinked has all the production values of a straight to DVD movie, and about all the ambitions of one as well. Perhaps this will help get Cory Edwards' foot in the door and lead to bigger projects for him. I hope it also leads to better scripts. As it stands, Hoodwinked is an immediately forgettable piece of animation that will probably seem more at home on TV than at a theater.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Munich

The fact that filmmaker Steven Spielberg could start filming Munich in early July 2005 and have it playing in theaters in December is indeed an accomplishment. The fact that Munich is probably the most emotionally powerful cinematic experience I've had in the last 12 months is an even greater one. Many of my fellow film fans accuse Spielberg of going soft and losing his edge, that his later films just do not have the lasting appeal of his classics. I have never lost faith in his ability to astound an audience, and his latest flm is a testament that he still knows how to completely command our attention for over 2 and a half hours and give us an experience like few we've seen on the silver screen. I have yet to see the current critic's darling, Brokeback Mountain, but for the moment, Munich definitely stands at the top of the best films of 2005.

The opening 10 minutes of the film, which follows the Palestinian terrorist group Black September and their kidnapping of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, are probably the most memorable and electrifying cinematic moments in recent memory. We witness the act through reenactments and through archival news footage of the actual incident. We see the reactions of people watching as the events unfold on TV, and of those trying to control the situation. The pace is fast and frantic, but never confusing, and are about as tense as anything featured in your standard thriller or horror film. From there, we are introduced to Israeli Special Agent Avner (Eric Bana). He is approached by his country with an urgent and top secret mission to hunt down and assassinate all the members of the group who pulled off the Munich tragedy. The mission will require Avner to "disappear" from the face of the Earth, and leave everything he knows and loves behind until the mission is completed. This includes his pregnant wife, Daphna (Ayelet Zorer), and their future daughter.

The mission gets underway, and we are introduced to the other members of Avner's team including the head mission handler (Geoffrey Rush), get away driver Steve (Daniel Craig), toymaker turned bombmaker Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz), the man in charge of cleaning up the murder scenes, Carl (Ciaran Hinds), and elderly forger Hans (Hanns Zischler). Duty-bound to their country, the men carry out the various assassinations with the help of Avner's main source of information - a Frenchman whose loyalty to the group seems questionable (Mathieu Alamric). But, as the year drags on, Avner begins to question his own actions. Is he really helping anything by pulling off and justifying these murders? After all, the men they kill are just replaced by others who are more vicious and cunning. Avner is pulled into a circle of violence and paranoia as his fellow men are murdered by mysterious assailants that are trying to stop their revenge cause.

To say that Munich does not feel like a Spielberg movie is a complement. The film is appropriately dark, cold, and calculating in its tension and suspense - a far cry from the usual blockbuster material that carries the director's name. Even more so than his 1993 masterpiece, Schindler's List, Munich is almost relentless in its depiction of violence and and human horror. That the main characters can justify their own violent actions with their "eye for an eye" mentality is chilling enough, but the level of violence that is depicted in the film makes it all the more so. Spielberg, however, is wise to never make it too overbearing or graphic that we are pulled out of the story. He knows how to show just enough for the image to make an impact without lingering on the shot so long that it loses its power or shock value.

Perhaps the film's wisest decision is how it humanizes and allows us to sympathize with the men pulling off these murderous acts throughout the film. These are not faceless killers pulling off murders for country, these are family men who gather for dinner and talk about their loved ones and their lives like everyday people. There are many simple, yet effective, moments that help us relate to Avner and his men outside of their cause. Such examples include a sequence where Avner is invited to the Frenchman informant's estate that is crawling with children, family, and seems to be a bright and loving place filled with laughter. Yet another example is when Avner's men celebrate their first successful mission. But the most striking moments of all concern Avner and his wife with their new daughter. We get the sense that he is doing these acts to protect his new family, and the film does a great job at showing both sides of the character - the unflinching, unfeeling assassin, and the family man who breaks into tears hearing his daughter's voice on the phone.

Credit must be given to the film's cast who are the key in allowing us to relate and sympathise with the characters. Eric Bana in particular makes the strongest impression, especially since he is in almost every scene of the film after the introductory sequence. He brings a great everyman quality to the role and is able to pull off every side of his complex character with honesty and integrity. Another stand out performance is Marie-Josee Crose in a very small yet integral role as a seductive spy. Even though the film has established her as a cold-hearted killer earlier, her final scene is almost touching and tragic as she attempts to cling to her one source of companionship - her pet cat, as she nears her end. It is such a small moment, but it also hits you with the weight of a large boulder.


Munich is a film that has generated much controversy and discussion, but much more important than that, it is a film to be remembered. It is filled with memorable scenes, performances, and an appropriately almost atmospheric and understated music score by John Williams that never overpowers the film, allowing the scenes to play out naturally with little or no accompanying music. This is an important film, but it never draws attention to itself. It lets the emotion of the scenes and the situations come through without seeming forced or scripted. Spielberg has pulled off a remarkable achievement, and in a span of almost six months, too. This begs the question, is there anything the man can't do? All I can say is I can't wait to see what he does next.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Grandma's Boy

The marketing department at the Fox Studios has a lot of balls to advertise Grandma's Boy as being a comedy, or even a movie. Comedies feature funny situations that build to a payoff that generates humor and laughter. Movies feature a storyline, characters, and relationships. Grandma's Boy features none of that, and I fear that was the intention of the filmmakers. To call this a movie would be an insult to filmmaking in general. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever, not even to be funny, as the film does not allow itself to have any jokes. It can't even afford to have any sort of resemblance of a plot or conflict. It is just a series of loosely related scenes spliced together to form a worthless excuse for a stoner movie that makes Cheech and Chong at their worst seem like the very peak of sophisticated comedy.

The supposed plot is centered around Alex (Allen Covert), a 35-year old pot-addicted video game tester who gets thrown out of his apartment by his landlord (Rob Schneider in a pointlessly unfunny cameo) because Alex's roommate has been spending the rent money on hookers the past six months. This naturally puts him in a tight spot, especially since he's being faced with a massive deadline to debug a highly anticipated game that was designed by the freakish video game design prodigy, J.P. (Joel Moore) - a whiz kid who dresses like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, thinks he's half-cyborg, and suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Seeing no other option, Alex decides to move in with his grandmother Lily (Doris Roberts from TV's Everybody Loves Raymond), and her two elderly roommates - the sex-obsessed Grace (Shirley Jones) and the pill-popping Bea (Shirley Knight).

The rest of the movie concerns a series of random scenes where Alex and his friends get stoned while playing video games, get stoned while making love, and yes, getting stoned while in public. You could probably count the number of scenes where somebody is not lighting up on one hand. There is a female love interest for Alex in the form of Samantha (Linda Cardellini) who is managing the production of the video game, but she too has zero personality whatsoever and (you guessed it) spends a good part of the later half of the movie stoned. The minutes slowly tick by as we realize that this is all the movie has to offer us. No jokes, no characters, just one joint after another. The movie does try to create some form of conflict when the evil J.P. tries to steal a video game design of Alex's, but this is resolved in about 10 minutes, and then they go back to getting stoned. You get the idea.

My question is why would anyone want to make this movie? I am especially puzzled by the fact that the film's star, Allen Covert, co-wrote the screenplay. Did he actually think this would be a good vehicle for him as he was writing this stuff? Did he actually think that this movie could launch him into a film career, as this is his first lead role in a movie? Why would you write a starring vehicle for yourself where you do absolutely nothing but play video games and get stoned in scene after scene? Is this the kind of movie you would want to be remembered for? He had a big chance here and he absolutely squanders it by not only making his own character about as interesting as the dust building under your refrigerator, but making everybody else equally so. He doesn't even let himself be funny, giving his character no jokes or anything even remotely humorous to do. The film constantly teases us, leading us to think it's building up to a joke, only to have it cut to the next scene or to give us a payoff that lands with the deafening thud similar to that of an elephant hitting the pavement after being pushed off a skyscraper.

More than once while watching this film, I was reminded of The 40-Year Old Virgin. Both films dealt with socially introverted people who surround themselves in a world of video games, pop culture, movies, and sex fantasies, only to be brought out of their shells by the love of a woman. Both were also co-written by the film's star to act as a vehicle. But whereas Virgin was a fitting showcase for Carell's talents and treated his character with dignity and respect, Grandma's Boy looks at the character of Alex, and indeed everyone who walks into the story, with such scorn and hatred that you almost wonder why anyone would think we'd want to watch a movie about them if the screenplay itself doesn't even respect its own characters. If this movie is to be believed, the entire video game industry, and indeed everyone who even plays video games, is a pathetic loser who sleeps in a race car bed, sucks his thumb, jacks off to Barbie dolls in public, and lives with their parents. Every single character in Alex's world is a "nerd" stereotype so extreme that they don't even seem human anymore. Perhaps that's because this movie doesn't understand its own world. The characters in this movie are not "geeks" or "nerds". They are freaks of nature seen through the eyes of a reprehensible and hateful screenplay that wants to mock and ridicule instead of actually finding anything funny for its characters to do. A smart movie would find humor in the situations and the characters. This movie doesn't even bother to be funny, and just expects us to laugh at the fact that everyone who works at the video game company still live with their parents and are virgins. You get the feeling that the filmmakers behind Grandma's Boy were the ones dishing out the wedgies back in high school.

You know, looking back on this review, I've realized that I've probably spent more thought just possibly trying to explain such a banal and empty excuse for a comedy than the makers of this movie probably spent making it. This movie isn't just bad, it's practically non-existent. Each pointless scene virtually fades the second it hits the screen, and you almost begin to feel like you should be checking if the film projector is actually working, as the movie is just one big blank. It possesses no ideas, no thoughts, nor a single memorable or even noteworthy moment. It is the cinematic comparison of staring at a brick wall. And that's probably an insult to brick walls everywhere. If this movie hasn't completely faded from my mind by December, it's already a strong candidate for my Worst Films of the Year list.

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