Monday, February 21, 2011

The Other Despicable FreakoGruber

Alright, I've been sitting on a couple of the reviews here for awhile so I thought it was time to get them out there. I've been also slowly working on my Oscar picks and Favorite Movies of 2010 list, so those should be out here, soon. But for now, here are three movies and one failed attempt at stretching one joke into a feature length film:

Despicable Me - (3 1/2 Stars)
There have been a lot of animated movies released in 2010, of which a surprising amount have actually been pretty good. Despicable Me is just another example of what a great year 2010 was for animation.

Despicable Me
Gru (Steve Carell) is a super-villain. In fact, he's the best (worst) super-villain of them all and he's saved his best heist for last: to steal the moon. But, when another clever villain steals the Great Pyramid, the villain community begins to lose faith in Gru, which leads him to finally put his big plan into action. Along the way, Gru encounters a young group of orphans who vie for his attention. In fact Agnes, the youngest, steals most of the movie.

The movie is funny, well cast and endearing at parts. But at other times it felt like a mash-up of Incredibles and Monster's Inc. Mostly due to the atmosphere and feel of the movie, not from borrowed plot devices or characters.
(95 minutes - Rated PG for rude humor and mild action - 2010) (Netflix)

The Other Guys - (3 1/2 Stars)
There are certain movies out there that are so dumb, they're funny. The Other Guys fits right into this category. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are partners Gamble and Hoitz at the NYPD. They don't really get along and are always being overshadowed by two other larger-than-life cops. But, when a change at the department leaves a void, Gamble and Hoitz attempt to fill it.

The Other Guys
"The Other Guys" is a lot of what you'd expect from Will Ferrell and his director buddy Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights). There are plenty of laughs and one-liners. Ferrell does his usual bit, and it works. Wahlberg works well against Ferrell as well. Michael Keaton as the Captain is particularly funny, stealing a couple scenes from Ferrell and Wahlberg. Keaton seems to have found his niche in funny, supporting parts (he was also great in Toy Story 3 as Ken).

As with most other movies of this type, the laughs do slow down a bit towards the end when they have to wrap up the storyline, but there are enough other laughs throughout to make it worth watching. 

(107 minutes - Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material - 2010) (Netflix)

Having had the books recommended to me, I went to my local library last year and quickly read both Freakonomics and its "sequel" SuperFreakonomics. I was excited, or at least had my interest piqued, when I heard they were attempting to make a documentary out of the books utilizing various filmmakers, such as Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), who's work I also enjoy, among others. While the end result is not bad, it's doesn't particularly add anything to the books.

FreakonomicsThe movie includes both of the authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, as narrators of sorts for the whole movie. They also fill in the gaps between the various segments. Each segment takes its inspiration from chapters from both books and are written and directed by a different documentary filmmaker. The problem becomes that out of two books that were already packed to the brim with information, we end up with four full "chapters" and various short segments that just don't do enough justice to the books. Basically, just go read the books.
(93 minutes - Rated PG-13 for Elements of violence, sexuality/nudity, drugs, and brief strong language - 2010) (Netflix)

MacGruberMacGruber - (1 1/2 Stars)
I mentioned before movies that are dumb, but funny. MacGruber is just dumb. I did laugh at some parts, but overall the rest of it was the big equivalent of a fart joke. Not much else to say for this SNL spin-off.
(90 minutes - Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity - 2010) (Netflix)

^Available on Netflix Watch Instant

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