2 August 2011

More Film Reviews

No 'Why I Love' post yet. The next one involves finding my camera and taking some pictures, I should post it towards the end of the week.
In the meantime here are some more 300 word film reviews. I'm tempted to start writing similar quick reviews for films I see at the moment.

Down to You
Freddie Prince Jr, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair
It’s an old story: boy meets girl, they fall in love and then complications arise. Al and Imogen meet at college and the romance between them becomes serious. They swap stories, pick a song and meet each others parents. However a pregnancy scare and doubts on both sides create a rift. Eventually they split-up after she sleeps with someone else. Al cannot get over her and sinks into apathetic depression. He goes a little odd and even tries drinking shampoo before he gains the resolve to fight for what they had.

I met one person who really liked this film, but I know someone else who walked out of a cinema because of it, and I have to side with the latter. The film is an old story being done in a way that is too familiar to stand out. The novelty of having Henry ‘The Fonze’ Winkler in a supporting role soon wears thin. The cast of quirky, porn-making friends are not actually quirky or risqué enough to provide much interest, and as often happens they are simply there to react to the main characters. The romance is sweet and sentimental but neither lead actor is at their best here. The documentary-style monologues are meant to be different but serve little purpose with the characters telling the audience what they should be showing them. Al’s moping angst quickly becomes annoying and then draining. In one scene he is up-staged by an animated spider, and then attempts a weird kind of half-hearted suicide, possibly? Towards the end I was desperately waiting for someone to run through an airport, or a bus terminal, or something in a typical rom-com style climax. However there was only a disappointingly stationary and mediocre ending. 

Hudson Hawk (1991)
Sandra Bernhart, Richard E. Grant, Andie MacDowell, Bruce Willis,
Cat-burglar Hudson Hawk wants to go straight but after his release from prison he’s persuaded to do one more job by his partner Tommy Five-Tone. The stolen item inexplicably reappears just before it's auctioned. Hudson gets pulled into the schemes of maniacal husband and wife team, the Mayflowers -villains whose ambition is second only to their ruthlessness. Hudson is forced to steal Da Vinci artefacts in order to complete the construction of a miraculous machine. With help from his partner and an attractive Vatican agent, Hudson must foil the Mayflowers’ nefarious schemes.

Da Vinci’s sketchbook, a secret Catholic agency and an eccentric British villain. Sounds familiar, but this film has little else in common with Dan Brown’s creation. Not only was it made 12 years earlier it has a very different tone; a blend of action, adventure and humour that fits well with many of Willis’s other films. There are bizarre characters and an outlandish plot with various twists and double-crosses. The comedy is irreverent and at times silly, Hudson calls the Roman Forum “rocks and shit,” and much of the violence is over the top in a way that is humorous but not graphic. All the characters have strange traits and idiosyncrasies; Hudson and Tommy sing to time their robberies and Andie MacDowell is a less than saintly nun. The villains are wacky, maniacal and amoral; the Mayflowers’ are utterly insane and Hudson is trailed by an unusual gang of candy-themed crooks. The film could almost spoof The Da Vinci Code but benefits from its lack of association with the controversial bestseller. There’s no grand conspiracy, religious theories or attempts to be historical in this film. It is a funny, fast-paced action comedy and that’s all it needs to be.

Weird Science (1985)
Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith
Wyatt and Gary are introverted loners who fantasise about girls, parties and popularity, but lack the social confidence to act on these desires. Pygmalion-like, the boys create their perfect woman using a computer program. Enter Lisa, a British bombshell with reality-altering powers. Although created to improve the boys’ lives she doesn’t blindly obey them, as well as bringing fun she puts obstacles in their way to increase their confidence. The film is a wish-fulfilment overload that comes to a predictable conclusion.

The stereotypical teenage boy viewpoint may make this film harder to enjoy if you don’t happen to fall into that category. It remains faithful to its target audience and doesn’t try to be anything its not, which is mostly good but some may find this a little limiting. The main characters have various positive qualities, especially Wyatt who's shyer and more sympathetic as he's bullied by his dreadful older brother. Unfortunately both are drenched in immature comedy at times, and that makes them less likeable. Gary drunkenly imitating an old bluesman is horribly cringe-worthy, but it is the worst example. Once set up the premise could go almost anywhere, but despite some random, unexplained extras it doesn’t extend beyond the basic aims of Wyatt and Gary. The film is a product of its time from the impossible phenomena caused by a simple home PC (computers could do magic back then) to the dated style of Lisa’s clothes. Despite these failings the film is reasonably amusing and is enjoyable as a silly, light-hearted ‘80s teen flick. I suspect I didn't like this as much as people who saw it in their teens.

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