Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ryan and Sean's Not So Excellent Adventure

We are on the horizon of a new kind of media. Internet video sites let anyone set up a web cam and be a star. You don't need a famous name, fantastic connections or even a budget, if you've got a video camera, you've got a shot. Sadly this doesn't guarantee that the best shows will become popular, and this is evident in the film Ryan and Sean's Not So Excellent Adventure.

I usually wait a couple of days to review a film. This isn't so I can get distance from the film and then review it more fairly, but really because I'm a procrastinator. I'm making an exception by reviewing Ryan and Sean's Not So Excellent Adventure (which will be hereafter called Not So Excellent, or NSE just because the title is a pain to type out) the evening after I watched it, because pretty soon, my kind mind will start psychologically blocking the movie out. My memory's already growing shady, so I better get to work.

The film follows Ryan Higa and Sean Fujiyoshi, the stars of a popular YouTube series creatively called "Ryan and Sean." They are called to Hollywood by a struggling producer who has one more chance to make a successful movie. Then they have to go through a lot of zany hurdles trying to make a film. I know close to nothing about film making, and I understand that the film has to stretch the bounds of logic for humor's sake, but the film doesn't attempt to make any sort of sense. Monty Python's Holy Grail looks linear in comparison.

Ryan and Sean's was successful enough (depressing, I know) to get the funding to make an extremely low budget film. This shouldn't be held against them, low budget films--e.g. Evil Dead--have launched many film careers-- director Sam Rami, actor Bruce Cambell-- but this movie looked downright sloppy. Takes that wouldn't have made it onto a class project's blooper reel were in the completed picture. Thanks to digital cameras, film makers don't have to worry about the cost of film, so there's not excuse for the takes where the main characters flub lines or awkwardly attempt to get their jokes out. They also project random world cities behind the leads while they travel, instead of the regular road. That was funny in Airplane, here it just felt lazy.

The projection wasn't the only joke stolen in NSE. The film follows in the Seltzer And Friedberg school of comedy, where, if it's like that other movie, it's hilarious right? I was subjected to a dull Napoleon Dynamite parody, a dull Blues Brothers parody, a dull There Will Be Blood parody ('cause, you know, the kids they love dramas about the oil business) and countless other flat imitations trying to pass as comedy. A couple of the parodies did attempt to reach for their own humor, but those were so incomprehensible that they had to name check their sources to be recognized. Then, at the end of the film, the characters complain that the in film film producer is only copying other films and that isn't their style. I'd like to think that this is the film's attempt to use hypocritical humor. If that was so, maybe the whole film was meant to make fun of the audience who would watch this kind of dredge. Or maybe it's just a badly written movie.

The film's other jokes were forgettable. There was a running gag about Sean (or Ryan, I honestly can't remember which) sleeping through anything, then Ryan (or was that Sean) farted in his face. Also, midget jokes, lots of midget jokes. Uh, yeah. Great comedy.

Apparently this film opened to sold out theaters in California, and Hawaii (the stars' home state). If you want to find me, I'll be in my room, crying for civilization.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer lull

I know I haven't posted since, well March. I appologize, but I haven't been doing much babysitting recently. It's summer, and, oddly enough, parents want to spend time with their kids. The childcare and babysitting I have done didn't have movies involved. I just posted this to say I'm not dead, and I'll post as soon as possible.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Around the World in 80 Days

It's been awhile since I last posted, but my homework load has gotten big enough that a post seemed like the perfect way to procrastinate.

A couple Saturdays back, I was able to watch the first half of Around the World in 80 Days. I say the first half, because the film is approxametly 3 years long. The film took up two discs, and felt longer than the 183 minute run time. Why is the film this long? Long long scenes where not much happens. THe film spent at least an hour on, a bull fight, shots of the alps, a jungle trek, and a Japanese acrobat show. None of these really moved the plot along enough to justify this amount of time. They're all interesting at first, but start dragging after a couple of minutes.

Do these scenes have a point? No. Are they pretty? Yes. This seems to be what people went to the movies for back then, which makes sense. If you didn't have the money to go around the world, you pay to watch other people do it.

The veiw of the world portrayed in the film, though, is not perfect. Often, the other cultures met by our heroes are thin stereotypes of the people they represent. The Indian (as in, the Asian culture) people are portrayed as violent savages, and the only Indian woman portrayed like a person is the British educated love intrest played by a white woman.

The film does have a ton of cameos. Be sure to look for silent film star Buster Keaton, and the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.

This film is too long for most kids, and it was too long for me. It's long, it's pretty, it's dull.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Karate Dog

I have to admit, I did not have high hopes for Karate dog. I know it's hard to believe, but a film who's biggest claim to fame is it features the voice of Chevy Chase as a talking dog does not really rouse my attention. Then I saw the dog, (for those who are sickly curious, here's a picture) and then I was ready to hide underneath the kids bed rather than watch this canine monstrocity. The only thing that kept me on the couch was the promise of cash ninjas.

A film called Karate Dog must have some martial arts madness right? Sort-of. The begining and climax of the film do include Cho-Cho, the Karate Dog, in kung fu battles. Creepy anthropormorphic kung fu battles, where he stands on its hind legs and fights in such a way that it make you want to rip out your eyes out of their sockets one by one if it just took the dog away.

The middle, if it is possible, is even worse. Any semblence of kung fu is replaced by a boring detective story with interludes of a dull romance subplot. Cho-Cho was an ordinary dog, whose owner, by the power of zen (I know, seriously?) gave him the ability to talk. His owner, played by go-to Asian master Pat Morita, then teaches him kung-fu. When his master is killed by masked ninjas, Cho-Cho, teams up with an socially-awkward police detective, to solve the murder. The detective also has time to fall in love with another cop played by My Name Is Earl's
Jaime Pressly.

One idiotic plot about dogtrack steroids and daddy issues later, I had almost lost all faith in film making. The film was like what would happen if the odd couple met Mr. Ed, if none of them had any charm, but thought they were funny anyway. An hour of my life, (was it only an hour? It felt like an eternity.) was spent watching Cho-Cho use a urinal, throw a dog party in the guy's house, and generally act like a jerk. By the end of the movie of course, the guy is thanks the dog, his best friend who he couldn't do this without blah blah blah. This is a move by the writer to try to make us forget the dog has done nothing to endear himself to anyone, not the guy, and certainly not to the audience.

President Obama has made movements to close Guantanimo Bay because of the torture that is said to have occured there. I'm not an expert on the subject, but I think this means guards made the inmates watch Karate Dog.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

GI Joe: Valor VS Venom

Before I start this post, I must admit that I don't know much about GI Joe. Most of my knowlege of the toyline/comics/cartoons comes from reading Chris's Invincible Super Blog, and listening to Roper's Red Eye To Miami. Going into GI Joe: Valor VS Venom, this is what I knew: Snake eyes is a mute ninja, Baroness is a hot evil Russian chick, Scarlett is the hot good American chick, and Cobra Commander usually wants to take over the world, or run for president.  I mention all this so you can see how much more, if I had been a fan, I would have hated this film. 

The movie took me on an 80 minute of the Uncanny Valley, a journey I wish I'd have never taken. The plot was inane, and the design, extremely ugly.  The constant mentions of "taking parents away from kids", doing things "for the kids", and giving vauge medals to "the kids" was heavy handed pandering, that really did nothing for appeal.  The voice acting was eh at best, with worse accents. The Baroness's russian accents wouldn't have fooled Natasha Fatale.

The thing that bugged me most about the film, is the utter nonsensical nature of the Joes. In the film, the "GI Joes" are a top secret orginization, that no one is supposed to know about. The group is so secret, one guy was suspicious of a little old lady when she knew about the group. Then the Joes make sure that both the operation and their part in it stay quiet, by talking loudly about their top secret plans and yelling "GO JOES" every five minutes. Later, when a guy arrives at their recently infultrated base, and claims he wants to help, they give him a job. This makes absolutely no sense. None.

I think I'm just about done with this film, needless to say I wouldn't recommend it. I guess I'll leave you with this image, which can give you a glimpse scary dead eyed, not quite right animation which will turn you off this film, or at least haunt you for a couple of days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties

Last Friday, I babysat for one of my regular families. I ate pizza with the boys, got them in their pajamas, and settled down to watch the movie. I picked up the box, and was horrified to see the film was Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.

I have done my best to avoid the Garfield films, since, the film looked worse then the comic has been recently (side note, to see how Garfield could be great, see garfieldminusgarfield.net/). It hasn't been hard to avoid, nobody in my household felt any urge to see it, except my sister, who saw it only because a friend wanted to go. To add to this, it was a sequel, so any cliched lasagna/napping/Monday related jokes which had already been used in the first, would be even more repetitive than the 30 years of lasagna/napping/Mondays. 

The cliched jokes, and cliched plot (two identical people get switched, but then find a very very good reason for wanting their own places back), were not the biggest problems with the plot. The biggest problem is with Garfield himself. 

I've recently been reading a screenwriting book called Save the Cat. The strange title comes from the author's assertion that all movies should have a save the cat moments. This is a scene, early on in a movie, where the hero does something good. Despite any flaws the character might have to work out, it establishes that deep down, he has a little good. This makes the audience want to follow the character through the movie. Garfield has no save the cat moment.  In the beginning, Garfield is fat, lazy, and a jerk. Even when he becomes a (very slightly) better cat later in the film, I didn't believe his change, and more importantly, I didn't care.

What makes this all worse, is the fact the fat cat was voiced by Bill Murray. I have nothing against Murray for taking the role, while he's been in great films like Caddyshack and Ghost Busters, he has to pay his bills somehow. My problem is this, Murray has made his career making unlikeable characters funny, and if not likable, at least entertaining. The grating antics of Garfield became even more so, knowing that Murray was behind it.

One of the better parts of babysitting is the very essence of the job. You're paid to hang out with kids (who are usually pretty nice, and if  they aren't, you don't have to babysit for them again), watching TV, and hoping nobody chokes. This also encompasses some of the worst parts of the job. Every now and again, the kids will be brats, the food is disgusting, and there's nothing good on. Or sometimes, you have to watch Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Hey, at least the pay's good. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Over the Hedge

I watched Over the Hedge tonight. I'd love to divulge into the quality of the film, the stale jokes, the thin characters, the film maker's obsession with their "atomic bomb" effect that suggested that the animators just figured out how to do it, and wanted to use it as much as possible, or how looking at the play-mobile forest animals was more fascinating than watching the actual film.

But, I'm getting a little tired and I still have some homework to do, so I'll just cut it short. While watching a good film, you can enjoy their quality, while watching a bad film, you can revel in the odd minor masochistic pleasure they give. Sadly, middling films can only rot in their own mediocrity. Over the Hedge is one of these films, and isn't worth 83 minutes of your life.