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Posts tagged “romantic comedy

Christmas Movie: Serendipity

While Christmas shopping in New York, Sara (Kate Beckinsale) and Jonathan (John Cusack) meet and seem to really like each other. But she’s making him play a game, making each other leave their numbers randomly in NYC. She says that they’re meant to be together if they find each other with these little signs. If I was in Jonathan’s place I would just surrender and assume that she doesn’t like me as much as she appears he does, or that she has baggage that I probably shouldn’t deal with, despite of how beautiful and charming he is. The latter is the most plausible theory but for some reason “Serendipity” doesn’t address that.

Seven years later we see both not as close to each other as they want to, because it’s their fault. They revel in their fake happiness, surprisingly engaged and soon to be married with other people (John Corbett). But they’re thinking about the one who got away because they were meant for each other, although one of them could have had the power to stop their mental torture and for this movie to have stopped happening. Why do romantic comedies not make sense? Why am I such a guy? I should just crank one of these things out. I’ve ‘fallen in love’ like this but without subsequent meetings built bridges it’s difficult to sustain such emotional connections. Although I’m considering the truth within that statement in a pre-Facebook era, and wondering about the ramifications of separations like this had this movie been made earlier.

And despite of being his bread and butter I never understood why Cusack starred in these things or in any movie. Besides, he seems to go through these informal five-ish year hiatuses. I don’t know anything he’s done between “Bullets over Broadway” and “High Fidelity” and between “Identity” and “Hot Tub Time Machine.” I have amateur porn star CV’s to complete that seem more urgent than going through all his movies. And he’s paired up with all these younger women like Beckinsale and Lizzy Caplan and Alice Eve that I’m numb to it now. I used to stalk the Top Ten Money Making Stars list all time and he’s never appeared once. People who make money should only be getting away with stuff like this. Why is he getting away with this? Is it because of Lloyd Dobbler? I’m sorry to ruin everyone’s teenhoods but he’s not Lloyd Dobbler. Lloyd Dobbler only happened once. And why is his sister less famous than him?

But I’m not so ignorant about Cusack’s CV to know that every other movie of his has Jeremy Piven in it. He moves up from stoner friend or doped sailor to a NYT obituarist who helps Jonathan find clues to who Sara is. Piven, known as a terrible person, does have the chops to show empathy for Jonathan. Sara is equally equipped with a BFF in Molly Shannon, as the former gives the latter a trip to NYC as a birthday gift but with her own hidden motives. Basically, at the heart of these movie are two useful people who suffer under the weight of their love struck and manipulative friends.

Guilty Pleasure: This Means War

This Means War introduces its first recognizable cast member in Angela Bassett during the first scene, her appearance on a McG movie being akin to using an American flag as a dishcloth. At least The Green Lantern waited thirty minutes to waste her talents. She plays agent Collins in the CIA, babysitting two men, Franklin ‘FDR’ Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). In Hong Kong, they’re instructed to get their target Heinrich (Til Schweiger) and his suitcases and to keep this operation covert. They fail there, bathing the party with glass and bullets but they kill Heinrich’s brother, save each other’s lives and they’re best friend’s forever!

Just get to the cheesy part already. Since Collins condemns both FDR and Tuck to desk work, Tuck realizes how lonely he is. So a spy. Decides. To enter online dating. Coincidentally, Trish, (Chelsea Handler) a housewife from Los Angeles also creates an account but for best friend, product testing supervisor named Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon). She’s the kind of beautiful woman who catches herself wearing sweatpants in public just for her ex-boyfriend Steve to spot her, infuriating even on other actresses who ace this charade.

Lauren enters into permanent dress up mode and has a coffee date with Tuck but she walks into a video store and meets FDR. A video store is a place where humans rent or buy physical copies of movies or television shows for ten dollars or more. Lauren eventually dates both men and they discover this fact. But in an exaggerated for of the ‘hero’ in romantic comedies, they break their friendship, waste American tax dollars to survey her likes and dislikes, snoop on each other and literally annihilate each other’s chances with her. Some CGI ensues.

While we’re at it, this movie fails to pass off some of Tuck’s traits. He’s the more virile looking man – he has no neck! – and wears his tattoos like a shirt but for some reason we’re supposed to believe that he hasn’t been to da club or have had sexual relations with anyone after his divorce. Hardy is Bradley Cooper’s replacement for the role. It’s all right if he’s the poor man’s Michael Fassbender but being the poor man’s Brad Cooper is beneath him. Anyway, Tuck’s sweetness and fun side is in his deck of cards while somehow FDR has the edge in this competition by being arrogant.

This movie does have some aesthetic value, appearing expensive but is barely on the good side of the border between flashy and tacky. Every office must have stainless walls, minimalist logos, state of the art technology. Apartments have large objects reflecting character’s taste to pass off their credit card bourgeois economic status as quirk, even for the spies who are so well-traveled that they’re barely home to decorate. Tuck can apparently afford a butch gay interior designer even with assumed child support payments. The decision to deck out the three main character’s spaces also means that they have to bring Trish in as the dowdy one by comparison. This taste is also reflected in the movie’s arty references. I like the already dated second meet cute – they’re showing classical movies in a mainstream video store! – because it involves Lauren saying that Rebecca and Notorious ARE Hitchcock’s best movies. FDR is also one foot within her heart by feigning a love for early 20th century art, although change Gustav Klimt to Fernand Leger and we got ourselves a deal.

I also like the movie’s banter, especially when Hardy doesn’t overplay his lines. It’s also delightful to spot supporting cast members like Rosemary Harris, Jenny Slate and Abigail Spencer. I’m especially partial to Handler and yes, I have willfully let her corrupt my definition of comedy. I almost thought she wrote the script until I realized that there were no jokes about the female anatomy. Her rapport with Witherspoon is clear during their dialogue. I don’t even care if she promotes herself as subversive only to sell out because she thinks that’s what people in movies do. This is McG we’re talking about. I’ve already implied that I can’t like this beyond guilty pleasure. But I see it as if McG and Witherspoon called CAA and a friend to make a movie and tell jokes that the audience will laugh at and forget as soon as they leave the door. It’s not worth thirteen fifty but I got the fun that its cast and crew evinces. 2.5/5

InsideOut Hangover: …Lesbian Space Alien…

It’s kind of sad that Madeleine Olnek’s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks the Same is my first Ed Wood movie, but the experience was fun in this new incarnation. The title, however, isn’t that self-explanatory, only referring to an ad that one of the three lesbian space aliens (Cynthia Kaplan) have given out, their mission on earth is to get their hearts broken.

Shot in cheap digital black and white, the main focus is on Zoinx (Susan Ziegler) who finds her Jane (Lisa Haas), without telling the latter that her stay on Earth isn’t permanent, that Jane is only part of her mission to rid herself on earthling love. But while they’re together, their budding love, the banter of the spies watching the, and the aliens’ creative behaviour actually seems natural. 4/5.

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally begins with college age Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) talking about their unrefined views about Everybody Goes to Rick’s while their wigs are trying not to move. They eventually meet again twice and grow up to be more experienced – no, Harry becomes borderline jaded – when it comes to love, the two of them are a healthy mix of happy and sad whether they’re together or apart. And Sally infamous fakes the second best female orgasm ever. Did I miss anything else?

This movie is what would happen if characters in a Woody Allen movie didn’t read books, making screenwriter Nora Ephron pretty much ahead of her time. But that’s kind of unfair, right? Harry and Sally like movies and musicals. They’ve gone to the same university in Chicago, and so, we assume, do their friends. Even if some of them do have bad taste in stupid, wagon wheel Roy Rogers garage sale coffee tables.

‘I want you to know…that I will never want that wagon wheel coffee table.’

I worship the ground that Carrie Fisher walks on. When is she coming back to Toronto? Why is she not the more famous one in this trio?

Then Harry and Sally have breakup sex, he gets a little stalker-y, but if an ex-boyfriend ever sang on my voice mail, I’ll be tempted to answer the phone. Although Harry gets points off for wearing those white running shoes. What were the 80’s and early 90’s thinking? Anyway, I can’t wait for the sequel!

No Strings Attached

So the new Natalie Portman film No Strings Attached, her first outing after her probably Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan, is facing mediocre reviews. ‘It’s predictable!’ ‘All romantic comedies are predictable!’ ‘You’re a terrible person, Paolo!’ Ah, shut up. Yes, I concede that the movie gets crappier the more I think about it. For example, to my future children reading this – if you don’t cry or show emotion at my husband/your father’s ‘stupid thing’ of a funeral, but you cry for a guy, I will disown you. Nonetheless, I will give this movie a bone or four.

The cheerleaders in Adam’s (Ashton Kutcher) “High School Musical” esque show actually did high kicks. Like real cheerleader stuff. I can’t remember if they did stunts or flipping though.

There was a total of one realistic sex scene. I agree with Ebert that the multiple lead-ups to Adam and Emma’s (Natalie Portman) first consummation was pathetically ‘code era,’ and that their hair never fully get messy, but when they got there…Oh God, talking about realism in sex scenes in ‘film criticism’ is harder than anything else I’ve ever had to write. The aggression and the connection and hand-held camera capturing a long take and Emma’s (Portman) head practically buried in those pillows. Also, is that Kutcher with a normal person’s body? Congratulations to him. I imagine any other actor working out to the hilt if he was cast in this movie.

Natalie Portman’s relationships with male characters in her other movies aren’t necessarily romantic, and you can’t even say that about older, more respected actresses. She allows herself to be coupled in this film, and I’m one voice who believes that Kutcher and Portman make a decent onscreen couple. Also, her calling Joy and Lisa (Vedette Lim) ‘pumpkins’ is classic.

There’s also one scene with Adam and Lucy (Lake Bell) who bump heads while trying to kiss. I can’t remember the last time I saw that.

The supporting characters. They’re really letting Abby Elliott as Joy nail a Drew Barrymore impersonation? When the trailer was out around Christmastime (someone correct me on this), I thought that the movie was built around Adam’s line ‘You fight like a hipster.’ The film now seems like a free-for-all for the comediennes and actresses with or without comedy films under their belt. We probably have Portman to thank for the girl power, whose project includes producing female stoner movies and has Executive Producer credits to this film. Mindy Kaling’s trash talking humour, her character Shira telling Emma that she’s going to avoid her for being so depressing. We have Greta Gerwig successfully convincing us that her character Patrice is more sexually desirable than the then awkward Emma at one point in their lives. Other actresses include Talia Balsam, Olivia Thirlby, Lake Bell (playing neurotic middle management) and Olivia Lovibond, the latter two’s comedic talent were probably aided by the fact that this movie is my introductions to them.

There’s also Kevin Kline, playing ‘Great Scott’ Alvin or Adam’sfamous TV star dad, who almost steals the show through both the physical and delivery aspects of the comedy. 3/5.