movies

Tough Questions: What’s the Worst Movie that You Love?

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Every Monday we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week?

What’s the Worst Movie that You Love?

Rules are simple: “worst” means the one the critics hated the most. We’re using Rotten Tomatoes for critics, and we want to know your great shame. What’s that one movie that you love and defend constantly? What is your guilty pleasure that really ain’t so guilty in your eyes?

Austin Duck

Unfortunately, I’m not really a movie guy. I used to be, but my wife’s not that into them, so I don’t see new movies very often. My favorite bad movie is easily Pacific Rim. Now, I know it was a steaming pile of crap, but it was one of the most exceptional dumps I’ve ever seen. Watching a movie like that, you can so clearly see directorial intention, it’s exciting. You see a man who, known for quality and intelligence in film, tries to make the perfect dinosaurs vs. robots movie. And he does. There’s not one saccharine-y second wasted in that movie; from the building of the universe, the establishment of the problem, the execution, it’s perfectly articulated. And while a lot of people trash it for failing to transcend its genre, I disagree. Well, I don’t disagree that it didn’t transcend its genre, but I don’t think it was about that. It perfected the genre and, as such, created a work from which the Syfy network might never recover.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71% (!)

Mike Hannemann

It was a December night. I was at a Target. Not one close to home – it was one by my office in Naperville, IL. It should be noted that this was a good hour’s drive on the highway away from my apartment on the south side of Chicago. I saw a DVD for a movie I had never seen before. I purchased it immediately and I will never be able to explain my reasoning. It sat on my DVD shelf for about two weeks. I never gave it a second thought, let alone expressed any desire to watch it. Christmas came and went, and I found myself alone in my apartment Christmas night with a bottle of Scotch. This was the only time I ever watched Paul Blart: Mall Cop. But it was glorious.

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Alex Marino

If you’re not down with Hook you can go to hell. Dustin Hoffman puts on one of the greatest villain performances of all time. There’s no green screen or camera tricks, just elaborate sets and memorable moments. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been drunk at a bar and have awkwardly quoted this movie only to have no one recognize it. It’s basically the perfect movie when you’re 14. So all the 14-year-olds out there reading this should really see it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%

Alex Russell

There’s only one answer to this: Pootie Tang. This movie is misunderstood. If you really read about people’s response to this movie they are furious about it. It’s a weird homage of a movie made out of love for a long-gone genre at the time. It’s all about the character Pootie Tang who is supposed to represent a kind of cool that’s unobtainable. I have no problem with someone not getting what they were trying to do with a movie where the greatest line is “Sine your pitty on the runny kine” but you know, not everything is for everyone. Y’all just need to get slapped with a belt.

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

Andrew Findlay

There isn’t so much a single terrible movie that has won my heart, more a genre. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra stands as one of the greatest ambassadors of that genre: the stupid action movie. I respect and understand Tycho’s response to this kind of movie, but if there are enough explosions I honestly do not care. The plot is weak and the dialogue is shitty? They use bionic suits to jump through an occupied trolley, your argument is invalid. This reasoning extends to most kung-fu movies as well. Oh, this plot has been done a quintillion times before? Who cares, that dude just got kicked in the face, and it was awesome.

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

Brent Hopkins

I actually have two terrible movies that I love but I chose the one with the worse score on Rotten Tomatoes. The two movies are 1997’s Volcano and 2002’s Juwanna Mann. Guess which is lower rated based on the titles with a chart-searing 10% compared to 44%?

Juwanna Mann is a film I saw in theaters in 2002 with a bunch of my friends and a visitor named Alex whom you may have heard of [Editor’s note: Alex Russell, on here, sadly. I want to deny this, but cannot.]. This film came out after Eddie Murphy popularized the multiple characters played by a single actor in The Nutty Professor. The story is extremely simple: It follows a basketball superstar who is kicked out of the league in his prime and loses everything. This would be a normally sad tale except he is the stereotypical jock archetype who is rude and misogynistic. With no place else to go he decides to conjure up the character Juwanna Mann to play basketball in the women’s professional league and all sorts of hilarity ensues. I know in my heart that jokes didn’t actually ensue but I loved watching this movie because it is a black film (Kevin Pollak being the only white actor of note in it) and I watched it with a few white friends and an Asian friend of mine. I found myself laughing extremely hard because of the sheer amount of awkwardness caused by jokes. My friends looked genuinely uncomfortable because I could see a laugh start to form on their lips but the immediate reaction after that was… is it racist if I laugh? I am sure this makes me a terrible person but I still have fond memories anytime it happens to be on TBS and I let it play in the background.

Rotten Tomatoes: 10%

Scott Phillips

The Brothers Solomon is my favorite bad movie to watch. It’s so stupid, it’s somehow funny to me. This film bombed so badly that it has a 15% score on Rotten Tomatoes, recouped only $900,000 of its $10 million budget in theaters, and is the first movie that Richard Roeper ever walked out on.

I can see why people would hate this movie, though. Most of the comedy bits could potentially work in an extended Funny or Die bit, but they’ve spliced about 10 of those ideas together to form this movie.

Ever wonder how funny a scene would be if two brothers were racing to the hospital to see their dying father only to stop at a video store — because it’s on the way to the hospital — to dispute a late fee for the movie Ulee’s Gold [Editor’s note: 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Certified fresh.]? This movie has that in there.

Ever wonder how funny a scene would be if two brothers wrote a prolonged apology via SkyText from a plane? This movie has that in there.

And so you get my point. There’s some amusing stuff in here — that is just downright weird — and for whatever reason I’ve never been able to shake it. Most of it makes me laugh, for some reason?

The opening credits are fantastic, so that doesn’t hurt.

But fuck Richard Roeper. That dude doesn’t hold a candle to Siskel or Ebert so his opinion means pretty much nothing anyways.

Rotten Tomatoes: 15%

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This Looks Terrible – A Haunted House 2

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Alex Marino

In “This Looks Terrible” we look at previews for upcoming movies. We… probably look too closely.

There are only two things you need to know about this trailer: It has a Wayans brother in it and there’s a 20 second fight scene with a chicken.

This movie should just be called “Stupid Race Jokes 2” because that’s all the trailer seems to showcase. Things this trailer thinks are funny:

  1. A white kid speaking Ebonics!
  2. Mistaking your Hispanic neighbor mowing his own lawn for being the neighborhood lawn guy and asking him to add your house to his route!
  3. After the family dog gets crushed by an inexplicably-placed safe, Marlon Wayans screaming “CALL 911! TELL THEM THE DOG IS WHITE! TELL THEM THE DOG IS WHITE!”
  4. The super-friendly neighbor deciding everyone needs a mojito break in the middle of an exorcism and him proclaiming “Oh the black guy has a gun” before turning right around to go back upstairs.

I’m setting the over/under on a white person saying “shiznit” (haha, remember 2003?) at five. 

The worst part about all of this is that this movie will likely be insanely profitable. The first A Haunted House had a production budget of $2.5 million and grossed just over $40 million. That means A Haunted House made 16x its production budget in ticket revenue. For perspective, Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time, made 11.7x its production budget in ticket revenue. So, while I may criticize this movie for being dumb as shit, movies with margins like these are beloved by studios and they’ll continue to be made as long as they’re successful.

Image source: IMDB

The Lego Movie is Entirely About Fun. Should You See it?

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Mike Hannemann

In our rarely-running kinda-series Should You See It? we talk about movies that just came out. You can figure out the rest of the premise from the title of the series. That’s right: we talk recipes. Should you see The Lego Movie?

Back when I was in high school, making Lego movies was a big fad. There was an early YouTube clip of the “Camelot” song from Monty Python and the Holy Grail re-done entirely in Lego that I watched daily. I had friends that tried to re-create Star Wars scenes with them well before the video game franchise came around. I get it. Even before the hugely successful video game franchise, people were making Lego movies. I say that to say how much I thought The Lego Movie was going to be embarrassing.

The elevator pitch for The Lego Movie is, essentially, just “oh, it’s a movie about Lego.” I’m terrified to think of the board meeting where this was greenlit. On paper, there’s no way this could actually be a good movie. It seems like the lowest hanging fruit to base a film on (Battleship from a few years ago takes second place). It almost feels like something a TV show would use as an idea when making fun of Hollywood for trying to shovel-feed easily consumed movies to mass audiences. “Ball: The Movie” is probably the only thing easier to use as a joke.

But then, somehow, it works.

At this point, you’ve probably already heard about the universal acclaim The Lego Movie is bringing in. As of this writing, it’s boasting a 95% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “How could this go so wrong?” is a question that’s frequently asked when it comes to Hollywood but in this case, we’ve got ourselves scratching our heads asking “how could this go so RIGHT?”

After seeing it, the answer is pretty simple. The writers (of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs fame) choose to air on the side of caution and just… well, want to have fun. It’s a simple comparison to the actual point of using the blocks themselves, but I couldn’t help coming back to that fact when watching it. The movie never tries to be more than it is, it doesn’t try to reach Toy Story-esque heights or re-imagine the way we look at a toy that’s been a staple of childhood since the mid-1950s. It just simply tries to tell a fun story. And because of it, it works.

Chris Pratt plays the main character – Emmet – a construction worker who becomes the film’s “Chosen One.” I won’t waste time talking about the plot. It’s simple enough to engage but children and adults but that means discussing any real story points would be to spoil it. So, instead, let’s just talk about this one character. He’s simultaneously the story’s hero but it also feels like the movie itself is designed off of him.

The character is a simple-minded, good-hearted, silly guy. And this is all the movie sets out to be, too. Jokes don’t always land (although thankfully the laughter overshadows the clunkers) but that takes a backseat to the good-natured charm. While the plot gets over-the-top with how ambitious it becomes, it still feels like a simple narrative hitting all the familiar beats one would expect in a “save the world” story aimed at nostalgia.

It’s because of this that the voice acting works so well, too. Throughout the entire film, it just feels like these actors are having the time of their lives. Nick Offerman voices the pirate Metal Beard with such enthusiasm that I actually didn’t realize it was him until the end credits. Charlie Day brings his It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia manic charm to a role that would otherwise have just been a filler character. And throughout the entire film, Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks are the two main characters that have as much charming back-and-forth as any non-animated on-screen duo. Pratt, especially, deserves praise for managing to portray a character that is simultaneously bland yet still “the most interesting person on the world” (the film’s words, not mine).

The final element that lets the movie play around with its story is the visuals. This, at face value, is probably the only thing that was assured to be solid from that initial pitch meeting. Done in full CGI (with a few real Lego sets sprinkled in), the movie looks like it was done in stop-motion. It actually looks like these figures are all just interacting on a physical Lego set, adhering to the real-world limitations of the bricks themselves. For as broad and expansive the world the film takes place in is, the figures still have that waist that only allows them to bend in certain directions. It’s this crazy dedication to letting the animators run wild but while still confining them to a set of rules that makes this whole thing work. It feels real, in the weirdest sense.

At the end of the day, it works for one reason and one reason alone: it isn’t cynical. It genuinely feels like everyone involved, from the animators to the actors to the directors, are just having fun. They aren’t creating what could easily be the biggest product placement film in history (that damned Coca-Cola polar bears movie takes the crown on that one). This isn’t a corporate tie-in for them. This is a chance to create something legitimate based off of a culture’s shared experience of playing with these multicolored bricks and using one’s imagination.

Should You See It? Yes. That’s the film’s biggest achievement: for an hour and a half, there’s no cynicism. You’re earnestly encouraged to just smile and enjoy yourself. “Everything is awesome” is the refrain for the movie’s main theme the characters sing while completing mundane tasks. For a film that could have been a colossal failure and turned out to be weirdly charming, there couldn’t be a more appropriate sentiment.

Image source: ABC

An Obama Campaign Worker Watched the Documentary Mitt. Should You See it?

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Alex Marino

In our rarely-running kinda-series Should You See It? we talk about movies that just came out. You can figure out the rest of the premise from the title of the series. That’s right: we talk recipes. Should you see the new doc about Mitt Romney?

Given that all my other pieces here are about yelling at kids to get off my lawn, I could understand the belief that I spend my days sitting on a porch in a lawn chair being grumpy at the world.  But before all that I worked for the Obama campaign doing data work in North Carolina for all of 2012. It was exhausting and exciting and unhealthy and incredible all at the same time. Like so many of my colleagues, once everything was over and I actually had an ounce of free time I decided to occupy it with reading as much as I could about the election. I’ve read almost every book that’s been written about the campaign. Hell I was reading short e-books about the campaign during the campaign. It was always interesting to see what journalists got right (that we used data incredibly well) and what they were completely clueless about (how we used that data). I had read so much that by the time the highly-anticipated sequel to Game Change called Double Down came out there really wasn’t a whole lot of never-before-seen content. I finished it craving an account that actually understood what we did or at least brought a fresh perspective to the race. But I never thought that a documentary about the guy I worked to beat would be that account.

Mitt isn’t about the inside politics of a national campaign. It’s not about the internal struggles or the war room drama. You don’t see Paul Ryan until 70 minutes in. You don’t see the campaign manager until 80 minutes in. It’s the story of a man and his family on the campaign trail since 2007.

When you work on a political campaign it’s easy to lose perspective on how you view your opponent. For so long I held this belief that Romney was completely out of touch with working-class Americans. And while Mitt didn’t show any evidence that directly refutes that belief, there was a really touching scene where he talks about his father, former Governor of Michigan and candidate for president George Romney. He was showing the notes he took while on stage at the first debate. At the top of the first sheet was “DAD”.  He went on to explain:

“I always think about dad and about [how] I’m standing on his shoulders… There’s no way I’d be running for president if dad hadn’t done what dad did. He’s the real deal. The guy was born in Mexico. He didn’t have a college degree. He became the head of a car company and became a governor. It would have never entered my mind to be in politics.  How can you go from his beginnings to think ‘I could be head of a car company. I can run for governor. I can run for president.’ That gap. For me, I started where he ended up. I started off with money and education and Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School. For me, it’s moving that far. (moves his hands, palms facing each other, slightly apart) For him it was like that. (moves hands considerably apart)

Even after the first debate I felt so confident that Obama was going to win that I couldn’t imagine the conversations going on at Romney HQ. I thought they had to be living in some strange bubble where only good news gets passed along. But after the first and second debates it was Romney who was even-handed. He knew he did well in the first debate and he knew he didn’t do as well in the second. This was in the face of his family being excessively supportive (as they should be). Even on election night as everyone else is trying to find ways to hold on to the belief that he can win, Mitt is well aware that it’s over and seems remarkably relaxed.

I remember feeling so strongly that Mitt was this out of touch rich guy.  His life consisted of car elevators and dressage horses! I never once thought that those things helped make his wife’s life a little easier as she dealt with multiple sclerosis. And while those things may seem excessive, if you were as rich as the Romneys wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make coping with a disease like MS easier?

But while Mitt did such a better job than the campaign in making the candidate seem human, there were many puzzling things the film revealed how informed Romney was about the state of the race. In the last few weeks of the race he saw huge crowds everywhere he went. I understand how he could feel like things were on an upswing. But a look at the numbers would have quickly brought him back down to Earth. During election night Ann mentioned that they were hoping to win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Polling just before election day never showed any of those states as even being close. The fact that the candidate and his wife weren’t aware of their path to victory is baffling to me. They got most of their return information from external news sources rather than their internal analytics team. But was he actually not briefed on these things or did the documentary just not show any of that?

The scene that hit me the most took place the day after election day at Romney HQ in Boston. After he and his campaign manager each spoke, you saw the tears of sadness streaming down the faces of his staff. Most people don’t understand what’s in those tears.  For so many of us this race meant moving across the country, barely seeing friends and family, putting off school for a year, relationships collapsing under the stress of the campaign, 3:30 a.m. wake up times, 10:00 p.m. checkout calls, 11:00 p.m. dinners, and more takeout than you can imagine. It was our entire life and to not have it all end with a victory is nothing short of devastating. I was lucky to be on the winning side that was filled with tears of happiness on election night.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt had the results been different.

Should You See It? If you have Netflix make sure to watch Mitt. If you don’t have Netflix what the fuck is wrong with you; are you 90? Because while it’s easy to get caught up in the passions of a long political campaign and view your opponents as enemy robots seeking to destroy your entire existence, it’s healthy to remember they’re people too, from the field intern all the way up to the candidate.

Image source: ABC

Louis C.K. Made a Movie in 1998. He Just Released it for $5. Should You See it?

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Alex Russell

In our rarely-running kinda-series Should You See It? we talk about movies that just came out. You can figure out the rest of the premise from the title of the series. That’s right: we talk recipes. Should you see Louis C.K.’s “lost” movie Tomorrow Night?

The entire world knows who Louis C.K. is, more or less. Sure, you have to restrict that to the “English-speaking world” and within that “people with TV or web access” and within that “people who aren’t the worst or have friends who aren’t the worst” but that’s basically everyone.

The unlikely hero of American alt-comedy (and really more than that, but let’s leave it there) shows up on Facebook whenever he weighs in on people whining about the Internet on planes or kids with cellphones. This is great, because it means that more people have access to someone that everyone should already love. Louis C.K. is one of the few comics (see also: Oswalt, Patton) that you absolutely have to like if you like comedy. He’s unassailable because he is unstoppable. He helped pioneer the idea of writing a new hour every year and retiring the old one completely. He still does it better than just about anyone and he’s as such raised the bar so high that comedy is in a better place in 2014 than almost ever in history.

If that sounds like high praise, good. You don’t need me to tell you Louis C.K. is one of the greatest comedic minds of our generation, but you might want me to give a quick history lesson. Louis C.K. comes from the old guard of comics that you expect your friends to know but don’t. He made it where many of them didn’t, and that’s into the world of people who don’t “know” stand up comedy. Louis C.K. is a name that someone who didn’t hear a single comedy album or watch a single comedy special last year will still likely know. He transcended comedy geekdom in a lot of ways, but the one that’s most interesting is with his show Louie.

Louie is a 30-minute exploration of the fictionalized life of Louis C.K. He shows the gritty, depressing, and sometimes-funny world of raising two daughters and not understanding the cards dealt to a person. It’s beyond me to describe it — it’s my favorite show on television, and the number two spot isn’t close — but all that need be said is that it is an Emmy-winning show that is essentially labeled perfect by the people that label TV for a living. Even if it isn’t your favorite show or you don’t even watch it, you have to be aware of the fanfare around Louie.

Louis C.K. made a show before Louie for HBO: Lucky Louie. There’s a different sensibility to Lucky Louie. The dark-at-times, surreal-all-the-time nature of Louie is replaced by brighter-but-not-happier themes and situations. Lucky Louie is about another fictionalized Louis married to Pamela Adlon (who you most likely know as the voice of Bobby from King of the Hill). They’re broke, they have a kid, and they live imperfect lives. It’s a show that Louis C.K. has likened to a modern-day The Honeymooners for good reason. Life is hard for the people in the world of Lucky Louie, but it’s a life worth living.

On Wednesday at noon, Louis C.K. released a feature-length film he made in 1998. You can go buy it and watch it for five bucks. I’m just not sure you’re going to like it. It depends on what you want out of Louis C.K.

It’s weird, but everything’s weird about Louis C.K. His “big break” in stand up style came when he started talking honestly about how hard it was to sometimes hate things he wasn’t supposed to hate. He talked honestly about the struggles of marriage and raising children and he didn’t couch his feelings in the typical hypotheticals. He brought a new voice that demanded to be heard because it didn’t sound like anything else.

Tomorrow Night is weird for a lot of reasons. He talked about the movie on his recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and detailed the story of borrowing money to make it. His description to Jon Stewart — that it’s a movie about a guy sexually excited by sitting in ice cream — is technically a true description, but it masks the tone of the movie completely.

The main character works in a photo store. He’s miserable because he can’t stand the untidiness of life. He decides that the way he can take back his little corner of the world is to call up every single person who has photos waiting to be picked up — the first of many reminders that it’s almost two decades ago in the world of this movie — and demand that they come in that day.

That drives the action. The guy meets a hypersexual woman who tries to seduce him and a mailman (played by J.B. Smoove, who is seemingly always just his character from Curb Your Enthusiasmwho wants him to get out of his shell. At night, he goes home and sits in bowls of ice cream.

It’s an absurd way to show that the character leads a double life. He’s obsessed with cleanliness, so he must defile himself in a graphic way to experience true freedom. He finds himself drawn to an elderly woman who keeps a tidy house and the wheels fall off in increasingly absurd ways. Someone is killed by wild dogs in the street. They go see a 1998 Conan O’Brien (who is a timeless man and possibly a wizard). They ride in carnival rides. There’s lots going on.

The movie isn’t “random” or exactly “surreal” because all of this really happens and it all happens for a reason. It’s just a little bit too much. One character, a dopey soldier stuck forever “at war,” sends letters hope to his mother only to have them all be thrown away by two cackling mail room guys played by Steve Carell and Robert Smigel. The results are hilarious here (and possibly worth viewing on their own) but they don’t fit well with the surrounding set pieces.

Tomorrow Night is more Louie than Lucky Louie, but it’s a little bit of both. It’s getting mixed reviews for good reason: parts of it are just bad. The husband of the elderly woman is played so cartoonishly evil that it’s impossible to even hate him. Lucky Louie-veteran Rick Shapiro plays a woman in mostly-unexplained drag that doesn’t really go anywhere. A lot of this movie is Louis C.K. saying “it would be funny if X happened” and going for it. He’s mostly right, but the results aren’t essential viewing.

Should You See It? It depends on your level of obsession with the creator. If you love the sensibility of Louie, there’s something here for you. If you don’t, or if you can’t get past that “sitting in ice cream naked” is supposed to represent something else less gross, then you can probably skip this. It’s a great piece of history to have, but it’s going to be too weird for people who just think he’s really damn funny.

Image source: ABC News

This Looks Terrible: Labor Day

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Alex Marino

In “This Looks Terrible” we look at previews for upcoming movies. We… probably look too closely.

Damn you, Jason Reitman. Up in the Air was so damn good and now you have to leave this heap of trash on my doorstep? This shitpile is called Labor Day and it’s somehow a romantic comedy about a mother and son that are forced to take in an escaped prisoner.

This trailer teaches us a few helpful things if you ever find yourself quasi-kidnapped by an escaped convict. First, after he ties you up if he feeds you like a baby then you know he won’t hurt you. He’ll become a fatherly figure through teaching your son baseball because that’s not been done in movies ever before.  And if you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one it can be cured by baking a peach pie.

“I can’t give you a family.”

“You already have.”

Ugh, fucking spare me. Let’s not forget that nobody gave him shit. He forced Kate Winslet to take him home because he threatened the life of her son. Did an 18-year-old write this script? Is this movie just The Notebook but for the 35+ crowd? This is the kind of shit that should only be allowed on Lifetime or The Hallmark Channel.

“I’d take 20 more years just to have another three days with you.”

Can we talk about this for a second? From everything I’ve heard prison isn’t a fucking vacation. And because he’s doing time for murder, he’s not going to be in minimum security either. Anyone dumb enough to do 20 years of hard time in exchange for 72 hours with someone they’ve known for a week deserves to be in stupid prison.

But it’s okay everyone, you don’t actually have to see this movie. They show us the fucking ending in the trailer! You’ve got Henry covering his ears while laying down in the back seat of a car as bullets pierce the seats. So James Van Der Beek is going to get into a shootout with Brolin, kill him, and then we’re going to have a dramatic death scene with Brolin whispering his last words as Kate Winslet holds him. My guess for that scene is Winslet pleading for Brolin to not leave her and him saying:

“I only knew you… a week… but you gave me… enough love… for a lifetime…”

Fuck this movie.

Image source: IMDB

This Looks Terrible – Life of a King

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Alex Marino

In “This Looks Terrible” we look at previews for upcoming movies. We… probably look too closely.

Just when you thought it had been too long since another awful teacher-student drama, Cuba Gooding, Jr. fills the void. This movie is called A Fuckton of Chess Puns and is going to follow the exact same formula so many of these films have already used and abused. If you’re an asshole and didn’t watch the trailer all you need to know is this is the chess version of Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester but this time the mentor has a mentor (GROUNDBREAKING) and the pun density is off the charts.

Let’s take a minute and just list the puns included in this trailer:

“Just keep your eye on the endgame.”

“…you must think before you move.”

“This is your life.  One mistake and it can be taken away.”

“I didn’t see the endgame, man, and it cost me.  It cost me big.”

“I learned.  I learned the board.”

“It’s about learning how to play the game”

Even in the on-screen text they write “To make a difference you have to make the right moves.”  This trailer can go straight to hell.

But don’t take my word for it. The Washington Post’s review for this movie is titled “In ‘Life of a King,’ chess becomes an allegory for life” proving that The Washington Post believes their readers have never seen a movie before.

You don’t have to be a chess player to know that the game is incredibly complex.  True genius in chess comes from a person being able to see 20 moves ahead of where the board is and that’s just not entertaining to put in a movie. So you’re forced into slow motion shots of someone knocking over their king or having someone dramatically make their final move and say “checkmate”.  But almost no one is going to see this movie for the intense chess scenes.  We’re all just looking to save more on our car insurance with Allstate.

Image source: IMDB

This Looks Terrible – Divergent

Alex Marino

This is the trailer for the movie Divergent based on a book of the same name. It’s the new Hunger Games with a similar awful love story that takes place in a dystopian society where teens are the center of attention.

I’ve never liked trailers that are meant for people that have read the source material. Any film company with half a brain should be trying to expand their viewing audience with a trailer that captures peoples’ attention. But if you haven’t read Divergent this trailer makes it seem like the movie is about Shailene Woodley taking a shot of Hpnotiq, failing at dreaming, and going to war over it. Along the way she falls in love with a cheaper, younger James Franco that has the same tattoo on his back as the girl from Waterworld. And he just gets her.

If this trailer’s goal is to get every 14 year old girl that has already read the entire trilogy excited about the film then they’ve succeeded, but I’m guessing that audience was going to see this opening weekend no matter what. I’m just hoping Summit Entertainment recognizes that this movie has the rare opportunity to take a middle-of-the-road young adult book with a lot of potential and turn it into something Veronica Roth (the author) couldn’t do: something good.

Image source: Yahoo

Tough Questions: What’s the Best New Movie You’ve Seen in Five Years?

This is the first repeat feature – every Monday we’re going to ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week?

What’s the Best New Movie You’ve Seen in Five Years?

Rules are simple: it has to be a new movie and you have to have seen it in the last five years. I figured you could work that out on your own, but here we are.

Scott Phillips

I’m not really a “movie guy”. I like movies, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been on a prolonged television binge the last two years trying to catch up on every great television show of the past decade and that has prevented me from spending a lot of time watching movies.

I’m also cheap as fuck.

Suffice it to say, I’m not the best person to be answering this question.

But I’ll go with The Town, Ben Affleck’s tremendous action/drama set in Baaaaston.

I won’t go into serious detail about The Town — in case you live under the rock that doesn’t show major motion pictures like I live under — but I remember going to see The Town with a couple of friends, getting baked in the parking garage of my local cinema and being completely blown away (pun intended?) by the opening scene.

From there, I was fixated on “The Town” and how it played out. I loved the characters, the actors — Renner is a fucking G — and the general setting and premise. Every time I pass an armored truck, I fully believe I can take it down if I had a reliable crew and a couple of 40s of Old English in me.

It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s the one that I enjoy watching the most on repeat viewing from the past couple of years.

Also, how have the robbery outfits not been a more popular group Halloween costume?

Mike Hannemann

Hands down, The World’s End.  I already love everything Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright do but this really stuck with me.  Pegg’s portrayal of an bi-polar addict refusing to let go of his youth struck a deep chord in me, because it mirrored the same fears I have now.  Which was shocking because, back when I saw Shaun of the Dead all those years ago, I related to the exact same struggles that character had.  Best movie’s don’t have to be the ones with the best writing or acting, but the ones that stick with you on a personal level long after the end credits roll.

Alex Marino

Up in the Air (2009).  One of the few movies I’ve ever seen where every line served a purpose and every scene advanced the movie towards its ending.  Perfect acting all around with a script that was smart, funny, heartbreaking, and honest.  Up in the Air was one of those movies that had my complete attention for its duration and I’m not sure I’ve been able to say that for any movie since.

Alex Russell

Alex’s answer is pretty solid. I loved that damn movie more than just about anything, but I have to go with Moon (2009). Moon is a haunting movie about solitude and identity. Sam Rockwell has to live in a base on the Moon while he mines the surface for energy to send back to Earth. Saying anything about it borders on spoilers, but Sam Rockwell and a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey are the only true characters in the entire movie. It makes the entire thing feel very, very tense. I don’t even like movies like this, but I can’t suggest Moon enough.