Our Idiot Brother

Ned (Ned Rochlin) is an idealistic and all around nice guy. He’s just selling his organic dynamic harvests on a market, when he’s being approached by a cop having a bad day, looking for some weed. Ned offers him some and since the cop won’t accept it for free, takes some money and therefore goes straight to jail. Eight months later, he’s released on parole for good behaviour, but his hippie girlfriend now has a new guy and will even keep his dog. So he needs a new place to live and stays with his mother. But since that’s not working out for him, he goes to crash with his sisters… and messes up their lives.

A comedy drama with several storylines connected through Ned. Now, unlike the mix of comedy and drama I saw a few weeks ago (50/50), this one is focussing more on the comedy part. Actually this is like a romantic comedy, that’s stronger on the funny side and swaps the romantic for drama, while also keeping some of those romantics. Complicated? No, it’s just to show how indifferent I am about this movie. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s not really good either. It’s nice to watch, but doesn’t show anything new. Actually you know the side-stories from many other romantic comedies, just shortened down to the basic stuff. Again, that makes me indifferent, for it makes those stories more bearable, but then again it’s leaving things out and still makes it predictable. So my general recommendation for this movie is: Meh.

Link: IMDB: Our Idiot Brother

Lockout

Snow (Guy Pearce) is a governmental agent, accused of killing another governmental operative and stealing information from him. He actually tried to save that information and passed them on to his partner Mace (Tim Plester). Each one tries to get away on their own, but soon they both are arrested. After futile attempts to squeeze the information from Snow, he’s convicted to 30 years in stasis on MS: One, a maximum security prison in Earth’s lower orbit. Meanwhile, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the daughter of the president of the United States of America, is paying a visit to MS One. She’s concerned that the stasis is causing mental illness to the prisoners. But the interview with Hydell (Joseph Gilgun), a rapist and murder, goes horribly wrong, leading to a prison-wide breakout. Among the fugitives is Alex (Vincent Regan), who takes on the lead and starts to blackmail the government, threatening to kill the hostages, not knowing who Emilie is. The government on the other hand, knows. That rules out military action, leaving only one plan: To send one man in, to try to rescue her. But who is qualified for this, while also being valiant and/or stupid enough? Snow is. And with the promise to find his partner Mace on MS: One, and with him a lead to the lost information, he’s even willing to do this.

The movie starts out as a spy thriller, at least looks like it, but soon turns into a mixture of Escape from New York and Die Hard in space. The story is about as deep and predictable, but this ain’t the kind of movie you watch for the story. Instead, you watch it for some fun and action. And this is what you get. While the action in the beginning (spy thriller part) is the best of the movie, you can enjoy some shootings and explosions later. The characters on the other hand are very swallow; especially the main protagonist is very one-sided. He’s making up for his lack of emotion with funny comebacks and one-liners, though. And by that I mean about every single line he had in his script. But it’s okay; it’s not turning the movie into a comedy, but still adds a good part of fun to it, just gets a bit annoying every once in a while. I should also mention that this is a Luc Besson movie, which means that it’s quite good for what it is. But a thing that really bugged me was the pace. Things often go fast from one thing to the next, so you get the feeling things are left out or the movie could’ve at least been better with a few more minutes spread over the entire flick, just to slow it down a bit here and there. This is also one of the reasons they actually blow the only semi-deep moment that tries to carry a message. Maybe you have to wait for the Directors Cut to get this. Which brings me to the conclusion: If you like to see a good action flick on the big screen, go for it, it’s really enjoyable. If you just add flicks like that to your time killer list, wait for the DVD and hope there’s a Director’s Cut version of it.

Links: IMDB: Lockout, IMDB: This Review

50/50

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is 27 years old, has a loving girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), works as a writer for a local radio station and is a genuine nice guy. Life is good, until he learns that he has a rare case of spinal cancer, leaving him with a 50% chance to survive it. With the help of his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), his overprotective mother (Anjelica Huston) and the young postgraduate therapist Katherine (Anna Kendrick), he tries to tackle chemotherapy. Everyone has their own way to handle Adam and his disease, but is there really a way to help him as the cancer starts to take its tolls?

This movie is inspired by a true story, the story of the writer Will Reiser, and Seth Rogen was really his friend in those hard times in real life. Now, combining drama and comedy is something difficult to do, but the director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser manage to keep it at a good balance, at 50/50 if you like, without melodramatising it or turning it into a laughing stock. The story may pick up slow, but gets really good, revealing the difficulties Adam has to face and the friendship he receives. What I also like about the movie is the lack of romance. Sure, there is this thing going on, but it’s really subtle and the movie would be about the same without it. They are not ruining the touching plot with a cheesy love story. On the story downside, there are a few things that seem neglected, like Adam’s job or his old greyhound Skeletor. They are not important for the story, but the way they are introduced and sometimes mentioned, you get the feeling that there should be more to it. Levitt’s acting is really good and you can feel all the different moods and stages his character goes through. And I’m really surprised, that Rogen cannot only play the funny parts, but the serious ones as well. It’s also mainly thanks to his contribution, that the movie avoids drifting into a depressing one and can keep its drama/comedy balance. The characters are likeable and generally played well. Overall quite a good movie to recommend. So, unless you prefer mindless action flicks or stupid comedies, go see this one, I enjoyed it.

Deutscher Titel: 50/50 – Freunde fürs (Über)Leben
Links: IMDB: 50/50, IMDB: This Review

American Reunion

Over a decade has passed, since the kids from East Great Falls graduated from high school. The old gang rarely got to see each other and their lives went on. Some are married, some are living their dream and everyone has their own problems. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have a son now, who makes them happy, but on the downside, the bed is only used for sleeping. Oz (Chris Klein) is quite famous for being the host of a sports show and participating in a dance contest, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) a loving husband, Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a globetrotter and of course, there’s Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) who hasn’t changed a bit. Everyone is glad to be back together and they try to catch up, while also reliving their high school days.

They’re back. And yes, they really did get most of the cast back, even the side characters. Unfortunately they didn’t really learn to act in all those years, but then again, no one is watching American Pie for the high-quality acting. The characters have developed, but haven’t really matured. Some gags are good, some are not that good or a bit stupid, while others are tasteless. For example, I really didn’t need to see Jason Biggs’ dong, the joke would’ve even worked without it. And that’s one of the things I never liked about the American Pie franchise. They have some quite good and funny parts, but blow it with grossy grade-school and/or fecal humour. But I have to admit, the movie isn’t that bad. Well, at least it’s way better than everything else that came after the first movie (which isn’t that hard, because everyone was worse than the predecessor). And here’s the controversy about the tightrope walk they had to do with this movie. They want to get back all the old fans of the movies, which should’ve grown out of this kind of movies, while also pleasing the new generation of movie goers, who want that kind of humour. So we have all the “old” characters/actors, who are familiar to the old fan base, while targeting the humour of today’s teenagers. And I have to admit, they do this actually quite well. So yeah, if you’re an old fan, you can get a bit nostalgic and won’t be disappointed by American Reunion. And if you’re young and new to the franchise, you can have a good time as well. But if haven’t seen an American Pie movie before, you should at least watch the first movie, to get to know the characters, since they don’t get much of an introduction. And if you don’t like American Pie, this movie won’t make you love it, since it’s basically the same old stuff.

Deutscher Titel: American Pie – Das Klassentreffen
Link: IMDB: American Reunion, IMDB: This Review

One for the Money

Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) lost her job half a year ago and can’t afford to pay her bills. As her car is collected during family dinner, the idea rises to do some temp work at her cousin’s office, who is bail bondsman. Unfortunately that job is already done, but she “convinces” him to let her do some work as a bail enforcement agent (bounty hunter). Without experience and equipment, but with the dire need for some cash (and for a little revenge), she decides to go for his biggest jumper, her ex-lover Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara). As she digs deeper into his case, she discovers that he might not be as guilty as they say he is.

Well, a crime-comedy with the obvious romance. I’m left with mixed feelings about the main character. Is the role written inconsequent or was Heigl’s acting bad? I have to admit, that I’ve never read the book, but my problem is, that the character is shifting between being anxious and being tough. I mean if Janet Evanovich wrote 18+5 books (so far) about a female bounty hunter, I would expect the heroine to be quite tough or dead by the middle of the second novel (unless she’s an anti-heroine, in that case the movie is even worse). I do understand that a character has to get used to new life situations, but all that jumping seems awkward, especially with all the stupidity that sticks to her till the very end. Anyway, aside that, the overall acting was on the same level as it is with most romantic comedies, which is, let’s say, not that good. But one can like the characters, leading and supporting, they just play a lot of clichés. The story is nothing new (as in: full of tropes), has a few flaws (as in: full of holes), but is overall enjoyable.

Okay, all that was a bit vague. I’ll tell you what I think that movie is good for. It’s good for dates. Men and women can watch it, without being appalled, since it’s not bad, gives some romance, gives some action and gives some comedy. Since the story is easy to follow, you don’t need to pay full attention to it and can focus on something or someone else. And if you don’t have high expectations, you can’t be disappointed (still talking about the movie, but I’ll leave the wider interpretation to you).
And maybe you want to watch the movie if you like the books, but that’s just a wild guess, since I don’t know for sure how off it is compared to them. In any other case, if Heigl’s side-boob is not enough reason for you to watch it, go watch something else.

Deutscher Titel: Einmal ist keinmal
Link: IMDB: One for the Money, IMDB: This Review