Back in 1978, National Lampoon’s Animal House introduced the crude-with-a-heart frat house comedy. Since then no one has done it better, but with Neighbors, there’s a new wrinkle that comes very, very close: college fraternity versus the previous generation. It features – among other things – career performances from Seth Rogan, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron.
This is the End is loud, obnoxious, crude, lewd, profane and brilliant! I haven’t laughed this hard since Superbad.
The Guilt Trip is a decent road trip movie featuring Barbra Streisand as Joyce, the Jewish mother taken to the nth degree, and Seth Rogen as Andy, her far too grounded, no-risk-taker of a son.
50/50 mixes comedy and cancer, but it’s the drama that will win you over.
Paul is an affectionate parody of all things geek – comics, skiffy [which is how you pronounce sci-fi if you’ve been reading it forever] and pop culture. Two British nerds/geeks have an alien encounter as they tour America’s UFO hot spots and weirdness – and hilarity – ensue.
I like to start my reviews off by getting my bias out in the open. The Green Hornet is a film I walked into not inclined to like because of two elements – I strongly dislike Seth Rogen and I hate 3D movies. With that said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked The Green Hornet. It’s not a movie that I loved by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a fun, competent movie that is almost ruined by the pointless addition of 3D. The movie works largely because Rogen comes is very natural and not over the top as Britt Reid. He’s a likeable guy who desperately wants to do good: but he ‘s also kind of a lazy hero.
Here’s your first look at the upcoming sci-fi comedy, Paul, written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.. Directed by Greg Mottola and starring Frost, Pegg and Seth Rogen [voicing Paul], it is the story of two British comic book geeks who pick up an unusual hitchhiker while on a road trip across the United States.
Paul will be released in North America on March 18,2001, by Universal Pictures.
For his third film as a director, Judd Apatow wanted to tackle something a little deeper than a one-night stand that resulted in a baby or a sexual late bloomer with goofy friends. I can almost see him in the “reading room” when the proverbial light bulb goes off above his head and he shouts, “Imminent death! Of course!”
And so we have a film about a crisis in the life of America’s most beloved comedian, George Simmons [Adam Sandler], who gets the news that he has the rare and usually fatal disease, AML. To balance the darkness of George’s plight, we get a look into the life of wannabe stand-up comic, Evan Wright [Seth Rogen] who works at Otto’s Deli alongside a fellow named Chuck [RZA] who thinks so little of his skills that Evan has to pay him to attend his next performance.
The trailer for Observe and Report makes it look like a raunchy romp. Instead, it’s as bi-polar and off its meds as main character, Ronnie Barnhardt [Seth Rogen], head of security in as generic a mall as we’ve ever seen in a movie.
When a flasher exposes himself to a number of mall customers – and Ronnie’s personal crush, cosmetics salesgirl Brandi [Anna Faris] in the parking lot – it sets off a competition between Barnhardt and Detective Harrison. But, while Ronnie isn’t bright to realize that his second-in-command, Dennis [Michael Pena], isn’t the cool, laid back guy he appears to be, he is tough enough to make Harrison’s set up in a very bad neighborhood backfire [a sequence that suggests Rogen will be up for the action sequences in The Green Hornet].
Unfortunately, outside of terrific performances by Faris and Collette Wolfe [as fast-food server Nell, who has a sweet crush on Ronnie, who is completely oblivious], Observe and Report completely fails to reach its target as a spectacularly dark comedy. Mostly, it’s just spectacularly dark… with intermittent laughs – very intermittent… Even Celia Weston, as Ronnie’s alcoholic mother, is completely wasted. Worse, as the film moves farther into the darkness of bipolar-Ronnie-off-his-meds, even Rogen ceases to convince.
Writer/director Jody Hill keeps things moving, though – which is a blessing, as the movie wraps up in a very quick eighty-six minutes. That’s eighty-six minutes you would be advised to skip in favor of, say, counting molecules or picking your toenails. Seriously, Observe and Report is far less enjoyable than either of those options – Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a better movie!
Final Grade: D+
I’ve had my review copy of Freaks and Geeks: Yearbook Edition for awhile – but only now have I managed to get through all of its many features. This is the kind of DVD package that you have to actually see, full-size, to really appreciate.
Freaks and Geeks, of course, is the classic one-season wonder set in 1980 that revolved around siblings Lindsay [Linda Cardellini] and Sam Weir [John Francis Daley]. Unlike other shows that used metaphors for “high is hell” [Buffy the Vampire Slayer], or “high school is cruel” [Veronica Mars], Freaks and Geeks proud asserted that high school is real – and it may seem earth-shattering while you’re, but in the end? It’s high school. By using siblings who were at different ends of the school population’s periphery, the series [all eighteen episodes] gave us a look at an institution that was far more real than we’d seen before – and because we saw it through the filter of a newbie freak [Lindsay] and an entrenched geek [Sam], it brought back all the epic highs and devastating lows of that period of our lives.
The story of how Po [Jack Black] becomes the Dragon Warrior – despite the skepticism of the Furious Five Masters, Crane [David Cross], Mantis [Seth Rogen], Monkey [Jackie Chan], Tigress [Angelina Jolie] and Viper [Lucy Liu] – is one of the year’s surprise hits, critically as well as at the box office.
The film’s DVD release is full of bonus features and, in a special two DVD package, includes The Secrets of the Furious Five. This twenty-five minute tale finds Po facing his greatest challenge – teaching a class of easily distracted young bunnies the art of king fu [Master Shifu, still voiced by Dustin Hoffman, seems particularly tickled by the situation]. To get the class’ attention, Po relates stories of how each of the Five – Crane [David Cross], Monkey [Jaycee Chan], Mantis [Max Koch], Tigress [Tara Strong], and Viper [Jessica Di Ciccio] – had to overcome such flaws as impatience [Mantis], Compassion [Monkey], control [Tigress], and so forth. Even Master Oogway [Randall Duk Kim] puts in an appearance.
Most of Secrets is filmed in the beautiful 2D style seen in the prologue to Kung Fu Panda, with CG used for scenes that feature Po and his class – and the clever cover art from the two DVDs is designed to be one larger picture when placed side by side.
There is a wealth of features on each DVD.
Kung Fu Panda: Audio Commentary by Co-Directors John Stevenson and Mark Osborne; Meet the Cast; Pushing the Boundaries [improvements in CGI]; Sound Design; Kung fu Fighting Music Video by Cee-Lo; Mr. Ping’s Noodle House [watch a master make noodles from a simple ball of dough]; How to Use Chopsticks [this time for sure!]; Conservation International: Help Save Wild Panda; Dragon Warrior Training Academy; Printables and Weblinks [DVD-ROM], and Dreamworks Animation Jukebox.
Secrets of the Furious Five: Po’s Power Play: Learn to Draw [Character animators show how to draw their respective characters]; Dumpling Shuffle [which bowl is the dumpling under]; Pandamonium Activity Kit [DVD-ROM]; The Land of Panda: Learn the Panda Dance; Do You Kung Fu [demonstrations of basic kung fu forms]; Inside the Chinese Zodiac; Animals of Kung Fu Panda [and how they relate to their namesake forms of kung fu], and What Fighting Style Are You?
Grade: Kung Fu Panda – A
Grade: Secrets of the Furious Five – B+
Grade: Features: Kung Fu Panda – A+
Grade: Features: Secrets of the Furious Five – B+
Final Grade: A