Bruce Fretts: Justin Timberlake is back with his fourth film in the last year, the sci-fi thriller In TIme. The question is, Bret: Is Timberlake overexposed? (And no, I’m not talking about his bare ass in Friends with Benefits.)
Bret Watson: The time didn’t run out fast enough for me with this movie. Not that this is Timberlake’s fault. The premise is that in this particular dystopia people stop aging at age 25, at which point time is a currency that can prolong your life if you can get it. I would have surrendered my time to you, Bruce, to get out of this movie sooner.
Bruce: I used my time wisely—I nodded off halfway through the movie and took a nice nap. The time-is-money premise didn’t capture my imagination, and Timberlake’s lightweight performance didn’t help. He can be a talented comedian, as he’s proven in his SNL guest-host stints, and he’s capable of giving a solid dramatic performance, as he did in The Social Network. But Justin Timberlake, action hero? That’s not N Sync.
Bret: This movie is a basic vanilla thriller, with chases and gun fire and a gimmick syrup: They’re not fighting over drugs or money, they’re fighting over time! Which becomes a heavy-handed parable for capitalism, if you want to stay awake to track it. Timberlake is Robin Hood, then teams up with alien-eyed petite vixen Amanda Seyfried to become Bonnie and Clyde. Sounds like you didn’t want to give her the time of day.
Bruce: Timberlake does like bug-eyed women: He played opposite Mila Kunis and Emma Stone in FWB, and now not only does Amanda Seyfried play his hostage-turned-love interest, but Olivia Wilde plays his MILF-alicious mom. Too bad she—SPOILER ALERT!—dies in his arms early in the film, leading to a laughable crying scene from Timberlake.
Bret: My wife and I were bothered by some dumb short cuts in logic for the sake of drama. For instance, in the climax, they steal one million hours, yet don’t bother to borrow some time to make sure they can escape, just so they can have a scene where they run while time is running out. This movie allows for endless wordplay with the word time. You’ve exercised admirable restraint so far.
Bruce: Life’s too short. And this movie’s too long. It takes a bizarre detour into romantic comedy once Seyfried decides she wants to go along for the ride. Timberlake’s strength as an actor is playing over-the-top characters like he does on SNL, but he keeps taking milquetoast roles in movies like Bad Teacher and In Time.
Bret: Did you like Vincent Kartheiser basically reprising his lizardy role on Mad Men?
Bruce: He was the only one in the movie who looked like he was having any fun. Everyone else just seemed bored, including me.
Bret: The movie is almost relentlessly glum. It doesn’t have much fun with its premise. You get the feeling the creators were just…punching the clock! See what I did there?
Bruce: It’s just another one of those sci-fi lite movies like The Adjustment Bureau and Source Code that takes a simple-minded concept and runs it into the ground with endless chase scenes interrupted by cutesy banter between the romantic leads. It tries to be a date movie that caters to everyone—it’s an action movie for the guys and a romance for the ladies!—and ends up pleasing no one. Remind you of your dating days?
Bret: Reminds me of seeing movies with you, actually. By the way, I watched Adjustment Bureau again recently, now that it’s on DVD, and liked it even more. It has the leaven that makes In Time seem like a lead pancake. You know, like the kind you make.
Bruce: Just for that, you’re not getting one of the mini-pumpkin pies I baked today. Oh wait, I just realized Timberlake has made five movies in the past year. How could I forget his immortal voice work as the sidekick in Yogi Bear? That was a real Boo-Boo.
Bret: Who else has been in far too many movies this year? I feel like there must be a good crop of nominees.
Bruce: Timberlake’s still trailing Jessica Chastain, who’s got eight movies coming out this year, but the difference is that more than one of hers, like The Help and The Debt, were good. For Justin, it’s all been downhill since The Social Network. So do you think it’s time for Timberlake to say “Bye, Bye, Bye” to his film career?
Bret: I guess that’s a reference to a song of his? I’ve never seen him as a heartthrob, the way you did.
Bruce: Maybe they should have called this movie In Sync instead of In Time. It’s as generic as its title. Timberlake should try a broad role in a big screen comedy—but maybe he’s still sore from playing Jacques Grande in Mike Myers’ The Love Guru.
Bret: I heard you were still sore from playing Jacques Grande in your bedroom.
Bruce: Tantra’s a bitch, my friend. Timberlake took a break from his recording career to pursue movies, but perhaps he should go back to pop music. Isn’t it about time he brought sexy back again? We can’t do it all by ourselves.
Bret: I tried to bring back sexy all by myself, but it turns out to be much more fun with a woman.
Bruce: That’s not what your wife said.
Did you make time to see Justin Timberlake’s new movie? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
Bruce Fretts: To sharpen our critical swords for the umpteenth version of The Three Musketeers, Bret Watson and I recruited our third musketeer, Nancy Bilyeau, author of the forthcoming historical novel The Crown, to assist with our review. The question is, Bret and Nancy: Is this souped-up, FX-laden 3D Musketeers fun for all and all for fun?
Nancy Bilyeau: All for pain. As you saw, I was actually writhing next to you.
Bruce: That’s true—you were sitting between us, because Bret said he wanted to make a Nancy sandwich. Which made me think you’d be writhing for other reasons.
Bret Watson: I have the slogan for this: It was all for naught and fun for none. Which was also part of my marriage vows.
Nancy: Bret, you said it wasn’t actually that boring, which is the most enthusiasm that could be worked up for it. That’s because it did follow the original story, which is wonderful. So it had the basic template running under it, but the dialogue was terrible.
Bruce: The original story was by Alexandre Dumas, but I think this one was written by Alexandre Dumbass.
Nancy: Exactly! Dumas is crawling out of his mausoleum right now in the Pantheon of Paris, and he’s totally pissed off.
Bruce: The dialogue was so glaringly anachronistic and they kept throwing in all these clichéd phrases, like “This is who we are. This is what we do.”
Nancy: When they’re having a blimp war over France and Athos tells D’Artangnan how you have to believe in love, that’s when I started to wonder about medicinal marijuana. I think they were trying to do a steampunk version, like Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. I don’t have a definition of steampunk, but it’s like porn—you know it when you see it.
Bret: It has a Jules Verne element—the introduction of contraptions with a sci-fi feel.
Nancy: That began with Wild, Wild West and popped up in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. But in this case, it was just so confused. And the blimps were the worst.
Bruce: That was just so they could use the 3-D technology and have airships firing cannons at each other—and the audience.
Bret: This was another 3-D movie that didn’t deserve the extra money.
Bruce: I didn’t recognize most of the actors, because I’m an Anglophobe and I don’t watch British costume dramas. Where have we seen them before? Aside from Christoph Waltz, who as Cardinal Richeliu plays the smiling sadist for the fourth time in a row after Inglourious Basterds, The Green Hornet and Water for Elephants.
Nancy: He was very low-energy. The actors were not great, but they’ve been good in other things. That was very painful. That’s why I was physically moved to groan and thrash. Matthew MacFayden was Athos—he was very good in Pride and Prejudice and Pillars of the Earth. And Ray Stevenson, who played Porthos, was in Rome.
Bret: Ray Stevens? I love him.
Bruce: No, Ray Stevenson. Ray Stevens was the guy who sang “Ahab the Arab” and “The Streak.” I would’ve enjoyed this movie more if he had been in it.
Nancy: Stevenson did a similar role in Thor. At this point, he’s the older, joking buffoon to younger stud actors, which is very heartbreaking. Then Luke Evans, who was Aramis, is this up-and-comer who’s Zeus in Immortals and was Apollo in Clash of the Titans.
Bruce: He can’t escape historical epics. Who’s this kid Logan Lerman, who played D’Artagnan?
Nancy: I know him from Percy Jackson. He’s supposed to be a hot young actor, but I didn’t think he did a great job here.
Bruce: He reminded me of Chris O’Donnell, who played D’Artangnan in the terrible Charlie Sheen version of Musketeers, which sadly was still superior to this one.
Nancy: Well, the Michael York one was the best.
Bruce: That was one of the first PG movies I saw and it had a huge impact on me, mostly because of Raquel Welch’s heaving cleavage.
Bret: That scarred you for life.
Nancy: She had a big impact on my husband, too.
Bruce: And Milla Jovovich can’t fill Raquel Welch’s bodice, even in 3D. I’ve gotta say, I was disappointed by the décolletage in this movie.
Bret: The bosoms were pretty smothered.
Bruce: And Charlton Heston was Richelieu in the York version—c’mon!
Nancy: Well, it’s very hard to follow in Ben-Hur’s footsteps.
Bret: I remember enjoying that movie’s witty banter, repartee and panache.
Bruce: You enjoyed the wit and I enjoyed the tits—that pretty much sums us up.
Bret: People at the time were saying it was like the Beatles meets the Three Musketeers. It was directed by Richard Lester, who did A Hard Day’s Night.
Nancy: Now can we talk about Orlando Bloom and his hair? He was trying to be slimy and sexy, but it didn’t work.
Bruce: They were hoping to turn this into the next Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but the Bloom is off Orlando. You could tell at the end they tried to set up a sequel.
Nancy: That was the scariest part of all.
Bruce: The movie bombed, so I doubt there will be another one. Jovovich trashed the studio, Summit, on Twitter, for mismarketing it. She said it should’ve been sold as a fun family adventure. What family would find this fun, aside from the Mansons?
Nancy: My 10-year-old daughter would not want to see this, and teenagers would look down on it, so I don’t know what she’s talking about.
Bruce: She’s married to the director, Paul W.S. Anderson, who also does the Resident Evilzombie movies with her, but their plans for another horrifying franchise were foiled.
Nancy: She can be OK when she doesn’t talk a lot, like in The Fifth Element, where she’s an alien who spends the entire movie in a tiny swimsuit making out with Bruce Willis.
Bruce: What’s the title of that movie again? Add to queue! Bret, the most painful part for you seemed to be the volume in the theater. You had your noise-canceling headphones on. Did they work?
Bret: Not enough. I could still hear the movie.
Nancy: At one point, you were yelling back at the screen. You went down fighting.
Bret: That’s the great thing about movies that are as loud as rock concerts. When they played their standard message of “Shhh, don’t talk during the movie!” I said, “HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?”
Bruce: Also, the theater was almost empty. It’s like Alien—”In The Three Musketeers, no one can hear you scream.” Actually, it reminded me of a Three Musketeers bar: candy-coated on the outside, but filled with horrible tasteless nougat.
Nancy: Exactly. In fact, I would’ve rather had that candy bar.
Bret: The swordfight on the cathedral of Notre Dame was the only well-choreographed sequence in the whole movie.
Bruce: At least it had some derring-do. The rest of the movie was a derring-don’t.
Nancy: I didn’t like the fat, hungry helper.
Bret: (in a Cockney accent) You mean the French peasant with the Cockney accent?
Bruce: The accents were all over the map—literally.
Nancy: They had people with British accents talking about how they love France and want to go to war with Britain. It was so messed up.
Bruce: And that fat-servant character reminded me of Chris Farley.
Nancy: When he was sleeping on a balcony and a bird shit on his face, I was wondering, “What am I doing with my life?”
Bret: It was so leadenly set up and executed. It seemed like he was lying out there for hours before the shit hit the peasant.
Nancy: But he had the best bosoms in the movie.
Bruce: He did have the best rack—and this movie was like being on the rack.
Nancy: I hate it when costume dramas flop. I had such high hopes when I went to see The Eagle with Bret, and it was bad. You two are systematically shattering my dreams.
Bruce: That’s our job. That’s what we do. Why should our family members be the only ones whose lives we ruin?
What grade would you give Three Musketeers? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
Crank alert! Get a notice in your email inbox when the next Cranky Guys review gets posted! Just submit your address in the box in the upper right column of this page! And yes we get paid by the exclamation point!
Bruce Fretts: The British are coming, the British are coming! Or at least Johnny English is. Rowan Atkinson’s not-so-sly spy returns in Johnny English Reborn, but no one in America cares: The film opened with less then $4 million at the U.S. box office, yet it’s a huge hit overseas and is expected to gross $200 million worldwide. The question is, Bret: Why don’t Yanks appreciate English humor?
Bret Watson: One word: slapstick. My bet is that this movie sells well around the globe because the physical shtick translates in any language. Can you remember even one witty bit of dialogue?
Bruce: I only chuckled a few times during the movie—which is a few more times than I heard you chuckle—and it was mostly at sight gags involving guys getting kicked in the crotch. What can I say? That always makes me laugh. Must be why I enjoy America’s Funniest Home Videos so much. But you’re a slapstick aficionado going back to the days of Buster Keaton—why were you silent during this movie?
Bret: The timing is slack and Atkinson’s deadpan is mostly just dead. I liked him a lot in the Blackadder TV series and was looking forward to seeing him, but he just seems to be mostly sleepwalking here.
Bruce: I’ve never seen Blackadder or much of Atkinson’s other previous work, so maybe my expectations were lower. But the concept—a parody of James Bond—isn’t exactly fresh. This felt to me like an even dumber version of Get Smart.
Bret: Hasn’t the spy-movie satire lemon been wrung completely dry? And then left out in the sun? And then placed in an oven set for 500 degrees and left to bake for a week? What I’m saying is, there’s no juice left in the spy parody. Hell, even Ian Fleming parodied bond when he wrote Casino Royale back in the Pleistocene Era. And yes, I thought Get Smart was just as witless and laugh-free.
Bruce: The movie or the TV series?
Bret: The Steve Carell movie. If you play it near funny people, it actually sucks all the funny out of them. It’s a humor dessicant.
Bruce: Would you believe I thought the movie only missed it by that much? Sorry about that, Chief! I even liked the dreaded Anne Hathaway as Agent 99. But I wish Johnny English Reborn had given its supporting cast more funny stuff to do. Not that Gillian Anderson and Dominic West, who play fellow MI-7 agents, are known as comics, but it seemed like Atkinson hogged all the gags for himself.
Bret: I was so bored that I may have left the theater during the supposedly funniest scene, in which Atkinson goes up and down in his chair during an important meeting. Sounds hilarious, right? But I needed popcorn to divert me and caffeine to keep me awake.
Bruce: That scene did send the theater into gales of hysterics—I’m not sure why. Maybe if the chair had caused a groin injury, I would’ve appreciated it more. Most of the funniest bits are in the trailer, but I thought they played better in the movie.
Bret: So I guess you haven’t seen the Mr. Bean movies.
Bruce: I’ve seen bits and pieces of them, which was more than enough for me. So I guess you could say I’ve Bean-dipped. How about you?
Bret: Nope. They seemed like they were aimed at kids.
Bruce: I was surprised that all the trailers that preceded Johnny English Reborn were for kids’ movies, but there didn’t seem to be many kids in the theater. Maybe that’s another reason why it flopped Stateside—they weren’t clear on who the audience should be. My kids would’ve enjoyed the sight gags, but I didn’t think to take them to see it because it didn’t seem like it was marketed as a family flick.
Bret: I have to wonder whether Atkinson looked at this script and said, “Yes, I must do this, it’s brilliant!” Or was he just looking for a nice paycheck? If the former, it makes me think that so much of being a successful comedy actor is lucking into good scripts at the start of your career. Think of all the comedians who are funny in their first movies and then just appear in lamer and lamer vehicles. Hello, Steve Martin!
Bruce: Maybe Martin’s latest flop The Big Year will be a huge hit overseas. Do foreigners enjoy birdwatching humor? Or maybe Atkinson is destined to become the British Jerry Lewis, unappreciated in America but worshipped in Europe.
Bret: Well, I think we’ve exhausted the interest of our readers in Johnny English. I know you’ve exhausted my interest in him. And in life.
Bruce: You’re blaming me for exhausting your interest in life? Reviewing this movie was your idea, buddy!
Bret: What’s wrong with me? I should have forced us to see Margin Call.
Bruce: A “thriller” about the 2008 financial crisis? There’s not enough caffeine in the world to keep me awake through that one. Maybe you need to meditate, like Johnny English and I do. Then you could become Bret Watson Reborn.
Bret: This movie killed me, so I need a rebirth.
Bruce: You’d probably just end up suffering from post-partum depression.
Bret: When the Johnny English Reborn credits ran, I experienced post-partum elation.
Did you see Johnny English Reborn? And if not, why not? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
Bruce Fretts: Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman. They’re five of Hollywood’s biggest stars—and the stars of two of this year’s biggest box-office flops: The Big Year and Trespass. The question is, Bret: Why?
Bret Watson: I saw Trespass, and I would have had as much fun watching seven mad squirrels fighting in a crate for 90 minutes. The movie is just seven people stuck in a house shouting and fighting and cursing.
Bruce: Sounds like Thanksgiving at my ex-in-laws’ house. Only in this case, it’s Cage and Kidman as an unhappily married couple who are held hostage by a gang of squabbling home invaders. I felt like I was being held hostage by director Joel Schumacher.
Bret: It’s a wearisome and exhausting film. There are so many moments where tables are turned, or overturned, it’s like watching a movie made almost entirely of climaxes.
Bruce: Even porn movies put pizza-delivery scenes between the climaxes. Plus, they have better acting.
Bret: I’m not sure Trespass requires any acting. You just have to shout and flinch a lot. “Let my wife go!” “Don’t you touch her!” “Where’s the money?” I’ve left out the 17 curses from those lines so our readers have something to look forward to if they see it. The demographic Trespass seems to aim for is sadists: Come enjoy people getting tortured for 90 minutes!
Bruce: What could’ve possessed a couple of Oscar winners like Cage and Kidman to take on these thankless roles? Did they have such a great time working with Schumacher on 8MM and Batman Forever? Because I didn’t have such a great time watching them.
Bret: Is there some sort of rehab for actors who can’t say no to bad scripts? If so, someone please get Cage to check in.
Bruce: And see if there’s a bed for Kidman, too. Or have you blocked out the scene where she picks up the coconut with her buttocks in Just Go With It?
Bret: Well I had blocked it out, thanks a lot.
Bruce: At least Cage and Kidman don’t have to worry about too many people see them embarrass themselves. The movie was released in only 10 theaters and grossed $18,000 and was available the same day On Demand, which is how we watched it at our respective homes. Do you think that hurt the box office?
Bret: I’d never heard of the movie until you told me to see it a few hours ago. The studio’s marketing department seems to have waged a stealth campaign, sort of like when you try to use couch cushions to smother a fart.
Bruce: This movie stunk worse than my farts. And that’s saying something.
Bret: You still haven’t found paint that will stay on your living room walls, eh? You need to get out of your house.
Bruce: I did get out to see a matinee of The Big Year, along with a few lonely elderly people. And I didn’t hear a single laugh through the entire movie, which might explain why it bombed. With Martin, Black and Wilson, you expect yuks, but this movie—about competitive bird-watchers—should’ve been smothered in the nest.
Bret: Nothing says LAFF RIOT! like birding. In this case, bird isn’t the word.
Bruce: “Bird Is the Word” is Black’s ringtone in the movie, which we hear countless times. That’s the closest thing this dud has to a running gag, other than the noise I made as I sprinted to the bathroom midway through. The gigantic Coke Zero I consumed to keep myself awake didn’t agree with me any more than the movie did.
Bret: I heard some critic praising the movie for its gentle pace and easygoing humor. Made it sound like Milk of Magnesia or Pepto Bismol.
Bruce: I could’ve used some of either. I’d blame you for making me ill, but you stayed home sick today. And I doubt The Big Year would’ve lifted your spirits. Occasionally Black does a pratfall and Martin does his patented silly run trying to catch a flight, but it just reminded me of better, funnier movies like Nacho Libre and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Bret: Sorry, my sinuses are as eager for infection as Black is for a pratfall or Cage is for a crappy movie. So while you were seeing The Big Year, I was getting an antibiotic. Still, I think you suffered more.
Bruce: This movie could’ve used a viral marketing campaign: You’d think a birding movie would be perfect for Twitter. But the only ad I saw for it was a 30-second spot that didn’t even mention birds, so you couldn’t tell what the movie was about. Then the studio dumped it in more than 2,000 theaters. No wonder it finished a distant ninth at the box office, behind the third weekend of the star-free Christian-themed drama Courageous, God help us.
Bret: Do you think the stars signed on just for some all-expense-paid travel to exotic destinations?
Bruce: Perhaps, although it seems to have been mostly shot in British Columbia. More likely they thought director David Frankel could turn another offbeat book into a big hit, like he did with The Devil Wears Prada and Marley and Me (also with Wilson). But this movie’s the real dog.
Bret: Thanks for taking a bullet for me. I owe you a tub of Coke Zero. And you still owe me two Immodium pills.
Bruce: No comment on my bad dog pun? Were you just so shocked that I didn’t say “this movie’s for the birds”?
Bret: I thought you were going to accuse it of fowl play.
Bruce: I’m not that much of a birdbrain.
Bret: They should have had Dick Cheney do a cameo, shooting Jack Black in the face.
Bruce: I’d rather see him shoot Wilson. At least that would explain his nose. That guy’s pretty much a guarantee I’m going to hate a movie, including the wildly overpraised Midnight in Paris.
Bret: Save it for our year-end “Most Overrated Movies” list.
Bruce: What list will Trespass and The Big Year go on—Most Justifiably Overlooked?
Bret: Or the Zen Koan Award: If a crappy movie falls in an empty theater, does it make a sound?
Bruce: They certainly prove the first noble truth of Buddhism: Life is suffering.
Why do you think The Big Year and Trespass tanked? And have you even heard of them? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
Crank it up! Get an alert in your mailbox when a new Cranky Guys review gets posted—just use the box in the upper right of this page to tell us your email address. We promise this will not result in your receiving spam about porn and discount meds. (We have a separate mailing list for that.)
Bruce Fretts: Kick off your Sunday shoes, Bret—it’s time to cut Footloose! Again. Yes, they’ve dared to remake Kevin Bacon’s ’80s dance flick. The question is: Is everything better with Bacon?
Bret Watson: This movie is a testament to the American dream, that anyone, no matter how devoid of talent, can take someone else’s old idea, strip it of charm, load it down with hackneyed dialogue, and get it turned into a Hollywood movie. In clods we trust.
Bruce: Sounds like you enjoyed it compared to me. I hated it even more than the original, which represented everything loathsome about American movies of the ’80s (my least favorite cinematic decade by far)—the influence of music videos, the lack of character development, the simpleminded storylines. But at least it had Kevin Bacon. This one gives us… Kenny Wormald. Kenny Wormald, ladies and gentlemen! (Cue the crickets.)
Bret: It’s as if someone tried to rebuild James Dean while following a badly translated manual. You’d think they’d find someone who can actually dance with flair, but he seems to be mainly a gymnast who can pirouette and throw his arms around a lot. Maybe they should have called it Armloose.
Bruce: Apparently using his own horribly grating Boston accent, the justifiably unknown actor plays Ren MacCormack, a “sarcastic Yankee” who moves to a tiny Georgia town where public dancing among teenagers is banned. So of course, he’s gotta cut loose…as I did less than an hour into this brutally hackneyed movie.
Bret: Oh crap: You bailed while I felt compelled to sit through it, thinking that you were sitting through it? I call foul!
Bruce: I got a phone call and had to leave the theater, and my feet literally would not carry me back inside. I despised what I saw of this film. Wormald is matched in ineptitude by the female lead, Julianne Hough, who should stick to Dancing With the Stars and leave acting to the pros. She’s no Lori Singer. She not even Lori Loughlin.
Bret: I didn’t see the original. I thought, Let me judge this movie on its own merits. Well, it has almost none. The one thing you’d expect from Footloose is lots of good music and great dancing. But the music mostly sucks, and the dancing scenes are short and unexciting. Part of it is that the director loves shooting dancing people from the waist up. Because who wants to see footwork in dance scenes? That’s so Fred Astaire. Yawn.
Bruce: I don’t get the nostalgia for the original. I’ve seen critics refer to it as a “classic.” It is, was, and always will be schlock. But if this does well at the box office—and I suspect it will—we’re going to see lots of other ’80s crap recycled. They’re already working on a reboot of Top Gun. Shoot me now.
Bret: Does the original have the same premise, whereby a Yankee boy gets to explore a wide range of Southern clichés? The redneck with the race car? The demolition derby with buses? The set-in-their-ways town fathers? Line dancing, God help us?
Bruce: He’s from Chicago in the original, so there wasn’t quite the same blue state-red state clash. And somehow it was more believable during the Reagan Era that a town would ban dancing among teens. This one justifies it by having five teenagers die in a fiery car crash after attending a dance. So they blame it on the boogie, not the booze?
Bret: One Southern cliché they left out was the populace fattened by fried food. All of the girls in this town look like someone shrink-wrapped skin onto skeletons.
Bruce: Yes, these Footloose teens apparently aren’t eating footlongs. Or bacon. Mmmmm, bacon. It always comes back to bacon. The remake wastes talented actors like Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell as Hough’s uptight parents and Deadwood vets Ray McKinnon and Kim Dickens as Wormald’s uncle and aunt.
Bret: I like Quaid, and there was a perverse fascination in seeing him working mightily to elevate dramatic scenes where every line is a tired retread. Consider this snappy dialogue from a scene with Hough, who looks like Jennifer Aniston‘s little sister with android eyes, and her best friend, who looks like Cher‘s more toothsome younger sister: Friend: That boy is so cute! Hough: You say that about all the boys. Friend: But he is so cute! Somebody alert the Academy that the best screenplay Oscar is in the bag.
Bruce: Unfortunately, I did catch that scintillating exchange before I walked out. Did I miss anything else worth mentioning? Let me guess: Rev. Quaid sees the error of his ways and has a tearful reconciliation with his daughter, and she dances off into the sunset with Ren?
Bret: How’d you guess? The tearful father-daughter scene includes lines like, “You’re my angel” and “You have no idea how hard it is for me to let you walk out that door.” That’s one of the better lines. By the way, the Cher-ish friend, named Rusty, is played by Ziah Colon. I bet she’s glad she’s not known as Rusty Colon.
Bruce: Especially since that’s already your nickname.
Bret: I thought that was the name of your proctologist. When did you last see him? You should let him look you up. That would be in the movie Stoolloose.
Bruce: You told me you thought Dr. Colon was cute. But you say that about all the proctologists. I’d rather endure a prolonged rectal exam than be forced to sit through another minute of Footloose.
Bret: My own proctologist seems pretty impressed with the condition of my nether regions. Every time I see him he exclaims, “What an asshole!”
Bruce: You’re on fire tonight! But the ointment will clear that up.
Bret: Is that what that stuff is for? I thought it was toothpaste.
Bruce: That’s why they call you Toothloose.
Does the new Footloose have a leg up on the original? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
Get a Cranky email when the next review is posted. Just provide your email address in the box on the upper right column of this page. We promise not to spam you…although we can’t speak for our friend the Nigerian prince. Why he isn’t more careful with his money, we’ll never know.
Bruce Fretts: The presidential campaign season is upon us—not just on the GOP trail but at multiplexes with George Clooney’s new drama The Ides of March. The question is, Bret: Did it win your vote?
Bret Watson: Like the voters, I think I was hoping for something better. The movie focuses on Ryan Gosling as an aide to a governor running for president (Clooney). It’s a tale of disappointed ideals, the education of a political operative. The problem is, as good as Gosling is, I didn’t care too much what happened to the character. Maybe these days it’s just hard to create likeable politicos. Did you wig out for these wonks?
Bruce: Having worked on a few campaigns in my lifetime, I’ve learned not to expect candidates or their aides to be likable, so I wasn’t disappointed. And I was impressed by how realistic the film was. It was based on a play written by a former Howard Dean staffer, and I kept waiting for it to turn stupid and become a typical Hollywood political thriller, but it never did.
Bret: So did you ever get to do some after-hours lobbying with an intern, the way Gosling does with Evan Rachel Wood?
Bruce: I was an intern on a campaign once, and no one ever made a pass at me. That damn Kitty Dukakis! I thought Wood was terrific as the smoking intern in Clooney’s closet, to mix my metaphors. Did Evan Rachel give you Wood?
Bret: I knew you’d go there. I was troubled by one short cut in the screenplay—Reader, avert your eyes now if you intend to see the movie: She finds out she’s pregnant and has put in a call to the governor to get money for an abortion, yet in the meantime she can enjoy an evening between the sheets with Gosling? That seemed too big an emotional leap. One minute she’s purring, the phone rings, the next minute she’s mewling. Do you have such mood swings?
Bruce: Only if it’s my time of the month—when the alimony’s due. That leap didn’t bother me so much, although I was slightly disturbed that we weren’t shown the scene when Gosling gets fired and decides to go rogue and join the rival campaign. It seemed like a sudden switch for a guy who was such a true believer in Clooney’s cause. That said, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti are both so good as the competing campaign managers that I didn’t mind a few shortcuts in the screenplay. Are those two ever not great?
Bret: They may be my favorite two living actors, and to see them in one movie is a treat. Too bad they don’t share any scenes. So did you get caught up in this drama? I can’t tell how much you liked it. It got more compelling toward the end, but I remained a bit aloof from the movie, not caring too much what happened to Gosling. You know, sort of how I react when you tell me stories about what you did last weekend.
Bruce: So you’ve forgiven PSH for The Savages? Because I still haven’t forgiven you for walking out of it when we went to see it. To be clear: I wholeheartedly endorse The Ides of March. I’m Bruce Fretts, and I approved this message. I just wish it had a better title—not only is the Shakespearean reference heavy-handed, but it’s too tempting for hack critics to make puns like “Beware ‘The Ides of March.’” Which I totally would’ve done if I hadn’t liked the movie.
Bret: Et tu, Bruce? The movie makes a great companion with a fascinating new book I’m reading, The Dictator’s Handbook. The authors look at leaders and politicians through history and show how, no matter who it is, their guiding motivation is always to stay in power. I’m using this as a guide for running my own business. L’etat c’est moi, baby.
Bruce: Consider yourselves warned, Watson Adventures employees. I found Ides far more entertaining than the current real-life campaign. I tried to watch the GOP debate the other night and soon found myself switching over to baseball instead. What a snoozefest. Charlie Rose (who also appears in Ides) moderated it, woozily, sitting with the candidates around a “kitchen table.” But no food was served—no wonder Chris Christie dropped out!
Bret: I want to live in an America where being overweight isn’t a source of ridicule. I say this as an overweight American. And I want a chicken in every pot, preferably with a side of fries.
Bruce: You would’ve thought Herman Cain could’ve at least arranged to have a few pizzas delivered.
Bret: I’m sure he would say, “I got my pizzas, you figure out how to get your own, you lazy bum! Or I’ll sell you a pie for $9.99.”
Bruce: But getting back to Ides, how about that Marisa Tomei as a muckraking reporter? And her name: Ida Horowicz. I could’ve watched a whole movie about her: The Idas of March. I love me some Marisa Tomei. I wish they’d given her more to do here, as well as in Crazy Stupid Love. That Ryan Gosling hogs all the scenes in his movies.
Bret: Tomei is also one of my favorite actors right now. And I like Clooney. It’s interesting in Ides how he makes his character both likable and yet a bit too slick. As rousing as his speeches sound, they also have the ring of hollow rhetoric and empty promises. We think, Here’s yet another guy who’s say anything to get elected. It makes it difficult to care what side Gosling lands on.
Bruce: It’s not Clooney’s finest performance, but I respect what he’s trying to do as a writer and director as well as an actor. Much like he uses his celebrity in real life to draw attention to important causes like genocide in Darfur, he uses his box-office clout to get intelligent movies made like this one, Up in the Air, Michael Clayton and Good Night and Good Luck. Plus, he gets more tail than Sinatra.
Bret: Sinatra doesn’t get nearly as much tail as he used to.
Bruce: He still gets more than you do.
Did The Ides of March sway you? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
What will we review next? Join our mailing list in the upper right side of this page to get notified the moment our next review goes out. We promise not to use your address for spam about how to increase your favorite genitalia. We have a separate mailing list for that.
Bruce Fretts: A sex-addicted New Yorker hooks up with strangers but is unable to achieve genuine intimacy. No, it’s not The Bret Watson Story—it’s Shame, the sure-to-be-controversial new Michael Fassbender flick that we caught at the New York Film Festival. The question is, Bret: Was it good for you?
Bret Watson: It’s a shame I sat through Shame. I’ll confess right up front that I seldom like movies about addictions or mental illnesses. They follow predictable downward spirals into dismay and squalor, and the character really can’t be held accountable for his decisions because, hey, he’s a victim of an addiction or a mental imbalance. It’s the same reason I find tales about your dating life so wearisome.
Bruce: Speaking of which, I was planning to take my new girlfriend to see this movie, but when she heard the premise, she passed. So instead I’m taking her to the festival to see My Week with Marilyn, the Marilyn Monroe biopic with Michelle Williams. I suppose you would’ve preferred I take you to see that one?
Bret: What, instead of taking me to sit in a theater with a few hundred strangers to watch artsy soft-core pornography? I would have even preferred that you take me to see an Anne Hathaway movie.
Bruce: Well, I didn’t hate Shame. I didn’t love it—it’s not a movie that one can easily love. But I found things to admire about it. And I’m don’t mean Fassbender’s full-frontal nude scenes. I’m guessing those were your least favorite parts.
Bret: Paradoxically, those scenes were the shortest parts.
Bruce: In any case, Fassbender’s generously endowed with talent. He mentioned in the Q&A after the film that he went into this right after playing Magneto in X-Men: First Class and Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, which also premiered at the NYFF. That’s some range.
Bret: He’s excellent in X-Men and I’ll even grant he’s excellent in Shame.
Bruce: Fassbender’s last scene was shattering. I bet he’ll get an Oscar nod for this, although the film may be too explicit to get a Best Picture nomination.
Bret: The scene of him crying on a pier?
Bruce: SPOILER ALERT!
Bret: I spoiled nothing. It’s not a climax if the scene can come anywhere in the movie. I didn’t find it devastating. Instead I was thinking, “I’m tired of movies about anti-heroes.” What’s wrong with us that nowadays audiences constantly want to wallow in the lives of reprobates, from mob bosses to real-life housewives? And if the main character is admirable, he has to be wearing colorful tights and have super powers.
Bruce: Bad guys are more interesting characters. You should know that—you used your bad-boy swagger to attract women back in your dating days.
Bret: At least give me a bad guy with some redeeming features. And give me a movie where the main character changes somehow by the end of the movie, as opposed to just getting more of the same. Give me more than glorified voyeurism. Incidentally, did you notice that Fassbinder’s nude scenes are when he’s alone, whereas when he has sexual encounters with women he’s usually clothed? I think that must have been Symbolic. Or to put it another way, that dude is screwed up.
Bruce: But not as screwed up as his sister, Sissy, well-played by Carey Mulligan. She also does a full-frontal nude scene, Gold bless her. Sissy is an apparently bipolar chanteuse who seems a little too close to her brother. She’s so nutso, I’m surprised I never dated her.
Bret: So here’s the plot: Fassbinder’s character watches porn, spends too much time alone in the restroom at work, has fleeting encounters with unknown women, and periodically he goes back to his apartment to yell at his sister. And things just get worse until the inevitable, predictable Desperate Act takes place. We don’t even learn what it is in their past that led to their desperate conditions. Now I know why Alice Tully Hall has such long rows with no aisle down the middle: It prevents people from sneaking out early.
Bruce: Before the film, you mentioned you’d seen one of the worst movies you’d ever seen at the NYFF, some black and white Russian film that “moved at the pace of life, only nothing happened.” That’s also a good description of this film, but I found the visuals—by artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen, who previously collaborated with Fassbender on the Bobby Sands biopic Hunger—and music so haunting that it almost didn’t matter.
Bret: The use of Glenn Gould playing Bach pieces was the only thing I liked about the movie—except for the fact that the movie has probably ruined the pieces for me, the way I can’t hear “Singing in the Rain” without remembering A Clockwork Orange. Thanks, Shame.
Bruce: I found the use of pop music like “Rapture” by Blondie and “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club to be inspired as well. And Mulligan sings a version of “New York, New York” that’s absolutely heartbreaking.
Bret: Yes, it was compelling to restate that Sinatra standard as a pathetic declaration, a wish by a vagabond who perhaps might not ever get to New York. I’ve never been comfortable with the line “It’s up to you, New York, New York,” because New York doesn’t give a crap about you. Don’t count on it for anything.
Bruce: The New Yorkers in the audience, present company excluded, seemed to enjoy the film. At least based on the endlessly fawning questions they asked afterwards. You cut out before the Q&A was over to make a train—did you catch it?
Bret: You caught up with me in the subway. You’re lucky I didn’t throw you under the train after luring me to that lurid movie.
Bruce: I wonder if the version we saw will be the one released to U.S. theaters. The filmmakers have said they won’t cut it to get an R rating, but it’s hard to believe Fox Searchlight will be okay with that.
Bret: Can you believe we live in a universe where 20th Century Fox can promulgate both Fox News and an NC-17 movie that wallows in the life of a sex addict? Here’s the only thing the two products have in common: They both might make money for Rupert Murdoch.
Bruce: But this is coming from Fox Hollywood, as Sarah Palin dubbed it to distinguish it from Fox News, which pays her as a contributor. I wonder what Palin will say if she sees this flick. Then again, she’s not above screwing strangers—she did it to the entire population of Alaska.
Bret: Yes, but she always pulls out before the finish.
Are you excited to see Shame? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond!
Get More Cranky! Find out when the next review gets posted by adding your name to the email list. Look for the sign-up box in the right margin on this page. Don’t worry, that’s all we’ll ever send you…not counting an occasional offer for cheap meds!