Bernie – A Movie Review

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Jul 272012

In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow who was as well-known for her sour attitude as her fortune. Bernie frequently traveled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependant on Bernie and his generosity and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie. The people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that Marjorie Nugent had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder.

Genres:  Comedy, Crime, True Story

Starring:  Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Brady Coleman, Richard Robichaux, Rick Dial

Director:  Richard Linklater

Me and Lay saw this movie a while back. I liked it a lot. He thought it was OK.

I grew up in a small southern town, and grew up in the funeral business (In fact, I was a funeral director myself for a while), so this was a must see movie. It feels like I knew these locals and have heard their sayings all my life. Story is told uniquely with humor, often subtly. Jack Black stole the show. He had the part down perfectly. I’ve met several of those type of funeral directors. Matthew McConaughey is Texas all the way. Bernie has received excellent reviews from the critics, and I think it has that special edge to it.

The story never dragged, and Matthew McConaughey was exactly like every DA in a small town and that wasn’t a stretch for him because he grew up in a not so small Texas town. Shirley McLain was also great. The real stars of this movie were the towns people. Go see this movie.

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Tropic Thunder – A Movie Review

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Dec 272008

A group of self-absorbed actors set out to make the most expensive war film. But after ballooning costs force the studio to cancel the movie, the frustrated director refuses to stop shooting, leading his cast into the jungles of Southeast Asia, where they encounter real bad guys.

Genres: Comedy; Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.; Release Date: August 13th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material.

Starring: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jay Baruchel, Nick Nolte

Directed by: Ben Stiller

We watched this on DVD. the “R” rating was well deserved for the pervasive language. We let Lay’s nephews watch, but half way through, I had wished we hadn’t. But they got laughs out of it, and I guess they hear a lot of the same in real life.

It was a lot like Ben Stiller’s career in general. This appeared to a great potential vehicle for Stiller to what he can do well (spoofs of a genre and the Hollywood film industry), and as noted, there are some very funny moments. Jack Black was, as is often the case, pretty good in his part, as was Robert Downey, Jr. The rest of the cast played their parts well also.

Overall though, I’d have to say it was merely a mediocre effort. It started strong, but by the end it was all wearing a little thin and became fairly predictable.

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Kung Fu Panda – A Movie Review

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Nov 172008

Kung Fu PandaEnthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po is the biggest fan of Kung Fu around…which doesn’t exactly come in handy while working every day in his family’s noodle shop. Unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po’s dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five — Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey — under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung is headed their way, and it’s up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master into reality? Po puts his heart – and his girth – into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Kids/Family and Animation; Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.; Release Date: June 6th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of martial arts action.

Cast: Seth Rogen, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Dan Fogler, Wayne Knight, Kyle Gass, J. R. Reed, Laura Kightlinger, Tanya Haden, Mark Randolph Osborne, John Wayne Stevenson, Jeremy Shipp, Melissa Cobb, Kent Osborne, Emily Robison, Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Ian McShane, Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie, David Cross 

Directors: John Wayne Stevenson, Mark Randolph Osborne

This movie was incredible! It was so funny, I was off my seat laughing. Jack Black was awesome and the visuals were great. The kung fu parts were amazing! I think it was dreamworks best movie they ever made. All of the jokes were spot on. It had a great cast and Po was just so fat and cute in the movie, I loved him! The whole family will laugh their head off! One of the best times I had at the movies this year!

I was expecting a horrible children’s movie with a naive plot; instead I was presented with an action-packed and realistically-animated story. It also managed to sustain my laughter for the duration of the movie. The characters are lovable and easy to sympathize with. This movie is a must-see.

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Be Kind Rewind – A Movie Review

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Sep 072008

Be Kind Rewind Movie PosterJerry, a junkyard worker, attempts to sabotage a power plant that he believes is melting his brain. But when his plan goes awry, the magnetic field that he creates accidentally erases all of the videotapes in a local video store where his best friend Mike works. Fearing that the mishap will cost Mike his job, the two friends team up to keep the store’s only loyal customer – a little old lady with a tenuous grasp on reality – from realizing what has happened by recreating and re-filming every movie that she decides to rent. From “Back to the Future,” to “Robocop,” to “Rush Hour,” to “The Lion King,” Jerry and Mike become the biggest stars in their neighborhood by starring in the biggest movies ever made.

Genres: Comedy; Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.; Release Date: February 22nd, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references.

Starring: Jack Black, Dante ‘Mos Def’ Smith, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Lay and I decided to stay in last night and throw a couple of steaks on the grill. We rented “Be Kind Rewind” based on a recommendation by a friend from work.

Mos Def and Jack Black make a good combination. I would like to see them work together again in a bigger movie. The story was original and had potential for comedic greatness, but it fell a little short. The movie started fairly slow, and the setup was a bit long. It was directed with a quirky type of comedic style that was decent, but didn’t seem to fit the ridiculous premise of this movie.
Overall, the movie was entertaining, definitely worth renting but probably not spending full admission price for.

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King Kong

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Jan 222006

King Kong (2005)

In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.

Directed by
Peter Jackson

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell, Lobo Chan, John Sumner, Craig Hall, Kyle Chandler, Willians Johnson, Mark Hadlow, Geraldine Brophy

With the technology available for special effects, this could have been a great movie. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Sadly, this movie just proves the point that good effects do not a good movie make. It was certainly a disaster (of a) movie.

What happened here is that a film with enough plot to last for the time of the original was stretched out to try fill 3 hours of screen time, and the result is disastrous. In addition, it’s pretty clear that CGI nerds and video game designers had way too much input into this atrocity.

I could provide details of no less than 10 scenes that were totally irrelevant to the movie (but that would provide some spoilers for those that want to see the movie). In addition scenes that didn’t need to be in the movie, nearly every scene ran about twice as long as necessary.

If you removed all this irrelevant nonsense, what would remain might not have been that bad. It would probably be quite good, in fact. Sadly, it was left in. It’s hard to imagine how insufferable a DVD “Director’s Cut” could be.

On the positive side, Naomi Watts was excellent, as was Jack Black. The acting in general was a positive, no real complaints there. And the animation of Kong himself was excellent. Very well done.

Sadly though, very little of the movie involved acting. It was all about making it a big video game and putting in all the effects. The effects are not themselves the movie, they are there to support the movie!

To summarize, there were a lot of good pieces, but there were also a lot of bad ones. Ultimately too many were used, and a lot of them did not belong.

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