Jul 19, 2012

Hit Or Miss: Quick Movie Reviews 4!

Watching tons of movies is so difficult! It’s, like, who has the time these days?!  And, even if you have the time, who has the money, especially with the tickets and the popcorn and the toll roads and the finder’s fees and the bridge troll tolls? It’s like, URGH!!!  (coincidentally, that the sound a toll-troll makes if he doesn't collect enough tolls)

Well, Tableau Your Mind (with some help from guest Blogger Funton Abbey) have watched a ton of movies for you, and we’re here to provide pointed critiques and ask a simple question: should people HIT the theater and see this movie, or is it more of a MISS?

Magic Mike
Strippin' Ain't Easy
The Story: Steven Soderbergh directs this film about a 30-ish stripper Mike (Channing Tatum), who has a great life, but he doesn’t have love (from Cody Horn or Olivia Munn), and he can’t get a bank loan to pursue his dreams. Will he turn out like his aging, charismatic
boss (Matthew McConaughey) or can he escape his life of easy money, attractive women, and hip-hop stripping?
Pros: There are great performances from Tatum and McConaughey (Olivia Munn is pretty good, too), the first half is breezy and fun, there are genitalia for all audiences (a few out-of-focus penises and a few pairs of boobs - everybody wins), the stripping scenes are well choreographed and cheesy, and everyone seems to be having a good time. Also, Alcide from True Blood and Neal Caffrey from White Collar are in it and strip a few times.
Cons: The second half of the movie gets mired in a story about the dangers of drug abuse and selling drugs, Magic Mike’s problems mostly seem kind of stupid, Cody Horn (as the love interest) is possibly the worst actress we’ve ever seen, and the color palate is stereotypically yellow and washed out, which is Filmmaking 101 for shooting a film in Florida but which makes everyone look a bit pancake-faced.
Consensus: Channing Tatum is turning out really solid performances lately, and this is no exception. It’s a shame that most of his scenes are with Horn, who can’t act herself out of a paper bag, and Alex Pettyfer, who is mostly just boring. Even his tattoos lack inspiration. The story is mostly fun, and the film is directed really interestingly (a lot of scenes cut out a second before you think they should, which puts you on edge). All-in-all, it’s solid but also kind of forgettable.
Hit or Miss: Hit, but you can probably leave after the first hour or so, when things start to get REAL.

Your Sister’s Sister

The Story: Jack’s (Mark Duplass) brother Tom is dead. Before he died, Tom dated Iris (Emily Blunt), Jack’s best friend. Iris loves Jack. Jack loves Iris (but hasn't figured it out yet). Jack sleeps with Iris’s lesbian sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) while staying at Iris’s family cabin. Iris arrives, and complications ensue.
Pros: As you might be able to tell from the synopsis, this is one of the more backstory-heavy films in existence. Mostly, the relationships feel real, which is due in no small part to the stellar acting from the three leads. They sell a lot of material that is pretty ridiculous. When the characters are talking and interacting, the film is golden.
Cons: The last third of this film is insufferable, especially because there is an 10-minute montage where nobody says anything to anybody and it’s really frakking weird. We don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but things get really out-of-control plot-wise near the end, and the film’s attempts to tie everything up in a neat bow and a group hug rings false. It’s also a little too twee and cutesy for the subject matter.
Consensus: Good performances build a lot of goodwill, and that is seriously tested as audiences are treated to several minutes of people pitching and un-pitching tents and sleeping and walking. The last bit of this film is located firmly between Dullsville, Lazytown, and Implausible Cove.
Hit or Miss: Miss. Honestly, you can probably skip this one. It will be on Netflix Instant Watch within a year.

Ted: he's high-larious
The Story: A wisecracking, sentient bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and his wisecracking friend with bad hair (Mark Wahlberg) have to learn to grow up or else the bad hair guy might lose the love of his life (Mila Kunis) who is way more attractive, young, and responsible than he is.
 Pros: It’s funny. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and some solid jokes about Flash Gordon. The bear (the titular Ted) is a funny concept that is explored well. There are two great scenes: one involving sh*t and the other Norah Jones. Also, Ryan Reynolds shows up for no reason and it’s awesome.
Cons: The film relies on the same humor that Seth MacFarlane peddles in his television shows, and we can watch those for free. It’s mildly offensive and not funny enough to make up for the offensiveness. Also, Mark Wahlberg has no right to be playing a 35-year-old stoner/slacker. He's super jacked and is and looks 41 years old. 35-year-old stoner/slackers are rarely as ripped as him and they are certainly not 41. He’s also not that funny. Plot-wise, things hold together as long as everyone is having a good time, but, when it tries to be honest emotionally, it feels false and stupid.
Consensus: The film can be funny and is mostly harmless, but this style of humor is done better in other movies and in MacFarlane’s own shows. The novelty of a talking bear wears off quickly, and the constant sex jokes smack of desperation.
Hit or Miss: Miss. Rent it later or something.

Safety Not Guaranteed
Aubrey Plaza: Skeptical
The Story: A possibly-schizophrenic man (Mark Duplass, again) places an ad in a newspaper stating “Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.” A jaded journalist (New Girl’s Jake Johnson) takes a few interns down to see what’s going on. As one of the interns, Darius (Aubrey Plaza) gets closer to the story than she was expecting and is soon trying to balance her feelings with her journalistic integrity.
Pros: This is one of the sweetest, earnest, and emotionally affecting movies out this year. Aubrey Plaza gets the chance to break free from the dry, sardonic characters that she plays so well and highlight a whole new set of strengths as an actress. Mark Duplass is engaging, and Jake Johnson’s B-story is really interesting and sad. Also, Kristen Bell shows up midway through and it’s obviously amazing. 
Cons: All of the plots wrap up a little too quickly at the end, and the score can be a little overbearing.
Consensus: This movie is sweet, unassuming, and incredibly interesting Sci-Fi-lite. There’s no reason NOT to see it.
Hit or Miss: Hit, dammit, HIT!
UPDATE: Guest Blogger Square Peg also notes that Mark Duplass plays the zither and sings Big Machine near the end of the film, which is obviously a huge mark in the 'pro' column. It's also Track 1 on the soundtrack.
Guest Blogger Funton Abbey

Thanks again to Guest Blogger Funton Abbey for all of her help and guidance on these reviews (specifically Ted and Magic Mike). Funton spends her free time contemplating the intricacies of early-20th century aristocratic niceties and making popsicles out of orange juice and vodka.
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