Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: December 24, 2010

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a big red suit and sneaks into people’s houses. The only difference is that he sneaks into the houses of all the naughty girls. But before he can manage that undertaking, he sets his sights on the last wash of movies hitting the multiplexes this season. He travels with Jack Black to the Bermuda Triangle in Gulliver’s Travels then heads out west to catch a killer with True Grit. Finally, he brings his Christmas movie watching to a close by stabbing himself in the face with Little Fockers. Ho ho ho, the humanity!

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Neil Miller celebrate Christmas in the Magical Studio in the Sky to discuss this week’s new releases.


Download this Episode

Studio: Universal

Rated: PG-13 for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content

Starring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Blythe Danner and Teri Polo

Directed by: Paul Weitz

What it’s about: Have you seen Meet the Parents? Well, this is pretty much the same thing, only not funny at all. Jack Byrnes wants his son-in-law Greg to become the new patriarch of the family. But when Greg tries to live up to his expectations, hilarity ensues… or not.

What I liked: Well, Jessica Alba strips down to her underwear in one scene. That counts for something, doesn’t it? (I know it doesn’t, but I had to put something here.)

What I didn’t: I didn’t just hate elements of this film. I hated this movie’s existence. First, there’s the shoddy rehash of the first film’s jokes, like Greg screwing up in front of Jack or the Owen Wilson character seemingly like a much better catch for Jack’s daughter.

Little Fockers has a script that’s all over the place, forcing jokes about erectile dysfunction and enemas. At the same time, it tries to be a somewhat sweet and uplifting family movie. Everyone phones in their performances, sometimes literally. I give credit to the filmmakers for assembling the same cast from the first two films, but it just appears as if everyone is just collecting a big paycheck.

And don’t be fooled by the title. You’d think this would be about Jack trying to impose on how Greg raises his kids – his little Fockers, so to speak. Sure, those kids are there, but they’re incidental to the plot. Instead, they just serve as an MacGuffin for the tension between Jack and Greg.

Someone’s contract must have been ready to expire on this series of films because this is Meet the Parents version of the Roger Corman Fantastic Four film in which they had to make something to keep the rights.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who have severe brain damage.

Grade: F

Studio: Paramount

Rated: PG-13 for some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper and Hailee Steinfeld

Directed by: The Coen Brothers

What it’s about: The Coen Brothers go back to the original book for their version of True Grit. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross has come to a western town to bring her father’s body home. However, when she learns the local authorities aren’t going to go after her father’s murderer, she hires a U.S. Marshal named Rooster Cogburn to help track him down.

What I liked: True Grit is what westerns are all about. It’s got great scenery. It has deep characters. It has its fair share of gun fights. And it has a fantastic score. In some ways, it doesn’t even seem like a Coen Brothers movie.

That’s not a criticism. Instead, it shows the brilliant cinema team is stretching. They’re finding their footing outside of the quirky and bizarre worlds they usually inhabit. With True Grit, they make a very mainstream movie, something that people can identify with outside of the arthouse and cinemaphile crowd. Sure, their fingerprints are all over this movie – from the ironic dialogue and delivery to the sudden bursts of violence. But it’s still outside of their wheelhouse.

The acting is what anchors this film. Jeff Bridges gives a respectful performance as Rooster Cogburn, not trying to out-do John Wayne but offering a totally different take on the character. But it’s Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross who steals the show (much like Kim Darby did in the 1969 version).

What I didn’t: Like most of the Coen Brothers movies, it takes multiple viewings to fully appreciate them. They almost always grow on me (except for a rare few like The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo and No Country for Old Men. So it’s not something I can completely experience without watching it again. And the only reason this is a complaint is that I know I’m going to put off other work do watch this film a couple more times.

Who is gonna like this movie: Western fans and Coen Brothers fans.

Grade: A

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Rated: PG for brief rude humor, mild language and action

Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Billy Connelly and Amanda Peet

Directed by: Rob Letterman

What it’s about: Loosely, loosely, loosely based on the classic story, Jack Black plays a travel writer who gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle and ends up on a mysterious island inhabited by tiny people. He soon becomes their hero but has to prove himself when a warring nation attacks the island.

What I liked: I didn’t quite like Gulliver’s Travels as much as I accepted it. The film is made for kids… and little kids at that. Sure, there’s quite a few adult references in it, but kids aren’t going to get those (and if they do, you’ve already failed as a parent).

So while I don’t like Jack Black, I understand there are people who do like him. And like a guy in a kiddie-snatcher van down the road, he’s targeting youngsters these days. I will say there were a few times I chuckled at this movie, so it’s not as bad as Little Fockers. And the 3D, which is done with a post-conversion process, isn’t bad considering how much digital composting they used from which they can pull depth.

Aw… who am I kidding? This movie was just ridonkulous.

What I didn’t: I didn’t hate Gulliver’s Travels mainly because it succeeds in becoming exactly what it aims to be. And it wasn’t aiming very high. Still, it’s not a great movie, but a few farts and pee jokes ought to make your kids laugh.

But the movie is a cinematic train wreck. It resembles the original story in the sense that a guy finds a land of little people. But I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a giant transforming robot in the original story.

The script feels like it was written by a five-year-old. Maybe Robert Rodriguez got his kids to ghost write it after they did a number on Shorts and The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. It’s really just a hodge-podge of Jack Black moments, and if you find his antics annoying, you’ll hate this film.

Sigh… poor Emily Blunt.

Five year olds.

Grade: C-

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

Read More from Kevin Carr
Get Film School Rejects in your email. All the cool kids are doing it:
Previous Article
Next Article
Reject Nation
Leave a comment
Comment Policy: No hate speech allowed. If you must argue, please debate intelligently. Comments containing selected keywords or outbound links will be put into moderation to help prevent spam. Film School Rejects reserves the right to delete comments and ban anyone who doesn't follow the rules. We also reserve the right to modify any curse words in your comments and make you look like an idiot. Thank You!