Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: January 14, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a trench coat and hat, wears a mask and runs around the streets of his fair city with his strong and agile Asian manservant. The plan: When arrested, tell the police he is trying to emulate the crime-fighting career of the Green Hornet. If he can get away with that, he plans on tracking down two doughy but funny guys who are having sexual relations with super-hot Hollywood type ladies and try to steal their girlfriends away. Or, he just might sit on the couch and watch movies after telling you what he thinks of The Green Hornet and The Dilemma.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Neil Miller hang out in the Magical Studio in the Sky to discuss what they haven’t seen.

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Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content

Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Edward James Olmos and David Harbour

Directed by: Michel Gondry

What it’s about: When Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) discovers his father has died and left him a huge fortune and a media empire, he enlists the help of his chauffeur and coffee chef Kato (Jay Chou) to invent a crime-fighting force to help clean up L.A. As the publisher of the paper, Britt draws attention to his alter-ego the Green Hornet and targets the city’s biggest crime boss and drug dealer.

What I liked: There’s a lot of cool things in this movie, which is apparent from watching the trailer. Sure, all of these fall in the realm of presentation and visual style, but that’s okay for a movie like this.

The action sequences are pretty awesome, with plenty of explosions and martial arts moves. Even though the film was shot in 2D and post-converted to 3D, director Michel Gondry really pushes the depth of the movie, especially in some of the fighting sequences. In fact, the use of 3D in this movie is quite impressive, and it further shows how Hollywood is refining the post-conversion process to eliminate major artifacting and problems with this technology.

The movie also has a slick look, not just on the action side of things, but with the production design as well. Gondry, who has spent most of his feature film career making art-house movies, brings an attention to the aesthetics that is critical for a film like this. Even the walk-and-talk scenes with no action or effects looks great. And when it comes to creative style, Gondry brings a lot of his music video experience to the table to create an appealing and interesting look.

What I didn’t: For as great as this film looks, and for as awesome as the action is, and for as impressive as the 3D appears, there are some major problems with The Green Hornet. And for the most part, I blame Seth Rogen. After all, I was not the only person who cringed when they heard he was going to be our newest superhero.

I wouldn’t have had a problem with Rogen if he was actually stretching as a performer. But putting him in as an executive producer and a co-writer caused the plot, character and dialogue scenes to be quite terrible. Instead of striving to give us something more than that pot-smoking caricature he has become in the movies, he just delivered more of the same (switching out the weed for Gray Goose in this particular film).

Where it’s possible to see the skeleton of a script within this movie, all the Seth Rogen shtick was slathered onto the story, and Cameron Diaz was crammed in there for no specific reason. If you have a high tolerance for Seth Rogen as his stock character, you’ll do okay. But if he bothers you, the time between action sequences is going to be painful.

Maybe Hollywood shouldn’t give this guy so much control in his next film.

Who is gonna like this movie: Action fans and Seth Rogen lovers.

Grade: B

Studio: Universal

Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder and Channing Tatum

Directed by: Ron Howard

What it’s about: When Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) discovers that his best friend’s wife is cheating on him, he finds himself in a quandary. Should he tell his friend? How should he tell his friend? What will this do to the marriage? What will this do to their relationship, both personal and professional. Thus, the dilemma.

What I liked: There are some funny parts in this movie, and to really appreciate them, you have to enjoy Vince Vaughn being Vince Vaughn. But this isn’t just a movie that’s wall-to-wall comedy. In fact, that’s one of the things I enjoyed about it. Unlike Kevin James’ latest film Grown Ups, this actually makes an attempt to explore some deeper elements to relationships rather than just being a slapstick mess of cheap jokes.

In this sense, there’s a lot to consider in this film, which targets heavy subject matter such as infidelity on many different levels, trust, love, addiction and honesty. In retrospect, I would expect something like this more from Ron Howard than how this movie is being advertised.

The performances are pretty good, although Winona Ryder is a bit uneven (and wildly unrealistic) as James’ wife Geneva. But for the most part, I was interested to see where things went.

What I didn’t: All things being equal to other films, The Dilemma wasn’t bad, especially considering the week it’s being released into theaters. But taking everything into consideration, this movie isn’t as good as it should be. I expect more from Ron Howard, who has given some incredibly powerful films and even won an Oscar.

It seems that Howard is going back to the comedy well where he got his start (with Night Shift, Splash and Gung-Ho). I applaud any director trying to stretch a bit, but this does come off as sub-standard for Howard. I expect a tighter story and more focus than he give us in this film.

Who is gonna like this movie: People in relationships that won’t blow up after seeing a movie about infidelity.

Grade: B

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).

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