Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: January 21, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr trolls around hospitals looking for a scorching hot young doctor who doesn’t want a real relationship but would rather have someone she can have copious amounts of sex with many times throughout the week. Upon returning from that fantasy land, he heads to a job-placement agency to rub elbows with laid-off corporate executives who have trouble making ends meet so they can pay the lease on their Mercedes. Kevin is handing out grades for No Strings Attached and The Company Men, and the grades are not good.

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 these new flicks.

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Studio: Paramount

Rated: R for sexual content, language and some drug material

Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline and Lake Bell

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

What it’s about: Natalie Portman plays a young, beautiful, successful doctor who just doesn’t have time for a real relationship. So, she makes an offer to her friend (Ashton Kutcher) to be friends with benefits. However, after a string of booty calls, emotions can’t help but creep into the picture, and the couple must figure out what to do with themselves.

What I liked: I don’t have anything against the people behind No Strings Attached. Well, I do have some problems with Ivan Reitman as of late. I know he gave us Ghostbusters and Stripes, but his recent filmography is far from impressive (unless you like movies like Evolution and Father’s Day). But Natalie Portman is cute in the film, and Ashton Kutcher is a decent leading man. From a technical side, everything’s put together. But…

What I didn’t: There’s not heart in No Strings Attached. By trying to be an edgier “we’re not a standard rom com” rom com, it fizzles. I don’t buy Portman as being that hot and successful and not wanting a relationship. As a friends said to me today, “What woman doesn’t want strings attached?”

In trying to strike a chord with the Sex and the City crowd by exposing female sexuality, Reitman just switches genders on the stereotypical horn-dog role. Portman is nothing more than the wacky neighbor in a sit com, only with boobs.

And No Strings Attached makes the same error that so many other Knocked Up wannabes make. It tries to steer away from the formulaic rom com so much in the beginning by dropping a lot of profanity and crass sex talk (including a jarringly out-of-place presentation and discussion of the periods of the women in the film). However, by the end of the film, it gives in and ends up becomes as big of a cliche as the movies it’s trying to differentiate itself from.

Maybe Reitman needs a couple directing pointers from his son.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who don’t like the formulaic rom com.

Grade: C-

Studio: The Weinstein Company

Rated: R for language and brief nudity

Starring: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello and Chris Cooper

Directed by: John Wells

What it’s about: Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones play corporate executives who find themselves on the receiving end of a pink-slip hand-out during our recent economic crisis. After leaving the company, they struggle with finding new jobs and continuing the life they have become accustomed to.

What I liked: Like No Strings Attached, I don’t really have a problem with the actors in The Company Men. Well, I might have a bit of a problem with Kevin Costner, but he’s not in the film all that much.

It’s a competently acted film, and it looks good. But it has a fatal flaw that signs its own pink slip.

What I didn’t: It seems that the script for The Company Men was developed to demonstrate to the world that it’s not just the lower-income workers who suffered in the recent economic crunch. However, trying to build a case for sympathy for corporate executives is like trying to convince an audience that being hot and popular in high school is as hard as being ugly and a loser.

I like a good riches-to-rags story, but this isn’t one of them. When Ben Affleck’s character complains to a interviewer that the $65,000-a-year job isn’t acceptable because he just got out of a $125,000-a-year job, I rolled my eyes. But when he bitches to his wife because he can’t pay his country club membership, I completely lost it. I just had no sympathy for him.

And beyond all that, the story was unfocused. There were three characters being juggled, and they all had completely separate stories. The trailers hint at a learning process for Affleck’s character when he has to take a job with his brother-in-law’s construction company, but that’s buried in the middle of the film. The movie was all over the place with no focus or consistent delivery.

Who is gonna like this movie: Rich people who have no idea what it’s like to live in the real working world.

Grade: D

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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