Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: March 18, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr starts a new regimen of drugs that comes in a clear little pill. The guy on the street corner told him that it would unlock the full potential of his mind, and he assured Kevin it was FDA approved. Why would this guy lie to him?

While waiting for the drugs to kick in, Kevin decided to take a trip across the American southwest and search for skinny little aliens with fat man voices. He knows he’s safe, even if he’s picked up by the cops, because he’s retained a dead-sexy lawyer who runs his practice out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Take a listen below as Kevin is joined in the Magical Studio in the Sky by Grae Drake, the host of the Popcorn Mafia Podcast, derailing the show before it even gets on track.

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Studio: Universal

Rated: R for language including sexual references, and some drug use

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wigg, Bill Hader and Jane Lynch

Directed by: Greg Mottola

What it’s about: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play chubby, middle-aged geeks who travel to Comic-Con and then rent an RV to drive across the American southwest, looking for the most famous UFO historic sites. Along the way, they literally run into an alien with Seth Rogen’s voice, trying to escape from the U.S. government. This sends them on a bizarre road trip, trying to save the alien from the NSA and help him get home.

What I liked: I like Simon Pegg. And I like Nick Frost. I’m also a geek who has not only been to Comic-Con a couple times in my life, but I’m a geek who has visited some of the UFO hot spots around the American southwest. So at its heart, Paul is a film made for someone like me.

The movie is loaded with inside jokes about old science fiction movies and other elements of geek culture. It also has a secure R rating for violence and content, so there’s no effort on the film’s part to try and be family friendly. Moreover, the movie actually makes a point to thumb its nose at would-be plot points that could have come across as cheesy or out of the spirit of the film.

And it has quite a few funny moments. But…

What I didn’t: The biggest problem with the funniest moments in Paul is that they all come from the trailer. It’s not that there are no funny moments that exist outside of the trailer, but rather the best moments fell flat while watching the movie because I knew they were coming a mile away. Like the bird scene… or the car going off the bridge.

Who is gonna like this movie: Chubby, middle-aged (or soon to be) geeks who would love to go to Comic-Con, then rent an RV and take a road trip to famous UFO historic sites.

Grade: B


Studio: Relativity Media

Rated: PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language

Starring: Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard and Anna Friel

Directed by: Neil Burger

What it’s about: Bradley Cooper plays a slacker author who gets hooked on a drug that unlocks his brain’s full potential. He becomes a genius and a financial whiz overnight, finding himself on the road to fame and fortune. However, dangerous elements from his own life – as well as some dangerous elements from his new one – start to make things difficult for him.

What I liked: I’ll admit that when I first saw the trailer for this film, I was underwhelmed. It’s a hard sell, but if you can get past that lukewarm teaser presentation (which yuks things up a little too much with a Bradley Cooper voice over, declaring himself “limitless”), it’s actually a pretty neat piece of speculative fiction.

On the whole, Cooper carries the film, which he shouldn’t have to prove after 2009’s The Hangover, but when Cooper throws down some scene-stealing skills with Robert De Niro in a supporting role, I’m impressed.

There are some neat directing choices in this film, bringing it out of the standard thriller and into the realm of cool, hip speculative fiction. This flick runs along with The Adjustment Bureau and Source Code as some of the most pleasant surprises of the spring.

What I didn’t: Even Superman needs kryptonite. And Cooper’s character is given a couple doses of kryptonite throughout this film in the form of things he should have known better about. After all, if you’ve got the brains to crunch the numbers of the stock market, you should know how many pills you have in your stash before you are going to run out.

I do forgive these faux pas because without them, there would be no film. Cooper’s character would win from the get-go, and there’d be no conflict. So, these instances of kryptonite writing, I can forgive.

Who is gonna like this movie: People who like a fun, out-of-the-box thriller.

Grade: B+


Studio: Lionsgate

Rated: R for some violence, sexual content and language

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, John Leguizamo, Ryan Phillippe, Michaela Conlin

Directed by: Brad Furman

What it’s about: Based on a book by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer stars Matthew McConaugheyhey as Mick Haller, a hot-shot defense attorney who takes the case of a wealthy playboy (Ryan Phillippe) who is accused of assault and attempted murder. However, as he digs deeper into the case, Mick realizes there is more under the surface.

What I liked: I like a good courtroom drama, and often that means to bring the drama out of the courtroom. Matthew McConaugheyhey hasn’t made a movie like this since he did Time to Kill back in the 90s, and it’s nice to see him back in a suit and tie. God was looking out for us when he didn’t allow Kate Hudson anywhere near this thing.

The Lincoln Lawyer is a button pusher, and it pushes them well. It’s not really full of surprises, but the story masks most of the twists enough (though it’s too bad the theatrical trailer didn’t). It’s a well-acted film and mostly enjoyable… another pleasant surprise for the week.

What I didn’t: I served on the jury of a murder trial once, and I have a couple friends who are lawyers. That’s not enough to make me a legal expert, but I’ve picked up enough about the system to smell bullshit when it shows up in a movie. There were elements of the story that I had a hard time swallowing, in terms of attorney-client privilege and court procedure. Plus, somehow this movie speeds through such a hasty trial that it seems faster than is possible even in Hollywood.

When adapting a book like this, the biggest challenge for the screenwriter is to decide what to keep and what to leave behind. Unfortunately, he kept too much from the book, which tends to muddle things a bit in the middle and draw out the ending just a bit too much. But overall, the third act is better than the second act, so at least some good choices were made.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of a good courtroom thriller and those who loooooooove Matthew McConaugheyhey (even though he doesn’t walk around without a shirt in this film).

Grade: B+


Studio: Crimson Films

Rated: R for sadistic bloody violence, torture, brief language and nudity

Starring: Michael Biehn, Alexandra Daddario, John Savage, Peyton List and Nolan Gerard Funkl

Directed by: Stevan Mena

What it’s about: A child with a disorder that doesn’t allow him to feel pain is kidnapped by a local series killer in the 80s. Impressed by the child’s unflinching nature, the killer takes him under his wings and teaches him the art of his psychosis. A decade later, they face discovery when a local girl moving in with her uncle starts to snoop around.

What I liked: I appreciate what this film is trying to do, and while I didn’t see Mena’s first installment of this series (Malevolence), I was able to follow along with no problems. Mena swerves into some neat concepts of story, including a child that can’t feel pain showing up a serial killer. However, there’s an unfortunate lack of follow-through, which makes me wonder if he’s trying to shoehorn it into a pre-existing prequel format.

The torture porn, horrific murder aspect of the film is stronger than the back-woods family drama that is attempted on the side story, and fortunately, that’s the focus the film gets near the end.

And I can’t review this film without giving a shout-out to Alexandra Daddario’s fantastic breasts. they’re glorious, and not very well concealed from the third act. I know, this might offend some people (primarily Alexandra Daddario), but when you see this movie, you’ll have to agree that the choice of wardrobe and camera focus was no accident. Just look at that poster! Thank you, Mr. Mena.

What I didn’t: I like horror movies, but I’ve seen so many serial killer and torture porn movies that just putting a screaming girl in a dirty basement next to a schizophrenic with sharp instruments isn’t enough to scare me any more. Like I said before, the director swerved into some neat elements, but they are never fully developed in this film. We’re just left with a run-of-the-miller serial killer film that never makes it out of the box.

Who is gonna like this movie: Gorehound fans.

Grade: C

Want to see what Kevin had to say about the Oscars this week 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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