Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: July 1, 2011

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides to dump Megan Fox and hook up with a sexy British model who will shake her ass in front of a 3D camera for Michael Bay. Sadly, he couldn’t make that happen, so he heads down to the scooter pool at the local community college, hoping to find a free-spirited chick with a name that’s impossible to pronounce. Again, no dice, Chicago. So, Kevin abandons all hope and hides in a theater for almost three hours, watching Michael Bay’s latest spectacle. Then he postpones seeing Larry Crowne so he can stalk teachers from the aforementioned community college, hoping one is as drunk and pretty as Julia Roberts is in her latest film. How could this possibly end badly?

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Neil Miller triumphantly returns to the Magical Studio in the Sky to talk about Michael Bay.


Studio: Paramount

Rated: PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Malkovich and Patrick Dempsey

Directed by: Michael Bay

What it’s about: Giant robots blowing shit up! GIANT ROBOTS BLOWING SHIT UP! And a hot British girl running around in the background. Added bonus: Tyrese Gibson also shows up.

What I liked: When it comes to a Michael Bay movie, there are certain things you can expect. You can expect awesome action sequences. You can expect a beautifully shot film. You can expect a bunch of sizzling hot women walking around in tight skirts and high heels. You get all of that beyond expectations in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

In fact, the hot chick factor works in this movie for two reasons. First, Megan Fox is now a thing of the past in the Transformers universe. We now have Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who may not have any more brains or personality than Fox, but her voice sounds smrt with that whole British accent thing going on. Plus, Bay takes a few moments to poke fun at his beer commercial filmmaking by overdoing the hot chicks and even having one character complain about one of them dressed in a “hoochie mamma” outfit.

But the effects visuals are the real reason to see this movie, and the 3D is some of the best you’ll see outside of Avatar. By now, you’ve heard of the 45-minute non-stop action sequence at the end of the film. It’s the only thing that should force you to see the film in theaters. In fact, you could walk into the movie 90 minutes late and still have a great time… arguably a better time with a less sore ass, even.

Finally, the actors are pretty good. Not Shia LaBeouf or even Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (both of whom are pointless characters to the film, really). Rather, it’s actors like John Turturro, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich who have the best moments.

In the end, there’s nothing that Transformers: Dark of the Moon does that is any worse than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In fact, the worst offenses from the second film (such as racist robots and dangling steel testicles) are gone almost completely, leaving the flaws to be more typical of Bay’s other films.

What I didn’t: Let me start by saying that none of the film’s flaws are a surprise. Like the positive elements of this movie, the negative elements are right in line with Bay’s other films. Is it even worth it to talk character and plot? I suppose I was expecting a little more from this, considering Bay and company has been doing spin control for weeks, telling us that this is the tightest one of the bunch. It’s not, and I shouldn’t have even hoped it would be.

Ehren Kreuger’s script is slightly less stoopid than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It rehashes a lot of the same elements from previous films, sure, but the overall set-up ain’t bad. Unfortunately, its’ Bay’s ADD delivery of the product that make the film damn near unravel in the middle.

Bay has not grown as a filmmaker at all since the first Transformers movie. Oh, he’s mastered some really cool visual effects, and he’s still topping the action sequences. But the character construction and deliver from movies like The Rock, Armageddon and even the two Bad Boys films are gone. The man is becoming his own worst enemy from a filmmaker’s perspective, all box office returns aside.

And then there’s the running time. Really, Michael Bay? There’s no excuse for this movie to be more than 2 1/2 hours long. I challenge you to defend every scene in the first 90 minutes of that movie as to being necessary or relevant. You may think that people love all the non-action moments you slop into a movie, but the truth is that most people see your films in spite of their bloated running times rather than because of them.

Who is gonna like this movie: Bayaholics and people who want to see whip-ass action but don’t care if the plot is there or remotely comprehensible.

Grade: B+

Studio: Universal

Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Rami Malek, Bryan Cranston and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Directed by: Tom Hanks

What it’s about: Tom Hanks plays Larry Crowne, a Wal-Mart-esque employee who is laid off. In hopes of getting a better job, Larry enrolls in some classes at a community college, charms his classmates and falls in love with his alcoholic teacher.

What I liked: Larry Crowne is the kind of movie that I could watch with my grandmother, and she’d turn to me after it was over and simply say, “Well, that was nice.” And I suppose if you’re looking for a “nice” movie that exists in a universe where nothing really bad happens, then you’ll enjoy this film.

But it’s not the script that does it. Or even the directing from Tom Hanks. It’s Tom Hanks the actor who makes the film bearable, and sadly, it is just that… bearable. Throw in a little Julia Roberts, and you’ve got two really solid actors carrying a sub-par script.

But ultimately, you can’t help but smile at least a few times while watching Larry Crowne, even if it’s a bit of an empty smile.

What I didn’t: Larry Crowne exists in a world that is less realistic than one featuring giant alien robots that transform into cars and planes. It’s a world where Dora the Explorer will grow up, where the worst thing that might happen is a sneaky fox will try to swipe your bouncy ball and toss it into the bushes.

This overly “nice” movie deflates before it gets any lift, and it results in a flat story. Hanks is a great actor, but he’s not quite proven himself as a director. And it doesn’t help that he had protege Nia Vardalos (whose non-Big Fat Greek movies aren’t just bad, they’re practically cancerous) help write the script.

In the end, there’s not much to hate about Larry Crowne, though there’s very little to like either. And that perfectly level of mediocrity is worse than being godawful. It’s just forgettable.

Who is gonna like this movie: Anyone who wants a date night with their grandmother.

Grade: C+

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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