Owen Wilson

Criterion Files

Part of me is in complete disbelief that the release date of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums will have been a decade ago next month. It doesn’t feel so long ago that I was sixteen years old, seeing it for the first time in a movie theater and spending my subsequent Christmas with The Ramones, Elliot Smith, and Nico playing on repeat in my car (two years later, after hearing of Smith’s death, my friends and I gathered together and watched Richie Tenenbaums’s (Luke Wilson) attempted suicide with new, disturbing poignancy). And ten years on, even after having seen it at least a dozen times, and armed with the annoying ability to know every beat and predict every line, something about Tenenbaums feels ageless and fresh at the same time. But when you look at the movie culture that came after Tenenbaums, the film’s age begins to take on its inevitable weight. Tenenbaums was Anderson’s first (and arguably only) real financial success. Previously, Anderson was perceived as an overlooked critical darling following Rushmore, a promising director that a great deal of Hollywood talent wanted to work with (which explains Tenenbaums’ excellent cast and, probably, its corresponding financial success). With this degree of mass exposure, other filmmakers followed suit, establishing what has since been known as the “Wes Anderson style,” which permeated critical and casual assessment of mainstream indies for the following decade and established a visual approach that’s been echoed in anything from Napoleon Dynamite to Garden State to less […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets ready to celebrate Halloween in style with some horror releases… and he’s not just thinking of Footloose. Unhappy with his life, he follows the bucket list path of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, traveling to the bottom of the world where he finds himself in a small Antarctic town that has outlawed dancing. So Kevin takes it upon himself to help the people get their groove on only to discover they’ve been taken over an alien species that duplicate human form. Later, he takes a trip back to the heartland where he finds a feral woman chained in a cellar… pretty standard for some of the towns he’s been to. Finally, not being able to find a theater that is still playing Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), he checks it out On Demand and promptly throws up.

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For those of us who are not predisposed to spend hours of our time spying on birds in a forest, birding aficionados can seem like an awfully strange lot. That’s not to suggest that their hobby isn’t understandable. After all, the satisfaction in finding a rare bird seems similar to the sense of accomplishment one feels upon finishing a difficult puzzle, or upon finally locating Waldo. Still, anyone who’s ever accompanied a birder on his mission knows that once the object of prey is spotted there will be a long, frenzied staring and photographic session, with any slight movement met with enthusiastic “oohs” and “aahs.” If you’re not of the niche birder community, this is an insufferable experience. So it’s hard to fathom why director David Frankel and screenwriter Howard Franklin imagined anyone would be especially entertained by a movie about it.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is inspired by Larry the Cable Guy and his character of Mater in the Cars movies. After all, if a buck-toothed rusty redneck pick-up truck can travel the world, why can’t a bald-yet-hairy fat guy from Ohio can do so as well. Kevin lurked in the streets of Tokyo, hoping to stumble onto some classy British spies and uncover a plot to undermine green energy sources. Then he brushed off his teaching degree and got a job at a middle school where he drank profusely, slept through the day and threw dodge balls at the kids. When he tried to explain to the cops that he was just following in the way of Cameron Diaz’s character from Bad Teacher, they just laughed at him and hauled him away.

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Five years after the success of Cars, Pixar finally drops the second installment on waiting audiences in Cars 2. I am unabashedly a Pixar fan; I’ve loved almost everything they’ve offered up since ’95′s Toy Story. This noted, Cars 2 is one of the most unintentionally weird and schizophrenic mainstream features I’ve seen in theaters in a long time. Film-goers are thrust into the current plot via a violent, ten minute intro to the newest character in the Cars universe, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine), as he attempts to uncover the nefarious scheming of Professor Zündapp (Thomas Kretschmann) on an ocean oil rig. It’s showy and fun, but the eventual payoff is, again, very weird.

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Drinking Games

The Farrelly Brothers return to comedy with the film Hall Pass. Some may say they never left the genre, but those people haven’t seen The Heartbreak Kid. If you want to determine whether Hall Pass is a triumphant return or if it strikes out like a 40-year-old fat dude at a bar trying to hit on a sorority chick, check it out with this drinking game. We guarantee that it will help you get in someone’s pants… even if those pants are your own.

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Culture Warrior

You’d be hard-pressed to find two filmmakers who are more wildly different than Woody Allen and Terrence Malick. One is a notably prolific and economic filmmaker who still releases one movie a year well into his senior years, while the other is a perfectionist who labors over his films and has thus far released, on average, barely more than one movie per decade. One has an unmistakable public persona, while the other is a notorious recluse. One makes films about life in a great city, while the other turns his lens to nature and the experience of the rural. One is as much an atheist as his characters, while the other is a spiritualist who searches for “God,” whatever that may be, through the lens of the camera. Allen and Malick are, in many ways, perfect opposites. But after watching the strong new work by each of these talented filmmakers this past weekend, it became apparent that, at least in the shared thematic preoccupations of Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Malick’s The Tree of Life, these two ostensibly dissimilar filmmakers may have more in common than meets the eye.

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Editor’s Note: Our Cannes coverage kicks off hard and heavy here, so everyone welcome Simon Gallagher and forgive him his British spellings that slip by the editing process. Also, all Cannes reviews are best read with a glass of champagne. Day one on the Croisette and we’re already opening with a name as big as Woody Allen. For the second year in a row, the director who never seems to tire of making films, and who can still occasionally make exceptional ones, has a film showing on the Croisette. Following last year’s inclusion of You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, the 64th Cannes festival opened this morning with the New Yorker’s latest – Midnight in Paris – a screening that for me came laced with both excitement, and an underwhelming sense that I was about to see essentially the same Woody Allen film I’ve been watching for the past decade or so. It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing Allen muse on the nature of love and relationships, or seeing him create a slightly grotesqued portrait of himself (this time taken on by Owen Wilson), I just think there is only so much enjoyment to be had when a filmmaker so obviously resists the urge to evolve through his art, no matter how good it is. But I had no reason to be suspicious, as it seems that Allen has taken it upon himself to debunk the idea that he generally makes and remakes the same film, throwing a […]

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Movies We Love

“It’s the size of Texas, Mr. President.” Does it get any better than that? Of course it doesn’t. Armageddon is without doubt one of the finest motion pictures ever created by humans. If that snippet of dialogue made audible by Mr. Billy Bob Thornton himself didn’t convince you, maybe this will. “You think we’ll get hazard pay for this?” I’m going to pretend you’ve been living under a rock since 1998 and summarize one of the greatest summer blockbuster films ever made for you. So Billy Bob Thorton is sort of the head honcho of NASA and one day he’s supervising a standard in-space satellite repair when all of a sudden a meteor shower rips his crew to pieces. We then cut to New York City, which seems to always be the city that gets destroyed in big budget disaster movies, and sure enough the meteors tear through the city demolishing Grand Central Station, decapitating the Chrysler Building [insert Unstoppable joke here] and finally, in a moment fraught with unintended significance, the camera slowly zooms out to show the twin towers of the World Trade Center on fire. Then we’re treated to quickly cut scenes of people yelling and running through hallways and trying to figure out why Keith David keeps calling. Essentially, a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and no matter where it hits, it will wipe out all life as we know it. Jason Isaacs convinces the President that the best plan is to […]

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Criterion Files

Why?

In a sea of some of the most important pictures the world has known to date – why? In a collection spanning nearly one-hundred years of film history and inclusive of a large portion of the greatest filmmakers we’ve ever known…why? With a library containing movies which focus heavily on visual artistry and emotional complexities and probably have a combined budget *possibly* equal to that of this film…why? With another picture released the same year about pretty much the same thing made by a studio from the same country garnering stronger critical reception and sporting an [in]arguably more plausible solution and execution to the prevention of the end of the world via meteors the size of really, really big things…WHY? Why is this mammoth-sized summer blockbuster which is a masterpiece of the color orange alongside some of the most revered pictures of the last (nearly) 100 years?

The answer is simple, concrete, and indisputable:

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Woody Allen built a legendary career and a pretty hefty catalogue of films by making movies set in New York. His movies not only told the stories of people from New York talking like New Yorkers while walking around New York, they also just seemed to have some extra New Yorky something going on with them. Recently he has started making movies set in London, and while they are never really panned by critics, all anybody can ever say about them is that they don’t hold up to classic Woody. With this film we see Woody trying his hand at Paris, and from the trailer alone I find myself looking forward to a Woody Allen film more than I have in a long time. Midnight in Paris combines three things that I’m always a sucker for: Owen Wilson rambling about things in his charming drawl, scenes of people walking around and experiencing Paris, and Rachel McAdams. Really, it feels like Woody heard that I wasn’t too interested in his movies lately and made this just to get my attention. And look at that cast, that’s nothing to sneeze at. I should also say that I found myself laughing more in this little trailer than I have during his last few full-length features put together. But that may just be because I feel pandered to. Watch the trailer below and decide for yourself where you think this one will fall in the pantheon of Woody:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr snubs his nose at all the films up for the Oscar in order to enjoy the R-rated smorgasbord that is available in the theaters. He kisses his wife and takes six days off from marriage, just like Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis in Hall Pass. He takes those six days to find a fast car so he can Drive Angry, following Amber Heard and her short shorts in 3D. Apparently no one told him she’s a lesbian now.

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The Farrelly Brothers return to R-rated adult comedy in a sometimes naughty but mainly soft-hearted touch about marriage, suburban hell, and fidelity in Hall Pass. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis exemplify their body of comedic work here as the slacker Rich and hyperactive Fred, two good-natured 40-plus year-old men living the middle class life in New England. They have the cars, the houses, the children, and wives of the American dream but feel the need to break out of this mundane existence. Luckily for them, their wives (played by Jenna Fischer and Christiana Applegate) allow them a week off of marriage in order to see what they do with a week of freedom.

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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!

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Here we are back again in Focker-dom, that wonderful place of crushing comic awkwardness, painful slapstick and the no less excruciating specter of great actors slumming for paychecks. Surely, the world did not need Little Fockers, this second sequel to the somewhat overrated Meet the Parents, but like an obligatory stocking-stuffer it has arrived – to cash in for Christmas – and must be dealt with.

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If you were to tell me that you thought Cars to be one of the more mediocre and “kiddy” titles in the Pixar catalog, I’d be hard pressed to find any sort of argument for that. It is, on the Pixar spectrum, the low end of things. Charming, sure. But it lacks the heart and humanity the storytellers of Emeryville were able to pull of with far less human characters (see Wall-E and Toy Story 3). So the fact that the release of a trailer for Cars 2 comes not with a bang, but a whimper, should come as a surprise to absolutely know one. The gang — Owen Wilson voicing race car Lightning McQueen and Larry the Cable Guy voicing Mater the dimwit tow-truck — is back and this time they are headed oversees to Tokyo. There they get caught up in a world of flashing lights and international espionage. Espionage that will involve a British Aston Martin voiced by Michael Caine. At least I think it’s Michael Caine…

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At the center of the Farrelly Brothers’ newest film, Hall Pass, is a fundamental question about relationships. At least, it’s the kind of fundamental question that might get someone slapped. Is Olive Garden or Applebee’s the best place to meet hot, horny women? Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis seek to answer that question when they’re wives give them a Hall Pass (or a Kitchen Pass if you’re nasty) – total freedom from marriage for a week. From the looks of the trailer, the women (played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) are doing it to prove a point about male delusion, and it’ll probably be completely harmless until someone gets hurt. There’s some clever moments amidst the generic (a pot brownie sequence? Really?), but the film at least hints at going off the rails a bit. No word yet on if anyone’s scrotum gets caught in a zipper.

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With the all-seeing eye of the internet watching every single movie production in existence (even the one your parents are making right now), it’s incredible when something flies under the radar. It’s even more incredible when it’s from an Oscar winner and fan favorite. Still, it seems that the new James L. Brooks romantic comedy How Do You Know completely flew under said radar until some promotional materials ended up in the Reject carrier pigeon drop this morning. Romantic Comedies have been sorely lacking these days. The studio formula seems to include cramming as many names and as little heart into them as possible, so seeing Brooks’s name involved in the directing game again is something to celebrate. Plus, with Paul Rudd squaring off against Owen Wilson, there’s something else there to celebrate.

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grades four new films: Get Him to the Greek, Splice, Marmaduke and Killers.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Neil makes a triumphant return to the Magical Studio in the Sky and celebrates the occassion by seeing one of the four movies opening this week. Sadly, Kevin is not that much farther ahead, having only seen one and 9/10th of another due to a freak lightning storm.

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