Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eight is Enough

King of Kong
Now this is why documentaries exist: to pit good against evil in the pursuit of the much-coveted title, "King of Donkey Kong." Here two men stand off to outscore one another in one of the earliest arcade games: one as the reigning world champion with a score purported to be "unbreakable" (this guy is a real-life version of Ben Stiller's character in Dodge Ball), and the mild-mannered father of two who claims to have broken the record — and has a tape to prove it. But don't let the subject material bore you: the filmmakers sure don't, the end result being a documentary that's as humorous as it is insightful. FINAL GRADE: A

In the Company of Men
When a friend recommended this film to me by stating that it will, "really improve your opinion of the male persuasion," I assumed he meant that in jest. And having just watched it, I now know that for certain. Or if this gives you any idea: this film is rated "R" for language and EMOTIONAL ABUSE. I've never heard a film getting an "R" rating for emotional abuse, but, well.. it was certainly warranted. Not to mention, it shows a smooth-talking man (a real sweetheart to the ladies) as he is beneath the surface. A truly disturbing but nevertheless well-orchestrated film that aptly demonstrates just what men are capable of — and so pushed me one big step closer to voluntary spinsterhood. FINAL GRADE: A-

Incredible Hulk
If you want pure entertainment without having to think too much, Incredible Hulk really isn't too bad. Sure, a couple hokey lines really cracked me up for all of the wrong reasons ("HULK.... SMASH!!!") but I was otherwise entertained. I also thought they were so busy setting up a sequel at the end of this film, that they failed to aptly conclude this one. But then again, I wasn't really expecting too much and I wasn't disappointed. I also appreciate the homage-by-way-of-cameos to the original television series, which I vaguely recall from my days as a toddler. FINAL GRADE: B

Julien Donkey-Boy
Oh, I dunno. This film is purportedly about a schizophrenic teenage boy, with a series of grainy, shaky vignettes capturing the world as he sees it. But I'd say this is more so about a highly dysfunctional family than anything else (the father is abusive; the brother is obsessed with becoming a wrestling champion; and the sister is thrilled about a mysterious pregnancy). And for that matter, I'm not sure the boy (Julien) is so much schizophrenic (or at least, not only schizophrenic) as he is inflicted by other personality and/or learning disorders. This film certainly has its moments, with a Blue Velvet-esque creepiness that certainly got my attention. But it also tries a bit too hard to achieve an objective that remains nevertheless unclear. FINAL GRADE: C+

I queued this one up because my 6-year-old nephew was going to be visiting, and I wanted to make sure I had at least one genuine kids film in my apartment. But we wound up spending most of our time at museums and the like, only briefly watching parts of a film — in which case, he chose Harry Potter (atta boy!). But I tried watching Ratatouille — a computer animated film about a French street rat who has aspirations of becoming a chef — on my lonesome after he left and, well... let's just say it's interesting to look at but is otherwise pretty dern dull and most definitely a kid's film (unlike crossover films — like Shrek — that could equally entertain an adult audience) — never mind a couple double entendres and occasional fits of drunkenness. FINAL GRADE: N/A

Night at the Museum
Not as good as I'd hoped, but better than expected (particularly after hearing a series of very harsh reviews). It's about the Museum of Natural History and the tablet that brings all of the exhibits to life at night — and not to mention, the night watchman who's new to the shift. But the fact remains that this film had all of the ingredients for a great family film — and while it is certainly still the latter, it certainly falls short of its potential. FINAL GRADE: C+

It pains me to have thought so little of this film — most definitely not Will Ferrell's finest. Here he stars as Jackie Moon, one-hit-wonder turned basketball player/owner/coach. Though occasionally funny, I spent most of my time staring blankly at the screen, longing for entertainment. FINAL GRADE: C

Mama's Boy
This one stars Jon Heder — of Napoleon Dynamite fame — as the boy who refuses to grow up and leave home, in large part because of the trauma induced by his father's untimely death. Marketed as a dark comedy, it was rare that I found this film funny, more often irritated by Heder's character (he's cranky and curmudgeonly to all who cross his path). FINAL GRADE: C-


M@ said...

I vaguely recall the '70s, too. I used to feel sorry for the old man who did the CBS Evening News (Cronkite) and was sad when the president got shot. Poor George Washington!

Unacademic Advisor said...

Yes, I know it's stupid, but just so you know, "Hulk Smash!" was a frequent line in the cartoon version of The Incredible Hulk, which also ran in the late 70s and early 80s. In fact, most of the really bad lines and plot elements of the film would fall into the category... not so much of homage but of nostalgia. Some of us old timers actually watched both the animated and live-action television shows faithfully as children and enjoyed those moments, horrible as they are.

Pamela said...

I appreciate your reviews. I've not signed up for netfl*x -- or what else is available and we just don't seem to get to the theater.

Jonas said...

In the Company of Men seriously creeped me out.

Ratatouille charmed me.

...and I'm a guy. Go figure...