Posted on 11/20/12 09:21 PM
I like to imagine that this type of movie is some sort of twisted sociology experiment to determine viewer loyalty to a particular brand, place, or Hollywood entity. And this isn't a slap-dash sociology experiment, either; it takes years in the making, and involves lots and lots of preparation in the form of building up the legitimate and good filmographies of its various cast members. And once we have trust in these brands, places, or Hollywood entities, the system pulls the rug out from underneath us and watches us flounder, justifying our poor cinematic choices through unconvincing clenched teeth grins. "No, this is funny!" we snivel as an irritating, drunk nymphomaniac hurls bottles of wine at Steve Carrell's head while he walks around like a penguin in front of his hapless companion's plasma screen TV. "Ha ha... that's comedy," we simper as a ventriloquist's dummy unsuccessfully entices dinner guests to gaze into her shiny, creepy wooden cleavage. "Ah ha haaaa... I'm... I'm so entertained," we whimper as a woman hammily impersonates a lobster being boiled alive -- complete with squeals and banging on the table repeatedly in front of well-dressed socialites. Oh ho ho, imagine! What a fish out of water scenario, INDEED!
And while we're sitting there in the 180-seat observation chamber, growing weary of halfheartedly giggling simply to convince ourselves that we're having a good time, the suits behind the curtain pour their champagne and laugh their heads off at our misfortune. Damn it, can't you people see they're playing us like a bunch of puppets here? When will we learn?!
I'm loathe to admit that I made for the perfect subject in the study, because I naturally gravitated toward my comedic comfort zone in seeing the names of Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell splashed all over this thing. "Oh, they had great chemistry in '40-Year-Old Virgin'!" I said to myself. And you said it to yourself, too. DON'T TRUST THIS FEELING. THIS FEELING IS LYING TO YOU.
"Dinner For Schmucks" is one of the worst moviegoing experiences I've had all year; perhaps all century. Granted, it is a relatively young century, but at least I learned my lesson early. We'll just see if I'm dumb enough to get suckered into another one of these ... dinners for schmucks.
Posted on 9/22/12 10:10 PM
I got it, and still didn't like it.
Yeah. It happens.
Posted on 5/31/12 08:54 AM
"Toy Story 3" has the daunting task of wrapping up the misadventures of a beloved group of characters, playing up to our rose-tinted, nostalgic expectations, and making us laugh (and cry) all at the same time. Thankfully, this is Pixar we're talking about, and they take their storytelling very, very seriously. In the hands of a lesser studio, it could have so easily been unsatisfying. It is not.
During Thanksgiving of 1995, I distinctly remember being 11 years old and watching in amazement with my dad in the dark theater as a cultural milestone played out before me. "Oh my God, they took the time to draw EVERY SINGLE LEAF on that tree...!" "Did you get a look at the fibers on that character's shirt??!" As awe-struck as I was then, the visuals in "Toy Story 3" have still managed to improve by leaps and bounds, but in a subtle enough fashion that it doesn't look out of place when held up against the first and second installments of the series. Pixar's flawless graphics are a given, but what's really impressive about this threequel is that the scope of the narrative has been extended to the point of ruminating on life, purpose, and love. For a series that started out as a buddy flick -- albeit a fantastic one -- that ain't bad at all.
As great as the first two movies are, I'm ashamed to admit now that I always had a tendency to kind of take them for granted. Yeah, Pixar makes great movies... Yeah, the "Toy Story" films are amazing and funny and have a lot of heart... But when all was said and done, I didn't view the movies as much more than entertainment featuring cute, likable characters. Since seeing "Toy Story 3", I've been forced to rethink my position. I can't get these little plastic people out of my head. Much like the toys' beloved Andy, I didn't realize how much they meant to me until I had to say goodbye to them.