Eric Lundberg's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Clunky, artless and ultimately lacking in a resolution; the third and final installment of the novel's film adaptation is disjointed and littered with trivial, unnecessary scenes which leave the characters with precious little to act out. It is a far cry from the mystery and intrigue of the previous two chapters. I anticipated this third film with excitement, I enjoyed the first two. I accepted the demonization of the nation state and the celebration of individuality, even the titillating notion of selfishness as a virtue. Where the movie falls short is that it fails to follow through on it's philosophy to any conceivable end. Half of the equation is missing. The strike, as predicted and even hoped for, creates chaos, mostly by forcing the evil to it's own extremes, but brings with it no cure, no elixir. It is incomplete, both as a philosophy and as a film. The so called heroes of the film offer nothing by way of recovery. At the very least they should be forced to deal with the aftermath of the strike and come to terms with the new world that they, in part, created. Sadly, and disappointingly, the whole epic yarn is reduced to a mere rescue mission and abruptly abandoned without conclusion.

Muppets Most Wanted
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

The Muppets used to be kind of a niche thing. You'd love them or you'd hate them. Whether the movies succeeded, or failed you could rest assured that muppets will be muppets for better or worse. The characters are nothing less than iconic. The personalities of Miss Piggy, Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie and the rest are so defined that any fan with enough multi-colored socks could put on a fairly convincing play. At the very least, there would be no confusing who was who. That's why its so surprising that professional writers failed to tap into the natural reservoir of character traits and humor and instead tried to rewrite the Muppets' DNA.

When Jason Segel took hold of the property for the 2011 film, he brought his fan sensibility with him and revitalized the franchise by taking it back to it's roots, while simultaneously updating the humor for the current film going crowd. The Muppets were more themselves than they had been in decades, and they were still able to keep up in the post The Hangover comedy era. Nicholas Stoller, whose writing contributions include Fun With Dick and Jane and Yes Man cowrote the script and returned for the sequel without Segel's much needed perspective. James Bobin, the inexperienced director with only some episodes of Da Ali G Show and Flight of the Concords on his writing resume, returned to helm the ill fated project and cowrite the script as well.

It was a mess! First off, the opening number announces that they are making a sequel. self referential humor can be very funny if you have the tact, but cynically singing that the sequel is "never quite as good" sets coordinates for an approach that is determined to rise above this accepted truth and truly entertain the way only Muppets do. Sadly, it is a foreshadowing of the utter hopelessness of the film. Instead of a straight forward quest rife with gag opportunities and surprising celebrity cameos, The Muppets most Wanted is bogged down by a part heist/ part jail break plot that ineffectively parodies the genres and fails to let the Muppets be Muppets. The action scenes were ill conceived and the songs were just -BLAH!

There is no reason to see the film if you like the Muppets. They are mere stuffing in a vehicle that only serves its three stars: Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell. Dominic Badguy (Gervais) is sidekick to an escapee from a Russian prison who uses his likeness to Kermit in order to infiltrate the group and lead them on a European tour that coincides with a series of planned robberies. The bits between Burrell and Sam (an Interpol and CIA agent respectively) were the closest to being sufficient, but sadly fell to the wayside. Fey plays the warden of the prison where Kermit is held by mistake. A bigger mistake is the assumed staying power of a gag that has tough inmates portrayed by the likes of Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo prancing around in song and dance numbers. The lack of skill and sentiment caused the bulk of the film's humor to be either misplaced or misused, if not both at the same time. The through line of Kermit and Miss Piggy's relationship was the only thing consistent with past Muppet ventures, the others are neglected and used only to further the ill conceived plot regardless of (or even in opposition to) their own inherent strengths. The cameos, a muppet staple, amounted to such and such star appearing on screen for a couple of seconds. The only real exceptions being, Usher playing an usher, and my favorite, Salma Hayek appearing as a guest on the show where none of the characters can be understood.

By the end of it I felt like the show not only lacked heart, it lacked genuine affection for the material and respect for the Muppet audience. The sense of humor of the film seems to come at the expense of those who hoped to see a familiar style of comedy with some fresh surprises. Their arrogance and laziness are at once incompatible and unexplainable. There are some good laughs to be had here and there, but not enough to make this overwhelming disappointment worth the time.

Last Vegas
Last Vegas (2013)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

About half way through the movie I leaned over to my wife and whispered, "This is so good." It's not unconventional, or provocative, per se. it is predictable, but only because it's perfect. Last Vegas has tons of diverse talent that syncs up instantly for a symphony of comic wit and sincerity that is thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. While I say it is predictable, that is only because it turns the only way I think it can be truly satisfying. That is not to say that the movie is not full of fun surprises and misdirection that truly pays off. I can only describe the experience as gleeful.

The story is of four old friends- plaid by actors in roles designed to accentuate what makes them great: Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Robert DeNiro- who grow apart and get the gang back together 58 years after its inauguration for an unlikely bachelor party in Las Vegas. Imagine a classy, soulful, sharply comedic, heartfelt spin on the Wolf Pack that may well be superior to even the fist Hangover film. The roster for the crazy Vegas weekend includes a Florida retiree who isn't ready to be a Florida retiree, a grandfather who's family fusses endlessly about his health, a successful businessman in Malibu eulogizing his mentor, and his old best friend, a widower and recluse who no longer speaks to him.

The movie is about all kinds of relationships, but it's just fun to see the guys cut loose, judge a bikini contest, go clubbing, meet celebrity look-a-likes in drag, rediscover what they mean to each other and what they appreciate about their lives. I really think this film is a home run. It seems effortless the way the highs and lows come together to make a fully developed and satisfying movie experience that can be repeated. The performances are all fantastic, including Mary Steenburgen, who plays a Las Vegas lounge singer the boys become smitten with.

It hits all of the tones that it should. It's a Bachelor Party movie and what's more, it's set in Vegas and the scene is captured really well and the cast deftly maneuvers it with style, cunning and hilarity. I also like that much of it feature The Aria, vs. Caesar's Palace, which is the usual. Much of the comedy of the film comes from the fantastic direction of Jon Turteltaub, who I'm sure not only informed the actors, but got some of his own jokes in from his perspective as a storyteller. I recently saw another Turteltaub film, The Kid, which stars Bruce Willis. It was a lot of fun too and Jon really knows how to direct. Writer Dan Fogelman (The Guilt Trip) is no slouch himself and these guys are in top form and collaborating with the crème de la crème of acting.

The bottom line is, Last Vegas is a well paced, disarming comedy that is deceptively heartfelt and delivers in all genres it touches on with lightning fast speed and dexterity.

The Internship
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The Internship is a smart collaboration between Shawn Levy's 21 Laps and Vince Vaughn's Wild West Productions. It's intelligently crafted, to the minutest detail, making it yet another pleasurable viewing experience from the director of Date Night and Real Steel. Worthy of ownership, it was perhaps an easily overlooked movie that might be disregarded as more of the same in a sea of mundane comedies. With the familiar faces of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn headlining the film you may feel as though you'd seen it before and at the very least, the word fresh is not one that would creep into your preconceptions.

But Levy does with the natural talents of Wilson and Vaughn, what he did for Tina Fey and Steve Carell, and the collaboration turns out wonderfully shaped performances. The finished product is a perfectly paced, lean comedy that takes advantage of each moment to generate and reinforce positive interest in the story. The result for the viewer is an engaging experience with plenty of laughs and quotable dialogue that is very re-watchable. The strength of the story is almost like that of a Pixar movie. It's not likely to bring a tear to anyone's eye by any stretch of the imagination, but it is carefully plotted and the comedy is driven just as much by the ensemble of lovable misfits as it is by the circumstances.

We open up with Billy and Nick, a couple of great salesman getting psyched on the way to a crucial meeting with a client. They are a confident team who know what they are doing, but the company is in trouble, so the pressure is on. No time is wasted introducing these guys and getting the audience to empathize, Within minutes they learn that the company is over and that they are out of jobs. Rather than take another sales job that will allow them to continue to scrape by, the two decide to jump headlong into a new field created by the technology that rendered their skills obsolete. They take an internship at Google, where a series of challenges are laid before a variety of teams in a winner takes all race for employment. Since everyone is much younger and more educated, they avoid Billy and Nick like the plague leaving them to be scooped up with the rest of the losers after all the teams are chosen. The hostile group of hopeless loners must act like a team in order to survive and find friendship along the way. It's not original. It sounds a lot like Dodgeball if you think about it- or the more recent Monsters University- But the genius of it is not in the originality of the plot. All throughout it are elements of many classic comedies, and yet it stands alone as unique, because of what transpires between the bullet points. It's funny, it's familiar, but it's also new and has a strong identity of its own. A couple of the best examples is the two or three key stages in the middle act that reveal a lot about the characters and energize the plot; and the sweet, underplayed subplots for Nick and Billy.

I think, what makes the movie work most is that it has heart under the surface, but the focus is always comedy. There is a kind of slight of hand at play, that I think is mostly due to Levy's role as director, but also the finely honed sense of comedy Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have their own reputations for. It goes beyond the clash between cynicism and idealism in the fight for the American dream. The Internship is sharply focused and deeply felt so that the plot becomes an exercise in fun and frivolity, with a firm spine to carry it through.

After Earth
After Earth (2013)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

After Earth is a Will Smith and Son project directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Smith is credited for the story and the M. Night Screenplay was co-written by video game and Book of Eli writer Gary Whitta. The movie would work much better as a game actually, as the set-ups and stages lend themselves to more potential action a player can create then what actually occurs on screen. The resulting movie seems like a bad adaptation of a game that never even actually existed.

The look of this futuristic sci-fi tale is not bad. The fanciful architecture of the canyon dwellings notwithstanding, the more practical materials and designs present styles and textures that befit a proper narrative. Beyond that, there is less to enjoy or respect. The narrative is slow and empty. Will Smith's story had great potential, as I said it would probably be a really fun video game and it could have been a thrilling movie. The story of a father and son crash landing on a hostile planet, both of their fates resting on the son's ability to cross the alien terrain and retrieve a beacon from a lost portion of the ship, is very enticing. But it misses the mark with lackluster performances and noncommittal challenges for the hero on his quest.

Without properly fleshing out the skeleton of a story, yet presenting it as an exceedingly long feature, it unravels slowly and becomes tedious in no time. Conflicts arise predictably and are quickly delt with, abandoning the promise of thrill or adventure. The strained relationship between the characters never gets pushed to the point of real drama so the turning point comes suddenly and subsides leaving all the scenes around it wanting for more of anything relatable, threatening, endearing, or otherwise.

Without the spark of passion or inspiration from the actors or director, it is like watching grown men anguish over completing a child's connect-the-dots puzzle. The choices decided on in the process, such as miraculous occurances that save the hero in times of despair, are questionable, but really don't matter, because the movie is a bore, regardless of how, or why.

I'm a big fan of Unbreakable and I have been a supporter of M. Night up until The Last Airbender. I even liked The Lady in the Water. I felt that movie delivered exactly what it promised. I never expected him to make another The Sixth Sense and have enjoyed the bulk of his work. I was hoping this movie would serve as a sort of comeback or show somehow that he had once again found his way. But the movie is a disappointment that casts doubt in even my mind as to whether, or not Shyamalan can ever again deliver a substantial movie.