Tag Archives: Comedy

Dan In Real Life (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 3.5 Stars)

There are great movies, there are bad movies and then, somewhere in the middle, there are movies like Dan In Real Life.

With Steve Carrell in the lead role, the story of a widower raising three girls (the middle of which might actually be Satan) and falling for a stranger in a book store only to find out (SPOILER) that it’s his brother’s girlfriend makes for a cute film.

Presumably, the movie is based on what director Peter Hedges perceives to be real life with the plot centralizing on Dan whisking his girls away on their annual trip to help his parents and the rest of his family close up their summer cabin for the season.

Along the way they do quirky things like put on a talent show, engage in a battle-of-the-sexes crossword puzzle and make pancakes for one another. The audience is made to believe these are annual rituals. It’s all very quaint, but, as we wondered in the review, do any families actually do this? It seems that after more than a handful of days together, most families would wind up killing each other off one-by-one in a Hunger Games sort of way.

For the love of Christ, one of them is Dane Cook (with the douchiness turned up to 11)! You are telling us that no one would have tried to murder him with a shovel after the first meal?

Beat him to death with it, Steve! He’s practically begging for it!

The role of Dan (I’m not really sure we ever get a last name, maybe it’s “In Real Life” ?) suits Carrell well, but despite a strong start with Binoche, the chemistry seems to fade as the movie progresses. Coincidentally, Amy Ryan is also in this film in a small role. Perhaps best known as  The Office’s Holly Flax, Ryan and Carrell would go on to share incredible chemistry in the show and it makes you wonder if the movie would have been better if it were her playing Binoche’s role. A similar question could be asked of the Cook role, actually, so maybe it was just the casting of the movie that drove Bret nuts.

In the end, it is Dan’s relationships with his daughters and, to a lesser degree, his parents, that form the heart of the movie and make it enjoyable.

There are worse movies than Dan In Real Life and, if you are a Carrell fan as Bret and Erin are, it is fun film, netting four stars from Erin and 3.5 from Bret.

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Crazy, Stupid, Love (Erin: 3.5 Stars, Bret: 3 Stars)

To the best of Bret’s knowledge, the whole plot of Crazy, Stupid, Love is predicated on Julianne Moore cheating on Steve Carell with Kevin Bacon, then divorcing Carell, who, with the help of Ryan Gosling, beds multiple women, all the while pining for Julianne Moore. And somewhere in all of that, Ryan Gosling takes his shirt off, assuring female movie-goers will ignore the lunacy in the previous sentence, thus making this film an ungodly amount of money.

Problem solved!

In all seriousness, it’s a relatively fun and inoffensive romantic comedy/drama that has a few legitimate laugh-out-loud moments. Carell and Gosling do most of the heavy lifting, but, in the end, it’s a reasonably enjoyable film.

Provided you can get by Julianne Moore’s performance, that is.

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Cool Runnings (Erin: 3.5 Stars, Bret: 4 Stars)

We all have our differences. Be it race or religion, political views or economic stature, or whether or not we think Hilary Swank is attractive, we are different people.

GAHHH!… don’t look directly at her!

Despite those differences, we can all agree that the movie Cool Runnings is an incredibly inspirational film.

That it is based on a true story makes it all the more inspirational.

Wait, what? All the characters in the film were fictional?

Well, still, the premise of the story is what matters. The idea of three, world-class Jamaican sprinters  and their wise-cracking, egg-kissing friend falling just short of making the Olympics, only to turn to a sport to a winter sport in an effort to achieve their dreams is incredibly moving.

Huh? None of the bobsledders in real life were Jamaican sprinters, but were recruited from the military instead?

….. So what! It says based on a true story. It’s not a documentary! Besides, even if they weren’t sprinters, they still faced such a dramatic uphill climb to reach their goals. They had no money, they practiced in a push cart and they got to Calgary on what appears to be the day before the Olympics started! It’s amazing that they were able to overcome all of that!

Come again? They were funded by two Americans with a ton of money and arrived in Calgary to practice with a real bobsled on a real bobsled track months before eventually heading to Austria to compete in a few minor events to get their bearings and returning for the Olympics?

Yeah, and I bet there weren’t any real montages either, jerk.

Who cares! You are just like that creepy East German guy and everyone else, hating on the poor Jamaicans!

Oh, come on! No one hated them?! The bobsled community loved the fact that the Jamaicans were trying to qualify? They were graciously welcomed and were even given a sled by a competing team in order to help them qualify?

Ugh. Okay, so based on a true story just means that there used to not be a Jamaican bobsled team and now there is. It doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm for the movie and it certainly doesn’t lessen the moral of the story. It does, however, lessen the value of the phrase “based on a true story.”

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Coming to America (Erin: 4.25 Stars, Bret: 4.25 Stars)

In some of our posts, we struggle to search for an angle to discuss and then just wind up blathering on like idiots. For Coming to America, a film that at least dips its toe into “Comedy Classic” waters, there are a multitude of them.

We could talk about how great Eddie Murphy is in this movie in what could be considered his last REALLY funny role before his career went off the rails. Murphy is great throughout and displays the comic timing that made him a superstar.

We could attack this post from the angle of how this is the first Murphy film in which he portrayed more than one role (in fact, he plays four different characters in the movie) and how it was a harbinger of (mostly) bad things to come. Murphy has played multiple roles in six movies since Coming to America, with performances ranging from decent (The Nutty Professor) to horrendous (Norbit). In Coming to America, whether it’s Akeem, Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate or the two old barbershop guys, the more Murphy, the better.

We could discuss how, for 116 minutes, Arsenio Hall held his own against an in-his-prime Eddie Murphy; an incredible feat.

Or how, thanks to its commercials, Soul Glo might be the funniest fake product in movie history.

Just let it shine.

The angle we’ve settled on after a bit of a rambling beginning? How awesome is James Earl Jones’ voice?

If you could buy a voice on EBay, we figure there would be four top sellers: James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart, Morgan Freeman and Bobcat Goldthwait.

Just for comedy’s sake.

Everyone talks about how great a narrator Morgan Freeman is and how his is the voice of God, but no one ever seems to mention James Earl Jones, and, since Bret and Erin are on opposite sides of the issue, we figured it would be best to let the 10’s of 10’s of people that check this site out vote on who has the best voice.

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Christmas Vacation (Erin: 5 Stars, Bret: 5 Stars, Megan: 5 Stars)

Barry Rock is not Clark Griswold.

To the best of our knowledge, he has never accidentally electrocuted a cat, locked himself in a freezing cold attic for hours at a time, nor has he ever broken a land-speed record during a sledding outing.

He has, however, nailed two trees together (the top of one and the bottom of another) to create, in his mind, the perfect tree.

Setting aside the fact that nailing two trees together to create one super-tree could be viewed as having a general regard for human excellence, this act (among other holiday misadventures) speaks to Bret’s father’s ability to get very close to being Clark W. Griswold; a huge reason why this movie resonates so much in the Rock household.

We are going to be honest with ourselves here — we are not good enough writers to explain why Christmas Vacation is so awesome.

That they do, Edward, that they do indeed.

The best we could do (aside from just re-printing the screenplay in this space) is just to say that, like some of the other comedies that have garnered high scores from the RockMovieProject, Christmas Vacation is just a slight exaggeration of how Christmas really is in a lot of homes.

In fact, how much you like Christmas Vacation is probably in direct correlation with how much you believe your father to be like Clark W. Griwold, Jr. As explained above, for Bret and his sister, special guest star Megan Rock, the differences  between Clark and their father are minimal.

From start to finish, Christmas Vacation is a fantastic film, that is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming (seriously).

We’d love to hear your favorite part of the movie or favorite quote in the comments!

Five stars from Erin, Bret and Megan for the movie that is truly the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

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Caddyshack (Erin: 3 Stars, Bret: 3.75 Stars)

If you were a filmmaker in the early 1980s, were making a comedy and were told by your producers that you could have any three or four people in the world for your cast, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray probably would have been on your wish list.

What you probably wouldn’t have done was take those three and said, “yeah, it’s a good start, but what I really need is annoying, unattractive, charisma-void teenager as my lead.”

That’s not what you would have done, but that is exactly what Harold Ramis (nee Egon Spangler) did with Caddyshack.

Ramis had Dangerfield, Chase and Murray sitting around on the set and decided that the focus of the movie should be Michael O’Keefe’s Danny Noonan, the most insipid character in the entire movie. We know what you are thinking: at least they didn’t give him a completely insufferable girlfriend with a grating Scottish accent.

We have more bad news for you.

All that said, the movie is still laugh-out-loud funny and one of the most quotable films ever made.

Chase and Murray are at their absolute peaks (and weren’t even supposed to have a scene together until Ramis noticed this gleaming error at the very end of the shoot and wrote the night golfing scene which might be the funniest in the movie).

Dangerfield is an acquired taste (which neither Bret nor Erin acquired), but the way Ted Knight as Judge Smails plays off him makes his presence tolerable.

Knight actually delivers some of the best lines in Caddyshack, including Bret’s personal favorite: “I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.”

At the end of the day, Caddyshack is still a hilarious film, particularly if you can get past Noonan, his gal Maggie and their entire storyline, which inexplicably takes up about 60 percent of the movie.

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Bull Durham (Erin: 2.5 Stars, Bret: 2.5 Stars)

Okay, so we forgot the blog post for Bull Durham. That isn’t to say that it’s an utterly forgettable movie. As far as you know.

In all honesty, it’s a movie that Bret remembers more fondly than it turned out to be.

The baseball scenes are fun (mostly because Kevin Costner is one of very few actors that actually looks like he has picked up a baseball bat in his life); the dialogue between the teammates makes you laugh from time-to-time (“I held it like an egg” “Yeah, and he scrambled the son-of-a-b*tch”); and we suppose it gives you a pretty good sense of what minor league baseball is all about (the goofy sponsor nights, the bus rides, etc.), but in the end, it’s just not that entertaining a movie and the less said about how well it holds up, the better.

We Googled “Tim Robbins, Bull Durham, Pitching,” but it just laughed at us.

HOWEVER, if you like blistering jazz saxophone solos, watching an aging-before-your-eyes Susan Sarandon pretend to be sexy or seeing Tim Robbins achieve the world’s worst pitching form, completely disregard everything we’ve said above. You will love this movie.

Two-and-a-half stars from both Erin and Bret for Bull Durham.

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The Burbs (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 3.75 Stars)

What a momentous review for the RockMovieProject! Not only do we debut another room of the house — the common area — but we also finish up the B’s!

Seems fitting that The Burbs should follow Bruce Almighty in the RockMovieProject as both films try to achieve the same goal — to entertain the audience and make them laugh — but go about it in such different ways.

As covered in our previous review, Bruce Almighty is what is generally known as a “high-concept” comedy. The pitch to the studio probably went something like this: “Jim Carrey is a down-on-his-luck guy who is given God’s powers as a means to teach him how good he has it.”

One sentence tells you everything you need to know about the movie. It’s relatable in the most minor sense — that most of us have felt a tinge of “grass-is-greener” syndrome in our lives — but, to the best of our knowledge, God doesn’t seem to delegate very often.

That Big Momma’s House got two sequels tells you everything you need to know about Hollywood.

That is where we are with Hollywood at this point. If it’s not a remake, a reboot or an adaptation of a TV series, book or comic, chances are good it’s a high-concept comedy.

The Burbs is the antithesis of all of that. It’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s a refreshingly original film that is entirely relatable.

It’s basically a story about a bunch of men with too much time on their hands acting like children; who among us can’t relate to that?

There’s no body-swapping, God doesn’t give any of them his powers, and there is no real moral to the story, it’s just a bunch of guys acting like idiots and it’s fantastic.

It doesn’t rely on silly gimmicks to entertain because it’s just the slightest exaggeration of how the real world works and that, more than anything else, makes it funny and enjoyable.

We’ll get down from our soap box before we fall, but please know that this was one our favorite movies of the Project so far.

Well-written and perfectly cast — without any real notable actors outside of Hanks and Fisher —  The Burbs is a refreshing, dark comedy that we highly recommend. It actually feels a lot like a happier, more realistic Tim Burton movie, in all honesty.

Let he who has not found a human femur in his backyard cast the first stone.

Hilarious bits throughout, including a ton of tongue-in-cheek horror movie cliches, but probably our favorite parts are the throwaway lines and moments (Ray eating the sardine on the pretzel, the commando neighbor snacking on animal crackers on his roof, etc.).

Bret highly regrets giving it just 3.75 Stars while Erin delivers a shocking 4-Star review for a film she had never seen before.

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Bruce Almighty (Erin: 2.5 Stars, Bret: 2.5 Stars)

There are very few actors as divisive here at the RockMovieProject than one James Carrey — which is to say that Bret thinks he is capable of moments of brilliance and Erin wishes he was trapped for eternity in the Well of Souls from Raiders of the Lost Ark, rendering him incapable of appearing in any future films.

Not helping Bret’s argument here, Jim.

Bret’s contention is that Jim Carrey at 75 percent “Jim Carreyness” is a fun actor to watch. The problem? Jim Carrey is only barely ever at 75 percent in his movies, he’s usually at 150 percent or so, which is what drives people crazy.

He’s not an actor as much as he is an over-actor. He doesn’t chew the scenery as much as he gorges on it.

There is a moment in every Jim Carrey performance where you can actually watch him cross the line from “okay, that’s laugh-out-loud funny” to “ugh… how long is this movie again?” It happens in the blink of an eye in most cases and it’s a shame.

What is Jim Carrey capable of when he tones it down a notch or 10? How about The Truman Show which scored 90 percent among Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes? He probably should have been nominated for an Oscar for his performance in that film (which we’ll get to on the RockMovieProject sometime in 2014).

Look at some of the reviews of his turn as Truman:

Oh, you meant “face-pulling slapstick comedy” literally.

“Carrey is a surprisingly good choice to play Truman. We catch glimpses of his manic comic persona, just to make us comfortable with his presence in the character, but this is a well-planned performance”

“As Truman, Carrey projects a warmth and goodness we haven’t seen in any of his face-pulling slapstick comedies. He’s funny and engaging, but he also brings a touching believability to this far-fetched tale of a man whose trust and innocence were violated from the day he was born.”

“That truly makes Mr. Carrey the ideal actor for the role, since his beaming affability so often conveys an edge of secret fury. Warm, affecting and refreshingly shtickless, he occupies center stage here through sheer, beguiling force of personality. And Mr. Carrey is charismatic enough to make Trumania a nearly plausible conceit. He intensifies ordinary emotions so powerfully that perhaps this guy’s Warholian 15 minutes, on a television show of halfway satirical blandness, could have lasted 30 years.”

We only understood a part of that last one, but each review hits on the same note: “wow, Jim Carrey was pretty good when he stopped mugging so damn hard.”

For our Beverly Hills Cop review we pleaded with Eddie Murphy to start making movies that were in his wheelhouse again, the R-rated comedies and action comedies that made him the star he once was. Here we’ll do the same for Jim Carrey and wish that he would stop making goofy, high-concept comedies (like, for instance, one where he bitches so much about his life that God gives him all of his powers) and start making more grown-up, quirky movies like the The Truman Show. Otherwise Erin is going to really ramp up her efforts to lure him to Tannis.

As for Bruce Almighty, it is exactly what you would expect from a Jim Carrey movie. Moments here and there that make you laugh out loud, but otherwise, an over-the-top performance where Carrey uses goofy voices and catch-phrases that make you cringe until the credits start rolling.

Two-and-a-half Stars from both Erin and Bret.

….. okay, Erin was right.

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Blades of Glory (Erin: 2.75 Stars, Bret: 3 Stars)

Don’t ask us how, but we managed to get our hands on a copy of a DreamWorks internal memo that details the pre-production process of Blades of Glory:

Hard to believe that it’s that easy to make a $100-plus million box-office film.

The film is like bizarro wine, in that it gets worse with age, but there are still some funny moments. Plus: Craig T. Nelson.

Erin gives it 2.75 Stars while Bret gives 3 T. Nelson Stars.

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