Tag Archives: Steve Carrell

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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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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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Erin: 4.5 Stars, Bret: 4.5 Stars)

Ladies and gentlemen… can we please have your attention. We’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. We need you all to stop what you are doing and listen: ANCHORMAN!

A favorite at Rock Manor, Bret and Erin often spend days at a time speaking in quotes from this film to one another.

Provided you are not in a glass case of emotions, you are cordially invited to watch the review… feel free to toss your favorite quote in the comments section!

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy nets a solid 4.5 Star review from both Bret and Erin.

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40-Year-Old Virgin (Erin: 4 Stars, Bret: 4.5 Stars)

A very funny film to help take the edge off of 21 Grams. Carrell’s break-out performance in The 40-Year-Old-Virgin scored a 4.5 from Bret and a 4 from the ever-stingy Erin.

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