Friday, January 29, 2010

When in Rome

The first thing you need to know about When in Rome is it doesn't take place in Rome (give or take ten minutes).

I wanted to like this film. But nothing, not even the talents of Veronica Mars and Tad Hamilton, could save the film from a flurry of romantic comedy clich├ęs and contrivance we are forced to witness.

Kristen Bell stars as Beth, a workaholic museum curator. Although Beth is the youngest curator of the Guggenheim, her job which pays her enough for the following: a spacious Manhattan apartment, a last-minute flight to Rome, and a closet of designer fashion. Who knew curators got paid so well?

Anywho, Beth travels to Rome to attend the wedding of her more impulsive younger sister and fall for her new brother-in-law's best man, Nick (Josh Duhamel). They meet cute, have a few misadventures over the course of the evening, and then part due to a misunderstanding (didn't see that coming!) that only ever occurs in movies like this.

In a fit of rage Beth curses love and removes a handful of coins from a nearby fountain which causes four strangers (Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepard, Danny Devito) to follow her back to New York and proclaim their undying love.

Will Beth and Nick get together? Will the shenanigans of her new suitors and the pressure of putting together an event for the museum cause Beth problems with her boss (Anjelica Huston)? Will a late twist derail Beth's future happiness? Even without seeing the film you know the answers to these questions. A lobotomized monkey knows the answers to these questions.

While When in Rome isn't wretched, it is pretty damn bad. I can't blame Bell or Duhamel, who do what they can with the script filled with ridiculousness premises (such as unlikely coincidences, constant misunderstandings, and a restaurant which serves patrons in 100% darkness).

After a well-executed title sequence, we are thrown into what might be the worst opening scene for any movie ever made. Ever. At a gala Beth is confronted and humiliated by the appearance of an old boyfriend (a pie-maker with the power to bring people back from the dead) in front of her friends and a room full of strangers. Neither funny nor entertaining in the slightest, it's a testament to Bell that she manages to salvage something from such an inauspicious start.

Aside from providing a couple chuckles the film does do one or two things worth mentioning. There's a nice chemistry between the two leads and Sonny Crockett has fun with a small supporting role as Beth's father (though Tubbs is nowhere to be seen). And, although a rather lame contraption, the premise of the love curse does at least explain the odd behaviors of the characters (unlike most romcoms where characters act crazy for no reason at all). These may all be small points, but it's better than nothing at all.

Even if you're a Kristen Bell fan there's little reason not to let this one pass by. I know good roles for actresses are hard to come by, but I wish so many of them wouldn't slum in movies like this. (Seriously, wouldn't it be less humiliating to do porn?) Unless you're addicted to bad romantic comedies, or are dragged to this one by your better half, I'd suggest plopping Win a Date with Tad Hamilton, or an episode of Veronica Mars, into your DVD player instead.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Did you know Stormtroopers like to dance?

Nobody (SeoulDanceTroopers - Wonder Girls)

Greetings Earthlings!

This blog is brand spanking new. Right now I am in the process of uploading old material (which will take some time). I have started with movie reviews from my time running RazorFine Review and will move from there to other posts and categories filling out the backlog.

I will try to occasionally post a couple of new items here and there, some of which you may also find over at Transbuddha, and finally get to redesigning the page from this basic template, but for now getting the old content together in one place is my first priority.

Enjoy yourselves. And if you like what you see let me know!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Book of Eli

Stop me if you've heard this before. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a wanderer (Denzel Washington) travels across a ruined landscape avoiding robbers, thieves, and cannibals.

He carries with him something important and valuable which the intelligent but mean-spirited head of a small town (Gary Oldman) will kill to possess.

This is The Book of Eli, and no one will ever accuse it of having a single original idea.

Part western, part post-apocalyptic thriller, and part psuedo-religious mess, the Hughes brothers (the guys who also screwed up From Hell) deliver a trainwreck of a film about one man's quest to deliver the last bible in existence to the West Coast and the many, many men he kills who get in his way.

The script asks you to accept the following:

1) The Bible (the most reprinted book in the history of mankind) now has only a single copy left in all of existence. In fact, after only a few decades since the apocalypse, people don't even remember religion anymore, let alone bibles.

2) Bibles don't exist, but Ray-Bans, goggles, iPods, guns (with unlimited supplies of ammunition, when the shooting starts), and armored transports (with an unlimited supply of gasoline, when the script calls for it) all seem to be available in abundance.

3) A man armed with only a sword can take down an army all by himself, as long as he has God on his side.

4) In the end, everyone gets what they deserve.

Although not awful, The Book of Eli is weighed down by a foundation of stupidity, a late twist that will make you want to scream, and a neediness to try and make everything cool (they even attempt to turn Mila Kunis into a badass). It also dosen't help that the cinematography is more appropriate for a video game or music video than a feature film.

If you can look past these various issues, you can find a film filled with adequate to strong performances and a story that's at least interesting (even if at times it seems to have it's head up its own ass).

It's a far cry from The Road, and I'd certainly rate it below Kevin Costner's trainwreck epic The Postman, but fans of these types of films may find just enough to have a not horrible time at the movies. (Gee, you think they'll use that quote for the movie poster?)