Category Archives: Movie Madness

A look at the movies I’m looking forward to this month.

Nostalgia Double Feature

In the past week I’ve watched both The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The World’s End.  Both are movies that got me thinking a lot about nostalgia.

The-Perks-of-Being-a-Wallflower-posterWallflower takes place during the 1991-1992 school year.  It was two years after I graduated, but the world was very familiar.  I had groups of friends I bounced between back then.  I had my closest friends in John and Bill who never overlapped.  John was my metal head buddy and together we played video games and went to concerts.  We’d drive around late at night and talk about girls.  Bill and I went to the community center and shot pool or we’d go to the movies.  I also had my own personal Wallflowers.

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It’s good to be The King

I have a couple non-comedy things coming up that I’m really looking forward to.  My friend Jared Stroup has written a great screenplay that he’s gearing up to produce.  There’s a really fun…and sizable role in it that he asked me to play.  I’m super flattered and honored!  I’m beginning to feel my limitations as an actor.  I think sometimes people have a natural talent for things and sometimes they don’t.  

My first love is music.  I really wanted to be a musician.  Growing up all of my friends were musicians.  I was in a handful of bands to the dismay of my bandmates who had to carry my load.  I think playing with good musicians helped me get better, but I just didn’t have what it takes to be good.  I’m noodling around with a bass now and am probably as good as I was twenty years ago when I practiced a lot!  

I’m hoping I’ll find some secret talent when it comes to acting.  I just watched a clip of a thing I shot over the past year and was pretty disappointed.  I think I did a passable job in Deadpan, but those were words that I helped write…and a character that was based pretty close to myself.  Jared’s movie is going to be the thing that makes me decide if I want to keep trying this…or maybe check out an acting class.  He and I have talked about my worries.  I have a lot of confidence in him as a director though.   Read the rest of this entry

My Favorite Films of 2012

There were a lot of huge popcorn films this year, but my favorites are made up largely of smaller films.   For me in order to really enjoy a story I have to care deeply about the characters.  While I recognize The Master as a great film it just didn’t click with me.  I thought the world was interesting, but it followed my least favorite character in that world….much to the dismay of Jared from the Man in the Movie Hat website.   The Master does follow the same theme that makes up my top five favorites though.  It’s a story about friendship.  So here’s my list.

21_jump_street_poster_(2012)_wallpaper_02#5: 21 Jump Street.  Yeah, I know.  I had so many movies to put in this slot.  Moonrise Kingdom, Goon and Frankenweenie could have all easily been here instead.  Ultimately the reason I chose 21 Jump Street is because if all four movies were sitting on the shelf and were the only thing I could watch, it’s the one I’d put in the Blu-Ray player.  It’s fun and Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have real chemistry together.  You get the feeling that it was just a fun film to make.  Nick Offerman has a great scene where he basically goofs on the whole idea of rehashing an idea from twenty years ago.  It’s self aware.  There are a couple of great cameos that will probably take you by surprise too.

I don’t know or care about hockey at all, but Goon was great.  The final scene is cringe worthy.  Moonrise Kingdom is your typical quirky Wes Anderson film where every frame is a work of visual art.  Frankenweenie had me really caring about an animated character and pleading near the end to just let the film entertain me and not remind me of any life lessons.  All three films are ultimately about friendship.

looper#4 Looper.  I’m always a sucker for time travel stories.  I’ve worked on the idea on stage about how if I could go back in time to meet with my younger self I don’t think we’d like each other very much.  That’s definitely the case here with Looper.   Ryan from the aforementioned Man in the Movie Hat website saw this before I did.  I sent him my prediction of what I thought it would be about.  I was way off.  So I went in excited to be surprised…and surprised I was right up to the finale.  Maybe it’s not really a movie about friendship as much as it’s about self preservation….but hey…that’s pretty important too.  Filmmaker Rian Johnson gets better and better with each project.   the fact that he glosses over the mechanics of time travel has been criticized, but it’s just not important to the story.  He does a great job of imagining a near future and creates it with a pretty limited budget.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps proving himself as an amazing actor.  Just look at his range when you compare something like this to Hesher from 2010. Read the rest of this entry

30 Minutes or Less: A classy broad’s review

When I first saw the preview of 30 Minutes or Less, I knew I wanted the movie to be awesome.  In fact, I was afraid of how awesome I wanted it to be.  The cast looked amazing: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson. And the premise was ridiculous and a little violent: two weird, dumb, criminal, best friends, Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank so they can pay off a hit man to kill Dwayne’s lottery winning father to claim his inheritance.

Nick Swardson plays an unlikely straight man in his role as Travis, whose bomb making expertise is essential to the heist McBride’s Dwayne concocts after a money hungry stripper, Juicy, played by Bianca Kajlich, hints that she knows a guy who could get rid of his problem father and make them both rich.  The only problem? Dwayne needs 100 grand to pay off the hit man and chaos ensues.  Travis is somehow the voice of reason several times throughout the film, being a good person at heart and not really wanting to hurt anyone, yet still fearful of the strong and dumb minded Dwayne.

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg also play a pair of best friends, Chet and Nick, respectively,  since high school who are struggling as one has gotten his life together (Chet) and the other (Nick)  is content in loserdom, delivering pizza’s and working for a total asshole.  Nick (Eisenberg) is also hopelessly in love with his best friend’s twin sister, who just got a job in another state, sending him into a hopeless tailspin of self hatred that he projects onto Chet (Ansari) and after a particularly brutal fight, filled with harsh truths about their friendship, the two part ways.  But their separation is brief after Nick  is kidnapped,  strapped with a bomb and realizes he has no one else to turn to but to Chet.

Both sets of friendships are put to the test in this intense and hilarious comedy, which, while it’s premise is about a dude who gets forced to rob a bank, it’s also about  sometimes tumultuous friendships that develop and how in truth, you can tell when you’ve got someone in your corner, because they’re there when shit gets crazy.

The performances in this film are truly what make it work so well.  While initially, Jesse Eisenberg delivers his lines with the same cadence and intensity as he did in The Social Network, he ultimately wins you over with the honesty of how his character got to where he is.  Aziz Ansari brings the same, sharp tounged, wit that dazzles me to no end on Parks and Recreation, all the while bringing real emotion to the hesitation and liberation he feels as he helps guide his friend through a life or death situation.  Nick Swardson and Danny McBride work so amazingly well as team, clearly headed up by McBride’s Dwayne.  Their idiocy and uneven friendship work so well as their performances are, while brash and broad characters, still subtle and believable.

I wanted this movie to kick ass.  I wanted it to be funny, and violent, and goofy and awesome.  And it was.  There’s even a little love story that includes Dilshad Vadsaria as Kate, Chet’s twin sister.  So there’s a little something in there for everybody.  I should also mention, the film was shot and set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was fun to spot the scenery I recognized.  It also made me love the film even more.

Official Movie poster

30 Minutes or Less

Rated: R

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Swardson,

My Rating (On a scale of A to F): A

Woody Allen Made Another Movie About Comedy?

Over the weekend I went and saw Midnight in Paris.   I think the beauty of that movie is that it’s going to speak to different people in different ways.  I know it does.  There were moments where I was the only person in the theater laughing.  This is how it made me feel.

We’re trying to swap two rooms in our house around.  In that process an old flyer I made for a Christmas show popped up.  On that bill were people like me, Brent Sullivan, Mike Kosta, Mike Stanley…just a great line up of talented people who are gone now.  Today, people might look at that as the golden age of the new Detroit comedy scene.  It didn’t feel like anything special at the time.  It felt like stage time.

I like to think that I’m living in a golden age right now.  I was at the club the other night with a whole slew of great people like Kris Peters, Lauren Uchalik, Jeff Scheen, Mike Green, Jeff Dwoskin, Trevor Smith and Mike O’Keefe.  Maybe one day people will be amazed that all those people were together in one place.  It’s all perspective.

So the take away from Midnight in Paris for me is to enjoy life to it’s fullest because you are living in the best time of your life.

On to the review…

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Knights of Badassdom Trailer!

I’ve been so busy these past few days that now I’m finally catching up on all of the San Diego Comic-Con news.  When I got home last night, Christine was telling me about the buzz from the Knights of Badassdom stuff at the Con.  It looks pretty awesome!

It’s a pretty amazing cast.  Ryan Kwanten is perhaps my favorite part of True Blood.  The brilliant Aussie plays the earnest and dimwitted Jason Stackhouse so well.  Peter Dinklage is another one of my favorites.   If you’ve never seen Station Agent, you totally should!  Nerds of course will recognized Summer Glau from a number of genre franchises…for me, Firefly is the biggy!  Danny Pudi is my absolute favorite part of Community…which is a tough thing to pick out because I love absolutely everything about that show!   And look at the supporting cast too.  There are so many people who are awesome when they show up in things like Jimmi Simpson (Party Down),  W. Earl Brown, (There’s Something About Mary), Michael Gladis (Mad Men), and Josh Malina (just about every Aaron Sorkin project).

Wow!  This looks like a fun movie.  I can’t wait to see it.


Spoiler-Free Captain America Geekout

This summer, I loved Harry Potter and I really enjoyed Thor, but Captain America is what I’ve been waiting for since I was 7. I am an unabashed Cap fanboy, and have been for as long as I can remember. This summer has been a countdown to Cap for me, and my wait finally ended this last night. Holy crap did I love this movie. Do not expect a blow-by-blow story breakdown or analysis of the finer points of technique. I am about to geek the fuck out.

This movie made me giddy, like I wish the Star Wars prequels had. Every frame on the screen was my childhood coming to life. The special effects were phenomenal, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear they starved Chris Evans and shrunk him to play skinny Steve Rogers. The shield slinging was so cool, which was important, because without it, this wouldn’t have been a true Captain America movie.

The character were all spot-on. Captain America has always been my favorite because he was just a regular kid who was given the ability to be a hero, and always knew the right thing to do and how to do it. They pulled that off perfectly. Chris Evans was awesome in the role, both as the determined, awkward weakling, and as the great hero. Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull was brilliant, too. He was evil, menacing, and not too over-the top. The Howling Commandos were great, though I wish they had mentioned them by name.

I didn’t mind any of the little changes they made to the original story, everything worked for me, and I think allowed them to tell a cleaner story, rather than having to explain a lot of unnecessary back stories.

There were some cool nods to the comics, too, like the way we first see Arnim Zola. The Stan Lee cameo was quick, but funny and didn’t take away from the story. The use of the comic style Captain America uniform was also a great nod, and made great sense in the context of the movie.

The only complaint I have is that the movie was over too quickly. As it was wrapping up, I suddenly realized it was about to be over, and very much wished it was longer. Also, don’t forget to stay after the credits. The post-credits sequence is awesome.

One final note, I have never been to a movie where I have seen more people wearing T-shirts featuring the character from the movie. There was even a little kid wearing a full Captain America costume, who had his picture taken with me because he liked my Cap costume hoodie so much.

The Last Circus

I just saw this trailer on Ain’t It Cool!

July Movie Madness!

I feel good that I managed to see three of the eight movies I really wanted to check out last month.  The other five will go in the Netflix queue.

There are five movies coming out in July I’m looking forward to seeing.  Two are big summer event movies, but the other three a small ones that you might not know about.  Let’s start big.

Of course I want to see Captain America!  Hugo Weaving is super amazing, so to see him as the Red Skull will be a treat.  I wasn’t so keen on seeing Green Lantern.  Thor surprised me by being so good.  I have a feeling Kobe and I will have to see how many cliches the ol’ Captain hits.  I’m not expecting anything ground breaking, but I bet it’s going to be a fun romp!

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Happy Birthday, America!

Wait, they're making a new movie? What about me?

Woo! I was going to post the Team America theme song, but decide maybe we should be the only web site that doesn’t do that today. Instead, enjoy the trailer for Captain America, which is going to kick ass all over the place in a couple of weeks.

God damn, i can’t wait for that movie.

E.T: Jedi?

My five-year-old son Alex came home a few days ago insisting that he had learned from his friends that E.T. “Has the Force.” My wife chalked it up to him being cute and a believer in all things Star Wars, but he insisted it was true. Of course, she decided she’d show him by ordering E.T. from Netflix.

My wife and I had not seen E.T. since it was originally released 19 years ago, so the details were fuzzy, but she was sure he was no Jedi. Well, we watched the movie, and Alex is more convinced than ever that E.T. “Has the Force,” but now I agree with him.

In the movie, E.T. displays telekinetic powers, not unlike a Jedi might manipulate his surroundings with the Force.

Additionally, E.T. passes a kid dressed up as Yoda for Halloween, and tries to follow him, saying “Home, home.” It appears he recognizes Yoda, or at least his species.

Then of course, a delegation of E.T’s species is visible in Star Wars episode I.

This may not be a new idea, but I am now convinced that E.T. does exist in the same universe as Star Wars, and that while E.T. may not be  Jedi, he, and maybe his entire species, is at least Force-sensitive.

Alex and his friends were right.

Movies I Won’t Be Seeing This Summer

Summer 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome time for movies, especially if you love all things nerdy. Who ever thought we’d see Thor, X-Men First Class, Green Lantern, Harry Potter  and Captain America movies all in one summer? It’s a great time to be a geek. Sadly, though, into every summer falls a few garbage family movies. As I’ve stated before, I’m the father of two young boys, and am bombarded with advertisements for things people are trying to sell them. Lately, it’s been movie ads.

These are worst I’ve seen this year:

Mr Popper’s Penguins

What a piece of crap this looks like. I can hear the Hollywood brain trust coming up with this one:

“They’re penguins, What should we call them?”

“Well, what do they do?”

“One is kind of loud.”


“One bites Jim Carrey a lot.”


And so on… My 5-year old could have come up with more imaginative names. Yeahbsolutely.

The Zoo Keeper, or Night at the Museum at the Zoo:

“Hey, kids like the King of Queens guy, right? …and funny animals? …and T.G.I. Fridays?”

The girl won’t marry him because he’s a zookeeper? Really? Don’t you have to have a degree to do that?

I’m going to make a bold prediction about this one. He realizes the blonde girl is a bitch and ends up with Rosario Dawson. Credits.

I will not be taking my family to either of these CGI animal turds. Luckily, they haven’t shown interest in either, I guess I’m raising them right.

X-Men: First Class & The Beaver

Friday I took myself out to an unlikely double feature of X-Men: First Class followed by The Beaver.   It turned out that Jennifer Lawrence was in both movies so I started thinking about what the two films had in common.

I guess more than anything the movies are both about feeling alone and finding your family and people who accept you for who you are and are willing to help you unlock your full potential.

X-Men: First Class is the origin story that I kind of wish the Star Wars prequels had been.   It had emotion and it had conflict.  I’ve never been a fan of the X-Men comics.  My only knowledge of the franchise comes from the movies.   This one was fun.  I’m going to go as far as to say that it may be my favorite X-Men movie so far.  I’m sure there were a ton of jokes I didn’t get because I don’t know the source material at all, but there were enough casual nods and even a couple cameos that left me smiling.  The look of the film is simply stunning.  I’m not the type of person to notice things like this, but the 60’s fashion really works.

I know the joke has been made that Mel Gibson could have used a beaver puppet in real life, but once you see The Beaver you’ll realize that’s not entirely true.   When the trailer first hit the internet for this film people who read the script were hesitant that some of the darker elements may not have made it to the screen.  I agree, the trailer doesn’t prepare you for the last half hour of the film.  In fact, the movie could have been really cliche and silly.  But right when a normal Hollywood film would end, The Beaver keeps going.  I loved this film, especially the second half.

The cast in both movies are pretty wonderful.  Anton Yelchin in The Beaver is someone to look out for.  He’s probably most known for playing Chekov in the Star Trek reboot.  Next he’ll be in the Fright Night reboot, which also looks like it’s going to be really good.   I didn’t even know Kevin Bacon was in this new X-Men film, but he is and he’s pretty terrific too.

So Jennifer Lawrence is in both and her characters kind of sum up the heart of both films.  I first saw her last year in Winter’s Bone where she carried the movie.  She’s going to be in the upcoming Hunger Games which is already getting a little bit of press.  Both characters in these two movies are people who are gifted and different, but have a hard time expressing that.  Both characters need someone to accept them for who they are in order to achieve their inner greatness.  That really resonated with me.  I feel lucky that I’ve always had a family who believed in me even when I didn’t.  These two movies really made me appreciate the good things I have, and the best thing I have is a strong support team.  I’m so grateful for my parents and my wife and all my friends who have always had my back and keep pushing me forward.  And to think, I figured that out without a beaver puppet!

Kung Fu Panda 2 Review

This weekend I took my kids (3 and 5 year old boys) to see Kung Fu Panda 2, which, as the TV ads think is very important to remind me, stars Jack Black as the lead character Po.

In this sequel, Po and the Furious Five must defend China against the evil peacock Lord Shen, his secret weapon, and his army of wolves. Po is a kung fu master straight from the beginning of the movie, and while he bumbles through parts of his adventure, his character has changed grown up a little since the first movie. Of course, though, Po must learn a valuable lesson about himself and kung fu in order to save the day.   It’s not the most original plot, following the first one’s formula pretty closely, but it’s a fun movie to take the kids to.

Evil, thou art a peacock.

The movie delivers on beautiful animation, cool action sequences, including a fun chase scene through the city, and the usual over-the-top kung fu fights, including plenty of Furious Five action. Of course, it’s a comedy, and there are some good laughs in there, too (thankfully, a few less easy fat jokes than the last one). The flashback sequences deliver some handsome stylized 2D animation, which I liked as a device to show kids the difference between present day andPo’s memories.

Several jokes are recycled from the first movie, though not as many as you might expect from a kids’ animated movie trying to stick to a formula. It seems pretty obvious, too, that they’re setting the franchise up for another sequel at the end of this one. It’s also worth sitting through the credits, there is no Skeletor-type post credits moment, but the entire sequence is shown against a pretty cool changing art backdrop.

Jack Black is in this movie!


Overall I enjoyed it, and my boys loved it. I had a hard time keeping my enthusiastic 3 year old in his seat during the fight scenes. If you or your kids liked the original, I recommend seeing the Kung Fu Panda 2.

Movie Madness: Navigating the June Movie Jungle

Summer blockbuster season is here!  Woohoo!  Transformers and Green Lantern come out this month and I don’t care about either of those.  I’m perhaps a year or two too old to have grown up with the Transformers.  They were hitting as I was starting Middle School and already having a hard enough time keeping it a secret that I still loved my GI Joe and Star Wars toys.  I grew up with Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.  Green Lantern was never my guy.

Still though, June does have two pretty big powerhouses coming out that I am looking forward to seeing.  More importantly, me being the me that people like comedian Erik Kitter constantly mock, I’m much more interested in the small personal films.   Here are some of the movies you may not know about, but I think are probably worth seeing.

June 3rd

I’ve said it before that I love meta comedy.  Well, I love meta movies as well.  Submarine looks like the kind of self aware movie that won’t be chocked full of cliches.  Christine wanted to see it because of star Craig Roberts acting in the Being/Becoming Human universe.  I think when you also throw in the great Sally Hawkins and Richard Ayoade along with Yasmin Paige who seems pretty terrific in the trailer and you’ve got a winner!  Plus, I love movies about people who say the wrong things, but sound right doing it.

I wasn’t an X-Men fan growing up either, but I am looking forward to X-Men: First Class.  Yeah, there are a lot of things I’m not sure I get like why everyone on this looks roughly the same age, but in the other X-Men movies Magneto and Xavier are considerably older.   Still though, there’s something about X-Men in the 60s that just seems really neat.  Plus, Jennifer Lawrence was understated and incredible in Winter’s Bone.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she does this year both in this movie and then later in the Hunger Games.

In Beginniners, Ewan McGregor stars in this sweet movie about a guy who finds out at the same time that his dad is both dying and gay.  Melanie Laurent from Inglourious Basterds costars along with Christopher Plummer.   Maybe the gimmick with McGregor talking to the dog is only used as much as it is in the trailer, but screw it…those two moments alone made me giddy for this picture. In rewatching the trailer, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the dog was Plummer’s dog and serves as a vessel for McGregor’s character to say the things he never had a chance to say in real life to his father.  I’m so excited just for the potential of this film!

June 10th

The biggest blockbuster I’m looking forward to of course is Super 8.  I love that the trailer doesn’t tell you a whole lot at all.  From what I can piece together it looks like possibly some sort of alien being transported by train escapes in a small town in the early seventies and a group of kids try to track it down because they maybe understand it better than the government does.  I’m not sure of anything other than the fact that I’m intrigued and excited!

It’s an odd genre, but I love road trip movies.  The Trip looks like a really fun journey with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing lose versions of thsemselves.  I’ll go along for the ride.  Yep, I packed I handful of euphemisms to use for this paragraph and got as much mileage out of them as I could.

Just Like Us is a documentary that comedian Ahmed Ahmed made that chronicles a tour through the Middle East and ending up in New York.  My favorite kind of comedy is the kind that lets us see how we’re all similar regardless of the color of our skin or gender or sexual orientation or age or economic status.  I hate comedy that points out how different we as a people.  I got to work with featured comedian Maz Jobrani earlier in the year and I think that’s one thing he did really wonderfully.  He pointed out how even though there are divisions in the Middle East who have been at war with each other for centuries, when you break it down to just people, we’re all a lot alike.

Road To Nowhere is a movie about the making of a movie.  Like with the aforementioned Submarine, I like meta.  The trailer doesn’t give away anything really about the film other than the general tone and look of the thing.  I’m intrigued.  I’d really like to see this one.  Star Shannyn Sossamon was in Wristcutters: A Love Story, which is one of my all time favorite quirky little films.

June 24

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop isn’t just a concert film of the tour O’Brien took after leaving NBC, it’s a behind the scenes look at show business and the psychological ups and downs a performer experiences.    It’s comforting to me to know that it never gets easier.  My path will always be met with drama and grief.  If it were easy, more people would do it.  I think it’s interesting too that judging by the trailer, it looks like Conan does the same thing that a lot of us do to cover up either pain or feelings of discomfort, he just “turns it on”.


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