PODCAST – The DCOM Team, Episode 3: The Even Stevens Movie (2003)

PODCAST – The DCOM Team, Episode 3: The Even Stevens Movie (2003)

I’m back with a new episode of my Disney Channel Original Movie podcast with my friend Bobby newly named The DCOM Team (changed from Popcorn Flicks). I’m going to try to post these episodes every couple of weeks or so, but it’s been more like a month between episodes to start… Anyway, on this episode we review The Even Stevens Movie because today is Shia LaBeouf’s birthday.

Also, we were originally going to have discussions of The Even Stevens Movie and one of his other DCOM’s, Tru Confessions, on the same episode but both conversations were long enough on their own so I’m just separating the episodes. To let you know, as well, there will be spoilers!

I’ve added the podcast to the bottom, and to download it, just go here.

PODCAST – Popcorn Flicks, Episode #2, “You Wish!”

PODCAST – Popcorn Flicks, Episode #2, “You Wish!”

I’ve heard that sometimes, a long wait is good for anticipation. But sometimes, there’s too long of a wait. And with the second episode of my Disney Channel Original Movie podcast, Popcorn Flicks, the wait was definitely too long, as I posted the first episode on March 17th. The first episode can be found here, and like I said there, I run the podcast with my friend Bobby Strate, who I met through the scriptwriting program we attended in Algonquin College in Ottawa.

Part of the reason why it’s taken so long to get this out is because we ended up having to re-record it because the first time we recorded it was just too rough. Since we care about the listeners, we wanted to record it again. On the second episode we review the 2003 Disney Channel Original Movie, “You Wish!” because, like the last film, there’s also a lucky coin in this one.

Luckily, we also enjoyed this film more than the last one. We discuss almost everything about this one so of course there will spoilers. I’d love to hear feedback so you can either leave a comment or e-mail me at danielprinn@msn.com. I also don’t have a logo yet but we have a little theme song. There’s still a little vulgarity but it’s not as bad as the first episode and again, this isn’t sponsored by or affiliated with Disney in any way. Also, for the next episode there will be a podcast name change and I hope to have the third episode up in a week or so! Thanks for listening.

I’ve added the audio podcast to the post itself, and to download it, just go here and click the three dots and that it will give the option to download it. (By the way, I don’t mean to condescend by explaining how to download it, just thought I’d include those instructions in case.)

Bad Boys (1995), Bad Boys II (2003)

Bad Boys (1995), Bad Boys II (2003)

Today I wanted to review the first two Bad Boys films before I post a review of Bad Boys For Life tomorrow. They’re shorter reviews so I’ve just included them in the same post.

Bad Boys 1 article

Martin Lawrence and Téa Leoni in Bad Boys. (IMDb)

Bad Boys. Directed by: Michael Bay. Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Téa Leoni. Runtime: 1h 59 min. Released: April 7, 1995.

Two hip detectives, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), protect a witness, Julie Mott (Téa Leoni), while investigating a case of stolen heroin from the evidence storage room at their police precinct.

Michael Bay’s debut film, Bad Boys, has some of his signature explosions and action and camera angles, but nothing that’s as extreme as his later films. That’s why the action is still strong and fun in this film. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s chemistry is what makes it memorable as their banter is hilarious and the action’s the icing on the cake. Mike’s confidence works throughout and Marcus’ insecurity is a good balance.

Though, I don’t like the mistaken identity bit here as Julie would only like to tell Mike what she’s seen, and Marcus has to pretend to be Mike so they can protect her. In order to keep protecting her, they have to keep this charade going where Marcus is Mike and Mike is Marcus. It’s a bit that grows tired quickly. The villains also aren’t amazing here, but Smith and Lawrence are so funny it’s enjoyable despite its flaws. Joe Pantoliano as the angry Captain Howard is also great.

Score: 70/100

Bad Boys 2
Will Smith in Bad Boy II. (IMDb)

Bad Boys 2. Directed by: Michael Bay. Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union. Runtime: 2h 27 min. Released: July 18, 2003.

The first Bad Boys was Michael Bay finding his style, but this film is Bay at his worst. In one scene where Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) investigate a Haitian gang’s house, they are on one side of the wall and the gang is on the other side. Bay shows us this in dizzying style as he takes the camera around the whole room at least six times.

Bay’s obnoxious style makes the film suffer. The story’s another drug bust tale as the Bad Boys investigate the flow of ecstasy in Miami from a Cuban drug cartel. The dynamic of the film is mixed up with the introduction of Marcus’ sister Syd (Gabriel Union), an undercover DEA agent investigating the cartel. She is also Mike’s latest thing, just don’t tell Marcus.

The chemistry’s still strong and the comedy stands out in the film. The villains are still weak, as Johnny Tapia (Jordi Mollà) leads this cartel. For some reason I remember Peter Stormare being the villain, but he’s just a secondary antagonist as Alexei, a Russian mobster who is selling Tapia’s ecstasy through his clubs.

The action is okay but Michael Bay gets in the way. The film’s entertaining but the flaws here – a weak story and too much Bay – makes this only a guilty pleasure. The biggest strike against this is its run-time, as it has zero business being 147 minutes.

That’s too long for this simple story and it’s bloated. If anything would have ended up on the cutting room floor, it would have been the comedy – like when Marcus observes rat’s mating rituals, Mike and Marcus cussing out Marcus’ daughter’s date, Reggie (Dennis Greene) or when Marcus is on ecstasy. If these scenes weren’t here, this would be completely awful.

Score: 60/100

29 Days of Romance, Review #17: Love Actually (2003)

29 Days of Romance, Review #17: Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually poster
IMDb

Directed by: Richard Curtis. Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Emma Thompson. Runtime: 2h 15 min. Released: November 14, 2003 (original US release date).

Love Actually follows the lives of eight different couples dealing with their love lives in various ways in loosely interrelated tales set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

This is a Christmas classic that I haven’t seen until now, and it’s probably weird to review a Christmas movie in mid-February, but it’s a romance film, too, so I’m doing it anyway. Thankfully this is a film that I loved (I’m thankful for that because yesterday’s Across the Universe was a doozy).

Richard Curtis’ writing and great direction handles all the tales well and for the most part, they all feel like they have balance. They’re all connected in some way and that makes the world building more interesting, though you’ll need a map to remember how each person and each couple relates to each other. I also couldn’t list the couples and their stories without looking at the cast list.

Love Actually article
Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually. (IMDb)

What works best about Love Actually is that it’s just a feel-good Christmas movie about love and taking risks around the holiday season. Some sub-plots are problematic, like the voyeuristic Mark (Andrew Lincoln), who’s in love with best friend Peter’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) new wife Juliet (Keira Knightley). While you should take risks for love around Christmas, this whole sub-plot is the weakest of them all. Ejiofor is a great actor who gets very little to do here, and the only scene of worth in their tale is the “All You Need is Love” bit at their wedding.

The pacing in Love Actually is generally strong, but I think this is the only tale that I could justify taking out of the film so we can spend more time with the better characters. The only other tale I could try to make an argument for editing out is Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall), who can’t find love and think his problem is the fact that he’s just so basic in England, so he sets out for America to find a love there. I could make an argument for taking it out because it’s one-note, but there are also a couple of good belly laughs and cameos here and has some smart humour from Richard Curtis.

Otherwise, everyone else’s story feels justified here. I really liked the tale with Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz) as I thought the language barrier was handled in a very creative way. Him staying in a cabin and their romance blossoming the way it does feels like it does a Nicholas Sparks movie better than Nicholas Sparks.

I loved the tale with the Prime Minster (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), because that’s funny from the start and these two tales seem to get the most screen time. Their romance was also just generally engaging.  I really loved Emma Thompson’s character in this one, Karen, who is a main connector of some of these tales as she’s dealing with her husband Harry (Alan Rickman).

Love Actually, article1
Martine McCutcheon and Hugh Grant in Love Actually. (IMDb)

I don’t mean to be boring just listing each tale and saying what I like about them, but it’s hard to talk about the charming Love Actually without going through its romances. It’s interesting how it depicts non-romances too, like a singer Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) who’s trying to be the No. 1 Holiday song with his new release “Christmas Is All Around,” which is super catchy. His tale is hilarious and it’s a lot about his friendship with his manager Joe (Gregor Fisher). The film also has a smart tale about young love with Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who’s trying to get the attention of a girl at his school. His father Daniel (Liam Neeson) has also just recently lost his wife, so that’s an enriching part of his character.

That’s the thing with Love Actually, these characters all feel well-developed in their own ways and for the most part, they’re all likable. Rowan Atkinson is a notable scene-stealer as Rufus, a jewelry salesman, and I would have loved to have known more about him. My expectations were met with this film because it made me laugh a lot and I cried, too.

There’s one couple here that I’ve never heard anyone talk about and that’s the romance between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page). They’re stand-ins for a porn film – so if people only see this on TV that’s why they don’t talk about it – and their awkward dialogue during their “scenes” are really funny. Love Actually is just generally funny, too, and I feel like it’s solid Christmas entertainment that could be viewed outside of the Christmas season, because it’s just about love, happiness and family and that’s nice year-round.

Score: 80/100

Anger Management (2003)

Anger ManagementReleased: April 11, 2003. Directed by: Peter Segal. Starring: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei. Runtime: 106 min.

“Anger Management,” not to be confused with the TV series starring Charlie Sheen, is one of Sandler’s very best movies, at least not within his early career. Its opening has chuckles, and it keeps a good momentum throughout.

Sandler plays a businessman who is wrongly sentenced to an anger-management program, where he meets an aggressive instructor.

Sandler’s still playing Sandler. For a movie that has him being enrolled in an anger management program, he is only sporadically angry. In fact, David should learn to express himself more. Buddy explains his disorder like this: There’s an explosive angry person, the person who yells at the cashier. There’s an implosive angry person, the cashier who one day snaps and kills everyone in the store. David is supposedly the implosive person, but he believes he is the guy hiding in the store dialling 9-1-1.

The film has a great “Why does everything happen to me?” way about it that makes it memorable and funny. There are more than a few heartwarming moments, as well. Though, the execution needs improvement.

It’s predictable but can you ask for anything less than one of the kings of stupidity, Adam Sandler? David Dorfman also provides a fine screenplay. There are consistent laughs throughout. It’s funny that Sandler gets out-shined so often in his own movies.

Jack Nicholson is definitely the best part about this movie, but it isn’t exactly difficult to outshine Sandler. John Turturro is another great part. They all have short fuses and it’s amusing to watch them be calmed down. Jack Nicholson’s strategies like making people sing “I Feel Pretty” is a highlight. The really great parts of the movie are John C. Reilly as one of David’s former bullies, and Woody Harrelson as a shemale prostitute, Galaxia. “I feel like dancing! Dancing!”

Score70/100

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy vs. JasonRelease Date: August 15, 2003

Director: Ronny Yu

Stars: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter

Runtime: 97 min

Mostly everyone loves a good slasher with a great villain. There’s that great Michael Myers in his HALLOWEEN franchise, and my personal favourite, Ghostface, of SCREAM fame. I haven’t seen any of the FRIDAY THE 13th movies (except for the remake), and I’ve only seen the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The thought of putting Freddy Krueger, the Christmas sweater wearin’ killer who kills people in their dreams (when you die in your dreams, you die for real…), and Jason Voorhees, the hulking, machete-wielding killer, in the same movie is thoroughly awesome.

Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees set out to terrorize the teenage population. Freddy needs Jason to remind the teenagers (who are really in their early 20s) that Freddy still exists, in order to fuel his power once again. But when Jason Voorhees starts having too much fun killing off teens – Freddy needs to stop him. A true battle royale ensues.

None of the writers are A-listers, so there’s really not a great story at hand; and it’s hard to find good writing for a horror slasher movie. They’re essentially all the same, and this one really isn’t so different, once one dissects it. It is a clever premise, mashing up these two successful franchises. Even if you don’t like either of the franchises, this is still an incredibly fun movie. The body count is high, so that’ll keep the target audience happy. The first pair of tits is also three minutes in, so that is sure to keep male audiences hooked.

The movie is simply 97 minutes of pure horror fun, and that’s really all anyone can ask for. Now, the movie isn’t as amazing as the extraordinary premise might suggest it would be – it’s good for what it is: A fun horror movie. The acting is admittedly horrible (save perhaps Christopher Marquette and the always extraordinary and witty Robert Englund), but what do you expect from a horror movie? Jason Ritter is often good, but not this time around. Monica Keena has huge boobs, but her acting is some of the worst you’ll ever see. But the teenage target audiences won’t be focusing on her acting.

The movie is kind-of an insanely fun and it features a Destiny’s Child member being thrown into a tree, so, suffice to say, the kills are thoroughly awesome. There’s also some great fight choreography. I’d love to see another one of these movies done slightly better. It’s not particularly scary, so it’s mostly just an effectively fun actioner with already-dead horror icons fighting to a further death, I guess one could say. The acting is poor and the story needs work, but horror fans aren’t there to see a great story or good acting (even though that would help my enjoyment), they’re there to see a battle royale between Freddy and Jason, and the battle is well worth the wait.

63/100

Fast and Furious Franchise Recap (2001-2013)

As you may have noticed, I’ve reviewed the entire Fast and Furious franchise so far in the past week and a bit. I thought I’d make a post for all the reviews, and only take my best one or two thoughts on each movie, in case you don’t have time to read every review. Here we go!

The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Fast and the Furious (2001)

“The care is implemented on the cool physical appearance of the cars, and there’s not as much care implemented on the intellectual level of the movie; but who really cares?  It gets the adrenaline going, and that’s the movie’s intention.” 74/100.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

“To truly enjoy the hell out of this, you will have to turn the logical part of your brain right off. To a point where it might actually cause brain damage; and frankly, this movie just isn’t worth that. I remember this being much better; so suffice to say, this is 2 big of a disappointment.” 40/100.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

 

 

 

“The star cameo is one of the only things worthwhile about this bland endeavour. It’s a formulaic plot; but the drifting feels fresh and fun. The cinematography looks the most pristine out of the first three. It also has Han and fast cars.That’s almost all this has going for it.” 52/100.

Fast & Furious (2009)
Fast & Furious (2009)

“The racing scenes are lots of fun, and it’s an adequate revenge story. The title is really the only lazy thing about the movie. However, for a racing movie, there’s a lack of non-stop kinetic energy.” 65/100.

Fast Five (2011)
Fast Five (2011)

“Fast Five fills up its gas tank and the cast and crew bring it all to this fast-paced, energetic, compelling ride. It’s not only fun, but a good movie, as well.”  82/100.

You can just click here and read my review of Fast & Furious 6.

And so far in the franchise, the average score is 67.167.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

2 Fast 2 Furious

 

Former cop, Brian O’Conner is finally arrested after letting his leader escape the law. To avoid the consequences, he must now work with an old college friend and help the police arrest a local drug exporter.

Release Date: June 6, 2003

Director: John Singleton

Stars: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes

Runtime: 107 min

This is an incredibly inferior sequel. This almost has a brand new cast. Though, Paul Walker is still there. Getting rid of the good actors of the first, but keeping the bad one, truly feels like a squandered opportunity. Tyrese Gibson is often a good actor, but his character is very idiotic. If either he or Walker had any funny lines, they are very forgettable. Eva Mendes really can’t even save this. James Remar’s FBI Agent is truly irritating, but I guess that’s the point. Ludacris and the sexy Devon Aoki are good with what they’re given.

This movie’s predecessor has a good balance of racing, tons of fun and a good story; but this one doesn’t have an adequate story to tell. It has a gas tank for a brain, and it’s empty with new ideas. It’s a retread with a different cast, trying to repeat the spark the first had — but it hits its first charge of Nos early on in the movie, and it really begins to lose momentum as it skids along. (Okay, I’m done with the car metaphors.) The racing sequences are somewhat forgettable. Cole Hauser’s villain gets stupider and stupider as the movie progresses, but I guess an obvious antagonist is better than the first, where the antagonist is never so crystal clear.

One of the most memorable scenes is when a rat gnaws at a detective’s fat belly. The fact that a gritty scene like that is one of the most memorable scenes of a racing movie is inexcusable. The cinematography and production value are really rather trashy, so while it is made in 2003, it looks like a movie made in 2000. There are sexy girls here, and fast cars. And really fast cars. The story’s weak and the dialogue is even weaker. In one scene, Brian hears distant police sirens, and he simply says: “Cops.” Thanks, dumbass, I didn’t realize those are police car sirens. I thought it was a brigade of ice cream trucks! In another scene, one of the villain’s righthand men says to Brian, “You’re a good driver, man.” To which Brian replies, “Thanks, bro.” That’s some redundant dialogue right there. We wouldn’t be watching this movie if he wasn’t good at driving. Anyway, there is still some fun to be had with this. Even if it is hidden way, way under its idiotic surface. It’s silly and it doesn’t usually take itself too seriously. The point of the movie is to get the adrenaline pumping, and I guess the racing scenes are fun at the time.

To thoroughly enjoy this, you will have to turn the logical part of your brain right off. To a point where it might actually cause brain damage; and frankly, this movie just isn’t worth that. I remember this being much better; so suffice to say, this is 2 big of a disappointment.

40/100

The Human Stain (2003)

The Human StainThe Human Stain

Release Date: October 31, 2003

,Director: Robert Benton

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris

Runtime: 106 min

Tagline: How far would you go to escape the past?
Did you know? To prepare for her role, Nicole Kidman visited women’s shelters and talked to former victims of abuse for inspiration.

When a disgraced former college professor has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking secret about his own life that he has kept secret for 50 years.

Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman are really great in this. As is Ed Harris in a petite, but creepy and effective role. Gary Sinise’s chemistry with Hopkins is stellar. Sinise is also good as a reclusive authour who is holed up in his cabin in the woods, but there aren’t any zombies or ‘oh my god’ moments in this flick.

The Human Stain‘s biggest fault is that it’s just a little dull and not very interesting. The best scene in the feature is a charismatic dance shared between Sinise and Hopkins to “Cheek to Cheek”. Or maybe Kidman laying nude on her bed, even though they didn’t do a close-up. Dammit. When the film could have been amazing, it falters. For example, part of the ending is revealed in the beginning, and when that said scene actually happens, it isn’t emotionally hard-hitting in the least.

This film is an absolute mess. It’s all over the place, and some stuff is pretty mind-numbing. However, it is admittedly a well-made mess. It has great performances all around from the cast, but that’s all that’s good about this. And by the time Coleman Silk’s secret gets revealed, it’s like… That’s it? That’s the big secret? Well that’s not as shocking as I was hoping. It’s a little silly.

Here’s one blurb from a review that sums up my thoughts on the film very nicely: “One of those films that makes you say, ‘That was powerful. Now what the hell was it about?'” David Edelstein of Slate.

45/100

 

Holes

Holes

Release Date: April 18, 2003

Director: Andrew Davis

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver

Runtime: 117 min

Tagline: The adventure is down there… start digging April 18.

 

It’s a nice and unpredictable children’s flick that even adults can enjoy.

Stanley Yelnats the Fourth (Shia LaBeouf) is a poor young teenager who has a pretty unique family. The Yelnats family has been blaming their no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather for years, who brought a curse upon their family a while ago. Stanley hasn’t exactly always had the best of fortunes, and his bad luck is just beginning. After a pair of stolen shoes, belonging to a former speedy baseball player called Clyde ‘Sweetfeet’ Livingston, fall on his head from walking home one day; he gets sent to a juvenile detention camp called Camp Green Lake. The Camp doesn’t really have a lake at all, and the runners of the camp believe that digging holes everyday in the hot sun will strengthen the campers’ character. Stanley builds strong friendships along the way, and must solve a several year-long mystery of why they are actually digging there.

The characters are really good and the cast bring something great to the table, sometimes the screenplay feels a bit messy, but it all works pretty well together.

There are a few reasons why the film doesn’t work as well as the novel; there are just so many subplots that it can make the film pretty crowded. The subplots really are all interesting, so it isn’t a total loss. In the book, it is obviously divided by chapters so it is much easier to follow.

Some of the subplots include: how Stanley’s no-good (well you get the idea!) great-grandfather came to put a curse on his family; the story of Kissin’ Kate Barlow; and how actual Green Lake used to be a town and how it looked before the lake turned into desert. They are quite interesting and they all very much relate to each other in the end.

There is some comedy, adventure, drama and mystery all mixed in here. There are some solid characters, like Stanley who just wants to fit in as the new kid – and soon assumes the nickname of ‘Caveman’. Zero is also a great character, a seemingly quiet and troubled character who can really talk once he’s interested. All the characters add something nice to the film, even if you don’t really like them – they’re charismatic either way.

Both the adult actors (like Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver and Tim Blake Nelson) and the younger actors each act their parts very well. Voight plays Mr. Sir (whose real name is Marian), who is very irritable after quitting smoking, and is pretty-trigger happy with those CGI yellow spotted lizards (“If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, you won’t die, usually. But if you get bitten by a yellow spotted lizards, you will die, a slow and painful death…always,” my favorite monologue of the character). Weaver plays the lazy Warden, who hogs all the damn shade on the whole camp. Nelson plays Dr. Pendanski, the pretty stupid doctor of the camp.

Patricia Arquette also performs her role well as Miss Kathryn.

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver, Tim Blake Nelson, Khleo Thomas, Bryon Cotton, Henry Winkler, Siobhan Fallon and Patricia Arquette.

Something I found pretty interesting: Richard Kelly originally wrote an extremely dark and violent post-apocalyptic version of the story which proved much too mature for a children’s audience. Louis Sachar, also the writer of the novel, wrote a screenplay as well and the studio chose that one in favor of his over Kelly’s.

There’s also a really good book sequel to this, called Small Steps that’s a spin-off [of the first book] depicting Armpit’s life outside of Green Lake, and how he’s trying to merge back into society, befriending a mentally disabled (I believe she was epileptic) young girl on his street. Though, of course, a character from his life at Green Lake has to come and screw it all up with a business scheme, and who better than X-Ray to do the trick? Hey, Sachar, I’m still waiting on the movie! I say hopefully…

Holes offers a great and unpredictable experience. Adults can enjoy it, too, as well as kids and it is completely durable and sometimes comedic. The film can be pretty messy in some areas, but it makes up for it in the charm of it all. It’s a childhood favorite of mine and I still enjoy it to this day. It can get a little lengthy, but it doesn’t drag on too much. The cast do an incredible job, and there is a great music video at the end. The film is just really well done. It hasn’t been worn out yet after a large amount of views.

     88/100