Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lots of Weiners + Very Few Laughs = Hangover 2

By Carl Scarano-Schulze, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

Sorry, but I’m feeling a little emotional today. It’s more than my puppy brain can process. Maybe it’s just the post holiday-weekend blues. Or maybe it’s because Hangover Part II was so painfully unfunny. What happened to my beloved wolfpack? How could a movie with so much going for it deliver so very few laughs?

Another wedding, another bachelor party. Only they’re not in Vegas, they’re in Bangkok. And instead of losing the groom, they lose the bride’s brother. And instead of Ed Helms losing a tooth, he gets a face tattoo. And instead of a tiger, there’s a monkey. And instead of El Helms marrying a hooker, he gets buttf*d by a tranny. And instead of stuck on the roof, the guy they lost is stuck in the elevator. There’s still Mike Tyson, but this time, he’s singing and dancing (what?!). Instead of discovering the incriminating photos at the very end, they…..discover the incriminating photos at the very end.

It’s the exact. same. movie. From the opening scene, to the closing credits. Ken Jeong makes me want to claw my eyes out. The writers deviated from the original plot only to inject slightly more full-frontal male nudity (wieners galore). Their idea of a super Zach Galifinakis gag is having him mispronounce “Louis Vuitton”. Not exactly the laugh riot you were expecting. All in all, a truly awful sequel that will no doubt become an even more depressing trilogy. That’s Hollywood.

Summary: There’s not enough pot in the world to make Hangover II worth seeing.
Wags: 1/5

Monday, May 23, 2011

Midnight In Paris is Très Manifique!

By Sir Jasper Barone, Top Critic
Shropshire, United Kingdom

Most American dogs just don’t get it. Sure, New York City has a certain energy to it. Parts of California have nice weather. But bloody hell! Your whole country isn’t even a quarter century old yet! Just face it. You may think you know a thing or two about charm. But trust this ol’ hound when I tell you – nothing you have stateside can measure up to the majesty of grand ol’ Paris.

If you don’t believe me, just go check out Woody Allen’s latest tour de “france”, Midnight in Paris. Sure, this film is chock full of A-list American actors turning in inspired performances, but the real star of the movie is the city of lights herself. When struggling writer Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) accompanies his uptight fiancée and her parents on vacation, he spends his first days yearning for the fantasy Paris experience – café living, rubbing elbows with art and literary greats, walks in the rain, the whole works. Luckily for us, he gets his wish almost immediately! At the stroke of midnight each night, he is magically transported to 1920’s Paris, in the company of a ragtag group of pals including, F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, and more. It’s no surprise that he spends his mornings questioning why he has to return to the present at all!

Woody Allen does a tremendous job of immersing the viewer in Gil’s nighttime adventures – those scenes he has to spend in the modern, daylight hours are positively painful. You’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat, anxiously awaiting the sounds of the clock striking twelve. This film is sure to be a welcome treat for any Francophiles, romantics, literary types, amateur sculptors, or wannabe ex-pats. In the same way that Vicky Cristina Barcelona had you yearning for the Spanish countryside, you’ll be equally rushing to book that one-way ticket with Air France. So go ahead; say "au revoir" to summer’s heavy handed action blockbusters, and "bonjour" to a roaring good time.

Wags: 4/5

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Fucking Cat Presents: Weekend Box Office Roundup

Bridesmaids Gets Hammered
By Sammy Miller, Guest Contributor
West Hollywood, California

Boy, is my face red. I was so sure that Bridesmaids would steal the top spot away from Thor this week, I told everyone down at the Wok n’ Roll that I’d give up hamachi handrolls for a month if it didn’t pull in at least $40MM. Oh well, I guess it’s back to tuna tartare for this feline… Ugh, how very pedestrian.

Thor has proven to be a mighty contender after all, raking in an impressive $34.7MM in it’s second week in theaters. Who knew that the American public had such a soft spot for blonde hunks with big hammers? Someone get Mike Holmes on the line, I’ve got a script he might be perfect for.

All the single ladies, all the single ladies… must have had bigger and better things to do this weekend than seeing Bridesmaids. Even though the latest Apatow rom-com practically made a profit due to a relatively small budget, it hardly lived up to its more traditional predecessors-in-matrimony. With only $26MM, even that god-awful adaptation of Mamma Mia opened stronger.

That silly mess that Paul Bettany starred in failed to draw the crowds…. Priest only managed $14MM. Wait a minute, are we sure that this one isn’t just Legion 2? I could swear that I’ve seen this before.

I swear, this is the very last time I bet on the box office. Unless it’s a sure thing. Or I’m feeling lucky. That reminds me, I’d better call my bookie about next weekend’s Pirates opening. Ciao for now!

Bridesmaids Says “I Do” To Poo

By River Shaughnessy, Top Critic
Denver, Colorado

Personally, weddings and bridal stuff make my butt itch. I hate having to take a flea bath, putting on a fancy collar, and spend my night getting poked and prodded by sticky ringbearers and flower girls. The whole idea of a wedding makes me want to run and hide under the bed. Hey, I’m not a tomboy. I’m just one modern bitch.

That’s why this weekend’s Bridesmaids was such a breath of fresh air – finally, a comedy that’s not afraid to point out how ridiculous the whole bridal charade really is. Comedic she-genius Kristen Wiig finally thrusts herself into the spotlight as Annie, a down-and-out thirtysomething who gets roped into playing maid of honor to her childhood best friend (Maya Rudolph). Her casual approach to the pre-wedding planning becomes a constant source of humiliation, as she’s repeatedly upstaged by the bride’s fanciest new friend, Helen. Convincingly played by Rose Byrne, Helen is detestably determined to coordinate a picture-perfect wedding as pretentious as it is pukeworthy , and she doesn’t care who she has to manipulate in order to get there. Throw in a hilarious Jon Hamm as Annie’s sleazy boy toy, and you’ve got yourself an all-star cast and plenty to laughs to go around.

Another solid product from producer Judd Apatow, Bridesmaid’s features some of the best elements of both Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin. Some of the gags get a little tedious, but there’s real magic in the improv, and Wiig’s ability to tow the line between outrageous and sympathetic manages to tie it all together in a shiny pink bow. But it’s the healthy dose of poop jokes, sex scenes, and drunken tirades that make this memorable movie what it is – a celebration of actual comedy, not just grrrrl power.

Summary: Don’t call it a chick flick – Bridesmaids is a heavy hitter, and perhaps the best comedy of 2011 so far.

Wags: 4/5

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Megan Fox Career Killer

By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

Sometimes in life, a movie comes along that you know is going to be so god-awful, it becomes required viewing. A movie that will be a lasting and permanent source of embarrassment for all those involved. A movie that will echo through the ages as nothing but a steaming turd pile that will forever blemish the art form that is film. This, my friends, is Passion Play.

Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch, Rhys Ifans, I have just one question for you all. Why? What was it about this story that you found so compelling, you just had to participate? You’ve got Rourke as your trumpet-playing drifter with a heart of gold. Megan Fox is a circus sideshow freak – a lovely winged ingénue, a bird woman or perhaps a real angel. Their totally gross love is as unwarranted, as inexplicable as it is puke-worthy. Bill Murray phones in an unusually painful performance as the powerful town crime boss, hell bent on stealing the angel and somehow profiting from her awesome wingyness. With a plot that bad, why bother acting, right?


For any train wreck lovers out there, with a morbid curiosity powerful enough to prompt you to sit through the first hour, I’ll tell you this. Do not give up. Finish the movie. I wanted to turn it off when the kissing started too. However, the last 5 minutes of Passion Play can easily be considered one of cinema’s most unintentionally hilarious payoffs. Thrice did I rewind, laughing my tail off every time.

Summary: Only suitable for the most masochistic of viewers. Hey, I’m a dog. I know turds.

Wags: 1/5

Monday, May 9, 2011

One Divine Hammer!

By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

I normally don't do superhero movies unless Underdog is heavily featured,
but I'll make an exception for Thor. I had my doubts about the casting of Chris Hemsworth, who initially seemed like too much of a pretty boy for me, but he actually nailed it. He has the height, abs, and stubble to pull off the role of Viking prince, first born son of Odin. I bet in modern times he'd roll like a lumberjack with a big pack of Siberian Huskies. He started out spoiled rotten, but emerged funny, charming, and totally worthy of the awesome power of the hammer. I spent a fair amount of the movie fantasizing about asking Thor to take me to the park, since I'm convinced the man can throw a tennis ball a friggin' mile. I can really see why Natalie Portman wanted to hump him so badly.

Granted, the plot has a few minor issues, and I grow weary of Anthony Hopkins trotting out his "stodgy old king in a fur coat" routine. But after a shaky start, there were laughs aplenty and enough heart to keep me interested. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Thor enters a pet store demanding a horse, is denied, and then requests a dog large enough to ride. Hilarious!

The cast of supporting characters added a surpising amount of depth to the narrative, with Kat Dennings a real standout as the surly best friend. The script took full advantage of the potential for culture shock-related silliness when someone from a Viking realm is dropped into modern times. The story stayed essentially true to the Marvel comic, and the directing was competent, no small feat when weaving CG effects into a full-length feature. (Don't bother with a 3-D version, though, since the movie was clearly not filmed in 3-D and it was added as an afterthought.) I prepared myself for the stuffy Kenneth Branagh of the Hamlet days, but instead got a director with the perfect blend of melodrama, humor, and knowledge of the proper way to drape a loincloth.

Summary: This dog died and went to Valhalla.

Wags: 4/5

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

RUFF CROWD EXCLUSIVE - Pirates 4: On Lamer Tides

By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

With it’s May 20 release date fast approaching, you won’t find many other Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides reviews floating around the web. Could it be that the all-mighty Disney is worried that the fourth installment of its big budget franchise won’t live up to its predecessors? My highly-developed dog senses tell me the answer is “yes”, although they really don’t have to be. Even though this summer-blockbuster-season-kicker-offer isn’t particularly spectacular or memorable, it’s perfectly watchable and nearly exactly what you’re expecting. And from what I’ve learned about American audiences, this typically translates to record-breaking box office grosses.

Last night’s critics screening was packed to the gills to see our old pal Captain Jack Sparrow in his latest adventure – the search for the fountain of youth. We’ve got plenty of familiar characters along for the ride, and few high-profile new ones as well. Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Barbosa, but the notable new additions include Ian McShane as the infamous Blackbeard and the pretty noticeably pregnant Penelope Cruz as his daughter and Jack’s will-they-or-won’t-they love interest. (Seriously, are they still insinuating that Jack is straight? Have you seen him run?) There are just enough swordfights and narrow escapes for series enthusiasts, but the most welcome addition in this dog’s opinion was a really enjoyable bit with the gorgeous but bloodthirsty mermaids.

But on some level, it’s hard to ignore that Disney completely fails to up the ante here. After the visual assault that was the climax of At World’s End (seriously, there was a LOT going on during that maelstrom), On Stranger Tides seems like a bit of an anticlimax for Jack & friends. In fact, there’s not a single moment of genuine fear for Jack’s overall wellbeing. Female audiences won’t have the Will/Elizabeth love story to root for, and as a villain, Blackbeard doesn’t instill half the terror of Davy Jones. So was it good? No, not particularly. Was it good enough? Sure, as long as your standards are nice and low.

Summary: See it for a matinee – it’s exactly $8.50 worth of fun.

Wags: 3/5

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Fucking Cat Presents: Weekend Box Office Roundup

Just Furious
By Sammy Miller, Guest Contributor
West Hollywood, CA

I had the strangest nightmare this morning. I dreamt that the fifth installment of the Fast & The Furious franchise had a record-breaking opening weekend. It was terrifying – there were people lining up around the block to see it, and it ended up grossing over $83MM domestically. I woke up in a cold sweat, but then immediately chuckled to myself and calmed down. It was only a crazy dream! Vin Diesel isn’t culturally relevant anymore! There’s no way that people still care about a ragtag bunch of meatheads who have been doing the same bad one-liners and silly stunt-driving tricks since 2001.

The good news is that Disney’s squeaky-clean PROM didn’t find an audience either. It raked in only $4.7MM domestically, and the week-over-week dropoff is sure to be more dramatic a Miley Cyrus temper tantrum. If the studio thought that they had another High School Musical on their hands, they’re in for quite the rude-awakening.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night didn’t even crack the top ten. Bringing in well under $1MM, this cat thinks that history’s worst Superman, Brandon Routh, better ask Lucky Strike bowling lanes if he can have his old job back.

Needless to say, I’m positively exhausted. Think I’ll pop a CAtivan and try to catch a few more z’s before my dinner reservations. Ciao for now!

RUFF CROWD EXCLUSIVE - The Beaver Ain’t Worth A Dam

By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

Personally, if I saw Mel Gibson, I would probably bite him. But whatever your feelings are towards him, you have to admit that he’s done some fine work in the past. So maybe it was a morbid fascination that compelled me to attend the press screening of director Jodi Foster’s The Beaver. With a plot so bizarre, it has to be interesting, right?

If you haven’t heard of this movie, it’s about a depressed Dad who really goes off the deep-end. On the verge of suicide, he happens upon a fabric beaver puppet in a dumpster, grants it a voice and a personality, and gives the puppet complete control of his life. His family and coworkers are forced to play along, operating under the assumption that it’s a therapist-suggested treatment program for coping. Naturally, his wife and two sons are completely terrorized by this ridiculous behavior, and thus have to learn to cope in their own way.

If you’re thinking, hey, this sounds a lot like Lars & The Real Girl, which is a completely underrated gem of a film, you can just stop right there. The Beaver lacks all of the authenticity and charm of Lars, and fails to ring true on any level. Foster unfortunately mangles what should have been a unique and provocative story into the kind of formulaic Hollywood schlock that had me checking my watch every ten minutes. With hokey writing and suffocating subplots to contend with, even the talented kids were unusually lame, namely Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin, my darling Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone, and that pretentious little shithead from the Toyota commercials. And perhaps worst of all, the ultra-lame “happy” ending was so corny, I think I would have actually preferred a suicide! Nothing about this film worked, and what could have been a memorable and career-rejuvenating role for Gibson was instead a frustrating power struggle between a beaver and an asshole.

Summary: At least the night wasn’t a complete loss – I got to sniff the great Leonard Maltin!

Wags: 2/5

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not Quite 'Super', But Better Than Most

By Waggs O'Neil, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

“Average Joe Mainstreet dons a cape and decides to fight local crime on his own. Hilarity ensues”. Sound familiar? It should. It’s basically the logline for a slew of indie superhero flicks, namely Mystery Men, Special, Kick-Ass, The Defendor, and arguably even Scott Pilgrim. And now, you can add James Gunn’s Super to the short list of remarkably similar films that aim to cash in on the ideal that inside each of us is a costumed avenger yearning to break free. Is it somewhat derivative? Yes. Is it still worth seeing? Definitely, yes.

Super stars Rainn Wilson as your blue-collar working class guy who basically goes batshit insane when his wife falls off the wagon and runs away with a drug kingpin. He suffers a hallucination which he attributes to God choosing him to clean up the “mean” streets of his middle class suburb. It’s not as cutesy as it sounds – our hero, the Crimson Bolt, uses a pipe wrench to bash ne’er-do-wells over the head, whether for dealing drugs or for just butting in line. He picks up an over-zealous sidekick (Ellen Page) before finally facing off against his wife’s kidnapper and his evil henchmen.

It may not be the most original plot ever immortalized on the big screen, but it has its moments. From the well-executed title sequence to Wilson’s wacky Jesus hallucinations, from a truly awkward sex scene, to a truly moving conclusion, Super combines all of the very best elements of its indie brethren – plus Kevin Bacon.

Summary: Honestly, who wouldn’t enjoy seeing Ellen Page get shot in the face?

Wags: 3/5
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