Friday, August 26, 2011

Moanin' and Groanin' For Conan

By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

Yowza! Helloooo, Jason Momoa. Nice bod you've got there. Great hair, super white teeth, furrowed brow. What's that? I should be paying attention to your new movie, Conan The Barbarian? Oh, right, okay, sorry 'bout that. Is there a sex scene?

Let me back up a bit - first of all, this movie takes "topless" to a whole new level. Momoa is easily a 38DD pectoral. Then throw in a whole bevy of topless, jiggling, grateful slave girls, and you've got yourself one heck of a 3-D experience. For fans of Conan comics, there were plenty of beheadings, torture scenes, and horses being knocked over while their riders get maced in the face. The nice blend of nudity, gore, and violence made it a pleasant change from its recent adventure brethren - I'm looking at you here, Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans (2010).

Unfortunately, there are 112 minutes of plot to sit through, and only 3 minutes of topless cavorting. And then there's the casting... Ron Perlman as Conan's warrior dad? He looks like he's got blonde dreadlocks, for christsake. Rose McGowan saunters onscreen as the black witch with the promisingly creepy bald head, only to blow it by opening her mouth and delivering her lines in a kewpie-doll-meets-Valley-Girl voice. The Jodi Foster look-alike they cast to play the romantic lead was a little lackluster, although her body double during the graphic sex scene was a perfect ten. And if that doesn't make a lame movie instantly watchable, this dog doesn't know what will. Overall, Conan The Barbarian equates to little more than 2 hours of eye candy, for the ladies and the tramps alike. But oh, how sweet it is!

Summary: "I live, I slay, I love Lisa Bonet, and I already spent my Game of Thrones money".

Wags: 3/5

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fright Night Sucks, And I Don’t Mean Blood

By River Shaughnessy, Top Critic
Denver, Colorado

Once again, this dog got tricked by a solid 74% Rotten Tomatoes score, and an endorsement from the not-on-his-A-game-lately Roger Ebert. It’s only August, so having high expectations for a horror movie was probably a mistake from the get-go. If it were any good, they would’ve waited until October to release it, right? But after watching the newly re-imagined Fright Night, I can’t help but wish this film had met a more gruesome fate. The studio should’ve buried this corpse, or at least have sent it straight to DVD. Or straight to hell for all I care!

This movie sucked. It was really, really bad. Colin Farrell seemed convinced that his acting talent would be the sole redemption of a schlocky script and shallow, empty characters. He lays it on thick, and overacts in every scene, ensuring that his supporting cast comes across even more wooden than they might have done on their own. And let’s be honest – Anton Yelchin was only good in Star Trek. He was born to play Chekov, but doesn’t work as your average American teen. So even though there are plenty of reasons to hate the first half of the film, just wait until they introduce the comic relief! One horrible Russel Brand/Criss Angel knock-off, plus a vampire Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Someone stake me already.

The most disappointing thing of all is that this movie specifically opted for an R rating, and then wasted it. Sure, they drop the F bomb a few times, but the gore was too little, too late, the scares were basically non-existent, and there was zero nudity to speak of whatsoever. The spookiest thing about Fright Night were all the boooooooos you heard when the credits roll.

Summary: Perhaps the shittiest vampire movie since 2004’s Van Helsing.

Wags: 1/5

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Poo

By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

Monkeys are, unfortunately, perfect for experimentation since they resemble humans so closely. Sadly, beagles are also ideal, since we're small, sweet, and trusting of humans. I have several good buddies who spent their formative years locked in cages for the good of humanity. Maybe this is why I'm so sensitive to the topic of animal testing. Supposedly PETA approved this seventh Planet of the Apes installment, but speaking strictly as an audience member, I choose to file this movie under "cruel and unusual punishment".

Cutey science guy Will (played by James Franco) works at a big drug company seeking a breakthrough medication for Alzheimer's. When a setback results in the head honcho demanding that they start over (and euthanize all research subjects), Will sneaks a baby ape, Caesar, home and proceeds to raise him as his own. We're basically along for the ride as Caesar grows into a rebellious, but still loveable, teenage genius. But when the ape shit finally hits the fan, you've been so inundated with how sympathetic the monkeys are and how evil the humans are, you can basically just sleep through the final battle and assume that the monkeys will triumph.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was remotely watchable, but only as an air-conditioned matinee or a rental (and frankly I'm surprised that the director was able to resist the temptation to hurl 3-D feces in our faces). As an explanation of how Mother Nature replaced man with monkey, ROTPOTA had some really neat, surprisingly plausible plot points. But it still ends up nearly unwatchable due to the lame dialogue and lack of comic relief. Andy Serkis deserves a fat cut of the box office receipts for essentially carrying the entire movie. My pitch for hollywood's next blockbuster? Forget the humans entirely and invest in a one-man Andy Serkis show.

Summary: Hollywood, quit this monkey business while you're ahead.

Wags: 2/5

Monday, August 1, 2011

Charming, Funny, Love

By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

I’ll preface this review by saying this: I have a huge crush on Ryan Gosling. I pretty much go into heat every time I see his gorgeous face. However, I don’t love every single movie he’s ever been in. Sure, most of them are gems (Lars and the Real Girl, anyone?), but if he did a bad movie, I’d be the first to admit it. For example, I really suffered through the otherwise critically-acclaimed Blue Valentine. So now that we’ve established that I can remain impartial in the face of physical perfection, let’s move on to my review of Crazy, Stupid, Love. It was great!

Like dozens of rom-coms and chick flicks who came before, this one explores the complex relationships of a few interconnected couples. Cal (Steve Carrell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) are struggling in their marriage – she cheated, and he just gives up. Hopeless, and with nowhere to turn, Cal finds solace at the neighborhood bar, where he is impressed by the machismo of fellow bar patron, Jacob (Gosling). Jacob takes Cal under his wing, re-training him in the art of female seduction, and helping him re-capture his lost manhood. Needless to say, what Cal re-captures is his love for his wife, and his commitment to winning her back. Meanwhile, their youngest son is in “love” with his babysitter, who is in turn in love with an older guy (here’s a hint: It’s Cal!). The eldest daughter, Hannah, is in love with a stuffy boring jerk, but after being spurned, she decides to take a walk on the wild side with none other than her father’s confidant, Jacob.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, the magic is in the details. The writing is fast-paced and smart, both sad and terrifically funny in just the right ratio. The characters feel rich and authentic – how many movies have you seen lately where the characters feel convincingly like real people? Carrell and Gosling each shine in their own way – as a comedic duo, they hit all the marks without crossing the line into unbelievable. And as usual, Emma Stone is clever and likable – a nice break from the typical wooden Hollywood starlets being shoved down our throats, and her chemistry with Gosling is undeniable. The romantic scenes are a far cry from The Notebook, but will still quicken your pulse in all the right ways. In short, the film moves right along, the characters are easy to root for, and even though you probably won’t cry, you’ll definitely laugh. And if you’re anything like me, you might just swoon.

Summary: Watch for the best shirt-take-off-scene since Twilight’s New Moon. (You know the one).

Wags: 4/5
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