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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Life of Pi, The Hobbit, The Five-Year Engagement, Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom, Django Unchained, and Silver Linings Playbook

We've been lazy with the current movie posts, so here are a few short takes. We wrote this during the commercials of the first hour of the Golden Globes :-)

The Life of Pi- This is half the most awesome movie ever and half the gayest movie ever. Visually, it's so so so good. We liked these visuals better than anything in Avatar, because they were more realistic and more breathtaking. The storm scene had us on the edge of our seats. It's a sweet story. For the most part, it's a success, and one that can be shared by families.

Fundamentalists may struggle with the idea that Pi is a Hindu, a Christian, AND a Muslim, but we didn't. Also, the movie features one of the worst scenes we've ever sat through (when Pi tells a false story to the Japanese investigator; that went on forever and was just cartoonishly awful). As far as spiritual movies go, this one definitely trumps Cloud Atlas.
Movie grade: B

The Hobbit- We know so many people who were disappointed with this movie, but we doubt they've read the book. They might have been comparing this movie to the last three. The book "The Hobbit" isn't like Lord of the Rings as far as, you know, being a serious epic. It's a fanciful children's book. And when we saw the movie, we thought, "Man, I don't remember the book being anywhere near this good." Peter Jackson darkened up the material.

They picked a good cast. We've liked Richard Armitage since North and South, but it's a shame he's a friggin dwarf so people can't grasp how hot he his. Whatever. That's not what matters. What matters is that Martin Freeman is such a perfect pick for Bilbo that he redeems the Bilbo we saw in LOTR, who was twisted and corrupted by the ring. Freeman imbues Bilbo with so much personality in every movement and facial expression that he steals moments where he isn't even talking. His showdown with Gollum left our faces hurting from smiling.

Gandalf is back, it's a solid story, there's a really sweet moment or two, and it looks freaking great. The only downside? It takes a while to get going. Settle in and be patient. It's a three hour movie, and the first 40 minutes or so are spent getting Bilbo to even go on the journey. The first half will drag, but if you're prepared, it won't be so bad. The second half more than rewards you for waiting. Overly padded? Possibly. But we enjoy every minute spent in middle earth.
Movie grade: A-

The Five-Year Engagement- This movie was yards better than we expected it to be and a lot raunchier. Still, there weren't enough laughs to justify its running time. It's worth seeing on video if you like Emily Blunt, Alison Brie, Jason Segel, and Chris Pratt. Who doesn't like them? They all do a great job. Although this is a love story, the script isn't plagued with the stupidity of most comedies centered around romance. We wouldn't call this a rom-com at all because of that. The movie tackled issues that real couples have to grapple with in this day and age. We didn't regret watching it, but we didn't love it either.
Movie grade: B-

Les Miserables- In the mood for a good cry? Look no further. If you're interested in this at all, you've probably already seen it. Critics haven't been as kind as viewers, so we'll call this a crowd-pleaser. We must be in the crowd, because we were pleased. The story is a tad overpacked with characters and the first half is superior to the second, but we still love the whole thing. It has action, romance, spirituality, courage, self-sacrifice, tragedy, and, most importantly, strong themes of redemption, second chances, grace, and forgiveness. This movie (and the musical it's based off of) has its faults, but they are nothing compared to the power of this story and characters to touch hearts for decades. There's something about it that rings true and grabs people.

We like the songs too. The actors sang them live while they were filming, rather than recording them before or afterward. This imbued the whole thing with way more emotion than most movie musicals. Anne Hathaway was the first to make us cry. She was so good it isn't even funny. Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried were the weak links, but even they weren't terrible. Crowe can sing; he just can't sing that part. It's way too low for his voice. You need a bass voice, preferably opera-trained for that part. Crowe was brave to try it, but the movie would have been improved by a guy who could carry what is arguably the best role in the whole thing.

Hugh Jackman picked talk-singing and acting over actual singing a little too much for us, especially considering he can actually sing. There were moments when he was so focused on the acting that he went off key. Ern thought Eddie Redmayne was wonderful, but Leeard thought he sounded a little froggy. Samantha Barks's Eponine was predictably on point. Everyone loved the Broadway vet who played Enjolras, but we don't think he was the right voice for it. He should probably have played Marius, but we guess they wanted a movie start for Marius. Anyway, the whole cast is way better than most movie musical casts. We were happy with this movie. Hated the added song, "Suddenly," though. It was lame and creepy.
Episode grade: A 

Moonrise Kingdom- Okay, get through the first 30 minutes of this quirky comedy, and you will be rewarded. The first bit is a bunch of scenery, hipster-y music, kids running around, and confusing glimpses of what the plot may turn out to be about. Once you get into the action, you see why people are wild about this movie. It's adorable and well-acted. It's our favorite Wes Anderson movie (yes, we like it better than Rushmore).
Episode grade: A-

Django Unchained- Wow, that was an entertaining movie. It's Tarantino all the way. If you liked any of his other movies, you will like this one. It has the exaggerated characters, cruelty, and violence, as well as the dialogue, fitting soundtrack, and homages to other movies. Samuel L. Jackon's villain and Waltz's German bounty hunter stole the show from Foxx and Leo. As for allegations of racism, we didn't find it offensive, other than the use of that racist word. It had some really intense scenes too. Our only complaint was that Kerry Washington was given little to do besides be the damsel in distress. Tarantino women usually get much better treatment than that. Also, it's probably not as clever as it thinks it is. Pretty damn close though.
Movie grade: A

Silver Linings Playbook- Bradley Cooper does a surprisingly good job. We didn't know he could act that well. The script is good, but we found too many similarities to Garden State. But we loved this movie because of Jennifer Lawrence, girl crush of our dreams. It's not just because we love her. The energy she brought to this movie elevated it in every way. Every time she was onscreen, the scene was good. When she was off, you missed her.

When she was around, every other actor upped their game. She took a character who people could have written off as "slutty" and "annoying" and made her amazing in every way. The typical manic pixie dream girl is innocent and virginal. Not here. Tiffany was complicated and hilarious. If anyone else were playing her, this movie would have suffered.
Movie grade: B+


  1. Finally got around to going to see Silver Linings Playbook today. I was surprised it was still in the theatre. Very different movie, but I liked it. It was def better than the last Bradley Cooper movie I saw (The Words). And I think it made me like Jennifer Lawrence even more! You were correct, she def made the movie. But I was also a little surprised by Bradley Cooper. He did very well too.

    1. I heard The Words was awful. I like Bradley and I'm glad he's surpassing everyone's expectations with this movie. A lot of people didn't think he had it in him to be a leading man, but I've liked him since Alias. I'm also impressed that he doesn't drink. That's rare and smart for a celeb, because all those pressures can take what is a relaxing social pastime and move it to a crazy place. I drink, but if I were famous, I'd stop.