Archive for the Raunchy Fun Category

IDENTITY THIEF (2013)

Posted in 2013, Comedies, Kelly Laymon Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Raunchy Fun, Slapstick with tags , , , , on February 13, 2013 by knifefighter

Steal This Movie!  Please!
Review by Kelly Laymon

identity-thief-movie-poster-2013-1020753947

IDENTITY THIEF, released on Friday, February 8, 2013, serves up a familiar formula: the odd couple road trip movie.  With an angle for current events, we find stable family man Sandy Bigelow Patterson (Jason Bateman) receiving a phone call from “Diana” (Melissa McCarthy) notifying him that his identity has been compromised and needs all of his information for a LifeLock type of service.  However, THAT is “Diana’s” ploy to get the necessary details to create credit cards, a license to drive, etc..

As the real Sandy is preparing to leave his current job to join a start-up by his fellow angry co-workers (and expecting a third child with his wife), Diana-Sandy is on a shopping spree.  And drinking spree.  And fighting spree.  When the police show up at Sandy’s brand new office because he missed his court date (and they see the mug shot), the pieces start falling together.  His credit card is then declined at the gas station, and so on.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that Sandy works in finance and being trusted with money is key to his ability to keep his brand new job.

Because of stupid jurisdiction rules and regulations, the police won’t take care of the situation.  So, Sandy decides to fly down to Florida, catch this criminal, and get her back to Colorado so he can clear his name.  On top of pissing off Sandy, she has also run afoul of some black market identity sellers and has a bounty hunter (Robert Patrick) after her.

And, as I always like to say, wackiness and hilarity ensue.

In my THIS IS 40 (2012) review, I described Melissa McCarthy as having a comedy style that beats viewers over the head.  That description is even more true in this case.  If Melissa McCarthy was in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992), her motto would be, “ABM (Get it?  A BM?) – Always Be Mugging if you want the big laughs.”  Most of her gags rely on ridiculous physical comedy, whether it’s getting bonked on the head Three Stooges-style or an insane car crash.

jason_bateman_identity_theft_poster

By the same token, we have an unusually restrained performance (take that with a grain or two of NaCl) by Eric Stonestreet as one of McCarthy’s sexual conquests.  Stonestreet is most popularly known as Cam from MODERN FAMILY (ABC), where he vacillates between over-the-top and slightly less over-the-top.

That’s not to say there aren’t some clever lines.  I found most of the humor in Bateman’s dry, sarcastic, slow-burn, which he does so well.  Even in lesser fare like IDENTITY THIEF and THE CHANGE-UP (2011), Bateman’s always worth it. However, don’t let the comparisons to MIDNIGHT RUN (1988) and PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) fool you.

I have a feeling that a person’s enjoyment of this film hinges on how much that person loves Melissa McCarthy.  In my case, I enjoyed her in 2011’s BRIDESMAIDS.  However, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with much I didn’t enjoy about that film.  I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of her TV series, MIKE & MOLLY (CBS), but I’ll give her credit that she does an admirable job with some truly terrible material on that show.  In this film, she’s too much.  For me, “too much” doesn’t always equal funny.

© Copyright 2013 by Kelly Laymon

identity-thief-poster-mccarthy-09262012-190540

MOVIE 43 (2013)

Posted in 2013, All-Star Casts, Anthology Films, Bad Situations, Controverisal Films, Dark Comedies, LL Soares Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Raunchy Fun, Sex Comedies, Sleaze with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by knifefighter

MOVIE 43
Movie Review by L.L. Soares

Movie-43-Poster

I’ve always been a fan of anthology movies, and they’ve been making a comeback lately. Most of them have been showing up in the horror genre—in fact, the anthology horror flick V/H/S  was one of my favorite movies of last year. So I was really interested in seeing MOVIE 43 as soon as I heard about it. There hasn’t been a good comedy anthology movie in a long time. The most famous was probably 1977’s THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. There were also 1974’s THE GROOVE TUBE and 1987’s AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON. In a way, the fake trailers that accompanied the main movies in the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration, GRINDHOUSE (2007), were also a variation on this concept too, since most of them were pretty funny. The basic idea is that a bunch of different directors and casts get together to make a bunch of short films, usually with a wrap-around storyline to tie them all together.

No matter how much fun these kinds of movies are, one thing that almost always happens is that the short films in question turn out to be a mixed bag. Rarely are they all equally good (or bad). And MOVIE 43 is no different. Made over the course of three years (as directors and stars had time), MOVIE 43 is at least a fresh idea compared to most of the comedies that have been in theaters lately. So how do the short films measure up? Let’s take a look. (I’ll give each one its own “grade” and then an overall rating at the end.)

The movie begins with its wrap-around story, in this case called “The Pitch,” and starring Dennis Quaid as Charlie Wessler (the name of one of the movie’s producers, by the way), a deranged guy who forces his way into the office of a movie studio head named Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear) in order to pitch his movie ideas. We then get the various pitches, which make up the other short films in the movie. Get it? This wraparound segment was directed by Peter Farrelly of the Farrelly Brothers (who gave us THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) and, more recently, THE THREE STOOGES, 2012)

The Catch” is the first short. It features Kate Winslet as a businesswoman named Beth, who going on a blind date. Her date is Davis (Hugh Jackman), a famous, successful lawyer and philanthropist, and she’s amazed that he is still single. When they go on their date, all seems to go well, until they go to a restaurant and Davis reveals that he has a very strange physical condition she was not expecting. I will not reveal what it is, but, despite the A-list cast, I thought this was one of the weaker entries. While it is funny when Davis’s deformity is revealed, and Winslet is great at playing it completely uncomfortable, it’s soon obvious that this is going to be a one-joke sketch and after a few minutes, I was already eager to see the next one. This one has good acting, great production values and prosthetics, but doesn’t have much of a pay-off. This segment was also directed by Peter Farrelly and is at least better than “The Pitch.” (I give this one a C, since there’s no real payoff.)

Homeschooled” is one of the better entries. This one features Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber as parents who are homeschooling their high school-age son, Kevin (Jeremy Allen White, who is also really good on the Showtime series, SHAMELESS). Things get out of hand when it’s revealed that they not only teach Kevin at home, but also want to give him the “whole high school experience,” including bullying and..er..dating. (I give this one a B)

The Proposition” stars Anna Faris and Chris Pratt as couple who are celebrating their first year of being together. To commemorate the special occasion, Vanessa (Faris) wants Jason (Pratt) to do something extra special in the bedroom. What she wants might surprise you, and chances are good it may repulse you as well. Kind of funny, depending on your sense of humor. (I give this one a B-)

Veronica” might be the weakest of the bunch. Neil (Kieran Culkin), a cashier at a grocery store, is having an increasingly explicit conversation with his girlfriend, Veronica (Emma Stone), but he left the microphone on that he uses to announce specials over the intercom in the grocery store – so all of the customers get to hear the most intimate details. The customers look like a bunch of homeless people, and this is another one that pretty much is one-joke that goes on too long, except, unlike “The Catch,” this one isn’t funny at all. I thought it was a waste of Emma Stone, who is usually pretty good. Director: Griffin Dunne. (I give this one an F, since it’s pretty pointless).

movie-43-poster03

iBabe” is a parody of iPod commercials, where people listen to an MP3 player that just happens to look like an attractive, naked woman. When it turns out that there has been a rash of accidents where adolescent boys have been hurting themselves trying to get intimate with the iBabe, the company that makes it (headed by Richard Gere) has a meeting to try to determine what the problem is. This one was okay – but nothing great – although nudity is always a plus in my book. (I give this one a C)

Superhero Speed Dating” features a lonely Robin (Justin Long) trying to get a date in a Gotham City bar on “speed dating” night. Unfortunately, a mean-spirited Batman (Jason Sudekis) shows up to torment him and ruin his chances at finding a girlfriend. Featuring Leslie Bibb as Wonder Woman, Uma Thurman as Lois Lane, and Kristen Bell as Supergirl, with a very funny appearance by Bobby Cannavale as a thuggish Superman. For some reason I always find superheroes indulging in bad behavior funny, so I liked this one. The performances are also spot on, especially Sudekis, who is pretty sadistic as a real jerk of a Batman. (I give this one a B)

Middle School Date,” features Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl from KICK-ASS, 2010) as a girl who is spending time at her boyfriend’s house when she has her first period. Unfortunately, everyone in the house is completely clueless, and her young boyfriend thinks she is bleeding to death. Not as funny as it could have been, but it foreshadows Moretz’s upcoming role in the remake of Stephen King’s CARRIE. Directed by Elizabeth Banks. (I give this one a C-)

Happy Birthday,” is probably my favorite of the shorts. Pete (Johnny Knoxville) gets his buddy Brian (Seann William Scott) a special birthday gift – he’s kidnapped a leprechaun (Gerard Butler shrunk down by CGI) and demands the sprite give them his pot of gold, with hilarious results. The last line of this particular short is killer. Directed by Brett Ratner. (I give this one an A)

Truth or Dare” is another good one. This one features Stephen Merchant (a familiar face from the British version of THE OFFICE and cable series like HBO’s EXTRAS with Ricky Gervais) on a first date with Halle Berry. To break the ice, they indulge in a game of Truth or Date that starts out innocently enough and gets more and more deranged as it goes on, and they dare each other to do more and more outrageous acts. Could have been a lot crazier than it is, though.  (I give this one an B+)

Victory’s Glory,” is set in the early 1960s and features Terrence Howard as the coach of a black basketball team giving his kids a pep talk before a big game against an all-white team. This is one of the sketches that was hurt the most by the trailer for the movie, which gives the joke away, but in the movie itself, with more R-rated dialogue, it’s actually somewhat funny, even if it is another one-joke bit. Directed by Rusty Cundieff. (I give this one a B-)

When the end credits begin, you may not want to get up and rush out the door too fast, because there’s one more short to come, “Beezel” features an “adorable” cartoon cat that is actually pretty vicious (and perverted) when his master (Josh Duhamel) isn’t looking. The object of the cat’s ire is Duhamel’s new girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), who threatens the very close (too close?) master/pet relationship. We’ve seen this plot before (most recently in the far superior TED), and it’s actually one of the weaker entries in the movie. I just didn’t find it that funny. Directed by James Gunn, a director I normally like a lot. (I give this one a D.)

Meanwhile, the wraparound story (“The Pitch”) escalates, popping up between the shorts, as Quaid’s character grows more and more demented, eventually pulling out a gun and demanding the studio buy his movie treatments. For the most part,  the wraparound story works to tie things together, but isn’t  funny, a fact that the cast seems to realize themselves, as everyone kind of gives up toward the end and the actors break character. (I give this one an F)

There are also a couple of fake commercials that are actually pretty good. One is called “Machine Children” and the other, which is better,  is a very clever short short commercial for Tampax, of all things.

I’ve listed the directors who I know worked on specific shorts, but it is very difficult to track down a list of who directed what (without going to see the movie a second time). Maybe this is on purpose, but other directors who worked on the movie include: Steven Brill, Steve Carr, James Duffy, Patrik Forsberg, Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan van Tulleken.

The big draw of this one is the cast—which is made up of some very big names who actually worked for scale (there is no way the budget could have covered them all otherwise) —doing outrageous things. Unfortunately, not all of the material is good enough to appear in (most isn’t), and over all, this movie seems to think it is much more shocking than it really is. In fact, in several cases, I don’t think it went far enough to be truly daring, although MOVIE 43 does earn its R rating.

From what I can tell, most critics have given this movie dismal reviews, but I didn’t think it was all bad. MOVIE 43 is a very mixed bag, with some shorts delivering laughs, and others not. If you like anthology films as much as I do, you might want to check it out, but go to a matinee showing (don’t pay full price). I give it two knives, and that’s probably being generous.

© Copyright 2013 by L.L. Soares

LL Soares gives MOVIE 43~two knives.

TED (2012)

Posted in 2012, Adult Fairy Tales, Cinema Knife Fights, Comedies, Fantasy, Kelly Laymon Reviews, LL Soares Reviews, Michael Arruda Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Raunchy Fun with tags , , , , , , , on July 2, 2012 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: TED (2012)
Movie Review by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares and (Special Guest Star) Kelly Laymon

(THE SCENE: A toy store. L.L. SOARES is standing in front of a shelf full of talking teddy bears, activating them all to talk in unison, when MICHAEL ARRUDA comes down the aisle)

TEDDY BEARS: You are the best critic! You are the best critic!

L.L. SOARES (waving his arms around like a conductor): Well, of course I am. Nice to see you bears are not only really good at the verbal thing. You’re smart, too.

MICHAEL ARRUDA: How do you know they’re not talking about me?

LS: Because you just got here, and they’ve been singing my praises for the past 15 minutes.

MA: Well, if praise from talking teddy bears floats your boat, you can have it. (laughs) Yes, ladies and gentlemen, L.L. Soares is the best critic around, 50 teddy bears say it’s so!

(One of the teddy bears kicks MA in the head.)

MA: Why, you little—! (grabs bear by the throat just as a little boy and his mom walk by.)

LITTLE BOY: Mommy, what is that man doing to that teddy bear?

MOM: Come on, son. Let’s go tell the manager.

MA: Wait a minute. I was just defending myself. This bear— (The Bear kicks him in the head again.) See? Did you see that?

LS (shaking his head): You’re mean.

MA: Me? If this bear had kicked you, you would have ripped its head off!

LS: Sure I would have. But it kicked you.

MA: So it did. (Kicks the bear football style over the shelf to the next aisle somewhere.) And now I have kicked it out of here. Wasn’t Kelly Laymon supposed to be joining us today?

LS: She’s probably hiding because you’re so mean.

MA (sarcastically): Ha, ha!

KELLY LAYMON: What’s all the commotion going on?

LS: Look folks, it’s Kelly Laymon!

(Cue audience to applaud)

LS: Glad you could make it. Did you have trouble finding us?

KL: I heard you guys from the other side of the store. What’s going on? Is Arruda causing a ruckus again?  He’d better not be touching my Pooh bears.

LS: Yep, I can’t take him  anywhere!

MA (rolls eyes): This is going to be a long day. Anyway, we’re not here to play with toys, we’re here to review the new movie, TED (2012), starring Mark Wahlberg.

LS: Oh yeah, that’s why we’re here. I almost forgot. (to Kelly) Are you still up for reviewing the movie with us?

KL: Sure! But why does this Knife Fight feel like a three-way? Are we riding the tricycle?

You know, I can’t wait to talk about this movie. TED made me want to race home to my Pooh bear doll and rip a giant bong-load with him.

MA: That’s— nice. Anyway, these stuffed bears have been singing L.L.’s praises, and he’s about to prove how good a critic he is and start us off.

LS: Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do.

TED begins in 1985, introducing us to Johnny Bennett, a little boy who has no friends, so he makes a wish on Christmas night, wishing that the new teddy bear he just got as a gift would come to life and be his friend. Frankly, this kid seems a little old to be wanting a teddy bear as a present. And he seems a little simple-minded in his belief in wishes. But hey, let’s move on.

So—guess what? you guessed it! —his wish comes true and the teddy bear comes to life and the kid tells him “I’m going to call you Teddy!” which just proves my point that the kid is a little soft in the head. Not only does Teddy become his best friend, he also becomes something of a celebrity as word gets out about this amazing talking teddy bear.

But like all trendy reality stars who don’t really have any other talents besides being famous, poor Teddy eventually becomes a has-been. But he doesn’t care, because he’s still got Johnny. Of course, when we’re reintroduced to them, now as adults, they’re called John and Ted.

KL: Am I the only freak who cried through those first eight minutes?  Seriously.  I sobbed like a bitch.  I want a Ted doll. Not the pristine one that little Johnny gets for Christmas when he’s eight years old. I want the dingy version with the little worn spots where his fur’s almost gone.

LS: Maybe Uncle Michael will buy you one. (laughs)

Anyway, John, now in his 30s, has become Mark Wahlberg. And Ted, who had a little kid kind of voice when he was a kid, now sounds exactly like Peter Griffin from the FOX animated show, FAMILY GUY. Maybe this is because Seth MacFarlane, who created FAMILY GUY, and does Peter Griffin’s voice, also does Ted’s voice. I guess MacFarlane doesn’t have a lot of range as a voice artist, because instead of coming up with something new for TED, he just uses the same old voice he always uses. And if you’re wondering why the guy from FAMILY GUY is doing Ted’s voice, that’s because MacFarlane also directed, and was one of the writers of, TED.

KL: See, I’ve been torn on Seth McFarlane since day one. I’ve never been able to get into FAMILY GUY, but I’ve always found the guy funny and interesting in interviews. So that’s one reason why I was really looking forward to TED.

As someone who likes raunchy comedies, yet cries like a baby at TOY STORY 3 (2010), I had a hunch that this would finally be right up my alley.

LS: So have these two changed much by becoming adults? Well, John and Ted are constantly smoking bongs, drinking shots, and getting into all kinds of mischief. This doesn’t go over very well with Lori (Mila Kunis), who has been dating John for four years and is getting a little tired of waiting for him to grow up. She’s also getting tired of Ted being always around, since he lives with John (Where else is talking teddy bear going to live?).

MA: It didn’t go over very well with me, either. I kept thinking, why do I care about these guys? They’re a couple of losers.

(One of the bears leaps at MA, but MA side-steps the lunging bear, and the stuffed animal crashes into a pile of LEGOS instead.)

LS: To prove he’s a responsible adult, John agrees to find Ted an apartment somewhere else, so he and Lori can have more time alone. But the two buddies are still always hanging out together. Can John get his act together in time to save his relationship with Lori? And can Ted make it on his own?

These are just some of the questions that TED then proceeds to answer for us.

MA: Who cares? Which is the primary problem with this movie.

LS: Who cares? I care! That’s why I go to the movies, to care.

MA: Seriously, if the characters don’t do anything for me, I’m not going to care about them.

LS: Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.

KL: I cared!  I’m a borderline plushie!  Or is it furry?  I think it’s plushie.

MA: This is really going to be a long night!

LS: There are lots of supporting characters, too, like Matt Walsh as Thomas, John’s boss at a rental car company, who is trying to groom the irresponsible John to take his place when he gets promoted. Walsh is most currently the Vice President’s aide, Mike McLintock, on the new HBO comedy, VEEP, but he was also on lots of other TV shows, as well as having roles in movies like OLD SCHOOL (2003), THE HANGOVER (2009) and DUE DATE (2010). And Patrick Warburton (probably best known as Puddy from SEINFELD, The Tick from the short-lived live-action series THE TICK (2001- 2002) and currently Jeff on the CBS sitcom RULES OF ENGAGEMENT) as Guy, a co-worker of John’s who seems very confused about his sexuality.

MA: Yes, Warburton is very funny in what amounts to a very small role, but he makes the most of it.

LS: Yes he does! You know, I always liked Warburton and thought he’d be a bigger star. This movie proves how great he is. He has a little tiny role, and he’s funny and memorable. Give this guy his own movie already!!

MA: Calm down.

LS: See, I told you—I care. Anyway, at Lori’s job, her boss Rex (played by Joel McHale, currently the star of the NBC comedy series COMMUNITY and formerly the host of the E! Channel show, THE SOUP) is a sleazy rich guy who keeps hitting on her, even though he knows she has a boyfriend.

There’s also a really creepy father and son (Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Mincks, respectively) who have their eye on Ted. They approach John in the park one day, offering to buy Ted from him (but he’s not for sale, he’s alive!) and who never seem very far away after that.

KL: Well, while I like Joel McHale and Giovanni Ribisi, McHale is wasted in a role far too similar to his much more complex narcissistic semi-jerk from COMMUNITY.

Giovanni Ribisi is one of my few favorite child stars who I still enjoy. (He’s in there with Jason Bateman and Neil Patrick Harris.) Ribisi is NOT wasted. He takes The Creepy Factor and ups it. He has a disturbing little dance scene that ranks up there with Ted Levine in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) and Michael Madsen in RESERVOIR DOGS (1992).

MA: I didn’t find it creepy. I just found it plain goofy.

KL:  Hmmm.  I got a serious “ick” off of that scene.

LS: I dunno, I liked McHale as the sleazy boss and Ribisi as the creepy stalker guy.

But not everything about TED worked for me. First off, I don’t think Mark Walhberg is all that great a choice here. He has been good in funny movies in smaller roles, but seems kind of bland to be the main guy in a comedy like this. He just isn’t a natural comedian. There are times when his cluelessness kind of works, though. Remember, Johnny seemed a little soft in the head earlier in the movie, so maybe this makes sense. But I still wish they’d hired someone funnier to be the star of this movie.

MA: In general, I think I like Wahlberg more than you. I didn’t have a problem with him in this movie, as I thought his performance worked just fine. The problem I had was with the character of John. He’s not a particularly likeable guy. I didn’t hate him by any means, but let’s put it this way, he wasn’t the type of guy I’d want to hang out with.

LS: You know, that’s true. I’m not a big Wahlberg guy. Maybe it was the atrocity called the PLANET OF THE APES remake (2001) that really turned me off to the guy, I don’t know. But even though I think he’s miscast here, and they could have hired someone funnier, he does kind of grow on me as the movie progresses. I at least find it believable that he would care about Ted and really want to hang out with him all the time. Hell, by the middle of the movie, I didn’t really mind him anymore.

And as for you not wanting to hang out with John and Ted—you gotta be kidding me! Those guys look like wicked fun!

MA: They looked like a couple of losers to me.

KL: I’ve always liked Wahlberg. THREE KINGS (1999), THE DEPARTED (2006), and BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997) are three of my favorite films. However, he hadn’t done much comedy until the past couple of years. His small role in DATE NIGHT (2010) was memorable, but he was the saving grace in THE OTHER GUYS (2010). His tough guy sarcasm was the only thing that kept me hanging on in the face of Will Ferrell.

LS: As for Ted himself, he’s kind of amazing. He’s a CGI creation who seems pretty flawless. Since he’s a teddy bear come to life, he doesn’t have to look like a real person, and the way he moves is pretty great. The voice thing bugged me a little bit, since we’ve heard this same voice many times before, but after a while, it didn’t bother me as much. I think the character is actually pretty cool.

KL: The detail on the bear and his animation were solid. He didn’t look too much like a CGI cartoon. His facial expressions and reactions were always perfect, so expressive.

MA: Yeah, Ted is very funny, and nearly all his jokes work. The problem is he’s stuck in a movie with a predictable plot and unlikeable, boring characters.

LS: Mila Kunis is on a hot streak, and she’s good here as the hot girlfriend who loves John, but wants someone more responsible. She’s not in the movie to be funny, but she does a good job as the “straight man” here, and Walhberg and MacFarlane play off her well.

KL: Yep, Mila Kunis is blessed to be so likable in every comedy she’s in. Her role here as The Girlfriend With The Ultimatum could come off as a real bitch, but manages not to.

LS: Yeah, I dig her.

MA: Really? I thought she was completely, utterly boring.

LS: Boring? Maybe there’s something wrong with your eyesight, boyo. I could just look at her and that would be enough. She doesn’t have to say a word.

MA: I didn’t say I didn’t like to look at her. I said her character was boring.

LS: She didn’t bore me.

MA: I did find a couple of other supporting characters funny, though. I really liked Jessica Barth as Ted’s girlfriend Tami-Lynn. The scene where she tells off Lori over dinner during their double date is one of the funnier bits in the movie.

LS: Yeah! I thought she was great!

KL: Am I an idiot?  I had to Google Tammi-Lynn because I was convinced that was Denise Richards.

MA: I also enjoyed Bill Smitrovich in a small role as the manager of the supermarket where Ted works. His brief scenes with Ted had the audience laughing out loud. Smitrovich played the Vice President in the ill-fated TV show, THE EVENT.

LS: Oh yeah! He rocked, too! I loved all his scenes. What a great boss!

There’s also a long segment of the film where John and Ted meet their childhood hero, Sam J. Jones himself, star of the 1980 version of FLASH GORDON, at a party, which is one of my favorite parts of the movie (Jones is actually pretty funny and very cool here).

MA: Yeah, that was the funniest sequence of the whole movie, the party scene with Sam Jones. I enjoyed all the 80s references, from ALIENS to T.J. HOOKER, they were all pretty funny, but the Sam Jones/FLASH GORDON stuff was the funniest.

LS: You better believe it! In the universe of this movie, I believed, without a doubt, that Sam Jones was the coolest guy on the planet. I wanted to hang out with the guy, too! That’s called good direction.

MA: I wouldn’t go that far.

KL: Well, I disagree. I enjoyed the FLASH GORDON stuff, but I thought many of the pop culture jokes missed the mark. A lot of them seemed to be thrown in unnecessarily and randomly. That’s one of the gags that has prevented me from getting into McFarlane’s FAMILY GUY. I’d like to see him tone that down a bit.

LS: Well, to set the record straight, Michael is the one who raved about those 80s references. I just wanted to do shots with Sam Jones!

MA: I didn’t quite get the running gag about Tom Skerritt. I’m assuming it had to do with his appearance in TOP GUN (1986)? I forgot he was even in that movie, but that’s because I’ve blocked that movie from my consciousness.

LS: I’ve actually avoided seeing it somehow, maybe it’s my Tom Cruise allergy, although I may correct that. TOP GUN sounds campy as hell.

MA: TOP GUN was about as shallow and boring as the TWILIGHT movies. That’s my memory of it.

LS: But seriously, I didn’t really “get” the Skerritt thing, either. But I think that’s the point. Everyone thinks he’s such a big star and that they’re cool for knowing him, and he’s not that big a deal. The line Skerritt says toward the end, though, is hilarious.

To any dopey parents who want to bring their kids to see TED – it’s rated R for a reason!

MA: And let’s not forget, for the STAR TREK fans, Captain Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, serves as the narrator in this one.

LS: Yeah, he does a good job.

The movie actually had some similarities to the FX series WILFRED (which is itself a remake of an Australian version of the series), where Elijah Wood sees his neighbor’s dog as a man in the dog suit, and the two of them are always sitting on the couch, smoking bongs, much like John and Ted. TED is much more than that (and it’s funnier), but I thought the similarities of these scenes were interesting.

There were some scenes where I didn’t laugh much at all, and other scenes where I laughed a lot, but despite my complaints, I liked this movie for the most part. Enough of it works to make it an enjoyable comedy.

I give it three knives out of five. This is exactly the kind of movie that I think will grow on me more over time, and I’ll like it even better.

KL: I liked it a lot, too.

All in all, it’s also a sweet little movie, without being too heavy-handed about life lessons or messages.

MA: Wow. Of all the words I could have used to describe this movie, “sweet” isn’t one of them.

KL: You have a heart of iron, Arruda!

LS (starts to sing in a deep voice): You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch!…

KL: But there were some things I didn’t like…

Something that I can’t stand in films is when a character takes to a stage in a public place to sing to the angry boyfriend or girlfriend to try to win them back or say sorry. That ridiculous stunt always pulls me right out of the film and makes me roll my eyes.

LS: I hate that, too. I just figured it’s a good time to get some popcorn.

KL: However, the Norah Jones cameo and material was funny. She shot up a few notches in my book for being a great sport.

I’ll give it a solid four knives. The only reason I can’t give it five is because of that ridiculous singing stunt that I hate like poison each time I see it. Also for the overdone “Where Are They Now?” end credits round-up. Other than that, the whole thing worked for me.

MA: Yeah, I didn’t like that end credits round-up either. I thought it was lame.

LS: Me, too.

MA: I laughed at some things but not at others, like you said earlier, L.L., but when all was said and done, I guess I liked it less than both of you did.

Here’s my problem with TED—the jokes for the most part, especially the 1980s references, work and they’re all pretty funny, but the story this movie tells is lame, dull, and cliché, and the characters aren’t likeable, and so I didn’t really care about them. I could care less if John and Lori get together or not. I was hoping they’d just break up so the movie could move on and forget about them. They were two very unlikeable characters.

LS: I don’t think so at all. I liked them both.

MA: As a result, while I laughed frequently during this movie, but I didn’t really enjoy it.

And for a movie about a talking Teddy bear, it wasn’t all that imaginative. I kept wondering, why was Ted attracted to human women? He’s a  teddy bear. Shouldn’t he be attracted to other stuffed animals? Likewise, why were human women attracted to him?

LS: Because it’s funny! HOWARD THE DUCK (1986) —okay, awful movie, but great character from the comics— dated a human woman, too. It works. It’s a funny idea—a funny animal banging a human woman.

MA: If you say so. There were creative paths this movie could have taken but didn’t. It was too interested in making jokes about getting high and farting.

Speaking of which, I thought some of the vulgar jokes misfired. For example, what the hookers leave on the floor of the apartment didn’t make me laugh one bit. All it did was make me stop eating my popcorn. Vulgarities can be funny sometimes, don’t get me wrong. So, where do I draw the line? Well, if it makes me laugh, then I’m good with it. In this movie, a lot of these scenes weren’t making me laugh.

KL: The humor is raunchy. Really raunchy. The guy sitting behind me brought his ten-year-old son to the showing I attended. I wondered if the guy was slightly misinformed and thrown off by the cute teddy bear.

MA: Oops!

LS: Actually I think the guy was just plain stupid. How hard is it to find out about a movie these days before you see it? You can check it out on the Internet in like two seconds and find out why it’s rated R.

KL: The kid laughed through the whole thing, but I did a few double takes as the kid whooped it up at the sex jokes. I’m not sure if I hoped the kid didn’t know what some of those terms meant or not.

LS: I don’t know, I guess it was kind of raunchy, but after a while, I didn’t notice it anymore.

And I thought the “present” the hooker left behind tried more to be a “shocking funny” moment than a laugh-out-loud funny moment. I’m okay with that. But hey, not all the jokes were for us. I’m not a big fan of fart jokes myself, but I know people in the audience I saw this with laughed their asses off whenever there was a fart joke. C’est la vie.

MA: I also didn’t like the subplot about the obsessive guy and the little boy trying to kidnap Ted. I thought it was the worst part of the movie.

LS: I thought that worked fine—the scene in their house was really creepy, and I liked it, especially Ribisi was dancing to an old Tiffany video, that cracked me up—but I wish Ted had kicked that creepy boy’s butt.

MA: The movie takes place in Boston, and the city looks great! There’s even a chase scene in Fenway Park, although this scene bugged me. In trying to rescue Ted, John and Lori in effect break into Fenway Park at night. Afterwards, they’re back home, no problem, even though we see the police on the scene. You’re caught trespassing at Fenway Park by the Boston Police and you’re not arrested? Yeah, that’s realistic!

LS: Yeah, you got it…And a talking teddy bear. Yeah, that’s realistic!

MA: Even a movie about a talking teddy bear needs to have realism. Otherwise, it’s stupid.

LS: Not really.

Personally, I thought the Boston references were a double-edged sword. Since I’m from Boston, I thought a lot of those jokes were funny, and seeing a lot of locations that I know was interesting—but after a while it was just distracting me from the story. And if people are from outside of Boston, they’re not going to get the joke, which means a lot of the jokes aren’t going to work for them. I guess I’m just not a huge fan of “inside jokes” about a city of something. Hell, when a stand-up comedian says “Hey, how’s it going, Boston!” I wanna kick him in the nuts. Get on with the jokes!

MA: Well, I lived in Boston for 10 years, and I always enjoy seeing the city in a movie.

KL: I only lived there for four years, but the Boston scenery was a lot of fun. I had to stop myself from staring at the background to pick out familiar spots. And the climax at Fenway Park was a nice treat. It gave me flashbacks to the climax of THE TOWN (2010).

MA: Yep, I thought of THE TOWN too.

(LS snores)

MA: (nudges him): Wake up!

I saw TED in a packed theater, and the audience was very generous in their laughter. They laughed much more than I did. I can’t deny that I was disappointed with this movie.

LS: The audience I saw it with liked it a lot, too. Then again, where I saw it, they served beer.

MA: I expected a more complete movie, with the jokes balanced by a likeable story. TED isn’t balanced at all. Its jokes are stuck inside a lame plot that doesn’t go anywhere.

Wise-cracking Ted speaks like a foul-mouthed stand-up comedian, and at times, listening to him speak, that’s how I felt, as if I were at a comedy show listening to him perform, and you know what? That would have been more enjoyable.

I give TED two knives.

KL: A heart of iron, Arruda!

LS: Well, everybody’s entitled to their opinion. Including them. (Points to the army of talking Teddy Bears all wielding knives marching towards MA.)

BEARS (chanting as they approach MA): Kill, kill, kill!

LS: Hey, I really like these toys. I might buy a couple of them.

KL: I’ll stick with my Pooh bear, thank you very much!

MA (to BEARS): Are one of you guys named, Chucky? I really hate to do this, but sometimes, a guy has to do what a guy has to do.

LS: Of course.

(MA pulls out a machete and leaps at bears, striking them down just as the little boy, his mom, and the store manager appear.)

MANAGER (into walkie-talkie): Security to the Teddy Bear aisle.

MA: Wait a minute. I can explain. (To LS) Tell him.

LS: Tell him what, strange person? (to cops) I’ve never seen this man before in my life.

MA: Kelly?

KL: Those poor teddy bears! Do they wanna grab a drink later?

(Security arrives and arrests MA)

LS (to audience): Don’t worry. I’ll bail him out. Some day. (laughs.)

MA (off-camera): Take your stinking hands off me, you damned dirty Teddy Bear! It’s a madhouse!

—END—

© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares and Kelly Laymon

Michael Arruda gives TED~ two knives out of five!

LL Soares gives TED ~three knives!

Special Guest Reviewer Kelly Laymon gives TED ~four knives!