Archive for the Sex Comedies Category

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).

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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.

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Suburban Grindhouse Memories: SPRING BREAK (1983)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2013, 80s Movies, Comedies, Drive-in Movies, Grindhouse Goodies, Nick Cato Reviews, Sex Comedies, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, Teen Sex Comedies with tags , , , , on January 10, 2013 by knifefighter

Suburban Grindhouse Memories No. 59:
The ULTIMATE Party Flick
By Nick Cato

spring_break_poster_01

March, 1983. President Reagan refers to the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire.” A transit strike cuts off train service for 70,000 New Jersey commuters. Pope John Paul II begins an eight-day, eight-nation tour of Central America. And here on Staten Island, my friends and I went to the opening night premiere of SPRING BREAK, a FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH / PORKY’S-like teen comedy that features more beer-guzzling, wet T-shirt contests, and bad jokes than any other film in existence. We may not have been politically conscience at the time, but at least we had our priorities straight.

Directed by Sean (FRIDAY THE 13th) Cunningham, SPRING BREAK was another in a long line of early 80s teen comedies, and while it’s not all too funny, it is remarkably entertaining (at least if you’re a high school freshman, as I was upon this initial viewing).

Nerdy buddies Adam and Nelson rent a room in a party-motel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But just as they’re settling in, two cool dudes (Stu and O.T.) show up and claim they had already booked the same room. Figuring it’d be easier to score chicks with two cool guys as roommates, Adam and Nelson agree to let them crash there. The first time we see O.T., he enters the motel and chugs a large bottle of Miller like it’s spring water as bikini-clad babes run around looking for their rooms. He’s a big, shirtless dude with a goofy headband, on a mission to party like it’s the end of the world…and along with Stu, his mission is accomplished less than twenty minutes into the film.

During the first night with their new roommates, Adam and Nelson watch from the corner of the bedroom as Stu and O.T. shag two Playboy model-looking girls. It’s a private lesson neither one of them will ever forget, and their spring break is off to a rockin’ start.

BUT (cue villain music)…not wanting his stepson to have any freedom (or give his political career a bad name), Nelson’s stepdad shows up to try and stop the fun. His right-hand doofus henchman, Eddie (played by legendary character actor Richard B. Shull) is also some kind of building inspector who attempts to shut the motel down, but of course is thwarted every step of the way by Stu and O.T. via cases of Miller beer and inflatable sharks(!).

SPRING BREAK is a silly film that was created for no other reason than to make money off teenage boys (::raises hand::). It suffers from some lame acting, a terrible script, and basically exists to show off some of the hottest bikini babes the producers could find (they did quite good). Among them is a fictional all-girl “rock” band called HOT DATE that performs a song unsubtly titled “I Wanna Do It To You.” O.T. even falls head-over-heels in love with their singer (played by gorgeous former Penthouse Pet of the Year Corinne Alphen) and doesn’t care if he has to let his coolness factor down to try and get her. Also on hand (besides the fantasy girls) is the cute, all-American girl next door Susie (played by ‘Seventeen’ magazine cover model and then-future TV star Jayne Modean) who eventually hooks up with Nelson and “turns him into a man.”

In one scene (to show how these two-pairs of unlikely friends are all now true buds), the four of them take a drunken leak into the toilet at the same time. It’s more heartwarming than you’d expect! Another is when the foursome goes to buy pot off some older freaky Latino hippie who lives in a van. It’s probably the funniest scene in the film (although that’s not saying much).

I’m pretty sure Miller Beer had something to do with the production: not only is it chugged and product-placed all over the screen, but it’s used to wet down the participants of countless wet T-shirt contests and poured over everyone else’s head (apparently in Ft. Lauderdale you’re supposed to wear your beer before you drink it). At least this is what I took away from the film, besides the idea that having cooler guys than yourself as roommates can get you laid easier.

The soundtrack features Cheap Trick and .38 Special’s hit song ‘Caught up in You,’ which is used during a rather frustrating sequence (Nelson gets lost after he attempts to get back to Susie’s room after he runs out to grab a can of Coke!). And even though Hot Date’s song is terrible, the band is easy on the eyes, so we’ll let their lack of musical ability slide…

Perhaps this film was the inspiration for those GIRLS GONE WILD videos that ruled late night infomercials in the early 2000s? Or maybe even a vehicle to try and popularize the infamous sport of belly-dive competitions? Or maybe SPRING BREAK issimplya standard to the coming-of-age, nerds-lose-virginity, party-animal films of the 80s done the right way. Sure, it’s a mindless exploitation film, but the characters are a lot of fun (especially the motel’s manager Geri, who will remind you of your cool elderly aunt) and it’s a great way to forget both the dreary winter months and adulthood: use it to get away to a much more fun time and place, even if it’s for just 90 minutes.

Judging by the laughs and applause from the crowd I watched this with, everyone had a blast. SPRING BREAK is probably the best way to vicariously enjoy spring break if you’ve never made it down there or can’t afford to do so.

An extras-free DVD was finally released in 2009, so if you’re curious, check your brain at the door, kick back, crack open a Miller, and enjoy the fun. You also might want to have a towel handy to dry all that beer off your head.

(BEST SCENE: O.T. doing a drunken belly-flop from the top of a tall palm tree as an equally drunken crowd cheers him on!)

© Copyright 2013 by Nick Cato

Our four party animals (Nelson, O.T., Stu, and Adam) in a publicity shot for SPRING BREAK.

Our four party animals (Nelson, O.T., Stu, and Adam) in a publicity shot for SPRING BREAK.

THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (2011)

Posted in 2012, Based on TV Show, British, Comedies, Exotic Locales, LL Soares Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Sex Comedies with tags , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by knifefighter

THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (2011)
Movie Review by L. L. Soares

THE INBETWEENERS was a British TV show that aired from 2008 – 2010. It’s about four high-school age guys who are trying to get laid, basically. The new British movie version of THE INBETWEENERS is much of the same. Not that it’s all that original a concept. Here in America, we’ve had our share of like-minded movies like the PORKY’S series in the 1980s and the AMERICAN PIE films (from 1999 through several sequels, including this year’s AMERICAN REUNION). But hey, what the hell. We’ve copied enough British shows over the years. In fact, MTV currently has an Americanized version of THE INBETWEENERS as part of their new television line-up.

The clips I’ve seen of the British version of the TV show look pretty funny, but I can’t say the same about THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (made in 2011, but now showing in theaters in America a year later). My biggest complaint about the movie is that it’s just not that funny. But more on that in a moment.

THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE gives us four misfits about to graduate the British equivalent of high school and heading off to “university.” They are Simon (Joe Thomas), a good-looking bloke who is obsessed with his girlfriend Carli (Emily Head); sleazy Jay  (James Buckley), who is obsessed with sex and always talking in innuendos, when he’s not lying about his “exploits;” dim bulb Neil (Blake Harrison) who is the only one of the four who has actually had sex with a girl, even though he’s clearly an idiot; and Will (Simon Bird), a very uptight, nerdy guy who looks like a young George Costanza with a British accent. He’s always overdressed and always looks uncomfortable. He’s also the funniest of the four.

When Simon and Carli break up because they’re going away to different schools, the other guys seek to cheer him up by bringing him on a fun summer getaway to the isle of Crete in Greece. Of course, all the guys can think about on their way there is sex, drinking, and more sex. But they’re so awkward, you know they aren’t going to be getting much action.

Early on, they meet a quartet of British girls in a (mostly abandoned) night club. Of course, as the movie goes on, the two groups will get closer, but it’s clear none of them are having the wild old time they expected, except for maybe Alison (Laura Haddock) who is having an affair with a Greek waiter named Nicos. But of course, before the guys can realize these are the girls they want to be with, they have to have lots of misadventures and there have to be several misunderstandings. Otherwise, this would be a short movie.

So we get lots of drunken escapades, and lots of missed opportunities with the opposite sex. There’s even some nudity (mostly the guys) along the way.

If a comedy is only as good as the amount of laughs it pulls out of you, then THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE isn’t much of a success. I only laughed a few times. Most of the jokes were either stuff I’ve seen before, or just not that funny, which is too bad, because these are talented guys.  I just think the script was rather weak.

The saving grace here– like most “bromance” comedies these days  –  is that the movie has heart. It may not be the funniest thing you’ll ever see, but some of the characters are likable enough. I especially liked Simon Bird as Will. He’s so obviously uncomfortable most of the time that you can practically feel it, but he’s also the most human of the four leads, and the most sympathetic. I actually found myself wishing the movie was more about him.

Blake Harrison as Neil is also pretty likable. Although he seems to have the best luck with girls (especially old biddies looking for some “young stuff”), he also seems to have the tiniest brain of the bunch, and runs around with spray-on tan for most of the movie. Jay (James Buckley) has his moments as well, but he is so sex-obsessed and pervy that he comes off as creepy at times. But hey, he’s a horny kid, so he’s supposed to be like that.

I actually liked Simon (Joe Thomas) the least of the bunch. All he talks about is his ex-girlfriend Carli and how he wants to get back together with her. While this is obviously the point, and he’s supposed to be annoying, especially when he goes on and on about Carli when he’s supposed to be paying attention to new girl Lucy (Tamla Kari), it just reaches a point where you want to knock him out and shut him up. He crosses the line from being funny to being downright annoying. He’s just a one-note character. Of course, his beloved Carli is in Crete on her holiday, too, and turns out to be kind of a bitch by the movie’s end.

The Inbetweeners are (from left to right): Simon (Joe Thomas), Will (Simon Bird), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Jay (James Buckley).

The girls come off better, even if they aren’t the main characters here. Laura Haddock as Alison, who I mentioned before, is a real highlight and her banter with Will is some of the best dialogue in the movie. And it’s interesting to see them get closer as the movie goes on, and she sees the real Will under all that awkwardness. Tamla Kari is cute and likable as Lucy. Jessica Knappett as Lisa isn’t given much to do while Neil chases after cougars (well, they’re a little old even for cougars), although, once we finally get to know her by the end, it turns out she’s as dim as he is (big surprise). And Lydia Rose Bewley is quite good as the overweight, self-deprecating Jane, who the obnoxious Jay slowly starts to warm up to, after first rejecting her.

The characters really aren’t that bad. It’s just that they’re not given an awful lot to do that’s all that interesting or funny. Writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley could have given us a punchier script. It would have been nice to have some real laughs here – and the attempts at outrageous humor (male nudity, etc.) just aren’t all that outrageous. The direction by Ben Palmer is adequate. He also directed the television show, so doing the movie wasn’t much of a stretch, especially since the movie doesn’t seem to really give us a lot more than we would have gotten on television.

I went into this one really hoping to have a good time, and I was ready to do a lot of laughing. But there were long waits between any really funny scenes, and I left feeling kind of cheated. I’m surprised this movie got released in American theaters, even if it’s in limited release, and I’m not sure if  it will win the characters any new fans. Maybe we should seek out the original TV show instead.

I give THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE  two knives. The characters are okay, but there are too few laughs.

THE END

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

LL Soares gives THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE ~two knives.

AMERICAN REUNION (2012)

Posted in 2012, Comedies, LL Soares Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Sequels, Sex Comedies with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by knifefighter

AMERICAN REUNION (2012)
Movie Review by L.L. Soares

There were times when I was sitting in the audience, watching AMERICAN REUNION, and wondering, “What’s the point?” Is there really a need for a new sequel to AMERICAN PIE? Are these characters even relevant anymore?

If I have to be honest, the answer is no. I really don’t know why AMERICAN REUNION was made. But I did laugh a few times, and there were moments when I felt a twinge of nostalgia. And hell, there’s a lot worse stuff out there getting made every year. So why not?

This time around, the gang from the original AMERICAN PIE (1999)  are either in or approaching their early 30s, and things just aren’t the same. The series’ hero, Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) has married his high school sweetheart, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and they have a new baby. But they haven’t been intimate in months and are starting to worry that their marriage might be falling apart. So what will rejuvenate them? A trip back home for their high school reunion!

The rest of the gang is here, too. Including Chris Klein as Oz, now a celebrity anchor on a sports channel (and a competitor on a “Dancing with the Stars” type show), and he’s got a hot but promiscuous bimbo wife, Mia (Katrina Bowden); Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married with a baby of his own; Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has traveled the world on his motorcycle; and Stifler (Seann William Scott) lives with his mother and is still the same moronic prankster he always was. Except now he works as a temp at a big corporation, where he acts as if he’s one of the bosses.

And of course there’s Eugene Levy as Jim’s Dad, and Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler’s mom.

There are a lot of regrets in this movie. Coming back to their hometown, Oz immediately bumps into his high school girlfriend, Heather (Mena Suvari), and realizes he’s made a big mistake by not marrying the girl he really loved. And Kevin has similar feelings when he’s reunited with old girlfriend, Vicky (Tara Reid). Jim also meets up with old next-door neighbor, Ellie (Charlene Amoia), who he used to babysit. She’s now a sexy 18 year old, who wants to lose her virginity to him. Jim is tempted, but he also wants to save his marriage. Having sex with a high school girl probably isn’t going to help that much.

There are lots of bittersweet subplots here, and it’s funny how, despite the laughs, there is a fair share of sadness in AMERICAN REUNION, as these characters grow up and find that they’re not always happy with the way their lives turned out.

Jason Biggs is still very likable as everyman Jim. I’ve always liked him, and he’s the heart of the series, and isn’t afraid to completely embarrass himself when the script calls for it. I always wished he would have had more of a movie career after AMERICAN PIE made him a star.

Chris Klein as Oz is actually kind of interesting now that his character is a semi-celebrity and people recognize him everywhere he goes. Klein is the kind of actor who looks like a leading man, but just hasn’t made the transition to anything big, for some reason. (Maybe because he’s just not that good an actor? Although that hasn’t stopped some other people from becoming stars).

I still have no clue what Thomas Ian Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas are doing here (and what’s with all the three word names?). Nicholas is kind of a nice, earnest guy, but that role is already covered by Jim, so his existence in these movies seems redundant. His character Kevin just adds nothing to the proceedings and I didn’t care about him or his love issues at all. He’s like a generic buddy who has no depth and is easily forgettable.

As for Eddie Kaye Thomas as Finch, the guy hasn’t changed since the first movie, and still has the personality of a block of wood. What do these other guys see in Finch? He’s a blank slate who comes off as a robotic dork, yet everyone else acts like he’s the coolest guy on the planet. I just don’t get it. And I don’t understand why Kevin and Finch couldn’t be replaced by two more interesting, dynamic characters. But I guess it’s too late for that.

Seann William Scott is just as annoying as ever as Stifler, but I have to admit that, aside from Jim, he’s the best character here. Stifler fluctuates from being funny to being borderline psychotic, to being just plain irritating, all in the course of the same movie. When he ties some kids’ jet skis to his truck and destroys them, or takes a dump in their beer cooler, he really seems to be a complete sociopath, and is kind of creepy. Other times he just seems like a case of arrested development and you almost feel sorry for his child-like antics. And other times he is laugh-out-loud funny. But the fact that he’s the main one here who makes any effort to be funny at all makes him stand out from the pack. And no matter what the script gives him to work with, you can tell Scott gives it his all, even when it sucks.

Speaking of creepy, I still have no idea what to make of SCTV alumni Eugene Levy again reprising his role as Jim’s dad. There are times when he’s likable enough, and others when he is talking explicitly about sex to his son in such a skin-crawling way that I felt like I needed a shower afterwards. I know it’s supposed to be funny, but Levy’s character now, after all this time, just seems like a weird old guy who’s obsessed with sex, even though he pretends to treat it clinically. I found this shtick kind of funny in the first movie, but most of the time here, it kind of weirded me out. But it is funny when Stifler takes Jim’s Dad under his wing and gets him drunk at a party – and tries to get him laid as well (Jim’s mother has been dead for a few years when AMERICAN REUNION opens), and the relationship that develops between Jim’s Dad and Stifler’s slutty mother is actually pretty funny.

The women in these movies always seem to have less developed roles, and this time is no exception. Mena Suvari spends most of the movie just looking sad, even though she’s on the arm of a new boyfriend (Jay Harrington), who’s a cardiologist. Tara Reid stands around looking pretty (she still looks great), but really has nothing to do. Alyson Hannigan – who, along with Seann William Scott, are the only two cast members who have had any kind of real career after the AMERICAN PIE movies – is okay here, but spends most of the time looking flustered over Jim’s bad behavior. And Dania Ramirez is a welcome addition as Selena, and old high school friend of Michelle’s who has bloomed from an ugly duckling to a hot bartender, who takes a liking to Finch.

There are a few good moments, most of them revolving around that 18-year-old girl who wants to have sex with Jim – leading to lots of funny, awkward moments as he tries to resist temptation, despite her coming on strong. A scene where Jim tries to sneak the drunk (and naked) Ellie back into her parents’ house after a party is especially funny. And some of Stifler’s antics, including a scene where he finally stands up to his abusive boss, are pretty hilarious. Oh, and Stifler finally gets revenge on Finch for sleeping with his mother, in a very cool scene involving Rebecca De Mornay from another R-rated sex comedy classic, RISKY BUSINESS (1983).

AMERICAN REUNION  took two people to direct it! Jon Hurtwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who helped write all of the HAROLD AND KUMAR movies and who also directed 2008’s HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANTAMO BAY together). Seriously, did it really need two directors?

But as the closing credits rolled, I still found myself wondering who this movie was made for. Most of the people who were fans of the first movie probably are in similar situations as the characters in AMERICAN REUNION, but they also probably don’t go to the theater to see movies very often. I know that me and one other older guy in the audience were the only ones laughing at some of the references characters made to the first movie.

Younger kids who like R-rated sex comedies might find this one a bit too sentimental and nostalgic at times (and they probably won’t have any idea who these characters are!).

AMERICAN REUNION is being promoted as the “last piece of pie” in the AMERICAN PIE franchise. I think that might be a good thing, because this series really feels like it might have run its course. It might be time to try a different dessert.

I give AMERICAN REUNION ~ two and a half knives.

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

L.L. Soares gives AMERICAN REUNION ~ two and a half knives!

BEST AND WORST COMEDIES OF 2011

Posted in 2012, Best Of Lists, Comedies, Kelly Laymon Reviews, R-Rated Comedy, Sex Comedies, Worst-Of lists with tags , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by knifefighter

THE BEST AND WORST OF COMEDY IN 2011
By Kelly Laymon

This past year saw some great comedy that needs a glance back.  But I have a few notes before we start.  First of all, while my main focus here is the raunchy R-rated stuff that I generally handle, I’m going to have to highlight a great PG-13 comedy.  Also, I’m covering a few films that I was going/supposed to do and couldn’t because they weren’t in wide release, my neighborhood was hit by a small yet disruptive hurricane on the opening weekend, or I was on a road trip with my mom.  I’m also touching on ones that were released before I joined Cinema Knife Fight, but that LL reviewed.  Also, I am not listing films in any particular order or ranking.

BRIDESMAIDS got a ton of well-deserved attention.  I generally don’t like Kristin Wiig much and find that Maya Rudolph is better when she’s less over-the-top and more dramatic, as in AWAY WE GO (2009), but this worked for me because the film really played to their strengths as more understated actors.  All of their interactions seemed real.  My only complaint is that there should have been more scenes involving ALL of the gals.  When all six characters were together, it was at its best.  I was particularly fond of the exchanges between the seasoned Wendi McClendon-Covey and naïve Ellie Kemper.  The Jon Hamm scenes deserve an award of their own.  Sometimes I wonder if he’s trying too hard to prove his comedy chops because he’s SO handsome though.  But the Irish cop (Chris O’Dowd) was the real star of the film.  And while I thought Melissa McCarthy was good, I think some of the praise she’s received has been undeserved.  Entertainment Weekly called her the new Queen of Comedy.  Gimme a break!  And this film was a nice finale for the late Jill Clayburgh.  In the blooper reel on the DVD, they apologize for the horribly dirty lines she has to say.  She just laughs and says something along the lines of, “No, I’m having so much fun.”

WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? is a film that I expected to completely suck.  All in all, it wasn’t that bad.  The trailers made it look very silly and slapstick, but the actual film was a bit more down to earth and semi-amusing.  Anna Faris reads an article in Marie Claire about the average number of men women have sex with in their lifetime.  Since she’s reaching the dreaded #20, she decides to re-visit all of her exes to see if she can make a relationship stick with one of them.  Some of the scenes are humorous, though it would still be nice to see Anna Faris in better material.  Her films always seem to JUST miss the mark.  And it was a sad waste of the great and snarky Joel McHale.

On the flip-side, OUR IDIOT BROTHER was a bit of a disappointment.  It suffered from what I sometimes refer to as “the overly quirky and precious indie problem”. (Side note: Two of the worst offenders in my book are LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006) and JUNO (2007)).  Paul Rudd is good as the dopey brother who needs to pull his life together at the expense of his mother and three sisters.  One sister’s a savage career woman (Elizabeth Banks), another’s a quirky lesbian comedian who’s not any good (Zooey Deschanel, who I’m very tired of), and the third’s a put-upon and poorly-treated housewife (Emily Mortimer).  Fellow co-stars Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, and Elizabeth Banks—all three of whom I like a lot—couldn’t save the overly meaningful lessons that the “idiot brother” inadvertently teaches everyone.

CEDAR RAPIDS was an enjoyable film that didn’t get a ton of attention.  Ed Helms plays a naïve insurance agent who goes to the big city for the region’s yearly insurance convention.  His roommates are the very funny John C. Reilly and Isiah Whitlock, Jr..  Reilly plays a seasoned con-goer and all-around bad influence, while Whitlock is straight-laced, but goofy.  Anne Heche is the married “what happens at a con, stays at a con” love interest.  Aside from enjoying the humor in this, I saw a lot of myself and my friends in the characters and some of the convention antics.  The film ultimately has a good heart and leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in CRAZY STUPID LOVE, one of the better comedies of 2011.

The PG-13 ringer on my list is CRAZY STUPID LOVE.  It would be impossible to talk about the comedies of 2011 without highlighting this one.  The entire cast is solid, but the film really belongs to the relationship between the newly separated, dorky, forty-something Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling.  Although their makeover scenes have some flashes of THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005), they totally work.  Ryan Gosling, who’s mostly known for more dramatic roles, is great as a sarcastic, know-it-all, trendy, hipster womanizer.  He’s the kind of character that could be totally unsympathetic, but is played just right.  The “big speech” at the end is kind of corny, but sometimes even really good movies have a semi-lame moment or two.

PAUL is a tough one to talk about.  It plays so much to the nerdy fan boys who know about authors, comics, and conventions that I don’t know how normal people viewed it.  As someone who knows the convention circuit and a lot of authors and has traveled the UFO regions of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, I totally dug it.  Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, of SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004) and HOT FUZZ (2007), are great as two English buddies on a nerd tour that starts at the San Diego Comic-Con and is supposed to take them on a UFO hot spot voyage.  Seth Rogen is the voice of the vulgar, pot smoking alien they stumble upon, and we have yet another nice performance from Jason Bateman.  And if your eyes are dry when Paul visits the girl whose yard he crashed into sixty years ago, you have no soul.  Kudos to Blythe Danner.

THE HANGOVER II wasn’t as bad as people said.  For a sequel, it held up better than most.  As with the first one, which I loved, I found more humor in the simple dry throw-away lines than in the big, crazy situations.  I liked that they paid tribute to the first right down to the music cues (Danzig on the opening credits, Kanye West during the arrival scene, Wolfmother as they make it back for the wedding), etc..  And the fact that Zach Galifinackis’s Alan was still obsessed with what happened in Vegas was a nice touch.  I was disappointed that Ed Helms’s Stu wasn’t marrying Heather Graham’s stripper Jade from the first one.  And Stu’s “big speech” at the end about his inner demons seemed forced and almost silly, whereas his “big speech” at the end of the first one had a cheer-worthy power to it.

Although he didn’t ruin THIRTY MINUTES OR LESS, Nick Swardson resumed his usual roll of the anti-funny with BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR.  It is a fantastic…waste of a supporting cast.  Don Johnson and Christina Ricci both co-star in this train wreck.  I won’t even bother to describe this exercise in lameness other than to say that it’s a terrible attempt at porno humor.  I’m convinced that Adam Sandler is funding Swardson’s career through Happy Madison Productions in order to make us appreciate Sandler more.  It is so ridiculous and over-the-top, without even a toe dipped in reality.  And, when it comes to the comedies I like, the characters and situations need to be relatable.  I need to see tiny bits of myself, my friends, and things that have happened to me or could happen.  I knew it would be pretty bad and even texted a friend when I sat down to watch it that “I must really hate myself to be watching this.”  If you want to see a comedy about porn that’s actually funny, go for Kevin Smith’s ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO (2008).

Don Johnson had a small role in another small and little-seen sex-themed comedy in 2011, A GOOD OLD FASHIONED ORGY.  He plays the rich, jerky father of Jason Sudeikis and owns a posh beach house in the Hamptons.  He no longer uses the house, but Sudeikis and his high school pals (including comedy staples you’d-know-’em-if-you-saw-’em,  Martin Starr, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, etc..  Luckily, the annoying Will Forte is toned down and plays it straight…and he’s not in it much.) still party at the house each weekend during the summer.  Once Johnson puts the house up for sale, Sudeikis decides that they need to have one final legendary bash over Labor Day weekend and he lands on the orgy idea.  Sudeikis has been very likable and funny in a few films over the past couple of years, such as GOING THE DISTANCE (2010) and HORRIBLE BOSSES.  We’ll just pretend that the super-mediocre HALL PASS (2011) didn’t happen.  And I enjoyed this one too.  It’s a dumb guy plot, but the dialogue and jokes worked for me.

I’m not going to rehash the films I already reviewed, but the links are below.

© Copyright 2012 by Kelly Laymon

OTHER COMEDY REVIEWS BY KELLY DURING 2011 (Just click on the title):

HORRIBLE BOSSES
THE SITTER

YOUNG ADULT
50/50

THE CHANGE-UP

30 MINUTES OF LESS