Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Hangover Part II

Last night I saw The Hangover Part II, starring Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms.

When I saw the first one a few years back, I went in with amazingly low expectations. It was a 'guy' movie with potential bathroom humor and I quite frankly wasn't interested. But the universal love for the film got me to the theater and I'll admit, I laughed my head off.

Fast forward to last night—two of my friends have declined seeing the movie with me (though I had free passes and they wouldn't have had to pay for their ticket). I'm told the second will "ruin" the first and asked why I'm even bothering to go.

Why? Because I like spending time with these characters.

Did I think it would be as great as the first? Of course not. But I don't go to a film like The Hangover Part II to have my life changed. I go to lose myself in the humor and enjoy the ride.

And that's just what I did.

After a slow start (the boys have to convince Stu (Helms) to invite Allen (Zach Galifianakis) to his wedding), the film soon picks up once the wedding party reaches Thailand.

Stu's soon-to-be father-in-law hates him, Allen hates Stu's soon-to-be brother-in law, Teddy, because he's compromising the bond of the Wolf Pack, and Stu is unbelievably paranoid about celebrating his last days of bachelorhood because of what happened last time.

Phil (Cooper) finds a solution in beer bottles that are sealed (so Stu can approvingly open them) and the boys settle in for an innocent campfire two nights before the big day.

When they wake up in Bangkok the fun really begins.

Stu has a large tattoo on his face, Allen's head is shaved and all that is left of Teddy is is severed finger, which they ultimately give to a drug-dealing monkey. I'm not kidding.

Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who kidnapped them in the first movie, is also back.

From here we see guns firing, cars chasing and more full-frontal male nudity than I've seen in any movie in recent years.

There are an abundance of laughs, though none as powerful or unexpected as the first film.

It's clear the actors love playing these characters and that's part of what makes them such a joy to watch.

If you're anticipating something greater or more over-the-top than the first film, you'll undoubtedly walk out disappointed, but if you just go in wanting to have a good time, I'm pretty sure you will.


Hit So Hard

On May 27, I screened the documentary Hit So Hard.

To read my review, visit

Page One: Inside the New York Times

On May 25, I screened the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times.

You can read my capsule review on

Saturday, May 14, 2011


This morning I saw Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne.

Though it's tempting to compare the film to all of its male counterparts, I'll refrain from doing so because while it may have similar scenarios, it's definitely its own comedic beast.

The trouble begins when Lillian (Maya Rudolph) tells her best friend Annie (Wiig) that she is engaged.

The two have been BFFs since childhood, so naturally Annie is chosen to be her Maid of Honor, and naturally Annie represents the typical, pathetic, Single White Female who is incapable of having a successful relationship, etc.

Of course nothing is going Annie's way: the man she's sleeping with treats her terribly, she hates her job, has obnoxious roommates and a crappy car. If I hadn't been a similar version of Annie in real life just a few short years ago (I had everything but the roommates), I wouldn't have believed her. But having been there, I get that life can be that sad.

Enter Helen (Byrne), an equally miserable, yet undeniably gorgeous, wealthy married woman who is threatening to steal Lillian away from Annie amidst the grand plans for the wedding.

It's all highly predictable (women behave like women and back-stab each other until someone's asked to leave), but that doesn't mean that it's not enjoyable.

With the exception of a completely unnecessary food poisoning scene, most of the laughs you'll get from the film are quite original. The presence of Mike and Molly's Melissa McCarthy as Megan, sister of the groom, adds a tremendous spark to the ensemble and the added bonus of Chris O'Dowd as a police officer who keeps running into Annie is also a joy to watch. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a good Jon Hamm sex scene?

I scratched my head at the Wilson Phillips inclusion (didn't these SNL girls see Spring Breakdown, a film starring OTHER SNL girls who used the same song?), but do admit to tearing up just a little in the end.

It really is a fun, hopeful film for all the single ladies. And I bet that guys will laugh too.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Meek's Cutoff

Today I saw Meek's Cutoff, starring Michelle Williams and Paul Dano.

It will be the topic of Cinebanter #104, so tune in later in May for our review.

UPDATE: It in fact will not be the topic of Cinebanter, we have decided instead to review the new Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Top Gun

Tonight I saw Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.

Sometimes the 25th anniversary of a film can spark nostalgia; other times it can reveal to your older self how cheesy a movie really is, and tonight I experienced both.

When Tom Cruise's Maverick struts into flight school, his smirk is so smug he owns the room. Everyone forgets that he's just over 5 feet tall and has crooked teeth because his eyes sparkle and his dimples glow. He even comes with his own sidekick, a when-he-had-hair Anthony Edwards (Goose).

Yet I did then (and I do now) still find Val Kilmer's Iceman a hell of a lot sexier. Never mind that both actors would grow up to be kooks in their own right, but in 1986 they were the stuff naughty dreams were made of.

All the posing and the smart remarks aside, this is an action film. With Bruckheimer's stamp all over it, the flight scenes hold up, and if you follow the camera faithfully enough, you can probably still get dizzy.

It's a romance too—the hot older woman, Charlie (Kelly McGillis) falling for the young pilot after just one public song. The steamy sex and tongue hockey to the famous song by Berlin. It's almost all too much in retrospect.

But I still got teary when Goose had his accident, and I clapped along with everyone else when the "wingman" quotes were exchanged at the end.

So I guess if you're into cheesy 80s movies, this one deserves its spot in heartthrob history.