Archive for the Comedy Category

Screened In Sundays: Trick r’ Treat

Posted in Comedy, Horror, Screened In Sundays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2012 by judsonw

One underseen gem every Sunday.

I can count on my hand the number of legitimately great horror movies that were released in the past decade. When it comes to great Halloween horror movies, there’s not a huge library to choose from.  Trick r’ Treat is not only a great horror-comedy on its own, it’s also without a doubt the best Halloween movie ever made. Sure, Halloween is set on the famous holiday, but that movie isn’t really about the title’s namesake. Trick r’ Treat captures everything I love about Halloween – the spooks, legends, decorations, costumes, and the desire in people to be something they’re not.

The anthology is divided into four interwoven stories: an everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband (thanks IMDB!). All the stories are somehow connected and they are all told out of chronological order. This makes for a fun viewing experience – when you spot something unusual you just know it’s going to come back in a big way to explain itself.

The movie’s cast is a fun bunch – led by a younger Anna Paquin and a hilarious Dylan Baker. Trick r’ Treat had a terrible journey to DVD/Blu-Ray and was completely left out of theaters because of behind-the-scenes squabbles. It’s a shame – moviegoers missed out on a truly unique Halloween experience.


Screened In Sundays: Waitress

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Screened In Sundays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2012 by judsonw

One underseen gem every Sunday.

I can’t think of any other film that makes me as happy as Waitress. Maybe it has to do with all the pie-making going on throughout the film. Keri Russell is fantastic as Jenna, a pregnant pie diner waitress in a very unhappy, verging on abusive, marriage. There’s so much heart on display here that it’s hard not to root for Jenna to succeed and find happiness.

The supporting characters/actors are just as great, with Jeremy Sisto doing what he does best (acting crazy) as Jenna’s husband. Nathan Fillion plays the straight man pretty well as Jenna’s doctor/love interest, and the late Andy Griffith is pretty amusing as the diner’s cranky regular who ends up playing a big role in Jenna’s life.

Waitress is a perfect swan song for director Adrienne Shelly, who was tragically murdered before the film was released. She, along with Cheryl Hines, complement Russell as Jenna’s best friends. I couldn’t imagine the movie being this good without Shelly’s irresistible charm on and off the screen.

Now…where is my pie?

Movie Review: “The Green Hornet” would be nothing without Kato

Posted in Action, Comedy, Movie Review with tags , , , , on February 13, 2011 by judsonw

2011 seems to be the year of the superhero at the movies, albeit about lesser-known names like Thor and Green Lantern. First up on the block is “The Green Hornet,” based on the American pulp hero from radio shows and serialized dramas from the 1930s through the 1960s. Funnyman Seth Rogen shed 30 pounds to don the mask of the Green Hornet, but the real test is whether he was able to shed his reputation as an immature “man child” to become an action hero. Rogen plays Britt Reid, a spoiled party boy who lives off the fortune of his father, the publisher of Los Angeles’ “The Daily Sentinel.” When Britt’s father suddenly dies from a bee sting, he finds himself as the new publisher for a newspaper he doesn’t even care about. He finally meets his father’s longtime assistant, Kato (Jay Chou), and the two quickly form a bond when Britt decides to start a new career fighting crime as the Green Hornet.

“The Green Hornet” is unlike any superhero film in recent memory. Directed by Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), it’s filmed with an interesting kinetic visual style, and the fight scenes feature exciting choreography that manages to be both fast and slow paced simultaneously. Many of these exciting fight scenes spotlight the martial arts expert Kato, which leads to the highlight of the film: Kato-vision. Kato-vision occurs when time slows down as Kato’s heart starts pumping during a fight. As if in slow motion, Kato spots the elements and details he’s going to use to his advantage and the results are spectacular. The scenes featuring Kato-vision are the only moments in the film when the 3-D is used to its full advantage, with fists and pieces of glass flying off the screen. Otherwise, the 3-D up conversion is nothing to write home about. At some points in the film I would take off my 3-D glasses and notice no difference on the screen than when I had them on.

At one point in the movie Kato says “the Green Hornet would be nothing without me.” The same could be said for the film, as well. Rogen and Chou have decent chemistry but Kato is truly the star of “The Green Hornet.” It’s the rare case of the sidekick overshadowing the hero, but it’s true. Kato designs all of Britt’s weapons, constructs his “Black Beauty” car, takes out all the bad guys with his bare hands and acts as a surrogate brother to Britt. Though Chou’s Chinese accent is sometimes hard to interpret, he comes across as charming and surprisingly funny. As for that “Black Beauty” car, it would be appropriate to call it the other star of the film. Complete with machine gun doors, bulletproof windows, indestructible tires, a flame thrower, ejectable seats, a record player and even a fax machine, it’s the coolest automobile to grace the big screen since the Batmobile made its debut in “Batman Begins.”

Every superhero movie has some sort of villain, and Christoph Waltz channels his inner evil from “Inglourious Basterds” to take on the role of the self-conscious and unfortunately named Chudnofsky. The head of L.A.’s crime syndicate, Chudnofsky comes across as laughable with his undying attempts to “be scary.” At one point he even claims to have “decapitated real people.” The tone of the movie is very similar to the 2008 action comedy “Pineapple Express.” There are violent action scenes and some deep themes, but it’s all wrapped up in a comedy. The film has its funny moments but other attempts at humor miss their mark by a long shot.

While “The Green Hornet” is a surprisingly fun take on a classic hero, the film is far from perfect. The pace slows down when the story shifts away from Britt and Kato and onto L.A.’s criminals. The final conflict between Britt and a new villain proves unsatisfying and anticlimactic. Cameron Diaz also brings close to nothing to her role as Britt’s secretary. She seems to be in the movie to simply act as part of a love triangle that causes a rift between the two friends. The biggest problem with “The Green Hornet,” however, is the character of Britt Reid. Rogen does a fine enough job with the character, but he merely has close to no character development throughout the film. He’s an unlikeable, immature spoiled brat, and he is essentially the same person at the end of the film as he was in the beginning. Britt is a hard hero to root for, which may explain why Kato is the one shining beacon in the movie.

With all that being said, “The Green Hornet” pleasantly surprised me. The combination of exhilarating fight scenes, nifty gadgets and funny characters make it a fun 2-hour diversion at the cinema.