Sunday, August 26, 2012
The phrase "feel-good story" has been following The Odd Life of Timothy Green around over the past few weeks, and, frankly, that frightened me. While I do enjoy feeling good, many times a PG movie takes that feeling a bit over the top. However, this film looked really good to me. Actually, I have been waiting to see it since I saw the first trailer, which was almost a year ago. In most cases, I would take my iffy expectations right to the tomatometer and go from there, and I did, which wasn't so great at 38%. Nevertheless, my mother and girlfriend wanted to see it bad enough that I was willing. So, last Saturday, we went to watch ol' Timmy Green, and he was sold out! That didn't stop us though! We went right back at it this Saturday and were finally successful!
While there certainly was a bit of a dorky, family atmosphere about it, The Odd Life of Timothy Green did a great job of creating an original story. The predictability was there, as were the sappy moments, but the concept was quite great. I even got a little emotional (not quite as emotional as these guys). I did not shed a tear, though, which I am always proud of! The story was very uplifting, and it really makes you appreciate everything that you have been blessed with. There was a small problem with a lack of humor throughout most of the film. There weren't too many laughs from the kids in the theater, and I think this contributed to the overly-emotional ending.
My expectations were that Timothy (played by CJ Adams) would be the main character, but his "parents" were actually at the focal point from the beginning. Unfortunately, there were a few points when I felt the characters weren't quite good enough for such an original story. This was probably due to the PG rating but oh well...
First, we have Timothy's love interest, Joni (played by Odeya Rush), who was completely out of place. She looked about ten years older than Timothy, and I don't really understand why she was necessary at all. Second, Timothy's grandfather (played by David Morse) was extremely awkward and did not appear as mean as he was supposed to (PG!!!). He did nothing but give his son motivation to raise Timothy in a better manner. Third, Ron Livingston did not do a very good job of playing the mean boss at the pencil company. He just wasn't mean enough (PG!!!). Finally, Uncle Bub, played by the brilliantly old M. Emmet Walsh, was not quite utilized as much as he should have been. He gave the filmmakers the perfect opportunity to add some laughs, and they failed to do so.
I will be honest with you and say that I am a sucker for child actors. They make me remember how, as a child, I was just outside playing in the yard, rather than becoming a Hollywood star. Their talent, at such a young age, easily amazes me. CJ Adams did a fantastic job playing Timothy. He wasn't the greatest ever, but he did better than I could ever do. On top of Adams, I was also impressed with Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner. Usually, I'm not a huge fan of Garner, who tends to be whiny and annoying. However, alongside Edgerton, she did a fantastic job. The emotions that I did feel would not have been brought about had it not been for their performances.
If you will allow me to do so, I want to take a moment to brag on my parents. To my knowledge, they don't read my blog, but only because I've never really made them. As you know, if you've seen the trailer, Timothy Green's parents were unable to have a child, so they got Timothy. It was easy to see how Timothy's parents started living their life solely for Timothy, as soon as he arrived on the scene. As long as I can remember, my parents have done the same for me. If you are as fortunate as I have been, there is no way that you could watch The Odd Life of Timothy Green without getting emotional. It made me realize that no one will ever love me as unconditionally as my parents have, and they think that they are the lucky ones. Maybe I only loved it because it hit home, but, regardless, I did love it. I give The Odd Life of Timothy Green 3.27 out of 5 stars and will continue to wish that it wasn't PG.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
While there have been a share of good movies this summer, I would have to say that this has been one of the worst times for comedies that I can remember. Sure, Ted and The Dictator were alright, but no comedy has really been able to shine. My hope was that The Campaign would be the comedy that broke through the barrier, but my expectations were not too high. Zach Galifianakis is an absolute genius comedically and has built a reputation that makes it easy for him to sell his characters to almost anyone who enjoys laughing. If that's not enough, Will Ferrell is one of the funniest men of all time, and he already pulled off a very good George W. Bush, so playing a politician shouldn't be much of a challenge for him. Everything pointed towards The Campaign being a great success, and the trailers were absolutely hilarious. Let's just say that I was very eager to laugh...
As with most R-rated comedies, the plot lacked any depth at all. However, there were many, many laughs along the way. Galifianakis's Marty Huggins and Ferrell's Cam Brady both pushed the limits in their respective campaigns, easily going beyond any form of realism. Sometimes people just need a good laugh from a totally stupid comedy, and that's what you get with The Campaign. While I didn't mind the stupidity, I did wish for more poking fun at politics and specific political moments. I wanted a Clinton joke or an Anthony Weiner joke or something, but everything was pretty generic. The comedy just wasn't quite clever enough for me.
As is with any shallow film, the characters in The Campaign were the only thing that could save it... and they did! Unfortunately, I didn't love every character, but I loved some of them greatly. If only everybody could be Zach Galifianakis...
In my opinion, Will Ferrell was not at his best in this film. While I don't consider him the greatest comedic actor of all time, I have seen him in some really great roles. However, Galifiniakis overshadowed him by so much that there was no way he could really shine, as Cam Brady, in his usual Will Ferrell way. Probably the worst performance was that of Jason Sudeikis as Brady's campaign manager. Normally, I find Sudeikis semi-funny, but he was awful in this film. Also, I was not a huge fan of the "bad guys," the Motch brothers, played by Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow.
As I've already said, Zach Galifianakis is terrific, and I love him for it!!! The character of Marty Huggins was very different from his usual, but he was great! There were other great performances, as well, from a few unsuspected performers. Huggins's kids (played by Grant Goodman and Kya Haywood) were absolutely hilarious. Usually I don't laugh at scenes that I have seen in the trailer ten billion times, but the dinner table scene from the trailer is ten times funnier in the actual movie, because of those kids. Finally, kudos to Karen Maruyama as Mrs. Yao, who did a great job with her voice impressions. They cracked me up!
There were certainly some low points to The Campaign, but, overall, I thought it was quite grand. I just wanted a movie that would make me laugh, and I got it. The power that is Zach Galifianakis might be growing quicker than any other comedic power out there, which gets me super excited. I, personally, can't wait for The Hangover III (out next summer!). For Will Ferrell, I hope he gets some sort of boost from this film, and I also hope that his next film is a much, much better fit for him. And, for the summer comedies of 2012, well, they certainly got a boost from The Campaign. I'm just not sure if it was enough to break the barrier. We will just have to keep waiting for a great comedy. Who knows what it may be? I give The Campaign 2.89 out of 5 stars.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Let me start by thanking The Grand Theater in Hattiesburg, MS for bringing a few indie films to us over the summer. I've had the pleasure of watching both Moonrise Kingdom and Safety Not Guaranteed, and I didn't expect to have that pleasure. While many of you have probably heard of Moonrise Kingdom, I doubt that many of you are familiar with Safety Not Guaranteed. If you have not seen a trailer for this film, here is one for you to check out: Click this!!!. As for my expectations of this film, I am not exactly sure what they were. The story, revolving around a time-travelling loon, was semi-intriguing, but I needed more than that to want to go see it. That's where the actors come in. Although I'm not a huge Parks and Rec fan, I do like Aubrey Plaza, and I'm a huge, huge fan of New Girl, so I'm also a huge fan of Jake M. Johnson. On top of these things, the movie just looked like it had a good vibe, so I figured what the heck...
While the plot wasn't extremely deep or surprising, it was absolutely fantastic. There are two aspects that this film hit right on the head. 1) Character Development. They really did a good job of making you feel for the characters at hand, and each character had a good amount of depth for an hour and a half long movie. 2) Perfect balance of drama and comedy. I absolutely love movies that can successfully make you laugh and feel. That's exactly why 50/50 was my favorite movie of 2011. Witty humor mixed with emotion isn't an easy thing to create, but Safety Not Guaranteed did a great job of balancing the two, just like 50/50.
As I said, the character development in this film was absolutely fantastic. It was obvious that Aubrey Plaza's Darius was going to have a certain amount of depth. The surprising thing was the depth of every other character. Every one of them had some huge revelation. I may not always be a sucker for deep characters (I did LOVE The Avengers), but, when done right, it makes me love a film so, so much more.
There were very few characters in Safety Not Guaranteed, and, honestly, I can't think of one that disappointed.
Everybody! Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza) was a terrific leading character with great depth. Next of importance, Mark Duplass gave a great performance as the time-travelling Kenneth. The two really did a good job in their scenes together. On top of these two, there were also two great performances from Jake M. Johnson (as Jeff) and Karan Soni (as Arnau). Johnson was very similar to his character on New Girl, which is terrific, and I will predict that Soni has a very bright future in the world of nerd comedy. Great performances across the board!
From The Dark Knight Rises to this... A big change! But I must say that the second half of the summer of 2012 may just be saving the summer itself. Safety Not Guaranteed is probably the most surprisingly great film that I have seen all year long. However, the year is still young. Although it has left the theater already, I would certainly encourage everyone to check it out when it comes out on DVD. Also, do not be discouraged by the R-rating. It is nothing that I wouldn't show my mama. Kudos to The Grand Theatre. Kudos to the second half of 2012. And Kudos to Safety Not Guaranteed! I give it 4.12 out of 5 stars.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
To be honest, I am usually not too interested in many movies in August, but, in 2012, that is not the case at all. While May, June, and July all contained big films, August probably contains the biggest mass of films that I was interested in for the summer of 2012. Needless to say, I can't wait for August!
The Campaign (August 10th)
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (August 15th)
Cosmopolis (August 17th)
The Campaign (August 10th)
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (August 15th)
Cosmopolis (August 17th)